Posts Tagged With: encouragement

A Ragamuffin Christian

The year is circa AD 44.

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, a tectonic shift began to rumble through the region approximately 300 miles due North of Jerusalem.

A movement of God’s Spirit that ignited a gloriously-spectacular conflagration that began to combust in Antioch, that has since swept the world-over, kindling a flame of God’s glory that today burns brightly even in your own soul.

A blaze that should give each of us an overwhelming, soul-sustaining sense of hope.

Is it not amazing that this story focuses upon such an influential hub of activity known as Antioch—then in Syria, today in Turkey? Why amazing?

Oh, my friends, you are about to hear an amazing story indeed.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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“Seeker-Sensitive”? (Or Not!)

Embedded deep within the pages of the Old Testament we find one of God’s most precious promises.

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, this bright ray of hope-filled sunshine was written to Jewish exiles in Babylon who were at the time experiencing their darkest hour.

It was written by the weeping prophet Jeremiah, who himself desperately needed a stabilizing reassurance from God that He had not, did not, and would not ever, no matter what, abandon His people.

Even though they had dramatically abandoned Him.

This unbreakable promise is found in Jeremiah 29:13, and is as true today as it was then, as true for us as it was them.

Hear it in the NIV, words worthy of memorization:

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

What’s the key word? Seek. בָּקַשׁ ḇâqaš. A rather intensive word that means “to seek or pursue earnestly.”

This word goes way beyond idle curiosity or a casual pursuit. Bâqaš speaks of a wholehearted desire.

Bâqaš The exact same word David used in Psalm 40:16,

“But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who—Listen!!!—long, long for your saving help always say, ‘The Lord is great!’”

This is the very same image that Jesus invoked in the Sermon on the Mount when He said,

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

This is Hebrews 11:6, that reads, “He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently (earnestly, sincerely) seek Him.”

I can assure you—and as you are about to see—one Cornelius, a centurion from Caesarea, was in every sense of the word a diligent, earnest, sincere seeker.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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THIS is Why!

whyamihere1-1-e1465685803614-425x218If you have ever asked yourself any of the age-old questions like…

  • What’s it all about?
  • Why am I here?
  • What is my purpose?

If you have ever asked yourself these or similar questions, then you are in for a treat in this latest PODCAST. Because in this podcast, you will get the answer to these most-important questions.

So let me start with a news-flash for you. One of considerable consequence. Yet one that you will not find to be surprising at all.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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The Signs of the Times (Part 2)

maxresdefaultBirth pains. It’s all about the birth pains.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, as we enumerate the final three of the six “signs of the times,” both Paul and Jesus made it crystal-clear that we are to think of these signs in terms of birth pains.

Paul, who borrowed this most-meaningful metaphor from Jesus, used it most-appropriately when he in Romans 8 declared, “For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

It would not surprise me one bit to hear that some of you — Or should I say some of us? — have been groaning a little more than usual this past week.

It is all about the birth pains, that increase dramatically in frequency and in intensity as the moment of birth approaches. This troubled planet of ours is undeniably in the later stages of its own labor pains, as it waits in breathless anticipation as the moment of Jesus’ return approaches.

So said Paul.

So said Jesus.

Here in Matthew 24:8, spoken in the Olivet Discourse, on the Tuesday afternoon of His final week, in reference to these “signs of the times.” Jesus said, “All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

That is precisely where we are today. Groaning, watching, and waiting for the climax of human history as we know it finally and mercifully to dawn upon us.

In Luke’s abbreviated account of the Olivet Discourse, Jesus said in reference to these same “signs of the times,” “When these things (these birth pains) begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Stand up; and lift up. Those are phrases that speak of victory, not defeat!

We don’t sit down in defeat; we stand up in victory!

We don’t hang our heads in dismal distress; we lift up our heads in victorious anticipation.

We are not defeated. Not by a long shot. We are encouraged.

These “signs of the times,” these birth pains, have indeed begun to take place. Our redemption is indeed drawing nearer, every single day!

Yes, these six “signs of the times” have always characterized our world. Yet, these is no denying the acceleration of their frequency and intensity.

Let me briefly remind you of the first three, and then we’ll discuss in some detail the final three. All with a view to standing up and lifting up our heads, not in defeat but in glorious victory.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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A Fox in the Henhouse

Jerusalem-4There is No.Clearer.Picture in all of the Bible of the heart of God towards sinners — I’m talking the hardest of hardhearted sinners — than this one right here in Luke 13.

A Scriptural snapshot that will go a long way to defining your biblical view of God and your biblical understanding of Jesus, both as a man and as God.

If you think of the Bible as a picture book, Luke paints for us a portrait of Jesus that is, quite frankly, irresistible, and most refreshing to my soul. It will be to yours as well. Guaranteed.

One that comes to us, ironically enough, thanks to a small cadre of good Pharisees. Yes! Heard me right. Good Pharisees.

The Pharisees as a group, as we have discussed in weeks gone by, and as you therefore understand, were historically among Jesus’ chief tormentors. That being said, there were in the minority some good Pharisees.

  • Nicodemus comes to mind as a good Pharisee, one who lovingly cared for Jesus’ body after the crucifixion.
  • In Mark 12, Jesus told a good Pharisee that he was “not far from the Kingdom of God.”
  • In Acts 15, reference is made to a number of good Pharisees who were committed Christ-followers.
  • And here in Luke 13, we find a small group of good Pharisees who traveled likely from Galilee to Perea to warn Jesus about the murderous intentions of Antipas.

This, my dear friends, is quite a gripping story.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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The Church’s One Foundation

Caesarea-PhilippiThe disciples were never at their lowest. Yet our friend, Peter, was never at his finest.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, Peter made a declaration the reverberations of which have echoed down through the two thousand years of church history. This was HUGE.

What Peter said and where he said it are mind-blowing in their impact upon our world and in our lives.

This might just be my very favorite passage in all of the Gospels. Perhaps after hearing this, it will be yours too.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

Enjoy! And may God richly bless you as you listen.

caesarea_temples

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Breaking News

My beloved little Safe Haven family is really going through it right now. In a word, we are being broken.

To focus that just a bit, let me say that I am amazed at the significant struggles and overwhelming challenges that some of our precious people are experiencing — painful loses; seemingly senseless disappointments; literally excruciating physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual challenges that defy explanation. Storm clouds are billowing. I cannot help but to imagine the reasons why.

In talking to each of these individuals on multiple occasions, they are understandably wrestling with it all, yet all the while demonstrating a firm-if-sometimes-faltering faith in God’s good plans that leaves me in awe.

I know, I know, I know that God never breaks His people without some amazing purposes behind His breaking. Some of our dear Safe Haven family members are being broken — No doubt about that! — but to what good purposes only time will tell. (Emphasis upon that hope-filled word, “will.”) The stories are just now unfolding. Stories that will be told. Stories of God’s abiding grace and peace. Stories of God’s sustaining strength and power. Stories of how God will profoundly touch the world through the profound pain of my friends. Stories that will illustrate the unbreakable law of nature: We can’t enjoy a shimmering rainbow without some falling rain.

rainbow

I also know that as God breaks my friends individually, He is also breaking Safe Haven collectively. He is breaking us as we share in these burdens together. A safe haven indeed — an unpretentious cadre of committed Christ-followers who desperately love Him and relentlessly love each other despite the unexpected trials and tribulations that life throws our way. It will be amazing, in the days and weeks ahead, to see not only what purposes lie behind God breaking certain individuals, but what purposes lie behind His breaking our family as a whole.

In the mean time, I have the unspeakable privilege of walking through these storms with some pretty special people whom I love with all my heart. It’s times like these that I am so incredibly thankful that God gave me the priceless privilege of being their pastor. But more than that, to be their friend.

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