Be Salty!

What's your real purpose as a Christian? One of the top selling books in the world is The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. People desire to know why they're here on earth. There is a simple answer to the question. Our purpose is to Be Salty. Matthew 5:13 is where we can find this answer. “You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.” Saltiness brings out flavor and enhances taste. In another place, Scripture says to taste and see that the Lord is good. There is more for us to do on this earth than know God only for ourselves. We have a purpose to help people see that God is good and have a chance to know Him for themselves.

There are a few things I've learned about people who don't know Jesus:

1. They don't have a correct picture of God-that He is generous, giving and loving.

2. All people want and need to be unconditionally loved.

3. Most people will not come to church for help. People do not have the church on their radar.

4. If people are not thinking about the church, what are we going to do about it? We fix up the building and make the grounds look nice, but what about those who will never show up unless we're salty. We have to shake our salt shakers. They won't hear unless we invite them.

How can we connect strategically with people? If you pass someone three times at the mall, do you take the opportunity to connect and introduce yourself? We need to pay attention to how we can get a connection or audience with people. We need to look for opportunities. We need to meet people where they are.

There is one key. This one thing will get the salt out of the shaker. This will also bear fruit in our lives. Make sure you are connecting and caring for somebody each day. Walk slowly through the crowd. Connect and then care. Care for real. 1. Jesus did this. In Matthew 9:35 Jesus connected with people. What did He do?

2. Jesus went. He connected physically with people. He went to where they were.

3. Jesus saw. He found them. He looked at them.

4. Jesus was moved. He connected with them emotionally.

5. Then He prayed, connecting with them spiritually.

Find those you can connect with and give them 100% of yourself. We have a tendency to line 100% of the people up and give them 1%. But we need to be like Jesus. Be a conduit of God-flavors to people every day. Be like Jesus. Be salty!


Come and Get it

Gathering together at church, with other believers, is important. The gifts of the Holy Spirit edify the person using the gift, but when other believers see someone using their gifts, it edifies the body of Christ.

Today, we are in 2 Samuel 4:4, the account of Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan, son of King Saul. When Jonathan and Saul were both killed, Mephibosheth was 5. His nurse heard the news and hurried away but she dropped Mephibosheth and he became crippled. Have you ever dropped something? Our first children were twins. With twins, both mom and dad are on all the time. When our girls were newborn, I fell asleep feeding Ava, our first born twin. My hands went limp and Ava rolled off my chest onto the floor. She is ok - graduated in the top of her class this year. It wasn’t intentional. She is precious and valuable to me, but I fell asleep. We do this in life. There are things we drop or lose unintentionally because we fall asleep or lose focus. 

Mephibosheth wasn’t dropped intentionally. But he was crippled, and as he grew, he tried to figure out where he fit in. We can relate. Even in our adulthood, we can still be the proverbial middle schooler, walking in with our lunch, trying to see where we fit, where we belong. Well, you belong here, in the body of Christ. It doesn’t matter your level of faith. Grace is the foundation of Christianity and the essence of salvation. We are broken, but God is perfect and beautiful. We are all broken in common and we are all blessed in common. 

In 2 Samuel 9:1-13, King David asks if there is any member of Saul’s house he could show kindness to for his best friend Jonathan’s sake. The servant Ziba told David that Jonathan had a son. He didn’t use his name but he described his problem; he was messed up and broken. The king said “Where is he?” Ziba was thinking, maybe if the king knew Jonathan’s son was broken, he wouldn’t want him. But even in Mephibosheth’s brokenness, the king still wanted to know where he was. We pull ourselves away from others, even our God, in our brokenness and pain.  But, we have a king who wants us even though we are broken. 

Mephibosheth was presented to King David and bowed low, probably thinking it was the end of his life as he once was a rightful heir to the throne. But the king said “Do not fear.” Mephibosheth was positioned for one last plea for mercy. But David had planned kindness for him. A lot of us are in a dark place, far from knowing our value and worth in Christ, but the King (Jesus) calls us to Himself.

David restored all Saul’s lands to Mephibosheth and invited him to sit at the King’s table - always. Mephibosheth asked why. He had the mindset of a poor and disabled orphan, a dead dog. He couldn’t forget that he was broken and ashamed of who he was. Can you relate?  Don’t excuse yourself from the King's invitation. 

Church is not a place for perfect people. Don’t walk through the world looking for evidence that you fit in or have worth. Know who you are in Christ. Sometimes we look backward while trying to run forward and it cripples us. Do not negotiate who you are with another person and lose yourself that way, crippling yourself in the process. As long as you’re good with God, you’re good. 

We each have scars. It’s not our fault. We were just dropped. Some are more broken than others. We have scars all over. But, scars show we made it through, that we were not defeated. Thomas asked Jesus to show him the scars on His hands and side. He wanted to see victory. It was not doubt, it was destiny. 

If you’re hurt and broken, you can be restored and receive help. Ephesians 2:3 is the truth, that we were born with evil natures, under God's anger like everyone else. We are beat up on the outside but no one can destroy what’s on the inside. God did great things with Moses the murderer, Rahab the prostitute, Saul the Christian killer and Peter the Denier of Christ. He can do great things with us. 

Church is community in your life. In community, when I fall, my friends, brothers, and pastors will catch me. Do you know where I meet my friends, brothers and pastors? At church! Insecurities would keep you from building relationships, but you have to have relationships to stay safe. We stay outside because we’re afraid of what our past reflects on us. But, it is not our past that disqualifies us. Mephibosheth was able to come into the king’s presence because of who his father was. It’s your father that leads you into your destiny. David invited Mephibosheth because David wanted to bless Jonathan's family. Romans 5:17-19 states we are provided abundantly with grace and righteousness because of Christ. You do not have to live in the shadow of your past or generational curses. 

Before you accept Christ, your spirit is dead. Jesus came to make dead things alive. There’s a place for you in the house of God whether you are broken, blessed, lame or living large. Mistakes and shortcomings accepted. You belong here. We’ve got a seat for you at the table. Your damage doesn’t define you. God has a plan and purpose for your life. It didn’t matter who Mephibosheth was. It mattered who his father was. Damaged doesn’t mean undeserving. Mephibosheth was seated at the king's table. When he sat down, his brokenness was covered because his lameness was in his feet. Come sit at the table so that everything that is wrong with you is covered. The name Mephibosheth means “idol breaker, exterminator of shame”. Like a crumpled box that has been mishandled in shipment, you are “Damaged but Still Deliverable”.  What is on the inside is still a tr

Live Dangerously

Live Dangerously

Today, I continue with a message on things that made Jesus mad. Anytime there's blocked access to God, it makes Jesus mad. If you haven’t seen my message on Jesus’ temple-tantrum from last week, please go back and read/listen.

So, legalism… I hate it. If you've got a stupid rule, I'm going to want to challenge it. I want to know why the rule is there and if it makes sense! Rules are never going to be able to cover every scenario we could come up with and an effort to try to make rules that do so results in stupid rules. 

Do you realize your behavior, your judgment, your rules, may be keeping people out of Heaven?? Jesus said it this way in Matthew 23:13 (NIV),“Woe to you …You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” Earlier in Matthew 23, Jesus spoke to the crowds and said, “Do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, burdensome loads and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” 

To quote a modern icon, Homer Simpson answered Bart’s question about what religion they were, “You know, the one with all the well-meaning rules that don't work out in real life... Christianity.” What happens if Homer's statement is true? Well-meaning rules that don't work in real life create a huge unnecessary barrier and this makes Jesus mad.

So, do we not need rules? Of course, we need rules. I know we need rules. I know society needs governance. God gave us rules because He loves us. That's the difference. He loves us so He gave us rules. Think about the Ten Commandments for a second. They're all for our benefit. They provide a foundation for a relationship with our loving Father and for our general well-being, individually and socially. Here's the thing, the problem is whenour interpretation of the laws of God hinder people getting to God. At that point they are our laws and our rules. If we don't understand God’s laws but we’re expecting others to follow those interpretations, it creates a barrier for people to get to God. This makes Jesus mad.

In Mark 3:1-6, Jesus decided that it was time for the Pharisees to learn a lesson about forcing people to go through well-meaning rules that don't work in real life. And so, He broke one of them. “Once again Jesus entered the synagogue, and a man with a withered hand was there. In order to accuse Jesus, they were watching to see if He would heal on the Sabbath. Then Jesus said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Stand up among us.’ And He asked them, ‘Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?’ But they were silent. Jesus looked around at them with anger and sorrow at their hardness of heart. Then He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ So he stretched it out, and it was restored. At this, the Pharisees went out and began plotting with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

The Pharisees, the religious ones, the church leaders literally started plotting how to KILL JESUS in response to this miracle. What was Jesus mad about? He was mad about the hardness of their hearts. They were so caught up in their own religious beliefs, they couldn’t see THE NEED of the man!!! He was mad about the fact that they were blocking the Kingdom of God. When Jesus did miracles on the Sabbath, He did them purposefully.  He was trying to tell us to look at the need, not the law.  He was trying to tell us to look at the person, not our own idea of religion.

What did the crowd think? The crowd thought Jesus was awesome. The outsiders loved Jesus, but he made the church uncomfortable. I sure hope that you have met the real Jesus. And I hope, as Christians, we can introduce the real Jesus to those who are outside the church. At the very least, I hope that we can understand that Jesus didn't come to show us how to follow the rules. Jesus came to fulfill the rules, to complete their purpose, in love.

The church is not comfortable with Jesus turning to a thief being executed on the cross, and saying, "Oh, you want to go? Yeah, sure. Come on." Paul said it in Gal 5:6 (NIV), “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” That's what matters. It’s not which one of these rules you're getting all right. Jesus was more interested in doing good than following rules. And Paul said, "Yeah, exactly."

There's something inside all of us that feels safer when we know we’re playing within the rules of the game. Steve Brown wrote inA Scandalous Freedom, "But the good news is that Christ freed us from the need to obnoxiously focus on our goodness, and our commitment, and our correctness. But religion has made us obsessive almost beyond endurance. Jesus invited us to a dance, and we've turned it into a march of soldiers, always checking to see if we're doing it right, and if we're in step and in line with the other soldiers. We know a dance would be more fun, but we believe we must go through Hell to get to Heaven, so we just keep marching."

Man, this feels dangerous. Maybe it's time to understand what grace is really about. Grace is dangerous. Does that mean God doesn't care how we live? No, of course not. He wants what's best for us. The difference is the order of the scandalous response that Jesus gave the woman caught in the act of adultery: 1) Neither do I condemn you. 2) Now I want you to have a better life. Grace, then truth. I love you and here is what’s best for you.

What traditions have you turned into legalism, rules, judgment?? What are you doing that may be keeping others from seeing the redeeming love and grace of Christ in your life? Are you so self righteous that others can’t see His love through you? God, help us. Let’s partner with God in getting those who are outside connected with Him.

This Is The Day

This Is The Day

Palm Sunday occurs every year on the Sunday before Easter. Today, we remember Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The account is  in all four of the gospels. Jesus entered the city, knowing that he was going to be tried, and then crucified. But, he also knew he would be raised from the grave to save us from sin. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Weekor Passion Week, which is the remembrance of the last days of Jesus..

One third of the Gospel writings concern this last week of Jesus’ life on earth. This week, Jesus visited friends in Bethany on Saturday. Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, held a dinner to honor the One who performed this miracle. During the event, Lazarus’ sister Mary worshiped Jesus, anointing his feet. She worshiped, not caring who was watching or what people thought about what she was doing. 

This woman was so thrilled with what Jesus had done in her life and for her family, that she took her most prized possession, perfume that was worth a fortune, and poured it all out for him.

The following day was Sunday. This was Palm Sunday, March 30 in the year 33 AD. This date was prophesied in Zechariah 9 and in Daniel 9. The crowd shouted “Hosanna!” which is a phrase directly from Psalm 118. They were crying “Lord save us!” in verse 25. In the previous verse, we find that THIS WAS THE DAY that the Lord has made. This phrase specifically speaks of this day and prophecy is precise, 173,880 days from March 5, 444 BC when the king gave the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. Palm Sunday was not just another day, but was prophesied hundreds of years before to bear witness to King Jesus.

Most thought Jesus came to deliver them from the oppressions of Rome. But according to Daniel 9, he was going to come on this appointed day and there would be a celebration, but after that the Messiah  would be cut off. In 33 AD, inattentive of the prophecies of old but fulfilling them nonetheless, the Pharisees saw the popularity he had gained and resolved to destroy him. God’s word reveals such great truths in every part of the story. As we spend time considering these scriptures, they draw us closer toward Christ and remind us that he indeed is King.

Many biblical prophecies were fulfilled during this week. Jesus came to earth to save humanity by dying on the cross on Good Friday (Passover) and resurrecting on Easter Sunday. By doing what he did, he swung the gates of heaven open, allowing our sins to be forgiven and ushering in the presence of God. Until then it was impossible for humans to be good enough to be in the presence of God, and be forgiven for our sins. Old Testament sacrifices were used to cover sin by the Jewish people, but Jesus was the perfect sacrifice once and for all, including Gentiles. He went to the cross out of his great love for you and for me so that we could stand in the presence of God.

The story of Jesus’ Passion during Holy Week started on Sunday with Jesus' entry into Jerusalem as a king which is why it was triumphant. Monday was Jesus’ first public act as King. He cleansed the temple symbolic of the cleansing he accomplishes in us, his living temple.

On Tuesday, Peter noticed the withered fig tree that Jesus had cursed. Jesus used this as a lesson for us  to have faith and recognize the power of forgiveness. The tree was a picture of what God’s people should be, a deeply rooted plant that grows leaves and bears fruit. Jesus will come out against the fruitless temple. 

Wednesday is widely known as spy Wednesday. There was a plot developed by the high priest and the authorities to kill Jesus. This is when everyone knew Jesus had to die. Judas made himself available to the plot and agreed to betray his teacher. 

Thursday we remember his last meal and the new covenant presented at the Last Supper. Jesus ministered in a personal and intimate way to his closest disciples and counseled them for the last time before his death. He revealed that the Passover meal would now represent his body and blood given for them… and us. He was the lamb that would bring freedom, sealing a new covenant, that through his death we would be free and through his resurrection he would be our King. We celebrate this act of God  today by communion when we break bread and share wine or juice, which represents the blood and the body of Christ. On this day, Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment that we find in John 13:34,

“Love one another just as I have loved you..”

Friday, Jesus was arrested and the King of the universe was questioned, tortured and condemned, an innocent man led to crucifixion and death on the cross. He was betrayed and deserted by his closest friends. Why would it be called Good Friday? It’s called Good Friday, because by Jesus’ death, he became the final and complete sacrifice for our sins. Jesus broke the bonds of sin and death for you and for me.

Saturday would be his body resting in the tomb. It was a rich man’s tomb, which again fulfilled the prophecy from the old testament in Isaiah 53. Holy Saturday is a time for us to really lean into being present in the Lord, placing our own agendas at the door, and coming before him to simply just be with him. The Lord desires a relationship with us, and the requirement of relationship is time together. I would encourage you Saturday not to ask God for anything, but simply just spend some time with him. On Saturday, we remember everything was finished and there was nothing to be added. We join Jesus in his rest and we join him in the Sabbath.

Next Sunday, we will celebrate the day of resurrection. Jesus defeated death and the news of how God’s son died for our sins and rose again from the dead spread. He reigns today, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, our King, who on Palm Sunday rode out like a rival king, who on Monday and Tuesday pronounced destruction on the temple and his final victory, who on Wednesday was prepared for burial like royalty and on Thursday announced the new covenant of his monarchy. On Friday he went to war with death on a Roman tree and on Saturday he rested from all of his work in Sabbath sleep. On Sunday, he rose from the dead and proved once and for all that he is who the whole Bible and this Holy Week claim him to be… Our God in the flesh… King of kings… Our Savior who reigns eternally.