March 29, 2021

Ep.1171: How Did Jesus Prepare His Disciples for His Death?

Absorbing Jesus’ focused teaching on the night before his death

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CHAPTERS

[00:16:31]
How did Jesus refocus the attention of his disciples in the face of imminent tragedy?


[00:30:50]
How did Jesus give his apostles hope for the future?


[00:43:14]
What were Jesus' parting words of comfort?


Theme Scripture: John 16:33

If you were going to die tomorrow, how would you spend your day today? Jesus faced that very serious question 2,000 years ago. His answer was obvious. He would spend that entire evening with those whom he was closest to. He would prepare them, teach them and encourage them, for what was coming would be shocking and horrifying. The world of the disciples would be shattered, and he wanted them to be as ready as their imperfect minds could allow them to be. What he taught them that night through his words and actions was extraordinary. Even though it is not possible for us to get our arms around the depth of Jesus’ compassion, wisdom, love and clarity of mind, we are going to try anyway. What we find is pure spiritual inspiration.

Continue Reading

Final insights before the crucifixion

The Gospel of John, Chapters 13-16 are a unique view into the heart and mind of Jesus the night before he was taken to be crucified. They represent a detailed recounting of the several hours that Jesus had with his most faithful disciples in the upper room and beyond. John began writing his record of these events with a specific introduction. He told us that Jesus knew it was his time to die, and even more significantly, he told us Jesus knew he was going back to the Father. How could he know he was going back to the Father when he had not yet withstood the horrors of crucifixion? How could he know he wouldn’t break under pressure?

It is hard to exactly determine how Jesus knew he wouldn’t break under the pressure of the cross. It is much easier to understand what he was doing with that knowledge in final hours of freedom as a man. Jesus used these precious final hours of freedom to protect and prepare followers.  He protected them by telling them of the trials they would face in the immediate future. Knowledge is power if we choose to apply it and the disciples were given that power. Even though they all faltered, the power of Jesus’ words provided a solid foundation for them to all recover upon.

The preparation Jesus provided was epic

He knew these individuals who were with him the night before his crucifixion would be the very foundation pillars of Christianity. So, he taught them. He taught them how to be leaders when he washed their feet. He taught them what the price of Christianity was by foreshadowing their coming persecution.  He taught them how connected they were through the illustration of the vine and the branches. He taught them about the role God’s spirit would play in their everyday lives. He taught them to love one another as he loved them.

These lessons barely scratch the surface. Check out our March 29, 2021 podcast, “How did Jesus Prepare His Disciples for His Death?” for more.  No group of followers were ever given so much to work with.  Join us as we uncover their lessons and join them in being prepared!

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March 29, 2021

VIDEO: How Did Jesus Prepare His Disciples for His Death?

Jesus’ words provided a solid foundation for his disciples. Watch this short vlog then listen to the full podcast of the same name for more details.

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March 22, 2021

Ep.1170: Does Being a Christian Have to Be Difficult?

Examining what discipleship is and what it is not

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CHAPTERS

[00:13:24]
What does it mean when Jesus told us to deny ourselves?


[00:30:21]
Was Jesus trying to scare people away when he told us to take up our cross?


[00:45:42]
What are the benefits to being a lifetime follower of Jesus?


Theme Scripture: Luke 9:23

21st century Christianity can be confusing. With all of the denominations and interpretations and approaches to Scripture it is hard to fathom they all claim to represent the same thing. So, what is the bottom line? Is being a Christian - a true Christian - a difficult way of life, or is it a privileged way of life? Does following Jesus place demands on you that are unreasonable to the average person? Or does it promise and deliver some kind of abundance that the average person would notice? Does Christianity fundamentally change you? Or does it help you be the best person you think you can be? Is following Jesus an exclusive calling of those who would do the hard work? Or does it work by way of general knowledge and discovery? Let’s see how Jesus describes what following him looks like and what it produces.

Continue Reading

Compare

As we look at Christian life here in the 21st century, it is easy to notice a significant difference in how it works when compared to 1st century Christianity. Now we have sweeping individuality available in our churches. Now we are encouraged to find a church that suits us, that we are comfortable with. Back then, you became a Christian because you became a believer in Jesus and his sacrifice, and it was all about truth and salvation. Now our Christianity is easily focused on fitting into our comfort zone of service or praise or worship or giving. Back then, Christianity was focused on fitting the varied disciples into the mold of living for Christ. In short, modern Christianity is a far cry from original discipleship.

Does this mean that Christianity, which we will call discipleship, is a hard and unyielding mold we are forced into? Not at all! Make no mistake, there are difficult mountains to climb and challenging changes in character to accomplish. But these formidable tasks should not be allowed to overshadow the magnitude of blessing opportunity and growth that discipleship floods us with.

Peace, joy and overcoming

When Jesus tells all who are weary and heavy laden to come to him for rest, he means it. His promise is to show us how to navigate our world by leaning on him for grace, strength and inspiration. The Bible promises peace, joy and overcoming to those who become Jesus’ disciples. There are Scriptures that promise our highest needs being met and being led through our crises. Who wouldn’t want all that? Still, discipleship is a steep and narrow pathway.

How do we put these two seeming extremes together and make sense of following Christ? Check out our March 22, 2021 podcast, “Does Being a Christian Have to Be Difficult?” for answers. We walk through the hardships of discipleship and match them with its blessings and privileges. What we end up with is a clarity of purpose and a straightforward understanding of the why behind it all. Following Christ is not for the faint of heart, but it is the most blessed decision you can ever make!

 

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Ep.1169: Is Adultery Really That Wrong?

Revealing and discussing the depths of damage caused by adultery

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View Series

CHAPTERS

[00:17:58]
Can we recover from the breaking of our sacred promises?


[00:33:28]
What are four sins of Christian mediocrity?


[00:50:23]
What is spiritual adultery and are we guilty?


Theme Scripture: Exodus 20:14

Ancient biblical history paints a very specific picture of the world regarding morals and ethics. In the days of the Jewish Law, there were unmistakable lines that anyone of Jewish descent knew they simply should not cross. Just as lying, stealing and murder were lines not to cross, committing adultery was one as well. Fast forward to our world today, and what do we see? Adultery not only sounds old-fashioned, it is common and even sometimes encouraged. There are websites that exist for the purpose of making it easy to find someone to have an affair with! As Christians, how should we look at all of this? Should we determine that the Law is outdated and adjust to modern-day thinking? Should we focus on the Law and what Jesus taught and condemn everyone else? Is there a middle ground?

Continue Reading

"You shall not commit adultery" is the seventh Commandment

It is a simple, straightforward statement that leaves no ambiguity. According to the Old Testament Jewish Law, committing adultery was punishable by death. This may seem harsh to us here in the 21st century. There are several things we overlook when we quickly judge ancient laws and practices, especially those of biblical origin. First, life back then was much more basic and survival was tenuous. You became an adult and had a family. You dedicated yourself to your role in providing for that family because life and death risks surrounded you. Things like adultery were an affront to the basic survival of your family and community and were simply not tolerated. There was too much at stake!

What about spiritual adultery?

Even though we focus on the severe destruction physical adultery brings, there is another kind of adultery mentioned in the Bible - spiritual adultery. In the Old Testament, it had to do with Israel’s infidelity toward God. God spoke through the prophets about the betrayal Israel engaged in by “playing the harlot.” They worshipped and followed pagan gods while pretending to honor Him. How was this adultery? It was all about violating a sacred commitment, just like the act of physical adultery blatantly violates the sacred covenant of marriage. In both cases, there is a physical walking away from the one to whom you are bound and attaching yourself to another.

Check out our March 15, 2021 podcast, “Is Adultery Really That Wrong?” for so much more. We delve into God’s amazing justice and mercy in dealing with adulterous Israel. We open up Jesus’ words on this Commandment and find that he challenges us much more deeply than the Old Testament Commandment. Jesus speaks to the very heart of what causes adultery and raises the bar for every Christian to live up to.  His words are both inspiring and daunting! We also uncover what spiritual adultery looks like in the New Testament - and it isn’t pretty.  It is disturbing that the symptoms of such infidelity to God are very much present in our modern-day Christianity. Join us as we learn some of the most important faithfulness lessons of our time! Study the rest of the Commandments with us to see how they are still valid for Christians today.

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March 08, 2021

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Ep.1168: Could God Convict ME of Murder?

Unfolding Jesus’ challenging expansion of “You shall not murder”

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CHAPTERS

[00:09:36]
Did Jesus teach that speaking disrespectfully is like murder?


[00:35:22]
Did Jesus teach that judging others a way to murder them?


[00:49:16]
What steps can we take to change our thoughts, words and actions to better represent Jesus?


Theme Scripture: Exodus 20:13

The first four of the Ten Commandments all have to do with humanity’s relationship to God. These directives came first because our relationship with God should always be the driving factor in our lives. The fifth Commandment focuses on our relationship with our parents and is fashioned after the first four, with honor and respect being paramount. “You shall not murder” is the sixth Commandment.  This is the first of the Ten Commandments to focus us on our relationship with all other human beings. It is a simply stated, emphatic directive teaching us about the sacredness of human life. It sets the stage for the rest of the Commandments. But it is not as simple as it sounds.  Its importance cannot be overstated! Further, Jesus not only taught its importance, he also dramatically expanded its meaning for his disciples. We will find “You shall not murder” to be a life-governing principle in every corner of our experiences.

Continue Reading

Life under the Old Testament Law was in many ways a very black and white experience. The Ten Commandments were concise statements as to how we should act towards God, our families and everyone else. Obey the Commandments and God blesses you, break the Commandments and God is angry with you. “You shall not murder” seems like a no-brainer  We all should know this, right?  Few ever consider why God made this simple statement part of the ten most basic laws He ever gave to humanity.

Old Testament

First, this particular Commandment has to do with the taking of another’s life outside of acts of war, protection of person and property, and as a consequence of harsh crimes. It is all about an individual taking justice into their own hands. Usually, such an assumption of power is based on hate, jealousy or rage and is not just. Second, this Commandment is making obvious to all humanity that  God created humanity in His own image. It is as though God is saying, "You are My children. I directly created you to have dominion on this earth. Human life is sacred in My eyes, so do NOT haphazardly destroy it!"

New Testament

Understanding God’s perspective helps us dramatically when we fast forward to the New Testament and observe what Jesus taught. Jesus took the “You shall not murder” Commandment and explained it to his disciples in a higher and far more challenging way. He introduced the idea of murdering someone’s character or reputation by the way we talk to them. Not only that, he talked about the accountability for such words in a very pointed way.

Why would Jesus do this? Why would he make “You shall not murder” about what goes on in our heads and with our words? Check out our March 8, 2021 podcast, “Could God Convict Me of Murder?” for more.  We dive right into Jesus’ words to find the lessons. Then we look at all the things we as Christians need to be wary of. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how to take the high road in preserving the lives of others rather than damaging them! Study the rest of the Commandments with us to see how they are still valid for Christians today.

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March 01, 2021

Ep.1167: Can Good Things Ever Be Bad?

Applying Christian time management in an information-filled world

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CHAPTERS

[00:14:22]
How much time should we be spending on hobbies and exercise?


[00:35:42]
How much time should we be spending researching topics and seeking leisure and entertainment?


[00:51:49]
How much time should we be giving relationships that have no interest in our Christianity?


Theme Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:31

As Christians, we face the potential for deep trouble each and every day. Why? We live in an age of knowledge, choice, technology and accessibility. This would all be thoroughly awesome, except for one thing. These opportunities come with a healthy dose of what I will call an “entitlement of excess.” Because we can, we therefore feel we must. Many of the myriads of things available to us are good and healthy. We can learn to garden, sew and carve wood by watching videos online. We can be part of several social communities without the disadvantage of distance. Amazingly, we can learn about other cultures, appreciate art and music from anywhere, read, absorb and watch to our heart's content. So, how much is too much? Where should we draw a line, and more importantly, why should we draw lines?

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You'd think the question of good things potentially becoming bad would be easy for Christians.  Colossians 3:17 tells us, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” This seems so simple –  do whatever you are going do with thankfulness to God and in Jesus' name, and you are fine.  Keep Jesus in mind and carry on! While there is powerful truth in this, it is far from complete.

Can we take advantage of others?

What if we are blatantly taking advantage of others and doing it in the name of Jesus? Is that okay? Of course not! What if we are supporting an organization we know does bad things but supports what we think are good and godly causes? Is that okay? Still no, but perhaps this is not as easy to determine. What if we are engaged in good and healthy human activities that directly or indirectly interfere with our Christianity? Is that okay? Hmmm, we may need to think about this. How much do they interfere? Is it really interference or is it just minor inconvenience?

Is it really that bad?

The “Is it really that bad?” question is a life-altering query.  How are we make Christian decisions, assessing the countless ways we can occupy our time? How do we clearly quantify when something that starts out worth our time and effort but ends up being an unprofitable path to continue on? To adequately answer these questions, we obviously need the Bible. More than that, we need the relevant Scriptures put in order to follow their guidance.

Don't miss downloading our Decision Tree here

Check out our March 1, 2021 podcast, “Can Good Things Ever be Bad?” for more. We put the complex process of finding godly guidelines for all aspects of life into a Decision Tree. We pose the important questions and attach Scriptures to them as guidance. Then we put the several levels of questions needed to secure a God-honoring answer in sequence. The result is a roadmap to guide us with every life decision regarding things like friends, leisure, research, curiosity and hobbies. We can choose if the good things in our lives remain good. Join us and find out how!

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