Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Death of Jesus

28 Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

There you have it. It is finished. Debt paid in full. Nothing we do will add to or take away from the price Jesus paid to satisfy God's wrath at our sin.

31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken," 37 and, as another scripture says, "They will look on the one they have pierced."

No other scenario so beautifully portrays God's wrath and God's mercy in harmony as the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. God is holy, just and perfect and must punish sin, and he is good, loving and merciful, and he has given us unmerited grace. Both were accomplished with this one act.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Crucifixion

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18 Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, "Do not write 'The King of the Jews,' but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews."

22 Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written."

23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

24 "Let's not tear it," they said to one another. "Let's decide by lot who will get it."
This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said,
"They divided my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing." So this is what the soldiers did.

25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," 27 and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
One of the most interesting things I have read about this section of Scripture is that someone who doesn't have a clue about the truth has unwittingly proclaimed it (i.e. Christ is the King), and ironically, the representatives of the one true God, the people who should have recognized the truth, continue to reject it. Ironically, this seems to be the same today in churches, where you present the gospel to an atheist, and he considers it, while the person warming the pews has the loudest objection to the proclamation of the truth.

Friday, September 21, 2007

How to Write Your Personal Testimony

"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (1 Peter 3:15).

A friend once related how she didn't like her husband giving out tracts that she thought had a hidden agenda. The tracts were about the things of God, but they didn't look as though they were. Her contention was that it was deceitful. She said that he should be upfront and just say "I want to talk to you about God."

Shortly afterward, she admitted that the truth was that she was embarrassed when her husband was giving the tracts out, and said that she realized that her fears were spiritual in origin.

What may seem like deceit to some, is in truth "discretion." When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, He didn't say, "I want to talk to you about God. You are living in adultery." That was His agenda, but such an abrupt approach may have meant a closed door. Instead, Jesus spoke to her about water, something she could relate to, and then He gently swung to the subject of the things of God.

The result was that the woman became a believer in Jesus, and she immediately gave her testimony to the unsaved in her village. She simply said, "Come, see a man, which told me all things that I ever did: is not this the Christ?" (John 4:29). We are called to say the same thing. God is omniscient. He sees everything we do. Nothing is hid from His holy eyes. He hears every word, and He demands an account of every idle word we speak. This holy Judge of the Universe has set aside a Day in which He will judge the world in righteousness. Then we are to point to Jesus Christ, as the woman did.

It is wise to have our testimony on hand in our mind. We should know the reason we became Christians, and how we were converted. It is important that we learn how to share our testimony in a way that is effective. Our salvation centers on the Cross, so that's where we should be heading. The Cross was the evidence that displayed God's love for humanity. It is the essence of the gospel.

Three times in Scripture, Paul gave his testimony. That speaks for itself. You may not have had a Road to Damascus experience, but you have experienced the One Paul experienced on the road. You were on the Road of Sin. You saw the light. God opened your blinded eyes. You came to know Him whom to know is life eternal. You had a Road to the Cross experience.

Why do we need to be able to share the experience of being converted? Because (as it's been well-said), the man with an experience is not at the mercy of a man with an argument. A skeptic may disagree with what we say, but he cannot truly deny the experience of another person. The Christian knows the Lord.

The question that may come to mind is "How do I know that I know the Lord?" The answer is in God's Word. It says, hereby we know that we know Him, if we keep his commandments (1 John 2:3). That's the backbone of our testimony. God gives us a new heart with new desires. We are made new creatures in Christ. We have been born again. We had no interest in the things of God, now we love Him and yearn to please Him. We want to keep His commandments.

Sadly, many modern converts miss the evangelistic target when they share their testimony. They say things like "I was into drugs, etc., but Jesus filled my heart with joy" etc. Rather, structure your testimony to preach sin, righteousness and judgment.

Here's a suggested testimony composition:

  1. Learn how to include the spiritual nature of the Ten Commandments in your testimony ("I never understood what sin was, until I looked at the Ten Commandments . . .").
  2. Stress that nothing is hidden from God - that He even sees the thought-life.
  3. Stress the reality of the Day of Judgment.
  4. Preach the Cross, repentance, and faith ("Then I understood why He died. He was bruised for my iniquities, etc.).
  5. Emphasize that you weren't "converted by the Bible." Early Christians didn't have a Bible. The New Testament wasn't compiled. Most couldn't read. There was no such thing as the printing press. They were instead converted by the power of the gospel. Underscore the fact that you now know that the Bible is true because when you obeyed the gospel you were transformed - taken from darkness into light - born again - a new creature with a new heart and new desires . . . then the Bible came alive because you now have the Holy Spirit, who leads you into all truth.

Author: Ray Comfort of Living Waters Publications

Monday, September 17, 2007

QYST Day 16 - The Full Armor of God

"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.“ 2 CORINTHIANS 10:4

We're going to spend a little time now going through the armor that every Christian soldier needs to be wearing. Examine and see how you measure up. You won't feel prepared to go into the battle of winning souls if you aren't well armed.

Christianity isn’t for wimps. God put the heat of tribulation on Jesus in the desert (see Luke 4:1): "though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things that He suffered…" (Hebrews 5:8). How much more will you and I be tried if we want to walk in the footsteps of the Savior? If we want to rescue humanity from the fires of Hell, we must take control, both of our own fears and of the demonic restraints placed in front of us.

We need to know what our weapons are, and we need to have expertise in their use so that we might be effective in penetrating enemy territory. Ephesians 6:10-18 lists some of our basic inventories, where seven standard items are listed. First we are told to have our loins, "gird about with truth." So our first preparation for battle is to determine to speak the truth, the whole truth , and nothing but the truth… from the heart, without compromise.

When we are gird about with truth, the world will hate us. If we would just say that Jesus isn't the only way to God, or that you can sin and love God, or that the Bible is only one revelation of God to man, then we would have the world's smile. The unyielding truth may cause us to have to pay the ultimate price for our faith.

Today's devotion was excerpted from How to Win Souls and Influence People, chapter 2, beginning on page 14.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Jesus Sentenced to be Crucified

1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, "Hail, king of the Jews!" And they struck him in the face.

4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, "Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him." 5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, "Here is the man!"

6 As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, "Crucify! Crucify!"
But Pilate answered, "You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him."

7 The Jews insisted, "We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God."

I hear a lot of answers to the question, "Why did Jesus get crucified?" Many people say that Jesus was upsetting the system or he was a rebel or that he was trying to start his own religion. But, right here we learn that Jewish law said he had to die for claiming to be the Son of God, essentially equating himself with God. More importantly, we see again, that Jesus actually did this.
Usually a religion goes astray by denying the identity of Jesus as God. The only way to think the Jesus didn't claim to be God is to add to the Bible, or to take away from it. The plain reading of passages like this just doesn't allow for any other option.

8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. "Where do you come from?" he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 "Do you refuse to speak to me?" Pilate said. "Don't you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?"

11 Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."

This is one of my favorite parts of the story. So many stories we hear through church culture have to do with man sinning and messing up God's story, and God having to come up with a contingency plan to make it right. God had it all planned out from the beginning. So, just because we have free will, don't think for a second that God is not in control of every atom in His universe.

12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, "If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar."

13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge's seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour.
"Here is your king," Pilate said to the Jews.

15 But they shouted, "Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!"
"Shall I crucify your king?" Pilate asked.
"We have no king but Caesar," the chief priests answered.

16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

This part of the story always makes me think, how could those who claimed to follow Jesus turn on Him so quickly? But, if we think of the modern church, we are not much different. Many people walk down an aisle "giving their life to Jesus" to see what they can get out of it. But, when push comes to shove, Jesus isn't just our Savior, He is also our Lord. But, people don't want that Jesus. They want to see what they can get to satisfy their own desires. First century Jews wanted Jesus to rise up and takeover Rome. Today, we want Jesus to make us the CEO of our own company and help us win the lottery.

When God is presented as the actual Judge of the Universe, the first ones to scream out against that God are the so-called "Christians". They just want to make a God of Love, but if you present to them that the most loving God is also Just and Righteous, and is filled with wrath at the sinner, they not only want to crucify that God, but they want to crucify you.

In the end, it doesn't matter what any of us think is the real God, it matters what the Bible reveals to us. It is up to us to find the true God of the Bible and find out what He requires from us.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Jesus Before Pilate

28 Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, "What charges are you bringing against this man?"

30 "If he were not a criminal," they replied, "we would not have handed him over to you."

31 Pilate said, "Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law."

"But we have no right to execute anyone," the Jews objected. 32 This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled.

33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"

34 "Is that your own idea," Jesus asked, "or did others talk to you about me?"

35 "Am I a Jew?" Pilate replied. "It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?"

36 Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."

Though Jesus constantly refers to His kingdom, he states here that it is not of this world. He speaks of a kingdom that we will see after we leave this world. I hear many people talk about how we can bring about Jesus' kingdom here by doing such and such. I doubt Jesus needs our help. I'm sure He is in complete control and things are going exactly as He planned.

37 "You are a king, then!" said Pilate.
Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

38 "What is truth?" Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, "I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release 'the king of the Jews'?"

40 They shouted back, "No, not him! Give us Barabbas!" Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion.
God wasn't taken by surprise when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden. He didn't have to make up a contingent plan on the spot to try to remedy things. It was all planned out from the beginning. His original plan was to create man, whom He knew would fall, so He could redeem them with His son, Jesus, for His glory. Jesus knew that instead of being cast down and stoned, as was the custom of the Jews, He would be lifted up, upon a cross, the way the Romans executed people, so he could willingly lay down His life for our sins. At no time, was this out of God's control. His plan was from the beginning to sacrifice His son for you and for me. But, we do have the free will to accept or reject this grace. That free will is God's plan as well.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

You Shall Not Covet

Exodus 20:17

Share a story of something you really, really wanted, only to find that it did not satisfy.
On a scale from 1 to 10, how impulsive can you be at the mall and/or at the supermarket? Please share a funny story with the group if you have one.

Read Exodus 20:17 & 2 Samuel 11: 1-16

Coveting is a sin that is very insidious in its nature. It is subtle, silent, but can be very destructive.

What was the catalyst in this story that set in motion a chain of destructive events?
List some of the “happenings” that were a result of David’s covet for another man’s wife:
Why is coveting so bad?
Why is coveting so easily ignored, or overlooked in our Christian walk?

Read 1 Timothy 6: 9, 10 & Ecclesiastes 5: 10

According to these passages, what is the root of all evil?
What can easily happen when a person is eager for money (vs. 10)?
How can we be more mindful, and guard against coveting?

Read Psalm 111. Reflect on and discuss the attributes of the Lord that are worthy of our praise.

We can conquer coveting by being grateful to God, learning to be content with what God has blessed us with and by being more generous and giving.

As a group decide on what you WILL do, or what you GIVE, in some way, to your community (i.e. Raise money for back to school supplies for kids in need, sponsor a class room and serve them with your time, energy, and money).

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Why I am Arrogant and Judgmental

I think I have figured out why I am arrogant and judgmental. At least in the eyes of others. I had a pretty extensive conversation with my in-laws the other night. This has been a ten year conversation and has been known to get very heated, but even though things have mellowed out over the years, (We all realize we love each other and continue to debate because we really care about the salvation of the other), it got really heated this last Sunday dinner.

We have gone in circles enough, and I am learning not to get tied up chasing rabbits down holes where I know I am not going to get out easily. Lately, I have been able to really distill the Gospel down to God's holiness, our sin, God's wrath, God's mercy through Christ, and our response. We have gone through this before, but all of a sudden, it hit me. Follow my logic here for a second:

Premise A. Good people go to Heaven.
- Nobody is perfect, but you can measure on a sliding scale because "God knows your heart"

Premise B. Dru says that he is for sure going to Heaven.
- Dru also says that people who [haven't heard of Christ] are going to Hell.

Conclusion. Dru is better than the good people of Africa who never had the opportunity to hear about Jesus through no fault of their own. Therefore, Dru is first arrogant to say he knows what God will do, and second judgmental for sending good people to Hell.

It might take a bit, but let me break each of these down.

First, I never said "Good people go to Heaven." Because the Bible says that there is no one "good" but God. The trouble comes in when religion is taught to people instead of the Bible. I spoke to a Muslim the other night, and he said the same thing. His religion taught, nobody is perfect, but if you try with your heart to follow the commandments given in the Koran, you will hopefully end up with Allah finding your "good" outweighing your "bad".

The scary thing is that the Catholic religion teaches the very same thing. My mother in law told me that her religion considers Allah the very same God that Jews, Christians and Muslims worship. She also said that even if you are not actually baptized in the name of Christ, nor count on Him to cover your sin, you still are able to have the "baptism of desire". I guess this means that if you follow the Law of God simply because you know it is right, even though you never read a Bible or ever heard of Christ, much less repented and placed your faith in Him, you can still have God judge you and find your "good" outweighs your "bad. I guess the Catholic god is more like Allah then we knew.

Now, any time I pointed out that none of this was in the Bible, Catholic translation or otherwise, I was told that you had to read the Catechism or catch the latest word handed down from Rome to learn this stuff. For example, a year or so ago, the Catholic Church decreed that you needn't evangelize (share the gospel) with a Jew as they already had a deal with God and they would be just fine without Jesus. I learned that my Father in law would be better off on Judgment Day as a non-believing Jew who really had lived his whole life for other people, and never committing any sins that would be serious in God's eyes than the person who lived his life sinfully, came to realize that and repented and placed his faith in Jesus. (Guess what, that's me.)

This is basically what every religion teaches. Everyone knows in their heart that Hitler is going to Hell, and Mother Theresa is going to Heaven. Why? Because of what they did in their lives. It sounds right, it is intuitive. When you talk with people of ANY religion, you need to realize they are starting with this premise as 'true'.

Next, I walk in with this great promise of eternal salvation and start talking about Jesus, and when asked if I am going to Heaven, I say, "Sure Bet!" If you ask me about the people in China who have never heard of Jesus, no matter how clearly I say, "People don't go to Hell for not believing in Jesus, they go to Hell for breaking God's Law. All you have to do is honestly examine your heart and you'll see that you are guilty of breaking even the small part of the Law that you understand.", all people hear is "Yep, those poor good people of the jungle are going to be sent to eternal punishment because God loves a good joke and through no fault of their own, he will unjustly and cruelly punish them. But, remember, the guy who is telling you this, even though you know all (well, most) of the bad things I have done, I am on a first class seat on the express train to Glory!"

See, I am definitely arrogant and judgmental.

Friends, be very careful to define terms and spend enough time laying out the correct premise when you talk with somebody. When I say, "I am going to Heaven and a non believer is going to Hell", it comes out very clearly, "I am better than that other person."

In reality, I am besides Paul, the Chief of Sinners. The only difference is that I have been shown my heart in the mirror of God's Law. My stony heart has been broken up by examining my sin in light of perfection. Then, and only then, has God's grace been applied to cover up my sin and find me borrowing Christ's righteousness on Judgment Day. Only when I humbled myself before the Creator, and truly repented of my sin, and placed my complete trust in Christ alone for my salvation could I be assured of my place in Heaven.

Friends, be sure to convey to the world that we are not better than anyone, but by God's grace, better off.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

You Shall Not Lie

Exodus 20:16


Is it easier to tell the truth or lie? Why?
Describe your dream job.

Read Exodus 20:16

Pastor Dudley noted that lying undermines all relationships. Have you ever caught someone in a lie and if so what effect did that have on you?
In a world where lying appears to be the norm why would God command us to not lie?
In light of what John 14:6 says why does God take lying so seriously?

Read Acts 5:1-10

Ananias had no reason to lie but he did. Have you ever been in a situation where you had no reason to lie but did anyway? If so why did you feel that you had to lie?
Computer programmers have a term called GIGO (garbage in garbage out). What affects does today’s media have on what comes out of our mouths?
Paul says in Rom 7:15 that he does the things that he does not want to do and does not do the things he wants to do. Sometimes we want to tell the truth but do not, what can we do to fight the urge to lie and tell the truth?

If you have not done so already, coordinate a summer outreach. It does not have to be complicated. In fact the simpler you make it the more likely it will get done. Do weekend warriors, volunteer at your local shelter; decide to do breakfast for your local fire department to show them how much you appreciate them.

Quietly reflect on the things the may tempt you to lie. After a few moments confess to God in prayer what comes to your heart. Then, someone read Psalm 117 as a group.

Monday, September 03, 2007

You Shall Not Steal


Have you ever been a victim of theft, if so what was stolen from you?

How did it make you feel?

WORD: Read Joshua 7
Just think for a second about the context of this situation. Achan has been with the Israelites for a while now and has seen GOD’s miracles in the years of wondering in the desert, how HE brought them into the land of Canaan, and destroyed the walls of Jerico.

What do you think prompted Achan to take some of the devoted things in which he was commanded not to?

If God is in control of all things and all things belong to Him, why then was He so concerned about a robe and some money?

Read verse 20-21
Chris Seidman said that to catch a thief we do not need more than just a bunch a jails, police, and rehabilitation centers, we need to get to the heart of the thief. What was at the heart of Achan’s sin?

Read Luke 23:39-43
What are the differences between the heart attitudes of the two thieves who hung next to Jesus?
Pastor Chris talked about transforming from a taker into a giver, what are some areas in your life that you need to turn from a taker into a giver?
What is an area in your life that God has already transformed you into a giver?

WORSHIP: Read Psalm 19

Discuss how your group has been givers in the community?
Plan out your Community Outreach Project

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Peter's Second and Third Denials

25As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, "You are not one of his disciples, are you?"
He denied it, saying, "I am not."

26One of the high priest's servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, "Didn't I see you with him in the olive grove?" 27Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.
OK, let's pick up where we left off. It seems that I have been neglecting this study for a while. To restate my purpose for going through the Book of John, the fourth Gospel in the New Testament, I want to look at this book from the perspective of someone who is not a Christian and has decided to look into what it means to be a Christian. Many people are steered towards this book as a great place to start. I also think it is important to follow through the Bible in the order that God would have us read and try to get as much out of each book as we can. The other choice would be to find a message or theology we like and look through the Bible cherry picking verses out that agree with our already established conclusions. I prefer the first method, and I hope you do as well.

OK, this section is finishing up a story of Peter denying Christ. Christ has already predicted this, so it was no surprise to Him. The one that was shocked was Peter. After hearing a recent sermon and talking with many "Christians" about the idea of how to share their faith, this verse is taking on a whole new meaning for me. Peter was certainly a believer, and still denied Christ. What would cause this? Did he not love Christ? I doubt it. I'm sure he loved Christ.

I think the reason was that he was scared to offend others, or certainly scared of the consequences of being associated with Christ. It was easier to deny Him than face losing status, freedom, or possibly even his life.

How does that apply to us? Are many of the people in our churches believers? Do they love Christ? I'm sure of it. But, how do we deny Christ? Hey, we have t-shirts that say, "His Pain, Your Gain" on them, and we have a sticker on our car telling everyone that our kids got straight A's in a Christian school. Then, how are we denying Christ?

There is a big trend these days (though I'm sure it's not new) of "sharing your faith" by showing kindness to strangers. Now, I have no problem with sharing kindness, and certainly I believe that if you are not kind to everyone, you have no right to share your faith verbally.

But, how kind is it if all we do is feed and clothe people and never once share with them the saving Grace of Jesus Christ? If we do not let people know about their sin, and the coming day when God will judge them in righteousness, and the only way to reconcile themselves to this holy God, is to surrender before the sacrifice of His Son Jesus and be counted as righteous themselves on that day; if we do not let people know this as lovingly and as compassionately as we can, then all the food in the world only serves to glorify ourselves.

And THAT is how many of us deny Christ to this day. Hey, don't let the rooster crow before you actually share your faith. Don't be surprised as Peter that even though you are sure you are a believer, you are actually denying the very one that saved you.

The reason you are reading this is because somebody TOLD you about it. The reason you are considering it is because that person is hopefully kind and respectful to you. They go hand in hand. Go out today and do both.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Question: "What is the purpose of the church?"

Acts 2:42 could be considered a purpose statement for the church, “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” So, according to this Scripture, the purposes / activities of the church should be: (1) teaching Biblical doctrine, (2) providing a place of fellowship for believers, (3) observing the Lord’s supper, and (4) praying.

The church is to teach Biblical doctrine so we can be grounded in our faith. Ephesians 4:14 tells us, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.” The church is to be a place of fellowship, where Christians can be devoted to one another and honor one another (Romans 12:10), instruct one another (Romans 15:14), be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32), encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and most importantly love one another (1 John 3:11).

The church is to be a place where believers can observe the Lord’s supper, remembering Christ’s death and shed blood on our behalf (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). The concept of “breaking bread” (Acts 2:42) also carries the idea of having meals together. This is another example of the church promoting fellowship. The final purpose of the church according to Acts 2:42 is prayer. The church is to be a place that promotes prayer, teaches prayer, and practices prayer. Philippians 4:6-7 encourages us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Another “commission” given to the church is proclaiming the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). The church is called to be faithful in sharing the Gospel through word and deed. The church is to be a “lighthouse” in the community – pointing people towards our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The church is to both promote the Gospel and prepare its members to proclaim the Gospel (1 Peter 3:15).

Some final purposes of the church are given in James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” The church is to be about the business of ministering to those who are in need. This includes not only sharing the Gospel, but also providing for physical needs (food, clothing, shelter) as necessary and appropriate. The church is also to equip believers in Christ with the tools they need to overcome sin and remain free from the pollution of the world. This is done by the principles given above – Biblical teaching and Christian fellowship.

So, with all that said, what is the purpose of the church? I like the illustration in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. The church is God’s “body” – we are His hands, mouth, and feet in this world. We are to be doing the things that Jesus Christ would do if He were here physically on the earth. The church is to be “Christian” – “Christ-like” and Christ-following.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

What Went Wrong???

Brad's dream of a happy family with Angelina is shattered. Now the kids are caught in the middle. Who's to blame?
What went wrong, indeed. If breaking up with your wife to be with your on set girlfriend isn't right. If being with your girlfriend actually just means living with her with no marriage. If a happy family means keep adopting kids out of wedlock till you just can't take it anymore. Well, if all that didn't work, then I just don't know what else I could say to help.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Thank You, Come Again!

Last night the crew met up at the Kwik-E- Mart. This was a 7/11 in Burbank that has been redesigned for the promotion of the Simpson's movie opening. They are selling Buzz Cola, Squishees and Krusty-O's Cereal. Basically, they rebranded all the regular merchandise, added some signs and turned a regular 7/11 into a theme attraction with a half hour wait outside the door.

We showed up and started giving away dollars for Simpson's trivia questions, and led into an open air session of good ol' Law and Grace. Except for the security getting a little nervous as to what we were up to, we had a great time. It was a little slower than we were used to on a Saturday night, so after not too long, the group moved up to our regular spot in Downtown Burbank.

But, this is a great example of finding new and innovative ways to get off the couch and get out there and tell more people the truth of God's coming judgment and His immeasurable grace to all of us sinners.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Flirting With Adultery

Exodus 20:17

1.Recall and share a time in your life were you had to have a “courageous” (tough) conversation with someone? What made it hard? How did you see God move in that situation?
2.In what ways has our current culture influenced what we believe in the church?

In Dudley’s sermon this past weekend he establishes right off the bat that “God knows Best,” when it comes to our sexual choices and behaviors.

1.In general, why do you think this point is so often quietly debated and contested in our hearts as individuals?
Read Matthew 5:27-28, Proverbs 5:22-23, and Romans 12:1-2
2.How does personal discipline and responsibility play into honoring God with our minds and bodies?
3.As it relates to moral and sexual purity, what do discipline and responsibility look like in the context of your own life?
Read Galatians 6: 1-3
4.How can we as believers come alongside one another when one of us has fallen?

The aftermath of adultery or any moral breach for that matter, leaves collateral damage and emotional scars that may take some time to heal.

In Galatians 5:1 Paul reminds us that it is for freedom that we have been set free, so we should stand firm and not let ourselves be burdened by the yoke of slavery.

Meditate on Psalms 51: 1-14. This Psalm of David is one of repentance and cry for restoration after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba. Allow the words of his heart to rest on yours. Take note of what actions David commits to doing after his repentance in verses 13 and 14.

Think of one or two people you will be deliberate and intentional about inviting them to your life group.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

You Shall Not Murder

Exodus 20:13

1.Share one of the silliest things you’ve ever done because you were angry?
2.If you had a dollar for every time you’ve gotten angry would you be rich or poor right now? Explain.

Read Exodus 20:13 & Mathew 5:21-22

1.How does Jesus raise the bar on the commandment, “…you shall not murder?”
2.Why is anger so deadly?
The bible tells us that anger, in and of itself, is NOT wrong, but when we are angry Not to sin:

3.List some things, situations, and time when getting angry would be appropriate.
4.How do you handle you anger (are you a re-presser, explosive expresser, stealth assassin)?

5.What happens when we repress, and suppress anger?
6.Reading Proverbs 29:11, James 1: 19-20, and Proverbs 10:19; what practical guidelines can we apply as it relates to releasing our anger appropriately?
7.In what practical ways can you better manage your anger?

1 John 1:9 tells us that, “…if we confess our sins [God] is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and clean us from all unrighteousness.”

If you are harboring un-confessed anger, tend to blow up in anger, or maybe you have a habit of just repressing it, realize this is a great time to share your heart with the group (if you have not already done so), and as a group pray for one another.


THIS WEEK, share this lesson with a neighbor on your street, a friend, or relative. Pray that God gives you an opportunity to engage in a conversation about anger with someone. God may be convicting your heart about someone you may have hurt because of your anger. If this is the case, go to that brother or sister and reconcile that breach.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Honoring Parents

Exodus 20:12


Share a funny time in your life when you got in trouble with your parents.
Or… In what ways are you more like your parents now that you are an adult?


Read Exodus 20:12 & Ephesians 6:1

According to the text, why is it so important to obey our parents as we grow up?
In Ephesians 6:1 what do you think is the difference between “obeying” your parents and “honoring” them?
How do we honor our parents?
As our heavenly father, how do we honor God?

Read Proverbs 22:6
Dudley mentioned in his sermon that the primary role of the parent is to teach their child the things of God.

What are the implications of this verse?
Share a good thing and a “not so good thing” you learned from your parents?
How has your up bring impacted your current life?


Read Psalm 139:1-18
Reflect on your life growing up. Go to God in prayer (forgiving your parents were they may need forgiveness, praying for them were they need prayer) ask God how you may better honor your earthly parents… how you may better honor Him.


Have you scheduled your community outreach project? One suggestion is for the group to visit and volunteer at an elderly care center.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Remembering the Sabbath


What was the most fun you have at work and what did you do?
What does your perfect day look like?


Read Exodus 20:8-11

What was the longest time that you went without a day off to rest? How did it feel not having a day off (physically and mentally)?

This weekend Dudley had 3 points to his message, they were…
The need to work (v.9)
The necessity of rest (v.9-11)
The never ending call to worship (v.10)

What are some of your indicators that let you know you need to rest or take some time off?

What is the hardest part of your job? (All of you stay at home Mom’s; yes this applies to you too.)

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:5-11

What are some of the key truths that you see in this passage about the positive aspects of working?

How do you balance work, rest and worship?

Read Mark 2:23-28

How does this scripture help you understand the purpose of a Sabbath?

Have you ever taken a whole day and dedicated it to the Lord?
(Example; taking a day specifically for prayer, taken a walk/hike just to give thanks for what he created, or gone on a silent retreat.)
If so please share your experience.


Read and pray through Psalm 62

****Group Challenge: have everyone in your group go out this week to a solitary place to spend at least 2 hours alone with GOD in prayer.


Invite one person from your group to the next HOST TRAINING on July 12 so that they can launch a group. This will provide space in your group for new members and another open home for others who are not yet connected with a LIFE GROUP.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Friday, July 13, 2007

Second Life

Last night, I was asked to speak at a church about evangelism. I had twenty minutes to speak on the Biblical method of presenting the Law to sinners and then showing God’s grace in light of that Law. Sounded good to me. There was only one detail I didn’t realize. This was a “virtual” church. I was going to have to suit up in an avatar and jump into cyberspace. There was a bit of a learning curve, but after I figured out how to move around and figured out the voice features of this particular world, it was actually pretty cool.

I walked into the “church” building and spoke to about 20 people who were all attending. In meatspace (a term I just learned for the real world) people were actually all over the world, and I was actually at a Starbucks logged in and speaking to my laptop computer. Though, in cyberspace, it was a real church service. With the audio features of this technology, they had worship music, and prayer and even free Bibles to give out to anyone in attendance.

As I looked into Second Life, it turns out that there are almost two million people who regularly log in and spend time in this world. There are real stores that take real money that sell real items such as mp3 versions of songs, or even things that can get shipped to your house in meatspace. What a world.

What I did learn was that if you are creative, you can find a spot that you can make your own fishing spot, even if it only exists in electrons flying around a Starbucks. But, whatever your particular circle of influence, where is your fishing spot? Get out there (or in there) and seek and save the lost.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Saving the Planet with Pop

Partly because nothing else is on, and partly because I want to test out my new HD TV, I am watching the Live Earth concert event today. Today, 7/7/7, the luckiest day of the century or some nonsense.

I really try to stay out of political discussions, especially living here in California, where the mere utterance of the word "Bush" will throw the room into a frenzy.

But, you really can't get away from it. This whole concert thing is really just a big outreach to the youth to get them to vote for the candidates that support their agenda. On the surface, it is about caring for the planet. But, in reality, you can only care for the planet if you vote for Al Gore. And, then you dig deeper and you can only save the planet if you stop Bush and war. And then you really can only save the planet if you stop Christianity and it's evil patriarchal, white, republican dominated nastiness.

Here is a snippet of what I just heard from Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.

When the sky and the oceans are clean again, we shall be free. (love the creation, not the Creator)

When we're free to love anyone we choose. (Gay marriage)
When this world is big enough for all different views. (no absolute morals)
When we all can worship from our own kind of pews. (The Bible might be 'true for you')
We shall be free...

So, you start out throwing your soda can in a recycle bin, and then you move on to full fledged relativism.

When are we going to turn from "pop" and look to the "Father" to save us?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

America, America

I just bought 500 of these tracts to give out at our church's 4th of July Fireworks display. If you are going to be anywhere tomorrow with lots of people waiting around to see fireworks, why don't you join me in passing them out...

See if you can spot the odd one out: earthquakes, floods, droughts, cancer, AIDS, terrorism, war, hurricanes, God's blessing, tornadoes.

Of course "God's blessing" is the oddity. Yet, there are many who would believe the entire list is harmonious. In their ignorance, they think that the devastating things that are happening to this nation are nothing more than nature doing her own thing. You may have noticed that lately there has been an increase in Mother Nature's rumblings. You may also be aware that in the last ten years, incidents of cancer in the U.S. have increased. In 2002 there were 189,000 new cases of prostate cancer in the U.S., with 203,500 cases of breast cancer.

Cancer isn't our only dilemma. Back in 1993, Americans spent an incredible $898 billion on health care. We have moved from one of the lowest infant mortality rates to one of the highest, with over 40,000 newborns dying each year. The National Alliance for Mental Illness diagnosed that ten million people have serious long-term mental disease. The United States of America is continually being plagued with killer earthquakes, new incurable diseases that are outwitting antibiotics, killer hurricanes, devastating tornadoes, calamitous floods, terrible droughts, and the return of once "conquered" diseases such as tuberculosis.

The Cause
The Bible tells us that "righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." Well let's see how we are doing morally:

1. Adultery: USA Today reported that fifty to sixty percent of married couples admit to adultery.

2. Fornication: According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, approximately one in five people in the United States, 45 million individuals, are infected with the virus that causes genital herpes.

3. Rape: A Harris poll sets the figure at 380,000 rapes or sexual assaults that took place back in 1993. The Justice Department says that eight percent of all American women will be victims of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime.

4. Pornography: UPI News, November 19, 1997 said that porn video rentals soared to 665 million in 1996, accounting for 13.3 percent of video rentals in America.

5. Abortion: Centers For Disease Control and Prevention reported 1,267,415 abortions in 1998. It's been estimated that there have been more than 40 million since Roe vs. Wade.

6. Theft: It is estimated theft costs the country $500 billion each year.

7. Greed: Focus on the Family revealed that Americans now visit casinos more often than they attend professional sporting events. Collectively, they lose in excess of $50 billion each year to lotteries, horse and dog tracks, casinos, and the various other gambling venues.

8. Murder: According to FBI statistics, over 18,000 people were murdered in 1997. It averaged more than 20,000 per year, totaling 200,000 murders during the 1990s. Over 100,000 murderers were never brought to justice.

9. Drunkenness: Florida Alcohol & Drug Abuse Association estimates that the social costs of alcohol addiction amount to $100 billion per year in lost productivity and related health costs.

10. Hypocrisy: The Barna Research Group found that sixty-two percent of Americans profess to be Christians, while the book, The Day America Told the Truth said that ninety-one percent lie regularly.

We don't seem to be doing too well. We are no different than Israel, who through the ages, kept straying from God's Commandments into lawlessness. From there, they lost the promised blessing of health, which was conditional upon righteousness (Deuteronomy 28:15-46).

Meanwhile, despite our national sins, a blind and mystified world points to everything from coffee to hot dogs as the reason for the increase in cancer.

As the blessings of God have been removed from the soil, we think nothing of spraying crops with hundreds of thousands of tons of poisons each year to try and combat the onslaught of pestilence. The influence of generations of evolutionary philosophy has us thinking that we are merely assisting (a not quite fully evolved) Mother Nature.

The thought that we have somehow offended God, doesn't even enter the area of our godless reflection.

America the beautiful is no longer beautiful. Violence and sin has made her ugly. America, America, God shed His grace on thee� but now you are reaping the fruit of your sins, and it is time for you to be told:

America, America,
God mend thine every flaw
Confirm thy soul in self control,
Thy liberty in Law.

What does the song-writer mean by "Thy liberty in Law?" - a city whose drivers are lawful, has the liberty of flowing, problem-free traffic. But if drivers refuse to obey traffic laws, there will be accidents, pain and chaos. Winston Churchill was right when he said, "If a nation won't be ruled by God, it will be ruled by anarchy." We are suffering the aftermath of a national loss of self-control, and consequently, lawlessness. Here again is just some of the chaotic fruit of not keeping God's Law - murder, theft, rape, drug-addiction, alcoholism, obesity, fear, hatred, sexual perversion, racial prejudice, greed, disease, spousal abuse, child abuse, child pornography, family break-down, etc. If you are the victim of the sins of America, God knows your pain. The Bible says He is full of compassion and rich in mercy to all that call upon Him. Even though the situation seems hopeless, there is a way to avert the pathetic sight of children with cancer, more terrible disasters, and other horrible diseases from further flooding this nation. There is a way we can, with the help of God, bring healing to this once great country.

The Answer is in Your Hands
Let's stop talking about "America's" sins, and see how you and I personally stand morally. Answer the following with a tender conscience: Have you ever told a lie? This includes any fibs, white lies, half-truths or exaggerations told in the past. Remember, time doesn't forgive sin. God sees the sins of your youth as though it were yesterday. If you have told even one lie, then you are a liar (be brutally honest with yourself, because God will be on the Day of Judgment). Have you ever stolen something? The value of the item is totally irrelevant. If you have stolen one thing, then you are a thief.

Have you committed murder, or have you desired to by harboring hatred in your heart? If you have hated someone the Bible says that you are a murderer.

Jesus said, "Whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her, has committed adultery already with her in his heart." Have you ever done that? Have you had sex outside of marriage, or committed adultery, or desired to? Then you have committed sexual sin and cannot enter Heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9).

Have you kept the Sabbath holy, always honored your parents, have you put God first in your affections, loving Him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength? Have you always loved your neighbor as much as you have loved yourself? Most of us have trouble loving our "loved" ones, let alone loving our neighbors. Have you ever used God's name in vain, either employing it as a curse word, or failing to give it due honor? Have you made a god to suit yourself and therefore been guilty of "idolatry" - making a god in your own image, believing in your version of what you think God is like? Have you ever desired anything that belonged to someone else?

If you have broken even one of these Ten Commandments, then you have sinned against God. On Judgment Day every sin you have ever committed will come out as evidence of your guilt. You will be damned forever, and lose your soul. Without God's mercy, you will go to Hell. The Scriptures warn that unless you repent, you will perish. Don't add self-righteousness to your sins by saying that you are basically a "good" person. If you refuse to admit that "America's" sins are your sins, you will never seek God's mercy. Don't also think that God will overlook your sins because He is good. His "goodness" will make sure justice is done. He will punish all liars, thieves, adulterers, etc.

Don't be fooled into thinking you can clean up your life. No "good" you do can wash away your sins - only God's mercy can do that. Two thousand years ago, He came to this earth in human form to take the punishment for us. The Bible says, "God commended His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." When Jesus died on the cross, He stepped into the courtroom and paid the fine for us. His suffering was necessary to satisfy the Law you and I violated. The moment we repent and trust the Savior, God forgives our sins and grants us everlasting life.

That's how America can be healed of her plagues . . . God will forgive our sins because of what Jesus did on the cross. If you care about America, if you care about the children of America . . . if you care about your eternal salvation, tell God you are sorry for your sins, then turn from them in humble repentance. Think of it this way - you are a man who has committed adultery. You have violated the trust of a loving and faithful wife. She is more than willing to forgive you, so how can you reconcile the relationship? You humble yourself, tell her you are truly sorry . . . then vow to never (even think of) committing adultery again. You shouldn't need someone to write words of sorrow for you to read to your wife, and you shouldn't have to read a prayer of repentance to God from this tract. Just pour your heart out to Him. It's your heart, not the words that really matter. Then put your faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Trust Him in the same way you would trust a pilot with your life when you fly on a plane. He is but a fallible man, so how much more should you trust in God. Read the Bible daily, and obey what you read, and God will never fail you. Check out our web site for further help: May God bless you, your family, and may God bless America.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Another Basic Training Course completed

Today we finished week 8 of the Basic Training Course, and we are on schedule to start back over next Saturday with Lesson One. This Wednesday is the Fourth of July, and we plan to have the whole evangelism team out in force. Last year there were about 40,000 people in attendance and I doubt I will be able to get everyone there a tract, but I am sure going to give it a try.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Watch Your Talk

Did you have any nicknames growing up that you would be willing to share?
Share the most positive name you have ever been called.


As we attempt to fill our language with good things, let us start with praising the Lord for the good things he has done in our life. Read Psalm 111 and then begin to pray with praise for the Lord.

  • Read Eph. 4:29. What are the kinds of “unwholesome” talk you have heard in the last month?
  • Ephesians 5:4 talks about “obscenity, foolish talk and coarse joking.” What impact does this kind of talk really have on us and our relationships? Can you give any personal examples?
  • Based on Matthew 12:34, we know there is a relationship between our mouth and heart. How can we allow the positive and encouraging things that are in our hearts to better flow from our mouth?
  • How do you react when someone uses the Lord’s name as a profanity?
  • Share with the group some of the ways you have learned to deal with profanity in your own life.
  • What are some ways you can focus on the “right, noble, pure, lovely, admirable” things as Philippians 4:8 tells us?
  • Break into groups of two or three and pray for each other in this area of the language we use.

In your group of two or three share how you can remove or improve something to be a better witness for Christ.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Right God, Wrong Image


What is the one thing in your life that you simply can’t do without?
Describe your dream vacation.

Read Exodus 20: 4-6

1.In this passage what is the difference between the first commandment and the second commandment?
2.In vs 5, what kind of God does God say He is? Why do you think He says that?
3.In our society, who or what do we tend to make idols of? Why?
4.Pastor Dudley noted that an idol is anything that you worship rather than God. If you are not careful, what can easily slip into the “idol” position in your own life? Explain.

Read Psalm 115:1-11

5.In the first vs. how does the Psalm set the tone; Who gets ALL of the Worship?
6.How does the psalmist compare and contrast God with other idols? (vs. 3-8)
7.In verses 9-11 what does the psalmist encourage us to do, and why?
8.Dudley’s final point last Weekend was, “Idolatry is really just a subtle form of self-worship.” List out two or three things you can do each day to keep your focus off of yourself and on God.

If you have not done so already, assign a person (s) to coordinate your summer outreach. It does not have to be complicated. In fact the simpler you make it the more likely it will get done. Do weekend warriors, volunteer at your local shelter; decide to do breakfast for your local fire department to show them how much you appreciate them.

Quietly reflect on what things you may tend to focus on more than you focus on God. After a few moments confess to God in prayer what comes to your heart. Then, someone read Psalm 117 to the group.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Numero Uno

When was the last time you did something for the first time?
What is your favorite Ice Cream flavor?

Read Exodus 20 1-3
1. What does the term “God” mean to you, in other words how do you determine if something is being a “God” to you?

2. What are some thing, that people in our society, have made “Gods” in their lives?

3. Which one of these do you struggle with?

4. Name a person who you think does a good job at putting The Lord God first in their life.

Read Matthew 22:34-38
5. How do the “Greatest Commandment” and the First Commandment support each other?

6. Share what it means to you to put love God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind?

7. Pastor Dudley talked about the “FIRST” test to see if you are putting God first in your life. The test asks what is the emphasis on the following areas of your life:
Focus, Income, Relationships, Spiritual Food, and Time.

Go around and share how you score on the test.

Do you want to see your group grow closer than ever before? Outreach events are the greatest contributor to group members growing closer together. This summer is going to be a great opportunity to do at least one outreach project with your group. Start thinking and talking about stepping out in faith and blessing others as God blesses you.

Take some time to quietly (on your own) go over where you stand on the FIRST test. Go around and pray to make a commitment to put God first in every area of your life.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

QYST - Day 15 - Go And Make Disciples

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” MATT. 28:19-20
“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” JOHN 14:15
Now that you understand the principles, how are you doing practically? It’s been two weeks since you started this journey, you’re almost half-way through this devotional… how many people have you shared your faith with since you began? This is a challenge we all need...

Over the years, I have asked churches, “How many of you can say before God that you have witnessed verbally to more than 12 people over the past 12 months? That is, at least every 30 days or so, somebody who is sitting in the shadow of death has heard the Gospel of everlasting life from your lips?” I have found that only 8-12 percent will raise their hands. Where is the zeal? Jesus said, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, italics added). The Holy Spirit wasn’t given without purpose in mind. He was given so that we might have power for the purpose of being witnesses of Christ. So many profess to possess the power, but where is the lifestyle that confirms what the profess to possess?

Are we hot for God? Can we say that we have witnessed to more than 12 people in the last 12 months? Do we have the testimony, “to live means opportunities for Christ?” Is there a zeal to witness burning in our bones? It doesn’t matter how much we pray, tithe, fellowship… Jesus said “Go.” Obedience is better than sacrifice. Sure those things are the basics of the Christian faith, but if we are not sharing the faith we are not fulfilling our commission. We are like survivors of the Titanic singing songs as we polish the brass in the lifeboat, when there is room for many who are drowning around us. There is nothing wrong with polishing brass… but not while people are drowning around us. We are commissioned soldiers. True Christianity is not a pleasurecruiser on its way to Heaven, but a battleship stationed at the very gates of Hell!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Christianity Without Salvation

The legacy of the "Social Gospel"--100 years later.

Read the full article, but basically the "social gospel", (read liberal Christianity) has "...little need of a Savior. It merely displace[s] the problem of evil--the supreme tragedy of the human soul in rebellion against God--with the challenge of social iniquities. The Kingdom of Heaven [will] come soon enough, if only we put our hands to the plow."

I find it interesting that we have a president who claims to be a Christian (in fact we have not had one yet who claimed otherwise) and people who scream out at how what he does shows that he is a hypocrite. And, we have people running for the office who all claim to be Christian, and people who cry out that by what they would vote to legalize, they are hypocrites. Clearly there is a conflict when each side is claiming their candidate for their idea of Christianity. One of the two sides (if not both) must have a faulty definition of what it means to be Christian.

Should our faith drive us to good works? Sure. But, do our good works make us a Christian?

In 1 Corinthians, we read,
"By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
Your works will be shown for what they are, being revealed with fire. On this Memorial Day, set aside to remember those who have given their lives, how appropriate to remember the One who gave his life for us. Let's make sure our works are built on His foundation.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Question of Faith

Retyped without permission from Nick Jr. Family Magazine...

(Ask a Mom - A column by Allison Pennell)
My Parents are religious; we're not. Should we let the kids go to church with them on Easter?

As long as you aren't opposed, and your parents respect your religious leanings, I think you should five it a try. My friend Allie and her husband, who are on the "secular humanist" end of their respective faiths, have opted to let her parents take the kids to temple once in a while. Despite her misgivings going in, she's actually found the whole experience very sweet. She realizes that for her parents, it's more about sharing their culture and community (and showing off their grandchildren) than religion itself.

Just be aware that your kids mishgt ask some questions about your own faith - or lack thereof. ("Why don't we go to church?" "Do you believe in God?") Kids have a knack for sniffing out false piety, so try to answer thier questions as honestly as possible, says Bradford Wilcox, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Virginia. Also keep in mind that some kids may want to connect to a tradition larger than themselves, so the stories, rituals, and ceremonies associated with grandma and grandpa's faith may give them a sense of comfort and purpose.

Of course, if you're uncomfortable with this idea, tell your parents no diplomatically bur firmly. You might say, "We appreciate the invitation and know that it's important to you, but organized religion isn't right for us."

Is it just me or does something seem backwards about this letter? What has the world become that we are worried about people taking our childred to church? I can imagine not letting my kids stay somewhere because the family will NOT be taking them to church. And, if somehow these people survived being raised by these 'churchgoers', then why wouldn't their children be OK for one Easter?

I see more tolerance for making sure our kids read the Koran and learn not to judge terrorists than I see for letting kids go paint Easter eggs. I won't even go into my rant about Easter eggs having nothing to do with the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.

Perhaps the problem is that the parents in this scenario were probably more into the 'culture and community' than the message? My wife was raised in the Catholic church, and the family sure was into the culture of being Catholic. And, boy do the grandparents love to show off their grandkids at their Easter and Christmas functions. That is fine. But, maybe if the gospel were the focus, you know the part about our sinfullness offending a holy and pure God, and the part where even though we deserve hell, He chose to send His Son to die in our place because he was so full of mercy, you know, that gospel, then maybe these people would be less worried about their kids visiting a church, and more worried about running out to a lost and dying world with the only message of hope that we have.

There... I said it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

QYST - Day 14 - Covetous Desires

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 JOHN 2:15

Today we will look at the Tenth Commandment: “You shall not covet ... anything that is your neighbor’s (Exodus 20:17). Covetousness is perhaps the most subtle of sins. It seems minor compared to adultery, theft, or rape. However, before a man steals, he covets. Before he rapes or commits adultery, he covets. Covetousness is the spark that sets off the fuse of sin. It is a sin that lies close to the surface of every human being. Few children are content with ten pieces of candy when the child next to him gets eleven. Covetousness is the bedfellow of jealousy, greed, and lust. It was this quiet sin that found a place in the heart of King David, rich and blessed though he was. His covetous eye roamed toward another man’s wife, and opened the door to a multitude of sins.

Who of us can stand guiltless and say that we have never jealously desired something that belongs to someone else? Whether we long for another’s house, car, income, or lifestyle, our covetousness reveals a lack of gratitude for what God has already given us. That’s why Scripture admonishes us to “be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have” (Hebrews 13:5). Learn to pray along with the psalmist, “Incline my heart unto your testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity. . .” (Psalm 119:36,37).

This devotion was excerpted from The School Of Biblical Evangelism, chapter 14, beginning on page 96.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The High Priest Questions Jesus

19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.

20 "I have spoken openly to the world," Jesus replied. "I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said."

22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face. "Is this the way you answer the high priest?" he demanded.

23 "If I said something wrong," Jesus replied, "testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?" 24 Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest.
I've been talking with a lot of people lately, and everyone has their idea of what Jesus taught, or what Christianity is, or even what religion is supposed to do. I'm amazed at when professing Christians even tell me what their religion is supposed to mean. One of the reasons I'm going through the book of John here (and eventually the whole Bible) is to slow down and take a look at what God says Christianity is supposed to do. Let's ask those who heard Jesus. Surely they know what He said.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Last Stages of Life

Here is an outline from an article I just read...

The last stages of life can be very stressful for the dying person and those caring for him/her. You will observe changes that may be upsetting and unfamiliar. Learning about the dying process will help. Many physical changes occur during the process of dying that affect the emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of a person’s life.

There are some signs and symptoms of dying that are observable, although not everyone follows a predictable sequence of events or stages.

Health professionals speak of “dying trajectories” that suggest how persons with specific diseases will die. For example, those with a terminal illness, such as advanced cancer, will show a steady decline toward death. Those with serious chronic illnesses may have peaks and valleys that sometimes give the impression of recovery.

Remember that each person’s death is unique.
It is helpful to understand the common symptoms experienced in people who are dying. You may observe none, some, or all of these symptoms in the dying person’s last days and hours on earth. You will also learn things to do that can help ease physical pain and suffering.

  • Withdrawal from the External World
  • Visions and Hallucinations
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Change in Bowel and Bladder Functions
  • Confusion, Restlessness, and Agitation
  • Changes in Breathing, Congestion in Lungs or Throat
  • Change in Skin Temperature and Color
  • Hospice Death
  • Saying Goodbye
  • Being Present at the Moment of Death

I'm not getting much sleep. I'm not sure how much longer this can go on. Did I mention you should go tell your mom you love her? Or your kids? I'm just realizing how meaningless everything is. No matter how many treasures you store up, they will be taken from you. Even your memories are not safe.

Grab your copy of Ecclesiastes

  • "Meaningless! Meaningless!"
    says the Teacher.
    "Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless."
  • A Common Destiny for All (Chapter 9)
    1 So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God's hands, but no man knows whether love or hate awaits him. 2 All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, [a] the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.
    As it is with the good man,
    so with the sinner;
    as it is with those who take oaths,
    so with those who are afraid to take them.

    3 This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. 4[b] —even a live dog is better off than a dead lion! Anyone who is among the living has hope

    5 For the living know that they will die,
    but the dead know nothing;
    they have no further reward,
    and even the memory of them is forgotten.

    6 Their love, their hate
    and their jealousy have long since vanished;
    never again will they have a part
    in anything that happens under the sun.

    7 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. 8 Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. 9 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun— all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, [c] where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

    11 I have seen something else under the sun:
    The race is not to the swift
    or the battle to the strong,
    nor does food come to the wise
    or wealth to the brilliant
    or favor to the learned;
    but time and chance happen to them all.

    12 Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come:
    As fish are caught in a cruel net,
    or birds are taken in a snare,
    so men are trapped by evil times
    that fall unexpectedly upon them.

  • The Conclusion of the Matter (Chapter 12)
    9 Not only was the Teacher wise, but also he imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.

    11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one Shepherd. 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.
    Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

    13 Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
    Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the whole duty of man.

    14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
    including every hidden thing,
    whether it is good or evil.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Peter's First Denial

15 Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest's courtyard, 16 but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there and brought Peter in.

17 "You are not one of his disciples, are you?" the girl at the door asked Peter.
He replied, "I am not."

18 It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.

How many of us do this very thing. No sooner do we repent and place our faith in the Savior, then we deny Him to others. Peter, at least, faced certain death for association with Jesus. What oppression or torture do you face?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

QYST - Day 13 - False Witness

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaks lies shall not escape.” PROVERBS 19:5

Today we will look at the Ninth Commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). Should a Christian ever tell a lie? There are times when we may find ourselves in the difficult position of realizing that telling the truth may have dire repercussions. For example, you are asked by a Nazi if you are hiding any Jews in your home. Should you tell him there are two under your bed? To do so would result in their sure death. Your choice is to lie and save lives, or tell the truth and be a party to murder. Another example is putting “tourist” rather than “Bible smuggler” on your visa into China, or not telling the police in a persecuted country the names of other members of your underground church. Perhaps the answer is that it is the motive that matters. However, the issue depends on the conscience of each individual.

The dictionary defines a lie as a false statement deliberately presented as being true; a falsehood; something intended to deceive or give a wrong impression. People often claim that they have told only a “white lie.” But there is no difference between a white lie, a half-truth, a fib, or an exaggeration. All are lies in the sight of God.

How many murders does one have to commit to be a murderer? Just one. In the same way, if they have told even one lie, no matter what color or size, that makes them a liar.

The Ninth Commandment requires the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. God is a God of truth and His Law demands absolute honesty from the heart. Yet the human heart is deceitful above all things.
This devotion was excerpted from The School Of Biblical Evangelism, chapter 13, beginning on page 90.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Jesus Taken to Annas

12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mothers Day

All I know is something like a bird
within her sang
All I know she sang a little while
and then flew on

Tell me all that you know
I'll show you
Snow and rain

If you hear that same sweet song again
will you know why?
Anyone who sings a tune so sweet
is passing by

Laugh in the sunshine
cry in the dark
through the night

Don't cry now
Don't you cry
Don't you cry
in the stars
don't you cry
dry your eyes
on the wind
la........ -Robert Hunter

Devvy Davenport is about to go home. Please pray for her. My mother is 80 years old and I got to tell her I love her. We are not promised tomorrow, but we are promised eternity. Make sure to tell your mom you love her today. And, if you haven't shared the gospel yet with her, don't wait till tomorrow.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Rocky Balboa

I just finished watching the sixth (and final?) installment in the Rocky movie series. This movie is being billed as a Christian movie, and even their website offers ways to use this as an evangelism tool. While I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt to Stallone in that he has come full circle to his christian (Catholic) roots, I'm not sure that the movie exactly portrays the biblical gospel.

I don't think the movie is bad. In fact, I really enjoyed it. But, the gospel message that I think Stallone has for himself, and for moviegoers, is that faith is where your true strength comes from. While not technically wrong, I don't think that is the gospel.

It reminds me of conversations I've had with my mother in law who cites the fact that they had eight children even though work was not steady as an example of the amount of "faith" they have. While I agree that stepping out and committing to having children takes a lot of faith, is that the saving faith that the Bible is talking about? Do we get into heaven simply because we muster up enough faith to do so?

I suggest you watch the movie, as it is actually one that you can watch with your kids. But, before you do, make sure you know what the gospel is. It is not the amount or intensity of our faith that saves us. It is the object of our faith, Jesus Christ. We must first realize our own iniquities, our willful disobedience to God's Law. Then we must realize that a just and holy God will not let sin go unpunished. Jesus is a visible example of God's wrath against sin. Then we realize that a merciful and gracious God doesn't want to see us punished. So, he offered His own Son up as payment to satisfy that wrath on our behalf. Jesus is a visible example of that grace.

Saving faith is one that recognizes our own inability to save ourselves from the wrath of a just God for our sins, and the willingness to repent and trust in Jesus Christ as a ransom for complete remission of those very same sins.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Christians vs. Atheists

Why are Kirk Cameron, a preacher, and two self-proclaimed atheists coming together in a church this weekend? Because Cameron and preacher Ray Comfort claim that they "can prove the existence of God."

They'll take on the atheists in the first "Nightline Face-Off," a debate to be moderated by "Nightline" anchor Martin Bashir.

Watch the Face-Off Wednesday May 9 at 2 p.m. on ABC News Now, and on Nightline at 11:35 p.m.

Following the Way of the Master

As Mike Seaver, the oldest son in the smash hit sitcom "Growing Pains," actor Kirk Cameron could make audiences roll with laughter. But now he wants to bring them to the Lord. And he's deadly serious.

In March 2006, "Nightline" profiled the Way of the Master, a Christian ministry headed by Cameron and itinerant preacher Ray Comfort. Operating as a charitable trust, its intention is to educate and equip the church to preach the message of Christianity to nonbelievers. Cameron says he is motivated by a literal fear of hell.

"I believe the Scriptures teach that there's a literal heaven and a literal hell, just like Jesus said," he explained. "And without forgiveness of sins that, yeah, the place of punishment is called hell."

The Way of the Master has a weekly television show for which Comfort and Cameron literally hit the streets in the name of Jesus, challenging nonbelievers that their sins against God will lead directly to hell.

"On the Day of Judgment," Comfort tells one man on the streets of New York, "God will see you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart. You have sinned against God. You need his forgiveness."

On occasions, things go badly wrong and the pair are attacked by members of the public. Comfort recalled one incident, saying, "While I was preaching the Gospel a gentleman came up and he started spitting on me. And he spat quite a few times." Comfort says he simply remained calm and moved on.

Neither Comfort nor Cameron has theological degrees nor any kind of formal training. But Cameron says he's convinced his new career is vitally important.

"I have no authority. I am simply trying to be faithful to the God who saved me, who changed me and who has commissioned me to tell you and those who are watching this interview … about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that it has the power to change people's hearts."

The Rational Response Squad

"There isn't any good reason to believe in God," so says Brian Sapient, a member of the Rational Response Squad, a group of atheists "Nightline" profiled in January.

What's wrong with God? "What's wrong with the tooth fairy?" asks Brian. "There's nothing wrong with something that most likely doesn't exist."

"Atheists are completely vilified. And it's OK," says Kelly, an atheist who works alongside Brian and also asks that her last name not be used.

"It's actually OK to hate atheists," Kelly says. "We are like the last group that people overwhelmingly agree it's OK to hate, because there's an absurd caricature of atheism out there."

While their theological views differ from the Way of the Master, their approaches are similar -- brash and in-your-face. The Rational Response Squad challenges people to take the Blasphemy Challenge in which they make videos of themselves denouncing or blaspheming the Holy Spirit, and then post them on YouTube.

One of the posts is by a young-looking man named Chandler. He says, "I've come to the conclusion that alongside the fact that there is no Santa Claus and there is no Easter bunny, there is also no God. So, without further ado, my name is Chandler and I deny the existence of the Holy Spirit."

Taking risks with your own soul is one thing, but the Rational Response Squad advertises for the Blasphemy Challenge on Web sites for teens, such as Tiger Beat (

"They have already been targeted," Brian says. "So hopefully, they are at a point where they are not so indoctrinated and set in their ways that they can overcome this religious superstition that has been put into their brain unfairly."

At the end of the "Nightline" segment, Brian Sapient says, "If they [the Christians] want to come to the table and present their evidence, I will present my evidence. And we will see how much of theirs is based on faith, and how much of mine is based on fact."

The Face-Off

Ray Comfort saw the piece on the Blasphemy Challenge and he immediately e-mailed "Nightline" to say that "We would like to challenge them to a public debate. … Let's hear their best evidence as to why God doesn't exist, and let the audience decide whose evidence is based on faith and whose is based on fact. We cannot only prove that God exists, but we can prove that the atheist doesn't."

The two sides have agreed to debate in the first "Nightline" Face-Off. Here's what they have to say about the debate:

Perhaps you think that anyone who says that he can prove the existence of God is a dreamer. Maybe, like most people, you believe that the issue is a matter of "faith." Then we must be dreamers, because we can prove that God exists, scientifically, absolutely, without mentioning faith or even the Bible. Do you find that hard to believe? Then watch the debate. - Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron

We are dedicated to responding to irrational claims -- such as the ones being put forth by Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron that they can prove the existence of God scientifically. We are here to prove that not only can they not do that, but that it cannot be done using the scientific method and the knowledge available to us today.
- The Rational Response Squad

You can watch the debate on ABC News Now on May 9 at 2 p.m., and it will also be available on the "Nightline" page at
"Nightline" will air a segment that same night at 11:35 p.m ET.