Do you know who you are? What is your identity wrapped up in? Could it be where you spend your time, energy, and money? I know that when I was heavy in my addiction there was a lot of effort put to satisfy that addiction. Now that I have found freedom from that addiction I spend a lot of effort to not satisfy that addiction. I’m spending my time, energy, and money on things that bring me closer in alignment with being Christ-like. Do I get it perfect all the time? Absolutely not! But I know there is more to life than getting the next fix! The is more than me trying to fill what I thought was the greatest need in my life, which was much self. Now, I want to challenge believers in their spiritual walk. I want to challenge their assumptions about how they pursue Christ. We are sleepwalking through life and it will probably take a “rock bottom” experience to wake us up. We have generations at stake, and we can only think about that next fix. That “I gotta get comfortable because this life is uncomfortable, and I can’t take it.” What are we doing? What will it take to get you to live in the uncomfortable, to live in a space where we can’t stay passive and allow our families to take 3rd place in our lives?
Stop Start Continue. The new season of The Hope Over Coffee Podcast is here! I took a few weeks off and got the opportunity to upgrade some of the Hope Over Coffee equipment. In other words, I got a new computer… So with that, I now have the ability to produce a video for the pods. I am super nervous about it. I don’t think it’s any different than putting out audio-only other than everyone can see me! All my insecurities are on display. But I think this is a good way to get the message of hope out there. Maybe that is why it scares me the most. It may actually get seen by people, and I could be misunderstood. But I’m gonna keep pressing on. Fight the good fight and talk about what I know. With that, in this week’s episode, I tell more of my story and try to share my heart with everyone. I know there are guys out there who don’t want to be stuck in the cycle of porn addiction. I want them to know they are not alone. I was there, I have freedom now, and I still live a life where my flesh wants what it wants, and I must deny myself to serve Jesus. Most days are just like any other. Some days it’s harder. The rest are relatively easy in the sense of keeping my boundary of porn. I also want guys to know that in the freedom I found, intimacy has grown exponentially with my wife. You can have that too. We have to put in the work. So let’s stop what we were doing, start doing the work it takes to pursue Christ and continue to the end. Run the race.
Finding perspective! Are we truly concerned with those around us? This week I brought Kristen and Chance to the kitchen table to talk about living as a teenage believers in our current culture. Trying to wrap my thoughts around what it is like for a non-believer to survive in our current state without Jesus. I’m trying to figure out what they do. Our society and climate in America are completely wrapped up in gender and sexuality. And if you don’t have Jesus in your life to over a life that is based on sex, what do you do? As we drift further and further away from the morality that God has for us and the standards He calls us to, the next generation will be further from God. I challenged Kristen and Chance to ask what they are doing to help those around them. More specifically, those who claim to believe in Jesus Christ and yet no fruit of the Holy Spirit is displayed in their lives. We cannot know what is in another person’s heart, but we can inspect their actions. And what are we doing if they don’t align with what Jesus calls us to in the Bible? And ask the question of what influences your walk with Christ. What types of music are you finding your perspective in? Does the music you listen to bring you to a vulgar place or lift you up, or can it be neither? Is it possible to just listen to any music you want as a believer? Come join us as we are finding perspective in the journey of life.
I don’t think you can handle this! Can you handle what is opposing your walk with Christ? What sins are you hiding? What sins are you just disregarding? Guys, we must get to the point of being broken over our sins. We must get past the pride and talk about what is going on in our lives. Find other men who are further along in their walk so they can lead you. Dive in the word! Work out your salvation and learn what it means to pursue Christ. Expose the sin in your life! Figure out what it will cost you to follow Christ in your life. What boundaries do you need to set so you can work on heart change while maintaining a behavior change?
6 You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials 7 so that the proven character of your faith—more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; though not seeing him now, you believe in him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2020), 1 Pe 1:6–9.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
These are the last two verses of the gospel according to Matthew. These are the final instructions that Jesus gave his disciples before ascending to heaven. It is better known as “The Great Commission.” Jesus has wrapped up His earthly teaching to His disciples with one last command. Go and make disciples. Take all your life experiences and everything I have taught you in the past three years. Please bring it to other people in your life. Follow my example and find those to follow Me through your example. And Jesus’ last statement is, “no matter what happens; I will be with you!”
I have been told when you are reading scripture, and you come across a “therefore,” you ask what is it there for? In this passage of Matthew 28:19, we could rephrase the verse by taking some of the wording from last week and applying it here. So we could say; Because you are a follower of Jesus and as you go through life, live out your faith daily and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
By reading it this way, a few things come to mind. First, are you a believer? Do you believe Jesus came, died, and rose again for you? Second, what does your daily Christ-following look like? How do you approach life? Do you only guard your mouth on Sundays or every day of the week? Does your social media expose you as someone desperately seeking the will of God, or does it blend in with our culture? Third, are you concerned with more than yourself? Are you blinded by your sin, addictions, and self-serving that you don’t see how you are leading your family into the same patterns?
Only by His power
We all have something to do with our faith. Not that works save us, but what use is faith without works, according to James 2:14. So how are you working out your salvation? How are you leading others? Whether you are a well-seasoned Christ-follower, a brand-new believer, or somewhere in between. You need to be a group of two to three people digging in scriptures and working out what it means to live as Christ lived.
I was saved as a senior in high school, and I missed out on someone discipling me. It wasn’t until twenty-plus years later that I experienced what it meant to sit under this kind of leadership. Don’t miss out. You lead if you can’t find someone to sit and learn under. There are all kinds of resources out there. If you can find them, email me I will send you resources.
You’re probably thinking, “I can’t lead a group. I don’t know what I’m doing.” Faith is moving. Faith is action. The fruit will come, grace will be found, and Jesus will be you always.
Father, stir Your church to be in a unified community heading toward Your Son Jesus. Teach us what it means to be discipled and how to disciple others. Draw us in closer to You, and let us encourage others along the way. Amen.
7But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
In this passage, Paul has reminded us that the most significant gain in life is knowledge. A knowledge that every selfish pursuit up to this point in life is an absolute dung heap that leads to the trash. Everything done in my vanity and pride is utter waste. Anything that I do to bring me salvation or righteousness is futile. Only with my faith in God and my belief in Christ will I be saved and made right with God. And as I grow in my knowledge of God and in my conformity to be Christ-like, I will be conformed to His death to attain the resurrection from the dead. I can know Christ and the power of His resurrection, but I must also know the fellowship of His sufferings.
What am I trying to gain in this life? Do I need more money, or do I need a bigger house? What is the best car I buy? When can I get the next most fantastic cell phone coming out? How much stuff can I acquire in a lifetime? What is the number of trips I can squeeze in before I die? Is there a magic number that I can reach in my bank account to say, “finally, I have enough?” Why do we pursue these things in our life that will never bring fulfillment? Maybe we feel we have lost something. Could we be trying to feel valuable or significant before we die?
We want to know we mattered in that dash between our birth date and death date. Our problem is that we were born with a God-sized hole in us on that birth date. And we do our best to earn something that will fill that hole. Our more significant problem in filling that hole is our lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and our boastful pride of life; we avoid the One who could fill that hole.
You are here ->
I came to a point in life where I accepted the saving grace of a Holy God. And from that point on, I am being conformed to Christlikeness. Every day means I should look a little more like Jesus than the day before. And instead of counting wins and losses by what I think I should or shouldn’t have, I need to see life through the lens of Christ. If that means I must give up some luxury in my life because it means I will draw closer to Jesus, so be it.
When I draw close, I get to know God more. I want the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord. And whatever I think I lost in the process of following Him is not losing at all. Knowing Christ is living as He did. I can’t take anything with me when I die except the knowledge that I will be in His presence. How am I going to live my life in this dash? Trying to earn something, or living with the hope of Jesus in me?
Father, we are prideful selfish people. We vainly attempt to find worthless substitutes for a Mighty God. Clutter, activities, and provision fill our eyes and minds to the point that we can’t see you anymore. Get the things out of our way so that our relationship and knowledge of Christ become our life priority. Amen.
18He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
God? Verse 18b “he who does not believe has been judged already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” We are condemned to an eternity separated from Him if we do not confess that He is Lord in this lifetime. This speck of time that we call “ours.” We have but a moment to see the Light that has come into the world. In this vapor we call life, our pride tries to rule over what we think is our kingdom. Truth is any kingdom that is not God’s kingdom will surely perish—and not bending the knee to the King while we can indeed leads to a consequence of unbelief.
What does it even mean to confess Him as Lord? How does that apply to my life today? If I confess Him as Lord, does it mean I have to give all my possessions away and live a life of poverty? Does it mean God is angry with me if I’m not giving my tithe to the church? Does it mean I have to be in “Church” every Sunday? Or does it mean that I have realized I cannot make it through this life on my own?
I need a savior because, in my strength, I have a natural bend to want to accumulate a lot of possessions. Possessions that I think will make me comfortable in life. Or if I make enough people happy, I’m a good person. I confess He is Lord. I understand that my relationship with a Holy God is far more valuable than anything this world can give. And I want to spend eternity with Him!
How do I wrap my head around eternity? How can I fathom someone not spending eternity with God but completely separated from Him? My finite brain only has a concept of time. And my mind is generally focused on my present. Sometimes, it dwells in the past and tries to plan for the future. But in my finiteness, do I care about the person next to me? Do I see them the way God sees them? How can I live in this life of comfort and know that there are people who will not confess He is Lord? They will spend eternity separated from Him. I believe in this miracle that is salvation.
In my confession of who Jesus is, I struggle to share the gospel. Is the pain of rejection from men more significant than the pain of disobedience to God? I know I can only plant seeds of hope in someone’s life. And it is up to the Holy Spirit to lead them to salvation. But am I doing my part? Am I sharing the gospel? Do I share the good news of Jesus?
I know starting this platform to send out what I read in the bible is a form of sharing the good news, but it will never replace sitting down across from another human at a table and sharing hope over a cup of coffee. God is a God of communion. He is a personal, relational God that cares about me and you. He loved us in His creation so much that the pain of breaking communion with His Son was far greater than just allowing us to our own devices. There is Hope; there is a savior.
You are loved!
Father, You have given us so much. Thank you for Your Son, thank you for the Cross, and thank you for the miracle of salvation. Stir something inside us to bring hope to those who feel hopeless. Let us be a vessel for you to bring You glory and honor in our everyday life. Plant seeds of good news and strive to be Christ-like in loving others. Amen
13No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. 14As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
In Jesus’s conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus is revealing His soon death on a cross. He tells Nicodemus that whoever believes in Him (Jesus) will have eternal life. They will believe that He suffered God’s wrath for us and died on a cross. That through His death, I can be forgiven for my sins. In verse 14, Jesus refers to Moses lifting the bronze serpent in the wilderness (Numbers 21:9). This was a time when Israel had sinned against the LORD. This lifting of the pole with the serpent was a symbol. It was a banner of hope for those that had rebelled against God. They could be forgiven for their sins if they believed and looked at the serpent. Some of the people did not look and died from the serpent bites. Others lived because they did believe in this banner of hope and lifted their eyes to it.
Today we are still a rebellious people. We receive blessings of goodness from a good Father. Then instantly turn to the side and grumble and complain in the pit of entitlement. What are we owed? We find ourselves in challenging situations. We’re confused about what it means to have a good Father in heaven who cares about us. And when things don’t go our way, we kick and scream and shake our fists to the heavens. We begin demanding what we think should be our relief.
Instead, we should be embracing the pain of life. Not chasing what we think will dull the pain. Is life hard, absolutely? Should it be pain-free? Why would we believe that? My God and savior stepped out of heaven into a broken world and was dealt the same pains that I deal with today. I find that comforting. To know that my savior understands what rejection is. The builders rejected the cornerstone (Mark 12:10). Our faith is built on God’s son, who His people rejected, and those that did accept Him seemed very confused the whole time He was walking the earth in human form. But whoever believes in Him shall not perish but will have eternal life.
A new banner of Hope!
So, when I feel insecure and insignificant because of rejection, I know my belief lies in a new banner of hope! Hope is found in the Son of God, Jesus, hanging from a pole. He was beaten, abused, ridiculed, rejected, and heartbroken. I can find peace because my Jesus is right there in my pain. He knows the pain of rejection and humiliation. Through His actions, something meant to kill and destroy became a thing of beauty. Oh, that wondrous cross today, that symbol of suffering and shame, is dear to me. The answer to my unbelief is knowing the truth; God loves me some much He poured out wrath that was due me; on His son. The pain of His son dying on a cross is more bearable than allowing all of humanity no path to redemption.
Father, help me when my belief begins to waver. Lead me through those moments when I think you are not there. Remind me that my purpose is knowing Christ and not dulling the pain of life. Teach me that the pain I’m dealing with can be turned into beauty in those moments. Teach me to use my pains as an opportunity to minister to others. Refine us to find hope and do what is pleasing in your sight. I surrender so my life will look more like Jesus today than yesterday. Amen
11Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. 12If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.
In John 3:11-13, we come to a scene where Jesus is speaking with Nicodemus at night about belief and unbelief. Through the conversation, Jesus poses a question to Nicodemus in verse 12 “If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” Even though this question is spoken to Nicodemus, it is a question that everyone must answer. Do we believe the Son of God had descended out of heaven into the earth? Do we believe His testimony of His accomplishments on earth and in heaven? Over the following eight verses, the word “believe” appears seven times.
How do I believe in something? What does it mean to believe in the Son of Man as Jesus has labeled Himself in verse thirteen? What does unbelief look like?
As a believer, my hope lies in the truth of Jesus. That the Son of God descended from heaven into humanity as Jesus. He lived, died, and rose again so that when I believe in Him, my sins are forgiven. He took the wrath that God had for me and placed it upon Himself. So that His righteousness could be placed on me. We can live a spirt filled life to the fullest now and for eternity.
One day He is coming back for His church. I will stand before Him to give an account for what I have done with this life. Will I be told, “Well done, my good and faithful servant”? Will my life reflect who Jesus is? From the first moment I believed until my last breath of air, what will my life say about Jesus? That I was perfect? Far from it! That I had it all together? Not even close. That in every failure, my eyes would be on the prize that is a personal relationship with Jesus?
Regardless of the circumstances, feelings, or what the world tells me, my eyes would be focused on the Savior. Not to receive just a blessing but to honestly know Him. Sometimes going through a particular pain of life, we must refocus on Jesus, and sometimes it takes longer than others, but does that focus always get corrected? I like to think so.
Where are you in your journey of belief? Are you having problems in the realm of unbelief? Would you call yourself a sold-out committed follower of Jesus Christ, or do you land somewhere between the two? What would it take to move from unbelief into belief? Or even move from a “good person” to one who has a depth in their relationship with Jesus and is willing to remove the sin that so easily entangles us to follow Him wholeheartedly? In His time on earth, the people saw Him perform miracle after miracle, yet they still rejected Him. What are you going to do with the good news of Jesus?
Father, I thank You that Jesus came and died for me. He knew everything I was ever going to do, yet He still loves me. He loved me enough to lay down His own life just so I have the same opportunity as everyone else, to believe in Him. I pray that we remove distractions in our lives and that we can either focus for the first time or refocus our hope in You. Amen.