Monday, April 18, 2016

A Fool for Christ

I’m going to take a break from our vision and share with you some random thoughts over the next several weeks. Today, I want to share with you what I shared with the All-Church Good Friday Service this past Good Friday March 25th, 2016.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness…” Seems like it. I mean, to believe that a guy, 2,000 years ago thought he was God and had to die one of the most brutal deaths to save humanity. Seems pretty foolish.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness…” Seems like it. Jesus’ closest disciples, who were hiding in fear because their Master had been killed, and then who stood before the people that had killed Jesus and started proclaiming that, that same Jesus had raised from the dean just as he had said he would.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness…” Yeah. Following Jesus’ death and resurrection, each and every one of his closest disciples faced a life of beatings, and most eventual death, for their belief in this Jesus who said he was God and was dying to save the world. Peter and Andrew were crucified. Thomas was run through by a lance. James was thrown off the temple in Jerusalem and then killed by rocks that were thrown by people when he didn’t die from the fall. All the others died for telling others about this Jesus. Except for John, who was boiled in oil and then had to spend the rest of his life in exile on a prison island.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness…” It is. Then there’s this guy named Paul, who had a great career and life ahead of him. Who fought against the Christians that proclaimed Jesus. This guy Paul, gave it all up to follow and side with these Jesus people. 
“For the message of the cross is foolishness…” It is. For the three hundred years following Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection, those who believed Jesus’ disciple’s message, who never actually met Jesus, but decided to believe anyway, they were hunted down, tortured, turned into amusement for the Roman people who watched these Christians be brutally killed right in front of them.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness…” Yeah it is. Throughout the 2,000 years that have come and gone, countless Christians have gone to far off nations to proclaim Jesus to people that would eventually kill them. Like Jim Elliot who went to some brutal tribe down in South America, back in the 1950’s. Elliot died with his missionary buddies, but that’s not the craziest thing. The craziest thing is that Elliot’s wife, took the other wives of the dead husbands and went back to that same tribe to tell them about Jesus. Sure it worked out, but still, it was foolish.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness…” Yeah it is. Right now in the Middle East, India and in places all over the world, Christians are being imprisoned, beaten and dying for a Jesus they never saw walk this earth. A Jesus that died on a cross, and who was raised from the dead three days later.  They are giving up their lives for a Jesus who lived 2,000 years ago. They are giving up the world and all it has to offer for this Jesus. These people and all who have put their trust into Jesus as their Savior are fools.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness…”  It is, and I am a fool too. In May of 2000, I had only two choices in my life. My first choice was to continue my destructive life and to continue breaking the relationships I had with friends and family. A path that was spiraling out of control. Or the other choice, to follow Jesus. To accept what Jesus did on the cross for me. To accept that I was in need of what he had done for me. The Bible teaches that there is a gulf between God and man. This gulf happened and is happening now because we want to do our own thing. We tell God that his ways are not good enough for us and we want to do our own thing. We rebel against his laws, and commands, and the Bible calls those actions sin.
Sin is falling short, missing the mark of what God created us to be. And I know, when I look in my life that I have this sin, I have this rebellion, I have this rejection of God within me. And by embracing this sin, I embrace the only thing sin can pay me with, and that’s both my physical and spiritual death.
But the Bible also teaches that God hasn’t given up on us. Even though we reject him, he fights for us, because he knows that our path leads to destruction and separation from him for eternity. That separation means, that the glimpses of joy and goodness we experience here in this lifetime, will be gone forever. 
But God doesn’t want us to be separated from him by our sin, by the gulf we’ve created by rebelling against him. The Bible teaches us that God saw that none could do it, so he himself came to earth, wrapped himself in flesh, lived the life that we were created to, but haven’t. Jesus lived a life where sin had no right to collect on the payment of death, like it has the right in my life. Yet even though each of us deserves death, Jesus took death for us. Even though he didn’t deserve it, he said I will take it.
But not just any death; not a death that was easy or quick. He took a death that is still considered today as being one of the most brutal humanity has ever created. He took a death that saw the layers of skin stripped away, until only vein, muscle and bone lay exposed. He took a death that had nails driven into his hands and feet. He took a death that had a splintered cross cut into his body. He took a death that held him in agony for hours, until everything that needed to be done for us, for me, was accomplished.
Jesus overcame my sin, he overcame my death and he provided a way for me to come to God forgiven, healed and in a right relationship with him.
Since May of 2000, I have walked with Jesus, I have talked with Jesus, I have seen him guide my life, felt him comfort me when I’ve fallen and renewed me when all my strength has left me.
I am a fool, and I am glad to be one.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
We could talk about all the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. We could talk about how Jesus compares against every other religious leader who ever walked the earth. We could discuss and come up with a theological, biblical breakdown of the need for the cross. But until you experience the Jesus that Peter did, that Paul did, that Jim Elliot did, that the Christians who are dying around the world for their faith did, that I have, it will be foolishness to you. And I, I’ll be just another fool. But I stand in good company. Because I stand with Christians, not just in my own life time, but throughout history.

We are fools, because we have experienced the power of the cross and we have been called to share it with you. That you would know the power and love of God and that you would stand with me as a fool.
I don’t know where you’re at today. I don’t know if you’re a Christian or you’re not. I don’t know if you are as I was, caught in a place where you only have two choices. Or whether you have made the choice of Jesus. But I do know this, you are loved by God. You have been shown this love by Jesus dying on the cross for you.
And you are invited today to begin a life with Jesus and experience what he has for you. Today, I challenge you, not to say a prayer, but to take an action and stand every step of your life proudly accepting the title that the world gives to Christians, a Fool for Christ.

What will you do?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Becoming the Vision

We’ve been talking about the vision that God is leading us towards as this local community of believers here at the Alliance Church. And we've talked about how this vision isn’t something brand new, but rather is timeless and rooted in Scripture. We talked about how we are to be motivated by God’s love, because God is motivated by love. We then talked and asked the question, “What should our response to God’s love be,” or in other words, “What should God’s love motivate us to do?”
That’s when we explored Jesus’ teaching on prayer and his two greatest commandments. Both start off with worship to God, “Hallowed be thy name,” and “love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.” We talked about how David in Psalm 103 says, to worship God with everything in us, so to love him is to lift his name up in worship.
Then we examined the second part of Jesus’ teaching on prayer and the second greatest commandment and we found that both dealt with need and how God is a need meeter. And because he is a need meeter and we are supposed to be like him, we are to be people who locate the need around us that God is working on and be tools of his, to meet those needs.
Finally, last week we talked about how, in all of this we are to be people who, like Jesus, point to life. And that life is the life that God has made them to be apart of. Not the life that we live, but the life that he has created them to live.
Today we’re going to finish this phase of talking about God’s vision for us with diving into the twelfth chapter of the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah chapter 12 is a chapter I know I’ve read. I know I’ve gone through it, but it’s been years since that happened. But even though I’ve read through it, I know that I’ve never been led to dive deep into it. But as I’ve sacked God how we are to finish this phase of talking about his vision for us, it fits perfectly.
As we open up to the book of Jeremiah chapter 12 verse 1, we have to understand the life that Jeremiah had. He was the son of a priest and he was called by God into the line of a prophet. Now for most people when they hear the title prophet, they think, some guy that told about the future. In reality, future predictions were a very small part of the job description. In fact, the main part of a prophet’s job was to call people out on things they were doing wrong. A prophet was to tell people that they were in rebellion against God, telling them to repent, or God would bring on judgment.
Talk about not wanting to go into work on Monday. Jeremiah was beaten, threatened often, thrown in the stocks, put on trial, forced to run for his life, publicly humiliated by a false prophet and thrown into a broken cistern, for those of you who don’t know those were used for toilets. Ah, yes, the life of a prophet, good times. Why did all this happen? Because people don’t like to hear the words the prophets had for them, because it says that we aren’t doing what God wants and we have to change. Guess what, we don’t tend to like hearing that. And that’s where God has led us today. Ready?
Let’s take a look at what God has for us in the book of Jeremiah chapter 12 verse 1. Let’s Read. 
“You are always righteous, Lord, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease? You have planted them, and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit. You are always on their lips but far from their hearts. Yet you know me, Lord; you see me and test my thoughts about you. Drag them off like sheep to be butchered! Set them apart for the day of slaughter! How long will the land lie parched and the grass in every field be withered? Because those who live in it are wicked, the animals and birds have perished. Moreover, the people are saying, ‘He will not see what happens to us.’”

Jeremiah starts off with a plea that echoes those in the book of Psalms. I know I’ve said something similar. Have you ever just asked the question, “Why does it seem like the people who are following God, are not having as good of life as those who aren’t?” Sometimes we ask God, “Why are the people who are doing bad seem like they’re prospering and I’m over perspiring because I’m trying to follow you?”
Ever felt that way? Ever ask God those types of questions? Well, I think that God has a sense a humor and a little of playful sarcasm, a little facetiousness to himself. Because in the next verse God responds with, “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?”

God’s basically telling Jeremiah, you think that’s bad just wait. If you can’t handle this little bit, how are you going to handle the hard stuff. God’s calling Jeremiah’s complaints simple and easy situations. Then in verse 6 God says, “Your relatives, members of your own family—even they have betrayed you;  they have raised a loud cry against you. Do not trust them, though they speak well of you.”
It’s almost like God’s saying, “It’s worse than you think. Even the people that you think are righteous are talking bad behind your back.”
That’s when God goes on to talk about the nation of Israel, the ones that are supposed to be the Righteous ones that Jeremiah is talking about. In verse 8, God says that his people are like lions who are in the forest, talking about how they’re wild and act ferociously toward him. In verse 9 God called the people birds of prey who surround and attack. He says of his people in verse 10, that they are like shepherds who have no regard for his boundaries, but instead destroy the vineyard he has set up.
Finally God goes on to say, that they are trying to plant seeds for the future, but they’re only going to get thorns.
In other words, Jeremiah asked God about the wicked people that surrounded him and why do they prosper, but God takes it even further and tells Jeremiah, look, it’s worse off that you think. The wicked and bad people infest everything and their even the people that you called good and righteous.
In fact if we jump over to chapter 13 verse 1, God really gives Jeremiah a graphic image of how bad it is. Chapter 13 verse 1 says this, 
“This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and buy a linen belt and put it around your waist, but do not let it touch water.” So I bought a belt, as the Lord directed, and put it around my waist. Then the word of the Lord came to me a second time: “Take the belt you bought and are wearing around your waist, and go now to Perath and hide it there in a crevice in the rocks.” 
Who you know what a linen belt is? It’s a loin cloth or in a more modern terminology, it’s underwear. Yes, God told Jeremiah go grab a pair of underwear and I’m going to show you what the people that you think are Righteous and good are really like. So Jeremiah goes and gets the underwear and takes it almost 1,000 miles to Perath, which is the Euphrates River. The Bible says, 
“So I went and hid it at Perath, as the Lord told me. Many days later the Lord said to me, “Go now to Perath and get the belt I told you to hide there.” So I went to Perath and dug up the belt and took it from the place where I had hidden it, but now it was ruined and completely useless. Then the word of the Lord came to me: This is what the Lord says: ‘In the same way I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. These wicked people, who refuse to listen to my words, who follow the stubbornness of their hearts and go after other gods to serve and worship them, will be like this belt—completely useless! For as a belt is bound around the waist, so I bound all the people of Israel and all the people of Judah to me,’ declares the Lord,‘to be my people for my renown and praise and honor. But they have not listened.’”

God’s telling Jeremiah, just like you wear underwear, and have it close to you in a very intimate way. That’s how my people are supposed to be with me. They are supposed to be near me, like underwear is to you. But instead they are like that underwear you hold in your hand, they have been completely soiled by this world.

Jeremiah was trying to get God to wake up to the wicked and bad people that Jeremiah saw around himself, but God wanted him to understand that it went further than Jeremiah could see. God could see the wickedness that Jeremiah couldn’t. It wasn't only with the nations that surrounded Israel, it wasn’t just with the ruler of Israel. The reality was that it had penetrated every aspect of God’s people and they had all become soiled.

Here’s the thing, we can be just like prophet Jeremiah. We can see all around us the wickedness and evil that is in the world. We can see other nations, we can see our leadership and point our fingers at them and say, God why do you let them prosper. But here’s the reality, God wants us to wake up to the wickedness that surrounds our own life and realize there’s just as much surrounding us as there is out there.

In Matthew 7:3 Jesus says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
Basically Jesus is saying, start at home. Talk to God about our own brokenness, our own dealings of wickedness. The problems that surround us. Because they’re there, we just might be like the prophet Jeremiah and oblivious to them. We might have rose colored glasses on and we can’t see that the vision of God isn’t being carried out in our own lives. And we need to come to a place where we are willing to acknowledge and confront the brokenness within ourselves first, because only then will we get onto the vision that God has for us.
An author by the name of Henri Nowen wrote this, “Only in the context of grace can we face our sin, only in the place of healing do we dare to show our wounds; only with a single-minded attention to Christ can we give up our clinging fears and face our own true nature.”
In the presence of God, we can face the problems, the sins and the struggles in our own life, because through God’s love he sent Jesus to meet our need for a Savior. God deeply desire to bring us back into a right relationship, back into his vision. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are in a place where there is no judgment for our mistakes, no condemnation for our sins. That place is a place of healing, mercy, forgiveness and grace. And when we recognize  that, we can be authentic with people, we can show them the real us, the one that struggles, the one that makes mistakes, because we are forgiven. We can begin to live the vision that God has for us, because we have become people who recognizing that all we have, is what God has done for us.
So the love that is given to us, can motivate us. The worship we give back can truly lift God up. The needs that surrounded us, we can participate in meeting them, because we understand that our own need has been located and met. And then we can point people back to the life that God has for them, because we have truly experienced that life.
See, with the prophet Jeremiah, he wanted God to strike the people down, because of their evil, because of their wickedness, but God wanted Jeremiah to wake up to the reality that surrounded him. No one was safe from God’s judgment, because everyone didn’t meet his standard of what good really was. But God also wanted Jeremiah to realize that he wanted everyone to be saved, he wanted everyone to know the love and life of God.
He tells Jeremiah in verses 14-17 that he desires that all people turn to him and enter into his life. To find themselves righteous, not by their own deeds, but by his. He says of the nations that surround them that if they would turn to him, that they would be saved. God says of Israel, that if they would turn to him, they would be saved. And God was telling Jeremiah, that his work, that his vision, was about restoring people, not destroying them.
And we are called into that same restoration work. We are called to be people who are motivated by love. God was revealing how much he was hurt by Israel turning their backs on him. He called them his heritage, the beloved of his soul, his house and his vineyard.
In turn, God wants us to care as deeply as he does for the people around us. For those wicked people that we complain about. God wants us to be people who lift him up in worship, because that’s what he says his people are supposed to do in verse 11 of chapter 13. We are to be people who show other’s what worshiping God is like, in a real and authentic way.
We are to realize that they are lost and are in need. They are in need physically, but also spiritually. Jeremiah was a prophet, and that meant he was sent to people to help them realize their spiritual need, we too are called into the lives of the people that God surrounds us with, to speak into their spiritual needs as well and meet their physical needs.
And finally, we are to be like the prophet Jeremiah, and point them back to life. Jeremiah had to learn that the wickedness surrounded him everywhere. That it wasn’t confined to a certain aspect of society, a certain people group, a certain nation.  He had to learn that he was there to point people back to God, that was his job as a prophet and that’s our job as God’s people.

Because in all of this have you realized that if we call ourselves Christian, if we say that we are children of God and have been saved by Jesus, then we are closer to God than the Israelites were? We are closer to God than the underwear? We have God living inside of us and that same God who was trying to get Jeremiah to realize his job and the need that surrounded him, is the same God that lives inside us who’s crying out for us to get our eyes off what we think is going on and start looking at this world through the eyes of the God who is fighting for the hearts, minds and souls of the people.
And we might be sitting here thinking, that that is a fight for the young. Jeremiah was around 85 years old when he died, and God never told him to stop. This isn’t an age thing, this is a people of God thing. A people of God who are willing to stand up and love, like he loves us. A people who will lift him up in worship, the way he should be. A people that will open their eyes to the need that surrounds us and see him at work. And a people who will get on board with pointing people back to the life he has for them.

The question is, would you rather live in a country club church, where you get fed. Or do you want to be apart of a hospital church, where we come together as a body of believers to work with God in restoring people back to his vision?

My challenge to you this week is simple, wrestle with God. Come to terms with the wickedness that isn’t just out there, but that comes from our own lives. Have your heart break for the things that break God’s and be apart of a church that is a hospital and not a country club.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Pointing Others to the Life God Has For Them

We’ve come to our final aspect of the vision that God has give us here at the Alliance Church of Quartzsite. We have been talking about God’s vision for four weeks and how we are called to be apart of it. We first talked about how God has an overarching vision. This vision was  creating a creation where he could be a part of it; a place where he could teach and interact with it, just like a parent with their child. Then we talked about how God’s creation rebelled against him, wanting their own vision. But God doesn’t give up on his vision as we can see in Scripture, instead of giving up he fights for it. This is realized in the sending of Jesus to earth to die in our place, so that we wouldn’t face God’s punishment of throwing away his vision, but rather that we would have a way to come back into line with that vision.
All this, we found, was because God’s motivating factor is his love for us. Then we then talked about how, when we accept Jesus as our Savior, and we experience God’s love through this, that there are three responses that need to happen.
The first two responses we explored came from Jesus’ teaching on how to pray and his two greatest commandments. This first was worship or lifting God’s name up. We talked about how, when we came into a right relationship with God, we are to worship him. We are to lift his name up in worship, not just on Sunday mornings, but as David says in Psalm 103 with everything in us and throughout our daily lives and interactions. 
The second response that we’ve talked about, was the second part of Jesus’ teaching on prayer and his second greatest commandment. This second response is that we are to be people that not only lift God up in worship, but that we would be like God in that we would locate and meet the needs of the people around us. We saw that in both Jesus’ teaching on prayer and his second greatest commandment, that needs are important to God and that we are called to be like God, willing to locate the needs that God is working in and meet them if God calls us to it.
Today we’re going to talk about the final response to God’s motivating love. To start off we’re going to take a three question quiz. I’m going to ask you the questions and then we’ll go over each one, by discussing why each is important.
Are you ready to take the quiz?
Our first question is: Which Gospel book, has Jesus mentioning the word “life” the most?
Our second question is: How many times is Jesus mentioned to be the source of life in the Gospel’s?
The final question is: Jesus compares and contrasts himself with a thief in which passage?
So, are you feeling good about your answers? Let’s see how you did. 
The first question is: Which Gospel book has Jesus mentioning the word “life” the most? Answer, the Gospel of John. Here are the numbers: Mark comes in last with only six, which would makes sense, it’s the smallest of the Gospels. Matthew and Luke tie with Jesus mentioning life 16 times. But John smashes those, with a total of 36 times where Jesus mentions life. 
Here’s why this is important: the books of Matthew and Mark are each written from one of the 12 disciples perspectives. Matthew is written by the disciple Matthew, while Mark is written by second generation disciple Mark, recording the information from Peter’s sermons. Luke on the other hand was written, not by a personal eye witness account of Jesus’ life, but rather Luke gathered sources, both from other Gospels that were written earlier and other eye witness accounts. He recorded it all down so that it would be accessible for a non-Jewish audience.
And then there’s John. John is also written from a first hand disciple’s experience, but it was written for very different reasons. Whereas the three other gospels are looking to relay the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus, John’s gospel focus’ on Jesus’ impact on John’s own life. I think that it’s because of this that John is the most accessible of the Gospels, because John is telling his story about who Jesus is, rather than giving us a simple historical record. And to John, Jesus’ teachings on God’s love and life greatly impacted him. In fact at the end of his writing, John states, that there’s so much more to tell, but there’s just not enough room.
So the impact of Jesus’ teachings on life, affected John greatly, so we need to understand the why behind it, but before we do, let’s moved on to the next question. 
Question two is: How many times is Jesus mentioned to be the source of life in the Gospel’s?
The answer is 16 times, and take a wild guess where every mention of that comes from? Right, the Gospel of John. John understood Jesus to be more than a good teacher; he understood that life had it’s beginning with Jesus. That all things were created by him. That all things can only live by being connected to Jesus. From the very first verses of his Gospel, John threads Jesus’ words of being the source of life throughout every chapter.
The final question was: Jesus compares and contrasts himself with a thief in which passage?
The answer is John 10:10, where Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
John understood that Jesus taught there are two sides to this world: the first is the thief’s side. The thief is Satan, the one who wants to bring down humanity to death and separation from God. The other side is Jesus, the one that wants to bring us into life and eternity.
Why does this all matter? Why is understanding that Jesus spoke so often about life, and why is it important that John was so impacted by this teaching?
In John’s twentieth chapter verse 31 John says, this, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Think about this: John was so impacted by Jesus’ teachings and the fact that Jesus isn’t just talking about life, he is life, that John wants us to believe, so that we can experience that life as well.
So, now is where we really get into it. John wants us to understand that Jesus is life, and that we need to believe in him. Okay, that’s something we talk about all the time in the Church. We quote verses like, John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

But how does this talk about life, become a response that we’re supposed to have to God’s motivating love?
The how is one, two letter word and it is found in Matthew 28:16-20. I’m going to read the section and then I want you to tell me what the word is.
“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”

What's the word? Right, GO. The how of life, is to go and what did Jesus tell us to do as we go? We teach. Teach about what? Well, what did John teach about through his Gospel? John taught, about the life that comes from and can be experienced through Jesus. Remember? John said in chapter 20 verse 30, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
John took Jesus’ message about life seriously, in fact he took it so seriously that he structured his entire book around this subject. We are called to the same thing, we are called to teach about the life that is only found in Jesus.

Now let’s take a moment and think about this: if Jesus says that he is life and that he wants us to experience life, and we now know that we who are brought into God’s vision are supposed to teach about life, how have we done so far?
How much of an impact have we as the Church done in this world?

PBS has found that since 1999, suicide rates have jumped 28%, which means it’s hovering around 59,000 deaths per year. That would be as if every year a city the size of Lake Havasu, AZ was blotted out.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse says that everyday there are 7,800 new drug users. That amounts to about 2.8 million new drug users per year.

As of right now, there are currently about 400,000 children in foster care in the US alone and about 1 in 5 kids struggle with hunger or in other words 20% of the child population.

Now, just hearing those stats, I ask you, how are we doing as the Church to teach life? 

You want to hear my theory about why this world is so bad off, even with the Church in it? We can blame it on Satan, and yes, I do believe that he has a role in it, but that’s the easy way to explain things. We can blame it on our own sin, and yes, I do believe that our sin has a role as well. And I do believe that this world would be a lot worse off without the Church, but here’s why I think we’ve let it down.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Have you heard this before? I’ve shared with you that I once heard a teacher on discipline talk about how he was doing research on this very verse and he interviewed a Rabbi. The Rabbi told him that the meaning behind the Proverb wasn’t that we would just train and teach a child the ways of God, but that we would teach and train the child in the way, that God created and wanted them to go.
In other words, we are to help our children discover who God created them to be and how they can walk the path of God in their own unique way.
As I’ve reflected on that understanding, I’ve realized that as the Church we have talked about and even taught about the life Jesus has, but too often we try and make people experience the life we have in Jesus, rather than the life he has for them.
Do you see the difference? We try and make people conform to our understanding of God, but Paul says in 1st Corinthians 12:18-20, “18 God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. 19 If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? 20 As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.”
Yet, we try to make everyone into an eye, or a foot. When go and teach, as John did, that Jesus is life and he wants everyone to experience that life, we are to help them understand  who they are in Jesus, not who we think they should be.
We are called into the vision, that we are to be motivated by love, to lift God up in our worship, to locate the needs in our community while becoming need meters and to point people to the life that God has for them. Did you here that? To the life that God has for them, not the life we have for them, but the deep life that God has in store for them.
My life in Christ looks different than yours, and everyone we reach out to with the life of Jesus needs to also be different.
Finally, I want you to think of this, I believe that one of the hardest theological concepts within Christianity is the Trinity. One God, in three persons, yet one of the things that catches my eye, is the fact that the Father sends the Son and both the Father and the Son send the Spirit. Yet the Spirit desire is to point back to the Son and the Son desire is to point back to the Father.
I think this teaches us what we are to do, we are to point, not to our selves, but to the God who has sent us. We are to go, teach and point back. And that’s our last response and final part of the vision that God is leading us to as the Alliance Church of Quartzsite: to point back to the life that he has for people.
Plants are a microcosm of the life that God has for us. Each of us has the opportunity to point to the life that God has for people, plants show us that God has a purpose and design for each one. Each one living the life that God created them to live and God gives us the opportunity to help the plants around us live. Now, you can kill the chance that plant has to grow and thrive. You do that by ignoring it, or you can help it grow, by doing what is necessary to help it to live. But here’s the things, you can’t make that tulip into a redwood; or that cactus into an apple tree. It’s the same thing with the people around us; we can ignore them and therefore not point them to the life that’s in Jesus, or we can do what’s necessary to point them to Jesus for the life he has for them. By helping them realize who God created them to be.
Today, be motivated by God’s love, to lift him up in your worship, to locate the needs around you that he is working in and to point people back to the life he has for them.

Have a great week and God Bless.