Over the past few months at Awaken, we’ve watched God do some amazing things. We’ve seen lots of new people – to the point that we’ve had to turn families away from Awaken Kids, and max out seating capacity in services and overflow. Awaken Church exists to awaken people far from Christ to new life in Christ…but we can’t effectively do that if we can’t give them a seat or take care of their kids! We’re so thankful for this season of excitement and growth, and we want to always make room for more people to hear about Jesus and serve His people. So, since we’ve filled up 3 Sunday morning services, we’re branching out.
Sunday was a HUGE day for us at Awaken. We had more people in our building during the 10:15 service than ever before, and the other 2 are getting close to capacity as well! Praise God! On the other hand, we had to turn quite a few people away for Awaken Kids because we just didn’t have the room to accommodate them. This certainly isn’t a new issue for us, however – we’ve gotten used to it over the last 3 years…and we love it! It’s not a problem – it’s an opportunity! We need more room for the many people who are coming and bringing friends to hear the Gospel, give their lives to Jesus, and grow deeper. I pray that’s always the case!
One of our core beliefs at Awaken is:
The battle is super and natural.
God has promised the victory, but that doesn’t negate our responsibility. We will do everything we can within our natural ability and trust God for the supernatural.
We’re doing everything within our natural ability right now – we’re thinking, planning, and (this week especially) meeting with landlords, building owners, and contractors. Although those things are important, we can’t forget the most important step: ASKING God for the supernatural – what only He can do.
If you believe in the vision and mission of Awaken Church, and especially if you attend Awaken, I’m asking you to join us this Friday for a day of prayer and fasting. Fasting gives us a tangible reminder throughout the day of how dependent we are. So for 1 day, instead of depending on food for your strength, depend on the Lord. Every time your stomach growls, let it remind you to pray. During the time you would have normally spent preparing and eating a meal, devote that time to prayer.
Most of us can handle a day without food, but if for health reasons, you can’t, give up something else for the day (social media, TV, etc.) and devote that time to prayer this Friday!
If you’re in the Clarksville area, you’re also invited to join us for prayer at Awaken on Friday from 9-10am. I’d love to see the sanctuary full of people believing in God’s direction and provision. Bring your kids if you need to, and let’s PRAY!
God has never let us down and we believe this is simply another way for Him to provide.
Specific ways to pray:
1) financial provision for a new building (you can give online HERE)
2) favor with banks and building owners
3) God’s direction in leading us to the place He wants us to be
If you’re joining us in prayer, would you let me know by leaving a comment below? If you’re outside of Clarksville, let us know where you’re from!
You can trace the evolution of the English language each year by which words were added to and subtracted from the dictionary. For instance, in 1997, “Macarena” was added, then in 1998, it was subtracted (like they wanted to pretend it never happened!); in 2001, “retail therapy” and “street cred” were added; in 2006, “google” became a verb in addition to being a proper noun; and in 2011, words like “social media,” “tweet,” and “fist bump” were added.
However, there’s a phrase that I hear often that I’m tired of hearing. I want to put it out there as a plea to quit saying it and most importantly, to stop doing it. Here’s the phrase I don’t want to hear anymore: “I’m following my heart.”
Almost every person I sit down with in counseling is suffering from the results of following their heart.
You probably read the headlines recently of the teacher who left his wife, children, and teaching career in order to move in with a former 18-year old student. Their reasoning was “We’re following our hearts.”
He’s in prison now. Why? Because he followed his heart…and that’s where your heart will lead you.
The Bible says our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked – no one can know it (except the One who made it, of course). The Bible also says that without Jesus, we’re dead in our sins.
So I say to stop following your heart because without Jesus, your heart isn’t beating!
What you really need to do is follow Jesus – the One who breathes life into dead and dying hearts. He’s the One who will never let you down or lead you astray. And although following Jesus often goes directly against the feelings and direction that your heart says to go, His way is the right way, and the one way that you’ll never regret following.
Stop following your heart and follow Jesus.
The temporary pleasure is not worth the lasting pain.
As I teach expositionally through Scripture, sometimes a text arises that is a little uncomfortable. Sometimes, I prepare myself for people to walk out while I’m teaching – no joke. Sunday was one of those days. We talked about the church in Thyatira who had allowed poisonous false teaching to flow from their pulpit. One of the major topics was sexual immorality, which is huge in our culture, just like it was back in John’s day. Jesus hits it hard in this letter, so I felt compelled to do the same. Praise God, we had no one walk out, and 2 people give their lives to Jesus!
Watch the video below for a Biblical picture of lust, as well as some practical tips on how to release its grip on your life.
I ate at a Chinese buffet a few days ago – I love Chinese food. As I browsed the buffet, I filled up my plate with some fried rice, an egg roll, some honey chicken, then I came to the next dish. It looked like some sort of chicken on a stick, but I didn’t know for sure what it was. So I checked the label on the glass and found that they had created a very clever title for the unknown dish. They called it: “Chicken On A Stick.” Clever, right? No need to disguise it or fancy it up – it’s chicken, and it’s on a stick. There’s no need to call it anything else!
One thing that I love about the Bible is its brutal honesty. It’s not afraid to call sin, “SIN,” even when no one else will. We’ve come up with all these clever, politically correct terms to disguise sin: “sexual orientation,” “disease,” “generational curse,” and so on. The Bible looks at each of those cleverly disguised issues and calls them “SIN.” There’s no need to call it anything else.
We need that honesty from Scripture. Too many people are on a hunt for a feel-good, pat-on-the-back mini-sermon from the Bible, and although you will find endless encouragement from God’s Word, it will also convict, direct, and confront. And that can get a little uncomfortable.
On Sunday, we took an unapologetic look at Scripture’s blatant honesty as Joshua and Israel stood in the wilderness reading out a list of blessings and curses that would come as a result of obedience or disobedience. I refuse to apologize for Scripture’s honesty. In fact, I told the church that if they were looking for a candy-coated, watered-down, non-offensive version of the Bible, they’d have to pull out a Yellow Pages and find a new church. That’s not what Awaken is all about.
God’s Word is the primary tool that He uses for spiritual renewal. I refuse to dilute its potency based on whether or not someone will get offended. The truth is that God’s Word is offensive. Get over it.
In our own lives, we need to get used to calling sin what it is. Don’t come up with a clever disguise or excuse for it. It’s sin and it is the reason that Jesus went to the cross. Recognize God’s hatred of it and your need to get rid of it!
And if you’re wondering how long you should wait to begin obeying, here’s the answer: not one more second. Obey RIGHT NOW.
If you missed Sunday’s message or you’d like to watch again, here it is…
Regardless of which concert you went to, who was performing, or which genre of music they played, one thing probably happened at the end of the concert: an encore. The crowd loved the music so much and were so bummed that the show was over that even when the lights went out and the band exited the stage, the crowd stood and cheered, screaming for an encore.
It’s great when the band comes back for an encore, but it’s normally only 1 or 2 songs, then they leave for good. It’s the opposite when it comes to our lives: life on Earth is short, but the real show happens after life on earth is over!
The book of 1 Peter is all about getting us ready for what’s next.
I recently finished teaching through the book of 1 Peter, in a series I called …To Be Continued, which hinted at the fact that life on earth isn’t it (thankfully) – it’s to be continued for all of eternity in heaven (for those who follow Christ). It was a powerful book to study and it took me 25 weeks to teach through verse-by-verse. You can watch and/or listen to all 25 teachings HERE.
One thing you may have picked up on as you read through the book was Peter’s references to how temporary life on earth is…
He calls the Christians he’s writing to “pilgrims” in 1:1.
He talks about how they should live “throughout the time of your stay here” (1:17), which sounds like language that the receptionist at a hotel would use during your temporary stay.
Later in 2:11, he calls them “sojourners” and “pilgrims” – more references to the temporary state of their time on earth.
Think about how different you treat a temporary dwelling and a permanent dwelling. You don’t change out the carpets and upgrade the bathroom tile in a hotel room – you’re only there for the weekend! Why invest time, money, and energy into something that won’t last? I’d ask you the same question when it comes to life on earth: why invest time, money, and energy into something that won’t last? Live instead for eternity. For those who follow Christ, life is to be continued in heaven after you breathe your last breath.
One of Peter’s favorite words in this book is “salvation.” He uses it quite a few times because he’s always looking ahead to what’s next – the completion of his salvation when he enters heaven!
Throughout the book he talks about many things in our lives that a lifestyle modeled after eternity will impact. He mentions things like suffering (many of the Christians who he wrote this letter to were undergoing, or about to undergo, some extreme persecution for their faith), living as a witness, submitting to government, marital relationships, relationships in the workplace, serving within the church, and more.
The reality is, when you live in the light of eternity, it effects every square inch of your life.
Everything changes and you gain an entirely new perspective when you live with eternity in mind!
Try it today – base every interaction, thought, and circumstance off the fact that heaven is right around the corner and you want to take as many people with you as possible. It will change your whole outlook on life!
Today is day 87 in our journey through the Bible in 90 days.
1 Thessalonians is a very refreshing read, especially after reading 1 Corinthians a couple days ago!
1 & 2 Thessalonians were Paul’s 2nd and 3rd books written. He had visited Thesslonica on his second missionary journey, where they had seen God move so powerfully that the mob who tried to hunt them down described them this way…
“These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also” – Acts 17:6
What a compliment! That’s exactly what Paul had set out to do!
Speaking of compliments, Paul had a lot of great things to say about the Thessalonian church as well. They were faithful, loving, and Christ-centered in all that they did. He said that they “became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia” (1:7). He said they also “received the word of God…and accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers” (2:13). He goes so far as to say…
“For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.” – 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
Although Paul addressed quite a few things in 1 Thessalonians, the church in Thessalonica was missing two main things:
1) Paul – he wasn’t able to be there in person, so he sent Timothy instead (3:2).
2) Hope after death. That’s a big one!
Paul addresses that issue in Chapter 4 when he writes about the Rapture and the life we live after death. We don’t sorrow like those who have no hope – Jesus overcame death! For the believer, death is the beginning of real life! What a comforting reminder!
On the flip side, however, the return of Christ will be a time of panic and terror for many who have rejected Christ. There is no encouragement for them besides committing their lives to Christ so that they’re guaranteed to have hope at the return of Christ.
One unique things about 1 Thessalonians is that it contains two of the three instances in Scripture where it specifically says “this is God’s will.” (The third is 1 Peter 2:15.)
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification:t that you abstain from sexual immorality” – 1 Thessalonians 4:3
“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Make it a practice to pay attention to God’s will. Not paying attention to God’s will is like not paying attention to your GPS when trying to get to a new location. You won’t arrive safely if you’re not paying attention. God’s will is the GPS for our souls, so listen up!
1 Thessalonians is a refreshing read written to a refreshing church. It gives one of the earliest looks at the New Testament church that was forming around the world. God was doing great things, and if His people would continue to follow His will and expectantly await His return, He would continue to do amazing things! The same is true for us today.
Today is day 86 in our journey through the Bible in 90 days.
The book of Colossians is Paul reminding us where our lives should be centered. Jesus is the center of everything.
If we are the solar system, Jesus is the sun – we revolve around Him.
If we are a cell, Jesus is the nucleus – He keeps us moving and functioning.
If we are an earthquake, Jesus is the epicenter – He’s the point of all action.
Jesus is the center, the point of action, the place that all growth, life, and action stems from. HE. IS. IT. Everything in the book points back to Him – He’s the reason anything exists and the reason it’s still existing – He holds it all together.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For byt him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” – Colossians 1:15-17
Colossians is Paul’s third “prison epistle.” Ephesians and Philippians came first, and the final one is Philemon (more on that one tomorrow). There he was, locked in a Roman prison cell, writing some of the deepest, most practical words we would ever read. I’m sure he had no idea the impact that these simple letters would have. 2,000 years later, they’re still shaking us up! Because Jesus was at the center of everything Paul lived for, God even used his times of persecution and suffering to proclaim the name of Christ! John and the book of Revelation are another great example of that…but that’s for another blog as well.
I’ve mentioned it before, but the main reason Paul is able to write such joy- and -purpose-filled words are because of where his mind and life is centered. He reminds us very clearly where ours should be centered as well…
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” – Colossians 3:1
Can you imagine how this mindset could completely change your life?
What if you viewed your trial through the filter of “things above?”
What if you viewed all the stuff you have (house, car, money, etc) through the filter of “things above?”
What if you viewed your relationships through the filter of “things above?”
Paul had a very unique God-given perspective and outlook on life, because everything that happened and every relationship he formed was filtered through and focused on “things above.”
One heresy that Paul hit head-on (Ch. 2) was the exaltation of human wisdom. That’s definitely something we have to combat today. Whether it’s a psychic, higher learning, “coexisting” religions, or cult beliefs, many people turn to knowledge and learning as their god. It’s a good reminder to remember Who made our brains in the first place and Who keeps them functioning today!
I’d challenge you with this: take a minute right now to pray and ask God to help you center everything you do for the rest of the day on Him. If you’ll follow through on it, it will literally change the rest of your day…and if you keep going, it will change your life!
Today is Day 75 in our journey through the Bible in 90 days.
We’re 2 books deep into the New Testament and both books have been all about Jesus so far – I love it! Bonus: we still have two more all-about-Jesus books to go!
Mark is the shortest of the 4 Gospels – only 16 chapters. I have a hard enough time trimming down my sermons at times, I can’t imagine trimming down the life of the Savior of the world to include in a book! Thankfully Mark had God to help him decide what to include and what to exclude. Mark is like the Cliffs Notes of the Gospel. Mark covered in the first chapter what took Matthew 4-5 chapters to cover. He wastes no time getting right to the heart of Jesus’ ministry and call of His disciples.
Mark was probably born about 15 years after Jesus, so he would have been a teenager when most of the crucial events he reported were going on. Thankfully for him, his mother, Mary (not Jesus’ mother), was a devout woman who loved the Lord. If you were raised in a Christian home in a religious culture that was actually far from the Lord (like American culture), you can relate to Mark.
Mark was not one of Jesus’ 12 disciples. Of the Gospel writers, only Matthew and John were. He was, however, highly involved in ministry. You can find his name throughout the book of Acts, Colossians, 2 Timothy, and 1 Peter. He not only had the privilege of witnessing much of Jesus’ ministry, but also of serving side by side with Paul the Apostle! What a privilege!
Many people believe that he is pictured anonymously in his own book as a young man who fled the scene of Jesus’ arrest…
“Now a certain young man followed Him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body. And the young men laid hold of him, and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked.” – Mark 14:51-52
Was Mark a streaker? Maybe. Not on purpose, but out of fear, it seems. Don’t hold it against him!
Most people agree that much of the detailed information that Mark recorded came from Peter, who would have been there for all of the events. Those events were important, because Mark wrote his book in an effort to show Jesus as a servant. A key verse in Mark is…
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:45
Jesus was always serving someone in some way. Whether it was healing, casting out demons, washing feet, forgiving sin, or some other way. That’s what Jesus came to do…and He was good at it!
After all, it takes a servant to leave the throne room of heaven and condescend to our messed up, sinful planet! He gave up a golden throne surrounded by angels and took a dirty feeding trough surrounded by barn animals instead! THAT is a Servant!
Here’s the question that comes to my mind after reading about Jesus in the book of Mark: how closely do I resemble the servant side of Jesus?
It’s one thing to write (or in my case, blog) about Jesus, but how do we compare when it comes to serving? Jesus set the example for us to follow. The question is: are we following it?