Of hope…

part 2 of Faith, Hope and Love

HopeMark 5:21-43New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Sick Woman

21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’

32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”

36 Overhearing[a] what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.”40 But they laughed at him.

After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

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Hope can be a funny thing.  Hope can be a last resort.  Hope can be all sorts of things for different people.  The one common theme in Hope is for the looking forward of something.  Have you ever gone to a funeral?  There is a great likelihood that you have if you have been reading this blog for quite some time.  Funerals can be very sad or in some cases (where there is Hope) can be a celebration and a mourning.  The mourning, is common in all funerals, in that we miss the loved ones that have left this earthly realm and have moved on to another.  It is common for us to mourn that which we once had have and now no longer do.  There are some funerals, however, where there is no hope and more like a statement of “if”, that is, “if” there is an afterlife, “then” maybe this person will be in Heaven.  And then there are funerals where you go to and there is mourning, but there is also a celebration because you and I, who profess the Lord Jesus as Savior and have repented of our sins and our transformed into His new creation, have this hope.  For those of us that have the Lord, as Savior, no longer have to say goodbye to our loved ones.  Rather, we should be saying:  See you later!

Hope can be seen throughout history.  In war, in peace and even in movies we see the thread of hope intertwined in all of these events.  Hope is looking forward to.  Hope, as Christians, comes with a promise:

  • It is all about Jesus
  • The Word was with God and the Word is God
  • Jesus was raised from the dead and now sits on the throne at the right hand of God
  • Jesus will return
  • We have the Holy Spirit in each of us who are saved

Faith without works is dead.  Without hope what is there to look forward to?

I am not sure about you, or where have come from, but I am sure in the Bible.  I am sure in my salvation.  I am sure that Jesus will return and I have faith and hope in my future with Him.

What about your hope?

Blessings,

Dante

Of Faith…

part 1 of Faith, Hope and Love

FHLJesus Honors a Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith

Mark 7: 24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre.[g] He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. 25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. 27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” 28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Luke 7 (NIV)

The Faith of the Centurion

Luke 7: 7 When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. 2 There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 3 The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5 because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” 6 So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7 That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” 10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

Often I imagine myself in a situation where I am being watched by a cloud of witnesses and Angels and the Lord all watching me and during a trial or tribulation I say or do something that would please them for my faith.  Often I find myself falling short of this reality and either being too distracted, too tired, too frustrated or the like, wondering just how many times that I have missed these opportunities of faith?

I realize that when I rely on myself in the course of my day, then I am liking setting myself up to fail.  However, when I find myself in the word, reading Scripture daily and praying regularly, more often than not, the Holy Spirit guides more toward these opportunities.  I think the big question here is am I allowing myself the time for the Spirit to guide me?  Am I available?  Am I trusting God for His leading?

When I read the Old and New testament I am continually amazed how God uses ordinary men, women and even children to do extraordinary things through His will.  That blows me away that God decides to use us to build His Kingdom.  To be a part of that and to be available for that is an amazing thing.  When I mentor, when I coach and when God puts me in leadership, I am truly humbled that He gives me the ability to do this, but even more so to be even more blessed by what I get back in return.

When we serve we should expect:

  • To be blessed
  • To be needed
  • To be used for God’s glory
  • To be his light (more Christ-like)

When we serve we should not expect:

  • To be exhausted
  • To have a bad attitude
  • To not have the time (We are called to be stewards of His time, talent and treasure)

As a men’s ministry leader I find myself walking with various men of all ages ranging from my son to high school all the way up to men that are in the 60’s and 70’s.  When I find myself walking with men and being asked by them to mentor them I often ask them to mentor me.  Sometimes you will find that when you mentor, the mentee is regularly mentoring you even more so by their walk and truth and humility toward Scripture – it is a beautiful thing.  The one thing that I like to challenge these men with is that if they want me to walk with them then they have to be in the Word regularly and have to be in prayer as well.  The reason that I request this is because if they aren’t listening to God’s word then there is nothing possibly in my life that would or could bring them to the truth.  They have to be rooted in the word!

When you walk in God’s truth and His light you will often find yourself living a life of faith!

Blessings,
Dante

 

Putting things into perspective

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound....

IMG_1895Every year my family and I have taken the last week of July and first week of August off.  It is a time for me to rest and to plug back into my family and walk closer to the Lord.  There is this prayer tower that I like to go to along the Lake that is pictured here to the left.  This picture reminds me of several things and first and foremost is that I have to realize that no matter how much I think that things under control – I don’t.  This picture reminds me that Jesus has it all – from begging to end.

When I try to put my worries, my stresses or even my successes in front of God’s will for my life – I stumble.  When I try to walk in His word and trust in him over everything I can see things culminate into a symphony of life that God has ordained for me.  To put it simply – He has it all.

What I love most about this picture is that it reminds me that no matter how much I love my wife, my son and my two daughters, that I cannot love them more than Jesus does.  He paid the ultimate price.  This doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t jump in front of a bus or run into a burning building or trade my life for my family, because I know in my heart and my mind and my body, soul and strength that I would.  That is not what matters here, because not only does God love my wife and children more than me, He sent His Son to die for me.  To raise from the dead and to now sit at His right hand.  Because of this, God has given me His Holy Spirit and calls me to a life of purity and righteousness for Him.  Jesus Christ’s righteousness has been imputed in me – I am now as white as snow with God – thanks be to Jesus.

He loves me, oh how He loves me.  He died for me and His blood has covered me.

All praise and honor  and glory be to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

Blessings,

Dante

What’s Missing From Many Modern Churches

A Personal Opinion

I want you to watch this short video clip and although it’s parody, there’s some ugly truth here.  See if you can relate?

 

Often, I’ve attended churches were I felt comfortable and accepted. I liked churches with loud worship and concert lights, powerful sermons and Disney like children’s areas. These churches feel comfortable for everyone and you leave feeling like you had a theme park experience.  There is nothing wrong with a church like this in and of itself as this is simply a church model or method.  But often times there is something missing and it wasn’t apparent to me until I grew and matured spiritually.

Over the past year and half, I’ve had the privilege of starting and leading a Men’s Ministry that God built from zero men to almost 100 men with over half of those active on a weekly basis.  It’s been one of the fastest and most “successful” small group ministries in the history of that church.  The funny part is, some of the church leaders didn’t want us to start it in the beginning.  Now, church leaders are applauding our efforts and asking us what the “secret ingredient” is.

While myself and the other leaders would love to take credit for this ministries success, ultimately God had a hand in it all and we were just His servants.  But, from the beginning we didn’t want a small group that was a “comfortable social group” for Christians.   We wanted to focus on one goal…Life Change Through Discipleship.

How do you get Christians to grow spiritually and bear Fruit of the Spirit?

  • Authentic Relationships and Community
  • Challenging Them
  • Forcing Them To Get Outside Their Spiritual Comfort Zones
  • Being Transparent, Vulnerable and Authentic
  • Holding Everyone to a Biblical Standard with Accountability
  • Prayer, Fasting, Tithing, and Reading Scripture Daily
  • Applying God’s Word to our Lives and Relationships Daily.

When you read this list, you probably said “Well duh, Lance”  But honestly, how many churches or Christians are consistently doing these things on a daily, weekly and monthly basis?  The numbers are shockingly low even amongst full time ministry leaders.

Discipleship is not an experience, program or conference.  It’s not a small group or 10 week study.  It’s self discipline and accountability on a daily basis.

In reality, many of us would not sign up for this level of challenge, discomfort and accountability. In reality, I’ve seen people leave churches because they were challenged or held accountable.

Be honest, would you and your friends attend a church if they turned off the A/C, took down the concert lights, and put out metal chairs but preached the Gospel?

Shouldn’t the Gospel and Glorifying God be enough for us to attend a church?  In other parts of the world, Christianity is thriving from the Gospel alone with no frills.

The Churches main mission should not be to make us comfortable but to:

  • Unapologetically Preach the Gospel – Not make it comfortable or acceptable for everyone.
  • Glory God Through Worship – Not glorifying the worship band, lights or stage.
  • Shepard The Flock Through Discipleship -The bullets above should be the standard among members not the exception.
  • Share the Gospel for the Fulfillment of the Great Commission – Not debating or trying to change those who disagree with us.

Sadly, I’ve been to many multi-million dollar church campuses that despite having these elements in their vision statement and on their website, the execution is not evident?

They’ve bought into the modern church model that Sunday Service is a theatrical “Production” to persuade people into thinking the modern church is hip, cool and relevant like our culture.  The church invests in programs and topical studies hoping people will assimilate some of the teachings but discipleship is not intentional, strategic or at the core of all the churches teachings.

On the contrary, when a Christian walks into a church or group that does focus on discipleship and discipleship is woven into everything in the church, Christians grow more than they ever have before and their lives change forever.  Herein lays another problem…

If your whole life all you’ve only ever had is milk and someone comes along and gives you all the meat you can handle, you never want to go back to only milk.

-Esse Quam Videri-

Lance

Why the Church

Faith ChurchWhen you think about life, the Bible and God’s plan for us, it is amazing to think and believe that God chose us.  God chooses to use us to build His kingdom.  God chooses us to share his love.  God chooses us to share His Son, Jesus Christ, to the world.  We are called by the Son to go and make disciples unto all the world.  Remember the important narrative here in that God chooses us!

In His wonderful creation and word, God shows us the importance of community.  After all, in the beginning God created (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) everything.  The older I get the more I see man’s hypothesis and science give way to the Truth, to the Way and to the life given to us by God the Father.  God shows us the importance of community by Himself, His Son and His Spirit who are three-in-one and one-in-three.  That is a concept that is way above my understanding, yet when you test it against the truth in Scripture that is the only way that it could be.  God gives us community by the living, breathing, and awe-inspiring love that He has for us.

Ephesians 3:9-10 (ESV)  9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in[a] God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV) 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Community is a very important part of God’s mission.   God made us to be in community, we crave community.  He exemplifies true community in the Holy Trinity.  He wants to model this some community in the Church, the body of Christ.  We are to love each other and to continue to do good to each other in brotherly (and sisterly( love).  The more that we let the Spirit bless us with His fruit (for the Fruit of the Spirit is: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control).  This is fruit that should pour out of our lives, in community, when we bear the name Jesus as Savior.

What we believeWhen Jesus was on this earth he exemplified this model to us all through walking with His disciples and having them walk with others along the way.  Remember, in the Gospels, that there was a point where Jesus sends out the disciples two by two and Scripture reveals to us that there are 70 disciples plus the twelve with Jesus.  Where did these 70 come from?   The answer is simple:  Through community.

Do you remember where Jesus is talking to Peter about the church and references him in regards to on this rock, he will build His church.  This is not a reference to any specific religion, rather, this is referencing the Church – God’s church.

When we are in community and doing God’s will, then we can see His purpose and wonderful path that he has for each and everyone of us.  How can we do this:

Be in community

Serve together

Share God’s love story together

Read the Bible daily

Pray often

Walk with other brothers (if you are a man) and with other sisters (if you are a woman)

In all you do, do in love and forgiving each other (in the church) as God has forgiven you

Love one another

In all you do, Coram Deo.

Blessings,

Dante

Cleaning House

A pathway to purity

If you are like me and you have/had older parents than you can appreciate the phrase that “we have to clean house”.  My mother died in March of 2011, which was a year after they went to assisted living as the doctors believed that they were too old to take care of themselves in their own home.  This was a hard transition for my parents and my siblings as they were not to keen on change.  It was particularly harder for my sister and I who literally took over the financial (me) and medical (my sister) while the other two siblings opted out.

clean house

In this transition we finally had to come to terms on cleaning out the house.  After renting the house, putting things in storage and finally selling the house, then we had to clean out the house.  It truly epitomizes the term, “IT all goes back in the box”.  In talking with friends and other distant family members, we all find ourselves in the point in our lives, be it family members, parents, relatives and or friends and church community where we have to clean out the house and help them clean out.

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How to Build Your Kids’ Confidence in YOU, as a Parent

Repost for Jackie Bledsoe

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were in our bedroom talking and our kids were in the room doing their own thing. The next thing we heard was, “Dad, can you come here!” from one of our sons. It didn’t sound like a panic, but there was a seriousness to the tone of his voice.

How to Build Your Kids Confidence in YOU, as a Parent - JackieBledsoe.com

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http://jackiebledsoe.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/JB-Horizontal-Logo.pngI could tell he was very concerned about something. I’ve heard that tone before, and typically he doesn’t say what it is he needs, but I know to come and see what’s going on. When I got to the room, it wasn’t an emergency, and most of those instances it’s not. It wasn’t even really a big deal…to us. But to him it was pretty serious, and he needed help.

After resolving the problem, my wife and I began to talk about it, I began to ask myself some questions, and I discovered some things that I believe can help us build our kids’ confidence in us as parents.

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Rule of Law

MAN’S LAW:

  • The rule of law is the legal principle that law should govern a nation, as opposed to being governed by arbitrary decisions of individual government officials.
  • Civil law, civilian law or Roman law is a legal system originating in Europe, intellectualized within the framework of late Roman law, and whose most prevalent feature is that its core principles are codified into a referable system which serves as the primary source of law.

Constitution

Thomas Jefferson Quotes

  • A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have. Thomas Jefferson
  • When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe. Thomas Jefferson
  • The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.€Thomas Jefferson
  • It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.€Thomas Jefferson
  • “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” Thomas Jefferson
  • “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” Thomas Jefferson
  • “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” Thomas Jefferson
  • “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” Thomas Jefferson
  • “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Thomas Jefferson
  • “To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” Thomas Jefferson
  • “I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.” The Federal Reserve Bank (The FED) is a private bank.” Thomas Jefferson in 1802:

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