Monthly Archives: June 2016


One Calling by Rick Burdette

Jeremiah 1:1-1:10

ONE CHURCH – One Calling
Jeremiah 1:1-10 (p. 522) June 26, 2016


Jeremiah is often called, “The Weeping Prophet.” He is brokenhearted about the condition of God’s people…and the message he has to deliver to them from the Lord.

And his most famous prophecy is Jerusalem will fall. In fact this book begins and ends with this heartbreaking message.

For 40 years Jeremiah speaks to the kingdom of Judah. From the end of the Assyrian Kingdom until Babylon lays siege to the Holy City from about 626 BC to 587 BC.

Remember, the Israelites have been split into 2 kingdoms: Israel and Judah, Jeremiah’s ministry spans the reign of 5 kings…from Josiah who calls the nation back to repentance and God’s Word, to Zedekiah under whose reign Jerusalem falls and Solomon’s temple is destroyed.

He has been compared to the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament because he continually challenged the people of Judah about their sin…and the impending judgment that was coming because of it.

JEREMIAH 1:11-19 (p. 522)

Like a branch about to bear fruit…like a tilted pot of boiling water about to be poured out…consequences were coming.

These consequences would not be directed at the pagan nations that surrounded Israel and Judah…They were coming upon those God had called that had forsaken their calling…and forgotten who called them.

Verse 13 in Chapter 2 says “My people have committed 2 sins. (One) They have forsaken me, the spring of living water and (two) They have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”


The Israelites had a history where God had called them…It was a covenant relationship that began with Abraham leaving his homeland and heading to the place God promised to him and his descendants. Moses received the plan after the Israelites were rescued out of slavery in Egypt…God provided his presence and protection through the wilderness and through Joshua as they entered the promised land and took possession of it…but after all this they forgot God…they forgot who provided it all..They forgot and forsook His laws…and they began to worship other gods…They were no longer unique…they didn’t want God’s Living Water anymore…They chose to dig their own cisterns.

God would allow the Babylonians to pour down on Jerusalem like boiling water from a pot…the temple would fall…and once again slavery would be the result…Jeremiah cried out for God to His people in warning for 40 years.

Please remember, the covenant with Israel in the Old Testament was just the precursor to the Kingdom of God, His Church in the New Testament.

The writer of Hebrews says, “The Old Covenant was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect) and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.” (Hebrews 7:19)

What this clearly means is I can give you a list of rules but that list doesn’t have the power to make you obey…and it can do nothing about the consequences you or I suffer when we break them…

God’s remedy in the Old Testament was an animal sacrifice to postpone the punishment. God’s answer for the Church…His kingdom was the sacrifice of His son to pay for all the consequences of every one who had broken the rules…for those who had postponed the punishment in faith…and those who would accept this payment of grace through faith.

Here’s what Jeremiah prophesied concerning the New Covenant:

JEREMIAH 31:31-33 (p. 548)

Tablets of stone would be replaced with the Holy Spirit…a list of laws would be replaced with God’s indwelling Spirit…Solomon’s temple would no longer house the Holy One…our bodies would become the temple He lives in…The Kingdom of God wouldn’t be in Jerusalem…according to Jesus…The Kingdom of God would be in us.”

Israel’s power wasn’t in how big and influential they were among the nations…Israel’s power was in their calling from God.

So it is with God’s people the Church…The Apostle Paul writes these words to the Corinthians:

1 CORINTHIANS 1:26-31 (p. 793)

For me to remember what I was when God began to call me is easy. I wasn’t wise, I wasn’t influential, I wasn’t noble…I was a fool chasing shameful things…A 17 year old pothead who had dropped out of High School and was washing dishes at the Campbell House. A rebel bound for Hell…The epitome of lost.
And God began to “call” me to Himself…Why He would want to, can only be answered in grace. He sent people into my life that spoke Good News. He used circumstances and situations. He made Himself evident. He broke my hard heart…and I chose to answer His call with repentance and baptism on January 17, 1978. I knew without a doubt why He called me. “It was to testify that if He can save me…He can save anyone.” I’ll never forsake that calling…or forget whose power it took…He chose to love the unloveable and rescue the unrescuable! Gratitude for this is the foundation of everything I am or ever will be. These words describe my calling.

1 TIMOTHY 1:12-17 (p. 829)

The evil one would have us try to start this journey with little gratitude…or try to make us forget that gratitude over time…both will destroy the power behind our calling…and its purpose…because:


“God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are – so that no one, may boast before Him.”

Jeremiah thought of himself as a nothing, a nobody…“I don’t know how to speak, I am too young.” (Jer. 1:6)

Maybe that’s been your thought, “I’m too young…I’m too old…I’m too poor…I’m too hurt…I’m too…anything!

But the word of the Lord says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jer. 1:5)

And before you use the excuse…“Well He’s just talking to Jeremiah!” He’s just calling him.

Peter said, “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you WILL RECEIVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. The promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)

I believe the foundation behind God’s plan is “He isn’t willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance…He’s not slow in keeping His promise…He’s patient.”
(2 Peter 3:9)

Because of this, I believe He calls every one of us to repentance…He sends people with the message of Good News…His Holy Spirit cuts our hearts in conviction of sin…Now we decide whether to come home or stay in the pig pen. We decide to surrender, be baptized into Christ’s death burial and resurrection…receiving the promised gift of the Holy Spirit…or we harden our hearts to His call and turn away.
But if we turn to God…open the door when He knocks…and repent and are baptized and fulfill with His Spirit…it’s for a purpose…

“GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…and I will be with you to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19-20)

In the same way He told Jeremiah to go to everyone I send you to and say what I command you to say. He does for each person whose answered His call…same God, same plan.

The reason many never do this or stop living within God’s plan is the same reason Israel forgot and forsook God’s call.

Once they had security, safety and comfort they forgot about Egypt and slavery. They forgot who had rescued them and brought them to the promised land. They decided to dig their own broken cisterns and worship the same gods that everyone else did. Instead of thirsting for God who is the spring of living water…they filled their Tervis with self sufficiency and pride. “We’ve got it on our own now God…we don’t really need you now.” And the consequences were devastating. All nations were supposed to be blessed through Israel and their covenant relationship with God…but that wasn’t going to happen when they forgot Him and His plan.

Jesus said that The Holy Spirit is living water which fills every believer’s soul…He’s saying this to a woman who’d had 5 husbands and was living with a guy she wasn’t married to. A Samaritan…a non-Jew…He says whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14) He describes this as “the gift of God.”

The purpose of this gift is to provide living water to people like this woman who are thirsty for hope…people who have looked for it in relationships and worldly cisterns…but all the water has leaked out.

Is your life a living water spring to a lost world? Does the gratitude of your salvation pour out into compassion for those who are dying? Because this is God’s plan to save the world.

[One of my least favorite pictures I’ve ever seen was this one after the Orlando shooting in a gay night club where 49 people were killed and 53 injured by an Islamic radical terrorist.

rainbow ar15

The caption above it said, “I’ve got your tolerance right here.”

I’m not totally sure what the poster of this picture meant, but I know what I thought when I saw it… “Let’s kill all homosexuals.” I wrote this:

My heart has been broken in many ways this weekend by the evil that transpired in Orlando, but I continue to trust my beautiful, loving, and wise Savior. I seek the answers that lie in between having a loving and compassionate heart like His while trying also to rely on His Word of truth when it comes to our need for redemption.

May the heart and desire for sin to be dealt with with punishment and death never beat in my chest. I know without a doubt Jesus paid for all our punishment with His death, burial and resurrection….He paid for the wages of my sin…all our sin….and I believe He is able…able to forgive, able to change, able to transform and renew.

“Lord God, It is my fervent prayer that you will let me and every other person who claims to follow in your steps to love…when we try to feebly speak your truth….let it be with love and a hope of redemption. Lord God help me fight the evil one and his schemes, but always with the knowledge it’s never against flesh and blood…but dark spiritual forces which hide your glory from the world…help me Lord to love even when I disagree with someone….Lord God, help me to never expect those who are not led by your Holy Spirit to think like those who are….O God, give me your heart, mind, strength and purpose. O Lord God let me be consumed with your grace”]




The Gospel Can Change Anyone by Rick Burdette

Romans 1:16-1:17

Romans 1:16-17 (p. 782) January 25, 2015


Life generally has a way of changing the way we think about people when we were younger, more innocent, we didn’t look for hidden agendas…or judge people’s motives quite as harshly.

But eventually someone hurt us, used us, or betrayed us…and we became “more careful, more cautious” on the other side of that lesson.

On Wednesday nights we have a great small group studying a book by Brian Jones called “Getting Rid of the Gorilla: Confessions on the Struggle to Forgive.”

Brian got beat up badly by a gang at a football game, and then during legal proceedings he was raked over the coals by the defense attorney. All while the defendants laughed at the table. He said, something inside him died that day as innocence left…and the gorilla of unforgiveness came to live in his heart. Here’s a quote from Brian Jones:

You want to know what I think is the saddest part about living with the gorilla? It’s not that my heart has been jammed full of rage like an overstuffed suitcase. It’s not that I’ve created this huge, stupid, impassable wall just outside the perimeter of my soul that continually separates me from those I want to get close to. Both of these realities have caused me tremendous amounts of pain, but I wouldn’t say they’ve caused me great sadness. The most heartbreaking loss of all is the way the gorilla has slowly changed the way I view life itself. Living with the gorilla over time has altered the way I view people around me. My greatest problem isn’t sarcasm, it’s what gave birth to my sarcasm, and what gave birth to my sarcasm is the pessimistic way I view those I rub shoulders with on a daily basis – something I directly attribute to living with an unforgiving heart.

[I’ll never forget serving at a church where the Chairman of the Elders and the Sr. Ministers came to a shoving match over a microphone during a congregational vote. I’d been asked to bring the children up, so those who had baptized could vote. As I rushed them back downstairs because I refused to let them see this kind of example a little bit of my innocence died.]

But life has done this with all of us hasn’t it? The break-up, the divorce, the crooked business partner, the “close” friend that throws us under the bus…the church leader who attacks your son, the criminal who steals your stuff and your security.

And unlike when we were five or six with new friends…we become more guarded…more protective…more cynical.

Proverbs 4:23 warns us “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (p. 440)

Hebrew writing has no punctuations like commas or exclamation marks…so writers always put the most important thing first in the sentence. By putting “Above all else” at the front of this proverb the writer is saying “TRUST ME…WHATEVER YOU DO IN LIFE AND I MEAN WHATEVER YOU DO, MAKE SURE YOU GUARD YOUR HEART.”

So, how do we protect ourselves from being hurt and guard our hearts from becoming cynical? I’m not sure I have all the answers for that question, but since it’s the most important thing we need to do in life let’s start with this truth…This attitude “I BELIEVE THAT THE GOSPEL CAN CHANGE ANYONE.”

Paul tells the Roman church and us “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes; first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed.” A righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.”

Here’s the most important question we can start with…


Most of us who were raised in church will pipe up “It’s the good news.” If you went to Bible College like me maybe you’ve studied some Greek and know it’s the word “evaggelion” (yoo-ang-ghel-ee-on). “Good News or Good Tidings.”
(Like… “Oh man…I feel really hesitant to tell you this but…daggone…I’m so sorry! But you just won a million dollars…sorry!)

Well, let me tell you why “shame or being ashamed” of the gospel is a very real possibility.

The good news all focuses on one single person…His name is “Jesus.” And that name evokes very powerful reactions in people…but not all of them are “good.”

Here’s what I mean…
[Suppose you where one of those poor individuals held in the concentration camp at Ohrdrof in Germany. Jews, Gypsy, poles….anyone deemed undesirable by the Nazi Regime…by 1944 they housed some 10,000 individuals…thousands had died or been killed.

This was the first concentration camp liberated by the U.S. Army. The 4th Armored Div. and the 85th Infantry. You’ll recognize their leader. His name was George S. Patton. When he showed up he made the Nazi officers and German civilian population come to the camp and move and bury thousands of bodies so they could see with their own eyes what they’d done. Here’s what I mean about not all people thinking it’s good that a rescuer shows up…These Ohrdrof prisoners rejoiced at their savior coming to release them. The Nazis and many of those Germans in the community hated his arrival and experienced judgment and shame.

Jesus…His death, burial and resurrection are my good news for those who He rescues. It’s not good news for those who are serving the Evil One!]

If you serve in the Evil One’s camp…even if you apathetically just live in his community….the name of Jesus isn’t good news…and the gospel doesn’t bring rescue and salvation it still brings the fear and shame and guilt of judgment.

Kari and I had the amazing privilege to visit Rome recently. We walked through the coliseum…even walked where Christians walked right before they were led to their execution. And right next to the coliseum is Constantine’s Arch. Arches were built to celebrate military victories. Most of the time Rome’s leadership didn’t want the military in the city, they were afraid of its power and military coups. But there were certain times the military was allowed…and that was after a great victory…and the conquering general would lead his army in procession through the city…leading his soldiers…as well as displaying prisoners they’d taken captive and the spoils of war they plundered. The Apostle Paul had seen such a procession…knew its significance. That’s why he uses it to compare how “news” is received by the victors…and the conquered…Listen, it’s written in 2 Corinthians 2 verses 14 through 17.

2 CORINTHIANS 2:14-17 (p. 804)

Christ’s triumphal procession…He’s the victorious “General”…he conquered death, He overcame sin, He set free the captives, God designed a plan to defeat the Evil One, to rescue us from the captivity of sin, and to bring us home to live with Him forever. That is what I call “The Gospel.”

But once again it all depends on who you are in relation to the victorious general. At the front of each of these parades they had giant incense burners smoking, sending out the sweet smell of myrhh. It smelled like victory, beautiful and good if you were on the right team…but if you were not, and you saw the coliseum and your fate right next to you, it smelled like defeat, judgment and death.]

It’s important we know what the Gospel is…and what it isn’t…It isn’t some vague belief in God or Jesus…it isn’t some easy cheap grace where you say a prayer or “get baptized” so you can live how you want…but slide into heaven because you did the right thing at “one time.” The Good News is this: God has the power and God has a plan to save everyone…Jew and Gentile alike….That plan includes the perfect righteous Son dying for the unrighteous world… “For God so loved the world He gave His one and only son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but will have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Those who believe that…live by faith…and the righteousness of Jesus becomes their righteousness.

Now that we know what the “Good News” is…and why for some it’s the promise of Heaven and for some it’s the fear of judgment…


First of all let me say there are many who are ashamed to admit they are Christians because their words and lives say, “No I’m not.”

None of us are perfect…(and those who think they are…are the most irritating), we are all rescued sinners…all recipients of God’s amazing grace and only saved by His power.

But there are many, who like the Germans near Ohrdrof, live apathetic lives…not being Nazis but certainly never “rocking the boat”…are shamefully never speak about their relationship with Christ, but hope that “believing” and going to church once in awhile are good enough…listen to what Jesus says to this group.

MATTHEW 7:21-23 (p. 679)

The opposite of love isn’t hate…the opposite of love is “apathy.” Jesus can stomach love and hate…lukewarmness makes Him want to vomit.

And lukewarmness makes us ashamed to say, “The power of God has changed my life…it’s transformed my mind…it’s rescued my soul…because we’re not living in His righteousness…and we’re not living by faith.

Let me end with the reason “most” people are ashamed of the gospel…ashamed of Jesus.

The gospel is very specific…it’s narrow, not broad.

When Acts 4:12 says “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

No one else…no other name…very specific…very narrow…it doesn’t allow for Muhammad, or anyone else to be the Savior…only Jesus.

He said so himself…remember when Thomas said, “Lord we don’t know how to get there (heaven) so how can we know the way…And Jesus says in John 14:6 “I am the way, I am the truth and I am the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”

You see Christianity isn’t a theory…it’s not even so much a religion…It’s a person.

A person who loves lost people…who seeks them, who calls them to “Come to Him.” Jesus, friend of sinners. And when we come…He saves us completely, forgives us totally, cleanses us entirely. And fills us with Himself. His Spirit of righteousness…and Paul knew that…Rick knows that…The Gospel can change anyone…

I gave our leadership and staff a book called “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire” by Jim Cymballa, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle…and I want to end with this story he tells:

It was Easter Sunday and I was so tired at the end of the day that I just went to the edge of the platform, pulled down my tie and sat down and draped my feet over the edge. It was a wonderful service with many people coming forward. The counselors were talking with these people.

As I was sitting there I looked up the middle aisle, and there in about the third row was a man who looked about fifty, disheveled, filthy. He looked up at me rather sheepishly, as if saying, “Could I talk to you?”

We have homeless people coming in all the time, asking for money or whatever. So as I sat there, I said to myself, though I am ashamed of it, “What a way to end a Sunday. I’ve had such a good time, preaching and ministering, and here’s a fellow probably wanting some money for more wine.”

He walked up. When he got within about five feet of me, I smelled a horrible smell like I’d never smelled in my life. It was so awful that when he got close, I would inhale by looking away, and then I’d talk to him, and then look away to inhale, because I couldn’t inhale facing him. I asked him, “What’s your name?”


“How long have you been on the street?”

“Six years.”

“How old are you?”

“Thirty-two.” He looked fifty – hair matted; front teeth missing; wino; eyes slightly glazed.

“Where did you sleep last night, David?”

“Abandoned truck.”

I keep in my back pocket a money clip that also holds some credit cards. I fumbled to pick one out thinking; I’ll give him some money. I won’t even get a volunteer. They are all busy talking with others. Usually we don’t give money to people. We take them to get something to eat.

I took the money out. David pushed his finger in front of me. He said, “I don’t want your money. I want this Jesus, the One you were talking about, because I’m not going to make it. I’m going to die on the street.”

I completely forgot about David, and I started to weep for myself. I was going to give a couple of dollars to someone God has sent to me. Se how easy it is? I could make the excuse I was tired. There is no excuse. I was not seeing him the way God sees him. I was not feeling what God feels.

But oh, did that change! David just stood there. He didn’t know what was happening. I pleaded with God, “God, forgive me! Forgive me! Please forgive me. I am so sorry to represent You this way. I’m so sorry. Here I am with my message and my points, and You send somebody and I am not ready for it. Oh, God!”

Something came over me. Suddenly I started to weep deeper, and David began to weep. He fell against my chest as I was sitting there. He fell against my white shirt and tie, and I put my arms around him, and there we wept on each other. The smell of His person became a beautiful aroma. Here is what I thought the Lord made real to me: If you don’t love this smell, I can’t use you, because this is why I called you where you are. This is what you are about. You are about this smell.

Christ changed David’s life. He started memorizing portions of Scripture that were incredible. We got him a place to live. We hired him in the church to do maintenance, and we got his teeth fixed. He was a handsome man when he came out of the hospital. They detoxed him in 6 days. He spent that Thanksgiving at my house. He also spent Christmas at my house. When we were exchanging presents, he pulled out a little thing and he said, “This is for you.” It was a little white hanky. It was the only thing he could afford.

A year later David got up and talked about his conversion to Christ. The minute he took the mic and began to speak, I said, “This man is a preacher.” This past Easter we ordained David. He is an associate minister of a church over in New Jersey. And I was so close to saying, “Here, take this; I’m a busy preacher.”


ONE CHURCH – One Spirit
1 Corinthians 12:1-11 (p. 799) June 19, 2016


What kind of bond would unite an anarchist, a government tax agent, a doctor, blue collar workers, lawyers, and professors of religion?

I mean come on!!! If you put these folks in the same room and they started talking about politics and religion…there’s no telling how long it would take before the arguments escalated into bloodshed.

But think about it, Simon was a Zealot (an anarchist committed to overthrowing Rome with any means). Levi, called Matthew, was a tax collector for that Roman government. Luke was a doctor, James and John, Peter and Andrew were blue collar fishermen…from a family of fishermen. Paul was a Pharisee of Pharisees. He studied the Mosaic law and taught others this law. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were wealthy. Mary Magdalene was demon possessed…Nathaniel was a skeptic.

It would make an exciting dinner party to put this group together…but not many of us would think to put them on the same team. They’re just too different. That’s never gonna work!

But there was an even greater divide than anarchist and government worker in existence in the early church. All the Apostle’s were Jews…Jesus was a Jew. The earliest believers on the day of Pentecost were God fearing Jews from every nation.

The Apostle Paul…you guessed it…Jewish!!! But God sets him apart to be “an instrument to proclaim Jesus’ name to the Gentiles and their Kings and to the people of Isaiah.” (Acts 9:15)

Whoa! How in the world are these two groups going to be made into one? God’s Covenant people and pagans…becoming part of the same family. How can that happen?


Jewish people had the history. They had God’s plan…and His Word through the law of Moses…and through the prophets. Every Jew understood that there was a promised “Messiah” who would come. This King would be even greater than “King David.” His throne would last “forever.” One of the saddest comments in the New Testament is where John the Apostle writes…“He came to that which was his own, but his own did not recognize Him.” (John 1:11)

Gentiles, on the other hand had no such history…no precursor to predict a coming Messiah…“Paul writes in our text: “You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.”

As Jesus told the woman at the well…a Samaritan…half Jewish, half Gentile…probably more hated by the Jews than even pagans.

JOHN 4:22-24 (p. 742)

Jesus is saying…”God’s plan for salvation came through the Jews…His Word pointed toward a Messiah through Abraham’s seed…but this plan isn’t just for Jews in Jerusalem or Samaritans on this mountain…God’s seeking “true worshipers.” And the only way people can really worship Him is in the Spirit and truth.

As He told Nicodemus… “You must be born again.” (John 3:3) “Flesh gives birth to flesh…but the Spirit gives birth to Spirit.” (John 3:6)

Whether you have a heritage that involves God or one with ignorance of who God really is…Jew or Gentile there is no difference when it comes to salvation…Both require “a new birth and a spiritual transformation.”

Let me give you a personal example…
[I grew up always going to church…I grew up with a mom and dad that believed in Jesus, the Bible and the importance of church. I had advantages spiritually that many did not…I knew the stories of David and Goliath, Noah and the flood, and Jesus dying on the cross and resurrecting. But I chose a life which ignored all this information and knowledge…I’d say I even believed in God…but that belief didn’t change my heart or my lifestyle. My idols were “mute” but I worshipped them anyway…I had more advantages than the Jewish people of Jesus’ day when it came to scripture and God’s plan, but was soooooo lost.

…Until God came seeking. His Holy Spirit began to reveal Jesus to me…and the consequences of my sin…the Father began to pull me towards His Son…I believe He does that for everyone. Peter tells us “that God doesn’t want anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

I repented and was baptized into Christ…All that information meant nothing until I accepted God’s grace through faith and was born again spiritually. How could you tell if it was real? Well the same Holy Spirit who brought me to the cross…led me from it with a resurrected life…Immediately He began to work within me…and thankfully He still is.

When the Apostle Paul writes “Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed.” And no one can say, “Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:3)

Paul’s not saying “You can’t physically do this” He’s saying, “The Holy Spirit doesn’t send mixed message…The Lordship of Jesus is not something which we discover by ourselves…This Lordship is something which God, in His grace reveals to us through His Spirit.

You cannot be God’s child or the instrument He uses to fulfill His purposes unless you are transformed and influenced by His Spirit…Its God’s Spirit that calls us from our sin, both Jew and Gentile alike, and it’s His Spirit that continually transforms us to think, act and move like Christ…Faith is our response to God’s call.

GALATIANS 3:26-29 (p. 812)

God’s law could teach everyone what was right…but had no remedy for when it was broken…and everyone, Jew and Gentile…informed and uninformed has broken it…God provided the remedy for all who have sinned by the sacrifice of His Son…That’s the gospel…This is what the Holy Spirit convicts and convinces the world about…our response isn’t just to believe…it’s to act upon it…with repentance and baptism…and there’s new birth and new life for those who do.

But there’s an important question…


Paul starts out, “Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.”

I don’t want you to be uninformed either. So let me share with you all why Jesus gives us His Spirit…who in turn enables us to serve God and others with different gifts.

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Verses 7-10 of 1 Cor. 12 describes some of the gifts the Holy Spirit enables God’s family to do…for the common good…so we can be one.

These aren’t talents people use for their own satisfaction and glory…They are spiritual gifts, to build up the body of Christ…and share the gospel powerfully…Satan would have us use our talents and gifts for our own enjoyment and personal glory. God’s Spirit will call us to use them for a much greater purpose…God’s purpose…To strengthen and grow people in Christ..and make disciples in the world.

Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why.”

Paul tells the Ephesians “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast, for we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph. 2:8-10)

I firmly believe every person is made by God…for God. He has a plan, He has a purpose for our lives. I also believe, like Mark Twain, these are the two greatest most important days in our lives…but we find out why we were born on the day of our spiritual birth. “To do good works which He prepared in advance for us to do.”

The Holy Spirit makes us “A family committed to loving Jesus and others, so our neighbors, community and world can experience good news.”

Whether your gift is preaching, teaching, hospitality, discernment of tongues, interpretation, healing, wisdom, leadership, evangelism or serving.

“All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He distributes them to each one of us just as He determines.”

[We have about 200 spiritual gift inventories to give you as you leave…maybe this will help you discover why you were born again…and how you can fulfill your purpose more effectively. It’s not the end all…but maybe it will help you get started and plugged into the body of Christ.]

How can anarchists and tax collectors become one? How can older people and younger people be united? How can different personalities with different talents and gifts be focused together on a common goal?

It’s only possible if they share the same Spirit…The Spirit of Christ who changes rebellion into boldness…greed into generosity…age into wisdom…and reveals His plan and purpose for each person He dwells in. Listen to Jesus’ promise about this Spirit.

JOHN 16:13-15 (p. 753)

Jesus says, “It is from me that He will receive what He will make known to you.” (v. 15)

1. The Holy Spirit’s message will always put a priority on seeking and saving the lost…it was Jesus’ number 1 priority and why He left the Holy Spirit to us.

2. The Holy Spirit’s message will never go against the Word of God…He will never tell you sin is OK. (no matter how you “feel”)

3. The Holy Spirit’s message can be validated affectively when sought through prayer and affirmed through Spirit filled leaders. He will not send mixed messages to Spirit filled people…(He unifies not divides)

4. And please know sadly the scriptures say we can resist, grieve and sin against the Holy Spirit…He speaks truth…and many times we don’t want to hear the truth.

[You remember the story about the guy trapped on his roof during a flash flood. He prayed, “God, help me!” And then a helicopter showed up…but he shouted “No thanks, God’s gonna help me.” Then a rowboat floated by to offer help…he shouted “No thanks God’s gonna help me.” Finally a guy in a canoe come by and He got the same reply. “No thanks, God’s gonna help me.” When he drowned and ended up in heaven he asked God why He didn’t help Him. And God said, “I sent you a helicopter, canoe and a rowboat.”]

Let’s pray.

The Day I saw My Dad’s Heart

Happy Father’s Day All

Rick's Reflections

photoHey All,

For little boys there is no greater hero than his Dad.  And even as we age and mature in life there is usually no one we want to be proud of us more than our Fathers.  I had the great privilege to grow up with an amazingly connected Father.  He took me hunting, fishing, and he was at my ball games to cheer me on.  Here’s a glimpse into my Dad’s personality.  When I was about 8 or 9 and playing for Southland Christian Church’s youth league, led by an amazing man named Jack Williams…we were playing at another Church’s gym.  And even to my immature 8 year old eyes the referee was completely biased.  By somewhat a miracle we won the game with a last second shot…he tried to wave off, but the other referee wouldn’t agree…I even remember hearing him say, “I can’t cheat them like…

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1 Corinthians 12:12-20 (p. 799) June 12, 2016


The human body is absolutely amazing! There’s an article on the web called, 100 very cool facts about the human body and they are cool…I won’t share all hundred, but here’s a few of those cool facts:

The brain operates on about the same power as a 10 watt light bulb, even when you’re asleep.

80% of your brain is water.

Nerve impulses to and from the brain travel as fast as 170 mph.

Every day we lose around 60-100 strands of hair.

Women’s hair is about half the diameter of men’s hair.

Fingernails grow 4 times faster than toenails.

The largest internal organ is the small intestine.

The human heart creates enough pressure to shoot blood 30 feet.

The acid in your stomach is strong enough to dissolve a razor blade (don’t attempt).

Your left lung is smaller than your right to make room for your heart (Unless you’re The Grinch).

Feet have 500,000 sweat glands that can produce a pint of sweat a day (awesome!)

A full bladder is the size of a softball (unless your kids on a car trip then it’s the size of a golfball).

Your nose can remember 50,000 different scents.

Your eyes are always the same size from birth, but your ears and nose never stop growing.

It takes 17 muscles to smile and 43 to frown.

Babies are born with 300 bones, but by adulthood it’s reduced to 206.

Humans are the only living beings to produce emotional tears.

Everyday our bodies produce 300 billion new cells.

As the Psalmist said, “We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made!” (Ps. 139)

It’s this illustration that the Apostle Paul goes to when he writes about God’s plan for the Church… “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all it’s many parts from one body, so it is with Christ.” (1 Cor. 12:12)


Do you remember Jesus’ prayer for His followers in John 17? Listen to how He even includes us in it:

JOHN 17:20-24 (p. 754)

Right after this prayer Jesus takes his disciples minus Judas into the garden. Where He will pray intimately to His Father. Where He will be arrested. It’s hard to imagine all that is on His heart and mind right before the cross…but we know without a doubt…We were.

“Father…make them one…as we are one.”

How in the world do you make Jews and Gentiles one? How do you make men and women one? How do you make introverts and extroverts one? How do you make zealots and tax collectors one? How can it be possible?

God’s Word says “For we were all baptized by one Spirit, so as to form one body. Whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (v. 13)

The truth of this bond is “the Holy Spirit does not work against Himself.”

He is the force God uses to convict the world (us) of sin (John 16:8) It’s what cut hearts in Acts 2 which led to repentance and baptism so believers could experience forgiveness of those sins…and the gift of this promised Holy Spirit…He calls…we answer in faith…or ignore Him. Jesus very clearly explained to Nicodemus: Unless we are born again by the Holy Spirit we cannot see or enter God’s Kingdom (John 3).

No, you cannot see Him…but God’s Word boldly proclaims:

ROMANS 8:5-9; 14-17 (p. 786)

If Jesus doesn’t return this week and God wills we will delve deeply into this subject next week…

But God designed His family to be led by the Holy Spirit…the Spirit of Jesus. There will be fruit in our “born again” attitudes that show our priorities…Kingdom priorities.

Jesus is the head of the body…It’s His Word…His thoughts…His plan and His attitude that should affect all our relationships and actions…The Holy Spirit makes those things known to the mouth, arms, legs, and hands and feet…so that the body functions as His Father designed it.

So, what happens when different body parts stop receiving messages from the Head.


The Apostle Paul uses some pretty strong humor here in 1 Cor. 12…with some sarcasm as well.

He gives the ability to argue with each other to feet, hands, ears, eyes, noses and mouth, and pretends they revolt…there’s a mutiny. Hands are slapping other parts around, feet are running in different directions…ears are going “huh? huh? I can’t hear you!” Noses are telling everyone “You stink!” Mouths are saying “Listen to me you all…Listen up.” This mutiny exists because the different parts don’t think they need the other parts…Pretty ignorant, huh? But the glaring issue is…Hands, Feet, ears, and mouths don’t operate on their own…the impulses to move, speak, see and smell all come from the head.

In reality if different parts of the body start getting mixed signals or no signals at all there’s a disease or injury to the body…activity shuts down…the body is paralyzed. MS causes these issues. The spinal column being severed causes this…and the body begins to atrophy…life can continue…Positive things can be done…but it’s not what the body was meant for.

The same is true for the body of Christ. Christ is the head…He never, sends mixed signals through his holy Spirit…but if something blocks those signals..the body suffers…it doesn’t function as God designed it.

A couple of important truths to realize if you are paralyzed or inactive in your faith.

One amputated limbs don’t function anymore…“If you cut yourself off from the body there are consequences…we are to be branches connected to the vine and each other for the purpose of making disciples. (Jn. 15)

Two, the heart is more indispensable than the mouth. One you can see…the other you can’t (v. 18) says “God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be.”

Each gift is different…each person here in the family of God at Gardenside is different, but you are not a member of the body of Christ with no purpose. The same Spirit which enables the mouth to speak God’s truth…enables the heart to love and serve…some of us will serve in places you can more readily see…It doesn’t make us better or more indispensable…maybe the opposite. The gifts of helping, guidance and healing…are listed with Apostles, teaching, preaching, and tongues in (1 Cor. 12:28) The body of Christ needs His heart so the mouth can speak…one is seen and heard, one isn’t…both are vital…so are you.

[There was a church in Watford England in the late 1990’s that encountered a spiritual problem. There was something powerfully missing in the worship…they had great and talented musicians, a great worship leader…but the Lead Minister came to him and said, “We’re struggling to worship…we’re missing it’s true meaning…we’re going to get rid of the musicians and the sound system for a while.

Some of the musicians left…Mike Pilavachi challenged his congregation… “When you come through the doors on Sunday morning what are you bringing as your offering to God.”

There was embarrassing silence…until finally gently people began to sing with just their voices. Eventually they brought back the sound system and musicians…After several months of seeking true worship.

Their worship leader said, “We gained a new perspective that worship is all about Jesus and He commands a response from the depth of our souls no matter what the circumstances and setting.”

It was at this time Matt Redmond, their worship leader wrote this song…one we will sing today:

When the music fades, all is stripped away, and I simply come.
Longing just to bring something that’s of worth that will bless your heart.
I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about You, Jesus.]

One of our leaders was asked the other day…Do you think everyone will be happy about our worship time…I love his response…”It’s only important that One person is happy with our worship.”

Unless Jesus is at the heart of everything we do…and why we do it, it’s something else…Its entertainment…when you come through the doors of the Church building what are you bringing to God? And when you walk out of the doors this morning what are you bringing to God? This is your spiritual act of worship.

If we do this even when the body is hurting and injured God will take us to where we need to be.

[One of the most powerful memories of my one legged father happened at Gardenside Little League Park when I was about 10…At the end of the season we had a picnic…and a father versus son game. I was pitching for the “Budgeteers.” (We were sponsored by Budget Rental Cars) My dad came to bat…and all of you know good and well I wanted to strike him out…Dad had been an All-State Quarterback and tennis player at his High School, but with a prosthetic leg…he took up golf…I’m not sure what the count was, but I threw the pitch and Dad jacked it into left field and took off toward first…3 quarters of the way there the strap on his prosthetic leg snapped and he went down like a sack of potatoes…I then watched him crawl with everything he had to first.]

The church is filled with people…some are mature in their walk with Christ…some are not..we are all “sinners” saved by grace. Among whom I am the “most thankful” for grace…Getting to where God wants us to go isn’t easy…sometimes in the race something snaps and we go down. I pray for men and women who are like my Father…we’re going to get to first. We’re going where God wants to get us to.

Let’s Pray.



ONE CHURCH – Being One
Galatians 1:1-10 (p. 810) June 5, 2016


Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could live in a world where we could make everyone happy?

Most of us here today really do want people to like us…we really do want to get along with everybody.

When I read the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you,live at peace with everyone.” I get the feeling it flows from this same desire.

He’s saying “Rick, don’t look for a fight…don’t automatically get mad when you don’t agree with someone…Rick, don’t be so proud…treat everyone with respect…Don’t be conceited…Don’t repay evil for evil…Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.”

If your enemy is hungry, feed them. If they’re thirsty, get them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on their head (Is it wrong I really like that part?). Don’t be overcome by evil…but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:20-21)

How does the same godly man, who says he was sent by God…say “Let them be under God’s curse…in fact he repeats it! “I say it again! Let them be under God’s curse.”

Doesn’t sound like he’s trying to make these folks happy…doesn’t sound like “peaceful” dialogue, does it?

So how do we reconcile these two statements that flow from a servant’s heart? How can being one be possible if two parties disagree about the definition of “good news?” The truth is “THEY CAN’T.”


Have you ever noticed in the New Testament that people and churches seldom disagree or divide when they’re focused on Jesus’ sacrifice and that is the backdrop for how they live their lives.

It’s exactly why Paul starts out with the remembrance…His message is about “Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead.” (v. 1) Our God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age.” (v. 3 & 4)

That’s pretty plainly “the gospel message” which originated in our God and Father. It’s the foundation of people’s salvation…including yours and mine…in fact it’s the only way any person goes to heaven. It’s the main thing…that should always be the main thing in our lives. If we’re brothers and sisters in Christ…It’s what makes us “one.” “A family committed to loving Jesus and others, so our neighbors, community and world can experience good news.”

The word “gospel” as most of you know means “good news.” And whether we’re comfortable with this truth or not…Jesus commissioned those who had experienced this graceful salvation to change their world by sharing it…by living it.

This is His plan…and if your plan prioritizes something above it, or in addition to it, it’s not the gospel…it’s something entirely different. God’s plan isn’t going to ever change, that’s the gospel truth! That’s why the Apostle Paul is so adamant when he says, “Even if we, or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse.”

He’s not willing to compromise this vision to win the approval of human beings…he won’t water down to please people…if he does, He won’t be a servant of Christ.

How committed is he to this calling? Let me read you one of my favorite stories from Paul’s life…It’s in Acts Chapter 14…Paul and Barnabas are preaching…Paul sees a lame man listening, and perceives that he believes…so he says “stand up on your feet.” He jumps up (no kidding) and walks around…The crowd goes crazy…they want to worship Paul and Barnabas as gods…calling them “Zeus” and “Hermes.” They tried to offer sacrifices to them…now listen to what happens:

ACTS 14:14-20 (p. 769)

Ministry can be like that…one day the crowd loves you, the next moment they’re influenced to stone you to death…and drag your behind out of town…my favorite part of the story is after the disciples gather around him (praying…concerned…scared) “Paul got up and went back into the city.”

Back into the city!!! How powerful do you think that commitment to the gospel was?

Are you willing to die…so you can share your vision…the gospel…if you’re not willing to die for it…you sure won’t be willing to live unashamedly for it.

It seems to me that those who Paul was writing to in our text in Galatians started with the right foundation…They had experienced God’s call to live in the grace of Christ…but something happened…something, or someone divided and seperated them from the Savior who makes us one…it seems in Galatia


Let me tell you what I mean. Paul’s message, the good news, was that it didn’t matter whether you were a Jew or whether you were a Gentile (anyone who wasn’t Jewish). “You are not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ.” (Gal. 2:16)

But some Jewish believers didn’t want to let go of the past…or accept the belief that they were just as sinful as the Gentiles. One of the biggest identifiers of being a Jewish male was the right of circumcision…done to every Jewish male child on the 8th day…Its origin was in the life of Abraham, the Father of the Jewish race…circumcision was an act of obedience to the old covenant…Abraham and his whole household obeyed. I’ll delicately say circumcision means “to cut around.” Why did God ask this? “It was an identifying mark of the covenant of the Law…the old covenant would be replaced with the covenant of Grace…in Christ…the New Covenant…Old Testament, New Testament means the same thing.

Circumcision was an essential to be a faithful Jew…It involved the human body part it did because it pointed to God’s promise to Abraham’s seed. He’s 99 when this happens. And God’s covenant promise was “you will bear a son and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. (Genesis 17:19)

This covenant was so “All people could be blessed” through this lineage. This old covenant was established to prepare the way for a Messiah, a Savior who would come from Abraham’s family line…for “all people,” Jew and Gentile. This covenant, planned before creation,wouldn’t require circumcision or “perfectly obeying God’s law…it would come by Grace through Faith.

A false doctrine began to impact the early Church and it was this: You must first be circumcised and become a Jew…and then you could become a Christian…It divided the Church. It even impacted the Apostle Peter for a time. Satan used this false teaching to stop the Church from being one¨. It greatly affected the Church in Galatia…so much so Paul wrote:

GALATIANS 3:1-10 (p. 811)

God’s word clearly says “All who rely on the works of the law are under a curse.”

This is what our text is talking about when Paul says “Let them be under God’s curse.”
This is why he is so adamant about not letting people hijack the gospel.

[I pick up hitchhikers…not with Kari and the kids in the truck with me, but if I see you broke down or freezing to death in a Speedway parking lot, I’ll give you a ride…I know it’s a little dangerous…I try to be smart because I know a hitchhiker can become a hijacker. They could try and knock me out, and take me and Red (my truck) somewhere against my will…The word hijack means “To seize by force or threat of force.”]

The circumcision bunch was trying to hijack the Church of Christ…by force and the threat of force. They believed the gospel should go in a different direction…They tried to seize the wheel…Paul said, “That’s not really the gospel at all…no way!]

Adding something to God’s plan…makes it your plan and not His. And it always divides the family of God. It always hijacks the vision Jesus has for His people. That vision is that we are to be “A family committed to loving Jesus (Him) and others, so our neighbors community and world can experience good news.”

Let me end with this gospel truth…


In your scripture reading this week I challenge you to read a chapter a day from Paul’s letter to the Galatians…there are only 6, so on the 7th day…you can come back here and worship…In the 5th chapter Paul says this:

GALATIANS 5:1-10 (p. 812)

The reason the gospel is “good news” is that Jesus sets us free…“Our chains are gone.” Our sins are completely forgive…our lives are given purpose and hope…why would we put the chains back on ourselves? Or why would we put them on anyone else?

Two reasons:
1. We never really thought we needed that much grace and
2. Other people aren’t good enough for Jesus to save…they need to become good before he’ll rescue them.

We have to decide spiritually if we are abolitionists or slave traders…Do we speak good news…rescue and hope. Or have we forgotten this message? Gotten off track and focused on “circumcision” things…Jesus and this…Jesus and that…I’ve met many who seem to be more passionate and fiery about preferences and opinions than unity and purpose…They might say Jesus is the most important thing but their actions belie that truth…and a little leaven like that in your life or the church changes the whole loaf.

How protective should we be of the gospel of grace?

Look at what Paul says about those who would once again enslave people with “a circumcision message.” “As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves.”

You know what circumcision is…Paul says If you are going to preach this kind of “works” and “good enough” message…Castration is better. Go the whole way…cut yourselves off from this body.

Not what He desired, but that important!

Let’s pray.