Thursday, April 19, 2018

CLAIM

Sometimes people ask:  'Why do Christians think their way is the best way to believe?  How come Jesus is the answer?  What about every other faith leader?  Aren't their religions just as good?'

Those are valid questions.

It is this
single event, the resurrection of Jesus from the grave, that defines our hope as Christ-followers. It's the thing that sets our faith apart from every other religious point of view -- because our Teacher isn't dead.  Our Leader isn't in the grave.  Jesus is alive and on this our future rests.

If we don't have this truth, then we are just another religion with leaders who head a movement and teach some good things and attract some followers.  But when those other leaders die, they stay dead.

But to get up out of your coffin and smile at the folks gathered for your funeral, that's the ultimate.  To walk out of a tomb, living and breathing, holding out your hands so they can check the nail scars to see if it's really you, that's the ultimate.

Jesus alone can make this claim because He alone conquered death and it's the greatest news we'll ever have to tell.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

HANDS

Sometimes people ask me:  'Why do you have us raise our hands at church gatherings?  I'll raise them if I want to.'

Do you know why I do that?  Because the Bible says to do it and because God deserves it.

I realize that activity is a giant leap from where some of our new and current church folks came -- I'm just letting you know God's Book confirms that activity.  It tells us:  'Lift your hands and bless the Lord.'  (Psalm 134)

Honestly, if it said: 'Lift one leg and touch your nose and praise the Lord,' we'd probably do that.  I'm glad it doesn't say that, but . . .

Lifting your hands is a sign of surrender.  'You're in charge, God, not me.'  

Psalm 47 also says to 'clap your hands, all people.'  Not with some little golf tournament clap.  We're talkin', 'Put those bad boys together and give God the kind of praise He fully deserves.'

It also tells us to 'shout to God with a voice of praise and victory.'  Woah there!  Not the introverts.  Yeah, the introverts too.  Because He's worthy of it all.  He's the King of creation and He's looking for our strongest praise.

Lift your hands to God ... clap for Him ... shout to Him.  You think heaven's gonna be soft?  Gimme a break.

Worship Him with your heart and soul and mind and strength.  All of it.

And be blessed.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

SAFE

Growing up we learn to deal with fear the best way we can.

We sit in a corner in the dark.
We get in bed and pull the covers up over our head.
We run to the treehouse in the backyard.
We find a hiding place - somewhere that feels safe.  The monster might come out of the closet, turn green and bare its fangs, but when you got to your hiding place, you could breathe again.

Get to the safe place - get to the safe place - get to the safe place.

Most of our childhood fears have faded now - but they've been replaced by more adult fears.
Public failure.
Losing your job or being unemployed
Never meeting the right life partner.
Being unable to have children.
Fear of being left or left out.
Afraid Jesus might come back before we get to have all our fun.

Jesus visited His disciples just hours after His resurrection.  They were locked in a room trembling in fear for their lives, not afraid because of what happened on Friday when Jesus was crucified, but because of what happened on Sunday when He rose from the dead.

Now there's an empty tomb and the folks who killed Him aren't at all happy about that.  They've assumed His friends have stolen the body, so they'll be coming after them now and they're scared.

So they're huddled in this room with the door locked - and Jesus walks right through it into the room.  He comes into where they're cowering in their safe place.

'Peace be with you.'  And again:  'Peace be with you.'

I don't know what you fear today.  I don't know what is bringing you great worry, but I know you're searching for peace.  And I love that Jesus walks right through their walls of fear.  They have shame.  They've abandoned Him in His greatest hour of need, and in the middle of it all He walks in on them again.

"I know what you need most.  You need My peace.  Here.  Take it.  It's yours."

And be blessed.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

AFRAID

As I look back on my personal journey, the singular cause for me losing ground or giving up ground where I should have taken it has been fear.  Sometimes it's been the fear of failure - sometimes it's been the fear of success - quite often it's been the fear of rejection or unacceptance.

At times, fear has messed with my God-given vision.

I remember the day I was at the doctor's office years ago - before I turned 40 (which wasn't that long ago really - really - really - really).  He told me:  'Kevin, when you hit 40 don't be surprised if your eyesight begins to alter a little.  You may find it a little harder to visually focus.  It may become more challenging to read the fine print.  Blah-blah-blah-blah (insert Charlie Brown's parents here).'

He was right.  In fact, when I was 39 years and 364 days old, I could see just fine.  The DAY I turned 40 - no joke - I got out of bed and started bumping into the furniture.  It was crazy.

Fear is like that.  It's a visual impairment - because it makes us see things inaccurately.  Fear is disorienting.

That's why you can't trust it.  Even though God told us His presence isn't compatible with fear, every person on the planet at some point struggles with it.

Of the 125 direct commands of Jesus in Scripture,  21 have to do with overcoming fear.  The next most frequent command - love your neighbor and love yourself - is only spoken of 8 times.

You have to wrap your brain around that.  The single statement Jesus makes more than any other is 'Don't be afraid.'  

If there's a voice in your head telling you that you're the only one who's afraid - or that your fears are greater than everyone else's - or that you're flawed in a way nobody else is ---- that isn't God's voice you're hearing.

'The Spirit God gave us does not make us afraid.'

And be blessed.

Friday, April 6, 2018

DEATH CLOCK

There's a website out there called The Death Clock.

You put in information about yourself - height, weight, BMI, personal habits - then it tells you, based on your info, how many seconds you have to live.

I recently tried it.  The number it spit out for me was a little over one billion seconds left until I die.  Well, that didn't sound very comforting, but after I did the calculations I realized that was 35 more years, which would make me 70 when I die.

(Beat)

Here's the thing.  There aren't any guarantees.  Nobody knows how many seconds they have left.  I mean, that might be my number but then again, it might not be.

There's a link on that website that says 'Extend your day of death.'  Well, who doesn't want to do that?  So I clicked it and it takes you to a healthcare website that's all about exercise, vitamins, healthy eating, no chocolate or hot dogs ... so bogus.

I was thinking -- wouldn't it be great if there was a link that said 'Never die?'  You'd click on it and it would take you to John 11:25:  'I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will never die.'

Amen.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

ULTIMATE

Sometimes people ask:  Why do Christians think their way is the best way to believe?  How come Jesus is the answer?  What about every other faith leader?  Aren't their religions just as good?

It's a valid question.

It's this single event, the resurrection of Jesus from the grave that we celebrate on Easter weekend that defines our hope as Christ-followers.  It's the thing that sets our faith apart from every other religious point of view.  Because our Teacher isn't dead!  Our Leader isn't in a tomb!  Jesus is alive.  He rose from the grave and on this our future rests.

If we don't have this truth, then we're just another religion with leaders who head a movement and teach some good things and attract some followers.  But when those leaders die, they stay dead.

But to get up out of your coffin and smile at the folks gathered at your funeral, that's the ultimate.  To walk out of a tomb, living and breathing, holding out your hands so they can check the nail scars to see if it's really you, that's the ultimate.

Jesus alone can make this claim because He alone conquered death -- and it's the greatest news we'll ever have to tell.

And be blessed.

Monday, April 2, 2018

HOT DOG

We need to be saved.

I don't believe we often think of ourselves in that context.  We're going home to some pretty nice homes - we're stepping into some pretty nice cars - we're opening fridges that are pretty well stocked - we have some extra cash in the bank -- we feel pretty secure.

But imagine you are out on a boat in the middle of the sea when a storm hits.  The waves are slamming against the boat.  Eventually they overwhelm the boat and you go flying into the water.  But you have your cellphone and by some miracle you bring it up out of the water and it's working.  Your signal is weak - you're treading water - but you have enough juice for probably one call.

So - 'Who you gonna call?'  (Don't say 'Ghostbusters.')

Are you going to call your local pizza joint and order a meat lovers - because you're treading water and you're likely to get hungry?

Are you going to call that special someone and finally pop the question?

Are you going to call your boss and ask for that raise you both know is overdue?

Of course not.  The most important question you could ask at that moment is:  'Who can save me?'

Sometimes we want to focus on our stuff - our relationships - our vocation - our personal success - our leisure.  I mean, those things are fine to talk about, unless you're drowning.  The truth is - we need to be saved.

The Bible says all of us have sinned.  It's about the only thing we all have in common, because there are really only two kinds of people:  Sinners and Jesus.

The New Testament book of Romans tells us:  'All have sinned and fallen short ... '

It also says:  'The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life thru Jesus our Lord.'

That death doesn't just mean earthly death; because everybody dies.  The death Romans speaks of is eternal separation from God, which is a nicer way of saying 'hell' -- that all of us have sinned and what we all deserve for our sins is hell.

The Bible says hell is a horrible place of darkness and incredible loneliness and pain - and unless we're saved from our sins, hell will be a reality.  I know a lot of people don't believe that and a lot more people just don't want think about it.  But the hardest truth for us to believe is the truth we don't like.

I have for many years been a big fan of the hot dog - not those weenie, pathetic kind - the jumbo, quarter-pound, 100% beef version.  I mean, I LOVVVVE them.

And over the years I've heard it dozens of times:  'PK, don't you know what's in those?'

And I always respond the same way: 'No, I don't know what's in them, and I don't know want to know what's in them.  Don't you dare tell me what's in them.  As far as I'm concerned, this hotdog is full of vitamins and nutritional goodness.  That's what I believe about this hot dog.  So don't ruin this hot dog for me.  I don't want any new information about this hot dog, thank you very much.'

That's how we can be about truth we don't like.

So some would say, "I believe in God, but I don't believe in a God who allows people to end up in hell.'

I understand.  But the One true God has spoken clearly and said all of us have sinned and what we all deserve for our sins is hell.

But then we read the book of Psalms:  'God does not deal with us according to our sins ... for as far as
the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.'  (Psalm 103:10, 11)

If you began traveling east from here and headed to New York, then on across the Atlantic to Europe, how long would you have to travel before you met West?
Of if you went west and got to San Francisco and then across to China, how long before you met East?

In both cases, you would never meet East or West.  That's how far God, by His grace, removes our sin when we put our trust in Him.

We can make the choice to give our lives to Christ and escape eternal separation from God.

But we need to be saved.

And blessed.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

COLLIDE

What the world says works and what the world says is right is going to collide with what the Bible says is good and right.

Is it going to be the Bible that says, 'This is how things work,' or will it be our experience that says, 'Nope, this is how it works?'

Let me just take my Bible and make it mean what I want it to mean.  Let me pull a Scripture out of absolutely nowhere and go, 'See!?'

Can God be trusted to lead us into the richest possible life?  If He can, then we must take the Word of God and apply it rather than our experiences.  Because God is God and because we're created, He's going to disagree with us - a lot.  Because God is eternal and we are not, there are going to be things that don't make sense to us.

In those moments, may our play be, "We'll submit to Your Word as it's written," and not go, "Well, golly - times are changing.  I think Jesus needs a little makeover."

Listen up.  To change Him is to be rid of Him.

Fully commit to Him and to His word.  Hold it fast in your heart.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

WISELY

Not to be morbid about it, but you have a death date.  So do I.

There's a set amount of time given - and a set amount of time left - decided by God.  Pre-determined.  Only HE knows.

I think we forget that our days are numbered by God.

The truth is, whatever you think you have a lot of, you tend to squander.  But anything you think you have a limited amount of, you use wisely.

If you have a lot of money in the bank, you don't care if the lights stay on when you aren't home.  But if you're strapped to pay the utility bill every month, you're going, 'Shut the door!  Were you born in a barn or something?'

If the doc tells you have a month to live, you're going to spend those thirty days differently than if you thought you had thirty years to live.

James says:  'You do not know what tomorrow brings.  You are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.'  (James 4:14)

There's a death date for everybody.

'It is appointed for man to die once.  After that comes judgment.'  (Hebrews 9:27)

That's nobody's life verse.  You don't put that one on your fridge.  But it's still true.

Invest it wisely.

And be blessed.

Monday, March 19, 2018

? ? ? ? ? ? ?

The greatest test of culture in the final days is going to be:  Will you have the courage and strength to love the God you say you serve?

Will you have the resolve to stand for what you believe -- or will you worship YOU?  Will you worship success and fame?  Will you seek to be worshipped because you're so powerful?  Will you be run by your feelings?

What will you worship?

Jesus tells us to 'Love God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength.'  (Mark 12:30)

All.

Heart & Soul = Affections & Emotions

What do you love most with your emotions?  Because one of the things the spirit of Antichrist has managed to do over the years is to water down real worship.

One of our primary purposes at Journey Church (www.jrnychurch.com) is Passionate Worship, emphasis on Passionate.  That isn't music alone, of course, but music is a big part of it.  As a former worship leader (for 20+ years), music is important to me.  Even more vital, it's important to God.  Check out the longest book in the Bible, the book of Psalms - for all intents and purposes, a songbook.

But if you ask the average person about what worship in church is supposed to be, many will say: 'It should be quiet;  somber, even.'

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

The Bible says to worship God with some volume - with out-and-out strength.  Don't water that down.  Worship exuberantly - passionately.

It's a way-too-easy go-to on this, but when the football team scores the last second Hail Mary, what percentage of the fans are standing, waving, hands lifted, screaming, filled with joy, including the fans in your living room?

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

100% - if it's your team.

That's worship right there, friends.  That's the book of Psalms all over, except that the object of their worship is off.  That's a worship check-up for us all.

And really, if the Creator of the Universe could get some of us to show 1/10th of the heart-and-soul emotion and affection for Him that we have for our favorite football team . . . because we'll scream bloody murder for the green-and-gold (in our case) and then come Sunday morning and sit with our hands clasped in our lap with lemon-lips.

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Think about that from God's perspective.

You say you love Me - so give Me some heart - give Me some soul - give Me some affection - give Me some emotion.

Mind & Strength = Attention & Abilities

What do you think about most?  Because what you think about most becomes what you worship.  Where does God place on your list?  Is He number one?  Because that's the only place He'll take.

And be blessed.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

SELF

There are a lot of things we worship today.  They all stand on the shoulders of self.

We also worship success, but it stands on the shoulders of self.

We worship fame, but it stands on the shoulders of self.

We worship ambition, but it stands on the shoulders of self.

In fact, that's the story of how all our troubles started in the first place - over success, fame, ambition - over worship of self.

The Old Testament book of Isaiah tells the story of how Satan, once known as Lucifer - an angel of God - fell from heaven because he wanted to be worshipped instead of God being worshipped.

Lucifer was in charge of the music in heaven - the worship leader.  And Isaiah tells us Lucifer wanted that worship for himself.

That didn't go over well with God, so God cast him out of heaven down to earth.  We see him represented in the Garden of Eden in the form of a serpent.

After all that got messed up, one of the major things God did to start putting it all back into order is that He created -- YOU.  He created you with this unique distinction, because now God has an unemployed and bitter former angel on the earth and no worship leader in heaven - and guess who He's given that assignment to now?

You.

Isn't that fantastic?

That's why Satan hates you so much.  He isn't some cute demon in a red jumpsuit with horns and a pitchfork sticking you in the heinie every now and then.  He's angry because you now possess the worship of God.  That was his job and you've stolen it.

It is for God's pleasure that you were created.  That's one of the things you'll do forever - praise and worship the Creator God.

He gave you the ability to create music.

You say, 'No, I can't create music.'

Yes, you can.  You can play it and sing it.  That's why we can be so consumed with music.  It's why we play it in our cars.  It's why we download it to our devices.  It's why we go to concerts.  It's why we turn out by the mass hundreds for church worship nights.  We're deeply impacted by music.

God gave you an instrument with your voice.  All of you.  'Make a joyful noise to the Lord,' the Bible says.

'Oh PK, if you ever heard me sing . . . '

I don't want to hear you sing -- but God does.

He said in Psalm 150:  "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord."

Do you have breath?

It's what you were created to do.

And be blessed.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

MARATHONS

Recently I was privileged to sit in a room where Matthew Barnett was the speaker.  Matthew pastors Angelus Temple and the Dream Center in Los Angeles.  

Not long ago Matthew ran 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days.  I had trouble just typing that sentence.  It sounds formidable, if not downright insane.  I'm trembling just thinking about it.

In his talk he gave one lesson he had learned from running each of those marathons, something he did to raise funds for the Dream Center.  

The 7 lessons were so good, I had to share them with you.


1 -- It isn't about going fast, it's about gaining ground  (Antarctica)

2 -- You have to seize the moment when it's there  (South America)

3 -- Family and friends help you perform at a higher level than you ever could alone  (North America)

4 -- Sometimes you need a good breakdown to get a good breakthrough  (Europe)

5 -- Don't even think about how far you have to go  (Africa)

6 -- If you keep going, God will send you angels of mercy to help you  (Asia)

7 -- God can resurrect you from the lowest of the lows to the highest of the highs (Australia)


'Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.'  (Hebrews 12:1)

And be blessed.