Sometimes Love Looks Like a Backpack

Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 2.09.43 PMLike it or not, Christians have a pretty bad reputation nowadays. If you played a word association game with a non-church goer and you said “Christian” they would most likely reply with words like “hypocritical” and “judgmental.” What if the first word that came to their minds was “love”?

The Apostle Paul wrote, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6). In other words, everything we do should be rooted and grounded in our faith in Jesus Christ, but that faith must not be solely defined by WHAT we believe but HOW we live out those beliefs.

How we live out our faith must be an expression of love… or else we are doing it wrong.

And sometimes we overcomplicate what love looks like.

For example, love can look like words that strengthen, encourage, or comfort (see 1 Corinthians 14:3). And with all that is going on in our country and in the world right now, imagine how Christians could impact people if we continually asked ourselves, “Lord, how do you want me to strengthen or encourage or comfort him or her?” And if a thought “popped” in your mind out of nowhere that matched that grid — what if you shared it with him or her? And imagine if, as a result, that person walked away strengthened a bit, encouraged a bit, or comforted a bit? Imagine if we asked that question a hundred times a day?

Sometimes love can be words. And sometimes it can be actions. In fact, sometimes love can look like a backpack… and a package of #2 pencils.

It’s back-to-school shopping season right now. And in the middle class suburbs where I live, parents and kids flock to Target and Walmart and shop ’til they drop.

But that’s not the case for everyone. Not even for every person that lives in our local school district let alone the kids that live in the inner city or second- and third-world countries.

So what would it look like to live out Galatians 5:6 at this time of year? It could be as easy as choosing to bless a family in your neighborhood that is struggling. By buying them an anonymous gift card to a department store to do a back-to-school shopping spree.

Or it could be helping out a kiddo, not just across street but across a hemisphere! 🙂 I hope this part of the blog doesn’t sound like an infomercial but an invitation. Since our church launched in 2010 we have had a passion to fight human trafficking and our international partner is ESTHER’s Children (where “ESTHER” stands for End Sex Trafficking for HER).

Their ministry was founded in Clarkston, Michigan but it’s epicenter is Recife, Brazil (which is the eastern most tip of that country). Due to the economic crisis in Brazil, welfare programs have made deep cuts affecting the “least of these” (see Matthew 25:31-46) which includes the kids in the slums that ESTHER’s ministers to. So right now, kids in Brazil aren’t able to shop for a backpack let alone the school supplies that would fill it.

ESTHER’s has a God-sized goal to distribute 200 backpacks filled with school supplies to the girls at ESTHER’s, their brothers, and other children in the community. So if you are interested in helping them reach their goal, please click HERE to be redirected to a webpage on our church website with a complete shopping list of things you could buy as well as where to deliver them.

Sometimes love can look like a backpack… and a package of #2 pencils.

***We take for granted that the Founding Fathers of America had Christian roots. But have you ever wondered why that was the case? It actually goes back to a key text in Acts 16 where the Apostle Paul headed west into Europe instead of east into Asia. And what’s interesting is Paul actually wanted to head east… until the Holy Spirit showed up! But what if Paul treated the Holy Spirit as the “forgotten member of the Trinity” and ignored Him? How would America be different? And what if we ignore the Holy Spirit in our lives? Please join us on August 27th at 10:30am at Wiley Elementary (near 21 Mile & Van Dyke at 47240 Shelby Rd. in Utica) as we conclude our Acts 29 series by looking at a passage in Acts that literally changed the world! My sermon is titled How The Holy Spirit Changed America. More info at***

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Why Our Family “Fasted” from TV, the iPad, and the Internet This Summer

0816171916Imagine 40 days with no TV… no Netflix… no iPad… no sports talk radio… no Facebook… no surfing the internet… no online games… 40 days free from all of the above. Think you could do it?

The reason I am writing this blog today is because it is Day 41 for Kellie, the kids, and me. The day we are going to break our “media fast.”

Here’s the backstory…

In early July, Kellie and I came across a movie called Captivated on Amazon Prime. It was a Christian-based documentary that talked about how people from various walks of life chose to say “no” to things like watching TV and using iPads.

I appreciated their approach because they were not alarmist or extremist in their message… like claiming that the devil invented TV. Nothing like that! 🙂

Even though there isn’t anything inherently evil about the various forms of media, people chronicled in the documentary made the intentional decision to give those things up in order to be less distracted, less focused, and less consumed by things of the world.

As we watched Captivated (and after we got over the irony that we were watching a TV program that was about not watching TV! 🙂 ) Kellie and I felt like we wanted to try what one of the families did — a “media fast” for 40 days.

But there was a big obstacle we knew we had to overcome — how do we share this idea with Faith, Evelyn, and Elizabeth in a way that they would embrace? We wanted to present the idea of doing a media fast in a way that would set us up for success and not failure, acceptance and not rebellion.

So we decided to rewatch the documentary with them, pausing it every 10 minutes or so to talk about what we were seeing and hearing. At one point our oldest daughter Faith asked, “Is it a good thing that we only have one TV in our house?” What a great question that led to an even greater conversation!

After watching Captivating and talking through it, the girls jumped on board easier than expected. And the last 40 days went much easier than expected. Here is some of the “fruit” we experienced:

  • I have been oblivious to all sports related topics like the Lions pre-season… and I haven’t missed it at all!
  • What used to be “Family Fun Nights” every Friday night but degenerated into Family MOVIE Nights became Family FUN Nights once again where we interacted with one another and did activities together instead of silently sitting in a room together watching a DVD.
  • The girls played with un-played toys like their arts & crafts bin, puzzles, various board games, etc.
  • More trips to the library and the girls spent way more time reading… and so did Kellie and I!
  • No arguing about what TV program to watch or who wanted to use the iPad
  • More time being outside and enjoying the summer weather and playing baseball and soccer in the backyard.

0816171954So today is Day 41. But we aren’t going back to the way things were. Our goal is to establish a “new normal” when it comes to how much the TV will be on and how much we engage in every other form of media. And trust me, it won’t be much.

In every sermon I preach, I always give Action Steps for folks to try out. So here are some Action Steps for you to consider as you process what you read in this blog:

  1. Track how much “screen time” you engage in each day, either checking your cell phone or watching TV or using a tablet or being online. I bet its way more than you think! (read Ephesians 5:15-16)
  2. Think about how much more time you would have to do things that truly matter if you minimized or completely eliminated that “screen time.” (read Matthew 22:34-39)
  3. Watch the documentary Captivated and see how God speaks to you as you view it. (read Isaiah 30:21)
  4. Consider doing a “fast” from TV or surfing the internet or all forms of media for a few weeks or 40 days or even longer. (read Philippians 4:8)

***”Prophecy.” What words or images come to mind when you heard that word? A guy standing on a street corner wearing a sign that talks about when the world is going to end? Someone dressed in strange clothing with even stranger hair? When it comes to prophecy there is a ton of misinformation out there. So what exactly does the Bible teach about prophecy? And how can we press into the command the Apostle Paul gives us: “to eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially prophecy” (see 1 Cor. 14:1)? Please join us August 20th at 10:30am for my sermon titled “What Prophecy Is… and Isn’t.” A reminder that the temporary summer home of The Eastside Vineyard Church is Wiley Elementary School (near 21 Mile & Van Dyke at 47240 Shelby Rd. in Utica). More info at***

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A Brother Who Smuggled a Book

20170622_120853Yesterday was the first official day of summer and because of that I felt led to write this blog. It’s about a brother who smuggled a book. And I hope what you read inspires you to reach new heights on your spiritual journey between now and Labor Day.

The brother that this blog is about??? A man named Brother Andrew. He is often called “God’s Smuggler” as well as “God’s Secret Agent.” He is one of those modern day heroes of the faith that I have heard of but, in reality, didn’t really know much about. So I picked up his biography simply titled Brother Andrew: God’s Secret Agent (part of the awesome Christian Heroes: Then and Now series) and was blown away at what I read.

In a nutshell, Brother Andrew felt God gave him a lifelong mission to get the Bible into the hands of Christians in Communist countries where it was illegal. And he risked his life over and over to do exactly that as he traveled across eastern Europe, the U.S.S.R., and China.

While his courage was inspirational, what really rocked me was how the Christians who lived “behind the Iron Curtain” reacted when they saw what Brother Andrew had in his backpack.

For example, here is what happened when Brother Andrew gave a Bible to a group of Christians in Bulgaria: “The members of the church would gasp when they saw it, and as they passed it from one to the other to examine it, tears would run down their cheeks.” (p.183). Imagine being emotionally moved like that when you picked up your Bible!

Later on in his life, Brother Andrew focused his efforts on getting Bibles behind the “Bamboo Curtain” of Communist China. In underground churches in China, Bibles “were in such short supply that a Bible would be cut apart and sections of it handed around so that people could memorize it” (p.210). Imagine only having one page of God’s Word in your possession and treasuring it to that degree!

As I read story after story in that biography, I felt like the Holy Spirit brought a healthy conviction on me. Not guilt, but conviction, and there is a world of difference between the two. 🙂

The conviction? Read, study, reflect on, and memorize the Bible like never before.

The timing of reading the book about Brother Andrew was not coincidental. When it came to my personal Bible reading, I have been in a valley as of late. I still have been reading it regularly but not as much as before and far from the level of passion that I have read it in the past. So the biography put the wind in my sails that I needed.

All that to say, I knew what I wanted for Father’s Day: a new Study Bible! Granted I already own an NIV Study Bible but I decided to take the advice I have given to many folks at my church: when you aren’t reading the Bible as much as you’d like, sometimes “just what the doctor ordered” is to buy a new translation which will allow you to read the Bible with fresh eyes.

So Kellie and the kiddos took a trip to the new LifeWay Christian Store near Lakeside Mall (where the old Family Christian used to be located) and got me the brand new CSB Study Bible. And… I… love… it!

I had been reading the CSB translation (which is a cross between the NIV and ESV when it comes to readability) for a couple months now, but the Study Bible version of it — with it’s 16,000 study notes!! — just got published. And I am thankful it did.

With July 4th right around the corner, a day when we celebrate our country’s birthday, let me say this… I am thankful I live in a country where you can drive to a store to buy a Bible… and where there are dozens of versions to choose from… and there is no fear of arrest or imprisonment for owning a copy of it.

May you — and I — not take for granted the privilege it truly is to own a Bible. And may we not be content only reading it here and there. May we become like Ezekiel (see Ezekiel 3:3) and consume the sacred text. Not so we can win a Bible trivia contest, but so we can better follow our Rabbi as His disciples.

P.S. #1. To help you put this blog into practice, attached is a Bible Reading Plan that I created for our church family. It’s a 13-page document with a day-by-day plan as well as other hints and tips in how to get the most out of God’s Word. Click HERE for your free copy.

P.S. #2. If you live in my local area, go support the new LifeWay store. They are having a Grand Opening sale this week and giving out 40% off coupons. So you could buy a new Study Bible at a very affordable price!

***Americans are people of action, aren’t we? So we love it when God gives us marching orders to “go” and “do.” But what about when God says, “Wait?” What do we do when God presses the pause button? Well, that is exactly what happened in Acts 1 between the Ascension of Jesus and the Day of Pentecost. Jesus told His followers to “wait.” But as they waited, they didn’t sit around and do nothing. Instead they pressed into three critical areas that prepared them for what was right around the corner. And we need to learn from them and do the same! Please join us at The Eastside Vineyard Church on June 25th at 10:30am at our new location at Wiley Elementary School (near 21 Mile & Van Dyke at 47240 Shelby Rd. in Utica)! More info at***

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Surprising Words From Billy Graham About the Holy Spirit

Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 2.00.04 PM.pngWe are a few days removed from celebrating the day of Pentecost (it fell on June 4th this year) and because of that, I want to share a couple quotes with you. A heads up that the SECOND quote is from Billy Graham, but as you read this first quote I want you to guess who said it. Here goes:

I am convinced that to be filled with the Spirit is not an option, but a necessity. It is indispensable for the abundant life and for fruitful service. The Spirit-filled life is not abnormal; it is the normal Christian life. Anything less is subnormal; it is less than what God wants and provides for His children. Therefore, to be filled with the Spirit should never be thought of as an unusual or unique experience for, or known by, only a select few. It is intended for all, needed by all, and available to all. That is why the Scripture commands all of us, ‘be filled with the Spirit.’

If you had to guess who said those words, I bet most of you would say they came from a Pentecostal preacher that held tent revivals back in the day or an overly Charismatic Christian.

But the truth is, that quote came from none other than… Billy Graham! And in case you are wondering, this is not one of those urban legend quotes that you read on the internet, where words are put in the mouth of someone who never actually said them. (Side note: here is my favorite one of those: “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” – Abrahma Lincoln 🙂 )

That quote from Billy Graham appears on page 127 of his book: The Holy Spirit: Activating God’s Power In Your Life.

And I bet it surprised you that those words come from Billy Graham. I know I was surprised — even shocked — when I first read them.

But if those words don’t surprise you, these will. They are found on page 112-113 of the same book: “I think it proper to say that anyone who is not Spirit-filled is a defective Christian. Paul’s command to the Ephesians Christians, “Be filled with the Spirit,” is binding on all of us Christians everywhere in every age. There are no exceptions. We must conclude that since we are ordered to be filled with the Spirit, we are sinning if we are not filled.

I wanted to share those quotes from Billy Graham because it shows us that being filled (a.k.a., baptized) with the Holy Spirit is NOT just a doctrine or a belief for charismatic Christians or Pentecostals. This is for ALL of us!

And that is what I will be teaching on this coming Sunday as we continue our series called Acts 29. My sermon is titled “Baptized with the Holy Spirit” and if you like this blog I hope you join us!

But between now and Sunday I want to ask you this question, a question that comes right from what Billy Graham said: Are you living a normal or abnormal Christian life?

According to the first quote I shared, Billy Graham says that the Spirit-filled life is NORMAL while not being filled with the Spirit is ABNORMAL. So are you living a normal or abnormal Christian life?

My hope is that everyone reading this blog would press into the forgotten member of the Trinity — the Holy Spirit — and begin to live the NORMAL Christian life… which means that we would be filled with the Spirit.

***Please join us on June 11th at 10:30am at The Eastside Vineyard Church. My sermon is titled “Baptized With the Holy Spirit.” We will be meeting for the FINAL TIME inside of Shelby Jr. High (51700 Van Dyke // 2 blocks north of 23 Mile). More info at***

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The Holiday of Pentecost

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 11.54.13 AMWe can’t imagine treating December 25th like any other day and then waking up on December 26th and thinking, “Wasn’t Christmas around this time of year?” 🙂

But I am guessing that is exactly what is going to happen to millions of Christians living in America over the next week. Not when it comes to Christmas but to another major holiday on the church calendar: the day of Pentecost which is celebrated on June 4th this year.

That is what this blog is all about. And to set the stage for it, I need to talk a bit about cars and a bit about shapes as well. 🙂

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 11.55.06 AM

My dad at one of the plants he worked at as an electrician at Chrysler

Back when I was growing up in the suburbs of the Motor City, there was the Big 3 in the automotive industry: GM, Ford, and Chrysler.

And we were a Chrysler family. Because that’s where my dad worked and that is where he retired. So we were loyal to Chrysler. And that is a huge reason why I drive my PT Cruiser. 🙂

So there was The Big 3 when it came to the automotive industry AND there was a Big 3 when it came to church as well.

I grew up going to church and I always thought there were just the Big 3 when it came to the major Christian holidays: Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter.

Now when it comes to Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter, I have heard various pastors and Christian authors argue about which of those events associated with the life of Jesus is most important. And I have heard arguments about how each one of those trumps the other two.

To me, that is like trying to argue which side of a triangle is the most important.

Obviously when it comes to a triangle you need all 3 sides in order for the shape to be a triangle. And when it comes to our spiritual journey, all of those events of Jesus’ life are “must haves”: His birth AND His death AND His resurrection… AND, by the way, His ascension.

After all, when Jesus rose from the dead, He didn’t keep walking the earth for the rest of His existence. Instead, He rose from the dead and then He ascended to Heaven 40 days later.

You might wonder, what’s the big deal about that? Here is the answer straight from the mouth of Jesus:

“But now I am going away to the one who sent me . . . in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.” – John 16:5,7 (NLT).

The “Advocate” is another name for the Holy Spirit. So Jesus was saying He needed to leave earth and ascend to Heaven SO THAT the Holy Spirit would come.

In fact, Jesus said it was BETTER that He left earth instead of sticking around.

Think about that for a moment.

According to our Lord and Savior, if you had to pick between two options: EITHER an “in the flesh” Jesus remaining on earth for the past 2,000 years OR sending the Holy Spirit… Jesus chooses option B.

So the fact that the Holy Spirit was going to come was a big, big deal. A game changer.

And the way God sovereignly orchestrated things was to have the Holy Spirit come to earth on one particular day: Pentecost.

The day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2 is the day everything changed. It’s the day the Holy Spirit came in power. It’s the day the Holy Spirit filled believers. In fact, it’s considered the birthday of the church!

So in reality, we should not think of the major Christian holidays as the Big 3, but the Big 4 with Pentecost being the 4th holiday.

So if you are thinking in terms of shapes when it comes to major Christian holidays… it’s not a triangle but a square. And just like we need all four sides of a square, we need all four holidays. We need Christmas AND Good Friday AND Easter Sunday AND the day of Pentecost.

So I have a crazy dream I am praying about…

I pray that the day of Pentecost (celebrated on June 4th this year) would be viewed by Christians at OUR church and by Christians across the country as being as big of a deal as Christmas and Good Friday and Easter. That this Sunday would be a “can’t miss” day to go to church. That this Sunday would be a day where we reflect on the role the Holy Sprit has in our lives. That this Sunday would be a day when we read our Bibles about what happened back in the days of the early church and we passionately pray that those things would happen again in our day. That not a single Christian across the country would wake up on June 5th and wonder, “Wasn’t Pentecost around this time of year?”

And by the way, if you are reading this blog and you live in southeastern Michigan I’d love to have you celebrate the day of Pentecost with us! But instead of doing one sermon about the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 and then going back to “business as usual” we are going to spend the entire summer in the first few chapters of the book of Acts in a series we are calling Acts 29.

***Please join us on June 4th at 10:30am at The Eastside Vineyard Church as we celebrate the holiday of Pentecost. We gather (for now!) inside of Shelby Jr. High (51700 Van Dyke // 2 blocks north of 23 Mile). More info at***

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Don’t “Jump Ahead” to Easter Sunday

Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 6.38.09 AMI am writing this on the Wednesday of what is known as Holy Week. So we are 48 hours away from Good Friday and 4 days away from Easter Sunday.

As a Christian living in America, it’s very easy to blow right past Good Friday and focus on Easter Sunday. After all, Easter is the day of the big party over grandma’s house. It’s the day you give your kids a basket of goodies. It’s the day everybody dresses up. After all, there is no such thing as “Good Friday” bonnet, is there? 🙂

So I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to write this blog to encourage you to take Holy Week one day at a time. Tomorrow is known as “Maundy Thursday” (and just how it got that name is a topic for another blog!) which is when Jesus celebrated the Last Supper. Then you have Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and finally Easter Sunday.

So here are some things to think about to help you slow down and focus on Good Friday…

For the joy set before Jesus, He endured the cross… (Hebrews 12:2). The joy set before Him was you and me. The joy set before Him was our freedom from sin. The joy set before Him was making it possible for us to become children of God.

And the Cross was the ONLY WAY to make those things happen.

To explain why the Cross was the only way, let me take you back to a fascinating verse of events that took place the day before Jesus was going to die. The Last Supper has just taken place and Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane:

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39).

This is an absolutely fascinating verse! After all, Jesus was predestined to go to the Cross. Theologians like to say Jesus was born to die.

So the Cross was the culmination of God’s plan of salvation.

But less than 24 hours before the first nail was driven into Jesus’ hand, the Son asks the Father, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.”

In other words, Jesus is saying: Is there any other way we can do this? Is there any other way we can accomplish what we need to accomplish? I know this has always been the plan. But can we pull an audible at the last minute? Is there any other way to defeat the devil, sin, and death?

Now don’t miss this…God is a good good Father. And a good Father would not have had His Son go to the Cross IF there was any other way to accomplish the same goal.

Therefore, Jesus HAD to go to the Cross. There was NO other option.

God the Father did not want Jesus to be crucified because He was a mean dad. And Jesus didn’t choose to be crucified because He enjoyed pain.

For the past month, we have been in a series at our church called Reconsidering the Meaning of the Cross. As Christians living in America we need to re-think what we assume about the Cross. We need to re-think things to fully grasp what the Cross accomplished and oftentimes our church background gets in the way of that. Familiarity with the Cross has led to unfamiliarity!

We need to realize that the Cross was the only way to defeat the devil and defeat sin and defeat death. And this makes sense when we begin to wake up to the fact. That we are in war zone.

We need to view the Cross as an an instrument of war and Jesus’ death as an act of war in what is known as spiritual warfare… to defeat Satan and his works, including sin and death.

So because of that… because of the Cross… may you and I not “jump ahead” to Easter Sunday. May we take Holy Week one day at a time. And here are three practical ways to do that:

  1. Between now and Easter Sunday follow a special Bible reading plan. Click HERE. It’s a blog I wrote a few years ago that contains a harmonization of all 4 gospels that contains a list of passages to read, focused on the final 24 hours of Jesus’ life from the Last Supper to the Tomb.
  2. Treat Good Friday as the unique day that it is. Don’t spend those 24 hours like you do any other day of the year. Because it’s not any other day. It’s Good Friday. So here are some suggestions: Turn off the radio when you drive to work and pray instead. Fast from food. Keep the TV off. Spend extra time in the Bible that day. Serve at a soup kitchen.
  3. Go to church on Good Friday. Hopefully this blog will re-wire your thinking so that going to church on Good Friday isn’t an obligation that you “ought” to do but something you are compelled to do. And if you live in southeastern Michigan we’d love to have you come to our service! Info is below.

***We’d love to see everyone twice this weekend at The Eastside Vineyard Church. We are having a service on Good Friday at 7:00pm and Easter Sunday at 10:30am. My sermons are titled “Good Good Friday” and “Life AFTER Death… and Life BEFORE Death.” More details about both services can be found at***

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Stumbling Toward Easter

Screen Shot 2017-04-01 at 8.13.40 AMI woke up this morning and turned the calendar on our fridge to a new month (Yes, we are “old school” at the Kopp house!).

Can you believe it’s already April?

Because it’s April 1st that means we are just two weeks away from Good Friday and Easter. So here’s a question for you… how prepared are you for those two days? I’m not talking about whether or not you bought your ham yet or if you started to clean your house for the big party. I’m talking about how spiritually prepared you are.

The reason I felt compelled to write this blog is because I have been stumbling my way through Lent so far. Back when Lent began, I had grand ideas of how laser focused I was going to be on Jesus from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. But busyness and distractions have ruled the day instead.

So this past Monday I got out my journal and wrote how I wanted to do a spiritual reboot. Even though this season of Lent has been far from a spiritual mountain experience for me up to this point, I realized that I still had a few weeks left and I was going to press in instead of throw in the towel.

So here are some changes I made as well as some things that have been going right. I write these not to puff myself up but to offer them as suggestions for you to consider:

Bible – The Bible reading plan I have been trying to follow just hasn’t been working for me. So I decided to go “old school” and begin reading through the gospels, a few chapters a day. I started John on Monday and I am through chapter 16 as I write this. If you are 100% happy with how much you have been “in” your Bible, keep on doing it! But if not, try a new approach. Click HERE for two reading plans you may want to follow (It’s the green-colored link in the middle of the page that says “Download our Experiencing Lent Handout.”)

Temple – Because of our Family on Mission giving campaign at our church, I didn’t go to Planet Fitness a single time since the end of January. My monthly dues have been donations! 🙂 And yes that last sentence was a joke, but I am actually quite mad at myself about that. So I made the decision this past Monday to re-commit to treating my body like the temple of the Holy Spirit that it is (see 1 Cor. 6:19). And I am happy to report I went to the gym five mornings in a row this week. What would it look like for you to “honor your temple” between now and Easter Sunday?

“Leftovers” – Because of the demands the church has been putting on my schedule, Kellie and the kids have been getting my leftovers. And yet, Jesus says the Greatest Commandment is to “love your neighbor” (see Matthew 22:37-39) and your “neighbors” include those living inside your own home! So I went out of my way this week to reject passivity and engage with my family by playing a dozen games of chess with my oldest daughter Faith, among other things. What about you? What would rejecting passivity look like for you?

Hunger – “God make me more hungry for you!” That has been one of the cries of my heart during Lent. And one thing I have done very consistently during Lent is fast from all food one day per week, typically on Tuesdays. And every time my stomach growled, I prayed, asking God to make me as hungry for Him as I am for food. (The Experiencing Lent link I gave you a few paragraphs above has a couple pages of fasting ideas).

Sundays – If your church is like ours, there are four more opportunities to go to church as Lent winds down: this weekend, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter. Draw a line in the sand right now that you are going to be 4 for 4 in church attendance! And when you attend, may you experience the goodness of the Father heart of God.

Good Friday and Easter Sunday are two of the most significant events in the history of the world. And yet, with our overloaded schedules, it’s easy to treat those two days as speed bumps in our hectic lives where we barely slow down as we head toward them.

And if that last paragraph has defined your experience in Lent up to this point… if you have been stumbling toward Easter like I have been doing… today is a new day!

***The Bible teaches that Jesus came to earth to defeat the devil (see 1 John 3:8), which He accomplished through His death of the Cross. But have you ever thought about why Jesus had to die an excruciating death to defeat the devil instead of just wiping Satan out of existence with a puff of His breath? My sermon is titled The Devil is in the Details. Bring your “thinking caps” and please join us on Sunday April 2nd at 10:30am as we continue our series “Reconsidering the Meaning of the Cross.”. The Eastside Vineyard Church gathers inside Shelby Jr. High (51700 Van Dyke // 2 blocks north of 23 Mile). More info at***

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