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Thanks to the generous folks that I have the joy of pastoring at Terra Nova Church, Jennifer and I are spending a week away… ALONE… on sabbatical in St. George Island, Florida. It’s our earnest desire to return refreshed and renewed… ready to continue the journey before us!

This was our first full day here and we’ve done nothing other than REST and obviously enjoy the beauty of our surroundings. This evening we walked down to the beach for a quick walk and to watch the sunset. It was absolutely gorgeous… as you can see in the picture below!


Beach Sunset

As we were walking, Jennifer began to collect seashells. This is traditionally what she has done every time we have been on the beach together, but the conversation today was different. It encouraged me and brought me a great amount of joy. So, I want to briefly share it here in hopes that you too may find joy in the Gospel… the provision of our gracious Savior!

Broken Seashells As we walked, I too joined in the adventure of collecting seashells. I would grab one, show Jennifer, and wait for her approval. She would look at each one and decide if it made the cut. If it was approved, she placed it in her pocket… If not, it was tossed back into the water. I began to grow confident in this process and bypass those that appeared to be broken… assuming this was part of the criteria… NO BROKEN SHELLS. However, apparently I was wrong.

Out in front of me was a pretty shell, but it was broken. Jennifer asked me to grab that one. I inquired why she wanted it due to its broken condition. Her response is what prompted this blog and my finding joy in the Gospel. She said, “It’s broken, but it’s still beautiful. Like me… I’m truly broken, but God still thinks I’m pretty beautiful.” Wow! I couldn’t agree more!

You see we are ALL broken people… filled with sin… and lost apart from Christ. Please hear me, I’m constantly aware of my brokenness… my sinfulness. This is why the Gospel is the GOOD NEWS. He has redeemed us and chooses to use us… even in our brokenness!

I’m personally grateful for this time that Jennifer and I get to spend away… TOGETHER. It’s already been an amazing time of personal reflection, repentance, and renewal. Believe it or not… Pastors are people too… their personal lives… their relationships… their marriages… have brokenness. It’s so easy to run 100 miles an hour IN MINISTRY and not slow down to nurture our own relationship with Jesus and one another.

So, tonight I REST spiritually… IN HIM… JESUS… and His grace… and forgiveness. I’m broken, but I’m still beautiful to Him. I hope you too will find peace in the redemption that is available in Jesus.

Finally, when it comes to my precious wife… she too is broken. And truthfully, I’ve fallen in love with her many times despite the brokenness… However, today… I’ve fallen in love with her because of her brokenness. The video below pretty much sums up desire for us as we continue this journey called marriage… parenting… ministry… and life.

Stay tuned. I’ll share much more as I spend some much-needed time in the arms of Jesus.

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Are you in conversation with the Holy Spirit?

 

For the past few weeks I’ve been preaching about the Holy Spirit. It has been a great journey and I’ve truly enjoyed watching our church grow in our understanding. The video below is a great and even humorous look into a conversation that we ALL need to have with the Holy Spirit based on Psalm 139.

 

 

How would this conversation go for you? Are you growing in your relationship with the Holy Spirit? Take some time to read Psalm 139. Better yet, let Psalm 139 read you!

 

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.

Love

This past weekend we began a new series at Terra Nova Church called Christian. The reality is that MANY things can fall under the label of ‘Christian’ and yet not truly reflect Biblical truth. In fact, Jesus didn’t call us to become Christians, but rather disciples… learners, pupils, adherents, followers. And the Bible gives CLEAR expectations for those individuals.

We discovered that one way others will know that we are His disciples is based upon how we love others.

“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

Also, when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was… He again replies with the idea that loving others is vital and a true reflection of being His disciples.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  — Matthew 22:36-40

So, where do we start? What does loving others really look like?

It is interesting that God’s greatest commandment doesn’t ask you to love humanity in general. It asks you to love your neighbor specifically. God wants you to love the actual people that you know. The one who borrows your stuff and doesn’t return it. The one whose dog gets in your trash and leaves unwanted deposits in your yard. The one who takes credit for your work. The one who spreads rumors about you. The one who constantly clings to you.

You would probably say that you love people in general. But do you love the specific, real live people you encounter each day? That is much more difficult, and that is what God wants from you. Love your neighbor as yourself.

When we, the Church, love others the way Jesus loves us… something incredible happens… the Gospel is put on display and totally validated in a real way!

So, GO LOVE OTHERS AS JESUS HAS LOVED YOU!

This weekend we continue our series… BOLD. I truly believe that talking through the message during the week helps you turn what God is saying to you into action steps. These talking points, questions, and scriptures are designed to help you take the next step. Use these questions to stir your heart and develop a personal action plan.

  • What’s one of the most miraculous things you’ve ever seen or heard about?

 

READ: with your Bible or YouVersion, read Acts 4:23-37.

In this passage, Peter and John prayed bold prayers before God that led to bold results.

  • How would you describe the way you typically pray? In what ways do your prayers reflect what you believe about God?
  • What stood out to you about bold prayers after reading Peter and John’s prayers in Acts 4?
  • When was the last time you were amazed by the power of prayer? How did that experience affect your relationship with God?
  • Why do you think prayers become bolder when they are prayed together in a group?
  • What’s keeping you from changing your selfish and small prayers into bold prayers?
  • What bold prayers do you need to start praying today?
  • Peter and John’s prayers led to bold results. What bold results would you like to see come from your bold prayers?
  • What impact do you think it would have on your church if everyone began praying bold prayers?
  • In what ways have you seen the power of bold prayers build your faith in Christ?

 

NEXT STEPS:

Stop praying selfish and small prayers this week and begin to pray bold prayers. Start by picking two or three bold things to pray for. Follow the example in Acts 4 by praying for boldness in your life and in the lives of others. If you or someone you know has a great need, pray that God will work a miracle in that situation. Consider sharing your bold prayer requests with others and ask them to pray your bold prayers with you.

PRAYER GUIDE:

  • Thank God for the bold and miraculous things He has done in your life and in the lives of others.
  • Ask God for boldness in your life. Ask Him to give you boldness in your prayers, speech, obedience, and actions.
  • Share some great needs that you or someone you know may have. Pray boldly that God will work miracles in these situations.
  • Ask God to make your church bold and to stir within your church the desire for bold prayers and results.
  • Ask God to help help you make a difference in the world through your bold prayers and actions.

This weekend we began a brand-new series… BOLD. I truly believe that talking through the message during the week helps you turn what God is saying to you into action steps. These talking points, questions, and scriptures are designed to help you take the next step. Use these questions to stir your heart and develop a personal action plan.

  • What’s one of the most amazing acts of boldness that you’ve seen?

 

READ: with your Bible or YouVersion, read Acts 4:1-22.

In this passage, Peter and John exhibit such boldness before the Sadducees that it tremendously impacted those around them.

  • What can you learn about being bold for Christ from Peter and John’s example in Acts 4?
  • Peter and John were ordinary people who spoke and acted with boldness. How do you think being bolder for Christ would impact you and your relationship with God?
  • In what areas of life do you most need amazing boldness?
  • Boldness is behavior born out of belief. What beliefs about yourself do you need to change that are keeping you from living with amazing boldness?
  • Describe a time when you were bold. What was the outcome of your boldness and what did you learn from it?
  • Peter and John’s boldness amazed the Sadducees. Who could benefit from your being bold for Christ?
  • How would you rate your current level of boldness? What’s keeping you from being bold?
  • Who would you describe as being amazingly bold for Christ? What about their boldness inspires you?
  • As Jesus builds your faith, your boldness will also grow. What steps do you need to take immediately to grow your faith in Christ?

 

NEXT STEPS:

This weekend I communicated that spiritual boldness comes from knowing Christ. In other words, the more Jesus builds your faith, the more boldness you will see in your life. Take inventory of your relationship with Christ this week and see what steps you need to take immediately in order to grow your faith in Christ. Those steps could be more prayer time, increasing your time reading God’s Word, or seeking a mature believer to mentor you.

The Book of Acts is full of examples of amazing boldness as the first church began the task Jesus entrusted them with and advanced His kingdom into all the nations. During this series, read the Acts Reading Plan in YouVersion. As you read, be intentional about finding examples of bold living that you can follow in your own life and share with others.

 

PRAYER GUIDE:

  • Ask God to reveal what He would like boldness in your life to look like.
  • Thank God for the bold people He has placed in your life who have helped you grow your faith in Christ.
  • Ask God to develop amazing boldness in all areas of your life and in your faith in Christ.
  • Ask God to deepen your faith in Him so that boldness will result out of your faith.
  • Pray for those you feel would benefit in their faith by your boldness. Ask God to give you the boldness you need to impact them.

I’m super excited to launch a brand new series this weekend called BOLD. God has called ordinary people just like you and me to live out our faith boldly. The power of one simple act of boldness could be life-changing.

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. — Acts 4:13

When we’ve truly been with Jesus… our actions simply reveal it…

In the video below a young man, Lance, makes one choice that reveals his love for Christ and his quick act of BOLDNESS makes a HUGE difference. Not only was his competitor overwhelmed, but so was all who witnessed his simple act of boldness.

 

 

How about you? Are you ready to be BOLD for Jesus? Get ready… this is going to be a great series! See you this weekend.

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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?

5questions

This blog is a great follow-up to last weekend’s Renewed Bliss message that was a challenge for men… How to Become a Great Lead-Her. WATCH IT HERE on YouTube or LISTEN HERE for the iTunes Podcast.

1. What is the most romantic thing that I’ve ever done for you?

I think you will be surprised… The answer will most likely be something you totally didn’t expect. When we get married we tend to think about nice places and spending lots of money, but the reality is that the little things go along way to communicate our love for our wife.

2. What is something fun we can do together?

Guys, our definition of fun and hers are usually completely different. One of the things about most women is that they want to feel connected to their husbands… to feel like they matter and are important… and one of the ways they do that is by simply having fun.

Now men — I’m not talking about taking her to something that you like doing… I am talking about asking her what she wants to do… and then making that happen! Trust me, it communicates to her that you care.

3. What is one thing I can do for you this week that will relieve stress from your life?

I truly believe that we honestly have no idea how much stress a lady carries around with her on a daily basis. Then you also have to take into consideration how they were created… you don’t have to understand it… you just have to know… that in their life… everything affects everything. So, we should be willing to do all that we can to relieve stress from her life.

This may include giving her an afternoon to herself… without the kids. It may include you cooking dinner one night… and even cleaning up afterwards. Whatever it takes… do it!

4. How can I pray for you?

It is amazing the number of men who will not ask their wife this question. Men, we are called to lead our homes spiritually, which means we should provide protection and direction.

Now, when she asks you to pray for something specific, please resist the temptation to go ahead and be the answer to her prayer by solving the problem she’s bringing to your attention. She asked you to pray… not lecture. I know we have a tendency to try to fix everything, but she doesn’t want you to fix her problem… she wants you to listen to her!

5. If you could change one thing about our marriage, what would it be?

This one takes guts! Most of us assume or at least hope that the answer would be… NOTHING and that our wife would proceed to tell us that we’re perfect. However, that’s rarely the case.

If your wife shares a concern, it’s probably NOT for the purpose of hurting you, but rather because she truly desires to improve that area of your marriage. It may sting a little, but it will also give great insight into what she considers to be important.

Men, Ephesians 5:25 says we are to love our wives as Christ loves his bride, the church.

  • He never stops loving the church.
  • He never stops pursuing the church.
  • He always comes home for the church.
  • He never cheats on the church.
  • He provides for the church.
  • He never stops thinking about the church.
  • He takes the church seriously.

I am not the perfect husband, but more and more I am realizing that my marriage should not be about what I can get, but what I can give and how I can serve.

As men of God, we should go all out to show the world how awesome Jesus is by loving our brides as He loves His!


This adapted post originally appeared on PerryNoble.com