Day Thirty with Mark: Mark 7: 31-37

Today in Mark 7: 31-37, we see Jesus perform another miracle:

Jesus Cures a Deaf Man
31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

maxresdefaultI’m always fascinated with the way that Jesus chooses to heal people.  There are some instances where Jesus doesn’t even show up on the scene, He simply says that someone would be healed and they are healed.  There are other times when He speaks a word and healing occurs.  And then there are times like today when He uses some object as an instrument of healing.

Today, He does that. And look what it is?  Spit.

Why?  That’s a great question.  I’ve done some reading about that, and there’s not really a great answer. There at two that I like through.

One is this.  It was a common thought in the culture that saliva had healing properties.  So, in doing using this, He was doing and visible, recognized act that all would understand.  This was not “magic” or superstition, this was Jesus Christ, using the power at His disposal to bring healing.

Another is that the tradition of the elders (and we’ve already seen how Jesus is pointing to truth there) said that spitting was an insult.  So, perhaps just was “insulting” the disease the man had.  Showing this disease that it was not all-powerful, that it was weak, that He was in control, not it.  Or perhaps in doing this He was showing that not all the teachings of the religious leaders were true.

He was truth, not the teachings of the religious leaders.

But in the end, the fact that we don’t know and it’s a mystery, that’s ok.  That’s good.  That’s the way that it’s supposed to be.  Some things (many things) should be a mystery.  Afterall, we aren’t God.  We aren’t all knowing.  His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.

You don’t have to know everything.  I don’t have to know everything.  It’s ok.  God knows everything.

Trust in that.  He knows what He is doing, and it is good.  Trust, even when you don’t understand.

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 8:1-10.

What questions do you have?  How does this strike you?  Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me through social media.

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Bring Your Cell Phone to Church 2014 Questions

iphone-screenHere are the questions that I couldn’t get to Sunday.  If you’d like to listen to the one’s that I was able to answer, you can hear our podcast here, or click here to watch it online.

I do want to readdress a question that I was asked, because it leads to another question about Asbury.

Part of my salary is cash which I tithe on. Part is not which I don’t tithe on. Is this wrong?

I answered this question basically by saying that God is a giver and that He is not (nor am I legalistic) about giving. Give to God what you think is the proper amount.  Really.  God is giver (John 3:16) and we are called to be like Him and give.  I do a straight 10% of everything that I make and give it as a tithe.   But honestly, that’s between you and God.

In this, I made the statement that our church is not as far along financially as we should be.  Which lead to this question.

Our bulletin says we are in the black by 18K. So can you or finance committee explain how we are in tight times?

Great question. Our finance committee meets monthly, and any member is more than welcome to come and be present. Times and dates are always in the bulletin under the calendar and also on our church calendar on our website.

Where we currently are right now is we are in better shape than it appears, based off a single large gift that has placed us further in the black. Take out that gift and we would be in the red (running a deficit). Our overall giving numbers have never kept pace with the growth of our church. There are lots of reasons why that is so; we are middle-class church, with few large donors. We are a young church with over extended families, and to just be frank, I have done a poor job of teaching stewardship.

We are good shape, but we are not where we’d like to be. But, that’s true for all of us in probably every area of our lives! Our job is just to be faithful, in all things!

What’s the best way to explain the Holy Trinity to a Jehovah’s Witness?

Great question.  I was doing some reading on this, and I found a website that reminded us first – “Remember that JW’s are people first, and JW’s second. Be really, really nice to them. People who come out of this cult say that they were led out more by love, and less by the arguments. Provide them snacks when they come for the appointments!”

I think that’s the key to really any interaction to anyone that’s trying to convince you of their point.  They are there to show you that they are right, not to be persuaded.  Show them love, first and foremost.  They are people that Jesus died for.

Specifically, they will say that the word is Trinity is not mentioned in the Bible, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not found in scripture.

My favorite example of the Trinity is at Jesus baptism as seen in Matthew 3: 13-17.  What I like about it is that in this passage we see all three person of the Trinity present.   The Son being baptized, the Father speaking, and the Spirit descending like a dove.  We see them as separate and distinct, while at the same time, they are one.

If God’s a selfless God, why does he want us to worship him?

Great question.  How can a loving God be all about Himself like that?  Here’s the thing, worshiping God is our purpose. It isn’t that God really even needs our worship.  He doesn’t need us to complete Him.  He is complete as it is.  But, as we talked about last week, we are made in His image, and He is a God of trinity.  And the trinity is about relationships.

And so God really desires relationship with us.  As we desire relationship with Him.  And for us humans, one of the ways that we best experience that relationship with Him is through worship.  In worship we can fully know and experience the glory of who God is.

In many ways, worship is how we most connect to God. And that is what God truly desires.  That connection. So the question is why does God want us to connect to Him?  It’s who He is. And it’s what we are made for.

Is there any correlation between Malachi 4:5 and Chapter 11 of Revelation?

There is, there is an established connection between the two, but there has never been a clear conscious of what it exactly means.  As I tell folks, I’m not an expert on Revelation, there are folks that know a lot more about it than I do.  I found a really good link that shows the connections between these two passages and some the different thoughts about what it could mean and who the witnesses are.  Click here to learn more!

If all is in God’s hand, what it is the purpose of prayer?

This is one of those great mysteries of God.  We know that God is in control.  We know that He has plans that no one can thwart or change.  We know that.  But yet, we are told that our prayers matter.  Scripture tells us that our prayers can change things.  So, which is it?

There is Biblical evidence that prayer has some effect on God.  So, our prayers do matter and do make a difference in our lives and in the lives of others.  But I think that the key thing for us to remember about prayer is not that it changes God, but I think the key to remember is that it changes us.  CS Lewis put it like this – “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.”

The more we pray, the closer we are to God.  And the more we pray, the more He changes us into who He wants us to be.

Why is it the harder I try to be what God wants me to be I face more struggle?

Remember God is not the only force at work in the world.  There are the forces of evil at work in the world.  There is the power of the evil one at work through our flesh, through the culture we live in, and through his evil schemes.  The last thing that the devil wants to happen to any believer is that they grow close to God.  And sometimes these challenges and trials are ways that he tries to stop us from growing.

So see these things as things that can let us grow closer to God.  Let these challenges make you cling to Jesus even more tightly.  Listen to what it says in James 1: 2-4:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

See these challenges for what they are, things that can draw you closer to God.  And all them hold onto to Jesus even more tightly.

How do you have a solid relationship with God/Jesus when you repeatedly do things that you know aren’t right to do by the word. How can you still have that relationship when you don’t feel guilt over what you do

Paul understood that feeling.  Listen to what Paul writes in Romans 7: 15-19:

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.

We all struggle with that.  We do.  Don’t beat yourself up for your mistakes.  If you are a believer, then you are free in Christ.  You are not condemned.  You are forgiven.

But, how do you avoid it those things?  I think that is the key.  Stay away from things that are destructive. Stay away from things that are harmful.  And do the things that will help you grow.  The way that we put it at Asbury is we pray, we read our bibles, and we go to church.  We grow closer to God.  That gives us strength to resist the temptation that comes.

And it reminds us of grace that picks us up when we fall.

It is very mentally exhausting to be around someone who is sees the world through negative eyes. What is the best way to deal with them, esp if they are someone you cannot get away from?

Somes folks are just negative. They are.  And it can be a real challenge to keep ourselves optimistic and focused in those tough times. And so, in those times, the key for us is our focus.  In the midst of negativity, we have to be even more determined to keep our focus.

So, where is your mind at?  What are you thinking about?  Are you giving into the negatively all around.  We have to do what Paul says in Philippians 4:8: – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Keep your mind on things above.  Keep your mind on the positive.  The hopeful. The good.

And also know that folks that are that negative usually just aren’t happy.  Let their negativity, let that drive you to pray for them.  Because that is the thing that will help them in the end.  The grace and mercy of Jesus, changing their lives.

If God is all-knowing, and he knew Lucifer would destroy God’s beautiful creation and beloved people, why did He create him?

It says in the Bible that Jesus was the lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world. So before He ever created us, or even the angels, this was his plan.

Why?  Because God so values our free will.  God wants us to choose Hm.  God want us to choose right over wrong, good over evil, life over death. That’s God’s plan and Gods’ will for us.  And here’s the thing, He used the devil to accomplish that.  As hard as it may seem to believe, God used the devil as tool to accomplish His ultimate plan. He used Him to draw us to Himself.

And He still does.  He still uses temptations to allow us to have to choose Him.  That’s God’s desire and God’s hope!

Who were Goliath’s parents?

So will say that they were Nephilim as mentioned in Genesis 6, but remember the flood reset everything.  So, that’s probably not likely.  More than likely, he was just a very large man that appeared to them to (rightly) be a giant.

Where is Jesus right now?

The bible tells us that He is at the right of Father.  And He is physically there.  It tells us in Acts that He physically and bodily ascended to heaven and He will physically and bodily descend in the second coming.  So, at this moment, He sits that right of God interceding on our behalf.

I thought I had forgiven someone that did an evil, horrible thing to me years ago. I’ve tried to heal and to rebuild my life. Hate and vengeful thoughts keep invading my heart. It is hard for me to feel joy in my life now. How can I find peace?

Believe me, I understand. I’ve been there myself recently. Just wrote about it.  And still, some days, I still am there. I think within this; we have to understand the difference between forgiveness and restoration. To forgive, in my opinion, is simply to wish no ill-will against someone. To hold nothing against them. To not wish them harm.

And let me say this. This is a choice. Not an emotion. It may be a daily choice for the rest of our lives. We may not feel anything but hurt or anger at this person that has wronged us. We may never feel good about that person. Hatred and vengeance may bubble up. The deeper the hurt, the more likely it is that we will feel that way.

And we have to choose to forgive. We have to give over and over and over to God. We may never “feel” right about it. But remember forgiveness (like love) is a choice. It is not a decision. It is not an emotion. It is a choice.

Reconciliation is everything being back to normal, back to square one like it never happened. And that may never happen on this earth. And that’s ok. Our calling as Christians to forgive. That’s choice.

And that choice i sonly possible through prayer. Through growing closer to God. To having Him change us. It’s not “us” that forgiveness. It’s God through us that forgives.

Keep giving. Keep choosing to forgive. And let God work through you. Especially when it is the hardest.

How do the seven years after the coming work? What happens? Describe the tribulation.

That is a great question, and as I often say when it comes to Revelation, I’m no expert.  The thing that I always take away from Revelation is that God wins in the end, and He will protect His people.  To me the book of Revelation is a book of great hope because of that.

Here is an a GREAT explanation of the different views of Revelation. I found this to be helpful and one of the better explanations I’ve ever found.

Where was God before people of the earth?/Who is God’s father?

Yes, God has always existed.  He was before time and always present.  The Triune God (Father, Son, and Spirit) have always existed and are the only uncreated parts of the universe.  Everything existed because God spoke them into being.  Where did God came from?  Excellent question.  No one knows.  That’s one of the questions that I’ll ask Him one day! 🙂

Is God and Jesus the same person or are they father and son?

When we say “God” we are actually referring the Triune God.  God that is Father, and Son, and Spirit.  They are one, the are made of the same “substance” and they are united in the Godhead. Jesus also tells us that He and the Father are one.   So, they are one, but at the same time, they are three distinct persons.  I mentioned above but think of Jesus’ baptism when we see the Father, the Son, and the Spirit all at work in the same place and same time.

So, they are one. But they are separate.  That is one of the mysteries of the Trinity!

I wonder if God cries when one of his children doesn’t love him?

I think it hurts Him when His children don’t love Him.  I think of Matthew 23:37, where Jesus is heartbroken over Jerusalem’s rejection of Him.  Listen these words.  You can almost hear the pain in His voice:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

He so wanted to love them but they wouldn’t let Him.  I think it broke His heart.  So when we don’t love Him, I do think it pains Him.

How do you politely tell an elderly Jehovah witness that comes to your home two times a week that u don’t believe what she believes?

As you said, politely. Just be gracious.  You won’t change their mind, and they think they have an obligation to try to change yours.  Just be nice, be sweet, but compassionate.  Pray for them.  But honestly, I am pretty direct with them, I’ve my religious convictions and they are going to change them.  I am loving, but I also am fairly direct with them.

Above all, let Jesus’ grace shine through.  You won’t convince them of anything by the words you speak.  But your grace may change them in powerful ways.

Are all sins equal? And is there scripture about related to it?

The first thing we need to understand in this question is that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). When we actually read through the book of Romans we see that so much of what Paul is trying to accomplish is this. He wants to show that all of us stand condemned in our sins. Our big sins, our small sins, all of our sins. All sins make us guilty before God.

And that’s the miracle of grace, no matter what the sin, we can be forgiven.

So, all sins condemn us, yes. But, there is some biblical evidence that God looks at some sins more severely than others.

First, in Matthew 18:6 it says – but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

So, it seems like those that cause someone weaker than them to stumble will face more serve judgement. Those who are strong have an obligation to those that are weak. And to cause them to stumble seems to be worse.

Also, look at Matthew 11:23-24 – And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Capernaum rejected Jesus and His ministry, and He’s saying that choice will cause them greater judgement one day.

So, it seems like choices that negatively affect those that are weaker as well as an out and out rejection of Jesus seem to be more harshly judged.

What did it feel like for God to be alone before he created everything?

No one know what God was thinking; none of us can fathom the mind of God.  But we do know this.  When He made us, when He formed us, He looked at man and said this.  It is good.  So we don’t know how He felt before we were made.  But we know when He made us He felt great joy!  He delighted in us.  And He still does.

Any advice on getting my family into church?

That’s a tough thing.  Sometimes family is the hardest place to share our faith and tell others about church and Jesus.  It can be a real challenge sometimes.  I know I have felt that in my own family at times.  I think that the thing that we have to do is this – let our light shine before others.  Let the grace of Jesus shine though.  Live with grace, with mercy, with hope.  Live differently, so folks will want to know why we are like we are.

It says in 1 Peter 3:15 – but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

So, live your faith.  Don’t pound, don’t nag.  Don’t beat up.  But, live our faith.  Read, pray, go to church.  Live gracefully and hopefully. And I promise in time, they’ll want what you have.  And that will make all the difference.

Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

That’s one of the great questions of faith, why do bad things happen?  The easy (but not easy) answer is free will.  God gives us free will.  He let us make choices.  He gives us the power and the freedom to make good choices and bad choices.

As people that are fallen and sinful, we are going to choose wrongly a lot of (most of) the time.  Where there is free will, there will be bad things.

But, what about things aren’t choices?  What about tornados and other disasters?  Paul tells us in Romans 8:20-22 – For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

What does that mean?  It means that when Adam and Eve fell, they didn’t just mess up things for me and you, but for all creation.  After they feel, there are natural disasters (that aren’t Gods’ will) and these things are consequence of the fall.  When Jesus returns, He will fix all that is broken.  And their won’t be any more disasters like this.  All will be right, all will be as He intended it.

And what I tell folks is this.  The power of God is not that He stops bad things from happening, but that He can bring good out of anything.  It says in Romans 8:28 that all things work for our good, all things.  God will bring good out of everything.  And it says in Genesis 50:20, what man intended for evil, God will use for good.

So, see that’s the thing.  Even the bad things, God will use.  God will use even the bad things and bring something good out fo them.  That’s what He does.  That’s’ His power.  Not that He stops bad things.  But that He brings good out of everything.

Why I Love My Church

logoOne of the things I believe so firmly is that no church is “better” than another one. We are all different; we have different callings, different visions, different things that we are supposed to be doing.

Those differences aren’t bad, in fact, they are good. It’s good that churches are different, that way we each do our part for the kingdom. It takes all of us. I never, ever, ever want to be the guy that says, my church is awesome, and your church stinks!

So, all that said, I just love my church. I love how open Asbury is, how we try our very best to love everyone, no matter who they are, no matter where they come from. We try our best to love, and leave the judgement stuff up to God.

I love that we are imperfect. I love that we get it wrong. If you aren’t willing to fail; you’ll never do anything big. We make mistakes, all the time. I make mistakes, all the time. And it’s ok. Because God is bigger than our mistakes.

I love that we care. That’s the thing that I just love the most. I love that we care. That we really do want to be Salt and Light, that we really do want to make a difference. That we really want to live out the grace that we’ve been given and love others in the same way.

I love that we believe relationships trump all.

I love my church. I love how we laugh and love and sweat and cry and succeed and fail. I love that we are authentic; we apologize for our mistakes, we try to do better, and we lean on Jesus.

I love that in the last month, our church has replaced someone’s trailer that should have been condemned with a new one, as a gift. Because it’s what Christians should do.

I love that we have jumped at the chance to serve Petal Upper Elementary School. We took up nearly 60 $25 Walmart gift cards to give to the teachers there, we fed them lunch, and I was able to share with the teachers just how much we love them.

I love my church. And I am thankful to not just serve Asbury as pastor, but I am thankful to be a part of it.

What is Lent?

urlYesterday was Ash Wednesday. which startes “Lent.”  This is a special day in life of the life of faith. But, what is it? What is it all about?

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the season known as Lent.  It’s a time when we focus on our great need for Jesus, what He sacrificed for us, and His high calling in our lives to be faithful.

Lent is the 40 day period that starts on Ash Wednesday and goes until Easter. Why 40 Days? 40 is a very important Biblical number. In the Old Testament, God punished mankind by sending a flood over the earth for 40 days and nights. The people of Nineveh repented of their sins with 40 days of fasting. The Prophet Ezekiel lay on his right side for 40 days as a precursor to the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. The Prophet Elijah fasted and prayed for 40 days on Mount Horeb. Moses fasted 40 days and nights while on Mount Sinai. Moses and the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 penitential years until they entered the Promised Land.

In the New Testament, the Lord fasted for 40 days and nights in preparation for the beginning of His public ministry. And that is the main reason for the 40 days. We “imitate” or follow that example of Jesus.

The thing that is powerful to me about this concept is the notion that is we forget sometimes what Jesus did for us. We talk so much about His love, His mercy, His grace, His compassion, all these things, that we forget what these things cost Him.

Just how much it cost Him to accept us.

We know that grace is free. But it is not cheap.  It cost Him more than we could ever imagine.

We don’t need to forget that.  It was for us He bled and died. It was for us He suffered.

It was for OUR sin.

It was for MY sin.

And so, when we “give up” something for Lent, we are remembering His suffering. And here is the thing. We aren’t giving things up to show that we are spiritual supermen or women, we doing it to be driven to prayer. Every time you miss whatever it is you are giving up, pray.

Every time you have a craving for whatever it is you are giving up, pray.

Every time you think about what Jesus has done for you, pray.

May we have a holy Lent.  May we reflect upon what He has done for us. And may we remember all that we have to be thankful for.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Asbury 101 (How to be Salt and Light)



Yesterday’s sermon at Asbury was, I think, one of the most important ones that I’ve preached since I’ve been here.  If you haven’t heard it, you can listen to it on our website or by downloading our free mobile app.

2012 was, in every measurable way, the greatest year Asbury has ever had.  We grew in worship attendance by 12.5%, added 90 new members, had 40 baptisms, started new small group connections, and had our best year of stewardship and giving ever.

It was an amazing year.

And the best is yet to come. I believe that 2013 will be the greatest year in the history of our church.  But, for us to live into that great calling that God has for us, we have to know what it is that we are about. And what it is that we are trying to become, through God’s grace.

So, yesterday, I preached on that notion. And I wanted to pass it along and restate it here, to help it become firm in our minds, and help us sharpen our focus in 2013.

First, hear God’s Word from Matthew 5:13-16 (ESV):

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Our mission here is to be Salt and Light.  You’ve heard that said a million times. But, what does that mean? What does that look like?  Here it is.  Asbury 101 (How to be Salt and Light)

We as church have two primary “goals.”  To know Jesus and know Jesus better.

What does that mean?  Well, it starts there.  Knowing Jesus. Each of us, must first start with making that decision to follow Him.  To make Him Lord. To put our faith in Him and follow Him.

But, knowing Jesus is not the end. It’s just the beginning. If we don’t know Him, we need to make that decision to know Him. But, if we do know Him, we need to spend our lives making sure that we know Him better.

Conversion is the start of this journey with Jesus. And we spend the rest of our time here on the earth knowing Jesus better.  This is where the angst is satisfied. This is where life is found.  Knowing Jesus and knowing Jesus better.

Ok, Andy, how do we know Jesus better?

Here at Asbury, we talk about it in three general ways. We pray, read your bible, and go to church.  The first two are relatively self explanatory.  In prayer, we open ourselves up to the awareness of God’s presence.  We allow ourselves to give voice to God to our concerns and hurts, and we experience His transformative power.

In reading our Bible, we open God’s inspired, revealed Word and are built up, challenged, consoled and we better understand God’s plan of salvation for our lives, and God’s purpose in our lives.

It’s go to church that takes a little explanation. It’s not a perfect phrase, but it’s one that fits us. When I say go to church I don’t mean go to the building, but instead I mean be part of the community.  I mean be part of the connection.

By go to church, I mean three things. Weekly worship here with the Body of Christ. You and I were made for worship.  We were put here to worship God.

It also means be part of a Small Group Connection here at Asbury. We as a church, and I as a pastor, believe that true life changes happens in Small Groups. It’s where we learn, grow, are challenged, and held accountable. It’s where life change happens.

And, third, it means to serve. We weren’t just put here to receive and receive and receive. Through worship, through Small Groups, we are poured into. We are supposed to pour into others; through service, teaching, giving.

Life is found in giving what we have received.

And we when we do that, give what we have received, we make a difference. We are Salt and Light.

And that’s what we are about here at Asbury. That’s Asbury 101. That’s being Salt and Light.

We know Jesus and know Jesus better.


We pray, read our bible and go to church.


We become Salt and Light.  We make a difference.

Today, no matter where you are, and what you are doing, may each of us make a difference for the kingdom. May we each be Salt and Light.

Holy Land 2013 – Day Seven – Up From the Grave

Today was our last day in the Holy Land. It’s been a great trip. I’ve learned so much. So much of what I have learned and experienced is because of the great work of our leader, Dr. Sam Morris. Sam has been phenomenal and I can’t thank him enough for what he has taught me in this trip.

DSCN0728Today was one of the days where we really walked where Jesus walked. We spent the entire day in the Old City. We started the day off by entering in the city through the Dung Gate. From there we went on top of the Temple Mount, seeing the Al-Aqua Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

Leaving there, we saw some steps at the bottom that literally go back to the first temple. Yep, the one that Solomon built. Cool, huh?

After that, we went to the Western Wall. This is the only wall left standing from Herod’s Temple after Rome destroyed the city and the temple. This is the holiest place in all of Judaism. We were able to go and pray there. It was pretty neat.

DSCN0786From there, we went to the teaching steps. This is where Jesus would have taught from, specifically the Seven Woes found in Matthew. So, standing here, we literally stood where Jesus stood. We know that we know that we know that we know Jesus stood here and taught. There is no doubt.

After that, we went to Bethesda where He healed the man on the Sabbath. And from there we walked down the Via Delarosa ending up at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This is the actual site of the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. Hear me, y’all. This is the actual site of these things.

DSCN0845We got to touch Mt. Calvary. We got to see the place where the earthquake spilt open the mountain. We got to touch where the cross was put in the ground. We got to see the place that Sam feels very confident in the actual tomb, we got to see what a tomb would have looked like, and we got to the traditional spot of the tomb.


And this is my take away from today, and really from the entire trip. As we were in a tomb that is next to the actual tomb, we read the story of the crucifixion and burial. We prayed. And then we sang together “Up From the Grave He Arose.” From next to the spot where He arose from.

It was amazing. I’m tearing up right now thinking about it. To sing of His death, and then to sing “Death could not keep its prey” is amazing.

And that’s my take away. As awesome as this place is (and you each need to come. Really. It will change your life and your faith) this is even more amazing. Up from the grave He arose!

Where oh death is your victory? Where oh death is your sting?

Sin, death, and the grave are defeated! Christ is victorious! Through Him, we have nothing to fear. We have won.

We are not a people of places or of churches. We are people of relationships. With each other. And with God.

I’ve been convicted of my sin this week by seeing the places where my Lord suffered from. I have felt that strong hand of conviction on my heart in this week. I have been reminded of what my sin cost my Lord.

Today, through, I was reminded of this – He is not dead. He is alive.

Death could not hold Him down. The grave could not keep Him.

My sin, your sin, it has been paid for. Jesus has paid the price. And the grave is empty. Death has been defeated!

We are not judged. We are not condemned. We are not forsaken.

We are loved. We are freed. We are given grace.

Today, I’ve seen the tomb. And hear me friends. It is empty! Life has won.

He is not in the ground. He is not here. He’s in us.

Up from the grave He arose! Wow! Yes! Praise Jesus!

Live forgiven. For you are. You are a forgiven child of God. Live in that grace today!

See you back in the good ole US of A.

Some Questions and Answers from Yesterday’s Sermon

One of the things about a sermon, particularly one that is different in style and substance, is that you don’t always see the background thoughts and processes behind what is said.

Several questions have popped up since yesterday’s sermon, so I thought I would answer them publicly in case anyone else may have been wondering the same thing.

What do you mean by apathy?

That is the $64,000 question. To me, apathy just means going through the routines, everything being the same; a loss of passion and motivation, just kind of floating.

And spiritually, I felt like that’s where we were headed. We had gotten into a rut recently where we were going in that direction – in worship, and in a few other areas.

Does that mean things are bad? No. God is blessing our church every Sunday. We are doing great things here each week. He is showering us with His blessings.

But, as pastor, I have felt this creeping complacency the last few weeks. I prayed about it, and nothing happened. I found myself growing frustrated with how to push us to that next level.

You know, how do we take that leap?

Why are you frustrated? Are you mad with Asbury? Did something happen?

Was I frustrated? Honestly, yes, I was, because as your pastor, and as your friend, I want to do all that I can do to help you achieve that “win” we talked about yesterday – growing closer to God.

But, I wasn’t at all angry with the church, or with anyone specifically. I was trying to impress upon you the importance of this moment, because I know what we can do here. I know our potential. I believe that we literally have the potential and ability to change Petal, Forrest County, Perry County and the entire world with the goodness of God’s love and grace.

Are you moving?

Gosh, NO! I was joking with someone today that I’ve learned that when I break out the stool, that’s where folks minds go! I am not going anywhere. I am as excited about the future of this church as I’ve ever been. We have HUGE things to do here in the coming years.


And we are going to do it.

Asbury is the absolute best place I’ve ever been in ministry. We have amazing potential. I want to see us achieve it. I want to see us achieve what God has for us to do.

Ok, so what do we do?

We take that leap. Move to what is next. In our lives. In our faith. In our families. We move forward. We share our faith with others. We plug in and serve. We pray, read our bible, and come to church.

We make every effort to be salt and light daily.

So, if I pushed a little hard yesterday, or seemed frustrated, it’s only because of this: I love you. I love this church. And I know what you, and we, can do together for the Kingdom. And

I want to see us do it.

Let’s be salt and light. Let’s make a difference today and every day!

Who Am I?

The God of creation loves you.

The very God that spoke all things into creation, the very sovereign Lord of the Ages, the very God that is the King of all the universe, the Almighty God.

He loves you.


He gave His son for your sake, and for mine. He made you, He formed you, and He longs for a relationship with you.

He desires to see your salvation and completion redemption in heaven. He desires for you to be the person that He has created you to be.

Really. He does.

And what you, or me, or any of us done for this? Nothing. Who am I, that God almighty would feel this way. Or who are any of us that God would feel that way?

Yeah, it’s humbling. But we aren’t the only ones to feel that way. Listen to what David says today in 2 Samuel 7:18-19:

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God!

Who am I? Who are you? Who are any of us?

This is who we are. We are the beloved children of God, loved for no reason other than the fact that God loves us. He formed us, He made us, and He loves us.

No matter where you are, what you are doing, or what is going on, you are loved. Yes, you are. You are His beloved child.

Remember that. As the old saying goes, remember who you are. And remember whose you are. You are God’s. You belong to Him.

He loves you. No matter what.

Who are you? You are a beloved child of God.

Today, live like the beloved child that you are.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

2011 Asbury Year End Report

In the church, we have a tension about numbers.  On one hand, numbers aren’t all that matters. We are a kingdom organization, not a numbers organization.  Having “more” doesn’t make you “better,” “deeper,” or more “spiritual.”

Numbers are not the totality of what we are about as a church.

But, that said, numbers do matter. Numbers are important.  Numbers matter in that they can be a measure of faithfulness. They are not the only measure, but they are a measure.

Attendance, membership, and other measures are important, for ever number represents a person. And every person is a person that Christ died for.

Numbers matter because people matter.

So, ministry is summarized in our numbers. But they do matter.  That said, I want to share with you some numbers from Asbury Church in 2011. And God is to be praised for this. He deserves all the praise, all the glory, everything for what is happening at Asbury.

In 2011, Asbury gained 80 new members (82 joined, 2 transferred membership to a church in Jackson), an increase of 15.2%.

In 2011, our average worship attendance rose from 325 to 405, an increase of 24.6%, and in two years (2009 – 2011) it has increased 125%!

In 2011 we had 33 adult baptisms resulting from first time professions of faith (i.e. folks getting saved!) 2 infant baptisms, and an additional 6 reaffirmation of baptisms.

And even in a tough economic climate the people of Asbury were not just faithful in terms of worship and service, but they were faithful in giving to the Kingdom financially through Asbury. The people of Asbury gave an addition $100,000 to our ministries, an increase of 23.9%.

In every measurable way, God has blessed our church in this past year, and the people of Asbury have been incredibly faithful.

These numbers aren’t all that matters. But they are record of faithfulness.  In Acts, story after story of faithfulness and fruitfulness is told. The Word says daily more were added to their number. So, these things do matter.

And the people of Asbury have and are being faithful and Kingdom mined.  May He get all the praise and glory for what we see happening here!