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Monday, April 21, 2014

Forever

At all of the Church of the Highlands campuses this Easter weekend, vocalist sang the new Kari Jobe song, Forever.  The lyrics express the true meaning of the Easter message.  Here are the lyrics and the video of Kari Jobe delivering that powerful message:

The moon and stars they wept
The morning sun was dead
The Savior of the world was fallen
His body on the cross
His blood poured out for us
The weight of every curse was broken
One final breath He gave
As Heaven looked away
The Son of God was laid in darkness
A battle in the grave
The war on death was waged
The power of hell forever broken
The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting
Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated
Forever, He is glorified
Forever, He is lifted high
Forever, He is risen
He is alive
He is alive

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Love's Bottom Line: An Easter Message

Love's Bottom Line: An Easter Message
by Kenny Luck

The headline might suggest this article is about romance, holding hands, walks on the beach or even the “little blue pill.” But it’s not.  No, this may be the least sexy article we have ever done on love and relationships, definitely not the warmest, and, if you take it to heart, it will cost you. How’s that for advertising?
In Gary Chapman’s famous classic “The Five Love Languages,” we learn about meaningful ways we love others, including words of affirmation, touch (men’s favorite by far), spending quality time, acts of service and giving gifts. And while these are important, there’s a type of love Jesus models that gives the truest accounting of love we all look for, we all want and we all need to learn to give daily. But it doesn’t get the headlines.
Unchallengeable, bottom line love requires sacrifice. The greatest love we can give is sacrificial love or, more practically, when we say “no” to ourselves in order to say “yes” to discomfort for the benefit of another. It’s that simple, that hard, and that profound to the other person. Jesus prophetically explained love’s bottom line for us for all in John 15:13when said:

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
In other words, sacrificial love takes all mystery and guesswork out of play and replaces it with a rock solid message: I am willing to set my own comfort and well-being aside to secure your well being and comfort. That’s not to suggest, we go out and look to be a heart-transplant donor. Instead, we look for ways in our daily relationships where God would call us to sacrifice what we want (feelings), and love someone else sacrificially (faith).

Before Jesus endured horrendous torture and was crucified, he revealed a human nature desiring to live and avoid the painful consequences of God’s plan. He even asked God if there was a “PLAN B.” But instead of choosing emotionally he sacrificially chose God’s will. In the greatest love moment of all time and eternity he chose faith over feelings.

To communicate true love like Jesus did, sacrificing His life, we too have to choose between our feelings and our faith every day and in every setting that involves people. And when we go against those feelings to love others by limiting ourselves, we communicate true, Jesus powered, sacrificial love.
How to Show True Love Beyond Easter

While the Easter Holiday gives the ultimate example of sacrificial love, it’s not meant for a one-time occasion. So here are tips and reasons to show “true love” beyond Easter:

1. Lay It Down
When Jesus volunteered His life, trusting in God’s will and plan, He gave us the gift of forgiveness of our sin (salvation), redeemed all who believe in Him with eternal life (redemption) and allowed us to live with Him forever (resurrection). In other words, He laid down His life, so we might have life.
Whenever you love sacrificially, you lift the burden for someone else. That’s what leads to the blessing. Without Jesus’ sacrifice, we would not have salvation, redemption and resurrection. Jesus modeled the ultimate act of love, now we need to do the same, and love sacrificially.

2. Give It Up
Sacrificial love isn’t about what we take up for ourselves, but what we give up for others. It’s a matter of the will, not the heart. Instead of demanding, try serving. Give up your desires for free time, affection, attention, money and instead give your self, time, affection and money to others. In terms men can understand easily, give up control of the remote and take out the honey-do list.

3. Submit It.
To sacrifice, you have to operate under authority. Jesus, operating under God’s authority, volunteered for the one-way trip to the cross. In Matthew 26:39-42, we see Jesus submitting to God. Despite His feelings, He subordinates His love to do the right thing for someone else -- that’s us.
  • “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”… He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
4. Don’t Lose It.
Moments come daily where we can choose to love sacrificially or love selfishly. When we choose our self, we lose the opportunity to do something great. It may cost you, your feeling, your schedule, yourself. But God will redeem that sacrifice (See point No. 5).
The motive can’t be to win points, favors, or a hall pass! We’re just called to do it because Jesus is in us, and we are under his authority.
Moments of Choice -- Examples:
  • Come home and grab a beer or bring take-home dinner and serve the family.
  • Plop down to watch Sportscenter or pick up pile of laundry and start folding.
  • Hideaway in the man-cave or appear to help with the household.
  • Watch late night TV or say good night to the kids with prayer.
  • Work out alone or take the family for a hike, bike ride or beach day.
  • Spend your weekend relaxing or serve your wife so she can relax.
(Have more ideas of sacrificial love? Add them to the comments below.)

5. God’s Watching it. 
Perhaps the best part about sacrificial love is that God is watching. He’s not unjust. He knows you and your desires to serve your self. When you put your self aside, He will not forget.
  • “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” -- Hebrews 6:10
God uses our sacrifices to develop a better version of us. If the greatest commandment involves loving others, and the greatest love is sacrifice, then God’s men should focus on honing their sacrificial love. Besides, we’re not really that good at showing emotional love anyway, right?


*Kenny Luck, founder and president of Every Man Ministries, is the men’s pastor at Saddleback Church, and has a great deal of experience in leading men through their walk with God. His program Sleeping Giant empowers men to take the experience of a men’s ministry and bring it to their own communities.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Who's the Boss?

Who's the Boss?
By Coach Joe Gibbs - GamePlan for Life - Two Minute Drills

The life of an athlete requires answering to a lot of people: coaches, media, sponsors, and the public. So does yours, no matter what career you're in. There are clients and customers to serve, supervisors and upper management to please, shareholders and contributors to coddle—lots of people to cater to.

Game Plan for Life, however, introduces us to this simplifying concept: "the audience of One." The One, of course, is God. And His demand of you is your absolute best, your utmost integrity. He calls you to apply His commands in all your decisions and interactions.

In a perfect world, this kind of excellence would always be recognized and amply compensated. It would earn you the highest respect from your colleagues and coworkers. It would anchor your job security and even promise you steady promotion through the ranks. But even when it doesn't—even when it seems like no one is noticing—there is no satisfaction like knowing that God can say of you, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21).

The next time you start to feel unappreciated, undervalued, and overlooked, take your feelings of inferiority to the Lord in prayer. Let Him be the One with the last word on how valuable you are. When you're pleasing Him, you're doing your job.

Pray this prayer: Father, I pray that the only measure of my worth at work will be whether or not I'm honoring you with my very best. When I do things your way, may I be one happy, contented man.



Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Light Turned Yellow


The light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.

The tailgating woman was furious and honked her horn, screaming in frustration, as she missed her chance to get through the intersection, dropping her cell phone and makeup.

As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up.

He took her to the police station where she was searched, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a holding cell.

After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, "I'm very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the 'What Would Jesus Do' bumper sticker, the 'Choose Life' license plate holder, the 'Follow Me to Sunday-School' bumper sticker, and the 'chrome-plated Christian fish emblem' on the trunk, so naturally....I assumed you had stolen the car."

Priceless.

Believe By: Brooks & Dunn

Palm Sunday means different things to each of us. Let's take this day to thank God for his Son. Thank him for our redeemer.

I hope you enjoy this video.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Will I Ever Accomplish Something Great?


Will I Ever Accomplish Something Great?
"For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
Have you ever thought to yourself, "God could never use me"? I have ... many times.
I spent years watching from the sidelines as some of my closest friends accomplished great things. Rewarding careers. Successful families. Thriving ministries.
If only I were smarter. If I could just meet the right people. If I had a little more courage. Then surely God would use me.
What did others have that I didn't? I loved God. He loved me. So why wasn't I on the approved-to-be-used-by-God list? What was the problem? Would my big moment to shine ever come?
I was under the false impression that if God chose me to accomplish great things for Him, it would include an elaborate theme with plenty of fanfare. Boy, was I wrong.
Sure, God certainly knows how to manifest grand and elaborate: A snow capped mountain range. A sunrise bursting with color. A field of wildflowers in full bloom. He even gives people tremendous platforms to fulfill His wondrous plans. People whose names we all know by heart.
God also chooses people like you and me to do great things for His glory. But sometimes our assignments look very different than we think they should. Although the world tends to focus on famous people, high positions and big platforms, God looks at the intent of the heart.
While admiring the successful journeys of others and wondering why God wasn't choosing me, I overlooked something important. He was using me — as His masterpiece — to accomplish good things that were already planned for me years ago (Ephesians 2:10).
While I was dreaming up grand ideas, God was waiting for a grateful heart.
While I was longing for elaborate platforms, God was looking for a humble spirit.
While I was dreaming of success, God was watching for a willingness of obedience.
A grateful heart when diapers needed changing and toys were left all over the floor. A humble spirit when dirty clothes sat in piles waiting to be washed and dinner needed to be prepared. A willingness of obedience when God whispered to my heart "Apologize first and say you're sorry."
Looking back over the years I can now see that some of my greatest accomplishments happened within the simple walls of my own home. Serving my family in messy ways and being stretched beyond what I thought was my breaking point.
Saying "yes" when I wanted to say "no." Helping with last-minute homework assignments. Holding little hands during bedtime prayers.
There was no sea of spectators. No cheers from the crowd. No standing ovations. Only a simple family, living life one day at a time, trying to do what was right in God's eyes.
What great things has God chosen for you to do? Remember, you are His masterpiece, a one-of-a-kind creation, created to fulfill important plans no one else can do.
Are your God-given assignments wrapped in baseball caps and sneakers?
Are your grand moments filled with princess tiaras and bedtime stories?
As you tirelessly serve your family and sometimes wonder if anyone notices, be assured that God does. He sees you as His greatest asset! Your willingness to serve your family brings Him great joy.
And when will our big moment come? When we get to shine?
I imagine it will be one glorious day when we humbly kneel before our Heavenly Father and He lovingly speaks our names saying, "Well done my faithful daughter. You have accomplished great things in My Name."
Pray This Prayer:
Lord, help me to accomplish all the plans You've chosen for me. Give me wisdom and discernment to know what path You've laid out for me to follow. Thank you for creating me as Your masterpiece and may I delight in You as I serve my family well. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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© 2014 by Leah DiPascal. All rights reserved.

MercyMe Live Concert Replay

 I wanted to pass this along to you for a couple of reasons. First, it's MercyMe and these guys are really good. 

Second, K Love has done some amazing things in Christian music, and this is just another example of that. 

Listen, enjoy, and worship as the band MercyMe does an hour long concert for free.