August 22, 2010

Sunday Night Musings

A few random thoughts on a terrific day at LifeSpring Church

- Today was the first day @ LifeSpring Church for our new worship team and new worship leader, Rebecca Shealy. They were AWESOME and brought their A-game today. They say they were a little nervous, but I couldn’t tell. I am really FIRED UP about what God is going to do through them each week! I can’t wait for our next week’s service!

- Several more people signed up for LifeGroups this morning. I am so glad we are able to offer a LifeGroup in both Statesboro and Brooklet. This should help ease some of the time constraints for our participants.

- We had one of our biggest crowds in the children and nursery areas today. And Katie’s teams were READY. It is such a blessing to parents of small children to be able to leave their child in a safe, loving, and encouraging place while they are in worship. And we certainly have that at LifeSpring Church.

- I think Jesus was pleased with many people today who are committing to be Bought In and Sold Out for Jesus over the next 40 days.

- I have been reflecting today on a couple of comments that I made this morning in the worship service. God is still working on me about the change I need in my life.

o The American church has abandoned the most simple and obvious truth of what it means to follow Jesus: You actually follow His pattern of life. Francis Chan

o We Love the idea of following Jesus until it disrupts OUR plans and OUR dreams…

o We all want to be changed, but we don’t want to change.

o I believe Jesus is saying to us; “Don’t try to change Me… when you deny yourself, pick up God’s will, and follow my example, THEN I can change you! And then you can join me in changing the world.”

o Who do you say Jesus Is? Our answer to this question is so important, because it sets the foundation of how we live our life day to day.

- We will start planning our first “tail-gate baptism” this week. This service will be TOTS OFF THE CHAIN. We currently have 2 people lined up to be baptized that day (Sept. 12th) and I expect more to join them.

- I exercised early this morning before I got ready for church. I have been preaching for more than 12 years and have NEVER done that before. But that high school reunion is only 40 days away… & I need some PHYSICAL change before then.

Peace-out & Love all


August 21, 2010

Matthew 10 (Part 5 of 6)

Today Matt 10:24-33:

"A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!

"So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.

Those that seek to harm us are no more powerful than their master. For those who follow Beelzebub (Satan), they are no more powerful than Satan is. With that said, Jesus has power and dominion over Satan. By us following Jesus, rather than Satan, we have power through Jesus to overcome his evil.

Fear can distract us from our focus on following Jesus. Fear can distract us from doing what Jesus has instructed us to do.

Jesus is telling us that God watches over all His creation. Nothing goes unnoticed with God. Our value to God is great enough that he notices us, our actions, and our motives.

Acknowledging Jesus before men (giving witness, testifying about what we know) and not allowing men to dominate us or to instill so much fear that we don’t act, that is what Jesus wants to reward and acknowledge to His Father in Heaven.

Do you need to be reminded that, in Jesus, you have no reason to fear evil?

Are there fears you need to hand over to the God that loves and values you?

What are some ways that you are acknowledging Jesus in front of others?

August 20, 2010

Matthew 10 (Part 4 of 6)

Today Matt 10:17-23:
"Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

"Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

Ok, I have to admit that I have struggled with this passage. On the surface, my mind keeps jumping to all the troubles that are about to happen to these 12 guys who Jesus has empowered and instructed, and the warning he gave them, “be on your guard against men”.

However, there are two other phrases that are critical, and if we read too fast we miss them. They’re in verse 18, “On my account…” and in verse 22 “…because of me…”

Lets start with verse 18. If you read this one sentence only, you see that Jesus is saying that because of Him these 12 guys “will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles”.

What have they witnessed?

What will they witness about?

FYI, verse 19 begins with the conjunction “but.” That means “on the contrary” or maybe “otherwise”. The big difference in verse 18 and verses 19 and 20 is that in verses 19 and 20 they are told that the “Spirit of your Father” will speak through them.

SO, who is speaking through them when they are witnesses before governors & kings?

Being a witness to something is significant in Old Testament writings. I think it is one of the BIG TEN … commandments that is… Exodus 20:16 (NIV) says, "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”

Oh, that’s right, the word’s different now … yeah, about that …

The Greek word used for “witnesses” in verse 18 is MARTURION (pronounced mar-too'-ree-on). Long story short, its root meaning is translated “be testified, testimony, witness” according to Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary.

So I guess my question to you today is, if you were brought before people; friends, leaders, governors, or kings … are you prepared to witness about Jesus to them?

What would you say? Will you speak the truth of Jesus? Even if “all men will hate you because of me (Jesus)?”

I certainly hope the cat doesn’t have your tongue when the time comes to speak up as witnesses for Jesus Christ. Who knows, you may get the opportunity tomorrow! Are you ready?

August 19, 2010

Matthew 10 (Part 3 of 6)

Today Matt 10:11-16:

"Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

Jesus chooses 12 followers to go out and instructs them to “preach the message” and perform acts of mercy to a “specific group of people” (some worthy person) within the group of “specific people” that is their target audience (the lost sheep Israel - not Gentiles, not Samaritans). Once the person is fnd, spend time with them in their home.

To me this is saying that a disciple must invest time and energy into those that are worthy, but worthy of what? Worthy of the message they are bringing!

Hold on, my eye catches something else. Oh, I see, Jesus is instructing them to find some worthy people and then if the home is deserving to let their peace rest on it, if not, "let your peace return" he tells them. That must mean that some times the disciples will get it wrong! They will offer peace to those whose home is NOT deserving of the peace that they are offering.

No problemo. Jesus says just move on, there are others who need what you have to offer. God will take care of those who reject the message on the Day of Judgment. Offer peace, preach the message that “the kingdom of heaven is near”, perform acts of mercy, and when your efforts are not welcomed, don’t let that discourage you to the point you quit doing what Jesus has instructed you to do. Just move on to the next place.

How many times have you felt you failed at reaching someone with the Good News of Jesus?

How many times have you wanted to quit because it was tough, or it didn’t go like you wanted it to, or you made a mistake and failed?

Well, Jesus is telling these followers that it is going to be tough, you might make mistakes, and it’s not easy out there. “Like sheep among wolves.” Dude, that’s pretty tough! But, Jesus instructs the disciples to be shrewd as snakes, yet innocent as doves, and he definitely doesn’t tell them to quit because it is tough.

In fact, in a way, Jesus is saying ‘know what you’re getting into’, ‘Get your facts together, do your research, know what you’re talking about’. Jesus doesn’t want these 12 guys to underestimate the degree of evil that is out there where they will be doing their work.

Being sure you understand that shrewd and deceit are not the same, let me ask this question: How have you been shrewd in expanding God’s Kingdom?

August 18, 2010

Matthew 10 (Part 2 of 6)

Today Matt 10:5-10:
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.

Previously we saw Jesus call out a small group of men to become an active part of growing the Kingdom of God with Jesus, and they accepted.

Next Jesus gave these 12 guys authority to 1) drive out evil spirits, 2) to heal every disease and sickness.

Notice it wasn’t until after he had given them authority that Jesus gave instructions. What would have happened if they went out with the AUTHORITY but without the INSTRUCTIONS? It could have been a mess. Have you done that before?

Also notice, even though these 12 guys had been with Jesus and previously witnessed first hand Jesus doing these things, he still gave them specific instructions of where & how he wanted THEM to do it.

A lot of people can read books about leading a new church start. They may have been in the congregation of another church start. Some might have witnessed Jesus first hand doing phenomenal things through the leadership of another church. But even with all our life’s experience, we each need to HEAR what Jesus is instructing each of US to do right now where we are!

Are you leaning on your past experiences with Jesus more than what you are currently HEARING Jesus instructing you to do now as the part of the leadership of LifeSpring Church?

Jesus gave SPECIFIC instructions of WHO (the target) he wanted the disciples to reach!

He told them who NOT to go to, and who TO go to. Does this mean that Jesus doesn’t care about the “Gentiles” or the “Samaritans”? Nope, just means it wasn’t who he wanted THESE 12 guys to go to at this time (BTW, later Jesus will give them new instructions of who to go to…so, don’t get ticked when Jesus updates your instructions!). Jesus wanted them to focus on a specific target, not just a general direction.

Who are the people Jesus is instructing LifeSpring Church to go to?

Who are the people that Jesus is instructing you to go to?

Are they the same people?

(Is this a trick question, since LifeSpring Church IS made up of people like you?)

Jesus gave SPECIFIC instructions of WHAT TO DO as the 12 guys go to the specific people (the target). Notice the order of the WHAT TO DO list of instructions they were given. (There is ORDER in what Jesus instructed them to do, matching the authority he gave them to do it -Matt.10:1-4.)

  1. Preach a message. (A specific message that “the kingdom is near." You ask, "Me a preacher?!? I’m in the band, on hospitality team, lead the production team, etc. I’m not a preacher! That’s Dorsia’s job." WRONG… BUSTED… SMELL THE COFFEE!)
  2. Heal the sick. (Cool, he gave them authority to do that earlier.)
  3. Raise the dead. (WHAT?!? Jesus didn’t say anything about giving them the “authority” to raise the dead earlier. I wonder what kind of dead he’s speaking about… physically dead… or spiritually dead… ? The things that make you go hmmm.)
  4. Cleanse those who have leprosy. (Ok, got that, it’s like the disease thing Jesus gave them authority to do.)
  5. Drive out demons. (Yep, same as above.)

To wrap things up here, I’ll ask you a couple of reflective questions…

What has Jesus freely given you that he EXPECTS and INSTRUCTS you to freely give away to a specific group of people?

Jesus refers to “the worker” (Matt. 10:10). Who are you working for?

Are you worth your keep?

August 17, 2010

Matthew 10 (Part 1 of 6)

I'm reading through Matthew 10 this week and posting my thoughts and comments here.

Today: Matt10:1-4:

He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

This passage of scriptures speaks to me a couple of things:

  1. Jesus called (asked) some of his followers, not all, to separate themselves out from all the others, and come to him.
  2. It was only after these 12 men left, or separated themselves out from the others and came to Jesus, that he gave them authority to do specific things.

Jesus gave these guys an opportunity for something more! Something miraculous!! The chance to actively join him in what he was doing!!! To move out from a spectator and be on the field of play!!!!

But it seems to me that it was conditional upon them making a choice to come closer to Jesus. In other words, they had to leave from where they were, step out of the group of people (spectators) they were with and “come to him”.

Now realize that these 12 guys had already left friends, family, and their livelihoods behind to be “Fans” of Jesus. You know the ones. It’s like those fans who are die-hard GSU fans, but who never actually went to school here or even had a kid go here. They just are spectators. (I also include in this “fan” category those who did/do go to school at GSU, but never participated in any extracurricular activity at GSU; just classes, library, exams, diploma, and gone. They’re the ones who only experienced “part” of the “WHOLE” experience of being a student at GSU.)

Some of these guys had been with Jesus for nearly a couple of years. They had witnessed first hand “Jesus teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, healing every disease & sickness” (Matt4:23-25) and even casting out evils spirits. They heard Jesus preach the sermon on the mount (Matt5–7), they saw a man healed of leprosy (Matt8:1-4), and another who was paralyzed was healed (Matt9:1-8). They even saw Jesus bring a dead girl back to life! And all this time Jesus was teaching, training, and loving those devoted “fans”, people who were constantly around Jesus…especially those who left everything behind to be with Jesus, to follow him on this journey.

And now, Jesus is asking them to step out and come to him again!

Have you been hanging around Jesus for a while?

Have you witnessed first hand Jesus’ acts of life changing love, either with yourself or someone close to you?

Have you ever wondered if Jesus has more in store for you?

Have you recently heard Jesus’ familiar voice as he again calls you to him?

These 12 guys, by moving out from the crowd of people who were following Jesus as “fans” and moving closer to Jesus, were transformed from being “observers” of the kingdom of God, growing by the transforming power of Jesus, to “active participants” with Jesus growing the kingdom of God.

Oh, by the way, LifeSpring Church’s leadership team is looking for "fans of Jesus" who are transformed into “active participants with Jesus”! The choice if yours!