Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Loving Church

After looking over last semesters small group stats, and wondering what kind of impact we made eternally, it made me stop and think about the way we as Christians choose to share God's love with others.  As humans, since Jesus has told us in Matthew 22 that the greatest commandment is 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  And then goes on to say that the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.’ we must truly learn how to love people.  This relates directly to the nature and character of God.  If we cannot love then we cannot be a true reflection of Him.  We must become like Christ and share our love with the world.    
The problem lies within our own lives as we have the freedom to deny or repress our likeness to God.  Humans can choose whether or not to love God and others or oppose who God really is.  Love is the key towards winning the lost.  As a body, we must be careful not to discriminate against any and we must be the love that the world is constantly looking for every day.  Christ set the example for us in His actions, words, and deeds.  We must in turn, follow these things set before each of us as a body of Christ, and a reflection of who He is.  We must not allow anything to interfere with the purpose that the church or the Christian community is here for as their purpose. 
The "body of Christ" is no mere metaphor; it is the calling of the church to continue the incarnation and mission of Christ by manifesting God's redemptive purposes and coming kingdom. Just as Christ is sent by and discloses God, so the church as the new humanity, renewed in the Imago Dei, is sent by Christ and called upon to imitate his paradigm of self-giving, thus witnessing to God's rule in the concrete shape of their communal life.  The church must be careful in the tools and methods that are used to witness to the world around us.  We need to stay current with the ever changing world we live in.  We must make sure the body of Christ is towards all people and know that our methods must be directed to all. We must be a church seeking the lost, not just a select few.  Come one, come all, come as you are, but just come! 
 In the New Testament we are told that we are to become imitators of Christ.   In other words, we must imitate and pursue the life of Christ.  All that He did was a reflection of who He is.  Everyone that he reached out to was a foundation of who we should become.  We must not let the world around us affect the way we treat or speak of others, but must look towards everyone as equal and know that everyone all race, gender, and ethnicity are equal in God’s eyes and that He is not a respecter of persons.  Jesus shows us that love extends beyond feelings, that love is not merely emotions, but love is motivated by action. I read where a woman said it was not a custom among married people in her culture to always say, "I love you." To which it was asked, "How do you know someone loves you?" She laughed and said, "You know by how they treat you." We must be a church that treats others like we would treat the Father. 
            The body of Christ is made in the image of the Trinity, imitatio Trinitati, in our substance and we are in the process of being conformed to the likeness of Christ in the restoration of our sensual nature to our substance. This means that we pull from human experience, such as the human experience of being, knowing, and willing – three dimensions of the one person.  This is why it is important for our church to work on the direction of being, knowing and the will that God wants for our churches. If we don’t prayerfully look for God’s guidance, we’ll end up following trends, we’ll end up following that which will lead us away from God and stop us from obeying Christ, although we might be doing some “good” things. We have to put Jesus at the center of everything we do. For the church does not exist to please the membership only, Christ allows us to exist because we try to please Him.
           Love is motivated by action. Motivation is that which drives us, moves us, gets us going and keeps us going. Everybody doesn’t to come to church for the same reasons and its best you realize that so that when something is done or said to you, you won’t get your feelings hurt and/or leave. Everyone in the church is not saved. What motivates the child of God? What shows our commitment? Love. How deep our love for God, this should be a reflection of our attitudes towards people. We must always remember the words of the Lord, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” It is my prayer that we share the love of Christ with the world and our community before He comes. I challenge each of you to get involved in what God is doing at Rose Heights today. Connect. Serve. Love.

Pastor Jason 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

It's Time!

Our devotions are not measured by the clock, but time is of their essence. The ability to wait and stay and press belongs essentially to our relationship with our God. It seems as if we live our lives in such a hurry. Calmness, grasp, strength, are never the companions of hurry. Therefore, when we rush through our so called personal devotions, we fall short to truly spending the time with God that He desires for each of us.

It is true that Bible prayers in word and print are short, but the praying men of the Bible were with God through many a sweet and holy wrestling hour. They won by few words but long waiting, this is where I have often found myself, but God has never failed me.

The prayers Moses records may be short, but Moses prayed to God with fastings and mighty cryings forty days and nights.

The statement of Elijah's praying may be condensed to a few brief paragraphs, but doubtless Elijah, who when "praying he prayed," spent many hours of fiery struggle and lofty battles with God before he could, with assured boldness, say to Ahab, "There shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word." The verbal brief of Paul's prayers is short, but Paul "prayed night and day exceedingly." The "Lord's Prayer" is a divine epitome for infant lips, but Jesus prayed many an all-night until his work was done; and his all-night and long-sustained devotions gave to his work its finish and perfection, and to his character the fullness and glory of its divinity.

More time and early hours for prayer acts like magic to revive and invigorate many a decayed spiritual life. More time and early hours for prayer would help us to live holy, because He is holy. A holy life would not be so rare or so difficult a thing if our times spent with God were not so short and hurried.

We often times miss the will of God because we miss our times with Him. We value things that are meaningless and have nothing to do with our eternal souls. I have seen in my personal life, that my ability to stay with God in my closet measures my ability to stay with God out of the closet. What then does it gain for me to only rush to the closet when I am in need. I have found that in the true battles of my life it is the getting to the closet with God is what gets me through it. We are taught by it, and the greatest victories are often the results of great waiting -- waiting till words and our plans are exhausted, and silent and patient waiting gains the crown.

To pray is the greatest thing we can do: and to do it well there must be calmness, time, and deliberation; otherwise it is just another checkpoint on our to do list. If we would only learn the wondrous art, we must not give just a portion of our time here and there -- "Just a little talk with Jesus," -- but we must demand and give the best hours of the day for God and prayer, or our time with God will be meaningless.

God, You have taught me to wait upon You. I have failed you so many times, but it is in the times where I have no words to say, You are there. It is in my darkest hours and my greatest triumphs, You are there. I have learned to trust you always and just know that You will be there. Help me to develop the personal times with You that will change the way I can influence others towards You. Let them see You through me. Help me to be the light that You have called me to be, and never allow the enemy to get the upper hand. I trust You with my life, and with the lives of my family. Let my family, my extended family, and all the friends no that You love them just as much, and if they are ever desperate for something in their lives, teach them to pray. Amen.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Letting God be God

Have you ever been in a time in your life to where you just needed God to show up? I mean times when there was nothing going right. Times when the finances were not where they needed to be. Or just the times when you just wanted to truly hear the voice of God. They key is many times when we are in the most trying times of our lives, God is right beside us. In fact, He has never left our side! God desires to revive his people. He doesn't want us to live tired, unfulfilling lives, but would rather us have lives filled the joy only He can bring.

God simply wants to be God. He wants to show us how much He truly cares about us. Many times we can be so close to hearing from God, then because our fear of the unknown, or that things haven't moved as quickly as we think God should have, we move God off the throne and place ourselves there. The very thought of us calling our own shots seems to attractive to us, because we could then get answers quicker and not be required to listen for His voice. It is like the movie Bruce Almighty - everything is wrong until we have to spend a day in His shoes. The fact is that we could never do what God does for us daily. We will always make a mess of things. We have to have His help and be in His perfect will for our lives.

Well what do we do then to make this happen in our lives:

First, I would say we have to not put limits on our God. We cannot place times frames, or outcomes to God, but we must simply trust He knows what is best. God can do all things...so why not let Him be God.

Second, we can't live denying the problems that we may be facing. Denial will not cause things to go away, but will simply place them in a state where they can become more hurtful to us in the long run. Problems are never as big as they may seem when God is in control. There is no doubt that when we trust Him, God makes our problems become His problems, and we are never walking alone.

Finally, we must be willing to trust and worship God. We cannot simply think that we have done that in the past and that will get me by. We must be willing to daily pick up our crosses and follow Him. We must worship Him for who He is. We must seek after Him. We must be willing to spend time with Him, no matter how hard it may be in our busy lives, He must be our priority.

If we can do these things, then I believe, we can truly live in the power of God. I want to be where He is, and I must trust that He will always have my best interests at heart, and leave being God in my life, and my families, to the one who created all things.

Lord, help me to always trust You in whatever I do. Let me know that You are always with me, and no matter what may come my way, let me give you all that I have. I am looking for Your soon return. Watch over and keep us in Your arms until the time comes where we can be with You forever.

Friday, January 22, 2010

We need to wake up!

Someone once said, life is short stay awake for it. I think sometimes we find ourselves sleeping in the midst of what God is trying to do. We forget that life is going by fast! Soon we will pass away and leave behind memories for those who knew us. This thought makes us stop and consider how we are living. Are we living to create a legacy of goodness or are we simply creating a legacy of possessions? Are we living each day for God and for other people or are we deep down simply living for ourselves?

Im reminded of the sermon that Paul preached and the boy Eutychus fell out of the window, dead asleep. Have we truly missed what God is trying to say to us or are we willingly listening for His voice.

Moses wrote in Psalm 90 that life is indeed short and filled with many pains and troubles. He encourages people to respect God and to find satisfaction in him. Verse 12 says, “So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Moses ends the Psalm with a cry for God to show people his favor and to uphold and establish the work that they do on earth. In a sense, Moses is giving a similar coffee cup slogan. He is saying, “Life is short, stay awake for it… by looking to God for strength for work and for satisfaction for joy in life.”

Moses is crying out to God he would help his people live with purpose in this short life. We must be a willing vessel to share our thoughts and our struggles with others. All of us have had experiences that we can use to encourage and strengthen others so that they can make a difference for God. It is not that difficult, because it is just one life passing on truths to another. It does, however take desire, faithfulness, and some guidance. Let’s pass on our lives for the glory of God that he might show us his power, favor, and love!

We must always be willing to do what God has called us to do, we must be willing to share with others what God has done, and we must be willing to listen when God calls our name.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Why Not?

Have you ever just stopped to think what kind of God we serve? I mean the God we serve can do anything for us, and yet we only approach Him when we are in desperate need. Prayer is often a language that we only turn if we have time, or if we think God can help us. The fact is God can always help us, and we should turn to Him in every situation, every circumstance. Last year I adopted a motto, if you can think it, your not dreaming big enough. But I really wonder to myself now if I actually believed it.

Today is one of the days I just actually get what God has been trying to get the church to believe forever. There are no limits, no boundaries, nothing that can separate us from the love and will of God. NOTHING! So why is it that we don't shoot for the stars. We serve a master that created them, so why couldn't he help us in whatever it is we are doing. You think he doesn't care about what we are doing. He is the one who created us. He wants the very best for us. He wants us to know Him like we never have.

I was reading through some material today about the abundance of God and the kind of prayers we should be praying and I ran across this prayer.

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrive safely because we have sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity; and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes; and to push us into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love.

I know I have been sailing too close to the shore lately and I am asking Jesus to disturb me to action.

In what areas have you become too comfortable and need to pray: "Lord, disturb me?" In what areas in your life have you been traveling too close to shore and need to pray: "Lord, disturb me?"

It is my prayer and passion that we live life to glorify God. We have been created for Him. By Him and for Him. We are then to give Him the honor and respect that He is due and not be satisfied with life as ordinary. We serve an extra ordinary God. Think about that the next time the enemy tries to place you in a box and tells you there is no way out. I serve a God who CAN! Not a God who can't!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year, New Love

The new year is here and I have had some interesting things happen to me already this first week of 2010. I have read over and over for the the past two months the Book "Crazy Love" by
Francis Chan. Which by the way is the best book I have read in a long time. I loved it so much that I have given out to many students, and even family as gifts. The book deals with God and how his love for us is so amazing that we just have to stop and just think about it. God for me has proven Himself time and time again, but then when I think I have a better understanding of God's love, I open up our devotional book, and the first three days this year it has been talking about love. But the story doesn't end there. I am currently taking a NT course and all day yesterday we talked about the love of God. So I began to think to myself, God is really trying to get my attention and let me know how much He loves me. The fact is, he is always trying to get our attention and show us His love, but the sad reality is that we are usually to busy to even begin to grasp how much he really loves us.

Peyton and I always play a game and it is is trying to see who can show the other that they love them more. It is funny to see what things that we do to show it. From stretching our hands out wide, to smiling, to giving those big tackle hugs. But all of this still cannot show Peyton how much I love him. So this made me realize one more thing about God, if God who created both of us has allowed me to love so great for my children, how much more then does He love me. Just the thought of being loved by God and knowing that he had also played the game with me, when he sent his Son to earth, who stretched out His arms as far as He could and let me know how much He truly loved me.

John makes it abundantly clear that great spiritual gifts without love is worthless and might as well be like noise pollution and ultimately worthless. The world places value on talents, skills, and what one can do or accomplish. But the Lord showed us humility, patience, and sacrifice – so that His love could be communicated to us. I’m reminded of what a terrible Dad I would be if I measure my worth as a Dad based solely on how well I provide for my son yet not spend any time with him or express my love for him through all the various ways of sacrifice, patience, and affection I can show him. Peyton doesn’t know the difference between $1 and a million dollars, or that I’m the most gifted man in something, nor does he care, but he knows that I love him and that I show that he matters so much to me. To him the times we share playing games, wrestling, and as he calls it hanging out mean more than anything I can ever buy him, just look in his closet and you can see that.

As a youth pastor in a very busy church, husband, father, and student, it is easy to allow busy schedules and many other things to replace the heart of love for God and people that needs to be my motivation. I can be doing all the things that the father asks yet slowly lose sight of why I am living the life I am. Looking back at my life, I know I missed many opportunities to grow because I had been placing worth on my life on all that I was doing in ministry or what I was able to offer back to God or feeling insecure that I was not this or that. That is why it is so essential that I reflect and pray constantly do truly realize this thing called love. One thing God has taught me in these past few weeks is that actions can equal love and therefore I must not merely say the words I Love you and then not prove it, but I must follow through with all that the word love means. In the same note, it is very easy to say I love God, but then never spend the time with Him, I must, and we must show God, our Heavenly father, how much we cannot live with out Him, because without Him, our lives are meaningless.

Dear God, I know that my attempts to fully understand your love and the limitless boundaries that it brings to my life, it is my prayer that I can grow closer to you and show you how much I truly love you. I also pray that my love for my family grows greater than ever before. May I show them the power of love as it comes only from the Father above. To all my extended family and friend, may I be a light that can show each of them the love that You have for each of us and may I continue to serve You until You come.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Send to God

When we look at sending praise to God, it most focus around our worship.  We are created for this very purpose.  When we worship we have the opportunity to encounter a God that is worthy of our praise.  When we worship, we send our emotions and our love towards heaven.  If we ever expect to receive all that God has for us we must send our up our praise and have an open line of communication with him.

 So in order for us to worship the creator we must understand what true worship is.  It is not an act that we may do on a Sunday morning after the fast songs, it is not saying I love you Lord on Sunday mornings and then living every day in the opposite, it is however a lifestyle.  True worship is an outward expression of the heart.  Not only does every person have a desire to worship, but every person does worship something.  God created us to be people of worship, and until he becomes the true focus of our worship, our lives will remain meaningless.  As we “delight ourselves in the Lord” we will discover the desires of our heart (Psalms 34: 4). 

In Luke 7:36-50, we look closely at a woman who had the send part of her life down pat.  She had a burning desire to send all that she had to him in hopes that he would then give her something far greater than she had ever received and in the end connecting with Him deeper than she ever had before.  Our story begins as the woman finds out that Jesus is at a house and she drops everything and goes to this house.  In verse 38 we see her begin the sending part towards him, it says that she stood at His feet and then we find her kneeling at His feet.  She took steps to get to were she ended up: 

She heard about him being there. 

She dropped what she was doing and went to the house.

She stood besides Him.

She knelt at His feet.

We see her progression beginning at her burning desire to worship.  She had a true love for Jesus.  True love for something or someone will cause hindrances or pride to fade away.  She didn’t care what others thought of her. 

As the story moves on we see her continue in this act of worship as brings something of great importance with her to purposely use as a sacrifice of love towards Jesus. She knew that true worship would always require great sacrifice.  She knew that with her true worship that true rewards would come, and she received all that they were.  She received forgiveness, salvation, and peace (Luke 7:49-50). 

Today we have to prepare our hearts to give worship to God:  From this story we have the outline to how we should prepare our hearts to send up towards God. 

  1. We must separate ourselves from others so that we can find out were Jesus will be. 
  2. When we find out where he is we must put all things aside and get to that point. 
  3. We must humble ourselves before the lord in all that we do. 
  4. In our prayers and worship we must be willing to sacrifice some things in our life that are very important to us. 
  5. After the sacrifice we must thank Him for the forgiveness, the peace, and the salvation.

God help me to always give you all that is within me.  Let me get to the point that nothing else matters, and lay everything else aside to get into your presence.  Lord help me to listen for your voice, and to know Your will.