Monday, September 26, 2011

Truth In The Movies Series - Movie: Soul Surfer - Can Bad Things That Happen In My LIfe Really Be Used For Good?

Here is the audio of the talk I gave last night about the movie "Soul Surfer".
It's answers the question: Can Bad Things That Happen In My LIfe Really Be Used For Good?  

In this talk you'll hear:

-The story of the day I got kidnapped
-My story of a flight I was on that had emergency landing in the middle of a snow storm and how it caused me to discover a way God uses bad for good
-An amazing prison-break story from the Bible that leads to a surprising conclusion
-How surfer Bethany Hamilton lost her arm in a shark attack and ended up seeing so much good from it that she wouldn't change it - even if she could
-4 ways that God can use bad things for good in your life

Click the link and then click the headphones icon to listen to it online or click the down arrow to download it and listen to it offline:
Content Management System by Ekklesia360

Monday, September 19, 2011

"Truth In The Movies" series: MOVIE: “127 Hours” - Topic: What are you willing to do to be free?


 ***Start by watching trailer here***

James Franco stars in a survival drama based on the incredible true story of Aron Ralston.

Aron Ralston is a man who became trapped alone in a Utah canyon for days after slipping on a loose rock, and resorted to extraordinary measures in order to make it out alive.

An experienced hiker and climber, Ralston is very much in his element when he parks his truck by a mountain near Moab, UT, hops on his bike, and peddles to the middle of nowhere.

Later, when Ralston encounters a pair of young female hikers who have gotten lost while searching for a local landmark, he jovially shows them a sight that most casual hikers miss before telling them goodbye and continuing on his journey.

Drifting through the canyons alone, deep in thought, however, the explorer who presumed he was ready for anything quickly discovers just how fast things can spin out of control when a rock gives way as he shimmies down a crevice, and pins his hand to the wall of stone.

Over the course of the next 127 hours, Ralston tries everything he can think of to free himself, flashing back to small but memorable events in his life -- as well as forward to the future that he might enjoy should he manage to wiggle free -- as his body begins the slow process of shutting down.

(Edited from description at*)

Let me show you a clip of him loosening the bolder and getting trapped... ***Show 1st clip: of  climbing & dislodges a huge bolder and gets trapped. approx. 16:19 - 18:45 **

I'll talk about what he finally did to escape, but let me ask you something to set the stage for what I'm going to talk about today...

We need to ask ourselves this question: Why was Aron Ralston able to escape?
The thing that helped him escape is the same thing that will help us to escape from some of the habits and the problems that we’ve been struggling with for years.

Today I want to talk to you about this main ingredient that’s required for us to see successful change in our lives. By the time we’re done today, we’ll look at 3 steps you can take to help you see change in your life.

Turn in your Bibles with me to John 5:2-9.

What you're about to hear is an amazing little story that reveals how we can begin to see change happen in our lives.

Let's look at the story now...

"2Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3Here a great number of disabled people used to lie--the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  5One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?" 7"Sir," the invalid replied, "I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me." 8Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." 9At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked."

(NOTE: What you need to understand about this story is that the people there believed an angel would stir up the water and if they got in in time, they would be healed.  That's why he answered Jesus the way he did.)

You know what’s sad in life? 

People who live their whole lives dealing with the same problems; people who live their lives and never seem to be able to improve who they are. 

These people come to the end of their life and they still haven’t changed!  They come to the end of their life and they’ve never become all they could’ve been or done all they could’ve done!

Why was Aron Ralston able to free himself?
Because he really wanted to be free!

1. The first step towards real and lasting change is for you to really WANT to change! 

Look at John 5:5-6. 

This guy has been sick for 38 years! That’s longer than most people lived back then!

And Jesus asks him this, “Do you WANT to get well?” Why would Jesus as him that question?

It’s because Jesus knew that this man would never change and be healed if he didn’t first want it!

A lot of us say we want to change.
We say we want to stop doing something or start doing something.  We say we want to do more of something or less of something – but we don’t!

Could it be that it’s because we don’t really want to?

It’s easy to get used to our problems and kind of have a love-hate relationship with them.   We complain about them, but they sure give us good excuses when we need them!

In 1993, it was reported that a small order of Franciscan nuns in Prague decided to subsidize their convent by opening the downstairs of their facility - formerly an underground detention center used by the Communists to imprison and torture their enemies - as a hotel.

 For $33 a night, you could stay in a former prison cell. The proprietors say they try to achieve a middle ground between comfort and authenticity in the "hotel."

Many people are really looking for just that - a comfortable prison cell.

Jesus is asking each one of us here about some of the problems and habits we’ve had all our lives… “Do you want to get well?”

How we answer that question will determine whether we ever see lasting change or not!

What’s this handicapped guy’s answer to Jesus’ question?
 It’s just like ours!

 Look at John 5:7 “Sir," the invalid replied, "I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me."
I heard of story of two college students who decided one night to pull a prank on a sleeping fraternity brother. They took limburger cheese and rubbed it gently on his upper lip.

When he woke up, he sniffed, looked around and said, “This room stinks!” Then he walked out into the hall and said, “This hall stinks!” As he was leaving the dorm, they could hear him say, “The whole world stinks!”  

The two college students laughed as they saw him walk away, because they knew their buddy was going to walk around blaming the smell on everything else around him, when the problem was with him!

--------------------------A personal story----------------------------------------

When Sue and I used to live in a one bedroom apartment in Redwood City, there was an older man who used to live on the 2nd story of an apartment building next to ours.

 One day I got talking to the man and he began complaining about some of our neighbors and saying how mean they were to him. I listened and didn’t know what to think about those neighbors anymore.

He told me he needed some help and I told him I’d talk to some people at the church at worked at back then and see if they could help him. The problem was I wasn’t able to get a hold of these people at our church for awhile.

He ended up coming to our apartment one day yelling and telling Sue off.

I finally had to talk to him and tell him and explain to him that I couldn’t get a hold of the people I thought might be able to help him. I told him I should’ve let him know what had happened, but I didn’t appreciate him yelling at my wife and that I didn’t want him coming over to our place doing that ever again.

After talking to the neighbors he warned me about they said they had the same problem!  This guy reminds me of the guy with Limburger cheese on his lip!
This guy was blaming everybody else for his problems, never realizing that maybe the reason he had the same problem with everybody was because he was the problem! 

A lot of people are like this.

They blame everyone else for their problems.   Some people blame their parents, some people blame their friends, or their teachers, or their boss – some people even blame God!

But the real problem is that they never take responsibility for their own problems!
That’s why people stay stuck where they’re at and never see change!

They’ve been blaming everyone and everything all their lives.

Did you know that blame is the second sin in the Bible?

When Adam and Eve sinned what happened? Adam blamed Eve (really blamed God) he said, “It was the woman you gave.”  Eve blamed the snake. They blamed everyone else but themselves!

It started way back then and we’re still doing it today!  Blame seems to be one of the devil’s top tricks for keeping us from growing and becoming all we can be.

Business philosopher Jim Rohn says this, “I used to say ‘I sure hope things will change.’ Then I learned that the only way things are going to change for me is when I change.”
You can look through the Bible and you’ll find this common theme: God will not force us to change!
My promise to you is this: If you don’t really want to change, then you never will!

The other interesting thing to me about Jesus question and the man's answer is that the man doesn't realize JESUS is the one where he can get healing from, not the water!  He says, “I want to but I don't have someone to take me to the water”

 2. The second step towards real and lasting change is for you to respond in faith to Jesus!

Look at John 5:8, after Jesus asked the man the question and the man responded with his excuse.  Jesus told the man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk!”

The handicapped man had two choices:

1. He could have faith in Jesus, trust what he said and respond. 
2.  He could decide not to trust Jesus and just sit there!

Faith is a verb. We have to trust God to help us to change and that trust has to manifest itself in action! 

It the late 19th century there was a young chemist named Robert Chesebrough who sold kerosene. He got his kerosene from the oil of sperm whales, but by 1859 he was put out of business. 

In 1859, Robert Chesebrough took off for a Pennyslvania oil field to "strike it rich." 
What he came back with made him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he DIDN'T become rich from OIL!

Oil field workers had told him about this "sticky stuff" that stuck to the drilling rigs. The riggers hated this stuff - it caused the drilling rigs to seize up.  For all the problems this substance caused, the riggers found one small use - when rubbed on a cut or bruise it helped it to heal faster.

He bottled the stuff up and dragged it back to his Brooklyn laboratory. He began a search to duplicate the petroleum-based lubricant, and by trial and error, he was able to extract the key ingredient - the translucent material we now know as petroleum jelly.

But it had to be tested, and tested it was. He needed a guinea pig to test it out on. But who could he use?
Chesebrough cut his OWN hands and arms, burned himself with flames and acids and each time he would then cover them with his new gel.  ALL the self-inflicted wounds responded to his petroleum jelly and were healed! 

Satisfied that his new grease had healing properties, he took to the road with his own medicine show, but first he named his gel. Using the German word for water (wasser) and the Greek word for oil (elaion) he came up with "Vaseline."

He took it out on the road and would demostrate it by cutting or burning himself and then applying his vasleine. 

He also showed his audience the healed scars from past experiments. Amazingly this worked!  Soon he was selling a jar a minute, and when these ran out people begged their druggists to order more from Chesebrough. It was used for everything: chest colds, chapped hands, nasal congestion, and even to remove stains from furniture. 

By the turn of the twenty century it had penetrated the American market and was entering Europe, and Chesebrough had become a very rich man!

Although its miracle properties were eventually debunked (it really healed because it sealed wounds from bacteria like a band aid), Chesebrough himself was always a true believer. He lived to age 96, revealing shortly before he died the secret to his longevity: *Every day of his life he ate a spoonful of vaseline! (* Not recommended! DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME! :)

Cheesbrough succeed because he believed in his product and he proved it by his actions!

Faith isn’t faith without action! Faith goes beyond communication (words) to demonstration! One of the church fathers Clement of Alexandria said, “Faith is a voluntary anticipation.”

If we don’t combine action with the desire to change, then change will never happen!  When the man heard Jesus' words he must have instantly had faith in him and what he could do, because something amazing happened next.

And it reveals the 3rd step...

3. The third step toward real and lasting change is that AFTER you do your part and respond in faith, then you have to SUBMIT yourself and let God do the rest! 

Look at John 5:9 “9At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.”
Did you notice what just happened?
It's subtle, so you might have missed it.

He was healed even before he took action in faith! We have to let God do his part and then keep doing our part!

But this only happened because he had to decide to quit doing things his way (going into the pool for healing) and start doing things Jesus’ way (submit to Jesus as the source of healing).

Think about this…
There are too many times in life when we choose to do it our way instead of God’s way!

There are too many times in life when we try to do what only God can do for us and don’t do what only we can do to see change!

I want to share one last story with you that I love...
The captain of the ship looked into the dark night and saw faint lights in the distance. Immediately he told his signalman to send a message "Alter your course 10 degrees south." Promptly a return message was received: "Alter your course 10 degrees north."

The captain was angered; his command had been ignored. So he sent a second message: "Alter your course 10 degrees south--I am the captain!" Soon another message was received: "Alter your course 10 degrees north--I am seaman third class Jones."

 Immediately the captain sent a third message, knowing the fear it would evoke: "Alter your course 10 degrees south--I am a battleship." Then the reply came "Alter your course 10 degrees north--I am a lighthouse."

This story remind me so much of us.  So many times we're trying to get God to do it our way instead of doing it his way.

Submission isn't popular, but it's requirement if we want to experience help and freedom from God.
This is what submitting means…

When you submit to Jesus it means to stop doing what only God can do. It means to stop doing what you think is right and start doing what God has told you is right!

We have to learn to submit to God and his ways while still doing our part, otherwise we will never see change in our life.

How badly do you want to change? Do you really want to get well?
Aron Ralston finally realizes that the only way out is to leave part of himself behind, the exhausted, delirious adventurer draws his cheap made-in-China multi-tool, and does what it takes to survive: he cuts off his own arm! 

SHOW 2nd Clip: When he finally walks out of crevice into the light. approx. 1:20:40-1:20:55.

The interesting thing about the example of this guy willing to cut off his arm to be free is that it sounds really similar to something Jesus said in Matt. 5:29 – 30...

"29So if your eye—even if it is your good eye —causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your hand—even if it is your stronger hand  —causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."

Now Jesus was exaggerating to make a point.
He's not really suggesting that you cut off a part of your body.  He's saying you should be willing to cut anything out of your life that will ultimately destroy you. 

There are things, habits and/or relationships in our lives that will one destroy us - literally.  And there are things, habits and/or relationships that won't destroy us physically, but will destroy our potential, destroy our usefulness, destroy our families, or destroy who we are.

What will you do about these things? Are you willing to cut out anything that’s holding you back?
 (Show pic of him with the bolder at the top of this blog post.  That bolder is your "problem" or )

Will you really cut out anything?
  • Negative relationships? 
  • Bad habits? 
  • Even things that you like and things that make you happy?  

If you are not will to cut out anything, then listen to these sobering words from Abraham Maslow,“If you plan on being anything less that you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.”

This might sound weird, but life is about more than your happiness, accumulation of things, and making you feel good. It's beyond that. You can be happy, accumulate many things, and feel goodall while destroying yourself.

Jim Rohn said it like this… “The major value of life is not what you get. The major value in life is what you become. You see, what you become is far more important than what you get. The important question to ask on the job is not, ‘What am I getting?’ Instead, you should ask, ‘What am I becoming?’” 

Aron Ralston was willing to do whatever it took to be free. That’s why he’s free today!

Are you and I willing to do whatever it takes to be free? Change begins ultimately ends with this question!

Here’s what I think we need to do today to end this time together… (Altar time)

1. You need to ask God to show you an area he wants to change.
2. You need to think about whether you really want to change or not. You need to ask God to show you if there’s some way you’ve been holding back
3. You need to ask God what action he wants you to take. What you need to let him do and what he wants you to do.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Will The World End On May 21st At 6pm?

If you haven't heard a man named Harold Camping has said that based on his biblical calculations the world is going to end on May 21st at 6pm.

He has purchased billboards around the country and has gotten a lot of media attention.

Because of this fact, I thought I should write a note to share with our church ( and my Facebook friends about this prediction, so here we go:

1. Do I believe the world is going to end at 6pm?

No. I won't go into details, but I've read his reasoning and I think he is misinterpreting and misapplying scripture. But...

2. Do I believe that ONE DAY the world will end?

Yes. If kingdoms can end (think Rome), then a whole world can come to an end. It’s only logical. This planet once didn’t exist. It had a beginning and that means that one day it will have an ending. That’s not a crazy idea.

In fact, I don’t think there are even any scientists who would argue that this world will one day end. Did you know?...

Scientists Created A "Doomsday Clock"

In 2007, scientists were worried about the threat of Global Warming and Nuclear War in what they called “second nuclear age." Because of this, in 2007, they moved the "Doomsday clock" forward two minutes, so it was set to 5 minutes to midnight.

(This clock was introduced in 1947 by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists to determine the threat of a nuclear holocaust during the Cold War.)

One quote from Stephen Hawking hit me...“As citizens of the world, we have a duty to alert the public to the unnecessary risks that we live with every day, and to the perils we foresee if governments and societies do not take action now to render nuclear weapons obsolete and to prevent further climate change.”

(What you also might not know is that the hands of the "Doomsday Clock" was moved again in 2010. Why? Factors influencing the last Doomsday Clock change include international negotiations on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, expansion of civilian nuclear power, the possibilities of nuclear terrorism, and climate change.)

Think about this… Scientists, are wise enough to pay attention to the signs and we need to be wise too.

But does that mean it will happen on May 21st? No. It doesn't. I'll explain why with this story...

What Jesus Told The Disciples About Knowing When The End Would Come

It's an incident in Matthew 24:1-42 that happened towards the end of Jesus’ life and ministry. It’s an event that began with a simple walk, that Jesus and his disciples took, and it ended with them sitting on the mountainside riveted to Jesus’ every word, as he revealed to them about the end of Jerusalem.

It would be a day they would never forget.

They left the temple and were walking away from it when his disciples came up to Jesus to call his attention to its buildings. (They were caught up and impressed by it all.) They kept walking with Jesus, bragging about the temple, and Jesus shocked them with this statement in verse 2...

"Do you see all these things?" he asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." This had to be totally unimaginable to them.

The temple was the center of their society. But he not only told them that, he went on to tell them that Jerusalem would be destroyed and that the world would one day end.

(NOTE: Their temple and Jerusalem were both later destroyed, just as he said.)

They couldn't believe what they were hearing, so they asked him, "When will the temple be destroyed? What will the signs of the end of this world be?"

He told them about some of the signs and many other things, but the one main thing that applies to knowing whether the world will end on May 21st is found in verse 36.

Jesus told them, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. "

Did you catch that?

Who did Jesus say knows when the end would be?

  • Did he say the Mayans would? No.
  • Did he say Nostradamus would know? No!
  • Did he say Harold Camping would know?

Nope. What did he say? NO ONE will know the exact day or the hour, except God!

There WILL be signs for us to notice and pick up, so we can know that the end is near, but we’ll NEVER know an exact date/time.

We need to stop listening to the people who say they know when the world will end. As soon as they've say it, they prove they're wrong because NO ONE will know! (I think Harold Camping is sincere, but wrong.)

BUT we need to realize this… Jesus said the end will come subtly.

If people aren't looking or don’t know some of the signs, then Jesus says they will miss out on the signs and they’ll still be doing their thing: feasting, partying, and marrying. And once it’s finally time for the end, then it will come suddenly. It will come quickly.

So what can we do?

Jesus gives us the key piece of advice in verse 42 "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. The only thing we can do is keep watch, so we won’t be caught totally off guard and surprise when the end comes.

The Bible does NOT say the world is going to end on May 21st at 6pm! That’s not true. But don’t get me wrong. It could end this year, or this month, or even today.

We don’t know EXACTLY when the end will come. We just know that it will come. Our job is just to pay attention and keep watch, so we can be ready.

We Could See Our OWN End Before THE End

If you don't believe the world is going to end for biblical reason (or even scientific reasons), then that's fine. But we all need to admit the one fact that we all try and pretend is not true: one day our lives will end.

And for most of us the end of our lives will come suddenly and not when we expect it. It will not be something we have time to do something about just before it happens.

We need to live our lives always remembering that they will one day end. It's one of the few guarantees in life.

I don't tell you this to be morbid. Knowing that the world will end, or that our lives will one day end, is a good thing for us – even if we don’t know the exact times. Why?

It can help us to be patient and it helps us to prioritize.

Not only that it helps us to appreciate what we have, appreciate the here and now, and helps us to plan ahead for when this is all over.

Lessons From Those Near The End

When you speak to someone who has lived a long life what do they tell you? They tell you how fast life goes. They tell you that good times and bad BOTH will come. They tell you to appreciate what you have because it will all be gone before you know it.

They don't tell you this to scare you. Right? It’s to help you! That’s what this knowledge is supposed to do for us. Knowing there will be an end and that we don’t know when exactly its coming should affect how we live for today and for the rest of 2011.

We need to watch and be alert.

We need to remember that all that seems so important and consuming in this life will one day be gone. As we set your goals for 2011, dream big dreams, accomplish big things, because one day this will be over.

Let’s love our family and friends more. Let’s stop worrying and stressing out over things that don’t really matter, because one day we won’t have this life or this world anymore.

Let’s invest in the things that last and will matter when this is all over: God’s kingdom and our relationship with God. These things will help us to do well in 2011 and helps us to be prepared for the end – whenever it comes!

One last idea...

Live Like The World Is Going To End At 6pm

Maybe being prepared for the world to end today at 6pm might not be such a bad idea. It might cause us to live today better, live it more fully, and live it focused on things that last and mean something in the end.

And when we're given another day to live on May 22nd, we can wake up thankful and ready to live another day like it was our last. And so on. And so on. Until the one day it really is our last.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Virtual, Online "Good Friday" Event

Today we did an event we've never tried before.

We did a virtual, online-only "Good Friday" event.

It was from 12pm-12:30pm and it went really well. I got a lot of positive feedback from the people that were on the live event.

During The Event I Shared These Things:
  • The person who I think had the greatest faith in the whole Bible
  • The often overlooked words that this man said and why they prove to me his incredible faith
  • What Jesus said to this man
  • Why this person's story is good news to us today

You Can Watch/Listen In Right Now
The recording is now available. After you click the link below, then click the organish-yellow "view recording" button to watch the recording.

You can watch/listen or share with friends...

Click here to watch the recording of my "Good Friday" event!

NOTE: On the recording, I talk for a few minutes and stall while people were joining in, so if you want, you can fast forward to about 6-7 min. mark to where I actually begin.