What is Lent?

Sunday we started a new series for the lenten season "LENT: Leave Everything Not Transformed." I know many of you have never practiced any type of lenten observance and may even wonder what Lent is. Early on in the church and I mean the first 300 years we read that there was a tradition of fasting before celebrating the resurrection. Many churches fasted weekly, on Friday, to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus. These fasts were sometimes total, meaning only water was consumed. Sometimes these fasts were of meat and they only ate vegetables. Some people modified this and ate fish. While the exact expression of it changed, the practice of self-denial was nearly universal. It was a sacrifice that you felt in your body which was a reminder of the sacrifice Christ felt in his body.

Give it some time and this fast turns into a season of self-denial leading up to Easter. They felt that 40 days leading up to Easter was a good time to remind us of the sacrifice of Christ. Why 40 da…

How To Read The Bible Everyday

Many people will be making a New Year's resolution to read the Bible more. Yet, many people will get frustrate and quit in a few weeks or in the middle of Leviticus (whatever comes first). Part of the problem is that most people don't have a good approach to reading scripture. They approach Bible reading like a novel, newspaper, or dictionary. Each of these readings will bless you with some benefit, but fail to approach the Bible as an inspired text.

Below is a brief description of an approach you can use and modify to hopefully get more out of God's word...

In The Morning
Pray a short prayer simply asking God to bless your time with him.Read through the first psalm and pause on any word or phrase that stands out to you.Offer up to God whatever is on your heart for the day and/or from the psalm you read.Ask God to bless your continued reading and then read the main passage and Proverb.Glance back over your reading for anything that you want to remember. Say it out loud, pray…

Real Faith is Personal - Not Private

Jesus said that people were like trees, you could tell good from bad based on their fruit. Sunday we finished up our series "Back to Basics" where we've explored what it takes to produce good fruit in our lives. Good fruit is produced by good roots. The roots are unseen and personal to the tree. They silently draw up from the ground water and nutrients essential to producing fruit. The fruit is the public product of the unseen or personal work of the tree.

A healthy tree has healthy roots that produces healthy fruit. If the fruit is bad then it's likely a problem with the roots which need to be fed by watering or fertilizing. If that doesn't work then the tree needs to be cut down because it refuses to produce. The same is true with many Christians. They come to church to be fed but then refuse to produce the fruits of godliness like love, forgiveness, kindness, mercy, generosity, and patience. Trees with roots and no fruit are nothing more than stumps, thankfull…

Bible Reading Plan

Reading the Bible is on many people's bucket lists but it can be an overwhelming and frustrating task. Often people start reading from the beginning and then give up somewhere in Leviticus. Or perhaps you started reading the New Testament and felt a little bored by reading the same stories four times! Usually readers quit and then resolve to start over, so they re-read the same things again and again.

I've been there and know the struggle of keeping up with a regular Bible reading habit. Thankfully I've struggled through (after a few false starts) and have found it to be an incredible blessing. Let me tell you I have found that regular Bible reading is completely worth the effort!

After experimenting with several different Bible reading plans and finding none that worked for me, I came up with my own. This reading plan is a bit of a hybrid but was created with four specific goals in mind... 

Rotate the readings to keep them fresh so you're always engaged. This reading p…

The Second To Last Word

"The last word" is the defining word. It summarizes the conversation, wraps up the discussion, and finalizes the decision. This is why we want to "get the last word in" and become frustrated when someone else does. We don't want to be defined by others. We don't want to allow others the final say. We fight and prolong the argument until we get the last word. This type of interaction does great harm to our relationships which last beyond any one conversation. Perhaps it would be best if we could learn to be content with the second to last word.

The real problem is that we will never be able to define anyone because we will never know enough about them to put them in a box. Our definition of another person can at best be fluid as we learn more about who they truly are. We need to stop trying to put people in a box (we hate it when they do that to us) and start listening, learning, and being curious about who they truly are.

If we commit ourselves to learning …