Every home needs a good Study Bible. #morejesus

esvstudybibleSeveral of our students are reading chronologically through the gospels for the next 52 week.  More here.   In our students devotional journal we have embedded 7 questions that they can ask about any passage to help them really think about it.   But honestly, sometimes you need a little help understanding what is going on in a passage (especially if the Bible is pretty new to you).

For that reason alone I think it is wise for every home have at least 1 good study Bible.   A study bible will explain the context of the Bible’s various books and authors and will have notes on the bottom of each page explaining words, phrases, and ideas that might need more light.

Here are a list of several trusted Study Bibles if you are looking for one.  Any of these would be good.

ESV Study Bible

Zondervan Study Bible 

CSB Study Bible 

MacArthur Study Bible  The MacArthur probably has more notes than any other study Bible.  But all of the above are good.

 

 

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Which Jesus is in your heart?

whichjesuspictureSometimes, because I can be cynical when it comes to American evangelicalism, I wonder if the Jesus many people “invite into their hearts” is the same Jesus of the Scriptures.
That is a very real fear I have for students in our churches.  When a student receives Christ, what exactly do they believe?  Are we ever guilty of assuming knowledge that hasn’t really been comprehended?
That’s one reason why we are encouraging and resourcing our students and parents to take up the 52 Weeks with Jesus Day by Day reading plan and journal. We cannot follow a Jesus who’s life and words we have not and are not studying. And if we have not studied his life and words, the “Jesus” we are following may very well not be the Jesus of the Bible, but the Jesus of our imagination.
So, let’s immerse ourselves in Jesus this year, really pursue him, not only what Jesus says and does, but what other parts of the Bible say about the nature and character and mission of Jesus.
Also, consider grabbing a good, Biblical, book about Jesus.   Here are a few suggestions (off the top of my head) that may serve as a helpful corrective to our personal and cultural assumptions about Jesus.  They, of course, are supplement to what you are learning about Jesus in the Word.
The Original Jesus.  This book by Dan Darling, is about the various and common counterfeit Christ’s of culture and of our imagination.
Your Jesus is too Safe.    This book is not only a corrective to misconceptions of Jesus but frank portrayal of the Christ of Scripture.
The Sermon on the Mount.  Very easy to read overview of the Sermon on the Mount.
Seeing and Savoring Jesus.  A short book about being in awe of the greatness of Jesus.
Who is Jesus?  A short intro into the life, teaching, and nature of Jesus.
The Gospel According to Jesus.    This  book is a longer read, but noteworthy because of its emphasis on the Lordship of Christ which can and has been under-emphasized in American evangelicalism.
See Adam’s webcomic for a cynical chuckle and to see which Jesus goes with picture above.

Jesus is the Litmus Test: Series Intro

litmus_jesus_newlogo_minustime.jpgOur “Jesus is the Litmus Test” has begun to start off the year.  To introduce the message some friends donated me a lab coat, some beakers, litmus strips, and household chemicals.2018-01-10 17.59.08

Honestly, I don’t know all the science behind it, but i did learn and demonstrate that the blue strips reveal whether substance is an acid and the red strips reveal whether a substance is a base, by changing color.   We also learned that if something is neutral, the strip just gets wet.   In essence we noted the various REACTIONS.

Earlier in the evening, just for fun, I played funny GIF reactions to various situations.  For example:  WHEN THE TEACHER ASKS WHO IS TALKING

girl_idontknow

The Main Point

In our series we are going to learn that people have various REACTIONS to Jesus, from awe and honor to anger and hostility.

When you meet the real Jesus of the Bible there is a reaction, rarely indifference.   Keller says it best.

 

keller_killcrown

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next week we will start looking specifically at the different reactions people had to Jesus.  From the pharisees and Sadducees  to the rich young ruler, to tax collectors and prostitutes.

Tonight however, I simply quotes a handful of verses that clearly and unequivocally say that how you react to Jesus defines spiritual life and your relationship with God.

  • John 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 
  • 1 John 5:12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 
  • John 5:23 … Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

As you can see just from a few verses, receiving, believing, and honoring Christ and the One who sent him is a matter of life and death.

Why wouldn’t someone believe in Jesus, trust him, and honor him?  We’ll talk about that next week.

 

 

 

Club Update: Losing sin and weight as we run.

This week in Yellowjackets for Christ and Tigers for Christ we talked about running, specifically running after Jesus.

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Thanks to the Moffetts siblings for helping illustrate a truth today. Jackson can run a mile under 6 minutes. But not with Savannah on his shoulders. We talked about throwing off weight (Jackson didn’t throw off Savannah) and sin that hinders our pursuit of Jesus. Not everything that slows us down is a sin, but any weight that slows your pursuit of Jesus needs to be taken seriously. I challenged the students to be watchful for relationships and choices that hinder our chasing Jesus. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

In the high school group we played this clip from John Piper that powerfully makes the point.

#MOREJESUSnotJUSTENOUGH

MORE JESUS: 52 WEEKS WITH JESUS DAY BY DAY

MOREJESUS_DEVOTIONAL_JOURNAL

Updated: Click here for the updated devotional journal .

Christians love Jesus!  They want more Jesus!  They are’t satisfied with “just enough” Jesus.   They want to know him, follow him, and make him known!  To get “MORE JESUS” we need to meet him in His Word regularly.  In the Bible we learn what Jesus said, what Jesus did, and what was said about Jesus.

We have a reading plan and a journal available for students to study the life and teachings of Jesus.  It’s 52 weeks of short daily-readings, covering the life of Christ chronologically, rather than going from Matthew to Mark to Luke to John.

You can More Jesus Devotional Journal in PDF format here.   We will have hard copies at church.    And you can click here for a PDF of the Scripture assignments only  , just the weekly/daily readings.  You don’t need to devotional, but it can be a helpful tool.

Also, our MORE JESUS reading plan syncs up with a devotional book you can buy an new or used one at Amazon, The One Year Jesus Bible.

What does a big WIN look like? 

A student falling more in love with Christ, growing in their understanding of Christ, and their ability to share more about Christ is a big WIN.

Improving your odds for success.

  1. Establish a rhythm.  Some people are early risers, some are night owls.  Pick a time that works for you, and get into a lifestyle rhythm of reading and talking to God each day.  Could be before school, right after school, or maybe before bed.
  2. Encouragement from friends. Nothing beats being encouraged to read the Bible from your peer.  Encourage friends to read and seek out those who will encourage you!  Take a picture of the passage or text a friend something you learned.
  3. Example and accountability from parents.  Students who have parents who are on the journey with them, are more likely to succeed.   Likewise, students whose parents are holding them accountable for making time to get in the Word are more likely to succeed.  BOTH are needed!
  4. Expectations.  Have realistic expectations and give yourself some grace.  If you’ve never had a habit of reading the Bible, don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day here or there.  If you miss a day, just pick up where you left off the next day.  If you find yourself getting out of rhythm considering reading with friends for a couple days to get back in the groove.

 

 

Hey Dad! A quick chat about porn.

hey dads! when you were 12 years old, if there were 1000 copies of penthouse or hustler or playboy in the closet in your bedroom. How would that play out? what kind of weight would the be on your shoulders everyday to fight the temptation to look? How many of you would not even fight that temptation? How many would fight and win some and lose some? What kind of guilty weight would you live with? Or how hard-hearted would you become?
NOW STOP.

boy_smartphone

if your son has a laptop or a smart phone without any accountability software or filter, they have access to millions of images. SO… the question is, “how much porn do you want your son to be watching?” and “how hard to you want to make their efforts to grow in godliness?” and “how healthy do you want their concept of women to be?”
Your sons may not ask for help, but they need your help.  
///
And yes, all of this applies to both parents and both genders. Just wanted to speak to dads specifically.

Club Summary: October 7 & 8. Illustrating the gospel part 1.

This week was the first of two weeks where we heard a narrative and/or a story that shows a picture of the gospel.   Most weeks we have been learning principles of the gospel.   This week and next we will heard stories/narratives that illustrate the gospel.

This week at the high school and middle school clubs I got to share the first of two of my favorite passages showing the gospel.   Not only did they see the gospel, but in doing so our students got to see the harmony between the teachings of Jesus and the teachings of Paul on how one is made right with God.

Here are the passages… note the highlights.

Luke 18:9-14 9  “He told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, 

Parable of Pharisee and Tax Collector

adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!14 I tell you, this man (the tax collector) went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The BIG ideas from Jesus’ story.

  1. Jesus was killed for saying stuff like this.  Note in verse 9 who Jesus told the story to, “those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous.”  This entire story or parable was a rebuke to religious leaders who thought they were right with God because of their religiosity.
  2. The two men were in church seemingly praying to God.  But one man was really informing God of how awesome he was.  The other was confessing to God how awful he was.
  3. The pharisee’s confidence build on comparison.  He compared himself to the tax-collector (who was considered a traitor a thief in the community).   I told the students that he was telling God that he had an A+ morality and the other guy had an F morality.
  4. The tax collector knew that he had an F morality, but he believed that God is a merciful God and repented of his sin and approached God for mercy.
  5. But in the end Jesus said that one man left church “justified” or “right with God” and it was the ungodly tax-collector.   The man who trusted in his own righteousness was still in danger, the man who humbly trusted in God was forgiven.

Then we read Romans 4, asking if Paul taught the same thing as Jesus did.

Romans 4:4-5 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.  And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,

We learn two things from this passage.

  1. Those who “WORK” (or perform) stand before God saying essential,  “give me the ‘wages’ I’ve earned”.  I asked one of the students, Marisol, what Romans 6:23 says about that.  She said, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.”  So, we don’t really want the “wages” we have earned, we want grace.
  2. Note in verse 5 who is who is right with God.  It’s not the one who “works” but the one who humbly “believes” that God is a God who “justifies the ungodly”.
  3. Just as in the story of the pharisee and the tax-collector.  Those who are ungodly by repentance and faith are justified or treated as though they were innocent and righteous before God.

I closed by challenging students to not based their confidence in God by comparing themselves to others.  Students have a good idea in their head who the “bad kids” are and they tend to thing they are pretty awesome by comparison.

But if you think you are awesome, you won’t think God or His grace is awesome.  You will not be humble.  But God, according to Jesus, will humble those who exalt themselves.

Christian students should be the most humble students in the school because they are the most aware of their sin and that it only by the mercy and grace of God that they are forgiven and in a right standing with God.

They know that they deserved an F, but in Jesus they are treated as though they got an A.  And our F was nailed to the shoulders of Christ and he suffered and died in our place.

Jesus was treated mercilessly, so we could be treated mercifully.

And that truth alone should make us more merciful.

Below is a moving, retelling of the parable.