confession time

I love my mom. And that’s not the confession I’m making…

Many years ago she started e-mailing us kids each day of the work week; she shared a verse and thought of the day from a devotional calendar that she has. And it has stuck – and now we get a little glimpse into whatever she is doing that day, etc. as well.

Today’s e-mail made my heart happy. Life over the past couple of years for my mom has been hard. She lost her sister and then almost a year later, we lost my brother. So things have been tough – but she has been faithful with her daily e-mails and faithful to encourage others. Today she shared this: “I had a chance to witness to Debbie, our apartment manager, yesterday. She is really close to the truth, and wants to understand the bible-please pray that the Holy Spirit will give me the right words. I invited her to church, and will invite her to go to Bible Study…”

I wrote her back and I told her I loved her and I loved her heart for others. She told me she has really grown and been stretched this last year. And its great to see her wanting to share with others about her faith in the Lord and the hope she has in God. And it is true – something has changed in her…

I’m also madly in love with my wife. And that’s no confession either – pretty much everyone knows how crazy I am about her…

My wife shared with me recently that she has a new desire to be more open to sharing about the love of God with people she is connecting with or new people she meets. If you know her, you know that she tends to be more a “behind the scenes” kind of person. But recently, God has been growing her and stretching her to look for opportunities each day, wherever she is at, to connect with people and to point them to Jesus. And guess what? Well, every park we’ve been to with the kids in the last couple of weeks the Lord puts on my wife’s heart to connect with a person she meets there. It’s incredible – this change in her, this desire and boldness…

My mom and my wife are inspiring me with their desire to share with others about their love for God. The Lord has used them to re-ignite within me an awareness of what He has already at work doing in the lives of people I encounter each day. Their example in my life has encouraged me to more bold with people I connect with. It’s led me to pray with strangers at the pet store and Wall-Greens. It’s led me to stop, connect and listen with people I normally pass by. And it’s given me opportunities to share with each of them, the hope that I have found in the Lord.

So my confession is this: I have not been good at sharing with others the hope that I have in the Lord. And to my family and friends who aren’t yet connected to God – I am sorry I haven’t been more courageous about sharing my faith with you. We know its there – for crying out loud, I’m a pastor. But I want that to change. I want you to see in me and my actions the hope that I profess in Jesus Christ. I don’t want to just pray for you, I want to, if you’ll let me, to pray with you. And, regardless of what you might think about the church, or the Lord – I want to, if you are willing, to have great conversations with you about God and His love for you. I love each of you and I want to spend eternity with you. I care about you, and about us, and I care too much to stay silent about this anymore.

So…who are you going to share going to share the Good News of God’s love with today? There are people all around you that need to know the Hope you have in the Lord – be bold, be courageous and point someone to Jesus today!

confronting shame

Most weeks I gather with a group of students from our Riverside Students Ministries at RWC and we work through a book (a student edition) that Max Lucado has written called “Experiencing the Heart of Jesus.” The book is great and it has an awesome format that provides readers with the opportunity to respond to his thoughts and write out their responses to questions and the scripture they are reviewing.

This last week we going through a section called “Freedom from Shame” and as things progressed we looked at John 21 where Peter had decided to go out and fish, and Jesus had showed up along the shore. The story in John 21 is powerful. Here is Lucado shares…
One of the next times we see Peter interact with Jesus is back on the shores of Lake Galilee. Peter is back in the fishing boat, and we wonder why goes fishing. We know why he goes to Galilee; he had been told that the risen Christ would meet the disciples there. The arranged meeting place isn’t the sea, however, but a mountain (Matt. 28:16). If the followers were to meet Jesus on a mountain, what are they doing in a boat? No one told them to fish, but that’s what they did. “Simon Peter said, ‘I am going out to fish.’ The others said, “We will go with you'” (John 21:3). Besides, didn’t Peter quit fishing? Two years earlier, when Jesus called him to fish for men, didn’t he drop his net and follow We haven’t seen him fish since. We never see him fish again. Why is fishing now? Especially now! Jesus had risen from the dead. Peter as seen the empty tomb. Who could fish at a time like this?
Were they hungry? Perhaps that’s the sum of it. Maybe the expedition was born out of growling stomachs.
Or then again, maybe it was born out of a broken heart. You see, Peter could not deny his denial. The empty tomb did not erase the crowing rooster. Christ had returned, but Peter wondered–he must have wondered–“After what I did, would he return for someone like me?”
If you find yourself awash in the whirlpool of sorrow, hiding int he shadows of shame, continually reliving your failures, Jesus’ invitation is for you. He wants face-time with you–not to scold you, but to hold you. He want you to come to his heart. Let him set you free.
No one could have been more grateful than Peter. The one Satan had sifted like wheat was eating bread at the hand of God. Peter was welcomed to the meal of Christ. Right there for the devil and his tempters to see, Jesus “prepared a table int he presence of his enemies.”
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Ps. 23:5). What the shepherd did for the sheep sounds a lot like what Jesus did for Peter. What if Jesus did for you what he did for Peter? Suppose he, in the hour of your failure, invited you to a meal?
On the night before his death, Jesus prepared a table for his followers.
It was now the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread when the Passover lamb was sacrificed. Jesus’ followers said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover meal?” Jesus sent two of his followers and said to them, “Go into the city and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. When he goes into a house, tell the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says: “Where is my guest room in which I can eat the Passover meal with my followers?” ‘ The owner will show you a large room upstairs that is furnished and ready. Prepare the food for us there.” (Mark 14:12-15)
Notice who did the “preparing” here. Jesus reserved a large room and arranged for the guide to lead the disciples. Jesus made certain the room was furnished and the food set out. What did the disciples do? The faithfully complied and were fed.
The Shepherd prepared the table. Not only that, he dealt with the snakes. You’ll remember that only one of the disciples didn’t complete the meal that night. “The devil had already persuaded Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to turn against Jesus” (John 13:2) Judas started to eat, but Jesus didn’t let him finish. On the command of Jesus, Judas left the room. “‘The thing that you will do–do it quickly’…Judas took the break Jesus gave him and immediately went out. It was night” (John 13:27-30)
There was something dynamic in this dismissal. Jesus prepared a table in the presence of the enemy. Judas was allowed to see the super, but he wasn’t allowed to stay there.
You aren’t welcomed here. This table is for my children. You may tempt them. You may trip them. But you’ll never sit with them. This is how much he loves us.
And if any doubt remains, lest there be any “Peters” who wonder if there is a place at the table for them, Jesus issues a tender reminder as he passes the cup.
“Every one of you drink this.” Those who feel unworthy, drink this. Those who feel ashamed, drink this. Those who feel embarrassed, drink this.
Our failures leave us mired down in guilt and shame.
Jesus calls you to come, not for a scolding, but to welcome you back.
Jesus has prepared a place for you.
May you, confront and process your shame and fear. Don’t return to your sin. Don’t continue in your sin either. I pray you may confront it and what it produces in your heart. And that you invited Jesus to be apart of changing you from the inside out. May you experience freedom from shame.