Thursday, July 24, 2014

Jesus and the Hipster

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give
you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

Jesus and the Hipster
Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” he inquired.  

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
There is something about this story we often miss. We always focus on the literal reading of this story but neglect its message. Perhaps Jesus was literally telling the man that in order to get into Heaven he had to sell all of his belongings (because his stuff – coffee shop, obscure bands, thrift store clothes -- had become his god). Or perhaps there is another layer to the story. Maybe Jesus was prompting this man to have a change of heart, to turn his materialistic ways. In fact, the word repent means to change your direction.
This story reminds us that nothing on this earth can come with us to Heaven.  "You can't take it with you!"   Your soul is the only thing about you that is eternal. But for some reason we hold too fast to our possessions, our wealth, the latest trend.  But Jesus is telling us, “If you truly want to live a life like mine, you must hold fast to God alone.” “Store up your treasure in Heaven by letting go of it here.”
Now tell me … doesn’t that make you think about your priorities; your spending and giving patterns????

The Next Sermon Series
THE GOSPEL JOURNEY (Sermon on the Mount)

July 27, 2014                     Gospel Journey      The “Eyes” Have It

August 3, 2014                 Gospel Journey      Getting Even?

August 10, 2014               Gospel Journey      R U Generous?

August 17, 2014               Gospel Journey      This is the Power

August 24, 2014               Let’s Talk About … Sex.

August 31, 2014               Let’s Talk About … Sex.

I look forward to seeing you this weekend!

Pastor John Parlow

Sunday, July 13, 2014

How do I talk to my child about death?

"Jesus said, 'I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die" (John 11:25-26).

The day that my wife, Jamie, and I found out that she had a miscarriage, we also had our two older boys with us.  Jamie had gone in for a routine ultrasound appointment and we decided to bring our two boys along so they could see the baby moving inside of mom.  We had decided that Jamie should go in alone, just in case.  We didn't want the boys in there if anything did go wrong.  When a nurse came out and said that she would sit with the boys and that I needed to go in right away, I feared the worst.  Sure enough, when I got in there, the doctor regretfully informed us that our baby had died.

What was supposed to be a very happy day sharing a very memorable moment turned into a day with the most intense sorrow I have experienced thus far.  Not only did Jamie and I lose a child, but we also had to figure out how to share our grief with our two boys.

The hospital was nice enough to give us a spare office where they brought the boys in by us.  Tearfully we told them that the baby had died.  They were 5 and 2 at the time, so we told them in terms that they would understand.  We told them, "Baby isn't with us anymore.  Jesus decided that he wanted to take the baby before we could meet him.  So he's with Jesus now.  We're sad, but we know that Jesus will help us with this."  Then we prayed.  We kept it short.  We kept it simple.  We allowed them to see our grief.  We comforted them.  They comforted us.  It was a bonding moment for us, even though it was one I don't care to repeat.

Many families face this type of issue, whether it's a death of a family member, friend or pet.  Here are a number of things to consider when sharing grief with your children:

1. Share how you feel.  They can sense when we're hurting.  Don't cover it up.  Instead, use it as a teachable moment to demonstrate how death hurts, but it doesn't leave us as Christians hopeless.

2. Share with them the hope of Jesus.  The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, "13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him."  Jesus brings us hope like no other because of the fact that death could not contain Him.  He's the only One who has ever predicted His own death and resurrection and then pulled it off!  He died and rose again to save us from death, not only death that ends our life here but also death for all the years that would never end in hell.  That's hope that only Jesus brings.  

That gives us a hope to share with our children.  When our loved ones die in faith in Jesus, we know that we will see them again.  So when our children have to bury friends or grandmas and grandpas, they have the hope that they will see them again in heaven by faith in Jesus.  We want to reassure them of that fact.  We want to make every opportunity to remind them of Jesus' promise in John 11:25-26.

3. Don't wait to tell them.  This is especially important if our children are older.  They may find out through another source.  We want to be able to tell them on our terms, not someone else's.  Not to mention, it's less of a shock if they hear it from us.

4. Answer their questions.  Some children will take us at our word and not ask much.  Others will ask many questions, some of which we may be unprepared to answer.  Like, what happens when a person dies?  Give them age appropriate information.  If you're unsure what to say, tell them.  Then do some research or ask a trusted friend who may know.  Then give them an informed answer.

5. Cherish the memories.  Some of the greatest advice I received when I was grieving the death of my grandma and grandpa who died within three months of each other was this: "Cherish the memories you have.  They are a gift from God.  Don't think about what could have been.  But instead, think about what will be when you get to see them again."  That's great advice that has stuck with me all these years.  When a loved one dies and our children are sad, it's a great thing to talk about the memories.  That helps ease the pain.  More importantly, it gives us a great opportunity to point ahead to the hope of heaven, where we will enjoy an eternity of memories!

It's never easy to talk about death with our children, especially when we are hurting.  Just remember, it's a golden opportunity to point them to the love and hope of Jesus.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Stand up & Raise Your Voice

On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him.” (Acts 8:1-2)

      Reading again the events that led to the first Christian martyrs death I’m confronted with a simple question.

      Stephan was hand selected by the Apostles to care for issues within the church. It appears Stephen was doing well at his assignments and along the way was witnessing his faith to all who would listen. Yet some bad characters who didn’t believe the message had Stephan arrested and put on trial which ultimately led to his death. Why did God let this happen to such a good witness? Why not intercede and rescue Stephen from persecution and a painful death?
            Perhaps Stephens’ death led to more people carrying the Gospel to places they never would have. Perhaps Stephens’ tragic death emboldened others who faced similar persecution to remain faithful to the end. We will not know the full measure of God’s plan in allowing this to happen to Stephen but in keeping with Romans 8:28 we can be sure that God used this tragedy for Stephan’s ultimate good and for the good of other Christians. Even in pain, tears, loss, grief, and sadness God is good and working on behalf of his people. We need not always know why or how but we can certainly trust that he is.

Stand like Stephen
Men please stand and pray the following with me. “Stephen was a great Christian to the end. He showed wisdom and the Holy Spirit to other people even when it was inconvenient. I’ve not always been good at that, in fact, I’ve failed. My strength as a leader for my family and others in my life does not come from me but the Savior who has first forgiven me. I stand for Christ. The enemy is not my spouse, children, boss, or people. I remember the enemy is the devil and sin that so easily destroys. I stand for my family. I will stand with them in glory if it be your will Lord.”
Women please stand and pray the following with me. “Stephen was a great Christian to the end. I want God to create more and more men like Stephen. I have not always supported the men in my life, in fact, I’ve torn them down. My strength to support and encourage Godly leaders is from my Savior who has forgiven me. I stand for Christ. I stand to support my family. I will stand with them in glory if it be your will Lord.”

In what way will you stand up for Christ today?