Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hurt People

Hurt people, hurt people.

In the first phrase above, the word hurt is an adjective depicting the condition of certain people, the second phrase uses hurt as a verb to describe what those in this condition are prone to do. Is this invariably true? Do hurting people abuse and cause injury to others?  I would say, not always, but often enough to make the statement ring true. The image that comes to my mind is of a drowning man, who, in his clawing desperation may injure (or even drown) someone who is trying to save him. Should we just let the man drown? May it never be.

Does that mean we should steer clear of hurting people for fear that they may cause us pain or emotional damage? If I’m a self-centered person, I’ll probably respond with some form of self-protection. I’ll seek to keep people from hurting me further by isolating myself. I’ll nurse my wound and self-medicate with drugs, alcohol, overeating, porn, or any number of other “drugs of choice.” When I have to be with people, I’ll push the pain down try to show the world a happy face. If I feel threatened I may lash out with angry words or violent actions; in so doing, I prove the proverb true.

What to do?

“Cast your cares upon the Lord, for he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
“Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you. He will never let the righteous be shaken (Psalm 55:22).
Jesus was and is “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief… He carried our pains… by His wounds we are healed.” (From Isaiah 53:3-5.)
The hurt need to be healed, and Jesus can do just that. In fact, only the Lord can heal us on the deepest level. Will we trust him to do so?

When you’re hurting, pray; then pray some more. Tell the Lord exactly how you feel, and what you fear. Thank God for hearing you. Then, in faith thank him for healing you (even before you feel it). Trust the Lord. Receive his comfort. Then the Holy Spirit may use you to be a comfort to others experiencing the same pain.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 2:3-4, CSB).

People who are healing can help people who are hurting.

Healing is a process, and you may be hurting still. If you’ve received comfort from God and begun to heal, you then you can share your comfort with another hurting person. Maybe they haven’t started the healing process, or they’re not as far along as you are. You could be the encouragement they need. An additional blessing is sensing the Holy Spirit working through you. Along with His presenence you will realize a sense of purpose and significance. You’ll overflow with gratitude toward God for healing you, and for using you to help another be healed.

Yes, hurt people, hurt people. However, God heals hurt people and enables them to help others. So, open your heart to God now. Cry out to him. Let the healing begin! Then, don’t insulate yourself emotionally, or isolate yourself socially. May the Holy Spirit encourage you now. Sometimes the hardest step is the first, but you have to take it or you’ll never be well. That is what God wants for all of us, to be well, whole, at peace. There is one word that encompasses all of that, and it is the Hebrew word Shalom. May you be filled with God’s Shalom now.

The Prince of Disappointment

We sing about being the king
of excuses….
Today I say that I am
the Prince of Disappointment.
Little has happened as I had hoped.
Every week I revive my expectations,
but find out at the end I’m still fettered.
It seems we’re stuck in the dark
of Good Friday night,
even though the promise is heard,
Sunday’s on the way!
I could stop believing and leave,
walk out into the musky dusk
of self-indulgent insanity,
which would only serve to prove
my faith to be little more than a wish
unfulfilled.
Sight or experience don’t produce faith.
Rather, those who truly believe see,
and somehow I believe
and somehow I see,
even if I’ve yet to experience.
So I wander around this graveyard
on a never-ending Friday night,
and I set my hope on the Savior who rose.
Sunday’s comin’; yes, I believe

Sunday’s on the way!

Why Did Jesus Die on the Cross?

Jesus looks up

21 Things Accomplished
by the Cross of Christ

  1. Substitution– Justice was accomplished when Christ paid the death penalty we owe for our sin (Rom. 3:25, Col. 2:14, 1 Pet. 3:18, 2 Cor. 5:21).
  2. Propitiation– Turning away God’s Wrath. God poured out all of His anger against human sin and rebellion on Christ, so that He is no longer angry at any who are in Christ (Rom. 5:9, 1 Thes. 1:10, 5:9, 1 Jn. 4:10).
  3. Expiation– Christ took our sins upon him and died, thereby removing sin from all who are in Christ (1 Peter 2:24, Heb. 9:28).
  4. Redemption/Ransom- The Death Penalty is the price for sin. Christ paid the penalty that gave Satan power over us (Rom. 3:24-26, Heb. 9:15, 1 Cor. 1:30, Eph. 1:7, Col. 1:14).
  5. Rescue/Salvation- Another way of viewing redemption. We are saved from the power of sin and death, and from Satan and the destruction to which he and the world under him are destined (Hebrews 2:14-15).
  6. Reconciliation- Our sin made us God’s enemies, Christ’s cross makes it so we can be friends with God (Eph. 2:11-14, 16, Col. 1:20).
  7. Restoration of the Imago Dei- Christ’s death and resurrection result in the restoration of the image of God in a reborn human being (Rom. 8:29, 1 Cor. 15:49, 2 Cor. 3:18, Col. 3:10)
  8. Justification– We receive the righteous life Christ lived on earth when we put our faith in Him and His death for our sin. This is both positional (ie. judicial) and actual. God judges us right in spite of our weakness because He looks at Christ, who is our atonement, and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit gives us rebirth and makes us like Christ continually in actual experience (Rom. 3:24-26, Rom. 8:2-16).
  9. Christ Became the Curse- Similar to propitiation, but focused on the curses that fall upon those who rebel against the Law. By becoming the cursed one, He frees us from every curse and makes the way for the righteousness that comes by the faith of Abraham (Gal. 3:13-14).
  10. New Covenant in His Blood- A covenant was established by the promise of the lives of those who enter into it. If broken, the oath taker’s life was forfeit. Christ shed his blood to guarantee the covenant for us. All we have to do is trust and receive (Jer. 31:31-34, Heb. 8 & 9, Luk. 22:20).
  11. Made the Old Covenant obsolete (Heb. 8:16, 10:9).
  12. Last Will and Testament- Christ wills to give the promises to those who believe in Him (Heb. 9:16-28).
  13. Imputed Death- Christ’s death is transferred to His followers with the result that they overcome sin in actuality, “I have been crucified with Christ…” (Gal. 2:20, Rom. 6, 1 Pet. 2:24)
  14. Victory over Death- Christ faced death faithfully and fearlessly and beat it, so He is the “firstfruits of those who are risen from the dead” with the result that His followers no longer have to fear death (1 Cor. 15:53-56, Heb. 2:15)
  15. Rendered Law of (Sin and) Death Powerless- “so that in His death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished because, having fulfilled in His body that for which it was appointed, it was thereafter voided of its power for men.” Athanasius (On the Incarnation, ch. 2), see 2 Corinthians 5:14
  16. Established the Pattern of Obedience- “To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Sam. 15:22), ironically by sacrificing himself on the cross in obedience to God, Christ replaced the sacrificial system and the covenant of the Law by establishing a New Covenant based upon his own obedience unto death (Phil. 2: , Heb. 10:5-10). When we put faith in Christ we are seen as obedient children even before we are fully obedient, but we live in obedience to the Spirit’s leading (Rom. 8:2-4).
  17. Sanctified Us- We are made holy and acceptable by the cross of Christ (Heb. 10:
  18. Proof of God’s love- Christ’s death on the cross proves God’s love for humankind (Jn. 3:16, 1 Jn. 4:10).
  19. Pattern of Suffering- Christ suffered in this world to identify with us and leave us an example of how to deal with suffering (1st Pet. 4).
  20. Release of the Captives- Christ freed the captives in Sheol; that is, those who died before He came to earth (1 Pet. 3:18-20, Eph. 4:7-10).
  21. Fulfilled prophecy concerning Messiah (Psa. 22, Isa. 53).

A Meditation On Mattering

Everybody needs to mean something 

To somebody. 

We all want to matter:

To our parents when we’re young;

Daddy, watch this!

Teens want to be liked,

By those who are alike. 

Then many seek a mate,

Settle down and procreate,

To find meaning for a time

In family matters. 

Others strive

to be recognized

For their money and success. 

We all want to matter

In this ephemeral life. 

However, until I realize

I matter to the eternal God,

Nothing really matters.

Meaningless, meaningless,

Saith the Preacher,

All is meaningless. 

No Longer

I’m no longer young, 

And not too pretty;

Not much fun

Or terribly witty.

I would smile more, 

But my smile is crooked, 

And my heart is torn.

Often overlooked, 

Better to be with those who mourn.

Don’t much appeal

To a post-truth world. 

But I try to be real.

A banner unfurled,

Blowing in the Spirit-wind,

But not the spirit of the age.

Build the House

Build the Lord’s House
Not a building, a Church

“Do you not know that you (all) are God’s temple and that God’s Sprit dwells in (among) you?” (1 Cor. 3:16)

“And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple” (1 Pe 2:5, NLT).
The people of Israel sinned against their God and worshiped idols, so the Lord disciplined them by sending Nebuchadnezzar to destroy their temple and take them as captives to Babylon (2 Chron. 36:15-21).

The LORD promised through His prophets that a Remnant would return, however (Isaiah 10:20-22, 11:11, Jer. 23:3).

A Remnant of Israel returned from Babylonian exile to their land under a command from Cyrus of Persia (Ez. 1:1-4).

The purpose for this Remnant’s return to Jerusalem was to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:3-5)

Zerubbabel and Jeshua led the return (Ez. 2:2).

Cyrus gave the temple articles back, and many people offered gifts for its rebuilding (Ez. 1:6, 2:68)

Shortly after they arrived the Remnant rebuilt the altar of “Israel’s God” and offered sacrifices according to the Law (Ez. 3:2-3).

Then they bought materials for the temple and laid its foundation (Ez. 3:7) 

There was a great celebration when the foundation was completed (Ez. 3:11-13)

Then the people who worshiped false gods alongside YHWH (2 Kings 17:24-28) offered to help build the temple but the builders rejected such help (Ez. 4:3). 

These people who been transplanted into the land of Israel by the Assyrians many years earlier (Ez. 4:2) are called “enemies of Judah and Benjamin” (Ez. 4:1).

So, the idolators and their leaders began to vigorously oppose the rebuilding of the temple (Ez. 4:4).

The Remnant gave up building the temple.

The priests continued offering sacrifices on the altar, even though the temple was still in ruins.

The Remnant was not bothered by this, for they had turned their attention to their own homes.

God tried to get their attention by keeping them from succeeding at their selfish pursuits, but they continued to divert their limited resources to building their own homes and lives.

The Remnant was failing in their personal lives because they had failed to fulfill the purpose that brought them back to Zion.

Enter Haggai, the first authentic prophet to speak since the exile.

To Z & J: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to build the House of the Lord.’ (v. 2)

The people had taken opposition to be a sign that it was not yet time to build the temple.

To the Remnant: “Is it time for you to live in nice houses while my House lies in ruins?”

These were not bad people. They had not returned to idolatry… yet. Although, later some of them began to marry idolators, which is a major compromise leading to unfaithfulness to the Lord.

To the Remnant: “Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood to build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified.”

Hag 1:7b-8

The response: “Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God.” Hag 1:12.

The foundation was laid in 538, but opposition followed by apathy and indifference caused building to cease until 520. 

That’s 18 years… 

Do you see our church in this story yet? Have you seen yourself?

The Temple is not a building any more. It is people; it is the church of Jesus. “Do you not know that you all are the temple?” 

The church is not an ambiguous entity. It is local groups of believers called out from the world and called together to worship, fellowship, become like Jesus in discipleship, minister to one another and preach the Gospel to the poor.

18 years ago the Lord sent me out of the traditional, institutional church to build a people for his great Name. I started with high hopes.

Only four individuals remain who were members in 1999. Several more are here who joined a year later, and a few more of you who came when we called ourselves Zion.

We came together all those years ago and offered the sacrifice of praise. And we came together to fellowship. I’ve always tried to call people to discipleship.

I led us to lay the only foundation that can be laid to build an authentic church: Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11).

However, there were idolators and doubters and even a few who wanted to build something else on that foundation. They all left. We’ve encountered opposition, at times even from former members and supposed supporters. 

What began as a fellowship of friends who loved hanging out together has become The Church That Will Not Grow.

Why?

Perhaps our small membership is not consciously stating: “The time has not yet come to build the House of the Lord,” but we are not, in fact, building this church. We simply occupy what little we’ve built. Most of us feel no more need for fellowship because we have families and friends, often times outside this church. We do not grow, friends, because we refuse to reach out. Now, I know that some of us invite people to church on occasion. Yet I wonder, have we left our first love (Rev. 2:4? Has your love for Jesus grown cold? The result is that your passion for his church and his Gospel has disappeared. You’re just going through the motions. Some of you have been attending this church for years, but your level of commitment is exactly the same as it was a year ago, five years ago, maybe a decade ago. 

You see, you are the material the Lord is using to build his church.

“And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple” (1 Pet. 2:5).

However, some of you won’t to take your place in the walls of this temple. You’re like stones that refuse to be mortared and set. You just want to sit on top of the foundation wherever you please.

As a result, we’re effectively saying, “The time has not yet come to build the House of the Lord.”

In addition to the obvious fact that our church never grows numerically, I wonder if some of you are experiencing the same issues as the Remnant when Haggai preached.

“Look at what’s happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!”

You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, while all of you are busy building your own fine houses.” Hag 1:5–6, 9 NLT.

So, people of Lifewell, I am preaching to you today with the message of Haggai, and I pray the Holy Spirit will speak it to your hearts: “Build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified” says the LORD of Hosts.

What do you need to do in order to obey the LORD’s command?

 1.  If you have not yet been baptized into the church of Jesus Christ as he commanded, commit to do it today.

 2. If you have yet to join this church, takes steps to do so now.

 3.  If you’re not a regular giver to the ministry of this church, start today, or the next time you receive income.

 4.  If you’re not meeting in one of our small groups, choose one today and commit to meet with them beginning next weekend.

 5. If you’ve not committed to participate in our Teaching Emphasis starting next weekend, do so today:

 A. Get the Purpose Driven Life and read a chapter a day for 42 days.

 B. Partake of our worship service every week for the next 7 weeks.

 C. Participate in a small group for 6 weeks.

It will require the strength of discipline to follow through with this commitment, and it will require energy and strength for us to build this church as the Lord wills. 

What is the goal?

Next year at this time, I am praying for 500 people to be attending

with 40-50 Life groups helping to bring them to maturity and leading them to minister.

That sounds exciting, and exhausting, and it may sound impossible to you. I considered not sharing that goal because I will be ashamed if I cannot lead us to meet it. However, we will never grow beyond the vision we have.

Help me. I cannot do this alone. but I am not alone, am I? We have one another, and most importantly, we have the Holy Spirit’s presence and guidance and encouragement. “

Not by might and not by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD” (Zech. 4:6)

“Be strong, Zerubbabel. Be strong, Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people still left in the land. And now get to work, for I am with you, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt. So do not be afraid.’ Hag 2:4–5.

There are blessings for our church promised when we obey the Lord. I have always wanted this church to grow according to God’s promises, not mere methods of men.

“In just a little while I will again shake the heavens and the earth, the oceans and the dry land. I will shake all the nations, and the treasures of all the nations will be brought to this Temple. I will fill this place with glory, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies…

“The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. The future glory of this Temple will be greater than its past glory, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. And in this place I will bring peace. I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!” Hag 2:6–9.

The glory is the Presence of the Holy Spirit.

The treasures of the nations are people of all races and ethnicities coming here, worshiping, fellowshipping, becoming disciples of Jesus, ministering and being sent out into all the world to preach the Gospel.

We will have the money to accomplish this goal because the silver and gold are the Lord’s.

We will not have to endure the division and strife that is on the increase in the world because we are promised peace.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (Jn. 14:27)

“I have told you this so that you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33)

There are also blessing that extend to your family when you have faith, obey and build this House of the Lord.

“I am giving you a promise now while the seed is still in the barn. You have not yet harvested your grain, and your grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, and olive trees have not yet produced their crops. But from this day onward I will bless you.”  Hag 2:19.

I said this once in the year 2000 or 01, and those present were not ready to receive it by faith, so I say it to you again this day, Lifewell.

The Lord says, “From this day forth I will bless you.”

Do you receive it?

Then prove it.

Get to work!

Are You a Church Burn Out?

Are you bored with church? Do you feel like you’re spiritually dry? Everything seems to be the same; nothing really changes; nothing is moving? Here’s why. You are not moving toward God’s will and purpose for your life. You’re not spiritually healthy, so you’re not growing in your faith. You are not doing anything, or just doing the bare minimum. You’re in spiritual survival mode, instead of thriving and flourishing. You’re living more for the world than for God. Where is your supposed faith? Perhaps you’re doing things for God, serving at church, but you’re doing from your flesh. That means your doing it all by yourself, from your own limited resources, rather than in partnership with God.

The reality is: you have limited time, limited money, and, let’s face it, you may well have less and less interest in church or in pursuing God. Jesus said, “If you aibde in me, and I in you, then you’ll produce much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). That means, even if you’re doing something for God, you’re accomplishing nothing significant because if you’re not doing it from the power of the Holy Spirit’s presence in you. Is the Holy Spirit filling you? I’m not talking theory here, friends. I’m not asking you to go back to some time in your past when you “accepted Christ,” or had an emotional experience with God. I mean, are you filled with the power and presence of God? No? Then why aren’t you asking, even crying out, for that? “How much more will the Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (Luke 11:13).

The Holy Spirit’s presence is the requirement for fruitful activity in the Lord. That’s the reason you’re burned out, friend. You’re full of your own effort, not the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is the Person of the Trinity who brings us into Christ and Christ into us. This is not something you work out in your head, or convince yourself of. When the Holy Spirit fills you and empowers you for God’s work, it is a real ongoing experience deep within. He perfects, affirms, strengthens and establishes you from the inside out. I’m not trying to get you to do more for God, although some of you need to do just that. I’m seeking to stir up a genuine spiritual interest. I hope you desire to be filled with God Himself.

Jesus had chosen the 12 apostles, and trained them to be his witnesses in the world. One betrayed him, so they were down to 11. Then he told them to “wait in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” The entire Christian mission was on hold, until God poured out the Holy Spirit to empower His people. The apostles were scared, timid and focused on their own little community, until the Day of Pentecost. Suddenly, they were on fire! Now they boldly spread the news about Jesus’ resurrection, and God’s offer of forgiveness for sins and eternal life. The Holy Spirit was availble to everyone who would believe in Jesus. So, why are you still doing this on your own? Why are you satisfied with being bored? Why are you looking at other means of success,  or methods of getting high? If you have really, truly given your life to Jesus Christ, if you still have the least bit of faith, then you’ll never be satisfied until you are filled with the Holy Spirit, and going into all the world to make disciples for Jesus.

“Don’t be stupid. Instead, find out what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t destroy yourself by getting drunk, but let the Spirit fill your life.”  The Holy Bible: The Contemporary English Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), Ephesians 5:17–18.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), Acts 1:8.