Feb 26, 2016

First Line of Defense

Heavenly Realms

1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
So, where am I?  I am in the heavenly realms....

You know, Clark, MO is a lovely place.  But, I'm not sure I would call it "heaven".  Where are the streets of gold?  Where are the clouds, angels and harps?  And, uh.... where are the coffee fountains?  Right?

Can I just tell ya something?  Right there in Ephesians 2, that is exactly what Paul says IS a fact.  I am in the heavenly realms...right now.

Earlier in this same letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul lays out some spiritual truth regarding some things they already have:

the HOPE they HAVE
the RICHES of HIS inheritance they HAVE
the POWER of GOD they HAVE
(the same power which raised Christ from the dead)

Christ really died on that cross.  And Christ really conquered death and really did rise from the dead.  He is now seated in the heavenly realms.  And here is where it gets really good:

Because HE is in the heavenly realms...
As true Christ followers...
SO.  ARE.  WE.
Verse 6 says, "in Christ Jesus".  As followers, we are in Christ Jesus.  Jesus is in the heavenly realms. Therefore, we are in the heavenly realms.  Now, if you are like me, this concept might have put a pretzel in your head.
Think of it this way.  If you step inside a McDonalds restaurant in Japan, you will be inside a McDonalds restaurant in Japan.  However, if you step inside the U.S. Embassy in Japan, you will no longer be in Japan.  Legally, you will be in the United States.  Any U.S. Embassy located inside the borders of any country in the world, legally, is sitting on U.S. soil.  The land on which the building sits is owned by the United States.
This is sort of what Ephesians 2:6 means.  If you are in Christ Jesus, that is, a true follower of Jesus, you are "in the heavenly realms".  If you are not a true follower of Jesus, you are NOT in the heavenly realms.
So what? 
Who cares?  Right? 
Why does this matter?
Can I just tell ya something?  It matters because WHERE you are, has a great deal of influence on WHO has control of your life.  Paul is saying,
"Hey, you used to be a citizen of this world." 
"You used to belong to Satan." 
"This world, the actual real estate you live on,
used to be your home."
Therefore, since this is not our home....
"You ain't from around here 're ya?"

Since this is not our home...we should look, act, sound, dress... well, just about everything... DIFFERENTLY.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
Oh wait, EVERYONE is asking you about your HOPE right?

Feb 24, 2016

My Top 5 - Favorite Tweets From Yesterday

Look Up

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up. 

At Casa Canote, we receive a decent cell phone signal.  It is sufficient for accessing the internet, making phone calls and sending texts.  However, when I drive less than a mile down the road to our church, before I even get there, I lose my cell signal.  It is nearly
impossible to make a cell phone call from Perche Baptist Church with my cell phone.  When I get there, the first thing I do is turn my phone off to help preserve the battery life.

Can I just tell ya something?  Regardless of our location, you and I have the ability to make instant contact day or night with the Creator of the entire universe.  He will hear every word.  He will not only hear us, He will respond to us.  He designed us and knew us before we were born.  He knows so well, the Bible says He has numbered every hair on our heads.  And He is patiently waiting for us to call out to Him in prayer.  Our prayers instantly zip through the heavens directly to the throne of grace where we can "receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need".  (Hebrews 4:16

In Bible times, it was often the practice to look upward when praying to their Father in Heaven.  John 11:41 says, Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.

You always have a clear signal when you reach out to God in prayer.  Look up and call out to Him in prayer right now.

Feb 23, 2016

Wiggle Room

This is the 3rd in a 3-part series entitled:

Message 1:
Message 2:

Can I just tell ya something?  You can bet that meal cost Adam and Eve more than they ever wanted to pay!  And what is extra ridiculous?  It wasn't even the best food on the menu.  In fact, it what they ate wasn't even on the menu!  The Bible says God gave Adam and Eve EVERY SINGLE TREE to eat from in the garden...except that one.

If that is all true...and it is.  Why in the world did they do it?  Just keeping it real here, would it not be easiest to just blame it all on Satan?  "The devil made me do it."  We never say that do we?  We actually have the facts of the story and therefore know there is more to than that.

Listen to this entire message, the third in a 3-part Stewardship sermon series.

Sermon Audio:

Feb 19, 2016

How Big Is Your God?

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.   But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.

The book of Daniel provides some examples of the power of our almighty sovereign Creator.  And, I'm not just talking about a fiery furnace.  We also see it in how He worked in
and through Daniel to interpret dreams and cryptic writing.  There can be no doubt it was God's power, not Daniel's power.  The royal counselors did not have the power, gift, or ability to do that.  It was God.  AND, it was the intimate relationship Daniel had with God coupled with his surrender and availability to be used in that way.

Can I just tell ya something?  It was also that intimate relationship with God which gave Daniel and his three friends complete and full confidence in God's power to work in and through him.  This is a big deal.  It was this confidence in the power of God which paved the way for them to live a life free of fear. If you are going to respond the way they did when faced with the threat of a fiery furnace, you have to already be living a life free of fear.  Daniel and his friends had a complete and full confidence in God's ability and willingness to save them. 

If they had not already been living a life free of fear based on that confidence in God's power, there would have been a different response.  They might have been looking for proof of God's power.  They may have needed to see God exercise His power in a show of good faith before they bootstrapped up any faith in His power. 

But that is not what happened.  It was ENOUGH for them to simply KNOW He had it.  So they were able to tell the king:

Hey, the God we serve absolutely CAN save us.
And He WILL save us.
Even if He does not, we will NOT serve your god.
Do you live a life free of fear?  Do you have a complete and full confidence in the power of God?  How big is your God?

Whatever You Do

Feb 17, 2016

How Does Your Garden Grow?

This is the 2nd in a 3-part series entitled:


Message 1:
Message 3:



Some people love making things grow with their own bare hands.  Gardening is one of the most popular "hobbies" in the U.S.  I, however, do not have a green thumb.  Nor am I prepared to do battle with bugs, weeds, rabbits or deer. 

For nearly 20 years, I have engaged in an annual battle of wits with the raccoon population in the woods surrounding Casa Canote.  They want the cans and bottle in our recycling can on our deck.  They want into our trash cans.  And they want into my storage shed.  The corners around the doors on my shed look like a bear has been trying to claw it's way in there.  They are incredibly persistent and intelligent.  The raccoons are enough for me.

But, can I just tell ya something?  Even though I'm "not that into you" gardening, I am certain I would have enjoyed, in fact, loved tending the paradise of the Garden of Eden.  I am fairly certain that tending paradise was quite different than taking care of your average garden of today.  That is, of course, prior to the fall of Adam and Eve.

Before THE FALL, this garden would have been an enjoyable experience.  And, I know this because after Adam and Eve sinned, the Bible says things changed for them.

Listen to this entire message, the second in a 3-part Stewardship sermon series.

Sermon Audio

Feb 16, 2016

Reflecting Divine

This is the first in a 3-part series entitled:


 Message 2:
Message 3:


In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  He SPOKE and then there was:

the sky
plants and trees
the sun, the moon, the stars
creatures in the sky and the sea
animals of every kind
Everything God created on earth...  He merely spoke, and they appeared.  BUT, when God created man, He got down into the dust and mud and got His hands dirty! 
Can I just tell ya something?  Nothing else in all creation required or called for that degree of attention or that depth of involvement by God!  Now, go on ahead and just allow that to settle in and steep for a bit.  Wow!

Wondering why?  I believe the reason might simply be this:  Man, that's you and I, is the only created "being" on earth which was formed by God AND made in the divine image of God.  That makes you and I reflectors of divine.  Created in His image, we reflect divine.
Listen to this entire message, the first in a 3-part Stewardship sermon series. 
Sermon Audio


Feb 12, 2016

Evident Ministries - Team Ministry

We're taking reservations NOW for our upcoming weeks of Team Ministry in Acuña, Mexico.
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Is your church spending too much time planning and developing a youth discipleship program? Do you struggle to find effective ways to maintain a focus on evangelism and God’s heart for the nations?
Evident Ministries is an affordable solution. It’s cross-cultural, for youth AND adults, and requires considerably less planning on your part!
How about a short-term mission trip to our outreach center in Acuña, Mexico? Spend a week serving God’s people and sharing the gospel.
As a church, allow the Lord to use you to change lives and make an eternal impact in Jesus’ name! We provide everything that you need, like a “Mission trip in a box,” for only $320 per person!

Strangely Dim

This is the third in a 4-part series entitled: 
Hope & The Power of God
Message 1:
Message 2:
Message 3:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

The more you focus on the supernatural and God Himself, the more you know Him, trust Him, and talk with Him... the more you love Him and rely on Him.  And, at the same time, how trivial and ridiculous everything else becomes.

People talk about their problems or come to me with issues and what they want to be this huge thing and sometimes I'm just like... Who cares?  And I'm thinking, don't you know this is all temporary?  The things of Earth are becoming strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

Can I just tell ya something?  That's what matters.  His glory.  His grace.  The supernatural powers of an almighty sovereign God who does not just "put up with us" but in fact, loves us and WANTS a living, growing relationship with us.

Verses 3 and 4 of this text could each be a sermon by themselves or even a sermon series.  But, they also lay a nice foundation for what comes in Verse 5. 

"Make every effort". 

He is talking about character here.  It is a command to supplement our faith with attention to our character.  In fact, he is saying more than just "give it some attention."  He is saying give it every effort.  Be diligent.  He is saying, we cannot afford to put our character on the back burner to work on later.  We do NOT earn our way to Heaven.  It cannot be bought.  However, there is no scripture which says, "Hang out on the couch until God fixes your character for you."

Listen to this entire message, the fourth in a 4-part sermon series entitled:  "Hope & The Power of God"


Feb 11, 2016

First Love

This is the third in a 4-part series entitled: 
Hope & The Power of God

Message 1:
Message 2:
Message 4:

This text is most of the first of seven letters written to seven churches in Asia Minor, what we now know as Turkey.  They were written by John by divine revelation directly from Jesus himself.  These were seven historical churches at the time of John's writing and the letters dealt with actual conditions of church life of the day. 

Of course, however, God's Word is written to the whole body of Christ for all of history.  These churches, in effect, represent all churches, both in John's day and at any time in the history of the church. 

Can I just tell ya something?  This could be a letter written to you or I.  What if Jesus Christ wrote you a letter today?  If He told YOU what He was pleased with and what He would hold against you, what would that letter say?

If you stop at Vs. 3, you will come to the same conclusion I did.  This sounds like a great church and one that I would be blessed to be a part of.  But the letter doesn't stop there.

Listen to this entire message, the third in a 4-part sermon series entitled:  "Hope & The Power of God" 


Feb 10, 2016

The Promised Land

This is the second in a 4-part series entitled: 
Hope & the Power of God
Message 1:
Message 3:
Message 4:

The Twelve Spies, as recorded in Numbers 13, were a group of Israelite chieftains - 1 from each of the Twelve Tribes - sent out by Moses, to scout out the land of Canaan for forty days.  This was during the time when the Israelites were in the wilderness, following THE exodus.  God had promised Abraham a Promised Land:  the land of Canaan.

When the Twelve Spies returned from their forty-day recon mission, 10 of the 12 slandered what God had promised.  In fact, they showed little faith in what was essentially a whiney, doom and gloom report.  They clearly either didn't believe God COULD or WOULD help them and subsequently whipped all of God's people into a big ole pity party with their fear mongering.  All that is, except 2:  Joshua and Caleb.

Can I just tell ya something?  It really just does not make any sense whatsoever when God's people, the so-called "followers" of the almighty sovereign supernaturally powerful Creator of the universe are "scared" of or worried about anything.  Too many Christians today are scared...full of fear.  We're scared of the economy, politics, ISIS, job security, retirement... you name it. 

It is time to remember we are the adopted children of the most powerful being in existence!  It is time to remember we that the God we serve today is the very same God we learned about in Sunday School as children.  He is the same God with supernatural powers to do the impossible just like He did in all those Bible stories we learned as children.

"I think maybe one problem is this:  Too many of God's people are finding themselves far too comfortable and too much at home in what is a temporary world and NOT their home."
Listen to this entire message, the second in a 4-part sermon series entitled:  "Hope & The Power of God"  

The Promised Land