Guest Post

The Man Who Saved a City

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All Historical Facts taken from Bond and McComas’ Biography of Girolamo Savonarola

Life isn’t fair. This is pointed out to us by Solomon In Ecclesiastes 9, and one example of this is found in the story of a man saving a city in verses 13-15 of that chapter. As it states:

13 I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me: 14 There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it. 15 Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man. (NIV)

Unfortunately the man in the story isn’t given the respect that he deserved. He disarmed a mighty king using not a weapon of war, but rather a weapon of logic. Unfortunately, the people of the city did not remember the man that saved their city, possibly learning from him, or putting him in a position to bring more positive change to the city. Rather, the city left him to be forgotten in the annals of history, which I think you would agree, is not very fair. What you may find interesting is that this actually occurred in history many years later. Let me introduce you to Girolamo Savonarola.

Girolamo Savonarola (I like to call him G.S.) was a Dominican friar in the 1400’s and was actually the most published author of the century. You may be asking why bring up a Catholic in light of our Protestant viewpoints. G.S. actually rebelled against the Pope and boldly claimed that he “was no Christian”. In the following century, Martin Luther said that G.S. definitely clung to justification by faith. The friar even said himself that:

No one can glory in himself; all the saints say, not of us but of The Lord is glory. They were not saved by their merit, nor by their work, but by the goodness and grace of God, that nobody may glory in himself.
— Girolamo Savonarola

This certainly sounds like something Luther or Calvin could have written. He may have had some theological ideas wrong, but G.S. undoubtedly understood The Gospel correctly. For all of this, he was eventually killed by the Catholic church.

To set the stage, G.S. lived in Florence. The area was ruled by the powerful de Medici clan, and headship of the family just changed hands to the young and naive Piero de Medici. The people did not care for the family, since they ruled as tyrants, often forgetting the common man. At the time, King Charles VIII was having a squabble with the Pope about the territory of Naples. Charles decided to march his seemingly invincible army to Naples and try to take possession of it. Unfortunately, Florence was was right in the path to Naples. Charles left a path of destruction behind him as he headed right for Florence, destroying everything in his path.

Piero de Medici tried to strike up a bargain with Charles’ representatives and succeeded. Unfortunately, the deal was so awful the people of the city ran him out of town. Without his demands met, Charles continued to march to Florence. Without any other hope, the town decided to have their spiritual guide to try to talk some sense into the King. And somehow it worked. G.S. Thanked the king for ridding the town of the de Medici family, calling him “an instrument sent by The Lord”. He then told him among other things that, “God elected you in the interest of the church. You must obey The Lord.”. Though it seemed to be a miracle, Charles relented.

The people then turned to G.S. to set up a democracy, free from the tyranny of the de Medici family. Unfortunately, this was shorted lived. Due to outside circumstances which was out of the control of the government, economic hardship fell upon Florence. The friar was blamed, the city turned on him, and he was removed from the pulpit and eventually killed by The Pope. G.S. was treated unfairly, and was abandoned by his city and the church (or at least by the Catholic church).

This was a real example of solomon’s scenario playing out in the life of Savonarola. He saved his city from destruction from a king who was preparing to siege the city. Using wisdom to change the mind of the king, he was initially loved, but was ultimately forgotten, abandoned, and persecuted.

Where does this leave us? The friar of Florence was persecuted and treated unfairly. All of us can expect unfair outcomes in our lives. In reality, we don’t actually want things to be fair. If they were, God would instantly condemn us to Hell, as that is what we truly deserve. Christ came to earth, and was treated unfairly, for us, so we don’t have to face God’s wrath. Savonarola didn’t put his hope in getting treated fairly in this life, but looked forward to his life to come. Therefore, do not look for fairness in this life, but set your hope in our inheritance to come, which is eternal peace in Heaven with Christ.

-Richard Miller

 

500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation

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As you may know, many will be celebrating a holiday on Tuesday. I’m not referring to Halloween, but rather a different day. This day is known as Reformation Day. This day celebrates when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis on the door in Wittenberg. His theses consisted of objections to various practices of the Catholic Church which were intended to be discussion points among scholarly men, but it eventually sparked what we know in history as The Protestant Reformation. For a great resource on this, I would recommend Erwin Lutzer’s Rescuing The Gospel.

This moment was important, as some of the truths that are foundational to our Christian beliefs were being distorted. While many points of doctrine were affirmed through this movement, there were five critical beliefs that were attested to by the reformers. We call these the Five Solas (Sola is Latin for Alone). To summarize, we believe that we are saved by Christ alone, by His grace alone, through faith in Him alone, according to what scripture says alone, all of this to the glory of God alone.

Luther wasn’t the only person who believed these things. In 1415, a Bohemian man named John Huss was burned at the stake by the Catholic Church for sharing similar views that Luther later adopted. The name “Huss”, in his language means goose, and why I’m telling you this will make sense shortly.

Just like Luther would later would believe, Huss felt that it was scripture only which governs our lives, not human authority. It is reported, that while being burned at the stake, Huss said something to the effect of, “You may cook this Goose, but in 100 years there will come a Swan you will not be able to silence.” 102 years later, Martin Luther nailed his thesis to the door in Wittenburg.

Today, we do not celebrate Martin Luther to exalt him, but rather remember these three things. Firstly, we remember that God’s purpose cannot be thwarted. His message of reconciliation to fallen mankind, through His Son, will not be forgotten. Secondly, the truths that came out of the Protestant Reformation were not developed in the 16th century, but were the doctrines that came from the mouth of God. Thirdly, we do not celebrate Martin Luther as the swan that ushered in a new era of spirituality, but rather we celebrate the Holy Spirit of God who was the wind beneath Luther’s wings. The Lord changed Luther’s heart, and allowed him to fly to seemingly new theological heights.

Read more articles about the 5 Solas from CalvaryChapel.com here.

 

Race & Grace

 

Racism and Christianity: No Room for Hate

Recent events have brought to light some major rifts within our society, our nation, and our communities. The events in Charlottesville over a month ago sparked new discussions about race and racism all across our country. As Christians we have an opportunity to speak truth to this persistent and difficult issue that continues to trouble our world. What is a Christ-follower’s role in these discussions and what kind of representation of Christ should the world see in the midst of conflict?

The False Concept of Race

First, we must address the issue of race as a concept. As a church we believe in and affirm the account of creation as given in Scripture, in the book of Genesis. We believe that God created one man and one woman named Adam and Eve (Genesis 2). They were the first human beings and the first parents of all the human race.

If you accept this narrative of history then “races” is not an appropriate term to use to distinguish people from each other because we are all descended from two common parents - Adam and Eve. We are told in Genesis 3:20 that Adam named his wife Eve because “she was the mother of all living.”

We don’t know what our first parents looked like but we can assume that they possessed all the genetic variations for skin color, eye shape, and other physical characteristics that we see exhibited in humankind today. At the tower of Babel God judged humanity and confused their language. From this point on people tended to only associate with those who spoke the same language as they did. People were instantly isolated by their language and as a result only married within their language group. Because of a small genetic pool certain characteristics - skin color, hair and eye color, etc. - became common within certain groups.

The science of genetics bears out the biblical truth of one race. There is only 0.1% difference in DNA between any two human beings. The DNA that influences our physical traits and characteristics accounts for a very small fraction of that 0.1%. From a biblical perspective we should stop using the term “race” as it is inaccurate and only serves to cause division.


Prescriptions for Christlikeness:

Seek Truth

In Philippians 4:8 we are told to “meditate,” or think, on “whatever things are true.” This is somewhat easier said than done, especially when we live in a day and age, and a culture, where the media has such hold and sway over people’s minds. Often the truth itself is obscured, perhaps intentionally. Ultimate truth is found in Christ and in His word, but as Christians we need to pursue truth in every matter and avoid taking one side or another until we understand, as best we can, all sides of an issue.

When Jesus sent his disciples out in Matthew 10 He warned them that He was sending them out as sheep amongst wolves. He then told them to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (10:16). This is an admonition to be discerning and careful. These words perhaps have never been more timely. We need to be more discerning, wise, and harmless than ever before.

Avoid Anger, Vandalism, & Violence

We are emotional beings, given to impulsive decision and actions. Sometimes it seems like everyone has a knee-jerk reaction for any news report that they see or hear. The media often purposely designs their stories and coverage to elicit a kind of near instantaneous knee-jerk response. However, God warns us over and over again to be “slow to speak” and “slow to anger” (Psalm 4:4; 37:8-9; Proverbs 10:19; 14:29; 15:1-2, 18; 16:32; 17:27-28; 18:2; 21:23; 22:24; 29:11, 20; Eccl. 7:9; Matt. 15:11; James 1:19-20; Eph. 4:26; …). Impulsive, immediate reactions are usually not motivated by the Holy Spirit and tend to do more harm than good. In James 1:19:-20 we are also told that “the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” As much as you may feel justified and right in your anger, stop and check yourself. Check your heart, check your motives, ask the Lord to show you if your anger is righteous.

Many of the recent clashes in our country have become increasingly chaotic and violent. Police have withdrawn from many of the situations due to the explosive nature of these events. Property has been damaged, and people have been injured and even killed in some of these gatherings. There’s no circumstance in which a Christian should find these kind of actions acceptable.
The Bible treats crimes against someone’s property as a sin. Christ’s words “do to others what you would have them do to you” spring to mind. It’s also important to note that vandalism and violence are not mentioned as fruit of the Spirit, but “outbursts of wrath” are condemned as “works of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16-25).


Be Peacemakers

In the New Testament, Christians are called to be peacemakers in numerous places. Peace isn’t just something we should be fans of. As Christians, it’s part of our job description, our ministry. For instance, in Matthew 5:9, Christ spoke these words, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” In Romans 12:18 Paul wrote, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” In the fifth chapter of 2nd Corinthians Paul tells us that Christ died for all, thereby reconciling the world to God. He goes on to say that God has “committed to us the ministry of reconciliation.” It is clear from Scripture that the ministry of peace and reconciliation has been entrusted to all believers.

Now, as believers, we know peace, ultimate peace, is found only through a right relationship with God. This is achieved through believing in and accepting Jesus’ offer of eternal life. How will the world believe us or view our message if all they hear is angry opinions or loud, divisive political rants? What is more important to us? Our temporal, earthly politics, or our Christ-centered, eternity-motivated message of reconciliation.

A Christian's life must be typified by as a life of peace and peaceful interaction with those around us and with our society. Hot-tempered anger and protests will do very little to expand the reach of the gospel. Yes, we should engage our society about social issues, injustices, and oppression, but we must do so with in an orderly, peaceful way, with wisdom. Above all, the Holy Spirit must be the motivator and prompter in our lives. Our lives and actions must exhibit His fruit.

I implore Christians everywhere to lay aside phoney and divisive concepts about race and to be reconciled to each other and to Christ. There is a hurting and needy world watching us and they need the salvation we possess more than they need our politicking.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
Galatians 5:22-25

-David Bechtel

 

 

WHERE STRENGTH IS FOUND

“And they said to him, ‘Thus says Hezekiah: “This day is a day of trouble, and rebuke, and blasphemy; for the children have come to birth, but there is no strength to bring them forth’"(2 Kings 19:3).

This verse paints a vivid picture as the nation of Israel is compared to a child who lacks the necessary strength to grow. This image is that of a struggle that many Christians face. We have trusted Christ, and as a result, have been born of God, but we lack the strength to let go of certain behaviors or effectively serve the Lord. This often leads to discouragement, and in some cases, to greater failure. Over the years, I have spoken with many people who have shared that a failure in their walk with God has often led to greater failure. A person who looks once at something they shouldn't will usually look several times before they find the strength to stop, and a person who is afraid to step out and serve Christ will often miss many opportunities before they find strength.

Just today I met a young man who staggered onto the church grounds. With his arm in a sling and a few exposed bruises, he shared with me how his life is falling apart due to his drinking. He stated that he had received the Lord, and that he loves Jesus, but that he struggles to find the strength to let go of the things that keep pulling him down. Fortunately, there is a remedy, not just for this young man, but for all of us. Those who have been born of God can find the strength necessary to grow out of their struggles and into their relationship with Jesus. This strength is found in several places.

Vibrant Community: Shoreline Church Core Values (4 of 9)

This is the fourth of a series of nine blogs discussing our Core Values at Shoreline Church. These are the 9 things that we value at the core of who we are as a fellowship of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are a church that is “all about Jesus” and these embody what we find important as a fellowship. Our vision is to intersect the gospel and grace of Jesus with a lost and needy world. Our mission is to win, disciple, and send people. For more details, visit www.thisisShoreline.com.

VIBRANT COMMUNITY: WE BELONG TO ONE ANOTHER

Definition of vibrant:  pulsating with life, vigor, or activity

Definition of community: unified body of individuals: people with common interests living in a particular area; a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society; fellowship

The church, instituted by Christ (Matthew 16:18), is a community like none other. It is a living, growing, organism with the Christ at its head and the Holy Spirit as its source of life. At Shoreline, we want to affirm and celebrate this vibrant community.

God’s design for the church is that all believers should share with each other in all things – in joys and in sorrows, in material possessions and in spiritual encouragement. We are told in Acts 2:44-45 that the believers in the early church “were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” Those early Christians were together constantly – eating together, ministering to each other, sharing with each other, and evangelizing together.

Another word for this is fellowship. The Greek word used in the New Testament for fellowship is koinonia. What all is entailed in the word? A lot. It sums up all things related to fellowship – communion, sacrificial living, sharing material possessions, sharing sorrows and joys, close loving relationships. This kind of close fellowship flows from a close, intimate, love relationship with God. Henry Blackaby puts it this way in his book Experiencing God: “Koinonia is the most complete expression of a love relationship with God. When you live in this kind of love relationship with God you will have the same quality of loving fellowship with other believers.”

A church isn’t a social club, a weekly occurrence, or a motivational, self-empowerment meeting. It’s a living organism with many parts. With Christ as the head, the organism functions best when all the parts are functioning together.

The New Testament is littered with multiple references to our unity, our oneness, and our belonging to each other. In Romans 12:3-5 Paul reminds the church in Rome that “we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” Likewise, in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, Paul shares God’s design for the unity of the church with the Corinthians. Using the picture of the human body, he tells them that being many, they are members of one body, the body of Christ. We were all baptized into one body, and that body is not one member but many.

God’s design for the church is that we would not live independently of one another, but interdependently. We need to live in dependence on God and in interdependence with one another. A believer that does not engage with other believers or belong to a church is missing a piece of the puzzle. They have cheated themselves and stunted their own growth. “Apart from the other members of the church (the body) you will not be able to experience the fullness of life God intends for you.” (Blackaby)

God intends that the Christian life be vibrant, vigorous, full of life and activity, and this is best done within community. This vibrancy is exhibited within the church, in the church’s outreach to its community, the world, and ministry to other churches with the same objectives in mind. All of this is accomplished through experiencing community with other believers.

Being one body made up of many members we have one common goal – one mission always at the front of our minds – to go into all the world and to preach the gospel. This is summed up simply in Shoreline’s mission statement: “Win. Disciple. Send.” This is the goal of our church and it should the goal of all believers. We certainly cannot accomplish this task apart from the powerful indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, but we also cannot accomplish this task without each other.

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

Do you agree with vibrant community as a core value? This is Shoreline!


Click below to read about some of our other Core Values:

THE POWER OF GOD'S WORD

James 1:21-25 teaches one of the most important goals of spending time in God’s Word—we should seek to be changed by it. This passage compares the Word of God to a mirror that helps us to see ourselves in light of God’s perfect standard. Just like when we fix our appearance as we look in the mirror, we study the Bible with the intention of allowing it to transform us. Our goal is not to master it, but rather, to be mastered by it. Therefore, we should come to God’s Word with two basic questions: (1) What does God want to say to me. (2) What does God want me to do? Below is a list of Scriptures that record some of the many responses Christians can have to the Word of God.

Click the button below to continue reading this article on calvarychapel.com.

Diverse Gatherings: Shoreline Church Core Values (3 of 9)

This is the third of a series of nine blogs discussing our Core Values at Shoreline Church. These are the 9 things that we value at the core of who we are as a fellowship of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are a church that is “all about Jesus” and these embody what we find important as a fellowship. Our vision is to intersect the gospel and grace of Jesus with a lost and needy world. Our mission is to win, disciple, and send people. For more details, visit www.thisisShoreline.com.

DIVERSE GATHERINGS: EVERY TRIBE, NATION, and TONGUE.

Have you ever been on a team that has worked together really well to accomplish a goal? On a sports team, multiple people work together, with one goal in mind, to achieve that end. But they aren’t the only ones. There are coaches, technical staff, and medical personnel supporting their team on the field. Then there are the thousands of fans in the stands. They’re all there to support their team. In essence, everyone in the stadium is working toward one common objective. There needs to be unity, otherwise the team just won’t work well together. The same applies to the church.

As a church, we believe in the universal church – the unity of all believers through belief in the saving work of Jesus Christ. We also believe in the gathering of all believers, from all over the world, from every time period, and from every tribe, nation, and tongue in Heaven. We passionately long for that day – the day when we are assembled together with all believers in the presence of our Savior. This belief affects and informs our goals and desires as a church. We earnestly desire to see the Gospel spread to the ends of the earth and to disciple, equip, and send believers to accomplish this task.

We believe that God is a missionary-God who desires for people from every nation, tribe, tongue, region to come to a saving knowledge of Him. God is drawing all people to Himself (John 12:32) and using believers all over the world to extend the message of Salvation to every corner of the earth. It is every believer’s calling to carry the saving message of eternal life everywhere they go, evangelizing and making disciples (Matthew 27:19).

Every Christian has a special gifting which is designed to minister to and edify the church. Every believer has a role to play in the equipping and building up of the body of Christ. The Apostle Paul articulates this in Ephesians 4:12-13. He says that God has gifted believers “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…”

In our gatherings, we desire a diverse collective of various racial, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds, worshipping and growing together in unity. In Christ, there is no differentiation between race, nationality, or economic status (Colossians 3:10-11, Galatians 3:26-28). Through faith in Jesus we are all children of God, brothers and sisters in Christ. We are able to celebrate our differences while maintaining this unity and oneness in Christ.

Do you agree with diverse gatherings as a core value? This is Shoreline!


Click below to read about some of our other Core Values:

Dynamic Teaching: Shoreline Church Core Values (2 of 9)

We place one of our highest priorities in preaching and teaching the Bible at Shoreline. In fact, to use the phrase Pastor Chuck Smith used often, we believe in simply teaching the Word simply. We don’t as much teach from the Bible as we teach through the Bible. Today there are many who assert that people need a few points on how to live better lives and we should tap in to their “felt needs”. Sadly, sermons become personality-based monologues that are reduced to ‘therapeutic deism’ that could apply in any religious gathering, Christian or not. There are even some churches that exegete a popular film rather than exegeting the Scriptures.


Click below to read about some of our other Core Values:

Ardent Worship: Shoreline Church Core Values (1 of 9)

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Worship is a lifestyle, not an event. We were created to worship and glorify God with our lives, lips, and obedience (Psa 63:1-3, Rom 12:1, Mark 12:30, Psa 27:4-8). In our gatherings, we meet together for corporate worship, letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord. And whatever we do in word or deed, we do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Colossians 3:16-17).


Click below to read about some of our other Core Values:

EIGHT REASONS WHY WE NEED SHEPHERDS

The cowboy is a loner. He doesn't need anyone--but everyone seems to need him from time to time. He knows the names of his associates and the names of each river and trail--but doesn't bother to name the cows. He isn't interested in caring for the cattle but seeks to drive them from point A to point B in order to receive a profit from them. He drives them from behind with fear, intimidation and a skilled lasso. The cowboy gets the job done--one way or another.

The shepherd, on the other hand, is never isolated from his flock. He spends time with his sheep. The sheep know his voice, and he takes the time to name them and care for them. The shepherd doesn't want to eat the sheep but protects them from predators who (without his protection), otherwise, will. The shepherd's profit comes from their wool--not their meat. As they grow and are healthy, they produce something that can be offered back to care for the shepherd--but it isn't an offering that takes their life! The shepherd doesn't drive them from behind--he walks out ahead of them and leads them, calling them by name and taking them places they would never venture alone. The cowboy may drive the herd, but the shepherd leads his flock.

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THE KEY TO ENDURE THROUGH PAIN

Jacob (Israel) had 12 sons. His favored son, Joseph, was sold into slavery by his own brothers. They, in turn, faked his death to Jacob. Years ticked by. Jacob believed his son was dead. He refused to be comforted. He expected to mourn until he went to death. 

Years later, Pharaoh’s right hand man asked to see his youngest son, Benjamin. The thought of losing another son crushed Jacob. “All this has come against me,” was his confident summary after this request.

YET, BEHIND IT ALL, GOD WAS DOING HIS FINEST WORK.

The tragedy had been caused by favoritism and jealousy, rooted in pride. Man had done this. But God was at work in man’s ugly mess.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE ON CALVARYCHAPEL.COM

I WILL TRUST GOD

After I graduated from college last May, I felt the call to missions. Everything felt uncertain and terrifying, especially since I was in a season of life where I was supposed to be getting a "real job" and starting my "adult life". While it is exciting to think about moving across the world for a year, the thought of raising financial support and leaving my family scares me more than anything. As the date of departure steadily approaches, I'm left with questions: How will all the money come in? What if something happens while I'm gone? Why did God choose me for this?

We all feel like this at various times in our lives. After unexpected layoffs at work, relational hardships, or getting the news of cancer, it's easy to ask God "why?" Even when good news comes along, it's usually accompanied by some sort of anxiety. In general, we as humans don't love uncertainty.

Here's what is certain: The Lord is faithful.

The Lord is faithful even when our lives are filled with unanswered questions. We see it all throughout Scripture. From the Israelites being called out of Egypt and roaming the desert for 40 years, to the undeserved crucifixion of Jesus, the Lord has always been and will always be faithful. God delivered the Israelites, and He used Jesus' death to reconcile all sinners to Himself. 

Also, Jesus himself states in John 16:33 that "These things I have spoken to you, than in ME you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (Can I get an AMEN?!)

Is there a situation in your life that you're worried about? Are you feeling doubt about your future? Are you having a hard time trusting God?

Our actions reveal what we believe. Sometimes we need a reminder of Who carries us, so I want to invite you to join me in the #SLTrustChallenge. For the next 30 days, will you write down "I WILL TRUST GOD" on post it notes and place them around your house or workplace? While you write, pray that God will increase your faith in Him and it will move you to action.

HOW PLACING OTHERS FIRST BRINGS REST

It’s not natural for us to want to serve others and make sure their needs are met before ours.

God’s Word says, “Consider others as more important than yourselves.” It’s tricky, but not impossible. I’ve found that the things that don’t come naturally to me aren’t impossible, they just take more practice. Usually when we practice something, we become better at it, right? It’s the same when cultivating an unnatural character of unselfishness.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE AT CALVARYCHAPEL.COM

THREE KEYS TO UNLOCK INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE

When a husband or a wife says, “I want us to be intimate,” their expectation may be substantially different, whether it was the man or woman who spoke. I have never met a married person who didn’t want more intimacy in marriage. God designed a husband and wife to become one (Genesis 2:24), but intimacy can seem so elusive. Here are three keys to unlock the intimacy enigma:

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THREE BENEFITS OF SEEING CHRIST IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

“The Old Testament follows God’s one great plan for human history and redemption, and the plan is not only from him, but centers on him: his presence in his incarnate Son…The witness of the Scriptures to Christ is the reason they were written…” —Edmund Clowney, author of Preaching Christ in All of Scripture.

If God’s plan for redemption centers on Christ, then we can expect to find Him in more than just the 27% of the Bible we call the New Testament—and we do! In fact, practically every book of the Bible points us to Jesus. Studying Christ in the Old Testament is a great joy and benefits the believer in significant ways, especially in hermeneutics, evangelism and appreciation of Jesus.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE AT CALVARYCHAPEL.COM

SEVEN REASONS WHY JESUS IS ALL I NEED AS A SINGLE MOM

All my life I dreamed of a fairy tale marriage, a knight in shining armor, sweeping me off my feet. I never dreamed or thought I would be living life as a single mother. I pictured my life very different than the way it is now, but I would not change it for anything. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

My children were 17, 15 and 11 when I became a single parent. I was a stay-at-home mom for 15 years, and I had worked odd jobs for extra money to help with the bills. I came nowhere near to holding the financial responsibility for my family. When I became a single mom, I was making minimum wage as a receptionist at Calvary Chapel. I didn’t think I was going to make it early on in my singleness. My biggest fear was that we were going to be homeless, but as I clung to Jesus, He helped me through the tough times. Some days I had to put one foot in front of the other, while clinging to Him. I remember very clearly during my distress, when I was not able to even take a breath, the Lord asking me, “Do you trust Me?” I responded, “Yes, Lord, I do trust You, but this is so hard!”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE AT CALVARYCHAPEL.COM

FIVE REASONS TO GO TO SMALL GROUPS AND MAIN SERVICES

Some of us like the intimacy of a small community group gathering. Others like the experience and dynamic of a larger gathering associated with weekend worship. Most of us have a preference. If we had to choose the small group experience or the large group experience, we have an idea which one we would choose. Furthermore, week after week, month after month and year after year, people make preferences known by participating generally in one or the other.

What if God wanted us to experience the benefits of both the larger gathering and the small group? 


THREE IDEAS ABOUT SERVING AS WORSHIP

To serve or to be served? That is the question. The very idea of being a slave or a servant is offensive to my flesh. My flesh, and the culture that surrounds me, beckons me to want to be served rather than to serve. Then I behold Jesus. Jesus is God’s Servant (Matthew 12:18Isaiah 42:1). I discover the paradox that it is truly better to serve rather than to seek to be served. I discover that serving is an act or worship to God. Here are three ideas about serving as worship.


WHY

This year our Christmas at Shoreline theme is "Love Came Down". We're going to look at how, when, and why love came down in the event we celebrate each December 25th. We'll also explore this theme in three consecutive blog posts. For more info, visit christmasatshoreline.com.

John 3:16 is one of the most-known verses in all the Bible. People see the signs held up at sporting events or on the side of the road. Almost every Christian school kid can quote the verse without blinking: 

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

We have talked about "HOW" love came down to us in the person and work of Jesus, and we discussed "WHEN" love came down. But have you ever considered why love came down? WHY did Jesus come to earth as a baby and put on our humanity?

Why? Because God is love. Notice that God doesn't merely have love. The Bible is crystal-clear that God indeed is loving. But the Scriptures take it a step further: God IS love. If you want to know love, you simply need to get to know God. He is love "incarnate". Many people speak about love but their concept is only "romance". It is expressing love in a way that makes you feel loved or cherished. But God demonstrates His love in a divine romance that includes laying down His life for us.

In fact, love is best defined as a verb. Many people can speak of their "love" for someone and yet never demonstrate it. Love that is not demonstrated is not love, however. Love always has a source and an object. The source of love is God, and you and I are the objects of His love. Why did God send us Jesus to die in our place? Because He loves us. He didn't merely "feel" love for us or "tell us" how much He loved us--He showed it. He demonstrated it. He communicated it in a way that cards or flowers or candy never could: He proved it by laying down His life to death.

True love is always demonstrated in action. Why did God send us Jesus? Because He loves us. Imagine that--you are beloved by God. Your father or mother may have rejected you, but God has not forsaken you. He has not left you orphaned. He isn't silent, blind or deaf. He hears your pleas, and your heart's cry for mercy and hope. His answer is Christ--sent humbly as a baby who would grow to be a man crucified on a cross for your sin--and raised to life for your redemption. This Christmas, do you know this amazing love that has come down for you? Would you allow love to flow through your hands and feet to others? Would you demonstrate this amazing undeserved love for someone in your world?


Join us this Saturday, December 24th at 4pm or 6pm for our Christmas Eve Service! For more details, or to learn more about who Jesus is, visit christmasatshoreline.com.

WHEN

This year our Christmas at Shoreline theme is "Love Came Down". We're going to look at how, when, and why love came down in the event we celebrate each December 25th. We'll also explore this theme in three consecutive blog posts. For more info, visit christmasatshoreline.com.

Galatians 4:4-5
4But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

It's Christmas. We celebrate the arrival of King Jesus, born of the virgin Mary and laid in a manger in swaddling clothes. We remember verses like John 3:16, that tell us that God sent Jesus because He loves us. But have you ever considered the timing/precision with which God sent Jesus?

Think of the differences between the Old and New Testament. From the time of Malachi to John the Baptist, there was an awkward silence from God and the lack of prophetic voice was troubling. After the last of the Old Testament prophets was off the scene, much had changed in the culture and scene from Old testament to New.  

When we leave Malachi, worship of God took place in the temple.  In Matthew, we are introduced to synagogues.  

When the Israelites came back from captivity under Ezra and Nehemiah’s watch, they reestablished the identity of Israel as a nation.  But in the New Testament, a foreign ruler holds the iron scepter: Rome.  

The shepherds of Israel at one time were the prophets, but when Jesus comes along, there are men known as Pharisees and Sadducees, and a religious ruling council known as the ‘Sanhedrin’.  

Even the traditional Hebrew language had been replaced with Koine Greek a language of the common man. Some things had changed, and the fields were getting white for harvest.

There were political, social, economical, religious, and cultural changes that were all setting the perfect stage for Christ, the Messiah, to arrive.

POLITICALLY

The Jews were now under the control of the Roman Empire.  Pontius Pilate was the governing body over the region, and Herod the Great was the appointed Jewish leader over Israel.  Herod wasn’t that great, actually. Here is a guy who constantly feared losing his power that he even resorted to having his family members executed out of suspicion they might be conspirators.  His lust for keeping his power intact even caused the murder of thousands, if not millions, of innocent babies.  Not exactly the guy you’d want on the cover of a magazine for ‘man of the year’!

Rome’s policy of peace was Pax Romana, which was a forced peace, the peace afforded at the end of a sword.  You kept the peace, or else!  The empire was not to be messed with.  Enter any city, and outside the city gates you would see those who had been crucified, a stark reminder that you were not truly a free citizen.  You were under the control of an outside influence.  After the rise and success of the Maccabean rebellion, the Jews were more of a formidable opponent, but certainly no match for the Roman machine.  Now that Caesar was in control, people in Judea took on different reactions.  

Some of them found solace in making friends with the empire.  They took political positions at the local level, collected taxes (which didn’t help their reputation), and were proverbial brown-nosers that didn’t gain them much national popularity.  

Another reaction was to rebel. A group of passionately political idealists began to question the status quo, more intense than Rush Limbaugh at a Hillary Clinton roast.  They acknowledged that Rome should no longer be the governing body and cried out for their Messiah to come and overthrow the powers that be.  They were identified as ‘zealots’ in scripture, and Jesus chose one of them, Simon, to be one of His closest followers.  Putting Levi, a sell-out tax collector, with Simon, a militant extremist, was certainly an interesting mix!  But Jesus can call anyone with any political baggage and change them into new creations, not necessarily into right wing evangelical Republicans.  Perhaps that’s why it took an entire night of prayer before Jesus selected His twelve closest followers: it would be a constant competition over who was the greatest, rather than making Jesus the greatest among them!

SOCIALLY

On the social scene, the traditional language of Hebrew was becoming less and less used among the people, and solely used by the scholars.  As the Greco-Roman culture was expanding beyond Europe into Asia Minor, the need for a common means of communication became paramount.  Koine Greek became the language of the people, and thankfully the language employed strategically for the furthering of the gospel and New Testament.  Here in Florida, pick any atm in any city and you will have English or Spanish as your language choices.  Spanish was the Koine Greek in the first century!

Decades before Jesus walked the earth, the Old Testament was translated into a version that most people could read and understand.  This translation took the Hebrew and Aramaic languages and translated the Hebrew scriptures into Koine Greek.  We call this the Septuagint.

RELIGIOUSLY

The religious landscape of temple worship also began to change.  Synagogues, which were localized congregations of ten or more Jewish men, were now sprouting up all over the countryside in cities and towns near and far.  Traveling rabbis would move around the circuit as itinerant preachers.  This was clearly how Jesus and Paul began their ministries and outreach to various cities.

Even in the midst of this seemingly grass-roots revival and spread of Judaism, there was a strange and eerie absence of prophetic revelation.  It had been four hundred years since Malachi had uttered his final words, speaking of Elijah coming soon, but there was no such promise on the horizon.

In the midst of silent change and tumultuous political and religious rumblings, as society stood on the brink of corruption and confusion, God was tilling the soil to begin a great new chapter of grace and truth.

To launch a new religious idealogy, there needed to be, in practical terms, some “x-factors”.  

  1. There needed to be a way to communicate this religion to as many people in as many places as possible.  Rome had linked the pagan world together in a vital and general way with the advancement of their kingdom and with roads.  The common language of Koine Greek afforded people the opportunity to hear and understand the gospel message as it was heralded.  
  2. The lack of prophetic revelation was stirring an unrest and spiritual hunger in the masses.  
  3. The political jockeying had raised up people ready to put their faith in someone. The time was ripe.  
  4. One other development seemed to intersect at just this right time as well.  Rome had invented and perfected a new means of capital punishment.  Only in God’s providence would this new horrific and excruciating form of torture and death be employed near the birth of Messiah.  it was called crucifixion, of which the Hebrew Scriptures overwhelmingly describe.

So all at once, with a stable government, a time of relative peace, roads that connected cities with one another and through various towns and villages, along with a common language and a deep spiritual hunger and religious bankruptcy, the stage was set, the fruit was ripe. At just the right time, Christ came into the world.

Paul described this phenomenon in Galatians 4:3-4: and that’s the way it was with us before Christ came. We were slaves to the spiritual powers of this world. butwhen the right time came, God sent his Son,..

(the NKJV puts it this way): “but when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son”

At just the right time, when Jewish society was ripest, God sent Jesus to redeem those born under the law to offer salvation and sonship to all who would receive Him.  But Paul moves from interpretation to application, and tells you and I that ‘that’s the way it was with us’ before Christ came into our lives!  We were slaves to the spiritual powers of this world, whether lust or law, religion or wrongdoing.  

Romans 5:6 says "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." Right now, though you may still be powerless, Christ is revealing Himself to you. His timing is impeccable. His ways are perfect. Will you receive Him today?


Join us at Shoreline Church on Saturday, December 24th at one of our two services: 4pm or 6pm (there will be candlelight at the 6pm). Bring the whole family to this exciting celebration of Jesus our King!