I also mentioned two books that I would highly recommend to you. They are: Enemies of the Heart by Andy Stanley and The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer.
Monday, June 25, 2012
Thursday, June 21, 2012
The other day we took some friends of ours from TX down to Senoia to eat at the Redneck Gourmet (outstanding comfort food, btw..). We had heard that the TV show "The Walking Dead" had been shooting in and around the area for the past few years. When we arrived for lunch, they had indeed been shooting a scene in downtown Senoia that day. We saw police cars blocking off a section of roadway where the shoot had just wrapped up (see photo to the left).
After inquiring with locals about the shoot, they informed us that we had just missed the zombies ("walkers" in "Walking Dead" language) by just minutes. Disappointed, we drowned our sorrow in some BBQ and sweet tea.
I had never actually seen "The Walking Dead" before since I have a great affinity against anything that might keep me up the majority of the night (ie., vampires, Bigfoot, the Kardashians, and, yes, zombies...). But being the trooper that I am, and loving my friends as I do (who are huge WD fans!), I agreed to watch the pilot episode of season one on NetFlix.
Disclaimer........This show is not for the weak of heart (or of stomach!). It is very TV14 (if not TVMA) in its rating and I would not recommend it for any kids (and maybe some adults).
I watched the episode, and, though I adverted my eyes during certain scenes (and, as a result, had to turn in my "man" card), I was strangely drawn into the storyline and was compelled by the end of the episode to see what happens next.
Upon reflection today, the Lord impressed on me a scripture verse. It is found in Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV) "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind."
At one time we were (or are, depending on your spiritual condition before Christ) dead in our trespasses and sins. We were literally the walking dead! We were dead to life, dead to love, dead to peace, and dead to hope. We walked "having no hope and without God in the world" (Eph. 2:12 ESV).
But this is where the glorious news of the Gospel comes into play. Paul continues his thought in Eph. 2:4-10 with this amazing, eternity-changing proclamation.... "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
The good news of Jesus is that while we were sinners, God, because of his rich mercy and love for us, made us alive with Christ! Did you get that? We were dead but now have been made alive! And it is because of nothing we did or could ever do. It is only because of God's grace (his gift of unmerited favor). When John Newton wrote of "Amazing Grace", he knew what he was talking about! Our part is a simple response of faith. We simply put "belief in action" and trust in what Jesus Christ has already done for us on the cross and through the empty tomb. When we trust in Him, we receive this incredible gift of abundant and eternal life with Him.
So, what is the purpose of this new life in Christ (1 Corinthians 5:17)? Ironically, it is so we can "walk"! Instead of being the walking dead, we now walk in a way to fulfill the works that God prepared for those who would follow after Jesus (Eph. 2:10). We don't walk in good works to earn God's favor (Eph. 1:8-9), we walk in good works as a result of having God's favor and living out our created purpose in Him (Colossians 1:16).
So, how are you walking today? Are you walking as someone who has found new life in Christ, or are you like those who have no purpose, no hope, and are without God in the world? Are you among the walking dead?
If so, the good news is that Jesus is offering you life today! You simply need to acknowledge His grace and love and respond to his offer of salvation by faith (belief in action).
If you would like to receive life today, you can. Just respond to Jesus in faith. You can do that by talking to Him through prayer.
"Dear Lord Jesus, I realize today that I am dead in my sins. And as a result, I am separated from you. But I hate being dead! I also realize that there is nothing I can do to make myself right with you. But today, I believe that Jesus is who He says He is and went to the cross to take my penalty and rose from the dead to provide a way for me to have new life. So, right now I receive your gift of new life, forgiveness of my sin, and a new relationship with You. I ask you to come into my life and take control, to be my Savior and Lord. Thank you for saving me from who I was and what I was to become. Help me now to walk in the new life you have given me for your purposes and your glory."
If you just responded to Jesus' offer of new life, I would love to celebrate with you. Would you just drop me a note in the comment tab of this blog and let me know. I would love to help you with "next steps" on your new journey of walking with Jesus. I would also love to talk to anyone who might have any questions about what this new life looks like.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
I had never known the joy and elation that comes with hitting a walk-off home run until that day. But more importantly, I remember the ultimate joy in having the confidence of my dad to do something I had never done (and honestly, have never done again!)
I told my dad the other day that I see more and more of him in myself everyday. He might respond to that with chagrin, but I count it a privilege. I see his fastidious work ethic, his love for his wife and children, his simple, yet powerful faith, and his willingness to take risks for what he believes in as hallmarks that he has passed on to me. I feel the power of his daily prayers on my behalf and cherish the constant words of affirmation, encouragement, and support when we speak on the phone. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, of his pride in me as his son, and I will cherish these things for a lifetime.
My dad has accomplished, and continues to accomplish, many amazing things in his life, yet he is very reluctant for anyone to recall those achievements on his behalf. His sense of duty and service hinder such recognition. But if I could be afforded some margin and privilege this week of Father's Day, I would like to honor him in one way. Dad, I am who I am because of you! Your time, prayers, love, and patience have made me the man that I am today. I can never fully express my gratitude for all you mean to me, how much I love you, and how proud I am to be called your son! My prayer is that I might be half the man you are as I lead and love my family. I praise our God for your presence, influence, and impact on my life. I love you, Dad! Happy Father's Day!
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (ESV)- "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love."
Monday, June 11, 2012
I was reading this past week in John Ortberg's book The Me I Want to Be. If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it. He states, "Jesus does not come to rearrange the outside of our life the way we want. He comes to rearrange the inside of our life the way God wants." What a powerful statement!
For such a transformation to occur (and at the heart of discipleship is the concept of transformation) something intentional has to happen. I mentioned a few weeks ago a quote by Pastor Pete Wilson from his book Empty Promises. Pete states, "Jesus did not come to edit our behavior. He came to transform our hearts." At the core of the transformational process is the concept of surrender.
Psalm 51:16-17 (ESV) states, "For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."
Ortberg states, "There is no way for a human being to come to God that does not involve surrender."
Surrender is a multi-faceted concept. It involves faith, trust, humility, and obedience. Though multi-faceted, surrender is not complicated. Ortberg says, "Surrender is the glad and voluntary acknowledgement that there is a God and it is not me...His purposes are often wiser and better than our desires. In surrender, I let go of my life...I take myself out of the center of the universe and place God there. I yield to Him. I offer obedience. I do what He says. I am not driving anymore."
As we yield our lives to the goodness and grace of God, we will experience peace, victory, power, and purpose, all the things we have been striving for in our own power and by our own will, yet have fallen woefully short in achieving. Once we surrender to the Lordship of Christ in our lives, our purposes and will find themselves transformed in desiring His purposes and will accomplished in, through, and around us.
As a result, we are no longer held captive to the memories of past mistakes, the pain of a current circumstance, or the uncertainty of the future. Ortberg states, "When I surrender, I don't just let go of my will, I also give up the idea that I am in charge of the outcomes."When we surrender, we can live out the truth of what it means to "humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV).
What is keeping you from surrendering an area of your life to Christ today? Will you surrender it to God asking Him to transform you more into the image of His Son? He is waiting. Will you surrender?
Also... check out the song "White Flag" from the new Passsion CD by the same name. You can download it from itunes as well as the first two messages from the Roadblocks series. Just search "Passion" and "Fayetteville First Baptist" in itunes.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
My prayer is that this resource will help reinforce what we do on Sundays and provide an encouragement for those who cannot attend. Download, listen, and grow!
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Every once in awhile, I want to share what I am reading. I am constantly "part way" through several books with the great intention of finishing them all. (I emphasize the word "intention"). Regardless, here is what is in my stack of current books I am reading. Blessings.
Transformational Discipleship by Eric Geiger, Michael Kelley, and Philip Nation
Soul Detox by Craig Groeschel
In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard
Saying it Well by Charles R. Swindoll
I highly recommend all of these titles. What are you reading this Summer? Let me know. Just post a comment at the bottom of this blog and let me know your list. Maybe we can swap when we are done. Have a great summer reading.