Have you ever lost something of value? What was it and what did you do about it?
When I lose something, my response is based on the value I place in what was lost. For instance, how I respond to losing my son in Disneyland (two times) is different than my response to losing my keys.
It’s true. Several years ago we lived in walking distance to Disneyland, had a season pass, and would take our sons quite often. The first time Kincade was six years old and he was prone to wander, to stop and look at anything shiny or sweet, and he had stopped at one of the little shops on the street. A worker saw him and realized he was lost and gave him a lollipop to keep him calm. Once we realized he was missing we quickly backtracked and found him. The second time was during closing and everyone was packed in shoulder to shoulder walking out of the park, and we assigned Kincade, now 7, to hold his brother Hudson’s hand (a very responsible 10 year old). We got separated and by the time we caught up with each other we had 3 of our 4 boys, no Kincade. We freaked. We thought the worse and that feeling only grew as we frantically backtracked and could not find him. 30 minutes passed. No Kincade. As Suzanne made her way to the lost and found area, there he was. It was like a heavy weight lifted off our shoulders. Kincade was, excuse my language, pissed. He still hasn’t forgiven us for that one (he’s 15 now).
You know people stay away from church for a lot of different reasons. But one of the primary reasons is that we have a tendency to make people feel worse about themselves. We try to convince people they are lost and it’s their fault. That’s encouraging. No wonder they stay away. Let me go there and hear some more of that upbeat message.
Often we think God must be like that too. But in Luke 15 Jesus describes what God goes through when he is looking for and waiting for us to come to Him. And, most importantly, what He is like when He does find us.
Grab a Bible or Google Luke 15, read the stories and let me know what jumps out at you. This will be our Easter passage for this year.
Do you deserve grace?
How do you get grace?
In human relationships grace is often earned. Say my wife does something to offend me, or to disrespect me (I know, totally hypothetical). Do I give her grace or do I wait until she owns up to her mistake? Once she owns up to it, then I give her grace and forgive her. Once she asks for forgiveness, then I will forgive her.
That’s not grace.
Grace, by it’s very nature, is undeserved and given before it is ever asked for.
This weekend, at all of our campuses, I want to unpack this thought by looking at a story of two people in Luke 7: Simon, the pharisee and a prostitute woman. The woman comes into the room where Simon and Jesus are eating and begins to weep over Jesus’ feet and dries them with her hair and then anoints them with expensive perfume. It’s scandalous. Seriously. It’s not right. It’s not appropriate. But Jesus doesn’t rebuke the woman. Matter of fact, Jesus doesn’t even forgive her in that moment. What we see is that Jesus had already forgiven her and that’s why she was there, expressing her love the way she did.
The grace offered to us by God, through Jesus Christ, is scandalous; it’s undeserved; it’s inappropriate to our actions. But that’s not up to us. What is up to us is whether we will accept the grace He offers, even before we deserve it, before we ask for it, before we seek forgiveness.
Hope you can join us this weekend. Have an awesome rest of your week in God’s grace.
It was Jesus’ habit to get away and pray. He would often go up a mountain and spend time with God. In Luke 9 he took Peter, James and John with him (you can read about it in Luke 9:28-36).
As they later recounted the story, that mountaintop moment was a spiritual experience in which Moses and Elijah show up and talk with Jesus and then the Father also speaks. Here’s my question: was this the only time Jesus experienced this? The Bible tells us it was his habit to go and pray. Isn’t it possible that Jesus had this experience more than once? We know it didn’t happen every time because there were other moments the disciples went and prayed with Jesus, but it makes you wonder.
I think we put down the experiential aspect of faith. We try and make it more intellectual and theoretical. But what if we need the experiential? Not just for our faith, but to navigate the conflicts in this life? You know what Jesus was confronted with as soon as he came off the mountain? Conflict. I bet he was grateful for the momentary experience of being on a mountain with His Father and a couple of friends.
I often say, “If we don’t experience Jesus on a weekend at Westside we should all find another church.” Seriously. I want to connect with Him and be with Him and know Him. I want to be impacted by His love, grace and mercy. I want Him to reveal what’s in me and help me grow.
What does experiencing Jesus look like to you?
What’s your decision making process? We all have a process. It might be more intentional for some, but each of us take steps in making a decision. Some people look at every angle; others make pros and cons lists; others undertake a strategic planning process; and some stick with intuition and what their gut is telling them.
Jesus also had a process for making decisions. When it came to big decisions, He would stay up all night and pray (Luke 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28; 11:1). He would get away from distractions and the noise of life and take the time needed to ask God for wisdom.
Try this: the next time you have an important decision to make, take a minute and find a quiet place and ask God for wisdom. Listen. Be aware of what the Spirit is communicating. Often you can discover God’s will by whether you have peace regarding one decision or another. Even tough decisions can be marked by the peace of God giving you confirmation what the will of God is.
Let me know how it goes. Praying with you.
Pastor Bo is speaking this weekend at West Campus. Here’s a bit of what she shares. So good!
We are those who have grown disconnected from the story of Jesus, immersed in our own era and it’s easy to miss Jesus entirely. It’s a recurring theme in Luke – you’ll find it in every single chapter, over and over. He keeps telling us that, though people had been waiting and longing for a Messiah and for redemption, many of them missed Him when He showed up in the flesh. They looked at Him with their own eyeballs, they saw the miracles, they saw the crucifixion, they saw the uproar He caused in every city He visited and yet…they missed Him. Not because they were blind, but because they already had a clear notion of how He would look and this version of God didn’t fit in their framework.
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” (Luke 5:1-5 NIV)
Because you say so. Something Peter has heard and seen in Jesus, makes him do something outlandish. Something out of character. Maybe every life comes to this point where we have to suspend the things we’ve believed so hard and so well for so long and open up to the idea that maybe we haven’t figured it all out yet. Maybe there’s something bigger to know and Someone bigger to find. Peter makes a decision and takes a leap.
Services are at 8:00, 9:00 and 10:45.
Monday, I had the privilege of speaking to our Westside Youth. I told them that when we were young and accepted Jesus we asked Him to come and live in our hearts. But that’s bad theology. He doesn’t live in our hearts, He lives at the right hand of the Father in heaven, where there is all power and authority. And that’s important because He then sends His representative to be with us and in us: the Holy Spirit. So all that Jesus is and all that He said and did, is deposited into us through the Holy Spirit. That’s why being filled with Him everyday is such an important prayer. He will give us the ability to hear God and walk according to His will.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, (Luke 4:1 NIV)
This weekend, Westside Church will be looking at the epic battle between good and evil as written by Luke about the life of Jesus. One of the interesting aspects about Jesus is that He is a dividing line. Luke 2:34-35 says that He is destined to cause the rise and fall of many and to reveal the hearts of us all.
Here’s the difference between Jesus and the devil: when the devil finds out who you really are (the thoughts of your heart come flying out in destructive ways – which happens to us all), the devil takes that and throws back in your face. He makes sure you don’t forget it. What Jesus does, on the other hand, is He takes it and throws it as far as the east is from the west. He forgets about it.
I don’t know about you, but I choose Jesus. In Him is total love, acceptance and forgiveness. Hope to see you at one of our campuses or online this weekend.
Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:34-35 NIV)
The Holy Spirit is a mysterious and often a confusing aspect of Christianity’s narrative. Who He is and what does He do? As part of the Trinity, He shares in the divine union between God, the Father and the Son. His activity is seen in Christians as they attempt to walk according to the Spirit. He lives in us and works through us.
One of my favorite verses that describe the outworking of the Spirit is Acts 4:13.
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13 NIV)
What did the Spirit enable Peter and John to be and to do? Be courageous and appear smarter than they actually were:). I love this. I need this. I need Him to help me be courageous and to speak boldly and intelligently about Him.
As I work my way through the prayers in the Bible, I found a very interesting thing that I never saw before: Noah never speaks to God. God says a lot to Noah, and all the Bible says is: “And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.” (Genesis 7:5 NIV)
I almost didn’t include this in my account, because it’s not really a conversation. But I realized that I do most of the talking when it comes to my relationship with God. Today I am reminded to listen. So, I’m going to keep this short. I pray you will hear the voice of God today and you will be able to listen and do all that He tells you.
The second conversation with God recorded in the Bible takes place between God and Cain after Cain kills his brother. And what is interesting about the conversation is that we think God brings judgment on Cain. But a closer look shows that Cain’s punishment involved natural consequences. First, because of what he did, relationships are lost. He has to leave his family after killing his own brother. Second, because he has to leave the proximity of the garden of Eden (very fruitful area), he has to wander in places that do not have as fertile soil as Eden.
Actually, what we see is a God of mercy. Instead of killing Cain (“an eye for an eye”), God protects Cain from others who might want to enact revenge.
The worst “punishment” is his loss of connection to God. It says that he “went out from the Lord’s presence”.
As I think about all of this in light of my own life, I am reminded of how I think my mistakes separate me from God. I know that God is good and that He is holy, and so my sin convinces me that I am outside of the Lord’s presence. But I am so grateful that this story reveals a God of mercy. He is quick to forgive and slow to anger.
This morning at Westside, we look at another story of someone who is separated from God and how Jesus comes along and shows mercy and kindness. And that kindness leads this man to restoration of relationship with God.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden. (Genesis 4:9-16 NIV)