a win/win

If at the end of the day I were to ask you to give me an itemized itinerary of the events of your day and how they unfolded, you’d readily be capable of describing how the day progressed. For me, most mornings the alarm clock goes off and off I go. By 830am my two youngest boys are sitting in their desks at school. By 930 several days a week Tiersa has our youngest girls are in class and she’s in her classroom. I’m either in the office or at a coffee shop depending upon the day. Now that’s only a short timeframe, a couple of hours from start to finish in the morning, but a whole lot more went into that time right? I failed to mention whether or not the kids were in a good mood by the time they walked out the door or if I had to referee. Whether or not we left in plenty of time to get where we were going or had to break several laws of man and a few laws of physics to get them to school before the tardy bell rang (not that I ever do that!). I haven’t told you about all the things on my mind during that morning timeframe. Concerns. Commitments. Complications. From the things on my to-do list that I just need to get done, to things that I have no idea what to do about and am still waiting to see how God works through them.

My reason behind this is to acknowledge to you that as much as we are striving to simplify, as much as we are striving to keep the main things the main things, we live lives that involve some degree of complication. Some complications we can actively do something about. But the reality is, for other complications, we’re in a holding pattern.

Process these words of the Apostle Paul, “But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not ‘Yes’ and ‘No.’ For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silasand Timothy, was not ‘Yes’ and ‘No,’ but in Him it has always been ‘Yes.’  For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 1:18-20a

What Paul assures is that everything in life is a “Yes” when we’re in Christ. Everything is a “Yes!” That somehow amidst good and bad, calm and chaos, triumph and tragedy, when we are in Jesus, it’s all a “Yes.” It’s not that it’s all easy.  It’s not that it always makes sense. But somehow when we see life through eyes of faith everything is a “Yes” because God is God. And in Jesus, we are His people. And because we are His, everything is a “Yes.” So you got a promotion? It’s a “Yes” in Christ. So you lost you’re job today? It’s a “Yes” when you’re close to our Savior. The cancer is in remission? It’s a “Yes” in Jesus. Your counts are looking like the cancer has returned? It’s a “Yes” when in relationship with God.

Somehow when we are in Christ Jesus, everything is a “Yes.” If you are being faithful to God, it’s a win/win situation. No matter what complications you’re in the middle of. No matter how promising or how bleak a circumstance. In Him it has always been (and always will be) “Yes!”

Glory to God!

Jason

darkness scatters

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.  And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.  God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness He called ‘night.’  And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day” (Genesis 1:1-5).

“God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.”

From the beginning of time.  From Creation.  From the word “go” (literally).  Light is separated from darkness.  They are opposed to one another.  Where one is present the other is not.

The Apostle John proclaims, “God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5b).  Christ boldly declares, “I AM the Light of the World” (John 8:12).  And in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls us to be spiritual light in a spiritually dark world: “You are the light of the world!” (Matthew 5:14).

We are called to be light.  Light in a world of darkness.  Why is it then that we so often toy with darkness?  Why is it that we too often concede and rationalize and justify any relationship with spiritual darkness?  With that which is spiritually opposed to the God we serve?

The Apostle Paul writing of the spiritual tempo of our lives asks, “What fellowship does light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14b).  Light and darkness are enemies.  The presence of one defies the presence of the other.  How is that we can so easily walk out of spiritual light and into darkness?  Is our faith so shallow?

In Ephesians 2:8 he asserts, “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.”  He doesn’t even say, “We were once in darkness, but rather we were darkness.”  Outside of God.  Outside of His light.  But in Christ Jesus, our reality has radically changed.

Colossians 1:13 declares, “He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son He loves.”

John affirms our calling in Christ and challenges that if we “claim to have fellowship with God and yet walk (live) in darkness we lie and do not live by (in) the truth” (1 John 1:6).

The call is just that.  To accept and live into the calling that we have in this life in Christ Jesus to be light in a spiritually dark world.  A city on a hill that cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14).  A lamp on a stand that gives light to all (Matthew 5:15).

Where there is light, darkness scatters.  In our lives and in the lives of those we influence to the glory of the God we serve.

Glory to God!

Jason

is the cross enough?

Cross of Christ

For the next three months our congregation will be investing into a study of 1st and 2nd Corinthians. Both Sunday morning classes and sermons will be pursuing these two wonderful texts. As a church we will be pouring ourselves into these letters and striving for a willingness and openness that would allow our Father to pour Himself into us as His holy people. “Ancient Church, Modern Challenges” is the general theme we’ll be working under. I cannot imagine a more timely, unifying study for us to engage in together.

The Corinthian letters center upon effective ministry. How is the church to be effective in a culture that is so very contrary to the God we serve? How might the relevance of the Gospel of Christ be communicated in a world that sees no need for faith? How can those who are followers of the Way of Jesus be united with one another, when while we’ve chosen to follow Christ, we did not choose one another? How do we as Christ’s Church today serve as a powerful, effective witness for the Kingdom? Unabashed. Unashamed. And unhindered

These are questions that the Corinthian letters will address.

Chapter 1 sets the stage: “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.’

Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel – not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (vv10-18).

Are we sharing the fullness of the Gospel message or are we simply speaking with “wisdom and eloquence” emptying the cross of its God-designed, God-designated power? Is the message of the cross enough for us? Is the cross, and the cross alone, truly the power for we who believe and are being saved?

It all begins with the question: “Is Christ divided?”

It all begins with the decision: “I follow Christ.”

And it all begins this week!

Glory to God!

Jason

scattering darkness

light, darkness

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness He called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day” (Genesis 1:1-5).

“God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.”

From the beginning of time. From Creation. From the word “go” (literally). Light is separated from darkness. They are opposed to one another. Where one is present the other is not.

The Apostle John proclaims, “God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5b). Christ boldly declares, “I AM the Light of the World” (John 8:12). And in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls us to be spiritual light in a spiritually dark world: “You are the light of the world!” (Matthew 5:14).

We are called to be light. Light in a world of darkness. Why is it that we so often toy with darkness? Why is it that we too often concede and rationalize and justify any relationship with spiritual darkness? With that which is spiritually opposed to the God we serve?

The Apostle Paul writing of the spiritual tempo of our lives asks, “What fellowship does light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14b). Light and darkness are enemies. The presence of one defies the presence of the other. How is that we can so easily walk out of spiritual light and into darkness? Is our faith so shallow?

In Ephesians 2:8 he asserts, “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” He doesn’t even say, “We were once in darkness, but rather we were darkness.” Outside of God. Outside of His light. But in Christ Jesus, our reality has radically changed.

Colossians 1:13 declares, “He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son He loves.”

John affirms our calling in Christ and challenges that if we “claim to have fellowship with God and yet walk (live) in darkness we lie and do not live by (in) the truth” (1 John 1:6).

The call is just that. To accept and live into the calling that we have in this life in Christ Jesus to be light in a spiritually dark world. A city on a hill that cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14). A lamp on a stand that gives light to all (Matthew 5:15).

Where there is light, darkness scatters. In our lives and in the lives of those we influence to the glory of the God we serve.

Glory to God!

Jason

satan’s native language

No Devils Allowed Sign

“When Satan lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar, the father of lies.” – John 8:44

As Christians I believe we easily acknowledge that Satan has one mission: To separate us from God.  That’s his mission.

“The thief comes to steal, kill, and to destroy.” – John 10:10

As believers we readily confess we have one mission: To connect others with God.  That’s our mission.

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Satan never ceases in his attempts to derail our lives, our faith, our eternity.  However, not only is the enemy seeking to alienate us from God, he also attempts in every way to interfere in our relationships with one another.  To distance us from one another.  To create animosity or stress or distrust or anxiety within the community of faith.  Why?  Because it impedes our effectiveness.

He’s the “father of lies” remember?  He is the deceiver.  If he can convince us that disharmony (not disagreement, but disharmony) is acceptable, it limits our effective witness in the world.  When he is successful in deceiving us and convincing us that the enemy is a fellow believer with whom we have disagreement, the father of lies is “speaking his native language.”  Satan wants nothing more than to stifle momentum in Christ’s church.  And very often he accomplishes this not through outright sinful behavior, but by diverting our attention, and cloaking divisiveness in the shroud of religiousness.  The tension is such that if you’re not a part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem.  When we allow the father of lies to whisper in our ears, we serve as conduits, as he shouts from the rooftops.  And very often, through well-meaning believers misguided in who the enemy truly is.

“If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out, or you will be destroyed by each other.” – Galatians 5:15

“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” – Ephesians 6:12

Why do we so often play into Satan’s hand?

Glory to God!

Jason

who “we” are

chosen

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Five times in three verses.  “We.”  This is how “we” live.  This is how “we” as people of the Kingdom live.  This is the way in which “we” as those who have been saved by the blood of Jesus operate.  This is who “we” are.  This is what “we” are about.

Yes we live in this temporary world, but how we live is not temporary.  We live as those who belong not to this world, but to the eternal Kingdom.  We don’t “wage war as the world does.”  We don’t allow ourselves to get caught up in a worldly way of life.  We don’t allow Satan to con us into thinking that other human beings created in the image of God are the enemy.  Satan is the enemy!  And we don’t allow him to dictate to us anything otherwise.  We are those who fight the good fight of faith on the side of the one, true living God.  And within us lies the capacity to speak and breathe life into the lives of others.  We are a part of the Kingdom.  And we strive with all that we are to see every single, solitary moment of life through the lens of the Kingdom.  So much so that even in our thoughts (much less our actions) we demand obedience to King Jesus.

We are an empowered, eternal, controlled, resolute, disciplined, Kingdom-visioned, God-called, Jesus-sharing, Spirit-filled people.  That’s what “we” are.  That’s who “we” are.  That’s what “we” are a part of.

Aren’t we?

Glory to God!

Jason

a win/win situation

If at the end of the day I were to ask you to give me an itemized itinerary of the events of your day and how they unfolded, you’d readily be capable of describing how the day progressed.  For me, most mornings the alarm clock goes off at 645am.  (Some of you you’re thinking: “I only acknowledge one 6:45 during the day and it’s not 6:45AM!”  For others of you, you’re routine may be that you get up even earlier.)  By 8am all the kids are sitting in their desks at school.  And by 815am I’m either in the office or at a coffee shop depending upon the day.  Now that’s only an hour and a half’s time frame, but a whole lot more went into that hour and a half than that right?  I failed to mention whether or not the kids were in a good mood by the time we walked out the door or if I had to referee.  Whether or not we left in plenty of time or had to break several laws of man and a few laws of physics to get them to school before the tardy bell rang (not that I ever do that!).  I haven’t told you about all the things on my mind during that hour and a half either.  Concerns.  Commitments.  Complications.  From the things on my to-do list that I just need to get done, to things that I have no idea what to do about and am still waiting to see how God works through them.

My reason behind this is to acknowledge to you that as much as we are striving to simplify, as much as we are striving to keep the main things the main things, we live lives that involve some degree of complication.  Some complications we can actively do something about.  But the reality is, for other complications, we’re in a holding pattern.

Process these words of the Apostle Paul, “But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not ‘Yes’ and ‘No.’  For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silasand Timothy, was not ‘Yes’ and ‘No,’ but in Him it has always been ‘Yes.’  For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 1:18-20a

What Paul assures is that everything in life is a “Yes” when we’re in Christ.  Everything is a “Yes!”  That somehow amidst good and bad, calm and chaos, triumph and tragedy, when we are in Jesus, it’s all a “Yes.”  It’s not that it’s all easy.  It’s not that it always makes sense.  But somehow when we see life through eyes of faith everything is a “Yes” because God is God.  And in Jesus, we are His people.  And because we are His, everything is a “Yes.”  So you got a promotion?  It’s a “Yes” in Christ.  So you lost you’re job today?  It’s a “Yes” when you’re close to our Savior.  The cancer is in remission?  It’s a “Yes” in Jesus.  Your counts are looking like the cancer has returned?  It’s a “Yes” when in relationship with God.

Somehow when we are in Christ Jesus, everything is a “Yes.”  If you are being faithful to God, it’s a win/win situation.  No matter how that hour and a half looks.  No matter what complications you’re in the middle of.  No matter how promising or how bleak a circumstance.  In Him it has always been (and always will be) “Yes!”

Glory to God!

Jason

power made perfect

“But the Lord said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:8b-10

Glory to God!

Jason

a balanced life

An educated and world-renown psychiatrist walks out of a mental hospital to find that someone has stolen one of the wheels from his car.  He has a spare tire but the problem is the thief has stolen its four lug nuts as well.  The psychiatrist is beside himself.  “How can I put the spare tire on without any lug nuts?” he asks out loud in a moment of frustration.  A patient from inside the hospital fence calmly replies, “Why don’t you take one lug nut from each of the other three wheels?”

Sometimes the answers to our questions are obvious.  Objectively we examine our quandaries and the answers come to us readily.  At other times, not so much.  We’re at a loss.  Maybe it’s a situation that we’ve recently been confronted with.  Maybe it’s something that we’ve been on the fence about for years.  Often when there are emotions and feelings and lives and relationships involved the lines of right and wrong, what’s best and what’s not, end up very blurred.  And too often, we lose our objectivity in the moment.

What does it mean to live a balanced life?  Specifically, emotionally and spiritually balanced.  Is it possible to be spiritually balanced without being emotionally balanced as well?  Peter Scazzero in his book, The Emotionally Healthy Church says “No.”

The balanced life reflects the conscious, concerted discipleship of the follower of Christ.  In this we see the direct connection of the relationship that our God grants to humanity through the cross of Christ.  Relationship with God.  Not ritual with God.  And the overwhelming reality of daily living in sync, in step, with Him.  The lie we’re tempted to believe is that somehow we can be effective (or as effective) in our ministry to others, especially to those with whom we are closest, without being both emotionally and spiritually balanced.

How many good days have been completely derailed by failing to keep your emotions under control?  How many relationships have been destroyed because of selfishness and pride and arrogance?  How many potential opportunities for spiritual growth and the furthering of the Kingdom have been squandered because of the inability and refusal of Christians to respond with kindness and grace and love.  Our emotional health works in tandem with our spiritual nature.  It is the design of God that His Son and His Spirit bring calm and peace where there was once angst and hostility.

Can we like the Apostle Paul say: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5)?  Do we possess “the peace that passes (that transcends) all understanding” (Philippians 4:7)?  Maybe that’s a place to begin….

A balanced life is only created when we walk in sync and in step with our God.  And only when we are both emotionally and spiritually balanced.  It doesn’t just happen.  It takes a conscious, concerted effort.  And it takes God leading the way.

Glory to God!

Jason