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Posts from March 2012

What the Church Can Learn From Steve Jobs

Some of you will find it difficult to admit that church leaders can learn from a man like Steve Jobs. In fact, just the title of this post is making some of you angry. I'm sure some are looking up verses of Scripture even now that affirm why I should never even attempt to make the claim this title boasts. 

Steve jobsAs many of you know, from reading his biography and other reports, Steve Jobs was not a supporter or believer in the Christian church. He was a seeker who abandoned the teachings of the Bible when his Sunday School teacher could not answer a question regarding the suffering in the world. He engaged in the liberal lifestyle and drug culture of Reed College. He became a dabbler and follower of New Age mysticism and his eccentricities of the "all fruit diet" and not bathing for many days as a young entrepreneur are well known.

Even though he was known as a demanding boss and very difficult to work with, his entrepreneurial spirit and leadership at Apple Computers has become iconic. 

I was watching a video presentation by Guy Kawasaki today. Kawasaki worked for Apple during the 1980s and then again in the mid-1990s first as the Software Evangelist and later as the Chief Evangelist. (Nice titles, huh?) He claims to be one of the few people to have been able to work with Jobs twice and survive. He is now an author and speaker and developer of numerous websites. One of my go-to sites is Kawasaki's www.alltop.com. Kawasaki speaks globally in different settings. He has spoken to leaders in the corporate and education world as well as at Catalyst to church leaders. Kawasaki's faith is evident and his ability to keep his finger on the pulse of culture is helpful for the church.

It's obvious that he has much respect for Jobs. When Jobs died last year, Kawasaki developed a list of "12 Things I Have Learned from Steve Jobs." I watched his presentation of this at TEDx at the Harker School in San Jose.

While watching this presentation, even though focused on the tech industry and business, I discovered some things that can be helpful for church leaders.

Here are the 12 things. . .

  1. "Experts" are clueless. That's a pretty harsh statement, but it's based on the fact that in industry, there are those who with past experience and age are elevated to the position of expert. Just because there is much wisdom in experience, there are times when the "experts" miss the point. He uses examples of Thomas Watson of IBM who declared in 1943 his view that the world would have a demand for a maximum of five computers. He also references Western Union's internal memo that declared the new device known as the telephone to be a loser and therefore not worth investing into. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE CHURCH: This is a stretch, but throughout church history, and especially in the past century or so, there have been some who have declared their "prophecies" of the future of the global church. Some have been dramatically proven incorrect. Sometimes it's a holding onto the past that leads to this, but mostly, it's a lack of discerning the Spirit's lead. There are far too few "men of Issachar" today who truly understand the times. However, there are some "experts" who seem to have their finger on the pulse of culture and without forsaking any of the message of the Gospel have been instrumental in leading the church to reach postmoderns and others to come. Lesson learned - just because someone has written a book and self-declared their "expertise" does not mean they are right. Trust the Spirit and the modern-day "men of Issachar."
  2. Customers cannot tell you what they need. Kawasaki states that "Apple market research" was nothing more than the right side of Jobs' brain. Jobs made it clear that if you asked the customer what they wanted, the answer would be simply "better, faster and cheaper." The customer would only ask for better "sameness," not revolutionary change. Customers can only describe their desires in terms what they are already using. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE CHURCH: People know they have needs, but they don't always know what those needs are. Even good Christian people in the church. Often the perceived need is a better choir, an organ (seriously!), better ministry options for the kids, a more comfortable gathering place, a new pastor, etc. What people need is revolutionary change. This is deeper than church talk. This is referencing the transformational change that only comes from the Spirit of God. So, go ahead and do that "church member survey" but you will not discover what is truly needed. You'll likely see things that have absolutely nothing to do with the Gospel and tranformed lives. You will see things that hearken back to the "good ole days" or a ministry model perfect for the 1950s (or 1990s - by the way, even the 1990s are outdated now.)
  3. Jump to the next curve. Big wins happen when you go beyond better sameness. Watch the attached video for a great illustration regarding ice (from harvesters to ice houses to refrigerators.) WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE CHURCH: I'm reminded of Reggie McNeal's book The Present Future. One of the statements in this book was that the church is answering the questions correctly. It's just that we're answering the wrong questions. It's time for a jump. We do not need "better sameness" but revolutionary change. The world is shrinking. The church must not run from the technology that enables us to communicate globally or support financially missionaries with the click of a button. It may seem honorable to discount the internet and hold tightly to that leather-bound King James Version Bible. I just wonder what we'll say when God asks why we didn't use the things He gave us fully so that more could know Him?
  4. The biggest challenges beget the best work. The biggest challengers of Apple, this little startup company with a new type of device called the personal computer were giants known as IBM and then later Microsoft. The challenges were great and many other companies came and went in the 1980s and 1990s. Apple saw the challenges as a chance to be better. (This is very hard for me to admit, since I used to work and love IBM, but it's true.) WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE CHURCH: Well, there are the David and Goliath elements here, but when thinking about the local church, it's a good reminder that the Enemy and the world are against the Gospel. Some cower to this. Some resort to creating "holy huddles" that protest everything. These churches become known, not for the transformational love and grace of Jesus Christ, but for the fact (or at least the appearance) that they are against everything. Some churches worry about the future, forgetting that this is a sin. The odds may be against the local church, but the victory is secure. This must be remembered. Any church that loses this focus becomes little more than a club. 
  5. Design counts. Kawasaki states that Jobs drove people nuts with his Type A design demands. He stated that "some shades of black weren't black enough" and other detail things that most would say "What's the big deal?" Jobs was a perfectionist. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE CHURCH: The church must remember that the work we do is not for ourselves, but for God. He is the focus. He is the audience. Therefore, why would we offer anything less than our very best? Some churches just offer crumbs at the altar. God deserves the entire meal. The little things matter. Just thinking practically, since our God is perfect and holy, we should care for all that He has blessed us with so that those who do not yet know Him are not distracted by incomplete stories, poor planned events and left-overs. Details matter. It's not about becoming obsessive. It's about offering the best.
  6. You can't go wrong with big graphics and big fonts. For Apple, this was made clear during Jobs' regular presentations at Macworld and other gatherings. He would stand in front of a huge screen, usually with one large graphic image and few words presented. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE CHURCH: Fix your PowerPoint (or MediaShout, or other presentation programs for worship). Find some 16 year old that understands that clear and simple is best. Oh yeah, clean up the website while you're at it. No one wants to read paragraph after paragraph on your site (and, therefore, probably not on this blog either.)
  7. Changing your mind is a sign of intelligence. Apple did a 180 on it's announcements about app development for the iPhone and iPad between 2007 and 2008. It was the right shift. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE CHURCH: Times change. Programs change. Communities change. Churches change. What doesn't change? The Gospel. The Message. Don't say "We're doing this program until Jesus comes" from the pulpit. I've heard that said. Guess what? We stopped doing the program in two years. Why? Because it was time to change. There was a shelf-life for the program. It had served it's purpose. Oh yeah, sometimes you change because you realize you were wrong. God's never wrong, but we do not always listen well.
  8. "Value" is different from "price." Apple products have never been the cheapest on the market. Why then does market share increase? Because the products are quality and have value. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE CHURCH: Ministry is not easy. It will cost. It will cost time. It will cost money. It will cost friendships sometimes. It will cost some relationships (Luke 14:26). However, all of these are worth it. The Gospel is worth it. There is value in the Gospel. It is not cheap. Christ's sacrifice was not cheap.
  9. A players hire A+ players. Jobs would say that A players should hire A players, but Kawasaki one-ups him here. If a leader only hires players who are not as gifted and effective as oneself, the organization suffers. If A players hire B players, then B players will hire C players, C players will hire D players, etc. What happens when you get to Z? WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE CHURCH: Staff well. Too often pastors and ministers are "hired" for reasons other than the call of God and the excellence of the ministry needed. Poor hires lead to weak ministries which lead to frustrated leadership teams and disgruntled church members. 
  10. Real CEOs demo. Jobs always showed how to use the products on stage at the trade shows. He didn't have someone else do it for him, when he was able. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE CHURCH: Pastors must live out what they preach. Delegation is great, but many pastors do not fully understand what it is. Delegated leadership is not telling others on the staff or in the congregation to do something the pastor would not do. I have seen this and it's poor leadership. Pastors cannot tell others to share Christ if they do not model it first. Real pastors demo.
  11. Real CEOs ship. Sometimes the product wasn't fully complete, but Jobs would ship it anyway. It was always ready, but in most cases not fully developed. That's why there continue to be new iterations of Apple devices. Do you know anyone who still has the original iPod? You know, the bulkier white one with the monochrome screen? It was good. It was ready, but not fully developed. That's why there are newer versions of these devices and others released each year. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE CHURCH: If you wait until everyone in your church has been trained in evangelism before you begin to share your faith, you will close your doors soon. If you wait until everyone is fully engaged missionally, you will miss the moment God has given you now. Understand the challenge. Prepare and continually refine, but "ship." Don't remain in the church building. The Great Commission is about action. Real pastors lead their churches to engage. . .to "ship." Refine and release new editions (new believers) as you go and grow, but go and grow!
  12. Marketing boils down to providing unique value. Items need to be unique (not refined sameness) and valuable to impact the market. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE CHURCH: Our message is the most valuable one in the history of the world. It's a message of hope and life. It's the Gospel. It is never changing and cemented in Jesus Christ. The method for delivering the message. . .well, that's ever-changing. The challenge for the church is to follow God's lead into newer methods of delivering the never changing message. If the church does not embrace this, we are doomed to replicate what the church of Europe is now experiencing  - closed buildings, fewer believers and a culturally dying faith. (Oh, by the way, it's not hopeless even in Europe. I believe God is going to do a mighty work among the atheistic post-Christian culture there. It's never happened in the history of the world, but then again, our God has mastered the impossible.)

BONUS: Some things need to be believed to be seen. Here's Kawasaki's quote: "When you are jumping curves, defying/ignoring the experts, facing off against big challenges, obsessing about design, and focusing on unique value, you will need to convince people to believe in what you are doing in order to see your efforts come to fruition. People needed to believe in Macintosh to see it become real. Ditto for iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Not everyone will believe—that’s okay. But the starting point of changing the world is changing a few minds. This is the greatest lesson of all that I learned from Steve. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE CHURCH: I love this parallel. Faith is believing what we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1). A visionary pastor must believe that which God has revealed. There's no room for "Show Me" faith.

I recommend you follow Guy on Twitter at @GuyKawasaki 

Read more: http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2011/10/what-i-learned-from-steve-jobs.html#ixzz1qjfQtCkB


Becoming a "Dad"vocate

A number of men in our community volunteer their time to mentor young boys in local schools. Some of these men do so during the lunch hour of the boy who has been assigned to him by the school. Others participate in group meetings before or after school where boys show up voluntarily to learn more about life and what it means to be a man of integrity. I spend my Friday mornings at one such group

Dad with sonA good number of men in our fellowship participate in this. 

It's a powerful ministry, even if some do not fully understand that it is ministry. To pour one's life into a young man is powerful. Young boys desire this message of authentic manhood from their fathers. Unfortunately, some of the boys  do not have father in the picture. That makes the mentor's role even more valuable.

In many cases, there is a father in the picture, but due to work schedule and sometimes just lack of understanding the fullness of the story, they miss the moments.

Most fathers deeply love their sons. It's just that many do not know what to do, what is next or how to go about pouring into their sons' lives the appropriate messages at the appropriate times.

All of us as fathers wound our sons. It's the father wound we all carry and inflict. Yet, there is healing and the truth of the matter is that our wounds do not have to define us.

As we finish up this school year and many of our mentoring relationships are coming to an end, I lament the fact that I will lose the opportunity to meet regularly with these young men. That's why I am working with some other men to develop a force to help the fathers in our community experience what it means to live from their hearts and pour life into their sons. 

One option we are looking at is having a mid-week, early morning (before work) breakfast group meet together at an area restaurant with a private room, just for Dads. I believe our first step will be introducing material from the study "Raising a Modern Day Knight." I'm still looking at how to coordinate this, but my conviction is that it must happen. Dads who can will gather together weekly to discuss some of the basics that our sons need in order to grow healthy and become the men God desires them to be.

We need some "dad"vocates to stand in the gap with these Dads, holding up their arms, supporting them, and encouraging them to breathe life and power into the sons God has entrusted with them.

Pray for us as we venture out to do this. 

This is more than a church class for men who attend First Baptist. We've done that and will do so again. This is an opportunity to impact and change a community for the better. We're building boys into men, rather than ministering to adults who behave like boys.

 


The Seven Sayings On the Cross Are a Template for the Life of a Christ-Follower

 

01 07 - Midweek Menu - Wednesday

 

ManwithbibleLast night as we gathered for our final "Mid-week Menu" in the FOUR ZERO study, I discovered something pretty incredible relating to the final words of Jesus on the cross. Author and friend, Geoff Shattock shared this with me earlier in the week.

When looking at the seven last statements on the cross, we get a template that shows the seven spiritual stages of life of the Christ-follower. 

Take a look:

  1. "Father, forgive them. . ." - The first statement is a great reminder of our beginning as Christ-followers. It starts with a "Father prayer" and forgiveness. 
  2. "Truly, I say to you. . ." - The message to the thief was one of encouragement and Good News. As a Christ-follower, there is a natural desire to share with others. I have not seen many new believers who did not want to share with others about Jesus. Now, seasoned church-goers. . .well, that's another story.
  3. "Woman, behold your son. . ." - The message of balancing and living authentically in all venues of life (work, school, home, church, etc.) is clear here. As a follower of Christ, we discover that we are not to be one person at work and another at home. There are things that must be taken care of spiritually and practically in all venues.
  4. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" - This is the "God-forsaken" moment that we all face at some point. It's been called the "wilderness moment" and is that moment when you feel all alone. Yet, here, when standing for right and righteousness, rest assured and hold onto the promise of Christ that you are never apart from Him.
  5. "I thirst" - A statement of authenticity. A statement acknowledging the need to recognize and know the "real you." 
  6. "It is finished" - Often focused upon as we age, but real nonetheless. There comes a point where the Christ-follower seeks to know that when his/her days on earth are done, the phrase "it is finished" can be said. In other words, we want to know we have lived well and fulfilled His purpose.
  7. "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." - The journey begins with a "Father prayer" and ends with one as well. This is a statement of utter, complete trust.

Jesus' statements were not random, nor were they made in a haphazard way or order. There is much to learn from these, if we would but slow down and focus. 

So, after we complete the forty day study, don't shelve the teaching. Continue to come back and revisit the statements. Where are you along the journey? Are you forgiving? Are you letting go of things you need to (bitterness, anger, etc.) and forgiving others? Are you holding on to that which you must (the promise of God's presences) when you feel alone? 

Are you living a life where "It is finished" may be said and God's response will be "Well done, good and faithful servant"?


You Need to Go See "October Baby"

Last Sunday evening our church members and friends gathered together at the local AMC Theater in Orange Park Mall for the opening weekend showing of a new movie. The theaters were packed this past weekend due to the opening of a new film based on a best selling book. The Hunger Games was expected to be big, and it did not disappoint. The adventure of Katniss and friends (and enemies) brought throngs of fans to theaters, to the tune of $155 million at the domestic box office and $59.3 million internationally. It shattered box office records in the process.

OctoberBaby_PosterHowever, that was not the film we saw. We purchased all the tickets for one showing of the new, independent film October Baby.

October Baby is released by Provident Films and distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films. These names have been associated with other faith-based films in the past, so you may recognize them. While opening in just 390 theaters nationwide, October Baby finished number 3 in per-screen average and number 8 overall. The crowd in our theater, consisting of church members and friends as well as volunteers at First Coast Women's Services and leaders and teenagers from the Florida Baptist Children's Home in Jacksonville, was greatly moved.

I heard over and again from the attendees how moving and well-done the film was. Some said "It wasn't what I expected, but it was so good. I'll have to get the DVD when it comes out." Not sure what was expected, but glad it exceeded those expectations.

My family loved the film and we talked about it all the way home from the theater. 

However, October Baby is controversial. It's controversial because of the serious subject matter it confronts head on.

That, I believe, is why so many reviewers in the media seem to be slamming the film. They say it's because of the acting or the storylines, but believe me, I've seen reviewers give rave reviews for mainstream films with decidedly non-Christian messages that have weaker acting and storylines full of holes. I guess it's hard to be impartial.

In truth, that is true for me as well. Because I agree wholeheartedly with the message of the film, I may be giving it "more stars" than it deserves. Honestly, there are some holes and some disappearing supporting cast once the story goes deeper into the message (i.e. Jason's girlfriend and Bmac and the guys.)

I've noticed that most professional reviewers from news agencies are panning the film, while the majority of "regular people" who have seen the film are giving it high ratings. 

While ratings by reviewers and money made by the film matter, what really is telling regarding the film is what those who have seen it are saying. Especially those who can relate to the characters portrayed. Here are some samples:

For Michael Catt, Pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia (the church behind "Facing the Giants," "Fireproof" and "Courageous") who discovered as an adult that he had been adopted, the film hit close to home: "I am mor ethan viable tissue. Jeremiah says that God knew me before I was in my mother's womb. Mom, wherever you are, if you ever read this, I was no accident. God had a plan for you and for me. Thank you for not having an abortion. Thank you for loving me enough to give me breath. I hope that one day you will see and know how God has used all this for His glory.

For Melanie's parents, it was a chance to realize the impact of a life of service: "My parents have such a heart for the Lord and for children. They have lived and worked at a children's home for the past 13 years. While watching the movie Friday night, my mom leaned over and asked my dad if he needed a tissue. His reply? 'I need a towel.' Needless to say, they love the movie, as did I.

For Sharon, it was a reminder of her journey to forgiveness: "The movie is very inspirational and I think it will give many post-abortive women hope of healing and forgiveness. I am a forgiven post-abortive woman and was very moved by the brave testimony during the credits. There is hope and forgiveness to the millions of us mothers and fathers who have lost our precious children to the sin of abortion."

For Dina, it was a chance to share the hope she found in October Baby: "I went to see it twice and the second time took friends with me. This film is the most touching, moving film I have ever seen. So full of hope, love, forgiveness and above all, healing! I am so immensely blessed by it. Prase be to God.

The stories keep coming in. I asked folks on Facebook what the most meaningful scene was in the film. Here are some of the responses. . .

SPOILER ALERT

  • When the birth mother comes into her office and finds the note that says, "I forgive you" What a powerful picture of what God can do through a person. I think it must have been much harder to forgive her for the second rejection than for the first.
  • One of my favorites is actually when the movie is over and the actress who plays the birth mom is describing reading the script and then playing that scene. LOVE how God planned that moment for her years ago and it affirms again that He is in the details of our lives!
  • My other favorite scene was when they were saying goodbye at the college campus, and she remembered why her father could never let her go. And she turned around and ran back to him and told him that it would be OK.
  • The reference that being human is 'beautifully flawed'...WOW!
  • I liked when the Snake King almost arrested Chris Sligh.
  • When she was in the church and the priest explained to her about God's forgiveness for us and how He has empowered us to do the same.
  • My favorite part was in the church, the time she actually realized forgiveness was freedom. Wonderful movie, so glad we saw it thank you David for arranging these times for us.
  • There are so many parts! Each and everyone mentioned here is awesome. I have to say I'm very pleased with the way the movie was put together. They did such a wonderful job showing how abortion effects so many more than just the mother!
  • My favorite parts were in the church and when she had forgiven her birth mother. But most of all I liked how she was chosen, adoped, and loved. One of my favorite verses is Roms 8:15 for I too was adopted first in this world and then in My Fathers world.

I strongly encourage you to see the film. Also, stay through the credits to see and make sure those with you see Shari's story. 

 


Finish Well

03 06 - FOUR ZERO Sunday AM

We are studying the sixth statement from the cross this week. Jesus, in his last few minutes of life said to the crowd and those in the heavenlies "tetelestai" or "It is finished."

REDMONDI was reminded of Derek Redmond (pictured right) in the Barcelona Olympics. As he was running a race he was favored to medal in, the British athlete's hamstring popped. The pain was excruiating. Yet, he got up. The race was finished for the others, but he was determined to finish it himself. He began hopping down the track and then his father came down from the stands to join him. His father said to him "You don't have to do this." Derek said that he did. Then his father said "Then, we'll do it together." It's a touching image and an amazing story. It's also our story. Finish well, knowing your Father is there with you along the journey.

There are some important things to note about the "finish" and this statement.

"It is finished" affirmed. . .

  • A life well lived
  • A job well done
  • A sealing of a new covenant

It is wise to live our lives with the end in mind. John Piper, in his book Don't Waste Your Life gives this account of a couple who did not end well.

I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider this story from the February 1998 Reader’s Digest. A couple took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball and collect shells. . . Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: “Look, Lord. See my shells.” That is a tragedy.

God created us to live with a single passion – to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. The wasted life is the life without that passion. God calls us to pray and think and dream and plan and work not to be made much of, but to make much of him in every part of our lives.

Most people slip by in life without a passion for God, spending their lives on trivial diversions, living for comfort and pleasure and perhaps trying to avoid sin. The warning is to not get caught up in a life that counts for nothing.

The message is clear - live well and finish well.

How do you know if you are finishing well? Look back at the previous statements made by Christ on the cross. Each one leads us down a path of finishing well. There's no mistake that they were made in the order presented. Check yourself:

  • Are you praying the "Father prayer?"
  • Are you forgiving others?
  • Are you finding the moments in life?
  • Are you fighting the fight, even when it seems you're forsaken?
  • Are you being real?

These things were all spoken of clearly by Christ. When accomplished, tetelestai. . .it is finished.

 


Sometimes I Miss the Obvious and Walk Right Into Sin

Have you ever known what to do and what not to do?

Have you ever known what to say and when to say nothing?

Have you ever known right and wrong?

And chosen wrong.

It's a very frustrating thing as a Christ-follower. 

It's even more frustrating when it's me.

Earlier today, during my daily Bible reading, I came across a pretty powerful verse (actually, they're all pretty powerful) so I Tweeted it.

Here's the Tweet:

Tweet
Great verse, huh?

Then, tonight at the premiere of October Baby, as we were waiting in line (all 200+ of us) two wonderful friends in our fellowship were making there way into the theater. They were going in early because of the use of a wheelchair and I jokingly said something to them about going in early. 

Ever have one of those moments when you say something and about a nanosecond after it comes off your lips, you wish you could grab it back?

This was that moment. 

I had said something jokingly, at least that was my intent. However, it was hurtful. I hurt my friends. To add salt to the wound, I did this publicly.

My speech was not gracious. The "salt" was not preserving, but painful. I had missed a moment. I, the pastor, the Christian, the man of God had wounded those God had placed under my leadership. There was no excusing it. There was no reasoning it out. There was nothing that could be done or said to gloss over the sin.

Immediately, I recognized this and apologized. Truly. I was, and am, so sorry. 

I am so thankful for godly friends who not only love me, but understand the power of forgiveness and offering it freely.

I then went to buy my popcorn and could hear God saying to me (not audibly, but it may as well have been) that I needed to apologize publicly. 

That's not fun.

But it was right.

I had spoken publicly and harmed my friends.

I needed to apologize to them publicly. 

I did not do this as a show. In fact, I didn't want to anything. But, I knew what God was leading me to do.

Oh, and there were dozens of people in the theater that I do not even know and honestly, about 90% had no idea I had said anything earlier to hurt my friends.

I tried to justify in my mind why I would NOT do anything.

It didn't work.

So, I stood in front of the 200+ people waiting to watch previews of upcoming films and apologized to my friends, Donna and Doris.

Then, we watched a movie that had this huge portion in it about the power of forgiveness.

Thank you Donna and Doris for being godly friends. Thank you for your forgiveness. I didn't deserve it. Well, then, I guess we never deserve forgiveness, do we.

Oh, and the movie? It was incredible. I'll write about it soon.


The Real You

 6-01 06 - Midweek Menu - Wednesday

 Anonymous2

The concept of identity is one which many people struggle. Knowing who you are in Christ is essential to living a life that honors and glorifies God. Unfortunately, many times we do not like who we are, or we tend to want to be more like someone else. There are many reasons for this. Some are rooted in a deep heart wound that is never fully healed. Other reasons are connected with making agreements with the Enemy regarding identity and therefore, never truly living from our true heart.

When Jesus spoke the words "I thirst" from the cross, He affirmed his full humanity, without disassociating His full divinity. Ah, the mystery of Trinity.

So, on this Wednesday evening study, we talked through some practical steps to help us understand who we are, where we are and why we are where we are. That's a mouthful, but take a listen to the attached audio file (or download on our app or iTunes). I believe it can be helpful as we learn to live our lives fully for the glory of God.

Don't be afraid of who you truly are.


"I Thirst"

01 05 - FOUR ZERO Sunday AM

 

Images

As Jesus hung on the cross, suffering as payment for sins of humanity, he gathered enough strength to make seven profound statements and questions. The statement we are focusing upon this week seems quite random. It's only two words. It speaks of the dry mouth and physical desire for water. In his last hour of life on the cross, he raises himself up on the cross just enough to say "I thirst." (John 19:28)

 

At first glance this statement seems very random, almost meaningless. Yet, there are a number of key elements connected to this statement that are essential to our walk as Christ-followers.

  1. I THIRST is a fulfillment. In John 19:28, it states that Jesus said this "to fulfill the Scripture.) This statement references back to Psalm 69:21 and Psalm 22:15
  2. I THIRST is a "designer label" of the Father. God, as Father and Creator, places His designer labels upon creation. Thirst is something we have all experienced. It involves a change in blood pressure, chemical messengers and two-way communications between the brain, kidneys and liver. In truth, the communicative connections are not fully understood. Thirst is one of millions of signs of God's unique design and creativity. (Hebrews 10:5, John 1:14-15)
  3. I THIRST is truth. Every word to come from the lips of Jesus was truthful. So too should ours be.
  4. I THIRST identifies the authentic Jesus - fully God and fully human. The Second Person of the Trinity embraced His humanity as well as His divinity. He was real. 
  5. I THIRST is a reminder of suffering.

The message of authenticity is a serious one for Christ-followers.

Often, we are not satisfied with who we are. We desire to be like someone else. In this culture of celebrity Christianity, we often desire to be just like other Christians. Why? Why would we set our sites so low? Christ is our model. He alone is our Lord.

Often we live out of a false heart, even in the "Christian culture." Many times, depending upon where we are (i.e. school, work, home, church, gym, etc.) we "become" a different person. 

Shakespeare said "All the world is a stage" and for many, it is. Living from the false self is often identifiable through such scenerios as these:

  • We pretend we know when we don't.
  • We act like we're right when we're wrong.
  • We show confidence when we're unsure.
  • We act like an authority when we're ignorant.
  • We joke around when we're supposed to be serious.
  • We're serious when we should lighten up.
  • We pretend to be modest when we know how and have expertise.
  • We act helpless when we should take responsibility.
  • We act like we have a certain feeling when we have another.
  • We seem content when we're aggrieved.
  • We use flattery to get our own way.

When we come to Christ, we do not get someone playing a part. We get the real Jesus. 

Why is it, even as Christ-followers, we struggle with being authentic?

We fear.

  • Fear of not being approved is linked to wanting to be liked by all.
  • Fear of seeming incompetent is linked to needing to be right all the time.
  • Fear of other's opinions is linked to needing to be in control.
  • Fear of financial loss is linked to needing to keep job at all costs.

Oh, and that point regarding suffering. Here are some truths regarding suffering.

  • Suffering is never meaningless. You may not be able to see the meaning, but rest assured, there is meaning. There's a deeper purpose. You may find out later. You may not.
  • Suffering is always temporary.
  • Suffering is always more than we can handle. Yes, you read that right. God will ALWAYS give you more than you can handle, but never more than He can handle.

Are you thirsty?

John 7:37-38(ESV)
37On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 
38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 



Psalm 22 and Crucifixion

01 05 - Midweek Menu - Psalm 22 - We

Our midweek study in the FOUR ZERO journey has us focused upon the statement from Christ on the cross that seems to be the darkest of all. . ."My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

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It's important to note that Jesus was quoting Psalm 22. Last night as we read this psalm as well as other stories that emphasized God's presence in the dark times of life, I rediscovered some pretty incredible things about Psalm 22. 

Remember, this psalm was written about 1000 years before Christ and about 700 years before the creation of crucifixion.

Just read the psalm here and while reading it think of Jesus hanging on the cross. . .hundreds of years after this was written.

Psalm 22:1-31(ESV)
1    My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
2    O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
3    Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4    In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.
5    From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
6    But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
7    All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
8    “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
9    Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
10    On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11    Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.
12    Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13    they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.
14    I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;
15    my strength is dried up like a potsherd,and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.
16    For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet—
17    I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me;
18    they divide my garments among them,and for my clothing they cast lots.
19    But you, O Lord, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20    Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog!
21    Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
22    I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23    You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24    For he has not despised or abhorred      the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him,      but has heard, when he cried to him. 

25     From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26    The afflicted£ shall eat and be satisfied;      those who seek him shall praise the Lord!     May your hearts live forever!
27    All the ends of the earth shall remember      and turn to the Lord,      and all the families of the nations      shall worship before you.
28    For kingship belongs to the Lord,      and he rules over the nations.
29    All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,     even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30    Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31    they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it. 


Why Have You Forsaken Me?

01 04 - FOUR ZERO Sunday AM

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This is perhaps the darkest moment in human history. The moment on the cross where Jesus cries out to the Father saying. . .

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Matthew 27:46b (ESV)

The promise of God's Word is that as children of God, we are truly never alone. Jesus promised us in the second portion of the Great Commission that he would be with us always, even to the end of the age. 

Sometimes we feel that no one understands our loneliness. The temptation to give in and give up is greatest at the moment of despair. Stay focused and do not lose heart, Christ is there. He is here. . .for the Christian.