Monthly Archives: October 2010

Am I Missionary?

What does it mean to be missionary? What might be some of the characteristics of a person who says they follow Jesus as Lord? Last Wednesday night we looked to the Bible, specifically Matthew 10:24-42, to see some of the characteristics Jesus said to expect to see in a person who follows Him.

First, you might not be the most popular(vv. 24-25). Now, this doesn’t mean you will have no friends, but Jesus is here telling his followers that if they called me Satan, you might be called names as well. You might be called intolerant, hater, or even empty minded for believing what you say you do. This isn’t easy either, and because it isn’t easy Jesus is preparing us for it because he loves us.

Second, you will be telling others (vv. 26-27). You won’t be keeping the message to yourself. When a person fully understands and embraces that salvation is only by God’s grace, this person won’t keep silent because they will want others to have the gift as well.

Thirdly, you will have hope (vv. 28-33). You will have hope in spite of all that might be going on around and to you. You will remind yourself that heaven is your home and you are only a sojourner now. You will have hope amidst conflict because you are worth so much to God. He went to the extent to die for me, and now I live for him.

Fourth, you will love Jesus supremely over all other things (vv. 34-38). As one has said concerning these verses, “The central point is that the love of God and His kingdom must take precedence over every other human relationship.” No one or nothing is worthy of your worship but Christ.

Lastly, you will give not because of what you get but because of who you are (vv. 39-42). You will guard against any type of works based salvation that looks at your doing as the basis for your relationship with Jesus. You do because of what Jesus has done for you.

Check out this video.

Fall Youth Family Fun Night

Although the details are still developing, we are planning to have a Fall Youth Family Night on November 6th, 2010. It will consist of an evening of food, volleyball, bonfire, and hayrides. We are really excited about this evening and hope you will plan to participate and enjoy this evening with your family.

Soon I will provide more information with regards to time, directions, and how you can help to make this happen.

Just as a reminder, we will be having a very important Parent Meeting on Sunday, November 7th at 7PM (after the evening service) in the Outreach Center. Please plan to be there or let me know if you cannot.

Caze Elementary Carnival

A reminder that we will be serving water and anywhere else we may be needed during the Caze Carnival tomorrow, Friday October 22nd, from 4:30PM till 6:30PM. If you need to know where Caze Elementary is CLICK HERE.

Vann Avenue exists to help people Encounter God, Experience Community, and Engage our World in Word and Deed, one home at a time. If you can, come and be a part of this time of engaging our community as we serve them and show the love of Christ. Hope to see you there tomorrow!

The Coaching Staff

If you spend any time around an Indiana Hoosier basketball fan, it doesn’t take long before the man to the lefts name enters the conversation. Tom Crean is entering his third year as Indiana basketball head coach. You might be asking yourself, “So what?”

As I was reading from Proverbs this week, Proverbs 19:20 reminded me of the topic we are talking about tonight in the youth group.

“Listen to counsel and receive instruction so that you may be wise later in life.”

Proverbs 20:18 says, “Finalize plans with counsel, and wage war with sound guidance.”

Now I don’t believe too many of us are headed off to a war today, like the type of war going on in Afghanistan. However, we are all involved in spiritual warfare each day of our lives. As a follower of Jesus, whose advice should I listen to as I live each day? Tonight we are going to take a look at the “Coaching Staff” God may have put in place around us to receive wise counsel from. Who is helping me navigate through life in a way that is pleasing to the Lord? I love playing pick-up basketball, but the team that is well coached and disciplined usually defeats the team full of individuals who make up the plays as they go. Who are your coaches?

Closer Than a Brother

If you have been doing the “wisdom challenge” with us, then you are over half way complete! Even if you haven’t been you can start today by reading Proverbs 18 on October 18th. As I was reading Proverbs 18, I was reminded of our month’s topic a few months back, friendship.

A man with many friends may be harmed, but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).”

I decided to dig some notes out from the past and post a few of our thoughts concerning friendship. Let’s first look at some friends, who really aren’t your friends, we can do without.

Dishonest Friends

“The one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm (Proverbs 13:20).”

These friends will just get you in trouble. Don’t miss the point that you will suffer as well if you choose to hang out with this group.

Short-wick Friends

“Don’t make friends with an angry man, and don’t be a companion of a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare (Proverbs 22:24-25).”

You know someone always blowing up on people? Hang out with them long enough and you will begin to act like them. It probably won’t be long before you are the object of their wrath as well.

Fake “user” Friends

“Wealth attracts many friends, but a poor man is separated from his friend. Many seek the favor of a ruler, and everyone is a friend of one who gives gifts (Proverbs 19:4,6).”

Some people just hang around to get what they want from you and then they’re out. This can be monetary, emotional, or even physical gain. Evaluate whether the folks that hang out with  are there for friendship or profit.

Unfaithful Friend

“Trusting an unreliable person in a time of trouble is like a rotten tooth or a faltering foot (Proverbs 25:19).”

It’s easy to be a friend when things are good, but good friends stick close when things get tough. Who is there when you need a friend?

Closer Than a Brother

A man with many friends may be harmed, but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).”

Definition of friendship: A trustworthy peer with whom we mutually choose to lovingly live “do life with” with by seeking unique access and service for God’s glory and mutual good.”

This friend is in my life, or I should say God has put them in my life, so that we can help one another pursue Christ and glorify God. They do not hinder my walk with Jesus but take opportunity to advance it. They are willing to encourage me, serve me, and even rebuke me if necessary. I listen to this person and I don’t just hear them. This friend is awesome! This friend admits when they’re are wrong and asks me to forgive them (and I do). Apart from my best friend, Jesus, I don’t know what I would do without them.

Do you have a friend like this? Do you pray for a friend like this? Are you willing to be a friend like this? These friendships are not easy and take time to build. Are you willing?

Home is Where the Heart is

Proverbs 15:31

“One who listens to life-giving rebukes will be at home among the wise.”

I think it is helpful in this verse to distinguish between “hearing and listening” and “life-giving and deadly rebukes.”

Hearing vs. Listening

A person might be hearing but not listening; however, a person who listens is always hearing. A “Hearer” might know someone is talking to them, but they are not paying attention. They hear sounds but it doesn’t compute. This has virtually nothing to do with ability but most often desire. A “Listener” hears and has the intent and desire to obey what they are hearing. They consider what is being said to them.

Life-giving vs. deadly Rebukes

Rebukes are corrections. Often times, and unfortunately I must add, we associate rebukes with something negative. It is true that rebukes often point to a negative behavior or thought, but they are given with the intention of bringing good. We know 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness.” If God’s Word is for our good and “rebuking” is a part of that, then it must be good when applied correctly. This seems to be the distinguishing factor between life-giving and deadly rebukes. One rebuke is intended to help me, make me more like my Savior Jesus Christ. The other rebuke is attempting to hurt me.

I want to be the one described in this verse. I want to be “listening” to wise people around me who might see a flaw in me, who then proceed to give me “life-giving” correction. Praise God for those people around us who care about their own walk with the Lord (Love God) and then love me enough to help me (Love Neighbor). God’s put them in my life for my good and His glory!

This is a video clip from John Piper teaching about wisdom. If you have time, enjoy.

What’s In Your Wallet?

I don’t know why, but Proverbs 14:33 had me thinking about the Capitol One credit card commercial. Let me try to make sense of it.

“Wisdom resides in the heart of the discerning; she is known even among fools.”

What’s in my hearts? Is wisdom in there? Am I a discerning follower of Jesus Christ? Last night during youth in the Vann, we asked the question “What tools do I have, as a follower of Jesus, to make good choices?” We learned of at least three tools we can and should use. First, follow God’s Word (Joshua 1:6-8). Second, listen to the Holy Spirit (John 14; 16), and lastly, consider wise counsel (Proverbs 11:14).

I believe Proverbs 14:33 shows us, as followers of Jesus, when we rely upon the tools that He has provided us to make wise choices, people around us will know it. They will know that we do not flippantly make decisions based on hunches or feelings, but on the very Word of God and our personal “zesty” relationship with Him. It doesn’t make all our decisions easy, but they begin with the right motivation, which is God’s glory and His fame being spread throughout our homes, schools, vocations, cities, to the ends of the earth.

 


Am I Zesty?

Proverbs 11:11…”A city is built up by the blessing of the upright, but it is torn down by the mouth of the wicked.”

If you are a follower of Christ your life should be a life of blessing to others. Is my life a blessing to the city of Evansville? Am I seeking to be a blessing to this city, or will you find me spending most of my time complaining about it? In fact, whether the city wants to admit it or not, it’s future is dependent upon me to be a blessing for it. I can say this because I know I have the greatest and most urgent message one can have, the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

I am also reminded of the words of our Lord in Matthew’s gospel, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men (Matthew 5:13).”

In his exposition of these verses and the different uses of salt in the first century, Sinclair Ferguson explains, “We are familiar with another property of salt: it not only preserves, but it also seasons. It brings out the flavour. According to The Oxford English Dictionary, one meaning of the word season is ‘give zest to.’ Christians should have zest! Jesus surely has this in mind also. ‘Seasoning’ society is not a matter of being Scrooge-like personalities whose presence brings a pall of depression and whose entrance marks the exit of joy. On the contrary, the presence of God’s people should ‘increase the flavor’ of life in many different ways. After all, we come to our friends, neighbors, co-workers, or fellow students as those who have been-and still are-in the presence of Jesus Christ, who has given us abundant life (John 10:10). Everything about us should express the attractiveness as well as the holiness of our Lord.”

Although I realize I am only “upright” before the Lord because of my faith in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, does my walk with Him bring a blessing to my home, my school, my job, and my city? Am I zesty?

The Transition

As we read Proverbs 9 today, I thought it might be helpful to make reference to a couple of insightful quotes concerning the set-up of Proverbs.
The first comes from Mark Dever who states, “Proverbs basically is broken into two parts. Proverbs 1-9 work like a preface that attempts to convince you to read the book, by explaining its value. Proverbs 10-31 are collections of various wise sayings called ‘proverbs.'”
The next observation comes from Tim Challies. He states, “The initial chapters of Proverbs, the first nine, are given to us for this very reason, that we may develop character. Before God will address conduct, he chooses character. Once he has molded and shaped out hearts, he is ready to train us in wisdom and understanding. Truth comes first and application of the truth follows later. And so we must know God’s truth before we can know God’s will.”
I hope these observations serve to help you and I as we continue to read through the Proverbs. Remember, God is more concerned with who you are than where you are.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding…Proverbs 9:10.”

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Protecting Wisdom

As we continue in October with our “wisdom challenge,” I come across this verse in Proverbs 7.

“Keep my commands and live; protect my teachings as the pupil of your eye.”

Here we have a parent teaching their son/daughter how to live. We have in Proverbs 7 the difference between life and death.

Many of us understand what it means to protect our eyes. How many of us do not own a pair of sunglasses? We wear them to protect our eyes from the sunlight. When our youth group went on our World Changers trip to Tupelo, one of our travel requirements was a pair of safety glasses. We naturally protect our eyes. We do so because we value seeing. Here is Proverbs 7, he wants us to recognize the value of Scripture, God’s Word. Protect it like you do your eyes. Value it even as you do your very sight.

In John 17 we have the account of Jesus praying to the Father for those He came to rescue. In that prayer He says, “I have given them Your word. The world hated them because they are not of the world, as I am not of the world. I am not praying that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. I sanctify Myself for them, so they also may be sanctified by the truth (John 17:14-19).”

Jesus here is close to completing His mission. He is close to fulfilling the plan He came to accomplish. Jesus is just hours away from His arrest, scandalous trial, and crucifixion. He is about to set Himself apart and sacrificially substitute His life for others. Jesus knows that the mission the Father has sent Him to accomplish is almost complete. He will soon be crucified, dead, and buried. However, He will not remain dead and buried. He will rise from the grave, conquering sin, Satan, and the grave. In this prayer, Jesus is reminding us that as He was sent on mission, so He sends us on mission. He sends us with the message of reconciliation and equips us with the truth–the Word. We who were once alienated from God, by our sin, have now been brought near through faith in Jesus Christ. We can say with Paul, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).” The Word, the Bible, will set us apart, guide us, and protect us.

We must value and protect it as we would our very eyes and vision, always reminding one another that it is only by grace and for His glory that we have been saved and set apart by His Word. As Jesus taught Nicodemus, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit (John 3:8).” So by God’s amazing grace and through the work of God the Holy Spirit, I see and believe, I treasure and desire, I protect and I value.  “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).”

Are we, am I, seeing Scripture as this important? If I do, what does that look like in my home? If I do, how does that make a difference at my school? We will protect what we treasure.