Enduring Love

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When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

John 21:15-19 (ESV

In this final chapter of my book, I share more about my own story. It breaks down into four phases of my short 36 years of life. Some phases are longer than others. Some are more enjoyable to share. Others shed a dark shadow on years of my life. My story is one of redemption and grace. I am far from perfect, and still have my battles, but I have experienced God’s love and mercy and it is forever changing me.

In John 21, Jesus is speaking with Peter. Peter is no man of perfection or superstar disciple. In fact, Peter’s journey is not all that different from ours. He was an ordinary man with a common profession. Peter, also called Simon Peter, was a fisherman along with his brother and father (Mark 4:18-19). He did not have years of theological studies prior to following Jesus, but when Christ called him, he went. Later in the story, Peter will be standing before the council, in trouble for preaching the name of Jesus. The men of the council observe two things: his lack of schooling and he’d been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). Peter’s desire to walk with Jesus was all he needed to become a powerful witness for the gospel and that’s all we need too. That’s because the Holy Spirit turns ordinary people into emboldened disciples that can change the world.

This chapter details the life of Peter that we know from scripture and historical records. It all centers on that one conversation from John chapter 21. It’s a conversation that Jesus wants to have with each and every one of us. Come see how Jesus wants to draw you in with His love for you and invite you into a mission, a journey, a life’s purpose, that will fulfill your deepest needs.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

John 10:27-28 (ESV)

Get your copy online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble and join others who have been questioned by Christ!

Peace in Christ

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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

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“Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

                                                                          Matthew 7:1-5 (ESV)[my emphasis]

 

Don’t judge me! Have you ever heard those words before? Have you ever said them?

A few years back I had a student make a very wild and audacious comment to a question that I had posed. The focus of the discussion was to challenge choices made in history and label them as being the correct or incorrect decision based on what they had learned. There were obvious faults in some of the choices while others required more reasoning in order to conclude whether it was right or wrong. The student’s comment in the middle of the class discussion caught me completely off guard. In fact, when he said it I sort of laughed it off and chalked it up as him joking around. But he quickly informed me of his seriousness. This is what he said:

“If Hitler believed he was right in what he was doing to the Jews, then who are we to say he was wrong.”

I hope that everyone who just read that was as shocked as I was when I heard him say it. I admit, when he told me that he was serious I actually got a little angry. I tried not to let that show but it probably came out in the tone of my voice as the conversation ensued. I tried to understand the insanity of his claim so I asked him to explain. He was entitled to the opportunity. In the process of defending himself, the student brought up the concept of relativism.

Relativism: a view that ethical truths depend on the individuals and groups holding them

-Merriam Webster Dictionary

This philosophy has gained popularity over the last few decades, especially in its application to moral relativism. The student argued that, even though the majority of the world looked on in horror, and most refer to it as one of the greatest acts of barbarism and evil in modern history, Hitler could still be right in what he was doing if he thought he was.

In the United States alone, relativism has shaped many unpleasant aspects of our history. Relativism has made room for things like slavery, abortion, segregation, discrimination of any sort, pornography, new definitions of marriage, and being able to choose your own gender. With a list like that, who knows what it will lead to in the decades to come? If societies remove absolute truths, then individuals residing in them have no right to declare another’s opinions or lifestyles as wrong. What is wrong to one person does not have to be wrong to another. That means there is no judge in a society steered by pure moral relativism. Fortunately we’re not there…yet.

I’ve heard a lot of Christians say that we are never to judge anyone. But what exactly does that mean? The key to understanding what Jesus is saying on this matter is to look at the question he asks in Matthew 7:3. How can we judge our brothers and sisters without first looking at the one in the mirror?

If there is only one judge, and we aren’t Him, where does that leave us? We shouldn’t condemn. We shouldn’t be hypocrites. We shouldn’t elevate ourselves. But what should we do? In a world that wants to be gray…in a world that cherishes political correctness…in a world that wants to remove all offense…in a world quick to be defensive…what are we to do?

In chapter six of my book I discuss seven things believers are called to do in a world such as ours. It all basically boils down to allowing Jesus to restructure our hearts so we can shine the light in the lives of others. Not shrinking back, but cause the darkness to be illuminated through the truths of the Bible. If you’d like your own copy of the book its available on amazon or  Barnes and Noble if you prefer.

God bless brothers and sisters. Keep sharing the love and truth of Jesus in a world so desperate for it.

Follow the Leader

31Wci55k5UL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like:  he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

                                                                        -Luke 6:46-49 (ESV)

We can all be inspired by stories, movies, music, etc…but inspiration can fade. We can be moved to tears or even moved to action, but inspiration rarely lasts. Think of a movie, book, or testimony that inspired you. Think of one that emotionally moved you. Now think about how many of those are still affecting how you live your life today in a big way. I’m willing to bet, not many. The reason why is that inspiration is mostly surface deep, unless it gives way to being captivated. Chapter three of the book draws out the comparisons between inspiration and captivation and how that defines how we relate to people and things in our lives.

The question that Jesus poses in verse 46 of Luke chapter 6, is not one that suggests a lack of inspiration on behalf of the audience He’s addressing. Look no further than the title prescribed to Jesus by His audience. They called Him Lord, and that was not a title to be taken lightly. We give lordship to things or people that captivate us. Whether it’s an addiction, a near and dear possession, or a relationship, we place priority and power in the hands of that which has stolen our hearts. Giving lordship to anything other than Jesus is summed up by saying we prefer the flesh over the Spirit. And anything and anyone who takes preference over Him has more authority in our lives than He does.

By nature, humans gravitate towards submission. Sound crazy? Think about it. We either submit ourselves to our own selfish desires, to cultural norms, to a relationship, to money, to fame, or we submit ourselves to Christ. No matter the choice we make, it’s a choice of submission. We submit to holiness or worldliness. Romans chapter six describes it as either being a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness.

The title of Christian means to be of Christ or to follow Christ. In all actuality, this is a title that is demonstrated by a person’s life, not given to them by someone else or even by themselves. This isn’t about the age old debate of faith-based vs. works-based salvation. It’s not really a debate though. The bible never says that a person in saved by works. It does say all throughout that faith is what saves us. As a result of our faith we are driven into a deeper pursuit of Christ. That’s where the works play themselves out. Has anyone ever told you to love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life? It’s the same with following Jesus. We love Him and love following Him so it ceases to be about doing work and is more like doing what we love for Who we love. Christ becomes Lord and leader of our life. Our life then becomes about following The Leader.

Follow Him because He is a way better leader than we could ever be.

Peace and blessings in Christ!

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20 (ESV) 

Finding Faith

31Wci55k5UL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

-Mark 4:35-41 (ESV)

Faith has become somewhat of an obscure word. If you were to ask ten people what it means, you may get nearly ten varying answers as to what the specifics of the word are. Even so, one common thread that you may see in those responses is the notion of trust. Another key element to defining faith has to be belief. In fact, belief must precede trust for this system of faith to work itself out. A third partner in the faith family is often the most forgotten. That element is action. Faith is one of the most important aspects of human life. Because it’s so important, we need desperately to know what it means. Chapter two of the book takes a deep look at the meaning of the word faith from multiple sources and how it plays out in the people of the bible as well as our own lives.

How we meet circumstances in life will depend on who we believe Jesus to be and whether we believe He cares for us or not. Have you ever uttered variations of these statements:

“God has bigger things to worry about than what I’m dealing with.”

“Why should God help me through this?”

“Where was God when  __(fill in the blank)__ happened?”

I read a blog post one time that said (my paraphrase) that doubt is what leads us to God and that we should embrace our doubt. It went on to propose that our doubt deepens our relationship with Christ. I had to read and reread their statements a few times because I thought that I might have made a mistake because these statements couldn’t be further from the truth. Doubt is the exact 180 degree opposite of faith. Doubt is the result of disavowing the Lordship of Christ. Doubt says that Christ is powerless and indifferent. Doubt drives us deeper into our own insecurities and further from the freedom that an intimate relationship with Jesus produces. Doubt cripples and paralyzes while faith heals and moves us.

Not only do we need faith that Christ is with us in all circumstances, we also need to believe and trust in His caring nature towards us. To find assurance of that we need not look beyond the cross, where Christ’s great love for humanity was at its greatest. We have an amazing savior who loves us way more than we can imagine and more than we ever give Him credit for. That truth was not yet fully realized by His disciples as they crossed the sea with Him. And perhaps His love hasn’t been fully realized by so many of us today.

You need not every doubt Jesus’ goodness towards you.

Peace and blessings to you all in Christ Jesus our Lord

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

-Romans 5:6-8 (ESV)

 

Who is this?

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Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

                                              -Matthew 16:13-18 (ESV)

Chapter one of the book targets the most fundamental question for every human being: who is Jesus? It is so important because it will literally influences everything about a person’s life, both now and after they are gone. I spoke a lot on this topic in a post back in April of 2016 during the time I was beginning the writing process on the book.

The book is meant to engage the reader into a conversation with the living Christ. Sounds heavy right? It is! But how can anyone have a conversation with someone they don’t know? In order to have a conversation with anyone, it is important to know who it is you’re talking with and that’s what this first chapter is all about.

Much of what people initially form their opinions on is what those around them have expressed. Our understanding of who Jesus is, in most cases, originate in what we were taught by others whether they were our parents, friends, movies, stories, a missionary, etc…It’s decision time for all of us. Who is Jesus? Most people in the world, despite their beliefs, have good things to say about Him. But good isn’t good enough. Jesus had a lot to say about His own identity. We have to decide who Jesus is, not based on what people say, but on what Jesus Christ Himself said. Our life experience can’t dictate who He is, He does. Instead, our life experiences are meant to be dictated by who He is.

Labeling Jesus with any less of an identity than who He truly is, would strip Him of His credibility. If He was lying, then He cannot be good. If He was telling the truth, then He has to be God. When we view Jesus as the bible teaches, as God has shown, and as Jesus taught and demonstrated, we will turn our attention to living for godly things. Our purpose becomes about pleasing God and not ourselves. Our decisions get weighed against the truths that Jesus taught and lived out during His stay on planet Earth. We start to live our lives as though Jesus is our everything and we owe everything to Him.

Do you know the real Jesus?

God bless brothers and sisters! Come explore more with me if you’d like.

 

 

My new book is out!

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Book cover by Matt Scofield, Copyright 14k Media

Today is the release date for a project that has been underway for nearly two years. A huge thanks to all the encouragement from my wife, family, and friends who helped me along this journey. The book is currently available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well as an e-version on Kindle and Nooks.

Here’s a basic synopsis of the book if you’d like to have a read:

Asking questions was central to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus used questioning so much that sometimes He even preferred answering questions with a question of His own. In context, these questions are directed to the religious leaders of the time, His disciples, and the on-looking crowds. On a much grander scale, Jesus asks these questions as if He is having a one-on-one conversation with you and me thousands of years later. This book is going to help you get face-to-face with the Savior of World. He has asked questions that cut to the heart of our fears, our hopes, and our imaginations. Throughout this book you will be met with ten of Christ’s questions. They will act as a mirror into your motives, your wounds, your relationships, and your deepest desires. Keep a bible handy. You’ll be needing it a lot!

“My [Jesus] sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

John 10:27

I would love for you to pick up a copy and to hear your feedback. I hope that it blesses you as much as the Lord has blessed me through the process of writing it. The whole purpose behind this project is to reach the world with the Gospel message which is so way beyond good news! God bless you in Christ, my brothers and sisters!