Catching Creation @ Calvary Chapel Of Fort Lauderdale

On Feb 8/9 I got the opportunity to speak 5 times to a combined 2500-3000 children at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale about Jesus and his awesome creation.  Have YOU been made into a new creation?  If this program looks like something your church could benefit from please shoot me an email at Info@catchingcreation.com .  I'd love to travel to where you are and present the Gospel with my animal friends!

Catching Creation @ Fort Caswell

I got the opportunity to speak at Southport Christian Academy, Shoreline Baptist Church and Southport Baptist Church in the Oak Island/Southport NC area on the coast. It was an awesome trip and lots of fun! Great school and churches! We got to visit Fort Caswell and several beaches, not a bad way to spend the weekend!

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Catching Creation Presentation @ Mint Hill Community Church

This is what an average Catching Creation presentation looks like. I brought a western hognose snake, 4 varieties of corn snakes, cane toad, red footed tortoise and a boa constrictor. Some of the scriptures used in the program include:Job 12:7-10, Genesis 1, Genesis 3, Romans 5, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 6:10-20, Philippians 2, Ezekiel 33, 1 Corinthians 15 and etc

Catching Creation Presentation @ Mint Hill Community Church in Charlotte NC on November 25, 2012

To book a Catching Creation presentation at your church, school or ministry click here: http://catchingcreation.wordpress.com/booking-information/

Uwharrie Bigfoot Sighting!

I took a trip down to Uwharrie National Forest today with my good friend Robert and we decided to scout out some camp sites for an upcoming event he is hosting. While in the woods we decided to look for the elusive Uwharrie Big Foot...Here's what we found.

 

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Mobilize Your Faith Sermon Audio

This is a sermon I preached on Oct 21 2012 at Generations Church in Lewisville, NC.  I preach on Mobilizing your faith using several verses to include:  Ezekiel 37, Ephesians 6:10-20, Jude 1:3, Matthew 11:12, Matthew 28:18 and etc I just go the audio today and it is a timely message that works even better on this Veteran's day than it even did the day I preached it, enjoy!

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Here is a link to the written version on the blog:

http://catchingcreation.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/mobilize-your-faith-and-put-flesh-on-your-dry-bones/

Mobilize Your Faith and Put Flesh on Your Dry Bones.

Mobilize Your Faith and Put Flesh on Your Dry Bones.

 

Introduction: 

When I was in the Army National Guard several years ago (2005) we were alerted that our unit was getting mobilized for combat in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  This wasn’t a shock considering our country had been at war with Iraq for several years at the time but it did elicit feelings of dread and anxiety in most of us.  The term “mobilize” can be defined as “to assemble, to prepare, or put into operation for or as for war.”

So if we are thinking about this in terms of spirituality we must realize that Christ has mobilized us for combat and our assembly is for a greater purpose than to just gather for our well-being.  Christ has mobilized us for combat, assembled us for war and calls us to faith.  Since our battle isn’t exactly in the realm of things we can see we must rely exclusively on our faith which is defined in Hebrews 11:1 as “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  We need to learn that we are a vast army in God’s service, we have been equipped and prepared for battle and we must defend our faith.

We are a vast army:

              Christ has called us to community as believers to help destroy the army of darkness and if we look to the old testament for an example of this we can see in Ezekiel 37:1-15 that we are in fact a vast army.

The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”

Before Christ calls us and really fills us with his spirit, with his breath of life, we are essentially just dry clamoring bones.  We make a lot of noise and look kind of scary to the rest of the world but we are essentially useless in our approach to advancing the kingdom of God.  Without the breath of God, the living Holy Spirit within us that we receive at our regeneration from death to life, we are dead.  This valley of dry bones is a perfect illustration of the state of the American Church today.  We are a vast army, perfectly capable of advancing the kingdom of God but we are incapable of living to our potential because of our dryness.  There is hope for us though, even in our driest skeletal churches Jesus’ living water can renew our strength so that we are fully capable of marching in a cadence fitting to our king.  John 7:38 says “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."

We are prepared for Battle:

                        Jesus doesn’t just call us to action without first giving us provision and proper equipment to do the task at hand.  We have been prepared for battle and equipped with the full armor of God as it is laid out in Ephesians 6:10-18.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not 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. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

We have all the tools we need to fight the good fight of faith.  When I was deployed to Iraq we were given certain pieces of equipment that had to be worn before we could go into battle and if we neglected to wear any part of this uniform we would not only be disciplined but we would also be a danger to ourselves and a burden on others.  If we look at these verses in the context of modern warfare we can see that things like the helmet of salvation being compared to a soldiers Kevlar helmet that was solely for protecting the brain from small arms fire.  The breastplate of righteousness could be compared to a modern IBA vest (interceptor body armor), which was designed to stop bullets, blades, and shrapnel.  The belt of truth could be compared to the gas mask that we had to carry around our waist.  If the belt of truth helps us discern what is right then the gas mask helps us filter out what is toxic and impure so that we do not choke.  Our feet were fitted with boots that are well constructed so that we can carry the peace  of the Gospel or in the case of the military so that we can get from point A to point B without worrying about faulty footwear.

The shield of faith could be compared to the up armoring placed on vehicles that so many soldiers in combat ride inside of.  My mission was to perform convoy operations and convoy security.  Our vehicles were designed with armor to help protect and shield us from outside attacks.  The biggest threat to our safety was Improvised Explosive Devises, also called IED’s or roadside bombs.  These ghastly devises were well hidden, sometimes even in plain view, they were angled to create what’s called a shape charge.  This placement of the explosives allowed them to create the maximum amount of damage.  Spiritually our shield of faith can operate the same way as the armor on a military vehicle in that when we are attacked by our spiritual IED’s from Satan we will have a much better chance of survival when we rely on our shield of faith than when we just try to do it in our own strength. Our sword of the spirit in conjunction to modern warfare would essentially be like a well-maintained M-16 or M-4 rifle.  The word of God is our weapon but just like a rifle that isn’t maintained, if we aren’t constantly taking care of our weapon it will misfire, if we don’t read the word we can’t effectively use it as a weapon, it will jam in combat if it isn’t maintained.

Lastly we must always stay alert.  The number 1 killer of soldiers is complacency.  When we get complacent we drop our guard.  Complacency Kills was a motto that we repeated to ourselves and saw written all over the place to remind us of this fact.  We must always be aware that there is an enemy out to kill steal and destroy and we have to stay on guard.

We Have To Defend Our Faith:

What does defending the faith even mean? Jude 1:3 says:  “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”  Jude starts this verse with an address to friends alluding to the fact that he is in fact speaking to believers.  This message is intended for the Church.  His interest shifted from being excited about Jesus and the salvation we as believers have received to an urgency to motivate the church to fight for the faith.  The usage of the word “contend” in this verse is taken from the Greek word epagonizomai, which literally means to fight or to wrestle in reference to athletic contests.  Jude used a terminology that was strong enough and relevant enough to his audience that they understood the urgency of his message.  Jude (also called Judas) was worried about the sinfulness that crept into the body of believers and essentially used salvation as a cover for their disgusting lifestyles.

So many times we just believe that as long as we personally have faith we can just hold out until Jesus comes back but this is not what Christ intended for us.  He wants us to fight for our faith.  We have to give an account of the hope we have.  We need to make every effort to contend for our faith.  Matthew 11:12 says “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing and forceful men lay hold of it.”  Let’s make this personal, we have to fight for our friends and family and forcefully lay hold of God’s kingdom by fighting for our faith.  Jesus doesn’t want us to just sit in complacency he has called us to active duty.

Conclusion:

            Jesus has given us all the tools we need to advance his kingdom and he has given us our marching orders and he gives us specific instructions in Matthew 28:18-20 as far as what we are to do as a mobilized army.  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Jesus has all of the authority, we are under his command and he gives us our marching orders to mobilize us into action.  We follow our lord into battle and we are covered by His authority.  He goes on to sayTherefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, so We must be spreading the gospel, we are all called to be ambassadors of Christ (2 cor 5:20), he calls us to make disciples, we can start where we are, right in our backyard, in our own homes.and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”Jesus wants disciples, he wants warriors of the faith to rise up and not only bear his name but also his likeness.  We are called to go out and make disciples, not just converts and we are required to do this to spread the kingdom with force like it says in Matthew 11:12(From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.)

You were not called to occupy a pew on Sunday, you were called to make war on the kingdom of darkness and occupy enemy territory in Jesus name.  You are under a heavenly command and Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth, so what are you waiting for and what are you afraid of?  Mobilize your faith!

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Are You A Good Mimic?

What does it mean to be a mimic?  In the case of some animals like the Scarlet King snake it is a benefit biologically because other animals will regard them as something else and will not take a chance on eating them for fear of being injured or killed themselves.  So looking or acting like something else is beneficial to that organism because of the association to the thing they are mimicking.  Couldn’t that also work with Christians as well?  

The term “Christian” defined by one online dictionary is as follows:  “Manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus; Christlike.” Ephesians 5:1-2 in the NIV says “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  The New King James Version has it translated as Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.  And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”  So if we look at being a mimic, or imitator, in the context of those scriptures and apply that to why animals are found as mimics in nature what can we gather?  How can we mimic Christ more effectively?

 

One way we can mimic Jesus is to look at how we are supposed to treat others in light of Matthew 5:38-48.  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.  And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.  If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.  Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

 

Jesus says we have to turn the other cheek and essentially not let the world get to us, mimic Jesus in peace and humility and not go around looking for a fight or a chance to prove ourselves to everyone in violence or other areas of our lives.  We have to go the extra mile with people and not expect immediate results as well as give them more than they even asked for in the first place.  In order to effectively mimic Jesus we must actually love our neighbors AND our enemies.  That’s kind of a tough pill to swallow.  I thought that we could mimic Jesus by wearing WWJD bracelets and crucifix necklaces all the time.  Surely that will work right?  It’s easy to love those that love us, it’s even easier to always live in our Christian bubbles and never get out into the world and actually love those that may curse us for doing so.  Jesus ends this verse with a call to mimic him by saying “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Will you drop the charade and start loving people in the name of Jesus?  Lets be imitators of Christ and mimic the Father so our enemies will not see us as who we are but as who He is.

If you liked this devotional be sure to pick up a copy of "Whispers In The Woods" to have a collection of 52 similar devotionals for your spiritual growth and encouragement.  Click HERE to order a copy!

Snake Handling Preacher

One of the funniest questions that I often hear in regards to my ministry is "you aren't one of those snake handling preachers are you?" How do I even answer that one? The answer is obviously yes I am a snake handling preacher but not like that, well sort of like that, ok exactly like that but not the same. You see I do handle snakes in my ministry, I often find myself handling venomous snakes when I am preaching and I have probably preached more times with reptiles than without, but it's not exactly what you think. The long and the short of it is that I don't bring venomous snakes into churches when I preach but I do often find myself amazed by their beauty and purpose when I am in the field doing the documentary side of my ministry. I believe that ALL things God created are not only good but VERY good and snakes aren't to be excluded from the list of things created that are VERY Good. 

We all have a purpose and God has a plan for each one of us. Did you know that the venom from certain snake species like the Southern Copperhead are actually being used to save lives. Wow! Isn't that amazing! It's not the snakes that are bad, or even their venom, it's simply the context in which the venom is received. Its the same principle with Christians. It's not the Christian that is bad or even the words that are spoken from them that are wrong, it usually is simply the context in which it is received. Venom in the wrong context, delivered in anger and hostility, is received not as life giving but as life taking. That seems to also relate to our presentation of the Gospel sometimes. If it is delivered in the wrong context, out of a place of pride, anger or hostility it will be received as something other than life giving. I'm not saying that we have to water the Gospel down nor am I saying that we sugar coat anything when presenting our case for Christ. I am saying that we should check our motives and understand why we are presenting the Gospel. If we are using scripture to Lord over other people that happen to sin differently than we do, then maybe our context is wrong. If we are putting ourselves on a pedestal and talking down to unbelievers, are we doing it in the spirit of Christ or does that fall somewhere in the selfish ambition category?

I absolutely believe that Jesus loves you, yes you! I believe he wants to come to know you and I believe Jesus wants Christians to imitate and be ambassadors for Christ. I believe that our actions speak a million times louder than our words and that a kind word of encouragement will go a long way further with someone than pointing out the flaws they know they have. My prayer is that the church will stop pointing out the faults of the world, remove the planks from our own eyes, and encourage people to get to know the Jesus of the Bible and not the Jesus created by Christian culture. As a good friend of mine will often say, "we need to stop reading our Bibles as Americans and start reading it as Christians." I believe if we really loved Jesus like we say we do, then we would learn to love others the way Jesus loves us. Thank you Jesus for the grace you offered me as a lost sinner and I pray I can offer the same grace to others and patiently walk with them while they figure out this thing we call the Gospel.

Evangelism Sermon

Introduction. We live in the Bible belt, and to be honest we are positioned right in the buckle of that belt.  Although this isn’t an entirely bad thing it seems like it has postured most of us with head knowledge of God without that heart knowledge that comes from relationship.  We have been riding the coattails of our parents and grandparents generations for far too long.  It is time that we wake up and realize that the enemy has lulled us to sleep with this false religion of comfort and entitled security.  I am thankful that many of you had praying grandmothers but their prayers can’t save you, only your own confession of faith in Jesus Christ can do that.  You actually have to confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord.  If you can’t remember when or if you have ever done this I beg you in the name of Jesus to consider making that decision today, even right now.

 

Matthew 7:21—“Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”  Just because you were raised in a church doesn’t assure your salvation.  Only Jesus can assure your salvation and your profession of his name.

 

Everyone drops Jesus’ name like they know him but how many of you actually serve him.  Jesus gave up everything for our salvation but most of us don’t even want to give up a few minutes a week for him, much less allow him to change our lifestyle into something more pleasing to him.

 

Hell is a real place and although my purpose isn’t to scare you into the arms of Jesus I wouldn’t be completely honest with you if I only preached about things that make you feel good.  Yes Jesus loves you, Yes he died for each and every one of us but if you don’t accept that truth then you are just as dead in sin as if you never heard his name.

 

Many people say they believe in Jesus but if you haven’t had a transformative moment where you know that you are a new creation, then do you really believe in the Lord of Lords?  Even the demons believe and tremble but most Americans don’t even believe.  If you truly believed in Jesus you would follow him and let him be the Lord of your life.

 

Just because you go to a church doesn’t mean you are saved.  I love how so many people can tell me what religious affiliation or denomination they are apart of but just because you are keeping the pews warm in some local assembly of “believers” doesn’t mean your name is written in heaven.  Jesus said take up your cross and follow me that requires that you actually move outside of your comfort zone, outside of your circle of familiar faces.

 

 

 

 

 

We have all sinned.

Romans 3:23—For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

So if we have all sinned what does that even mean?  An online dictionary defines sin as: “Something regarded as being shameful, deplorable, or utterly wrong or to commit an offense or violation.”

 

We seem to have this idea of sins being big or small but the reality of sin is, well sin is sin.  God is a just God and because of that a liar is no different than a murderer or rapist in the eyes of God.  Sin is Sin.  When we violate the commands of God we become sinners.  Every one of us has lied, stolen, cursed, or any number of things that displease God.  No one is good, only Jesus.  So many times we think that we can do enough good things to earn our way into the presence of God but the reality of it is sin is still sin and God cannot look on it.  Humanity has been in a state of disrepair since we were tempted and fell in the Garden of Eden.

 

 

Jesus Died and Rose Again

 

Without Jesus Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on the Cross-for the sins of all humanity, we would be destined for an eternity of separation and anguish away from God.  Thankfully his love for us all made a way to put us back in communication with God through the blood of Jesus Christ.  God cannot look at us in a state of sin and because of that he sent his son, Jesus, to earth to be the final blood sacrifice to cleanse us of our sins.  Romans 4:25 says “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”  Jesus died the death of a criminal so that we could have access to the Father.  He was beaten, spit upon, ran through with a spear and nailed to a cross to die a gruesome death so that the wrath of God would be poured out on him in an effort to give humanity another chance at having a relationship with God.

 

Every time we deny his sacrifice by the lives we lead we are crucifying him all over again, we are spitting in the face of Jesus Christ when we pretend as if this is just a story passed down from generation to generation.  Wake up, as easily as the enemy in Genesis 3 tempted Adam and Eve, you and I are just as easily lead astray.  Jesus died for each and every one of us but it is useless if you do not acknowledge it, if you don’t accept it and most of all it is useless if you don’t believe it and live it.

 

The Good News is, We are Forgiven

 

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Romans 10:9 “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  Hell is a real place, but you don’t have to go there.  Christ will purify us; he will make us a new creation once we accept him.  There is nothing we have to do to make ourselves good enough to be in relationship with him, only humble ourselves and admit he is real, he is who he says he is and hold on to that truth.  We can never do enough good things to be good enough we can never earn our way into his kingdom because our God is just.  We must come to the Father through the son, it is the only way.  Jesus changes us from the inside out once we accept him as our savior.

 

Conclusion

 

If you have never made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ I encourage you to take this opportunity to do so right now.  Look at the world around you and tell me that you can honestly deny that our world is getting worse with each new day.  The Lord Jesus Christ IS coming back, it is not a matter of if but when.  Will you be ready?  If you made that confession of faith years ago but have slipped in your walk with the Lord take this time right now to declare in the name of Jesus that he is the Lord of your life and that you would like to renew your walk with him and faith in him.  Recommit your life to him and serve him with your whole heart.  If you take one thing away from this today know that Jesus loved you enough to die a horrible death for you, are you ready to live your life for him?

WAKE UP

“I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.  WAKE UP!  Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in sight of my God.  Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent.  But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief and you will not know what time I will come to you”(Revelation 3:1-3 NIV).  How many times do we just rely on the reputation that we have made in one circumstance or another to appear better off than we truly are?  Jesus is calling this out when he speaks to the Church at Sardis in Revelation 3.  They had a reputation for greatness, for being a good church, but yet they no longer exist today.  They relied on their former glory and hoped it would carry them but as we can see, it was of no avail.

Jesus wants His Church to wake up and be the bride he has called us to be.  We are living a lie if we aren’t living fully submitted to Him.  Our lives speak either to the glory of God or to the glory of Satan.  When you honor God by doing his will you are glorifying him, but when you do the opposite; the opposite is true.  Jesus wants a relationship with His creation and in the context of this verse He is pleading with the believer to WAKE UP.  Spiritually we are dead if we are merely going through the motions in our walk with Christ.

Jesus announces in John 11:11-14 that His friend Lazarus has merely fallen asleep, but the avid Bible reader knows that this man was not only dead but several days past dead.  His disciples however did not realize that when Jesus said Lazarus had fallen asleep that he really meant Lazarus had died.  The reality is that the Church is in a similar place.  Jesus calls His church to wake up in Revelation 3:1 and realistically in so many cases the Church is dead.  As Disciples of Christ one may think that sleep can heal the sick as in the case of a natural illness but this sickness is terminal unless cured by the great physician.

There is no natural cure for this sickness.  There is, however, a supernatural one.  Only Jesus can restore his Church.  He is calling to one and all to wake up and seek first His kingdom.  He desires us to recklessly abandon the cares of this world and fall in worship at His feet.  He is standing at the door of our heart and he is knocking; yet the rhythm of the world is so loud in our ears that we can no longer hear him knocking to get in.

Have we become so religious that we would rather live in our past glory or a spiritual high that we can no longer receive fully from what the Lord has to offer?  Have we cheapened His ministry and death on the cross to something we mundanely check off our to do lists on Sundays?  Are we living for Christ or are we living for a selfish reward and a get out of hell free card?  The scary reality is at the end His petition to wake up, Jesus gives a warning “But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief and you will not know what time I will come to you.”

This should be cause for alarm.  We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow and if we are still asleep in our salvation are we truly saved?  If you are stagnant in your faith do you have any faith at all?  If we are caught sleeping and Jesus comes back as a thief in the night we will be unprepared for judgment.  We want to be secure in our relationship with Jesus and know that we are prepared for the bridegroom.

Just as Jesus called out to Lazarus to wake him up from his deathly slumber, He is calling out to you.  Wake Up!  The time is now.  The creator of the universe is calling out from eternity to petition that you wake up.  You are dead in your sins but He offers you life.  Eternal Life and it starts today.  Don’t be lulled to sleep.  Wake up.

What Do Animals From the Animal Shelter Have That the Church Needs? [sermon excerpt]

This is an excerpt from a sermon I preached April 4, 2011 at Winston Salem First Assembly Christian School for Middle School Chapel.

 

What do Animals From the Animal Shelter Have that the Church Needs?

1--They have an urgency to be redeemed or rescued from their situation

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Ephesians 1:7)

Animals in the shelter are put to death unless redeemed and they have a desire to be saved, well most of them do…tell about the first few dogs I looked at before Randolph—(I offered salvation to a couple dogs that one was too hyper and trying to escape and another just indifferent, how many people do that to Jesus?)

2--They have knowledge of the consequences of their actions (gas chamber)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Just like with the scriptures say, the wages of sin is death and in the context of the animal shelter animals that are runaways or just bad dogs end up in the shelter and their actions go them on death row.  The only way out is having a redeemer.  We have Jesus to save us out of the imprisonment of sin and death.

3--They know the importance of obedience

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will in you. (John 14:15-17: niv)

My dog, being from the shelter, knows the consequences of being a bad dog and he knows where he was before I got him out of the shelter.  I paid for him, bought him for a price, just like Jesus paid the ultimate cost on the cross for our sins.  It is like slapping Jesus in the face when we disobey him and in our complacency we forget what he took us out of and what he saved us from.  Obedience is important because it keeps us in good standing with the Lord, just like my dog, when he is obedient he doesn’t get punished and the same with us, when we are obedient and following Christ we will not be punished.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6akGVheLlc] So what is sin?

-- An online dictionary says it is deliberate disobedience to the known will of God

-- A condition of estrangement from God resulting from disobedience

-- To commit an offence or violation

4--They know that they can do all the good they want while imprisoned but unless they are rescued from their situation their good deeds won’t matter much.

(Romans 7:21-25 (The Message) 21-23It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.  24I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question? 25The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

How easy is it to sin when you are praying, reading the word and in the master’s presence?  Almost impossible right!  Just like with Randolph, when the master was away and he wasn’t in my presence it was easier for him to slip back into sin.  He couldn’t eat the treats with me around, or even right after I left, but after some time with me not in the room he was less resistant to temptation.

Verse 21 says the MOMENT I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.

Who knows that our minds are in a constant battle and when we choose to walk in faith with Jesus our flesh, that is our sinful nature, tries to persuade us to slip back into sin?

We WANT to do good but it seems like a constant internal fight to actually do the right thing.  See Satan tempts us to sin over and over because he is the best liar ever.  Once he tricks us and we sin, he then uses his tactics to condemn us for the sin we committed.

Just like with my dog, he did wrong and because he is mine I forgave him and I love him.  It is the same thing with God, when we sin and we ask his forgiveness he forgives us!  He doesn’t hold it over our heads; he forgets about it and loves us because we are his.  Isn’t that cool?

Romans 8 says “Therefore, there is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  So as believers in Christ when we feel that guilt or condemnation after we have asked forgiveness for our sins we know it is not the Lord, but the enemy of our souls, Satan.

 

CONCLUSION:

 

So lets go back to the analogy of my dog, Randolph, and the animals in the animal shelter.

5--They know the love of a master and don’t take that for granted once they are rescued.

 

Randolph was locked up at the animal shelter.  He was picked up or dropped off at the shelter because he was a bad dog or a runaway and put basically in a dog prison.  He tried to do good in the shelter, but without the acceptance of a loving master and redeemer he was destined for the gas chamber to be put to death.  Even though his sin wasn’t a big one and he didn’t kill anybody or anything he still would be put to death because he didn’t have someone to forgive him and love him.

The same is true for us.  No matter how hard we try to be good, we can never be good enough to not go to hell.  The only way not to be condemned is to be IN CHRIST and the way we do that is to accept him into our lives so he can rescue us.  He is our master and if you relate that to how you love your dog and you are your dog’s master you know that even when they mess up you still love them because they are yours.  The same is true with Christ, when we are his and we sin, he forgives us.  He loves us because we are his.  We have to have a relationship with him and walk with him, we have to obey him and most of all we have to love him.  He saved us from the biggest prison in the universe, which is hell, and we are thankful for his grace and for how he rescued us from that prison.  Jesus sets things right for us.