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Sharing your faith can often times be intimidating. It can cause a lot of anxiety and the fear of an unknown response can be enough to deter a person from actively engaging another in a conversation about salvation. In Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out, Alvin Reid helps the reader face some of those uncomfortable fears. Reid offers a very compelling argument for relational evangelism. He helps the reader see the need to not just make a presentation but to enter into real conversation and relationship. The message and process does not need to be complicated. He challenges the reader to meet people where they are throughout all of life’s pain, joys, and passions. On page 99 Reid says, “This is the beauty of sharing Jesus. God takes a normal, broken person, just like you. He takes all of who you are, good, bad, and ugly, and through the inner work of the Holy Spirit and your growing love for Jesus, connects you with another person in a way that is truly remarkable. God uses people just like you to impact people just like those you know for his glory.”

An added bonus to this book is the Eight Week Challenge. This challenge is one that will help bring home some of the points that you just read. This challenge would work really well in the context of small groups. This is one of the ways that I plan on using the eight week challenge. Overall this was an encouraging book that should bring the reader to a point of self-reflection and I pray, to a renewed energy for sharing your faith. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that may need some extra encouragement and perspective.

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It is clear through scripture that assembling together is essential in our development as Christ followers. The writer of Hebrews writes, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV). This indicates that the assembly that we call church is absolutely important. It is a time for relationship, fellowship, learning and accountability. It is at this time where the saints come to be equipped for the journey ahead. It is suppose to be a time when unbelievers can come as they search and find a place that is accepting and loving all the while not wavering from truth. It is, as Luke wrote in Acts, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common” (Acts 2:42-44). This is what it is suppose to look like going to church. However, some quick research and observation would show that often times the way it is suppose to be is not always quite the reality. Many attend church out of “duty”. Many come to church to see the people they have not talked with in the past week. Still many come because it is tradition in the family. Understand this is not the reasoning of all who go to church. There are people that go faithfully because of the above scriptural reasons. However, it is not far from the truth that there are many people that are content with just going to church.

Then there are those who feel going to church is not beneficial. They are those who would rather be the Church. They are willing to miss church in order to go and serve others. Serving others is the goal of the church, is it not? To be Christ to the masses is what the church is supposed to be. Being the church is the heart behind the Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). The problem is when a person decides to give up one for the other.

Going to church and being the Church are to be in harmony with one another. You can sit in church every week and still leave with no desire to put it into practice. You can also serve your fellow man and never fully understand why and for whom you are serving. As a Pastor of a church it is always my goal to help the church understand that by coming to church and experiencing God, participating in fellowship, and learning, they are being equipped to go and live in the ways of Jesus. Pastor Kerry and Chris Shook wrote in their book, Be The Message, “We spend a lot of time talking, teaching, discussing, and arguing the Bible, but do we really live it out for the world to see? The world is tired of just hearing our sermons and Christian phrases; they want to see a sermon lived out.” There must continue to be a push in our churches to see it as value in going to church and then going and being the Church. They are truly harmonious.

In His Amazing Grace,

Dan Daugherty

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But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  1 Peter 2:9 ESV

The love that God has for each of us is beyond comprehension. I have spent countless hours in thought and prayer trying to understand how I can be loved so much. Every time I come away with peace, not because I understand why, but because the Holy Spirit reminds me who’s in control. All that I know is that I am extremely grateful for His love in my life. 1 Peter 2:9 is a great reminder of how God feels about His children. The fact that we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people for His own possession, leaves me speechless.

The truth of this passage is even more than who we are, rather what we are called to be because of who we are. In this passage we are called to proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. You see there is a response to who God says we are. If we are a Holy Nation, if we are a chosen people, then our lives should exemplify just that! This happens through our commitment to Jesus. Not just calling ourselves a Christian but being committed to His causes. It means being committed to a local body of Christ. I have heard many times that, “I don’t have to go to Church to worship God!” Well, that’s true; your life should be worship to God in all areas of your life, everyday. However, not thinking you need fellowship with other believers in a church setting is in direct disobedience to the Bible, see Hebrews 10:24-25. There is no reason to not be with your church family. We all need encouragement and we all need accountability. When our hearts are longing to be like Christ, the fellowship with each other is a natural response.

When the church is one then great things tend to take place. The call to proclaim the excellencies of God is an amazing challenge that is accomplished by committed followers of Jesus. Church attendance matters! Participation in ministries matters! I challenge you to truly examine your commitment level to the things of God. There is so much to be done for the Kingdom of God. We need committed followers of Jesus to accomplish them. Will you be one of them?

In His Amazing Grace, Dan Daugherty

The Heart of the Servant

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As Christians we are called to a higher standard of living. The fact is people are looking to see how believers will respond to cultural issues, high stress situations, and social issues. One of the biggest things non- believers notice is how the believer serves. The world is full of people who give back and serve, many of them being non-believers. Our society is use to seeing service and charity take place. However, what our society witnesses, that may be a little uncommon, is the attitude and motivation behind those serving. I believe that is where the believer must be completely different.

In fourteen years of ministry, I have seen unbelievable servants of Jesus and those who use the opportunity for self-gratification or complaining. Consider what Philippians 2:14-15 says, Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. Do everything without grumbling or disputing is key here. The fact is serving isn’t always a glorious thing. Sometimes things don’t work out the way they should. Sometimes, especially when dealing with imperfect people, there will be errors and the ball can get dropped. That’s life! What we have to do as believers who are serving is to keep a good attitude and do everything without grumbling or disputing. Part of serving is to keep a humble attitude. We’ve got to leave our pride “at the door” and realize that serving and helping can be messy business but the end result is worth it all. To know that Christ is glorified and people are loved is worth it all!

We are called to be lights in the world as the end of verse 15 says. Those lights are different than the crooked and twisted generation. Why? Because serving is not about us. It’s about loving God and loving others. Plain and simple. So if you struggle with serving in this way, memorize this passage. Do what Psalm 119:11 says, I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. It is vital as a church  that we continue to serve and love. It is even more vital that we do so with hearts that are truly humble as we show the love of God to those we serve. I love you all and thank you for your hearts! May we never be satisfied as we strive to be the Hands and Feet of Jesus to our community and each other.

In His Amazing Grace,

Dan Daugherty

There Will Always Be Hope

Psalm 121 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1-2 ESV

Many times in my life I have been faced with uncertainty. Whether it was anticipation of the first day of school as a boy, or  whether or not the bills would get paid that month, I have faced my fair-share of uncertainty. It is something that I believe we all struggle with. I have heard over the years from people who have had to wait in uncertainty when a loved one was very ill, or if their company was going to have to close or sell off to someone else and their job was on the line. It is never a comfortable place to be. And I think that is the point.

In our uncertainty, God is calling out to us to trust Him. He is asking us to look to Him and trust in His plan. You see, when we live in the grip of uncertainty, we live in the grip of worry and fear, which is sin in the eyes of God. Although, we don’t often label worry and fear as sin, it is. 1 John 4:18 says, 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. And consider Matthew 6:25, 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Get the point? Worry and fear are not healthy and when we live life in uncertainty it can lead to these fairly quickly.

The Psalmist in Psalm 121 gives a great solution to our uncertainty in verses 1-2, 1 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. When we feel like we need an answer or we are becoming worried or fearful it is a great reminder to know that our help comes from the LORD! The one who made the heavens and the earth! The one who breathed life into our very selves. That is comforting!

Yes, life brings its fair share of uncertainty. We will be confronted many times in our lives with worry and fear. That’s when we, like the Psalmist, lift our eyes to the hills, to the heavens, and know we have help in our time of need, we have hope in our uncertainty. He holds us in His hands! And please understand this, there is no better place to be! May you find comfort in knowing you are not alone. May you find comfort in the hands of God. May you find comfort in knowing that there is always hope.

In His Amazing Grace,

Dan Daugherty

Cries from the Belly

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And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, saying, “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice.  Jonah 2:1-2 ESV

Take a look at your life. Does it ever feel like you are in the “belly of a great fish”? Life is full of ups and downs, we all know that. But what do you do in the midst of the chaos of your life? Where do you turn? Jonah loved the LORD. He desired to serve Him unless it meant going to Nineveh. He would go anywhere for God, anywhere but Nineveh. There we find Jonah in his low. Stuck in the belly of a great fish. Jonah realizes now his mistake in not seeking the LORD with everything he was. He could have very well given up and tried to come to terms with the fact that he was going to die there. But, he realizes his mistake and enters into repentance. He cries out to God, seeking to be delivered. And God heard his voice.  It’s interesting that the Bible tells us over and over that God hears our voice. He hears our cries for help. He hears our repentant hearts as they cry out to Him.

Do you cry out to God? If you do, know that He hears you. God is listening. His help is on the way, but almost never in the way we think. I don’t think Jonah ever thought the fish would throw him up! But God delivered. It took Jonah to humble himself and realize that God had called him to greater things and he needed to obey. So let me challenge you. God has called you to greater things and He is asking you to obey. Even in the lowest of lows, God is reaching out to you ready to give you your next mission. Will you accept? Just cry out to the LORD and He will hear you!

In His Amazing Grace,
Dan Daugherty

Hungry?

ezekiel-eating-scrollSo I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey.

Ezekiel 3:2-3 ESV

Have you ever sat back and observed the world around you?  I’m sure you have.  Most of us do.  Have you ever noticed that we live in a world that is largely ran by opinion rather than truth?  Sure, there is truth that is a part of our society, but largely we do things based on opinion, likes and dislikes.  Not saying it’s entirely wrong.  Opinions are good.  I live my life with the opinion that the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Cubs are the greatest in their respective sports.  In my opinion, fall and winter are far more superior to spring and summer.  Even in the church there is room for opinion.  I like blended worship music in a worship service. A service rich with the great hymns of old and the amazing worship music that we have today.  Opinions keep life interesting.

What’s wrong is that often times we allow opinions to dictate truth.  When I became the Senior Pastor at the church I currently serve, I told my congregation that I will never apologize if someone is offended by the Word of God, however; if I offend them with my opinion, I will be quick to seek forgiveness.  I can never apologize for the power of God’s Word.  I can however, apologize for my own opinion being pushed as ultimate truth.  Sadly, many believers live their lives grounded on and rooted in opinion.  Believers are becoming more and more biblically illiterate which forces them to preach feelings and opinion rather than truth.  I recently started reading through Ezekiel.  Have you ever read it?  Oh Man!  Weird!  But, as I was reading in chapter 3, God really spoke to me in a big way.  God is giving Ezekiel his mission as God’s prophet and as he is receiving his orders we find this strange command in 2:8, “open your mouth and eat what i give you”.  Then there was a hand stretched out to Ezekiel and in it was a scroll.  Ezekiel is told to eat it and then go and speak to the house of Israel. Then comes the verses that stuck out to me.  In Ezekiel 3:2-3 (see above), after being told to fill his stomach with it, he eats it.  Then my favorite part, “it was in my mouth as sweet as honey”.  But, that’s not all.  Look at the very next verse, 4And he said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them”.

Did you catch that?  Ingest my words and then go to them and speak those words to them.  See, God’s Word is truth that is to be ingested into our lives.  When His Word becomes ingested into our lives then those are the words we speak.  These words which are sweet as honey, these words which give life, go and speak those!  Our opinions are just that, opinions.  But, God’s Word is life, and bring salvation.  We have to stop worrying about offending people and speak the truth with love.  It starts with your hunger for His Word.  Are you hungry?  Are you hungry for His words that speak life and satisfy our hunger?

We have an opportunity to shine God’s truth in a really dark world.  Will you choose today to satisfy your hunger with His Word and then as the last part of the Great Commission says in Matthew 28:20, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”?  Go and speak His words!

In His Amazing Grace,

Dan Daugherty

Seek Wisdom

wisdom-large-3Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” 1 Kings 3:9 ESV

 

Many people pray. I know of people who pray even though they have never accepted Jesus as their Savior. In fact, I get asked to pray for people all the time who are unbelievers. I even have unbelievers tell me they will pray for me when there is something pressing. Now, whether or not the actually do, I’m not sure. The point I’m trying to make is, when a person prays, what’s on their heart and what do they seek? When someone prays they are seeking something.

Often, people are seeking a quick fix. They seek miracles. The problem is when we pray we go to God with our agendas and seek to impose our will on His.   Why is that a problem? Simple, He has a plan for you. Now, it isn’t wrong to dream and have vision and try to plan, however, we must be willing to allow God to change things and direct us as He sees fit.

When Solomon became King, he was young. I’m sure, like his father David, he had dreams and aspirations for his kingdom. God came to him in a dream and told Solomon He would give him anything. Wow! That would be awesome!   But he realized something pretty important in his position. He realized he had a huge job! It wasn’t just the riches and power of being king to Solomon. He was responsible for the well being of many people and he was clueless as to how it all worked. So Solomon asked for something that most his age would never have thought to be important. I would be willing to say that most people well advanced in years would not have thought important. He asked for wisdom. He desired an understanding mind that he would be able to govern God’s people in righteousness. He wanted wisdom to know the difference between good and evil.

So what do you pray for and seek from God? Is it personal gain? Is it what you want done in your life? Or is it God’s will and the wisdom to live according to His will? As a believer is Christ, we must first seek wisdom from above. We must seek to live in His will at all times. Solomon asked for wisdom and God responded with so much more. Not only did God give him wisdom, He blessed Solomon with riches, honor, and a long life. So my encouragement to you? Seek Wisdom and allow God to bless you according to His will. Live for Him and know that you will be taken care of all the days of your life!

In His Amazing Grace,

Dan Daugherty

 

Strength in Weakness

SurrenderFor the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.For when I am weak, then I am strong.   2 Corinthians 12:10 ESV

Our culture today has an obsession with strength. Think about it for a moment. Whether it’s physical strength, position in the work place, being in tune with oneself, or having a dependency on oneself. Indeed, people can decide to devote themselves to intense physical training and gain unbelievable amounts of strength or one can work hard and climb the corporate ladder, neither of which is a bad thing. However, like all things in the world, they too will pass. Yes, one day that young man who has muscles in his earlobes will get old and someone much stronger will prevail. One day that lady who honestly worked her tail off to become the CEO of that major corporation will retire and some new, seemly sharper, person will take over. When all our worldly strength is gone, what do we have?

The apostle Paul had it all at one time. He was known as Saul at that time. He had strength beyond compare. He was esteemed in the Jewish community. He had the best Rabbi who taught Saul all he knew. Saul climbed the ranks quickly. Saul made it his mission to stomp out this movement of followers of Christ. He was somebody. That is until he met Jesus. When Jesus got a hold of him, everything changed. Shortly after his encounter with Jesus Saul becomes Paul. Paul has made it his mission not to stop this movement of Christians but to spread it. Suddenly Paul finds himself on the opposite end of favor. He is now mocked, beaten and imprisoned for his faith.

It’s no longer his own strength that sustains him. There is no longer anything he can do to gain what he had before, short of denouncing his new faith in Jesus. But, as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.” Why? Why would anyone be ok or even content with weakness and hardship? It’s because Paul no longer lives for himself. He lives for Jesus. In his weakness, he can move aside and allow Jesus to be his strength. His eternal state is far greater than his temporary.

So what about you? Where do you find your strength? Are you content to allow Jesus to prevail in your life, to display His strength in your weakness? I challenge you to draw your strength from Jesus. Allow Him to work in your weaknesses. Memorize those words that Paul wrote, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Live them out as Christ shines through your life and displays His awesome power!

In His Amazing Grace, Dan Daugherty

Build on the Truth

Matthew7_24There are so many different philosophies and “truths” that permeate our culture today. I have had the privilege of meeting many different types of people in my life. Every one of them has had their own unique personalities that I have grown to appreciate. Many of them have challenged my thinking about life and love. I like the challenge of meeting someone with a differing worldview. It is at those times that I really find out what I truly believe and hold fast to. It’s like going to the gym and realizing that you are stronger or not as strong as you thought.  It keeps me on my toes really.

As a Christian, a true Bible-believing Christian, I trust my heart and life to the Word of God. I accept the scriptures as inerrant truth. I do my very best to live by them. When my worldview is challenged, I go back to the Bible for my defense. There is something to be said about the changing power of the Bible.

I’m reminded of what Jesus says in Matthew 7:24-27, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. I have made the decision in my own life to build my house on the rock. I have chosen the firm foundation of Jesus Christ and His Word. I have chosen to lead my family with it as well.  I’m by no means perfect at it either.  I struggle day to day as I live out this life Jesus has given me.

Where do you stand? Where are you building?   Let me encourage you to build on the Truth. Get into the Bible and live it! And when you meet those who oppose truth, you will have that foundation to defend the faith.

In His Amazing Grace,

Dan Daugherty