It Doesn’t Affect Me

20150509-NZ0P4711 On any given day we are all exposed to incredible amounts of media. This can include just about anything: showing your friend a funny commercial on your phone, getting tickets to your favorite summer movie, catching up with the show everyone is talking about or just wandering through the internet on a rainy day. Almost everything we see is trying to make us buy something or believe something. And it seems that to each and every piece of media we come across we give the unanimous response of “It doesn’t affect me.”

Of course we are right; after all you didn’t run out to buy that new truck you just saw on TV and the themes of atheism in that last movie didn’t cause you to renounce your faith in God. So we all go on believing that nothing happened to us and the world goes on unchanged except for the little fun we had.

However, if we really believe that these are the changes the advertisers and entertainers are looking to make in society we are completely wrong. Yes they do want you to go buy that new car or support their political beliefs when you go vote but they are fully aware that they can’t make more than a few people to do these things. The true goal is not even to make you think or become aware of the product or idea they are presenting you. All they want is for you to accept their product and/or idea without opposition.

If this in fact is the true goal, then every single one of us has been affected. We see a violent movie and we don’t go out and commit murder but we shrug when we see one on the news and we accept it. We see a beverage commercial and don’t buy or drink it but keep an “open mind” that perhaps it makes others happy, and we accept it. We see a lifestyle presented in our favorite show and don’t take part in that kind of living but think it might not be so bad for a minority who is comfortable with it and we accept it.

The Bible talks about this in Psalms when David says “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.” However, what we put in front of our eyes is only the external demonstration of what we should be. Jesus said in Mathew “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” I know most of us can’t completely avoid seeing any media but this verse gives us a clue as to what we must be to overcome this constant influence. Philippians tells us “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” If this is what we have our focus on God will ensure our protection, not as a pass to do whatever we want but to move as he does: completely and utterly free.

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Discipleship

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disciple |diˈsīpəl|

noun

a personal follower of Jesus during his life, esp. one of the twelve Apostles.

• a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosophy : a disciple of Rousseau.

verb [ trans. ]

guide (someone) in becoming a follower of Jesus or another leader : the new believer was discipled by a missionary.

Disciple

A disciple is a follower and student of a mentor, teacher, or other figure

Luke 14:26,27,33 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

DISCIPLE-an adherer, who receives the instructions given to him, and make it his way of life.

“the new believer was discipled by a missionary.”

People often think we have to disciple someone after they become a believer, but what if the discipleship process starts before they even realize they’re being discipled?

I really loved what Noble Nimmons had to say about witness, “We’re talking about what we see.  We’re training ourselves to see God in everything, which then makes our whole lives about God and describing what we see about Him, through Him and what He’s doing.” (Okay I wasn’t perfectly quoting him, but that’s basically what he said.)

Isn’t that what witnessing should really be?!

When I trained in San Antonio to be a missionary, we were taught a way of studying the bible by asking questions.

We would start out with asking everyone to say a praise for that week.

Then we would move on to asking for prayer requests, or “stressors”, and have someone pray for each one as it was brought up.

Then we would ask if someone remembers the story from last week.

Then we would open our bibles to what ever passage was picked out and read it two or three times (if possible in different versions, and by people who volunteered)

After two reads we ask if anyone can retell the story if they can’t read it again.

Psalm 25:1-10

1Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.

2 O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.

3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.

4 Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths.

5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

6 Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.

7 Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord.

8 Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.

9 The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.

10 All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.

After we read it how ever many times we need to, we ask questions:

1. What are some things that stand out to you(observations)?

2. What does this tell us about God? (In this and the next question we often had to ask (especially if the person is a believer), where did you get that from this passage? Make sure to stay on that passage, no bible surfing allowed.)

3. What does this tell us about man(what did we  discover about ourselves)?

4. Since this is true, how can we apply to our lives?

Last but not least.

5. Who are you going to tell this story to this week?

I’m not going to do number one because thats a group discussion and is very cool seeing from everyones point of view on what ever they point out. And if it doesn’t line up with what is read, ask them how they understand it from what is read.(group correction to keep doctrine pure)

Number two tells us that God is trust worthy, He is a teacher, He is loving, kind, ECT. (We could get lost in how amazing God is.)

Three, we are ashamed, we’re low, we need to be taught, we have sinned, ect.

Four, we can apply anything to our lives from here, maybe that we should be easy to teach or that we should ask for forgiveness of sins.

Five is a personal one for everyone, it changes depending on who you are and dealing with.

If followers of Jesus would gather in the small communities that they already exist in, (work, hobby groups, choirs, interest groups, etc.), and read  the scriptures together, and learn from one another, because group knowledge becomes individual knowledge, we would be discipling one another. Then as we begin to share the stories with non-believers in our work and neighborhoods, and  they want to hear more, ask them to gather their group together, and you will teach them how to do the same. Friends are usually already accountable to one another in some form, so as they learn about God, discovering Him for themselves, they will grow in faith and the whole group can come to faith in Jesus together.

In so doing, we will be disciples of Jesus, obeying Him when He said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…”

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The Water and Blood

11156874_802415433169737_1259842631_n Like every good story, the Bible carries a very accurate portrayal of its Author’s emotions. Since God is the author of the Bible through divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Bible has as much figurative meaning as it does literal. For example, Psalms 23 widely known and loved by the Christian community but very little of the Psalm has literal meaning. The Lord is not our literal shepherd because we are not actual sheep, but because He does take on this metaphorical role we “shall not want” for anything in our lives. Thus through this use of metaphors we can better know the heart of God in any situation of the Bible.

This idea of symbolism and metaphors in the Bible caught my attention this Easter when the preacher read about the crucifixion. Specifically when water and blood came from Jesus’s side after the roman soldiers had pierced it with a spear. It seemed like such an incredibly specific detail yet we continued reading though the passage without an explanation. I had heard of doctors saying this meant Jesus had died from a broken heart, something I would not deny. However, I also believe the Bible to be self-explanatory making the meaning of this something I could find elsewhere in the Bible. So I looked for how water and blood were used in other parts of the Bible.

After looking around for a bit I realized I was specifically looking for flowing blood and flowing water since this is what’s specifically described at the crucifixion. I found that flowing water represents life and the Holy Spirit much like Psalms describes a believer as a tree planted by a river. In contrast however, I found that flowing blood symbolizes death and payment in very much the same way Romans states that the “wages of sin is death”. With these two metaphors we can see just how much God was saying at the crucifixion.

We can see that the crucifixion was indeed the death of Jesus and with his death he paid the price necessary for all our sins. However, the crucifixion was also the beginning of life and the reason we are now able to be baptized in Holy Spirit. Now, I am not saying this is the only thing it can mean but is definitely one of the things it does mean. I am certain there is much more meaning God had in mind for this short description but that is the beauty of it. God will show different things to each of us and expects all of us to share what we find with each other so we can all grow in knowing the heart of God.

So this is my challenge to you, when you come across an overly descriptive detail or something that doesn’t seem to make sense, don’t just read over it. There is probably a whole lot of meaning in it that only needs some time on your part to be discovered. Take the time study it within the context of the rest of the Bible so you can “show thyself approved”. Who knows? God might show you something nobody has ever found before.

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Chag ha-Matzah: A Week Without Bread

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When Adonai brings you into the land … which He swore to your ancestors to give you — a land flowing with milk and honey — you are to observe this ceremony in this month. For seven days you are to eat unleavened bread (matzah), and the seventh day is to be a high holy day for Adonai. Unleavened bread is to be eaten throughout the seven days; neither leavened bread (chametz) nor leavening agents are to be seen with you throughout your territory. On that day you are to tell your sons, ‘This is because of what Adonai did for me when I left Egypt.’” — Exodus 13:5-8

Last night marked the end of Chag ha-Matzah (the Feast of Unleavened Bread), a seven-day feast beginning at the end of Passover. During this feast, my family and I observe the above instructions to remove all leaven from our homes, and refrain from eating anything that’s been baked with leaven. This is done in remembrance of the days when Adonai freed His people from Egypt, and also to remember the sacrifice of Messiah. This festival is full of symbolism, which in many ways leads us to recognize and remove areas of sin from our lives as well.

In scripture, leaven is a symbol of sin, and for good reason. The two are alike in many ways. For starters, Galatians 5:9 talks about how a little bit of yeast causes the whole loaf to rise, alluding to the idea that if we allow even a little bit of sin to make its way into our lives, it can ruin all the other wonderful opportunities and blessings that Yahweh wants to give us. Another parallel is that yeast causes things to become “puffed up,” just like sin causes pride in our hearts, which can lead us to reject the well-meant council of our Christian brethren and ultimately turn away from Yahweh’s plan for our lives. Perhaps the most important parallel, though, is that the process of fermentation (which causes bread to rise) is one of death and decay. This means that without the curse of sin (brought on by the fall of Adam), there could be no leavened bread to begin with. By observing this festival and cleaning out our homes of leaven, we’re getting rid of something that wouldn’t be possible if sin and death did not exist in the first place.

For what one earns from sin is death; but eternal life is what one receives as a free gift from Adonai, in union with the Messiah Yeshua.” Romans 6:23

While leaven is a symbol of sin, unleavened bread (or matzah) is a symbol of Messiah. It is a picture of His perfection — His sinless, untainted life — which made it possible for Him to be the “lamb without blemish” for the ultimate Passover sacrifice that would cover the sins of the world. Note that even after Messiah died and was buried, His body did not decay or return to dust as it should have. Instead His death was the one that conquered death, and freed us from captivity to our sin.

You should be aware that the ransom paid to free you from the worthless way of life which your fathers passed on to you did not consist of anything perishable like silver or gold; on the contrary, it was the costly, bloody, sacrificial death of the Messiah, as of a lamb without defect or spot. Adonai knew him before the founding of the universe, but revealed him in the end of times for your sakes.” 1 Peter 1:18-20

Not only is this incredible feast is a great way to grow closer to Yahweh — it also allows us to be witnesses for Him and the set-apart lifestyle He’s called us to live. Often when we’ve gone out to dinner with friends or family during the week of unleavened bread, it’s given us a unique opportunity to explain why we’re abstaining from eating certain things, and ultimately opened up dialogue about why we believe in Messiah.

As much as I love bread (and pretty much all other baked goods!), I also love observing the week of unleavened bread, and celebrating this reminder that through Messiah, we are free from sin and death. I can’t wait to celebrate it again next year. ~

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Death is No More

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Matt Maher – Christ Is Risen
Let no one caught in sin remain
Inside the lie of inward shame
We fix our eyes upon the cross
And run to him who showed great love
And bled for us
Freely you bled, for us

Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake!
Come and rise up from the grave!

Christ is risen from the dead
We are one with him again
Come awake, come awake!
Come and rise up from the grave!

Beneath the weight of all our sin
You bow to none but heavens will
No scheme of hell, no scoffer’s crown
No burden great can hold you down
In strength you reign
Forever let your church proclaim

Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake!
Come and rise up from the grave!

Christ is risen from the dead
We are one with him again
Come awake, come awake!
Come and rise up from the grave!

Oh death! Where is your sting?
Oh hell! Where is your victory?
Oh Church! Come stand in the light!
The glory of God has defeated the night!

Oh death! Where is your sting?
Oh hell! Where is your victory?
Oh Church! Come stand in the light!
Our God is not dead, he’s alive! he’s alive!

Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death

Come awake, come awake!
Come and rise up from the grave
Christ is risen from the dead
We are one with him again
Come awake, come awake!
Come and rise up from the grave

Rise up from the grave…

John 10:17-18

17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.

18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

1 Corinthians 15:54-58

54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:20-22

20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

John 10:17-18

17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.

18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

Romans 4:23-25

23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;

24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

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