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Archive for September, 2013

AGAIN.

Some of us have people in our life that we have been praying for a LONG time. It is so easy to get discouraged, tired of asking. For some, you may even begin to give into the temptation to believe your prayers aren’t getting through.

HOLD UP.

Let me remind everyone that God’s timing is not our timing. Let me also remind you that the person you are praying for has a choice to make, and it is THEIR choice, God does not take away our free will. I would encourage you to ask them AGAIN, but before you do, PRAY. Before you ask them, ask the Father. Call out to Him for them.

I would encourage you to ask them AGAIN, but before you do, PRAY. Before you ask them, ask the Father.

Here’s Jesus talking about the way that we ask God:

[5] And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, [6] for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; [7] and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? [8] I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. [9] And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. [10] For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. [11] What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; [12] or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? [13] If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:5-13 ESV)

Ask them AGAIN. Call them AGAIN. FaceTime them AGAIN. Text them AGAIN. FB messenger them AGAIN.

The important operative word here is AGAIN. But before you do, ASK JESUS AGAIN – and believe that the All-Powerful God is supernaturally working on your behalf.

So friends, don’t fall asleep on this opportunity…

This Sunday at Vertical Lumberton is going to be an amazing day – I feel it in my bones. The spiritual atmosphere will be right. So friends, don’t fall asleep on this opportunity – your time is now.

Another Imperfect Person Forgiven

By all accounts she had no business touching the most holy feet that ever walked the earth. Simon, the religious guy who had invited Jesus to dinner, most likely expresses the thoughts of most towards this incident:

“If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”
(Luke 7:39 ESV)

But Jesus is different. He’s not like me. He’s not like most of you. Jesus, in His Holiness and love, sees us for who we ARE, not what we’ve been.

He then tells us WHY He is OK with this act:

“Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one who was forgiven the most.” “That’s right,” said Jesus. Then turning to the woman, but speaking to Simon, he said, “Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn’t quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.” Then he spoke to her: “I forgive your sins.”

How grateful are you? Grateful enough that you want EVERYONE you love to know that same gratitude?

You all know someone who, like this woman, doesn’t pass the “religious test”. It’s time for them to return – it’s time to “come home” – it’s time for them to receive their forgiveness from the only One who has the power to offer full and total mercy and forgiveness: The Savior, Jesus Christ. He will receive them – He’s got their back.

Last weekend’s #whateverittakes at Vertical Bladen was one of the greatest weekends in the history of our church. We are expecting the same this Sunday at Lumberton. Do whatever it takes to get your friends, your “names” to Vertical this weekend – it just might change not only their life but their eternity.

We are praying for you!

Such a STUPID thought that it speaks!

Jesus calls Levi the tax collector

Do you know someone who needs a new  ”name”?

Around the time that Jesus invited Matthew (Levi, the tax collector) to be one of His followers Jesus was getting a reputation for hanging out with the wrong kinds of people. “He eats with tax collectors and sinners”, they would say in disgust.

Levi lived and worked in Galilee, an area Jesus did much ministry in. I can imagine Levi hearing Jesus teach the multitudes along the sea of Galilee. I can see in my mind Levi being amazed at Jesus’ miracles. Perhaps Levi was there when Jesus told Peter to put the nets out again even though they had no luck the previous night only to catch so many that they had to call for help (Luke 5:1-11). I wonder if Levi had a deep desire to follow Jesus but knew that it would never be possible because he was a most hated traitor, tax collector?

We see Levi’s invite in (Luke 5:27-28 ESV),

“After this he (Jesus) went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.”

Which brings us to the name Levi. When we are first introduced to this man in Luke 5 he is referred to as Levi, a tax collector in Galilee. When we next see him in Luke 6 being named as one of Jesus’ 12 apostles he is named Matthew. There is a significance in that name, Matthew.

The name Levi is Hebrew which means, “to take”. Levi, the tax collector was hated by Jewish people, a traitor to his nation, a sell-out, the worst of sinners. Why the name change? His life was no longer about taking from others, but now he would become a giver. Maybe Levi, the tax collector, needed a new name to go with his new life.

I know that this might be a crazy thought to some, especially the more learned of you who follow me. Please understand that I have no theological basis for this thought as the bible doesn’t address it, just one of life, love and redemption:  Levi’s new name, Matthew, comes from the Hebrew mattija which means, “gift from God.” Maybe Jesus gave him that name so that every single time He called Him by name Levi would be reminded that he, Levi/Mathew, was a gift from His Father to Him.

Maybe Jesus changed his name so that every single time He called Him by name Levi would be reminded that he, Levi/Mathew, was a gift from His Father to Him.

Let us also not discount the message Jesus sent to His other disciples/followers with this renaming: “this former tax collector is MY GIFT from MY FATHER to ME. And don’t you ever forget it.” It reminds me of 2 Corinthians 5:17, “therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold, all things have become new.” Matthew was reminded of this every time he heard his new name. So was everyone aware of his past.

Maybe you have a past. Maybe you know someone who has a past. Jesus sees you/them in the same way – a GIFT from His Father. Have you received the free gift of His salvation like Levi/Matthew did?

The next 2 weekends are #whateverittakes weekends at Vertical Church:

  • VERTICAL BLADEN, your DO #whateverittakes weekend is this weekend, September 22nd.
  • VERTICAL LUMBERTON, your DO #whateverittakes weekend is the following weekend, September 29th.
  • BOTH CHURCHES: Pray for your people everyday, Inbox us their names if you haven’t written them on the boards and Get them here on #whateverittakesweekend and watch Jesus do a miracle.

You have friends that need to hear that THEY TOO are a gift from the Father to Jesus. I’m telling you, do #whateverittakes to get them to Vertical Church over these 2 weeks!

What if Christians were as concerned with…

What if christians were as concerned with bringing people to the place of forgiveness as they are condemning their sin?

[2] Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. [3] The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst [4] they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. [5] Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” [6] This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. [7] And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” [8] And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. [9] But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. [10] Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” [11] She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:2-11 ESV)

Can you imagine how she felt? Filled with guilt and shame, no excuses, “caught IN THE ACT”. How horrible it must have been to feel so hopeless yet to be brought into the presence of Holiness.

Who could have guessed Jesus reaction. She could not have. Neither can I which is why I continually marvel at this story.

Jesus receives a sinful, condemned woman, defends her to those who had no business condemning, tells her that He does not condemn her, forgives her sin and points her to a new life – a God life – one that has the faith of Jesus at the center of it. It reminds me a lot of myself – how He received me when I did not feel received by God’s people, when I felt condemned. I know what it’s like to need A LOT of forgiveness.

Some of us need to put down our stones and start bringing people to Jesus for forgiveness instead of condemnation.

You all know someone who, like this woman, doesn’t attend church because of a past condemnation. It’s time for them to return – it’s time to “come home” – it’s time for them to receive their forgiveness from the only One who has the power to offer full and total mercy and forgiveness: The Savior, Jesus Christ.

This is a #whateverittakes calling upon our church:

  • VERTICAL BLADEN, your DO #whateverittakes weekend is this weekend, September 22nd. 
  • VERTICAL LUMBERTON, your DO #whateverittakes weekend is the following weekend, September 29th. 
  • BOTH CHURCHES: Pray for your people everyday, Inbox us their names if you haven’t written them on the boards and Get them here on #whateverittakesweekend and watch Jesus do a miracle.

Those people God has put in your life that this story applies to are YOUR SPIRITUAL RESPONSIBILITY – #whateverittakes