Blog 02-22-2017

Reading in Luke 7 about Simon and the prostitute.
 
It sounds like a raunchy novel, but it’s not. I love what Kyle Idelman said about this story in the first video our Journey Groups watched. In his book, he asks a cool question I’ve really never asked myself before.
 
(If you haven’t read the story in a while, probably a good idea to before you try and answer this.)
 
Which person in the story do you want to be most like?
 
The real question we should struggle with is not who you ARE most like, but who do you WANT to be most like?
 
Would it be the well respected religious leader (Simon) who seems to have his stuff together, the guy people look up to, the guy who has VIPs over for dinner? Or would you rather be the broken prostitute who embarrasses herself but deeply experiences the love and grace of Jesus?
 
Simply put, many of us want to be made whole without having to be broken – but the truth is, Jesus takes the broken and makes us whole!


Blog – 02/02/2015

Happy February!  I shared with our church yesterday that God slapped me upside the head two weeks ago.  One person approached me and said I needed to join him on the Daniel fast for February.  I had just spent the morning message sharing with our church about the connection between physical and spiritual health.  In my head I had my doubts about doing the fast.  It wasn’t that I was questioning my faith, I have fasted before and know I could do it.  The question was whether or not I ‘wanted’ to do it.  But he played the GOD card (you know… it’s the one I play every week) so I didn’t really have a choice.  That evening another friend challenged me to go to the gym with him regularly.  My thoughts went back to 1997 when Lori and I lived in Macon, Georgia, and we joined Gold’s Gym.  Notice I said “joined” instead of “worked out at.”  I paid them for a year in advance, but only went once or twice.  So I could just see my money flying away… But then I remembered a time in 1999 when I intentionally worked out and lost 30 pounds in a month.  As a flight medic I had to weigh under a certain limit, so I did what it took to lose the weight.  But when I stopped flying, I stopped exercising and eating right.  So now God was telling me through two people in one day that I needed to refocus my life and practice what I preach.  I’m in!

My daughter Camryn and I are on the Daniel fast, and so far it isn’t that bad.  When I crave something I can’t have, I go to God through prayer and reading His Word.  When I want to waiver, my accountability partner holds me to the line.  Man, I really don’t see how people live life without a church family!  I need the accountability.  I need the support and encouragement.  I need Godly people in my life.

This week’s message was about setting goals that will be blessed by God as we are transformed for Him!  It isn’t a resolution because resolutions are quickly broken.  My goal is to get healthier in 2015 and let that be a beginning to a lifestyle change full of radical transformation – physically and spiritually.  Are you in?  Will you join me?



Blog – 01/14/2015

FBPostImage

I received this picture today of John 3:5 along with a question:  Do you have to be baptized to go to heaven?

John 3:5 (NLT):

Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.

Jesus had just said (John 3:3) and later (in John 3:7) that you must be “born again” (which means “from above”) – but here in John 3:5 (smack in the middle) He says you must be born of the water and the Spirit.  The Pharisee (group of Jewish religious leaders who were very legalistic and questioned Jesus at every turn) Nicodemus was asking Jesus lots of questions (unlike so many of the others, he appeared to be genuinely interested in learning from Jesus) and specifically asked Jesus about being saved (born again).  So Jesus takes it deeper and in one verse specifically says you must be born of the water and the Spirit.  We naturally understand what the Spirit is – it means the Holy Spirit of God. But what about the water?  Why did Jesus add ex hudatos which means “of water?”

It may have something to do with Luke 7:30 where the Pharisees had rejected God’s plan and refused baptism.  I suspect Jesus isn’t trying to connect baptism as an ingredient in salvation as much as He is connecting it to the evidence of one’s salvation.  It is a public profession of faith.  It is an outward expression of an inward change.  It is symbolic of crucifying our old lives (the ‘old man’) with Christ on the cross, buried, and resurrected (‘born again’) to the newness of life we have through Jesus.

Another possibility:  some scholars believe that the phrase “being born of water and the Spirit” are contrasting the initial physical birth we have on earth (born of water) and connecting it to being born again (born of the Spirit).  It’s thought Jesus may have done this because Nicodemus could not understand the language of being “born again.”  So Jesus connected the physical birth (something Nicodemus clearly understood) with the spiritual birth (hoping He would understand what Jesus was trying to teach him).

This one verse is debated on by many, that’s why it makes such a great discussion question.  It also makes for a great opportunity to share a Bible study principle that we must follow to adequate interpret and apply Scripture.  We can’t take one verse and try to develop a whole belief system around it.  Looking at this one verse makes it clear why we can’t (and shouldn’t do that.  We must look at the “whole” of Scripture – cover to cover – Genesis to Revelation.  When we do this, we know that Jesus never connected water baptism to salvation in any other way than to make it a public profession of faith and symbolically follow in His great example for us.  When looking at the whole of Scripture, either application above (whether He is talking about John 3:5 being water baptism or contrasting physical birth to spiritual birth) would be theologically accurate.

This reminds us now more than ever that the Bible is alive!



Blog – 01/10/2015

I was talking to Roy last night and we agree, probably the most important fear we have is rightly dividing the Word of God and being accurate in our preaching/teaching (2 Timothy 2:15). Some take the platform on Sunday and focus more on being entertaining than Biblically correct. Some have a unique interpretation/application that is distinctly unlike any other respected scholars throughout history. It’s my prayer that I will never defile the Word by trying to make it something it’s not, or altering it in a way it becomes something innovative yet unintended.

We’re focusing on 90 days of transformation and while I do not want the 90 day period to mark the beginning and end of transformation, I certainly hope it will launch a perpetual revival in the life of our church. I am challenging our folks to connect with the church – through membership, by faithful attendance, and sustained giving of their time, talents, and treasures. I’m challenging our folks to connect with one another by faithfulness to the small group (Journey Group) ministry. I’m challenging everyone to connect with someone personally as an accountability partner, encourager, and mentor. Rick Warren says it well, you can either be a conformer or a transformer!

I can’t wait to see what this first quarter of 2015 will bring and I can’t wait to see the lives that will be forever changed! I don’t want our folks to experience a feeling or a fad, nothing that will fade away, but a real transformation that will figuratively set them on fire through a radical relationship with Jesus! Join me in praying! I can’t wait!



Devotion – 11/24/2014

Reset Your Gratitude Meter
1 Thessalonians 5:18

What are you thankful for? We gather, every year at this time, to reflect on the blessings of God over the past year. But in most families, Thanksgiving is less about real gratitude and more about stuffing your face, watching football, and hanging with the family. Some actually dread Thanksgiving, because they’re forced to sit in a room with people they really don’t enjoy.

Now I’m all in favor of the food and the football. But this year, let’s make Thanksgiving about giving and about thanks. This year, more than any, might force us to dig deeper. For many, it will mark a year since they’ve had employment .For others, Thanksgiving will bring another reminder that they haven’t found that significant other. And there are those couples who have to face the family questions of why they still can’t have children.

For many, this was a year marked by pain. So how do we summon the gratitude? Well, if you’re a Christian, you’re basis is not your circumstances, but something greater. Paul tells the people of Thessalonica that they could “give thanks in everything.” Why? Because this was the “will of God in Christ.”

In other words, followers of Christ believe that every piece of hardship is a grace gift from the Lord, sent for their growth, sanctification, and further intimacy with the Almighty. We don’t believe we’re here on this earth all alone. We believe God is firmly in charge.

Though life may get hard–and it does–it all falls under God’s sovereign will. And so we give thanks.

As Americans, we really have cause for gratitude. I have to periodically remind myself of this and remind my family. We so easily get caught up in the easy lust for more stuff. Bigger house, nicer car, better clothes, newest gadgets. But then I remember my travels to third world countries, where I’ve seen real poverty–and real gratitude on the part of the Christians there.

Tonight, my kids will go to bed with full stomachs. They’ll have a roof over their heads. They will have two parents in the next room. They will ride in a nice car. They will have a future that includes a good education. All of those are things most kids in the world don’t have. And so, they should be grateful.

Let’s not sit around the table carping about the election, complaining about our job status, whining about injustices from friends. Let’s instead reset our gratitude meters and offer genuine, heartfelt thanks to God. For salvation in Christ. For His daily care. And for friends and family He graciously provides. Oh, and for wives that allow us to stuff our faces and watch football.
By: Daniel Darling