Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Change Agent: I'm Optimistic - Pt. 5 "God Works for My Good"

“…who satisfies your desires with good things…” (Psalm 103:5) 

I’ve learned a really cool lesson in life: I don’t always know what satisfies me. That might sound strange. You might think, “That doesn’t make sense, of course you know what satisfies you. If you don’t know what satisfies you—who does?” God does, better than I do.

I’m reminded of a lyric from an old Garth Brooks song, “Thank God for unanswered prayers.” Boy do I ever have a list of things I’ve longed and prayed for that didn’t come to pass, and later, through the 20/20 lens of hindsight, I thanked God for saying, “No.” 

I also have a long list of things I thought I couldn’t live without, that I worked ridiculously hard for—that turned out to be flops. Oh, some of them were satisfying for a season, but that quickly faded and I was left with that old familiar void of wanting in my soul. There’s a reason for that.

St. Augustine was right when he said, "We were made for You, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

I wasn’t and you weren’t created to be satisfied by anything this world can offer. God satisfies us with good things. And guess who gets to define what good is? God does. And I’ve learned that God is a lot better at knowing what’s good for me than I am. I have too many memories of times that I set out on my own to blaze a trail and achieve satisfaction for myself, only to end up tired and wanting.

I also have some victory stories! It’s funny, because all of my victory stories begin with me surrendering to God.  That's probably the crux of this lesson.  I’ve learned, the hard way that in God’s Kingdom, victory begins with surrender to Him. Every time I strive after something in my flesh the fruit is always anxiety, strife and weariness. Every time I surrender my plans to God, the fruit is always peace, joy and authentic satisfaction.

God has taught me that my deepest desire is to know and walk in harmony with Him—and when I
"...seek first his kingdom and his righteousness" (Mt. 6:33) I reap real a sense of joy and lasting satisfaction that nothing in this world and offer.

"What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul" (Mk. 8:36)?

When I surrender to and pursue God—in whatever I’m doing—the result is always joy and peace that passes understanding (Phil. 4:7).

"Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track" (Pr. 3:5:6, The Message).

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). 

God’s purpose for all of us is that we might know Christ and grow in Christ. When we walk in surrender to and pursuit of that purpose, we KNOW that God works in all things—the ups, the downs and everything in-between to deepen our relationship with His Son and make us more like Him in our character.  That king of relationship with Jesus is truly good and it satisfies our souls like nothing else can.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desire of your heart” (Ps. 37:4). 

I used to think this passage meant If you keep God’s rules and you’re really good—God will give you the stuff you want and make you happy. That line of thinking led to a lot of dead-ends, disappointments and disillusion. The reality is that God IS the desire of our heart and when we find delight in knowing and walking with Him—there is joy in all that we do.

Again, the key to victory starts with surrender. When I allow God to shape the desires of my heart I find satisfaction.

“God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns… For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Phil. 1:6 & 2:13, NLT).

Think about this, desire to follow God without the power to do it, is futile. And you can have all the power in the world to follow God but if you don’t possess the desire to follow, once again, it’s useless. But God gives us BOTH and when desire is coupled with power—Katy bar the door, there’s no stopping that person!  No wonder Peter wrote, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life” (2 Pet. 1:3, NLT).

I’m optimistic because in Christ I know: all my sin is forgiven, I’m whole, redeemed, loved and my life is in the hands of a God who is always working for my good! And remember, those are just five reasons, drawn from five verses in a single psalm. We have 31,097 more verses to draw from!

As followers of the One who is the Way, The Truth and The Life, filled with His grace power and presence, we have a lot of optimistic light to share with this dark world! I’m glad you’re with me on this amazing mission!

Thanks for reading!  If you were encouraged--remember to share!

Blessings,
Brad

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Jesus In The Old Testament -- Jesus & Noah Pt. 1

Hey guys---this week is ONE OF THOSE WEEKS..  I will be unable to blog much... I might get something in tomorrow... we'll see.

But today--I wanted to share a NEW teaching video I just posted at YouTube!

If you’re a student of the Bible, you’ve probably heard people talk about “types” or “foreshadowings” – I.e. people or events that foreshadow another person, or event further along in history. A great example of this is the Temple in Jerusalem. It was an amazing structure—filled with priceless decor and spiritual symbolism. The earthly temple was a type, or a foreshadowing of the Heavenly Temple. “For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Heb. 9:24).

 In this series I’m looking at a well know Biblical hero-NOAH and how he foreshadowed the life and ministry of Jesus. Here in part one we discover how both Noah and Jesus were agents of rest for God’s people.


Thanks for reading/watching!  Remember to share!

Blessings,
Brad

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Change Agent: I'm Optimistic - Pt. 4 "I am loved by God"

“…and crowns you with love and compassion…” (Psalm 103:4) 

The crown of a King represents his position and standing.  The crown declares that the person who wears it--IS KING!  God's love is our crown.  His love declares (of all who have received it) that we are His children.  We are sons and daughters of the King!

For God, love is much more than mere sentiment. It’s a way of acting. When the bible speaks of God’s love for us it’s not saying God sits in heaven with warm fuzzy feelings toward us.  I’m not saying God has no affection for his children, He absolutely does, but His love for us goes much deeper than mere sentiment or affection. Sentiment says nice things. God’s love left heaven, was born into this this broken world—not as a king, but as a social nobody, lived among us and went to the cross for us.

Whenever the Bible speaks of God’s love for us, it always describes how he loves us. Psalm 136 is a song of praise, repeating its chorus, “His love endures forever,” twenty-six times. Every line of the psalm reminds us how sovereign God truly is. And by inserting again and again the phrase—“His love endures forever,” the psalm reminds us that this awesome, sovereign God cares about us and is always reaching out to us in love—not because He needs to or has to, but simply because He chooses to.

“…to him who alone does great wonders, 
His love endures forever. 
who by his understanding made the heavens, 
His love endures forever. 
who spread out the earth upon the waters, 
His love endures forever. 
who made the great lights—
His love endures forever. 
the sun to govern the day, 
His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.
to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.
and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever.
with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.
to him who divided the Red Sea asunder
His love endures forever.
and brought Israel through the midst of it,
His love endures forever.
but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
His love endures forever.” 
(Ps. 136: 4-15) 

God’s love creates, calls, rescues, defeats enemies and delivers those who trust Him!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” (John 3:16). 

God’s love gives. All of us who have trusted Christ are redeemed because of the compassionate, generosity of God—motivated by His love.

“God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5). 

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39). 

God’s love doesn’t wait around for us to get our life together—it initiates reconciliation by taking the first step. John says it this way, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). 

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions” (Eph. 2:4-5). 

On and on the Bible goes about God’s amazing, action-oriented-love; always giving, reaching out, drawing, defending, restoring, redeeming, etc. No wonder John said, “God is love” (John 4:8). His nature and His actions are synonymous.

I was created in love. When I rebelled, love died on a cross to redeem me. When I surrendered to Christ, love was poured into my heart and every day I wake up knowing that nothing I face can separate me from the Love God has for me through Christ.

I’m optimistic because God loves me!

Thanks for reading!  Remember to share!

Blessings,
Brad

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Change Agent: Why I'm Optimistic - Pt. 3 "Redeemed"

“…who redeems your life from the pit…” (Psalm 103:4)

According to Google’s online definition, the word redeem means:

1. to compensate for the faults or bad aspects of (something).

2. to gain or regain possession of

The Bible couldn’t be any clearer on this point. “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23) Apart from Christ, we are slaves to sin and its condemning power (Rom. 7:14). But at the cross, Jesus paid the price to redeem us out of slavery. His blood atoned for our sin or as the Google definition words it, his blood compensated for our faults and bad aspects and He literally regained possession of us. 

“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin…What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 7:14, 24-25 & 8:1). 

“You are not your own; you were bought at a price… Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole. He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19-20 & Gal. 3:13-14). 

Praise the Lord! I’m am so not all that I want to be in life, but because of Jesus: I am no longer spiritually dead! I have been forgiven and redeemed! All my shame and guilt have been taken way and God has accepted me into His family!

I’m optimistic because through Christ, God has redeemed me from the pit and made me His child!

Thanks for reading!  Remember to share!

Blessings,
Brad

Want to learn to play WORSHIP GUITAR?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Change Agent: Why I'm Optimistic - Pt. 2 "Made Whole"

I’m optimistic because God makes me whole.

“…and heals all your diseases… (Psalm 103:3) 

In Christ, God takes all that is broken, polluted and diluted within me and he makes it whole, pure and fresh again. Because the Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing (Ps. 23:1). In Christ I have everything I need. In Christ I know who I am, who’s I am, where I come from, why I am here and where I am going. This is what it means to be healed by God.

Because God is my all in all I’m set free from needing the approval of this world. No one and nothing can imprison me because the One who is the way, the truth and the life has set me free.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Throughout His Word, God teaches us that in Christ we are holy people, called to live holy lives. Holiness and healing are closely related.  As a matter of fact, healing, as the psalmist uses it in psalm 103, is part of holiness.

Holiness is three dimensional. It’s separateness, purity and wholeness. When we say God is holy, in part, what we are saying is that He is separate from His creation. He is not part of the cosmos as some eastern religious philosophies teach. A tree is not god nor is it part of god. He is present in His creation, but He is wholly other and independent from it.

Likewise, Christ-followers are called to be sanctified or set apart unto God. We live in this world, but we are not of it. We have died to this world and been born afresh into a new realm, the Kingdom of God.

“.."We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life" (Rom. 6:2-4).

Jesus prayed, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:15-17).

"…he (God) has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (Col. 1:13). 

While we live on this planet, our citizenship is in Heaven (Phil. 3:20).  Like the Father of our faith Abraham we are sojourners in this world. Our hearts long to be home with God and we look forward to that day. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

Holiness is also pureness. To be pure means to be unmixed. If you have pure gold, that means it’s one-hundred-percent gold.  Nothing else is mixed with it. The Apostle John teaches us that “God is (pure) light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).  Light here is a metaphor for righteousness or holiness.  God is purely righteous and holy.  He is not, nor can he be tainted by corruption or anything that falls even one-micro-ounce short of pure righteousness.

“When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” (James 1:13).

God can be in the presence of unrighteous, as Jesus often was when he put on flesh and dwelt among us during his earthly ministry (John 1:14) or when his Spirit, who lives within the heart of very Chris-follower, convicts our wandering hearts and calls us to wake up and repent. But God never engages in sin.  His very nature is pure righteousness. Our understanding of what righteousness is—flows from Him.

Likewise, Christ-followers are called to be in the world but not of it. We are called to let our light shine in dark places. In deed if we hide our light and never interact with people who do not know Christ, or who are trapped in dark circumstances, we’re useless to the Kingdom of God. At the very same time, as we walk in dark places our Lord commands us to remain pure in our devotion to Him.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mat. 5:14-16).

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness” (2 Cor. 6:14)?

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light” (Eph. 5:8).

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life” “Phil. 2:14-16).

Finally, holiness is wholeness.  God is completely whole. He lacks nothing. He does not need us or anything we offer. Because He lacks nothing, he is incorruptible . He cannot be tempted by anything because he lacks nothing (James 1:13).

This facet of holiness goes to the heart of what the psalmist means when he say that God heals all our diseases (Ps. 103:3).  While this healing absolutely includes physical healing, its meaning is gargantuanly larger in scope. In Christ we are made whole. We’re forgiven (1 John 1:9), restored (Ps. 23:3), redeemed (Titus 2:14) and regenerated (John 3:5-8, Titus 3:5-6). Because the Lord is our shepherd, we lack nothing (Ps. 23:1). As the Apostle Paul put it, “…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Cor. 5:17, NLT) God’s love fills all of my cracks. His grace supplies all of my needs. (Phil. 4:13 & 19). I am whole in Christ.

Of course, this side of heaven, my old sin nature will never stop waging war against my Spirit, (Gal. 5:17) but as a child of God in Christ, I have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). His Spirit lives in me (Rom. 5:5, Eph. 1:13). And by that same Spirit living in me I have divine power to utterly demolish and defeat whatever comes against me!

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4-5).

I’m optimistic because in Christ, God who made me whole will never let me go!

Thanks for reading!  Remember to share!

Blessings,
Brad

Want to learn to play WORSHIP GUITAR?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Change Agent: Why I'm Optimistic - Pt 1

My optimism is not built on feelings. Nor is it grounded in what I see. I’m optimistic based on what God says. And because of all He has done and is continuing to do in my life daily.

Let me brag on God just a little bit here and share with you five reasons from Psalm 103 why I'm optimistic.  Now, did you catch that Psalm 103 referance?  That's important.  I want to underscore the fact that all five of these reasons come from this one chapter of God’s Word.  Truth be told, in just a casual read of Psalm 103 I found twenty reasons to be optimistic, but I narrowed the list down to just five for this blog series.  The point is if just one chapter of God’s Word is this loaded with reasons for optimism, can you imagine how many we could find in the other one-thousand-one-hunder-eighty-eight?

REASON ONE: I’m optimistic because God forgives all my sin. 

“…forget not all his benefits—3 who forgives all your sins… he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:2-3, 10-12). 

What an amazing thing it is to wake up every morning knowing that I am loved and forgiven by God. The One who spoke the universe into existence and will someday return as the Sovereign King to judge the living and the dead, has adopted me into his family!

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). 

“Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6). 

He’s my daddy! He cares for me (1 Pt. 5:7) and has promised to work in every circumstance of my life for good (Rom. 8:28)! He has lavished his grace on me (Eph. 1:7-8) and because of Jesus, I never have to fear being condemned by Him (Rom. 8:1).  I can pretty confidently say that as long as I live in this flesh bound body, I will never live a perfect day, but in Christ I am perfectly loved and perfectly forgiven! Because I know that, I am optimistic!

Thanks for reading!  Remember to share!

Blessings,
Brad

Want to learn to play WORSHIP GUITAR?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Can We Trust The Bible? Pt. 6 "ONE THEME"



We'll get back to our Change Agent series tomorrow, but since part 6 in my video series, "Can We Trust The Bible" came out today--I wanted to share it with you.  I hope you've enjoyed and been encouraged by these teachings!

Can we trust the Bible? As Christians—we have entrusted our eternity to the message of this book… so, can we trust it? In part 1 we began looking at a series of six questions that scholars and historians use to measure the accuracy and reliability of any ancient document. Here’s what we’ve covered so far:

Part 1: Is the text based on eye-witness accounts?

Part 2: How trustworthy and accurate are the copies?

Part 3: Is the text archaeologically reliable?

Part 4: Is the Bible Scientifically Accurate?

Part 5: Is the Bible Prophetically Reliable?

In part six we explore one of the most amazing realities about the Bible---its "thematic unity." And the fact that you can see Jesus in every book of the Bible. If you don't think this is a HUGE DEAL--watch the video--this is totally and complete amazing! Whether you’re a Christ-follower, or just curious about this topic—I think you’ll be blessed by what you discover.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Change Agent: We Find What We Look For

Some people just seem by nature to be more optimistic or pessimistic than others. Two people can have the exact same experience but react in totally opposite ways. When they read Psalm 23 and get to the part where David says, “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” (Ps. 23:5). The optimist breaks out in praise for God’s blessing and provision. The pessimist cringes at the thought of messy oil being poured on people’s heads and wonders who’s going to clean up the mess!

That reminds me or a story about two identical twin brothers. They were the same in almost every respect. But one of them was an absolute pessimist and the other was an over-the-top optimist. One year for Christmas, the boys’ father tried a little experiment. Instead of giving the boys their presents on Christmas Eve. He said, “This year Christmas is going to be a little different. I have something special planned. We’re going to have a sleepover together here in the family room. And tomorrow morning when you wake up, your Christmas gifts will be in your bedrooms!” The boys were excited. They had a great time together that night just being together, celebrating Jesus’ birthday.

When they fell asleep their father snuck off and prepared their rooms. He filled his pessimist son’s room with every electronic gadget and game he’d heard him talk about wanting that year. He thought, “Surely this will be a positive Christmas for my son!” In his optimist son’s room he put plastic sheets on the floor and loaded the room with straw and horse manure. Then he went to bed.

The next morning, the boys woke up early and rushed off to their rooms to see their Christmas surprises. A few minutes later, the father crept down the hall and listened at each door to hear each boy’s reaction. As he stood outside his pessimist son’s door, to his dismay he heard weeping. He opened the door and asked, “What’s wrong son, don’t you like your gifts?” His son replied, “Oh dad, it’s just terrible. All of these gifts are great--now, but soon they will break, or the batteries will have to continuously be replaced, or my friends will come over and I’m sure they’ll fight over them and break them. I’m so sad.” The father was mortified, but then he heard the sound of pure joy bursting from his optimistic son’s room. He hurried down, opened the door and saw him, literally dancing for joy in the midst of stinky straw and horse manure! “Wow,” said the father, “You’re sure happy this morning!” His son replied, “Oh yes father, this is awesome! I haven’t found him yet, but I just know there has to be a pony around here somewhere!”

Your perspective on life makes all the difference. Life is like a giant coin. Every issue we face has two sides to it. Life will make you bitter, or better, it’s your choice. Our perspective is the key. Will we walk through life with pessimistic eyes, seeing only what’s wrong with the world and what can’t be done? Or will we choose to see the world through the lens of optimistic faith?

“For we live by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7) 

I’m not na├»ve. I get it. This world is a broken place, but that is precisely the reason why the world so desperately needs kingdom agents of Christ-centered, optimistic hope! There are a lot of really bad and sad things happening in this world, but on the other side of the coin in each one of those cases, there is an awesome God offering grace, hope, mercy, love and victory! And if you have eyes of faith you’ll notice that there are also a lot of amazing and wonderful things happening in the world!

Take China for example, if you only tune into mainstream media you might assume that China is a communist, religiously oppressive country and that the church is dead in that country. In reality the Chinese church is thriving! China is blowing the doors off of the United States in terms of evangelism.  It’s underground. You’ll never hear it on the news, but people are accepting Christ in droves in China.

India is another great example.  Again, if you only tune into conventional news sources here in the United States you might assume that India is a purely Hindu country, locked in a stifling cast system. But you’d be dead wrong. Christ is moving in India. New churches are being planted continuously in this precious country.

I’m sure there are plenty of problems and issues in your local community or church. And if you listen only the conventional voices, you’ll probably hear only the bad news. I had a friend who worked at a television station. She would always say, “In the news business, if it bleeds it leads!” I don’t know why, but bad news sells more than good news. As a result—we get fed a steady diet of bad news and if we’re not careful we can easily develop a warped perspective on the condition of our world. God is moving and working in lives all around this world. Good things are happening in your community. There are people in your church who are authentically seeking God and growing in Christ.  Too often we don’t hear about it or look for it and so we wrongly assume God has vacated the premises. But he hasn’t! He’s alive and well! He’s moving and working, fulfilling his eternal purposes all around us every day.

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please’” (Ps. 46:9-10).

It’s all about what you look for. “If you search for good, you will find favor; but if you search for evil, it will find you” (Prov. 11:27, NLT)! If you look for good in life, if you look for opportunities in problems, if you choose the can-do attitude over the can’t-do attitude, you’ll discover favor! You’ll find the strength through faith in Christ to overcome the problem; the ability to be light in someone’s life, an agent of encouragement instead of a Doug or a Debbie-downer!

In short, if you look for the good, if you look for God’s hand in any situation, you'll find it! “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). But if we look for evil, there’s plenty of that to be found too.

King Hezekiah was a great king! He was the king of Judah during a really difficult season of their history. The Assyrian Empire was at full strength during Hezekiah’s life and reign as king. Assyria was ferocious and brutal. They crushed enemies without mercy. As a younger man Hezekiah saw Assyria crush the northern kingdom of Israel in 720 BC. Later in life he was king of Judah during the invasion of Judah and siege of Jerusalem by Assyria in 701 BC. Talk about a difficult situation? The most powerful army on earth has surrounded your capital city and fully intends to destroy you! What’s the upside? How can you possibly muster a can-do perspective in a hopeless situation like this?

Listen to what Hezekiah said to his people. “'Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him.  With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.'  And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said” (2 Chron. 32:7-8).  Wow, did you catch that last statement? “And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said” (2 Chron. 32:8). What a beautiful example of what it looks like to be an agent of Kingdom minded, God-centered, optimistic hope! Hezekiah’s faith in God inspired others brought strength to their lives! And this wasn’t just religious pie-in-the-shy wishful thinking. A few verses later in this same chapter we read, “King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to heaven about this. And the LORD sent an angel, who annihilated all the fighting men and the commanders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king. So he withdrew to his own land in disgrace” (2 Chron. 32:20-21). 

“If you search for good, you will find favor; but if you search for evil, it will find you” (Prov. 11:27, NLT)! What we set our minds on impacts how we live.

Thanks for reading!  Remember to share!

Blessings,
Brad

Want to learn to play WORSHIP GUITAR?


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Change Agent: Wayne Smith, Turkeys & Crabs!

What an amazingly positive and optimistic message we have to share! But oh how easy it is, when we live in this world, to lose sight of that. When day after day we are immersed in a culture of naysayers, critics and complainers it’s easy to get sucked in and begin to conform to the pattern of this world.

When I was a kid, my Uncle Maurice was the Christian Education Pastor at a church in Lexington, KY. The Sr. Pastor’s name was Wayne Smith. Wayne was quite a guy.  He served the Southland Christian Church for more than forty years. One of Wayne's most effective gits was humor.  He possessed a sense of humor and an infectious laugh that could soften even the hardest of hearts. Wayne was a big man. And whenever he told a joke or a funny story, in a sermon or in conversation—which was often—he would throw his head back, look up and bust out with a belly laugh that just cracked you up. If you’re a Star Wars fan, his laugh sounded a little bit like Jabba the Hutt’s. You couldn’t help but laugh with him. I’m giggling a little bit right now just thinking about it. Wayne had a wonderful way of disarming people with humor and then laying a powerful word from God on their heart.

He had a lot of sayings that he used often. One of them was, “It’s hard to soar with the eagles when you work with turkeys” (Insert belly laugh). Can you relate? I sure can, I want to be a can-do person! I want to soar! I want to be a source of encouragement and hope to people around me! But sometimes it’s tough to be an optimistic upper-person in a Debbie-downer world!

Have you ever heard the illustration about crabs in a bucket? If you put a bunch of crabs in a bucket, they’ll never escape. Not because they can’t climb out, but because as soon as one of them tries the other crabs will grab onto him and pull him back down.

Spiritually, do you ever feel like you’re surrounded by crabs; you’re trying so hard to climb out of this bucket, but the people around you just keep pulling you down? Wayne was onto something, it is hard to soar with the eagles when you’re surrounded by crabs and turkeys!

Wayne’s little saying about turkeys and the crabs both serve as another powerful reminder that if we are going to be effective agents of Christ-centered hope and optimism in this Debbie-downer world—we must stay plugged, continually, into Jesus!

“I am the true vine… Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:1, 4-5).

Thank for reading!  Remember to share!

Blessings,
Brad

Want to learn to play WORSHIP GUITAR?


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Change Agent: Optimism--A Life Changing Mindset

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” The phrase “set your minds” is where we get our idea of a mindset, or a fixed way of thinking. The way a person thinks, or their mindset, has a huge impact on how they live. This is precisely why Scripture directs believers to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). And also “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom. 12:2). Literally—don’t let your mindset be shaped by the values, ethics, etc. of this world, but instead allow Christ and His Word to be the force that shapes your thinking.  If you do this you will develop the ability to discern God’s will and live wisely.

We shape our mindsets by what we choose to focus our minds upon. Then our mindsets shape us as they influence and guide our behavior and our decisions.  I want to share with you about an amazingly powerful kingdom mindset called optimism. I believe this mindset has the power to inspire your heart and make you more useful to the kingdom, and to the people around you who desperately need to know about the optimism producing Savior who lives in your heart!

I’m excited to share this with you for two reasons. First, because I have discovered that when we understand and practice a mindset of optimism from a Christ-centered perspective, it can completely, and positively, revolutionize the way we approach life. The second reason I’m looking forward to sharing this with you is because I need to hear it again myself!

I’m generally a can-do guy. When I face challenges in life I’m often reminded of something my dad, who was a pretty optimistic guy himself, always said, Son, that ain’t no hill for a climber.” My dad viewed problems as opportunities to grow and to learn from. I ’m thankful for the optimistic mindset my father passed down to me! Nevertheless, the negativity and despair in this world can be pretty daunting sometimes, so I’m always up for an optimism refresher course!

We live in a world that is deeply infected with the disease of pessimism. Do you remember the old cartoon of the kid with the raincloud over his head? I can’t remember the name of it, but everywhere this kid went, the rain followed him. That cartoon pretty accurately portrays the mindset that many people around us live with every day. So many are so quick to say, “You can’t do that, don’t even try,” or, “I tried that once before and it didn’t work so just forget it.” Living in this world sometimes feels like living in a proverbial half-empty-fishbowl. And when we live immersed in a negative-can’t do environment like this, it can get us down.

This is why the Bible so frequently and adamantly calls us to set our minds on the things of heaven (Col. 3:2); to think on good things (Phil. 4:8), and to fix our eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2).

There's not a single sentence in the Bible reminding us to think about our problems or all of the ways life is hard. Our natural minds are woefully conditioned to fixate on the negative.  We desperately need reminders to intentionally feed our minds God’s Word so that we are renewed in our thinking (Rom. 12:2) again and again.

I recently recorded a video for my YouTube Channel, entitled, “Why the Good News Never Gets Old.” The Good News of the gospel never changes or grows old for three reasons: FIRST, Our need never changes. We are fundamental flawed creatures. We desperately and daily need fresh doses of God’s love and grace in our lives. SECOND, God’s solution to our problem never changes. He stands unwaveringly before all humanity, with outstretched arms and proclaims, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mat. 11:28). THIRD, the testimony of the redeemed never changes. Every single person who has fallen to their knees in repentance and placed their faith in Jesus has the same testimony,

“Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me. 
I once was lost but now I'm found.
Was blind but now I see.”
(Amazing Grace, by John Newton)

This side of Heaven, we never “arrive.” We never get to the point that we can say, okay, I’m good now, I don’t need God’s grace anymore. That just never happens. In the same way, we never outgrow our need to be reminded of all the reasons we as Christ-followers have to be optimistic, faith-filled, can-do people! Think about this, as a Christ-follower you are a son or daughter of God. If you’ve put your faith in Jesus, you’ve been born again into an entirely new family. God is your Abba Daddy! Christians, figuratively and literally live life on a higher level. We wake up every morning as forgiven, adopted, loved children of God. We possess a larger perspective on life; an eternal perspective We’re not just living for here and now. Like the father of our faith, Abraham, we are sojourners in this world. We’re just passing through, "...looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). 

We serve a God who loves us with a love that is bigger, better and more faithful that our little minds can even grasp! “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Eph. 3:17-18). 

God walks with us every step of the way. We face each new day with a sense of purpose and destiny, because of the high calling we have received as holy agents for the King of all kings. We possess a mission and a message of hope, grace and redemption. In Christ we are free from guilt and condemnation. We are victorious people. And we are called to a courageous and optimistic life of faith, hope and love.

Jesus boldly declared that his church (his people) would break through the very gates of hell with the liberating message of the gospel—the good news about the cross that set’s captives free and delivers all who believe out of pessimistic darkness and into a life filled with joy, light and hope (Mat. 16:18)! It’s pretty difficult to have your mind filled with thinking like that and not face your day with optimism!

Thank for reading!  Remember to share!

Blessings,
Brad

Want to learn to play WORSHIP GUITAR?


Monday, August 15, 2016

Can We Trust The Bible? Pt. 5 of 6 "Prophecy"

We'll get back to our Change Agent series tomorrow, but since part 5 in my video series, "Can We Trust The Bible" came out today--I wanted to share it with you.  I hope you've enjoyed and been encouraged by these teachings!

Can we trust the Bible? As Christians—we have entrusted our eternity to the message of this book… so, can we trust it? In part 1 we began looking at a series of six questions that scholars and historians use to measure the accuracy and reliability of any ancient document. Here’s what we’ve covered so far:

Part 1: Is the text based on eye-witness accounts?

Part 2: How trustworthy and accurate are the copies?

Part 3: Is the text archaeologically reliable?

Part 4: Is the Bible Scientifically Accurate?

In part five we dig into the question, “Is the Bible Prophetically Reliable?”  The Bible contains hundreds of prophecies--can we trust them?  Whether you’re a Christ-follower, or just curious about this topic—I think you’ll be blessed by what you discover.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Change Agent: It's Important to Remeber

If we want to be effective agents of God’s Kingdom, we must always remember and never forget who we are, who our King is and what He has done for all who will receive Him!

The key words in that statement are “always remember” and “never forget.”

I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but I once heard that fish only have six-second memories. Which kind of makes sense if you think about it? John Doe Fisherman goes fishing. He puts a worm on his hook and drops it in the water. Beneath the surface, a school of fish instantly spots what appears to them to be lunch. Fish number one, we’ll call him Joe, promptly swims up and snags to worm (and the hook) and is instantly jerked up and out of sight! Pandemonium breaks out! The other fish go crazy with fear, “They got Joe! They got Joe!” And then, after about six seconds one of them looks up and says, “Hey look, a worm!”

Human memory is a little bit better than that—but we can forget things—even very important things—with the best of them.  God knows this full well and He’s taken steps to help us remember the things He wants us to keep in mind.

For starters, He didn’t just tell us, verbally what He wanted us to know and then expect us to remember it. He inspired people to write it down so we’d have a constant reminder of who He is, who we are and what life is all about.  If you’ve read the Old Testament stories about Israel and their journey from slavery in Egypt to their conquest in the Promised Land, you know how forgetful they could be! Over and over again God did miracles on their behalf. He sent plagues that broke the iron-will of Pharaoh so that He set them free! When Pharaoh had second thoughts about setting them free came after them with his army, God split the Red Sea and allowed the Israelites to cross to the other side on dry ground while He stood behind them as a pillar of fire holding off the Egyptians. Then when all of them were safely across, He allowed the Egyptians to rush down the path after them and He caused the waters to collapse in and crush them.

Can you imagine witnessing that? Surely you would never forget that, right? Surely you would never doubt God again, right? But by the very next page in the story, Israel is grumbling and complaining about not having enough to eat or drink, or how difficult living conditions were in the wilderness. Over and over again God came through and provided for all of Israel’s needs and very often He would tell the people to create a monument to mark the occasion so they and the generations to come would never forget what He had done for them in that place. But they still forgot.

Just before Israel entered the Promised Land, God inspired Moses to write the book of Deuteronomy. There’s not a single new command or truth about God in this book. The entire book is a giant reminder of what God had already said to them and done for them. One of the core passages in the book is called the “Shema”. This word literally means, “Listen intently, receive and obey.”

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deut. 6:4-9).

In other words, never forget who God is and what He has done for you. Talk about it all the time and plaster reminders of it everywhere! Why? Two reasons: 1) personal spiritual health, 2) mission. Every Israelite was responsible for their own life and decisions. Keeping their hearts filled with God’s Word would help keep them on track.

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Ps. 119:11). 

And just like the church today, Israel was called to shine for God and to be ambassadors of His kingdom life on earth.

"I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles” (Isa. 42:6).

If they were going to be effective kingdom agents, God’s Word would need to remain front and center. This is why the New Testament, again and again, exhorts us as Christ-followers to keep our minds set on things above (Col. 3:2), renewed (Rom. 12:2) and freshly focused on things that are excellent, admirable and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8). Like Israel, and even to a greater degree, As Christ-followers we have so many reasons to be hopeful and optimistic people. God has redeemed us and filled our lives with supernatural hope. And He commissioned us to share this hope with our corner of the world. Our mindset, how we view life, and our attitude, how we carry ourselves, are vital to the success of our mission. In the next couple blogs I want to tell you about a mindset that I believe is one of the most powerful, kingdom advancing mindsets ever. It’s called optimism.

See you on Monday (Lord willing)!

Thanks for reading!  Shine for Jesus today... & remember to share, thanks!

Blessings,
Brad


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Change Agent: You Are the Light of the World

One of my favorite metaphors that Jesus used to describe our mission is that of light. He declared, “You are the light of the world” (Mt. 5:14). Did you ever wonder why Jesus picked “light” to illustrate our role as kingdom agents?  I think he said it because he knew that people in this world need light. We live in a dark world where people have all kinds of hurts, fears and issues that darken life for them.  They desperately need to light of God's grace to shine into their lives.  And that's our mission--as people who have received the light of grace--to let that light shine wherever we go.

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isa. 9:2) 

Jesus said, Hey, guess what, I am The Light of Life. When you receive me as Lord, I move into your life and my life-light shines through you. I know you’re not perfect. I know you’re like old clay pots. But that’s part of the beauty of this thing. You see, it’s not about you. It’s about me in you; me shining through you. 

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:6-9). 

God’s hope, grace and power manifest themselves in our lives. As a result, we’re different from those around ous. Our hope, our can-do-attitude, our confidence that no matter what happens, God is with us and for us--shines through.

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you… If God is for us, who can be against us” (Heb. 13:5 & Rom. 8:31)?

The assurance we possess that God is actively working in every moment of our lives for good--shines through.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

As we walk daily with Christ all of these realities shine through the cracks of our imperfect, clay pot lives and causes us to shine like beacons of hope in this dark world.

Thanks for reading!  Shine for Jesus today... & remember to share, thanks!

Blessings,
Brad

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Change Agent: Changed & Commissioned by God

Whenever my Grandma wanted to communicate something serious to me she would always begin by saying, "Braddie boy, I need you to put your thinking cap on."  In other words, this is really good stuff, but it's not fluff.  You need to engage and really think about this in order to get it.

So, as we launch into this opening chapter, "I need you to put on your thinking cap."  

Got it on?  Okay, let's dive in.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ; If you have repented of your sin and by faith received Jesus as Lord and Savior—you have been brought from spiritual death (separation from God) to spiritual life. God has changed you in a radical and wonderful way! “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” (Rom. 8:1-2, NLT). 

Through faith in Jesus, you have been adopted into God’s family as Children of light! “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God… you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light" (John 1:9-13 & Eph. 5:8). 

When you received Christ as Lord, God put His Spirit in you to confirm and daily affirm that you are dearly loved Children of God. “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Rom. 8:15-16). 

The Apostle Paul teaches us in his letter to the Colossians that God “rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves…” (Col. 1:13). New life in Christ results in a total identity makeover! We’re not just saved from bad stuff. We’re saved unto good stuff!

We’re delivered out of darkness that we might live as children of light and help lead others to The Light. We’re rescued from a life of self-centered, small thinking—and we are given the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16) which fills us with a sense of hope and purpose and empowers us to live with an eternal perspective! “For our citizenship is in heaven… Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (Phil. 3:20 & 2 Cor. 4:16-18).

The mind of Christ fills us with an awareness that we’re not redeemed, forgiven, adopted and filled with God’s Spirit merely for our own benefit. We have been called by our Heavenly Father into the Family-building business! “For if a man is in Christ he becomes a new person altogether—the past is finished and gone, everything has become fresh and new. All this is God’s doing, for he has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ; and he has made us agents of the reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:17-18, Phillips). 

We’ve been enlisted in God’s army (2 Tim. 2:3-4) that we might defeat the powers of darkness and take ground for the Kingdom of light! “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:4-5).

We are commissioned by our King as kingdom agents to go into our world and promote Kingdom life. “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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Mt. 28:19-20).

I know that’s a lot to digest. I can hear my Grandma's words ringing in my mind, “Some people are so heavenly minded that they’re not earthly good.” So how do we apply all of this to real life? What’s the game plan? What are the steps? How do we actually begin to live as agents of change for God’s Kingdom? That’s what the rest of this series is all about!

Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading!  Remember to share!

Blessings,
Brad

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

LOVE is a mighty warrior!

LOVE “...always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.” (! Cor. 13:7-8)  

These last five attributes of agape—and honestly all of them—can be summed up in the statement, “Agape is a mighty warrior!”

Let’s unpack that a little bit.

You know me by now. I’m a word-nerd. I love to define and dissect the meaning of words—it’s how I approach things. So, let’s define the key words here.

Love always... 

PROTECTS: Love guards against anything that would threaten.  In a Christians sense--love will do whatever it takes to protect others from harm--especially spiritual harm.

TRUSTS: The Greek here is “pistewo”—the very same word translated “believes” in John 3:16---“…whoever BELIEVES in him (Jesus) will not perish…” it means to trust, to be loyal or true to, to entrust one’s self to.

HOPES: to wait patiently and confidently (on God)

PERSEVERES: to stand, to not flee, to remain faithful

Love never… 

FAILS: Literally---is never cast down. It never decreases, fades or goes away. Love is everlasting. The English Standard Version translates this phrase, “Love never ends.” In the next sentence Paul contrasts love with things that will end someday. “But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away” (1 Cor. 13:8).  

Let’s pull this together and see if we can make some practical application.

Love is a warrior.  It never sit's on the bench.  It's in the game, in the battle--fighting for others and for the kingdom!  It passionately desires to protect others from harm (especially eternal/spiritual harm). It gives itself fully to relationship and to investing in others—always full of hope-filled-confidence that God is working in all things. Love doesn’t abandon others or give up on people. And it will literally last forever!

This is why Paul, just a few verses later in this chapter, writes, “…these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13). When we are united with Christ in eternity—we won’t need faith—we’ll have sight! We won’t need hope—we’ll BE WITH GOD! But God—who is AGAPE (1 John 4:8)—will last forever!

In his letter to the Romans Paul writes, “God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5).  Friend, if Christ is your Savior and Lord—AGAPE lives inside of you. This protecting, trusting, hoping, persevering, undying Kingdom force—dwells in your heart. And the Christian life—in many respects—is all about growing in our ability to: a) receive it—and trust that God truly loves us like this... and b) to share it with others, i.e. to “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34).

Friend—be a tenacious agape warrior for the Kingdom today! Overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21). Keep trusting, hoping, protecting and sharing the awesome love that God has poured into your heart---with others.

Over the years I have really enjoyed and been blessed by the teaching of Joyce Meyer.  If you've enjoyed this series on agape---you might really be blessed by Joyce's book on this subject... check it out below!

Thanks for reading.  Remember to share!

Blessings,
Brad

Monday, August 8, 2016

Can We Trust The Bible? Part 4 "Science"

We'll get back to our series on AGAPE love tomorrow, but since part 4 in my video series, "Can We Trust The Bible" came out today--I wanted to share it with you.  I hope you've enjoyed and been encouraged by these teachings!

Can we trust the Bible? As Christians—we have entrusted our eternity to the message of this book… so, can we trust it? In part 1 we began looking at a series of six questions that scholars and historians use to measure the accuracy and reliability of any ancient document. Here’s what we’ve covered so far:

Part 1: Is the text based on eye-witness accounts?

Part 2: How trustworthy and accurate are the copies?

Part 3: Is the text archaeologically reliable? 

In part four we dig into the question, “Is the Bible scientifically accurate?” Many people are quick to say things like, “Faith and Science are incompatible.” But in this video, you’ll hear that science and scripture are actually quite compatible. Whether you’re a Christ-follower, or just curious about this topic—I think you’ll be blessed by what you discover.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

LOVE does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth

AGAPE does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

There are TWO words we have to define to really understand this statement: Evil & Truth.

Comparing a few translations can help with this...

LOVE
"...does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth." (NRSV)
"...does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth." (NASB)

So, "evil" is an action or attitude that dishonors or disobeys God's righteous ways--as revealed in Scripture.  Love does not enjoy or delight in actions or attitudes that grieve the heart of God and bring dihonor to His Holy Name.

Truth has three meanings in the Bible 1) Truth is a person--Jesus is The Truth (Jn. 14:6), 2) Scripture is Truth (Ps 119:160), 3) Truth is that which is objectively, factually real, as opposed to subjective feelings.

So, AGAPE is grieved by actions or attitudes that ignore or reject God's Truth and it enjoys and takes delight in attitudes and actions that acknowledge, embrace and honor God's Truth.

I found an articel at gotquestions.org that shed some helpful light on this...

"Corinth was an evil place with pervasive idol worship and rampant sexual immorality. The recently converted Christians in Corinth sometimes had a hard time shaking the old habits. One man involved in egregious immorality had been tolerated in the church (chapter 5), and the Lord’s Supper had been dishonored to the point of including gluttony and drunkenness (chapter 11). To combat these evils, Paul taught that love does not enjoy or “delight in” such actions; rather, true love finds joy in truth and righteousness."

Delight in truth today my friend!

Over the years I have really enjoyed and been blessed by the teaching of Joyce Meyer.  If you've enjoyed this series on agape---you might really be blessed by Joyce's book on this subject... check it out below!

Thanks for reading.  Remember to share!

Blessings,
Brad




Wednesday, August 3, 2016

LOVE keeps no record of wrongs

AGAPE keeps no record of wrongs...

So is AGAPE forgetful, or what?

The NIV is my "base" translation (above), but here's the way some other translators expressed this phrase...

LOVE...
"does not keep account of evil..." (Phillips)
"does not take into account a wrong suffered,.." (NASB)
"doesn’t keep score of the sins of others..." (The Msg.)
"takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]...” (Amplified)

I might Synthesize these this way:  AGAPE doesn't have a self-centered bone in it's body.  AGAPE isn't worred about being personally wronged--it's one-hundred-percent focused on the up-building of God's Kingdom... the advance of the Gospel... and on influencing everyone possible toward receiving Jesus as Lord.  

Paul was tortured and treated "wrongly" bazillions of times as he traveled sharing about Christ--but he was never worried about or focused on his own well-being.  If Christ was being exalted and received--it was all good.

AGAPE is focused on the Father's agenda to the degree that what happens to "self" is insgnificant -- so long as HIS will is accomplished.

Jesus is the ultimate example for us in this area:
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

As Jesus was headed for the CROSS---his attention wasn't on the injustices that were being done to Him...His heart was one-hundred-percent focused on His Father's plan to redeem humanity.  He focused BEYOND the Cross---to the JOY of VICTORY that he would purchase for all (including you and me) who would believe and experience forgiveness and grace as a result of his obedience and self-sacrifice.

AGAPE set's it's mind on things above---not on earthly things (Col. 3:1-2).  It endures wrongs with joy (James 1:2) with it's sole desire being the advancement of the Kingdom and leading others toward belief in Jesus.

Paul applied this attitude in a very practical way in his letter to the Corinthians... just a few lines before he wrote "the love chapter..."   Some in the church were bringing lawsuits against other Christians. Instead of settling matters among themselves in a spirit of humility and love, they were dragging each other into public court. Paul chastens them saying, “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” (1 Corinthians 6:7).

I maight paraphrase Paul this way, "Friends--it's far better to be personally wronged than it is to trash the credabilityof the Gospel by dragging a fellow Christ-follower into secular court!  Quit thinking so much about your self--and think about how your actions reflecton on Christ and the Gospel!"

This is a powerful aspect of AGAPE!  To live it out requires deep surrender of self.  This goes to the heart of why Jesus said, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." (Mat. 16:24)

Below you will see a link to an AWESOME book on this subject by Joyce Meyer!  I totally encourage you to check it out!

Thanks for reading.  Remember to share!

Blessings,
Brad

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

LOVE is not easily angered

LOVE is not easily angered.

The Greek word translated “angered” by the NIV as "easily angered," means to be “irritated, exasperated, provoked or aroused.” 

Some good translations of this phrase are: LOVE…
“is not irritable…” (NLT)
“doesn’t get annoyed…” (ISV)
"is not easily provoked…” (KJV)

In everyday language, we might say, “Love doesn’t have a short-fuse. It doesn’t just fly off the handle.” 

At the beginning of his description of AGAPE, Paul said, “AGAPE is patient.”  To say that love is not easily angered, in many ways is just another way of saying, it's patient.

Here’s what we said about patience…
“Patience is rooted in mission; having a purpose, knowing what it is and choosing to remain focused on it and faithful to it no matter what obstacles, hardships, setbacks or injustices come along. Christian patience sees all of life through a FAITH lens. It understands that NOTHING enters our life--no trial, no struggle, no hardship, set-back, delay, etc. comes our way--that GOD isn't aware of. Thus patience is a close cousin to TRUST & FAITH. It "rests" in God... it "waits" upon the Lord --- knowing that He is in control--working all things together for good--in the lives of all who LOVE (agape) Him! (Rom. 8:28)

So, AGAPE is not easily irritated or provoked. It has a long fuse and is not easily angered—FOR THE SAME REASONS AGAPE is patient.

It’s important to note that Paul does not say AGAPE never becomes angry. 

There is such a thing as righteous anger. But righteous or godly anger is NEVER focused on self. Righteous anger never stomps its foot in protest that it didn’t get its way. Righteous anger burns against genuine evil; against all that which opposes God and separates people from knowing Him. Thus Paul writes in Romans 12:9 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”

Having a short fuse, flying off the handle and being easily irritated don’t promote God's Kingdom Life or help people come to know Christ as Savior and Lord—so, AGAPE doesn’t do it.

May our great God fill you with the fruit (Gal. 5:22-23) of His Spirit--which is patient,,, and gentle today!

Below you will see a link to an AWESOME book on this subject by Joyce Meyer!  I totally encourage you to check it out!

Thanks for reading.  Remember to share!

Blessings,
Brad




Monday, August 1, 2016

Can We Trust The Bible? Part 3 "Archaeology"

I'm chomping at the bit to get back into our LOVE series... tomorrow!  But today I wanted to share my third installment in a video series I'm sharing on my PastorBradRocks YouTube Channel, called, "Can We Trust The Bible?

 As Christians—we have entrusted our eternity to the message of this book… so, can we trust it? In part 1 we began looking at a series of six questions that scholars and historians use to measure the accuracy and reliability of any ancient document.

Here’s what we’ve covered so far: 
Part 1: Is the text based on eye-witness accounts?   
Part 2: How trustworthy and accurate are the copies? 

 In part three we dig into the question, “Is the Bible archaeologically reliable?” 

Can we find the places and artifacts it refers to?  I think it’s pretty self-evident how important this question is. I also think you’ll be blessed by how amazingly reliable the Bible is. Archaeologist LOVE the Bible—it’s accuracy in this area is unsurpassed.  However, don’t take my word for it---watch the video and consider the evidence for yourself.


Thanks for reading/watching!  Remember to share!
Blessings, 
Brad