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Fat Man's Misery - September 22nd, 2022
3d ago
Fat Man's Misery - September 22nd, 2022
Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Fat Man’s Misery Lest anyone believe I am being insensitive or have stooped to “fat shaming”, let me put that to rest right away. The title for this post comes from the name of a very narrow passage in the subterranean recesses of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. I was actually surprised that a quick Google search revealed that the name of that passage has not been changed. I guess social justice doesn’t really run that deep after all. I was introduced to “Fat man’s misery” as a young boy. Somewhere around the age of twelve my parents took me and my two brothers to Mammoth Cave for a vacation. We enjoyed tent camping, campfires, and spelunking for an entire week. Mammoth Cave, aptly named is the world’s longest known cave system and has several different tours available for visitors. While there we did many things that left lifelong (to this point anyway) impressions on me. The 40 plus years since I was there have not taken from me vivid memories of that vacation. One I will never forget was my first experience with total and absolute darkness. My parents allowed my younger brother Gary and I to take a children’s tour without them one afternoon. Following a park ranger with lanterns affixed to helmets on our heads we crawled through a small entrance to one of the innumerable recesses that make up the entirety of Mammoth Cave. After a walk inside of perhaps 200 or 300 yards, the guide had us sit down on rocks, be completely quiet and one by one switch off the lights on our helmets. Lastly, the ranger turned off her light and the darkness enveloped us completely. It was a surreal experience. I recall expecting that my eyes would adjust to the darkness and I would regain at least some ability to see, but that never happened. I remember thinking that I understood what it must be like to be totally blind. I also remember beginning to feel uneasy and insecure in the total darkness and silence. Though the spiritual depths of this are begging to be explored, and maybe I will in a later episode, I want to move on to another memory from that family trip. During another tour of the caves we took as a family, we followed our guide as a group of people made their way down a long set of steel stairs to one of the entrances to the cave. About an hour later, we emerged in a completely different place in the forest hundreds of yards from where we began our journey. There are several things from that particular tour that I remember. There was a huge room where the “ceiling” was several stories above. That room, named “The Cathedral” was so called because of its size and sound echoing acoustics. I was surprised and somewhat shaken to learn several years ago that the “ceiling” weighing many thousands of tons had come crashing to the floor. Weird to think that as a young boy I had stood under that very space looking up at all that rock, now understood to have been somewhat precariously perched above us. As a part of that tour we meandered through a series of fissures in the rock that had been worn into smooth paths. Sometimes the “walls” were wide and ten or twenty feet apart, other times much closer maybe a four or five foot span. At one place, the path narrowed to about fifteen or eighteen inches and the walls were only about four and a half feet high. This part of the path, known as “Fat Man’s Misery” was so named not only because it is so narrow but also low and requires one to bend over to pass through. I can only assume that some people have had to turn around and return the way they came, unable to navigate “Fat Man’s Misery”. Even then at my young age that experience caused me to consider Matthew 7:13-14 that I had heard about in Sunday school. That scripture reads as follows in the New King James Version, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, there are few who find it. Obviously, that particular passage came to mind all those years ago in that cave because the way in front of me was so narrow and difficult to traverse. I remember thinking however, that this narrow path in front of me was the only way to the destination…the exit of the cave. In my way of boyish thinking, if you wanted to get to the preferable destination then there was only one choice…forward. I remember pondering this scripture as a boy and wondering the same thing about eternity. If eternal life in Heaven was only through the narrow gate, even if the path was difficult, why would anyone ever choose anything else? What allure could the wide gate with the easy path have? I like the way the paraphrase “The Message” puts these verses. It says, “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention. The reason I like this particular paraphrase of this scripture is because it so accurately reflects our present societal reality. Overwhelmingly we respond to surveys that we are people of Christian belief. Though it is declining somewhat, just two years ago 65% of American adults considered themselves to be Christian. I can say with a good deal of certainty that 65% of the American adult population is not looking for the narrow gate and the difficult path. The fact is that it didn’t matter to those people who were unable to navigate “Fat Man’s Misery” what percentage of others couldn’t either. They were the ones that found themselves unable to arrive at the destination they desired. They were each for all intents and purposes a statistic of one. The same is true for us in regards to our relationship with Jesus. It is called a personal relationship because it is necessarily personal. It will be developed to the degree that we allow and desire to see it developed. There are all kinds of things in life that seek to take our attention but when all is said and done there is only one way to eternity with God…having a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ. With such important implications that relationship should get the Lion’s share of our focus. In his gospel, the Apostle John records that Jesus himself said this. In John 14:6 Jesus told His disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. Jesus was clear there is only one way to the destination of eternal life in Heaven with Him. He is The Way, indicating that there is no other. Why? Because He is The Truth. Truth is an absolute. There is only one truth and the ultimate truth leads to life…Eternal Life. So, why is it so difficult? Why so narrow? Essentially, we make it so. It is one of those things of which I like to say it is difficult but not complicated. It isn’t complicated because the process is simple…Make Jesus Lord. It is difficult because we have to slip off of the throne of our own lives and allow Him His rightful place there. In the natural, we don’t want to do that. We like to be in control. We like to make the rules. We like to decide the direction we will go. Simply put, we like to think we are in charge. The gate to destruction is so wide because people want to believe they can make the rules, they can be in charge of their own lives…they can be their own lord and sit on their own throne…and if they are “Basically good people”, they will get to go to heaven someday. Jesus said that’s not how it works. Only those who are righteous can spend eternity…or even a nano-second for that matter in the presence of God. Romans 3:22-25 lays out plainly that because of our sin we have a problem, but through genuine personal relationship with Jesus (the way the truth and the life) we have been gifted a solution. Those verses read as follows in the New Living Translation, We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood (in our place). You are also a statistic of one. When faced with the narrow gate and the difficult path will you turn away and go back the way you came, or will you follow Jesus. Just as our guide knew the way out of the cave and led us back into the light of day, Jesus said “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12) Following Jesus is the only way to emerge in eternal life with God. So now, entering the narrow gate with a smile on your lips and a grateful heart that Jesus has made a way for you…Go be awesome!
Fat Man's Misery - September 22nd, 2022
3d ago
Fat Man's Misery - September 22nd, 2022
Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Fat Man’s Misery Lest anyone believe I am being insensitive or have stooped to “fat shaming”, let me put that to rest right away. The title for this post comes from the name of a very narrow passage in the subterranean recesses of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. I was actually surprised that a quick Google search revealed that the name of that passage has not been changed. I guess social justice doesn’t really run that deep after all. I was introduced to “Fat man’s misery” as a young boy. Somewhere around the age of twelve my parents took me and my two brothers to Mammoth Cave for a vacation. We enjoyed tent camping, campfires, and spelunking for an entire week. Mammoth Cave, aptly named is the world’s longest known cave system and has several different tours available for visitors. While there we did many things that left lifelong (to this point anyway) impressions on me. The 40 plus years since I was there have not taken from me vivid memories of that vacation. One I will never forget was my first experience with total and absolute darkness. My parents allowed my younger brother Gary and I to take a children’s tour without them one afternoon. Following a park ranger with lanterns affixed to helmets on our heads we crawled through a small entrance to one of the innumerable recesses that make up the entirety of Mammoth Cave. After a walk inside of perhaps 200 or 300 yards, the guide had us sit down on rocks, be completely quiet and one by one switch off the lights on our helmets. Lastly, the ranger turned off her light and the darkness enveloped us completely. It was a surreal experience. I recall expecting that my eyes would adjust to the darkness and I would regain at least some ability to see, but that never happened. I remember thinking that I understood what it must be like to be totally blind. I also remember beginning to feel uneasy and insecure in the total darkness and silence. Though the spiritual depths of this are begging to be explored, and maybe I will in a later episode, I want to move on to another memory from that family trip. During another tour of the caves we took as a family, we followed our guide as a group of people made their way down a long set of steel stairs to one of the entrances to the cave. About an hour later, we emerged in a completely different place in the forest hundreds of yards from where we began our journey. There are several things from that particular tour that I remember. There was a huge room where the “ceiling” was several stories above. That room, named “The Cathedral” was so called because of its size and sound echoing acoustics. I was surprised and somewhat shaken to learn several years ago that the “ceiling” weighing many thousands of tons had come crashing to the floor. Weird to think that as a young boy I had stood under that very space looking up at all that rock, now understood to have been somewhat precariously perched above us. As a part of that tour we meandered through a series of fissures in the rock that had been worn into smooth paths. Sometimes the “walls” were wide and ten or twenty feet apart, other times much closer maybe a four or five foot span. At one place, the path narrowed to about fifteen or eighteen inches and the walls were only about four and a half feet high. This part of the path, known as “Fat Man’s Misery” was so named not only because it is so narrow but also low and requires one to bend over to pass through. I can only assume that some people have had to turn around and return the way they came, unable to navigate “Fat Man’s Misery”. Even then at my young age that experience caused me to consider Matthew 7:13-14 that I had heard about in Sunday school. That scripture reads as follows in the New King James Version, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, there are few who find it. Obviously, that particular passage came to mind all those years ago in that cave because the way in front of me was so narrow and difficult to traverse. I remember thinking however, that this narrow path in front of me was the only way to the destination…the exit of the cave. In my way of boyish thinking, if you wanted to get to the preferable destination then there was only one choice…forward. I remember pondering this scripture as a boy and wondering the same thing about eternity. If eternal life in Heaven was only through the narrow gate, even if the path was difficult, why would anyone ever choose anything else? What allure could the wide gate with the easy path have? I like the way the paraphrase “The Message” puts these verses. It says, “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention. The reason I like this particular paraphrase of this scripture is because it so accurately reflects our present societal reality. Overwhelmingly we respond to surveys that we are people of Christian belief. Though it is declining somewhat, just two years ago 65% of American adults considered themselves to be Christian. I can say with a good deal of certainty that 65% of the American adult population is not looking for the narrow gate and the difficult path. The fact is that it didn’t matter to those people who were unable to navigate “Fat Man’s Misery” what percentage of others couldn’t either. They were the ones that found themselves unable to arrive at the destination they desired. They were each for all intents and purposes a statistic of one. The same is true for us in regards to our relationship with Jesus. It is called a personal relationship because it is necessarily personal. It will be developed to the degree that we allow and desire to see it developed. There are all kinds of things in life that seek to take our attention but when all is said and done there is only one way to eternity with God…having a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ. With such important implications that relationship should get the Lion’s share of our focus. In his gospel, the Apostle John records that Jesus himself said this. In John 14:6 Jesus told His disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. Jesus was clear there is only one way to the destination of eternal life in Heaven with Him. He is The Way, indicating that there is no other. Why? Because He is The Truth. Truth is an absolute. There is only one truth and the ultimate truth leads to life…Eternal Life. So, why is it so difficult? Why so narrow? Essentially, we make it so. It is one of those things of which I like to say it is difficult but not complicated. It isn’t complicated because the process is simple…Make Jesus Lord. It is difficult because we have to slip off of the throne of our own lives and allow Him His rightful place there. In the natural, we don’t want to do that. We like to be in control. We like to make the rules. We like to decide the direction we will go. Simply put, we like to think we are in charge. The gate to destruction is so wide because people want to believe they can make the rules, they can be in charge of their own lives…they can be their own lord and sit on their own throne…and if they are “Basically good people”, they will get to go to heaven someday. Jesus said that’s not how it works. Only those who are righteous can spend eternity…or even a nano-second for that matter in the presence of God. Romans 3:22-25 lays out plainly that because of our sin we have a problem, but through genuine personal relationship with Jesus (the way the truth and the life) we have been gifted a solution. Those verses read as follows in the New Living Translation, We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood (in our place). You are also a statistic of one. When faced with the narrow gate and the difficult path will you turn away and go back the way you came, or will you follow Jesus. Just as our guide knew the way out of the cave and led us back into the light of day, Jesus said “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12) Following Jesus is the only way to emerge in eternal life with God. So now, entering the narrow gate with a smile on your lips and a grateful heart that Jesus has made a way for you…Go be awesome!
Marital Conflict Worldly Wisdom vs Wordly Wisdom - Session Seven - September 19th, 2022
5d ago
Marital Conflict Worldly Wisdom vs Wordly Wisdom - Session Seven - September 19th, 2022
Hi this is Pastor Ken and this is my Monday Marriage Message. This is will be the seventh and final installment in the series looking at Marital conflicts…Worldly Wisdom vs. Wordly Wisdom. In this edition, we will look at the Worldly Wisdom position that “The Ends Justify The Means”. Most of us understand that concept and many intuitively and internally shudder when we consider it, knowing there is something we find unsavory about the idea. Even so, on some level most people subscribe to it just the same. We drive faster than the posted speed limit because we have places to go, people to see and things to do. Social media has such a hold over us that we feel compelled to “Check it…just for a second” even though we are being paid and trusted by an employer to be doing other things with our time on the clock. The justifications don’t stop there. In marriage many are willing to allow the ends to justify the means. Maybe we tell our spouse “Little white lies” because telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth might leave us vulnerable to their criticism. Perhaps there is an expenditure that we know our spouse wouldn’t approve of, but it is justified because we really want what we have our eye on. It may be that we join in at work or with friends as conversations center around our distaste for the things our spouses do. Even if we don’t feel right about it, we justify that everyone is doing it, and we want our friends or co-workers to find us acceptable. These are some examples we might view as benign, there are others that are engaged in every day that are much more harmful. People use all kinds of justifications for engaging in activities that have the potential to be incredibly detrimental to their marriages. Wordly Wisdom insists that the ends do not justify the means. Jesus said that our yes needs to be yes, and our no should clearly mean no. (Mathew 5:37) We often interpret this scripture to simply mean that if we say yes or no we shouldn’t need to add anything to illustrate that we really mean what we say. However, a deeper understanding has to include the overall effect this has on our integrity. If we avoid wishy-washiness, and if our yes always means yes and if our no always means no, we won’t need to swear by anything else…people will simply be able to count on us. Perhaps most importantly, our spouse. If we are consistent about what we choose and the things we are not willing to allow in our lives, our spouse can enjoy the confidence that our every action, thought and word is for their benefit and blessing. Wordly Wisdom also argues that the ends do not justify the means, but in fact, it is we who are supposed to end up justified. In other words, God wants to use our marriages to guide us into a life of justice and righteousness. In his book, The Joy of the Sacred Marriage Gary Thomas suggests that God is far more concerned that our marriages make us holy, than that they make us happy. He rightly says God uses our marriages perhaps more so than any other experience in life to move us toward holiness. I simply say that according to Genesis 1 and 2 God designed marriage to reflect His image and likeness. Our marriages are purposed to be a mirror God can look into and see Himself. To Gary Thomas’s point, God is holy and therefore we are to be holy also. 1 Peter 1:13-16 says, So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” Here we are being told that the point of our lives and in fact our marriages is to be holy like God is holy. We are supposed to be clean and clear mirrors that God can look into and see himself. When we accept the worldly view that says the “Ends justify the means”, we risk allowing our mirror to become dirty, clouded, scratched up and far less capable of producing a good reflection of our God. What about the dirt, scratches and the cloudiness we have allowed to accumulate on our marital mirrors because we have accepted that in certain situations, the ends justify the means? Thankfully, God has an answer for that. 1 John 1:9 tells us that If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. God desires to forgive us for the dirt and damage we have inflicted on our mirrors. He promises that if we ask him to, He will clean us of all of the dirt we have allowed to rest upon us. In Ephesians 5:16 He lets us know that He even wants to help us redeem time. Though most of us would like to have the ability to do so, we simply can’t go back in time and fix errors we have committed. However, we serve a God who can take those errors and transform them into wisdom essentially redeeming the time in which the errors took place. So, there is even a plan for the dirt and many of the scratches we have allowed to cover our marital mirrors. God wants to forgive us for every scratch, every bit of cloudiness and all of the dirt we have allowed to accumulate there. He not only wants to wash our mirrors clean so that he can see Himself more clearly, but He will even buff out some of the scratches so they don’t take away from His reflection either. Some scratches are too deep to buff out and eliminate completely. Some marital mirrors have been through too much and some of the damage remains even after forgiveness and a good cleaning. So what do we do about that? God has a plan to address that damage as well. Romans 8:28-30 offers a promise to take the deep scratches and the chipped portions of our marital mirrors that have happened as a result of allowing the ends to justify the harmful means and even use those to justify us, and help us better reflect God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Thank God for His miraculous marital mirror restoration abilities! Though God has graciously offered to restore our marital mirrors, He also asks us to refrain from damaging them further. The Apostle Paul Spoke to that in Romans Chapter 6:1-11 There Paul wrote, Well then, should we keep on sinning (in other words, damaging our mirrors) so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. God wants to look into the mirror of each of our marriages and see an unblemished reflection of Himself. He is Holy so what He expects to see when He looks at your marriage, my marriage…is holiness. He promised to forgive us of the dirtiness of sin we have so carelessly splattered all over our mirrors and once again make us clean. He has enabled us through the redemption of time to have some of the lesser scratches polished back out. He has also said that if we will allow Him to, He even wants to use the deeper scratches and chips to cause us to reflect Him even better. God also hopes we will be very careful with our mirrors going forward, and that we will realize just how valuable they are to Him Questions to answer: • Has allowing the end to justify the means created problems for your marriage? • What difficulties has this caused the two of you in your attempts to reflect God like you want to? • If you make the priority of your lives as one to reflect the One who gave it to you, what differences could that make in your marriage? Actions to take: • Gratefully give God thanks for His desire to take the imperfections of your marital mirror and restore its ability to reflect Him…then make reflecting God THE priority of your marriage. So now, taking incredible care of your marital mirror so it can do what it was intended to do and reflect God…GO be awesome!
Part Deux Tell
Sep 15 2022
Part Deux Tell
Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Part Deux Tell. For those listening to this podcast as opposed to reading it who know my infatuation with a good pun, I am spelling the word do, D-E-U-X as in the number two in French. So, for your benefit this edition is entitled “Part two – Do Tell. This is in fact part two of our look at the scriptural account I introduced last week in the episode entitled “Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures”. In that message I pointed out that the nameless desperate woman we read about in Mark chapter five who had experienced a twelve year battle with a hemorrhage also had a desperate faith that Jesus could make her whole again. She determined in her heart that if she could just get near enough to Jesus to touch His clothes, she would be healed. The law that governed her actions due to her “unclean” condition didn’t allow for her to approach Him as so many others did. As we read last week, the Bible tells us that she approached Jesus from behind, and my belief is that she did that to avoid violating the law she was restricted by. Her righteous attempt to obey the letter of the law and at the same time act in her desperate faith in Jesus’ ability to heal her is remarkable. Her desperate faith compelled her forward to her exchange with her Messiah, but didn’t extinguish her desire to obey her understanding of God’s law. I wonder as she approached Jesus from behind, were her quivering lips whispering the words “Unclean…unclean” hoping they would not be heard this one time and give her presence away? We read last week that as soon as she touched Jesus’ robe her bleeding stopped and she knew that she was whole. This week we are going to pick the account up there as another understanding was taking place…so now, Part – Deux - Tell. Today we resume the account we began reading last week in Mark Chapter Five. Mark 5:30-34 in the New Century Version says, At once Jesus felt power go out from him. So he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” His followers said, “Look at how many people are pushing against you! And you ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” But Jesus continued looking around to see who had touched him. The woman, knowing that she was healed, came and fell at Jesus’ feet. Shaking with fear, she told him the whole truth. Jesus said to her, “Dear woman, you are made well because you believed. Go in peace; be healed of your disease.” Last week I told you how this woman was treated under the law, and how in her desperate actions she was ministered to by the power of Grace. In that segment of the passage we discovered that it was an extraordinary thing that she did to get to Jesus because of the Law, but that in so doing He did a more incredible thing in her life through the awesome touch of His Grace. Today I want to focus on the second exchange that took place between this woman and Jesus immediately after she knew she that was healed the instant she touched the hem of His clothes. This healing account describes the first exchange as Jesus felt the healing power go out of him…and she felt her illness leave her. The ‘parade’ must have come to a halt because the Bible says that Jesus stopped, turned, and asked the question “Who touched my clothes?” His disciples were astonished at this question! By this time, they were quite used to people rushing up to see Jesus, pushing up to Him with no account for His personal space. I imagine they saw this crowd no differently than they had seen countless others before, and so they tried to point out the obvious. “Look at how many people are pushing against you! And you ask, ‘Who touched me?” their incredulousness at his query did not deter Jesus, He continued looking to see who it was that had touched His clothes. I think He knew exactly who it was, I believe that just as He did with the woman at the well, He already knew this poor woman’s entire life story. But, just like she had been on a mission to get to Jesus, I think He also had a worthy goal in mind by coming to a halt and asking “Who touched me?” What happened next exemplifies a valuable lesson for us. The woman who had for so long tried to remain hidden away from others, was now being summoned right into the spotlight. Jesus desired to have another exchange with her, this time a verbal one…He wanted to have a loving conversation with her. For well over a decade, she had lived as an outcast, banished by her leaders, ostracized by her peers, rejected by everyone. Now in this moment, she was being sought after by the Rabbi, Healer, Master, her Messiah! No wonder she came and fell before Him trembling as she stammered her way through her story that He likely already knew so well! But Jesus was up to something. He was teaching...her...the crowd...us. The lesson among others...when you reach out to Jesus and He meets your needs, no matter how big...or small they seem...you’ve got to tell somebody! Jesus wants us to testify to others what He has done for us! All of us were created to bring Him glory. All of us were created for His pleasure. We all have a great, lofty and noble purpose...to give praise to the One who gives to us…everything we have! My guess is that was not the last time this woman told her story about the day Jesus healed her. I imagine she told it so many times no one she knew or met thereafter was left unaware. I bet she never stopped telling how Jesus had taken her illness, her failures, her sinfulness, her desperation, all of it, and with one measure of His incredible Grace, made right everything that was wrong in her life! After their conversation, Jesus dismissed her in peace, healed, and probably most important to her, accepted! This version says He addressed her as “Dear woman”, the original text however, says He used the Greek word “Thugater” and means daughter, and in that language would have included any female descendant regardless of how far removed. Jesus was claiming her as His own. He was saying that spiritually they were now in relationship, while physically he was pronouncing that he was her Creator and in that sense she was indeed His daughter. While some or much of that may have escaped this simple woman, it did not elude Jesus. He was tenderly letting her know He loved her immensely and intensely, and whether she understood it or not…throughout eternity…He always had. Jesus cares the same for each of us. So what has He done for you? Are you telling everyone you can about it? Are you giving Him the glory for what He has done in your life? Are you using the examples of His touch of Grace in your life to spur others to seek that same touch in theirs? He hasn’t blessed you with His Power, His Grace, His forgiveness so you can keep it to yourself. In fact, others often see His blessing on our lives, and if we don’t tell them that it is by His Gracious hand alone that we get to experience those blessings, we are in effect taking the credit for ourselves. If Jesus has been so very, very good to you...and...He has, then part two is do tell...do tell...and then do tell some more! So now…Desperate times call for Desperate measures, so Do Tell everybody you can about the Power of Jesus’ Grace in your life…and Go Be Awesome!
Marital Conflicts...Worldly Wisdom vs. Wordly Wisdom Session Six
Sep 12 2022
Marital Conflicts...Worldly Wisdom vs. Wordly Wisdom Session Six
Hi, this is Pastor Ken and I want to welcome you once again to the Monday Marriage Message. This will be the sixth installment in my series on Marital Conflicts between Worldly Wisdom vs. Wordly Wisdom. When it comes to marriage, we do a lot of things differently than we did before we got married. We consider things we never did before. We choose differently than we did as a single person. When we interact with our spouse, most of us react to them differently than we might toward anyone else…at least on the outside. Why is this? On the surface that may seem to be a silly question, but in reality it is one of the more serious questions we can ask. People who enjoy highly successful marriages ask that question and recognize it requires an answer. Worldly wisdom has many answers to the questions, “Why do we act differently after marrying than we did previously?” and, “Why do we react differently toward our spouse than with many other people”. More than a few men are likely to respond “Happy wife…Happy life.” Though they are attempting to be humorous, worldly wisdom, common sense has taught them there is a modicum of truth to that answer. If you ask many women why they respond differently toward their husbands, they might say, “To keep the peace” or “I’m just trying not to rock the boat”. These answers and most others to these questions reveal a deeper truth. When it comes to marriage worldly wisdom indicates that the motivation for acting differently as a married person ultimately is to keep your spouse happy. So what’s the problem with that? Sounds like a pretty selfless thing to do. Shouldn’t we want to keep our spouse happy? Isn’t it right to try to give them what they want? Shouldn’t we interact with our spouse differently than we might with others? At first glance those responses might seem right and to make good sense, but probe a little deeper and a less than righteous motive begins to surface. Why do we want to keep our spouse happy? The answer to that question is as plain as day in the various answers people give to my original question. “Happy wife…Happy life”…is the goal more to have a happy wife…or the resulting happy life that can be enjoyed if she is happy? “Trying to avoid rocking the boat, or keeping the peace”…Who exactly is it you are hoping will enjoy some peace? The fact of the matter is, if we act differently after marrying, and we are following the common sense narrative that our goal ought to be to keep our spouse happy, we are deluding ourselves. Those thoughts are self-righteous cop-outs for our real motives. We want a happy life…we want a little peace and quiet, we want…we want…we want. All of the sudden it doesn’t seem to be such a selfless approach. Sounds like not much has changed actually. Before we get married, we do things to enjoy peace and happiness, after we marry, it seems we try to keep someone else placated, so we can we can continue to enjoy peace and happiness. Sorry to wake you from living the dream. So, what is the difference between that attitude and Wordly Wisdom? Motive. When we look at what God has to say about how we should act toward our spouse after we marry, the key difference is motive. Today I want to share just a few of God’s instructions to married people. I am intentionally selecting specific ones that are difficult for people to accept. Why choose these? The fact of the matter is that if we can wrap our minds and hearts around the correct motivation for the most difficult of instructions, the remainder of them become much easier. Eph 5:33 says, Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. This scripture gives two distinctly different marital directives, one to the husband the other to the wife. They are distinct because they are specific as to who must do what. The commands are different for the husband and the wife, and they are difficult on numerous levels. When we break it down there is a lot in this short verse. Nevertheless, as in always…under any circumstances…never allowing for less than this…let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself. This means that every husband must meet their wife’s specific needs as an act of love. This scriptural instruction is given as an imperative. In other words, it is without caveat. There is no situation where this command is waived. Husbands must always love their wife by meeting her specific needs regardless of how loveable…or unlovable she might seem at any given time. To the wife, the command is shorter but no simpler. Let the wife see that…again, there is no alternative offered, the command is implied to be at all times, that…she respect her husband. Again, this means that every wife must respect her husband in every situation whether he is acting in respectable ways or not. The insistence that the husband love, and the wife respect, regardless…is what makes these two commands so difficult for people to accept. I don’t know your situation, but I know that in my own marriage these commands can be problematic. I am not always respectable, but my wife is instructed clearly, that she must respect me, without fail. Though I would argue with her, she would say she is not always lovable, and yet I am commanded that regardless, I am to love her by meeting each and every one of her specific needs. So what makes it possible to obey these two very difficult commands? Motive. If I try to love Lynn all the time by meeting her individual needs, and I attempt to do that for her, I will fail. Why? Because my motives are all wrong. Sooner than later, likely much sooner, I will revert to the worldly motive of making her happy so I can be happy. If she tries to respect me at all times, for my sake, she will also eventually fail, and her motive will wrongly become to keep the peace…ultimately her own peace. The two of us must keep in mind that the command to love does not come from her, and the command to respect does not come from me. Both of those commands come from God himself through His word. With that understanding, our motives are corrected. When I am being loving toward Lynn…I am loving her for God, the One who asked me to. When Lynn is being respectful toward me…she is not doing that for me, she is doing it for her Lord who asked her to. We each get the benefit of the other’s obedience, but their obedience is an act of worship before the Lord. God’s word says this is how it should be. 1 Samuel 15:22 says …“What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams”. Another scriptural instruction for married people that gives them great difficulty in our present day and age is 1 Cor. 7:4. That bit of Wordly Wisdom says this, The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Talk about a scripture that flies in the face of our present culture’s belief system! Worldly wisdom dictates the mottos we hear shouted with conviction regularly these days like, “My body, my choice”, God’s word says…not so fast. As the founder of the “One Flesh” marital relationship, God recognizes that we cannot become one with another and yet retain personal autonomy. In a sense when Lynn and I chose to ask God to make us one, I gave my authority over my own body to Lynn and she gave authority over her body to me. We did not simply exchange authority over our bodies, that would simply reverse roles, leaving the question of autonomy intact and leaving us exposed to the other’s selfishness. In effect, I gave authority over my body to the oneness of our marriage of which Lynn is an equal voice, and she gave the authority over her body to that same marital entity of which I am an equal member. As a result, autonomy isn’t even a consideration. When this scripture is viewed correctly all of the arguments used against it fall away. If adhered to as intended, our personal autonomy doesn’t enter the equation, and as a result sinful action like abuse, manipulation, and any other misuse of this scripture to cause harm, become impossible. Again, correct motivation is what makes this work. As in the example a few moments ago, the command for authority over the other’s body does not come from one another…it comes from God. If we give authority over our own bodies to the marriage, and we do it in response to God, our motivation is to please Him. With correct motivation, selfishness toward our spouse is abated and selflessness toward God takes its place. As before, our spouse enjoys the benefit, but it is not done for our spouse…it is done for our God. The Apostle Paul summed up the question of correct motivation for us in Col 3:18-19,23-24. In the New Living Translation these verses read as follows: Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly… Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for [one another]. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. Questions to answer: • Do you recognize the selfish motivations behind ideas like “Happy wife, happy life” and “Just trying to keep the peace”? • When you think about it, do you find that your motivation for doing the right thing is sometimes wrong? • What differences do you think it would make if you and your spouse were to become intentional about doing the things the Bible says you should in regards to your marriage, and making a point to do them for your Lord? Actions to take: • When you recognize that you are disappointed because your spouse did not respond to you the way you hoped, correct your motivation by reminding yourself that you did not do whatever it was you did for your spouse…you did it because God asked you to. • Ask God to help you maintain a correct selfless motivation of obedience to Him as you interact with your spouse even when they do not respond in kind. So now, being obedient to God’s commands to you as a husband or as a wife…especially the difficult ones…Go be awesome!
Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures - September 8th, 2022
Sep 8 2022
Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures - September 8th, 2022
Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures. Have you ever experienced desperate times? My life hasn’t been trouble free by any means, but in comparison to the experiences of other’s I’m not sure I would look back at my life and say it was filled with desperate times. When I compare my experiences to the people who lived through the dark days of the depression in the 1930’s, or those who experienced the horrors of war, or any of the other desperate times in history, my difficulties…even the worst of them don’t begin to compare. Most of us do have personal examples of this statement being found true at some point in our lives however. When I was diagnosed with cancer it didn’t seem ludicrous at all that I was in a hurry to let a surgeon cut the cancerous organ from my body regardless of the other physical difficulties that would likely ensue. I guess it is true, desperate times do call for desperate measures. Today I want to look at an account in God’s word of a desperate time in a certain woman’s life, and the desperate measures she was willing to take in response her difficulty. Mark 5:21-29 Say this, Jesus got into the boat again and went back to the other side of the lake, where a large crowd gathered around him on the shore. Then a leader of the local synagogue, whose name was Jairus, arrived. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet, pleading fervently with him. “My little daughter is dying,” he said. “Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.” Jesus went with him, and all the people followed, crowding around him. A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition. This account makes mention of two unrelated desperate people. Jairus, who was a part of the church leadership system that despised Jesus, pleaded with Him to come to his house and heal his little girl who was dying. I imagine it must have been a difficult thing for him to get on his knees and beg Jesus (someone his peers hated) to come and heal someone even more important to him that he personally had no ability to help. Why was Jairus willing to do that? Desperate times call for desperate measures. In that same crowd, the bible says, there was another desperate person. A woman who had spent all of her money on doctors who were unable to stop her hemorrhaging for twelve long years! The bible tells us that though she had done all she knew how to do to that point, she had gotten no better and was in fact getting worse. I’m not sure in our modern western society many of us really understand what the true scope of that woman’s problem was. We can read about her condition, but I’m not sure most of us really understand what it must have been like for her. No doubt, all those years she had been tired and weak both physically and emotionally. At that time in Israel, she would have been treated as a total outcast both physically and spiritually. According to Levitical law she was unclean, and would have caused anyone she touched, anyone who touched her, or even sat where she had, to become unclean as well. When she left her home she would have been forced to keep her distance from others and to loudly warn them she was unclean so they would not risk coming in contact with her. According to the law if she had gone into the temple in her condition the penalty would have been death. Her uncleanliness kept her from relationships with people and from worshipping her God the way she had been brought up to do. Things had become desperate for her indeed! This woman had no doubt heard about Jesus and the power He seemed to have to heal people at will. She decided that she had to see Him. But how? If she went out to the crowds to find him, and was heard yelling “Unclean...unclean!” she would never get anywhere near Him. ‘Desperate times call for desperate measures.’ I don’t know for sure because we aren’t told, but I imagine as she approached Jesus she was being careful to avoid touching other people in the crowd. The Bible records that she came up behind Jesus, I believe she did this to keep the law and avoid coming into contact with anyone else. I would imagine most of those crowding up to Him would have been in front and to the sides of Jesus trying to get His attention. I think she decided that coming from behind was the only way she could get near Jesus and still do what was required by the Law. The scripture does tell us that she believed that if she could just touch His clothes she would be healed. As she did what her faith compelled her to do, we read she was indeed instantly healed. In that moment there was an exchange between this desperate woman and Christ, her Messiah. We will read that power went out of Him and her illness left her. This account goes on to tell us much more of the verbal exchange between her and Jesus, and next week I plan to look at that part of the account in greater detail. Today however. I want to focus on this part of her story. This woman had desperate faith, so desperate that she did the unfathomable and something even more incredible happened for her. Under the Law by touching Jesus her action should have made Christ unclean, instead through the power of Grace she was made clean by Him. The same thing happens for us when we come to Jesus with our sin. Prior to accepting that His death on the cross was to make payment for the penalty of our sin, we can’t have access to God. Our sin in God’s presence would necessitate our death, the same penalty the law required if that woman entered the temple while she was considered unclean. What she knew in her heart was that she needed to get close to Jesus and she believed that if she could just touch His clothes she would be healed. Her faith would not be deterred. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and so she set out to find her way to Jesus. Like the woman in this account, we have to approach Christ with a determined faith, we have to come to a place where we realize nothing else, no one else, can save us from the disease of our sin. We have to be desperate for a healing from sin that seems to flow out of our lives no matter how hard we might try to contain it. That cleansing and healing can only come through the powerful Grace of Jesus Christ. As we approach Him and His holiness that our mere sinful presence should defile, we have the same incredible experience that woman did, Grace. Isaiah 53:5 says, But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. The power of Grace is what allowed her after all those years to finally to be healed and once again clean. The power of Grace is also what allows us to made righteous in God’s sight in spite of our past sinful nature. And that same power of Grace is what enables and allows us to enjoy a wonderful relationship with Jesus, our perfect Lord. Grace does what nothing else can, and desperate faith is what grants us access to that Grace. Next week my thoughts on a Thursday will look at part two of that woman’s story…“Deux Tell” So now, desperate to increasing your relationship with Jesus, and taking whatever desperate measures necessary to see that desire become a reality in your life…Go Be Awesome!
Three Simple Steps To Finding The Will Of God In Your Life!
Sep 1 2022
Three Simple Steps To Finding The Will Of God In Your Life!
Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Three Simple Steps to finding the will of God in your life. Have you ever noticed that the marketing world loves to use “Three Simple Steps” to sell us nearly anything? No matter what you may be looking for…or maybe not looking for, someone wants to sell you their fool-proof, money back guaranteed solution in just “Three Simple Steps”. There a books upon books available that utilize this principle. There is one simply called Three Simple Steps – A Map To Success In Business And Life . Another one that looked interesting was Will Work For Fun: Three Simple Steps For Turning Any Hobby Into A Business. You can find three simple steps to losing weight, buying your next car or house, cooking gourmet meals or becoming wealthy beyond your wildest dreams. There is probably somebody out there who has tried to market a book about three simple steps to counting to three…hmmm, I am an author, maybe I should consider…no it wouldn’t be right…funny, but not right. Why are we so ready to buy something if it is broken down into three simple steps? Who ever got anywhere exciting by taking just three simple steps? I can clearly see from where I sit, where three simple steps will take me in any given direction…so let me check…nope, nothing earth shattering or life changing is just three simple steps away from me right now. So, what ever happened to ideas like “Anything worth having is worth working for”, or “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right”, or one of my personal favorites…”If it was that easy, everybody would be doing it”. As far as I can tell, everybody isn’t meeting with wild success. So, can we agree not everything can be broken down into three simple steps? The Apostle Paul did write about three simple steps for finding the will of God in your life, but this wasn’t a marketing ploy to sell books, nor was it deceptive in any way. This one is the God’s honest truth. These three steps are laid out for us in his letter to the Thessalonian church. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says this: Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Three simple steps, laid out in three simple verses. Simply put however, these simple steps seem kind of complicated. How are we supposed to always be joyful? Are we supposed to start praying and never get to the part where we sign off with a reverent “Amen”? Are really expected to be thankful in all circumstances? One might counter that these three simple steps don’t look simple at all…they look impossible! Ok let’s start with step one - Always be joyful. Paul indicates here as well as other places like in in his letter to the Philippian church that joy is always appropriate. In Philippians 2:17,18 he writes, But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy. In Philippians 3:1 he writes, Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord… And further in Philippians 4:4 he says it again, Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Ok, so I’m starting to detect a pattern here…Paul really does think it is possible to always be joyful. So I went to my trusty Greek-English Bible and looked it up. It seems that what Paul was trying to convey is that God’s grace or favor toward us is something we should always be joyful for because that grace is always is present in our lives. In other words, God’s grace is always with me regardless of my day-to-day situations. Paul isn’t necessarily telling me to be joyful for the specifics of my day, they may be viewed in a positive or negative light, but I can and should be joyful that God’s grace accompanies me through all of those situations whatever their outcome may be. I can be joyful because no matter what I face, I do not face it alone. My joy can be found in the One who accompanies me, even if it cannot be found in what we are walking through together. Now for step two – Never stop praying. I shared regarding this scripture just a few weeks ago in my podcast entitled Dad…Dad…Dad…Dad. There I went into greater detail breaking down the meaning of this particular passage. In that episode I pointed out that in Luke chapter 11 Jesus told a story about a man who woke up his neighbor in the middle of the night to ask for some food he needed because an unexpected guest had arrived at his home, and he had nothing to feed him. Jesus said that the sleepy neighbor would likely refuse to help because of the late hour, but that if the one at the door continued to knock incessantly, his neighbor would in fact, give him what he needed, not because of their friendship, but because of his persistent knocking and asking. He went on to say this about the value of Simple step number two...never stop praying. His words are recorded for us in Luke 11:9-10, there he said, And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives. Everyone who seeks finds. And to everyone who knocks the door will be opened. In verse 13 he let us know what those who ask, seek and knock, could expect…God will give to them the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives. According to Galatians 5:22-23 with The Holy Spirit’s influence we are able to face every situation life throws our way with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, we were created in His image and His likeness, asking that the fruit of His Own Spirit might be displayed in our lives certainly fulfills God’s will that we would be reflective of Him. Additionally, Jesus made the point that God does not answer us because He is annoyed by our persistence as the sleepy neighbor in His story was. Jesus was quite clear. God is good and responds to us out of love, not frustration. God desires that we ask, seek and knock continually because that action on our part indicates to Him our desire for a continual relationship with Him. James 4:8 tells us that if we draw near to God, God will in return draw near to us. Simple step number three to finding the will of God in your life – Be thankful in all circumstances. Paul understood a great psychological truth. An attitude of gratitude causes us to view the things that are happening in our lives with corrected vision. Giving thanks to God every day is an act of faith, because not every occurrence in our life is a positive one. Some things are downright negative, bad, wrong…maybe even evil. So are we really supposed to give thanks for all those negative circumstances we encounter? Absolutely. Even more so in those situations. Meeting our literal God-given potential to be reflective of Him is relatively easy when all is going exactly as we would like it to. In those instances, we may not even see a great need for His assistance, but when all is not going well, or perhaps seemingly nothing is going as we want it to, giving thanks will illustrate our faith in God. A grateful attitude during times of duress, difficulty or even despair highlights our belief that He is interceding for us and that He will use those challenging times for our good by helping us to become even more like Christ. (Romans 8:26-29) One of the scriptures that is near and dear to my heart that speaks so clearly of why, when where and how we should give thanks in all circumstances is found in Psalm 100. Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation. Finally, Hebrews 12:28 offers an unshakable reason for step three…be thankful in all circumstances… Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. So there you have it, just three simple steps. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances and God’s word says the result of those are that this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. So now, you have the three simple steps…following those steps and finding God’s will for your life…Go Be Awesome!
Marital Conflicts - Session Five
Aug 29 2022
Marital Conflicts - Session Five
Hi this is Pastor Ken, welcome to the Monday Marriage Message…Marital Conflicts – Session Five Continuing with our series of marital conflicts between worldly wisdom and Word-ly wisdom, found in the Bible, today I want to speak about the potential of our marriages. Worldly wisdom or common sense dictates that its participants determine the potential of any marriage. How far that marriage will go, how long it will last, what it will look like and what it will leave as a legacy is all up to the two people who have entered into it. This understanding hinges on the premise that a marriage is made of two people who enter into an agreement to stick together and stick it out as long as there is continued value in doing so. The potential of their marriage is determined by the purposes they alone decide their marriage has and how much they are willing to do to see those fulfilled. This thinking allows that there is no standard to be maintained except that which is decided upon by that particular couple. No one else ought ever have any ability, authority or right to impose any guidelines or regulations onto their marriage. Whatever is ok for that couple is ok, after all whatever happens behind their closed doors is up to them…Right? Why would this thought process seem reasonable? For starters, no one likes to be told what to do. As human beings we start life out with this mindset and most of us end it with little to no discernable change. We like to make our own rules so that we can adjust them whenever it suits us and we prefer not to be required to give answer for our changes. In our marriages, we conclude that we possess autonomy so that we are able to rest in the false belief that we cannot act in error. The problem with this thought process for marital longevity is that by definition, autonomy can’t really be shared…not even by as few as two people. Selfish desire will eventually cause conflict and disharmony highlighting the fallacy of the marital unity being experienced in that setting. Additionally, if a couple agrees that they alone are qualified to determine the standards for their marriage, they become the only ones who should decide that the marriage should dissolve if and when it no longer produces the desired outcome. They believe no one else has the authority to challenge that decision. Finally, in order to maintain a (quote-unquote)“successful marriage” the supposed autonomous couple will likely need to downgrade some of the formerly decided potential of their marriage commensurate with the disappointing outcomes they experience. If those involved in the marriage are not the ones deciding the purposes of their own marriage, this lowering of potential and expectations becomes impossible. For many couples, determining their own marriage’s purpose and potential is not only desirable, but must necessarily be kept fluid for their success to be assured. When you say the quiet part out loud it sounds kind of shallow doesn’t it? So, what does Wordly wisdom have to say about the subject? What are God’s thoughts when it comes to the potential of our marriages? If we look at our marriages as something we have done, we set the parameters and decide the potential. However, if we view our marriages as something God has done, we must look to Him for the guidelines designed to ensure we arrive at the full potential He sees in every marriage as He joins a man and a woman together as one. In Genesis 1:26 we find that the purpose of creating mankind was to reflect the image and likeness of God. In verse 27 we are told that the creation of mankind required both a male and a female. This fact is often viewed solely as a necessary component for the procreation of people and the survival of the human race. Though it is true that it takes a man and a woman to create another human being, regardless of current disinformation, that purpose is secondary (as noted in verse 28) following the primary purpose of reflecting the Creator (found in verse 26). We read in Genesis 2:21-23 that God created Adam and Eve, the first man and woman as a married couple identified by Adam’s recognition that they were created by God “One Flesh”. Following Adam’s proclamation, (in verse 24) God proclaimed that every marriage going forward from that time would be a re-creation of the “One Flesh” condition experienced and enjoyed by Adam and Eve. As I have said before, the Apostle Paul reiterated that fact in Ephesians 5:31-32. Jesus Himself spoke of the oneness of marriage being something continually re-created by God and not by man, in Matthew 19:3-6 and Mark 10:2-9. God’s primary purpose for marriage was then and still is today,to create a singular entity of oneness that is reflective of His image and His likeness. Since He is the originator of the union we call marriage, and the purpose for marriage is also specifically noted as being His, then a perfect, infallible God would necessarily give the potential for every marriage to meet that intended purpose. Your marriage absolutely contains the potential to act as “One Flesh” and to reflect the image and likeness of God. Any other conclusion would be blasphemous. In Luke 17:6 Jesus spoke of possessed potential. That verse says: So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea’, and it would obey you”. This verse has often been misunderstood to mean that if we had faith as big as a tiny seed, we could command incredible things to take place and they would happen just as we said. When the original Greek is examined however, we find that what Jesus was really saying was that a mustard seed though very small, does not question its potential to become a very large plant. It simply lives up to its potential. Jesus made this statement following His disciples asking for additional faith to do something He said they should do. Essentially, they were questioning the potential they had to accomplish His plans for them. Following Jesus’ words about the mustard seed simply fulfilling its potential, Jesus expounded further. In the following verses Jesus asked His disciples a question. He asked if a servant should expect that after a partial day of obedient service, the master would likely tell them to stop serving him, take it easy for a while, do whatever they wanted to do, and then later resume service to their master? Or, He asked them, should a servant expect that faithful obedience would be the requirement until the potential for the day had been reached and their purpose had been fulfilled? Jesus was expressing that the master determines the purpose and potential for the day. It is not for the servant to question the goal, but simply to obey, expecting the potential will be realized. Much like the mustard seed does not decide for itself what it should grow to be, but rather simply expects its God given potential will be achieved. God has placed the Potential in your marriage to be reflective of Him. He has installed the ability to meet that potential through the development and growth of your “One Flesh” condition. According to Jesus, your job, my job, is simply to obediently do our best to realize our full potential allowing Him to enable us to do what we lack within ourselves. The potential is there, all we have to do is refrain from denying that potential exists and allow it to be developed by Him. A mustard seed does not deny its own potential but also cannot become the large plant it is purposed to be without the sun, rain and nutrient rich soil, all things added by God. Mark 9:23 speaks to this. It records that Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible for him who believes”. In other words, what God wants to see take place in our lives and in our marriages absolutely can be done if we are willing to allow Him to help us reach our full potential and see His purposes realized in our lives. Psalm 19, one of my personal favorites, speaks of the perfect ways of God. It tells us that if we will acknowledge that His ways and plans for our lives (and marriages) are superior to anything we could imagine, the results will be sweet and desirable for Him and us as well. Psalm 19:7-11 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; 8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward. Questions to Answer: • In the past, what would you have said the purposes of your marriage were? • What would you have said the potential was for your marriage to see those purposes realized? • How much potential did your marriage have to reach both of your purposes for your marriage? • How much potential do you see in your marriage to fulfill the purpose God has for it? Actions to Take: • Discuss why you answered the final question for today the way you did. • Talk about the steps of obedience the two of you could take to move your marriage toward reaching its God-given potential. • Pray and ask God to help you be obedient to Him in this regard and ask Him to give the two of you what you lack to fulfill His purposes for your marriage. So now, allowing God to determine the purpose for your marriage, and simply agreeing with Him that the full potential can and will be achieved…Go Be Awesome!
Just So You Know, There Will Be A Test! - August 25th, 2022
Aug 25 2022
Just So You Know, There Will Be A Test! - August 25th, 2022
Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Just So You Know, There Will Be A Test! When I was a young student in school. I hated hearing those dreaded words…”Just so you know, there will be a test”! I wasn’t particularly bad at taking tests, I was simply too busy to prepare for them, and my desire to prioritize fun and play over studying, made tests stressful as well as just plain bothersome. As I sit here today sharing my thoughts on a Thursday with you I am reminded that those stress inducing words were most often uttered on a Thursday because so many of those tests came on a Friday. As a fourth and Fifth grader I had the same teacher. Miss Biga was my all-time favorite teacher even back then…though she still holds that distinction today. Then and now, I understood my good fortune to have had her be my teacher for two consecutive years. Though she was, and remains my favorite, she also would remind our class with regularity, “Just so you know, there will be a test”. In those particular grades, many of those weekly tests were designed to demonstrate our command of vocabulary words and the correct spelling of each of them. Miss Biga and her insistence to teach all of her pupils to possess a strong vocabulary is probably the one person more responsible than any other for turning me into what my wife refers to as a “Word-Nerd”. Those weekly vocabulary lists often contained Homonyms, just to make it tricky. Most of us know these to be words that either sound the same but have different meanings, are spelled the same but have different sounds and meanings…or both. I remember one time when she went all-in for 25 little mind explosions at once by teaching us there were additional words to describe each of the options above. Just to prove my status as a word nerd…words that sound the same but have different meanings are actually called Homophones. Examples of these would be t-o…t-o-o…and t-w-o, or t-h-e-i-r…t-h-e-r-e…and t-h-e-y-‘-r-e. On the other hand, Homographs are words that are spelled the same, but have different sounds and meanings. These include l-e-a-d which can be pronounced lead, a heavy metal or lead, to show someone the way, another example might be w-i-n-d, wind is moving air, but to wind means to use revolutions to accomplish a task like winding up a kite string. I know there is some argument as to whether a Homonym can be either a Homograph or a Homophone or if it must be both, but Miss Biga said it must be both…so that is the correct definition…take it from a word-nerd! Just so you know, there is going to be a test! Today I want to introduce you to the most important vocabulary list you will ever possess. To simplify I will not include any Homonyms, Homographs or Homophones. However to make it difficult enough that you feel the need to pay attention…if I haven’t lost you already…and I hope I haven’t because this is very important…I will use rhyming words. Are you ready? There are only two words on this all-important vocabulary list…Selfish and Selfless. They may sound similar, but they actually have completely opposite meanings! Most, if not all of us know what these two words mean, but I find we are less than adept at recognizing which we are employing at times. Moreover, I believe we often overlook the true ramifications of which of these we are choosing. Last week in my other podcast… the Monday Marriage Message, I made the point that worldly wisdom will make allowances for there being times selfishness is the reasonable and perhaps even the responsible choice. Finding Godly wisdom, otherwise known as scripture to tell us when the right time for selfish behavior is…that is more difficult, and by “More difficult” I mean it doesn’t exist. Finding occasions of Christ, (our ultimate example) choosing selfishness as the correct choice is seemingly even less likely, and by “Less likely” I mean it never happened. In fact, One day Jesus was teaching about the importance of choosing correctly, choosing selflessness over selfishness. As were many of His teachings, it was, as I like to say, “Difficult but not complicated”. It was and is to this day difficult because that pesky worldly wisdom wants to argue all of the reasons selfishness would be the reasonable and responsible path to take. It isn’t complicated, because as Jesus pointed out selfishness is only necessary when we are afraid we won’t be cared for as we feel we should be. Of selflessness, he made the important note, we have to utilize faith, we have to trust God to take care of our needs while we care for the needs of others. It is difficult…but it isn’t complicated. The teaching I spoke of a moment ago is found in Luke 12:22-34. I would like to read this scripture from a paraphrase of the New Testament that I especially appreciate. Aptly named The Remedy and written by Dr. Timothy Jennings this version focuses on the construct of love and selflessness upon which God operates and desires for us to operate within as well. 22Then turning to his interns, Jesus said: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about how the future will turn out, about where your next meal will come from, or with what to clothe your body.23Life is not built to operate on the survival-of-the-fittest principle — constantly seeking to get food for yourself, or wear the latest fashion.24Look at the ravens: they don't worry about planting, or harvesting, or storing food in barns or silos, because your heavenly Father is constantly giving of himself to feed them. You are infinitely more valuable than the birds!25Who of you by worrying has added even a single hour to your life?26If your worry can't do this simple thing, then why worry about the rest? 27"Look at the lilies of the field: they don't sew or weave, yet I tell you that Solomon in his most magnificent robes was not dressed as one of these.28If that is how God clothes the grass in the field, which is here today and gone tomorrow, will he not do much more for you? Oh, how you trust him so little.29Stop worrying all the time, saying, 'Oh, where will we get groceries? What is there to drink?'30The pagans, who don't know God, are constantly preoccupied with getting for self and seeking to survive at all costs. But your heavenly Father knows all your needs and longs to provide them,31so seek first to live in harmony with God's kingdom of giving and all your needs will be met as well. 32"Don't live in fear, fear is part of the infection of sin and turns your mind to self. It is your heavenly Father's pleasure to give you his kingdom of love.33So live to give, sell what you don't need, and give to bless the less fortunate. Let your hearts cherish and hold to love and therefore be like a purse that won't decay, filled with an eternal treasure that will never run out, and which no thief can steal.34For what you treasure most is where your heart is. We often look at this passage to gain instruction concerning worry in general. I believe it to be specifically pertaining to worrying about the results of following Christ’s example of selflessness. When you read them carefully even the other more well-known translations are focused on worry as it relates to giving to others and trusting God to care for us. This teaching of Jesus’ pointed out several things. We do in fact have physical needs like food and clothing, but just as God meets those needs for seemingly unimportant things like birds and flowers in abundant ways, how much more will He meet the needs of the only thing He created in His own image and likeness? Second, it points out that thinking selfishly is the natural thought of those who do not know God, because they don’t have the ability to place faith in that which they deny exists. However, as people who claim to love God and follow Christ, our mindset should be different. We ought to trust God to take care of us. Finally, Jesus pointed out the great test…I told you there would be a test. If we truly trust God to meet our needs we can afford to be selfless to the point of selling everything we have and giving it to those who are in need, because we know that our needs, both the physical here and now, and the spiritual which are eternal, WILL BE met by God. Essentially, we will learn that we can choose selflessness because we don’t have to look out for number one in light of the fact that Number One is looking out for us. So now, preparing for the tests as they come, trust God to take good, good care of you and choose selflessness toward others…and go be awesome!
Marital Conflicts - Session Four
Aug 22 2022
Marital Conflicts - Session Four
Hi, this is Pastor Ken, and I want to welcome you to the Monday Marriage Message. In this edition, we are continuing to explore the series of marital conflicts found between worldly wisdom and the infallible God who created us, and who instituted the primary human relationship, marriage. A few weeks ago, I spoke of the difference between the Bible’s understanding of marital oneness and the contrasting view of two individuals simply engaged in a mutual agreement. The latter is increasingly viewed by the world as an agreement that is less binding than many formal business contracts are. Most see marriage as something just as easily undone as it was entered into, if one or both of the individuals desire to do so. In this common sense view of marriage two individuals, any two individuals really, can be connected to one another ‘as long as desire to do so shall last’. In the former…God’s plan, a man and a woman are joined together by Him, and they become “One Flesh”. (Genesis 2:24 and Matthew 19:5) The Bible teaches marriage is a miraculous recreation of the oneness shared by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. (Matthew 19:6, Mark 10:7-8 and Ephesians 5:31-32). As I have shared with you in the past, the original Greek word Jesus chose to use when describing the “Oneness” of the marital union translates well into our vernacular as homogenized, or mixed too thoroughly to be separated again into its original components. With that in mind, let’s explore a widely accepted common sense approach to honesty and marriage. If marriage is simply an agreement between two people to cohabitate by a set of guidelines they alone agree upon, then they are able to choose the level of honesty that will be exercised in their marriage. When worldly wisdom is employed, it is understood that there are likely certain things that a person should not, or does not need to divulge. That list of exclusions usually begins with anything that may upset one’s spouse. This can include many things. For example, if someone at work had been flirting or making comments that were inappropriate, that would probably be reserved. If someone of the opposite gender had been a little too personal on social media, that kind of information would likely be omitted as well. What about a spouse who has been struggling with temptations to engage in activities that would be hurtful to the marriage? What if your spouse is doing something that is bothersome to you? How about the amount of money that is being independently spent , or the things it is spent on? How about important past events in the lives of spouses prior to meeting one another? When we believe we can operate successfully within marriage as two people who remain autonomous individuals, many things are rationalized as better left unsaid. When it comes to honesty vs. dishonesty there is an interesting contrast. There are two kinds of dishonesty…but there is only one form of truth. Dishonesty can be served in the form of a lie of commission; these are when we tell someone something that is simply not true. Moreover, and likely much more often, dishonesty is offered as a lie of omission. These are far more prevalent because we rationalize that if we have not told someone something that is patently untrue, we are not guilty of lying. The truth is, withholding information is often intended to deceive. When we try to mislead someone with a lack of information, we are attempting to help them gain an understanding that does mesh with the reality of the situation, which is a lie. As I said a moment ago, there are two kinds of lies…but there is only one form of the truth. Our justice system understands this and as a result has long employed the following oath when swearing in a witness in a court of law…”Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth…the whole truth…and nothing but the truth?” So, what does God’s word say about telling the truth in regards to marriage? What does the Bible have to say about being totally honest with your spouse? The Word of God indicates that a person we are “One” with should be able to expect that our dealings with them will be totally above board, fully honest and true. In Ephesians chapter four, Paul gave instruction to the Christians in Ephesus, and wrote that they should no longer live as they did before. He admonished them that the time for being dishonest had come to an end, and that they needed to treat those they were “One” with in Christ, fairly, completely honestly and in godly ways. In the Amplified Version Ephesians 4:25 says, Therefore, rejecting all falsehood [whether lying, defrauding, telling half-truths, spreading rumors, any such as these], speak truth each one with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one another [and we are all parts of the body of Christ]. When writing this Paul knew that the readers would understand the phrase “all parts of one another” because of the example of their own marriages. As we operate within our marriages the application of this scripture should be no less striking. God desires that we be truthful with everyone, but He also wants us to understand that as components of a “Oneness” relationship both you and your spouse ought to be able to have the highest expectation of truthfulness. I often use the following illustration to show why this is so. I ask people if they can hold an item so tightly in their right hand that their left hand will be unaware of the contents hidden in the right? Of course, this I would be impossible due to the central nervous system which connects both hands. Those two hands are separate from one another, just as a husband and wife possess separate bodies. Though the right and left hand resemble one another they are also opposites, just as men and women are alike and yet opposites in many ways. One may have ability not possessed by the other. One may be stronger than the other. Regardless of these differences, there is no ability for secrecy between a person’s two hands because though they are separate and different, they are a part of the same body. According to the scripture I referenced a moment ago, there also should be no expectation that meaningful secrecy would ever exist between a husband and a wife. In order for truth to have the pure outcome it should, it must never be misleading in any way as we read in the previous scripture, AND according to the following one, must be delivered with love as the sole motivation. Ephesians 4:15 says But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth], let us grow up in all things into Him [following His example] who is the Head—Christ (Amplified Version). Speaking the truth in love removes any opportunity for ulterior motives such as “Sugar-coating” or “Brutal honesty”. Those terms are used solely to justify further deceit or a harsh and unloving opinion, neither of which is truth or loving. My mother used to say “If you can’t find something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” A well-meant sentiment, but scripturally unsound especially when it comes to marriage. Love and speaking the truth in Love will enable you to find something loving and true to say. The dangerous misinterpretation of this verse is…“IF you tell the truth, do so in love” However, the scripture clearly says “But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing Christ’s truth]. Speaking and in fact, living the truth is not optional, nor is expressing that truth with any other motive but love. According to these verses, learning to do this is what matures us in Christ as we follow His example. Physical maturity doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it take place without growing pains. Spiritual maturity is no different. Learning to be thoroughly honest with our spouse with the sole motivation of love (meaning the truth is always told with an intent to bless) is not necessarily easy. However, it is imperative that we learn to do it if we are to walk in the fullness of God’s design for the “Oneness” relationship of marriage. Keep in mind, if the right hand could actually keep the left from knowing what it possessed, it would indicate a serious mental illness. If one spouse regularly operates as if the other has no need to know what is a part of their life, words, actions, or thoughts, it is equally indicative of a serious marital illness. 1 Corinthians 3:6 sums up this concept well, [Love] does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. Questions to Answer: • What kinds of things do you and your spouse struggle to be totally honest with one another about? • Are you both comfortable with the level of honesty (or dishonesty) that your marriage operates at? • How could the two of you learn to be more honest with one another than you currently are? ***Full Disclosure***Answering this question honestly may reveal some areas where dishonesty has been allowed to abide in your marriage. Actions to Take: • Talk about the reasons why the two of you may have avoided a complete level of honesty with one another to this point in your marriage. • Discuss the benefits of learning to be more honest with one another going forward. • Talk about fears you may have of operating your marriage in a state of total honesty. • Discuss what “Sugar-coating” the truth or the use of “Brutal honesty” has done to the openness the two of you share, and how both of them have hindered the development of your “Oneness”. So now, learning to do everything in your marriage in truth and love…Go Be Awesome!
Marital Conflicts - Session Three
Aug 15 2022
Marital Conflicts - Session Three
Hi this is Pastor Ken, Thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message. As we continue in our series of marital conflicts found between common sense aka worldly wisdom and the Word of God. This week I want to look at how to get what we need out of our marriages. Essentially there are different things that men and women need from marriage. I have spoken of these in past episodes. Primarily, women need to know that they are loved for the things they say, think, do and believe if the relationships they engage in are to be in good standing. Men on the other hand are more interested in knowing that they are respected for what they think, say, do and believe. If they find that someone, anyone really, does not respect them for these things, a good relationship cannot ensue until this problem is remedied. Make no mistake, men need to be loved, just not to the same extent that they need respect. Likewise, women need respect, however, the love of others toward them is their primary concern. These two relational needs, love and respect, also translate well as the need for security and sufficiency. If a woman feels secure in a relationship all is well within that relationship. This truth is magnified when it pertains to the marital relationship. If a man feels as though he is seen as being sufficient to accomplish goals set for him, he will thrive in those relationships. Again, this truth is amplified in the marital relationship. These relational needs, love and respect, security and sufficiency, are so important to us as women and men that they rank extremely high on our list of needs. In fact, if they are absent for more than a short period of time, a family tie, a friendship, or even an employment my not survive. Within the oneness relationship of marriage, they become critical. The duration of time that can be successfully managed if these needs are going unmet there is dramatically shorter than in any other relationship. These needs simply have to be fulfilled. The intensity with which we will seek to have them met is almost unmatched. The marital conflict between natural thinking and God’s word is derived from how we get these all-important needs met. Worldly wisdom tells us that there is a formula for having these needs met. When these primary needs are unmet, an intensifying level of stress occurs. As I said a moment ago, if the relationship is secondary, in other words it is with extended family, friends or an employer, the level of stress will be problematic, but if it occurs within the primary relationship of marriage, it is even more intense and escalates even more quickly. The reason for this is that married couples rightly believe that the person they are one with should recognize above all others what the needs of their spouse are and have an unencumbered desire to meet those needs. They see little to no difference between the importance of a husband or wife’s desire to meet their spouse’s needs and a mother’s desire to feed her children or a father’s desire to provide for his family. When the stress associated with these primary needs being unmet escalates the natural inclination is to withhold the needs of the other. In other words if my need for respect is unmet by my wife or if I feel she sees me as insufficient to be successful in some way, my natural response to that will be to withhold love from her. It is important to note that this action is initially in no way intended to be mean or uncaring, but rather to cause her to see that I have a need that is not being met and the intensity with which the lack is affecting me. At this point in the process, my withholding of her need is simply to help her identify a problem exists. The problem is that as Dr Emerson Eggerichs identified in his book, Love and Respect, we have just entered the “Crazy Cycle” Dr. Eggerichs notes the “Crazy Cycle” as follows; Without her respect, he reacts without love, without his love, she reacts without respect. He calls this a cycle because until it will continue as long as it goes unchecked. As a result, in my example above, when I withhold my love from my wife to help her see I have found her to be disrespectful, it actually provokes further disrespect instead of the correction I was hoping for. This sends the cycle spinning further, and I become increasingly unloving as she responds with increasing disrespect. What is actually occurring is a power grab of sorts. I feel the need to be respected, she feels the need to be loved. I must be found sufficient in her eyes, she needs to feel secure in our relationship. Worldly wisdom dictates that if you truly need something and it is not being given to you, you must take it. So when a wife is feeling unloved, or a husband is feeling disrespected the inclination is to make their spouse give what is needed. The formula as I shared moments ago is this. If your spouse is being unkind by withholding what you need, then be more unkind to them to make them want to be kind to you…What?!? That’s crazy! Yes…yes it is. That strategy has been faithfully employed as best I can tell throughout human history with extremely limited success…and yet millions of people are still trying to make it work this very moment. So what is the Bible’s answer to this very real problem? The common sense approach which I just noted really makes no sense at all, is selfishness. “I’m not getting what you are supposed to give me so I am going to withhold that which I am supposed to give you”. God’s word indicates that our problem is one of spelling. It is not S-E-L-F-I-S-H-N-E-S-S that we are supposed to employ to remedy this problem it is S-E-L-F-L-E-S-S-N-E-S-S. God’s word indicates that our response to having our greatest relational need withheld is not to selfishly withhold our spouses need but rather to give it to them…in bushels. Romans 12:10 says, “In love prefer one another” Philippians 2:3-4 says, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 1 Corinthians 10:24 tells us, No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. The paradox is this. If I try to make my spouse meet my needs, she will be left wondering who will meet hers, and will feel as though she must first make sure her own needs are met before focusing any attention on mine. However, God’s word says that if instead, I focus all of my attention on meeting the needs my wife has, she will be freed to focus on mine because hers are already being met. In his book, Dr. Eggerichs identified a second cycle he calls the “Energized Cycle”. This cycle states that when a husband treats his wife with love, she responds by treating him with respect. As he experiences her respect, he in turn responds to her with more love. This cycle reflects the correct response to an unmet need as noted in the scriptures above. However, without the correct motivation, attempts to move forward in this way will soon falter. So what is the motivation that will allow us to continue to meet the relational and other needs of our spouse, freeing them to meet ours? The necessary motivational switch is found in correctly identifying where the command originates. The “Crazy Cycle” occurs because the command to meet the need is a selfish one and comes from the one who is in need. When I command my wife’s respect, she understands that I do not have the authority or ability to enforce such a command, and so she quite naturally resists the command from me. Let there be no mistake, I and other men also quite naturally resist the command from our wives to give them the love they need for the same reasons. As a result if the command is seen as coming from our spouse we will either choose to resist, or comply in the hopes that they will also meet our need. Both are examples of selfish thinking. However, if I acknowledge the command comes from God as I illustrated for you a few moments ago, then my response is toward Him and not my spouse. If I do this, I will love her as she needs me to, but I will have done it for my God who instructed me to. Dr Eggerichs identified this as the Rewarded Cycle”, His love given to his wife as unto Jesus Christ regardless of her respect toward him, Her respect given to her husband as unto Jesus Christ, regardless of her husband’s love toward her. The concept behind the “Rewarded Cycle” is actually laid out quite clearly in scripture. Ephesians 5:21 tells us to Submit to one another (give the other what they need) out of reverence for Christ (because it is what God’s word tells us to do). Questions to answer: What is your natural response when your spouse does not meet your needs? Is that response Selfish or selfless? In what ways would you respond to them differently in the same situations if Jesus were in the room? Actions to Take: Ask God to help you to begin responding to your spouse in response to your love for Him. Read Love and Respect by Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs as a part of your marriage building strategy. So now, focus on meeting your spouses needs freeing them to meet yours, and do it because your loving Heavenly Father asked you to…and go be awesome!
Number One Is Looking Out For Me
Aug 11 2022
Number One Is Looking Out For Me
Hi, this is Pastor Ken, and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Number One Is Looking Out For Me. Human beings have long struggled with the urge to look out for number one a.k.a. thinking of ourselves first. In fact, the original failure of mankind was the result of this very compulsion. God created Adam and Eve, and the Bible tells us he placed them in a garden of perfection. They had everything they could ever need supplied for them by a good, good God who only desired what was best for them. The plan was that they would trust God to meet their every need and He would do so based on His love for them and their love for and complete trust in Him. Most of us recognize the story of their failure. The serpent, Satan, came and used deceit to convince them that God was holding out on them. Satan persuaded them to act out of selfishness and choose to take for themselves the one thing God had directed them to avoid. In that moment they were convinced God was not as good as He claimed to be and decided they needed to look out for themselves. Their spiritual enemy had succeeded at arguing the case that their selfishness was reasonable and therefore needed to be acted upon. Satan’s playbook has not changed. He still seeks to convince us to be selfish. Almost everyone has some aversion to outright selfishness. Most people don’t like to be thought of as selfish and so try to operate in a way that downplays it’s existence in their lives. Interestingly, the few who seemingly don’t care if others find them selfish, are often the loudest about pointing out others selfishness, especially toward them. On one level or the other human beings don’t like selfishness. Why is that, and how then are we convinced to be so selfish? We don’t like selfishness because we have been created in the image and likeness of God. God is not selfish, He is selfless, and so in a sense selfishness goes against our created nature. If that is true, then how are we convinced to be selfish? I said last week that Satan is the father of all lies and the master of the plausible ones. In order to convince us we should not trust God to give us all we need and therefore look out for our own best interest, our enemy only needs to help us see that our selfishness is reasonable. He only has to show us that any responsible person would do the same thing given the same set of circumstances. Jesus had to deal with this very problem. The other day I was reading an account in the book of Luke and this truth became glaringly obvious. In Luke 4 we read about Jesus’ time spent in the wilderness and the temptation He endured there for forty days. Verses 1-4 say: Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ ” This account is from the start of Jesus’ ministry. The word tells us that this happened after forty days of fasting! I have fasted before but never for forty days…not even close to it. I cannot even imagine the extent of the hunger Jesus must have experienced on that day. What I do know is that the devil used that extreme hunger as the basis for his attempt at a plausible lie. What Satan was suggesting (that Jesus turn some stones into bread so he could eat) was completely possible. Jesus was indeed hungry. The stones were present, and Jesus had the power to transform those stones into piping hot delicious bread. It would seem perfectly reasonable for him to do just that, perhaps even responsible. After all, the forty days of fasting had ended according to this scripture. Turning the stones to bread so that he could solve the problem of extreme hunger was both plausible and reasonable. It would have also been selfish. How? Look at the challenge posed by Satan. “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” The challenge was ‘Don’t wait for God’s supply, if you are who you say you are, then look out for yourself and get what you need.’ Essentially Satan was saying ‘it would be perfectly reasonable and responsible for you to be selfish in this moment and look out for yourself first, in this situation it’s what anyone would do if they were the Son of God.’ Jesus answer was “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” Jesus response essentially was, ‘My Father knows what I need and He will provide for me, I don’t need to look out for number one because Number One is looking out for me.’ There is another account from the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth where He was again tempted by a reasonable and some might say responsible remedy to an even greater difficulty than forty days without food. This one is recorded in Luke 23:33-39. They say; And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots. And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.” The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.” And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” Not once, not twice, but three times Jesus was tempted to be selfish and save himself from the agony He was enduring on the cross. First, it was the church leaders of the very religion that was supposed to worship Him who were sneering and making fun of Him as He hung, nailed to the cross through His hands and feet. They did not believe for a moment He could have saved Himself or they would not have been so brazen as to stand in such close proximity while antagonizing him. If they had believed, He was who He said He was, they would have stood in fear and trembling of what He could do to them if He did decide to come down from the cross. No, they were quite certain it was the nails holding Him there and not His incredible love for them. Next, we read that the soldiers who had nailed him to the cross began to join in with those church leaders making fun of Jesus. We read that they mocked him, essentially by saying that any real king would have had an army at the ready to save Him. Instead, He chose to hang there and die for the actions of the filthy men who had excruciatingly driven spikes through his flesh, and who had earlier that day beaten him and enjoyed the sport of it. Their Creator chose to be murdered by His own creation for the express purpose of ensuring a way to spend eternity loving and blessing those very men. Finally, even one of the two guilty men being justifiably crucified alongside Jesus began to question His Lordship and say that if He really was the Messiah then He should save not only Himself but them as well. The temptation from all three groups was the same, to be selfish, to think of Himself. After all, it would be responsible to remove Himself from the pain and agony He was enduring. It would be reasonable to show the created just WHO had created them! No one would blame Jesus for proving that all the things He had claimed about Himself were true…especially in light of His circumstances. But instead we go on to read in verse 46 that His response to the temptation for the most reasonable of selfishness was And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father into Your hands I commit my spirit,” Having said this, He breathed His last. Essentially, His answer was once again, ‘My Father knows what I need and He will provide for me, I don’t need to look out for number one because Number One is looking out for me.’ As Christ followers who desire to guide our lives by His example, it is important to have a new definition of Looking out for Number One, because Number One is looking out for us. When we come to understand that God is number One and we look to Him to supply all our needs, no matter how critical they may be, we are empowered to subdue selfishness and embody selflessness in every situation. In those times, we think our selfishness might be reasonable, and perhaps even responsible…Jesus’Pastor Ken Brown Jr example says no. So now, choosing selflessness in every circumstance, to closer resemble your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…Go Be Awesome!
Walk Like You Have a Purpose - August 4th, 2022
Aug 4 2022
Walk Like You Have a Purpose - August 4th, 2022
Hi this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…”Walk Like You Have a Purpose” My maternal grandfather had many sayings, some were repeatable, most are not. No matter which of those two categories they fell into, almost all of them had some truth or consequence he was trying to convey. I shared one of his grandpa-isms in a podcast a year or so ago. In that episode I shared that he taught me, while I was learning to drive to “Watch where I was going or I would end up going where I was watching.” That was one of his better repeatable quotes. One that I heard more than a few times as a boy, especially when I was doing what he liked to call “Lollygagging” was “Boy, you need to walk like you have a purpose”. I don’t think grandpa considered the biblical truth behind that one when he used it on me, he just wanted me to keep up with him and not “Lollygag” There is however, some real biblical truth in that grandpa-ism. When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior there is some expectation on God’s part that we will begin to walk like we have a purpose. Prior to coming to an understanding of our need for Him to lead and to guide, each of us made our way through life “Lollygagging”. Believe it or not, the Miriam-Webster dictionary actually offers a definition for the term Lollygagging. It is defined as: Fooling around or wasting time. When we walk through life without a personal relationship with our Creator, we are doing little more than aimlessly and foolishly wandering through, and wasting our lives. However when we begin that relationship in earnest everything changes, and in the words of my grandpa, we have to walk like we have a purpose. So what does that look like? Just how should we walk? For starters, we need to walk differently than we did before…no more lollygagging. Romans 6:4 says: Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. In a sense when we accept Christ as Lord and Savior we should begin to walk like we have a new lease on life. In reality, our entire creation has become new, and likewise our walk should look new. It should appear to us and others to be different than it did before. But how? We can now walk in wisdom. As people made one with Christ, we now have access to some things we never did before. The Bible says that now we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) Ephesians 5:15-17 tells us to See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. God gives us the ability to walk not as fools (as before) but as wise. As we walk in that wisdom He promises to redeem the time or help us correct past mistakes and missteps and even sometimes see the results of those past poor decisions reversed and reconciled to our new walk with Him. We can even walk in wisdom when we don’t know the right thing to do. James 1:5 in the New Living Translations says: If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. So walk like you have a purpose and walk in wisdom. According to God’s word, we can walk in Love. In Ephesians 5:1-2 Paul exhorts us to walk in love as Christ did. Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. God is love, and when we love others, it is evidence that we know and are connected with God. (1 John 2:10) So walk in love so you can walk like you have a purpose. The Apostle John goes on to encourage us to walk in truth. In 2 John 1:4 he wrote: I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father. In his third letter to Gaius he wrote: For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. When we have a personal relationship with God, the source of all truth, we have the ability to walk in truth. So walk in THE TRUTH so you can walk like you have a purpose. When we are connected with God we can also walk in the Spirit. Romans 8:1, 4 says: There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit…that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Paul went on to write to the Galatians, I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh, and If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians (5:16, 25) so walk in the Spirit so you can walk like you have a purpose. Finally walking as Christ would have us to means that we walk by faith and not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) It means that we will do what God has created us to do. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10) Ephesians 4:1 says that we are to walk in a manner worthy of the calling on our lives in Christ I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called. Ephesians 5:8 encourages us that our walk should be completely different than it was before…For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. So why are all these new ways of walking important? In Colossians 1:10 Paul wrote that it was so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. Finally, Paul went on to say in Colossians 2:6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him. So now, walking in Christ, walk like you have a purpose…and go be awesome!