04
Feb
13

The hard heart

Mark 4:2-8 says,
He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: 3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”

Late last spring, Kris and I were at the beach in Marblehead on my day off. It was a beautiful spring day, very warm for that time of year. There were some young people from the high school who were ditching school because of the nice weather. They came out on the beach with their towels and blankets and picnic stuff. They set all their stuff down in the sand and the whole group of them headed out into the cold water. As soon as they got half way to the water, about ten seagulls began to attack their picnic spot in the sand. These gulls were pulling sandwiches and bags of chips out of their sacks and tearing them open. I thought about going down to the water to tell the young people that the seagulls were eating their lunch, but then I decided to just go chase the seagulls away myself. Then I ate their lunch. No. Not really.

In Mark 4:15, Jesus begins to explain this parable to his disciples. He says this,
Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.

Jesus pictures this heart as a pathway so hard that nothing grows there. It becomes a table for birds to eat seeds from. It’s a heart that allows Satan to snatch away all of the seeds of God’s Word. These seeds are gone right away. There is no lingering consideration of the Word. As soon as they hear it…. Satan steals the seeds away. This is the devil’s main job. He wants to keep people blind to the truth of God’s Word.

2 Corinthians 4:4 says,
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Hard hearted people are blind to the light of God’s word. I’ve heard these kinds of people call God’s word a fairytale, or dismiss those of us who serve God as weak minded. They say that the bible is a crutch, but I say a crutch is OK when you are crippled, and each of us are crippled by sin!

The hard heart. As this is this heart condition exists in you, there is no hope for entering the kingdom of God.

Luke 8:12 says,
Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.

What kind of heart do you have? Is it hardened to the things of God?

Hosea 10:12 says,
Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.

11
Jan
13

Big News

At Christ the Rock Church we have just started a 21 day fast. Over 70 people have registered to take part in the fast. One of our prayer points is for direction for the church, and for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit within the congregation.

Well, big news! I had one prayer answered. Tuesday, during early morning prayer, I was praying about the next immediate step of growth for Christ the Rock. After prayer I dropped Pastor Kris at school, and on the way home, I turned on the Christian radio station. As I listened, I thought, “We can do that!” Then while sitting at a red light, I prayed, “Lord, Is that what you want for our church?”

Fifteen minutes later I was back at the Ministry Center. I walked into the office and greeted Tabby, our administrative assistant. She said hi and then informed me that I had just missed a call from a man from WROL radio who wanted to talk to me right away. When I called him back, he told me that there is a programming opening at the station and he felt impressed to call me about getting Christ the Rock on the air. Fifteen minutes from prayer to answer!

Needless to say, starting Jan 28th, Christ the Rock will begin broadcasting at 8-8:15 am every weekday morning on WROL AM 950!!!!!! We don’t have a name yet for the broadcast and are playing with ideas for the format. Please keep praying about this!

24
Dec
12

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

I was about 8 years old but I remember that Christmas like it was yesterday. It was the perfect Christmas. Snow had blanketed the ground over night and my parents had left the Christmas tree lights on through the night. When my sister and I got up at the crack of dawn and headed into the living room the scene was picture perfect! Our expectation was almost palpable as we searched for our names on the gifts and ripped into the packages.

I received the greatest Christmas present ever that year. It was a tiny black and white record player. I was so thankful to my dad for getting it for me! That was my first ‘stereo’ and it fostered my love for music. I would sit in front of that record player for hours listening to one LP after another (for anyone 25 and younger, an LP is like a giant, black CD. LOL).

As awesome as that gift was it was nothing compared to the true Christmas Present. Jesus, God’s Son, entered this world as the ultimate gift to all mankind. He is the reason we give gifts. He is the reason we celebrate.

I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas and I pray that the time you spend with your family and loved ones is rich and fulfilling, but I encourage you to take time to remember the reason for the season. Maybe read through the Christmas story today with your family. You can find it in the bible in Matthew 1:18-2:12 and Luke 2:1-21.

Have a great Christmas!

17
Dec
12

Jesus – Full of Grace and Truth

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14

The last part of this verse describes Jesus as Full of Grace and Truth. I think that this description is very significant. Jesus was the revelation of the God. He showed us what God was like. And, if you look at Jesus life, everything that he did, everything that he was about could be explained in one of these two characteristics – Grace and Truth.

To those who were disenfranchised by the religious structures of their day, to those who were demon-possessed, to those who were sick or bound in sin, Jesus was Grace in the Flesh. To those who were proud of their religious piety, to those who thought that they had it all together, to those who stood in judgment of others and made it difficult for others to come to God, Jesus was Truth Incarnate!

In every encounter Jesus had with people, you could see the characteristics of Grace and Truth exhibited in his life. Andy Stanley, in his book, Deep and Wide, says, “Jesus was full of grace and truth. Not the balance between, but the full embodiment of. Jesus did not come to strike a balance between grace and truth. He brought the full measure of both.”

God’s Truth is universal, objective, and unchanging. Truth seems harsh to us. Truth slaps us in the face and calls us to wake up to what God wants of us. People don’t like truth, because truth requires action! When you discover the truth that a stove is hot, you are required to move your burning hand! Because we don’t like to be told what to do, we avoid truth.

Most of us highlight God’s grace. We love the fact that he forgives our sin and blesses us, even when we don’t deserve it. But what happens is that most of us highlight God’s grace to such an extent that we make him out to be our heavenly sugar daddy. We think things like, “Oh, God will forgive me, so why should I even try to get free from my sin?”Or, “God is a gracious god. He would never send anyone to hell!”

As follower of Jesus you are supposed to have a relationship with God. Relationships are two way streets. Imagine for a moment that my wife had a big night planned for us. She planned dinner, a movie, time to walk on the beach in the moonlight. She had it all planned out. And, she told me ahead of time. Then, when that night came, I decided instead that I was going out bowling with my buddies. And, I never even called her. How upset would she be? Well, imagine that I apologize, and she loves me so much that she forgave me. She gives me grace! Now, imagine I do this same thing to her week after week, date night after date night. What do you think she would do?  You see, my wife has a truth. She expects me to be responsible, to be communicative, to be present and to be desirous of her. When I don’t meet up to the truth of her expectations, she might forgive me. But if I do it enough, I’m gambling with my relationship with her!

The truth is some of us are gambling with our relationships with God. We have taken his love and grace for granted, and forgotten that his truth expects action from us. I hope today you can see the Son of God for who he is, Full of Grace and Truth.

07
Dec
12

up to the table

We have been studying the Shepherd Psalm, Psalm 23, at Christ the Rock Church.

You can find the videos of each message on our website at ChristTheRockBoston.org.

The book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by Philip Keller, is a great devotional study on Psalm 23. Some of the content of this post can be found in it’s pages.

 

Psalm 23:5 says, You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

The table David is speaking of is a large flat plain on top of a mountain which is considered by sheep herders to be prime grazing land. These plateaus have been under snow for most of the winter and as the summer arrives the grasses are lush with dew and nutrition.

During the spring time, a shepherd will take a trip to scout out the tableland that he will later take his sheep up to for summer grazing. He will go and look over the plateau and find just the right location for his sheep. Later on, before he actually takes his sheep up to the tableland, he will make a second journey up to prepare the land. He will walk the entire plateau and remove any loose rocks that might shift under the weight of a sheep and hurt them. He also looks for poisonous plants that the sheep might eat and could kill them. The shepherd will also look for signs of predators on or near the tableland.

He is literally preparing the table for the sheep. When it is all ready, he will take his sheep up to the tableland for summer grazing. The journey up to the tableland can be quite treacherous. The shepherd leads them in and out of valleys and over ledges up to the plateau. This is a very stressful time for the sheep. By the time they come up through the valley the sheep may have received cuts or bruises from the narrow passages and from the rocks. They can be quite battered by the journey. Obviously the shepherd doesn’t want the sheep to be injured but the shepherd is O.K. with bringing them through such a stressful, trying time because he knows what awaits them on top of the tableland. The tableland is the sheep’s reward for having endured the rough journey. They made it.

When sheep come onto the table land the shepherd anoints their heads with oil. The oil he rubs into their heads is for the healing of the wounds that they endured during their journey to the tableland. For you and I, God provides healing for the wounds that we endured because of our journey toward God. We were bound in sins. Anger. Hatred. Selfishness. Greed. Life controlling habits. Addiction. These things inflict serious wounds on our souls, but when we come to Christ, he anoints us with his Holy Spirit, who begins the process of healing us and restoring us to health as we dwell on God’s tableland.

The oil is significant for another reason as well. The oil that the shepherd would rub into the wounds of the sheep, would be the same scent that the shepherd himself wore, so when the sheep smell it on their own heads and it would bring them peace. The fragrance of the oil would  bring incredible peace and calm to the sheep.

The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is what brings healing, peace and power to our personal walks with Christ. We need to work hard to cultivate the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives.

12
Nov
12

I Shall Not Want

At Christ the Rock Church we began a new teaching series this week called THE SHEPHERD. We will be studying Psalm 23 for the next 6 weeks.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the
Lord forever. (Psalm 23:1-6 NIV)

In Psalm 23, we see that David based his identity entirely on his relationship with God. He could have based his identity in many other things besides being a shepherd.

– David was a great musician. He wrote 78 of the 150 Psalms we have in the bible. He played with such skill and anointing that evil spirits were cast out of Saul when he played.

– David was a great warrior. He is the one, who, at 16 years old, slew the great Goliath and brought victory to his people Israel. He proved himself in battle over and over. The people would even songs about him bragging, Saul has killed his thousands and David his tens of thousands.

– He could have based his identity in the fact that he was chosen of God. David was the youngest of 8 sons of Jesse. He was looked down upon by his brothers, who thought he wasn’t good for anything but looking after sheep. Yet, God chose him to led the people.

David could have based his identity in many other things, but over and over he chose to identify himself as a sheep and shepherd.

It was very common for kings from that time period to consider themselves shepherds of their people. It was NOT very common for a king to consider himself a sheep, but David says, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd!!’

I, too, am a sheep under the care of the Good Shepherd, and because ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing’, or you could say, I am complete in Him. There is nothing else needed for life and godliness.

Col. 2:9-10 (NLT) says, 9 For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. 10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

I am complete in Jesus. I find my value and identity in being in relationship with him. I don’t need the accolades of others. I don’t need others to shower me with love or approval. Everything I need, I found in Christ.

People confuse me and my wife. They mix up our identities. Every week in church someone will inevitably come up to me and call me Pastor Kris, instead of Pastor Lou. I rarely correct them. You see Kris and I are one. We are connected. If someone calls me Pastor Kris, I take it as a compliment, because I know her character. What they are saying is that they see they same character and actions in both of us and so they mess up our identities.

I want people to mistake my identity with Jesus. I want my identity to be so in God, that people see Jesus and I as one!

The first step in living for God is to recognize that in him you are complete. There is nothing else needed. Even if no one else loves you, even if you were not connected to anyone else who validates you, you are content, because you have him.

Mark Driscoll, Pastor of Mars Hill Church says, “Your identity determines your activity.”

You will act as you know you are. If you think you are just a slime ball who has no value, then why should you live above that? But if you know that, you, in Christ, are one of God’s valued sheep, and that you have his complete attentive care, now you can have confidence to live above the common and profane.

I shall not want. I lack nothing. I have been given fullness in God. Accept who you are in Christ.

05
Nov
12

Alternative Energy

Jesus talked to his disciples about giving them an alternative, supernatural energy source. In Acts 1:8, he said,
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 word ‘power’ comes from the Greek word ‘dunamis’. This is the word from which we get the English word DYNAMITE. ‘Dunamis’ speaks about more than just ability. The word is used to designate power in operation, power that makes things happen.

In the Book of Acts, over and over, we see the early church believers operating in incredible ‘dunamis’ or power for God.

Acts 5:12-16 – The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.

How did they do this? By Alternative Energy! The Holy Spirit’s power.

Acts 8:4-8 – Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.

Alternative Energy!

Act 14:3 – So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders.

Alternative Energy!

Acts 19:11-12 – God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

Alternative Energy! They saw this remarkable alternative power over and over in the early church.

So, let me ask you a question:
Why does it seem like the church of our generation has no power?

I think there are two biblical reasons why we don’t see this alternative energy at work in the church today.

First,
1. We have not been witnessing about a risen savior.

According to the Barna Research Group only 35% of adult Christians believe they have a responsibility to share their faith with others.

That means that 65% of adults believers think they don’t have to tell others about Jesus. I don’t know if you can even call yourself a follower of Jesus if you don’t think you have some responsibility to share Christ with people who don’t know him!

This explains why we don’t have power from the Holy Spirit. We don’t have power because we don’t need it. If you never turn on a flashlight, you don’t need the batteries!

Act 1:8 – 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 purpose that power came from the Holy Spirit was for believers to be witnesses. When you share the Good News about Jesus, and when you share the testimony of what God has done in your life, you will have power from God. The bible says that when the apostles shared the gospel, God’s power was with them powerfully.

Acts 4:33 – With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all.

Are we witnessing? Listen, I know it is not easy. Witnessing is hard. It takes a lot of courage to speak up in your work place and open yourself up for ridicule. Witnessing was hard even for the Apostle Paul. Paul had to continually ask his followers for prayer so he would be bold.

Ephesians 6:19-20 – Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Col 4:3-4 – And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.

Paul says to pray for him to proclaim the gospel message fearlessly and clearly. The word clearly here in Colossians 4:4 is translated in the Amplified bible as to “speak boldly and unfold that mystery”. Paul the Apostle was used in incredible signs and wonders during his ministry, and yet he still says that he needs help to be bold enough to preach the gospel message.

Paul stood before rulers and kings and spoke the message, yet he still got scared! We will too. But when we take a step of faith and open ourselves to be used by God, he will add his power to our message. Something happens to your words between your mouth and the hearers ears. Your words go through the Holy Spirit filter and he adds his power and emphasis to what you say, so that what your friends hear you saying about Jesus is so much more elegant and powerful than what you heard yourself speak!

Another reason the church of our generation seems to have no power is because….
2. We have not been with Jesus.

The disciples of Jesus were with him continually. They lived with him. Ate with him. They saw how he interacted with people. They watched him pray. Later, after Jesus went back into heaven, they continued to pray. Throughout the Book of Acts, we see over 25 references to the disciples praying. There is 28 chapters in Acts, so that comes out to almost 1 reference to prayer per chapter.

When Peter and John healed the crippled man at the gate beautiful, they were arrested and went before the Sanhedrin. After presenting their argument to these religious leaders, the bible says this….

Act 4:13 – When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

They had been with Jesus. They were not smart men, but they had been with Jesus. They weren’t rich men, but they had been with Jesus! They weren’t powerful men, as the world measures power, but these ordinary men had been with Jesus, and that made them extraordinary!

We need to spend more time with Jesus, if we want the power of the Holy Spirit.

I want our church to experience the power of God together as a church family.

This week:
Share your testimony with someone.
Spend at least 15 minutes each day asking God to fill you with power.




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