Is Good Friday good?
For believers, Good Friday is somewhat of an oxymoron isn’t it? Kind of like jumbo shrimp, seriously funny, Hell’s Angels, deafening silence, freezer burn, and Microsoft Works. (Yeah, I’m an Apple guy.)
Or is it?
For us, Good Friday represents the day our redemption was launched into motion. For Jesus, it was the day after He prayed the following prayer while sweating drops of blood,
“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Friday was the day that Jesus’ excruciating obedience fulfilled His ultimate calling.
Friday was the day that Jesus went to the cross.
Friday was the day that blood and water flowed.
Friday was the day that Jesus died.
And He did it…willingly…while we were still sinners.
But the harsh reality is this:
Good Friday wouldn’t have been good if Sunday wouldn’t have showed up.
Yes, Jesus died on Friday, but He kicked death’s teeth in on Sunday.
From heartache to hope.
From darkness to light.
From death to life.
Is Good Friday good?
Yep. Sunday’s coming!
As Christ-followers, we belong to a body of believers called The Church, also known as Team Jesus. According to Romans 12, this “team” has many different parts, roles, functions, gifts, talents, likes, dislikes, tastes, personalities, hobbies, upbringings, philosophies, convictions, and more…but we all have the same common denominator—Jesus.
Because every single part belongs to one body (and is significant) the question we need to ask is, “Am I helping the team or hurting the team?” Great players make everyone around them better. Michael Jordan did this. Steph Curry does this. Are you doing this?
You know what doesn’t help? Ripping your own teammates. Players who berate players on their own team create a toxic culture that spreads through the locker room like cancer. This usually results in having a losing season and even steals the very joy of playing.
You don’t have to be a pastor (like me) to see the effects that judgmental “Christians” have on The Church and world. I was overjoyed when I read an article about Jennifer Garner’s recent return to church after being cast in a new faith-based film about miracles. Then I began reading comments from “Christians” (that included everything from “her faith isn’t genuine” to “I only wish she had chosen a different church to attend” ) and I almost threw up in my mouth. I also had to repent after asking God to place some of His “players” on waivers.
Okay, instead of getting rid of some players, how can we help people win?
5 Ways To Help People Win
1. Lose Your Critical Lens
It’s interesting that Pharisees (judgmental religious leaders) were the only people Jesus was critical of. What about prostitutes? Nope. Tax collectors? Nope. Messy people? Nope. Why? That’s who He came for. He said, “I have come for those who know they are sinners — not those who think they are righteous.” He was not happy with those who spent their time pointing out the specks in the eyes of others while they had giant logs in their own.
Don’t be like the Pharisees who ignore their own sin while pointing out the sin of others.
Put on “Jesus goggles” and see sinners like Jesus does.
2. Expand Your Circle of Love
In Mark 12, Jesus was asked by—you guessed it—a Pharisee to identify the greatest commandment. His answer was classic.
And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” —Mark 12:30-31 (NLT)
Notice that the second commandment is equally important. This means that loving our neighbor is just as important as loving God.
What if my neighbor isn’t a believer? Yep.
What if my neighbor is a counterfeit Christian? Yep.
What if my neighbor is voting for Hillary? Yep.
What if my neighbor is voting for Trump? Yep.
What if my neighbor is muslim? Yep.
What if my neighbor is a jerk? Yep.
What if my neighbor stinks? Yep.
What if my neighbor…? You get the idea.
And not only are we commanded to love our neighbor, we are called to love our teammates. It was Jesus who said the following in John 13:35 (NLT), Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Love all people, period.
3. Hurt With Those Who Hurt
If one part (of Team Jesus) suffers, all the parts suffer with it… —1 Corinthians 12:26a (NLT)
When your teammate is going through a season of suffering or setback, sometimes they don’t need a sermon or your advice. They need your presence. Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is to just sit with them.
Find someone to sit with.
4. Rejoice With Those Who Rejoice
…and if one part (of Team Jesus) is honored, all the parts are glad. —1 Corinthians 12:26b (NLT)
Celebrate each other’s wins. Be genuinely happy when your teammate hits the winning basket. Make others the hero of your story.
5. Build Up Each Other
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. —1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NLT)
Some people need to be reminded that Paul didn’t say, “Tear each other down.” In fact, he says in 1 Corinthians 13 that it really doesn’t matter how gifted you are—if you’re a jerk, your contributions to Team Jesus are useless. Boom!
By the way, Jesus said in Luke 15:10 (NLT), “…there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” Hmm, sounds very familiar to how the father responded when his prodigal son returned home, doesn’t it?
If the angels in heaven are throwing a party in Jennifer Garner’s honor…then we should join them!
After all, we’re on the same team.
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What has God called you to do? What dream is in your heart?
Get after it.
Begin working on your craft.
Seriously, start this second.
Disobedience will not only deliver hardship (ask Jonah), but can even result in God using someone else (ask King Saul). Obey the first time (ask King David) and go after your destiny!
In 2013, I was sitting at a writers conference (ReWrite) listening to Mark Batterson. He asked the audience how many felt called by God to write? My hand shot up! Then he said something that smacked me upside the head: “By not writing, you are living in disobedience.”
Up to that point I had talked about my book idea, dreamed about it, prayed about it, and even preached about it…without actually writing it. In fact, sometimes I would lay in bed at night with anxiety attacks as I thought about somebody else publishing my book. Even more so after highlighting the following quote from the book Go Big by Cory Cotton (Dude Perfect):
“If you don’t act quickly and wisely to stand out in the crowd, an idea marked with your fingerprint could easily end up with someone else’s name on the package.”
Nope. I wasn’t about to let that happen. I began writing. And working. And writing. After some book proposal coaching by Chad Allen via Book Proposal Academy, I entered by book proposal into the 2015 ReWrite Conference Writing Contest.
What has God called you to do? What dream is in your heart?
Get after it.
Begin working on your craft.
Seriously, start this second.
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From Dreaming to Doing
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. ~Proverbs 13:12 (NLT)
I’ve always been a fan of Nike’s shoes, but I love their slogan even more. When it comes to branding, Nike takes the cake and eats it, too. Who would have thought that a simple Swoosh logo and the three little words Just Do Itwould move Nike from selling shoes to selling dreams?
Perhaps they did. After all, that’s what dreaming is all about. I’m not talking about a series of thoughts and images occurring in your mind during sleep. I’m talking about contemplating the possibility of doing something BIG—doing something so big that the only way you could ever pull it off is to have Divine help.
God confirms throughout His Word that He will always do His part. The question of 2016 is, “Will I do my part?” Notice that Proverbs 13:12 doesn’t say that a dream alone is a tree of life. It says that a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. How does this happen? By doing your part.
Apostle Paul said the following in 1 Corinthians 4:20 (NLT): For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power. In other words—use more than words. It’s good to talk about it—it’s vital to live it!
Just do it.
Together, let’s purpose in our hearts right now that during 2016 we will move from talking about our dreams to fulfilling our dreams.
Do it again.
IDENTIFY YOUR 41
I used to be a chaplain for a professional arena football team. Several years ago, I delivered a fifteen-minute message with the team two hours before a crucial semifinal playoff game. It was “lose and go home” or “win and play for the Super Bowl of indoor football.” During my short chapel talk I shared the biblical significance of the number 41.
It rained for 40 days and 40 nights. 41 came and the rain stopped. Moses committed murder and hid on the backside of a desert for 40 years. 41 came and he received a second chance, thus becoming the rescuer of Israel. The people of Israel wandered the wilderness for 40 years. 41 came and a new generation entered their Promised Land. For 40 days, Goliath bullied Israel and taunted anyone to fight him. 41 came and David slew Goliath.
I reminded the team, “You may feel stuck on 40. Don’t quit. 41 will come.” We prayed. They played. Final score: 41-40. Boom! Is my pre-game chapel talk the reason we won the game? No. Did God use it to minister to me and each player on our team? Yes. And hopefully this delivers a shot of encouragement to you.
The first thing I want you to do during this Daniel Fast is identify your personal “41” and give it to God. Need a second chance? 41 will come. Stranded in the desert? 41 will come. Stuck in a storm? 41 will come. Wandering the wilderness? 41 will come. Facing a giant? 41 will come.
*Click HERE to receive complete information about this year’s Daniel Fast, including a list of detailed food items to eat and avoid.
Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. “Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,” Daniel said. “At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.” The attendant agreed to Daniel’s suggestion and tested them for ten days. ~Daniel 1:11-14 (NLT)
The Daniel Fast is a spiritual discipline designed to better connect us with God. We are taking the next 10 days (January 4-14) of the new year to deepen our relationship with God and center ourselves around what God is going to do in us and in through us during 2016. This will be a challenging process, but we look forward to hearing from God and experiencing Him with intensity during the 10 days of fasting and prayer.
Don’t forget to PRAY during your fast! Prayer is the key. Without it, this fast is just simply altering your eating habits. Please post prayer requests during the fast on my Facebook page or by emailing me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Daniel Fast is a partial fast, which means that we will eliminate some common things from our daily diet, but will have generous options available. We will focus on eating fruits and vegetables that are pure and simple. We have included a list of foods to eat and foods to avoid. *If you have any known medical conditions or suspect such conditions, consult your doctor before beginning the fast.
Foods to Eat
Whole Grains: Brown Rice, Oats, Barley
Legumes: Dried Beans, Pinto Beans, Split Peas, Lentils, Black Eyed Peas
Fruits: Apples, Apricots, Bananas, Blackberries, Blueberries, Boysenberries, Cantaloupe, Cherries, Cranberries, Figs, Grapefruit, Grapes, Guava, Honeydew Melon, Kiwi, Lemons, Limes, Mangoes, Nectarines, Papayas, Peaches, Pears, Pineapples, Plums, Prunes, Raisins, Raspberries, Strawberries, Tangelos, Tangerines, Watermelon
Vegetables: Artichokes, Asparagus, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chili Peppers, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Garlic, Ginger Root, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Mustard Greens, Okra, Onions, Parsley, Potatoes, Radishes, Rutabagas, Scallions, Spinach, Sprouts, Squashes, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Turnips, Watercress, Yams, Zucchini
Seeds, Nuts, Sprouts
Liquids: Water, Unsweetened Soy Milk, Herbal (caffeine free) Tea, Natural Fruit Juice (no added sugar), Honey
Foods to Avoid
Meat, Poultry, Fish
Caffeine, Coffee, Tea (Decaf is up to you) Carbonated Beverages
Foods Containing Preservatives or Additives Refined Sugar or Sugar Substitutes
Margarine, Shortening, High Fat Products All Breads
Dairy (milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, etc.)
*Some people choose to drink coffee (coffee is a bean) during their Daniel fast. This should be decided by each individual, however decaffeinated is the recommendation. You can get creative with your fast, too. Regardless of how much you cut out of your normal diet we know God will honor your sacrifice.
If you cannot eat fruits and vegetables for ten days, maybe you can sacrifice another area of your life? Here are some ideas of some things you can “give up” during our Daniel Fast:
Let’s do this!
Happy New Year!
This is what God says,
the God who builds a road right through the ocean, who carves a path through pounding waves, The God who summons horses and chariots and armies—they lie down and then can’t get up; they’re snuffed out like so many candles: “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. ~Isaiah 43:16-18 (MSG)
This what Chuck says,
go back and read what God said.
#CleanSlate #FreshStart #NewBeginning #DoOver #41WillCome
Former judo Olympian and larger-than-life UFC champion Ronda Rousey entered last Saturday’s fight undefeated but shocked the world with a loss. To make things worse for her — not only did she lose — she got knocked out and even ended up in the hospital.
I didn’t watch the fight for a couple of reasons: 1. I’m not really a huge UFC fan; 2. I had a rare weekend off from preaching so Saturday night was family night. And yes, in my house Elf trumps two ladies punching each other in the face.
Like everyone else, I was stunned when a friend told me Rousey had lost. She’s so good at what she does that I had just assumed she had won. I immediately went to my Twitter feed to get the full scoop and ended up watching countless Vine videos of Rousey getting kicked in the side of the head. Again, ouch. I also learned while viewing my Twitter feed that Rousey had refused to touch gloves (i.e. shake hands) with her opponent, Holly Holm. I am no longer surprised that she lost.
I believe there are five simple truths we can learn from someone who got kicked in the face and ended up in the hospital.
1. Stay Humble
Proverbs 16:18 (MSG) says, “First pride, then the crash—the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.”
There’s a difference between confidence and cockiness. The moment we think we can’t lose is the moment we will lose.
2. Be A Good Sport
Refusing to shake hands is not only bad sportsmanship — it’s arrogant, rude, and sends a horrible message to every young person who looks up to you. Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” #BeLikeJesus
3. You Can’t Win Every Time
Nobody wins every game. Not even Mike Tyson won every fight. Nobody wins every time. Eventually, you will lose. And when you do lose, lose gracefully. I do believe Ronda Rousey will learn from her loss. We need to learn from our mistakes so we’re ready the next time. Failure + learning = growth.
4. Losing Reveals Your Real Friends
It’s funny how many people have jumped ship since Rousey’s loss. Before the fight everyone seemed to be on her bandwagon. Fair-weather friends aren’t real friends. Proverbs 18:24 (MSG) says, Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.
5. Get Back Up
One of my favorite scriptures (Micah 7:8 NLT) says, Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.
Rousey’s career isn’t over. She will get back up. Perhaps you’re lying in defeat. Get up! God’s got you.
- I’m bored out of my mind.
- They must not like kids.
- Wake me up when the sermon is over.
- This band stinks.
- Everyone is staring at me.
- I will never go back.
- This coffee is horrible.
- I wish the sound guy would turn up the volume.
- Everyone is judging me.
- The main pastor guy looks like my grandpa.
*Unless your grandpa is Sammy Hagar.
Click HERE for more information about RockChurch.
September is Suicide Prevention Month so I want to reblog this post by by the daughter of a man who ended his own life in March. I had the honor and privilege of baptizing Michael when he went public with his faith while attending RockChurch. In fact, I’m aware of at least five families from our church who have lost a child to suicide over the last two years.
Suicide is a very real dilemma that needs to be addressed and approached with compassion and grace. Sal’s words do just that by offering comfort, insight, and instruction from someone who is still walking through the valley.
As you read the following words let me remind you that JESUS will sustain you in your suffering.
We’ve all heard someone who has said that phrase, or a phrase similar to it like, “If that happens, I’m just gonna kill myself,” or “Kill me now,” etc. Phrases like this are just in our everyday conversations, and no one really thinks twice about them because, obviously, the people aren’t serious when they say them. They are just words that get said when you need to blow off some steam because you are at your wits end with a situation. I get it. I say them too. There are days when I am in a predicament that I don’t really want to be in but am forced to be there for whatever reason. When that happens, my best friend will 9 times out of 10 get a text message that says, “ugh…kill me now!” She just laughs and says, “that bad, eh?” And then we continue on with our conversation…
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