Archives For Jon Walker

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30 (NIV)

TimeTiming was important to Jesus; everything in its time at just the right time. On his mission to bring you and me from death to life (Romans 6:13), he never rushed or struggled to play catch up.

He clearly worked from a different clock than everyone else. Instead of Eastern Standard Time, Jesus seemed to be on Eternal Standard Time. He never arrived late and he never arrived early, he simply arrived according to his purpose.

Jesus was born at exactly the right time to be in Bethlehem with his parents, right as the stars aligned to announce the birth of Israel’s long-awaited king. When he was older, he stayed to study Scripture in the temple, even though his parents left for home.

When others thought he was late, Jesus arrived just in time to raise Lazarus from the dead. When his brothers wanted him to go with them to the Festival of Shelters, Jesus told them, “Go on to the festival. My time…

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John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” John 1:23 (NIV)

Pastor, you are a voice. You are not the message; you are simply the messenger.

Like Isaiah and John the Baptist, you are the “voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord’” (John 1:23 NIV).

Your objective is to reach the place where you are honest when you say:

The message I bring is from God; it’s not anything I thought up on my own. God filled me with his Holy Spirit so that I could understand his message and know without a doubt that his message is true and freely given.

The words I speak are not the result of human wisdom or human imagination or my own opinion; they were formed in me by the Holy Spirit so that I could express “spiritual truths in spiritual words” (1 Corinthians 2:12–13 NIV, with author paraphrase).

I am simply a channel for God’s message. In order for his message to grow in me and to grow in you,…

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The Ministry of Communion

By Jon Walker

It is the command of Jesus that none should come to the altar with a heart that is unreconciled to his brother. If this command of Jesus applies to every service of worship, indeed, to every prayer we utter, then it most certainly applies to reception of the Lord’s Supper. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Perfect Love desires communion, the sharing of life together, so it cannot be expressed from a distance. God came in human form to make His love visible. God so loved the world that He came up-close in Christ. 1 John 1:1-3 (MSG)

The Big Idea: Communion is about the sharing of life. It is about knowing others and being known by others, about caring and being cared for on a deep and personal level. And, when we take Communion (the Lord’s Supper) together, we should reflect the life we share with one another because the Life of Christ is active in our hearts.

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We cannot love like Jesus loves us unless we enter each other’s lives in an intimate and personal way. And so Jesus expects us to come up-close to each other….

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Wineskins

“No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” (Mark 2:22 NIV)

Near my house is a gas station/convenience store that just underwent a makeover, changing their utilitarian look into a warm and inviting neighborhood haven, something like a coffee bar with gas pumps.

When I walked into the place, however, it appeared the employees missed the makeover memo. The kid behind the counter wore a new uniform that matched the new look, but he still wore the same sullen expression from before, perhaps a little bored and a bit put out that an actual customer had walked in to disturb him.

It made me think about how we try to put new wine into old wineskins. Jesus says we’re doomed to failure because “the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined” (Mark 2:22 NIV).

For you to become the person God wants you to be in 2012, you will have to abandon the old wineskins in your life so that God…

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New Years ResolutionsFor I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2 (NIV)

How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? You remember that list you made with two scoops of optimistic enthusiasm, sprinkled with unrealistic expectations, and topped with the cherry of knowing the list isn’t serious anyway.

One of my friends started making New Year’s resolutions like:

  • I won’t lose ten pounds this year.
  • I commit to watching the Super Bowl this year.
  • I will listen to my iPod at least four days a week.

But there is one guy who I suspect played for keeps when he made New Year’s resolutions. You know, the zealot who could never do anything halfway, the let’s-get-real-about-our-faith apostle, Saul-Paul.

My thought is Paul only had one resolution on his New Year’s list: “This year I resolve to know nothing but Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Paul’s message is radically simple: Salvation is in Christ alone. What does this mean?

  • It’s not Christ plus your good behavior.
  • It’s not Christ plus the years you taught a Bible study.
  • It’s not Christ plus your tithe.
  • It’s not Christ plus the…

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Christmas GiftWe are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. 1 John 4:6 (NIV)

My mother gave me a great gift and that is sensitivity about giving gifts. She taught me giving a gift is an opportunity to show you’ve thought about the person, taking time to discover likes and needs. She taught me gifts should be personal.

What this translates into is you don’t use a birthday to give a household item you were going to purchase anyway: “Gee, honey, thanks for the vacuum cleaner.” Or, you don’t insensitively give your eighty-year-old aunt a power drill for Christmas (unless that’s what she really wants!). The fact that there are so many returns after Christmas and so many gift cards purchased (okay, I buy them too) reveals we’re not taking the time to make gifts personal.

Here’s the thing: the gift of Jesus is personal. Jesus came in person. He didn’t come to us as a religion, a set of laws, or merely as…

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Illuminate“When Jesus heard this, he said, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.’ Then he added, ‘Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: “I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.” For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.’” Matthew 9:12-13 (NLT)

A friend of mine once belonged to a cult, and he told me he never once felt fear when he told people about the things he believed. But, after becoming a Christian, he said he was filled with fear when he began sharing his faith.

It’s a powerful reminder that we do not struggle “against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV).

The enemy doesn’t want us to share our faith, and so he fights us with fear. But God does not give us his spirit to make us slaves again to fear; he fills us with his spirit to show us we are his children and that he is “Abba,…

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TXTIt’s no secret that today’s “mobile generation,” those 18 to 24, are well-connected. According to data collected by a free wifi provider and reported on Mashable.com, this generation owns an average of 2.4 Internet-connected devices per person.

The data provides an intriguing sociological look at the young adults your church is trying to reach – and how you can communicate with them.

For example, two out of three millennials own a smartphone and 71 percent own a laptop.

For an infographic using the survey data, check out Mashable: How the Millennial Generation Uses Mobile

 


Graphic by Kyle Key.

 

 

 

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graceandjusticeHi, Pastor! I got your note saying you don’t think you can do what God is telling you to do in your ministry.

You may be surprised to hear me say this, but I agree! If God called you to do it, then you shouldn’t be able to do it without him. In fact, if you could do it without him, then it’s really not a God-thing.

I know you feel that God is asking you to do something that you think is impossible. But God did call you to do it and that means his strength is working through you and that will make you sufficient for the task.

In fact, the Bible says your weaknesses, doubts, and insecurities are no surprise to God. You may try to hide them from others, but you can’t hide them from the one who created you.

The truth is, God created you with weaknesses. And, since he’s God, he didn’t make a mistake. Is it possible he created you with weaknesses in order to keep you on your knees before him? And with you dependent upon him, you’re able to do all things through him who…

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leafThen a man suffering from a dreaded skin disease came to him, knelt down before him, and said, “Sir, if you want to, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out and touched him. “I do want to,” he answered. “Be clean!” At once the man was healed of his disease. (Matthew 8:2-3 TEV)

When we hide the truth, it is a faith issue, not a circumstance issue.

It requires faith to be truthful. It requires faith to come clean. It requires faith to be authentic and transparent in our relationships. It requires faith to stop pretending and to let others see who we really are and what we’re really about.

Praise God, we have Jesus!

Even if we sin, we need not live in fear, because he sits at the right hand of the Father as our Advocate. He understands our weaknesses; he was tempted in “every way that we are, but did not sin. Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it” (Hebrews 4:14-16 TEV).

The point is: Jesus wants to cleanse…

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illuminateIt is rare in the corporate world when you hear a sincere apology, but Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO of Netflix, offered one to subscribers this past week.

What’s more, instead of wrapping it in the vagueness of corporate-speak, he started his letter, “I messed up. I owe you an explanation ….” Hastings was responding to customer criticism over how Netflix abruptly separated its DVD and streaming functions and then increased the monthly cost for DVDs from two dollars to ten.

The response by Hastings is a healthy reminder to us that we must lead our congregations with love and humility. Here are three things to take-away:

When you mess up, say so – Don’t tap dance around the issue. Don’t blame other people. Don’t blame your circumstances. Don’t make excuses. Admit your mistake and move forward. The way you respond to your mistakes, particularly the big, costly, embarrassing ones, says a lot about your leadership. Releasing your pride allows grace to flow in.

Don’t make isolated or elitist decisions – This happens more than it should in churches. You get focused on an issue, and as you come up with a plan…

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Jesus Defines Love in Uncompromising Terms

“But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44 GNT)

“Had Jesus only told us to love our brethren, we might have misunderstood what he meant by love, but now he leaves us in no doubt whatever as to his meaning.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Jesus is absolutely relentless in pushing the standards of the law to a higher level—in truth, the level at which they’ve always been in the kingdom of heaven. In this case, he speaks about the law of love, insisting it must be a love that is extraordinary and remarkable.

He calls us, Bonhoeffer notes, to a sacrificial love where we love our enemies in exactly the same way we love our friends. Yet Bonhoeffer adds, “By our enemies Jesus means those who are quite intractable and utterly unresponsive to our love, who forgive us nothing when we forgive them all, who requite our love with hatred and our service with derision.”

Our enemies may reject our love; they may waste our love, discount our love, and react angrily to our love. They may…

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