Paul says we Christians are running a race. Here's what I'm looking at on my run toward Christ.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Church Directory Prayers

One of the ways I get to serve my local church, Grace Baptist, is as an elder.  The elders of our church meet every Saturday morning for a couple hours to pray for the people of the church and for wisdom for the direction of the church.  This morning we prayed as always and we used a method for prayer that I'd like to encourage you to use, too.

Many of you have a church directory at home or can get ahold of one.  I know every person at our church has a directory or has access to a directory.  The church directory is often used as a piece of church history or as a way to contact other people in your church.  I want to encourage you to use it as a prayer tool.

Take your directory and pray for the people in it by name.  You can pray a page at a time if you want.  You can pray for the A's and then the B', etc if you want.  Or you can pray for one family or person a day if you want, the options are plentiful.  Just take out the directory, perhaps blow off the dust if necessary, and begin to pray.

You might be thinking that you can't possibly know the prayer needs of everyone in the church and you're probably right in thinking that.  You don't always have to know specifics.  When you know specific prayer needs, lift them up; when you don't know specific prayer needs, pray for that person to have more of one of the fruits of the Spirit, pray that they have strength to stay faithful to God today, or ask the Holy Spirit to pray for what He knows and you don't.  There's not an excuse to skip a name.

How much good could God do in your local church if you were faithful to pray for the people of your church by name?  How much more would you grow to love the people of your church if you spent time praying for them individually?  What more powerful thing could you do for the people of your church than to ask the God of the universe to act on their behalf?

Praying for the people of the local church is not just for pastors, elders and deacons.  Praying for one another is a work of and for the church.

So, take out your directory and devise a plan to pray for the people of your church.  Whether you pray one page a day or one name a day you will do a Kingdom work if you practice this discipline.  I love knowing that somebody's praying for me.  In fact, at our wedding my dad sang the song "Somebody's Praying for Me" as a thank you to all those who do pray and as a plea for others to pray for us.  We need the prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Grab your church directory and pray for your local church today.

Friday, February 27, 2015

My Wife's Smart

Here is a post my wife wrote the other day. Take a look at this and when you're done look for the miracles in your life today.

Our God is a God of miracles.  This is a phrase I recently read in a book by Karen Kingsbury.  Which is funny because earlier today I was thinking about a question they asked us at the end of confirmation (when I was in 7th or 8th grade).  Talk about random…

The question was something along the lines of “What is something that you consider a miracle?”  At the time, I wrote down that a baby was a miracle.  This is very true-I mean think about it.  How do our bodies form exactly the way they’re supposed to the majority of the time?  If something was even the tiniest fraction off from the way it’s supposed to be, life wouldn’t exist.  We have exactly the right level of acids/bases in our cells.  We hold the only temperature that we could survive at. Our cells couldn’t survive on their own and yet they come together to make a human that can think, feel, read, write, or encourage.  I work as a labor and delivery nurse, and trust me, hearing babies take their first breath and cry for the first time is one of the greatest miracles there is.  We were after all, knitted together perfectly in our mother’s womb.

So my answer back then was true.  But I was so narrow minded-I’m sure that about half the people in my class had the same answer because that’s the cliché, “Babies are miracles.”  Honestly, I remember thinking that that was the only thing I could think of.

If I had to the answer that question today, I have no idea what I would say, and not because I can’t think of anything.  I was driving home from today and thinking about that question and about the possible answers.  A rainbow is a miracle.  The water bends the light just perfectly to send bands of color across the sky.  Snowflakes are miracles.  Every snowflake is different and if you’ve ever seen pictures of snowflakes up close-you know what I’m talking about.  The mountains are miracles.  Someone seeing that God is real and giving his or her life to follow him is a miracle.  It says in the Bible that we can only see God and know that he is real when he removes the veil from our eyes.

There are endless miracles all around us.  Miracles happen every single day. We just have to open our eyes to the possibilities that simple things can count as a miracle.  Miracles aren’t always big and flashy.  They aren’t always unexplainable. (Many of the things I wrote about above can be explained by science, but that doesn’t make them any less of a miracle.)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

God Loves You

Below is a passage from Zephaniah that I read today.

"Sing, O Daughter of Zion;
shout aloud, O Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
O Daughter of Jerusalem!
The LORD has taken away your punishment,
He has turned back your enemy.
The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you;
never again will you fear any harm.
On that day they will say to Jerusalem,
'Do not fear, O Zion;
do not let your hands hang limp.
The LORD your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.'

'The sorrows for the appointed feasts
I will remove from you;
they are a burden and a reproach to you.
At that time I will deal
with all who oppressed you;
I will rescue the lame
and gather those who have been scattered.
I will give them praise and honor
in every land where they were put to shame.
At that time I will gather you;
at that time I will bring you home.
I will give you honor and praise
among the peoples of the earth
when I restore your fortunes
before your very eyes."  Zephaniah 3:14-20

What words of hope.  God takes delight in us, He loves us and rejoices over us.  The same God that created the universe and holds it all together delights in us.  That is nearly unbelievable, but we must believe it.  The Bible teaches us that we are nothing in comparison to God and it teaches us that we are loved by God for who we are.  We must remember both are depravity and that we are loved.  I encourage you to remember that God rejoices over you with singing and that He takes great delight in you.  Meditate on the fact that God loves you and rejoices over you today.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Gotham and the Old Testament

I haven't had a TV show that was appointment television for me since The Office went off the air.  The Office was the only show that I had to watch and if I missed it I caught up online.  Well, The Office was the only show that was appointment television for me until I got hooked on Gotham.

Now, Gotham is not a squeaky clean kids' show by any means.  It's very violent and dark much of the time, but as a man that used to be a little boy in Batman underwear it's a show that I was trapped by and now I can't get out.  I enjoy watching every week as this prequel to Batman plays out.  See, Gotham takes place while Bruce Wayne (Batman) is a boy.  During the show you get clues as to what characters turn into what bad guys or what characters get promoted to higher positions or who marries whom.  As a Batman fan I can see all the little hints that tell me who's who in the near or distant future in the show and I enjoy that.

Gotham is a prequel and the fun of watching a prequel is seeing how things all come together to make the story you know is coming.  In the TV show Gotham, Gotham City is a mess.  Violence, injustice and corruption reigns and those who are trying to do good are by far the minority.  When you watch the show Gotham you can't help but cheer for Batman to come sooner rather than later, but you know you have to wait for him.  The TV show Gotham would be depressing and hopeless if you didn't know that Batman was coming.  But we do know that Batman is coming and that eventually justice, peace and civility will have their day.

Reading the Old Testament is a lot like watching Gotham.  Parts of the Old Testament are filled with violence, injustice and corruption.  Read the book of Judges and see how futile the efforts of each judge seems to be because evil always come back.  In fact, Jim Gordon on the show, who is like the one good guy, tries his best to do good but you know he can't do it alone.  In the Old Testament read the corruption of some of the kings of Israel and of the nations that oppress Israel and see if you don't ache for things to be fixed.  Reading the Old Testament can be depressing and hopeless if you don't know that Jesus is coming later on in the Bible.  But we do know that Jesus comes later on in the Bible.

When we read the Old Testament we read for clues and hints about how Jesus will come and what He will be like and what He will do.  The Old Testament isn't a prequel to the New Testament, but in some ways it is like a prequel.  The Old Testament is meant to be read to get the meaning intended for the original audience and it is meant to be read knowing that Jesus and the New Testament is next.

So, I'm going to keep enjoying watching my show Gotham, but this post isn't about encouraging you to get hooked on a super-hero prequel show.  I want you to read the Old Testament look for Jesus and long for Jesus just like the men and women of the Old Testament must have longed for the Messiah.  I want you to read the Old Testament and see the beauty of God's arching narrative penned across centuries by several different men. Read your Old Testament looking for Jesus and loving God's story today.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Church Membership- A Repost

Below is a post from March 3, 2013.

Church Membership

Have you ever thought to yourself, "Why does my church talk about church membership?"

I mean, is this a club or organization that is driven by numbers and boasting about how many members it has?  Do the local pastors beat their chests at breakfast with one another bragging about the number of church members they have?

While some pastors may brag about the number of members their church has and some churches are driven by the pursuit of numbers; I doubt that is why your church talks about church membership.

So, why does your church talk about church membership?

I hope there are a couple reasons why your church hopes that you'll become or remain a member.

First, churches are concerned about membership because we need one another.  John 15:12 says, "My command to you is this: Love each other as I have loved you."  I believe this command is not for us to love every person in the world (although there are other commands to be loving toward all mankind).  I believe this command is for us to love other Christians.  As a universal Church family we should love each other as Christ has loved us.  But how well can I love my Christian brothers in Chechnya?  I mean, I've never met a single person from Chechnya.

The local church is how we can begin to love each other as Christ has loved us.  In order to love each other fully we have to be living amongst one another.  So, we stress church membership because it allows us to more fully follow Christ's command to love one another.

"But can't I love people in a church without becoming a member?"  Yes you can.  "Well then, why should I be a member?"

This brings me to my second reason for church membership.  Church membership is making a commitment to love and serve with the people of that local church.  Church membership is a public declaration of devotion to a body of believers.  While this pledge isn't necessarily covenantal, I believe it to be important.  I don't know about you, but when I make a commitment public it holds me accountable to that commitment.

Church membership is not a ploy by your local church to win some sort of numbers game.  Church membership is an effective and powerful tool to help us better follow the commands of Christ; namely, the command to love one another.  Being a member of a church allows you to better love your brothers and sisters and to be loved by your brothers and sisters.

Now, have you ever thought to yourself, "Should I become a member of my local church?  Should I commit to loving them and serving God with them?  Should I move beyond being just an attender to being a member?"  I encourage you to discover the joy of pledging to love a local body of believers.  If you're not a member of your church, pray about becoming one today.

Monday, February 23, 2015

3 Tips for Youth Leaders

In September of 2005 I was asked by my friends Phil and Nick if I wanted to help them with the youth group at our church.  I had just gotten to the church a few weeks prior because I'd just moved to town as a Freshman at Wartburg College.  I was only 18 and had no idea what I was getting myself into and I had very little to offer the youth I was working.  Now, nearly ten years later I'm starting to almost understand be getting the hang of youth ministry.

Over the past 10 school years I've matured as a youth leader and learned some skills for the position.  I've met amazing kids and leaders.  I've lost sleep from lock-ins and worries.  I've confronted kids about sex, drugs, alcohol and the like.  I've looked at students knowing I was looking at a future leader in the church.  And I've looked at students and wondered if they were even listening.  I've been the cool college kid leading youth and slowly I'm becoming someone "so old" that I just couldn't possibly imagine what it's like to be a teen (or so I've been told, although I know I'm still extremely young).

Working with youth has given me some of the biggest highs and the biggest lows of my life.  I'm far from an expert and won't pretend to be one, but I feel I can offer three tips to my fellow youth leaders.

1) Don't assume the students know something.

Bible literacy appears to be low and getting lower.  It's not your students' fault, but they might not get what you're talking about if you don't explain it well.  You can't just say, "It's like the story of Gideon" and simply move on to the next point.  Many of the students you lead have never heard of Gideon, let alone know his story.  So, don't treat your students like they're stupid, but don't make them feel lost because you assume they know something they've never been taught.

2) Don't assume your students can't do something.

This may seem to contradict the previous tip, but it doesn't.  Don't assume a student knows something, but by all means believe they can do something.  Often I've thought that a subject was too deep for teens.  Often I was wrong.  We shouldn't look down on students because they are young, we should be some of the first people in their lives to challenge them.  When I've not underestimated the students that I lead I've been blown away by the things they can do and the thoughts they can think.  Don't underestimate your students.

3) Don't neglect praying for your students.

This is by far the most convicting tip, mainly because I've had times when I've excelled at this and times when I've been lacking.  Prayer is the youth leaders most potent weapon.  I'll take the praying youth leader over the youth leader with the best games and lessons any day.  If there's one thing that I've learned in youth ministry it's that I can't make a kid love Jesus, I can't make a young man or woman desire to obey.  But I know someone who can.  Take your concerns, hopes and dreams for your students to the One who can do something about it.  Don't ever neglect praying for your students.

Over the years I've done well with those three tips and I've failed miserably, too.  I'm far from perfect and sometimes I'm a long way from good, but God has blessed my efforts.  Don't get me wrong, I still worry about some of the students who seem to want nothing to do with Christ and His Church, but I trust that my work in Christ will not be in vain.  And don't misunderstand me, I have several current and former students that I'm simply happy to be in their story because they amaze me.

So, youth leaders, keep plugging away.  We don't always get to see fruit in the lives of students, but trust that the Gardener does good work.  Work hard in youth ministry and take those three tips to heart today.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Sermons

I hope that you got a chance to worship with your church family today.  I love Sundays because I get to be with my church family to worship, fellowship and be taught.

For some of you Sundays mean work so you can't make it to a worship service.  For some of you hearing one sermon a week isn't enough.  You may listen to podcasts or watch YouTube to get more or to get some because you missed good Bible teaching.

Below are some resources for good Bible teaching that you may have not heard of.  These are not links to mega churches, these are links to the teaching of some men in local churches that I admire and respect.

Here is a link to hear sermons from my church Grace Baptist in Waverly, Iowa where Jim Lee is senior pastor. 

This is where you can listen to sermons from my cousin Nate Ray's church Jacob's Well in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Finally, here is a link to hear sermons from my friend Erin Bird at Riverwood in Waverly, Iowa.

These churches preach the Word soundly and I encourage you give some of the teachings a listen during the week because Sundays are great but we can always use more.  So, take a listen today.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Oscars

Tomorrow night the 87th Academy Awards will be held in Los Angeles, CA.  Millions of people will watch to see the winners announced, the beautiful dresses worn and great musical performances given.  The spotlight will be turned on the films of the last year and those who made them.

I, like a lot of people, enjoy guessing who will be a winner in the major categories, despite the fact that I've only seen a handful of the films being honored.  There's something fun about guessing the awards.  I think Best Picture will go to Boyhood, Best Actor to Michael Keaton, Best Actress to Julianne Moore, Best Supporting Actor to J. K. Simmons, Best Actress to Patricia Arquette and Best Director to Richard Linklater.

There's an anticipation people have to find out if their picks match the real thing.  I look forward to seeing if I'm right, too.

Anticipation and wondering is fun.  Hoping you're right but not knowing for sure or simply wanting to watch the winners announced inspires us watch the Oscars.

Christianity is so different from the Oscars.

We don't have to wait to find out who wins.  Jesus wins.  Anticlimactic, I know.

We win, too.

We are part of Jesus' victory.  At the cross Jesus won and in the end every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, we already know this.  We get the victory with Him.  Graciously He makes us part of the cast of the greatest picture ever made.  See God's story, HISstory, wins Best Picture.  Jesus wins Best Actor.  God wins Best Director.  And in all this He lets us have a part in this great story.

We get to be players in the greatest story ever told!  God doesn't need us in the least bit, but He lets us play a part.  Rather, than just watching, He lets us participate in His glorious story.

Here's the question: are you going to sit and watch or are you going to play a part?  Are you going to make a difference for Jesus in this story?  God becomes part of our story and that is amazing, but He lets us be a part of His story... history... and that is even more amazing.

Play a part in the His story today.

Friday, February 20, 2015


Recently I've seen a lot of discussion amongst believers about the terrorist organization ISIS or ISIL or the Islamic State or whatever you want to call them.  I'm making little attempt to add an original voice to the conversation, rather this is my voice in the conversation without putting too little into a comment on Facebook and misrepresenting myself.

First, let me say that what ISIS is doing is incredibly evil and against God in so, so many ways.  They are trying to form a worldwide caliphate (not a state but a strictly Islamic nation) and most caliphates in history have viewed themselves as the rightful heir of Muhammad that must make the Islamic sphere of influence ever expanding.  ISIS will not be appeased  until it has the whole world is under their Islamic rule.  I'm not making this up, they've said this.  They want to wipe out all other religions and states until there is one government in the world ruled by one caliph.

So, ISIS's goals are innately evil and anti-God.  It's methods are as well.  They shock the world with the most evil terror. They've burned a Jordanian Muslim man alive and 45 others as well.  They've beheaded 21 of our Egyptian brothers.  And the United Nations has reported that they're raping children and selling them as sex-slaves, burying children alive and even crucifying children.  This is just some of the atrocities that the group ISIS has perpetrated so far.

ISIS is no doubt evil.  As a Christian how do I respond to this?

First, I pray for justice to be done.  What ISIS is doing is against God and all people and I hate what they are doing and I know God hates it, too.  I want God to be a God of justice.  I know at the end of all things He will crush His enemies and throw them into the lake of fire for eternal torture.  When I think of what ISIS is doing this powerful justice gives me hope.

So, I pray things like King David did:

"Arise, O LORD!
Deliver me, O my God!

Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked."  Psalm 3:7

I pray that God would not allow this evil to go unpunished.  I pray that He stops and crushes ISIS.

Secondly, I pray for radical redemption.  What ISIS is doing as an organization is evil and what the men of ISIS are doing as individuals is pure evil.  But I know my God saves evil men and changes evil men to be God fearers and God lovers.

I can't see ISIS and not think of the Apostle Paul.  Before Paul was Paul his name was Saul.  Saul was a ruthless murderer of innocent Christian men and women.  Saul took great honor and pleasure in killing the "infidel" Christians.  Saul was filled with evil and lusted for violence... until God met him on the road.  Read Acts chapter 9 and the chapters that lead up to it and see for yourself.  Saul was so evil that when he was radically converted hardly any of the Christians believed it.  Saul went from murderer to Paul the greatest Christian evangelist ever.

If God can radically convert Saul/Paul, He can radically convert some or all of the men of ISIS.  So, that is my prayer as well.  I pray that God changes the hearts of these men.  I pray He intervenes to perform the miracle of conversion.

My prayers seem opposite, but they aren't.  God is a God of justice and mercy.  He is 100% both.  And so I pray for both justice and mercy toward the victims and toward ISIS.

Join with me and pray for justice and mercy toward the group ISIS and the individuals in ISIS today.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Special Delivery

It is freezing cold outside today.  Actually, freezing would be nice, it's much colder than 32 degrees.  This morning when I got to work it was -12 degrees.  That's really, really cold if you weren't aware of that.

While it is cold today I'm blessed to work in a warm studio where I can drink hot coffee while on the job.  And as I'm writing this I'm sitting with my Wartburg sweatshirt on, sipping a delicious medium roast Kenyan coffee inside a heated coffee shop.  I'm lucky.

Last night I got home from church and sprinted into my warm house from the frigid exterior and took off my coat and shoes and sat under a blanket on my couch.  At that moment I thought about my friend Chris.

My friend Chris is my mailman.  Every day even in rain, sleet or snow he delivers the mail.  I thought about how the men and women of the U.S.P.S. would be out in the dangerously cold temps delivering our mail and even if they only deliver me junk mail and bills most of the time I felt an enormous sense of gratitude for them.  So, I got out from under my warm blanket, wrote on a sticky note and took a treat along with the note and put it in the mailbox.  Would the candy and note warm up my friend Chris?  Nope, but I just felt the need to encourage someone who faithfully serves me nearly every day.

Here's my challenge to you today.  Do something nice for your mail carrier this week.  Leave a letter of thanks, a snack or a package of hand warmers in the mailbox for him or her.  Be creative in doing good to the person who has to trudge through the cold dressed like the abominable snowman to bring you your mail.

Could this small act of kindness change the entire landscape of the world?  Probably not.  But I can tell you, because my dad used to deliver mail, that these little acts of kindness can brighten someone's day.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Galatians 6:9-10

So, do something good for your mail carrier this week.  Heck, do something good for whoever you feel led to do good.  We have the opportunity and since you've read this you also have the idea to do good... so just do it, as Nike would say.

Give a special delivery of encouragement and goodness today.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lent Challenge 2015

Today is Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of the time on the church calendar known as Lent. Many of you are abstaining from something beginning today in observance of Lent.  From now until Easter you will give something up.  I, however, will be doing the opposite.  Since 2011 I have added a disciple during Lent and it has had a great personal impact every year.  I add the discipline of blogging.  Rather than blogging once a week I write daily.  I find that this helps keep me accountable to read and think about my God in a critical way on a more constant basis.  I hope you join me for the next several weeks as I write.

While I'm thrilled if you decide to read what I write during Lent, I hope that you consider doing something for Lent.  Whether you add a discipline or abstain from something I find it to be a highly effective practice for maturing in your faith.

If you are looking to abstain from something here are some ideas of things to take a break from: TV, social media, coffee, sugary foods, games on a phone, etc.  If you're looking for a way to give something up and help others I want to share this idea with you.  My dad is giving up all drinks but water this Lent.  He then is donating the money that he would have spent on coffee, pop, tea, etc to a ministry that provides safe water to those who need it.  I think that is an excellent idea and many people across the world are doing just that, it's called 40 Days of Water.

If you're looking to add a discipline I have some ideas of things to add to your life: Bible reading, praying, reading books, exercising, letter writing, etc.  I don't think that this discipline has to be "spiritual" necessarily.  I think we underestimate how all things can be done for the glory of God including physical disciplines.  You may surprise yourself and what begins as a Lenten challenge may turn into a positive habit.

Let Lent be a time when you grow closer to God.  I hope that you read along with me as I fully expect to taught during this time, but more than that I hope that you do some sort of Lenten Challenge, too.

I challenge you to do something to grow your faith today.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


My pastor preached on Daniel chapter 5 this Sunday and I was struck by a thought I can't get out of my head.

'This is what these words mean:

Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians." Daniel 5:25b-28

King Belshazzar was throwing a wild party when his enemy, the Medes and Persians, were near his capital city.  The king partied in the city of Babylon without a care while doom was outside his door.  During the party the finger of God wrote, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN on the wall to get the king's attention.  The writing was on the wall for the king... literally.  That's when Daniel came and interpreted the writing for the king with the passage above.

See, King Belshazzar was partying like he and his own kingdom were immortal.  In fact, he was praising gods with the vessels from God's temple.  He was in effect giving Yahweh the finger and Yahweh gave him the finger back.

King Belshazzar died the same night that the writing was on the wall for him.   His days were indeed numbered.

How many King Belshazzar's are around us that we don't warn?  How many people have the writing on the wall in front of them and are waiting for us to tell them, to warn them?

~See God has numbered all of our days.  "... it is appointed for a man to die once, and after that comes judgement."  Hebrews 9:27  "Man's days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed." Job 14:5  "... your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."  Psalm 139:16

None of us will live forever.  We will die and without Jesus' blood covering us we will die like King Belshazzar, still in rebellion and doomed to judgement.

~We have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.  " ... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23 "All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one." Psalm 14:3

We have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.  If we are trying to get to heaven based on our own works we will fail miserably.  No one is righteous and that is the requirement, all who aren't righteous will be obliterated when God destroys all unrighteousness.  If God is against you, you will not stand!

~Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.  King Belshazzar was going to die that night, in fact.  He would not even sleep one time after the warning.  He died while still in rebellion against God.  How do you think that worked out for him?

Christians the writing is on the wall.  People are dying without Jesus all around us.  Their days are numbered, they've been found wanting and they will face judgement.  How will they avoid the judgement unless we interpret the writing on the wall for them?  Daniel could have been killed for interpreting this message for the king and you and I might face ridicule for sharing this warning with the world, but we must declare the warning.

People need Jesus.  Yes they need Him because He is wonderful, but they also need Him because they/we are not wonderful.  This is the Gospel: the world is corrupt and broken and doesn't deserve redeeming, yet God comes to redeem those who turn to Him.  People need Jesus and we are hoarding Him!  To confess, I'm guilty of this, too.

So, Christians warn the world and share the Good News.  Non-Christians, listen to this plea.  You need Jesus, without Him you face an eternity in Hell.  Please see the warning and trust in Jesus Christ to be your Savior today.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

J.C. in B.C.

I'm blessed with the opportunity to teach the youth at my church.  Currently we're doing a study called J.C. in B.C.  This has been a great, eye-opening study of Old Testament passages.  The point of the study is to show how the Old Testament is about Jesus.

In John chapter one Jesus is called the Word and throughout the Scriptures the Bible is called the Word of God.  So, I believe that all Scripture points to Jesus.  Consider the time after Jesus' resurrection that when He was talking with two men on the road to Emmaus.

"And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself."  Luke 24:27

Jesus Himself showed that all of Scripture was about Himself.

It can be thrilling when you read the Old Testament like this because it will make the Old Testament new again to you.  The stories we've read a million times will have such clarity when we do this.  Rather than just going, "That was weird" or "How did they do that?" we respond by knowing we've seen Jesus rather than weird stories or simply fantastic tales of men and women with great faith.

Let me give you a couple of examples from what we've already studied.

The story of Abraham and Isaac, when Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac... In this story we often are left wondering if we have the kind of faith that Abraham did.  But we need to see Jesus in the story.  Abraham didn't have to sacrifice Isaac because God provided another lamb.  Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Abraham didn't have to sacrifice his own son; God the Father did it instead.  Isaac didn't have to carry the wood up the mountain and obediently be sacrificed; Jesus did that in his place on the Cross... in fact on the very same mountains!

Or the story of Joseph.  In the hundreds of times I read Joseph's story in Genesis I saw nothing but an amazingly patient and good man, and Joseph is that but I missed Jesus.  See Joseph went from beloved son to rejected to the point of slavery and jail to exalted ruler to bread giver and forgiver of his brothers.  Jesus went from beloved to rejected to exalted to bread giver and forgiver.  Jesus had heaven and left that to be a man.  He was rejected and betrayed by one of those closest to Him.  But then He was exalted and given the Name at which every knee will bow.  And He is the bread of life for all the world and He offers us forgiveness even though we were His enemies just like Joseph forgave his brothers who meant him evil.

See Jesus is all over the Old Testament.  I've only shown a sliver of two examples of that fact.  I encourage you to read some of the Old Testament stories and look for Jesus because He is there.  All Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures point to Jesus and Jesus crucified.  We just need to look.  So, use commentaries and notes.  Read with fresh eyes.  Do whatever you can to try to see Jesus in the Old Testament today.