I first saw Karen standing on a stage. Looking at her, you would have never known that she was a heroine addict. You would never have known that she had been a prostitute. You see, she was the children's pastor in that church and there was a radiant beauty in her life that was astonishing...
Showing items for 'December 2015'
As the world goes dark with the loss of a loved one, or the loss of a job, or as the world goes dark with the betrayal of someone who should have loved you best. You're at the hospital and cancer has your world; you never saw it coming! The doctor's words have just left you reeling and numb. In...
The message of Christmas is that you and I live in the dark, and the truth is that we live in a world that is so massively broken, and so massively accustomed to life in the dark that we cannot even see the dark any longer! We live in the shadow of death, that is the shadow of hell, and in...
This Christmas season, I want to remind you again that something has happened on planet earth that changed everything. 1 John 4:10 says, "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." It was the love of Jesus that cost God...
I love the heart of God to make things new. The scripture says in Revelation 21:1, "And then i saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first had passed away…" You and I live in an earth that God imagined and created out of His joy, but in our sin we rebelled and we chose independence...
I want us to imagine the road ahead because the truth is we need to redeem our imaginations! The word redeem is a critical word that has to do with 'buying back.' To redeem something means to turn it around, to make it right. It means for God to touch it and to move it from dark to light, from...
I first saw Karen standing on a stage. Looking at her, you would have never known that she was a heroine addict. You would never have known that she had been a prostitute. You see, she was the children's pastor in that church and there was a radiant beauty in her life that was astonishing. Karen had grown up in a family that was very real world, and in this family, she was not well loved. Karen was used by men that should have loved her, and broken in ways that some of you know all too well, and in her brokenness she looked for answers but saw no Jesus. None was present for her to see and she did what we all often do. We turn to our God substitutes; other men, other women and we look for answers where there really are none.
We look for filling where there is only emptiness. One abortion came and then another, and more brokenness and more regret. The pain that she thought could not increase, did. The only way that it would seem to go away was when she was drunk or high and even that was a law of diminishing returns. Heroine became as much of a friend as she knew and her story was, humanly speaking, hopeless. Statistically the people who recover from where she was is very small and the people who stay recovered is even smaller. But Jesus, Jesus came!
He came into her life through people who were changed by His love and she who had thought the church would be a place of rejection, stayed away from the church, but she saw Jesus in the lives of people changed and they loved her well and hope began to come alive in her life! It wasn't a magic wand and it wasn't struggle free. It wasn't like some Disney story that was without pain or fear. It was very real world, very real Jesus and very real hope, but there was very real change!
This woman who ten years earlier, I would not have recognized for the ravages of drugs in her life, stood before us that day beautiful in more than body. She was whole and literally just radiating the hope and love of Jesus! When she looked around, she didn't see a past so broken that there was no way anyone could humanly rise from that. What she did, was she looked up because faith helped her interpret life differently!
Other people look up and all they see is the emptiness of the night sky, but she looked up and she saw the same star of Bethlehem. She saw a light over the darkness of the world, and she looked up and she saw hope of Jesus, and that hope was more powerful than heroine, more powerful than her prostitution and more powerful than anything else in her life and it changed her; and being changed, she led change!
I want us, as the church of the living God, to be alive in hope for the rest of our lives! I'm not going to paint for you some easy story of what your life is going to be like. I don't really want to know what's ahead of me, because I might not like it. But here's the deal, the only way to not be alive in hope is to look back and be tied to a past that is insurmountable! To look around and to see nothing but more brokenness. To look ahead and to see through the magical future that you've created for yourself and to feel it's emptiness!
But when you look ahead and you see a Jesus who is there waiting and you look back and you see a Jesus whose blood has forgiven you from every chain that binds you and every sin that you don't want anybody to know about. When you look around and you don't just see circumstances that are impossible, but you see a Jesus to whom nothing was impossible. You look around and you see hope!
When you are alive in hope, you are changed by it! How do you know if you are alive in hope? How do you know if you've been changed? Well, here's the deal, with all the struggles and all the imperfections, with all of the process and all of the mess, when you are alive in hope, you are on mission, bringing change to other people without hope! Look up, see hope and be changed! -Dr. Drew Shofner
As the world goes dark with the loss of a loved one, or the loss of a job, or as the world goes dark with the betrayal of someone who should have loved you best. You're at the hospital and cancer has your world; you never saw it coming! The doctor's words have just left you reeling and numb. In that moment, what has your attention?
2,000 years ago, in Jerusalem, the country was occupied and broken. Faith was really no where to be found. God had been silent for 400 years before the birth of Jesus and things were at probably one of the lowest places that they could have ever been other than maybe the captivity when they were wearing chains. All the people in Jerusalem were going about their business just like you and I are going about ours this Christmas. They were coping with life just like you and I. People were bumping into each other and struggling and everything that is real for you and I here and now, it was real for them too!
In the midst of all of this, God suddenly revealed hope in the world. The scripture tells us that there were Magi from the east (Matthew 2:1). They weren't kings, these guys weren't even God's people, they were pagans. They didn't have the right skin color, they didn't speak the right language or have the right religious pedigree. They were outsiders; they were not Jews! But whatever they were, in the busyness of their short life, they looked up! And in looking up, they saw a hope that was different than anything before and it changed them!
These three men, these people who knew nothing before this season of life, discovered something that changed everything for them and for us! And in the night sky, looking at the big picture of life, I want you to step back from the busyness and not just be one of the ants bumping into the other ants. I want you to step back and look out on the horizons of your life. God caused that star to be shining over the world! But faithlessness couldn't see it and busyness couldn't see it! Something in their hearts were captured by the light of God. These Magi were people just like you, they had choices to make just like you, with forks in the road just like you! But as they looked around in life, they decided that there must be more and so they looked up!
What has captured your attention in life and is keeping you from looking up? Are you focused on problems? Are you focused on regret? Has shame captured your heart? Fear? The truth is that most of us here have our attention literally captured by the world around us. God has appeared in a way that must be believed and can be easily dismissed! "I Am the light of the world," Jesus said in John 8:12, "and whoever believes in me, who ever is willing to put their hope in me and follow me in a changed way of living, they will never walk in darkness but they will have the light of life!"
There is a light shining over your circumstance and it is the same light that was shone guiding these wise men, smart enough to look up and to seek Jesus. The light of God's love is shining over your pain, your problems, your addiction, your cancer, your 'fill in the blank'. But you have to look up and you have to see it in the busyness of your short life here on planet earth!
You can look up and you can see nothing, but I'm just telling you that the star of Bethlehem is shining brilliantly over your pain. These three guys saw what nobody else saw; they saw hope above and they ran towards hope! Look up, because above what is hopeless to you now, there is hope. Into your world a light has come! -Dr. Drew Shofner
The message of Christmas is that you and I live in the dark, and the truth is that we live in a world that is so massively broken, and so massively accustomed to life in the dark that we cannot even see the dark any longer!
We live in the shadow of death, that is the shadow of hell, and in this world, we feel the brokenness and we feel the alienation. We feel the something missing and we long for something more! We look around and we cast around for saviors in this world, some man, some woman, surely somebody will love me. We try to buy our way into happiness, we'll work our way into significance but in the end, the darkness creeps in through whatever light that we have falsely been able to create, and the match goes out and we're left in the dark, feeling the shadows of hell and hopelessness again.
Matthew 4:16 says, "…on those living in the land of darkness and in the shadow of death, a great light has dawned!" We know that in the scriptures, Jesus came to save us from hell in eternity, but what I want to remind you as you live your life in the rest of 2015 and through 2016, is that Jesus did not come merely to save you from the hell that is going to be after life, He came to save us from the hell that is in life- here and now! Christmas means that a savior has been born to the world who brings light to life in a radical way that requires us to die completely to ourselves and to be born again to a new life that is alive in hope forever!
What I want to challenge you to do in 2016, is to call light out and to call darkness out! Because a part of our brokenness is that we confuse the two all that time. Isaiah 5:20 says this, "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who put light for darkness and dark for light, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter."
When the shadows of darkness are reigning in your heart, you call it out and you recognize that it is darkness and you turn away from it. You reach for the light of Jesus and you allow him to fill your heart with a hope that is from heaven and is eternal. You and I can live our lives in the shadow of death for the rest of our existence if we choose, or we can live in the dawn. No matter how hard life is or what it throws our way. How alone we feel or what ever struggles we have; we can live believing in Jesus and we can live alive in His hope!
God never called you to live down in despair. When you live with the shadow of hell in your heart, in your marriage, in your home, you are forefitting the future that Jesus bled to give to you. When you live hating what you see in the mirror, you are allowing the shadow of death to stay in place in your life when Jesus brought light to illuminate and to change everything!
My prayer is that you and I would leave the dark forever, and though we walk through the valley of the shadows, that we would live in the light of Heaven itself! My prayer for you is that 2016 is the year that you come more alive than you've ever been. That you finish your grieving, that you throw off the darkness of death, that you come alive and bear the image of God that He created you to bear in the world and that you make a difference in the lives of other people. That you love so well, that other people want what you have and other people see the light of the Christmas birth in you! Darkness or light, hope or fear; it's our choice! -Dr. Drew Shofner
This Christmas season, I want to remind you again that something has happened on planet earth that changed everything. 1 John 4:10 says, "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." It was the love of Jesus that cost God everything that He had. Some people live ignoring it but the truth is, the foundational axis of life on our planet shifted when the Messiah was born, crucified and rose again!
Here is the cross foretold, it is the story of Jesus told. "Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed." -Isaiah 53
It is the story of a love that cost God everything. It is about our souls, our lives and our eternal destines. The truth is, what Jesus did on the cross was love on a collision course with life; long before you were ever born! You see, only a love without limits can blow the limits off your life!
Some of you are stuck in some bad places today. Some of you are stuck in some lifeless and lightless places. But our God loves you and is so passionate about you and cares about you so deeply that He truly wants to blow every limit off your life!
The chains that you're wearing, those have been taken care of. The sadness that you're feeling, it has been answered. The anger and the rage that are inside of you from the woundedness of your past, Jesus can take care of that. In fact, He already has; He gave His life! He poured out His love. Only a love that cost everything can change everything! -Dr. Drew Shofner
I love the heart of God to make things new. The scripture says in Revelation 21:1, "And then i saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first had passed away…" You and I live in an earth that God imagined and created out of His joy, but in our sin we rebelled and we chose independence and our own will over the will of the Father and in that moment, everything was shattered. The foundation was cracked; deafness reigned, blindness entered our life, everything was torn apart in the human world!
But God said I will not give up, I will not let it go! I will pay any cost to redeem it, to buy it back and make things right again! And that's what God's here to do for your life. You have been loved with a love that is bigger than your life. You have been loved with a love that is bigger than God's life, and it's enough to change everything!
"Behold, I make all things new, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, to him who is thirsty," that is to the person who is willing to acknowledge their need, who is willing to acknowledge the need of being dependent, to the person who will give up the fig leaf of self sufficiency, to that person, I'll give the water of life!" I'll make everything right again, and everything that you're longing for in your heart of hearts, the end to the loneliness and alienation; the love that you just can't seem to find; I'm making everything new again! -Revelation 21:5
God's love has changed everything; I pray today that you and I aren't blind to it. I pray that you and I will see the power of a love that cost everything to change everything; in big and small ways! I pray most of all, that as we grow to be a church of 5,000 disciples, that we are not a church of 5,000 religious people "saved to sit" but that we are out in a broken world as broken people making friends for Jesus. Showing grace, living generosity, touching lives that nobody even notices, and bringing the healing of Heaven into a broken world one broken life at a time!
You have no idea what a difference you can make on this planet if you will only get over yourself and answer the call of God! -Dr. Drew Shofner