Maundy Thursday – FORGIVENESS!

March 29, 2013

Yesterday was a great reminder of the forgiveness for all!  As I shared with the community at Hope Ankeny last night, we all fall short(Romans 3:23).  There is a song that speaks to the truth of the Maundy Thursday celebration.  Many of you know that I love to sing, yet I do not wish to be ask forgiveness from your ears.  Instead I would love to share the music video by TobyMac, titled Forgiveness:

We all know that we stumble and we fall.  We all make mistakes sometimes.  Whether Christian or not, the reality is “we all need forgiveness” the lyrics echo.  Where do you go to receive forgiveness?  Who do you turn to for forgiveness?

As I was sharing a message last night during our Maundy Thursday services, I spent my time focusing on the forgiveness that God provides when He is present.  He provides places for forgiveness whether at worship, in scripture, communion or when He meets with us in a quiet place.  He even uses our family and friends as sources of forgiveness.  No matter where we are God can show up and forgive, and it is through the communion meal we are reminded of the delivery from slavery that the Israelites had experienced at the Passover.

It was through the blood covenant of Jesus that we are able to receive the forgiveness that is needed when we fall short.  Not only is Maundy Thursday a good reminder of The Last Supper, it is a celebration in which Jesus shares with His disciples that He is always with them and He is the way, the truth and the life.  Believing this allows me to understand the source of forgiveness, because I know the One who forgives.  I know I need forgiveness for things of the past and I will need forgiveness in the future, because I will fall short of God’s glory time and time again.  You need forgiveness.  We all need forgiveness.  Let us be reminded that each day we can receive this forgiveness if we go to the One who provides us this gift!  NOTHING IS SWEETER THAN THE DAY WE FIND FORGIVENESS!

Someone Who Cares!

March 15, 2013

Lorax Quote

There are certain things in our life that we truly care about, that ignite passion, that keep us awake as we ponder the possibilities.  I watched Lorax for the first time this past weekend and I love the story about how Ted, out of his desire to give his crush Audrey a special gift, discovers something that is missing from Thneedsville.  Thneedsville represents a lot about the world we live in today and I love what Dr. Seuess reveals in this story about a fictitious place.

The movie ends with the quote pictured above, which at its core is the essence of change in our world.  When we see someone truly passionate and excited about something, their commitment leads them to inspiring change!  What is it you care a whole awful lot about?  Because you do care a lot about something!  Has your care for that something led to improvement or change?  There are many times that we find ourselves caring about something that we would like to see change, yet our desire for that change fades away.  It fades away because life happens.  Don’t let life as defined by those around us diminish our care for something becoming better.

I think about this often, the care that I have for our leadership of students.  This morning men of Hope Ankeny were discussing the model of discipleship that Jesus gives to us and I continually think about how many of us miss the opportunity for having someone pour into us like Jesus did his disciples.  At the core of the ministries I lead, I believe lasting impact on future generations will come from a discipleship model where we intentionally invest ourselves into the lives of others, which means we as individuals have to sacrifice ourselves at times to serve others.  This model from the Bible is one which carries through all spheres of influence from parents, to business leaders, to coaches, to ministry leaders.  Discipleship is all about caring for something “a whole awful lot” which results in the lives of others getting better.  When I think about better, I don’t mean in a prideful kind of way, I don’t mean in a worldly or materialistic kind of way, I mean in a way that helps us live within our circumstances with an eternal perspective, that what we do on this earth has implications beyond our own life!

I am going to continue to “care a whole awful lot” about raising up others to a life that leads to generational change.  You too have something you “care a whole awful lot” about, do you know what it is?  What are you doing to bring change, to make that something better?  What impact will that have on the lives of others?  Will it lead to lasting change?  For the town of Thneedsville it did, it led to new life, a better life.  It opened the eyes of the people and was all a result of someones never ending desire to make something better.  I love how as the story plays out, Ted’s first desire of dating Audrey led to a realization that there was a greater need of others and as he lived for that and impacted change, his original desire was fulfilled.  He delivered the tree that not only Audrey desired, but all of Thneedsville desired…THE TREE OF LIFE!  What seed will you plant and let grow because you care a whole awful lot?

Another clip that I couldn’t embed…

Sharing the Love!

March 8, 2013

Love takes on many forms, yet the underlying basis of love is sacrifice of oneself and putting others first.  On Wednesday night we provided an opportunity for our Ignition Students, Grades 9-12, to share the love with one another.  The activity was rooted in the reality that God’s love is greater than any love we will ever receive.  As we have read about in scripture, His greatest act of love was sending His son Jesus to live in this world and to die for us.  A question we posed to the students and one that is good for all of us, do we admire this man Jesus?

The stories we know about and those that fill scripture enlighten us as to the life He led.  God sent His son as the ultimate rescue plan for all people, wiping away the sin and providing us with a new life and new outlook.  Many of us have been at a place in our life when it is difficult to receive this love from God, maybe that is now for you.  We have trouble accepting His love, especially when things aren’t going the way we want them or they are going so great we forget to thank Him.  The best part of the Jesus’ story is that He is our example of how to live and to share the love His Father so profoundly shares with us.

Picture this, 40 students sharing the love with one another.  Some who they know and some who they do not know.  All that it takes is a simple, “I love you”, which through it’s practice comes sacrifice of one’s comfort to ultimately share the love that has been given to us!  Can you look around you at work, the grocery store, sporting event, church, etc. and honestly care for and hope the best for others?  If we stop and think about this, it would be hard for us to deny the fact that we are all wired in a way that at the core says we want the best for others and we want them to have someone who loves them.  Don’t deny the truth here!  Even when it comes to our enemies, whom scripture tells us to love!

The undeniable love that rests in our heart, which is often overtaken by selfishness and things of this world, is a gift from God that flows out of us to others if we have at first received this love.  How and with whom will you share your love today?  Tell someone you love them!  Open the door for someone!  Hug someone!  Tell someone that God loves them!  The more we share the love, the more others receive the love.  Check out how much love I received from students on Wednesday night…an example of the amount of love shared on Wednesday night!

“We love because He first loved us.” ~ 1 John 4:19

Love Exercise

A Public Faith!

March 1, 2013

The promises of God are about this world we live in now!  If we have faith, do we share it?  He has not given the gift of our faith to keep to ourselves, because we we know deep down that He is our creator.  Proclaiming our belief in His story is difficult, because displaying it in our lives would mean we have to sacrifice our selfish desires and we may be ridiculed for living out our faith publicly.  Faith is a gift!

What do we do with our gifts?  In most cases we don’t physically share our material gifts, yet we talk about them and we don’t keep it to ourselves.  What about our giftedness, the way we are wired?  We definitely are compelled to share this with others, in the form of work we do, in our hobbies, and in serving!  What gifts do you share with others?  For me, I share my passion for soccer with the teams I coach, I share my gift of smiling with those I encounter 🙂

So our greatest gift is life on earth, given to us by a Creator who loves us!  Will we share this gift?  How will we share it?  Will we write about it?  Will we love all others the way Jesus demonstrated?  Will we give others that which they need, and we do not?  We have a plethora of ways to share the gift of faith, an understanding and belief in God that frees us to live a life trusting Him above all.  I believe the gift of faith in my life changes the way I live, I have nothing to hide and not do you.  Let’s make it publicly known, because there are many who have yet to experience this gift of life in the light of a God who created!  Why wouldn’t we share this gift?