Jesus: “I Thirst” … Reconsidered

Salvation

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” John 19:28 NKJV

Years ago, I became so dehydrated on a mission trip that I had to be hospitalized. I understand the phrase, “I thirst.”

Obviously, Jesus suffered far more than I ever did. Multiplied by thousands. I can’t imagine how dehydrated and thirsty He must have been.

I wonder, however, if there was an even greater suffering Jesus was experiencing.

Think back to another occasion in the life of Jesus that involved water. When Jesus approached the Samaritan woman, He told her He had water she knew nothing about. Jesus called this water “Living Water”. Jesus revealed later that indeed He is this Living Water. Jesus said that anyone who drinks of this water, would never be thirsty again.

I wonder if Jesus’ cry on the cross was more than the result of the obvious physical state of dehydration. Perhaps Jesus cry had a deeper meaning.

Could Jesus have been crying out for some of that Living Water?

As we know, Jesus was about to be separated from His Father. Never before had God turned His back on His only Son, but that was exactly what He did at Jesus’ crucifixion. “He who had no sin, became sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5:21) Jesus became sin, and God can have nothing to do with sin, so God had to reject His only Son, because of your sin and mine. God the Father had to abandon God the Son. (Matthew 27:46) Jesus had to face the burden of all the sin of the world completely alone. (Praise God you and I don’t have to face our burdens alone!)

Was Jesus experiencing the reality of this separation when He cried “I Thirst!”?

I’m just asking for consideration. Maybe reconsideration. I know for me, the thought of being separated from God, even for a moment, seems unbearable. I need thee every hour. I am desperate without my God.

When you think of Jesus suffering on the Cross, remember it wasn’t just a physical pain. Jesus suffered emotionally and spiritually as well. As many know, this kind of suffering is many times the worst kind of suffering. Jesus, who knew well the joy of experiencing the glory of God, was about to give up His stake in that glory. It was surely a most horrible experience.

Jesus, you must have endured more than I ever imagined on the Cross.

Thank you for your willingness to suffer separation from your Father on my behalf.

Are You a Christian Struggling with Guilt?

girl past

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.” John 3:17 NLT

Are you a believer, but you can’t seem to shake the feeling of guilt? You know God saved you, but you still feel so much guilt from your past?

I need to assure you today that, in my understanding of Scripture, guilt does not come from God. The devil often uses guilt to keep us from doing the will of God and growing in our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Guilt has to do with condemnation. You feel the “weight” or “sentence” of your sin. But, didn’t Christ die for that condemnation?

The next verse after John 3:16, the famous and familiar verse, reminds us that God sent Jesus to save, not to condemn it. Romans 8:1 says there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

The very definition of guilt has to do with remorse for having done something wrong. Furthermore, guilt is being responsible for an offense. A Christian’s sins have been paid for on the Cross. One of the very definitions of guilt is “guilty conduct; sin”.

The sin debt of any believer is heavy, but every bad offense we have ever committed has been covered over by the grace of Jesus Christ. We still sin, but Jesus doesn’t get back on the Cross. His death was sufficient for all our sins. There is “no condemnation” for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Please don’t misunderstand, you may feel sorry for your sins and ask God for forgiveness. That’s what we call repentance, but God’s motivating factor in obedience is love, not guilt. God guides His children to obey Him with a loving hand. Sometimes God’s love for us involves discipline. Many times we suffer the consequences of our sins. God will lead us to follow Him exclusively, but He will do it with love, not with guilt.

Jesus didn’t come to earth to bring condemnation. He came to bring salvation to all who would believe in Him.

Thank God today that there is no guilt for the person who knows, loves and believes in Jesus Christ as Savior.

Craveable: The Irresistible Jesus in Me

Artie Davis is a great friend. I honestly can say I love the guy. He’s the “real deal”. It’s hard to find a true friend as a pastor. Artie’s that kind of friend…to many pastors. Artie’s book, Craveable: The Irresistible Jesus in Me, releases this week. I’ve been a fan of this concept since I first heard about it. I can’t wait for you to read the book.

Here’s an interview with Artie about the book:

QUESTION: Tell us a little about yourself, Artie.

ANSWER: Well, I’m a guy from Orangeburg SC. I planted a church here about 20 years ago. It’s a very diverse and often racially divided town. I saw that and had a heart to change it. God’s been good to us. We have 4 campuses that are extremely diverse and multi-ethnic. A Sunday morning at our church is a lot like heaven. All backgrounds are there worshipping together.

About 4 years ago, I became the director of TheSticks.tv. Since Orangeburg isn’t a large city, my heart is for small town pastors. The Sticks is about encouraging those leaders to lead big even though their in small towns.

All of that is kinda where Craveable came from. We have a problem in Christianity… other people outside of it want no part of it. We’ve got to fix that. Being crave able is something that extends past culture, context, race, size, or background. Jesus was the most crave able person ever to those outside of the kingdom. We have to be the same way. We’ve really dropped the ball.

QUESTION: I’ve heard to craving food, but what does that have to do with Jesus and the church? What is Craveable about?

ANSWER: Craveable is about living in such a way that people want what you want. If you google “why are christians so…” in your search bar, you get a variety of answers. None of them are positive. I don’t see that when I read the Gospels. People wanted to be around Jesus. People would walk for days. People would break rules and bust through roofs to get to him. We’ve lost that. People need to crave what we have.

QUESTION: In the book, you talk about perception. Can you talk more about that?

ANSWER: Sure, perception is a combination of what we see, hear, and experience. People form a perception of us based on those things. Now, it’s easy for us to dismiss it when someone gathers what we think is a wrong perception… Christians have done that too long with the “I don’t care what they think as long as I think I’m right” mentality. The truth is, we have to own that. If we’re giving people far from God the wrong perception, we have to change what they are seeing, hearing, or experiencing. I talk about how we can do that in the book. I think it’s such an important and simple principle.

QUESTION: Where can we get the book and find you?

ANSWER: The book is at your favorite bookstore and Amazon. You can go to craveable.com to read more about the book and places to find it. Me, I’m @ArtieDavis on twitter and blog at artiedavis.com

Artie’s new book called Craveable: The Irresistible Jesus in Me, releases February 5, 2013. Find out more at Craveable.com and on twitter @CraveableChurch

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Pastor, how are you on Facebook so much?

Social media on Smartphone

I’ve posted a similar answer to this before but in my new role some are asking the question again: Pastor, how are you on Facebook so much?

I honestly think the real question is “Why?” and some think it means I don’t work very much, but if only they knew.

Perhaps, if you follow me online, you wonder the same thing. So, let me try to help you understand.

First things first, I’m probably not on as much as you think I am. If you think so, then the strategy is working. I’ve been doing online ministry since 1996. That’s a long time. I started with a daily devotional that quickly turned into a ministry opportunity. Though they are mostly recycled now, that site is still active. (www.mustardseedministry.com) I learned that if I was going to do ministry with the potentials to reach tens of thousands (the Internet makes the world small), I had to be smart about it.

So, I work smart.

Here are four words to describe my Internet strategy.

Since I’m a pastor, and you’d want me to be pastoral, they all begin with the same letter. 🙂

Value – I recognize the value of being online. For the past several years, Facebook has been the most prominent way people reach me in my church. It also gives them a sense that they know me. I hear people every week say they feel they can follow me throughout the week, just by reading my status updates. In addition, I have the opportunity to minister to even a larger group, including hundreds of pastors and leaders around the country.

Vision – I have a vision of not only sharing the stuff I write (which I also see as a ministry), but sharing pieces about my life. I’ve learned it makes me seem more real if you see the person behind the thoughts. That’s why you may read something funny, some random thought, even an encouraging word I have for my wife. I want you to know me, so that when I share something serious, you’re more likely to take it serious because you feel you know me and hopefully I’ve become a reliable source. (Just to be clear, I’m capable of being wrong too, and unless I’m posting Scripture itself, it’s an opinion.)

Velocity – Now as for the frequency. There will always be those who think I post too much and those who wish I posted more. If I’m quiet for a couple days, I’ll hear from people who wonder if something is wrong. I’ve learned people depend on a certain amount of frequency. Plus, for those who are only on once or a few times a day, they may miss some of what I post if I don’t post things periodically throughout the day. The pace of doing so is really easy. I usually have my phone with me. If I have  a thought, it takes me only a few seconds to put it out there. You’ll notice I don’t respond to a lot of other comments. I’m usually on and off of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn very quickly. The total time per day is less than it appears. Plus, I can automate many of my posts if I choose to do so. Sometimes I do…sometimes I don’t. I’m not telling which are and which aren’t. 🙂 The key is consistency and I’ve gotten pretty good at that over the years.

InVestment – (How’d you like the clever use of that V?) I have to believe that online communication is making a difference in people’s lives. I can only judge that based on the feedback I receive, and I receive lots. I’ve been overwhelmed at the responses I have gotten throughout my church and the world. I literally get emails every single day from people saying I was there at just the right time or said just the right thing. I’m not taking credit for that, just pointing out that God uses this avenue in ministry for His glory and I’m thankful to play a part.

Well, that’s my story. Why are you online?

If we aren’t connected online, you can find me here:

Twitter: @RonEdmondson
Facebook personal: RonaldEdmondson
Facebook Page: RonAEdmondson
Instagram: RonEdmondson
LinkedIn: Ron Edmondson

When the Church is Hated, How should Leaders Respond?

As a church leader, I realize the popularity and seemed importance of what I do has declined in recent years. Culture no longer values the voice of a pastor as the history of our nation would record that it once did. Even this week, the news of Louie Giglio’s exit as the pastor to pray at the inauguration of President Obama served as a sobering reminder…things have changed.

This is an interview with John S. Dickerson. Dickerson’s new book The Great Evangelical Recession identifies six factors of decline in the American Church and offers six solutions for leaders. Dickerson is a nationally awarded journalist and Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Church in Prescott, AZ. His work has appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Q: How would you summarize your book, The Great Evangelical Recession?

A: Culture is changing faster and faster. The conflicts around Louie Giglio, Chic-fil-A and Hobby Lobby demonstrate this. Rapid change in American culture is already shaking evangelicalism, but it’s going to worsen because the rate of change is accelerating.

As shepherds we must identify where the Church is struggling to adapt. Then we must look to God’s Word to find solutions for our day. The Great Evangelical Recession does this by documenting factors of decline—and then by building Scripture-based solutions for each area of decline.

Q: Is the homosexual-evangelical conflict an example of this cultural change? And if so, what sort of solutions does your book suggest?

A: Yes, the conflict between the evangelical and LGBTQ communities is case in point. The book documents that in the last 15 years Americans have entirely reversed their views on homosexuality. Furthermore, each younger generation is radically more pro-homosexual, so this trend will accelerate as older Americans pass away.

My solution chapter argues that we need to start treating non-evangelical “tribes” in America the same way our missionaries treat foreign tribes in Africa or New Guinea, by suspending judgment, serving and modeling unconditional love–so Christ can reach their hearts.

The chapter grows from a word study of the Greek word “good” in the New Testament. “Good” is about deeds. It’s more nuanced than this, but here’s the gist of that solution:

1. Take God’s good deeds directly to the homosexual tribe in your life and community. Don’t wait for them to come to you.

2. Refuse to classify the homosexual tribe as some worse class of people. This is unbiblical and showcases poor theology.

3. As with any tribe, don’t focus on changing behavior. Focus on changing relationship to God through Christ.

4. Don’t be surprised when you are hated and misunderstood about this issue. You will be.

5. When you are hated or misunderstood, don’t defend yourself or other evangelicals with words. Instead, let your quiet good actions eclipse any accusations (1 Peter 2:12).

6. Keep on demonstrating God’s good-ness and unconditional love—to the homosexuals closest to you.

The book includes Scripture and examples, but that overview gives you a taste.

Q: Your book identifies six trends of decline in the American Church. Is every ministry declining in these ways?

A: Typical ministries will find many trends of decline apply to them, while some don’t. Take the funding crisis for example. On average, 76 percent of evangelical gifts come from the oldest two generations. Many ministries are unprepared for the decline of donations in the next 15 years. That trend won’t apply to young-demographic ministries—like Reality LA, but other trends will.

This book is really a tool for ministry leaders. It helps leaders identify which negative trends are at play in their specific ministry. The book then gives practical Biblical solutions to adjust course in any areas of weakness.

What do you think? How have your seen the culture and church change in your lifetime?

What’s next?