WWJD?

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I remember growing up in elementary and middle school when this really interesting fad hit the southeastern United States that involved these colorful bracelets with the letters “WWJD?” on them. In fact, when I first begin to see these bracelets on people I can distinctly remember pretending like I knew what the letters stood for before I really even had a clue. Maybe as I mention them you can also remember these bracelets. The interesting thing about these bracelets that I remember is how suddenly they became hugely popular in the community where I lived and how suddenly everyone not only had one but some people actually would wear 5 or more on a single arm. It was the cool thing to do and so of course I began to follow and got one or two of my own!

WWJD?The interesting thing about these bracelets that I distinctly remember is that over time people at my school that were not Christians and were not involved in church whatsoever suddenly began to wear the bracelets. It seemed as if everyone was asking this same question, “What Would Jesus Do?” I remember how the popularity of this bracelet seemed to be a huge success for the Christian community but now that I look back I wonder what impact it really even did make on our culture?

Last night I was reflecting about a friend of mine who was over at my house earlier this week and was doing some hilarious impressions of me and some of our other friends as we were all just hanging out. It was so funny when he began to do the impression of me because of how accurate he was in impersonating me. Everyone started bursting out laughing from the moment he started speaking because his voice and mannerisms suddenly resembled mine in such an astonishing way. My friend then told me something that really caught my attention. He said that he couldn’t do impressions of certain people because he had not really had time to watch them and study them.

I later realized that this is a really interesting fact that he demonstrated at my house. My friend taught me in this situation that we couldn’t represent or imitate something we are unfamiliar with! We must study and spend a lot of time with someone if we really plan to imitate them and act like them. In fact I have been around people that were so close in relationship that they could literally finish one another’s sentences! This is a demonstration of true intimacy and friendship.

peter pan peanut butterI want to offer one more example that I just thought of us well. Let’s pretend that someone you know really well has asked you to run to the grocery store for them and purchase something for them before you come to visit them. Imagine if that specific brand of whatever they wanted was out of stock. You would immediately know how this person would respond. For instance you may already know that if it is not “Peter Pan” peanut butter then you may as well not even purchase anything. You would then make a really well informed decision for them without even having to ask them. You wouldn’t even need to call them because you already know what decision they would have made. This is what true intimacy looks like! This is when you know that you really know someone well. You know them well when you can easily imitate and represent them!

Now I want to look back at the “WWJD?” bracelets that I originally brought up.  The whole point of these bracelets is to remind people to always ask the question wherever they are what Jesus might do in that situation. While I think that this question is of extreme importance in our everyday lives I want to suggest that there is a key ingredient that is necessary before this question can even be relevant. We must intimately know Jesus before we can ever assume or imitate what He might do in our everyday lives.

Do we really even know Jesus in such a way that we can easily do what He might do? Have we spent so much time with Him recently that we know how He talks and responds? Could we imitate his mannerisms to others without really even putting any thought to it? Have we spent so much time studying, reading and memorizing His word that we can quickly say what He might say in any situation that we find ourselves in? Do we even have a relationship with Him in such a way where we are qualified to answer this important question about what He might do in whatever situations we face on a daily basis? I think that these questions are some important ones for us all to look at and ask ourselves.

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Lastly, I want to say that I love the “WWJD?” bracelets and the question that they represent. I think that it is one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves on a moment-to-moment basis as we live our daily lives. The amazing thing is that when we combine this question with a lifestyle of studying His word and practicing His presence then anything becomes possible! When we memorize His word and devote ourselves in the secret place of prayer then we have the opportunity to become so familiar with Christ that it becomes more and more easy to imitate Him in our everyday lives. In fact, I want to suggest that when we devote ourselves to living in intimate communion with Him that the question of what He might do becomes totally irrelevant because we just naturally begin to act how he might act and say what He might say.

We create a recipe for the supernatural to become natural as we begin to combine a lifestyle of intimacy with Jesus and the question, “what He might do in our everyday situations?” When we combine these two things then suddenly people will begin to encounter Christ in us which is the only Hope that they truly have. People don’t need to encounter us or our weak impressions of who we think Jesus might be. They need to see Jesus in us in such a way that their lives are forever changed. These type of encounters only come through people who are truly abiding in an intimate relationship with Jesus.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV)

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Did Jesus really rise from the dead?

Yesterday morning while I was reading through the end of the book of Mark I was really struck by 3 words. The three words I read were out of the final chapter in Mark’s gospel account and it is what the angel told Mary at the tomb when she came looking for Jesus’ dead body. He explained to her that Jesus was not there and told her these three profound words, “He is Risen.”

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These three words really put people at a crossroads when they look at the Bible or the Christian faith. I mean did Jesus REALLY rise from the dead? A lot of people all over the world can acknowledge Jesus was probably a really good guy but don’t really believe that he rose from the dead. This morning as I read those words I really thought about the implications of those three words…

  1. One major thing that it means if Jesus is risen from the dead and is still alive then He must have been God. It must mean that all his claims and teachings were true and that He really is the only way to the Father and the only way for us to receive salvation. This is amazing news because we can now have a relationship with our creator, realize our purpose for existence and live a life full of hope, joy and free from all of our guilt and shame.
  2. Another thing that comes to mind is that if Jesus is risen then we can still have a relationship with him. Not only is he God and the one who made a way for our salvation but he is also living and we can intimately know him. If he is still alive then he is not someone that is inaccessible to us. We can actually commune with him through the Holy Spirit whom he sent after he returned to being with the Father. All of us have deep longings for intimacy and relationship and the good news is that we can find a greater fulfillment in knowing Christ than we ever could have imagined!
  3. Lastly, if he told his disciples over and over again that he would die and rise again and then it was fulfilled, then we can expect the other predictions he made will come true as well. Jesus told us that he would be coming again. If we believe that he really is risen then we can most definitely be expecting his return. This creates an urgency about all we do and changes the way that we live our lives. If we really believe that Jesus is coming back then we know that we play a major role in this end-time plan that God has. If Jesus really is coming back, then we want to be sure that we know him so we can fully invest ourselves to a life of prayer and intimacy. We can cry out with the Holy Spirit for Jesus to “COME!” We can take part in the great commission of preaching to ALL nations, tribes and tongues which must be completed before Jesus can return. With this paradigm of Christ’s return we see that we’re not just innocent bystanders but can rather play a major role in brining about His return by prayer, fasting and doing the greater works of discipling the nations.

When we believe that Jesus is risen, that he is God, that he longs to know us intimately and that he is coming back then it absolutely changes everything. By looking at what the Bible says about Jesus then we are all faced with a decision to either see Jesus as God or an outright liar and lunatic. There is no ability to sit on a “fence” and stand somewhere in between when we look at the cross of Jesus Christ because either we believe he rose again as God or stayed dead like all the other religious leaders throughout history. Jesus told us in Matthew 10:34, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” He said this because the “sword” represents his Word and when his Word comes it divides humanity into two separate camps. Jesus came to divide those on the earth who will believe and those who refuse to believe.

What do you believe? Did Jesus really rise from the dead? 

Haiti 2013 Trip Recap (Part 1)

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This past week I had an amazing privilege to go and serve the people of Haiti. I went with a team of 18 other people with a non-profit called Help4Haiti. My trip last year to Haiti made a huge impact on me and I was so excited at the thought of returning. I really fell in love with the people, the sights, the food and even the smells of the country. The morning before we flew there I began to think about all the the things I had missed this past year about Haiti and was filled with anticipation as we drove to the airport.

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After an overnight layover in Ft. Lauderdale we got to Haiti the next morning and were greeted by the Pastor that we were going to stay with again. After getting all of our stuff taken to where we were staying we got all of our tents set up at the compound that we would be staying at the next week. The view from the roof was so beautiful. As I remember it right now I really wish I had a view like that all the time!

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Then we drove out to a new city called Onaville where many people who lost everything have been given new property and a new chance at life. The whole city is being built from the ground up right now. It really is an amazing sight to see and is so uncommon to see nowadays in the West because most cities were established in the 1700 and 1800’s. Help4Haiti is currently helping to build a new orphanage there in that city and we were able to go an see the construction progress and play with the local children until sunset.

I was so glad to be back in Haiti. There is something that I really love about how life is there. I enjoy the pace of life and the uncertainty. I love how the plans have to be flexible and how we were able to just kinda go along with the flow of things. Also I was really glad because the very first meal we had was Chicken, beans and rice and this amazing sauce that was exactly what I was craving when I was on the plane headed there! I knew the trip was going to be an amazing one and we were already off to a great start.

When Discouragement Follows

As leaders we are always working with groups of people to achieve some common greater goal that we (hopefully) believe in. We invest a lot of time and energy into events, raising up people and making sure that things go as well as they possibly can. We pray that our efforts would be blessed and pour our own blood, sweat and tears into all that God has called us. Sometimes after all of our hard work we finish a project, have our big event or come to some point where we can look back and be thankful for all that God has done. Though there may be a mountain of things to be thankful for, all we can think about are the disappointments and the little things that didn’t quite go as well as we wanted. It can be bittersweet even after a great victory where we have seen great results or lives drastically transformed!

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We can sometimes find that its right after our greatest victories that we feel discouraged and experience great failures as a leader. This is typically because those are the times that we are the most exhausted and vulnerable. This is when our own frailty becomes apparent and when the enemy loves to try and discourage us the most. We have to stay on guard during these times to neither become too prideful or to allow the enemy to bring us to a defeated mindset in the midst of our exhaustion.

The beautiful thing about this state of vulnerability is that it gives us a chance to really view how frail we are and how much we desperately need God. Sometimes things in life will go exceedingly well and at other times it may not go as well as we wanted. Either way we need to always remember that our ultimate job is to love God and to love others. We are to learn the art of resting in Him in the midst of pursuing the call that He has on our lives with reckless abandonment. It is a balance of passion and dependence on God that we will continue to learn and grow in for the rest of our lives as leaders.

If you are feeling tired and weary just know that God wants you to find your rest in Him today. He doesn’t expect you to accomplish anything outside of Him and doesn’t long for you to accomplish good work for the Kingdom at the expense of your own personal sanity and well being. The first thing he wants to you always prioritize is the first commandment of loving Him and He wants you to always hear him saying, “Abide in Me…” throughout this great adventure that He has you on.

How do you respond to discouragement?

On Friday, June…

On Friday, June 7th, as I was heading to the house of prayer, I missed a turn and ended up on the scene of a horrible wreck (no professionals had arrived). A young girl, Emily Gibson (20), was thrown from her 1998 Forerunner and was laying in the middle of the street. I began to speak to her and remind her of the love of Jesus and prayed desperately for God to break in and do something for this girl in her time of need. She fought hard for 2 days and even made it through an emergency brain surgery that we did not expect her to come out of. On Sunday at approximately 10pm Emily died. Over the course of those two days, the Gibson’s took me in as family and allowed me to speak openly about God’s love. They asked me if I would do the celebration service for Emily’s life at a local park. Yesterday, I stood in front of a large crowd who came out to show their support for the family and to honor Emily. After talking to friends of mine who had lost children, I did the best that I knew how to speak directly into the hard issues: Where were you God?, Why didn’t you heal her?, the guilt from not being a better friend or family member, etc.
I dont think any of us have a clear reason as to why, but we do know that God is still good in the midst of tragedy. We know that through one persons death that many were able to hear about the love of the Father on Father’s Day. We know that we can go to the Cross and exchange all of our pain and regret and messed up lives for the life of Christ. We know that if we will give our lives to Jesus that every single one of our mistakes will begin to work together for good. We know that no matter what we have been through that God’s plans for our lives are still good and that He will be with us to the end.

This is something a friend of mine posted this morning on Facebook. I wanted to share this with everyone. 

Washed Away

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It can be so easy as a Christian to get wrapped up in all the things that we do each day rather than focusing on the One who made us righteous. So many times we can exert all of our energy doing a bunch of really good things and yet completely miss out on a real relationship with God. Sometimes, especially in my case, God has to get us alone and without any distractions to bring us to this revelation. We can stay SO busy and SO focused that that still small voice that the Lord usually speaks in is almost non-existent because of all the loud noise within our lives.

When we begin to focus on all the good things more than the maker of all those good things we can miss out on a truly fulfilling life and begin to feel burnt out and let down. The good things, the accomplished goals and even change in others lives is not what will satisfy us. that will satisfy us is a real tangible experience with God through the Holy Spirit.

We can come to him anytime and he will receive us with his never-ending kindness and love. He doesn’t receive us because of all the nice things we do but simply because of his mercy. He washed those sins away so that we can live a new life in the Holy Spirit without the burden of trying to do all the right things in our own strength. We are forgiven in Christ, PERIOD.

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior

Titus 3:4-6