Meetings to Movement

In John 4, Jesus spoke with a lady from Samaria. The Samaritans and the Jews hated each other, and on a normal day you’d never see a Jewish man talk to a Samaritan woman. But, Jesus wanted His disciples and the woman to know that God will meet with someone right where they are, no matter who they are. Back then and even today, God is for everyone.

A lot of us don’t think we have any value because of who we are, what we’ve done, or where we’ve been. And until you receive that God wants to meet with you personally, you’ll never move to your God potential. Read some of Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman in John 4:10-18—

Jesus replied, “If you only knew who I am and the gift that God wants to give you—you’d ask me for a drink, and I would give to you living water.”

The woman replied, “But sir, you don’t even have a bucket and this well is very deep. So where do you find this ‘living water’? Do you really think that you are greater than our ancestor Jacob who dug this well and drank from it himself, along with his children and livestock?”

Jesus answered, “If you drink from Jacob’s well you’ll be thirsty again and again, but if anyone drinks the living water I give them, they will never thirst again and will be forever satisfied! For when you drink the water I give you it becomes a gushing fountain of the Holy Spirit, springing up and flooding you with endless life!”

The woman replied, “Let me drink that water so I’ll never be thirsty again and won’t have to come back here to draw water.”

Jesus said, “Go get your husband and bring him back here.”

“But I’m not married,” the woman answered.

“That’s true,” Jesus said, “for you’ve been married five times and now you’re living with a man who is not your husband. You have told the truth.”

This lady was living in denial, which was destroying her destiny. And many of us are in the same boat—we’re searching for something in life but looking in the wrong places. For this woman, she was looking for it in men. For you, it might be something different. Regardless of where we’re looking, we have to understand that when we misdirect our desire, we will never find the significance we were created for.

Desire isn’t always a bad thing, but don’t let it take your focus from the Creator just to put it in the creation. The Samaritan woman knew about God, but she’d never met Him personally in a way that realigned her to her purpose. What about you? Do you know your purpose? God will challenge you where you are in order to move you to where you can be—meet with Him so that He can begin to show you who He made you to be. He knows the incredible things you can do if you’ll just put your faith in Him.

Watch the full teaching of “Meetings That Create Movement”.

The Purpose of Fasting

Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions this year? It’s nearly the middle of January, so how’s your resolution going? If you’re like a lot of people, you may have already forgotten about it or given up on it. You may have gotten distracted from the reason you made the resolution in the first place.

Without some form of discipline, distractions will take over our lives and can even destroy our destiny. For example, two seconds of allowing yourself to get distracted by your cell phone while you’re driving can physically destroy you. And, the Enemy is very good at distracting you from your God-designed purpose.

To help ourselves learn discipline, we can participate in a fast. The purpose of fasting isn’t as much about what you do or don’t eat as it is about preparing you for distractions. Fasting is a fundamental exercise that can help us move by faith, rather than by sight, toward God’s promises.

Matthew 4:1-11—Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you.

And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”  Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the LORD your God.’”

Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.’” Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.

Fasting is about the future, not the fast itself. Engage in the fast because it will prepare you for greater things in your life. It’s like practicing before a big game; you wouldn’t expect athletes to be able to show up to the Super Bowl or the World Cup without training for years beforehand. It takes discipline to do what needs to be done to be prepared for bigger things.

I invite you to participate in our 21-day, church-wide fast. Don’t be satisfied in the desert. Discipline yourself so that when temptations come, you’ll be prepared.

Watch my full teaching, “Purge to Surge”.

Sowing the Seeds

Jesus talked a lot about seeds while He was on Earth. To put these stories into context, know that Jesus lived in a time when the Romans controlled the area He lived in, and the Jews were looking for the Messiah. Here, Jesus was talking to a crowd of people who were questioning Him on why He spent so much time with people who weren’t like them–they weren’t a part of the in crowd. They even accused Jesus of being of the devil! So Jesus showed them who He really was and what He came to do in their lives through a few stories:

Matthew 13:3-9—“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

In Matthew 13:18-23, Jesus did something He didn’t always do when He told parable: He gave the meaning behind it: “Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.

The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!

The Kingdom of God is for everybody, but not everyone is going to receive the seed of the Good News and enter into the Kingdom. It’s not our job to be soul examiners, looking around to decide for ourselves who should hear the Good News, but to be seed spreaders, scattering seeds wherever we go. How many of us are willing to go sow seeds in places where the people don’t look, act, or sound like us? Maybe they’re a lot younger or older than us. Maybe they have a different skin color, ethnic background, financial status, or social class than us. None of those things held Jesus back from touching the lives of people unlike Him.

In Jesus’ day, the Jews and the Samaritans hated each other, but despite the animosity between their people, Jesus reached across ethnic and gender lines to talk with a Samaritan woman with love and compassion. And, He called out the Jewish religious leaders of the time for having hard hearts despite all of their knowledge. Who someone was or what they had or had not done never kept Jesus from reaching out to them.

Don’t just hold on to the seeds, wandering around and looking for the best place to plant them. Remember, the seeds come from God, so it is always good and always plentiful. The seeds will never run out so spread them everywhere. Believe the promise of hope and an eternal future, because God has said that there is a great harvest coming.

Watch this full teaching from my two-part teaching, “A Season to Come”.

Seasons

Winter’s here! For many people, winter is just a time to wait for the season to change to spring. Where I live in South Carolina, we even have people from up north moving here in order to escape the North’s harsh winters.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2—For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.

There is a season for everything in life. If we spend all our time planting, when will we have the harvest? And to have a harvest, we first have to plant seeds and wait for them to grow into something beautiful. Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and you’ll see how our lives are made up of different seasons.

Sometimes the events that are happening in the world can be confusing. We see moments of peace right before tragedies happen. We have seasons of plenty as well as seasons of lack. And with our limited perspective, it’s easy to lose sight of God in those more challenging seasons and become hopeless. But this is what Ecclesiastes 3:11 says: “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”

God created humans to live eternally. We weren’t meant to experience death, pain, or sorrow, but when sin entered the world, everything changed. But at Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the one who salvages us from our sin and restore us back into a right relationship with God.

This Earth is in a season right now, but we have so much to hope for in the future! Revelation 21:1 and 4 says this: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared…He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” This life is not all there is. It’s temporary. The meaning of life is to live for the eternal life God offers to us. Don’t plant your hope in things like good health, a relationship, or your finances, because those may be gone tomorrow. Instead, keep your hope in God’s promises of an eternal future with Him.

Watch this full teaching from my two-part teaching, “A Season to Come”.

Don’t Sit in the Fire

Do you have a fire-retardant blanket in your home? A house fire isn’t something any of us ever want to happen, but there are tools we can have on hand to protect ourselves in case it does. A fire-retardant blanket is one of those tools, and it is designed to cover you as you move through the flames so that you can get to safety.

You wouldn’t get the blanket and just sit down on the floor, would you? No, you’d want to use it to get out of the fire as fast as you could! But so many of us treat God’s grace in the same way. We think of it just as a blanket that covers our sin, when really it is so much more. The grace of God, His unmerited favor upon our lives, isn’t permission to sit in your sin, in the flames, and never change. Grace is an empowering agent that God lavishes upon our lives; it’s a tool that covers you on the way out.

Titus 2:11-14 says, “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.”

Stop just covering up with grace. If you use it as it’s designed to be used, you will get out of your current condition and be free to live life again. Flames will come at you, but God has given you what you need to make it through. His grace sets us free and enables us to be what God has created us to be. Let the unmerited favor of God flow in your life so that His love can flow in and through your life.

Watch my full teaching called “Turn Up Love” for more.

Why You Should Be Baptized

2 Timothy 1:7—For God has not given us a spirit of fear or timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Baptism is a picture of the transformation that takes place in a person’s life once they come to know Jesus. And it is an amazing way to show that because of the work Jesus has done in your life, you have a spirit of power instead of one of fear or timidity.

Some people think that what they wear to their baptism, or the water they are baptized in, is the biggest part of it. But baptism isn’t the end goal—instead, it’s only the beginning! It’s one of the most important steps a follower of Christ can take, because it is an announcement to the rest of the world that their life is under new management. Sin and death don’t have the same power over them anymore. Instead, they have the same power that rose Jesus from the dead at work in their life.

Baptism is a reminder for you of the decision you made to come to Jesus and of the change He made in your life, and for others of the reason you have new or different disciplines in your life now. Baptism is a snapshot for the world to see that now, your identity is in Christ. No matter what you were like in your past, He has made you a new creation. When you go under the water, it’s symbolizing your old self dying just as Jesus died—you are burying your old nature, and the Holy Spirit is taking over. When you come up out of the water, it’s symbolizing Jesus’ resurrection and the new life and new direction He has given you. When people ask you why you were baptized, you get the opportunity to share His story with them, and the change He has made in you.

And, by being baptized, you are joining in a special bond with other Christ followers. There are Christians all over the world; we come in different skin colors and nationalities and sometimes we speak different languages. We are male, female, young, and old. We have different occupations, backgrounds, and talents.

But one thing that all Christ followers have in common is Jesus. Ephesians 4:4-6 says, “For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.” We are here to help one another on this journey. In a world where we are called to stand out, God has given us a group of people, His Church, to be there to encourage us and cheer us on. Baptism expresses to this group that we are all in, fully committed, to them.

Have you announced to the world your commitment to and identity in Jesus through baptism? If you haven’t, it’s time to put the past behind you and show the world the spirit of power, love, and self-discipline God has given to you.

Watch my full teaching on baptism.

Unshakable Hope

Have you ever been in the middle of a troubling circumstance and prayed to God to ask Him for a miracle? It’s normal for us to ask for a miracle for something we want to happen. But often, our view of God’s miracles and His view of His miracles are very different.

People who are going to climb mountains make sure that they are prepared. They’ll make sure they have a good rope to safely repel off the sides of cliffs. Their rope is like our faith in God.

But what good is the rope without something strong to anchor it to? A mountain climber wouldn’t repel with a rope that’s just connected to a tiny, two-pound rock; a rock like that isn’t going to do them much good. Instead, they’d choose an unmovable rock, one that can easily hold their weight.

God wants to give us a solid hope to anchor our faith to. Our faith isn’t meant to be like an aimless rope the moment something bad happens to us; it should be tied off to a hope that is unshakable.

When Jesus came to Earth, He performed many miracles for the people of that day. But the purpose of those miracles wasn’t just to fix physical problems. All of Jesus’ miracles point us to the promises of God, to give us a hope to firmly anchor our faith to. He wants us to know that in the end, everything will be okay. No matter what happens in this life, we have an amazing future with God to look forward to. He is going to make all things new, even Earth. His miracles are like snapshots, giving us just a taste of the future, and reminding us that the best is still yet to come.

Watch my full teaching, “Miracles to Manifest”.

Eternal Eyes

Not long ago I spent a long day with something irritating my eyes. I couldn’t figure out what in the world was bothering them! At about 4am that night God woke me up and I went to the mirror to get a close-up look at my eyes. Now, I wear the type of contacts that I have to change out daily, and I thought I’d done that the previous morning. But it turns out, I had put a new contact in with the old one rolled up in the bottom of my eye.

Contacts are supposed to help you see better, but wearing two of them only made my eyesight worse. God spoke to my heart as I look in my mirror—trying to look through two lenses doesn’t work. I’d been trying to view life through the old and the new at the same time, but that only caused irritation, frustration, and blurriness.

What you envision is what you become. If you have placed your faith and trust in Jesus, He has salvaged you. You are redeemed—restored—and been made new through Him. Your old life has gone and the new has come—but maybe you’re still trying to look at life through the old lens.

All of us are born with a sin nature. To sin means to miss the bullseye of God’s glorious standard—none of us are perfect, and that’s why we need Jesus. When you become a Christ follower, He starts teaching you how to live with the new nature He’s given you. But our hearts and minds are still trained for our old way of life. It’s easy for us to want to keep that old contact in and try to live life looking through the lenses of both our old and new natures.

With Jesus, we have the opportunity to look at life through an eternal lens. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” God gave us His Word so that we can begin to learn how to see from His vantage point. It is the lens that helps give us eternal focus. When all we can see is the problems in our life, it’s time to get rid of that old lens and swap in the eternal lens that comes from faith and hope in God and His love for us.

Watch the full teaching of “Eternal Eyes”.

Heart for the House

This past weekend, we had a special weekend called Heart for the House weekend. During these services I and my wife Kim explained the history of Barefoot Church and the heart, vision, and mission behind everything that we do. For a more in-depth look at this, watch the Heart for the House message.

For now, I just want to talk about our logo. The logo of Barefoot Church isn’t just some cool-looking symbol, but actually has deep meaning attached to every line. The top of the logo is an L to represent our life, and bottom of the logo is a C, representing Christ as the foundation of our life. If a building has a weak foundation, it won’t be able to withstand storms. We want Christ to be the cornerstone, the foundation, of everything that we do. Storms will come, but with His strength we will be able to make it through them.

The edges of the logo symbolize that we want to bring everything about our lives into alignment with God and what He has planned for our lives. God has a plan for your life, and by aligning your life with Him, you will be able to fulfill that mission. And the point at the top of the logo are the crest, showing that when we do bring ourselves into alignment with what God has laid out for us to do, He elevates us so that we can reach our full God-potential. Through Him, we can all do more than we ever thought we could do. It only takes trusting Him enough.

If you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus yet, then you may not understand what I’m talking about here. If that is something you believe you want to do, read what Romans 10:9 says: “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Jesus came to the earth because sin—our misses in life, those things we do or don’t do that miss the bullseye of God’s glorious standard—left a gap between God and humanity. According to God, the penalty or wages of sin is death.

But, Jesus came, lived a perfect life free of sin, and died a brutal death on the cross. Since He was perfect, He covers the penalty of all our sin—past, present, and future. He demonstrated His unlimited power by resurrecting from the grave, showing that even death can’t hold Him back. And when we put our faith in who Jesus is and what He has done, He salvages us from the wreckage of our sin and makes us a new creation. We can have security in knowing that we belong to God for eternity, and nothing can take us away from Him.

No matter who you are, know that God has a place for you among His people, the Church. If you’re local to the North Myrtle Beach area, we would love to connect with you in person. If not, I invite you to watch our services at our online campus, find a community of believers in your city to do life with, or both. God didn’t create us to do life alone, so don’t keep yourself from finding people who will support and encourage you on this journey called life.

Watch the teaching my wife, Kim, and I shared during Heart for the House Weekend.

The Wheelbarrow

Charles Blondin was an acrobat from the 1800s. One day, he had a cable stretched across Niagara Falls, and a crowd gathered around to watch him walk across this tightrope. The first time, he tied a blindfold around his eyes and asked the crowd if they thought he could do it. They cheered their agreement, and he started to walk across. When he made it to the other side safely, the crowd applauded.

Then, Blondin grabbed a wheelbarrow, and asked the audience if they trusted that he had the ability to make it across the tightrope, blindfolded and pushing a wheelbarrow. Everyone cheered, excited to watch him do this dangerous trick.

So, he put the blindfold on, got up to the tightrope, and asked the crowd one more question: “How much do you trust me? Who wants to get in the wheelbarrow?”

You can bet that there weren’t as many cheers from the crowd when faced with that question. They had all cheered their encouragement for Blondin to attempt the feat, but when asked if they believed in him enough to put their own lives in his hands, they were more hesitant.

Jesus wants that level of trust from us. If you’re a believer in Him, do you trust that you’re a part of the Church? That you’re a part of a group of people whose purpose is to change the world? Would you get in the wheelbarrow?

If you’re going to fulfill your purpose, your heart has to be open to the will of God. And a willing heart has trust as its foundation. It builds on what supports it. So what is your stance? What are you standing on? Everything in the world is competing for our attention, so we need to make sure that we are standing on something strong, something worth putting our complete trust into.

Getting in the wheelbarrow is the first step to fulfilling your God destiny. Stand on who God is, who He says you are, and what He has called you to do with your life.

For the full context surrounding today’s illustration, watch “Heart Guard” now.