Friday, February 12, 2016

"There is No Other Name"

This past weekend was the largest sporting event of the year -- the Super Bowl! Not only that, but it was the fiftieth anniversary of the Super Bowl. For those of you who are football fans, like myself, you know that the Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers creating the upset of the season. In celebration of this event on the sports calendar, my church invited everyone to wear the jersey of their favorite team (whether they were in the Super Bowl or not). On Sunday morning, my husband and I were decked out in our football gear ready to go to church. In this house we are fans of the Baltimore Ravens, but since the Broncos were in the Super Bowl, I wore our Tim Tebow jersey while my husband, sporting Joe Flacco's number, represented the Ravens. It was so much fun to see everyone representing the teams that they identify with and enjoy supporting. So, why am I mentioning all of this on a blog devoted to biblical encouragement? I'm so glad you asked!

My husband and I both serve on our church’s worship team and were on stage with them last Sunday. The last song in our set was “No Other Name” by Hillsong. These are the lyrics to the chorus and bridge:

Lift up our eyes, see the King has come, Light of the world reaching out for us, There is no other name, there is no other name, Jesus Christ our God.
Seated on high, the undefeated One, Mountains bow down as we lift Him up, there is no other name, there is no other name, Jesus Christ our God, Jesus.
The earth will shake and tremble before Him, Chains will break as heaven and earth sing, Holy is the name, Holy is the name of Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

The message in this song is incredible. It fills my mind with Philippians 2:7-11:

Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow— of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth— and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This awesome text plunged my heart into praise as I focused on who Jesus is and the power of His name.

As I looked out into the congregation, I once again noticed the many jerseys that filled our sanctuary. We were proud to wear the name of a team and maybe a specific player. It was fun for us to prove who the best player or greatest team was, and who had the best chance of winning that evening’s game. The names meant something to us. We believed in them -- believed that our quarterback could throw a winning pass, our runningback could take the yards needed, and our cornerback would stop the opposing team from completing their play. In a manner of speaking, we had faith in the names we wore.

Now I am not speaking out against football...at all! I enjoy the game, the food, and my team. In my opinion, football is the best sport out there. So please don’t take my words the wrong way. I look forward to jersey Sunday every year and am already hoping to see the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl 2017.

Here is my point: what if we had as much faith and pride in Jesus as we have in our sports teams? What if He was as much a part of our identity as they are?

For some of you this message does not apply at all. You don’t like football, or sports for that matter. That's okay. In order to apply this to your life, think about what you might have more faith or identity in than Jesus. With that in mind, the remainder of this blog will apply.

As believers in Jesus we must know who we claim to believe in. He is Jesus. The name that demons recognize and obey. They fear and tremble at the very mention of His name. Jesus, the one who raised the dead, healed the sick, fed the hungry, loved the broken, and saved the lost. Jesus, the one who died for our sin but came back to life, conquering death three days later. Jesus, the one who sealed the fate of Satan by completing His job here on earth. Jesus, the one who will return and annihilate evil forever. Jesus, the one who loves you with an everlasting love. Jesus, the one who gives you peace in the midst of chaos, hope when your world is devastated, joy that sustains through difficult times, and love that convicts but does not condemn. He is Jesus. All things are subject to Him – “in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.”

If we can put our faith in a man or a team, how much more should we put our faith in Jesus? The song lyrics above say, “…the undefeated one.” Jesus has never lost a match. How many of our teams can say that? If we can wear the name of a person we will most likely never meet, how can we be ashamed to identify ourselves as a follower of Jesus –- the one who died for us? If we can clap our hands, yell at the TV, and dance around when our team scores, how can we not burst with praise when we talk about Jesus, the one who conquered death and defeated sin?
You see, there is no other name quite like the name of Jesus. Think about the power His name holds when it slips from your lips. It is powerful and His name elicits a response. 

So two questions remain:

First, how do we respond when we hear the name of Jesus? Is it passé? If so, I encourage you to read Philippians 2. Get a picture of who you are referring to. Jesus -- His is more than just name. 

Second, how are we representing Jesus to the world? Are we proud to wear His name or are we hoping no one asks what team we root for? I know fans of terrible football teams that are fantastic fans. They’re proud to identify with that team -- so much so that anyone they meet would want to root for them. We serve the risen Christ Jesus who is undefeated, yet we often act ashamed of our Savior. Do not be ashamed of Jesus no matter how crazy our world becomes, because regardless of what side you fall on, every knee will bow at the name of Jesus. He is greater than anything we will ever face. So be proud to follow Jesus and share your excitement about Him with those around you!

It is exhilarating to be a football fan and see your team succeed. It is even more thrilling to be a Christian and know that the game has already been won. After all, there is no other name like Jesus.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Teach Us to Pray

This past week at Cornerstone, our pastor reminded us to "focus on prayer." This topic excites me because it has only been recently that I have found joy in prayer again.

Believe it or not many believers struggle with talking to God.
Don't believe me?
Take a walk down the "Christian Living" section of your local bookstore one Saturday afternoon. Most likely, you will find book after book devoted to prayer. Some are thin, others are thick, and all of them attempt to answer a question that has been asked by mankind for thousands of years: "How do we pray?"
While Jesus was here on earth, the apostles (the twelve men that served with Jesus during His earthly ministry) asked Him for one lesson (Lucado, 3). They didn't ask how to turn water into wine or raise people from the dead like we might have been tempted to do; no, they asked, "Lord, teach us to pray (Luke 11:1) (Lucado, 3)." 

Jesus did not deny them this request. He proceeded to teach them the following prayer,
"Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen (Matthew 6: 9-13 KJV)." 

We commonly know this passage as "The Lord's Prayer." Did it come to you? Did you quote it mechanically from years of exposure and recitation? If that was your experience, I encourage you to dust off the cob webs and allow the Holy Spirit to breathe new life into this passage for you. If you are not familiar with this prayer you can find it in Matthew 6 and Luke 11:2-4. I encourage you to read these verses and become familiar with what Jesus was teaching his disciples. Reading this prayer, again or for the first time, will be a great asset to you as you "focus on prayer" this year.

Back to the bookstore... If you go down the aisle and find a book entitle Before Amen by Max Lucado, pick it up. This is a short book on prayer with a powerful message. Max Lucado's fresh perspective was just was the doctor ordered for my prayer life and I believe it will help yours as well. 








In this book he outlines a way to pray "pocket sized prayers." This basically means that it is a prayer you can use throughout your day. Like this: "Father, You are good. I need help. They need help. Thank you. In Jesus' name, Amen." By using this simple prayer we eliminate the boundaries created by ourselves and others and go straight to the heart of God with all of our needs -- any time, any place.



Now, I'm not going to rewrite Lucado's book but I do want to share his main point with you. He attempts to communicate that if we use this simple prayer then we will have learned to pray just as the disciples did and we will be good at it. 

Caitlin, it's not right for someone to say they're good at prayer.

Why not? That means they are good at talking with God. This pleases Him. This should be our goal. You see, if more believers utilized prayer the way Jesus taught us to, we would see a greater change in the world, in the church, in our families, and in our personal lives.

This week I encourage you to pocket pray at least once every day. Do as Philippians 4:6 tells us and take every request to God (even the things that seem insignificant) because He cares for you. He cares so much that He said in the following verse: "...the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (v.7)." As you pray this week, be on the look out for God's overwhelming peace. That will be the first response. The rest of your answer is coming...

Citations:

Lucado, Max. Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2014. Print.

Wave Walker and Saltwater Guzzler

Wow, it's been a long time! I haven't really had much to share or say recently but a few days ago inspiration struck so I though...