• MARANATHA

    The end of the world is old news.

    Today another doomsday prediction was proven false. Those 18 to 21 year olds who are coming of age in America right now will be able to tell their grandchildren they survived the great Mayan apocalypse. You know, the day when one of their ancient calendars ended so surely that meant impending doom for the rest of humanity. Yet, here we are! Look at us now! We have beaten the calendar!

    It is like in my day when those of us coming of age at the turn of the century survived the "Y2K Crisis." You remember, we weren’t sure if we would survive the computers turning their numbers from 1900’s to 2000’s. Would the world be able to go on with all those zeroes? The end of the world panic sent many to stockpile weapons and canned goods and wait for the computer blue screen of death to spread like the bubonic plague. Yet, humanity endured! We showed those computers who was boss! Man over machines!

    It seems like even Hollywood is getting over this end of the world hype. How many times can we act like our planet is going to be destroyed only to have Bruce Willis save it? And so, movies are taking it to the next level. This week I saw two previews back-to-back about heroes who would dare to explore the previously destroyed planet earth. That’s right we are going to send in the surest bets we have in Hollywood to save us post-apocalypse, Will Smith and Tom Cruise. Have no fear America! Our world will be destroyed, but we can still go to the movies and watch the aftermath!

    These two movie previews stood out from our normal diet of interplanetary star travel and alien invasion. The end of the world is such an expected part of our pop culture that somehow zombie training is making sense to many. These days Call of Duty gamers are shooting down the undead first-person style. Our Angry Birds are going into Space and Star Wars. Even in our entertainment, it is like we know the planet will only be available for a limited time.

    And yet, in all of our doomsday conspiracy theories and end of the world entertainments, we have failed to see the scariest thing humanity is going to face: God. God has promised he is going to judge us. He will judge both our planet and many individuals. He will use fire. It is a destruction no special effect could duplicate or IMAX screen could possibly portray. This may not be a pop culture phenomenon or a summer blockbuster movie, but it belongs in a category many have forgotten about: truth.

    Like I said, the end of the world is old news. All you have to do is read the Bible and you will come across what Jesus taught about it. He said we will not know the day. There is no way to predict it or count down until it comes. Jesus said he is coming and he said it would be soon. Many scoff at this since it was around 2,000 years ago now but they miss his meaning. Soon means imminent. It means it could happen at any moment. When we least expect it, Jesus will come like a thief in the night.

    The question is this: Are you ready?

    Jesus says that when he returns many will mourn. They will know in that moment that they don’t know Jesus and that judgment has come upon them for their sins. It is a scary and sobering thought, not entertaining or humorous at all. It is the kind of thing Americans don’t like to think about, but there will come a day when we can’t keep pushing God out of our nation. He is coming to us!

    For those who know Jesus, we need not fear. We believe he already came once to save us from our sins. He died in our place on the cross and faced God’s judgment on our behalf. We believe he rose again victorious over death so that we could have a new kind of life that lasts for eternity. We are ready to meet him when he returns and know he will welcome us to be with him. We look forward to the moment he comes to take us home.  We call it the rapture. It will be the delight of our souls and the fulfillment of our joy, to see Jesus!

    So, I’m going to spend my 2013, the year that wasn’t supposed to be, teaching people the old news of the end of the world. I will use a simple word that has summed up the Christian hope for centuries: Maranatha! It means “Come, O Lord!” It is the desire of every one of us Jesus has saved, to see our Savior! He has saved us from the end of the world before it happens. Jesus faced our judgment on the cross, so now we can face the coming judgment with confidence.  We know he loves us and his perfect love casts out our fear.

    Our mission is to tell as many people on our planet this good news. Yes, the world is going to end. The bad news is true. We cannot deny the fact that global apocalypse is on its way and no one can escape by themselves. But there is one who will rescue you from the wrath to come. He will save your soul so that even if you die tomorrow, you will still live with him. Put your faith in him now before it is too late and you see him coming on the clouds.  Listen to the ancient cry of all the Jesus people as they say, "Maranatha!"

    Spread the word.

     

  • The Pumpkin Spice Devotional

    Fall is officially here. And to all of you who say that we don’t have this season here in California, we definitely have its main ingredient: Pumpkin Spice.

    Apparently, as the weather turns colder and the days grow gloomy, just a touch of pumpkin spice will make everything nice. These days we’re adding it to a lot more than coffee. Yes, even more than chai or tea. Trader Joe’s is leading the charge in this revolution with Pumpkin Butter and Pumpkin Ravioli. Even something as bland as granola is suddenly exciting when you add the seasonal spice. Yesterday my wife made Pumpkin Spice Truffles that were absolutely mind blowing! I’m pretty sure the ingredients were a seasonal blend of Proverbs 31 and Psalm 103!

    All of this leads me to ask the question: Do we have pumpkin spice in the Christian life?

    Seriously, we are entering the time of year where life seems to grow a little colder. We are all well into the routine of school by now. Busyness and deadlines abound, yet at the same time things seem to have slowed down. It appears like some people are just going through the motions.

    This can happen in the Christian life when we approach Bible reading and prayer like chores. We look at encouraging others at church or evangelizing the lost as obligations. Does Jesus really want us thinking of our obedience to him as a to-do list we check off when we can get to it?

    Romans 12:11 – Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

    Zeal is our pumpkin spice. Basically, this verse is saying don’t be slow to get urgent. Don’t delay to get speedy. As we are serving the Lord, we should have a sense of heat and passion. There is an element of excitement in living for Jesus that should be a part of every life season.

    Our zeal flows straight from what Jesus has accomplished for us in the gospel:

    Titus 2:14 – Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

    Jesus died for our sins. He washed us by his blood and cleansed us from all unrighteousness. Now we are his people and this verse describes us as zealots! This is how we should think of ourselves because it is who Jesus saved us to be! It is clear from gospel passages like Ephesians 2 or Titus 3 that our response to salvation is a lifestyle of good works (Ephesians 2:10, Titus 3:8).

    So the question comes to you today: Are you going all out for the one who gave himself for you?

    We all know the temptation to shift into cruise control, but this fall put your foot down. As the weather grows colder, make sure you are hot in your heart to serve and on fire for pleasing your Savior. Every time you see the words Pumpkin Spice this season pray that you will be zealous for Jesus. It won’t just make things taste nice, it will go down well in your soul.

     

  • Salvation By Association

    As you can tell from this picture, I was not the cool kid in Junior High.

    But I was smart, as you can see by the glasses.

    So I figured out how to be cool by association. I would become friends with the cool kids. I would stand next to the popular crowd. If I could just blend in with them no one would notice that I wasn’t cool.

    I am convinced that many young people are doing this same thing in church. They become friends with Christians. They stand next to those who are spiritually on fire. They are blending in with the youth group around them.

    It’s salvation by association. And it doesn’t save.

    Every one of us must stand before Jesus on our own.

    When Jesus was here on earth he interacted with some Jews who hated him. They thought they were right with God because they were children of Abraham. They couldn’t see they needed the Savior standing right in front of their face because they were blinded by the thought they were already saved.

    In the same way, many young people today assume salvation. They think this way because they are children of Christian parents. They’ve worn the uniform and gone to Christian school. They’ve been to church for most of their life and know the answers to the Sunday School questions. They don’t really listen to the preaching for “non-Christians” on what it means to be saved by the gospel because they already consider themselves a part of the association.

    This is the worst-case scenario: To assume you know Jesus only to be surprised that you don’t when you actually meet him!

    Matthew 7
    21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
    22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast our demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’
    23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

    Jesus says that on the day of judgment many who claim his name will not enter heaven. He gives us two reasons why here. One is they say Jesus is their Lord but they don’t live like it. Their profession does not match their practice. There is no repentance. Or second, they are pointing to spiritual things that they have done as to why they should get into heaven. They have mistakenly associated things done in the name of Christianity with trusting in Jesus himself! They don’t have faith!

    There is only one way of salvation. It is in knowing Jesus! We have to know who he is as the Christ: the One sent by God to save us! We have to know him in his suffering by dying for our sins and in his power by rising again to give us new life. When we truly know Jesus through his gospel then we will not be surprised when we meet him. Instead, he will welcome each one of us personally in to the place he has prepared for us. Well done good and faithful slave. Enter in to the joy of your Lord.

    This weekend at True North I warned our high schoolers to beware of salvation by association. Afterwards I was able to talk with two young men who thought they were saved but later realized they were not. One discovered this a few weeks ago because his life did not match up to his profession. Another discovered it in my office on Sunday afternoon when we went through the gospel together.  He realized good things like reading his Bible and being nice to others did not mean he loved Jesus! My prayer in writing this blog is for you to be sure that you are saved. Not because you are a part of the Christian association. But because you know you know Christ!

    If you have any questions about your salvation I encourage you to read the book of 1st John. Please feel free to talk with me or any of our other True North leaders. Also, please share this blog with others so they can be confident to stand before Christ before it is too late!

    If you want to listen to the entire sermon from True North this weekend click here.

  • Be A Barnabas

    Jesus Saves!

    Perhaps the most exciting example of this in all of history is the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus. Saul is a killer of Christians, on his way to a new city to spread persecution when Jesus stops him. Jesus radically changes him into an all-in apostle and aggressive evangelist. But this story also raises a question…

    The question is not if Jesus can save. The question is will we love those he has saved?

    In the book of Acts, the Christian community had a hard time receiving Saul into their fellowship. Ananias definitely expresses his hesitation in Acts 9:10-16. Certainly we can understand their concern as Saul had led the efforts to kill them or throw them in jail. We know that when Stephen was murdered, the first Christian martyr, the killers laid down their garments at Saul’s feet (Acts 7:58). He was the church’s foremost hater but now he wanted to become one of their brothers in Christ. Unfortunately, they forgot the fact that even haters need love:

    Acts 9:26 – And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple.

    How do you respond when someone professes faith in Jesus? Do you doubt them? Do you keep your distance until they prove it to you? Or do you welcome them in with love?

    Thankfully, there was one man who reached out his hand to Saul:

    Acts 9:27-28 – But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord.

    I wonder where Saul would have been if Barnabas didn't reach out and bring him in?

    This has been such an exciting month for us at True North. Over the last month, especially at Revival, there have been many professions of faith. Jesus is saving. Lives are changing. But I wonder how we are doing at reaching out to these new brothers and sisters in love? What will happen to them if we don’t welcome them in?

    I am praying that Jesus will continue to save and I have faith that he will. There is no question. So it is awesome that we are building a new room for True North that is twice as big! I am praying for the 120 project and I am ready to give to it this weekend! But if True North is going to have double the room, then we need to have double the love!

    The truth is if the revival is going to spread, then you and I will need to be a Barnabas!

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