Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Are you like the disciples or Bartimaeus?

Mark 10:46 Then they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road.

This Sunday we talked about one of the favorites. A simple story about a blind man, Bartimaeus, who begs for his eyes to be healed. Take a minute and read the story. Mark 10:46-52. Jesus, the greater wonder worker, heals him. End of story. Application-if you have eye troubles ask Jesus for healing. Simple enough. Maybe you can avoid Lasik surgery or be freed from the hassle of contacts.

Of course there is more here than meets the eye. In fact, Mark carefully develops this story so that we look at Bartimaeus and the disciples standing in contrast to one another. The disciples are pictured as those who have physical sight and are spiritually blind. Bartimaeus is pictured as someone who has spiritual sight although physically blind. We see this in his address to Jesus in calling him, “Son of David,” and asking for mercy. At the end of the story, Bartimaeus is no longer sitting on the side of the road but following Jesus to the cross.

Here’s one way I know I can be like the disciples even though I don’t like to admit it: my present self always looks at my past self and says, “How could you have been so stupid?” Example: Today as I look at myself when I was first married I realize I could have been a more loving husband—at least a little bit. The problem is I have said this every year of my marriage. The bigger problem is that I can vaguely remember Vela saying something last week about fixing a light switch as an act of love. I also vaguely remember that she might have already asked a couple times.

So what do we do? Does anybody reading this want to be like Bartimaeus? Anybody want to see Jesus more clearly and follow Jesus more freely? Since Bartimaeus is clearly the model of faith and discipleship, maybe we should do just what Bartimaeus did. Confess our unworthiness by saying, “Lord, have mercy on me.” Then, cry out, “Lord, open my eyes.

Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. Open my eyes!

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Hebrews 12:27 (NIV)The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

Check out this graph of the stockmarket. Stop and list at least five thoughts or feelings that come to you as you look at this before you read any further. What other events, relationships, disappointments or struggles give you the same thoughts or feelings? The author of Hebrews reminds us that everything on this earth can and will be shaken. Everything not bolted down to Jesus, the rock the doesn’t move, will be shaken. We live in a time when clearly things are being shaken—our money, security, health, centers of power, marriages, families, etc. How do we respond? Notice what the author of Hebrews goes on to say in the next two verses.

Hebrews 12:28-29 (NIV)Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

How do we respond? We give THANKS and we WORSHIP. Why? Because we are promised that moving into a world where nothing will be shaken and our God is a consuming fire. When was the last time you looked at the stock market going down, read bad news in the newspaper, had an awful day at work, etc. and you responded by giving thanks and worshiping God? I wish I could say that's my regular practice. The other night I challenged the elders to memorize verses28-29. Will you join with us?

Father, in a world that seems to be spinning out of control I thank you that because of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus I am guaranteed to live in Your kingdom that cannot be shaken. Father I worship You as that which cannot be shaken. When I sense my world is being shaken remind to respond with thanksgiving and worship. To the best of my ability I anchor all of me to all of You.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Whac-A-Mole for the Pastor

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give His life a ransom for many. Mk 10:45

In Mark 10:32-45, for the third time Jesus says, “The Son of Man must suffer, die, and rise.” For the third time the disciples insist, “We want to be number 1.” For the third time Jesus says, “Number 1 is in the back of the line.” You get the idea that maybe this is something that we need to hear more than once.

I preach three times on Sunday mornings. The first time didn’t go as planned. Our reader read Matthew 10 instead of Mark 10. Stunned, I just sat there. Gosh, we have been studying Mark all year. Then I had a powerpoint slide (that I had made) with a mistake on it. The slide came at a point in the sermon where I felt things were not going well. In the middle of passionately speaking of the greatness of Jesus, a cell phone started ringing. I am sure it rang for at least 5 minutes. After it stopped, I guess the caller decided to try again. Another 5 minutes. With all the distractions I basically ran out of time and crash landed the plane. I felt like the crash landing put everyone out of their misery. Except me—I was miserable about this the rest of the day. I was the poor pilot who survived.

What was my problem? Right before the service, I had prayed with an elder. We actually talked about the fact that it is okay to make mistakes. I just finished reading 1776 before going to bed Saturday night. George Washington made some huge mistakes the first year of leading the army. What was my problem? In the act of preaching and leading that service, what I really wanted was to serve Jesus so that I could look like a put together leader who does everything right. What I really wanted was the same thing all the disciples wanted from Jesus…personal glory. Ugh! It is painful to be a living example of failure of the very lesson you are preaching.

If you heard the sermon I said that we didn’t need to play Whac-A-Mole with our failures but instead think hard on Jesus’ death. I went ahead and played Whac-A-Mole for the rest of the day.

Jesus, You alone are holy, perfect, righteous, together. You alone are worthy. I confess that my flesh insists on being number one. Purify my heart of this selfish service that plagues me. Not only do I have too lofty of a view of myself, I have too lowly a view of You. Open my eyes to see more clearly Your greatness. May I learn to serve and give freely as I follow You.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Want to preach this Sunday…or at least give some input?

This Sunday we will be studying Mark 10:32-45. Here is what is going on. This is the third time Jesus predicts his death in the gospel of Mark. Again, the disciples reveal by their words that they really don’t get it! They really have not grasped Jesus’ purpose and therefore are out in left field concerning their own calling. Actually, they are not even in the ball park.

When Jesus says get ready because I am going to die a nasty death, James and John run up to him and want to talk about their inheritance. They ask, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” Pretty bold! Obviously, all Jesus previous lessons have not registered—“save your life by losing it, the last will be first, if anyone want to be first he must be the servant of all.” James and John view greatness in terms of power and pride.

Jesus helps them along by clearly stating His purpose verse 45.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

Here’s how you can help with this Sunday. Please tell me how in specific ways you see yourself (or others) in James and John as a comment on the blog. You might think of it this way: where and how do you see the gap between Jesus coming to serve through death, and your own attempts to serve Him and others around you?

Recruit some friends to give their opinion.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Faith says, "I will..."

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Here are some thoughts based on Hebrews 11:1-16 from some time with the LORD yesterday.

Because my faith is in the Creator God who made holy through Jesus and an heir of his kingdom, because I want to please him, because of the joy of this thought, “God is not ashamed to be called their God”,
I will do what he says no matter what anyone else is doing or how they respond to me,
I will seek to know him and love him with my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength,
I will live in holy fear listening to his warnings in calling myself, my family and others to repentance,
I will go where ever, whenever, to whomever when he says go,
I will go as far as and no further than the light he gives me,
I will live fully in this God-ordained moment never forgetting this verse is not my home,
I will meditate long and hard on the faithfulness of God,
I will believe God for great things while releasing times of fulfillment and results to him,
I will live with a constant greatest longing for a heavenly place where I will see Jesus in all his glory.

Spirit of Jesus, I believe you can empower me to live this life of faith.

BE ENCOURAGED TODAY—Every act of faith regardless of the outcome leads to this:
God is not ashamed to be called your God Heb 10:16

Friday, September 11, 2009

A thought for all us perfectionists

In almost everything we do in life, we want a “do over.” We almost always think with another try we could do a little better. We could run a little faster, jump a little higher, love more fully, be a better parent, get a better deal, etc. Why is this? We know we are not perfect and we desire the possibility of it. Even those of us who are proud of our accomplishments keep going for more. Hussein Bolt still plans to run faster and break his own world records. We love to watch the pursuit of perfection. We ooh and ahh when we see the perfect car. We cheer when we watch a performance that is close to perfection.

Hebrews 10:14
because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

Jesus, in one act, dealt with the sins of the whole world. Unlike the sacrifices of the Old Testament, He didn’t need a “do over” year after year. If we really grasp this perfect performance we would do more than ooh and ahh or cheer for a moment. We would praise Him forever ever and ever. That’s what the book of Revelation tells us is happening because the Lamb who was slain is worthy. We can also give ourselves a break and rest in His finished work on our behalf. Jesus died for imperfect people.

Prayer and Praise.
Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Please don’t think you are the only one who struggles in your marriage.

I often wonder if I should preach the exact same sermon two or maybe even three Sunday’s in a row. This past week I talked about marriage from Mark 10:1-13. We heard an honest story from a staff member and his wife how they experienced failures in their marriage and also fought for their marriage. Here is the outline:

Title: Let the Cross Shape our Marriages
Why our marriages is worth fighting for:
Jesus doesn’t want us to die of a long slow heart attack.
Jesus doesn’t want us to experience the pain of an amputation.
Jesus doesn’t want us to go toe to toe against God.

Although, I have not been made privy to all the details or even names, I have heard from many that there are lots of stories coming out of marriages in trouble. I ask all of us that if anyone is moving towards a divorce, about to get one, or about to have an affair please swallow your pride or whatever holds you back and call someone today.

If Sunday wasn’t motivation enough, I want to remind us that marriage is a God-given picture to show how He relates to the world. Think about this:
The coming together of a man and a woman in marriage is a picture of…
The oneness of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Gen 1 & 2)
The relationship between Jesus and His church. (Eph 5)
What it will be like the day we see Jesus in glory. (Rev 19)

Maybe I should preach this outline this Sunday-not just for everyone else but also for me.

Please don’t let Satan trick you into thinking you are the only one who struggles in marriage and therefore hiding your problem. Please don’t let your flesh, Satan, and the world trick you into thinking marriage is more about your happiness than your holiness. Please don’t let your flesh trick you into thinking that life will be simpler and the consequences will not last if you don’t fight for your marriage.

Jesus, for your glory shine your light on our sins and failures. Expose the darkness so that honesty and healing can break forth. Protect us from the evil one! Protect us from ourselves! Make Northwest Bible Church a place of grace so that sinners like me can come forward and find help at the cross of Jesus. We need you now!

Please, right now pray for marriages. Please, right now if you need help call someone.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Connecting with Future Generations

How many of you know what I mean when I say, Connecting with Future Generations?

This is the official name for the facilities master plan project we introduced to you this summer and we highlighted at the ministry expo two weeks ago.

I want you to know what this project means to me.
First, we have some older buildings that are beyond their useful life. While they have served us well and we are thankful, they need to be replaced. Second, I am excited that the first phase of this project is focused primarily on enhancing the environment we are creating for children and families to come to know Jesus and grow in Him. Third, we are embracing our stewardship of the land God gave this church 57 years ago. We are building to meet the needs of current and future generations just like people did when they built the old chapel, old gym, the CE building, the CLC and all of the buildings we enjoy today.

So when you hear connecting with future generations know that we are talking about phase one of our master plan.

Many of you are now asking, “How are we going to get the money for Connecting with Future Generations?” And as elders we have been asking, “How are we believing God for the necessary resources?” After months of prayer and wrestling, here is what we believe God is calling us to do over the next sixty days; everyone prays hard and leaders give first.

First, everyone prays hard.
God has put it on my heart that my primary responsibility is to pray. On September 1st I began praying though our master list of people in our church body. Over the next 30 days my commitment is to spend two hours a day during the week praying for the individuals on this list. I am praying that we will see more clearly the greatness of the One who loves us, that we will desire Jesus deeply, follow Jesus closely and trust Jesus fully. And as we trust Jesus as the owner of the world and all it contains I am praying that we will live as stewards storing up treasure in heaven. I am praying that God will put on your heart to engage, pray and give toward Connecting with Future Generations.

If you would like to bring a friend and join me in prayer call the pastors office. In October you will receive a devotional developed by people in our body to help us spend the month praying in one accord.

Second, leaders give first.
In 1 Chronicles 29 David was gathering the resources for God’s temple that would serve future generations. Let’s be clear, we are not building a temple but we are relying on God to provide for what we believe is His work. There are some things David did that we believe God is calling us to do. The first thing that David did was give from his own treasury and call on leaders to give. And as David and the leaders gave, guess what happened? The scriptures tell us everyone was encouraged in the LORD and everyone gave gladly. Therefore, I am praying and asking you – if you see yourself as a leader here – because of the ministry you hold, because of the influence you have, or because of the gifts that God has entrusted to you, I am asking you to start praying right now about what you will invest in Connecting with Future Generations.

Leaders, as God puts on your heart what you are to give, we invite you to let us know during the month of October. As you give, we will keep the body updated regarding our progress, so that the body will be encouraged and take joy in your willingness as they consider what they will pledge the first Sunday in November.

In the mean time, our elders will be considering their own gifts, and speaking with many of you to answer your questions and to help you understand what this project is about. Please feel free to contact one of them or our executive pastor Brandt Wright. In addition, we have established a Connecting with Future Generations page on our website to help answer your questions.

May we passionately pursue Jesus Christ in the midst of this venture of faith. I am believing God to use this project to produce great rejoicing and lead us to overflowing, humble worship as David and the Isrealites experienced in 2 Chronicles 29.