Wednesday, September 29, 2010

AMEN - The Truth

I spoke these things to a men's prayer breakfast this morning.

The word "Amen" is translated the same in Hebrew, Greek, Latin and English. In fact, it is the same in every language. The literal meaning of it is not "so be it". This may be the popular definition but the literal meaning is "truth". When you say "Amen" you are saying "that is the truth".

The word "Amen" is used 183 times in scriptures. 153 in the New Testament and 30 in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, 24 out of the 27 books end with "Amen". Wow! After the book is written, the word "truth" is stamped at the end of it!

In the Old Testament, one of the places the word "Amen" is used (12 out of the 30 times it is mentioned) is in Deuteronomy 27:14-16. After the Israelites went into the Promised Land, God asked part of the half of the 12 Tribes to stand on Mount Gerizim and bless the people as they crossed over the Jordan River. He asked the other half to stand on Mount Ebal to speak cursing to the same people. Now, God wasn't cursing them. He was warning them of the cursing that could happen if they disobeyed His commandments. He was warning them of the consequences. But notice this about "Amen". Only after the cursing did the people say, "Amen". Why not "amen" the blessings too? I think it is because saying "amen" to the blessings is easy to do. It is easy to agree or say good things are true. Anyone can do that. God made them say "Amen" or "I understand the truth" to the potential cursing (warnings of consequences) because He wanted to make sure they understood the consequences for getting out of His will. He was warning them to keep them in fellowship with Him!

Its kind of like when I tell my daughters, "if you do that bad thing again, I'll discipline you. Do you understand?" I want them to say, "I understand the truth, Daddy". I don't want to discipline them. But I will if it will bring them back to the truth. I want to make sure they fully understand the consequences. The warnings and mention of consequences are there as boundaries to keep them in fellowship with me and walking in the truth. The same is true with God. He made them say "amen" to the consequences/cursing to ensure they understood. They couldn't come back later and say "I didn't know".

In the New Testament, Jesus said "amen" 106 times. 104 in the Gospels and two times in Revelation. We usually say "Amen" at the end of a sentence. Jesus did something new using the word "Amen". He not only used it at the beginning of a sentence, he said it twice at the beginning - "Truly, truly..." or "Verily, Verily...". Why did he say it twice? I think the first time he said it signified "it is true with God in heaven". I think the second time he said it he was saying, "it is true with me (Jesus) on earth. My Father and I are one."

Now, not only did Jesus say "Amen" he was "The Amen". Revelation 3:14 says, "“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God.'" He said "Amen" at the beginning - He is the Alpha! He said "Amen" at the end (i.e. Revelation 1:18) - He is the Omega! He is "The Amen" - the Way, Truth (Amen), and the Life!

Jesus Christ is the Son of God - AMEN!
Jesus Christ died for our sins on the cross - AMEN!
Jesus Christ rose from the grave - AMEN!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Questions That Will Enrich Your Marriage

Here are some questions to ask yourself about your marriage...I don't know about you, but I have a lot of work to do!

1. When was the last time you hired a babysitter to go out on a date?
2. When was the last time you went on vacation without the kids?
3. When was the last conversation you had that didn't include something about the kids?

OK, enough of the hard questions...

4. Am I blind to my faults because I'm so consumed with theirs?
5. Does the way I speak to my spouse show them honor?
6. Do I have to win every argument or do I strive for unity?

OK, enough of the really hard questions...

7. What am I going to do to serve my spouse in a specific way today?
8. How can I verbally express my love and devotion to my spouse within the next hour?
9. What battle should I not choose to fight with my spouse?

OK, here is the biggest question of all?

10. Am I willing to do whatever it takes to make my marriage work? That "whatever" is _________________ (you fill in the blank).

Last one...

11. Is my personal time with God reflected in my personal time with my spouse?

Remember, Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." That cord is you, your spouse, and Jesus!

Friday, September 24, 2010


I just previewed the movie we are showing on October 10th at our movie night. "I AM". It was really good and used the 10 Commandments as a base for the film.

It got me thinking about them:

1. "No other gods..." Not power, not money, not fame - only Him. I will serve only You.
2. "No idols..." Nothing fake - just the absolute reality of Christ. I will bow only to You.
3. "Don't take His Name in vain..." I don't use Him to get ahead - He is the Head. I will honor You.
4. "Remember the sabbath..." It isn't work - it's worship. I will worship You.
5. "Honor mother and father..." Learning how to be a son, parent, and child of the Father. I will model after the Father and Son.
6. "Don't kill..." My anger isn't worth it - my forgiveness was. I will forgive.
7. "No adultery..." Devoted to my bride - I am His Bride. I will be loyal.
8. "Don't steal..." Tithing my time, talent and treasure to the One who gave it all. I will willingly sacrifice it all.
9. "Don't bear false witness..." Be real to myself and the world around me - walking in the Truth. I will live out the Truth.
10. "Don't covet..." I have everything in Him - You are Jehovah Jireh, my Provider. You are all I need. You are "I AM".

Monday, September 20, 2010

Praying Specific Prayers

Question: How specific is your prayer life?
Question: Is your prayer life specific enough that you would instantly recognize that God answered your prayer?

Fact is, most of our prayer life is general.

"Bless me" - how will you know if He does? How would you know if your blessing is a direct result of your prayer? Why not be more specific when asking for blessing? Sure, we pray things like, "Bless me at work today," or "bless my finances." What about praying, "Bless me when I talk with my boss at work today about the Lord," or "bless me by providing the $130 I still need to pay my electric bill."?

When my daughter needs something, she asks for it specifically. Why? She wants something specific. She doesn't say, "Dad, bless me." She says, "Dad, buy me that Barbie swimming pool and princess tea set."

We should definitely pray like the Lord's Prayer. The prayer starts out with three "Your" statements about His Name, Kingdom, and will. It transitions to four "us" statements - bread, forgiveness, temptation, and deliverance from evil (the evil one). Notice which comes first - YOUR. We always start out prayer with focus on God, not ourselves. Now, what name for God is used in this prayer - "FATHER". It could have been, "Our God...," "Our Lord...," or even "Our Master." The fact that Jesus said pray with Him this way, "Our FATHER..." indicates a intimate parent/child relationship is involved. If He is our Father, shouldn't we ask Him specific things?

Luke 11 says God wants to give us good gifts and blessings. Yes, you can remain vague in your prayers, but he desires you ask specifically. Now, it has to be according to His will - that 's why prayer starts out with worship, knowing him and his will. When we do this first, what used to concern us seems to fade quickly. We realize we didn't need those things after all because they weren't important to the Kingdom.

You would never pray, "God, my child has cancer. Heal her or don't, it's up to you. Give the doctors the wisdom to know what to do or don't. Comfort her little body or don't." We wouldn't pray this way? Would we? We sometimes do. I would pray for healing, fully believing that it would happen, until it didn't happen. (I think about how David prayed fervently for his child to be healed until the baby wasn't). I would ask for specific answers through the entire process. Why? I have faith to know that He can heal and I desire my daughter to be cancer free. Would you ever pray, "God, don't heal my daughter of cancer?" You pray through - believing all the way.

We repent of specific sins. When we read our bibles, we look for and apply specific scripture. We should also worship with specificity. Ministry is done specifically, not generally. Prayer should be done the same way.

Being specific puts us in an uncomfortable situation sometimes. What if God doesn't answer the specific request? What if someone sees that specific prayer not being answered? What would it do to my faith if it wasn't answered? A big problem in prayer theology is we think a "yes" from God means he loves us and "no" from Him means he doesn't. I remember asking my dad for things as a kid. When he would say no, I would wonder why and sometimes even get mad. Now that I'm older and have kids, I understand why he said no - I say no to my kids for the very same reasons. If we are specific in our prayers and we don't get the answer we are praying for it does not mean that God is less real. It doesn't mean that He loves us less. It doesn't even mean He isn't powerful enough to do it. Jesus specifically asked for his suffering on the cross to be done a different way if possible. He still died on the cross. Paul prayed three times for his specific thorn in the flesh to be taken away. He was told no.

The fear of a "no" answer shouldn't make you shy away from praying specific prayers? Why? Because when you pray specifically and get a "no", you'll get a chance for a bigger glimpse into the Lord's will. God wants you to ask, seek and knock. He wants to give you good gifts. If you are growing in Him, you'll know what to ask for and a lot more than not, you'll get a "yes" answer. Remember this, God can bless you MORE THAN your specific request. Don't put limits on God! Just think what the answer to a specific prayer will do to your prayer life - and faith in God!

The Word says, "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." James 5:16 NIV. Don't forget the "righteous man" part.

How do we pray specific? Here are some tips:
1. Is what we are asking for wise? Would it potentially harm us or others?
2. Does what we ask for line up with scripture? Prayer must not just be positive thinking or good ideas. It must match the principles and examples of scripture.
3. Is our prayer selfish or vengeful? Are we trying to use God as our maid or genie in a bottle? Are we trying to get God to punish those who hurt us?
4. Can you handle the outcome of the prayer if it is "yes"? If you ask for a million dollars, what would you do with it? Be honest.
5. Will the answer help or hinder us in our calling? How would a "Yes" please and honor God through what He desires for us to accomplish him (on earth as it is in heaven).
6. Does the prayer sound general? Ask yourself, what is the answer you are looking for? Is the answer specific or general?
7. Will you obey God regardless of the outcome of your prayer? Will you serve and honor Him even if the answer is not favorable?

I encourage you to ask specific things in your prayer. Make a journal of your prayer life. Evaluate it to see not only if your prayers are being answered but, most importantly, that you are growing closer to your Father, His Kingdom and Will.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

God's Heart in the Lord's Prayer

Our Father...the PATRIARCH
Hallowed be Thy name...the PRAISE
Thy Kingdom come...the PURPOSE
Thy will be done...the PLAN
On earth and heaven...the PLACE
Give us bread...the PROVISION
Forgive our debts...the PARDON
Lead us not into temptation...the POWER
Deliver is from the evil one...the PROTECTION
Kingdom, power and glory...the PROVIDENCE
Forever, Amen... the PROCLAMATION

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ten Random Thoughts

1. We have to stop comparing ourselves with others.
2. We have to stop telling ourselves "I can't".
3. We have to stop letting our past failures control what God wants to do right now.
4. We have to stop believing there is no hope.
5. We have to stop sitting still when God clearly says to move.
6. We have to stop living in unforgiveness.
7. We have to stop withholding repentance.
8. We have to stop excluding people from our lives - do life together!
9. We have to stop complaining, lay down our lives, and do our part to build His Kingdom.
10. We have to stop and give thanks to the Lord for all He has done!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Feelings from the Lord's Prayer

Praying the Lord's Prayer will do wonders for you! Those 7 statements will guide you and discipline your prayer life.

Here is something I gained today while praying the Lord's Prayer:

Our - a family feeling
Father - an intimite feeling
Who is in heaven - a secure feeling
Hallowed be thy name - a reverent feeling
Thy Kingdom come - a majectic feeling
Thy will be done - a submissive feeling
On earth as it is in heaven - a confident feeling
Give us bread - a reliant feeling
Forgive us our debt - a cleansed feeling
Lead us not into temptation - a victorious feeling
Deliver us from the evil one - a triumphant feeling
Thine is the Kingdom - a dependent feeling
And the power - a magnificent feeling
and the glory - an exalted feeling
forever - an eternal feeling
Amen - a completed feeling

I pray these feelings come over you today when you pray the Lord's Prayer.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

One-On-One Discipleship

I love one-on-one discipleship. I think it is what Jesus meant when he told us to make disciples in Matthew 28:19-20. Yes there must a corporate setting (church services) for believers to grow in - large group. This is a biblical command for believers (Hebrews 10:25). This large group must become smaller - small group. This is vital to fellowship and accountability and also biblical (Acts 2:42-47; 20:20). But small group must become smaller - one on one. This is where relationships grow deep. This is where believers are most transparent and effective in discipleship. Jesus did large group. He even had a small group. But His true discipleship happened in the one-on-one interaction with his small group of disciples.

This takes time. Years in fact. That's one of the reasons I believe pastors must stay put in a community for an extended period of time. How can you make disciples if you move from church to church every year or so? Richard Foster, author of Celebration of Disciplines, said, "Our tendency is to overestimate what we can accomplish in one year, but underestimate what we can accomplish in ten years."

Most believes would love to have a "spiritual" growth spurt this year? This can happen through one-on-one discipleship. The word "disciple" comes from a Greek word that means "apprentice" as in "one who learns by doing or working alongside someone else". One-on-one discipleship happens when one Christian takes another Christian under his "wing" to help them become an "apprentice" of Jesus Christ and to experience spiritual growth by learning and doing (James 1:22-23).

Discipleship has got to be more than just teaching someone some facts about the Bible. It is not simply gaining information but transformation! Discipleship means spending time with the other person -- sharing meals, discussing problems, serving others - it means showing them how to do ministry! Discipleship means nothing less than walking together side-by-side and growing together in the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 2:8 tells us, "We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us."

This method of discipleship requires way more time than what Christians typically do in discipleship efforts but it produces better fruit - fruit that remains. Just think if Jesus had chosen his disciples and simply had them attend a seminar or two about ministry in three years. What if He had only given them a "read the Torah in a year" checklist and told them just to go to church on the weekend and find a place to serve in the local synagogue. Where would Christianity be today?

Jesus realized that he had to share his life with his disciples if they were going to take on his nature and be true disciples. If we are going to truly disciple people, they must become dear to us. We must share our lives with them. Do life together with a few other people as you grow in Christ. Find those in your small group who hunger and thirst for God and disciple them. Just share with them on a consistent basis what God is showing you and encourage them to do the same. Take them with you to do ministry.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, in Life Together, "So long as we eat our bread together, we shall have sufficient even for the least. Not until one person desires to keep his own bread for himself does hunger ensue."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Should I forgive or confront - or both?

When do you forgive and when do you confront? Do they go hand in hand? Can you forgive without confronting? Do you just forgive and let it go or is confrontation necessary every time for the sake of forgiveness?

Sometimes we overlook every offense because "love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8). These are usually petty things. Some people confront everything because they believe the offender needs to be taught why he is wrong so he can correct his actions. What do we do? How do we (or should we) balance these? 1 Corinthians 5 tells us how Paul confronted the Corinthians for tolerating sin in the church. Should we confront EVERY infraction? Would this seem burdensome or even petty? Would people eventually hate to see us coming?

Ephesians 4:1-3 says we are to bear with one another (tolerance, forbearance). We should exercise grace with people, giving time for the Holy Spirit to work out matters in their lives. 1 Corinthians 13 says love isn't easily angered. If we confronted EVERY petty thing, we'd never do anything else. We must show tolerance whenever possible so the unity of the Spirit and peace will win out (1 Peter 2:21-25). Love really does cover a multitude of sins. We must exercise and extend grace.

Another principle in determining if you should confront is knowing who has been offended. If you are the only one that is injured, you can choose to forgive without confrontation. Lots of people in the Bible did this - Stephen (Acts 7:60), David (2 Samuel 16). Non-confrontation is not looking the other way nor is it being OK with sin. It is merely praying through and allowing the Holy Spirit time to work these issues out in a person's life. You keep an eye on the situation to see if it is getting better. If not, you must lovingly confront.

Now, if you know about or witness a serious offense against someone else, confrontation is most likely necessary. The Bible tells us we must not overlook the sins committed against others (Deuteronomy 16:20; Isaiah 1:17; Jeremiah 22:3). Also, if this person is habitual in a particular sin, confrontation is necessary.

Galatians 6:1-2 says it is our duty to confront in love. Our goal is to win our brother back, not to shove their wrongdoing in their face. We must always confront if the sin has the potential to harm the whole church or many people. We must always confront if the sin could ruin the reputation of the church or leadership in the church. Hebrews 12:15 and 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 are great references for this.

It is Biblical to discipline individuals who refuse to repent. This is the type of sin that affects the whole body. You confont in this situation because you are trying to preserve the purity of the Church body. Matthew 18 gives us the steps on how to do this.

If a relationship is broken (marriage, parent/child, friendship, etc.) confrontation is necessary. Reconciliation is the goal of confrontation. Luke 17:3 says we should rebuke a brother who has sinned. If they repent, we should forgive them. We should seek to mend relationships. The only exception is if a person goes through all the steps of Matthew 18 and the offender still refuses to repent and reconcile. Then the relationship will remain broken because of their actions (or I should say, lack of action).

Confrontation should always be done with love and with reconciliation in mind (Ephesians 4:13). It should never be done out of anger, spite or with a vengeful attitude. Before you confront someone you must have a loving attitude. A loving attitude begins with admitting your own sinfulness (Matthew 6:12). Look at your life to see what sins you are guilty of, both in general and in the circumstances surrounding the offense. Then, you must deal with them (Matthew 7:3-5). You should pray and ask God to reveal your sin before confronting. Only after you have dealt with your own sins can you lovingly confront someone else's sin. Don't be a plank-eye (Matthew 7:3-5). Always repent (if applicable) to the offender before pointing out their sins.

You also have to prepare your heart to listen to what the offender has to say. As James 1:19 says, we should be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. Give the offender a chance to explain themselves. Don't just assume they are in the wrong - it is possible you are wrong about them being wrong! Proverbs 18:13 says when we answer a matter before hearing it out, it is a folly and a shame to us. Be committed to understanding the person that has offended you, because you may be entirely wrong. Get your facts straight before you confront. Don't confront based upon generalities or hearsay. If you are wrong about the offender, you must go back to those who made the accusations and get the story straight - clearing the alleged offender's reputation.

You must make sure you also don't gossip about a situation before handling it. You should only involve the necessary people in the matter at hand. They should be people you seek for advice on how to handle the situation or those mature in the faith who will pray with you in the situation. Retelling the situation to others who are not involved or who cannot help or pray is wrong and sinful.

Be direct. Don't let much time pass before you confront. Don't confront in the middle of a prayer. Don't confront in a crowd. Don't confront by sending out subleminal messages through your preaching, teaching or conversations. Do it one on one - privately. If you have to bring someone else in (as a mediator) make sure they are mature in the faith and can speak truth to all parties involved.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ten Random Thoughts

1. Fasting is very essential to your spiritual growth. Have you ever read about the 9 different reasons for fasting in Isaiah 53:6-8?

2. Salvation brings about real change. Brokenness, humility, and repentance are necessary.

3. How is your wife supposed to crown you as king (Proverbs 12:4) if you won't share with her your struggles, passions, and heart?

4. How is your wife supposed to grow if you don't wash her with the water of the word? (Ephesians 5:26)

5. You know you are complacent in your walk with the Lord when you talk about what you used to do way more than you talk about what you want to do.

6. Stop trying to make everyone happy. Call them to a deeper level of commitment - this means you'll have to confront the tough issues. There are no easy ways to ask hard questions. Just do it in love.

7. Pastors - fight for your children and youth ministries to be successful! Be passionate about them and give them the resources they need - don't make them beg!

8. Tip for financial success - stop getting advice from your bankrupt friends who don't tithe and have 5 maxed out credit cards and two mortgages - you know, the ones who will fall apart with huge disaster financially with the least little hiccup. They cannot help you.

9. Life is 10% what happens. The other 90% is how you respond to what happens.

10. God is good. Jesus is alive. The Holy Spirit is active. Live in that today.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

100% God or 100% Man - or both?

I was asked a question last night at church, "how can Jesus be 100% God and 100% man? Did He lay down His divine nature and pick up a human nature?"

This is not an uncommon question. It is similar to the questions about the Trinity - "How can God be three different persons but all of them be God?" I like to answer it by saying, "who wrote the book of Romans"? Paul is usually the answer. I then say, "Did he or did God?" The answer is yes and yes. Is God God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit? Yes, yes, and yes. "For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement." - 1 John 5:7. There are many more scriptures to support the doctrine of the Trinity (the word "Trinity" is not found in scripture but the principle of it is found in tons of scripture). Here are a few of them, but I'll move on to the the Incarnation of Jesus doctrine. 1 Peter 1:2; Ephesians 2:18; Galatians 4:6; John 15:26.

Was Jesus 100% God AND 100% man? Does that make Him 200%? That just doesn't add up. Surely, it was more like 50% man and 50% God. Maybe He dropped His divinity and was just 100% man for a while? Was He really a man or just God in a different package? These questions have been asked for centuries. The truth can only be found in scripture, not in human thinking. You'll never fully wrap your finite mind around an infinite God - especially when it comes to the doctrine of the Trinity and the Incarnation of Christ. These absolute truths go way beyond human comprehension. 1+1+1 in human terms doesn't equal 1. Is God schizophrenic? Does he have multiple personalities? Is he a shape shifter, changing from God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit then changing to God the man?

The Trinity has been around for eternity. None of them were created by another. Then God said, "Let us make man in our image..." (Genesis 1:26) The Triune God has existed before creation. Genesis 1:1 says, "the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." Tons of Old Testament scripture point to a Christophany (Christ's appearance in OT scriptures) or prophecies about Christ, the Messiah, coming to earth. Here are some for further study - Genesis 32; Joshua 5:13-15; Daniel 3:23-25; Numbers 22:35; Isaiah 53.

If Jesus was God, how could he have hungered, thirsted, wept and died?

I will give scripture to support all of these headings. There is tons more to be said here and tons more of scripture to support the doctrine of Incarnation - God being fully God and fully man - 100% and 100% at the same time. I'll just give a brief overview in this blog.

Jesus is God
Titus 2:13 says we are, "waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ." He knows everything (Mt 16:21; Luke 11:17; John 4:29), is everywhere (Matthew 18:20; 28:20; Acts 18:10), has all power (Mt 8:26, 27; 28:18; Jn 11:38-44; Lk 7:14-15; Revelation 1:8), depends on nothing outside of Himself for life (Jn 1:4; 14:6; 8:58), rules over everything (Mt 28:18; Rev 19:16; 1:5) never began to exist and never will cease to exist (John 1:1; 8:58), and is our Creator (Colossians 1:16).

In Philippians 2:6-12 describes Jesus as God. "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Only Jesus Took On Flesh and Became the Son of Man
Luke 3:22 says, "and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."

John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son..."

Jesus is Man
1 John 4:2 - "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God."
2 John 7 - "many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist."

Luke 2:7 - "And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn."

He wept (John 11:35). He hungered (Matthew 4:2). He thirst (John 19:28).

Jesus was Sinless Man
Hebrews 4:15 - "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin."

So, is he fully all those at the same time? Yes.

Colossians 2:9 says, "For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily." He was fully God while on earth. He was also fully man.

Why did He have to be fully man and fully God?

Hebrews 2:17 says, "For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people."

Jesus is only one person - with two natures.
His human nature was only human and His divine nature was only divine. The Chalcedonean Creed says, Christ is "to be acknowledged in two natures...concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God, the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ..."

Evidence of this: John 1:14 - "And the Word (divine nature) became flesh (human nature) and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."

God Did Not Die
God cannot die. He is "I AM". This implies He is eternal - no beginning and no end. But humans can die, and Jesus' human nature did die - fully. He didn't sleep, it wasn't an illusion. Jesus' divine nature did not die. But, the Person of Christ experienced death because of the union of the two natures in the one Person of Christ. His human nature now lives and ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9), forever making intercession for us (Hebrews 7:24-25). He will return physically (Philippians 3:21). He will transform our bodies to be like His. Jesus and Christians will continue to live forever with resurrection bodies that cannot die - 1 Corinthians 15:42; 2 Corinthians 5:1.

Thank you God for sending your Son to become human so He could understand, identify, and be like one of us - without sin. Thank you that we have a new High Priest in Him. Thank you that God became one of us. As J.I. Packer said this about the incarnation of Jesus: "Remaining what He was, He became what He was not. Christ was not now God minus some elements of His deity, but God plus all that He had made His own by taking manhood to Himself."

Friday, September 3, 2010

7 Steps To Better Parenting

There was a song back in the 1980’s written by the actor Will Smith (Fresh Prince) called “Parent’s Just Don’t Understand”. Why would I mention a secular song in a spiritual article? Those lyrics came from a teenager who was acting rebellious toward his parents. It was totally the wrong view kids should have toward their parents. Sometimes, kids still think their parents don’t understand them. But good parenting is more than being “cool” or relevant. You are not trying to be their best friend It involves modeling Christ to them.

Those who were the kids when that song came out are now the parents and we DO understand. The older we get, we realize that our parents were not really crazy after all. They, just like we do, have a tough time communicating truth. You are really never fully ready for parenting. I remember when the hospital let us take our first born daughter home. They gave us no instruction manual (not that guys would read it anyway). The first night we were home alone and all the company left I was faced with the reality - I was a parent!

So how do we do parenting well? I think we act out what we preach to them by living our lives for Christ.

1. We radically love them! John 3:16 says God radically loved us and we don’t have to work for His love. When we mess up, He still loves us. We need to show them what real forgiveness and repentance looks like. When we mess us, we repent. When someone wrongs us, we forgive. When someone is in need, we love them. Model this with your spouse and closest friends.

2. We should bless and discipline them. Psalm 2:8 says, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.” This doesn’t mean we should buy them any and everything they desire. We cannot buy their love or pay them off when our relationship is bad with a present. But, our hearts should want to bless them and ensure they have all they need to be what God wants them to become. We should also discipline them. The parameters of discipline should be wrapped around Biblical principles and scripture with the goal of making them more like Jesus. God disciplines us. Proverbs 3:12 says, “because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” Don’t just try to be the good guy or their best friend. Be their parent and steer them on the right track towards a relationship with Christ.

3. Spend time with them. God did not just send Jesus to the earth so we could go to heaven one day. He sent Him so we could have a relationship with Him. God desires to be close to us and we should desire the same closeness with our kids. Be creative and do something meaningful with your children each day.

4. Teach them about God when trouble comes. God wants us to know Him intimately. He is always teaching us, even when we don’t want to be taught and even when life throws curve balls at us. When your kids or family go through rough times, point them toward Christ. James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Don’t compromise.

5. Don’t live your life through them. Our jobs are not to dictate their future but to teach them to fall in love with Jesus. Yes we have to guide them but more importantly we help them to listen to His voice. Jeremiah 29:11 says God has a plan for their life. If we can get them connected to Him then He will direct them. Dance class, gymnastics, and baseball are great but if we do all of that and never lead them to a relationship with Christ, we’ve failed.

6. Don’t send them to church. Take them to church. We have to model the Christian life for them. Before they were our kids, they were God’s kids. We are only stewards of them. If we want them to do right, we must model it. If we want them to have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, we must be practicing them. They need to see us do it and live it out for them.

7. Pray for and with them daily. Before they leave for school, before they go to sleep and everything in between requires prayer. Take time to intercede on your knees for your kids. Not just when they mess up but before. Let them see you praying. This will teach them a lifestyle of prayer.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Forming Your Testimony

Here is a good method used to develop your personal testimony so you can share it with someone else. The first is your Conversion Story - how you came to know Christ. The second is a Recovery Story - what Christ has done or helped you with since salvation. Use these steps to write out your testimony. Make it brief. 2-3 minutes for the conversion story and 2-3 minutes for the recovery story.

Conversion Story (how you were saved)
Use the following outline to prepare your conversion story:
1. I have not always been a Christian. (Briefly describe your life
before becoming a Christian.)

2. I realized I needed Jesus and received Him into my life when…

3. The biggest change I have noticed in my life is . . .

4. May I share how something like this can happen to you?

Recovery Story (How Christ has helped you since you were saved)
Use the following outline to prepare your story of how Jesus helped you with a particular problem or need in your life. This is particularly helpful in bridging the gap to share the gospel with the unsaved:
1. My life seemed normal until . . .

2. I discovered hope and help in Jesus when . . .

3. I am glad I have a personal relationship with Jesus today because . . .

4. May I share how something like this can happen to you?

Now practice them both. Ask God to give you opportunities to to share about His redemptive work in your life. God bless as you share your personal testimonies!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Share Your Testimony

Sometimes the hardest part of evangelism is sharing our personal testimony. Our testimony is a bridge built into the lives of others that the Gospel can travel across.

When the demon possessed man in Mark 5 was delivered, he "departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all Jesus had done for him; and all marveled." (v. 19-20)

When Jesus changed the life of the woman at the well in John 4, she testified. "And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word." (v. 39)

The blind man in John 9 was healed and said, "One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see." (v. 25)

We should testify about what God is continuing to do in our lives, not just our conversion experience.

When you share your testimony, you build a bridge into the heart of people that Jesus can walk across.

When you share your testimony, you help those who have questions and objections to the faith see real evidence of a true God at work.

When you share your testimony, you give a real example! It's not just something you heard about or read about - you experienced it!

Sharing your testimony can be done in one minute or one hour. It can be done by a seasoned believer or new believer. It must be personal and relational. If you have been saved, you have a story to tell.

Share about: (1) Before I met Jesus... (2) How I met Jesus... and (3) After I met Jesus...

Keep your ears open to ways to turn your conversations toward Christ and share what He is doing in your life!