Thursday, June 10, 2010

Luke 9:26, “Are you Ashamed of God?” Read at your own risk.

Luke 9:26, “Are you Ashamed of God?” Read at your own risk.

Today during my reading time I came to this verse in Luke, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” If you are a believer and you read that verse, it is hard to just pass by. Maybe you have passed and ignored it before, but I bet it is still in your head rattling around somewhere. If you say, I am not ashamed of God…” Are you sure? Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and you were about to say “Jesus” and quickly changed it to “God?” It is easier to say “God” to a non-believer isn’t it? It is not as dividing. You can say “God” and it can mean a lot of stuff to a lot of people, but say “Jesus…” But who is speaking this verse in the Bible? Jesus. Are you ashamed? No you say? Do you really mean to say, “I am not ashamed as long as the person who asks me is also a believer that I have known for a long time and I’m in my home or at our church and there is nobody new standing too close by.”? Well I might not be perfect, but ashamed to too strong of a word. Ok.

What about this verse from Revelation 3:15-16, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

Are you ashamed? No? How about lukewarm? How do you know if you are lukewarm? This is not the perfect answer, but ask yourself this: Do people around me know that I am a Christian? Not that I believe in God, but that I believe that Jesus is the way the truth and the life and nobody comes to the father but through him… John 14:6. There is a huge difference. You don’t want to be lukewarm but you are scared? I understand. Start slow. First, pray. Ask God for courage, words, and opportunity. Next, have faith and see what God does through you.

• Don’t know what to say? Have faith, God is bigger than your ability.
• Don’t know who to talk to? Have faith, God will send them to you.
• Don’t want to get in trouble at work? Have faith, God is bigger than your work.

In my title I said, read at your own risk. That was for two reasons: One, because these verses from Luke and Revelation are convicting and they are going to ask that you crawl out of your comfort zone. Two, because I have a challenge for you…

Look around your circles, your buddy, your office cube, the dude standing next to you, etc. Ask them, “What do you think happens to you when you die?” See where the conversation heads. Keep the faith. God is in control of the situation. Then, send me the results. I will compile them into another blog and share them with everyone. This can be a great source of encouragement to everyone.

If you need some help you can send them to this link. You can also print it for them and hand it out:

Written by Chris Vasecka

To join a group of Christian business professionals who want to guide the next generation of Christian small business owners and professionals go to

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Luke 9:1-9, "Work First, Then Learn How to..." A Bible Study Devotion.

Read Luke 9:1-9

This chapter starts with Jesus giving his disciples a job. A job that will take a lot of faith, as we will see...

• 1. When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases,
• 2. and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

Here you can see the order in which Jesus works. First he called them, or he calls you. Next he gives them the tools they will need to do the job he assigns. ...Or, he gives you the tools you need to do the job he has for you... Finally, he sends them out to preach the gospel and use the tools that he just gave them. He has already done that to you, if you are a follower of Jesus, right before he ascended to Heaven. He said, "Go and spread the Gospel to the ends of the Earth." Here it can be helpful to see what Jesus did not say or do to help us learn what he asks of his followers. Remember what the backgrounds of these twelve are: Fishermen, tax collectors, carpenters, etc. None of them are preachers, sick healers, or demon driver-outers. He did not say, "I know that your skill is in fishing, so please read several books and go to Class for the next 5 years and learn all about the Bible. I want you to be able to recite everything in there in case someone happens to ask you a question that I will expect you to know the answer to. Also, start to practice a little public speaking because, I want you to be completely comfortable before you address anyone on Biblical matters. I want this done right, so you really need to have everything down before you attempt this on real people. Then and only then, I will begin to work you into the fishing community. At first the only thing I will expect is for you to be around your fishing buddies and cut down on swearing. After a few years of this, hopefully one of them will notice that you are slightly different and ask you about your faith. If that happens, you can tell them, that I love them. But go easy, we don't want to scare them or "ram anything down their throat." This should enable you to gain some confidence in your ability to slowly but surely share the Gospel."

This is great… Then he says in verse 3, “take nothing for the journey-no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.”

Wow, now that takes faith. First you want me to go around preaching the gospel before I’m “ready,” and now you want me to do it with no security blankets? How can this be? How will I feed myself? Where will I stay? What will I say? Who will I find to talk to? I don’t think I can do this on my own. I’m scared.

So what happened when the disciples went out and did what Jesus instructed?

Read verses 6-8:

• 6. So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.
• 7. Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed, because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead,
• 8. others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life.

Remember, these guys were not qualified for this either, but who did people think they were? John the Baptist? The profit Elijah? Those were pretty big names to be compared to. They must have done a convincing job. I guess somehow Jesus gave them everything they needed to do the job he had for them. What is the lesson? Pretty simple. He will of course give you all you need when you put your faith in him. Remember when he said, “Take nothing?” That is because He is all you need….

And remember, the outcome is up to him. All he wants from you is your willingness to step outside of your comfort zone. He says so right in verse 5: “If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.”

I heard this at Promise Keepers a few years ago. I never forgot it, and I hope you never will either.

God does not care about your ability, only your availability.

Written by Chris Vasecka

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Luke 8:40-48, “A Touch of Desperation" A Bible Study Devotion.

Luke 8:40-48, “A Touch of Desperation" A Bible Study Devotion.

Read Luke 8:40-48

In this story we see two people who ask Jesus for help. For this study, we will concentrate on the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. It says that this woman was like this for 12 years and nobody could heal her. It says in Mark that she tried for many years, many different ointments, potions, doctors, etc and none of them helped her. In fact, they made her worse. In this culture, this woman would have been considered unceremoniously "unclean." She would have to do some ritual to cleanse herself after she stopped bleeding in order to be acceptable to society. After 10 days, she could be considered "clean." Nobody could speak to her, touch her, be with her, acknowledge her, etc until she was "clean." Of course in her case, the bleeding did not stop for 12 years, so she could not get "clean." She was a social outcast who desperately wanted back into society. We know this because she tried many things to get clean. It says in Mark that it took all her money and she was at the end of the rope. Not only that, in this culture, it was not just her who was "unclean." Anyone who touched her became "unclean." Anything that she touched became "unclean." For instance, if she sat down on a chair, the chair was unclean. If someone else then sat on that chair, they would be unclean and shunned from society for at least 10 days while they did the ritual to get clean. You can imagine how lonely she was and desperate for acceptance. Ok, so what are we talking about here? One woman with her "unclean" problem? Yes. ...but we are also talking about me and you and everyone else that has a "sin" problem...

Notice all the ways that her story is our story:

Being "unclean" affected every part of her life. This followed her around where ever she went, who ever she talked to, whatever she did, the uncleanliness was there. It infected every aspect of her life. Just like sin in your life.

This ailment of hers was degenerative. It progressively got worse and worse. Just like sin will do. At first the sin is so small you might not even notice it. Then, after you give in a few times, it gets easier and easier to justify your actions until finally you become hardened to it.

This uncleanliness was costly for her. It cost her all her money, all her relationships, everything she touched. Just like sin in your life will eventually do. If you do nothing about your sin, in the end, it will destroy you.

This uncleanliness was embarrassing for her. Just like sin in your life. Many times our sin is something that only we and God know about. If other people found out, it would be very embarrassing for us.

There was nothing she or anyone that she sought could do to cure her. There is no good deed you can do. There is absolutely nothing that you can do to make up for your sin and heal yourself.

And most important of all, this uncleanliness separated her from her friends, family, and all of society. Sin separates us from God. God is Holy Holy Holy and cannot be with sin. They are oil and water. So if you carry sin, you are separated from God. You will eventually be separated from everyone and God's society (Heaven.)

So that is the problem, now back the story... This part is amazing... Put yourself in this scene. When you see what happens here, you will see an "Oh Wow!" moment. Understanding this scene is what makes Bible study so incredible. There is a huge crowd. People are everywhere. There are no body guards. There is no stage with a partition. There is just Jesus and tons of people all pressing together to get to him. It is a big mosh pit. Jesus is being touched and shoved and squished from all directions. There would be no way for any of us to discern one shove from another. Jesus is not saying, "back off. Give me some room. I can't breathe here!" He is just letting it all happen. Then somehow this girl crawls through the bustling crowd and manages to touch the very end of his "clothing." It is not even him that she touches, just the end of his robe. Instantly Jesus stops and turns around, and says, "Who just touched me?" Imagine being there. Everyone looks around with a dumbfounded look on their face. They look from one another as if to say, "duh." Finally one of them has the gumption to add, "...ah, Jesus, people are touching you all over..."

However, this touch was different and of course Jesus knew that. This girl, after all else had failed, finally decided to turn to God for healing. She thought, "If I can just touch him, I will be healed." (Mark) She tried to fix her problem for 12 years and had just made it worse. She did all she could and it was not enough. She finally realized that what could heal her was to fall on her knees and find healing with Jesus. Instantly her bleeding stopped. This is the only way to heal the sin in your life. There is nothing else that can be done. It is only through God's grace that you can be made "clean." You can either learn the hard way and try yourself for 12-20-50 years, or you can learn the easy way from the example God gives us in this Bible story.

That alone is a good lesson, but there is one more thing and it is my favorite part of the story. Remember that she is "unclean." Anything she touches is "unclean." Nobody will talk to her, be with her, even acknowledge her, because in this society, they would then be shunned too. But what does Jesus do? This is the order in the Bible: She touched him. She was healed. ...Then Jesus asked, "who touched me." He could have let her go and be healed in quiet. Undoubtedly she would not want to draw attention to herself because she was "unclean." She would have certainly touched many people on her way to Jesus through the crowd. But Jesus did not do that. He publically calls her out. He says, “Who just touched me?” She says, “I did Lord.” Then he calls her "daughter." As if to say, "Hey crowd, this woman whom you think is unclean, just touched me, and I'm proud of her. She has faith, and she is my daughter." He not only acknowledged that she had touched him, but he builds her up in front of the crowd. He says, "I got your back." ...Ain't he great?

Written by Chris Vasecka

To join a group of Christian business professionals who want to guide the next generation of Christian small business owners and professionals go to

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Luke 8:22-25, “Why the Storm?" A Bible Study Devotion.

Luke 8:22-25, “Why the Storm?" A Bible Study Devotion.

Read Luke 8:22-25

There are many, many studies on this passage. Most of them teach this general lesson: When you encounter the storms of life, Jesus will be there with you. However, when I went over these verses the Good Lord pointed out the first line in the passage to me. It normally is overlooked, but it has tremendous significance. The first verse in the passage is (verse 22) reads: One day Jesus said to his disciples, "Let's go over to the other side of the lake." Obviously, we all know that Jesus is omnipotent, so he knows what is going to happen. So in other words, Jesus is the one that places you in the very storm that you need him to rescue you from.

We all know that Jesus allows storms in our lives. That statement is not debatable. Have you had a storm in your life? Ok, then Jesus allowed it. But here it is one step beyond. It is Jesus himself who suggested getting in the boat at all. If he knows there is going to be a storm, and he knows you are going to be terrified, why does he place you there? The answer is "testing."

• Deuteronomy 13:3 NIV
You must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.

• Ezekiel 21:13 NIV
" 'Testing will surely come. And what if the scepter [of Judah], which the sword despises, does not continue? Declares the Sovereign Lord.'

• Luke 8:13 NIV
Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.

• Hebrews 3:8 NIV
Do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert,

• John 6:6 NIV
He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

• 2 Corinthians 13:5 NIV
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test.

This is a small sample. There are several verses about testing by God, Jesus. Ever hear of Abraham? So why does he test you? Look to the book of James: James 1:3,”because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." So this is great news. God is trying to develop your perseverance. ...but even better news, look to James 1:2. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds..." You might think, "Why is God doing this to me?" When you should consider it Joy... Why? Because when you are in a storm, you MUST rely on God to pull you out. Think back in your life. When were you the closest to God? When times were good or when times were bad? God wants us to rely on him.

Have you ever been a storm of life and thought, "where is God in all of this?" Read the rest of the passage. He is in the boat with you. He may appear to be sleeping, but he could just be testing your faith. So next time you are in a storm and you pray that God will bring you through right now, stop and consider that He might want you right there. Instead, pray for God to show you what he wants you to learn. Look at this; this will give you the hope and faith that you need. Again in verse 22, "Let's go over to the other side of the lake." The storms happen on the journey. Jesus put them on that journey. But what is the destination that Jesus invites? It is on the other side of the lake, or the other side of the storm. He did not say, "Let's go out into deep water and stay there..." His destination from the start is the other side of the lake. Remember next time you are in your storm, the destination Jesus calls you to is on the other side...

So after the disciples wake Jesus up and he rebukes the storm, he says to them, “Where is your faith?" Did they learn what Jesus wanted them to learn? It would not appear so. It is good to know this before your next storm comes. Don't get to a place where, God says to you, "Where is your faith?" Remember the lesson we can learn from this story so you are prepared when the rain comes. Lean on God...persevere... And instead have God say to you, "Well done, good and faithful servant..."

Don't get too down on the disciples though: They did follow Jesus when he said, "Let's go...” They did call on him when things got rough. I wonder how long they stayed in that storm before waking Jesus? I wonder if they debated among themselves whether or not to wake him?

...coming soon, The Disciples Don't Deserve their Bad Rep..."

Written by Chris Vasecka

To join a group of Christian business professionals who want to guide the next generation of Christian small business owners and professionals go to

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Playground Rules: Part 2 – Quack Quack Seat Back!

Playground Rules: Part 2 – Quack Quack Seat Back!

The other night in my small group we were studying the book of James. We came across this passage which inspired this blog post:

1My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. 2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Let me define “Playground Rules.” When I say playground rules, I don’t mean a list of dos and don’ts posted in your child’s school.
1. No running
2. No fighting
3. No gum chewing

I am talking about the unwritten laws that govern the playground to which kids naturally gravitate. These rules are not explained in class. They are not posted anywhere on paper in the school. However, they are understood by everyone. They emulate real life much more than the artificial “laws” posted by the idealistic higher ups. Yes I know… although to some this is ugly, they have bullies, fights, name calling, etc. Some learn to play the playground well, others not so well. Some people have an “unfair” advantage, some a disadvantage. It is not a place show weakness; however strength comes in many forms. Having good contacts is the key to success. Lasting memories, friends, and experience are the gift to be taken away. Sound like real life? You can try to “beat” this truth with laws and rules and “fairness,” but it is futile. This is a broken world filled will sin, and selfishness, and even some “might makes right.” If you try to change this de facto set of playground rules, you might as well try to make the ocean waves go the opposite direction. But… the playground is also a wonderful place to learn respect, camaraderie, and wisdom. Don’t fight it, go with it, and learn how real life works…

Back to the passage: when we read this it made me think of the way my friends and I would handle who sat where at any given time. There are three playground rules that come into play here. First is the shotgun rule. Everyone knows how to play the shotgun game. When a group is walking to the car, the first person to yell, “shotgun” gets the front seat. All others must respect this rule and sit in the back. Next is an I get my seat back when I get up rule. This one is the same premises with most people, but it can have different key phrases. For instance, my friends would, (while still touching their seat) announce, “quack, quack, seat back.” This would ensure that your seat would be saved. All of the others had to respect this rule. There are other statements that apply depending on your particular group and the playground rules they have set forth. Some say, “Jax Max, Savies, Dibs, etc.” They all mean the same thing. The last rule related to this is the Call It rule. For instance, some friends are walking to the house from the car to watch a movie. One of the guys yells out, “I call couch!” Bam, he gets the couch.

See how these rules are perfectly in-line with the passage above? It does not matter if you are rich or poor; you still have to “call it,” or “quack quack,” or “shotgun” it if you want to have your chair. Jesus said don’t favor the rich person. Use playground rules and you will be safe. I know, I know, there is some poindexter professor out there who will try and tell you that this is bunk. He never did learn to play the playground well. Now he is bitter. Again, sound like life?

Written by Chris Vasecka

To join a group of Christian business professionals who want to guide the next generation of Christian small business owners and professionals go to

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Luke 8:4-21, “You Gotta Dig the Sower?” A Bible Study Devotion.

Luke 8:4-21, “You Gotta Dig the Sower?” A Bible Study Devotion.

Read Luke 8:4-21

Here we see the very famous parable of the sower. Jesus is demonstrating the different types of people that hear the gospel and how they respond by the illustration of the different types of soils on which His seed will fall. In his day everyone present would understand the different soils because farming was prevalent in their society. Today, the percentage of people in America who understand farming is shrinking each day. I will attempt to put this parable in language for today.

It is worthy to point out why Jesus decided to tell this parable at this time. Read in verse 4, a large crowd was gathering and people were coming from town after town. Obviously Jesus was becoming very famous and people were flocking to him. This is good and bad. It means that there were many who were caught up in the fever of the day; Jesus. Many that were just following the crowd. Jesus gives the parable to place a mirror in front of the listener. Use this parable to examine your own heart. Which soil are you?

Jesus says there are four types of “soil,” or conditions of the heart, that the word of God can fall to. Note that of these four soils, only one produces fruit in the end. Don’t read this and just assume, if you are a Christian that you are in category four. This is a message to the person’s heart as a whole, but it can also be a message to the Christian’s heart at different times in their life.

Heart condition 1, the seed that falls on the path: Notice in this example that the seed falls on the path and is trampled on. Then…the birds come and take away the seed. The path would be the place that gets walked on all the time, or in today’s words, it is the world view. We all live in a place in America where we are constantly bombarded with sex and lies and sin and people who hate God. These are the things that cross the nightly television, papers, and radio. You cannot turn on the TV without seeing some scientist who has “discovered” the answer to a question about the universe that explains how the world works without a God. If you hear and believe that “In the beginning God…,” you are instantly beaten down by society, friends, family, people at work who think you are a simpleton. You are a fool if you believe that God created everything just like the Bible says. You have not “thought things through.” If you allow yourself to be walked on like a seed on this path of popular opinion, you will be ripe to have Satan come and take away the word (seed) that was planted.

Heart condition 2, the seed that falls on rock: Here we have the people who get swept up in the latest “religious” craze. Walk into a revival tent with the music and the crowd. It is exciting and people all around you are seemingly “finding” God. This can be newest “spiritual” thing. It can be a popular preacher, a million dollar selling book, or God forbid some trend that you see on Oprah. In all of these cases, the “religious” fever is present on day one, goes to the heights of excitement on day two, and fades away on day three. There is no root of God’s truth. There is no mention of why you needed “religion” in the first place. The root is that you are an awful sinner in God’s eyes, and you cannot save yourself. You must have Jesus pay your penalty for sin.

Heart condition 3, the seed that fell among the thorns. This one is quite simple. This one does not need to be changed to words for today. This is the same now as it was then. This one is where you find the love of money, position, popularity, and material goods. This seed would produce but all this other worldly stuff chokes it out. This one is very common for the believing Christian to fall susceptible to. You must guard against taking your eyes off of the real prize. It does not say that you cannot have these things, but it does say that you cannot love these things above God.

Heart condition 4, the seed that fell on good soil, AND YIELDED A CROP: I highlighted this last part because it can be overlooked at times. Why does a farmer plant a seed? Why does God plant the word in your heart? Same reason; to produce a crop. If the farmer plants a seed and waters it and tends to it and in the end is returned a seed, what was the point? God saves you for you. After that, he wants you to work to the salvation of others.

All of these have one thing in common: it was the same seed that was planted in each case. Notice that the seed never changes, just the place where the seed falls. Don’t believe any new thing you hear on TV or the “spiritual” flavor of the day. God’s word is timeless. It is the same today as when Jesus said these words. If it is not in the Bible, don’t believe it.

Written by Chris Vasecka

To join a group of Christian business professionals who want to guide the next generation of Christian small business owners and professionals go to

Monday, April 26, 2010

Luke 7:36-50, “Don’t Call Jesus a Chump,” A Bible Study Devotion.

Luke 7:36-50, “Don’t Call Jesus a Chump,” A Bible Study Devotion.

Read Luke 7:36-50

When I first read this passage I assumed I would write a typical devotion about the situation and the lesson it is teaching. However, something else just jumped off the page. I tried to put myself in the place of the Pharisee to gauge his motivations. He has invited Jesus to his home for a meal. Why? Is it because he wants to spend time with him? Is it because he respects him and wants to learn from him? I'm not sure, it does not say. But look at the chain of events:

The pharisee invites Jesus to his home.
There is a woman at Jesus feet.
The pharisee has negative thoughts about Jesus.
The pharisee has negative thoughts about the woman.
Jesus calls his name.
The pharisee responds with the respectful term "teacher."
Jesus tells him a parable.

Let's break this down. We will have to jump back and forth between the chain of events to make some sense out of this scene. Look at how the pharisee responds to Jesus and the woman at Jesus' feet. He says in verse 39, "If this man were a profit, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is - that she is a sinner." In that one sentence he is saying: Jesus is a liar, Jesus is only a man, the pharisee is a judge and judges that Jesus should not allow a sinner to touch him, the woman is beneath the pharisee because she is a sinner, and the pharisee is not a sinner by comparison. Wow, pretty arrogant, huh? Notice that it also says that the pharisee said this under his breath. Not only is the pharisee making all these judgments, but he is also not man enough to say them out loud, which shows contempt. So a few questions are: Why did he invite Jesus at all? This is in his house right? So why is the "sinner" in there at all? Is this some kind of set up?

Jesus then says to the pharisee, "Simon, I have something to tell you." The pharisee then says, "Tell me, teacher." Tell me teacher? So is this guy two faced? He is thinking all these rotten things about Jesus and the woman, then snaps to attention, puts on a fake smile, and calls Jesus "Teacher?"

Jesus then goes on to tell him a parable about sin and forgiveness. Imagine sitting in the room. There is a woman weeping, running her hair all over Jesus' feet, and pouring perfume on them. You would think that the conversation with the pharisee would halt and attention would turn to the woman. The awful sinner. However, Jesus goes on to tell a parable, directed to the pharisee that is speaking to the condition of the pharisee, even though he does not understand.

When you read this now and you can see the whole situation, and it is about someone else, it seems crazy that the pharisee cannot see the irony in Jesus' words. However, has this happened to you too? Have you ever looked at the sin of someone else and not been able to see your own? And don't miss this one... Have you ever had Jesus speaking to you in a story that is surrounding you and missed the whole message because you were too important to "listen?" What if the Holy Spirit is speaking to you at this time in your life in a parable?

To miss what God is trying to teach you is one thing, but to have you ever been two faced to God? What the pharisee did, mumble disdain under his breath, and then paste an "Eddie Haskell" type persona smile on and pay Jesus respectful lip service is obvious. But do we do the same thing; only it's not so obvious? Have you ever shaken your head in disgust and asked God why he made someone the way he did? Have you ever prayed or left church and within minutes willfully walked right out of God's path? If you have done these, you are basically calling God a chump... If you really expect to try and get one past God, you are saying he is a chump. Would you call God a chump to his face? Would you call him one under your breath with prettier words? I bet the answer to the first one is "NO!" I bet the answer to the second one is "maybe???"

Written by Chris Vasecka

To join a group of Christian business professionals who want to guide the next generation of Christian small business owners and professionals go to

Monday, April 19, 2010

Luke 7:18-35, “What if I Sometimes Doubt?” A Bible Study Devotion.

Luke 7:18-35, “What if I Sometimes Doubt?” A Bible Study Devotion.

Read Luke 7:18-35

Have you ever doubted that Jesus is who he said he is? Have you ever been so moved by God that you were sure of his promises, enjoying the “view” from the mountaintops, only to have your situation change and begin to doubt as you head for the valley? Most people would say yes. So what does Jesus think of you when you doubt? Let’s turn to scripture…

Just a little while ago, John the Baptist was the talk of the town. He had them lined up around the block just for a few seconds with him in the river. He was the man to see. People knew his name. Even the Messiah himself showed up for a dip in the water. Not only that, but right after, God himself made a guest speech to all the people present. I doubt that John could feel much closer to God at that time. He was on the “mountaintop.” He even made this now famous quote, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” In other words, John is not doubting right now…

Just a little time has passed and we see John sitting in prison. The valley is surrounding him; the mountaintop far in the rear view mirror. What had he been thinking? “How did this happen? I was just baptizing Jesus himself, God was speaking at my venue. And now I’m sitting in jail?” “Is this how this is supposed to work? Was that even Jesus at all?” None of that is written in the Bible, just a guess. But it does say this in verse 19, “he (John) sent them to the Lord to ask, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” That my friend, is doubt…

So John’s guys go find Jesus and ask him John’s question. (Side note…) I like how they phrase the question to Jesus. “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who was to come…” like they are saying, “look dude, we don’t doubt you but John wanted to know…” anyway, back to the lesson…

The first thing we see is good news. Jesus gives them an answer. He could have shrugged his shoulders and said, “maybe, maybe not, ha ha ha.” However, he does not simply say “yes.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but Jesus will never give a “yes/no” answer in all of scripture. Not his style… What he does do is point them to the things that he has been doing. His answer is so much more than a simple “yes/no.” The answer is worthy of its own study in itself. He points out that he can heal sickness, blindness, lameness, deafness, and even deadness. Flip quick to Isaiah 35:5, 6 and 61:1. Here he is showing that he is fulfilling prophecy. So he is proving he is the one by the miracles, and the fulfillment of prophecy.

After he gave them the answer they came for, he decides this is a good teachable moment. So he turns to the crowd and uses the situation to drive home some points. Sorry, but it will not fit in this devotion… However, he does say this, that we do need to hear right now in verse 28,”I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

So follow this progression of logic…

• John doubts Jesus is who he said he is…
• Jesus says John is the best…
• Jesus says that anyone in his kingdom is greater than John…
• Hence, Jesus is cool with you doubting…

So next time you have seconds thoughts about this whole Jesus thing, remember what Jesus did for John. He pointed out the things that he has done. He showed him that the things Jesus did cannot be done by man. Try and remember the things that He has done for you…least of all dying to cover the penalty for your sin…

Written by Chris Vasecka

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

John 3:3, “You Must be Born Again” (Part 3, Student’s Testimony) A Bible Study Devotion.

As promised, a student’s testimony, share with all the teenagers in your life…

My names Dalton, I am a 2009 graduate from Blaine High School. Now what I wanna recall is a time in my life, let’s rephrase that, the worst time in my life. I was your typical 16 year old junior with a lot going for him. Tons of friends, minimal responsibility, and a car. Now high school is a fun place, for the most part. You go and goof around for 4 years, make new friends, date tons of girls, and make the best of it. Well for me, I was doing all of those things, without a single care in the world. Coasting through life, really not caring about much, or for anyone else. My life was mine and I was gonna live it "without regret" (which was my motto at the time...) Well as if this carefree life couldn't get any better, I had a girlfriend, which I thought was good. Yeah... it wasn't.

Here, let me give you a background of my faith, since this is a testimony and it's important to explain every detail of it. Well... there wasn't one. Which in my opinion was why everything in my life came crashing down on me. Now in the bible it says something along the lines of, a wise man builds his house on the rock while Dalton Larson builds his on sand. (Matthew 7:24-27) My name obviously isn't in the bible but the point is, my foundation, my life, was not built on the rock which is God. And through the storms, troubles, and everything in my life, eventually soiled the sand until the house collapsed. So that was my life, and of course I didn't know it was heading in that direction until God finally slapped me across the face and woke me up.

Now the story goes; at the end of my junior year, I was finally devastated by that gloomy realization that I had put all my eggs into one basket; the wrong basket. As most high school relationships end, mine did with about a week left of school. My girlfriend at the time had been lying to me and after about a year of dating had finally confessed to cheating on me...great. Everything I had put my hope in was now crushed. One thing that initially happened when I was reflecting/venting anger on my past year of wasted life was the fact that I needed God. I honestly have no idea why that thought popped up in my head. I knew that God existed I believed that there was a God; I just didn't really know him yet. Since there was now a desire in my heart to seek after God I was also faced with the grim realization that I didn't even deserve God. Through the past year, I had been overwhelmed by sin, and by sin I mean everything, anger, greed, lust, etc etc etc... "Why should God even accept me, I’m a worthless person, I have completely betrayed Him, why...?" The verse that I felt was Romans 3:23 "23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". That was the guilt I was completely consumed with for most of the weeks following the break up. I was completely lost and a completely broken human being... It took one car ride for my heart to completely break; it was as if God was trying to show me how He felt from what I had done with my life. A song came on in the car, a song from one of my favorite bands, the lyrics went something like "And on my knees, I wept at Your feet and finally believed that You still love me." I immediately broke down crying... those words were straight from God. Because this whole time I was so lost and confused and didn't even believe that God could still love a person like me. A couple days after that I went to the Wednesday night youth group at Horizon's Community Church and that night completely changed my life. We worshipped and for me it was the most intense worship I had ever experienced, I was seeking after God so hard and I finally felt His love for me. The rest of Romans 3 was revealed to me that night, not literally but I had finally understood what God was all about, "24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin." And that night I learned what it meant to be "Born-Again". My youth group challenged me with the question "Are you Born Again? Do you know what it means?" And of course I had never even heard of the term and I thought that you can get to heaven if you are baptized or whatever... well I was wrong. John 3:3 stated that "unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

So of course I wanted to be Born-Again because I learned that Christ is the only way to salvation and everlasting life. (John 3:16) A huge part of my testimony comes from that small group on Wednesday nights, (SGROUP!) God led me to that place; He helped me get up off the couch that night instead of just skipping it and playing video games instead. God does exist, God loves me for who I am, I don't need to feel guilty for the sins I have committed in my life (Romans 8). Because God with his unconditional and everlasting love has set me free from the selfish life I no longer live. No one could ever write me a big enough check to return to my former life...not even all the money in the world because chances are that check would probably bounce anyways. Thanks for reading and God Bless.

Guest written by Dalton Larson

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Playground Rules: Part 1 – Nicknames

Playground Rules: Part 1 – Nicknames

Usually I write a Bible devotional that is taken from my morning personal time with the good Lord, but today I was inspired by an exchange that happened in church on Sunday. The whole reason I am writing at all is because I was challenged by my spiritual mentor/teacher. One day while eating lunch with him…my treat…he said that I should start writing. I had never written anything before so of course it seemed like a silly idea at the time. However, as with many messages that are indirectly from God, seemed to make perfect sense when I extracted my opinion from the decision making process. This man is about 130 years old, an ex-preacher, and has written about 5000 books. So, I affectionately call him “Old Man.” As his family was walking into church, his beautiful wife leaned over to me and said, “I don’t really like the name ‘Old Man’”. Shocking? No. Typically, nicknames are a tradition between guys, not gals. It is not the first time a “she” did not like her “he” being referred to as anything other than his real name. I’ll return to the Old Man and his wife after I address this issue corporately. This conversation made me think of a few unwritten, de-facto rules about nicknames as dictated by the playground. Most of this is just understood by most guys, but I’ll try and explain for all those women out there who don’t like nicknames.

1. Nicknames can come from several places, but the most popular are derivatives of the person’s actual name, exaggerated physical characteristics, and one time embarrassing events.
a. John Schmidt, might be Schmitty.
b. If John is losing his hair, he might be the Human Forehead.
c. If John forgot to wear pants, he might be Long John.

2. Nicknames are not given to one’s self. If you don’t like your nickname, you are pretty much stuck. In fact if you try to change your own nickname, you will make it much worse. Watch the Seinfeld episode when George wanted to be called “T-Bone.”

3. Nicknames are permanent. Once your buddies call you the Human Forehead, it will be there to stay. There is only one cure to this and that is to move to a new state and get new friends. This will only keep the lid on the situation for a while though. You know what they say; it is a small world…

If you don’t like these rules, I’m afraid there is nothing that can be done. Once it is established on the playground, it is in stone. Oh sure you can ask people to change and send them to sensitivity training, but you cannot beat the playground. The playground is reality and law, the rest is wishful thinking. Better to embrace it and learn to cope. Dads teach your kids all about the playground before it is too late…

Now back to the Old Man… His name is Glen Pease. Not much to work with there for option #1. I would meet with him on Tuesdays to do some Bible lessons, so for a while I tried “Tuesday’s with Peasey,” (Tuesday’s with Morrie) but that sounded a little girly. I don’t know any one time story that would give me good idea to make use of #3. He is pretty normal looking, so the best I could come up with was “Old Man.”

…special note to the Old Man’s beautiful wife…

When I call your husband “Old Man,” it is not a statement to his age. It is more like a respectful salute to his experience and wisdom. It is like homage to a weathered sailor who is a master at his craft. Like “The Old Man and the Sea.” Each time I say it, it says, “You are the teacher, I am the student,” “you have earned the respect of your braves like the ancient tribe’s elder.” With the rules of the playground in place, and the fact that his name is an accolade, maybe you could reconsider; just think about, maybe, accepting the name? Read rule number 2 above. It is bad if the person with the nickname asks his buddies to change it, but what do you think happens to the kid on the playground who has his woman ask???

But tell you what… I suppose I owe the Old Man a favor… If you still don’t like it after reading this, I will break the rules of the playground and change it…
Hmmm, maybe …Gray Hair Glen…

Written by Chris Vasecka

To dig deeper into the scripture as explained by the “Old Man,” go to

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Luke 7:1-10, “How should powerful people approach Jesus?” A Bible Study Devotion.

Luke 7:1-10, “How should powerful people approach Jesus?” A Bible Study Devotion.

Read Luke 7:1-10

The Bible is filled with examples of poor people, sick people, and lower people on the totem of society approaching Jesus in humility and begging for his grace. They come with a humble heart, acknowledging Jesus’ greatness and their un-greatness. There are examples of them coming for the sake of others. This is how the poor and lowly approach Jesus, but how should the healthy, wealthy, and powerful people approach Jesus? Let’s look to scripture.

Jump all the way to verse 9 to see what Jesus says about this man, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Wow! That’s pretty high praise. What did the man do to deserve such and accolade from the creator of the world? He showed three things that we can learn from; reverence, humility, and compassion.

• Reverence: In verse 8 the centurion says, “for I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this on ‘Go’ and he goes; and that on ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘do this,’ and he does it.” At the end of verse 7 he says, “…But say the word and my servant will be healed.” Here the man is comparing his authority over his soldiers to Jesus’ authority over all the Earth. Remember that he is asking Jesus to heal a man who is going to die. He calls Jesus “Lord.” He knows that God spoke the world into existence, and he can speak a man to be healed. He is saying, you are God and you have authority over all things, even eminent death.

• Humility: In verse 6 and 7 the centurion says, “…Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you…” This is a powerful man in society. He has many people who listen to his orders. He has workers, soldiers, servants, and as we see in verse 3; Jewish elders follow his orders. Even the Jewish elders, (who hated the Roman intrusion over their county) stepped up to speak for the centurion. They said, “He deserves this, he loves our nation and built our synagogue.” Even though he has friendlies and hostiles who speak highly of him and listen to his authority, the centurion knows that he is not worthy of Jesus.

• Compassion: Remember the power and position that this man has on Earth. He has many people under his command. Yet in verse 2 we see that the centurion’s servant was “valued highly” by his master. This does not mean that he valued the servant’s work highly. If the man dies, the centurion can certainly go to the market place and get another servant. He is valued because he is a person that God created. The centurion knows that even though the servant works for him, they are both just people under God’s authority. If you are a boss, or business owner, or in some position of authority, learn a lesson from this man…

This is a great way to approach God with your issues: “You are God, I am not, please help my friend…” Do you have a friend who does not know Jesus? …I know the answer to that… This would be a good approach, “You are God, I am not, please help my friend…” This man told Jesus that he knew all he had to do was speak it and the servant would be healed; the servant who was dying. You have friends that are dying too. Dying a spiritual death without the saving grace of Jesus. Pray that God would speak the word and show them their sin, so they can repent…

Written by Chris Vasecka

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Luke 6:46-49, “Why does God have so many rules?” A Bible Study Devotion.

Luke 6:46-49, “Why does God have so many rules?” A Bible Study Devotion.

Read Luke 6:46-49

The story of the two builders has a lot of different lessons. There are many observations that come from the story; here is one of my favorite: Verse 46 says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” In other words, both of these home builders consider themselves Christians. Both of them believe they have a saving relationship with Jesus. Both call him “Lord,” yet they both don’t do what he says to do. Guess what. Jesus tells you what to do for your own benefit. I’ll repeat that, Jesus tells you what to do for your own benefit. If you can learn this one lesson, it can change your life. You will no longer see God as a tyrant who makes rules to make your life miserable. You will see him as a loving parent who guides your path because he wants what is best for you.

What do the houses have in common?

• They were both built by house builders. The story does not say that one was built by a carpenter and the other by a bread maker. It is assumed that both builders knew how to build their house, but one cut corners. It says that both builders “heard” Jesus’ word, but one chose to ignore them.

• Both houses were going to see a storm. Jesus never says, “Follow me, and all your troubles will be gone….” it is not a question of “if” you will see storms in your life. It is only a question of “when.” In each case, the houses were hit with a storm. One was able to stand firm, and one was destroyed.

• Both houses look the same on the outside. This is a great nugget…. You cannot see the foundation of a house. If you drive down the street and look at the homes, you have no idea if they have solid foundations. The same is true with the people next to you in church. You don’t know if they have built their “homes” on the foundation of Christ’s teaching.

What is different about these houses?

• The material that is under the surface. One of these houses is built on the ground. One of them is built on a solid foundation of bedrock (Jesus’ teaching.) Remember that Jesus is not limited by time. (See my post, “God’s Helicopter view times two.” While it may seem like it goes against everything that you have learned so far in life, you must have faith that God knows what is best for you and can see the “whole” picture.

• The time that it took to build these houses. What is faster, doing the quick job, or doing the job the right way? What is better? This is obvious on paper, but do you practice it too? Imagine the one builder sitting in a lawn chair in front of his finished house sipping a cool drink while the other builder is still in the hole in the ground working on the foundation. Building on Jesus’ teaching takes more time; it’s harder work. However, Jesus says it will be worth it when it matters? Do you trust him?

Learn this lesson…

Jesus tells you what to do for your own benefit.

Why does God tell people not to have sex before marriage? Is it because he is mean? Is it because he does not understand relationships in the year 2010? Or… Is it because he wants you to know if you have a relationship without sex? Which one takes more time? Which one is harder to do? Which one is built on a solid foundation? Which one is more likely to survive a storm?

Why does God tell people not to lie? Is it because he wants to give your competition a leg up? Is it because he does not understand life or business in the year 2010? Or… is it because he understands that a lie is a prison that needs more and more lies to keep up. Do you want to be slave to a lie? Are you smart enough to remember what you said to every person? Can telling the truth be harder? Which one is built on a solid foundation? Which one is more likely to survive a storm?

Why does God want you to give the first 10% of your income to the local church? Is it because God “needs” your money? Is it because God does not understand finances in the year 2010? Or… is it because this is the way that God can teach you to not worship money. What does God say about the love of money? Does it seem logical to give away money? Which one is built on a solid foundation? Which one is more likely to survive a storm?

How am I saved? I repent and put my trust in Jesus… what does that mean, to trust in Jesus? Does it mean to do what he says even if it does not make sense according to what you have learned in this world? Which one takes more time? Which one is harder to do? Which one is built on a solid foundation? Which one is more likely to survive a storm?

Written by Chris Vasecka

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Friday, April 2, 2010

The Easter Story as told by my 7 year old daughter

John 3:3, “You MUST be born again…” (Part 2) A Bible Study Devotion.

John 3:3, “You MUST be born again…” (Part 2) A Bible Study Devotion.

Read John 3:3. In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

If you did not read part one of this blog, go to the link at the bottom and read that one first. I had a lot of comments from people wanting to know what happened to those boys. I will get to that, but first we need to answer this question. "What does it mean to be born again?" This is not an easy thing to put into words. It is one of those deals where you know it if you are, but don't if you're not...sometimes... The biggest reason for this is that to be born again is not just a state of mind. It is not just a different way to look at life. It is not something that just you alone can decide to be. And if you don't believe at all in Jesus, you can't possibly understand what it means to be born again. How do I know? The Bible says so of course. 1 Corinthians 1:18, For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. So what is it?

To be born again is an actual spiritual re-birth. What I mean is, your old self is dead, buried, and your new self is reborn into God's family. This is real stuff, not metaphors. This is a supernatural event that can only happen after acknowledgement of sin, repentance, and grace from Jesus. Maybe I can explain it with a couple of examples. When I became born again, I had a weight lifted off my shoulders as if it were floating into the air. I don't mean I felt less stress; I mean a physical weight was taken from my shoulders. This weight was my pride and feeling of superiority towards other people. It was only through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit that I was able to see myself for what I actually was. I was just another person who had sinned against God. There was nothing special about me. I was not better than those other people that I looked down upon with disgust. You see I had a huge problem with arrogance. Being smart was my false god; one of them anyway. I would look at people as if they were dumb and always in my way. Looking back it still can make me sick to my stomach when I think about my arrogance. However, Jesus took all that hate away from me. He set me free. John 8:32, Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. That was the weight that was lifted from me. And it was physical and real; it was not an "emotional weight." Sound crazy and stupid you unbeliever? I know it does because...see verse above.

But even if you can't grasp that example, listen to this one. This is one of the guy’s stories from the group. Remember Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High? "Hey bud, let's party, and All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I'm fine.” I had the equivalent of that kid in my class. Every word from his mouth was "Ahh, dude... like this, like that, like, like, like..." Long story short, he became born again. Soon after that, he was helping teach. He had Biblical wisdom of a seasoned vet. He was calm, thoughtful, and wise. Did you hear that...wise. This did not take two years of study. It did not even take two months of study. It was immediate. How could this be? Because when you are born again, it is a supernatural event that can only be accomplished by God. Proverbs 1:7, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Some might say the wisdom was in him all along; it was not... That surfer boy was gone. He was reborn into God's family. But it wasn't just that. He looked different. It was in his eyes and in his facial expressions. It was a different person. Believe me or not, it is the truth. Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.

That is just one snippet from one of the boy's stories. There were several boys in that group. They are all in their first year of college now. I keep track of all of them. Keep tabs on this blog if you want to hear about the others. I will ask one or two of them to write their story from their own hand.

John 3:3, “You MUST be born again…” (Part 1)

Written by Chris Vasecka

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Revelation 3:15, “Nobody settles for luke warm soup, but Faith?” A Bible Study Devotion.

Revelation 3:15, “Nobody settles for luke warm soup, but Faith?” A Bible Study Devotion.

I am proud to introduce a first post by guest blogger Brian Bovee.

Easter week, the time of Christianity's greatest remembrance of God's love for us seems like a decent time to do a little self evaluation.

Francis Chan, a pastor in Semi Valley, California asked a great question to his congregation during one of his sermons when he said "when did following Jesus go from actually following in His footsteps to just studying His life and teachings?" He gave a great example of this in application saying "if I asked my daughter to go clean her room and she came back to me and said; 'dad, I just spent the last half our studying what you said about cleaning my room and it's awesome wisdom! In fact, I can now say "clean your room" in Greek'! What would your response as a parent be? Your missing the point! Go clean your room!" But isn't that illustration a pretty good example of what our faith has become as Christians in the United States today?

As Christians in America (as a whole body statistically) we are average and falling with our weekly attendance to church on Sundays. We are way below average on our giving of time and talent towards the causes Jesus asked us to champion. We are worse about the giving of our financial resources towards His Kingdom and putting God first in our lives has become almost "out of touch" in the Christian culture. As I make these observations many of you reading this are saying to yourself "not me" and/or "can you believe those 'other' Christians?" Today I want to challenge you if you call yourself a Christian. Are you truly a follower of Jesus or are you a student of Jesus?

To answer this question, you simply have to follow the trail of evidence in your life. If you spent a week and accounted for how you used every minute of every day, where your thoughts were and how you spent your money what would it reveal? Where does Jesus fit into that picture? What percentage of your week belongs to Him and His mission on earth? Is He the first priority in everything you do or is He the afterthought of "if I have time" and/or "if I have the money to give". How you spend your time and money will let you know what your relationship is with God. That is a scoreboard we use to validate our relationships with others in our lives so why do we not use that same system to evaluate our relationship with Him? The scary part is understanding that He already knows the truth about His priority in our life though we may not have already confessed it.

I used to struggle with putting Jesus as a priority in my life. I used to struggle with giving generously with my time, talent and treasure. I used to feel as though Jesus wanted too much from me especially since it feels like the majority of our culture has turned away from Him to live the "good life" and do not want to be bothered by His ideas of what is good for us. "I'm doing more than most" I'd tell myself but Jesus never said "I want you to do more than most". No, He calls us to live as He lived and to love as He loved. We are not called to study Him, we are called to be like Him.

I have come to understand that God does not need my money to do His will. He does not need my time and talent to accomplish what He desires. He is God and created everything that exists including me so why would He need anything from me? The simple truth is that He doesn't need anything from us. God wants our hearts freely given and He knows that if He has our time He has our heart. If we make Him the priority in our day He has our hearts. If we give our money freely to Him and His causes He has our heart. If our time goes only to our family, or career, or if we think about Him the last five minutes of the day, or if we give to Him only out of our excess or "if we can spare a few dollars", how can we say that he has our heart? Jesus said, "you cannot serve two masters. Either you will hate one and love the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:24) You can substitute any number of things for "money" in that verse . . . career, family, image, houses, kids activities, retirement, hobbies etc. etc. etc. Can you see why the biblically based relationship we are called to have with Jesus seems "radical" to our current culture in the United States that tells us more, bigger, better, faster? It means we'd have to give up other things we want to make room for Him. The point is, what you spend your time and money on tells you whether God truly has your heart! You see we are so financially rich in America, even the poorest of us, and because of that, it makes it so hard to truly follow Jesus. There is so much we can put before Him and it is so easy to do that when we are comfortable and our culture exudes "we don't need God" on a daily basis!

So here is the question I pray that you ask yourself today and will be honest with yourself regarding the answer. Are you a student of Jesus or are you a follower . . a disciple of Jesus? If you cannot honestly answer that you put nothing before Him and what He has called you to do, then please change the course of your journey today for God does not accept those that are lukewarm into His kingdom (Revelation 3:15). It is simply wrong to call ourselves Christians if we do not live like Christ and put Him first in our lives. But there are too many of us today who are doing just that and feeling safe doing it. Belief in Him does not let Him know you love Him . . . how you choose to live your life is the proof. Remember, this does not mean that you earn salvation by your deeds. Salvation is a free gift. However, you will not have salvation if you only believe in Him but do not truly surrender your heart to Him and thus we come full circle.

Could someone you don't know tell that you were a Christian by how you choose to live your daily life? It is a pretty scary question to ask yourself isn't it? If we live like Jesus calls us to do you would never have to call yourself a Christian because it would be so obvious to those who encounter you (see Mother Theresa). But the answer might tell you if you are Christian by self-proclamation or by definition (a follower of Christ).

If you want to really hold yourself up to the mirror, I pray that you watch this YouTube video of Francis Chan's talk on "lukewarm and loving it". I promise it will change the way you look at your faith . . for better or for worse. Though I don't think you will want to stop watching it I challenge you to get to at least the 16th minute where the lukewarm conversation start to hit the peak.

Have a blessed Easter and when you remember how much God gave to bring us redemption please reflect on how your life can be lived to show Him your love and gratitude for all He has done.

Guest written by Brian Bovee

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Luke 6:37-42, “I hate those judgmental Christians!” A Bible Study Devotion.

Luke 6:37-42, “I hate those judgmental Christians!” A Bible Study Devotion.

Read Luke 6:37-42

Are you a person who does not believe in Jesus? Do you just want those Christians to leave you alone? Do you say, “Great; it’s fine for you, but I’m not interested?” Are they just a bunch of hypocrites? “Why do they have to be so judgmental?” If this is you, read this post…

Are you a Christian who does not want to be judgmental? Do you not tell people about Jesus because you don’t want to appear “better” than others? Do you read these verses and feel you have no right to point out another’s sin? If this is you, read this post…

To the non-believer: Nobody likes it when sin is pointed out to them. Nobody likes it when someone else gets into their business. Some of those Christians can seem a bit self righteous. You have your belief, they can have theirs. However, I have one question for you: Why does it make you mad? Think about it… If a person tells me that I should start knitting, I don’t get mad at them. I have no interest, so I just “walk” on by. So when someone tells you about Jesus, why don’t you just walk on by? Why not give it as much thought as you would knitting and just say, “Thanks, but no thanks...” The reason is that, although there is a person in front of you telling you about Jesus, it is not them who is speaking, but rather God through them. Ecclesiastes 3:11 …He has also set eternity in the hearts of men… What does that verse mean? It means that God placed a knowledge and longing for him in every persons heart. You get mad because you know deep down, in your soul, heart, somewhere, that what they are saying is true. You don’t need to be standing in a church. You don’t need to be holding a Bible. You don’t need to be talking to a preacher. God wrote eternity on your heart. He gave you a conscience. Only something that appeals to your conscience makes you mad… I’m not going to give you a full sermon on sin, repentance, and restoration. I will leave you with just two questions: Why would these people tell you about Jesus when they know that it will make you mad? They don’t want money. They don’t want you to join a cult. They don’t want anything from you. And, why does it make you so mad? If you really didn’t care what they had to say, you would just shrug it off and go about your business. I know you may not believe this, but they are doing it because they love you… (I’ll bet if someone has approached you and asked for money or something else of you while throwing the name Jesus around, it did not make you mad. There are false teachers in the world who work for their own gain, but they are not speaking for God. And because they are not speaking for God, they do not appeal to your conscience; there for do not make you mad…) Think about these two questions; it could really make you think. If you are really daring, pray about these two questions. If you honestly seek the truth, you will find it…

To the believer: Jesus is saying in these verses, don’t judge other people’s sin without examining your own. But he is NOT saying; don’t spread the Gospel because you have sin in your life. Judging is for God. Giving mercy is for God…and you. God did not give you what you deserve; Hell. He gave you mercy and commands that you give others mercy too. He also commanded you to spread the good news to the ends of the Earth. The famous verse about a plank in your eye is not an excuse to ignore Jesus’ command about sharing the Gospel. From this point on, consider it an honor if people get mad at you for sharing the Gospel. It is God working on their conscience. Remember, you did not go down without a fight either… Also, remember their fight is not with you. Their fight is a power struggle over control. Don’t try to make people mad; that is not how you spread the news. Don’t be pushy, just appeal to their conscience. Jesus used the law to show people sin. Let God’s word do the work and stay out of the way. If they happen to get mad at you in the process, take the beating. That is nothing compared to the beating He took for you…

Written by Chris Vasecka

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Friday, March 26, 2010

John 3:3, “You MUST be born again…” A Bible Study Devotion.

John 3:3, “You MUST be born again…” A Bible Study Devotion.

Read John 3:3. In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

I remember hearing the term “born again” here and there throughout my life. I remember that it always had a negative connotation, but I’m not sure where that came from. I heard comments like this, “He used to be a great guy, but he became a born again Christian.” I remember that Gary Gaetti, my favorite player on the Twins, (I’m from MN) became a born again Christian. I remember telling my friend, “Gaetti just ruined the Twins. He ruined the great chemistry they had in the club.” I said that with authority like someone who knows, but I didn’t know one actual thing about being “born again,” yet I had very strong opinions on the matter. Why?

Jump ahead 15 or so years. A lot has happened. Now I know what it means to be born again. Now I am born again. I’m even a youth group teacher. One night the Holy Spirit took control of our typically chaotic group. We were sitting in a circle and this is what happened: I was a new teacher. I had been there 2-3 times but always with the normal leader. I typically just sat and listened throwing in a small comment here and there. This time though, when I got to group I was told the normal leader couldn’t make it. The class was all mine, yikes… I decided to scrap the lesson plan and get to know my guys. I went around the circle and asked them a few questions each. Right around the circle, in order, the exact same questions. I first asked them where they went to school, what city they lived in, etc; warm up questions. Most of these kids were from families in our church. They certainly had heard the Christian “language” before. Then I asked them, again right around the circle, “Are you a Christian?” Every boy said yes. Then I asked them, “Are you a born again Christian?” Every boy said no. Fascinating! Then I asked them what it means to be a born again Christian. None of them knew. None of them knew, but they all knew that they weren’t one. How does that happen?

So there we were sitting in a circle, everyone a Christian, nobody a born again Christian, and I read them this verse: In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” …It was silent… So I asked them, “What does that verse mean?” …more silence… I just had a group of guys tell me they were not born again. I just showed them that Jesus said they must be born again if they want to go to Heaven. This is where I know the Holy Spirit had a hand in our group. Typically if you tell a teenage boy something along these lines, they say “whatever,” (or some other derivative of that word which is currently in their vernacular) however this time there was not one boy who didn’t have their head bowed running this stream of logic through their soul. I could imagine one boy, maybe two, who would consider what was just taught, but the whole room? Only God himself could arrange the scene…

This was part one of “You must be born again.” I’ll tell you what happened to those boys sometime in the future. It has been five years since that night. However, I want to leave you with a few questions: Are you a Christian? Are you a born again Christian? Jesus said you must be if you want to go to Heaven; are you?

Written by Chris Vasecka

If you have not accepted the free gift of salvation that only Jesus can offer, but you want to, talk to a pastor, read the Bible and pray that God will show you how, or send me an email…

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Luke 6:17-26, “Man, these are eight tough questions!” A Bible Study Devotion.

Luke 6:17-26, “Man, these are eight tough questions!” A Bible Study Devotion.

Read Luke 6:17-26

Here we find Jesus with a large crowd. His disciples are there along with people from all over the area. It can safely be assumed by his next few words that there are believers and unbelievers both present. Jesus then turns to his disciples, and indirectly all believers, and gives part of the most famous sermon ever delivered; The Sermon on the Mount. He first lists 4 attributes that basically make God happy, then four that basically make God unhappy. Believe me, come judgment day, you will God happy with you. That being said, after my microscopic summary of this part of the sermon, I have eight questions for you. Better think how you answer them; your eternal resting place could depend on it… (For the purpose of this post, we will assume Jesus is speaking spiritually example, poor equals poor in spirit.)

Jesus says, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God."

1. Are you pretty comfortable with where you are spiritually? Do you think there might, might not be a god out there somewhere? Have you ever said something like this, “I don’t really follow a god, but I’m a really spiritual person.” Or, “I get everything I need from my heart.”
2. Or… Do you think that you are poor without God? Are you nothing without him? The word poor makes you think beggar. Have you had a moment where you fell down and begged God to forgive you?

Jesus says, “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.”

3. Do you feel spiritually full? Do you do your one hour of church a week and call it good. Do you pretty much know the jist of the Bible and are satisfied with that?
4. Or… Do you live for diving into the Word of God? Do you get excited when you learn a new truth that you can share with another? Do you carve out time every day for time with the Lord as if you would go hungry without it?

Jesus says, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”

5. Do you trot through life laughing away footloose and fancy free? Do you think you are a pretty good person? How about that dude next to you? Do you care about him?
6. Or… Do you “weep” when you think about how you have sinned against God? The very God who gave you life… Do you “weep” for loved ones that do not know Jesus?

Jesus says, “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.”

7. Do most people like you when you tell them about Jesus? Oh… You don’t tell them? They probably like you then, huh? Do people even know you are a Christian? Do you at least tell them that God loves them? They probably still like you for that…
8. Or… Do you tell those you love how God hates sin? That all people sin against God. That there is nothing they can do to get back in the good graces of God. That the ONLY chance they have is to acknowledge their sin, repent, beg for forgiveness, and trust in Jesus? Do they like you then?

Jesus was speaking to his followers. He was speaking in the presence of non-followers. If you are a believer, he is speaking to you. If you are not a believer, he is speaking to you. I guess that is all of us. If you are a believer, ask yourself these questions. How would you answer them and what does that mean to you? If you are not a believer, but you want to be, but you don’t know how, send me an email…

Written by Chris Vasecka

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Monday, March 22, 2010

1 Thessalonians 3:6-13, “Thank ‘um, they deserve it…” A Bible Study Devotion.

1 Thessalonians 3:6-13, “Thank ‘um, they deserve it…” A Bible Study Devotion.

Read 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13

Here we find Paul writing a letter to the people of Thessalonica after they had been witnessed to by Paul, received the gospel, and have undergone some persecution. Paul discusses the great joy that it brings him to know that they are remaining strong in Christ. In verses 6-10 Paul uses these words to describe his feelings to the people that he got to see converted to Christ:

Good news. (Hearing about their faith brought him great joy)

Longing to see them again. (Paul longed for the company of other Christians)

Encouraged. (Paul was encouraged by their faith. Did the student become the teacher? )

We really live. (Paul states that now they really live because of their faith.)

Thank God for you. (Paul delivered the message to them but God gets the glory.)

JOY. (Sharing the gospel message brings you joy. Holy joy; don’t confuse with Earthly fun.)

That is a list of pretty strong feelings generated by somebody else’s relationship with God. Why is Paul so happy that someone else is staying strong in faith? If you have shared the gospel with someone and have had the blessing of seeing them come to a life saving relationship with Christ, this makes perfect sense. If you have not, this is something wonderful to which you can look forward. This was Jesus’ command right before he left for Heaven. “…Spread the message to the ends of the Earth…” It certainly was important to him… You say, “But I’m afraid to share the gospel.” (See my previous posts) Even if you are not ready for a one on one encounter, there are other methods of sharing the gospel message:

Time for a personal story… I was sitting in a men’s Bible study when all of a sudden a feeling of extreme gratitude for the guy sitting next to me hit. His name was Tom. A year before that, I didn’t know him. Two years before that the room we were sitting in didn’t exist. And five years before that this is what Tom was doing on Sunday morning: He got up at 5am because there was a lot of work to do. He belonged to a church that had less than 100 members. They had no building. They had a trailer with some church stuff in it. They rented out a spot in the local high school. Every Sunday they would bring everything the church owned to that high school and start to set up. There was modern music, so a whole band to set up, chairs, signs, etc, etc… They would spend about 5 hours to set up and tear down for a one hour service. And they would invite people so they could hear about the gift of grace that Jesus offers to those who believe in him. By the time I came to the church it had grown to about 350 people and they had their own building. Tom did all of this work before he ever knew that I existed. There were a lot of “Tom’s” that sacrificed their time, talent, and treasure so people they had never met could hear about Jesus. All of those people combined efforts to bring the gospel message to the people. They did not witness one on one, but look at the effect they had. Tom was not the pastor. He did not work there. He was just a guy with a job and a family and not enough time like the rest of us. It was not just Tom that did the work. It was not only me they did it for, but at that time in that Bible study, God showed me all the work that was done before I ever came there. I came to that church as an unsaved person. And because of the efforts of Tom and other “Tom’s,” I heard what Jesus did for me and I believed…

Tom shared the Gospel by doing his part in a large collective effort. Paul shared the gospel one on one, and by preaching. Both are necessary. Both are actions that bring great joy. In each case, through Paul, Tom, or even you, God can use your abilities to do His purpose, if you just let him.

This is very powerful… Jesus died to take the punishment for everyone. He wrote the Bible so that everyone could hear his story and see what it means to them. He started the church and told his followers to tell others so they could know what it means to be “set free.” People all throughout history have done what Tom did, and much more, so other people, that they didn’t know personally, could hear the gospel. God did all of that for everyone, but, and this is the powerful part… He would have done it just for you…

Ok, I told them, but they don’t care. What now? Check back during the week…

Written by Chris Vasecka

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