Thursday, November 30, 2017


I have three kids ages 5 through 14.  That means I have had a lot of different toys in my home for 14 years.  That means there have been a lot of broken toys in my home for 14 years.  That means I have heard this question a lot over 14 years, “daddy will you fix this?” Of course there have been more than one occasion where “fixing this” was not within my set of particular skills. But, often, after studying the damage of what needs “fixing”, I would begin my search for the Kray Glue.  For those of us that remember the eighties, you may remember the commercial of the guy hanging there with his construction hat glued to the beam.  The commercial then goes into a list of things Krazy Glue can fix, “a plastic knob, a rubber boot, a fishing rod, a model train, a model plain, a door knob screw…..” etc. IT FIXES EVERYTHING!  So, I would find the Krazy Glue, carefully apply and BOOM! Toy fixed.

KRAZY GLUE, the perfect bond for broken things so that they can accomplish the purpose they were created for.

We have a purpose as the church given to us by Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”  What an amazingly large mission that none of us can accomplish alone.  After all, we are selfish broken people, who when left to ourselves will just keep living selfish and broken lives, not fulfilling the mission given to us. So, that leads us to a question.

What is the bond that keeps us together?  What is the “KRAZY GLUE” that holds us together to fulfill our purpose?

Listen to what Jesus and Paul said.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

“This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13

 “You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. This is what I command you: Love one another.” John 15:16-17
I am in them and you are in me, so that they may be made completely one, that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me.” John 17:23

Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” Col. 3:14

The answer, Love.

Do you see that phrase, “the perfect bond”?  That means that there is NOTHING that keeps us together and on mission, living our purpose as well as love does.  Love is perfect. Strategies aren’t perfect. Catchy phrases aren’t perfect. Events aren’t perfect. Love is perfect in its unifying, gospel spreading power.

I remember one of my first experiences of seeing the reality of this.  About 15 years ago I was a part of a house church in Boston.  There was young man we met who was a student at Harvard. He was not a Christ follower but for some reason he kept hanging around with us. Honestly, I was a little intimidated by him, worried that he would ask me something I couldn’t answer or that I wouldn’t be intelligent enough to relate to him.  As it went, he ended up becoming a follower of Jesus and it was amazing! Shortly after that we were eating lunch and I asked him, “What was it that led you to make the final step of faith?”  His answer was short and powerful.  He said, “It was your love for each other.  I had never seen anything like that before.”

Love among those in our little house church was the vehicle for the good news of Jesus.

When those who don’t know Jesus see a group of messed up, broken people, joyfully and sacrificially loving one another, then they see Jesus.

If we are going to accomplish the mission of God to make disciples, we must be a church marked by people who joyfully lay down our lives for one another.  This makes the church different.

The world says “accomplish at all costs.”
God says “love at all costs.”
The world says “do whatever it takes to win.”
God say “do whatever it takes to love.”
The world says “look out for number 1.”
God says “lay down your life for anyone.”

If we will pursue to love one another well, then we will be more unified and more effective in accomplishing the mission of God. Love, in the way Jesus loved, is the KRAZY GLUE! (I know that’s cheesy….)

Here is what I do with that:

1    1.   I ask God to examine my heart to see if I am more concerned about getting great things done or loving like Jesus.

2    2.  I ask God to help me slow down to be more attentive to opportunities to listen and love.

3    3.  I look for ways that my small group and other Christian friendships can love each other and then I try to initiate that love.

Need some “Krazy Glue”?...... then love well.

Monday, November 27, 2017

When Life is Not a Trip to Disneyland or Starbucks- By Eileen Knowles

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

"After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him.  And there came a voice from heaven:
This is My beloved Son.
I take delight in Him!
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil." (Matthew 3:16-17, Matthew 4:1)
I read these verses the other morning and what struck me is what happened immediately after the voice from heaven announced that he took delight in his beloved Son...then he was led into the wilderness to be tempted.  
I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like a typical reaction we would expect after someone has just been informed they are dearly loved and greatly appreciated.  Part of me really thinks a normal (more desirable) reaction would have played out more like this...
This is my beloved Son.  I take delight in Him!  Then they went to Disneyland!
This is my beloved Son.  I take delight in Him!  Then they went to Starbucks and tried the new Toasted White Chocolate Mocha!  
But that's not how the story plays out. Immediately after being told how precious he is...Jesus is led into the wilderness for what I personally think was a close second to His hardest journey (the first being rejection, suffering, and death on the cross).  Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. He was hungry and then the tempter did his best to break him. Can you imagine what that must have been like? 
I was thinking about the timing of this wilderness season and how it happened right after Jesus was told how loved and appreciated He is.  One of the reasons I think this took place when it did was because that whole journey of utter dependence gave Jesus a deeper clarity of His rescue mission here on earth.  
Could it be that this 40 day fast was actually designed to make Jesus stronger rather than weaker?  
Could it be that in His weakened physical state,  He was actually stronger spiritually and in a better position to face not only the tempter but every struggle that was about to come His way?
Jesus had just spent 40 days relying solely on His Father to provide for him and "feed" Him spiritually.  It must have become quite apparent to him through this dependence as to who would take care of Him when He had nothing. It must have become blatantly obvious to Him who was capable of sustaining Him in this weakened state. This time of utter dependence must have solidified in His soul who He was to bow down to, worship, and serve.  If nothing else, pain and suffering is capable of teaching us one thing: we have a Savior and His love and peace can carry us even if we are logging time in the bleakest of places. The last comment he makes to the devil says it all.  
Go away, Satan! For it is written:
"Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him."   
Then, I thought about some of our own wilderness and desert seasons. It's at these times when we may scratch our head in confusion.  But, Lord, You told us You delight in us. We are Your beloved. What are you up to, Lord?   Why did You allow us to be here in this undesirable place? 
There are times when life doesn't play out like a vacation to Disneyland or a trip to Starbucks. Instead, sometimes, the Lord leads us, His beloved children, into the wilderness because the most incredible gesture of love from our Heavenly Father is a trip that teaches us complete dependence, deeper trust, and greater clarity of the mission.   

Monday, November 13, 2017

Living, Dying, Fighting to Live, and Healing

Living, Dying, Fighting to Live, and Healing

This post is by Sam Smith, our Chatsworth Campus Pastor.  Sam recently endured a life-threatening health situation that God used to work powerfully in his life.

Holy Spirit, please lead me to write my thoughts on living, dying, fighting to live, and healing.

4 ways God heals:

  1. Supernatural – healing that cannot be explained
  2. Our body – fighting infection with fever and white blood cells
  3. Medical – God giving knowledge to doctors 
  4. Dying (for a Jesus follower) – healing in the most complete way by God

A recent survey was completed.  The results are in.  100 out of 100 people die.  Dying is part of living.  

The question every person must ask is “How will I die?”
This is a personal question for me.  A couple of months ago I embraced death.  I welcomed death.  The words “I want to die!” came out of my mouth.  In my mind, the pain I was experiencing was out of my control, and death would be a relief from the pain.  I raised my hands in worship of my King and welcomed death.

Death is often an uncomfortable topic.  I tried to protect my family from my most inner thoughts of death.  The key word there is “tried”.  In my most painful moments, the transparency of my heart came out of my mouth.  In one of those most physically painful times, I begged God to call my name (to die).  In the next breath, I conversed with the Holy Spirit.  “If You don’t call my name, I will fight to live.”  I shared this with my family.  About one week later in a surgery recovery room at Emory Hospital, my friend, Pain, came again with a vengeance.  Again I was begging my God for death.  I was welcoming death.  I wanted to die with everything in me.  At this point, my wife, Kimm, came in the recovery room.  Kimm reminded me of my talk with Holy Spirit.  “If You don’t call my name, I will fight to live.”  I cannot explain what happened next.  The only word that comes to mind is “peace.”  At that moment and the days to follow, I experienced unexplainable peace.  My friend, Pain, was still present; however, the peace of God was greater.
This experience has guided me to ask many questions.  I found answers in God’s word.

Philippians 1
20 My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
21 For me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22 Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose.    23 I am pressured by both. I have the desire to depart and be with Christ—which is far better— 24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. 25 Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that, because of me, your confidence may grow in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.
27 Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. 

Ecclesiastes 3
There is an occasion for everything,
and a time for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to give birth and a time to die;

What I learned and am continuing to learn:

  1. Life is a gift! – “God is love!”
  2. Death is a gift! – “so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”
  3. Living is for Christ! – “Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
  4. Sometimes one has to fight to live! – “For me, living is Christ and dying is gain.” 

Finally, I think Paul says it best when he writes to his spiritual son, Timothy, in 1 Timothy 6:1
But you, man of God, run from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the faith; take hold of eternal life that you were called to and have made a good confession about in the presence of many witnesses.

As I reflected on the last few months, writing my thoughts on death and living seemed to be therapeutic.   This may sound crazy, but I thank God for the journey of healing, living, fighting to live, and dying.  The Holy Spirit never left me!  I was never abandoned in what was my darkest storm.  My prayer is that my personal reflections on my journey will encourage and minister to others during their own life storms.

“For me, living is Christ and dying is gain.”