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Jesus Prom: Reverberate - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Oct 22, 2014

But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?
As a kid, I was downright awful at any sport that involved a ball. Baseball, Basketball, Football, Soccer -- I played them all. Just not very well. But one thing happened time after time: After practice we would run laps and I would finish way ahead of the rest of the gaggle. I finally took hint and joined the track team. 
Within the first year I found myself competing at the High School European Championships, running the anchor leg of the Sprint Medley relay for Fulda High School. This relay included two legs of two-hundred meters, a four-hundred meter segment, and the final eight-hundred meter portion which was my turn to carry the baton. As I stepped up to the line for the final stint, we were in the lead, just ahead of the second place team from Frankfurt (Germany) High School. As I hit the home stretch for the last hundred meters of my half-mile portion of the relay, I could hear the footfalls of a runner just behind me. At that moment the stands erupted with the sound of people chanting, “Kick! Kick! Kick!” ...which every runner knows is encouragement to pick up your knees, extend your stride, and quicken the turnover for a final sprint to the wire. I was powerfully lifted up by this chant. The crowd was on my side! I could do this! I could WIN this gold medal for the team! The adrenaline rush moved from my heart to my legs and I held the lead to take the victory. I was excited to say the least. But then I learned the name of the relay runner who was on my tail. Kit Corbett. They weren’t cheering for me. They were chanting, “Kit! Kit! Kit!” I melted with relief that I hadn’t understood what they were saying. 
Sometimes we hear what we want to hear. But sometimes God knows how to take even what little we do understand and turn it into something even more amazing as He clarifies what He’s doing and saying as we respond to Him in faith. Hearing is just the beginning of understanding. Our response to God’s voice is critical. He knows what He’s doing. He knows how to lead us to the finish line.
  • If God was saying something through the circumstances, situations, people, or preaching you’ve come across recently, what would it be?
  • Will you move forward with what you do understand, trusting the God who is able to turn all things to good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose for their lives?

Will Briggs
Care Pastor

Jesus Prom: Reverberate - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Oct 21, 2014

...let your good deeds shine out for all to see...
One Thursday evening, as I managed a retail store in Virginia, I was looking forward to the weekend of traveling to see the family and friends we’d left behind in Kentucky after our most recent relocation. I just had to work the next day until 5pm to get one last shift in for the week. Around 10 pm on Thursday, when I should have been heading home for the night, a brilliant idea hit me: I could go ahead and work my final eight hour shift of the week right then… work through the night into Friday morning, head home at 6am, and sleep in the car while Sara drove northward on I-77. At 10 pm this sounded like a great idea. At 6 o’clock in the morning, it no longer held its appeal. In fact, I realized it was downright dangerous. I fought to stay awake on that 45-minute drive home. I opened the car window on that near-freezing morning, held my eyes open, pinched myself. At one point, however, I realized that it might all be for naught… with my eyes wide open, all normal sights and sounds of the road in play, the tanker truck in front of me morphed into the backside of an elephant lumbering down the road ahead of me. What?! At that moment, the realization I was hallucinating released an adrenaline rush that woke me sufficiently for the last few miles of the drive home.
Sometimes our vision gets blurry. Sometimes it gets muddled. Sometimes it outright plays tricks on us. But sometimes God gives us a vision for how life could be if we’d just take Him at His word. He can provide vision even when we cannot yet see. When I finally arrived safely home, it would have been sheer madness for me to insist that I drive down the highway toward Kentucky instead of my bride. My vision was failing me, even with eyes wide open. In the same way, how can you stop and rest your tired eyes when they lose sight of what could be when you watch God show you the way and let His amazing work in and through you shine out for all to see?
  • For the reverberation to happen, it must be empowered by God. It must be brought to life by the One who can take what we have to offer and make it shine brightly in a way that gives Him glory.
  • How can you release the pressure to try to impress others for God and let God do the heavy-lifting and help others see Himself through your life instead?

Will Briggs
Care Pastor

Jesus Prom: Reverberate - Monday

Posted on Mon, Oct 20, 2014

Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Our senses are such a gift. Tasting food. Seeing beauty. Holding your loved ones. Hearing a melody or rhythm. Smelling a lilac in full bloom. Sometimes our senses can backfire, though. I had a friend who worked at Bath and Body Works who shared such a moment. She saw a customer holding a bar of soap, translucent with orange slices you could see inside, that smelled of the lovely citrus fruit. She looked away to help another customer and then looked back to see the first customer spewing something into the sink, while the soap bar setting next to the sink now had a huge bite mark out of one corner. It looks and smelled like something nice… but the taste revealed its true nature. 
This week we’re looking for the real deal. The sights, sounds, flavors of a life lived passionately. Reverberation. Resonance. Responsiveness. It’s all about movement. Of sound waves, of light waves, of nerves and synapses. Hearing, sight, taste, touch, smell… all depend on reverberation. I love how God engages our senses. He does it every day. Go through this week with eyes and ears and heart wide open to His reverberation.
Ever wanted to taste a good smelling soap? Me either. Our senses don’t fool many of us there. But our senses can be hindered by illness or injury. Sometimes this is true spiritually as well. How do you know your spiritual senses are working properly? First we must know what the real thing looks like, feels like, etc. Then we use God-given discernment and wisdom. Have you been paying attention to these senses from the Lord? How do you need to bring them into play in your daily life? As we launch into a new week, are your eyes open for the moments of movement and reverberation? Of taking a step, moving forward -- with an idea, a daring risk, a word spoken without fear -- and seeing the way the reverberation impacts the senses of others? We’re in it together this week.
  • Take a second and think about it: what can you do that engages more than one sense at the same time? More than three at once? How about all of your senses?
  • Try this progression to hear, process and respond to what God is up to inside your heart or around you: Reverberation—What is Jesus saying to you today? Resonance—How does it sound to your friend, family member or Life Group? Responsiveness—When will you put it into play in your life, your marriage, your family, your workplace, your school?

Will Briggs
Care Pastor

Jesus Prom: Adverbs - Friday

Posted on Fri, Oct 17, 2014

As Jesus Followers, we’re called to serve, to give and to love. And we’re called to do these things to the greatest extent
That’s why we’ve made it our churchwide mission at Southland to live out a revolution of love - God’s unfailing and extravagant love. And that’s also why we’ve chosen to more specifically articulate this mission through four simple statements, which we call expressions. 
Just in case you’re new around here, or haven’t quite caught them all, here they are:
  1. We relentlessly pursue a transforming relationship with God.
  2. We sacrificially serve our families.
  3. We radically invest in the next generation.
  4. We generously extend hope to the poor.
These statements are not intended to simply sound extreme. They are extreme. And appropriately so. The God of all the universe has chosen to dwell in our very beings. We’ve got a mission and a purpose that even the strongest words can only begin to articulate.
Jesus-followers, who are passionately seeking Jesus and His Kingdom, will inevitably be perceived, if not accused, at some point of being “too much” of something. Too radical. Too extreme. Too naive. It should be expected. The ways of the world and the ways of the Kingdom stand in opposition to one another.
But whatever is said of us, let one thing be more true of us than any other. That we are known by our extravagant love.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35
Oswald Chambers once wrote this:
“If you abandon everything to Jesus, and come when He says, 'Come,' then He will continue to say, 'Come,' through you. You will go out into the world reproducing the echo of Christ’s 'Come.' That is the result in every soul who has abandoned all and come to Jesus.”

Katie Bodager
Life Groups Administrative Assistant

Jesus Prom: Adverbs - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Oct 16, 2014

A few months ago, I heard a story about a missionary in Mozambique. The local people call this missionary Mama Aida, and for about the last 20 years, she’s been serving the poor in Mozambique (along with her family). She feels called to welcome the sick, the hungry, the lost, the broken, the abused and the forgotten into the Kingdom and the family of God. 
Most every weekend, Mama Aida throws a slumber party of sorts for a dozen or so of the children she’s most recently welcomed into the family. They are children who have been abused, abandoned, and often left for dead. As you can imagine, these children bring all kinds of challenges and struggles with them. And stealing is one of them. Many of the children have developed this habit simply as a means of survival.
One would think that with such an awareness of things, Mama Aida would keep her valuables locked safely away when the children come over to stay. And my guess is that in some cases this is true. But on most occasions, she chooses to do just the opposite. She leaves her purse in plain view.
And she allows her money to be “stolen.”
Recently, I heard her explain this (far from conventional) approach in a documentary. She described the transformation that occurred in one particular teenage boy, as he took from her purse month after month - and she persistently responded in love, time and time again. She didn’t allow fear to change her focus, and she didn’t hide her belongings. And over a period of many months, the Holy Spirit brought healing to his heart and renewal to his mind. 
And love won.
The lavish love of God, expressed through the words and actions of Mama Aida and many others, overwhelmed this young man’s fear and freed him from his compulsion to steal. He confessed all he had done to her, and he hasn’t stolen since. He’s surely not free from struggle, but knows he’s loved now. And he’s free to love others.
1 John 4:18-19 says: There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  We love because he first loved us.
I’m not suggesting we all leave our purses out for the taking. We need to lean into the wisdom of God in every situation. But this story challenged me -- and I hope it challenges you -- to consider how wildly, how recklessly, and to what extent I desire to see others experience the love of God.
Mama Aida is far more desperate to see others encounter the love of Father God than she is to protect her own belongings, her own time, or her own selfish desires. I’m confident that God desires the same of us. 
  • If you feel led, I invite you to pray this simple prayer with me: Father, free me from any fear that hinders me from loving others with reckless abandon. Bring healing and wholeness to my mind and my heart, so that I can pour my life out completely for you and for the children you long to draw near to your heart. 

Katie Bodager
Life Groups Administrative Assistant

Jesus Prom: Adverbs - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Oct 15, 2014

I often wonder how God sees money. On the one hand, it would seem that as the Sovereign God over all of creation, He might chuckle at our paper trading game. Hundreds of kinds of currency, electronic banking, safety deposit boxes. One would think it would all seem a bit ludicrous to the King of all Kings. And maybe, on some level, it does. 
But one thing is for certain. God cares about how we steward what we’re given. He insists that if we are truly His people, we will share what we have with others in need (1 John 3:16-18). 
The problem is that it’s not human nature. And it’s surely not the American way. We want to have plenty for today, plenty for tomorrow, and plenty for every year that follows. Right now.
Most Christians have heard statistics about the frequency with which finances are mentioned in the Bible. And most of us are also well aware of how outrageously wealthy we Americans are when compared to the rest of the world. Then why do we, as the American church (as a whole), continue to give so very little? Why do we continue to give reluctantly, rather than cheerfully and sacrificially?
There are lots of reasons we could list as possibilities: fear, perceived needs, failure to prioritize. But I think there’s one reason that underlies all the rest. And here it is: We don’t know how very good, protective, loving and generous our Father was, is and forever will be. 
But in this passage, we’re introduced to a woman who did:
And He (Jesus) sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44
She simply trusted her Father.
If every person at Southland decided to give and, even more importantly, live this way, we could change the world in ways beyond our imagination. 
As the holidays approach, my family will be reassessing our finances again. We’ll be asking God what He would have us do with all that He’s given to us. Will you do the same? He’s not concerned about the amount you give. But He cares deeply about the extent to which you give.

Katie Bodager
Life Groups Administrative Assistant

Jesus Prom: Adverbs - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Oct 14, 2014

We’d all agree that as followers of Jesus, we’re called to serve others. Our desire is to look like Jesus, and we all know that He was the servant of all. 
But if we were absolutely honest with one another, I think many of us might also agree that, at times, serving can feel more like a “have to” than a “get to.” If we don’t bail out altogether, we may very well find ourselves drudgingly carrying out a “duty,” rather than faithfully fulfilling a calling. And while commitment is surely a good and healthy thing, I’m convinced that God desires to see His people do more than just serve out of duty. He calls us to serve out of a full and thankful heart. He calls us to serve joyfully. It’s the life for which we were designed.
Colossians 1:11-14 says this: We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul - not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He's set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating. 
There are moments, days and even seasons when you and I find ourselves in the desert. These times may come as a result of our own choices or the choices of others, but regardless of how they come, they can feel downright “unendurable.” During these times, the enemy is scheming to derail us from our true identities and rob of us of everything God desires for our lives. He knows that if he can render us feeling helpless, we’re only one step away from feeling hopeless.
But Scripture tells us time and time again that there’s another option. I love how the Message version translates this God-given overcoming power. It’s “Glory-strength,” a “strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy.” It’s a strength that is inseparably intertwined with gratitude, a thankfulness for the bright and beautiful life to which we have been called to live.
I pray you stick it out over the long haul. Whether you’re thriving or struggling right now, He has made a way for you. You don’t need to grit your teeth in order to become a joyful servant. You need “glory-strength.” 
  • If you’re lacking that today, ask your loving Father. He wants to make you strong, and He’s more than able to do it.

Katie Bodager
Life Groups Administrative Assistant

Jesus Prom: Adverbs - Monday

Posted on Mon, Oct 13, 2014

Deuteronomy 6:5
Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love Him with all that’s in you, love Him with all you’ve got!

Adverbs modify. They tell us how, in what way, when, where, or to what extent. Adverbs bring fullness to the words they help us describe. They bring distinction.

This past week, our family of six headed to the beach. After 10 hours in the car, you can imagine how happy we all were when we finally got out of our van and headed toward the sand and sea.

It wasn’t the first time our kids had seen the ocean, but it very well could have been by the looks of sheer delight on their faces. It was joy unspeakable. They didn’t just mosey on out to the water. They freely ran. Eagerly ran. Breathlessly ran. And they squealed. They intensely dug in the sand, joyously splashed in the waves, and vigorously ran after the seagulls. They were fully and passionately engaged in the moment.

And I found myself praying… Lord, help me to live that zealously, and even more so, for you.

If you’re reading these devotionals, my guess is that you love God. And it’s also likely that you love people. But let me ask you a question that I’m also posing to myself this week. If you were to use an adverb to describe “how, in what way, or to what extent” you love God and love people, which one(s) would be most fitting and true?

Wholeheartedly? Unashamedly? Fiercely? Lavishly? Joyfully? Sacrificially? Recklessly?

If not, I pray that the Holy Spirit will, in this very moment, awaken your heart to the “more” He has for you. Jesus wants more for your life. He wants you to know more of Him. He wants to lavish His love on you. And he wants you to go about your life - lavishly, joyfully, and sacrificially pouring that love out on others.

This week, we’ll be taking a look at a few important verbs that are crucial to the lives of Jesus followers. And we’ll be looking even more specifically at some important adverbs that are meant to accompany them. But for now, I want to leave you with this verse.

The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9a

  • Do you desire a heart fully committed to Him? If so, maybe today is the day you tell Him so.

Katie Bodager
Life Groups Administrative Assistant

Jesus Prom: Verbatim - Friday

Posted on Fri, Oct 10, 2014

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  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. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other."
When I was young I loved the show “Happy Days.”  There was literally no one cooler than “The Fonz.”  In one episode, the new acting Sheriff Kirk tries to run Fonzie out of town.  But what he is not expecting is every single character showing up at Al’s dressed exactly like Fonzie to show they had his back.  The music crescendoed every time a new character walked into the diner and eventually the place was packed full of Fonzies because they loved their friend.  
The characters in Happy Days knew The Fonz so well, and they could look and act like him, because they were in a relationship with him.  
John 15:1-17 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture because the imagery is so clear to me.  If we stay connected in relationship to Jesus, He will work in us to produce fruit and make us more like Him.  We will love as He loves if we stay in relationship with Him and His love will cause us to do some pretty courageous things like lay down our lives for our friends.  To live a life imitating Jesus means that we live a life loving each other.  I hope this week has been a challenge and an encouragement to pursue a life in sameness with Jesus - in reckless abandon, at all cost, risking everything.  I hope that you took some simple steps to be more like Jesus.  I hope that each day the music crescendoed a little bit more as a newer you emerged, looking verbatim to Jesus.  
  • Take a minute today and shoot me an email letting me know how, in even the slightest way, you look more like Jesus today, than you did when we started these devotions on Monday.  Thanks for loving and serving people with your life, just like Jesus.  Now let’s pack this diner of a world full of Jesus imitators who love Him and one another.

Chris Hahn
Lead Executive Pastor

Jesus Prom: Verbatim - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Oct 09, 2014

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”  “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’  “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
In college I had a professor who used to let us pick our own grades before the semester ever started.  On the first day of class, he’d hand out the course outline and syllabus, and on one of the very first pages there would be a section explaining how you could choose your grade.  If you wanted an “A,” then do these seven things that are expected of you.  If you were content with a “B,” do these five or six things.  If you really didn’t want to apply yourself all that much and were okay skating by with a “C,” well, then only do these four things.  If you really wanted to have an easy go of it and really didn’t care about your grades, then you would be happy with a “D” and only completing two or three of the assignments.  And, of course if you wanted to waste your money, but not your time or energy, and you wanted to go ahead and fail, then do none of it.  I loved this method of grading.  It was motivating personally and it was a great identifier of who was and wasn’t very driven in our class.
Jesus shows us how to get an “A” as a disciple.  He shows us what’s required of us and simply says, “Go and do likewise.”  Jesus doesn’t really give any easy way out, though.  The way of imitation of and sameness with Jesus, the way of a verbatim life with Christ is “A” level application.  Living like Jesus, doing “likewise” like Him can be a difficult path, but it’s a very worthwhile path to take.  Serving difficult people the way Jesus did can feel like a lot is expected of us.  But when we live in verbatim to Jesus in humility and grace, when we love Him with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind and we love our neighbors as ourselves, well, then “A” level sameness is a natural outcome.  In Luke 10, we can’t really say that we do verse 27 without doing verses 30-36.  Go and do likewise is what Jesus tells us.
  • Who do you need to do “likewise” to today?  Who in your life is in need of a friend and continually gets passed by for “more important” matters?  Go be their neighbor.  Go and do likewise.

Chris Hahn
Lead Executive Pastor

Jesus Prom: Verbatim - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Oct 08, 2014

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
No offense to any identical twins out there, but you kind of freak me out.  Not you personally, just the fact that you look exactly alike.  That freaks me out.  Like these guys...

...see what I mean?  These dudes are an exact representation of the other.  Their “sameness” is uncanny and to me, a little freaky.  But, it’s also pretty cool.  Think about it, one can easily pass for the other in almost any arena of life.  That is crazy cool.
In Philippians 2:1-11 Paul speaks into our lives about the unity we have in Jesus.  He implies that as Christ-followers, we should experience sameness with one another.  But most importantly, in verse 5, he references the fact that we should have the same attitude as Jesus and then he goes on to describe what that attitude is….an attitude of humility, service, sacrifice.  He doesn’t say we should be “somewhat,” “kind of,” or “sort of” like Jesus, he says we should be the same as Jesus.  And, when you read the passage in reverse, you see that when we as individuals are the same as Jesus, ultimately we become the same as others who are the same as Jesus. Then we live in this uncanny place of unity, harmony, love and selflessness.  Sounds a little freaky right?  But also, pretty cool.
  • Today, practice having the same attitude as Jesus when you encounter someone else.  Make yourself nothing and take on the very nature of a servant.  At a later time, come back and answer these questions, “What would my life be like if I had the same attitude as Jesus every single day?  What would be different about me and the world I live in?”

Chris Hahn
Lead Executive Pastor

Jesus Prom: Verbatim - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Oct 07, 2014

Matthew 7:24-27
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

Jesus didn’t just say words because He liked the way they sounded coming out of His mouth. The things He said, He expected His hearers to put into practice. He expected us to imitate with actions what He said with words.

In high school, I played basketball. During the pre-season our team spent as much, if not more time, in the classroom looking at a chalkboard and listening to the coach teach us, as we did on the court with a ball in our hands. Coach taught his philosophy, his strategy, and diagrammed plays over and over again until we, as players, could repeat them all back to him verbatim—in perfect form. Then, when we hit the court, we were expected to imitate in our actions what we were able to communicate with our words. Once practice started, the time for words and chalkboards was over. It was time to put it all into practice.

In Matthew 7, Jesus clearly communicates His expectation that the hearers have heard His words clearly and should be putting those words into action. He says that when we do that, we will be wise and live a life built on a firm foundation. But, if we let His words simply be words, we will be foolish and live a life on shaky ground.

In order to begin to imitate Jesus, we have to know His words well enough to be able to repeat them back to Him verbatim. Then, we have to go practice them. We have to imitate in our actions what we are able to communicate in our words.

  • Are you a “hearer” only? Do you read the words of scripture and leave them locked in your brain or do you move them from your head to your heart to your hands? If you want to be an “imitator of God,” you have to practice what you know about God. Today, simply take one step. Take one thing you’ve learned from Scripture and put it into practice. Just one. (Repeat daily.)

Chris Hahn
Lead Executive Pastor

Jesus Prom: Verbatim - Monday

Posted on Mon, Oct 06, 2014

Ephesians 5:1-2
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

It’s said that imitation is the highest form of flattery. I guess that can be true. However, the definitions of “flattery” usually have some sort of insincerity or falsehood associated with them. I think true imitation is complimentary. Mimicking someone may be flattery, but imitating someone communicates a desire to be like that person. When I was a kid, I wanted to be Ace Frehley. Ace was the lead guitarist for the rock band, KISS. In the late 70s, for me, KISS was the deal. I wanted to be Ace. I know, his lifestyle was far from someone worth imitating, but as a kid, KISS rocked and I wanted to rock. (I also had a stint where I wanted to be Andy Gibb. I could Shadowdance like nobody’s business.)

As I grew, my imitations grew as well. I no longer tried to pattern my existence after rock stars. I started to imitate those who I hung around with—my friends. I talked like them, dressed like them, and acted like them. The more time I spent with them, the more we imitated one another. I think it’s a natural part of human life to imitate others—those we want to be like, and those we spend time with. Imitation is complimentary.

In Ephesians 5:1-2 Paul is clear about who we are supposed to imitate—God...Jesus. “Imitate God...Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.”

This week, we are going to be exploring Paul’s command to “be imitators of God” as we unpack what it means to live a life verbatim to the life of Jesus. It’s Jesus who we should want to be like, and the more we spend time with Him, the more we will become like Him. Maybe on Friday we’ll all look a little more like Jesus because of the time we spend in His Word this week. Let’s start this week by praying this simple prayer together.

“Father, this week, open up Your Word to me in a new and fresh way. Allow me to hear Your voice clearly and ignite a desire in my spirit to connect with Your Spirit every day. I pray that I will look more like Jesus by the end of this week than I do today. Let me see more of Jesus and begin to make choices in my life which reflect Him and honor Him. Today, I humbly lay myself down before You and ask that You mold me to be like Jesus.”

Chris Hahn
Lead Executive Pastor

Plan B: Choosing to Trust Instead of Please - Friday

Posted on Fri, Oct 03, 2014

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
We have a hearing problem in our home. There’s a mom, a dad, a two-year-old maniac, a five-year-old wild man, a seven-year-old daredevil, and a nine-year-old extrovert. My house is LOUD. You can’t hear because of the volume. During dinner on any given night, there’s one of them crying, one of them singing, one of them yelling and another trying to tell us about their friend’s new dress. And on top of that, Angie and I are trying to manage the chaos with our own words. There’s so much talking that there’s very little communicating
And it makes it really difficult to connect with my lovely wife. So about once a week, we’ll just play referee during dinner time and wait until the kiddos go to bed so we can eat together and carry on a conversation. We have to eliminate the noise so that we can hear each other’s thoughts and feelings. 
And that’s the greatest problem with codependent relationships. When we invite someone else into our lives and give them the influence that Jesus should have on us, we don’t leave much room for Him. That’s why the Bible talks so much about it. I couldn’t believe the results when I Googled “Bible verses about pleasing people.” Wow! Scripture makes no small thing of this. It’s truly an issue in our world because it distracts us from Jesus. We need to work on clearing our calendars and managing some one-on-one time with our Creator. 
  • Today, close the door, turn off any distractions and give Him ten minutes of undivided attention. Don’t tell Him what to tell you. Just spend ten minutes quietly listening to what He has to say. 

Derrick Purvis
Formation Pastor

Plan B: Choosing to Trust Instead of Please - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Oct 02, 2014

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
It was the fall of 1993, and Starter jackets were big on the scene. All the cool guys were sporting the colors of their favorite teams. And, naturally, I wanted in on the action. There was only one problem. Starter jackets were only made for sports teams, and I wasn’t into sports. I was kind of a geek. And they didn’t have any Starter jackets with Mr. Wizard or PeeWee Herman on the back. So I had to make a sports choice. 
University of Michigan. 
Why? I. Have. No. Idea. Was it the blue and yellow? Maybe. Was it the fact that their mascot was a Wolverine? I don’t even think I knew that at the time. I just picked it off the rack and my mom bought it. ...and ridicule was to follow.
All the kids knew I was faking it. I thought a jacket would get me into the club. But it just propelled me further from the membership list. They’d ask me about the team’s games and I’d be clueless. They’d ask me who the coach was and I’d just shrug my shoulders and embarrassingly bury my face into my Steve Urkel Trapper Keeper. 
I thought allowing them to influence me would be the key to acceptance. But it just wasn’t the case. And I have to admit, I’m not sure that I’ve learned this lesson as an adult. There are a lot of scenarios when I just want to be accepted. I remember that feeling of being rejected, and I just want to keep it from happening again. I’ll let someone tell me what to do, how to feel and how to act if I might have a chance of keeping them as a friend. But it’s just not the way God designed it. 
  • Read Romans 12:2 again. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. The influence of man is based on whims and fleeting thoughts. God’s influence is good, pleasing and perfect. Take 10 minutes to ask God for strength to follow His will and walk away from the poor influence of others. 

Derrick Purvis
Formation Pastor

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