Denial is the first step!


Common, we all know denial is the first stage. So how bad is it really?

Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.”  Mark 14:30 – speaking to Peter

Later…

Now as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came. And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are saying.” And he went out on the porch, and a rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him again, and began to say to those who stood by, “This is one of them.” But he denied it again. And a little later those who stood by said to Peter again, “Surely you are one of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it.” Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this Man of whom you speak!” A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And when he thought about it, he wept.  – Mark 14:66-72

The bad news is that Peter denied Jesus. The worst news is that we do also. We sit back quietly, the “silent Christian” – and let others mock, slander, and spew insults at God. We let others use His name in vain.

We have friends that repeatedly cut down the name of God on Facebook, youtube, twitter, etc and we don’t say a word to them. We allow, permit, and sometimes even forward offensive jokes and foul language on e-mail and text messages. 

Meanwhile, God is watching us. Yet, so are the ones we allow to do it. Our friends see us allow these things, yet we call ourselves Christians. We have denied God.

So, now what? Well, fortunately, there is Good News! Not just about Jesus, but about our denial of Him.  That’s right, good news!  You see, Denial is the first step, but there are many more! Most all experts will tell you that denial is only the first step.

The second is generally known as anger. So now that we have denied, have we progressed to being angry about it? Are we upset that we have denied God, and are we trying to throw the blame elsewhere?

The third step…Bargaining. Instead of fully surrendering to the issue at hand, one may attempt to convince himself or others that the problem is not serious and not confront it directly.

The fourth step is depression. Unfortunately this must happen as the person FULLY accepts their fault and comes to terms with the problem.

The good news is realized in step 5 when the person admits and accepts the issue but then with determination takes an active role in correcting their behavior.

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them… ‘That whoever calls on the name of the LORD, Shall be saved.’Acts 2:14,21

Peter came full circle and became the first to speak publicly for Christ following His ascension to Heaven. Although we deny Christ today, we can admit it fully through a disciplined approach to coming to know God. Jesus accepts us as we are. We are forgiven and free. All we have to do is follow Him. We can come full circle and go from denying Him, to publicly speaking for Him.

Have you denied Him? Well, take the next step and admit it and follow Him. Don’t let the world control you. Start speaking up for Jesus! Glorify Him in everything you do.

A reminder!

I wasn’t going to blog today, but as I opened my Bible, I felt convicted to mention something to all of us believers out there that are consistently mocked about believing in God. 

Straight from 2 Peter 3:2-4, 8-15

  knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.  They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”  

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation.

Peter reminds us to have patience and continued faith as we wait for Jesus to return. In the meantime, we should also continue to live our lives for Him, according to His will, not ours.  “Live your life to the fullest” and glorify God!

Get out of the Boat!

After returning from our Big Oak Mission Experience trip, Martin Houston challenged each of us to “get out of the boat.” Reminiscent of Matthew 14:26-31 which reads:

But when the disciples saw Jesus walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when Peter saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of Peter, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  

As we apply this to our lives, getting out of the boat is like getting out of our comfort zone. Peter spoke to Jesus asking Him to command Peter to come to him (walking “on the water”). When we ask Jesus to give us courage to witness to people, it is like asking Him to command us to come to Him on the water. It is scary at first; we think we can’t do it. But we soon find that it is possible. And really a little fun. Just as you receive joy from telling people about your day, it’s a joy to tell people about what Jesus is doing in your life.

As one reads this, it is evident that Peter, who got out of the boat began to sink. Unfortunately, this will also be true in our lives. Even if we do get out of the boat (witness for Him), we will eventually sink at some point. Something will cause us to take our eyes off Jesus (just as Peter did), and we will begin to fall. However, there is good news…!

Just as Peter began to sink, he cried out to Jesus: “Lord, save me.” Then, “Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him.” Although we will stumble and/or fall in our walk with the Lord, He is there to reach down, pick us up, and take hold of our lives again. Jesus is always there, available anytime to help us out.

But first…, we must get out of the boat. We must be willing to follow the Lord. We have to take the initial step toward Him. Some people make fun of Peter because he began to sink. However, he was the only disciple brave enough to go to the Lord in times of trouble (the storm). Reach out to the Lord today and go to Him. Even if you do sink, He will be there to rescue you.

Conformed or transformed?

The Bible tells us we should be “transformed,” not conformed: 

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2) 

So, then, what does this mean, and have I violated it?

Recently, I decided to get a Facebook account. Is that conforming to the world? Some would say “I’ve given in to worldly things.” However, I declare that there is some advantages to “being conformed” for the purpose of helping to transform others.

Essentially, I plan to very closely limit my usage of Facebook (conformance to the world), in order to prevent myself from being totally conformed. However, just like Jesus, I still need to be in the presence of the world in order to witness. Jesus did not only go to the rich in spirit, but to the poor in spirit. (I’m not saying that those who use Facebook are poor in spirit.) However, there are many people out there on Facebook that are spiritually poor. Hopefully, as more of us use Facebook to witness to people, we can all help each other be transformed and not conformed.

John 3:16…

Ok, so most of us know John 3:16, but how many people know the verses that follow it?

For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.

He who believes on Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.

And this is the condemnation, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil.

For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

But he who practices truth comes to the Light so that his works may be revealed, that they exist, having been worked in God.  John 3:16-21

So in the book of John, Jesus tells us that Salvation is through Him (Jesus), but He also tells us that those who believe in Him, “practice truth” so that “his works may be revealed.”

Jesus tells us we should not hide our works…, our beliefs…, who we truly are. Jesus knows each of us; we can’t hide from Him. But we can hide from others. Yet, Jesus tells us that we should glorify Him by outwardly, and publicly professing our faith in Him.

Don’t hide your Christian faith! Let it shine. Let it be the light among the darkness.

 

RU4JC

The Jesus pinky is the new pink.

Huh?

Ok, you have every right to ask the question. I have every joy in giving you the answer. For those of you who have been with us on Youth Trips, you probably know the history of the Jesus pinky. (Hold your arm straight up, extend only your pinky finger – that’s the Jesus pinky) On past trips, we have used the “Jesus pinky” to identify where everyone in our group is. What’s weird, . . . possibly normal, is that others start asking what we are doing, while others “just do it” with us. But what is all this about?

Have you ever been the first person to do something? Have you noticed that after one person does it, it makes it ok (or at least less shameful) for the next person to do it too?

Well, on our last day at sea on the cruise boat, the musician started playing “Lord I lift Your name on high.” Up to this point on the boat, I hadn’t heard anybody clap when he finished playing a song. But after I recognized this song and he finished playing, I clapped, and so did another person. Then he played “How Great Thou Art,” at which point several more people started singing along, and at the end even more people clapped. He only had a few Christian songs, but every song received applause and the Lord was praised at sea.

The moral of the story is that we should not be ashamed of who we are and what we believe. There were numerous Christians on that boat, but only a few were not ashamed to step up and show their beliefs. Had one of us not showed our “Jesus pinky” (or our Christian belief), others may not have spoken up as well. Unfortunately this is what often happens in America. We are ashamed of what we believe and are too cautious to take a stand sometimes.

Yet, in Romans 10:11 we find that “The Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will never be ashamed.’”

The bad news for those who are ashamed came from Jesus when in Mark 8:38, Jesus said “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My Words…, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Think twice the next time that you think about not speaking up . . . . 

Declare the Lord God, YOUR Lord and Savior!

Hold up your Jesus pinky, declare Him your God, and make known to America that Christianity is still alive.

No Subject

Yeah, that’s right. No subject. I’m not sure why. In fact, I’m not sure exactly what this blog will be about totally.  All I know is I was pumped up again this week following the “Blaze.” If you haven’t been yet, I encourage you to attend on Monday nights at 8pm all summer long (just off Bear-Creek Cut-off Road).

The past few days I’ve been focused on what God can do. Reviewing and reading Scripture and websites that discuss His unyielding power. Then, interestingly enough, I just found another person’s blog – the title to it was “If You can use anything Lord, You can use me.”

Now, I used to believe in fate, accidents, superstitions, etc.  However, as I’ve matured in my Christian faith, I’ve come to realize that nothing is by accident. God has a plan for all of us. In this case, I thought it very cool that last nights message by Russ Warren at the Blaze had the same theme: The Lord can use me. The Lord can use YOU. Yeah, he can work through ALL kinds of people.

When I first realized that the Lord was calling me into ministry, I struggled with the question of “why?”  Why me Lord? Why would you want me? How in the world could You use ME for Your work? I’m a very young Christian (17 years old in my faith). Yet, He chose me to be involved in His work.

I’m NOT perfect; not even close. But God still chose to use me. As I study the life and ministry of Jesus, I find that Jesus also chose ordinary people to work through. I don’t know why God chooses people like us, imperfect, sinful humans; but He does. Hey, it’s His plan (a perfect plan at that), and who are we to challenge it?

So, if you find yourself asking “Why me?” like I did. Forget it. You probably won’t get an answer. I didn’t get one, I just stopped asking and answered His call. Allow Him to work in your life, God’s got a plan. Follow Him.

Defense or Offense?

Today, I wanted to speak about Football. Well, not really: I wanted to expand on a lesson that we had in Vacation Bible School about taking the Word of God into the world. I know a lot of us struggle with sharing our faith with others, especially close friends and family. For me, the time I had to tell my family about my call into ministry made me nervous. What would they say, what would they think? But what I discovered is that they were happy about my calling and supported me in it. I’ve found the same to be true for almost every encounter I have with others when discussing Jesus.

Many people don’t mind talking about religion, yet others people are rarely the first to bring it up. So how do you bring it up? Good question and I hope to answer that in a series of blogs that I plan to write over the next few days.

But first I want you to consider something. Are you on the offense or defense when it comes to Christianity? Do you openly go to people and tell them about your faith (the offense)? Or do you only speak about your faith when something happens against your beliefs (the defense)? Or…are you sitting on the bench because the one time you told somebody about Jesus, they “rejected” you? (Let me be clear, although you may think they rejected you, they rejected Jesus, not you).

There’s another category I haven’t mentioned – the sideline. Are you just on the sidelines watching others talk about their beliefs? Do you cheer for them, or are you the stick in the mud that won’t root for either team (for or against Christianity)?

Well, no matter which position you are playing (or sitting) on the field, there is good news. God called us to be disciples of Him. God commanded us to go into the world and share our faith, but He didn’t just say to do it…He gave us the tools to accomplish it.

There are numerous methods and programs used to teach people about Jesus [these will be discussed in future blogs]. However, the main way to reach people for Christ is having a relationship with the other person. This first step is already complete among your friends and family.

But how do you tell somebody on the street about Christ? You can’t just go up to them and talk to them, right? After all, our parents have told us “don’t talk to strangers!” Well, I’m sorry, but Matthew 28:19 says “Go…[to] all nations.” But remember the next verse reminds us that God is with us “always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). We don’t have an excuse for not talking to people about God.

Still it’s hard, but God gave me a neat little question to open a conversation with. I used this at Lowe’s the first time and it works great. When you approach somebody, simply ask them “Do you know of a good church around here?” This question doesn’t offend most people, but it will tell you a lot about that individual’s religious convictions. From here you can use a variety of questions to turn the conversation to Jesus.

I will follow-up this blog with another entry soon about how to use this question and the response(s) they give to steer the conversation into a witnessing encounter.

Let’s all get on the offensive and tell the world about Jesus!