Thursday, December 19, 2013

Merry Christmas from the Castle Rock Freunds!~

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas: Presents & Presence

Christmas - For me It's all about PRESENTS & PRESENCE:
The Coming of Jesus Foretold
• Micah 5:2
• Isaiah 9:6-7
• Isaiah 7:14

The Coming of Jesus Fulfilled
• Luke 1:26-38
• Matthew 1:18-23
• Luke 2:1-14
• Matthew 2:1-12
• Luke 2:15-20

Whenever I think of Christmas, I think of the word Presents/Presence. It’s actually two words because it’s a homophone (a word that has the same sound as another word, but is spelled differently and has a different meaning). So actually I think of two words: Presents & Presence

PRESENTS: As in gifts – This is the essence, the center of God’s Story of His Son. God is the bestest of givers!~
- EVERYONE His Son John 3:16
- MARY a miraculous child Luke 1:26-37
- JOSEPH Understanding & Peace Matthew 1:18-25
- SHEPHERDS the Good News Luke 2:8-20
- MAGI a Star & A Warning Matthew 2:1-2, 12
- HEROD to be outwitted Matthew 2:16
- HIMSELF: Immanuel Matthew 1:23
AND because He gave....
MARY GAVE Praise to God Luke 1:46-55
JOSEPH GAVE his Reputation Matthew 1:24-25
ZECHARIAH GAVE Praise to God Luke 1:67-79
SHEPHERDS GAVE Good News & Praise Luke 2:17-20
MAGI GAVE Worship & Gifts Matthew 2:9-11

PRESENCE: As in being here, seen, noticed. The second essence of Christmas is that God wants to be “with us”, Immanuel! (Matthew 1:23) God created us to be WITH Him – to have a relationship WITH Him! His intent was never to be distant from us. It is OUR SIN that separates us from Him. But because God so loved us, HE GAVE His Son Jesus, at Christmas, to be born, to live a perfect life so that He could become the perfect sacrifice in His death in order that WE could once again be WITH God and He be WITH us!~
- Acts 1:8 HS will come upon you!
- John 15 I remain in you (Vine & Branches)
- John 16:13 HS will guide me
- Hebrews 13:5 Never leave your, never forsake you!

Have YOU ever, by grace thru faith, put your trust in Jesus so you can be forgiven of your sins, adopted into God's family and given the power to live a life that matters? If not, ask God to do that right now! If you have, be sure to share this GREATEST GIFT ever this Christmas!
GOD Never meant for us to walk alone in this life!~ HE (and others) are with us! He IS Imannuel!~
"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means “God with us”).

Sunday, March 31, 2013


Read Matthew 28:1-20 On this Sunday, nearly 2000 years ago, Jesus rose from the dead!!!!!!! This is the climax of Holy Week! The resurrection of Jesus Christ is THE #1 most important event in the Christian faith! It makes or breaks everything I believe about Jesus. Oh and, by the way, the Apostle Paul said the same thing too (1 Corinthians 15:17-20). Early Sunday morning several women (Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, and Salome are all mentioned in the Gospels) went to the tomb and discovered that the large stone covering the tomb's entrance had been rolled away. Then – how cool is this, an angel tells ‘em “not to freak out.” (HA – too late!) "Don't be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn't here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen." (Matthew 28:5-6) On the day of his resurrection, the first person to see him was Mary Magdalene. Jesus also appeared to Peter, to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, later that day to all of the disciples except Thomas (while they were gathered in a house for prayer) and to 500 others gathered at the same time! And according to Acts 1, He was here on earth for 40 days! This was no mirage, no magic trick or even their eyes playing tricks on them. Jesus REALLY was and IS alive! The eyewitness accounts in the Bible provide undeniable evidence that the resurrection of Jesus Christ happened. And Jesus is just as ALIVE today as He was then! SO WHAT?!~ - How do you treat Jesus? As an impersonal being, a “force” or as the Living God who deeply desires a relationship with you and me?!~ - Last words mean a lot. Jesus last words before He left this planet are recorded in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:7-8! Read them over again now and ask yourself: How am I making disciples and how am I being a witness for Jesus? The one thing we have the privilege of doing here that we won’t do in heaven is make disciples and witness. So let’s be all about it here and now!~

Saturday, March 30, 2013

HOLY WEEK SATURDAY: Dead in the Tomb

John 19:38-42 Jesus' body is in the tomb and being guarded by Roman soldiers throughout the day on Saturday. It was the Sabbath, so when that ended (at 6pm), Christ's body was ceremonially treated for burial with spices purchased by Nicodemus. Nicodemus, like Joseph of Arimathea, was a member of the Sanhedrin, the peeps which had condemned Jesus Christ to death. Both these guys had lived as secret followers of Jesus, afraid to make a public profession of faith because of their prominent positions in the Jewish community. But now they both were deeply affected by Christ's death and came out of hiding! They had count the cost and were now risking their reputations and their lives because they now realized Jesus was, indeed, the long-awaited Messiah! How cool is that?!~ Together they cared for Jesus' body and prepared it for burial. Jesus had offered Himself as the perfect, spotless sacrifice! “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” – 1 Peter 1:18-19 SO WHAT?!~ - What has it cost you and what is it costing you to live for Jesus? It should cost something. Jesus Himself told us to “count the cost.” Our ME-centered Christianity knows very little of cost, risk and sacrifice. King David said that he would not sacrifice to the Lord that which cost him nothing (2 Samuel 24:24). It cost Paul, It cost the disciples, it cost Jesus. How about you? Would you get up early to pray? Would you give of your finances, talents and resources? Would you make time in your schedule to: Read your Bible? Serve at your church? Mentor a student? Feed the hungry? And the list goes on. Jesus came that we might have life to the full – for HIM - not us! Lord help us to count the cost, to serve You, sacrifice for You, risk for You and to daily know You, walk with You and make You known!

Friday, March 29, 2013

HOLY WEEK GOOD FRIDAY: Good Friday For Us Was Bad Friday For Jesus

Read Matthew 27:1-61 Today, Good Friday, is without question the roughest, most treacherous and painful day Jesus faced during these final hours before his death. Soooooooo much happening today! Judas felt bad (not repentance) and hanged himself early Friday morning. Before the third hour (9 a.m.), Jesus endured false accusations, condemnation, mockery, beatings, and abandonment. After multiple illegal trials, he was sentenced to death by crucifixion - the most horrible and disgraceful way to kill a person. Words cannot describe what went on next. Jesus was led away, soldiers spit on him, tormented and mocked him, and pierced him with a crown of thorns. They made Him carry his own cross to Calvary where he was mocked and insulted again as Roman soldiers hammered nails through his hands and feet into a wooden cross. From the 6th hour until the 9th hour (noon to 3pm) darkness covered the land. As Jesus hung & suffered on the cross, he asked His Daddy to forgive the people (Luke 23:34), told a criminal that they’d be in paradise together (Luke 23:43), told His mother and John that they were now family (John 19:26-27), felt like God had ditched Him (Mark 15:34), was thirsty (John 19:28), said “It is finished” (John 19:30) and at the 9th hour(3pm), right before He died, He committed His spirit into God’s hands (Luke 23:46). At that moment, the curtain of the Temple was torn in two, earth shook, rocks split and zombies came out! All of this to supernaturally mark an undeniable event! By 6 p.m. Good Friday evening, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, took Jesus' body down from the cross and put it in a tomb. SO WHAT?!~ - Being treated wrongly, unfairly and unjustly stinks! Every bone in my body wants to speak up and prove myself right. And there are certainly times for that. What amazes me about Jesus was He considered MY life (and yours) worth more than being right. He had a much higher focus. Even the apostle Paul wrote, “Why not rather be wronged, why not rather be cheated?” (1 Cor 6:7) - “It Is Finished” are three of the best words in the Bible! The payment Jesus made on the cross by giving HIS life for MY sin is ENOUGH! Nothing more is needed. Jesus + anything is not free grace! All it takes is simple, childlike faith in the person & work of Jesus. Grace is both scandalous and awesome! - The Bible says that on this Friday, from the 6th hour until the 9th hour (noon – 3pm) darkness covered the land. It’s been our family tradition to have lunch in the dark on Good Friday. We eat, read the Bible passage above and talk about what it must have been like for Jesus. Maybe something like this will help your family to remember Jesus too!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

HOLY WEEK THURSDAY: Humility, Communion, Garden Prayer & Arrest

Read Luke 22:1-65 On Thursday of Holy Week, we see a sobering turn in the life of Jesus. From Bethany Jesus sent Peter and John ahead to the find a guy carrying a jar who would show them an upper room in Jerusalem where they could make the preparations for the Passover feast (celebrating the Jews being freed from slavery in Egypt – Exodus 12) – pretty cool. That evening after sunset, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as they prepared to share in the Passover. What a humbling act of service by our Lord! Jesus demonstrated, by example, how we are to love one another (Many churches today will have “Maundy Thursday” services where they do foot washings as well as a Passover meal & communion). After this foot washing, Jesus shared the feast of Passover with his disciples, something he was extremely passionate about doing one final time. Jesus, the Lamb of God, was about to fulfill the meaning of the Passover by giving his body to be broken and his blood to be shed in sacrifice, freeing you and me from sin and death! During this “Last Supper”, Jesus established what we call today the Lord's Supper or Communion. The reason we take communion today is because Jesus told us to regularly remember Him and what He did: And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. Later, Jesus and the disciples left this upper room and went to the Garden of Gethsemane (located at the bottom of the Mount of Olives). Jesus prayed like never before to His Daddy in Heaven, wanting to do His Daddy’s will and at the same time agonizing with what He was about to face. The Bible then tells us that later that evening in Gethsemane, Jesus was betrayed with a kiss by Judas Iscariot and arrested by the Sanhedrin. He was taken to the home of Caiaphas, the High Priest, where the whole council had gathered to begin making their case against Jesus. It was while these illegal trials began in the middle of the night, that Peter would deny knowing his Master three times before the rooster crowed on Friday morning. SO WHAT?!~ - Humility is one of Jesus’ characteristics and is meant to be the character of all believers. How is your humility? Is there anyone with whom you need to seek forgiveness with or humble yourself before? Do it today. - In the Exodus Passover, the Lord would “pass over” all the homes that had blood on their doorframes and not bring judgment and death. Today, in the same way, when we trust in the blood of Jesus alone to forgive our sins, God does not punish us for our sins and instead gives us eternal life – WHOOHOOO!~ Have you put your trust & faith in what Jesus did for you? If not, why not do that right now and receive eternal life?!~ It doesn’t get any better than this! - Who are your “Garden Friends?” Peter, James & John may have gotten a bad rap for falling asleep in the garden instead of being in prayer with our Lord – but at least they were THERE! Who are those 2-3 friends who are “there” for you? Why not thank the Lord for them today?! And then maybe ask yourself as well - who am I a “garden friend” to? - Finally, ever be treated unfairly? If so, be assured that Jesus knows how you feel. Sometimes it’s better to be mistreated, rather than prove you are right. Let’s watch how Jesus responds tomorrow…

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

HOLY WEEK WEDNESDAY: The Calm Before The Storm

Read Psalm 23 Because of what Revelation 22:18-19 says, I’ve always tried my best to teach what the Bible teaches and not to teach what it doesn’t teach! With that said, the Bible doesn't say exactly what the Lord did on Wednesday of Passion Week. Scholars (smarter than me) believe that after two exhausting days in Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples spent this day resting in Bethany with Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Bethany was about two miles east of Jerusalem. Most likely Mary, Martha & Lazarus hosted Jesus and the disciples during these final days in Jerusalem. With this in mind, it’s kinda’ cool to think about how Jesus spent this final quiet day with His Dad in heaven and with His closest friends & followers. SO WHAT?!~ - Silence & solitude is a rare thing in our culture, yet a must if we intend to have a deep relationship with Jesus! Where, when and how do you spend time alone with Jesus? - Take time today to get alone with Jesus. If this is not a regular practice for you and you’d like it to become one but need ideas, I’ve got plenty of ideas for ya’ – just ask! If this IS a regular practice for you, share with me what you do. I’m always looking for fresh ways to deepen my own time with Jesus!