Monday, December 24, 2012

God's Open Door

Christians, have you ever had a really good answer to a question someone asked you....about 10 minutes after the conversation?  That is the way it often is for me.  Anyhow, the other day my son, Ben, asked me a question that I told him I wanted to think about a bit.

Benjamin had a friend ask him, "How can we say Buddah isn't a god, yet Buddhists believe he is?"  It seemed to me that the deeper question he was asking was, "Who are we to say our religion is the way to God, and another's isn't?" least that is how I took it.  I took it this way because Buddhists don't believe Buddah is a god anyhow.

Issue: There are many angles I can take on this. For this blog, I am taking the angle of, "Does the Bible really teach that Jesus the only way to God?"
1.  John 3:16 alone, does not exclude people who don't believe in Him.  While it says, "those who believe in Him will not perish but have everlasting life." It in no way says that those who don't believe cannot have this eternal life.
2. John 14:6 speaks of Jesus being the way, the truth, the life.  But does not say that the way to Jesus is through faith. So what about those who follow his teaching as a good inspirational person but don't necessarily submit to his lordship & his propitiation?

So how would I respond to Ben & his friend's question, as his dad?
1. Buddah is not the Buddhist's god.
2. Most religions know of Jesus, as he is a key figure in each (Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Mormonism, Christianity, Baha'i, Sikhism, syncretism, etc ). And all of these consider Jesus as someone to be followed.  For instance, in Islam Jesus is to be followed as a prophet & al-Masīḥ (the Messiah).

So far, we would all agree.  Now here is where the sword comes down...this is where the Scriptures and Jesus leave the realm of "coexist" and into the hard teachings of truth.
3. God, however, accepts worship on His terms, not on man's terms
A) Jesus, in John 14:6, notice that Jesus used a definite article (earliest Manuscript we have of this is between 175-225 AD, P75), "I am THE way, THE truth, THE life.  No man comes to the Father except through me." What does this "through me" mean?  The next passage will answer this question.
B) Jesus, in John 3:16-18, "For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
So far, there is no exclusion of those who may not believe in Jesus.  However, the next verse is where the exclusion starts-
There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son." 
C) Exodus 32:1-4, 5-10 When Moses was up on the mountain for a long time, Aaron & the Canaanites got antsy, so they made a gold calf & worshiped it.  Aaron told the people that this was the Lord who lead them out of Egypt.  One thing to notice here is that God didn't look down and say, "Bless their hearts.  They have the wrong idea of me, but I love the sincerity."  No, God was not happy & wanted to destroy them for worshiping false gods. God wanted the worship of Him to be done on His terms.
D) Malachi- This book talks about how God refuses worship done in the wrong heart.  He wasn't glad and relieved that they were worshiping Him. God was actually disgusted by their worship.
E) Paul, in 1 Timothy 2:5 states, " For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus." This is pretty awesome, pretty clear, and a great picture.  I picture a man on a cross bridging the gap between God & man. All who come to Jesus can also come to the Father!  
F) Jesus, in John 10, says that He is THE door.  This is a beautiful picture.
Speaking of Buddhist, I was at the health club, running alongside a Buddhist man once, when we got onto the topic of Christians being closed-minded.  I told him that this wasn't true.  That God opened up the door of salvation to anyone who would come, buddhist, Baptist, straight, homosexual, drug user, atheist, agnostic, Muslim, Wiccan, whoever.  The door is Jesus.  He thought this was a pretty cool analogy, so I thought I would share it with you.

4. Jesus resurrection puts the exclamation point onto His message!  God showed His approval of Jesus by raising him from the dead (Acts 17:31, Romans 1:4). To be cliche, "I am God, and I approve this message."

5. Action Steps: No one is converted but by God's Spirit (John 3:3).
-Prayer. We need to pray for our friends, that God's Spirit would open up their eyes to understand this.
-Discipleship (Mt. 28:18-20). We need to look for "God moments".  Times where God is working in their hearts & stirring up questions.  We need to be available to walk with them as they discover this truth.
-Love (Mt. 22). We need to love our friends, unconditionally.  In other words, whether they believe or not is irrelevant to our loving care for them.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Frontlines: Thoughts on Christian Warfare

Christians are in a War. Every day.  You are in a war when you enter the office, enter the school, wherever you go.
So yesterday morning I threw on my dogtags & headed off to the front lines.  On my way, God taught me a new perspective on Christian Warfare & especially on Ephesians 6.  Up until yesterday I did not really grasp this passage, although I have accurately taught it many times.

How does a Christian fight this spiritual war for the souls of man?  How does a Christian fight against the schemes of Satan?

Ephesians 6, we do not wage war as the world does.  Christians are not to fight like some Muslims or the military.  Here are some thoughts from this passage for the Christian's Warfare:

1. People are not our enemy! (Ephesians 6:12, 2 Timothy 2:23-26).
2. Before going on the frontlines, we need to arm ourselves with certain things.  The weapons of our warfare are (Eph. 6):
-Belt: Being truthful
-Body armor: Being righteous & holy
-Boots: Having the peace that comes from the good news
-Shield: Trusting/having faith in the Lord
-Helmet: Remembering our salvation
-Carbine: God's word
-Com Device: Prayer

Earlier this week I was subbing and found I am not allowed to share morality with people.  We were talking about AIDS & the kids asked how we get AIDS & how to keep from getting it. In our conversation, I mentioned that abstinence was the best policy and the assistant teacher told me that I was not allowed to go there.
I know the laws & will not violate them, for the sake of not getting the school into trouble.  Oddly though, you would assume that morality would help children.
So I have to make a choice, not mention truth or push wisdom, and morality...thus not really helping the kids blossom in life OR carefully use truth and package it without mentioning religion.  So, I have decided that because truth is good, I will put on the belt of being truthful & really love the kids.  It is part of my attire for battle.  I will be tactful, respectful, but if asked a question, I will answer it with truth & wisdom so I can really care for others.

So, Christians fight war by loving people & living for their eternal well-being.  This is how to fight a war, this is how to advance the Kingdom of God...and the gates of hell will NOT prevail against it.  So fight Christian. And tomorrow morning when you head out to the front lines, remember to arm yourself & love others!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Discipleship Plan for My Children

Here is what I am doing, Lord willing.  And I am going to have a lot of fun with the kids doing this.  It looks organized BUT, they won't know it is.  I hope to God I don't turn this into a classroom type learning, but more of a relational, "teaching moment", "As we go" teaching....kinda like Jesus did with His students. This looks technical, because it is how my mind thinks.  Kids, if I do this in a formal way, punch me.

Big Themes
2-8: Concrete Learning
Core Values (Mt. 22)
Huperstasso- (parents, government, church, teachers, bosses, etc)
Family: Our family follows Jesus (Luke 9:23-27, Jn. 14:15, Deut. 6, Josh. 24)
Choose 1: Choose your friends wisely
Choose 2: Choose whom you will serve (Josh. 24)
Character: Grace, kindness, love, patience, mercy
Character: Truth, integrity (even in private), reconciliation
Anthropology 1: How to engage people in conversation
Anthropology 2: Social Etiquette
Anthropology 3: How to care for people
Bible Characters

9-12: Concrete Learning
Family: Our family follows Jesus (Luke 9:23-27, Jn. 14:15, Deut. 6, Josh. 24)
Choose: Choose whom you will serve (Josh. 24)
Choose: Choose your friends wisely
Core Values (Mt. 22)
Our Cause (Mt. 28)
Character: Truth, integrity (even in private), reconciliation
Angelology 1: People are NOT the enemy (Eph. 6, 2 Tim 2)
Angelology 2: We have a great enemy (John 10), spiritual warfare
Angelology 3: Our warfare (Eph. 6)
Anthropology 4: Understanding your body, and prep for puberty
Huperstasso- (parents, government, church, teachers, bosses, etc)
Culture 1: Be discerning (Proverbs, Php. 4)
Culture 2: Peer-Pressure & Influences you will face
Stewardship: Giving, savings, spending
Trust: How to wait on the Lord
Walk 1: How to do your own devotions
Walk 2: How to pray
Walk 3: Understanding Soteriology
Walk 4: Understanding Anthropology
Questions 4: Basic Logic

13-18: Concrete/Conceptual Learning
Family: Our family follows Jesus (Luke 9:23-27, Jn. 14:15, Deut. 6, Josh. 24)
Choose: Choose your friends wisely
Choose: Choose whom you will serve (Josh. 24)
Core Values (Mt. 22)
Our Cause (Mt. 28)
Huperstasso- (parents, government, church, teachers, bosses, etc)
Anthropology 5: The Flesh: understanding our bodies (1 Cor. 6-7, Eph. 5, Gal., Rom. 7)
Anthropology 6: Peer-Pressure & Influences you will face
Be discerning (Proverbs, Php. 4)
Walk 5: How to follow the Spirit
Walk 6: How to study the Bible
Walk 7: Stewardship- Prep for living on your own (finances, responsibility, college, job) (using Bible characters)
Walk 8: Understanding the flow of the Bible (Law, Prophets, Gospels, Pauline, etc)
Walk 9: Understanding Theology
Questions 1: Hard Questions answered
Questions 2: Understanding God’s will
Questions 3: Dating & sex
The Cause 1: How to disciple/take someone under your wing
The Cause 2: How to share your story

Friday, November 30, 2012

Mission & Core Values

Companies and Churches are known for these. So I thought it would be good to reveal my own.

Answers the question, "What do I do?" or "What is my Purpose in Life?":

My focus in life is to make disciples of Jesus.
My desire is to tell people, "Come, follow Jesus with me."
I get it from Matthew 28.

Core Values
Answers "How do I do what I do?" or the manner in which I do things or my ethic. I have 8.

1. Accurate. I will strive to accurately handle God's word.
2. Creative. I will creatively present God's word.
3. Obedient. I desire to be obedient to God.
4. Pure. I will strive to live with purity of character.
5. Care. I will care for the person in front of me.
6. Respect. I will respect the sanctity of life.
7. Compassionate. I will remember that people are on a journey-give them time to grow.
8. Thankful. I choose to have thankfulness for all God has done to me through Jesus.

All of these come from Matthew 22.

Feel free to hold me to it.  What is your mission and core values?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Success in Preaching

Question: How did your sermon go?
I hate that question. 

But to answer, success for me is: 
1) Is God being highlighted (Jn. 3:30)?
2) Am I depending on God, not myself? 
3) Am I handling the Text accurately? 
4) Am I letting the Spirit convict & not me being heavy handed?
5) It isn't boring, but engaging. 
6) 1 Peter 4:11, am I preaching God's word with authority and confidence?
7) Hebrews 10:24-25, is it encouraging & empowering to the Church?
8) My wife approves.

That is what goes through my mind in preparing and delivering a sermon.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

From Hurt to Healing: Dealing with "Enemies"

Title: From Hurt to Healing
Text: Matthew 5:38-48

Have you ever been hurt by someone before?  I mean, really hurt?  Deeply. Have you ever felt the sting of hate from another?

We live in a world that is affected by The Fall, therefore, if we haven’t already, at some time in our life, someone will hurt us deeply.  Maybe it will be a broken relationship, maybe it will be someone who seems motivated by vindictiveness.  Quite possibly it may be something as easy as a misunderstanding or miscommunication.  But whatever that is, we will sooner or later be hurt by another person, to some degree. Sadly, none of us are immune to this. And that goes for believers too.  In fact, Jesus said in John 16:33, “In this world, expect trouble.” He also said, “If they hated me, people will also hate you (Mt. 10:22). 

Q: So, how do we treat these people who hurt us?  What is God’s prescription for this pain? 
This morning, I want to dig into this with you, but before we do, in your bulletin is a place to take notes.  Please take a look at this, and grab a pen.  I want you to first, make a list of people you would consider an enemy OR someone you have been hurt by. (give time to write down a few)

Book: Matthew 5:38-48 (NIV)

2. Revenge: What the Law says, what Jesus says...(Ex. 21:24, Mt. 5:38)
Eye for Eye
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 

-Exodus 21:22-24
22 “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth,hand for hand, foot for foot,

-Leviticus 24:18-20
18 Anyone who takes the life of someone’s animal must make restitution—life for life. 19 Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury.

Notice: These passages never suggest personal revenge.  Rather, this is the Law, which is establishing the Judicial/Legal system for the nation of Israel.  In culture, it is natural to seek revenge, but Jesus is about to take us deeper.  To an unnatural place, a place of dependence

39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

39-Resist- anthistami (anti histamine)- to oppose, set self against
Q: What does it mean to turn the other cheek? 
1. A slap to dishonor someone was done with the backhand.
2. The side of honor is the right hand (ie Jesus seated at the right hand of God).
3. To backhand someone on the face, especially the right side was to dishonor them.  In other words, if someone dishonors, disrespects, or humiliates you (ie gossip, slander, pinch out of relationships, etc).
4. [demonstrate] To “turn the other cheek” is to literally turn your back on them.  Instead of resisting it is to blow it off & continue on your way.

40-41- Q: Why is this so hard sometimes? 
I think because A) we want to be respected, B) we fear being taken advantage of, C) we have a high view of justice (vs. understanding God will care for us, God sees what happens, God will take care of our reputation)
a strong person/a person strong in their walk with Jesus, should be able to take some blows in life. 
[Illustration of the Bouncy House]

42- Q: What does this mean?
How does this fit into the whole evil person wanting to dishonor or use you?
-Spurgeon, “A miser has no place in the family of God.”
*Be willing to be taken advantage of.  Holy smokes is this hard for some more than others!  It goes against our grain.  It is spiritual.
How is this possible?  I struggled with this.  And I believe it comes down to a perspective (Eph. 6:12).  People are not the enemy! (read 2 Timothy 2:23-26)

Jesus is going to take us deeper…

3. Enemies: What the Law says, what Jesus says...(Lev. 19:18, Mt. 5:43)
Love for Enemies
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 

Leviticus 19:16-18
16 “‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.
“‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.
17 “‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.
18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

*According to Culture: But, it doesn’t say we have to like our enemies!  Especially those nasty Gentiles! So, treating enemies poorly eventually worked into the culture (see also the Quran on Revenge).  They people were comfortable with bending the Law to fit their own lifestyles.  This is nothing uncommon to do.

44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

44- Q: Why?
What does “love” mean here? Agapao- to be fond of, love dearly, to treat well
Love looks like…
-Looking out for their well-being, although your flesh would rather look for an opportunity for a “teaching moment”.
-[Suzie & lattes] It is brining your secretary a latte, when you’d rather bring her a piece of your mind.
-Speaking well of someone who treats you poorly, even though others are inviting you to speak poorly.
-It is not taking revenge or pot shots, even though they would feel so good.  Instead, we release this person & this situation to the Lord and allow Him to take care of business.
-It is laying down our pride & being like Jesus who died for us while we were still his enemies. Allowing God to take care of our reputation.

James 5:16- GOD answers the righteous person’s prayers
[Joe (Chicago), God will enlarge your heart.]

Why do these things?  What does it help?
We are called to be strong in our faith and have a mindset like Jesus.  For example, Jesus on the cross, “Father, forgive them. For they don’t know what they are doing.”

Some people don’t really understand what they are doing.  We do, and we need to step up and be strong, trusting Jesus’ wisdom on things.

4. Live it out: What does Jesus call us to?
[4 wheeling with Ellie & how following Jesus can go against the grain of our flesh]
1) Look at your list again, in light of this passage, how does God want us to treat these people?  Do it.
2) Let’s pray & ask God to take care of business with them, and to judge between us.  Then give God time to work, just like he did in the situations I told you about.  It is hard, but it is good & will alleviate a lot of stress from your life.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Old Man & The Ring

A discouraged young man went to see his mentor one day.
"I am a complete failure & feel worthless." he said.
The old man said, "I am busy.  You can either come back or you can help me finish my work so we can spend some time together."
"Sure", the young man excitedly said.
The old man turned and handed the younger a gold ring, "Take this to town and sell it.  Take no less than 1 gold coin for it."
The young man took the ring and went to town.  After several hours of asking people to buy the ring, he was never offered more than a couple pieces of silver.  Feeling even more rejected, the young man returned.
"No one was willing to pay the price for this gold ring", the young man told his mentor.
"Then get on the horse and take the ring to the jeweler.  He will know what the ring is worth" , said the old man.  "But don't sell it to him, no matter what he offers you.  Then come bring the ring back to me."

The young man got on the horse and headed back into town.  He came into the jewelers shop and asked the man to assess the ring.  "If you sell it to me now, I will give you 63 gold coins for it", the jeweler said.
"I was told not to sell it", claimed the young man.
"Well", said the jeweler.  "I could give you seventy gold coins, but it will take a couple days."
The young man thanked him & returned to the mentor.
"What did you discover", said the mentor.
"The gold ring was worth seventy coins", said the young man.
"Yes", the jeweler calmly said, while working in his shop, "a jeweler knows the true value of the ring, unlike the common men you saw in the market.  Never forget that", the old man put down his tools and turned toward the younger. "You are looking for people to give you your value or to notice what you are worth, instead of considering the Master's evaluation. If you want to see what you are really worth, look at the cross. And never stop looking at it.  People will never recognize your true value.  Only God can see that."

Friday, October 12, 2012

Search for Significance Gleanings

1. ἱλασμός- 1 John 2:2. Jesus, himself, is the propitiation for our sins.  And not ours only, but also the sins of the world.  
Jesus' death on the cross was sufficient & satisfied God's holy wrath.  Those who trust in him for their salvation have this payment applied to their sin debt. Past, present, and future sins.  This is awesome news! And brings dignity to the person who trusts in Christ.
cf. Romans 5:1, Psalm 103:12
We are accepted on this basis alone.

2. We will never find lasting, fulfilling peace if we must continually prove ourselves to others.  
3. The Christian life is not a playground but a battlefield.  It is a battle on all levels, both from within and without.
4."Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." -Romans 8:1 God does not condemn the believer.  Nor shall the believer bend to the feeling of guilt.  In Christ, you are not guilty before God.  You may, however, be CONVICTED of wrong action.  
"Because God loves us unconditionally and does not punish us, we don't need to punish ourselves." p.9
We can rest & enjoy a relationship with the Creator.
5. "Our true value is not based on our behavior of the approval of others but on what God's Word says is true of us." p.23
6. To fail is human. I need to be graceful with those who fail & me when I fail.
7. Depression is generally a result of anger turned inward and/or a deep sense of loss. p. 43
8. Don't always try to determine what people think of you.
9. Jesus had many people trust him, but he didn't entrust himself to them, for he knows that men are fickle.
10. For me, often: self-worth = Performance + Others' Opinions
A better equation would be: self-worth = God's Opinion of me
I am not there all the time.

11.  Fear & faith can never be co-equal.  One will always dominate the other.
12. People need people they can talk to openly, vulnerable, honestly.  May I be someone others can talk to.
13. In Christ we are a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come. -2 Corinthians 5:17
Our desire changes, our nature changes.  It is nothing short of supernatural.  I have seen it & have experienced this.

All in all, this is a good deep book.  Sometimes it is easier to suppress our feelings & thoughts.  A guy I know works a factory job because he doesn't want to think about things. When you dig into a book like this it causes you to look inside and deal with deeper issues. However, this is good to do from time to time.

I was with my dad the other day & I mentioned that his van was making a funny noise.  He said that was why he plays the he didn't have to hear the noise.  We both laughed.  However, if you go through life without "checking under the hood" occasionally, you may end up with a serious problem.  This is a "check under the hood" book.  If you reflectively read it you will get "oil" and "grease" /it may get messy for a while.  But the benefits can be good.

In conclusion, this gave me such a rekindled deep appreciation for God, His care for me, and the strength, depth, life-giving ability, and kindness of His word.  I often forget or dilute His promises, because of circumstances, or odd thoughts that erode the height of His word.  It is good to read books about His word, because through these the fires are rekindled.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Have you hugged your pastor today?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Books every Youth Pastor should take their team through

Here are a few books that are a must for youth pastors to train their team through:

1. "Leadership as an Identity" by Crawford Lowritts
2. "Help! I'm a Small Group Leader" by Laurie Polich
3. "The Lost Art of Disciplemaking" by Leroy Eims
4. "Becoming a Contagious Christian" by Bill Hybles
5. "The Master Plan of Evangelism" by Robert Coleman

I have used these books in the past & they really help your leaders on many levels.
I wish I could design the Youth Ministry degree for Moody, because I would require these for Youth Pastors as well.

In fact, for Youth Pastors, I would require, besides Scripture:
1. The 5 above
2. "Purpose Driven Youth Ministry" by Doug Fields
3. "Your First Two Years of Youth Ministry" by Doug Fields
4. "Reaching a Generation for Christ" by Rick Dunn
5. "Systematic Theology" by Wayne Grudem
6. "Turning Vision into Action" by James MacDonald

...but this is not the blog to give my full unveiling of a degree for Youth Minstry so I will just stop with some of the vital books.

The Wrestler's Psalm

"O LORD, how long will you forget me?  Forever?
How long will you look the other way?
How long must I wrestle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

Psalm of David, Psalm 13:1-2

This is one of my favorite Psalms, because I was a wrestler & I can often relate to David's struggle here.

He goes on, in verse 3-4, to ask the Lord to turn and answer him.
Then in verse 5, David says, "But I will trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me.  I will sing to the LORD because he is good to me."

David clearly trusts that the LORD has unfailing love for him & has, in no way, ignored, failed to hear, or has forgotten David. If you are a child of God, then you have this same relationship with God.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Why would someone need God if life is going well for them?

"The wicked are too proud to seek God. They seem to think that God is dead. Yet they succeed in everything they do. They do not see your punishment awaiting them." -Psalm of David (Psalm 10:4-5)

This is a picture of Scythopolis in Israel, otherwise known as Beit She'an.  A place where humanism was the philosophy of the day. They elevated the human body & the greatness of humanity above all else.  This was a city rich in the arts, athletics, education, and military might.  There is a large theatre, gymnasium, and public entertainment and eateries here.  Large Roman roads, grooved by the many chariots that pounded the pavement, still remain.

It was at one of these flourishing places that Jesus sent his drab disciples to tell people they need God.  I can imagine the scene, rich hedonistic people dining and in comes a couple of former fishermen telling them they need something more than they already have.  The people probably thought, "We have health, we have a ample supply of resources, we have comfort, we have friends, we have everything that we could ever need and want.  What more can these Galileans offer us that we don't already have?"

If someone was to ask you this question, what would you say, Christian?  What do you have to offer the rich, the healthy, the well-off, those who have much more resources than you can have, those who are close to their family?

This Psalm of David gives some insight.  There is a day where God will judge people.  Fortunately, for many people who have everything in life, many have a nagging sense that they are still missing something.  This something is reconciliation with God. And that is what the Christian has to offer those who have everything else.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Job's I've had, in order

1. Paper Boy for Southtown Economist (paper boy of the month 4 months in a row!)
2. Ace Hardware Store
3. Construction (framing houses)
4. Cleaned pools
5. Caddy
6. McDonald's (2 years)
7. Car Detailer (2 years)
8. Started my own car detailing business

9. Cook @ Moody
10. Dr's Assistant & Data Entry @ Family Guidance Center
11. VMS (video monitor)
12. Security @ Moody
13. Walked dogs for a guy in Chicago
14. UPS
15. Installed mailboxes
16. Caris Pregnancy Center (Data Entry, rehab buildings & lead work crews)

17. Shaklee Corp. (CSR, Independent Sales)
18. Rank Video (HR, engineering)
19. Side job changing oil
20. Youth Pastor (Itasca, Plymouth, Niles, Findlay)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

From Findlay to South Bend. How did this happen?

So, from what I've heard, this all seems sudden to a lot of people.  Therefore, I thought an explanation would be helpful to y'all. I've put it in FAQ format, based on the questions I've been asked.

1. Are there problems in the church that you saw?  
Yes. There are problems in every church.  What do we expect?  After all Christians aren't perfect, they just realize they aren't and that they need a savior and direction from God. This is not why we are leaving.
Shout out to Blair, Dave, Dan & the elders, I enjoy Pastor Blair, think he is a very strong leader. I also enjoy the direction the leaders are taking the church. Dan, I don't know you too well, but think you will be a blessing to the church & they should be thankful to have you. Dave, holy mackerel!  What can I say about you.

2. Did the leaders know about this change?
A. Blair has been discipling me to grow in my skillset to become a senior pastor.
B. Blair assumed that I would be transitioning out at some point, but didn't expect it this soon.  But neither did we.

3. Do you feel like you are abandoning the teens?  
Yes.  Of course I do. But I also understand that they will be cared for and that God is much bigger than me.  Also, Christians are to follow Jesus, not just some mere man. Teens are in the hands of their family & in the hands of God.

4. Is this bad timing?  
It is always a bad time to transition out of a Youth Pastor position, seeing that there is never a lul.  In my opinion, I leave things up to what I see as God's timing.  I am glad that he allowed me to at least be here to lead the summer mission trips.

5. So what led to this decision? 
-About 2 1/2 years ago the Lord started putting a burden for South Bend area on mine & Shellie's heart.  We started sensing God wanted us to minister to the people there. So we started praying & seeking God's timing on this.
-We looked at becoming a Lead Pastor at a church in South Bend to see if God was at that time opening a door, but sensed that God was not, so even though we know and love many of the people there, decided that God was not leading us in that direction.
-2 years ago, I was reading Scripture & praying about this burden & I believe the Lord had me write down "August 2012". Which I did, and you can see it in my journal.  So I believed the Lord wanted us to enjoy the people of Findlay for two years & work hard among them. (my philosophy is that I am on assignment for the Lord here on earth)
-July 2012, August was coming, so I started to once again seek the Lord's direction regarding this burden.  So we quietly put our house on the market sort of as a "fleece".  We set a deadline of August 13th.  If we didn't have a firm offer by then, we would assume that the Lord wanted us to enjoy Findlay for another school year.
-August 10th, we sold our house, 3 days before the deadline.  While we were on vacation. We even thought, well maybe we could stay anyhow, but felt like God was telling us, "Um, I sold your house before the deadline.  What do you think I want you to do?" So GERONIMO!  we are excited to follow the Lord and see what He has for us.

6. Wasn't this really fast?
Yes, it seems pretty fast!  The Korhorn family definitely feels that.  It has been a whirlwind for us...yet the decision has not been.
The process has been about 2 1/2 years, but the answer to when... happened very recently.

Here is what happened:We let the leaders know as soon as the inspections passed & we firmly sold our house.  Then the leaders let the church know right away.  And as timing has it, school started right away, so Shellie had to get the kids to school (they missed a week already).  And for me, I don't want to be away from my family any longer than 3 weeks.  They need dad to be in their lives. We let everyone know ASAP, and this was right on the heels of school starting.

7. What about the Youth while you are gone?
A. Parents are the primary spiritual leaders to the youth.
B. Blair & I are working hard on the transition.
C. In anticipation of "August 2012" I have been working on this transition for about 2 years.  Discipling people & getting good people plugged in.
D. There are still some holes in the high school youth group.  I am hoping to get some parents to help out until God brings on another pastor to serve as the point.
E. I am very emotional and will miss the teens & families.  But I trust that the Lord is bigger than Jeff Korhorn, and He will use this time for His glory.

Hopefully this makes sense.  Love God. Love people.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Reflections on Jeremiah

So I am reading through Jeremiah and contemplating it right now.  I am currently in chapters 15-17, and have noticed that there is a lot of judgment and hard things in it.  Today, we focus on God being a loving God, and He is.  However, we define love by him blessing us with nice, easy, kind things.

In Jeremiah 15, this concept is challenged:
"Even if Moses and Samuel stood before me pleading for these people, I wouldn't help them."
"I am tired of always giving them a chance."
"I will destroy my own people, because they refuse to change their evil ways. There will be more widows than the grains of sand on the seashore."
"I will cause anguish and terror to come upon the suddenly. The mother of seven grows faint and gasps for breath; her sun has gone down while it is still day.  She sits childless now, disgraced and humiliated/  And I will hand over those who are left to be killed by the enemy.  I, the LORD, have spoken!"

In Jeremiah 16:
"For I have removed my protection and peace from them.  I have taken away my unfailing love and my mercy."

Why would a nice God do something like this to His own people?  
To be fair, God sent the prophet Jeremiah to tell these people to return to Him.
They had forgotten their God and had turned to their old ways of worshipping stone, wood, and bronze (reminds me of the song, "Who Made Who?" by AC/DC). They had become wicked, evil, and worthless.  When they discovered they were on the wrong road, they didn't turn back. Even worse, they became so twisted that they thought they had God's word, and even had false prophets who they thought were right.

God told them, "If you oben me and do whatever I command you, then you will be my people, and I will be your God. " (11:4)

Jeremiah 9:7 I believe is key.  "Therefore, this is what the LORD of Heaven's Armies says: 'See, I will melt them down in a crucible and test them like metal.  What else can I do with my people?'"

They had gone off the right path & had chosen the path of destruction (which is the result of sin).  God pleaded with them, sent prophets to them, and had turned up the heat on them (sent a drought, and took away the animals in the land).  They were headed toward destruction & eternal suffering.

So God, being wise, and caring for their welfare, really increased the heat by sending in foreign (Assyrian & Babylonian) armies to judge Israel SO THAT they would return to the Lord.

Under the New Covenant, the Lord also disciplines & brings difficulty into the Christians life, and into the unbelievers life, to draw us to Jesus.  He does this because He knows that a relationship with Him is best for us.

People can respond to this in a few ways:
1. Turn from their stubborn direction and embrace Jesus. And be thankful that God grabbed their attention.
2. Become angry with God for the crappy life they have.
3. Miss the message completely.
4. Surround themselves with people who will lie to them, so they feel better about their suffering & thus totally miss what God was saying to them.

At this point, Israel was choosing 2-4.  Not the best choice.

How do you respond to hard times in life?  Is God trying to get your attention?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fruit Man

A man gave up his comfort & all that he knew to move to among the starving.
When he arrived he set up a stand in the poorest of cities.
At this stand he offered fruit, fresh water, and choice nuts & lean meat.

However, the people kept passing by and ignoring the man.
Some would look at the fruit, some would talk with the man.
They all admired the man but they would not eat or drink.

He watched as the children became sick.
He watched as the mothers put their babies in the ground.
He saw the fat stomachs of starvation & heard the cries of malnutrition.

He himself cried out, in their own language, "I offer you good food that will bring healing to you and your family.  It is free."
But this concept of being healed was foreign to the people.  They had grown accustomed to the centuries of death from starvation.

For years the man cried out.
And out of all the years, only a few took the fruit and were healed.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Is Jesus the ONLY way to God?

So I am reading a book on logic, by Norman Geisler. In it he states that John 3:16 teaches that Jesus is A way to God, but the verse does not limit Jesus to being the ONLY way. I agree with Mr. Geisler. Are there any verses that teach that trusting in Jesus is the ONLY way to God?

*This is assuming, of course, that all-Scripture is God-breathed, inerrant, authoritative, and sufficient for life and godliness. Which I fully affirm that Scripture is.

Alright, here are the verses that clarify that Jesus is the ONLY way, door to fellowship with God: John 3:16-18, John 3:36, John 14:6, John 12:44-50, Luke 8:12, Acts 4:12, 1 John 5:12.
The Bible clearly makes the claim that faith in Jesus, God's son, is the ONLY way to this fellowship, and that all who enter through HIM will not be disappointed.

Sadly, in the USA, most people are too busy to seriously consider a) their eternal destination, b) what will really bring freedom and help them in life. People may feel a tug, but have spiritual ADD & immediately lose interest.

Helping a Guy with Stress and Jesus

Not to push my faith or anything, but I am happy and want to share what happened to me to encourage you. I was hiking in the Middle East and came down with a severe health issue called water intoxication.

About six months later I had to be shock paddled while leading a group of about fourty teens on a trip. Because of these, I have been dealing with PTSD. It is like a switch went on that I couldn't control. This has been going on for five years now...every stinkin day.

 Also, part of my PTSD is a fear of losing control in a crowd again...which is hard because my job is a pastor....God has a sense of humor right? I have tried Prozac and it didn't help (although it certainly took the edge off). Xanax and that was a big waste, just made me tired.

 Anyhow, I have been praying and fasting for something totally unrelated for about five days now. While I was praying today, suddenly the switch turned off and I felt my body go, "Ahhhh." For the first time in five years! I am no one special. All I can say is, is that for me, Jesus did a miracle to my physiological issue. He clicked it off and finally after a long annoying time, I can learn how to be myself again.

Hope the knot unravels for you also.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Jesus’ Prophecy about the Roman Destruction of Jerusalem

Jesus’ Prophecy about the Roman Destruction of Jerusalem

Here is the prophecy Jesus made as he tearfully approached Jerusalem,

“How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace.

But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes.

Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not accept your opportunity for salvation.”

-Luke 19:41–44 (NLT)

According to the dating of Luke’s letter to Theophilus, this was a very vivid, very specific, very closely fulfilled, very radical, very emotional prophecy.

Three thoughts-

  1. The destruction of Jerusalem, which Jesus originally made in about 33AD, 37 years after spoken was fulfilled in the remembrance of his followers.
  2. This destruction of the Temple ended the sacrificial system, because it was no longer necessary. The sacrificial system met it’s intent & was completed in Christ. In fact, there is still no sacrificial system today.
  3. In case you are skeptical & believe this may have been added later by Luke, Luke’s Gospel was written between 58-65AD. The later date would place it 5 years before the destruction of Jerusalem & the surrounding area by the Romans.

This is a good example of the Bible/Jesus putting itself on the line. This happened, and just as Jesus said it would. Be encouraged, God knows the future and He knows you. If you are a child of God (believer in Jesus), then He is doing a good work in your life.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Mockery of God

The Mockery of God

Mark 15:1-32


1-5 The Accusation

6-15 The Rejection

16-20 The Beating

21-32 The Execution

Have you ever felt the sting of rejection? The bite of false accusation? Ever had to endure the grizzly pain of abuse either physically, verbally, or emotionally? Have you ever had to endure a sharp, mean-spirited character assassination?

Today we are making a major transition from the ministry of Jesus, to the final rejection and death of Jesus. As we look at the abuse Jesus endured, on our behalf, put yourself in His shoes and consider 2 thoughts.

#1- Jesus took your place. The punishment you deserve, for your sin, fell upon Him. He endured the worst of life, taking our pain upon Himself so that we can be healed, so that we can be forgiven, so that we can have everlasting life.

#2- Jesus is your sympathetic high priest. He has endured the worst of humanity & can relate with the struggles that you face.

Mark 15:1-32

  1. Jesus was a real person, real feelings, real emotions, real nerve endings. There was nothing plastic about Him.

1-5 The Accusation

1 Very early in the morning the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law—the entire high council—met to discuss their next step. They bound Jesus, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor. 2 Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You have said it.” 3 Then the leading priests kept accusing him of many crimes, 4 and Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?” 5 But Jesus said nothing, much to Pilate’s surprise.

“Very early in the morning”- Blair mentioned last week that this whole process, this whole trial was shady. He was hung at 9AM so this was pretty early, at a time the masses were still turning in their beds, weary from the travel to Jerusalem.

After this trial before Pilate, Pilate pulled Jesus aside to talk with Him (Jn. 18:33-38).

6-15 The Rejection

6 Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner—anyone the people requested. 7 One of the prisoners at that time was Barabbas, a revolutionary who had committed murder in an uprising. 8 The crowd went to Pilate and asked him to release a prisoner as usual. 9 “Would you like me to release to you this ‘King of the Jews’?” Pilate asked. 10 (For he realized by now that the leading priests had arrested Jesus out of envy.) 11 But at this point the leading priests stirred up the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus. 12 Pilate asked them, “Then what should I do with this man you call the king of the Jews?” 13 They shouted back, “Crucify him!” 14 “Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?” But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!” 15 So to pacify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.

To keep peace with the people, Pilate released 1 prisoner

Why Barabbas?

  1. “Barabbas”= Son of the father
  2. Zealot, murderer (Ex. 20:13)
  3. Jesus=worse criminal Ex. 20:2-6 - No other gods, don’t worship idols (higher tier)

BUT, they didn’t realize who they were killing. They were killing the very God they wanted to honor.

13- “Kill Him”, “hang him”, “a curse be upon him”.

14- Why? (Matt. 27:19-Pilate's wife’s dream) (Pilate=frustrated)

Their response Matt. 27:24-25 “blood be on us”

16-20 The Beating

16 The soldiers took Jesus into the courtyard of the governor’s headquarters (called the Praetorium) and called out the entire regiment. 17 They dressed him in a purple robe, and they wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head. 18 Then they saluted him and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” 19 And they struck him on the head with a reed stick, spit on him, and dropped to their knees in mock worship. 20 When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.

21-32 The Execution

21 A passerby named Simon, who was from Cyrene, was coming in from the countryside just then, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. (Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus.) 22 And they brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). 23 They offered him wine drugged with myrrh, but he refused it. 24 Then the soldiers nailed him to the cross. They divided his clothes and threw dice to decide who would get each piece. 25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26 A sign announced the charge against him. It read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 29 The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. 30 Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!” 31 The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe him!” Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed him.

23- Wine & myrrh. Myrrh, until recently was used as a painkiller & was prescribed by Greek doctors for pain & to treat infections. And He rejected it, choosing rather to undergo the full pain and suffering on our behalf.

Talk about kicking a man when He was down. All God’s people gathered it seemed in this rejection of their Messiah, their God, their king.

32- “So we can see and believe”

  1. They didn’t understand their own Scriptures (that Jesus would be pierced for them).
  2. Remember what Jesus said? “Not sign shall be given except the Sign of Jonah”- He was actually fulfilling their sign so that many would believe and be saved.

So why did Jesus go through all this suffering?

1. Couldn’t God have just forgiven us so that we could one day live in His presence? Couldn’t we do good works? No.

Sin is damnable, we are so wicked, so wayward, in God’s eyes. That there was no other option. Sin, our sin, deserves Hell & suffering. So Jesus paid the price for us. Are you starting to understand just how evil our sin is in God’s eyes? Have you invited Jesus to be your savior (TAKE TIME TO PAUSE & PRAY). He paid the necessary price for our sin. He took our place so the many could be forgiven.

2. He suffered, and therefore, He is able to understand us in our weakness. Hebrews 11:38.

Are you being accused of something falsely? Are you dealing with the sharp sting of rejection? Are you enduring physical abuse? Verbal abuse? Mental abuse? And not sure who to turn to? Do you carry the weight of others treating you as if you are worthless or not worthy of dignity and the respect that a normal person should have? Have you recently had to deal with the ripping of a loved one from you? Well, there is great comfort in knowing that there is one...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

You Can Have It All...

"I will give it all to you if you will worship me." -Luke 4:7

Satan was tempting Jesus and told Jesus this when they were standing on a high mountain.
I was reading this verse this afternoon, while waiting for the COTL concert & it gripped me. I never really thought about what Satan was offering Jesus here, and how that relates to our lives.

Basically, Satan was saying, "I will give you X if you will compromise & worship me."
It reminded me of Exodus 20:3-6, which teaches that we shall have no other God's before YHWH, nor shall we bow down to them or worship them. Satan was calling Jesus to break the first two commandments. And in Hebrew culture, the higher on the list the commandments are, the more weight they carry.

Question for me, what is my X? What am I willing to compromise my faith, and the Lordship of God over my life in order to get?

For me, I struggle with three areas (overeating, lust, buying things) because they all promise instantaneous pleasure, although each of these, after the "transaction" often leave me with buyer's remorse. In short, I am a hedonist. My X is to feel good, to be relaxed, to be invigorated, and to feel peaceful.

So often I compromise what I know is right in order to get that X. But not Jesus, He knew first that all of it already belonged to God & that it would be given to the Son anyhow...just like we know that God will fulfill His promises over us also. Jesus was unwilling to sin, to compromise His relationship with His Father in order to find temporary pleasure, or a quick easy solution. He was much more intelligent than that. May I become more like Jesus here too.

God is MY Father, He loves me, and has promised to care for me. May I be content with the real, lasting pleasure that that brings.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Test Tube Jesus: Proving God

Test Tube Jesus: Proving God

“Prophecy to us you Messiah! Who hit you that time?” -Matthew 26:68

So, recently I talked to a guy on Yahoo! who said that he wouldn’t believe in God unless He could be proven using the scientific method. In other words,

Step #1-put God in the test tube.

Step #2-then he would believe.

I was reading and contemplating this verse this morning and thought about this guy. A thought some might have is, “Why didn’t Jesus prophecy for them & win the skeptics over?” or “Why not just do a little miracle, and prove yourself to them, Jesus?” Well, HE DID!! In fact, He did many, yet they refused to believe. Their “education” clouded them. Here is the closest Jesus will get to hopping into the test tube-

In Matthew 16:1-4, we see the religious leaders demanding that Jesus give them a sign in order to convince them. Jesus’ response was, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign, but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Then He left them & went away.

I have heard a few people say they would not believe unless they could prove God by the scientific method. Well, then they won’t believe & will be held accountable for that unbelief. They know the truth about God, because GOd has made it obvious, but they suppress the truth (Romans 1:18-19). In fact, I bet even if God were to hop into their tube, they wouldn’t believe. Why? Because they suppress any evidence of Him that they see, because they don’t want to believe.

Now on a kinder note, God is spirit, immaterial. You cannot put a spiritual being through the scientific process. So basically these guys are really saying, “I just don’t want to believe.” I asked one guy, “What if God appeared to you ever day in the sky and said, ‘Hey, here I am.’. Would you believe then?” He said, “No. I would assume it was a figment of my imagination.” And that is why Paul says they suppress what they already know, and Jesus calls them evil & unfaithful.

In conclusion, God has made Himself obvious through natural revelation & inside your soul. Jesus has already given you everything you need to believe. He died, was buried, and three days later rose bodily from the dead. The choice is up to you.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Relook at the Law

So, I have had a few months to process the Laws role in the life of a child of God. My summary is, if you want to follow the Law, you are free to do so. However, you should not require or look down on others who do not do the same. You also need to understand that following the Mosaic Law does not earn you favor or better standing with God. I know this may sound radical to my Jewish friends, but even in your own books, you will see that no one was ever declared righteous by keeping the Mosaic Law. In fact, we cannot keep the Mosaic Law today, without breaking the Mosaic Law. God has made it IMPOSSIBLE to earn favor with Him through the Mosaic Law. We must look elsewhere. We must look to Jesus, God's son, the savior our our souls.

The Law is not bad, if one uses it Lawfully. Example, say I want to use Saturday as my chill out day. I am free to do so. Which is what I do. Does it earn me salvation? No. Is it pleasing to the Lord? Yes, because I am living to please Him, not because of the particular day.

I can expand for volumes, but I won't. Feel free to discuss this, debate/argue this with me.