Tag Archives: Jesus

The Problem with Entertainment

Entertainment: the elephant in the room

Entertainment: the elephant in the room

*Now, I know what some of you are thinking.  “Ok, here we go, another legalistic nut-case telling us to throw our televisions out the door.”  And you’d be wrong, although that might not be a bad idea for some of us.  And I’m not writing to tell you that entertainment is a sin.  How could it be?  Things aren’t sins.  Our rebellion and transgression against the love of God are sins**.  So no, I’m also not writing to tell you that entertainment is a sin.

As a matter of fact, this article is not about sinning at all.  It is about finding Joy in the presence of the Lord.  You see, entertainment can be great.  It can give us something to gather around as a community and share some fellowship.  It can give our minds and bodies some much-needed relaxation after a long day of work.

The problem is when we allow it to be a substitute for joy.  If we wander away, for nearly any period of time, from seeking the joy that is found only in the presence of the Lord (Psalm 16:11), then a natural (read: carnal) course of action seems to be to fill our lives with more entertainment.

From there, it can easily become the thing we long for.  So many of us who call ourselves Christians, myself included, have found ourselves longing, literally longing, for the time of day that we can just sit down and __________________.  Fill in the blank: watch TV, play Xbox, mess with our iPhone, surf the internet, check Facebook, play Words with Friends, update our blogs. :)

Some of us don’t even long for that time of day, because it consumes us.  We do it all day.  Everyone in the twitterverse not only knows where we are at all times, but also what we are having for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—and who we are having it with.  We find it…enJoyable.

And there’s the rub.  Sometimes, we can enjoy these things (i.e. experience them with Joy) without ever finding the Joy that Jesus wants us to find only in His Presence.  Jesus said that he wanted us to be with Him where He is.

John 17:24 (NIV) “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

That should be what fascinates us and captures our gaze: a Holy God wanting to show us His Glory—not the dull glow of a computer monitor.  The fleeting things that we so easily fix our eyes on in our day-to-day lives cannot begin to compare with what Jesus wants to reveal to us.  The inexpressible and glorious joy that is available just beyond the veil of our human eyes can be fully ours, if we fix our gaze on what we cannot see.

1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV) 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

So, like I said, this article is not about sinning at all.  It is about finding Joy in the presence of the Lord.  I urge you to cultivate in yourself a longing for only Him.  These lesser joys, that may not be sinful in and of themselves, you will find to be…nothing…in light of Him.

*DISCLAIMER: I published this same article on an earlier blog of mine, but every time I stumble across it I can’t help but think of how relevant it still is.  So, I thought I’d post it here on my newer blog.

**Transgression against God’s love?  Of course.  If all the law and prophets hang on Loving God and Loving People, then a sin would be a transgression of God’s love (Matthew 22: 34-40)—a blatant disregard for the love He has demonstrated to us.  I’m not sure how that idea would pan out against the hamartiology chapter of some of our favorite theology books though.  :)

Give us this Day our Daily Bread

The Disciples’ Prayer Series – Part 7

Give us this Day our Daily Bread

What is daily bread?  Why do we need it?

I believe the scripture paints a very clear picture for us of what daily bread really is, and we see it throughout the old and new testament.

In this teaching we look at why daily bread is all about becoming more like Jesus.  After all, He is the Bread of Life, and He is available for us daily.

We’ll look at ways that we receive this daily bread, and what it does in our hearts.

Ultimately we’ll learn about how God providing daily bread, and us receiving it, is how we have a living, breathing, dynamic relationship with God as Christ is formed in us.  Daily Bread is a gift from God that all at once fills us, tries our hearts, and invites us closer to receive more and more of God.

We’ll also look into the Dark Night of the Soul in this teaching, as it is an important thing to consider in any in-depth conversation about daily communion with God.  We’ll talk about what it is, how we should react to it, and how it sets us free from any false images of God that we’ve built up in our own minds.  God refuses to be conformed to our image.  We, in fact, our conformed to His image through receiving Daily Bread.

You can listen to the message above, and download the notes.  Feel free to share this teaching freely, and comment below.  I love to hear from you.

Your Kingdom Come

The Disciples’ Prayer Series – Part 5

Your Kingdom Come

The Kingdom of God was preached by the forerunner of Jesus (John the Baptist), by Jesus Himself, by His disciples, and should be preached by us now.

But what is it?  How do we preach it?  What does it look like?

If you’ve ever wondered about questions such as these, then this message will give you a good foundational understanding of the Kingdom and several other topics that come from a larger study of the Kingdom of God such as:

  • How does God’s Kingdom come?
  • Is it already here?
  • How do we inherit the Kingdom or not?
  • Humility
  • Brokenness
  • Demonstrations of power
  • Being childlike
  • The Millennial Reign of Christ
  • and more…

There is much more that can be said about the Kingdom of God than what is contained in this message; however, it will give a great foundation to anyone who is new to the topic, and will be an encouraging refresher and challenge to others.

God Bless!

The Disciples’ Prayer Series Introduction

The Disciples' Prayer SeriesJesus taught his Disciples how to pray in what is commonly referred to as The Lord’s Prayer.  I tend to refer to it as The Disciples’ Prayer–not for the sake of being different, but to emphasize the fact that Jesus was teaching US to pray in that manner.

I taught a series of 12 lessons based on the words and phrases in the Disciples’ prayer to answer the question, “Why would Jesus ask us to pray this way?”.  This series goes into depth on the following topics:

  1. Our
  2. Father
  3. In Heaven
  4. Hallowed be Your name
  5. Your kingdom come
  6. Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven
  7. Give us this day our Daily Bread
  8. Forgive us our debts
  9. As we forgive our debtors
  10. Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one
  11. For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever
  12. Amen

Each of these lessons expands on a thought taken from the words and phrases that Jesus taught us in this prayer as shown above, and focuses on expanding the Christian’s understanding of how each of Jesus’ words is full of life and truth.

From today moving forward I will be posting these lessons here on the blog.  Watch for them, read the notes, listen to the audio (when available), and comment!  I’d love to hear what you think.

Love and Kindness

Love and Kindness

photo credit: Darinka Maja via photopin cc

God is not nice.

You can’t find a scripture that ever says that he is, and you can’t find him displaying the attribute of “being nice” in the scriptures.  What He is, though, is so much better…

God is kind.

In this lesson I talk about what the debt was that Jesus really paid, and what the most natural reaction from us should be to the grace he showed us: walking in love and kindness.

I then talk for some time on the differences between being nice and being kind, why it is important to understand the difference, and why being kind should be our goal–not being nice.

Here is a chart from the attached notes that gives you an idea of some of the things that I talk about:

Kindness Niceness
Gentle, Mild, Sympathetic, Forbearing, Affectionate Pleasant, Agreeable, Polite
Kindness has to do with one’s nature.  Inward condition. Nice has to do with how we appear to others.  Outward action or appearance.  It is so much related to outward appearance that it is commonly used to say things like:That’s a nice car.
That’s a nice house.
He has a nice smile.
Is always rooted in the Truth (based on scriptures about Kindness). Can be rooted in DECEPTION.  “I was just being nice.”
The Bible tells us to be Kind. The Bible NEVER tells us to be nice.

Finally, I present some warnings from scripture to those who do not walk in love.

Bible Study: Fire Inside

There are many ways in our walk with God to have fire and passion stirred up insideBible Study Fire Inside of us; however, absolutely nothing can replace the power of the Word of God to stir our hearts to burn.  When we actively seek understanding from Jesus as we study the Bible, then we absolutely burn inside–whether we immediately recognize it or not.  The disciples on the road to Emmaus experienced this.  After realizing that they had been speaking to the resurrected Christ, they looked at one another and said “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

I originally taught this lesson in 5 parts, but here the audio is presented in one lesson with the original notes provided split up into days.  Here are the topics covered:

  • Day 1: Why Study the Bible?
    In this lesson I discuss the main reason to study: to know the Truth, and the truth is a man.
  • Day 2: How to Study the Bible
    In this lesson I explain the main differences between Bible Study and Devotional Reading.
  • Day 3: Creating a Bible Study Action Plan
    In this lesson I discuss why many of us don’t study the Bible, and offer 4 main types of Bible study that provide an easy entry point into Bible study.  I also provide information about many helpful study tools.
  • Day 4: Journaling (Pray-Reading the Scripture)
    In this lesson I give direction on a commonly used technique for truly seeking truth and engaging with the Holy Spirit while studying the Bible.
  • Day 5: Practice Journaling
    In this lesson I give further advice on specific ways to read through a passage of scripture to get the most out of it: Repetitive Reading, Emphasis Reading, and Negative Reading.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the teaching, or to answer any questions you have.  Leave comments below.

True Justice

True Justice

The Bible tells us in Zechariah 7:9 to administer True Justice.  I find it striking that there may be such a thing as “false justice” implicated in this statement.  In this teaching I discuss what true justice and false justice are.  I discuss the difference between them and how they can be recognized.

I also explain three arenas in life that we can be sure that true justice has its proper place:

  1. Spiritual Justice – an inward reality
  2. Personal Justice – an interpersonal reality
  3. Social Justice – an outward necessity

In spiritual justice I explain the legal aspects of what Christ did for us in the courtroom of heaven.

In personal justice I discuss a trap that many of us often fall into of battling for “fairness” over true justice in our interpersonal relationships, and how that can affect our view-point on true justice in other areas of life.

Finally, in social justice I talk about the fact that many modern social justice movements are designed, at their foundation, to actually deceive and  lead people away from the truth, and I discuss exactly why the Bible tells us to administer “true justice”.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  You can listen to the attached audio and/or read the PDF notes, and let me know what you think below in the comments.


Walking In Darkness

Walking in DarknessI wanted to include this message as the first teaching on this site because this study has been one of the most impactful on my personal view of God’s Grace.  I started out to teach a message about Jesus being our advocate, but I was so bothered with a scripture that I had never found a satisfying answer to, that I went on a search to figure out what it meant.  By the end of my study, I found myself overwhelmed at the goodness of God’s Grace and His great kindness toward us.

This message basically became a spoken commentary on the book of 1 John.  If you are interested to find out what the difference is between struggling with sin and walking in darkness, then I encourage you to listen to this message, read the notes, and let me know what you think in the comments below.