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Tag Archives: Cross

Holy Spirit

For the past two weeks I’ve been leading our church through a series about the person of the Holy Spirit… I truly believe that we will not see the Biblical mission of the church carried out and the world changed apart from the POWER of the Holy Spirit.

We have accessible to us the same Holy Spirit POWER that enabled the virgin Mary to conceive the Son of God and the same Holy Spirit POWER that raised Christ Jesus from the dead.

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. — Luke 1:34-35

The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. — Romans 1:3-4

When we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit within us… We give Him freedom to do what we are POWERLESS to do on our own. Here is a REAL testimony and example from our weekend worship service… this could not have happened apart from the Holy Spirit.

As I was standing at the door following our worship service a man shared with me that he did something that he could not explain other than it was the prompting of the Holy Spirit. He said, “Throughout the service I felt the Holy Spirit telling me to say something to the young lady in front of me, but I didn’t know who she was.” He battled with it through the service, but his faith in the Holy Spirit gave him assurance that he was to share a message with her.

So, after church he politely asked her if she had a minute and spoke these words to her… “You ARE a beautiful woman and you are going to be the best mother and give your children the childhood you always wished you had.” Pretty simple, right? To him it was nothing earth shattering.

However, when he asked me who she was and told me what the Holy Spirit prompted him to share… IT WAS A SIGNIFICANT WORD FOR HER. You see, this young lady was here for the first time in months and has been battling an addiction to heroine. She hasn’t felt beautiful in years. Also, this young lady had been adopted. He didn’t know these things… he just trusted the Holy Spirit.

As if that wasn’t awesome enough… I received a text message after church from this young lady’s mother. This is what it said… “God is so amazing! Someone had a word for my daughter that was right on target! I don’t really remember, but I don’t even think you knew about this. My daughter had been pregnant and she aborted the baby for health concerns for her and the baby (the addiction had much to do with this)… the baby was due this month. It blew her away… she told me that she had to get away from him before she started sobbing. We serve an awesome God!”

Let me remind you of the simple yet POWERFUL word that God had for this young lady… that she would have missed if this gentleman had not been listening to the Holy Spirit. “You ARE a beautiful woman and you are going to be the best mother and give your children the childhood you always wished you had.”

Will you listen to the Holy Spirit today?

 

 

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Reconciled. A simple word, but it carries with it the sum total of the Gospel for those who are in Christ Jesus. It is very much an identity for those who follow Jesus. I’ve recently been preaching a series about who we are in Jesus and it’s very fresh for me. So, when I was sitting in the hot tub while on vacation last week and a young man comes along with ‘RECONCILED’ tattooed on his chest, I immediately make an assumption about his identity. I concluded, with the help of the other tattoos, that this guy at least has knowledge of Christ. I’m not bashful, so I ask him to tell me about his tattoo.

He proceeded to share his faith in Jesus and the fact that he has been reconciled to God through the sacrifice of Jesus. This began an incredible conversation… a conversation about his daughter, Eliana. She was over at the pool in a strange dry suit, not your typical swim suit. She was having a blast! Below are a few pictures of Eliana and her story…

Eliana Blocks

At six-months old Eliana was diagnosed with Pediatric Pulmonary Hypertension… a rare disorder of high blood pressure in the blood vessels that line the lungs. Pulmonary blood pressure rises when arteries and capillaries in the lungs become narrowed, blocked, or destroyed, making it hard for blood to flow through the lungs. Because the vessels of the lung and the heart are physically connected, this makes blood pressure in the heart rise and forces the heart to work harder than normal.

The doctors didn’t give them much hope when they told her parents that she’d only live to the age of five (5). She’s faced many difficult days and several close calls, but God has remained faithful. In fact, she just turned TEN (10). God is good and doctors CAN be wrong!

One thing that I’ll never forget is that Eliana was overjoyed to tell me that her name means MY GOD ANSWERS. She and her family knew who they were in Jesus! Before Eliana was ever diagnosed, they knew that God hears and answers. They are and will be OVERCOMERS! It’s not because life is easy, but it’s because they know the promises of God.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. — James 1:2-4

You see, knowing who you are in Christ is NOT just a good sermon topic… it’s REAL LIFE stuff. Life is NOT always easy, or as I often say, “It’s NOT always rainbows and butterflies!” It’s vital that we know and stand in our Biblical identity!

Eliana’s family is not naive. They truly understand that each day is a gift. They understand that more difficult days could be just around the corner. However, they are rooted in Jesus and know that the same POWER that raised Him from the dead is accessible to them too! Eliana is a MASTERPIECE, her family are AMBASSADORS, and they are OVERCOMERS!

WHEN YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE… YOU WILL KNOW WHAT TO DO!

In the meantime, would you please pray for Eliana and her family? In fact, you can voice your prayer in the comments section below and they can read them. The Alderete family is from New Mexico and were in Denver, CO last week for Eliana to visit her specialists. Eliana’s story and our meeting has been shared with their permission.

On a personal level… I’m grateful for the opportunity to meet this family. I too often struggle with who I am in Christ and what that requires of me. However, on Thursday evening of last week… I got it… because I was listening to God and dug a little deeper than surface level conversation. The result was a poolside (public) prayer meeting that was simply precious!

BECAUSE I KNEW WHO I WAS… I KNEW WHAT TO DO.

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As we prepare for Passion Week and the Resurrection Celebration… I’ve been deeply moved by the following video. PLEASE, set aside 30 minutes and prepare to CELEBRATE every opportunity we have to lovingly be a FRUITCAKE.

 

 

If you are like me… This video has left you weeping and ready to sing… Everyone needs compassion… Love that’s never failing… Let mercy fall on me…

 

 

Coming NEXT WEEK during Passion Week… I will be blogging a short devotional thought each day as we prepare for Easter Sunday. Below will be the schedule. I look forward to sharing with you.

Monday, March 25 – The Garden of Gethsemane: Jesus Christ Preparing to Die

Tuesday, March 26 – The Betrayal of Judas and the Kiss of Death

Wednesday, March 27 – The Denials of Peter and his Deep Regret

Thursday, March 28 – The Scourging of Jesus Christ and the Final Hours Before His Death

Friday, March 29 – The Crucifixion and The Death of Jesus Christ

Friday Night at 7pm – Good Friday Worship Experience at Terra Nova Church

Sunday Morning at 10am – Resurrection Celebration at Terra Nova Church

Let’s be faithful to celebrate Jesus!

This weekend at Terra Nova Church I will be sharing about some incredible opportunities for us to BE ALL IN for the sake of the Gospel in our community. We’ve been commanded to do WAY MORE than simply fill seats during a weekend worship experience… We’ve been asked to truly BE ALL IN

We love because he first loved us. — 1 John 4:19

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” — Matthew 28:19-20

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. — Matthew 16:24

Jesus was certainly ALL IN for us…

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. — Romans 5:8

So, as you prepare your heart for this weekend at Terra Nova Church… or just preparing to celebrate the resurrection in a couple weeks… watch this video to discover what ALL IN really looks like.

Are you really ALL in?

As pastor there is no greater joy than seeing and having confirmation that people are GETTING IT… The Gospel is changing people… Enjoy this post!

Guest Post By Justin McLemore

You think you know me but you don’t… I’m not who you think I am… All my life people have told me that I’m such a nice and sweet person. They are wrong… I am a liar, thief, murderer (Matthew 5: 21-22), and adulterer (Matthew 5:28). I have worshipped false idols. I’m a horrible person that is undeserving of God’s mercy and grace. The only thing that I truly deserve is a sinner’s hell!

For a very long time I tried to correct these problems on my own. I believed that if I did well enough, I would be able to save myself from hell. I was wrong. No matter how many good things I did, there was always more bad than good. I couldn’t erase or repay my debt to God. Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. All the things that I tried to do to make myself right with God were destroyed by this one verse. Isaiah 64:6 “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;…” God saw my good deeds, my deeds I did trying to earn His favor, as filthy rags. Nothing that I could do would ever be good enough. That’s when I realized I couldn’t help myself and that’s when I finally understood the truth of the Gospel. 

It’s not about what I’ve done!!!! It’s all about what Jesus did!!!! It is a gift that God gave to me and every other person on the Earth. Jesus stood in the gap for me! He took all my sins, all my shame, and all of my mess and died on a cross for me. He made me pure and blameless in God’s sight. Not a single one of us deserved it but He gave it to us anyway. I stand in awe at just how amazing God’s love is for us. God didn’t have to do it. He allowed his own son to die for me!! He did it all!! Ephesians 2: 8-9 reads “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”   

Nothing about me has changed. There is nothing good about me. The only thing is now because of Jesus dying for me I am free from the chains that bound me in my past. Because of Jesus I am no longer a slave to sin. Because of Him, the gap between me and God is gone. Just typing this gives me chills. I am so thankful for the Gospel and I will do anything and everything short of sin to spread the Gospel.

I went for a much-needed bike ride this morning. While the bike ride was needed, it was the alone time with God that I was actually pursuing. It was such a refreshing time… emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

If you’ve ever spent much time outdoors, you know that a variety of SMELLS exist. This became very evident for me while on my ride. There were many smells, but I just want to mention two. These two smells would be “bookends” on opposite ends of the spectrum. So, what were they?

The stench of the SEWER TREATMENT PLANT and the refreshing aroma of a HONEYSUCKLE VINE. See I told you that they were complete opposites!

As I considered these contrasting odors, I began to think about and ponder the following scripture…

Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)

So, the reality is this… to some YOU JUST STINK… and to others YOUR LIFE IS A SWEET FRAGRANCE.

To those who are rebellious toward the drawing of God… YOU STINK. Let’s face it, the Gospel is offensive. The Gospel informs people, among other things, the following…

  • You are a sinner by nature and choice.  (Romans 3:10-18)
  • You are under the wrath of an almighty God. (Romans 1:18 ; Romans 2:5)
  • You can’t fix yourself. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
  • Your best efforts to do good are more stinky than a pile of poo and filthy menstual rags.
  • You cannot know God via any other means or religions outside of Christ, everything else is damnable. (John 14:6)

 

If you are living or preaching a Gospel that’s not offending, THEN YOU ARE NOT LIVING OR PREACHING THE RIGHT GOSPEL. The results of the Gospel will always be drastic. It will either result in radical life-change or anger and even persecution towards the one who proclaims it.

However, we can’t end this post with that because the Gospel is also GOOD NEWS! It is a SWEET FRAGRANCE to those recieving it because the benefits are MANY… salvation, eternity with God, unity with Goddeepest satisfaction and joy, personal holiness, freedom from sin, and a life that brings glory to God.

So, following my bike ride… Me and God are good… I can’t say the same for how others percieve me (or my spiritual odor), but that’s okay! My pursuit is to know Jesus and make Him known today!

With that being said, DON’T try to cover or mask your odor for acceptence of those who think YOU STINK… it’s really NOT YOU THAT STINKS… that’s really the smell of THEIR OWN SIN. Keep being salt and light and continue loving and pointing them to JESUS!

In closing…

How do you smell today?

How do others smell to you?

How does your life smell to God?

This evening my family and some great new friends enjoyed dinner together at Pasta House. We had a great time chatting and sharing life together. However, I must say that I walked away very burdened.

As Heather, our waitress, brought out our dinner rolls I notice an ornate Cross tattoo just inside her wrist. This was in no way offensive to me, but I had to know… What was the significance of the Cross for Heather?

For me the Cross is redemption, forgiveness, a fresh and clean start, the reality that my Savior gave His life for me. Philippians 2:8 says, And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!

I have to be honest. I expected that Heather perhaps shared the same life change that I have found in the Cross. However, that was not the case. When I asked her to share with me why the Cross tattoo… she simply said, “It looked really cool so I picked it.”

Wow! She has missed the POWER of the Cross! The instrument of death used to crucify Jesus has been reduced to… “It looked really cool.” My heart broke, but not because Heather “dissed” the Cross. I was broken because there is an entire generation out there that the Church would rather be critical of a tattoo than to be a witness that would take the opportunity to love people like Heather to the Cross.

Will you be so bold to let go of any judgmental spirit or attitudes that you are carrying today? Will you love the MANY Heather’s out there to the Cross?

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“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others,
you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and
pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

 – Matthew 7:1-3