Blog Archives

Last Man Standing – the eBook is now discounted at Amazon.com!

Available now on Amazon.com – http://amzn.com/B00K2NSZIE

Order via Amazon Smile and select Open Arms Worldwide as the beneficiary organization.

cover last man std

 

 

 

TRAIL GUIDE: Forgive and Pray

QUEST Trail Guide DevoThe “Trail Guide” devotional is used by our adult leaders of grade school groups in Quest as a way to prepare their hearts and minds for the topics we will be covering with the children on the weekend.  We have made them available here to help our parents of grade-schoolers engage with their children around the topics we are discussing and also for anyone else that might be blessed by following along.

EXTREME MAKEOVER, Unit 2, Section 2, Lesson 2: Forgive & Pray

The church is made up of people. As people being transformed into the image of Christ, we are by definition not finished products. This leaves us open to mistakes or offenses committed against one another. The question is not whether we offend one another but rather when it happens how do we respond in a way that is not of this world?

Forgiveness and prayer – this is the model we have in Christ. If we behave as the world behaves, we diminish our witness to the lost, inflict pain on the body of Christ, and damage our own walk with the Lord. As we take a look at the topic of forgiving one another and praying for one another, take personal inventory of your relationships in the church. Are you actively praying for those with whom God has brought you into relationship within the body? Are we keeping short accounts with our brothers and sisters in Christ? As you prepare for this week with the children, I encourage you to read the two articles on forgiveness and prayer, keep your kids before the Lord on your knees, and ask the Father to continue your extreme makeover in this critical area of our spiritual lives. (CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE ARTICLES.)

Thank you for giving to the Lord by serving His children. Your offering is making an eternal impact.


”Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship.”
 ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Here is my command. Love each other, just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than the one who gives his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” – John 15:12-14

MEDITATING ON THE WORD:

Acts 4:33-35 | Phil 2:25
1 Corinthians 16:13-18

TRAIL GUIDE: Serve One Another

QUEST Trail Guide Devo

The “Trail Guide” devotional is used by our adult leaders of grade school groups in Quest as a way to prepare their hearts and minds for the topics we will be covering with the children on the weekend.  We have made them available here to help our parents of grade-schoolers engage with their children around the topics we are discussing and also for anyone else that might be blessed by following along.

EXTREME MAKEOVER, Unit 2, Section 2, Lesson 1: Serve One Another

“You Should Do As I Have Done For You” – Jesus

The dusty and dirty conditions of the region necessitated the need for foot-washing. Although the disciples most likely would have been happy to wash Jesus’ feet, they could not conceive washing each others’ feet. This was because in the society of the time, foot-washing was reserved for the lowliest of menial servants. Peers did not wash one another’s feet, except very rarely and as a mark of great love. Luke points out (22:24) that they were arguing about who was the greatest of them, so that none was willing to stoop to wash feet. When Jesus moved to wash their feet, they were shocked. His actions serve also as a symbol of spiritual cleansing (vs. 6-9) and a model of Christian humility (vs. 12-17). Through this action Jesus taught the lesson of selfless service that was supremely exemplified by His death on the cross.

The foot-washing was an example, a pattern. Many groups throughout church history have practiced literal foot-washing as a church ordinance. However, present culture in many lands does not call for the need to wash dust from the feet of one’s guests. Whereas the Lord’s Supper was practiced by the early church, it apparently did not practice foot-washing as an ordinance in church gatherings. This passage emphasizes inner humility, not a physical rite. A Christian widow’s practice of “washing the feet of the saints” (I Tim. 5:10) speaks not of her involvement in a church ordinance but of her humble slave-like service to other believers. Not to follow the example of Jesus is to exalt oneself above Him and to live in pride. “No servant is greater than his master” (cf. John 12:26).

Take this time for some introspection. Have you ever, consciously or unconsciously, considered yourself “better” than someone else? Would you gladly clean the toilets in the church building or are your gifts or your “position” above that sort of thing? What was Jesus’ perspective on this subject? If we are His body then this is critical information.

Recommended Resource: Manners and Customs of the Bible by J.I. Packer & M.C. Tenney.

“Here is my command. Love each other, just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than the one who gives his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” – John 15:12-14

MEDITATING ON THE WORD:

Galatians 5:13; 6:2
Romans 12:2-3 | James 2:1-12
Philippians 2:1-7

TRAIL GUIDE: The Purpose of Strengths

QUEST Trail Guide Devo

The “Trail Guide” devotional is used by our adult leaders of grade school groups in Quest as a way to prepare their hearts and minds for the topics we will be covering with the children on the weekend.  We have made them available here to help our parents of grade-schoolers engage with their children around the topics we are discussing and also for anyone else that might be blessed by following along.

EXTREME MAKEOVER, Loving God with all our strength: part 3: The Purpose of Strengths

Remembering back to our first lesson on strength we said that, “First, He is the fountainhead of our strength. Second, He stands ready to renew our strength if we will seek Him, trust Him, and wait on Him. Third, God gives us strength not for our own selfish interests or nonsense but to glorify Him and do the good works of the Kingdom that He has prepared in advance for us to walk in.”

Let’s talk this week about that last point. The Bible teaches that as followers of Christ we have been given the right to be called “children” of God. It goes on to teach us to imitate God, “as dearly loved children.” In what ways can we imitate God? The Living God is in His essence a savior and defender. Psalm 68 says He is a “Father to the fatherless and defender of widows.”

Psalm 34 tells us that He is “close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 82 extends these duties to us. “Stand up for those who are weak and for those whose fathers have died. See to it that those who are poor and those who are beaten down are treated fairly. Save the weak and those who are in need.”

Do not make the mistake of thinking that this only applies to physical oppression either. Jesus says of himself (and by extension his followers), “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.”

The Spirit of the Lord is upon all of His children now and in His strength we are to be imitators of our Heavenly Father. The fact that Jesus immediately moved from loving God to loving our neighbor isn’t coincidence. This makeover isn’t to be kept to ourselves. God saved us, but left us in the world for a reason. We are being made over for a purpose! Let’s get to it!

“The Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.” -Psalm 28:7a

MEDITATING ON THE WORD:

Heb 13:16 | Phil 2:4 | Lk 6:38 | 1 Jn 3:17
Gal 6:2 | Rom 15:1 | Eph. 2:10

Actions & Words

Whether it be the crisis of fatherlessness or failing marriages or violence or drug abuse or any of the other social ills on the front page today, Jesus’ church is the only institution with the complete answer.  Jesus is the “last man standing.”  As His people, the children of the King of kings, we are called to imitate His character in a world gone wrong, to share His good news and grace with a world in need. That is the ultimate message of this blog.  One of the ways in which my family and I have chosen to put our actions where our words are is through the ministry of an organization we founded in 2006 called, “Open Arms Worldwide.”

OAW partners with Christian churches to implement and maintain gospel-based programs to reach at-risk children in the church’s local community.  Their vision for the future is a world where all children grow up understanding that they are beautiful and precious in God’s eyes and are enabled to discover the Hope and future that He has for them.

We have been blessed to be a part of this organization as full-time missionaries as well as Board members over the years.  If you haven’t heard of OAW then I invite you this Christmas season to check out their 2014 Year in Review which just came out.  It is an encouraging read and I pray it will be a motivating one as well.  Enjoy!  http://www.openarmsworldwide.org/2014-year-review/

Merry Christmas and a blessed 2015 to you and yours,

Mike

TRAIL GUIDE: Strength Training

QUEST-Trail-Guide-DevoThe “Trail Guide” devotional is used by our adult leaders of grade school groups in Quest as a way to prepare their hearts and minds for the topics we will be covering with the children on the weekend.  We have made them available here to help our parents of grade-schoolers engage with their children around the topics we are discussing and also for anyone else that might be blessed by following along.

EXTREME MAKEOVER, Section 4, Lesson 1: Strength Training

What is strength? How is the word used in scripture? It can mean our physical strength or energy, strength of character, strength of the will, perseverance, capacity or ability to perform work, or emotional strength. These are all different aspects of strength, but they all have two things in common: their source and their purpose.

“You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18)

“If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides” (1 Peter 4:11)

So what is it that God teaches us about strength? First, He is the fountainhead of our strength. Second, He stands ready to renew our strength if we will seek Him, trust Him, and wait on Him. Third, God gives us strength not for our own selfish interests or nonsense but to glorify Him and do the good works of the Kingdom that He has prepared in advance for us to walk in. In the coming weeks, let us help the children to understand that God, and only God, deserves all of our strength.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield. My
heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.””   
-Psalm 28:7a

MEDITATING ON THE WORD:

Deut 8:17 |1 Chron. 29:12
Phil 4:13 | Is. 41:10
2 Thess 3:3 | Is.40:27-31

TRAIL GUIDE: Mind Marinade

QUEST Trail Guide DevoThe “Trail Guide” devotional is used by our adult leaders of grade school groups in Quest as a way to prepare their hearts and minds for the topics we will be covering with the children on the weekend.  We have made them available here to help our parents of grade-schoolers engage with their children around the topics we are discussing and also for anyone else that might be blessed by following along.

EXTREME MAKEOVER, Section 3, Lesson 1: Mind Marinade

When we talk about our mind, what exactly do we mean? What are the functions of the mind? When we talk about the mind in the Bible we are talking thoughts, attitudes, imagination, will, purposes, convictions, intelligence, understanding, and memory. In the Bible, the mind and the heart are closely tied together. Many times they are used interchangeably. They communicate and work together to influence our actions.

What would the mind of a Jesus follower increasingly look like? The transformed and renewed mind of the Christian will love God, seeking Him with the intellect, meditating on His Word in prayer, taking captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ, deciding to fix its thoughts on Christ and the things of heaven, serving with the will, remembering who God is and what He has done, and employing all its power of imagination and creativity to glorify God. Worshiping God with the mind will have repercussions in the heart and soul.

Help the children understand that the life of a follower of Jesus is more than good works and nice words. It is a life of integrity that includes your way of thinking. This renewal happens as we marinate our minds in the Word of God.

“Don’t live any longer the way this world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely  changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what he wants is right. His plan is good and pleasing and perfect.”    -Romans 12:2

MEDITATING ON THE WORD:

2 Corinthians 10:5 | Numbers 15:40 | Col 3:2 | 1 Chron. 28:9

TRAIL GUIDE: My Gift of Love

QUEST Trail Guide Devo

The “Trail Guide” devotional is used by our adult leaders of grade school groups in Quest as a way to prepare their hearts and minds for the topics we will be covering with the children on the weekend.  We have made them available here to help our parents of grade-schoolers engage with their children around the topics we are discussing and also for anyone else that might be blessed by following along.

EXTREME MAKEOVER, Section 1, Lesson 3: My Gift of Love

“So what’s on your heart this week?” Hopefully you have taken some time during our study to reflect on how to use your interests and passions for God. But what about when you see things in yourself that fall short of God’s standard? Do we assume we’re a lost cause and of no use to God? We cannot hide our good qualities or our failures from Him. He “alone knows every human heart.” (1 Kings 8:39). But be of good cheer, the ungodly things I find in my heart bring me to Him in a special way, a humble way. I wish I could bring to Him a Great Commandment Christian, fully assembled and ready to serve. But I came broken, and though I’m not a slave to sin, my flesh still fights against my makeover. When I recognize this and grieve my sin, then I am in a position for God to transform my heart. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but the Lord promises that He is near to the brokenhearted.

In Psalm 147 we are reminded that it is fitting to praise God. The best way to praise God is to think about His actions and his attributes. The Psalm tells us:

God heals the brokenhearted. He names the stars.
He sends rain to the earth.
He delights in those who fear him.
He has unfailing love.
He sends us his protection.
He shares his commands with us.
He controls all nature.
He communicates his word to Israel and eventually to us!
Praise the Lord.

Loving God has many facets, praising Him for all He has done is one of them. Aligning our lifestyles with His word is another. What kind of heart does God want me to have? A pure heart, a clean heart, a kind heart and of course a heart that loves Him above all else. The kind of heart that Jesus displayed for us.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for
everything you do flows from it.”   
-Proverbs 4:23

MEDITATING ON THE WORD:

1 Kings 8:61 | Joshua 22:5
Psalm 37:4 | Psalm 57:7!
Luke 6:45 | Psalm 51:10

TRAIL GUIDE: God’s Gift of Wisdom

QUEST Trail Guide DevoThe “Trail Guide” devotional is used by our adult leaders of grade school groups in Quest as a way to prepare their hearts and minds for the topics we will be covering with the children on the weekend.  We have made them available here to help our parents of grade-schoolers engage with their children around the topics we are discussing and also for anyone else that might be blessed by following along.

EXTREME MAKEOVER, Section 2, Lesson 1: God’s Gift of Wisdom

About two years ago, I started using a Mac laptop instead of my old PC. One thing that prompted that switch was the problems I was having with viruses on my PC. As it turns out, the Mac operating system is much less prone to virus problems. It does a better job on its own, without the expense of extra virus protection services, of keeping out unwanted and damaging material that could slow down or freeze up my machine.

Last week we talked about the good passions and desires that God has put in our hearts – let’s call them the pre-loaded software. We also talked about guarding our hearts from storing up ungodly things – let’s call them malware or viruses. The human heart was made for loving and glorifying God. Sin has corrupted that heart, but by faith in Jesus we can have our hard-drive (heart) wiped clean of sin and reinstalled with God’s programs, so that it is free to function as it was intended. The problem is that we still live in a sinful world where there are new viruses around every corner. That’s where God’s heart operating system comes into play: WISDOM. Wisdom comes from God and is the atmosphere in which all of your pre-loaded heart software works best. It is also highly resistant to viruses and will prevent unwanted items from piling up in your heart and slowing down or freezing up your system. If our kids want to love God with ALL their heart, then they need the right operating system… wisdom. “Whatever else you get, get wisdom.” (Prov. 4:7)

 

“Above all else, guard your heart, for
everything you do flows from it.”   
-Proverbs 4:23

MEDITATING ON THE WORD:

Prov 2:1-11 | Jer 33:3!
James 1:5 | Psalm 19:7
Prov 10:8 | Prov 16:23
Prov 2:10

“Do Something: Knowledge without action robs you of true joy”

– A sermon given at Reston Bible Church on August 31, 2014

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR SMALL GROUPS

  1. What was one thing you found particularly interesting, insightful, helpful or difficult to understand from this sermon?
  2. How would you describe joy? What is something you find joy in?
  3. Read and discuss Matthew 4:18-20 and Matthew 19:21-22. Compare and contrast these verses. What themes do you see? How are these accounts similar? How are they different? What do you note about the person of Christ? What might these sections show us about the nature of man?
  4. “Knowledge without action robs you of true joy.” Have you found this to be true in your walk with Christ? Why or why not?
  5. Why do we have the tendency to want to live vicariously through others’ experiences? How can this hinder our obedience to God’s word?
  6. Have you ever had a “wipeout” in your Christian walk or ministry? What happened?
  7. In the terms of Mike’s surf culture analogy, where are you? Evaluating the beach? On the beach and content to stay there?  On the beach or in the shallows suffering from a past wipeout? Catching waves?
  8. How does fear keep us from obedience?
  9. How does the gospel propel and enable us to both know and obey – to both hear and do – the word of God?
  10. Pray through Ephesians 3:17-19, thanking God for His great love. Ask Him to help you be not only a hearer of His word, but a doer of His word.