Archive for January, 2011

Fear and Comfort

January 23, 2011

Contributed by Brian Shifflett, Worship Pastor at Image Church

Recently, while in the book of Acts, I was stopped by a verse that would normally be easy to just glance right over.  In fact, I’m sure I have done just that before, because I have read the book of Acts in the past yet never had a second thought about it.  Acts 9:31 says:

So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied (Acts 9:31 ESV).

This verse appears right after a huge turnaround for the church.  One of the key players in the persecution of the church, Saul, has been converted in a radical way. No one could have dreamed that the one who was imprisoning Christian believers would become their biggest advocate and most powerful missionary. But Jesus turned things around, and peace fell upon the church.

The verse continues on to say that the church walked in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.  Fear and comfort may first seem like opposites.  But they are not at all.  John Piper describes walking in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit as being in the eye of a hurricane.  There is calm, peace, and hope within the eye of a hurricane, while the fearsome power of the wind swirls all around.

I urge all of us to live with this type of fear and comfort; resting in the arms of a sovereign God, yet never forgetting His mighty power.  No matter where we are at in our personal lives or in the life of our church, Jesus can turn things around at any moment.  He did it in the life of Paul and the early church, and if you believe He is alive and well today, He can do it again.

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Determination

January 18, 2011

Contributed by Tim White, Next Gen Pastor at Image Church

Hebrews 12:1-2 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

The weight and burdens that we carry through life can often cause us to desire to just give-up. Paul knew this far to well, as he faced many hardships throughout his journey to share the truth of the good news of Jesus. He most likely saw many people give-up, as circumstances in life became too hard for them to handle on their own. Paul reminds the followers of Jesus here in Hebrews 12:1-2 that we are to lay aside ourselves and run the race with endurance that has been set before us. To help us run this race, Paul says that we are to look to Jesus who is the perfecter of our faith, who endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Throughout the month of January, we are looking at Determination in our I-Kids Discovery Land classes. Determination is deciding it’s worth it to finish what you’ve started. Throughout the Bible, we find people like Noah, Moses, Gideon, David, the prophets, the 12 disciples, Paul, and many others, including Jesus himself, complete great tasks that were laid before them.

Our children are learning that when they feel like giving-up, they need to look to Jesus to keep moving forward, and to be determined to finish what they start…even the small things. Finishing what we start only helps us build confidence and prepares us for the next challenge in finishing the race that God has laid before us. It is important for us to stay focused on Jesus when circumstances in life bring us down, and we begin to feel like giving-up. God never gives-up on us, He will never quit on His people, and He will only give you what He knows you can handle. We must keep moving forward, determined to finish the race that God has laid before us. My prayer is that our children will truly understand this reality, so that when they are faced with challenges and hardships, they will have the confidence and endurance to push forward, looking to Jesus and knowing that He finished the race set before Him so that they can have life.

As parents, we are to demonstrate this to our children. As a father of three with a fourth child on the way, I find this very hard at times. I am currently going to school to eventually receive my degree in religion. I know that God has prepared me for this challenge and will help see me through. Raising a family while working a full-time job and attending college classes is tough, as I am quickly finding out. But I must not forsake the family that God has blessed me with along the way. With the extra workload, it would be easy for me to give-up on the times and activities that I have set with my family. The worst thing I could do to my kids is to not be there for them or start something with them and not follow-through with it. 

  • Do you follow-through on the things you start with your children?
  • Do you quit when things get hard or life gets too busy?
  • Do you finish small tasks with your children that will help prepare them for the larger tasks they will face in life?

As parents, we need to be determined to focus on Jesus, as we strive to finish the race that He has laid before us. We need to be examples of this to our children and the next generation of the church.

What Happens in the Dash Matters

January 9, 2011

Contributed by Chris Rhodenhizer, Lead Pastor of Image Church

Questions are good for us… I was once asked what I wanted to do when I grew up.  Most of us have been asked the same thing. This question is very important to answer, and the answer matters BIG TIME! It matters what we do in this very temporal life. We should not just live for retirement… retire from DASH jobs, but not Kingdom jobs!

Jesus offers us salvation, then we are to passionately live this out… with a wreckless abandonment to our old lives! We will all have a tombstone one day, and no matter what is written on it, we will all have one thing in common… A DASH!

Luke 14:25-33 – Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, This man began to build and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. [ESV]

Jesus isn’t saying that if we do these things we will earn salvation or discipleship status with Him, He is addressing people who are acting like they want to be His followers…. He wants to make sure they understand what it means to follow Him in this life, during the DASH… this would all be a result of His gracious work of salvation in their lives… if they have truly experienced His grace and are truly His followers. Jesus is laying out what it means to be committed to Him during the Dash. If what happens in the Dash matters, then our commitments in the Dash matter…

Our commitments in the Dash matter because:

1st: Commitment leads us to passionately prioritize

Look at verses 25-26 – Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

So we must know, truly, what matters most to us, in this life. Now this might sound harsh at first glance, but we must understand what Jesus was saying here, He is using a comparison… First of all, He is turning around and almost smacking these people or fans in the face. He uses their families to compare the level of love they should have for Him, family should be who we love the most, He knew that, but our love for Him should be so great that our love for family would almost look like hate.

Then He takes it a step further and compares it to self-love, and we all love ourselves. BUT Jesus calls us to love Him so much that it looks like we hate self.

He calls us to commit to the priority of loving Him the most… that we have a deep, incredible, unexplainable passion for HIM!!! So we commit to invest our love in HIM! Then HE goes on to tell us in order to be His disciples our commitment matters because…

2nd: Commitment leads us to willingly sacrifice

Look at verse 27Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

To carry a cross was a bold statement to make, because the Jews in that time knew what it meant to carry a cross, you had literally lost your life if you are carrying a cross. What Jesus is conveying here is that we must be willing to submit our very lives to the master, even lose our lives if we have to, in order to submit our wills to His will. We must deny our selfish desires and be willing to sacrifice when necessary, even if it cost us our lives. This should come naturally, when we are passionate for Jesus, but it is still a sacrifice, it cost something. The cross was Jesus’ passion, but it was still a painful sacrifice to endure. The obedience to take up HIS cross came naturally, but HE still made a sacrifice and a painful one at that… So we give up our lives for the Kingdom, for others, and we invest in other lives.

There is a 3rd thing we see Jesus calling us to in this life… if our commitment matters in the Dash…

3rd: Commitment leads us to count the cost and release

Look at verses 28-33 – For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, This man began to build and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

We see here there is an almost wreckless abandonment to possessions.  That we are willing to not only give up, but to release and renounce our things, look at these similar passages where Jesus addressed possessions…

Matthew 6:19-21 – Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. [ESV]

Matthew 6:24 – No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. [ESV]

Jesus wasn’t saying a disciple must take a vow of poverty, NO, a disciple would release his trust in possessions and place his trust in Jesus alone. A disciple would use the possessions or money for the One he is following. We invest our money in the Kingdom work, the local CHURCH! We must commit, today, to live this out.

If you are a true disciple and desire to be one, I am calling on us to truly commit to this, because our commitments in the DASH matter.

Would you pray about committing to this in 2011???

DASH 2011 Commitment

I commit to passionately prioritize my relationship with Jesus through faithful, daily prayer and obedience to be in His WORD.

God is going to do great things, as a result of our level of prayer and fasting! Lets commit to this in 2011… fasting and praying. Also, meditate on the WORD daily, memorize parts of it, get a good study Bible and learn, read, read, read!!! Now back to prayer, check this out…

Matthew 9:35-38 – And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. [ESV]

Jesus had just finished dealing with a ton of needy people, you would think He would have given the disciples instructions on how to meet the physical, temporal needs. He didn’t. In chapter 10 He sends them out with these instructions, but here, first He instructs them to PRAY, and specifically pray for laborers. He is telling them to pray for the Church.

David Platt in his book “Radical” puts it this way… “I would have expected Jesus to say, “You guys see the need. The harvest is plentiful. So pray for these people who are harassed and helpless. Pray for them.” But that isn’t what he said. Jesus didn’t say pray for those who are lost. Instead he told the disciples to pray for the church. Why do you think Jesus would look at the crowds around Him, with all their deep needs, and then turn to His disciples and tell them to pray for themselves? The answer is humbling. When Jesus looked at the harassed and helpless multitudes, apparently his concern was not that the lost would come to the Father. Instead His concern was that His followers would not go to the lost.”

Lets pray for laborers here!!!

This all leads to the next commitment…

I commit to willingly sacrifice time in my life by investing in at least ONE person’s life by telling them about Jesus and leading them through discipleship.

Matthew 28:19 – Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Enough said!!! One last commitment for 2011 dash…

I commit to prayerfully count the cost and release finances by consistently, generously, and cheerfully investing money in this local church for the sake of the mission of Jesus Christ.

Matthew 6:21 – For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. [ESV]

We need money to carry out the mission, it takes commitment, it takes sacrifice, it takes consistency, it takes generosity, and it should all be done cheerfully!

I do not own this church, Jesus does. Church we have a vision of giving $60,000 to our global missions this year, we have a vision to support more missionaries in China. We have a vision to bring on more missionaries/pastors on our staff here so they can be completely devoted to the work of the church. We have a vision to expand our physical warehouse space during the DASH… SO, what happens with our money, in the dash matters… HOW WE INVEST OUR MONEY AND WHAT WE INVEST OUR MONEY IN, DURING THE DASH, MATTERS BIG TIME!!!

The fact is, we spend money on what we are passionate about.

We spend our time with people we want to be around.

We passionately prioritize what we do with our lives, and we passionately prioritize who we love the most!

So, here is the question… what are you going to do with your dash?

Mulligan

January 2, 2011

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

What is a Mulligan? The origin of the term is up for debate, but the most widely credited story of the mulligan origin centers on a Canadian golfer named David Mulligan. He was supposedly the first to take a mulligan shot – essentially a “do-over” shot – after being badly shaken from the rough driving over a bridge on his way to the golf course. His playing partners then dubbed the shot after their shaken friend, calling it the “Mulligan.” There are other stories about other players named Mulligan, and many follow much the same pattern.

This time of year people make resolutions for the New Year, but some of us would probably like a Mulligan on some things that happened in 2010.

In the following passage, we find Jesus having a conversation with Peter.

John 21:15 (ESV) 15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

Here we find Peter in a situation where he would have loved a do-over or a mulligan. He had denied Jesus in a moment of fear and weakness, not once but three times. However, we see Jesus restore Peter even though he had denied Jesus three times, but Jesus makes Peter confess that he loved Jesus three times.  Jesus restored Peter just like he restores us when we fail or stray away from Him or lose focus. This year can be one of challenge and great accomplishments. It will also be tough and discouraging at times. The past is the past, and we can’t go back and do it over or take a mulligan. Make this year count.