The Bride of Christ

The church is the Bride of Christ, the eternal companion of Jesus Christ, He died for the church, and He is in the process of making her beautiful for Himself.

Tonight we had a dinner for new attenders to JBC, and I told our story along with slides and a video. Our church began in 1973 when I was 25 years old, and now JBC is 48 years old and I am 72. It is a long and glorious story of God building His church and making her beautiful.

As we showed the slides that were taken over the last 45 years, and I told our story, which I have repeated often, I was once again reminded of how blessed our church has been over the years, and how blessed I have been to be a part of the beautiful things God has chosen to do here. Sometimes people will praise me for my visionary leadership, but I have been like a surfer who looks for a big wave and hops on at a good time, and rides it in having the time of his life. Me seeing the big wave and getting JBC on top of it has been much more the result of God’s Sovereign working than my visionary leadership.

One of my core beliefs is that my love for my church is my love for Jesus, and my commitment to Jesus as Lord of my life can be measured by determining my commitment to my church.

You can’t go wrong in life loving, serving, building, and helping the church to grow. Find one that preaches the Word and pour your life out in it. God loves His church and those who make her beautiful receive a special blessing from Him.

Baseball

I went and watched my 9-year-old grandson Courage play in a baseball game today. Every year a group of us drive up together and watch a Mariner’s game. The trip up to Seattle with a group of friends to watch a professional major league baseball game is a lot of fun, especially when we get seats just a dozen rows up from first base, and especially when we pig out on hotdogs and other treats while watching the game, and then stop halfway home for a steak dinner at a nice restaurant. But as much fun as that is, I think I enjoyed the game today more.

When our eight kids were in school and playing basketball, volleyball, and football, I used to yell my fool head off at games and then be hoarse for the next couple of days. It has been quite a few years since those days so I was a bit intimidated to yell today, not wanting to embarrass myself or my grandson, I must have picked up some vanity in my old age.

I did pray none-stop for him as I watched. I prayed that sports would be a great tool to develop a spirit of passion, drive, and desire in him that would be a key character trait as he gets older so that he will bear much fruit for the Lord. I prayed that the desire to win would motivate him to be very diligent to be the best that he can be. I prayed for his coach that he would motivate and encourage him and not discourage him and that in the coaching process, Courage would become very teachable in spirit. I prayed that his ability to play the game of baseball with his teammates in unity and comradery would shape him so that when he gets older he could work together with others in his church to accomplish great things for the Lord. I especially prayed that if he were to become good at baseball and or other sports, he would not become prideful as so many athletes do.

The Apostle Paul used sports as an illustration for living the Christian life a lot. What it takes to become a successful athlete is very close to what it takes to be a champion for Jesus, so I am going to keep praying for all of my grandkids every day.

Guaranteed Answer to My Prayers

1 John 5:14-15 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

So all I have to do to guarantee that my prayers get answered is pray according to God’s perfect will. But the problem is that there are a lot of areas in my life that I have no clue what God’s will is. I can try and guess what God’s will is, or I can just pray what I want to happen and hope we agree on what is best.

An example would be praying for our President. The Bible says that we are to pray for Kings and all who are in authority. So precisely, what do I pray? If we were living in the Tribulation, the antichrist would be the world ruler doing precisely what God programmed him to do so prayers for him to become a follower of Jesus would be futile.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

This passage on praying for Kings ends with “who desires all men to be saved .” So, this is my prayer in regards to politics and our US leaders.

“Lord Jesus, I have the same desire that You have, that all people are saved. I pray for myself that You would give me many opportunities to influence people to follow you with 100% of their life and heart. I pray for every person at JBC that You would stir them and motivate them to look for opportunities to influence people to love and follow Jesus with their life. I pray for our President and the rest of our authorities that the decisions that they make would cause Your Word and the gospel to spread rapidly, whatever that might be, You know.

Heart Attack

I was out in our yard walking around with a backpack sprayer attacking all the weeds in our yard. It has a handle on the side that I pump periodically to create pressure inside the sprayer so that the herbicide sprays out. When I pump it, it makes a strange noise, like someone gasping for breath. I was wandering around looking for weeds pumping on the handle and our neighbor lady saw me and heard the noise that my pump was making and thought it was me having difficulty breathing. I took a break and went in the house and sat down, and pretty soon the husband came over and asked if I was alright because his wife saw me wandering around aimlessly having difficulty breathing and thought maybe I was having a stroke or heart attack. I assured him I was fine, but that I appreciated him checking on me.

The Pursuit of Maturity

I wrote yesterday that a strong motivation to press on toward a Christ like life was the promise that God would bless us in this life. Those blessings are great joy in spite of circumstances, His strength to bear up under anything, His wisdom so that we can solve any problem, healthy and strong relationships, and many open doors and opportunities to do something with our life that matters for all eternity. The more like Christ we become the more each of those blessings grows in our life. That really does motivate me, but a greater motivation to work very hard at becoming more and more the kind of person God wants me to become is the “Judgment Seat of Christ”.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

The rewards that we receive from Jesus at the end of our life for what we have done in this life are amazing and eternal. The knowledge of them is supposed to motivate us. I think about that event all the time;I imagine what Jesus will look like, what He will sound like and what I will feel when He says, “ well done, good and faithful servant”!

The Pursuit of Righteousness

Psalms 5:12 For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord, You surround him with favor as with a shield.

God loves righteousness, and He desires that those who call themselves Christians would become increasingly more righteous in their lifestyle every day. But the key question is why should we if we are headed for eternity in heaven by grace apart from works. Thinking about the “why” is very important so that we are motivated to pursue righteousness. There are a number of motivating factors for me, and a major one is in the above Bible verse. “God blesses the righteous man and surrounds him with favor.”

Leadership Class

I teach leadership classes that lasts 8 months. I have Leadership I , II, and III. They start the first weekend of October and end the last weekend of May. In the classes I teach that God uses certain kinds of people to do His work. He isn’t looking for education, or intelligence, or charisma, He is looking for character. The goal of the class is to discover from the Bible what God is looking for and then become that kind of person. When God opens up a door of opportunity to us He supplies everything we need to be successful at what He is calling us to do, it is a no fail opportunity.

This weekend at JBC in the worship services many of those who finished the class are sharing how their life has changed as a result of what they have learned this past eight months. The testimonies are very inspirational and moving, and a testimony of what happens when a person follows the principles of successful living as given in the Bible.

The first requirement is to want to do something with our life that matters and be willing to pay the price of doing something significant with our life. Many people are just to unmotivated to do much that matters, it takes to much work. They choose not to enroll in my class because they will have to read, and memorize, and speak in front of people, and that price is simply to high.

Jesus was constantly talking about the price of following Him, and many chose not to follow because of the price that He outlined to them. In Luke 9 He says, “If you want to serve with Me you must deny yourself and take up your cross daily and follow me.” Many turned away when they heard that. That is still happening today.

The Pursuit of Righrousness

The first step to becoming a genuine holy person, not a title but a reality of everyday life, is to have a burning desire to be a better person everyday of your life. The desire to be righteous before God can’t be casual, it has to be all consuming.

The problem is that we all sin everyday, and even if we are sinning less, we are still sinning. The great gift of God, the essence of Christianity, is that God forgives and He cleanses, that is He takes away the guilt that we have when we sin.

Years ago John Fischer wrote a song called, “I Want To Be a More Righteous Man”. I sang that song constantly. I am not very musical and I don’t remember songs very well, but that song burned a hole in my heart.

I want to be a more righteous man, I want to be a godly man, teach me to do what I can to follow closer to You, I want to follow a different drum even if I’me the only one, I want to hear when I’me done, “You did well my son.”

The key words in the song that so captivated my heart were the words, “I want.” “I want,” “I want,” “I want,” “I want.” There is something supernaturally powerful in declaring that you want what God wants. When you say that over and over, God makes it happen. I dare you to read the words of that song 20 times a day, and see what happens.

The first requirement to be holy and righteous is to “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” You can’t simply will that desire into your heart, so the question is how do I get that super strong drive for righteousness in me? The repetition of the desire in the form of a little song was amazingly powerful in my heart, and I bet it will work in yours as well.

The Pursuit of Holiness

1 Peter 1:14-16 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

1 Corinthians 15:34 Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning;

There are many other Bible verses and passages that say the same thing, that is we are to grow in character and our behavior is to become more and more righteous.

We are saved by Grace through faith with no good works, holiness, or righteousness required. But now that we are saved, in the family of God, headed for heaven forever, born again, part of the Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ, God expects, yes, even commands that we become like Him.

Because of our modern day emphasis on Grace most Christians are pretty casual in their pursuit of holiness, no big deal, nobodies perfect.

There are some questions that need to be answered, some problems that need to be solved, and some commitments that need to be made if we are going to be successful in our pursuit of being a righteous person. Let’s do this in a step by step, strategic way that helps us understand how we are going to accomplish this, and that will give us some hope and confidence that we can actually pull this off.

1. If a person is going to grow and change every day of their life to be more and more like Jesus they must want to. The want to, the desire must be strong inside of us, a passion, a raging fire.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

The problem is that we all struggle with guilt when we sin, and it seems natural that if we increase our desire to be good that the guilt that we feel when we fail will increase. Because we naturally do things to reduce guilt instead of increasing it, because guilt is terribly unpleasant, most will work at being content with their level of godliness so as not to aggravate the guilt machine in us. Nobody will accomplish anything if the desire in us is lukewarm, and that is where most are.

So, how do we solve this problem, this major road block to spiritual growth and holiness? We confess all known sin to God and He forgives and cleanses our hearts from guilt. It is a great deal, free, no strings attached, simply acknowledge to God that you are a sinner, that you sinned. Be specific and detailed.Don’t make excuses, blame others, or justify, own it, lock, stock and barrel, you did it.

Psalms 32:3-5 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”; and You forgave the guilt of my sin.

Sad

Sad things happen all the time. Someone I am close to dies. Someone I am close to has a loved one die. A good friend gets divorced. A family I am close to has a huge fight over COVID vaccines, and vows never to speak to each other again, and on the list goes.

Ecclesiastes 7:14 In the day of prosperity be happy,
But in the day of sadness reflect- God has made the one as well as the other.

When a sad event happens to me or to someone close to me, I remind myself to consciously choose to do seven things;

1. I acknowledge God’s sovereignty over all circumstances in my life, I acknowledge His great love for me, and I acknowledge His infinite wisdom to do exactly what is best for all involved.

2. I ask God for His strength to endure and persevere well. To walk responsibly through this time and not wimp out. To help and encourage others who may be struggling.

3. I ask God for His wisdom so that I will know exactly what to say and do in order to minister to others.

4. I remind myself that time heals hurts, sadness, and wounds, and to be patient and steadfast until that healing happens.

5. I set my mind on heaven, eternity, and receiving my eternal glorified body.

6. I work really hard to be nice to everyone in spite of how I might feel.

7. I pray for all involved that God will give them His strength, His wisdom, His joy, and His peace. And I pray for any unsaved that I know that the sadness will prompt them to seek for answers from God.