Feeling Insignificant Like a Guy From Nazareth

Roots matter. They help to define us… sometimes in a good way and sometimes not. Jesus had earthly roots in His childhood home that caused those who surrounded Him to look down on Him. These roots were insignificant and didn’t carry with them any sense of importance. He was a Nazarene…

So what, right? I mean… who really cares where you are from or what kind of difficulty that you had to face early on? 

Well, our early days have a lot to do in defining who we become or what kind of adversity that we have to fight along the way. Our roots carry a stigma that can wrap around our feet and hold us solidly in place or push us forward to achieve more and more. Jesus’ roots were ones that would traditionally stifle and hold back any growth. He was from Nazareth.

Now, let me make it clear that I am not implying that Jesus was a member of the band who brought us the great hits of “Love Hurts” or “Hair of the Dog”.

Nazareth Band

No… I am talking about the city that sits in Israel. Today, it is known as the ‘Arab Capital of Israel’ (with over 60% being Muslim) and the largest city in the Northern district of Israel. During Jesus’ time, this city was very Jewish and very small. In fact, there was a belief about the people who came from Nazareth that is reflected in Nathaniel’s words to Philip in John 1:46 …

“Nazareth? Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

It’s understandable. Nazareth was not known for much. It sat surrounded by soft, porous limestone hills and was filled with people who made their living farming. They were spread out as they needed room for plants and livestock to roam. They were very Jewish and very communal in how they lived, but nothing good was expected to come out of such humble places. Nothing significant… nothing noticeable. 

But someone did. In fact, it was in one of the dreams of Joseph that Jesus’ parents were directed to go to this humble city. (Check out this blog post for more on the dreams of Joseph). God wanted Jesus to be in Nazareth. Jesus begins his life with no place for a bed… born in a barn. Then, after spending some time in Egypt, they come to Nazareth to plant their tent posts and begin life as a family.

There was a Stigma that came from Nazareth.

“Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

Stigmas have a way of following us. People don’t forget who we were or what we did or where we came from. People have a hard time seeing us outside of the stigma. Nathaniel had a hard time with it and so will people in your life. They will only look at you through the lens of where you were and not where you are going.

This stigma on Jesus followed Him to His very death.

Fast forward His story to His death on a cross at a place called Golgotha… “Place of the Skull”. A sign was placed above his head on that old rugged cross. A sign that had the first words point back to this stigma… to this place of origin. The sign said…

“Jesus of Nazareth. King of the Jews.”

It is as if Pilate was giving the Jews one final twist of the knife into their gut of disdain towards Jesus. Not only was Pilate calling Him the King of the Jews… but he was calling out the reality that this “supposed” King was from this “Podunk” town of Nazareth.

Little did Pilate know what would happen three days later. Little did He know that this insignificant man from an insignificant town would literally rise to life from death and change the entire trajectory of the world. Little did he know that this Nazarite’s name would be known by every man on earth before it’s all said and done. (Phil. 2:9-11)

Little did he know…

And I want you to know today that God loves to make the insignificant significant. He loves to take that which the world would poke fun at and use for His glory on earth. He loves to be seen as the One working through those who would stand no chance in the eyes of the world… and do something great through them.

That is probably you.

That may be the reason you stumbled on this post and read these words and God is using them to speak into you. Yes, there have been plenty of Nathaniels and Pilates in your life who have been quick to write you off or tell you why you can’t do this or that, however you can do all things THROUGH CHRIST who gives you strength. Stay connected to Him. Stay close to Him. Stay surrendered to Him and watch what He can… and will… do in and through you.

Say this simple prayer of surrender.

“God, help me focus on You instead of my past. Help me look to my position with You when I’m tempted to look at where I come from. I surrender my life to You and ask You to use my remaining days for Your glory here on earth. I commit to serve You with everything I have until the day You call me home. I love You and thank You for today.”

GP

 

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A King, a Priest and a Dead Man Walk Into A Barn

A gift is a blessing… but a perfectly timed gift is a miracle. 

I can imagine how humbled Mary and Joseph were when the ‘wise men’ astrologers followed a star to their front door. I can imagine their joy to see these learned men who had traveled (maybe 1,000 miles) to bow before their son. But when they opened the treasure boxes… I am sure their hearts melted.

Some gifts may seem strange to us today and some we would welcome gladly.

GOLD. For sure, no problem with this. If you want to bring a bucket full of gold to my kid’s birthday party… I will not complain. With a current value of $1,272 per ounce, you can fill every bucket in the house with it! Of course, it was also a gift fit for a king. And then there was the incense.

FRANKINCENSE to be specific. This was used in priestly functions as incense was burned before God as a picture of prayers going up before the Lord. Some today, however, believe that the wise men’s gift of frankincense was practical for the medicinal nature. Either way, it was also a gift for a priest. And then there was the myrrh.

MYRRH was an embalming agent. Yes, it was valuable, but it also carried with it a very ominous picture into the future of Jesus and the core reason on why He was on earth. He was there on purpose… and that purpose was death. It was a good gift for a dead man.

These gifts were normal gifts to give a king. In fact, these same three items were apparently among the gifts, recorded in ancient inscriptions, that King Seleucus II Callinicus offered to the god Apollo at the temple in Miletus in 243 B.C.E.

There is also a prophetic word from the prophet Isaiah about the response of people to God in the sixtieth chapter of Isaiah:

Isaiah 60-6.png

For us today, there is a lot to see about these incredible gifts given to this young child. It is a testimony of God’s care and provision for the future that was unknown by Joseph and Mary at this time. Because… in the next few verses we are going to find a raging king Herod, a death squad march into Bethlehem and an all expense paid trip to Egypt. Paid for through a miracle.

A miracle that involved a star that defied the laws of nature and a group that traveled over 1,000 miles with a message of honor.

God knew the future of Joseph and Mary… and He provided for them. He made a way. He opened a door. He cared for their needs. He worked a miracle and did that which ONLY He could have done. 

The same is true in your life.

The same God who worked a miracle in Bethlehem can work a miracle in your life today. The same God who provided for Mary and Joseph can provide for you. The same God who created the universe has a perfect plan for your life. 

Our role is to humbly trust and respond to His grace and love with open hands and a grateful heart. To thank Him for His provision today and trust that He knows ALL the difficulties we will face tomorrow and trust that He is providing for those tomorrows today.

Say this simple prayer:

“God, help me trust you more. Help me to believe that You do care and You do provide for ALL of my needs. Help me turn to You when things don’t make sense and to look for your fingerprints all over my life. I want to give all of my ‘todays’ to you and trust that you are actively at work in all of my ‘tomorrows’. Help me live out that trust. Amen.”

GP

A Star Defies Nature For Jesus

In the Bible there is a story about ‘wise men’ who were traveling to see a newborn King. They were following a star along their journey and this star made some incredibly unnatural moves along it’s journey.

It started in ‘the East’ with a group of people known as ‘magi’. Magi actually first entered the scene around the 7th century BC in the Median empire, but at the time of Jesus they were a priestly caste dwelling within the Parthian empire (a large area to the east of the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire). They were known for interpreting dreams and practiced a hybrid of astronomy and astrology. They were ‘star people’.

So, they see ‘the‘ star. This is not just any star, but the star that was a big deal because it was the star that marked a king being born. If they were in Persia when they saw the star (although the Bible is silent on the exact point of origin), they would have traveled 1,000 miles to Bethlehem as they followed that star! (Their feet must’ve been like stone after walking all that way… all calloused and blistered by the time they made it into Jerusalem. Either that or some sore butts from the camels. Either way, they were feeling it. )

Now, this is where it gets strange.

They start getting close to this baby named Jesus and we read:

“…the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.” Matthew 2:9b

Now stars travel in a certain trajectory. If you were to sit and watch the stars through a telescope, you would occasionally have to move the telescope. Because… these stars are not static… they move. They move from the east to the west. But Bethlehem in 5 miles south of Jerusalem.

Did you hear that? The star moved south.

In order for this star to lead these ‘wise guys’ from Jerusalem to Bethlehem it would have taken them on a five mile southward journey. It would have done the impossible to bear witness to the King of all kings… Jesus. 

This is just another one of those facts that I quickly read over and don’t pay any attention to. However, I can imagine the awe of these ‘astronomers’ who spent their entire lives with their eyes to the sky. They knew how stars were supposed to react. They knew what was ‘supposed’ to happen. But, when nature moved to bow before the child named Jesus… they noticed… and so should we. 

We should read God’s Word with fresh eyes to see the miracles in the simple moments. To watch the impossible become possible as the fingerprints of God show up all over the situations relating to Jesus. Because, those fingerprints don’t simply stop around the life of Jesus and the first disciples, but they can be found all around you… also.

God is still at work and He is moving around your life. Sometimes, like when we read the Bible, we skip over those ‘small verses’ that don’t stick out. We just look at the ‘big things’ that are going on around us. But, it is in those small details that the real miracles are taking place. 

If you are frustrated or wondering where God is, I want to reassure you that He IS here and He IS active and He DOES care so much about you. Maybe start by saying a simple prayer like this to Him today:

“God, help me see your fingerprints in my life. Help me see that you are here in the little details of my life. Help me see that You do care and that You are actively at work all around me. Help me see that You will never leave me and that You are fighting on my behalf. Open my eyes to your work today.”

GP

 

 

 

 

Four “Sinners” that God Still Used

We read their names really quick. In fact, I often tell people to skip the Bible chapter all together if it is their first time reading Scripture. Matthew chapter 1. The genealogy or better known as “that chapter with all those big names that I can’t pronounce which reminds me why I haven’t read the Bible until now” chapter. 

However, those names represent people and those people represent stories of how God moves in the lives of broken people to do something extraordinary. 

Five of the names in chapter one are the names of women. Mary, the mother of Jesus… of course… being one of the five. But, there are four more. Let me tell you their names and give you a highlight of what they were known for. (Click the link to read the Bible story for yourself). 

Tamar: Dressed like a prostitute, lured her father-in-law into a sexual romp, got pregnant, and had twins. (Now, I know that there is a lot of other issues involved here historically and culturally, but there’s the heart of the story. Read it entirely here.)

Rahab: She was a prostitute. Not just dressed like one, but made it her profession and had the red light in front of her house to prove it. (OK… it was a ‘scarlet cord’, but that’s just some Bible humor for me. Read it entirely here.)

Ruth: She was a foreigner from the much hated land of Moab. The Jewish folks traced the land of Moab back to an incestuous relationship between Lot and his eldest daughter. (Who said the Bible wasn’t interesting? Read it entirely here.)

Wife of Uriah: This was a lady named Bathsheeba and may be the reason we call lounging around in a porcelin tub a ‘bath’, but I’m just guessing. She was the pursuit of King David and part of his adulterous fall. (Read it entirely here.)

So… what does that mean for me? 

Well, God knew what He was doing when He was setting up the lineage of Jesus. He could have picked ‘better’ choices. He could have left certain people out of His story. He could have passed this one up or chose this other one instead.

But… he didn’t.

He chose the messed up. He chose the broken. He chose that had been looked down upon. He chose the ones who messed up BIG TIME. He chose them IN SPITE of themselves… and He can use you too. 

I have talked with so many people who believe that they are ‘beyond’ God using them. They have messed up too bad or traveled too far away. But, I want you to know that God can use your story for His glory.

I want to encourage you to surrender your story to Him. Give your life and your past and your todays and your tomorrows to Him. Say a simple prayer sincerely from your heart…

“God, I’m yours. I’m sorry about the mistakes of my life and those moments I chose ME over YOU, but today I turn to You and ask for your forgiveness. Use my story for Your glory and help me rely on You completely each and every day.” 

Now, next time you want to give up or not show up or feel sorry for yourself. Remember… God is in the business of using messy people. And… if He can use them, He can use you. 

Blessings!

GP

Matthew 4: Beach Walks, the Jesus Train and Putting on Your Big Boy Pants

I’d like to think that I am a true disciple of Christ today. I want to think that if Jesus were to come to me and say “Follow Me” that I would quickly jump in his van and head out on a cross country adventure of epic proportions. I want to think that I’d leave it all to follow Him. But, in all honesty, I don’t think that it would be that easy. 

But, the early disciples had to make that decision. 

In Matthew 4, Jesus is traveling around after surviving the 40 days of fasting in the wilderness and the quality time with satan on the mountain. He is walking  down the beach one day and he runs in to two brothers… Peter and Andrew. The Bible records the proposition given to them by Jesus when He said:

“Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Mt. 4:19

At once they look at their friends, say “Peace Out”, and hop on the Jesus train. (My own translation.)

They continue their stroll and come across another two guys who are working with their dad by the names of James and John. Matthew doesn’t record Jesus’ exact words, but describes the scene like this:

“Jesus called them.” 

Those are powerful words for me and they should be powerful words for you too. “Jesus called them”. 

Two thousand years later and not much has changed.  Jesus is still calling people. Jesus is still interrupting our daily lives to tell us that He has a better plan. He is still encouraging us to follow Him. And we, like James and John, are forced to make a decision. There was no “Part Time” positions in the job description that Jesus is laying out. There is only “full time, give it all, leave it all behind, no turning back” positions.

And we are forced to make a decision.

James and John were forced to make a radical decision. It would have included leaving their jobs… It would have included abandoning their careers… And, it would have included walking away from their father who was sitting in a boat with them fixing a net. It would have been leaving your dad to do the work while you followed a rabbi.

Now, the Bible doesn’t tell us if dad gives them the “I’m your daddy and you better listen to me Boy” look or not. Maybe he was happy. Maybe he was excited. Jesus was a great guy for your kids to have the opportunity to learn from. But, upset or overjoyed, it would have been hard.

Following Jesus is hard. 

There is no way around that one. There are moments that are going to be very tough and we will be called to walk away from situations or security or relationships that keep us comfy. But, like the “blankee” that eventually gets put in a drawer and only gets pulled out when you have an extremely bad day, we will have to put some of our “comfort” away.

Think about it. Abraham leaving his homeland. Zacchaeus giving away all the cash. Paul sacrificing religious privilege. Mary letting go of her son. And the list can go on and on. Following God’s plans for our lives can be difficult. 

So, what do we do with that? Well, we put on our big boy pants and realize that the One who we are following has a better plan for our lives than we do. 

Peter had a plan for his life… God’s plan was better. 

James and John’s dad had a plan for their lives… God’s plans were better. 

YOU have a plan for your life… God’s plan IS better. 

Who’s plan are you going to follow. 

It’s not easy, I agree. It’s tough to follow Jesus, but IT IS SO WORTH IT!

You may be tempted to remain in your comfy place, but I want you to reevaluate where you are. You can continue to sit in a boat mending a net, or you can learn how to follow Christ into the adventure of a lifetime.

If I were you… I’d choose the latter.

GP

Matthew 3: Honey Glazed Locusts and a Side of Repentance

Chapter three of the book of Matthew in the Bible ushers in another character into the Jesus story, although he is one that had been around since the very beginning… literally. He is the one who leaps in his mother’s womb when a pregnant Mary walked into the room. He is the cousin of Jesus and eccentric who is well known for two things.

His fashion sense… “Camel Hair” must have been pretty chic around this time.

His cuisine… He created the appetizer “sticky bugs”, which was simply locusts with a honey glaze.

But, there was something else that made him pretty interesting… his message. It was a simple message: “Repent!”

Yes, like the guy on the street corner with a bullhorn and a wearable placard:

Repent!

“Turn away from sin and turn towards God.” It’s a message that more need to hear today. It’s a message that some churches have forgotten about in an effort to become more appealing. Here’s the funny thing though. John preached the message loud and clear and people traveled from all over to respond to the message of repentance.

Did you hear those words? “Respond to the message of repentance.”

I didn’t say that they traveled out to be shamed or ridiculed. I didn’t say that they enjoyed being told that they were a “very, very bad, bad boy”. I said that they responded to the message of repentance.

“Turn around from the direction that you are going and look to God!”

“You are going in the wrong way. Your current direction leads to destruction. Make a U-turn!”

“WAKE UP!”

Repent.

It’s a message that needs to be heard today also. However, we need to learn how to say it. Consistently. Emphatically. Gracefully. Repent.

John couldn’t have done this any better than what he said in verse 8 of chapter 3 in Matthew:

“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”

Imagine your life as a tree. The health of the tree is producing the fruit that other people are partaking in. They consume the fruit. You produce the fruit. This fruit is either produced from a life of repentance or from a life of continuing on in disobedience.

We all can clearly see the fruit of what happens when we DON’T walk in repentance. Just watch an episode of “Cops”. (What’cha gonna do when He comes for you?) Sure, that’s obvious, but what about the NOT so obvious fruit. The fruit that we have to live in. The fruit of anger and sadness and fear. The fruit of jealousy and pain and hate. What about that insidious fruit that destroys us from the inside out?

There’s another choice. There’s a better choice.

Paul described what “producing fruit in keeping with repentance” looked like. In fact, he gave it a cool name: the fruit of the spirit. We can read about it in the book of Galatians. Here is what we read:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

When we learn how to walk in repentance, we begin to produce fruit in keeping with this repentance. It is good fruit that not only nourishes us, but nourishes those all around us. Our lives begin to produce joy and love, peace and goodness, gentleness and self control. But, you need to see that this comes AFTER the turning away.

When I was young I used to think that I had to DO things to make God happy. In other words, I’d have to earn His love and admiration by the actions that I would make. When I would mess up, I would be punished. When I did good, I would be blessed. I would try to MAKE myself love… but I couldn’t produce that fruit. I would try to control my actions… but failed miserably every time. I couldn’t do any of these things because I can’t produce this fruit. It is not the fruit of my flesh, but my spirit. My flesh is all about ME, ME, ME and that’s a different kind of fruit, for a different kind of discussion.

Today, just know this. The first step towards producing the fruit that we long for in our lives is simply to turn away from “my will” to “God’s will”. It is a little thing called “surrender” and one that we need to learn to practice every day. Then, as you surrender your life to God, begin to pray Galatians 5:22-23 over your life.

“God, teach me to love like you. Let your joy rise up in my soul. Let your peace guide my days. Let me learn patience through You. Let my life exude your gentleness and kindness and goodness. Teach me to be faithful in all that I do. And, Holy Spirit, I thank you for your self-control. Let me bear fruit in keeping with repentance. As I put you first, let my life reflect Your light to this world. Amen.”

Start there and see what happens. You can also eat some insects… but that is for the REALLY spiritually advanced!

GP

Matthew 2: Killing Babies and Sitting Through Pain

As we move along to the second chapter of Matthew, tragedy meets divinity as we witness more miracles in the story of Jesus. This miracle… and tragedy… is built around those that fill our hearts with joy and our landfills with diapers… Babies!

King Herod has been affectionately called  “a madman” in history, though we have probably heard him called “Herod the Great”. After reading my history lessons about him, I would simply call him “Herod the Great Madman”.

He was a ruthless murderer. He killed three of his sons, his most beloved wife and many more. Killing, for him and many other leaders during this time, was a normal thing. Herod, however, took it to a whole new level during the time of Jesus. 

A group of people enter the city with news that a new king had been born.

Can you imagine the reaction of this man when he found out that the “King of the Jews” had been born on HIS watch in HIS region. Unacceptable! However, he played it cool. I love the answer that he gives this group of guys:

“… ‘Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him’.” Matthew 2:8b

Worship Him.

If worship meant “violently murder”, then Herod was waiting for his moment.

The magi left.

They worshipped Jesus.

They returned home…  another way… and Herod never located this King.

This didn’t stop Herod though.

His rage grew.

His paranoia expanded.

His anger overflowed into one of the most heinous crimes in the New Testament… Killing babies. 

Imagine soldiers, going home to home, shooting babies. That’s it. Just babies. If you were two years or younger, you are getting a bullet.

But, this was ancient times. There were no guns. So, soldiers would have to murder babies with knives and swords. Door to door. House to house. Family to family. Death.

This is another one of those stories of the Bible that I don’t think I truly get. Even typing the words gives me a check in my gut. I don’t want to type them. They are too hard. They are too dark. They sicken me. But, they are true. It happened. 

Imagine the families. Imagine the pain. Imagine the stories… the memories… the tears. 

Pure evil. I don’t think that you can get more evil than this. When I think of darkness… this is about as black as it can get. Disgusting. 

And, it is out of this darkness, that light prevails. God shows up in a dream to Joseph, provides the money through the magi and opens the doors to Egypt. Jesus is saved from this crime and lives to shine light into this world.

However, most of the parents in Bethlehem probably never had the chance to see this light. They couldn’t make sense of the crime. They simply had to sit through the pain. 

I pray that we never have to go through such horror. I pray that we never have to witness such hate. I pray that this depth of pain never reaches the thresholds of our lives. However, I know that each and every one of us will experience pain. We will have things happen. We will go through rage and sadness and loss. It is life. It is the reality of breathing breath. It happens. Sometimes, even when we could do absolutely nothing to prevent it.

It happens. 

What do we do in the midst of it? How do we handle it? What does that look like? 

We hold on to the light. 

Believe that something good can come from the pain. Believe that God can use man’s evil for His good. Believe that light truly does trump darkness and that God is the one who will have the final say. Trust in Him. 

Jesus said it so plainly for us when He said:

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

We are each called to have peace, but it will NEVER come from our circumstances. It doesn’t come from our bank accounts. It doesn’t come from our friends. It doesn’t come from living an “easy life”. Where does true peace come from? 

Jesus said, “…in ME you may have peace…”

If you need peace, there is only one place that you are going to find it. Look to Jesus. 

Shalom,

GP

Top Ten Reasons Every Church Should be Using Facebook

There is a great book out there that can help the church grow Exponentially. Most of the population uses it… but we may have not thought about it as a “church growth” vehicle. It is FACEBOOK!

Let me break down the TOP TEN reasons that every church should be using Facebook from the book “Facebook Jesus: Using Facebook to Build and Grow a Church“.

Reason #1: Everybody is doing it! Duh! That’s right. There’s nothing like some good old fashioned peer pressure to start the reasons off. However, this is one time where this peer pressure is good because it leads us into…

Reason #2: Facebook gives you the potential to reach millions with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the truth which has the power to set people free and bring hope and salvation to the world. Jesus called us to “Go into the nations of the world” (Matthew 28:16-20) and there is no easier way to touch every nation right now than through technology. Technology has opened up the world to us.

Reason #3: Communication is the key and Facebook makes it easy. Getting the word out to your church congregation has never been easier. With a few simple key strokes you can inform your entire congregation about an upcoming event, special announcement or a change to the schedule. Not only that, but it also helps with…

Reason #4: Gaining feedback from your congregation. What do the members of the church really think about the current sermon series or the next location for the youth summer camp? Facebook opens up the doors of communication wide and allows you to keep your finger on the pulse of your congregation.

Reason #5: It allows you the ability to share the vision of the church through photos and videos. Words can’t capture the life of your church as well as pictures and videos. However, videos are hard to add to a monthly newsletter that is sent out to mailboxes across your city. With Facebook you can share the life of the church visually with only a few clicks of the mouse.

Reason #6: Building Relationships. Your church website is a one way street that leads from the staff of a church to the members of the church. Anyone who tries to travel the wrong way down that street can get ran over. Facebook opens up a superhighway of conversation as staff can talk with members and, more importantly, members can talk with staff and other members to develop deeper bonds and relationships with one another.

Reason #7: Gain synergy and momentum. There is no greater way to keep the momentum of your church moving throughout the week than a lively discussion on Facebook. It gets the ball rolling and keeps it going as the flames of interest are fanned from the leadership and the members that are involved in the discussion through comments.

Reason #8: It’s fun! If you are new to Facebook, you may be scared silly right now. It looks like so much work, but I promise you that in a very short amount of time, you will be enjoying the fresh interactions as you watch the church grow in a greater community and you are able to shine God’s light to so many people.

Reason #9: Your staff gain a personality and a voice. There are many people who are working hard to grow the church and the more interaction that they have online, the greater the reward is for the entire church body. The members of your church want to know that they can contact the pastor or the youth leader if they need to talk. I am still perplexed at how many times I have called and left a message for a church leader or staff member and have NEVER been called back. With Facebook, direct contact is opened between the staff and the members of the church. This will pay off in HUGE dividends as your church grows.

Reason #10: It’s FREE!!! Yes, that’s right… free. You don’t need to pay anything. If those reasons aren’t enough, you need to know that most of your congregation is probably already hanging out there. For absolutely no financial investment, you can begin to have a profound impact with those in your community and, ultimately, those around this globe. So, what are you waiting for?

To read more, buy the book in paperback or Kindle format by clicking here

Facebook Meets Church: A Match Made in Heaven

Facebook and Church? Can they be used together? I say… ABSOLUTELY!

I’m not going to give you a play by play historical breakdown of the history of Facebook. For an incredibly accurate rendition of its birth feel free to watch the movie “The Social Network” or consult Wikipedia (sarcasm intended). All you need to know is that Facebook was birthed from an idea to develop a way to link people together and have them grow in community with one another.

Now, with that simple definition, I want you to think about the vision of the church. Is there a similarity between the purpose of Facebook and the purpose of the church? “Building community” and “Growing community” are both goals of Facebook and the church. “Linking people with one another” is both a goal of Facebook and the church. “Developing a venue to share ideas and life” is both a goal of Facebook and the church.

These two things… Facebook and the Church… have many of the same goals at their core, but our ultimate goal as a church was made crystal clear through the mouth of Jesus before He ascended into heaven when He called us to “make disciples”. The question comes in… “How can the church use Facebook to reach and disciple more people in fulfillment of the Great Commission” (Matthew 28:16-20)? Can the church use this modern technology to help fulfill this central command of Jesus?

I can answer this question quickly with a resounding “YES!” In fact, I believe that God can use this technology in great ways to reach many people with the Good News of Jesus. It can be a tool to reach people, disciple people and mobilize people to change the world.

I recently asked a simple question on my personal Facebook page which said…

“Has Facebook affected your spiritual life in a positive way? If so, how?”

The replies came quick and they varied greatly. Here are a few examples.

Brandon: By friending you. True story. Film at 11.” (What a Dork!)

Jessica: Yes, because that is how I found out about THE PLACE (the church that we pastor)

Marla: Yes. I love reading inspiring stories that people post. Music, Bible quotes, things going on at THE PLACE! Prayer chains… really helps to keep the spirit going strong.”

Tara: Helped. It holds me more accountable to post things that are aligned with my faith walk. I also agree with Marla.”

Justin: I have met new people from THE PLACE and whenever ur having a bad day they are always there to post good stuff and lift up your mood.”

Brandon: Tara… I really hope folks don’t hold me accountable… I have a feeling I’ve posted some terrible things on here! Lol!” (Dork…Again!)

As you can see in this small sampling from a simple post, Facebook has affected these lives in an incredibly positive way. There are thousands more that are represented by you and the many eyes who are reading these words right now. There are so many people wading in the waters of Facebook that have the potential to be incredibly impacted by you and your church… if you only knew how.

For some step by step transformation skills or to move from a Facebook Ignoramous to a FB Ninja… check out the book “Facebook Jesus: Using Facebook to Build and Grow a Church”. It will get you moving quick!

Sermon Illustration: Shopping Carts and Discounted Food

I can take absolutely no credit for what I am about to give you, however I will promise you that I will use it one day soon… because IT IS SO GOOD! By “SO GOOD” I mean that it makes perfect sense and has a profound purpose and is something that people will relate to. In my opinion, that is how I define “SO GOOD”. 

Anyways, I heard this illustration from Lincoln Brewster who either gathered it through divine guidance… or stole it from someone else. If you want to ask him, click here.

So, here’s the illustration. Imagine a shopping cart filled with all of the “discounted stuff”. You know… the pumpkin colored lipstick from halloween and the “holiday cupcakes” from Christmastime. It is filled with stuff that is priced cheap and deeply discounted because the store wants it to go.

Now imagine Jesus coming into that store and, not picking through the cart, but pushing that entire thing through the checkout line. As the lady starts to ring it out He stops her.

“Wait. Don’t discount these things.”

She says, “But Sir (she would call Jesus sir), these are all deeply discounted.”

Jesus responds, “Oh no. For these… I pay full price!”

It’s an illustration about us. I often feel “less” than worth full price. I wouldn’t blame anyone for putting the “deeply discounted” price tag on my forehead. I often see myself as less. However, when Jesus sees us… He doesn’t see us as discounted goods. He says, “I’ll pay full price for all of them.”

That “full price” was His perfect blood laid down for each and every one of us.

Take the illustration. Use it. Make it your own. Take stuff out or add stuff to it. If you use it, let me know how it goes.

I promise you that when I get to use it, I’ll be going for a ride in that shopping cart. When I do, I’ll post a pic so that you can see!

Have a great one and feel free to add any “shopping cart” illustrations that you may have below in the comment section.

GP