Spiritual Resurgence- CPR

When I was about 12 years old, I went out with some family and friends for a lazy Saturday floating the river; I had on those goofy water shoes, embracing the opportunity for my white arms and legs to see the world. A friend of mine flipped over my tube and as I was about to dart up to inflict my revenge, I found myself trapped in a netting of roots from a tree near the riverbank. In that moment every fiber in my being was on fire, my brain was screaming out: BREATH, BREATH, BREATH! I can still remember the relief that set in when finally I was able to get loose and broke the plain of the water gasping for that first breath, greedily sucking up as much air as my lungs would allow. Stories like mine happen every day, some end tragically—others end up inspiring change. USA Today told the story of a young lady who had the tools necessary to respond when getting a breath was a matter of life and death. www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2014/10/03/inspiration-nation-6th-grader-saves-life-with-cpr/16649841/ What a great story when a classmates can keep a birthday party from turning into a funeral processional. CPR made all the difference.

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Maybe you’ve seen what it looks like when the church struggles to breath—Paul describes the church like a body—sometimes it is church buildings that have been repurposed into banks, awkward shaped houses, bars or community centers. The Francis A. Schaffer Institute crunched the numbers and found that each year 4,000 churches close their doors for the last time, gradually fading away, and only 1,000 open to replace them. There is a need for spiritual CPR. Oftentimes, this is more than a statistic it is a reality that we have lived—seeing people slowly trickle out the back door of the church—gasping for new leaders, new direction, and new hope. There is a need for Spiritual CPR.

I promise you that Spiritual Resurgence/revival doesn’t come in the form of something new and trendy, but instead comes through scripturally in a form that is powerful and consistent. Roll back the clocks of the 1st century church and the hope for fresh air can be seen in Acts 2: 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Spiritual vitality didn’t come solely through a Sunday morning; it came also through a small group. Maybe small groups sound like just another thing to add to your schedule, another burden or thing to make you feel guilty, but I want you to hear today how they have the potential to be a breath of fresh air in your life rather than just something else to leave you breathless. An essential part of your faith journey rather than an extra part!

Why small groups? Small groups act as Spiritual CPR because they begin with the heart of Jesus prayer in John 17: My prayer is not for them alone (not just my current disciples) I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe you have sent me.

Small groups offer us C-CommunityContinue reading “Spiritual Resurgence- CPR”

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Quote for Today

“Abba, just on the basis of what you have shown me in your son, Jesus, I believe you love me. You have forgiven me. You will hold me and never let me go. Therefore, I trust you with my life.” Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning

As you read these words, maybe you just got off the phone with your doctor and your searching for answers after the diagnosis rocked your world off its axis. Some of you each day valiantly fight a silent war against chronic illness, feeling your physical standing slipping by the day, others walk through the shadows of depression or the drudgery of the daily demands.

As the gaze of the world turns from Easter back to everyday life, don’t turn your eyes from a simple yet splendid truth: You are not a slave to the world, you are a son or daughter of the one who is worthy! When everything around you seems like it is going to be extinguished, all you worked for, all you strove to become, realize all that God made you for, all that he has in store for you, and all the doors he laid before you hoping you would walk through. Grace awaits!

Good Friday

In Matthew 27, verses 45- 50, we hear that after such an excruciating ordeal: mocked, spit upon, beaten, and pierced that  Jesus is finally dead—all that is left is preparing his body, putting him in the tomb, finally saying goodbye.

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45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[c] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[d]

47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

In many ways it reminds me of a funeral. I want to start tonight off with a little confession, something just between us: I dislike funerals. I don’t look very good in black, usually they are sad occasions, and death seems to mess up everyone’s plans. I am guessing I am not alone in that sentiment. You probably remember being a kid and thinking “I’m going to live forever and boom, you find out death is a real thing!” Even though we know death is real, it is only in the back of our minds as we live to avoid death, to be the one exception to the rule. Heck if someone actually can hit the power ball, there has to be an exception to everything. We eat fat free brownies, my wife forces me to go to the gym, we go to doctors from time to time to push death off, but it always seems to be looming—life insurance, emergencies, sudden diagnosis. Tonight seems to be the very embodiment of humanity’s failure to push off death. Continue reading “Good Friday”

Palm Sunday- Deserving and Desired Part #3

We feel like we deserve a warring king, but got a donkey riding one. We deserved a hollow religious exercise but got a divine revelation, and as the week progressed, the people felt pretty certain…

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They Deserved a Passover Meal, and instead got a Passover Lamb—The people were in town for Passover, went to the temple to buy their sacrifice, get their meat, the blood captured by the priests in honor of the blood spread on the doorposts, but the week was all building towards the meal (Matthew 26:17-19,26-28) 17 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover…26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this cup of the vine from now on until the day when I drink of it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.These passages are familiar for anyone who has grown up in the church, we sometimes read them before the communion, but we can forget they were the highlights of the Passover meal. Throughout the night, it was customary to take four commemorative drinks—to remember the four promises of God in Exodus—I will take you out, I will set you free, I will redeem you, and I will take you (as my own)-exit from slave land, set free from slave nature, redeemed-washed clean from stain of Egypt, and finally united with God—a protected people. Yet, notice Jesus refuses to drink from the final cup—the night ends without Jesus drinking from the cup of protection—The disciples, people all around Jerusalem were enjoying their Passover meal, but here Jesus left dinner to become the Passover Lamb—to give his sinless life, unblemished being to die on the cross for us God’s judgment to pass over our homes, our lives, and our beings.

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John the Baptist had rightly looked at Jesus as he walked past him and declared, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. In his book Written In Blood, Robert Coleman tells the story of a little boy whose sister needed a blood transfusion.  Continue reading “Palm Sunday- Deserving and Desired Part #3”

Palm Sunday- Deserved and Desired #2

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As Jesus triumphant entry continued, you would think a king would head to the palace, to the center of political power, but instead the Gospel of Mark reveals that Jesus went the night before to the temple and then retreated until the next morning. The people he observed felt like they…

Deserved a Religious Experience and instead they got a Divine Encounter (Matthew 21:12-15) 12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”Why is Jesus so mad? The Passover had gone from seeing God’s glory to glorified big business. The foreign believers upon arriving at the Gate of the Gentiles would have been hit by the expansive marketplace. Long lines weaving around as the people were forced to exchange their local currency for temple currency, of course at a substantial loss, they would pay their temple tax which was substantially inflated, and they would buy their sacrificial animals at a substantial premium. Long lines and little actual worship. Herod the Great had restored the temple; the setting looked religious, but lacked any realness.

The people should have been at the happiest place on earth, but instead got taken advantage of like nowhere else on earth. It reminds me of going to Disneyworld or Disneyland, dubbed for us the “Happiest Place on Earth,” Continue reading “Palm Sunday- Deserved and Desired #2”

MARK MY WORDS- Identity

As we see how far God went in answering the question, “God, don’t you care if we perish?” in sending his own Son to die on the cross, we find one more step in truly seeing the fullness of God’s answer.

Jesus in coming to earth, reveals an identity which is the means to our new identity. (Mark 4:41) They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

When you see someone do something so powerfully beyond your expectations, it is pretty natural to stop and question…”Who is this person?” Abraham Lincoln said, “Character is not built during crisis, it is revealed during crisis.” Continue reading “MARK MY WORDS- Identity”