New Year, New Way

What was once a “New Year” is getting ready to pass away. Too often we look back with regrets and disappointment. I believe that we all have those things. However, I believe that regrets and disappointments should be springboards rather than discouragements. We serve a God that tells us that He can work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). But we rarely live that way.

A new year is coming. It will eventually become an old year. We “resolve” to live new years better than old years but it seems to be an endless cycle that we settle into old habits. So how do we break this cycle?

I believe it is fairly simple. Not easy, but simple: We begin to live the lives we were created to live. 

We try and lose a few pounds. We try to read more. We want to begin a new hobby or stop procrastinating…whenever we can get around to it.

Why don’t these things last? Why are resolutions things that we make to break? Because we are trying to get things in order…out of order.

It boils down to the question of: “Why do we desire these resolutions?” To better ourselves. But why do we want to better ourselves? And the answer to that question is the root of whether 2017 will be just another new year that turns old…Or if 2017 will be a year that, truly, does change the course of your life. 

Bettering ourself for the sake of bettering ourself is putting lipstick on a pig (no offense to those that are trying to lose weight!). It doesn’t move the needle of our lives. 

However, bettering ourselves so that we can follow Christ better…bettering ourselves so that we can live out our lives in the way that God has called us to…bettering ourselves so that we can look more like Christ…those things move the needle of our lives because those things move the heart of God.

If we will begin there, then often times many of our “resolutions” become byproducts of our growth in Christ.

I want to give you some things to ponder as we head toward 2017. Not to “resolve” but to, maybe, just begin doing what God has already told us to. My goal is to begin putting some things in place to help you and our church to live 2017 differently.

1.) Who is ONE person in your life that you can commit to reach for Christ in 2017? Be specific.

2.) Commit to disciple 1-2 people in 2017. Jesus made it clear that this is what we were to be doing with out time, but rarely do we take part. I will put some things in place. But who are 1-2 people that you can disciple?

3.) Commit to serve. Matthew 20:28 tells us that Jesus came to serve rather than to be served. Where can you plug in to God’s church in 2017 to serve and to serve well.

4.)  Commit yourself to the Word. If you are not growing in the Word then the rest will struggle. Have a plan. Get a devotional. Set a specific time each day. Make a plan. Fail to plan and you have planned to fail.

If you want 2017 to, truly, be a new year…this is your place to start. I look forward to being a part of this journey with you.


Even When We're Not

In our modern culture, the term “ADHD” is a collective, misused title. We don’t often know what it means. But to those of us who have ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, it is more than a collection of letters to call us hyper. This is only my story, this is only my experience, but within the Church, I feel like my story is not unique to only me. This is also not a debate to prove if the disorder exists or not, this is merely my point of view.
When I was diagnosed with ADHD in 2001, I was seven years old and a elementary school student. I always had thought I was a good student, if, admittedly, a bit odd. I did not think the way other students did, but I was able to go through school with almost no problem. I was never in trouble, but I did get fussed at. Answering questions I wasn’t supposed to answer, finishing work before other students, daydreaming were all offenses that earned a stern face from teachers who usually regarded me well. I went through middle school and high school with an odd stigma attached to me: That’s the kid that is in gifted classes and in learning lab. High school culture says, wrongly, that if you need help, you’re broken, but somehow I avoided that stigma because I didn’t have to try to ace a history test or an English exam. During that time in high school, though, I did start to wonder if I was broken. Why couldn’t I focus? Do I talk too much? Why this, why that? Do I ask too many questions?
Now I’m four years removed from high school, and I work at the Church I grew up in, the place I love with all of my being, and I’ll start attending seminary in the fall, but even as an adult, I still struggle with ADHD every single day of my life. I am constantly thinking at a million miles an hour, even as I type this. It’s a life of constant motion and thought. I’m talkative, and if I weren’t me, I’d probably hate to be around me sometimes. But the single most defining attribute in my life with ADHD is Jesus. Jesus has been the constant in all of my struggles with the disorder, even when I was shoving Him to the side during high school and community college when I really struggled with my faith. He was there, and His grace, His strength, His power carried not only me, but my family when it seemed like I was not going to make it out of math, when it seemed like the middle school bullies would never stop, when it seemed like ADHD was going to derail me, He came through. I’ve learned that ADHD is not a curse deemed to wreck me, not an excuse to lean on, but it’s a way I was wired differently. It was and is something that is part of me, no matter what I do, but it is also something that has taught me to lean on Jesus when the world seems like it’s going a million miles an hour and my mind won’t stop racing.
There’s a book called the Westminster Shorter Catechism that was written in 1646 that includes a quote that is astounding to think about and still rings true with me about our purpose. A question is raised: what is the chief end of man? The answer is “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” That is an astounding answer to humans, to people because it points our origin of existence outside of us, and because it points to the focus of worship away from us and onto God. My power is not myself. It can’t be, I am not the focus of existence, but I know the One who is. Struggles come and go, but God is eternal. He can’t leave, even when it feels like He has. My high school question was answered in this notion. Yes, I was broken, but healing has happened, rescue has come, and His strength carries me, and carries many like me, many like you. We all struggle, we all fall, we all feel like we can’t go another step at times, but God picks us up and takes us where we need to go. Our weaknesses are nothing of value compared to His strength.
“The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” no matter what we look like, what struggles or weaknesses we have, because He is enough.  He is strong, even when we’re not. 

The Image of the Invisible

What does Jesus have to do with God? The question is age old, asking two things: Who is the identity of Jesus, and what does He have to do with God, if God exists? Believe it or not, I personally believe that there are Christians who do not know how to answer this question.  Many people have different views of who or what Jesus is. Some people say that Jesus is a god, part of a pantheon of three gods. Some say that He is a higher person than us, but still human. Some claim He was real, but just a good teacher.
            But the question still remains: What connects Jesus to God? As Christians, we believe that Jesus is the Son of God and is God Himself, the God that was revealed and told of in the Old Testament, who goes by the name Yahweh. This gives us first an image of who God is, which is important to who Jesus is. We have to throw out of our personal views of who God is and look at the Biblical explanation of who He is. Isaiah 44:6-9 states this: “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and His Redeemer, the LORD of Hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last; beside me there is no god. Who is like Me? Let Him proclaim it. Let him declare it and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are My witnesses! Is there a God besides Me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” That is a great picture of who God is. He is God alone. In the Old Testament, God is shown as:
  • Unique-being the Only God and viewed apart from other gods in different belief systems (Genesis 1:1-2, Exodus 3:1-6, 13-14, 20:3, Deuteronomy 6:4, Psalm 46:8-11, Isaiah 42:8, 43:10, 45:18, Malachi 2:10, Job 9:4-13, Zechariah 14:9)
  • Specific-Not leaving Himself open for interpretation, identifiable. (Genesis 1:20-27, Exodus 3:3-6, 1st Kings 18:20-26, 30-38, 19:11-13, Psalm 95:6-8, Isaiah 45:21, 46:9, Joel 2:27)
  • Omnipotent-All powerful, having unlimited power in all aspects. (Job 29:1-5, Isaiah 40:3-8, 54:10-11, 55:6-9, Jeremiah 33:3, 51:15-16, Micah 6:1-6)
  • Personal-Wanted and desired contact, held humanity in affection. (Psalm 19:14, 100:3, 107:1-9, Jeremiah 29:11, 3:33, Hosea 6:6)
These four were, in one way or another, engrained into the minds of the Jewish people at the time. When Jesus lived, in Roman occupied Palestine, they had been looking for the promised Savior. They knew exactly what the scriptures said about Yahweh God to the point where they had it memorized. When He started speaking, what He said was not accidental. In the minds of His fellow man, Yahweh, refered to as Adonai, meaning the Lord, was highly, highly, highly revered, to the point of near separation with man.   He was Holy and for Him to be equated with a man proved to a blasphemous statement, so when Jesus makes His  “equating statements” (Matthew 3:13-17, 4:5-7, 12:3-8, Mark 14:61-62, Luke 22:66-71, John 8:48-58, 10:30-33, 34:36) it draws huge reactions from the people. They want to stone him to death, but it also points out something. Jesus wasn’t just saying he was a prophet, like many claim, or that He was the same as the father in purpose. He was claiming to be literally one with the Father.
            C.S. Lewis, the author and theologian, speaks to that point: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of thing Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic-on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg-or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.”  Jesus cannot fit within the framework of other belief systems and be honestly whom He was, even those who find their origin within the actual Christian worldview. He cannot be simply added to a pantheon of gods from another belief system.
            When Christ Himself claimed that He was God in those passages, He knew the implications of such claims and their effects on the people of His culture. He also had to fit within that framework. Since we, as Christians, have been shown that Christ is who He said He was, we know who He is and we know the grace He brings and the peace He embodies.  This falls on our shoulders to be honest and clean cut about who He is and what He said. We cannot couple up what He said with another faith system.  Christ plus Karma cannot work, it’s not a Christian, or even Judeo-Christian concept. Christ plus Good Works cannot work (John 5:24, Romans 3:28-30, 5:1-5, Galatians 2:20-21, Ephesians 2:4-8, Titus 3:4-7) and be a logical, coherent belief system. Christ plus “All roads lead to heaven” cannot work (John 3:16-18, 15:6-7, Acts 17:18-29, Romans 3:21-24) and be a logical, coherent belief system. If Christ is being honest about who He is, we must put our own ideas away and look at who He presented Himself.  We cannot just conjure up an idea and say that what He is. We have to look at the records, the Scriptures, on who He was.
Jesus is much more than idea, a person. He is a turning point. He is God. Not “Sort of God,” “Little God.” In the book of Colossians, chapter 1, verse 15, a beautiful picture is painted about who Christ is. “The image of the invisible God.” That is nothing to be taken lightly. To be the image of what is invisible is to be the viewing point for the unseen. What that means is that it is that Christ is the bridge between us and something far, far greater than us. In all of Christ’s ways, He mirrored the Father, both in action and in word. There is a concept of a person, an unchanging person. When I was a child, I watched Thomas the Tank Engine. I loved it. I have changed as I have grown up, and now I do not watch Thomas the Tank Engine on a regular basis, but when I speak of a concept of an unchanging person, God fits into that. That’s a fifth identification of God, an unchanging nature (Numbers 23:19, Psalm 33:11, 102:25-27, Malachi 3:6, Isaiah 44:6, James 1:17, Hebrews 6:17.)  All five of these identifiers exist within the person of Christ.  All of this points to who Jesus is, not only who He was, but is, and who He will be.
In this, we are given the picture of who Jesus is.
We are given a glimpse at who love is, who justice is, who mercy and compassion are, and who our hope is. 

Time, Sorrow, and the Unwavering Hand of Mercy

Time, Sorrow, and the Unwavering Hand of Mercy
            “O LORD, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him? Man is like breath, his days are like passing shadow.” Psalm 144:3-4 paints a picture we don’t like to see. Our time here is a short one, in the grand scheme of things.  We, the Psalmist says, are like breath, a vapor. Vapor is merely suspended liquid in air; it dissipates quickly, and falls to earth quickly. We may not realize it, but time keeps moving on and on.
I say this not to provoke sorrow, but to discuss it. Sorrow is a part of our human condition, a quality given by the Fall. In our lives, we will have pain and loss. We will know those who are gone before we ever know them, and we will lose those who we known for all of our lives. In 2013, I lost my one of my heroes, my grandmother Annie Lee Manning.
Born in 1920, my grandmother witnessed modern history take form and take shape through her eyes. Through the Depression, through Hitler, Mussolini, and later Stalin, through the Cold War, through the Bay of Pigs, through Joe Namath’s guarantee and through Babe Ruth’s rise and fall, through the radio and through the internet, my grandmother witnessed it all. The one person I thought could live forever and always passed from this earth quietly, and with it, my link to history faded, and one of the closest people in my life slipped out of my hands.  Ninety three years of life, she was blessed beyond belief, but she had her fair share of trouble in life. It’s universal thing. Sorrow affects us all. Pain is a fact of life, and we cannot escape it, but we can heal.
Pain is a controversial thing, many times we think that if God really loves us, pain will escape us, but perhaps sorrow is not a proof that God is non-existent or that God doesn’t care, but perhaps it’s a call to go to Him. Looking at the scriptures, we can tell that God is very, very close to our pains and troubles, and wants to heal us and be the joy in our lives, even when it is hard to understand why things happen. This caring heart that God has became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. John 11:1-44 tells the story of Lazarus’s resurrection, but I want to discuss the shortest verse in the entire Bible, John 11:53. It is, plainly, both short and powerful. “Jesus wept.” Behind those two words is a world of story. Jesus had come to see his friend, Lazarus, who had been very sick. When He arrives to see Lazarus, he has passed away. He asks to go see him and when he sees where he is buried, He breaks into tears. To weep is more than to cry. You cry when you’re sad watching a movie, you weep when your heart has been crushed.
The songwriter and singer Michael W. Smith makes a very interesting statement in a testimonial video, “That night, the God of the Universe wept with me on that floor.” I think we often forget how deeply He cares for us. Jesus wept at the tomb of his friend, because He felt that sorrow. He understands our pain. He understood my pain when my grandmother passed away, He understood my father’s pain when his mother passed away, and He understood my mother’s pain when she lost her parents. More than anyone, He understands pain. Jesus took all of our sin, our delinquency, our wrong and put it on himself. He knows pain, and He knows that rejection. The Bible says that His own people didn’t accept Him, and when He held all of the sin that had ever happened and ever will happen, He was alone, but Mercy’s hand never wavers.
Mercy’s hand never wavers. Sorrow comes and goes, but the thing about sorrow is that in those moments, Christ shines the brightest. As He was taken up to the cross, the moment where all was lost, Christ was the brightest single object in the universe. It was not a scapegoat sent to die. It was God taking the penalty for our sins. In those times where we look at our lives and pray and feel like God has no idea what our lives are like, like He doesn’t relate, He does. But with Christ, we have eternity. The sorrow now will be joy in the morning. I will see my grandmothers again one day, both my mother’s and my father’s, but they won’t be the focus of my attention, and nor will it be theirs. The focus of heaven is Christ. Time will stop one day. Sorrow will end one day. The unwavering hand of mercy stands forever. 
            But I think that brings us to a larger point. Sometimes, in our lives as Christians, we all ache. We all go through sorrow, be it from family issues, or personal issues. We have to go to Christ and see where we are. His mercy and His grace are unending, and we must be ready to give up the sorrow, the pain, and give it over to Him. We love to hold on to our sorrow and not let go. We refuse to heal, we refuse to let Him help us and then wonder why we never get better. We can’t move on. There’s a story about a girl who wanted a set of fake pearls. She saved up her money to get this necklace and she adored it. One day, her father comes in and says to her, “Sweetie, can I have your necklace?” She says, “Dad, you can have my favorite toy, but you can’t have my necklace.” He comes by a few days later and says, “Honey, can I have your necklace?” She says, “Dad, you can have my favorite book, but you can’t have my necklace.” A week later, she comes into his study in tears with her eyes, and the necklace in her hand and says “Dad, you can have my necklace.”  He takes that set of fake pearls, with the shiny paint chipping off a few of them and a few of them revealing the plastic under them. He reaches into his desk drawer and pulls out a velvet box with a real pearl necklace and gives them to his daughter.
We cherish the memories of the loved ones that have gone to be with Him, but we cannot put them in front of Him.  In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, one of the most famous passages in Biblical writ is found. “For everything there is a reason, and a time for every matter under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear and a time to show; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.” Though the days are dark in the times of sorrow, there will come a time where those days are gone and the sun will shine again. It does not mean we forget, it means we finally remember. 

God bless. 

The Big If

In the modern American culture, we have fallen in love with a word. This word has the power to change minds, change situations, change things that are into things that might be. “If that wide receiver had caught that ball, the Patriots would have lost the championship!” “I would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for those kids and that darn dog!” “If the goalie hadn’t let up two goals in the last minutes, Boston would be the hockey dynasty! (I’ll admit, as a big Bruins fan that really stung to type.)” “If this, if that” has become the new unbreakable argument in anything, in sports, in culture, in politics, whatever you want to say. If Quebec had voted to be an independent, French speaking nation, modern history is changed.
So that brings me to the Big If. This If can change more than minds, situations, and things into things that might be. This If is a life changing, life transforming, life altering quandary, a bridge between one possible reality and another.

If Jesus is who He says He is, then everything is changed. Look at the possible effects of Jesus not being who He says He is. If He isn’t who He says He is, then we are most likely alone in the expanse of life. That would mean there is no God or gods, and that nothing is from a divine point of origin, creation, or start. That could also mean that there is a theistic frame work much like the deistic belief of the Seventeen Hundreds, and that God exists, but is not involved in the day-to-day life of Earth. That could also mean that perhaps we are under some pantheon of gods, maybe Ra, Seth, and Osiris, or maybe Thor, Woten, and Loki. That could mean we are gods. That could mean any infinite, unlimited things. 

See what I mean? If is a huge divider between things. If that wide receiver caught the ball, that’s back to back championships for a team. If those kids and the dog didn’t catch the bad guy, he’d have gotten away with it. If that goalie blocked those shots, maybe we’d have a new dynasty to look at (I’d like that a lot.) But that’s an if quandary. There’s a difference between if and is. I have a house with four walls. That is a fact. In a blizzard, I am very happy that that is a fact. If I said I have a house, and if I had four walls, I would be very happy in a blizzard. If I don’t have walls, I have a roof and a floor and some rods. I have a dog, I take him to get a haircut, and he no longer looks like Rod Stewart on a bad hair day.  If I have a dog, if I take him to get a haircut, and maybe he’ll no longer look like Rod Stewart on a bad hair day. There is a difference between if and is.

If Jesus is virgin-born, if Jesus is God, If Jesus did come back from the dead, then everything has changed. That means that there is a triune God as described in the Biblical texts, that means that this God wants to know us, wants to care for us and be with us. Larry King was asked once if he could interview one person from history, which one would it be. He responded with Jesus.  And if he could ask him one question, he said that he would ask if He was, in fact, virgin born. Mr. King understood what the implication of that is. If Jesus was born of a virgin, then it’s validation for who he was. And then the if becomes the is, the possible becomes the fact. There is a massive difference.

As Christians, this is a fact that cannot be understated. As Believers in Jesus, this fact should still leave us in awe, because of the implications it beholds. If Jesus is who he claimed to be, then God has made intercession between us, a sinful species who has no actual right to be Him, and Himself, a majestic, powerful, omnipotent God with all power, all authority, and all majesty, in the form of Jesus. That means that we do have value, because He values us. This is not a thing to throw away. It should make us want to go and tell the world. Look at the reaction of the early church, the best example I can think of is Stephen. In Acts 7:54-56, the first part of the last part of the story of Stephen is told. “When they heard these things, they were enraged in their hearts and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven. He saw God’s glory, with Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” In a moment, this is a common occurrence. A person said something that made a group of people mad. That’s a common occurrence. But here’s the unique thing, in verses 57-60, “Then they screamed at the top of their voices, stopped their ears, and rushed together against him. They threw him out of the city and began to stone him. And witnesses said their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They were stoning Stephen as he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’ Then he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin.’ And saying this, he fell asleep.” “Do not charge them with this sin.”  That does not sound like something somebody would say while they’re getting destroyed with rocks, unless somehow they were not afraid of death. It wasn’t like Stephen was going to turn into a certain green monster with super human strength and beat up the Sanhedrin. He was going to die. He knew it. He gave mercy, pleaded mercy from God, for these people who killed him. Genuine, loved-filled mercy while he was being killed. That’s a sign that something was different about Stephen.

It's very interesting, but unbeknownst to Stephen, or anyone there, the one who held the coats was a young student, a young member of the Sanhedrin. This young man was an incredibly well learned, intelligent, and passionate Hebrew, who had the best education in the Jewish faith available. He studied under the greatest of the Rabbis and was on his way to be one himself. His Jewish name was Saul, but as a Roman citizen, he had three Roman names. The first two have been lost to history, but the last name we do know. The man we'll soon call Paul was at the stoning of Stephen. He lived on the other side of this If quandry, but after His conversion, the If because the Is, and look at what He did. He spread the Gospel through the Gentile nation. It completely changed Paul's worldview, just like it should change ours. He was not a friend to the early Church to start, but now we attribute ten books of the New Testament to him, as well as being a very, very important leader in the early church, spreading the Gospel to the Romans, the Greeks, and many other gentile nations and people. Paul went from a sourge of the early Church to one of it's greatest allies and members. That is a heart change and a fantastic one at that. That is the power of the truth. 

Stephen did not have a Big If. He had a Big Is. It changed him, and he died because of it. He went all the way. To him, it was the only thing that mattered. In our lives, we should reflect that same focus on the fact that Jesus is who He says He is and that we do know Him. It is a paramount occurance that should change us forever, a change that is evident in our lives and in the lives of our fellow Christians, those who know Him and reflect that through their lives and through their words. We do not follow a something, we do not follow a maybe, we do not follow a Big If. Look at what Peter, one of Christ's closest friends, says in 2 Peter 1:12-17: "Therefore I will always remind you about these things, even though you know them and are established in the truth you have. I consider it right, as long as I am in this tent, to wake you up with a reminder, knowing that I will soon lay aside my tent, as our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me. And I will also make every effort that after my depture you will be able to recall thse things at any time. For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made know to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ;  instead we were eyewitnesses to His majesty."* We don't follow an If. We follow an Is. We follow something that Is and what it Is is a force, an untameable, all powerful God who loves endlessly. It changes everything, and everything is changed through Him.  I pray we all remember that. 

*Emphasis mine.

Let Us Reason Together: Can Everything Be True?

“What’s true for you is not true for me.” Such a statement as this has become common place in today’s society, and it raises a second question, "Can everything be true?" It can lead to quite the perdicament. One person’s belief goes against another person’s belief system, and we’re stuck with an argument. To a Christian, this can be a bit complex and can cause wrinkles in our faith. Is it possible that there are other beliefs out there that are real? Is it possible that we can all be on a “path to God” as has been suggested by several celebrities and even a few teachers? Can everything really be true? How I minister to people that believe differently than I do. 

Before we get too far into this, this subject has always reminded me of a passage of the book of Isaiah. In Isaiah 1:18, God is speaking to the nation of Israel, and say this, “’Come, let us discuss this,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they will be like wool.” Key in on that phrase, “Come, let us discuss this.” In the King James translation, that phrase is “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD.” Let us reason together. Let’s think about this one. Can everything really be true? In short, no, it cannot. If you take every view point available and use the argument that these are all paths we all go down to reach the same God, you’ll end up with a many contradictions. To declare that there is no such thing as truth and no such thing as an absolute means is to declare that that statement is true and that it is also absolute. Unless every statement can be held under that umbrella of thought, it must not be true, because if we were to expand it and say there are no absolutes but the statement used is an absolute but there are no absolutes means we’re going around in circles. There must only be one truth and one truth alone. You can’t have two truths in the same category.  I cannot simultaneously be in Kansas City, Missouri, and in be in Montreal, Quebec. Either “A” is “A” and “A” is not “B.”

What does this mean for us as Christians? It means that we need to stand firm in what we know and in what we believe.  In the Old Testament, we find many references to our God, Yahweh, as being singular as God alone. Examples of this are found in Deuteronomy 32:39, Psalm 86:10, Isaiah 41:4, Isaiah 43:10, 1st Kings 18:39, Hosea 13:4, and Malachi 2:10. All point to a singular unique God that is apart from every other belief system in the Old Testament world. It points to absolute uniqueness from the deities of other belief systems, as well. Christ Himself, being God, also points to His own uniqueness from both gods of other systems and other earthly teachers. John 10:30, 11:25 and 14:6 shows that Christ taught that He alone was God. We, as Christians, believe that Jesus is the same God as the God of the Old Testament, and that since He is, those Old Testament verses apply to Him as well.

What this means for Christians two sided. We believe that the only way to God is through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary (1st Timothy 2:5.) That means that there is a uniform way to God, only through Christ, and there is no other way but through Christ (John 14:6, Acts 4:12, Acts 13:38-39, 2nd Corinthians 5:17-19, Ephesians 2:1-22.) This is so important that we’re constantly warned of those who would lie to us about it and lead us astray (Jeremiah 23:26, Matthew 7:15, Matthew 24:23-25, 2nd Corinthians 11:13-15, 2nd Timothy 4:1-5, 2nd Peter 2:1-2,) but this does present another angle to look at.  Since we do know the truth of God, we must not falter in its truth. We cannot let the fact that we are right get in the way of the fact that we know the truth. What does that mean? Really, it means that we, as believers, often puff up when we’re challenged about our faith. If we get the wrong look, we get the “wrong” response, we shut down and go into defense mode and want to simply get out with the argumentative victory. Can everything be true? No, but we know what is. We as Believers and Followers of Christ know that He is the Way to salvation and to God, but we cannot let our personal victories in arguments or disagreements get in the way of the fact that we’re called to spread the truth of Jesus Christ, His Gospel, and who He really is. We’re called to spread His word to the entire world, both to those receptive to Him and to those who will reject Him (Psalm 96:3, Mark 13:10, 16:15, Luke 24:46-49, Acts 13:47) and to act with Christ’s love towards all (John 15:12, Ephesians 5:2, Philippians 2:1-11, 1st John 2:6, 4:16-17.)

We all know people who do are in need of Christ, as we are as well.  We show our love for Christ in our lives and in our words, where we put our time. We pray for those who believe differently than us, and we ask that Christ shows Himself through His Word and through our lives and through our actions. 1st Peter 3:15 says this, “But set apart the Messiah as Lord in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” In our modern times, we have all sorts of beliefs flying around, but we must always point back to Jesus, the One we know has saved us through His sacrifice.

Romans 11:36

This Week at FBC Nesbit

Happy Monday!

I hope everyone's week is off to a great start. If you weren't with us yesterday, we missed you and hope to have you back home this week!

We continued our journey of taking a closer look at who Jesus is and what that means to our lives.

Yesterday we discussed that Jesus is the source of our joy. Remember this week that as you go, circumstances will never be perfect or ideal...but that doesn't have to drag us down. Our joy is never found in our is only found in Jesus...when we ABIDE in him which leads us to trust him, and follow him, and we realize the vision and plan that he has for our lives. Which is very different from the plan that we have for ourselves when we are the center and focus...and when we are the center and focus, then joy is impossible to receive.

Just a few reminders this week:

1.) Let me take just a minute and thank you all so much for the cards, gifts, and encouragement that you have given during pastor appreciation. You will never know what it truly means to my family and me. I cannot thank you enough.

2.) Church Dare: If you need to forgive someone for something(s), then reach out to them and begin to offer forgiveness. And if you have wronged someone then reach out to them this week and begin to seek forgiveness.

A lack of forgiveness in your heart will make a mess of your life. There's nothing that Christ hasn't forgiven you of...and there's nothing that you can't forgive someone of...if you will.

3.)  Encourage the person whose card you drew last week. One more week, then we will change again.  So take advantage of an opportunity to really bless someone this week.

You never know what your love and encouragement can do for someone.

4.)  We've had a lot of visitors. If you know someone that has visited, take that opportunity to reach out to them. If you've been inviting someone, continue to invite and follow up. We are "used" to going to church. The devil is going to throw every reason he can at them to not come. You having the last word might be the difference between them coming or not.
5.) If you missed yesterday, the message will be posted online at under "media" if you want to keep up with where we are.
6.)  Our Memory Verse this week:  "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong."  I Corinthians 16:13
7.)  Holiday Market is on Saturday in the Family Ministry Center (gym) from 10 am - 2 pm
8.)  "Pjamming with Jesus" (Parents' Night Out) is coming up Saturday, November 14, from 6:00 - 9:30 pm.  Be sure and sign up with Elizabeth by Wednesday, November 11.

Have a great week!