Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

Today’s reading (1 Peter 3) carries with it the idea of submission that we talked about yesterday. It begins by discussing that wives should submit to their husbands, even if they are not followers of God, in hopes that they can win them over with their lives. Husbands in turn are to be submissive to their wives as they are considerate, and treat them with respect.

I strongly feel that we have so many unhappy and unfulfilling marriages today because neither spouse is submissive to the other. Many wives today do not offer their husbands the respect he needs and craves, and husbands do not offer the love and affection she needs and craves. I can tell you from my own marriage that when I am showing Crystal the love and affection needs and CRAVES, my needs of respect and adoration are met quite well. God has given us a roadmap to marriage, and if we follow it, the bumpy times will become great times of growth.

While the following passage does not come out and speak directly to marriage, it’s advice that would be a great foundation to any relationship, especially a marriage … “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

But they are Wrong!

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

I really love the way today’s reading (1 Peter 2) ends. Read verses 21-25 again. Is not it amazing what Christ did so that we can return to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls? Reading that passage made me tremble.

While that is an amazing thought, I want to focus today’s post on another section of the reading. Today we are living in a changing America. I do not know where you stand on the issues of Healthcare, Immigration, President Obama, or even the Constitution. I know where I stand, and on many issues I am not happy. While I personally do not believe our government is out to personally hurt anyone or do the wrong thing, I believe their intentions are ok; I just disagree with them fundamentally. I do believe healthcare needed reform, but what was passed was not the best for this country. While I disagree with many things our government does, I am still called by God to submit to their leadership.

Peter urges his readers to submit to authority, whether to kings or governors; people in their day who ruled with an iron thumb and military power. In their day life was tough, and if you rebelled you died, no matter how much you disagreed with them. Fortuantly we live in a country where our government cannot suppress our speech. So even though it may hurt us at times to follow the authority of government we must submit to its leadership.

The thing you can do when you disagree is thank God that we live in a country that has protected our rights as human beings. We have channels we can go through to oppose legislation. That is where we must fight. That is where we must take action. But rebelling against the government by not paying taxes or doing something far worse is not submitting to the authority of our government, and in return is disobeying God, which in return is the definition of sin.
The above image was borrowed from the blog Stellavision

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Monster Under the Bed

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

Somewhere along the way most children have something they are scarred of when they go to sleep at night. For some it might be a monster lurking in the closet. For others it might be the Bogyman under the bed. For me, well it was something completely different, and a little silly. I was afraid of Heaven. That’s right you read it correctly, I was afraid of Heaven. I was not afraid of the streets of gold, or even the pearly gates. I wasn’t afraid of seeing God, or all of the Saints who have gone on before me. What I was afraid of was the eternal aspect of it. I would lay awake at night doing everything I could to not think about Heaven. When I would think about Heaven, my entire body would begin to tremble out of fear. Why was I as a little boy so scared of Heaven?

I think I was scared of Heaven because it does not end. It is for ever. Peter describes it in today’s reading (1 Peter 1) … “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an heritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you.” What scared me about Heaven is the idea that it never ends. Everything I know ends. Eventually I will be done writing this blog post. Eventually you will be done reading this blog post. Sometime today I am going to go home, cook dinner and end my day by laying my head down on my pillow and not thinking about Heaven. Everything I know here on this earth comes to and end. But the Bible says that Heaven does not come to an end, that the inheritance we gain there never perishes, spoils, or fades. I find that really cool, but as a child, really scary.

So what about God scares you? Have you come across a concept or thought in God’s Word that just scares you to death? For the most part I have overcome my fears of Heaven; I have even now come to embrace the eternalness of it. Now I need to just get over my night terrors of squirrels.
The above image is borrowed from the blog Cedric's Blog-O-Rama!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

How He Loves

Below is the Daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

Today is a day of praise. Each week Christians around the world meet together on Sunday mornings to fellowship, commune, and praise Jesus together. While we do that on Sunday’s, today’s reading (Psalms 33 & 34) exemplifies our need to praise in all that we do.

I love that both of these Psalms begin with the idea of praise. “Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous”“I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always by on my lips.” So this evening I wander, do we live a life where we sing joyfully to the Lord, do we continually extol the Lord at all times, is his praise always on your lips? We have been blessed in so many ways by God, that we should continually be praising his name. Do you see the blessing, or have you blinded the eyes your heart in negativity?

Another thing I like is the phrase “Sing to him a new song.” Do we cherish new songs? I know I do. I love to sing a new song to God. Now don’t get me wrong, I still cherish the old songs, but I love to be able to praise my God in new and exciting ways. Below is a video of one of my current favorite songs. I hope you enjoy it. Check out the official music video from David Crowder on Youtube.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What is your Perspective?

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

Today’s reading (Psalms 31 & 32) really makes me think of perspective. In the opening verses of Psalms 31 David is crying out to God to be his rock and fortress. Then he switches his tone and says “Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead me and guide me.” Did you catch what he said there? He knows that God is his rock and fortress. David had confidence that God was his rock and fortress and could count on God because he knew that.

I think many times we need to look at the way we approach things. Do we approach things with the confidence and assurance that God is in them, or are we asking God to be in them? When we approach things with the confidence it changes our whole experience. We don’t have to worry, we don’t have to question. We can be confident. Try placing your trust in God, instead of hoping you will place your trust in God.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Continual Success

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

Today’s reading (James 3) strikes at the heart of what drives many followers of Christ to sin. I love what James writes when he says … “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.” If we are going to overcome sin, it begins by drawing near to God.

The times in my life where I have been tempted the most, or have even succumbed to the temptations, are the times in my life where I have been the most distant from God. These times tend to be when life is going really well. These are times when I feel like I do not need to be leaning on God as much as I should. When this happens, a separation between me and God begins to form. With my guard down, that is when temptation sinks in.

The times in my life where I have fought temptation and have conquered it in a blaze of glory have been the times where I am walking hand in hand with God. It is during these times that I have put my full strength in him. I have seen this verse play itself out in my own life. As I draw near to God, he draws near to me. Being close to the father makes it easier to resist Satan. When we resist Satan enough, he will leave us alone, because he does not want to waist his time. It is when we pull away from God that he snatches the opportunity to lure us back into our weakness.

So what period of life are you going through today? Are you near to God or far away? My desire in my life is to be continually drawing near to God. I have not achieved constant success, but it is getting better with each passing day.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sweet Confection

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

Last night my wife caused a slight commotion on her Facebook posting. On her way home from work she passed a church that had on its sign “Keep your words soft and sweet incase you need to eat them later.” When I opened my Bible to do today’s reading out of James 3 and the discussion was on the words we say, it made me think of that sign. I do not know which church it was that posted that sign, or exactly where it was at, but those words are so true.

The words we say can hurt. The words we say can cut a person very deep, make them feel very small, and send them away hurting in ways we may not have intended. James tells us to be very careful with the words that roll off of our tongue. Like a small spark that sets a forest ablaze, our words can set off feelings and emotions we may never intend.

I also like what James says when he says … “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men …. My brothers this should not be.” As followers of Christ our goal should be to continually purify our mouths; to build up rather than tear down. You see our words stem from the heart, and in Christ we should be undergoing a heart makeover. If this transformation is allowed to take its course, the nasty words will cease and praise will triumph.

So friends, what kind of words roll of your tongue? Are the words that role of your tongue words you would want to take back? Would they be nasty and hard like stale bread, or soft and sweet like a Donut Shop donut (For you in Zanesville a Donald’s Donut or for you elsewhere who can stomach them a Krispy Kreme donut)? I pray that the heart transformation is taking place, and your words are soft and sweet.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Completely Different

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

Today’s reading (James 2) offers some instruction on what our churches should look like. When I look at the American Church today I sometimes see something that is completely different.

When I look at the American Church today I see churches that are mostly made up of people from similar social backgrounds. Now I do not believe that this has been done on purpose, but I do believe it happens. You see, in most of our circles in life we run around with people from similar social and economic backgrounds. That is just the way our culture works and thinks. Why does this happen? It happens because people in the same social and economic backgrounds have similar interest and experiences, where someone from a different background has different interests and experiences. This pattern has followed its way into the church.

So is there anything wrong with this following its way into the church? I say yes and no. If it has followed its way into the church because the people of a community share similar social and economic backgrounds, then that is fine. If it has followed its way into the church because it just sort of happened, then it is fine. But, if it has followed its way into the church, because people of a different social and economic background have scorned others, whether above or below them, then we have a problem. Listen to James’ words on this … “If you really keep the royal law found in the Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.”

Here is my guide to what the church should look like. The church should be a representation of the community you live in. If your community is mostly upper middle class, then your church would resemble that. If your community is mostly lower middle class to those on the verge of poverty, then your church should resemble that. (Now we must also understand that God has called us to reach all, so we would step out of our communities dominating characteristic if there is a large percent of the population that does not know Christ.) So my final question remains, does your church makeup resemble the community where you are planted?

Monday, March 22, 2010


Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

I have to apologize for not getting the Bible reading thoughts up yesterday. I had a really crazy and hectic day that started very early. I hope you all did the reading yourself :).

Today we begin the book of James (James 1). As I was reading it I remembered a quote I used in my sermon yesterday by Max Lucado found in his book When God Whispers Your Name on pg. 121: “Could it be that you went to religion and didn’t go to God? Could it be that you went to a church but never saw Christ?” A lot of times I hear people talking about different religions. Each time I hear that word used to describe followers of Christ, I hate it. Maybe I am getting caught in semantics, but I still hate it. Maybe that is because religion has been so watered down. Maybe that is because religion to me is just something you associate with. The faith Christ calls us to is a faith that alters and shapes our life, it is not something we associate with, it is who we are.

What is noble religion to God? “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” So if we are going to use the term religion, which is fine (just something I personally despise), how is your religion? Does it meet up with what God considers pure and faultless?

So instead of seeking out religion, maybe we should be seeking out God. If we seek out God, then pure and faultless religion will fall into place. If our desire is to serve God with our lives, then serving orphans and widows, as well as not being polluted by the world, is the life God has called us to live. So again I ask; how is your religion?

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

Do you like to be corrected? At times it is probably something none of us enjoy. Today’s reading (Proverbs 9) talks about a lot about correction and rebuke.

"Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult;
whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse.
Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you;
rebuke a wise man and he will love you.
Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still;
teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.”

So when you get corrected, what category do you fall into? Are you the mocker or the wise man that loves the corrector? Following God means loving correction. Why? Because when you seek to grow that means when you are corrected, you may just be drawing more and more in line with the Father’s plans for your life. I know correction hurts, but it is certainly for the best. Today I want to leave you with these thoughts.

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

Friday, March 19, 2010

Watch How you Read

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

When I was in Bible College one of the classes I took was Hermeneutics. The focus of this class was to teach us how to read the English Bible (Just as a side note the original text of the Bible is in Hebrew, a little Aramaic, and Greek, it wasn’t until 1611 that we received the King James Version of the Bible. It was one of the first English translations.). In Hermeneutics we learned to dissect the text, making sure we were reading it in the proper context. Part of today’s reading (James 5) can be completely construed if proper hermeneutics are not applied.

If not reading the text in context, you could easily take the verse … “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.” … to mean that rich people have misery coming, and that being rich is somehow wrong. However, that is not the case. If you continue reading, with proper hermeneutical procedure, we see that the rich referred to have sought selfish gain. It talks about those who have hoarded wealth, not paid workmen what they dissevered; they have fattened themselves, and condemned and murdered innocent men. The attack against these men is not the wealth they have but the way they have obtained it and the attitude it has created. However, because of verses like the one quoted being taken out of context, many people see wealthy Christians as negative.

My overall purpose with writing today is not to focus on the wealth being discussed, but to discuss the proper way to study scripture. It is imperative that when you read God’s Word you understand the context of the passage. To understand the context means to understand what is going on around a key verse. It also means understanding the people whom the passage was written to. It also means understanding the culture the people who received these words lived in. There is so much more to reading God’s Word then just reading the text. We live 2,000 years after the recipients of these letters lived. We live in a different world and must do our best to understand theirs.

If at any time something you read in God’s word doesn’t make sense, get online, check out some background on the world they lived in. If that isn’t helpful, come talk to Marty or I (or one of your ministers). Part of our Bible College training was to give us the tools to dissect Scripture and understand its context. If you struggle with something, make sure you dig deeper to understand it. Throughout this year, I hope to give you some background and insight, as well as point towards resources that will help.

Remembering the Promise

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church/ Please feel free to follow along.

If you have been reading through the book of Acts with me, and reading this blog, you have noticed I have pointed out the times I believe God has been protecting his people. We have even talked about the promise given to us in Matthew 28. That promise is if we continue to do the work of Christ, no matter what hardships come our way, God is going to be with us. Throughout Acts we have seen the church and the early church leaders come under attack, especially from the Jews. Through it all God has protected his people. Today’s reading (Acts 28) concludes the book of Acts, and with its conclusion, we are again reminded of the promise.

In the chapter before the ship Paul is being transported as a prisoner on is shipwrecked. They learn they have landed on the island of Malta. As Paul builds a fire, he awakens a viper, which clings to his hands. Paul then shakes the snake off and suffers no big consequences. Paul stays on the island, and is even protected and taken care of by some of the locals there. When winter draws to an end, they set sail on their voyage again. Finally they reach Rome, the capital of the Roman world.

Why has God protected his servants so many times? I believe it is because he wanted their message to spread. When Paul reaches Rome he is has a message to share first with the Jews there and then with the Gentiles. We learn in Philippians that under Paul’s house arrest that the whole Roman guard heard the message of the gospel. Why is that? Because he has his own personal guard assigned to him. In the book of Acts we see how God uses the adversity of his servant’s situations to further the gospel. Let’s review a few of those:

Stephens stoning: The disciples are spread out because of fear taking the message of the gospel to new areas.
The disagreement between Paul and Barnabas: Two new missionary teams are created sending the message even further
Paul in the Philippian jail: God uses it to convert the jailor and his entire family
Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem: Took the message of the gospel all the way to Rome and perhaps even to Caesar himself.

So what adversity is in your life? How can God use it to further his kingdom through you? Do you pray that God will use adversity to mature you and grow his kingdom? It is very interesting that our next chapter on Monday is James 1. It begins by talking about trials and temptations. I didn’t plan this, but I can God’s spirit working in my planning.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Prayer Habits

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

Several years ago when I was in college I began to have several discussions with classmates about praying habits. One of the habits we discussed was prayers said before meals. For a while I had been feeling like my prayers before meals were just something I did because that was something I was supposed to do. I felt like my heart was left out of the prayer and that I was just saying it to say it. So I decided that I was not going to pray every time I sat down to eat. When I got married, Crystal and I started praying together before our meals. We did this for a while until we both realized we were doing it for the sake of doing it. So we decided that we were going to stop praying before meals.

We both felt like our decision to do this was somewhat Biblical. In Matthew 6 Jesus says about prayer … “And when you pray do not go on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many word.” What I took from that passage is we are supposed to be praying prayers that are heart felt and prayers with purpose. I felt like my meal prayers were not prayers of the heart and not prayers with purpose. However, after reading today’s passage (Acts 27) I am forced to reexamine my practice of meal prayers.

In the middle of the storm, when things are really looking bleak, and much of the cargo has been overthrown; Paul encourages the crew to eat. As Paul is passing out the food, before they eat he offers up a prayer of thanks. I have seen over and over that at meal time what the people in the Bible do is offer a prayer of thanks. Even Jesus did it before he feed the 5,000 on the Sea of Galilee. If Paul is doing it, if Jesus is doing it, then there must be something I have missed. Don’t you hate when reading God’s Word forces you to reexamine something you were doing and thought you had a scriptural basis for? I do not know where I am going to end up on this idea of prayer before meals, but I do know today’s reading is forcing me to look deeper into my heart on this matter.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

No Hidden Agenda

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side church. Please feel free to follow along.

I just recently finished reading a new book by Vince Antonucci called Guerilla Lovers. In the book Vince relates the idea of evangelism to Guerilla Warfare. Now he realizes that we are not engaging in war with non-Christians, but does emphasize the point that our tactics should be similar to Guerilla Warfare. The book was an amazing approach to evangelism and one that is very practical. I strongly recommend reading the book.

While guerrilla warfare takes place secretively and sporadically it also requires a lot planning and tactics. That is very similar to the way our evangelism should be. There will be times when we are able to capitalize on random God given situations, but the majority of our evangelism should be planned out and targeted. One thing to remember is Paul’s concept of evangelism shown to use in today’ reading (Acts 26).

In today’s reading Paul is accused by Agrippa of trying to persuade him to be a Christian … “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” … Paul does not hide his motives but replies … “Short time or long – I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.” Paul does not hide what he is trying to do. Paul is a Guerilla Lover, but at all times he is trying to bring people far from God into a relationship with Him.

I think sometimes we can cover our motives. We hide behind a bake sale, car wash, or serving at a food pantry to do evangelism, but along the way we do no evangelism at a fear of being offensive. We must be Guerilla Lovers, people tactfully planting gospel seeds, but we must not hide our motives … to bring people far from God into a relationship with Him. So, do you hide your motives, or are you out in the open with your purpose?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In the Fullness of Time

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

If you have been following this Bible reading since the beginning of Acts you have heard me mention several times the idea of the fullness of time. In Galatians 4:4-5 Paul writes … But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might received the full rights of sons.” One of the things we can take from that verse is this understanding … when the world was ready, both spiritually and physically, Christ came into the world. One thing I think this refers to is the world control by the Roman Government.

The Roman Governments rule is very evident in the last couple days of reading. We see how they are moving and working in the case of Paul. Because of their way of doing things, and because they do not easily put to death, esp. Roman citizens, Paul’s life is spared. The same holds true for Today’s reading (Acts 25). When Paul sees that things might get a little testy, and possibly a little dangerous, he pulls out the ultimate trump card … he appeals to Caesar.

The idea of the fullness of time gives us a little more insight into the hedge of protections God has placed around his servants. We are beneficiaries of that hedge of protection as well. Paul, and all the other disciples, utilized the Roman world to spread the message of the Cross. Now because the message and the salvation was from God it was going to prevail no matter what happened, but it also shows us how God uses mans things for his purposes. (On a side note ... how is He using the things in your life for his purposes?) The protection the disciples experienced helped them to spread the message and root it so deep into the history of the world that we can easily know the creator of the world today.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Reaching All

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

The message of the gospel is not reserved for just one kind of people. I think part of the reason so many Jews in the first century had such a problem with “The Way” … outside of their disbelief that Jesus was really the Messiah … was because it was open to all people, not just one race. Judaism was based off a race of people … Hebrews. But the gospel was not divided by once race, skin color, gender, or even economic standing. That is evident in today’s reading (Acts 24).

Paul has been arrested and sent to Caesarea to be tried. The High Priest arrives and brings Paul’s case before Governor Felix. The High Priest lays out his accusations against Paul. In return Felix allows Paul to share his side of the story. Following this we learn that Felix is aware of the “The Way.”

As we have read through the book of Acts this month we have seen all types of people coming to Christ. From the Philippian Jailer, to Lydia, to Apollos a learned and trained man, to a young boy named Timothy, to Luke the doctor. Now we learn that a government official knows a little something about “The Way.’

Are we discriminating in our churches with who we share the message of Christ with? Sometimes when I look at the local church I see congregations made up of mostly the same social class. So the thought for the day is this: how do we break this pattern?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Where Does Your Help Come From?

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

In today’s reading (Psalms 27 & 28) David describes God’s role in his life:


When you look at your life does God occupy those same spots? When the going gets tough, where do you find the light to come out of the valley; where do you find your salvation, your stronghold, your rock? David turned to God when the going got tough. David lived a successful life. He had his downfall (Adultery and murder with Bathsheba) but he was still known as a man after God’s own heart. I think we would be wise to make sure God is our light, salvation, stronghold and rock.

I think this song, Praise you in this Strom, by Casting Crowns is a good reminder of the praise we can have, if God is our light, salvation, stronghold, and rock.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Beautiful Passage

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along. If you would like a copy of the reading plan you can request one in the comment section. Please include your email.

I do not remember the last time I read today’s passage (Proverbs 8). When I sat down I was the only one in the church, my mind was going in ten different directions, so I chose to read out loud. As I did, the tone of the passage over took me. I felt like I was giving an amazing discourse. It was a beautiful passage that marked out the role Wisdom has had over the course of this world’s existence. Did you catch all the claims Wisdom made?

Wisdom speaks what is true
Wisdom’s words’ are just

Wisdom dwells together with prudence
Wisdom possess knowledge and discretion

Wisdom is what kings and rulers use to make their laws by and to govern by
Wisdom loves
Wisdom’s fruit is better than gold or silver
Wisdom walks in righteousness

Wisdom was created by God before all else
Wisdom blesses those who seek it out

This is the wisdom of God. So as we draw near to the end of the Wisdom passages in proverbs, ask yourself these question: Am I seeking out the Wisdom of God? Am I using God’s Wisdom to govern my life? Am I truly walking in the Wisdom of God? It is my hope and prayer that each one of us is.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Standing On Doctrine

Below is the Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

Today’s reading (Acts 23) shows one of the core problems with the Sanhedrin during the 1st century. In vs. eight we learn that the ruling body of the Jews is divided among itself. We learn … "The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angles nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.” What separated these two groups was a very sharp disagreement over doctrine. In that day this was one of the main dividing lines between the Jews. It was a dividing line Paul knew he could exploit, and when he did it developed into a mighty war.

Before I go on I want to make a disclaimer: I feel doctrine is very important. I believe it is something we should teach. I believe it is something we should discuss and make sure we are following closely.

Now that my disclaimer is out of the way I want to say this. Disagreements over doctrine should not become test of fellowship. While we must strive to have pure doctrine, and correct doctrine, I believe fellowship shouldn’t halt just because we disagree. If we threw out every argument, every book, every article that sided for a doctrine we disagree with, then our knowledge and growth would be pretty slim.

I have seen some circles draw the doctrine lines as a test of fellowship. On this I would say they are wrong. I have seen other circles that haven’t worried about doctrine at all. On this I would say they are wrong. We must strike a healthy balance. In my Restoration Movement class we learned that one of the shibboleths of the movement was this: We are not the only Christians, but Christians only. Think about that. We should be seeking to just be Christians, not arguing over doctrine, but loving people as we try to win them to Christ. We should not spend time ripping each other apart over difference when a brother or sister is struggling in sin, debt, depression, or the many other things that plague our society.

I know that doctrine is important. So how do we find the healthy balance? How do we discuss our difference in a way that is building up not tearing down? When we figure that out, I believe many churches will see amazing growth.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Your Life Experience

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

In today’s reading (Acts 22) a lot about Paul’s background is explained to us. We learn that he was a Jew, was born in Tarsus of Cilicia (Tarsus is harbor city on the northwest edge of the Mediterranean Sea, it was in the province of Galatia), was raised in Jerusalem, trained under Gamaliel (Gamaliel was the Pharisee that persuaded the Jews by saying that if the Christian movement was from God then they would not be able to stop it), he was a Pharisee and was very zealous, he persecuted followers of the Way to their death, he threw men and women in prison, and he is a Roman citizen by birth. We also are reminded of Paul’s conversion story in the discourse he delivers to the people.

Paul’s life brought him many experiences. Having been born in a Greek speaking, Greek living culture, he knew and understood Gentiles. Having lived and studied in Jerusalem, he knew Jews. Having persecuted Christians, he knew the hate that drove Jews when their persecution erupted. Having been born to parents with Roman citizenship, his life was saved many times. God took all of these things and used them to turn the world upside down.

So what is your story? What are the experiences in life that you have gone through? How can you use them to help bring people far from God into a relationship with him? Maybe your experinces would not call you to go very far from home like it did Paul. Maybe your experiences would not drive you to have to give a defense for your life like it did Paul. But maybe your experiences could help you reach that pregnant teenage girl living next door. Maybe your experiences could help that co-worker who goes homes each night and drowns their sorrows in the bottle. Maybe your experienes could help that friend who has just been laid-off from their job. I do not know what your experiences are, but you and God do, and he might just have a plan for how to use them for his purposes.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ever Reaching

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

In today’s reading (Acts 21) we see Paul traveling and arriving back in Jerusalem. On his journey they reach many ports of call and even change ships a couple of times. In a few of these ports … Tyre, Ptolemais, and Caesarea … Paul and his traveling companions meet up with believers. As Paul is traveling from city to city, he knows that he will find believers there. There he can find encouragement, he can find strength, and he can also deliver some instruction.

The church has rapidly grown. In just a few short years, maybe 30, the church has grown to reach many parts of the world. I wander what the American landscape would look like if we did evangelism a little more like they did it back then? Now I know we can hop in our cars and travel to nearby towns and find churches and find fellowship. But I do not know if that fellowship is always like what Paul and his companions witnessed. Are our churches as welcoming? Are our churches willing to stop everything going on in our lives to listen to someone like Paul preach and teach? Today we have a hard time getting people to come to a revival or evangelistic meeting.

So how do we make our churches more like New Testament churches in our modern day world? You answer that and they will be writing books about you.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Not Easy

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

The Bible reading so far this year has not promised following Christ would be easy. Actually the more we have read, the more we have heard Jesus, Peter, Stephen, and even Paul talk about the hardships following Christ is going to call for. Today’s reading (Acts 20) is not any different.

It picks up with the ending of the riots in Ephesus. It concludes with Paul telling the Ephesian elders he will never see them again. In between Paul tells how the Holy Spirit has told him that prison and hardships are facing him. He shares that he is going to Jerusalem, and honestly does not know what he is going to face there. This man is legit. (I have been around my brother recently and this is his new word for everything, but it really works here.) The message of the cross is so important to Paul that he is willing to face prison, unknown hardships, and just plain nastiness just so he has the privilege and opportunity to spread the gospel. Paul is living dangerous.

The gospel we have read and the history so far of the early church point toward a faith that is living dangerous. It points toward a faith that is living on the edge. But does this faith resemble our churches today? I don’t know if I can say it does. So … how can we work to live on the edge a little more? How could our lives look a little more dangerous for Christ?

If you would like to read an awesome book on this you should check out Vince Antonucci's book Guerilla Lovers.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Weird Happenings

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

There are some weird things that happen in today’s reading (Acts 19). In one section we see some Jews try their hand at casting out demons. They realize that what seems to work is to do it in the name of Jesus. As they are doing so, they approach one demon who is quick on his feet. He looks them in the eye and says, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” At that moment the man possessed by the demon jumps on these men beating them up. Pretty weird!!!

The second occurrence that is weird is following the riot that begins in Ephesus. A group of tradesman are upset that because of Paul’s correct teaching they are loosing business. Now this for them is a legitimate concern. Many are experiencing that today with our current economic problems. So these tradesman get the people stirred up, and after one guy tries to speak, the crowd starts chanting “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Now what they chanted was not all that weird. It is weird that they chanted this for TWO hours. Now I have never been a part of chant that had enough stamina to last more than five minutes, let alone being able to imagine one lasting two hours. To top it all off, just a few short verses before we learn that many of the people assembled do not even know why they are there. Pretty weird!!!

So what is my point in all of this? I do not know if I really have one. But it does give us some insight into the story that God gave us in his Word. It is not just about laws and decrees. It is not always about sunshine and roses. It is a story of how God worked through the lives of real men and women, to bring salvation into the world. God used real people and real situations to bring that salvation; the good, the bad, and the ugly. The beauty of it all, is God can use you, a real person living today, to bring that message of salvation to all, no matter how crazy your life is. Pretty weird!!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

An Odd Request

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

In today’s reading (Psalms 25 & 26) we see an odd request from David. David says to the Lord “Test me, O LORD and try me, examine my heart and my mind.” My thought when first reading this today, was how bold and foolish a request, but as I read on the gong of inspiration sounded.

David knew what he was doing. He knew the life he was living. As you read more of that passage you see that he was in tune with the father and he was living and walking with him daily.

Are you walking close enough to God, to ask him to test you, to examine your heart and mind? Does it scare you what he might find? Do you have things hidden deep in the recess of you mind that you don’t wont others to see, especially God himself? That is not the life he called us to live.

God has given us grace, and he wants to help you on your journey. He doesn’t want you to have to do this all alone. He wants to help carry your load. He wants to test you. He wants to mature you. He wants to walk beside you. Listen to the words of Christ:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Thank you LORD!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

God’s Teaching

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

Today’s reading (Proverbs 7) is another reminder to remember to guard our heart to the words of God. The writer says:

“My son, keep my words
and store up my commands within you.
Keep my commands and you will live;
guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Say to wisdom, "You are my sister,"
and call understanding your kinsman;
they will keep you from the adulteress,
from the wayward wife with her seductive words.”

Look at the end of that passage. If we write these things on our hearts, and bind them on our fingers, they will help to keep you from the adulteress. Now following this passage is a great description of the seduction we can enter into. While this uses sex as that seduction, the application can be to anything … cheating, stealing, lying, course joking and language, to a multitude of other sins. But the writer reminds us that having the Word of God written on the tablet of our heart, means we have help to keep us from entering that slow decent to death.

So do you have the Words of your Creator and Savior written on the tablets of your heart? When sin entices, what comes to mind? I hope and prayer it is the voice of God speaking through His written Word.

My Apology

I have to offer an apology. This morning as I sat down to do the reading I looked at the wrong date on the calendar. I am not used to looking at the beginning of it, and I did the Bible reading for the 20th of March. The good news is that one is done. The bad news, I have a meeting in 10 minutes and do not have time to do it before. If you are on here looking for it, I will do it once I am done with my meeting.

Thank you.

Friday, March 5, 2010

How to Handle Conflict

Below is the is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church Please feel free to follow along.

No matter where you are there is in-evidently going to be conflict. Conflict is part of human nature. It stems from each of us thinking we are right. If you watch the news you should get enough conflict for your weekly appetite in just 5 minutes. Even in the church we find conflict between well meaning Christians.

We see that arise in today’ reading (Acts 18) and how it was dealt with. Apollos is a Jew from Alexandria (Egypt) who is very knowledgeable. He has been teaching and preaching about Jesus very accurately. Priscilla and Aquila, a husband wife team who had spent time with Paul, recognize that Apollos teaching is lacking one thing. That is the baptism of Jesus. Apollo only knew John’s baptism.

So how do Priscilla and Aquila deal with this? Do you they stand up in the middle of one of his teaching moments and call him out? No. They quietly pull him aside, invite him to their home and imparted their fuller understanding upon Apollos. Friends we have a very wonderful example of how we too should handle conflict whenever it arises. Conflict should not be made public, except for a last straw measure. Teaching and rebuking should be done so as to encourage the brother or sister.

So how do you deal at handling conflict?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Living Dangerously

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

Tides are changing. You have read my thoughts recently that I believe that the days we are living in are more and more like the days of the New Testament. Now I realize technology is different, that social norms are different, and that lifestyles are different. I get all of that. But our moral and religious backgrounds are more like New Testament times. Why do I say that? Because more people in our society are not followers of Christ. There are also more people following the pagan religious practices of the day. Whether it is Buddhism, Hinduism, Wicca, or even Islam, more people are leaving the traditional church to fall in lines with these faiths. Not only do we see that, but we see the beginning of persecution on all religions, but even more so on Christianity. Now we are not to the point were we cannot meet together in our church houses and worship, but we are experiencing some persecution. Image above borrowed from

So, if we are returning to the times like the days of the New Testament, what then can we expect? I think something like we saw in today’s reading (Acts 17) might be at hand. Paul was visiting the city of Thessalonica and staying in the home of Jason. Just because Paul stayed in his home, Jason was arrested and questioned. As we have read the book of Acts we have seen, and will continue to see, people being persecuted just because they are associated with Paul, who is preaching the gospel message. People knew that following Christ and spreading his message could possibly bring the persecution, and they were willing to do it. They were willing to live dangerously.

My question for you is this … are you willing to live dangerously for your Lord if the call arises? Where is your faith at? Would you be able to stand there and accept persecution, or would you cower and retreat? I hope and prayer that does not happen. I am not trying to be a deliver of bad news, or even a modern day prophet. I am just simply looking at the times, and looking at what I know the first century was like for Christians, and am seeing a lot of similarities.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Faithful Women

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

Women play a vital role in the lives of man kind. Women have the privilege of carrying and giving birth to children. Women have a nurturing spirit that is essential in the raising of a child. The wife of a man plays the role of support and structure … making a home that is pleasant and calm after a long day of work, building that man up with encouraging words and actions, and providing for his individual needs (A side note, the mans role is just a vital to women as well). In today’s society women have a much stronger role than at any other time in history.

In today’s reading (Acts 16) we see two women whose roles are greatly acknowledged. Timothy’s mother was a Jewess. She was instrumental in raising up Timothy to be a follower of God. Elsewhere we see Lydia who is a Worshiper of God. She is instrumental in Paul and Silas work in bringing the message of the gospel to the town of Philippi. These two women played a vital role in helping to grow God’s church.

So who are the women in your life that have formed and shaped your relationship with God? Maybe it was your mother or grandmother. Maybe it was a Sunday School teacher. Maybe it was a woman who helped lead you to Christ. I think the majority of us can look back on our walk with Christ and can attributed it to a woman who was sold out for God (I do realize that not everyone can say this). Have you thanked that woman lately for the vital role she played in leading you to Christ?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Continued Growth

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side church. Please feel free to follow along.

Our growth in knowledge and understanding must never come to an end. That is very evident in today’s reading (Acts 15). Paul and Barnabas had been taking the message of the gospel to men and women who were Gentiles. One sign that a man was a Jew was his circumcision. Gentile men would not have been circumcised, and many Jewish-Christians believed that these men need to be. Because of this a council is called in Jerusalem to discuss it.

At this council you have the elders of the church in Jerusalem, the Apostles still left in Jerusalem, and even some converted men from the class of Pharisee. Here they discuss whether it is necessary for a Gentile man to be circumcised to follow Christ. After much discussion they conclude that it is not a requirement.

I think this account gives us great insight into the fact that our growth and knowledge of Scripture and God’s will never comes to a conclusion. Our lives are a constant evolution of learning and growing. If through the course of this year we were going to study Paul’s writing in order of composition, we would see a very evident evolution in Paul’s theology. Does his theology change, no, but he does grow deeper in his understanding.

So are you growing in your knowledge and understanding of who God is? Do you desire to grow deeper and understand him better? If not, why? What books, other than the Bible are you using to help you understand God a little better?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mass Confusion

Below is the daily Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.

I am thoroughly convinced that we are living in a time very similar to the days of the early church. While technology is completely different, lifestyles have drastically changed, and our society has largely been shaped by Judeo-Christian teachings, the two worlds are very similar. Why do I say that? I think today’s reading (Acts 14) gives us some insight into that.

In the first century there was confusion about who to worship. The Greeks had their gods they worshiped … Aphrodite, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Poseidon, Zeus, etc. … The Romans had their gods they worshiped … Neptune, Pluto, Quirinus, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, etc. … and the Jews had their God they worshiped. The Romans were ok with the people worshiping any of the god’s they chose as long as they worshiped Caesar as a god.

We see the mass confusion when Paul heals a crippled man. The people see this miracle and want to bestow an offering to Paul and Barnabas because they believe he is a god. The Greeks and the Romans are readily willing to add another god to their already large roster of gods. They see Paul and Barnabas in this way.

The reason I say that the world today is very similar is for two reasons. Sin is very rampant in our world today as it was in the first century. Secondly, we live in a society that is very confused about which gods to worship. There are many religions out there pulling for people acceptance. People do not know which god to serve, let alone even having a true idea who God really is.

That is where you must come in. You who are in Christ know who God is. It is your responsibility to take that knowledge and share it with all who will listen.