Tuesday, February 28, 2012


We talked about confession - both to God and man - on Sunday. Here's a good resource to review:

Confession Is The New Innocence

Lenten Thought 2/28/12

"My Father is working until now, and I am working." John 5:17

Father, show us where you are at work so that we can join You.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Why Should I Participate In Lent?

Lent is a time of fasting for the 40 days (excluding Sundays) leading up to Easter. Recently, there have been a lot of articles against it. I think the reason is due to a misunderstanding about the purpose of Lent. Some people just reject Lent because "they're not Catholic". Others don't observe it because they miss the true purpose or react to people misusing (or abusing) it.

Why Does Redeemer Encouraging You To Participate In Lent?

You should fast, whether or not you participate in Lent. We don't encourage "Lent", as if there were something magical about it. What we encourage is fasting. Lent is simply time set aside to fast. You may choose to fast during Lent. You should fast at various times, whether it includes Lent or not.

What is fasting?

Fasting is voluntarily giving up some good thing, for a set period of time, in order to focus on God. It is voluntary - you don't have to do it. You give up a good thing (It does not mean stopping something sinful or harmful). It is for a set period of time (It could be one meal, one day, three days, whatever).

Fasting is a spiritual discipline that helps to train you in godliness and holiness. The purpose is to focus on God. Spiritual disciplines are like drills in athletics. They prepare you to perform at a higher level later. For example, you run wind sprints at football practice so that when the game comes you can play better. The referee doesn't meet both teams at midfield, add up the sprints they ran the previous week and award the game to the team that ran the most. They still have to play the game.

Fasting trains you in godliness by helping you to focus on God. You select a good thing, set it aside and focus on drawing near to God. For example, you may choose to fast from lunch. Instead of using your lunch hour to eat, you use that time to take a walk and pray.

Fasting is NOT:

  • Giving up something sinful or bad that you should quit anyway.
  • A means of earning "extra credit" with God.
  • Something you are forced to do.
  • A means of doing something beneficial for you but not focused on God (for example, losing weight).

Part of the backlash against Lent comes because people use it for one of these reasons. If you are using Lent or fasting for some reason other than drawing near to God, you shouldn't do it.

Why Should I Fast?

Here's one thing I have yet to see addressed by anyone criticizing Lent: Jesus expects you to fast, just like he expects you to pray and give. He practiced fasting himself (see Luke 4:2). In Matthew 6:16-18 he says "And when you fast . . . ", assuming that you will.

The point is that fasting is good and should be practiced. It is only bad if it is done for show, to earn credit with God, or for your own purposes.

What Does This Mean For Redeemer?

We participate in Lent because it is a good time to focus on God and prepare ourselves to celebrate Easter. We want you to participate by fasting from something that is good and enjoyable.

Here's why: when you "miss" that thing, it serves as a reminder to pray and seek God. In addition, it creates a valuable rhythm in your life. You give something up and focus on God during the week. You enjoy it and celebrate Him as the giver of all good things by enjoying it on Sunday. We need to practice celebrating too!

Here's an example of how it works: You don't eat sweets during the week and instead seek God when you crave them. On Sunday, you eat all the sweets you want and thank God for them every time (and you won't have to be reminded to be thankful!!!).

This just doesn't work if you're using it to kick a bad habit or give up something good. For example, a guy decides to stop cussing for Lent. He doesn't cuss during the week and maybe he does pray when he's frustrated or angry. On Sunday, he swears all day and thanks God for the gift. Ummmmmm. No.

If you have some specific questions, please post those and we'll try to answer them.

If you're interested, there's a sermon entitled: Fasting: Developing a Hunger for God on 1/16/2011 here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Father, help me seek you first."

"Father, help me seek you first."

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." - Matthew 6:33

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Do You Want To Go To The Next Level?

Do you want to break through to the next level spiritually? Do you want to help Redeemer break through to the next level?

One thing that has always helped me is fasting. There a lot of fear and freak out involved when you say the word “fasting” so let me try to explain it for you.

What is fasting?

It is voluntarily forsaking a good and important thing to focus on God and pray. Jesus said “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33) Fasting is one way to put aside another “thing” to seek God first.

With that in mind, think of something that is important to you. It might be food (coffee, sweets, meat, etc.) or it could be something else (TV, facebook, video games, etc.). The important thing is to select something that you will miss or crave.

Whenever you miss or crave that thing, use the impulse as an encouragement to pray.

What do I pray?

Tell God specifically what you are asking Him to do (see Luke 18:41).

I have found it helpful to have a sentence or thought that I pray whenever I’m reminded. It doesn’t have to be a long discussion or take a lot of time. Make it something that you can pray on the go throughout the day. For example:

“God, help me want you more than . . .”
“God, help me know you better.”
“God, give me the Holy Spirit.”
“God, help me stop . . .”
“God, save . . .”

In addition, we will share a thought each day on the blog, facebook page or twitter. Follow whichever format works best for you and pray together with us.

When do I fast?

Lent begins on Wednesday, February 22nd and ends on April 7th. It covers the 40 days before Easter (not counting Sundays).

We will fast together on Monday-Saturday. On Sunday, you have a “free day”. Enjoy the thing you have given up. Celebration is an often neglected aspect of the Christian life, so use Sunday to celebrate! Every Sunday is a reminder that Jesus lives and gives life.

How do I participate?

If you’re “in”, then take these steps:

Decide what you are going to fast from.
Decide what you are going to ask God to do.
Go to the appropriate forum for you: Blog, facebook or twitter and let us know by commenting on the post. Also, subscribe to the blog, like the page or follow us. We will post the daily prayer focus through all of these.

It’s going to be exciting to see how God responds as we join together to seek Him!

Preaching To Yourself

Sunday we discussed how Satan tells us lies and we need to believe the truth. Here's a link to a great blog on that idea.

Finish the Devil's Sermons

How have you answered Satan's lies with the truth this week?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Forgiveness is NOT

On Sunday, we touched on forgiveness. This is a difficult topic and I didn't have time to fully address it, so I thought this link might be helpful. In it, Pastor Mark Driscoll clarifies 9 Things Forgiveness is Not.

9 Things Forgiveness Is Not (link)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Community Group Questions 2/5/12

Since we didn't have church on Sunday, I'm posting the Community Group Questions here. You should also receive and email from your group leader with them attached.


Community Group Questions
Week of Feb. 5, 2012

1. How would you describe you and your siblings? (For example, who is the “obedient one”? Who is the “wild one”? or what label would you give them?)

2. Read Luke 15:11-32. What is one verse, thought, or question that stood out?

3. Who do you think was wrong in this story? Who do you think was right? Explain.

4. What was the younger son's attitude toward the father at the beginning of the story? And what do you think motivated his decision to distance himself from the father? What was the older son's attitude toward the father at the end of the story? And what do you think motivated his decision to distance himself from the father?

5. In what ways are the rebellion of the younger son and the older son different? In what ways are they similar?

6. Read 15:2. How does this parable address the Pharisees and their question? What point do you think Jesus was trying to make to them?

7. Why does Jesus leave the story open-ended as to how the elder brother responded to his father’s plea?

8. In what ways are you/have you been like the younger brother? The older brother?

9. What are you celebrating this week?

10. How can we pray for you?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Fear God?

The idea of fearing God is a common one in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. But it is almost completely foreign to the modern conception of God, one that often no deeper or well thought-out than the simple platitude of "God is love". For this reason, the idea is often a difficult hurdle for many reading the Old Testament the first time.

The first thing that must be made clear is that fearing God is not equal to being afraid of God. Certainly, being afraid may be part of one's proper response to God. Consider the prophet Isaiah's response (Is. 6) or the disciples' response at the realization of who Jesus really was after calming the storm (Mk. 4:35-41). This kind of fear is the natural response of the finite in the presence of the infinite, the response of the sinful in the presence of the holy. But being afraid is not the sum of fearing God. In fact, I would suggest that the greater part of the biblical concept of fearing the Lord has nothing to do with being afraid (this would explain why God and the angels so often had to begin their messages with the phrase "Fear not"). Thus when God calls us to fear him, he is calling us to much more than being scared and faint-hearted.

 In 2 Kings 17, God explains why he has sent the nation of Israel into exile. And it begins with this:
And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced.
(2 Kings 17:7-8 ESV, emphasis added)
Are we to take this as meaning that the Israelites spent sleepless nights huddled in the corner with their swords for fear that the their little household idols might turn homicidal? Of course not. In fact, this passage makes little or no sense if we force our simplistic, modern meaning of "fear" on the text. But the author doesn't leave us guessing. The rest of 2 Kings 17 details the nature of their fear of other gods, and in doing so fleshes out the the biblical idea of fear.
  • Worship - "They built high places", "they set up for themselves pillars", "they used divination and omens". We only worship those things that we believe have power over us or power to benefit us, those things that are in some sense greater and "other" than us.
  • Sacrifice "There they made offerings", "they burned their sons and daughters as offerings". Every sacrifice is, by definition, something that costs us. Whether it be our time, money, family, or lives, when we make a sacrifice, we are deeming the recipient of our sacrifice as worthy of the cost we bear.
  • Obedience - "They served idols", "they sold themselves to do evil". Of course, obedience is the natural response to the things we worship. Everything that we worship makes some sort of demand on our lives, and the things that we obey reflect what we truly worship. 
So in summary, the biblical concept of fear (both the Israelites' misplaced fear of other gods, and our properly directed fear of God) speaks of that which we deem greater than us and worthy of worship, sacrifice, and obedience. Some Christians thinkers have summed all this up in one word: reverence. Yes, there is a place in this definition for the natural response of the finite in the presence of the infinite, the response of the sinful in the presence of the holy. But I submit to you that this is not the whole (or even the greater part) of godly fear. To fear God is to esteem him most worthy of our worship, sacrifice, and obedience.
“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good?"
(Deuteronomy 10:12-13 ESV)

For further reflection: Acts 9:31, 1 John 4:18, Hebrews 12:28-29, Deuteronomy 6:1-2

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Services Cancelled Sunday February 5th

Redeemer will not meet this Sunday, February 5th. We will be back on February 12th!

Faced with the anticipated weather, Millard Public Schools decided to close their facilities for use over the weekend. This meant that we were unable to use Beadle for our services and have to cancel.

We will be back next Sunday February 12th answering the question "Why can't I break my bad habits?" The sermon scheduled for this Sunday will be moved to April 15th. Don't miss it, I think it is one of my favorites from the Remedy series.


Groups will meet as planned this week. Your group leader will email you the questions for the week.

Sorry for the inconvenience. Use the time off to enjoy some time with your family!