March 2022

Who do you follow?

We all look up to certain people in our lives, especially when we were children. Maybe you looked up to a parent, uncle, cousin or celebrity. When I was a kid I looked up to Kobe Bryant. The way he dominated the Basketball court blew my mind and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. He greatly impacted my love for both the Lakers and Basketball.

Here is the thing. It isn’t bad to look up to people but it is important to look up to people that will lead you in the right way. If we are aspiring and looking up to those that will draw us away from our walk with God, our focus needs to change.

“Follow me as I follow Christ…” 1 Corinthians 11:1

Jesus notes the importance of who we follow and look up to in the Mark 12. In Mark 12:38-44 there are two people that contrast each other and we need to decide who will we look up to. The first person (group) is the scribes. Jesus states, “Beware of the scribes…” Why are we to beware of them? They are selfish and self-centered. Meaning they seek to glorify themselves and themselves alone. If we look up and follow them we will become like them; self-centered and prideful. This in turn will lead us astray from the purpose God has created us for.

The second person mention is a widow (vs. 41-44). This woman had very little but she gave to the Lord all that she had. Jesus pointed this out to the disciple and he honored the woman in what she did. Why? She was focused on honoring and following God with her life and all she had.

Why do I note this? Today we are influenced by many people but it is our choice who we decide to look up to and follow. If we follow someone or a group of people that are focused only on themselves and glorifying themselves this will lead us away from God and his calling upon our life. However, if we look up to someone who is putting God and others first we too will walk in this way honoring and glorifying God with our lives.

My simple challenge for us today is who do we look up to and follow? In I Corinthians 15:33 it states,

“Bad company corrupts good character…”

Meaning who we surround ourselves with and look up to will affect us and if we surround ourselves and follow people that aren’t following God it will lead us astray.

Trust Like A Child

By Daniel Storm

“Whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it…”

What does it mean to trust someone? It is a firm belief that someone will follow through or do something. In short terms it is to rely on another—believing they will come through. For some people, trust does not come easy because they have been betrayed by others in their life or people they trusted never came through.

In Mark 10:13-31, Jesus hits home the notion of trust and what it means to trust God. The first portion of this passage (10:13-16) little children come to Jesus. At first the disciples stopped the children from coming to Jesus but Jesus rebuke the disciples and told them to let the children come. Then Jesus said something amazing, “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it…” What does Jesus mean by this? He is pointing to a childlike trust. A child trusts their parents even though they do not know everything. A child is dependent upon their parents knowing that they will be protected and provided for. A child knows that their parents will be there for them and are dependable. (this all assumes the way God intended a family). Jesus is emphasizing childlike faith.

This passage is put right next to a contrasting passage in Mark 10:17-31. In this passage we have a rich young man who wants to follow Jesus. Jesus tells him to leave everything and follow him (in doing so the man would have to completely trust Jesus). The man could not do this so he did not follow Jesus.

Do you see the contrast between the child and the rich young man? The child trusted and was completely dependent upon Jesus. The children didn’t know everything but knew they needed Jesus and trusted him wholehearted. The rich young man trust in himself and possessions. He did not trust and depend upon Jesus and when asked to he refused.

 

What does this have to do with you today?

First, the reason Jesus notes that we can’t enter the Kingdom of God unless we are like a child is the truth that we cannot save ourselves. Our salvation is completely dependent upon Jesus, who is fully dependable and trustworthy. Therefore, we put our full trust and faith (like a child) in the work of Jesus.

Second, in our day to day life do we trust that Jesus will come through. Even though we don’t see or understand everything do we trust that He is still at work. So, I want to leave you with a challenge. Do you have the faith of a child or the rich young man?

Who Do You Say That I Am?

Who do you say I am”-Jesus

I grew up in and around the church my whole life. Since this was my upbringing I was very familiar with the stories in the Bible and of course Jesus. Every Christmas we would celebrate Jesus being born and every Easter we would celebrate his resurrection. However, because of my familiarity I thought I knew Jesus when in reality I didn’t.

The passage that Pastor Perry preached this week (Mark 8:27-30) is a passage that changed my life. It was this passage that Jesus challenged me and grabbed hold of my life. In Mark 8, Jesus turned to his disciples and asked what people thought and said about him. They listed off different important people but were missing Jesus’s real identity. Then Jesus made it personal by asking the disciples who do they say he is and only after some silence did Peter state that Jesus is the Christ. Then Jesus called them to follow him.

Here is what impacted and changed me from the passage. Because I grew up and around the church I was familiar with “Bible” terms and how to speak about who Jesus is, but the reality is I was quoting other people and it wasn’t personal. It was when Jesus challenged me personally that I had to make a choice. Jesus stated to me, I know what your parents and friends believe but what do you say. This is vital because walking with Jesus is not just knowing who He is but also having a personal relationship with Jesus. I could not just claim my parents’ faith or a pastor’s faith as my own, I had to make a personal choice, would I follow Jesus or not? Would I turn to him for forgiveness of sins or not?

I thought that because I was in the church I was good to go but that is not true. One can live their whole life in and out of church and still not have a personal relationship with Jesus. That is when I made the choice that I would follow Jesus. That I would have a personal relationship with him. That I needed Jesus to be forgiven from my sin.

This is the challenge I want to lay before you today. Have you become so used to “church” or doing “church” that we have missed the whole point, a personal relationship with Jesus? You can’t claim someone else’s faith you have to choose for yourself, will you surrender and follow Jesus or not? Who do you say Jesus is and what will you do about it.

Don’t Miss What God Is Doing

It is easy today to get caught up in our schedules, life and family that we can miss what God is doing around us. I have two little boys and for anyone that has kids, life gets very busy. The days start quick, usually with me telling one of them to stop doing something, and the days just get filled with moment after moment often trying to keep the house from being destroyed. In all of this it is easy for me to get wrapped up in all the needed tasks that I miss what God is doing around me. It is important to find time to pause and ask God to open my eyes to what He is doing.

 

In Mark 5:21-43 we have an interesting encounter take place. Jesus is surrounded by a large crowd and was on his way to the house of a synagogue leader name Jairus to heal Jairus’s daughter. Imagine the scene. There is a lot of people. It was loud, crowded and people were expecting Jesus to do something about Jairus’s daughter (he does at the end of the chapter). Jesus was extremely busy with a lot of demands on his time and energy. In the middle of all this we are introduced to a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years (vs. 25). She believed that if she just touched the edge of Jesus’s cloak she would be healed. She does it and Immediately she is healed. Jesus stops what he is doing, stops in the middle of the loud demanding crowd to find this woman. Jesus stopped and didn’t let the busyness of life keep him from speaking to this woman.

 

There are two things I want to note and challenge us with in this passage. First the woman. Do you see the faith this woman had? She had the faith that Jesus could do the impossible. That nothing was truly impossible for Jesus. Let me ask us: Do we have that kind of faith? Do we truly believe we serve a God that does miracle? A God that can break down walls? A God that heals broken hearts? The impossible is not impossible for God. Do we believe God can do the impossible?

 

The second thing I want to note is Jesus stopping. It would have been easy for Jesus to keep going with the crowd to Jairus’s house. In fact, it was what everyone expected. However, in the middle of everything going on, Jesus stops, turns and finds the individual woman in need. Do you see the heart Jesus has for people, the individual? Do we see people in this way? We are surrounded by people but often let the busyness of life keep us from stopping and loving them like Jesus.

 

Let me turn this toward us. Have we allowed the busyness of life to cause you to miss what God is doing around you? We need to learn to open our eyes to the individuals around us and see them through the eyes of Jesus. Are we willing to stop whatever we are doing to love and share Jesus with those around us? This week my challenge for us is to stop, open our eyes and not allow the fast-past moments in life to cause us to miss what God wants to do through you. Let your pray be simple: Jesus open my eyes to what I miss around me. Let me see people through your eyes.

 

By Daniel Storm

Responding To Our Storms

We live in a very fast paced world.  With new iPhones, news or social media apps, etc; we are bombarded with a constant flow of information that not only keeps us busy but keeps our minds occupied. Not all of this is bad, but it causes us to live fast paced, never slowing down, stress driven lives. Pastor Rich Villodas, in his book The Deeply Formed Life, notes the fact that our lives are too busy. He states, “our souls were not created for the kind of speed to which we have grown accustomed to…” Here is why I point this out: I see that the busyness of our lives and constant flow of information has cause many of us to live stressful lives. We are stressed about jobs, family, the world, politics. Now this is not to say that these aren’t important, for in fact they are, but I want to challenge us on how we respond to these circumstances.

 

In Mark 4:35-41 we have a powerful event that took place where the disciples and Jesus were on a boat. They had all got into a boat and started to cross over the sea when a terrible storm came their way. It was so bad that they thought they were going to die. Where do you find Jesus in the midst of this, “asleep on the cushion…” Jesus was in the same boat as the disciple and yet his response to the situation they are in is far different. Why? What do we learn about Jesus in this? We see that despite the circumstances, Jesus was not allowing stress or anxiety to be his guide, he was at peace. How was he at peace in the midst of all that was happening around him?

 

In this event, the disciples did their best to overcome the waves themselves, it was only when they felt like they were going to die that they turned to Jesus. They cried out to him and Jesus answered by calming the storm with his very words.

 

Why do I want to note this passage today? I see the world around us and see many people, Christians and none Christians, living very stress & anxiety filled lives. Maybe it is because they are too busy, or constantly reading the news or maybe their job has been crazy. When life gets crazy how do we remain steady?

 

First, I want us to understand that no matter what is happening God isn’t stressed out. God is not in heaven trying to figure out what to do. God is not under pressure or in a rush. So, though your circumstance may seem crazy at the time (like the disciples in the boat) understand that God is not stressed and trying to figure things out.

 

Second, God is in control. To the disciples the circumstance seemed completely out of control and for them it was. They couldn’t row fast enough or empty enough water out of the boat. It was out of control to them, but it was not out of God’s control. In fact, God was in complete control, he saw what they could not see, Peace. God is in control and sees beyond what you can see in your circumstance

 

Third, turn to Jesus first. Finally, after trying everything themselves they turned to Jesus who could actually do something about it. Whatever your circumstance is lay it before Jesus. Let Jesus be your first resort and not the last you turn to, for He can actually transform your circumstance. Jesus raised the dead, calmed the storm, healed the sick, cast out demon—do you think his hand is limited in your life?

 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…” Matthew 11:28

 

So today in the midst of everything going on in your life and the world around you, it might feel like you are in a boat that is about to sink. Let me encourage and challenge you while in that storm. I want you to know that Jesus isn’t stress, Jesus is in control and we should turn to him believing and knowing that he can transform our lives and situations. Peace, true peace, isn’t found in a vacation or a new job but found in Jesus, the Prince of Peace.  

 

Will you allow the world and anxiety to drive your life or will you turn to Jesus knowing that true peace and transformation is only found in Him?

 

 

By Daniel Storm