Friday, April 29, 2011

Disciple Now 2011

This weekend is our 2011 Disciple Now Weekend.  Last night was our kickoff where we had a great time of food and fellowship, worship, and time to get to know our group leaders.  This year's theme is Sequence and focuses on Matthew 16:24- Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me."  When we think of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, we can sometimes get that out of order.  We just want to follow Him and then maybe later if we feel like it then we will deny ourselves.  This is out of sequence if we think this way.  The point that Jesus is making here is that it is costly to follow Him.  However when we consider the love that He has for us, the cost is nothing in comparison to what He has done for us.  This weekend the students will be taking a look at the true cost of discipleship.  Sometimes it is costly, and sometimes we may look radical.  Either way we are obedient when we follow Jesus the way that we should.

I am excited about this weekend and am praying that it will be a weekend that changes the lives of the students involved.  Please join me in praying that this will have a huge impact on the lives of these students.  We will also have the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus and serve some people in the community by doing some clean up work that was suffered from the terrible storms we encountered the other day.

As is my custom for Disciple Now, I had to make a silly video.  This video has ties in with all the silly videos we make.  We of course had to play on a popular song right now that sticks in your head.  Disclaimer #1- Ariel who is in the video is not the one singing.  She actually has an incredible voice.  Disclaimer #2- there is no way else to describe this than just a stupid video so if you are looking for a video to enrich you, then this certainly is not it :)

Disciple Now Friday from Opposite Way Ministries on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

7- Part 3 "Loneliness"

Continuing along this week in the "7" series, we focused on the subject of loneliness.  While sometimes it is nice to be alone, we never like the thought of being lonely.  The moment on the cross that we studied this week shows us what is probably the darkest moment in history as Jesus experiences loneliness like He never had, and in a way that we never have to.

As we read Matthew 27:45-49 we looked that the statement Jesus made "My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?"  There is a lot going on around this statement that I wanted the students to understand before thinking about loneliness.  This is the only statement that Jesus made from the cross that is in more than one Gospel, the other being in Mark 15:34.  Jesus is quoting Psalm 22:1.  They give Jesus a drink in verse 48 because He would have there made the statement "I am thirsty" that is listed in John 19:28.  

Next, many thought that they were calling for Elijah.  First of all when He said "Eli, Eli" it would have sounded close to the Hebrew name for Elijah.  Also based on tradition from the last two verses in Malachi, they believed that Elijah would come before the Messiah.  The thing is they were still looking for Elijah to come, but they had missed that it was John the Baptist that Malachi is talking about here.  Jesus explained to his disciples in Matthew 17:10-13 that John the Baptist is the Elijah that many had been looking for but did not recognize.

Verse 45 tells us that darkness fell over the land from the sixth hour to the ninth hour.  This would have been from 12 noon to 3 pm.  On a normal day it would be sunny and bright during this time, but not on this day.  I believe this quite darker than a regular overcast, I believe it was very dark.  I am sure to have been alive at this moment you could sense the heaviness of what was taking place.  Darkness fell as in this moment Jesus bore the sins of all mankind and Jesus was experiencing God's righteous anger.

Jesus asked "Why have you forsaken me?".  I do not for a moment believe that Jesus was asking this question as not knowing what was going on.  But instead was crying out in agony.  He had experience physical pain from the beatings and the torture.  He had experienced emotional pain from being ridiculed and rejected.  Now He was experiencing an emotional pain like no other.  The word forsaken means to leave or abandon.  At this moment since Jesus was bearing the sins of all mankind, God had to temporarily turn His back on Jesus.  In this moment Jesus experienced abandonment by God.  Until now they had experienced uninterrupted fellowship, but now that stopped.  Jesus was experiencing heartbreak like never before.  If you think about the saddest moments in your life, where you have experienced the most heartache, it does not even compare to what Jesus was enduring at this moment.

Here is the beauty of it- Jesus spoke these words so that we would never have to!  Jesus experienced this abandonment that we never have to experience.  If we accept Jesus as our personal savior, we can have uninterrupted fellowship with God.  There are going to be many days where we feel lonely and abandoned by the people here on earth.  However we can take joy in knowing that God will never leave us nor forsake us as it is stated multiple times in the Bible.  I do not know what you are experiencing personally today.  But I want to encourage you to know that you can be excited in knowing that God will never leave you!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

7- Part 2 "Provision"

This week as we continued our series called "7" we focused on another two quotes that Jesus made from the cross and looked at the theme of "provision".  Provision is the act of providing or supplying something.  There is much that Jesus provided for us by dying on the cross and here are a couple things we took time to think about.

1)  In John 19:26-27 Jesus looked at His mother and said "Woman, behold your son!" then looked at John and said "Behold, your mother!".  In the midst of the physical and mental anguish that Jesus was suffering, he still took the time to look out for His mother.  At this point we are unsure what happened to Joseph as he was not mentioned anymore after Luke 2.  The common theory is that Joseph already passed away.  I believe this to be true because we know how godly of a man Joseph was and how much he loved his family.  So I believe that if Joseph had been alive that he would have been there with Mary.  It is at this time that Jesus is telling John to take care of His mother Mary.  Jesus is providing for His mother. I challenged the students to consider how they can provide for their parents.  We can honor them, pray for them, make parenthood a joy for them, and maybe even later in life we may have to provide for them by taking care of them.

2)  In John 19:28 Jesus said "I am thirsty".  This is important for a couple of reasons.  First of all it is another indicator to us that Jesus is fully man.  He had to be fully God in order to be the perfect sacrifice, and at the same time He had to be fully man in order to die as a sacrifice.  Second this statement fulfills prophecy.  It says itself in verse 28 "to fulfill the Scripture".  So we need to take a look and see what Scripture was fulfilled.  Both Psalm 22:15 and Psalm 69:21 refer to Jesus being thirsty and receiving vinegar to drink.  What is so amazing is that this was written hundreds of years before and it came to pass.  With this prophecy being fulfilled, as well as many others, we are provided with confidence in the Bible.  Since everything written about the first coming of Jesus took place just as it was predicted, we can be confident in knowing that everything written about his future coming is true and will take place.  We can be confident in knowing that when Jesus said He will return, that He will.  We can be confident in knowing that when Scripture tells us that God will never leave us nor forsake us, that He never will leave us nor forsake us.  We can be confident in knowing that when the Bible tells us to cast our cares and burdens on Him because He cares for us, that we can be secure in knowing that He cares for us.  We can be confident in knowing that when Jesus said He would forgive our sins if we ask, that He will actually forgive our sins.  We can trust everything in the Bible and we do not have to doubt it because of Jesus' provision.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

7- Part 1 "Forgiveness"

It was nice to get back to a regular Wednesday Night Worship setting this week and we began a new series called "7" as we take a look at the seven times that Jesus spoke from the cross.  While it could be possible that Jesus spoke more than this, I believe that these 7 quotations are all that he spoke.  The number "7" represents perfection and completion in the Bible and we know that Jesus' death on the cross was perfect and complete in providing salvation to those who accept Him.

It would have been very difficult for someone being crucified on a cross to speak.  In order to speak they would have had to push up on their feet that had one nail going through their ankles, as well as pull up on the wrists that had nails going through them.  After being upright it would have allowed them to exhale and speak.  It would have been an extremely excruciating thing in addition to the extreme excruciation they were already  experiencing.  One thing we must remember is that it was not Jesus' weakness that held Him to the cross, but was His love for sinners.  This first message we actually looked at two of the things that Jesus said and focused on the theme of "forgiveness".

1)  "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing."- Luke 23:34.  At a time when Jesus was hanging on the cross and experiencing the ridicule of being spat on, His clothes being ripped off and gambled for, abusive words and insults hurled at Him, along with the terrible beating He had experienced, He looked up to heaven and asked God the Father to forgive them.  Wow!  How amazing!  Here is what we must consider.  Not only was He forgiving those who were there right then, He was also forgiving us!  It was our sin that held Him to the cross and in that moment He was forgiving each of us as well.
2)  "Today you will be with me in paradise."- Luke 23:43.  As one criminal ridiculed Him, the other realized that Jesus is the true Son of God and asked for His forgiveness.  Jesus did such and that criminal received salvation that day.  Jesus was living out the forgiveness that He taught many times.  He not only taught and spoke it, but He lived it out as well!  Just a couple of examples of what Jesus taught on forgiveness can be found in Matthew 5:38-39 and Matthew 5:44.

So there are three areas of forgiveness that we focused on.
1)  You need to forgive those who have hurt you.  This can be so difficult, but at the same time is so freeing for us.  This is definitely a struggle for me.  In Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus talks about the severity of not forgiving.  He says this directly after teaching the disciples how to pray in what we call "The Lord's Prayer".  I believe this was Jesus putting the exclamation mark on this example prayer and highlighting the importance and necessity of forgiveness.
2)  You need to seek forgiveness from anyone you have hurt.  Jesus teaches us in Matthew 5:23-24 that we must seek forgiveness before we even worship Him!  Something that is so important but we choose to ignore many times.  It can be difficult to ask forgiveness, but something we must do.
3)  You need to accept the forgiveness of your sins from Jesus that was made possible through the cross.  If you have never given your life to Jesus and made Him your Savior and Lord, then I encourage you to please do that today.  Please do not wait any longer.  It is the most important decision you will ever make.  If you have questions about salvation then please contact me.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Morning Randomness 4/4 & Personal Update

Well things in my life have been crazier than normal to say the least and so along with my random thoughts this morning I thought I would give an update as to my lack of posting as of late.  As you know I overloaded school work in order to graduate from seminary because I just want to be done.  So I took 15 hours total (1 three hour course in 1 week in January; 2 8-week 3 hour courses; then another 2 8-week 3 hour courses) to graduate.  If this was not enough already on top of being a full-time youth pastor I receive an email a couple weeks ago letting me know that since I am graduating that all of my coursework must be completed and submitted 2 1/2 weeks earlier than normal.  So this meant that at that point I had 3 1/2 week to essentially complete 9 weeks worth of work for 2 classes (9 weeks because there are 16-week courses condensed into 8 weeks).  If none of that made sense then I apologize because I am not sure how my mind is able to process all of that.  I guess I am letting anyone who reads this know in order to pray for me to get all of this complete and hold on to my sanity and still do my other responsibilities of being a youth pastor.  It is an extremely busy time for me in that area as we are gearing up for our Disciple Now weekend in a few weeks. When I am done with school then I plan on being more active on this blog again and hopefully be better at sharing my heart and give any insight or encouragement for your life.  So here are my random thoughts for this Monday morning.


With all that I just described, do you really think my mind is actually working in a way that allows me to have random thoughts?

Well ok, here is one thing.  I haven't been able to get the song "Friday" by Rebecca Black out of my head for the last 72 hours.