January 25, 2011

Scripture: Matthew 5:21-30

Jesus calls disciples “blessed” when they are “poor in spirit,” but he refuses to leave them in that state.  The moment we receive salvation, Jesus starts to pull us out of our poverty towards his heart.

Having called the disciples to a righteousness that surpasses the Pharisees (Matthew 5:20), Jesus goes on to explain how they should go about living this life in a 27 verse long debate with the teachings of these men.  In each of the sections, he quotes them (“You have heard that it was said . . .”) and follows with his thoughts (“but I say . . .”).  In each, he turns their attention to what really matters: their hearts.

In Matthew 5:21-30, Jesus breaks the sins of murder and adultery down into their most fundamental state: emotions.  He states that our thoughts, not just our actions, matter and they are subject to judgment too.  One cannot say, “Yes, I hated him, but at least I never murdered him,” or, “Yes, I desired her in an ungodly way, but at least I never committed adultery with her.”

Jesus is not being literal with his suggestions for how to deal with sinful desires, (i.e., leaving our worship service to be reconnected with our brother whom we have slighted, and gouging out our eye/cutting of our hand if they cause you to sin).  Rather, he is prescribing drastic actions be taken on our part to dig these seeds up before they are allowed to grow.

What drastic actions do you need to take to uproot the seeds of sin in your life?



January 18, 2011

Scripture: Matthew 5:17-20

Followers have been blessed and have been given a charge (salt and light).  One might think at this point that Jesus is doing away with the old ways of law.  Not so.  Jesus must have anticipated people thinking this because he immediately points out, all of history (the law and the prophets) were not now abolished; all of history was pointing to himself.

Then, he talks, in verse 18, of a time when “everything is accomplished”, where the law, heaven and earth will disappear.  He is saying here that he is leading us to another destination; one that is different than everything we know to be true.

In the verses following, Jesus sends us back to the law, not so we can earn our salvation, but so that we can allow the Spirit to bring our hearts closer to the heart of Christ.  As John Stott says, “The law sends us to Christ to be justified and Christ sends us back to the law to be sanctified.”

Bottom line: God created us good, we fell, Christ redeemed us on the cross and brought us in to live in his kingdom.  We should not view the law as a checklist of things to do or not do to get saved (Jesus already paid that debt), but a way to join Christ in his ongoing work to shape us, form us and call us back to the people we were originally created to be.


Just thought I would throw this up to brag of my skill with a nerf dart gun.  I was twenty feet away from the clock and shot this dart from an angle.

Student Ministry Props

January 14, 2011

Throughout my time in student ministry, I have read many blogs/articles/books which paint a “sky is falling”  scenario on student ministry, and really, the Church in general.  They all seem to be armed with their statistics, graphs and well-edited phrases which point to billions of students burning in the fires of hell for eternity.

As I read some of these tonight, I thought . . .

What about the times when student ministry has worked?

I mean, student ministry worked for me.  It has worked for many of the students who have come through my ministry.  Chances are, if you are a Christian over the age of 18 reading this, it has worked for you.

This is my blog to give my student ministry brothers and sisters who are slugging it out in the trenches some props for sticking with it even though there is a doomsday picture hanging over student ministry today.

  1. That time when you sat with that student who was dealing with that issue at 2:00 am . . . good job.
  2. That time when you felt like quitting, but you hung in there because you had committed to your team and your Call to minister to students . . . well done.
  3. That time when you felt like you were being crucified, but you stayed and sought to plant and water seeds for Christ . . . Jesus really liked that.
  4. That time when you saw all those other guys with bigger, flashier “things” going on at their church and felt that twinge of jealousy, but you went back to your smaller, less excellent “thing” and loved your students . . . great work.
  5. That time when you looked back at your students who had become part of “those” statistics after you poured your heart into them for so long and ached for them to the Father . . . take heart that your prayers were heard by One who actually has the ability to change their hearts.

Follow your call and love students.  Leave the future of student ministry in the hands of He who loves students more than you or I ever will.

You Are Salt and Light

January 11, 2011

Scripture: Matthew 5:13-16

Jesus, making the announcement of the kingdom of heaven exploding on earth in the present tense, chooses to use the metaphors of salt and light to describe the disciples on the hillside and Christ followers today.

Salt is seasoning. He is calling us, not just to season this world with the good news of heaven on earth, but to be the seasoning of the good news of heaven on earth. Salt was also used for persevering meat—a great symbolism for the Christ follower acting as a check on this world, making sure it does not get too rotten.

Light is the first word spoken by God and the rest of creation could not exist without it. Christ is calling us to be light to the world. He is beginning his new creation of the world and calling us to be his light—giving shine to the kingdom of heaven in the world.

Notice here that Jesus does not say, “If you do ______ (read your Bible every day, stop sinning, go to church more, etc.), you will be salt and light.” He says you are salt and light.

We are his only plan to season/preserve and give light to the kingdom of heaven on earth and he does not have a “Plan B.”

How can you be the flavor of heaven in your world?  How will you give light to God’s kingdom today?  If you accept that you are salt and light, how does this change your perspective of who God has called you to be?

The Best Youth Ministry

January 7, 2011

I ran across this quote from Mike Yaconelli today in Wayne Rice’s new book, Reinventing Youth Ministry (Again) and thought I would put it up here.

Youth Group is good.  But there’s a better good.  It’s called church.  Not youth church, or contemporary church, or postmodern church.  Just plain church.  Just plain, boring, ordinary church.  Yes, that’s right.  Church.  The place where people who don’t know each other get to know each other; where people who don’t normally associate with each other associate; where people who are different from each other learn how to be one.


You Are Blessed

January 4, 2011

Matthew 5:1-12

The Beattitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) should not be seen as the Ten Commandments of the New Testament.  Jesus is making an announcement that the kingdom of heaven is a present reality and, therefore, we should consider ourselves “Blessed.”

He takes the first four (poor in spirit, mourners, meek and hunger and thirst for righteousness) to describe the fact that when these people are at their lowest, God is with them.  He uses the next four (merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers and persecuted) to describe what happens to a person when they respond to the overwhelming grace of Christ in their life.

Look at the identical ends of verse three and verse ten (“. . . for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”).  It is as if, instead of a ladder of steps to reach the blessings of God, he gives us a circle which starts and ends in the same place and which says that no matter what is happening to citizens of his Kingdom, God is always pouring out blessings them.

Also, take a look at the only new command that Jesus gives us in this passage in verse twelve.  He charges those who belong to the Kingdom to, “Rejoice and be glad, for great is (present tense) your reward in heaven.”  I wonder what our worlds would look like if we stopped looking at how we don’t measure up and started looking to how God is constantly blessing us and calling us to, “Rejoice and be glad.”