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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

I remember when I was a little boy, momma loaded us up and took us to Mineral Wells to the city pool.  It was a major event for this country boy, because, for us, “swimming pool” meant stock tank.

If swimming didn’t include brownish-red water, mud between your toes, and having to avoid cow patties on the way down to the water, then I was just a little out of my element.

To tell you this truth, I still get a little uncomfortable if I can see my feet when I’m in the water.  It just throws me off.  I didn’t learn to swim in crystal clear water, and that may explain why my trip to the pool almost ended in disaster.

With my momma resting in the shade and my older brother playing around the diving board, I was having the time of my life in the shallow end of the pool…looking at my feet!

About that time, a boy decided to befriend me and let me ride on his little boogie board floaty.  I hopped on while he pushed me around, but then, suddenly, without any notice, he said, “Now are you ready to go into the deep water?”  And as I shook my head “no,” he laughed and gave me a shove toward the deep end of the pool.

I remember holding onto that boogie board, panicked and paralyzed as it floated over the rope signaling that I had just crossed into the deep water.  My knuckles were turning white as I held on.  And, as the board continued to float into deeper and deeper water, I realized that I had to do something.

So, to avoid getting into any deeper water, I jumped off of the board.  That was my safety plan: to bail out.

And I jumped off of that board right into water that was over my head.

I sank to the bottom of the pool, pushed off, and resurfaced just in time to see that I was situated right under the life guard stand.

I gasped for air, sank back down, hit the bottom, pushed off, and came back to the surface.

I remember looking at the life guard as he sat on his perch in yellow shorts with a big glob of sunscreen on his nose.  I literally made eye contact with him, mustered up all of my courage, and let out a little whimper of “Help.”

And as I fought to float, sputtering, he just looked at me and then looked away.  And I sank to the bottom of the pool for the third time.

And it was when I hit the bottom of the pool that third time that a thought was planted in my mind, a dangerous thought, a damaging thought: “You are all alone.  No one here is going to save you.  If you are going to get out of this mess, it is up to you.”

I pushed off the pool, surfaced again, took a breath, sank back down and became the architect of my own rescue as I gradually began to bob my way toward the shallow water.

In a pool full of people playing and having a good time, with lifeguards stationed all over the place, with my mom resting in the shade and my brother off playing somewhere, I saved myself.

The boy came up asking about his floaty, and I gave him a piece of my mind about almost killing me and stormed off.

But, guess what.  That seed stayed with me, “You are all alone.  No one is there to save you.”

And throughout life, many other experiences only reinforced that lie.

And the painful reality is many of us have bought in to some version of that lie: I’m all alone; I’m all I have to depend on; It’s up to my paycheck; It’s up to my hard work; It’s up to me to get myself out of this mess.

Me, me, me, I, I, I, Alone, Alone, Alone.

If the enemy can get you to buy into that one lie, he will have you tied in knots because you will feel you have no one to turn to and nowhere to go when you are in trouble.

You will carry your burden all alone, and the weight of it will crush you.

At our church in Sweetwater, TX, we describe our fundamentals of faith in what we call our Pillars of Faith.  We believe:

  • God is Good
  • We Live from Heaven to Earth
  • Everyone is Significant

And our fourth pillar of faith is the fact that:

  • Nothing is Impossible

But if you have believed the lie I just described, if you have come to believe in your heart, “I am all alone.  I am all I have to depend on.  I am the architect of my own rescue.”  Then you will never believe this truth.

When we are limited to depending only on ourselves, we live in a world full of impossibilities.  And it leads us to feeling overwhelmed and hopeless.

When life is up to us, many things are impossible.

I want to take you to the cross for a minute.  I want to reintroduce you to a man who was beaten beyond human recognition.  An innocent man hanging naked between two thieves as those who passed by mocked Him.  A man who’s blood had been spilled out into the dirt below for hours and who’s lungs had slowly been filling with fluid.  A man at the breaking point of suffering and mental and physical exhaustion.

That man hung on the cross because you are not alone, because you are not the architect of your own rescue, because you can’t depend upon yourself in this world.

No matter what you have believed in this world, the truth is you have a hero.  You have a rescuer, and His name is Jesus.

And as He hung on that cross, on the brink of death, he somehow mustered the strength to push against those nails in his feet, to pull himself up by the nails in His wrists.  Through the excruciating pain he drew enough air into his lungs to utter one last word before He died.

“Tetelestai!”  It is finished.  Paid in full.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.  John 19:30 (NIV)

There is a precious song I remember that describes this event perfectly.

He paid a debt, He did not owe.

I owed a debt, I could not pay.

I needed someone to wash my sins away.

And now I sing a brand new song,

Amazing grace, all day long.

Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.

But what is the little boy in the pool still trying to do?  He is still trying to rescue himself, still scrambling, still grasping for air.  He is still living in a world filled with fear and impossibilities, because it all depends on him, and he just isn’t enough.

My friends, before you come to understand that truly nothing is impossible, you must come to peace with the finished work of Christ.

When Jesus paid your debt, it left you with nothing to pay.  When Jesus covered your shame, it left you with no reason to hide.  When Jesus forgave your sin, it left you with no need to earn your forgiveness before God.

All there is left to do is believe it is true and receive it for yourself.

Consider Paul’s introductory words to the Corinthian church.

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.  It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  1 Corinthians 1:26-30 (NIV)

I love the way verse 30 reads in the NASB

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption… 1 Corinthians 1:30 (NASB95)

When you were drowning in this world, overwhelmed by sin and its devastating consequences, when you could not save yourself, He became your rescue!

And once you embrace this fact, once you embrace the astounding reality  that you may have gotten yourself out of some tight situations in life, but the truth is you have no capacity to save yourself, then nothing will be impossible for you.

Because it will no longer depend on you, but on the God of your salvation.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”   Matthew 19:26 (NIV)

Let me conclude with a quote from evangelist Reinhard Bonnke:

God is our secret. He raises the threshold of our ability so that we can do His will. He doesn’t come just to make us famous or great, but only great enough to do what He wants us to do. True greatness is to do what God says.

God never asks us to do anything without Him, and with Him we can do anything, He says. God and I can do literally anything together!

The Africans have a story about an elephant that crossed a bridge with an ant sitting behind its ear. When they reached the other side, the ant said, “My, didn’t we make that bridge shake!”

Imagine: Jesus and YOU in 2012 will “make the bridge swing.” REINHARD BONNKE

God and I can do literally anything together!

What impossible bridges are you and God going shake this year?

Nothing is impossible,

Pastor Eric

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Just when I decide to get up and go, when I resolve to cross that bridge and move toward a wide open field and those greener pastures, right at my point of new beginning — there is a troll under the bridge.

Blocking my path, shouting words of intimidation, he is going to roast me, toast me, and eat most of me.  His growls and threats keep me from crossing over, keep me in this dry land.  Like a prison without walls, his words paralyze me and leave me to forage among the thorns for something to satisfy my hunger.

The story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff is a tale that connects with most every child.  We all remember what it was like to be bullied, to feel too small, and to look across the bridge at a green field we may never get to eat from.  We have all carried the need for a big brother billy goat to fight our troll for us.

And then we grew up.  And the stories that once brought us comfort began to gather dust on our shelves as we set out to fight our own battles, to cross our own bridges, and find our own green pastures.  It didn’t take long before a few disappointments and one too many betrayals left us standing again in a barren field.

Once again, we muster what little courage remains, surprised by the familiar “tip tap” of our feet as we try to cross that bridge.  And once again the roar gurgles out, “Who’s that crossing my bridge?  I’ll eat you up!”

Maybe I should just stop these foolish attempts, maybe I should just give up and come to terms with living a small unsatisfied life in this mundane world.  Or maybe not.

Maybe I should head back to the bookshelf.  Maybe I should dust off that old children’s story and remember how it goes one more time.  Maybe I should remember that I do have a big brother, and He did knock that troll into oblivion, and I can cross that bridge!

Those shouts from under the bridge are only echoes, a fleeting voice trying desperately to maintain its grip of fear over you.  Those words have lost their teeth.  They can bark, but they can’t bite you anymore.  That old troll is not still under the bridge.

So today is the day.  It is time to get up.  It is time to cross that bridge and enjoy the green pastures that wait for you on the other side.  It is time to go.

“So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers…He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”  (Hebrews 2:11-15)

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Super Size, Value Size, Whata Size.  It has become the nature of American consumer that when we place an order, we want to go big with it.  We all want to get the most bang for our buck.

But, real life is much more complicated than ordering off of a fast food menu.  How do I go big on the menu of everyday living?

Jesus may not have frequented fast food establishments (though He was the originator of the super-sized happy meal), but He understood the principles that can make life much bigger and more full than the smallness we often relegate ourselves to.  In Luke 6, He tells us:

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  — Luke 6:37-38 (NIV)

Jesus says you are the determining factor of the size of your life.  When you measure generously toward others, you measure generously toward yourself.

I pray you find freedom in this remarkable teaching from our Lord Jesus.  As you walk in forgiveness and generosity toward others, may it lead you to experience the fullness of life our Lord desires to pour into your lap.

May you experience the joy of a King-Sized life today!

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My apologies that the Monday Morning Review has lagged to the Tuesday Evening Review, perhaps even the Wednesday Morning Review. I hope everyone was able to satisfy their Monday morning cravings in other ways.

If you missed Sunday morning, I want to echo Pastor Loran’s advice to find a Haiti mission team member or members and pick their brains. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. The testimonies and reports shared during Sunday’s services were absolutely incredible. I want to take a moment to thank all of the Haiti team members for all their hard work, not just during the mission trip, but also in the fund raising and other preparations in the months leading up to the trip. Also, thank you to all of the EFC members who helped to make the trip possible. And last, but certainly not least, to the other Pastor Loran for putting together such an awesome team and trip. I know lives were changed in Haiti and right here in Sweetwater.

Podcast

I don’t know if the Haiti testimonies and/or Pastor Loran’s sermon will be available in this week’s podcast, but if it is, you can click here to listen.

On the Radar

EFC Volleyball @ Sonic.  Wednesday, July 27, come join us at Sonic for food, fun and volleyball from 7-9pm.

Kids School of Worship (Jammin’ with Jesus) is right around the corner. Sunday, July 31-Wednesday, August 3. The theme this year is “Fruits of the Spirit,” and we still need volunteers to help out with supplies, snacks and manpower. For more information or to volunteer, contact Pastor Lolo.

EFC Fantasy Football League. Yes, it’s that time of year again, and if you missed out last year on the First Annual EFC Fantasy Football League, now’s your chance to get in on all the fun. You can contact league commissioner Curtis Ward to find out how to play.

Discipleship Training: How to Study the Bible. Coming August 7 & 14, 6pm at EFC.

Mother’s Day Out information is available online!  Emmanuel Fellowship Church is excited to host a Mother’s Day Out program beginning Fall 2011 for children ages 1-5.  There are only a few spaces remaining for the Fall semester.  More information and downloadable registration forms are available by clicking HERE.

Links

Follow EFC on facebook. If you don’t already, you’re missing out on the daily EFC dish.

In keeping with the Discipleship Training theme How to Study the Bible, here are a few very helpful online Bible tools:

And, as always, a shamless plug for my very own Bible blog, Beauty of the Bible.

Family Connection

Check out these resources to connect with our ministry to children and youth.

You Heard it at EFC

    •  “Friend of God” by Israel Houghton
    • “You’ll Come” by Hillsong United
    • “Higher” by Worth Dying For
  • “Saviour King” Hillsong

 Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, July 24, we continue our summer sermon series entitled, “Prayers that Shook the World,” with Jim Cargile.

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I sure don’t want to come across as spiritually egotistical, but my Lord is amazing.  Everything about Jesus is wonderful.  My life is better because of Him — and I believe yours could be too!

The book of Hebrews paints some beautiful pictures of the majesty and superiority of Jesus.  Here’s a collection of verses I simply title “Jesus is Better.”

  • So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.  — Hebrews 1:4 (NIV)
  • (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.  — Hebrews 7:19 (NIV)
  • Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.  — Hebrews 7:22 (NIV)
  • But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.  — Hebrews 8:6 (NIV)
  • It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.  — Hebrews 9:23 (NIV)
  • You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.  — Hebrews 10:34 (NIV)
  • Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.  — Hebrews 11:16 (NIV)
  • Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection.  — Hebrews 11:35 (NIV)
  • God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.  — Hebrews 11:40 (NIV)

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ fill you with hope.  May you come to know how much better life can be when you yield the throne of your heart to Jesus.  And may your day of discovery come soon!

 

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“So, my dear Christian friends, companions in following this call to the heights, take a good hard look at Jesus. He’s the centerpiece of everything we believe, faithful in everything God gave him to do.”  Hebrews 3:1-2 (The Message)

As you take a good hard look at Jesus this week, I invite you to review these blog posts to renew the wow factor in your heart of the amazing love of our amazing King!

 

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Yep!  It really is “National Marriage Week!”  Bet you didn’t even know that one existed!  But, the week of February 7-14 is set aside in our nation to invest in the fundamental building block of healthy families—good marriages.

Although there’s plenty of research that shows marriage does indeed help people become healthy, wealthy, and wise (see http://www.nationalmarriageweekusa.org/Marriage-Provides-Better-Health.htm for the statistics), by far the best case to be made for marriage is that it was God’s idea.  His ideas are quite unlike mine.  While I might have a good idea every so often (my wife says usually 1 out of 3), ALL of His ideas are good.  Every single one.  He never misses.  And if marriage was dreamed up in the heart of God, you can rest assured that it not only CAN work, but can work BEAUTIFULLY.

This week, I encourage you to check out the following resources to invest in your own marriage.  If you’re not married yourself, then pray for the marriages of the people in your life and consider sharing the info with them.  We need healthy marriages in our church family and in our city.  Let’s do what it takes to see them built!

Marriage Links

Podcast

“What Snuck In Through the Garden Door,” Pastor Eric’s message from February 2nd, will be available online soon!

On the Radar

Emmanuel Fellowship is now in TWO SERVICES. Our Sunday morning worship times are 9:00 and 11:00.  A pre-school nursery only is available during the 9:00 service, and full children’s ministry is offered in the 11:00 service.

Night of Worship – After being postponed last week due to weather, we’re starting Family Foundations month off with a bang this Wednesday, February 9th, with an object lesson, fun activities, and of course, food!  Parents, make sure you’re ready to party with your kids this week and come join us.

Sermon Series – Each Sunday, during the month of February, we will be looking at different aspects of healthy Family Foundations.  From marriage to parenting to grandparenting, there’s something for everyone.

Valentine’s Couple Dessert – We’re going to have an evening to remember at the church this Sunday, February 13th, at 7 pm.  Join us as we learn how to “Keep the Sweet in Sweethearts.”  Tickets are $5 per couple and are on sale now in the church foyer!  Childcare will be provided.

Youth Led Service – Our youth are going to get in on the action by blessing us with leading every aspect of our Sunday morning services on Sunday, February 20th.  You won’t want to miss this special time.

Kingdom Principles for Raising Children Seminar – All parents are invited to attend our parenting seminar, Sunday, February 27 at 6 pm and Monday, February 28 at 7 pm. Session 1 will cover how to discipline effectively and speak your child’s love language.  Session 2 will cover how to impart Godly principles into your child’s life.

Family Connection

Check out these resources to connect with our ministry to children and youth.

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “Blessed Be The Name” by Matt Redmand
  2. “Mighty to Save” by Chris Tomlin and Matt Redmand
  3. “Fire Fall Down” by Hillsong

(This song is our theme song for the month as we pray for God to come and fix the broken places in our families.  Take a listen to it.)

Sunday Preview

Join us next Sunday as we continue our Family Foundations Series!

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