Archive for May, 2010

The Blind

May 29, 2010

Contributed by Tim White, Next Gen Pastor at Image Church

Luke 18:35-43 – As he drew near to Jericho; a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38 And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” 42 And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God. [ESV]

This account of the blind beggar is recorded in three of the four books of the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, and here in Luke.  In Mark, we read that the blind beggar’s name was Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus.  I have read through this account many times, but a couple of weeks ago, I shared from this passage with our 5th and 6th grade Discovery Land class. As I was preparing and then sharing this passage with our kids, two things stuck out to me from this passage that caused me to evaluate how I was living my own life for Jesus.

  1. How is Jesus being proclaimed to those who are blind and hopeless today?

37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

The world is full of lies about who Jesus really is. You may have heard some of the many lies yourself, like the one I always love to get by those who come to my door and tell me that Jesus was just a prophet. This blind man could hear the commotion and excitement of a large crowd.  He asked those from the crowd what was going on. Those in the crowd proclaimed to this blind man, who could only hear the commotion and excitement, that “Jesus of Nazareth” was coming.  Jesus is so much more than just a man from a small town called Nazareth, or just a prophet. Bartimaeus the blind beggar recognized Jesus as much more. He began shouting to Jesus, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me” Bartimaeus knew who Jesus was.  He didn’t call to Him as “Jesus of Nazareth” but as “Jesus, Son of David”, the title that was meant for the Messiah who was to come from the bloodline of King David.

  1. How do those who have seen the light of Jesus treat the blind and hopeless today?

38 And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

What strikes me is the reaction of the crowd. They rebuked him, and told the man to be quiet. As the church, we can easily become like those in the crowd. We can become no better than those living for themselves and the world. We stand by, allowing the lies of Jesus to be spread and not caring for those who are blind to the truth and living hopeless lives.

There are many people in this fallen world who are blind to the truth and suffering. We are all called to live as the light of Christ in this world…to proclaim the truth of Jesus to all. We need to be the church, ready to share the love of Jesus to all. Those who are helpless, those who may annoy us, and those we would rather avoid than spending time with them. Jesus showed us love when we were still lost in our sin. Who are we to keep that same love from anyone else?

How are your neighbors, your co-workers, and those around you hearing about Jesus?

How are you personally sharing Jesus to the blind and hopeless around you?

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The Theology of Mustard

May 22, 2010

Contributed by Chris Rhodenhizer, Lead Pastor of Image Church

Mark 4:30-32 – And he said, With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade. [ESV]

How could Jesus describe the Kingdom of God?  Such a vast and great Kingdom, just to describe it, is a great undertaking!  So, He used the smallest thing He could think of…a mustard seed.  These are the smallest seeds, but when planted and given the opportunity to take root, they begin to grow and become a very large plant.  As it grows, it gives shelter, it gives nourishment, it even gives pleasure, and it fills appetites.

Why would He use this to describe His Kingdom? Because it offers shelter to the birds, it gives nourishment from its seed, it brings pleasure from its taste, and it can even fill appetites. It is so small, at first, yet it grows.  It is so small, yet it meets such great needs.  It is so small, yet it meets a variety of needs.  It is often over-looked, yet it provides shelter.  It is even not liked by many, and it still grows; it still moves forward!

I believe this is Christ’s greatest illustration, because it so clearly draws a picture of what His Church could be, should be, and would be!  I hope and pray the description below, of a mustard seed, will be what defines our church…

A condiment made from the seeds of the mustard plant. When the seeds are crushed, elements are released, creating a fiery tasting essence.

Imagine this…

Imagine our church releasing a fiery essence – in our city, state, country and the world!

True Friends

May 16, 2010

Contributed by Mike Scott, Elder Overseer of Web/ Graphic Arts/ Media at Image Church.

What is the mark of a true friend?  Some of us have lots of friends.  Friends we grew up with in the neighborhood and throughout high school and college. People that we were roommates with or fellow co-workers. Some of us have hundreds and thousands of friends on our Facebook pages or Twitter.  The dictionary defines a friend as a “person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard, or a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter.”  It is always good to know that you have friends that you can count on to be there for you and love you unconditionally.  My family has felt love and comfort the past weeks from our true friends, as we went through some trials. In reflecting upon it, we feel blessed to have such great friends and are thankful.

The past week, my reading has on two different occasions talked about friends. In Proverbs 27:6 it says – Faithful are the wounds of a friend, profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (ESV)  Profuse means deceitful.  This hit hard, because it states that if we have integrity and are true to our friends that we love, we won’t let them do things they shouldn’t, even if we have to be bold and tell them they are wrong.  Most people struggle with this, I think, because they are afraid of hurting their friends. The funny thing is that we risk hurting them more in the long run if we don’t step in to try and help. All this must be done in a loving way.

Today in my devotions, I read Proverbs 27:17 that states iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (ESV) This verse, I think, speaks for itself. God has placed friends in our lives for a reason, and He has placed us in people’s lives for a reason. Our life as Christian’s is a journey, and we will experience many highs and lows. The great thing is that as our Heavenly Father has given us the Holy Spirit to comfort us and has given us His word to communicate with us; and we know that we can always talk to Him any time we want. However, He has also given us those true friends that will stick closer than a brother. So what kind of friend are you?  A friend that motivates others to do what is right? A friend that challenges others to follow God and be the kind of person that He desires?  We all can probably do a better job at being the true friend that God wants us to be.

All Truth

May 8, 2010

Contributed by Russ Perkins, Elder Overseer of Communities at Image Church

Genesis 41:32 – And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about.

In the Old Testament, a man named Joseph lived, and all who are familiar with the story of his life understand he faced more than his fair share of crushing adversity.  Joseph trusted in the living God of all truth.  Joseph was given the task of providing answers.  No one else at the time was able to furnish this information.  Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams.  In His wisdom, God chose to speak to an Egyptian King via the King’s dreams, and then the living God of all truth used His servant Joseph to deliver the correct interpretations regarding the meaning of those dreams.

The living God of all truth still speaks today, and His eternal, inerrant Word in the hands and on the tongues of his chosen people are perhaps the primary instruments at His disposal.  The Apostle John captures for us all in his gospel the words of Jesus.

John 8:51 – Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.

Jesus’ words are definitive and unambiguous.  To those who obey His word – death will have no dominion.  This profoundly important, life-altering truth spoken by the Lord Jesus Himself is similarly “fixed and shortly to be brought about”.  It is true for all who believe and trust in the Word who became flesh and for a short while dwelled among us some 2000 years ago. 

The believer’s responsibility today is similar to the one Joseph was given in the days he lived.  We who also trust in the living God of all truth (when given the opportunity) must be prepared to provide answers/interpretations based primarily upon the eternal truths contained in the scriptures that He has so graciously provided for us all.  This is a great privilege and sobering responsibility granted to all who, by His grace through their faith, have received so great a salvation.

Are we students of the living Word?  Do we know and understand it/Him well enough to communicate eternal truths to those who surround us?  If in our personal analysis we determine we are deficient, perhaps it has become time we take the necessary steps to correct these shortcomings by spending the requisite time with Him in the Word and in so doing give the scriptures and the person of Jesus the priority they both deserve – even demand.

Truth – absolute truth. Does such a thing even really exist?  Many answers swirl all about in the culture in which we live.  Opinions abound and are often given by intelligent and thoughtful people, but which is correct? Who is right, and who is wrong?  What answers can be counted upon?  I contend (and I am not alone in this) only those answers rooted in the Word of God are of any enduring value.  Here is the real deal – the truth is a person, and His name is Jesus.  I understand many will reject this supposition – I once did also, but I do no longer.  I was blind but now I see…

Lastly – one need not be a theologian in order to effectively testify to the reality and greatness of our God.  The decision to advance in the direction of an ever-increasing knowledge and understanding of the God we love and follow is, for certain, movement in the correct direction.  That decision is ours to make.  We each can be as intimate with our creator as we chose to be.  So then – it stands to reason that we should elect to follow/obey/trust as well as we are able with His help that is working in us — the Son of Man, who is our Savior and King – our living God of all truth.

God’s Forgiveness

May 2, 2010

Contributed by John Hellmund, Elder Overseer of Finance at Image Church

The past couple weeks have been very taxing for my family.  A relative went missing, and the whole family was very concerned for their safety.  We all started praying and contacting anybody and everybody we knew to see if they had seen this relative and also to pray. 

To make a very long publicly nationalized story short, the family member was found and admits to being selfish and leaving their family.  I don’t mention this story to condemn the family member.  This has definitely been done by enough people.  I write this to tell how I felt. 

When I first found out they were found, I was so relieved.  This relief soon turned to anger.  I was thinking about how concerned the family was and not what this other relative was going through.  It made me think of the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 which most people are familiar with.  Here’s my abridged version of the parable:   A father had two sons.  The younger son asked his father for the portion of goods that would fall to him.  When the younger son received his goods, he went off to a far country and wasted all his money.  At this same time, a severe famine arose in the land.  He took a job feeding pigs and wished for the pods the pigs ate.

He turned aside his pride and made the decision to go back home and ask to be a servant in his father’s house so that he could survive.  As he is walking up to his home, his father ran out to him and hugged and kissed him.  He called a servant to get a ring to put on his hand and sandals for his feet.  A party was given for the son that was once lost, because he had returned home. 

Picking up the story at Luke 15:25-32 – “Now his older son was in the field.  And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.  26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant.  27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’  28 “But he was angry and would not go in.  Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him.  29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.  30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’  31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.  32 It was right we should make merry and be glad, “for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”

This story was very convicting for me.  The initial concern for my family member quickly turned to anger like the older brother.  No longer was I concerned about the family member, I was only thinking about myself.  I had become the selfish one, concerned only about my feelings.    I made this an issue about me, when it had very little to do with me.  I had to confess this as sin and ask God for forgiveness.  Thankfully, God’s Word says in 1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  When we go to God and ask for forgiveness and repent, He will forgive us.  This is a great promise that we need to hold on to.  After getting over the anger and asking for forgiveness, I was back to truly being concerned for my relative’s well-being.    I continue to pray that they make the wise choice, seek God, repent and go back to their family.