Are you taking out the trash?

25 09 2012

We live in a row home on a street that’s right behind a series of shops. Quickly I learned that if we didn’t pull our trash can back into our back yard, after the garbage truck had gone by, that someone else would put their trash into our can. Aaahh the joys of living in the city. It’s not just me. It happens to multiple people on our street.

Have you ever had someone say something about you or do something to you that hurt? It’s easy to carry this hurt around. Eventually you come to realize that you’re carrying around someone else’s garbage.

God didn’t design us to carry around trash. He didn’t design us to carry around sin.

In Matthew 18:15-35 We see how we can avoid walking around heavy – carrying something that you’re not designed to carry.

Kids walk light, bouncing, skipping. Adults walk heavy. Is this because we’re carrying hurt?

Most of the stuff we carry is something that someone else did or said to us. Unresolved conflict the longer you carry it – the heavier it gets.

Jesus teaches about Conflict Resolution because bitterness can ruin your life & shorten your life.

“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him – work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.” Matthew 18:15-17 Message

“When another believer sins against you,” 18:15 …also works in friendships, marriage, & at work.

What are Jesus’ steps to conflict resolution? What should we do when we’re hurt by someone else?
1.    Go privately and talk about it. With the person involved & not people not involved. No Gossip.
2.    If they won’t hear, take one or two with you & talk about it. The purpose is restoration.
3.    If they won’t hear, take it to the church & talk about it. Spiritual leadership working for restoration.
4.    If they won’t hear, treat them as an unbeliever. Forgive. Don’t expect different. Don’t put yourself in harms way. Pray for them.

“Ok Jesus, so if your conflict resolution works, then how many times do I have to forgive someone?”  Peter asks in 18:21. “70 times 7,” Jesus says.

In Matthew 18:21-35 Jesus tells the story of the king who forgave a servant, who would not forgive a coworker’s debt.

In Luke 11:4 Jesus talks about forgiveness. There is a connection between God forgiving us and our forgiving others.

During college, I had a job that included cooking…this meant prepping meat every morning. One day I was rushing around and cutting meat while I had food on the grill and in a skillet. When I cut my finger my focus was on the other food…so I stuck my finger under the water, while cleaning & cooking. After working for a while I realized that I was feeling funny because I had lost a good amount of blood. What’s the point? When you hold on to an offense you are trying to work with one hand. You are holding on to what was done to you and trying to live your life without letting go. You have to let go.

What do we learn?
1.    God forgives us.
2.    His forgiveness changes us.
3.    He expects us to share His forgiveness with others.

“Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35

Celebrate the good stuff!

25 09 2012

Our church has doubled since the spring and we hear more laughter than ever before! This month we will grow from 6 to 9 small groups. A personal donor has made it possible for us to upgrade our permanent signage! I’m so happy to be surrounded by friends, people who share our dream! @CBCBaltimore Dream Team love y’all!

When we arrived in Baltimore, God had already sent us one couple (in Joseph & Anna Talaiver) and now we have 8 couples that are standing strong with us. We’ve broken the 40 barrier on Sunday mornings and yet there are even more people attending small groups! Beyond that we’ve already seen so many changed lives. People are getting closer to Jesus and that always brings real life!

This coming Sunday we talk about our big ideas for this next year and after church we’ll enjoy an amazing lunch. See ya there!

Guilt gets heavy.

13 09 2012

Try something out: stand up and pull your cell phone out of your pocket, now hold it straight out as far as you can reach, with your arm fully extended parallel to the ground hold on to that phone. How long can you hold on to it with your arm straight out? 5 minutes? 15 minutes? Bored? Try calling someone on speakerphone and having a long conversation with your arm fully extended. Does that phone get heavy?

How did you do? Too easy? Try grabbing a chain and padlock from the back fence the do the same.

Was it harder than you expected? That’s weird, right?

The truth is that we’re not designed to carry guilt. The longer we carry our stuff around the heavier it gets.

You know what I’m talking about. It happens innocently enough. In the heat of the moment you do something or say something that you shouldn’t. Maybe it takes a while for you to realize just how wrong it was. Now the other person affected is gone and you’re left wondering what to do.

Sure enough, the more time that passes the heavier that thing gets. You try to forget about it. You will try different things to make it go away. That thing just gets heavier.

You don’t have to live with it.

A guy named David, grew up in a working class family and had accomplished a lot by his thirtieth birthday. He was known as a religious man. He believed in God, read the Scriptures, and sang the songs. He paid his bills. He worked hard. He was a patriot. David saw a beautiful woman taking a bath. He wanted her, but she was married. He sent her husband off to war (where he was supposed to be) so that they could have a fling. He didn’t stop there. He ordered her husband’s commanding officer to put her husband on the front line of battle and pull back the other troops, killing his competition. Then he married the widow. Murder & adultery. The sweet taste of the forbidden became bitter.

This sin kept getting heavier. The longer David carried it around the heavier it got.

Are you still holding on to something? Are you carrying it around every day?

I’ve been there. I’m not perfect. I know what it’s like…feeling like you are rotting from the inside out. Heavy. Almost like walking around with a wet blanket draped over you all day long.

When I came to God with my junk…I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how to pray. When I don’t know what to say, I look for the right words…written by someone else. I have learned that, there are times when, praying the words that are in the Bible can be much easier.

How does David know to ask God for forgiveness? David’s Grandpa Obed is the son of Boaz and Ruth and their family story would also include a description of Boaz’ mother Rahab. Now, that’s a story worth looking up.

When David turned the corner, when he called out to God for mercy, and finally let go of the guilt he was carrying, he wrote the words you can read in Psalm 51.

Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.

Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.

For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.

Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.

For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.

But you desire honesty from the womb,
teaching me wisdom even there.

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Oh, give me back my joy again;
you have broken me—
now let me rejoice.

Don’t keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.

Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.”

Come on, read it again, you need this!

The truth is that getting clean is possible. Getting free from your past is possible!

You can’t do it on your own! You need God!

Yet it is possible! New life can spring up out of the muck we are in!

Read Ephesians 2:3-5 “All of us used to live that way…only by God’s grace that you have been saved!”

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

What can we learn from this story?

  • God’s love & forgiveness doesn’t know your limits.
  • God is not asking you to carry the weight of your past.
  • God is ready, willing, & able to cleanse you.

What can we do?

  • Confess your sin. Confess your faith in God. 
  • Ask God for mercy & grace. Ask God to make you clean. Mercy: not getting the bad stuff we deserve. Grace: getting the good stuff we don’t deserve.
  • Run with a partner. Don’t pick the chains back up. Jesus says “go & sin no more.”

One last thing, David had “running partners” – other guys he could talk to that would help him grow. It’s a great idea to find someone who can help you through this. Look for someone who knows what this journey is like. You should be able to find them in church. Drop me a line if you need help.

Here’s a Secret Sin Prayer using the words of David from Psalm 51: Oh God, have mercy, blot out the stain, wash me clean, purify me, give me back my joy, remove the stain, create in me a clean heart, renew a loyal spirit within me, restore to me the joy of your salvation, make me willing to obey you, forgive me.

Can we learn anything from football?

5 09 2012

First lesson that I learned from sports, through my Dad, was a decision before the season even started…no matter what – never give up!

Here’s a few of my favorite quotes:

The difference between successful person & others is not a lack of strength or knowledge, but rather in a lack of will. – Lombardi

It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up. V.Lombardi

Leaders are made, and they are made by effort and hard work. – Vince Lombardi

Winning means you’re willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else. -Vince Lombardi

The spirit, the will to win, & the will to excel are the things that endure. -Vince Lombardi

The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender. V.Lombardi

The strength of the group is the strength of the leaders. -Vince Lombardi

The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back. That’s real glory. -Vince Lombardi

Football is like life. It requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication & respect for authority. V.Lombardi

If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm. -Vince Lombardi

My attitude has always been…if it’s worth playing, it’s worth paying the price to win. – Coach “Bear” Bryan

Football is an honest game. It’s true to life. It’s a game about sharing. Football is a team game. So is life. -Joe Namath

When you want to win a game, you have to teach. When you lose a game, you have to learn. -Tom Landry

Show me a good and gracious loser & I’ll show you a failure. – Knute Rockne won 105 games in 13 seasons, winning 3 championships.

I’ve learned that something constructive comes from every defeat. -Tom Landry

There is a different between conceit & confidence. Conceit is bragging. Confidence is believing you can get the job done. -Johnny Unitas

Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it. – George Halas

You’re never a loser until you quit trying. -Mike Ditka

Winning as a team is better than anything. It’s great to share success. -Jim Harbaugh

Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to produce uncommon results. -Unknown

It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it. -Lou Holtz

If you aren’t going all the way, why go at all? -Joe Namath

The principle is competing against yourself. It’s about self improvement, about being better than you were the day before. -Steve Young

If you train hard, you’ll not only be hard, you’ll be hard to beat. -Herschel Walker

Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play. -Mike Singletary

We do not quit playing because we grow old, we grow old because we quit playing.-Oliver Wendell Holmes

“Christ wants not nibblers of the possible, but grabbers of the impossible.” ~C.T. Studd (famous athlete and revivalist)