Blog Posts

Laying Down Your Cloak

This last week we all celebrated Palm Sunday and now we look forward to Easter Sunday. In the Palm Sunday passage while Jesus begins to ride into Jerusalem it states:

“And many spread their cloaks on the road…”

Why were these people laying all their cloaks on the ground so that the donkey could walk over with Jesus? In a quick answer it is a way of submitting and acknowledge Jesus as King. One commentator state, “Cloaks on the road symbolized the crowd’s submission to Jesus as King…”(ESV Study Bible).  I just want to bring this to our minds this week. These people were by the act of laying down their cloaks submitting to Jesus as King and Lord over them.

What does that have to do with us today? I find it easy to read this passage and move on quickly to celebrating Jesus as King. However, we bypass how the crowd reacted and keep ourselves at arms distance with how we should respond to this. Let me explain what I mean.

Too often we like the idea of following Jesus but when it comes to submitting to Him as King we don’t. We hold onto us being King and leader over our life not Jesus. Many times, we think, yes Jesus can forgive my sins but I want to run my life. Here in lies the challenge. Jesus is really King and we are called to follow Him as King. In following him we must be willing to submit to Him as leader and King of our life. Jesus in fact stated:

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me…”

Meaning in following Jesus we are to lay down our desires and ourselves as king and submit to Jesus as King, letting Him lead us. So here is my question for us this week: What is your “cloak” that you hold onto? Meaning, what stops you from submitting to the Kingship of Jesus? Does comfort, money, fear…etc. Whatever it is let us lay those things down before Jesus and submit to Him as King.

 

 

Be Ready

by Daniel Storm

In Mark 13 Jesus gives a strong teaching on end times. There has been much discussion throughout the centuries about this teaching as well as his teaching in Matthew 25. We are often left with this question: what does this mean for me today? Is Jesus coming today?

Without getting wrapped up in the details I just want to challenge us this week with one simple thing: always be ready. In fact, in Matthew 25:1-13 Jesus gives a parable about being ready for his coming. Now this does not mean that we stand outside twenty-four hours a day looking to the sky waiting for Jesus to come, but it does mean we are to live with such purpose and drive that Jesus might come today.

Back to the question: What does that mean for me today, right now? I want to note two things.

 

  • It should completely change how we live our lives. Why? Everything here is temporary but life with Jesus is eternal. Too often we get wrapped up chasing and living our life for things that don’t even matter in the end. Jesus, both in Mark 13 and Matthew 25, is telling people to wake up. Don’t waste your life wrapped up in things that in the end don’t matter. Rather live each day fully for Jesus knowing that one day he will come back.

 

  • It should change how we view what is happening around us. Yes, the world is crazy and seems to be getting crazier as the days go on, but don’t let that discourage you. Why? We don’t live for this world and our hope in not in this world. Our ultimate hope isn’t in the perfect government, perfect schools, or even the perfect family. Not that these things wouldn’t be good, but the reality is our hope is in King Jesus who sits upon the throne and who will one day come back to get his own. That means, even if everything seems crazy, Jesus is still in control and will have the last say. Don’t lose hope remember who really sits on the throne.

 

Therefore, as we read through Matthew 25 and Mark 13 let us not lose focus among the details, let us remember to “be ready”. Always live ready for Jesus to come today. Keep our hearts, minds, and life focus on following Jesus. Yes, hard times will happen and might even get more difficult as the days move forward but do not let that discourage you. Why? Because Jesus is still King and Jesus is coming again soon for his own. The hardship we go through now is only temporary, life with Jesus is forever. I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes by a missionary named Jim Elliott. He stated,

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Elliott believed this so much that he gave up his life alongside four other missionaries (Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, Nate Saint, and Pete Fleming) and was killed by the Auca people while trying to reach them with the gospel. They were willing to die because the gospel was more important than their very lives.

 

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

Nothing Is Too Great

Pastor Daniel Storm

            Jeremiah 32:27, “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”

            Each one of us has our own limitations in life. Many times, we don’t like to admit it but this is the reality. No matter how strong, smart, or how much money one has we are still limited. About 7 years ago I had a very interesting medical situation. My wife and I were living in England at the time. I woke up in the middle of the night (July 4th was the date) in extreme pain in my wrist. I went to the doctor earlier in the morning but after hours of waiting they just brushed it off as nothing to worry about. As days went on the pain got worse and spread to most of my joints (wrist, knees, jaw…etc.). So much so that I couldn’t really walk and my wife had to help me get around. It was only over the next month that I was diagnosis with Reactive Rheumatoid Arthritis. I wrestled with what this meant for my life. Would I be like this forever? Would I be able to run again? Could I be a Youth Pastor at all? The doctors were limited in what they could do and I was put on some medication to help. Overtime it began to get better and eventually went away (though not for 9-12 months). Long Story short my RA went away and I was able to (after a while) get back to normal activities. I note this story in my life because I have never known my limitations so clearly as when this took place. For those that know me I love to exercise but when I had RA I could hardly even walk. No matter how strong I thought I was this reminded me that I was extremely limited.

            When we open the book of Mark we are hit right away with all that Jesus could do. He healed a demon possessed man (1:21-28), he heals many (1:19-33), He heals a Leper ( 1:40-45), he heals a paralytic (2:1-12), he heals a man with a withered hand (3:1-6), and heal many others and casts our demons (3:7-12). These are just the first three chapters of Mark but it is impossible to miss that Jesus is not limited at all. He has power over sickness, disease, and the demonic. What is truly amazing to me is that Jesus is not struggling to “cast out demons” or “heal the sick” he just does it. Why? Because Jesus has authority and he is not limited.

            We know our limitations or maybe we have been put in a life situation (like I was) that reminds us or shows us that we are more limited that we realize. Jesus however has power and authority and nothing is too great for Him, be it sickness or demons. Just let that sink in this week for you. Whatever you are going through, yes you are limited, yes there is only so much you can do, but God is not limited. The understanding that God is not limited is clearly seen throughout all of Scripture. From creating everything out of nothing, to giving a child to a couple too old to have children (Abraham and Sarah), to splitting the Red Sea for the Israelites…God is not limited. So, whatever you are going through, lay it before God and realize that our God is not limited.  

            Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.” Jeremiah 32:17

With a little help from my faith-filled friends

This past Sunday we looked at a passage in Mark 2:1-12 where four faith-filled men bring their paralyzed friend to a house where Jesus is teaching. The place is so crowded, inside and out, that they are forced to carry the paralyzed man up to the roof of the building and then lower him through an opening that they create in order to get the man to Jesus.

 

It’s hard not to be amazed at the sheer determination and faith it takes for these four individuals to get their friend into the presence of Jesus. I don’t know if they had permission from the owner of the house to dig a hole in his ceiling, but it’s a safe bet that they would have had to return at a later date to do some much needed home repairs. As they lowered their friend to where Jesus was, there are wonderful lessons for us to learn about their faith.

 

Their faith was an active faith. Lesser, more conventional friends would have waited for a more convenient time to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus. Or maybe just waited for Jesus to come to them. But these four knew that time was of the essence, and that their friend wasn’t getting any better just laying around. They realized that there was no time like the present to encounter Jesus and his healing power, and so they put their faith into action.

 

Their faith was in the power of Jesus. I was inspired this past Sunday as people lined up for prayer at the end of our worship service. There were requests to pray for physical ailments as well as spiritual sickness. What a blessing it is to be in a place where God is moving among us and to realize that Jesus alone is the source of hope and healing for whatever it is that holds us back in life. He is the Son of God who has come that we might have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).

 

Their faith was rewarded with the complete healing of their friend. Mark 2:5 tells us that when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son your sins are forgiven.”And then he said to him, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Jesus responds to the faith of these ‘Fearless Four’ and heals not just their friend’s body, but also forgives him his sins.

 

This story reminds us that we should never take lightly our role in bringing people into the presence of Jesus. So many people we encounter find themselves paralyzed by fear, failure, and unforgiveness. They are literally frozen in place, and have no way of moving forward. Our faith might be the lifeline they need to help them get unstuck. Whether by praying for them, offering a word of encouragement, inviting them to church, or even lowering them through a hole in someone’s roof – it might be just the help they need from a faith-filled friend like you or me.

 

Pastor Perry Engle

2-10-22 Where True Authority Lies

In our world today, everyone seems to be fighting for a position of authority. Meaning they want to be the one in charge, the one to call the shots, the one whom people should listen to. Many times, we are stuck in between people or political parties fighting, trying to show why they either should have authority or do have authority. When reflecting over the idea of authority I was struck by Jesus in the first chapter of the gospel of Mark. In 1:22 and 27 it states:

The people were amazed at his (Jesus) teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority…What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.”

Did you catch what is happening here? Jesus is traveling around preaching and healing. People are in shock and awe because Jesus is not just doing this because he has some skill or training but rather because he has true authority. I want you to note that when Jesus encounters a demon possessed person, both in the first chapter of Mark and all other situations they know that Jesus has ultimate authority. In fact, Jesus doesn’t even speak at first, the demons beg him for mercy. The very presence of Jesus shouts to the demons who is really in charge.

Why do I want to note this today? It is easy to be caught up in all the battles in our world and culture for who has authority and who is in charge, but this passage is a reminder of who really is in charge. Jesus has ultimate authority and one day every knee shall bow.

“…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father…” (Philippians 2:10-11)

No matter what is happening in your life right now, trust in King Jesus is the one really in charge and with real authority. One of my favorite Psalms in Psalm 2. In the Psalm it talks about all the nations and how powerful they think they are. In response to how powerful they think they are the Psalmist states, “The One enthroned in heaven laughs…” Why? Because He is the one on the throne, He is the one with authority, He is the one in charge…no one else. It doesn’t matter how smart, powerful or political someone is, no one stands above God and no one can take over God’s throne. He sit enthroned forever.