Power in Community

An excerpt from Today Devotional.  Thanks to Kelli Anne Gecawich from Sigma Alpha Omega Foundation for the Contribution! Toddlers and teenagers share a common trait. They like to declare their independence and want to prove they do not need the help of their parents, guardians, or others to be successful at life. Striving for independence is often a healthy part of growing up. But it can be unhealthy when people try to “do it all” and “be it all” by themselves—outside the context of community. Then, instead of being a good thing, independence is corrupted and driven by stubborn pride. Living in the power of the resurrection means we recognize our need for God and for each other. God’s Holy Spirit empowers the community of believers with the spiritual gifts and abilities necessary to do the work of growing his kingdom. Individual believers cannot do this by themselves. The power of the resurrection comes in living and working together in unity, recognizing and supporting the gifts, tale

Tucking an Octopus Into Bed

Matthew 6:25-30 paraphrased (NIV):  "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.... Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  ... God clothes the grass of the field, will he not clothe you - you of little faith?"   Who among us doesn't struggle with anxiety?  Compare worry with trying to tuck an octopus into bed.  One tentacle or another keeps popping out from under the covers.  If we're not worried about one thing, it's the other.  If we're not worried about our kids, it's our aging parents.  Or the medical bills.  Or the funny sound under the hood of our car.   In the Bible, Jesus spoke much about worry.  In a nutshell, He told us not to!  Jesus never dismissed the untidy realities of daily life - He knew those troubles first hand, having spent years as a carpenter in Nazareth, probably living hand-to-mouth as He helped to support His family.  But Jesus also knew that, without lo

Jesus' Love

An ex cerpt from Matthew 21:23-32 You’ve done it again. After an intense bout with temptation, you’ve surrendered. You’ve eaten that extra slice of cake. You’ve stretched your budget to buy that new phone. You’ve responded to your spouse out of anger rather than understanding. Now you’re caught in the throes of guilt—what do you do? Often, our tendency is to repent with a promise: “I’ll try harder this time!” However, our well-intended promises are rarely strong enough to overcome the harsh cycle of sin and repentance. Within a few months, days, or even hours, we find ourselves doing the very same thing again—why? Matthew 21:23-32 sheds light on this phenomenon. The scripture begins with the chief priests and elders posing a question to Jesus: “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” ( Matthew 21:25 ) This question is so abstract and theoretical that it is easy to lose interest in it altogether. After all, we know that Christ’s auth

On Purpose and With a Purpose

  “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” -Philippians 1:6 (NLT) Do you ever wonder, why? Why am I here in this place at this time? I think that’s something everyone wonders at one time or another. I know I did. Everywhere we turn in this world, something is telling us we don’t quite measure up and we don’t really matter all that much anyway.  If you’re searching for the truth about who you are and why you are, here it is: we’re all here because God created us. We’re not some random accident of molecules and evolution. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). We’re “marvelous” (NLT) and “amazing” (NCV). And not just we as in all of humankind, but you specifically. God made you wonderful, marvelous, and amazing. And He made you on purpose.  God didn’t stop there, though. He made you on purpose and with a purpose . That purpose has nothing to do with money, clo

Before TEDTalks, there were sermons...

Before TEDtalks, there were sermons. You can always tell when a message has a shot at being excellent: The speaker doesn't need notes because they know the topic through and through and can speak extemporaneously. There are a handful of sermons like these that I have witnessed and remember as being like a home run with the bases loaded, where I simply had to listen and watch in awe with be occasional ringing "Amen!" on the lips of my heart. These messages standout in terms of craft, poignancy, and conviction, and often I am making a life change as a result of them as the Holy Spirit courses through. Today, I wanted to share one of them with you. Jenn Wilkins is like you and me. She is smart, she is funny, she is pragmatic. And, best of all, she wants to change the world for the better in the name of Jesus. We all want this, but she tells us how to achieve it. Wilkins' passion is Bible literacy, and this sermon is a masterclass in why it's important for you, me, an

Be a Barnabas

If you have been around the Christian faith very much, you have likely heard of a guy named Paul and maybe even his conversion story, but to recap…  Saul (also called Paul, but that is another story), was a guy who was at the top of his game studying Jewish Law and the Torah, determined to root out all those pesky Jesus followers that were causing such a ruckus (Acts 8:1-3). Saul was en route to Damascus with the sole purpose of arresting those that “belonged to the Way” (Acts 9:1-2), when he had a radical encounter with Jesus that quite literally caused a complete 180° in Saul’s life. (Acts 9:3-19). Saul, the same guy that was actively and aggressively persecuting Jesus’s followers just days before, “immediately began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues” (Acts 9:20).  I can understand why the disciples were hesitant to trust this guy! But I can also sympathize with Saul in why he would desperately want to associate with fellow believers. I would imagine Saul felt lonely and maybe even

Not Stone, Not Paper

READ: 2 Corinthians 3 Paul begins this section of his epistle saying that letters of recommendation were part of verifying someone's work in ministry, and viable and important, but the Corinthians had a greater authentication: seeing and experiencing Paul's teaching and service unto themselves which other churches had not. Paul wrote commendation letters when he sent missionaries out to churches, but, knowing the Corinthians himself, he need not do such for himself when he sends out his very instructions via this letter. Paul writes to the Corinthian church that his own spiritual credentials aren't written on a piece of paper with ink nor on tablets carved into stone, but on the "tablet of the heart" in each of the Corinthian Christians themselves, who he had ministered to in person. His reference to tablets of the heart are a direct reference to Proverbs 7:3, which reads, "Bind [my instruction] on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart" an