Showing items filed under “November 2016”

Sea Glass - In the Hands Of The Father All Is Made New

Sea Glass

The brokenness of our lives, in the hands of our savior, is sea glass that God shines through to reveal His love, beauty and truth to others. But if we will not yield our lives, if we quit and walk away, then not only do we lose, but others don't get to see the beauty of God's hand on life.

Here's what Hannah Martin wrote about sea glass:

Shattered and broken, unwanted and used
Sharp useless pieces that no one could use
Tossed in the ocean without care or thought
Something that once had value, that someone once bought
Falling down deep to the ocean floor
No hope, no plan, no purpose anymore
For years it would toss through the pull of the waves
Changing in size, color and shape
Dragged through the rocks, the shells and sand
Till one day it washed up onto the land
Shining in the sunlight, a jewel on the ground
What once was unwanted, now a treasure found
Now it is searched for, now people seek it
Because of it's suffering, now people keep it
We all have our "sea glass" that we try to hide
Our broken pieces that we stuff down inside
Our hurts and our sufferings that need time
Time with the Healer so they can sparkle and shine
In the hands of the Father all is made new
Lord let my suffering draw others to you.
 
-Hannah Martin

Entering The New Means Leaving The Old

 

Entering the new

Jesus came to lead us out of a dead and dying world into an everlasting Kingdom! The bridge to this new world is the cross and the simple reality is that entering the new means leaving the old! We're called to give up our own "world building" and the portrait of how we think life should be --we can't live in two worlds! 

To gain a life that is eternal, you have to give up a world. You have to give up the world you imagined and the broken world that you desire. There are two portraits of a broken world. One is the view that you really don't see as a broken world. It's the idea that if I could only have...then I'd really be happy and you think that getting enough of it is going to satisfy you. This is the lie of hell that says you can actually be happy in a dying world. This is the side where you don't even know that the ship is sinking. 

The other side is where you know the ship is sinking. You know that the world is broken. The question is, will you give it up? 

It's realizing that there's nothing there. It's kind of like that experience in getting what you want and then realizing you didn't want what you got! This is a place of laying down the old that is broken and trading it for a new world! It's walking through the illusion that this world can satisfy and realizing that it can't and that I have to lay it down.

The bridge to the new world is the cross. Entering the new means leaving the old and if we won't reject the old, it's because we've rejected the cross. There are far too few of us who are living lives that are cross carrying. And there are far too many of us who are trying to live with one foot in both worlds --and it doesn't work!

1 Corinthians 1:18 says, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 

Guys, the difference is dying! The difference between the life you're looking for and the life of dissatisfaction that you may have is dying to yourself! The difference between getting over your procrastination and accomplishing the things you know God has called you to is dying to yourself! The difference between a life of fear and self hatred is dying to the fear and self hatred! 

The difference is dying and I want to call you today to joyfully trade a world --for a life!

Trade this world and all of its ideas of it satisfying you for the eternal life that Jesus can give. Let Jesus Christ be your life builder. Let Him be your world giver. It's going to be hard, it's going to be incredibly hard! It's going to go soul deep, but this is the call of the Christian life because the centerpiece of Jesus' life is a cross and a resurrection!

Everyone wants a resurrection without a crucifixion but where there is no cross, there is no Jesus! -Dr. Drew Shofner

 

 

Adoption is a Reflection of Jesus

November is National Adoption Month.

My wife and I have felt a calling towards adoption for some time and it finally came to fruition about a year and a half ago. We had two foster children, who are biological brother and sister placed in our home and this past summer we finalized their adoption. That means that at the moment we have four children (two biological: 1yr old & 6yrs old and two adopted: 9yrs old & 16yrs old) in our family.

This past year has been a roller coaster and if you would have caught me on a bad day, you might walk away from our interaction confident that you aren’t called to adopt. So why did we adopt? Why should anyone consider adoption? For me, it goes back to my own adoption.

I know that I am a sinner. Of all the things that scripture teaches me, the fact that I am a sinner is near the top of the list. Because of sin, I was hopelessly lost, separated from God with no ability on my own to get right with Him. I was outside of God’s family, an orphan with no father. The Bible describes this condition as being enslaved to sin. My condition meant that I desperately needed a redeemer, a father who would take me in and love me as his own.

That redeemer is Jesus Christ. Because of what Jesus did for me on the cross, my sins are forgiven. When I was forgiven through the grace of Jesus Christ, the Bible says that I was adopted into his family. When I was in sin, I was separated, I was alone, I was an orphan. But in Christ, I am adopted into God’s eternal family.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, Abba! Father! (Romans 8:15)

Again, Paul says that God sent his son to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons… “So you are no longer a slave, but a son…” (Galatians 4:5,7)

In both of these passages Paul shows us that there are only two conditions — we are either slaves or we are adopted children. We either have the spirit of slavery and fear, or we have the spirit of adoption.

Our adoption is what brings us into God’s family. It is a spiritual reality, a spiritual change of condition that takes place when we are saved. But physical adoption is something that is desperately needed in our community and around our world. We need Christian men and women who are willing to model Christ’s love for us and give that love to children in need.

Why did my wife and I choose to adopt? I believe that adoption is central to the gospel. Christ adopts us when we are separated from him. I believe the church can show the love that God has for us by adopting children in need. When we show children that we are willing to be their earthly redeemer, they become open to the idea that they have a heavenly redeemer.

When we considered what Christ has done for us, we felt there was no clearer picture of the gospel than to adopt children who need a family. We chose to open our family, open our home, and open our hearts to these children. We chose to take them in and freely give them the gift of being a part of our family. We took the orphans and made them sons and daughters.

There are over 400,000 foster children in the United States. There are millions of orphans around the world who need loving families. I believe the church can be the leader in helping these children find their place in a home and family that will love and care for them. Since Christ died for my adoption, I feel called and compelled to show that love and do it for others.

Let Your Small be BIG in Somebody Else's Life!

weakness grace

When we stop living for our own glory, we stop being limited by our own abilities and our own efforts and we begin to live by the power of God - the Holy Spirit inside of us! That's very clearly what the scripture teaches. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, the Apostle Paul asked God three times to take away the thorn in his flesh and God said,“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 
 
When we see God as infinite, our small is irrelevant! I believe that's exactly the meaning of the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in Matthew 15:29-39. It's not a random event that occurred 2,000 years ago that makes you happy-- for some people who got a free lunch! There's so much more to the story. In the story, Jesus had compassion for these people, they had been with Him for three days and had nothing to eat. 

The truth is, most of us live in a drought of true love and true nurture in our lives, and when you live for a thirst and a hunger for love, it's very difficult for hungry people to feed hungry people! But when you have been filled with the love of God, it is not only easy, it is absolutely inevitable that you will pour out in love for other people! 

So, the God of the universe who took on flesh and walked among us, filled with all the infinite love of the Father, looked around at all the broken people and said 'I have compassion on these people, they are hurting, they have needs and I'm going to give my life away to meet their needs!' (Paraphrased)

Having compassion - Do we even see the brokenness anymore or are we so overwhelmed by all the brokenness and all of the evil and all the wrong in the world that we can't even look at it anymore? Jesus looked at people and He had compassion. Jesus wasn't bound by earthbound thinking. In Luke 18:27, Jesus said, "What is impossible with man is possible with God."  

Who are we to tell God what is and isn't possible?
 
The reality is that we as a church ought to be a church that has compassion on this broken world around us! If we don't engage the brokenness in our neighborhoods, in our families, in ourselves, in Baltimore City, in Curtis Bay and Brooklyn Park, I don't think we've got a God at all! Because the Jesus that broke the bread that night, saw His life torn apart and given to God so that God could make it infinitely more than it would have been had Jesus kept His life for Himself!

We don't want to just be a bunch of religious people sitting our backsides in seats each week, checking a box thinking we've done something! We've done nothing until we've taken the love that God has given us, and we are poured out into a broken world, loving people who are like us and unlike us and loving people who are near and far from us! 

All that I can give away does not leave less for me, it's just a matter of God pouring more into me, I cannot out give God, you cannot out give God-- it is impossible! The way that this works is that we let ourselves be broken and offered to the world, to the glory of God, just as Christ did! 

We serve God the infinite! Not God the weak and God the small and God the ignorant and uncaring! We serve an infinite God who is infinite in all of His attributes. His goodness. His mercy. His compassion. His wisdom. His grace and provision -they're all infinite in every direction! The size of this galaxy amidst a universe that is even bigger, is not even to scale of the size of our God -He is infinitely bigger in every direction!
 
Jeremiah 32:27 says, "I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?" You in your own life, the struggles of the needs not being met in your own family or your own finances. You need to ask yourself that question - is anything too hard for God?

Let your small be BIG in somebody else's life! We start where we are with what we have, we don't wait until we're ready! Our lack of resources and abilities all goes out the window when you stop living for your own glory. Get busy giving your small to the world that God loves in Jesus' name. God's glory is built upon our surrender, when we see God as infinite, we touch broken with glory!

So, the turning point is: That we see human need with a divine compassion in the world around us. When we refuse to be stopped by earth-bound thinking of what is and is not possible and when we stop living for our own glory, we become limitless! -Dr. Drew Shofner

All Things Work Together For Good

main image

1 Corinthians 1:18 says, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." This message that love could be love in the pain. That love could be love in the struggle. That love has to die and hurt -is the story of the cross for Jesus.

We know that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son (John 3:16). We know that love was crucified and suffered on the cross. But the message of the cross that we love, is that it's not just Jesus who must suffer and still love -it's us!

There is nothing wrong with you that you're experiencing what you're experiencing, because a God who is good has a purpose in the pain that He allows! This is the promise of scripture that "In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." -Romans 8:28

I'm just telling you, this completely reinterprets the pain of our lives when we begin to understand that God loves the work of His hammer. He trusts the heat of His forge. He knows the power of His hand to shape something that in the end is good and strong and right and true! 

We are small and wrong for resenting this process, and so when God seems gone, remember the word 'seems.' Champions for Christ don't quit on God even when the reasons seem good. In the good of God, the pain He brings serves a purpose He loves! -Dr. Drew Shofner

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