Tag Archives: love

Is the Church Leading the World to Jesus Christ?

20151109_122835“Dear friends,
I’ve dropped everything to write you about this life of salvation that we have in common. I have to write insisting—begging!—that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish. What has happened is that some people have infiltrated our ranks (our Scriptures warned us this would happen), who beneath their pious skin are shameless scoundrels. Their design is to replace the sheer grace of our God with sheer license—which means doing away with Jesus Christ, our one and only Master.” (Jude 3-4, The Message Bible)

I look to the church to lead the world to Christ. What I see baffles me! I remember well how when I received a call to Christ and Christ’s gospel, I went to my beloved Willard W. Allen Lodge No. 108 and bid farewell to my brothers. They were happy for me that I had discovered my life’s calling and understood my decision to fully commit myself to the of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Is the Church transforming culture or is culture transforming the church? Are the two so intertwined until they are no longer singularly recognizable? Grambling State University has the Bayou Classic, a game that alumni and well-wishers look forward to each year. I daresay they have supporters committed to going to this one game even if they miss all the others. They prepare for it in advance to include budgeting, putting in time off at work, scheduling reunions, etc. It is of the utmost importance to them.

Do you as a supporter, no as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ have that one service, that one day you have committed to the Lord and refuse to substitute for anything else? For me, it is the Holy Communion Service. Despite what I have going on, it is my commitment to be at my church partaking of the Lord’s Supper with my members. I do whatever I can to keep this commitment above all others.

Jude warns us of confusing our commitment to Christ with that of our worldly pursuits and aspirations. I love the Lord and the Lord’s Church; never would I forsake her for obligations to any other group I’m affiliated with. Do you have such loyalty to your church?

The world stands in need of disciples of Jesus Christ leading the fight for their souls. They do not need associates, friends, comrades that flock to the same worldly pursuits as themselves. They who have not God, need those who do to become recognizable and distinct from any other group. The world needs our light to shine its brightest at this very moment in history. I urge you to consider whether your witness leads others to Christ or to something someone, some place, else.

In His Service,

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Faith to Forgive

Text:  Luke 17:5-6

5The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”  6He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.

Introduction

The disciples when confronted with the necessity to forgive in a way that would transform their lives, said to Jesus, “Lord, Increase our faith.”  When God challenges us to do a new thing we often find ourselves believing that the faith we have is incapable of achieving the goals God has set for us.  Nonetheless, God continuously challenges us to reach higher, dig deeper, and go further than we think we can.  It would be unfair of God to ask, if God did not know that we could achieve what God calls us to do. [Let me interject right here that when God asks you to accomplish a goal, he has already calculated his involvement in its completion.]  Lord, have mercy!

Mustard seeds are the small round seeds of various mustard plants. The seeds are typically about 1 or 2 mm in diameter, larger than many plants such as poppy, columbine, potulaca and dandelion while relatively small compared to many others such as pumpkin, watermelon, apples, pine-cone or coconuts. Mustard seeds may be colored from yellowish white to black.

Mulberry trees are famous fruit treats tracing back to ancient civilizations.     The most impressive aspect of the mulberry tree is that is can grow up to ten feet each year.   White mulberries can reach 80 feet, and can also be pyramidal or weeping in form. Red mulberry trees may reach up to 70 feet. The black mulberry is much shorter, reaching only 30 feet, and unless trained tends to grow as a multi-stemmed shrub. The three species differ greatly in longevity.  It is unusual for a red mulberry tree to survive more than 75 years, while a black mulberry may produce fruit for hundreds of years.  In other words, a mulberry tree has deep roots and is not easily moved by humans or destroyed by disaster.

When outwardly compared to a mustard seed, the mulberry tree is much more formidable and awe inspiring.  The mulberry tree relies on its vast network of roots for survival whereas the mustard seed relies on God’s grace to grow.  One is not germinated while the other is fully grown and producing fruit.

Jesus insists that “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”  What an awesome depiction of faith.  If you start where you are, doing the will of God, before you know it, the faith you have will develop in such a way that you will be able to do things you thought impossible.  Jesus says develop your faith by using your faith.  You don’t get more faith by asking; you get more faith by doing.  Lord, have mercy!

 

Move 1

One day the great Michelangelo attracted a crowd of spectators as he worked. One child in particular was fascinated by the sight of chips flying and the sound of mallet on chisel. The master was shaping a large block of white marble. Unable to contain her curiosity, the little girl inquired, “What are you making?” He replied, “There is an angel in there and I must set it free.”
Every Christian begins his/her relationship with Christ with a measure of faith.  This passage introduces us to a clear path to setting this measure of faith free. The faith God put in you is enough for you to enjoy all that God has in store for your life.  Faith does not move your mountains, the God behind your faith moves the mountains.  Faith does not set you free; the God behind your faith sets you free!

 

Move 2

Jesus outlined three simple ways to release your faith. Three small steps to develop your faith.

First, forgiving those who repent.  Christians live knowing that people will offend us.  It is inevitable that somebody is going to offend you.  Saints, you do not prepare to retaliate, Jesus says you prepare to forgive.  Only through forgiveness can those who offend us receive God’s grace.  Jesus says in Luke 17:3-4, “3Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.  4And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.”

 

Dr. F.B. Meyer tells of a meeting of a church which was seeking a revival. During the meeting an elder got up and said to the minister, “I don’t think there is going to be a revival here as long as Brother Jones and I don’t speak to each other.” He went across to Jones and said, “Brother, you and I haven’t spoken to each other in five years. Let’s bury the hatchet. Here’s my hand.” Shortly afterwards another elder got up and said, “Minister, I think there will be no revival here while I say nice things about you to your face and am disloyal to you behind your back. I want you to forgive me.” Soon others were on their feet settling old scores. Then says Meyer, God began to visit them. The meeting was crowded and a revival broke out that swept over the whole district.  There was time for confession and an offer of forgiveness and healing. There could be no forgiveness without repentance and confession; no healing without recognizing the disease.

 

Second, believing God can change those who repent.  Faith is acting on what we believe about God.  Jesus does not ask us to look to our faith to forgive others.  Jesus reminds us that how big or small our faith is does not determine the outcome.  God is able to take those whose offense was huge and transform that person into a servant of his.  God has a way of turning people around when you do what he commands you to do.  In other words, God develops your faith as you exercise your faith.

 

In Luke 17:5-6 the disciples look at their limitations rather than God’s abilities.  It reads, “5And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.  6And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.”

 

We have to believe in God’s ability to respond to the faith he has given us and act on that faith.  Years ago, two young men with a long history of delinquency and crime robbed a YMCA on the lower east side of Manhattan. On their way out of the building, they saw a young man at a telephone switchboard. They were frightened and assumed that he was calling the police. They seized him and beat him savagely with brass knuckles and a black jack. Thinking him to be dead, they hid him behind a radiator near the swimming pool and escaped.

 

Later that evening Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel, was walking by the pool. She slipped in the young man’s blood, screamed and then found Donald Tippet’s body. He was rushed to the hospital where he lingered for days between life and death. Eventually he lived but one eye was so badly damaged it could not be saved.

 

Meanwhile the two young men were apprehended and brought to trial. Their past records assured that they would both get long sentences. However Donald Tippet did an amazing thing. He requested that the judge allow the two young men to be paroled to his charge. He wanted to give the boys a chance to change.

 

One of the boys blew his opportunity. He committed another crime, was caught and sent to jail. The other boy, however, was responsive to Tippet’s kindness. He went to college and eventually to medical school. He became one of our nation’s leading surgeons – an eye surgeon.

When Everett Palmer wrote of Donald Tippet’s amazing story of forgiveness and this surgeon’s accomplishments, he added, “I wonder if he ever performed one of those delicate eye operations without thinking of that night in the YMCA.”

 

Third and finally, Seeing forgiveness as our Christian duty.  Listen to verses 7-10 again.  “7But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?  8And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?  9Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.  10So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”

 

This parable gives us two types of responses to offense. The first one appears when the disciples come to Jesus and ask him to increase their faith. They give evidence of a church that believes it is their faith that makes the difference in someone’s life. They value church membership and fellowship more than evangelism and outreach.  This church is a little bit like the tavern called “Cheers” where everybody’s knows your name, and everybody’s glad you came, and everyone’s problems are all the same.

 

And this church likes it that way! There is a sense of community, a sense of belonging and caring, and we value it deeply. The prayer in this church is “God, give us greater faith, and greater blessings, and greater fellowship with our friends.”  But God don’t ask us to forgive others as you have forgiven us!  Don’t move us out of our comfort zone.  If you want us to do this, God you have to provide us something that we don’t have because we’re not prepared to do this.  Lord, have mercy!

 

The second response is dutiful forgiveness.  What Jesus tells the disciples is that forgiveness is hard work.  He uses the imagery of a slave serving his master. The servant has no right to demand anything of the master nor to expect to do anything but serve the master.

 

It’s not a comfortable image for Christian people, and perhaps that’s why this is not one of our most loved parables. We don’t like to think of ourselves as “worthless slaves;” we prefer to see ourselves as “special lambs.” But we cannot ignore the obvious expectation of Jesus in this parable; Jesus calls Christians to pack a lunch pail, put on a hardhat, and spend themselves by serving others.

 

Not just exhaust themselves in service, but do so without any recognition.  It is amazing that in the church today, people have to be recognized in order to serve the Lord.  Either pay me, applaud me, give me an award, or make me important.  Servant leadership has taken a back seat to selfless service.

 

Jesus admonishes us not to look for better treatment from those we forgive, nor to look for God to shout our names from his throne.  Jesus admonishes us to consider the act of forgiveness routine and to do so habitually simply because of what God has done for us.  How many do you know that want forgive someone unless that person caters to their every whim or demand?  How many people do you know that put requirements on their forgiveness?

 

Conclusion

I’m glad that God says if you forgive, I can use you to move mountains in people’s lives.  People want somebody to forgive them and to understand them.  People want someone who will offer them the unconditional love of God.  People have made so many mistakes, done so many wrong things in their lives, that when they come to church, they need somebody who will forgive them and offer them God’s grace and mercy to start again.

 

God wants somebody who will forgive the person who offends them.  God wants somebody who will allow him to change that person, and God wants somebody who will do so without any thought to compensation or reward.  Forgiveness given in this fashion can be the one avenue that God can use to transform a sinner’s life.  Forgiveness offered as a pardon for sins and offenses paves the way for “the goodness of God to cause a sinner to repent.

 

If you are here this morning and you stand in need of forgiveness, be bid you come.  If you have offense against someone and would like to repent before God, we bid you come.  If you want God to forgive you and to allow you his grace to begin again, we bid you come.  Jesus died for your sins and he stands ready to forgive you!  Will you come today?

How did you treat the poor?

Text:  Luke 16:19-31

19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

 

Introduction

In 2014, Louisiana was ranked 49th among states in terms of their poverty population.  Overall, 19% of Louisianians live in poverty which means they make $23,834 or less for a family with four. The Income Inequality Ratio is 18.3% and ranks Louisiana as 47th in the Nation.  This refers to the ratio of the share of income going to the top 20 percent of households and the share of income going to the bottom 20 percent of households in 2014.  Despite these statistics, Louisiana had an overall unemployment rate of 6.4% which means that imbedded in this Capitalistic democracy are built in mechanisms designed to keep the rich richer and the poor poorer.[1]

Additonally, Louisiana has the fourth highest rate of school-aged children living in poverty among the 50 United States and Washington, D.C., according to 2013 data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Only Mississippi, Washington, D.C., and New Mexico, respectively, have higher rates of poverty among children ages 5-17.[2]

The national average rate of school-aged children in poverty is 21 percent, but just 10 out of Louisiana’s 64 parishes have a lower rate than that. In Louisiana, 27 percent of school-aged children are in poverty, or 212,904 potential students.[3]

Knowing this how can the church refuse to support scholarships and programs designed to help our children graduate high school and college.  I believe its because they have so interwined the American Way with Scripture until their religion is so heavenly minded it is no earthly good.

And so this parable provides relevant lessons for us this morning. This parable helps us answer the questions:  How can a society rich in resources and opportunities still have persons languishing in poverty and despair?  In response perhaps one should look at the tension found in the word of God which states you reap what you sow and “He that lendeth to the poor, lendeth unto God.”  (Now might I add that the word “lendeth” could also be read as “He that leans toward the poor with aid and assistance in that which is needed, leans toward the heart of God.”  It is not a loan to the poor person per se, but an act done on behalf of God.  An act rewarded by God, not this world system.)   This tension exists because of the world system, known and taught in American schools and lived out by shrewd business habits with prooftexting and excuses for all the ills contained within this system.   In other words, interpreting the Scripture through a capitalistic, free market mindset automatically lends itself to error.  Lord, have mercy!

 

Move 1

 

James, the Moderator of the Jewish-Christian Church warned: “5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? 6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? 7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? 8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.”[4]

And so let us consider the lessons of this parable in the context of our subject for this morning.

First, you can’t help the poor if you can’t see the poor.  Luke 16:19-20 reads, 19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.” And when I say “see” I’m talking about with the human eyes and with the understanding of their plight in your mind which compels you to act with favor toward them.

Note that this rich man never saw this man Lazarus.  This rich man lived in a worldly reality.  Lazarus represents a condition more than he does a person; he is poor; his represents poverty that often befalls a child of God.  But the rich man represents how this world’s systems rewards those who hustle, grind, and keep their minds on their paper.  And you can get so high in this world’s system until those in poverty become invisible and irrelevant.

Lazarus “was laid” outside his home each day which simply means that Lazarus became the rich man’s responsibility.  All the rich man had to do was acknowledge him, view him as a child of God and help him.  He was laid at his gate, right in front of him but this rich man had his windows tinted, rolled up, and hit the gas without even looking both ways else he would have seen Lazarus.  He was so busy being busy, he did not acknowledge the condition of Lazarus.  Some of us are so busy being busy, until we have no time to stop and see the plight of those right in front of us.  We do what I call drive by shootings without the gun; we see poverty, roll up our windows in fear and keep on driving.  And I say to you slow down and see your community, slow down and see your neighbor who is languishing in poverty.

Note also that the demon of poverty does not come alone; it brings sickness, mental illness, and despair. Poverty causes people to live a horrible life; watching those who have been blessed in the midst of a wicked society live as if they do not exist is a painful reality experienced by the poor.  Luke depicts Lazarus’ plight like this:  “21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.” Can you see this man?  Are your eyes open to the plight of the poor among you?  But in this world system, How quick we are to defund indigent care programs, refuse to open clothing and food pantry ministries and refuse to aid the homeless.  Lord, have mercy!

Note also that this man’s name, Lazarus means, “God helps.”  So from his very name we see that this man though at the rich man’s home is not dependent on the rich man for help.  Though he is living out his condition of poverty, he is not depicted as having this rich man as his only source.  His name suggests he is leaning and depending on God for his sustenance.  He’s at this rich man’s door, but he’s looking unto the hills from whence cometh his help; his hope is in the Lord, God Almighty.  Lord, have mercy!  But let me move on……

Second, you can’t help the poor if you don’t believe that poverty is an unavoidable reality.  I suggest this morning that when Jesus said, “The poor you have with you always,” Jesus was in fact letting us know that poverty is an unavoidable human condition.  This world system creates gaps between the rich and the middle class and the rich and the poor.  This gap is unavoidable in a capitalistic free market society and if you’re going to see the poor with the right attitude you must subscribe to this premise, “the poor you have with you always.”

If you believe that people are poor due to a lack of education, a lack of being reared in the proper environment, or because they have been lazy, shiftless, and slothful then you will not be able to accept poverty as an unavoidable reality. If you can’t see how people can be poor in a society rich in resources and opportunities, you will not be able to accept poverty as an unavoidable reality.  Lord, have mercy!

Let me say emphatically with Jesus, Lewis Temple, the poor you will have with you always.  And that poverty will remain in some sectors of the population despite our best efforts to eradicate it.  That does not mean we should not fight this world system that produces poverty, we should.  What it means is that we should not lose hope as we fight this demonic condition when things do not change as readily as we suppose.

Third, if you are not generous toward the poor right before you, then you won’t help those far away.  In other words, if you pass by a poor person on the street right outside your home, you won’t travel distant lands on mission fields to help them either.  Don’t you get tired of hearing folks talk about going to Africa or India to help the poor, when they won’t give to the Salvation Army, the Church, at home?  Isn’t it irrating to hear people talk out of both sides of their mouths.  They say their care for the poor, but refuse to implement a food bank program or provide assistance to the Christian Community Action on the local level.  Lord, have mercy!

 

Move 2

Jesus says to us in this parable that if you don’t open your eyes to the needs right in your neighborhood, if you don’t believe that life produces poverty, if you don’t help those in front of you, you will have to give an account for that kind of unrealistic stewardship.

Luke 16:22-26 reads, “22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.”

Beloved, stewardship demands that we look at this world system as juxtaposed to the kingdodm of God.  Despite the actions of the rich man, those who live in the kingdom of God should operate from a totally different perspective.  We should live with heaven in our view and even more importantly than that, we should live our lives based on the Word of God.

A man was driving his car, when he saw an old lady, stranded on the side of the road. He saw that she needed help. So he stopped his Pontiac near her Mercedes and got out.

He smiled, while he was approaching her, still she was worried, as nobody had stopped for hours. Moreover, he did not look safe, as his appearance was so poor and shabby. He could see, how frightened she was, so he tried to calm her: „ I‘m here to help you, don‘t worry. My name is Bryan Anderson“.

The tire was flat, so he had to crawl under the car. While changing the tire, he got dirty and his hands were hurt. When the job was done, she asked how much she owed him for his help. Bryan smiled. He said: „If you really want to pay me back, the next time you see someone, who needs help, give that person the needed assistance. And think of me“.

At the same evening, the lady stopped by a small cafe. That place looked dingy. Then she saw a waitress, nearly eight months pregnant, wiping her wet hair with a towel. The waitress had a sweet friendly smile, although she had spent on her feet the whole day.

The lady wondered how someone, who has so little, can be so kind and giving to a stranger. Then she remembered Bryan. The lady had finished her meal and paid with a hundred dollar bill. The waitress went to get change and when she came back, the lady was gone. She left a note on the napkin: „You don‘t own me anything. Somebody once helped me, just like now I‘m helping you. If you really want to pay me back, do not let this chain of love end with you“. The waitress found four more one hundred bills under the napkin.

That night the waitress came home earlier. She was thinking about the lady and the money she left. She was wondering, how the lady could know, how much she and her husband needed it, especially now, when the baby will soon arrive. She knew that her husband worried about that, so she was glad to tell him good news. Then she kissed him and whispered „Now everything will be all right. I love you, Bryan Anderson“[5].  That is a dynamic picture of what happens when we accept the fact that we are living in exile, that this world is not our home and its systems are not our systems.

 

Conclusion

Finally, Luke says we should govern our lives based on the revealed, written Word of God. Luke writes in 16:27-31, ” 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”

Beloved, I know how easy it is to get caught up in this American system of success and fame, yet let me urge you to judge America by the standard of God’s Word.  If a person has not helped the poor before they are elected to office, don’t expect them to help after they’ve been elected.

In the kingdom of God, riches do not come from a capitalistic free-market system but true riches come from having a heart for the things of God.  I urge you today, to consider your attitude toward the poor and stop operating as an American and begin to act as a child existing in the kingdom of God.  Do it now because one day, you will give an account of your stewardeship.  And I ask will you be like this rich man or will you be generous in your stewardship as a Christian ought.

I trust that you, will continue to support those who mission is eradicating poverty right here and right now.  Praise the Lord!

 

[1] https://talkpoverty.org/state-year-report/louisiana-2015-report/

[2] http://www.nola.com/news/baton-rouge/index.ssf/2014/12/poverty_education_louisiana_ce.html

[3] Ibid.

[4] James 2:5-9, KJV.

[5] http://www.inspirationalstories.eu/stories/inspirational-stories-about-helping-others/

The Courage to “Be”

“Whosoever shall find his life shall lose it; whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:39)

Introduction
Since the dawn of time mankind has struggled to find meaning in life. Jesus posits a challenge in our text this morning. Jesus challenges us to find not only the true meaning for life; but also challenges us to dedicate the life we find to him for his purposes.

Who am I? Where am I? Am I awake or asleep? Alive or dead? How did I get here? What am I supposed to do while I’m here? Is there life after death? Why is there death?

The Movie, “The Matrix” sought to answer these questions. In this movie the world we know as reality is depicted as some form of pseudo-reality. It was a sham, a hoax, perpetrated by those who sought to enslave humanity through use of its vices and weaknesses. The real world in “the Matrix” was the machine world; a world of reality confined to numbers and cold, unemotional purpose. If you had a purpose you were allowed to serve the Architect of this pseudo reality otherwise you were terminated.

The key was to have your mind expiated from this pseudo reality by Morpheus and to be reborn as a cross between human and machine. Once freed your powers were increased and you could fight the machine world to regain and protect the pseudo reality which you despised in the first place. Zion as it were was the city of bliss and happiness that all humans coveted; it had to be protected at all costs. Zion was the aim and object of those seeking to be freed. It was a very intriguing movie but left us just as confused as we were before its production. For you see trying to answer life’s questions apart from Jesus is futile, frustrating, and fruitless.

Jesus uproots us from this pseudo reality and transports us into a new reality, the reality of God’s Kingdom. We can choose to spend our life trying to discover what and who we are in this world or we can spend our time discovering what and who we are in the Kingdom. In the former choice, we find a never ending story; but in the latter decision we find absolute power, purpose, and passion for living. In other words we can spend our time finding out who and what we are only to keep discovering that we can’t fully discover it or we can find and discover who we are based on our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Let us explore these two choices, seeking to find out about ourselves in this world or seeking to find out about our relationship to God in this world.
These two choices are reflected in the words of this text: “Whosoever shall find his life shall lose it; whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.” This is a strange and mind boggling text. It seems to suggest two pathways; one that leads to death and one that leads to life. In other words, even after we spend a lifetime looking for the answers to the quintessential questions “Who Am I?” “Why Am I Here?” outlined before, even after we find the answers, we will still end up losing our life.

So, should we spend our time looking for our life knowing that we will lose it anyway? Or should we decide how we will live our lives in this world?

Move 2
Now consider this: We are persons! “A person is one who knows the world around him and particularly who knows himself in relation to that world and to other persons. . . . A person may be influenced from without, but the determining factor in shaping life and destiny is from within. Others may influence us; we determine ourselves. This means that a person has the power of looking ahead and of choosing one’s own course in light of moral distinctive.

Thus the challenge that Jesus poses is a challenge that can literally be accepted. This challenge is to “be or to become.” It is to find out who and what you really are and to “be” that unique distinct person, and then surrender that person to him and his cause. It is what Paul Tillich in his novel work The Courage to Be puts this spin on the text:. ” … Therefore, Jesus says that we are to take accept the life we find or determine within ourselves to use that life for his purpose, power, and passion. That passion is to help others discover their true selves and then commit that self to God through a personal relationship with Jesus as a disciple. Since loss of life is inevitable, Jesus challenges us to lose it doing the will of God rather than our own. But who can make such decision without first discovering who they are and “being” who they are in relation to this world? None of us can truly decide to become disciples of Jesus until we first discover who we are without Jesus. From such thinking is derived the saying of Shakespeare, “To Thine Own Self Be True.”

There are obstacles to determining who and what we are. They are three: intimidation, domination, and manipulation. Each derive from our relationship with others. Your environment influences your choices; intimidation, domination, and manipulation negatively influence you becoming your true self. All three of these obstacles are the forces of darkness that seek to cut you off from the light which shines once you obtain wisdom and knowledge about yourself. Only after overcoming these three negative influences can we discover our true self and with that the “life” of which Jesus speaks.

Move 3
Many of us quite frankly are hypocrites. We pretend to be who we are not. We have lived in response to intimidation, domination, and manipulation. We have kept our true self hidden, protected from the world or those in our environment. Only when we develop the courage to be can we relinquish that true self to Jesus in discipleship. Living as someone you’re not keeps you chained, isolated, imprisoned.

Only when you decide to “be” can you realize the depths of your alienation from God and accept God’s Son, Jesus as Savior. This notion of being is as a homosexual coming out of the closet. It is as an alcoholic refusing to drink another alcoholic beverage. It is as you and I determining to speak our truth refusing to allow others to intimidate, dominate, or manipulate us.

Being you is tough. Being you means accepting who you are at the core of your being: the good, the bad, the ugly. People in the world often exclaim, “Don’t judge me!” “Accept me for who I am.” “What you see is what you get!” Then, go on to be who they think someone else wants them to be. Being you is tough; accepting you is even more difficult.

Yet, this is exactly the you Jesus is challenging you to be. He does so because this is the you God is after. David, the King of Israel gave God his true self: whoremonger, murderer, selfish,warrior, betrayer, lover, friend, leader, servant, shepherd, singer, song writer, worshipper. David was all these things; but David dedicated his total nature, his true self, to God. And God accepted David as a son. David the Bible commends David on this one point, “David was a man after God’s own heart.” David sought to become who God intended him to be even as David dealt with his own true self.

This is discipleship: surrendering your true nature to Jesus and exchanging that nature for Christ’s nature. It is an evolving, transformative relationship with Jesus Christ. This, my friends, is the courage to be. Jesus invites us to trust Him with our true selves knowing that Jesus has paid the price and knows the way for us to live free eternally. I urge you to submit your true nature to Jesus today! Amen.

A Message to Parents

“Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.    Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.   These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart.   Repeat them to your children.  Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol  on your forehead.    Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Not giving children a moral compass could lead to a chaos. However, teaching apart from example also leads to tragedy.
This is not an argument for perfection rather its an argument for integrity.

As you grow,  your life should reflect your stated beliefs and convictions more closely. Your children should be able to witness that growth and respect you for it.

Life is now and always has been an unmastered process. Talk to your children about the process so they will not be discouraged nor disappointed with your journey or there own.

Be blessed!

The Church:  A Place for Forgiveness and Freedom

Introduction

It is said that one night in a church service, a young woman responded to God’s call and accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.  The young woman had a very rough past, involving alcohol, drugs, and prostitution. But the change in her was evident. As time went on she became a faithful member of the church.

It was not very long until this faithful young woman had caught the eye and heart of the pastor’s son. The relationship grew and they began to make wedding plans. Problems began.  About one half of the church did not think that a woman with a past such as hers was suitable for a pastor’s son. The church began to argue and fight about the matter. They decided to have a meeting. As the people made their arguments and tensions increased, the meeting became completely out of hand.

The young woman became very upset about all the things being brought up about her past. As she began to cry the pastor’s son stood to speak. He could not bear the pain it was causing his wife to be. He began to speak, “My fiancée’s past is not what is on trial here. What you are questioning is the ability of the blood of Jesus to wash away sin. Today you have put the blood of Jesus on trial. So does it wash away sin or not?”

The whole church began to weep as they realized that they had been slandering the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.  They thought that there harsh, condemning judgments were the judgments of God; how wrong they were.  How misled they had been.

Move 1

For Jesus said, 13-15 “No one has ever gone up into the presence of God except the One who came down from that Presence, the Son of Man. In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up—and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.

16-18 “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

19-21 “This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.”

Beloved, we need to come to grips with the fact that the church is not a place for condemnation; it is a place for forgiveness and freedom.  How often do our harsh, condemning judgments prevent forgiveness and freedom from being the inheritance of those we feel have lived too sinful a life to be saved by the blood of Jesus Christ.

James Moore tells the story about a young girl named Ellen.  She was a junior In high school, an honor student, a member of the band, and secretary of her class.  Her life was beautiful, her future bright; but then, everything went wrong.  I was called on to conduct her funeral on what would have been her seventeenth birthday.  It was suicide.

In the depths of depression, she had taken an overdose of sleeping pills.  She left a note saying that she couldn’t go on.  She couldn’t fight the rumors and the rejection any longer.  She felt betrayed by her friends and her community.  This tragic teenage suicide was sparked by a misunderstanding, by a false rumor, by people spreading vicious gossip, by ordinary people like you and me passing on a cruel, destructive untruth.

The rumor was that she had come home at daylight in a drunken stupor, her clothes disheveled, delivered to her door by an older man in a fancy sports car.  That was the rumor.  The truth was that she had sat up all night at the hospital with her gravely ill grandmother and had been brought home early the next morning by her uncle.  That was the truth!

A neighbor saw something out her kitchen window and jumped to the wrong conclusions and then started spreading a false rumor.  As a result, an innocent teenager was devastated.  The harsh stares, the cruel jokes, the profane wisecracks, the vicious gossip, the whispering behind her back, the pointed fingers, and the blatant lies became too much for Ellen.  Her fragile, sensitive personality couldn’t take it.  She cracked under the pressure, and in a moment of deep agony and excruciating emotional pain, she took her life. (Moore, 2012, pp. 21-22)    

Move 2

This morning, we must come to learn that Jesus does not support churches which specialize in condemnation of others; for in our text Jesus makes clear his intention for coming to the earth.  Let’s explore them for a few moments.

First, Jesus says, “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.”  In other words Jesus’ vision for humanity is forgiveness and freedom.  Forgiveness from original sin and any wrongdoing we may commit while living on this earth.  Freedom to live the abundant life in God through his sacrifice on Calvary.  You will remember Jesus said, “I came that they might have life and that more abundantly.”  Jesus does not wish any of God’s children to be bound up by sin, weakness, or failure.  Jesus frees us to make mistakes and to grow from those mistakes.

Life gives us ample opportunity to sin.  We fail God in some way each and every day of our lives.  But we need to hear Jesus as he pronounces, “Where sin abounds my grace does much more abound.”  The grace of mercy of Jesus ensures that we are not defeated by sin, but liberated to get up and get back in the race.  

This leads us then to the second thing Jesus says in our text.  Jesus says, “God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.”  

Say this with me:  I am not condemned by God; I am set free by Jesus Christ.  Beloved, you have been acquitted.  You have been set free to live in covenant with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now we must confess that when we look into the Word of God, the Word of God exposes our sinful condition.  The word exposes our weaknesses, flaws, and imperfections.  And when that happens rather than concentrate on the flaws, weaknesses and imperfections of others; we are to look within our own hearts and confess our sin.  For the bible declares in John 1:7-10, “If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God.”  The Lenten Season affords us an opportunity to deal with the sin in our hearts so that God might wash and cleanse us with God’s Word.  Hallelujah!

But let us move on.  Let us consider next these words of Jesus, “This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure.”

When the church operates through gossip, innuendo, condemnation, and using a person’s past to hold it over their heads, people refuse to attend that kind of church.  So what?  You know my past.  Have you forgotten your own?  Are we not all working out our own soul salvation with fear and trembling?  The church has been called into existence as a way station on a highway filled with traps and snares laid by our enemy the devil.  

We each will get trapped, but Jesus declares he will set each of us free.  The church then has no right to hold someone hostage to past sins, past mistakes; we need to be people who know how to let things go.  Every person who comes to the church with a past, is coming to be forgiven and freed from that past so they can move on with their lives.  Gossipy, tale-bearing Christians are the first line of offense used by the devil to make them run away from the light of God’s Word which is the only thing that can save them.  Lord, have mercy.

Jesus says people love to sin and changing their lives is not something they want to do.  None of us gives up sin willingly.  It’s a fight; it’s a struggle because we enjoy it.  Galatians 5:17 reads, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”  Beloved, each of us have selfish tendencies; we enjoy having things done our way.  And because we are selfish, we do not often please God voluntarily.  I agree with the gospel that says, “For it is God who works in you to will and to do of His good pleasure.”  God works a miracle in us when we come to the light of His Word.  And it is at this point that the church is so vital to the transformation of person.

But when we devour one another through harsh, condemning judgments, we circumvent what God is trying to do in the life of that person.  Beloved, these things out not to be.  None of us should condemn any of us; rather we should love, support, and pray for one another that God’s will be done in each of our lives.  The church should do everything in its power to ensure those whose seek to be free from sin, are not tripped up by some harsh words spoken among us.  Hallelujah!  Say this with me:  I am not condemned by God; I am set free by Jesus Christ. 

Move 3

Dr. David Sylvester, of Denton, Texas tells the story of a businessman who constructed a daycare center near a major highway. Due to budget constraints, a fence was deleted from the project. During recess, the children huddled near the steps of the entrance, afraid to venture into the yard toward the busy highway.  After a fence was constructed, the children felt liberated, and romped and played in the entire grassy area. The fence provided freedom, not restriction.

       As we come to Christ and look to His Word, we find true freedom rather than restriction. Freedom is found within the boundary.  That why David could declare, “The Word of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and they are safe.”  Beloved, there is safety in the Church, because the Church is the repository of God’s Word.  Whatever you do, don’t lead people away from the Church, help them run into the Church.  The church is God’s place for forgiveness and freedom.  The Church is the place where people are saved, healed, and delivered from sin.

The Word of God declares, “Thy Word O Lord, have I hid in thine heart that I might not sin against thee.”  Jesus is the Word; bring them to Jesus and let Jesus redeem their lives from destruction.  Put a watch over your mouth; be careful with your words.  Let God be the judge and you be the conduit through which the word of God flows.  This Lenten Season fast from gossip, fast from harsh, condemning judgments and allow God to be God in your life and in the life of others.  Let’s give this bad habit up for Lent and then for the rest of our lives.  Hallelujah!

Conclusion

         Finally, if you’re here today and have been injured harsh, condemning judgments from church members, take heart.  Jesus has come to give you victory over that offense.  Jesus has one objective for your life.  Jesus said “I came to seek and to save them that are lost.”  That’s why we’re here and I invite you to come to the altar this morning and allow Jesus Christ to deliver you from church hurt.  It’s time to let it go and move on with your life free to live, love, and laugh.  Forgive of your sins and redeemed through the one act of sacrifice by Jesus Christ.  I invite you to come; the Spirit and the Bride say come.  Will you come this morning and give your hurt to Jesus?  Will you come and let Jesus become your leader and guide; his Word will transform you and make your life better.  Will you come?  Let us stand.

References

Moore, J. W. (2012). Give Up Something Bad for Lent. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

An Invitation to Change

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Introduction

I learned so much from watching the hit television show “The Preachers of LA.”  II can’t wait to watch “The Preachers of Detroit.”  These shows highlight the flamboyance of certain high profile preachers and the ministries they share within their communities.

Yet some people get the message confused with the messenger.  However, the fact remains that the messengers of God come in all different shades.  No two messengers approach the task the same.  Each of us has to obey God and relay the message the way god has shaped it within our heart.  And you cannot be the barometer as to whether we’re pleasing God or not.  Only sinners who are weary and heavy laden can judge whether the message is valid.

Well, John the Baptist felt the same way about Jesus’ approach.  He questioned whether Jesus actually was a messenger of God.  John sent questions to Jesus about his authenticity.  John wanted Jesus to validate his claim to be the Messiah.  Albeit the Holy Spirit had shown John the sign that Jesus was the one prophesized about in the Scriptures, John still wanted Jesus to verify his claim.  Why?  Their lifestyles and approaches to ministry were so different.

John lived an aesthetic lifestyle.  He denied himself the pleasures of this world.  He lived in the wilderness, ate wild locusts and honey and never cut his hair.  From all appearances he lived as a Nazarite in the Old Testament.  A Nazarite was forbidden to touch dead bodies, marry a foreigner, or drink wine.  John came preaching, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”  So did Jesus, but Jesus lived a different lifestyle.

Jesus came eating and drinking, hanging out with sinners, attending wedding parties, in addition to attending synagogue and participating in the worship of God, the Father.  Jesus had a life that he used to influence sinners to discipleship.  He used every avenue he could to reach people.  His was a different approach than John, the Baptist.  Yet, his message was the same.  “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand.  The Great Invitation remained the same:  Accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and Follow Him.

Move 1

Well, if that is true, and it is.  Why don’t people respond to the message rather than the messenger?

First, immature people are listening to the message [v.16-17].  They are immature in the sense of not being ready to act on the message.  Most of those who hear the word of God concerning repentance and salvation have not yet attained the conviction of sin being despicable to God.  They don’t realize how much God hates sin, nor do they hate sin.  Most people just want to be appeased and given a sense of release from the weight of sin for that moment.  But in order for you to appropriately hear the gospel, you must have reached a point of hatred and disgust with the sinful life you’re living.  You need to be sick and tired of being sick and tired.  You must be ready for change, not temporary change, but eternal change.  You must be ready for rest.  This is what is means to be weary and heavy laden.  This is what it means to be ready for God to intervene in your life.  And until you seriously come to hate the sin you’ve committed then you’re like a child being entertained.  You may laugh or you may cry, but you’re not going to change.

Second, the message is being shared in ways that seek to please people and deal with their present situation rather than their eternal destination [v.18-19].  Jesus has stated emphatically in these passages that until a person is ready to change, they will always criticize the messenger rather than deal with the message.  It doesn’t matter how holy the messenger lives in the eyes of people, or how loose the messenger lives in the eyes of people.  What matters is whether the messenger is being faithful to the God who called him/her to deliver the message.  Socrates stated, “To Thine Own Self be True.”  I now add, “To God Be True.”  In other words, be true to what God told you.  Tell it the way he told it to you; approach the people he sends you to the way he tells you to approach them.  Don’t try to fit some preconceived notion of people.  People will get you off track; people will get you killed; people will get you fired.  Don’t allow anyone to cause you to make yourself more important than the message God has given you to offer.  It is the message that will deliver those who are ready to respond.  Keep your focus on eternal destinies not temporary, emotional highs and lows.  God is concerned about both, but his message is intended to get a person’s spiritual life in proper order.  For it is the spirit that dictates how well a person will live in this temporary world.  Seek only to please God as you do his work in the earth.

Third, the options being presented are not exclusive enough [v.25-27].  It must be made clear that there is only one way to find peace from the weight of sin and guilt caused by alienation from God.  We live in a world that offers many ways to salvation, peace, and rest.  Yet, the church is charged to represent Christ and Christ alone.  The people don’t respond to mixed messages.  We must be consistent in the fact that there is only one way of salvation acceptable to God according to the Bible.  That way is through faith in His son.  Without such faith, rest cannot be obtained.  Jesus is the only one who can connect a weary and labored sinner to the Father and only the Father can give rest.  Only the Father can lift the burden of sin; only the Father can forgive, restore, and refresh a life broken by sin.

Move 2

Who then can respond to this exclusive spiritual message of rest and peace?

First, only the weary can respond [v.28].  The word “weary” means, “worn out; having one’s patience, tolerance, or liking exhausted; causing tiredness.”  If you are just looking for absolution from guilt but you really enjoy the sin, don’t come to Jesus.  The fact of the matter is you’re not ready.  You have to be a person who’s sinful life causing you grief, pain, and worry.  Your sin must cause you to walk the floor at night crying out to God for help.  Your sin must cause you to cry bitter tears at inopportune times and in inappropriate places.  Your sin must cause you to not only ask for forgiveness but also cause you to resolve never to do it again.  You need to not just want to be let off the hook; you need to be ready to destroy the behavior that put you on the hook in the first place.  You’ve got to be worn out with the sin.  If you’re not weary, don’t fake it, wait.

Second, only those willing to change can respond [v.29].  A clear definition of insanity is “to keep doing the same things you’re doing now but to keep expecting a different result.”  Jesus offers the sinner a lifestyle that is no longer independent.  Jesus offers to take the sinner by hand and heart and lead them into a place they have never entered before.  It is a place of rest.  Rest, much needed rest, from the heartaches and mental anguish caused by sin, guilt, and shame.  Jesus invites the repentant sinner to a new way of living.  Jesus invites the sinner to begin a relationship with God by following him.  It is this relationship with God that offers rest and peace to a sin sick soul.  This is a call to change!  It is a call to rest!  No more judging or criticizing self; no more beating up on yourself.  It is looking through eyes of faith at the God of salvation knowing that He loves you.  Once Jesus allows you to see the love of God, rest and peace follows.  There is no greater joy than knowing that God, your creator loves you regardless of what you’ve done or where you’ve been.  There is no greater peace and rest than knowing that your God will always be there for you and that he will help you grow and succeed in life.

Move 3

This is the Great Invitation.  Jesus invites you to change.  Jesus calls you to stop living your life apart from God and to begin living your life in His presence.  Jesus assures you that when you accept his invitation; rest and peace shall be your reward.  Your soul will be filled with the radiating glory of the goodness of God, the Father.  Your spirit will be made alive, quickened, by the spirit of the Father.  Your live will begin anew.  God will be your God and you will be adopted into his family.

How then shall the weary and heavy-laden respond?  First, come to Jesus [v.28].  You’ve tried alcohol, drugs, women, work, and the world.  Now, walk out of that quagmire of confusion and decide to receive faith in God’s Son.  Simply turn around and listen to what Jesus is saying to you right now.

Second, become a disciple of Jesus Christ [v.29].  Decide to embrace Jesus as Lord.  The Word of God says, “That if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord; and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead you will be saved.”  What you do is confess that your efforts have failed, and left you weary with guilt.  Confess that you have found no other way able to release you from the guilt of sin, and then call on the name of the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.

Third, learn from Jesus Christ.  A disciple is one who is under discipline of the teacher.  In other words, you exchange your way of doing and being right for that of what the Word of God says you should do to be right.  As a disciple you constantly change to comply with what the word of God asks you to do.  As a disciple you embrace change as a way of life.  Jesus sought to please the father by obeying his word and so do you.  Jesus sought to be a blessing and so do you as you prosper in the things of God and in this world.  As a disciple you seek God’s kingdom and his righteousness.  As a disciple you belong to God in Christ.

Move 4

Finally, as a result of coming to Jesus, becoming his disciple and learning from him, you enter a period of rest and peace.  Rest from the bondage of sin that caused you to be restless and worn.  Rest from the power of repeated and habitual sin dominating your life.  Rest from the constant search of looking for a way out.  Rest from the fast paced life.  Rest from worrying about where you will spend eternity.

Everyday in every way your life will begin to get better because you know Jesus Christ.  This is God’s Great Invitation.  He wants your life to be peaceful, restful, and successful.  Will you come to Him?  Are you weary of sin?  Are you willing to change?  If so, come to Jesus, become His disciple, and learn his way of doing and being right.  He is here for you right now.  Why not lay down your heavy burden and let Christ pick you up and bring you out of your pit of despair?  I assure you that the love of God will be found in the face of Jesus Christ.  Come to Jesus!