Matthew 9:1-8 (NIV)
1Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” 3At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” 4Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” 7And the man got up and went home. 8When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.
Matthew focuses on things that Jesus does that point to his divine nature. First he sees the bold faith of the paralyzed man’s friends. He knows the thoughts of his critics. He shows God’s power to heal. The crowd who had witnessed the healing of the paralytic, praised God saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” The Greek word for filled with awe is the same word for fear. When they realized that Jesus had the power to forgive sins they were filled with terror. This was the first time that this crowd realized that Jesus was God and that they were in the presence of God. Some esteemed him as God – meaning that they believed. The teachers of the law called it blasphemy and left the scene to begin to devise a plan to kill him.
Think about it. They came face to face with the truth that Jesus was God, the one who could forgive their sins. They either accepted and believed in Jesus or rejected him. What if we lived our lives in such a way that people saw Jesus in us so undeniably that they came face to face with the truth of God’s love in Jesus Christ? What if our lives reflected the character and nature of our Savior? Then others would see “evidence that demands a verdict.” Maybe God could use our witness to cause in their hearts and minds a crisis of faith that begs for them to see and believe or explain it away.
Just like the friends of the paralytic, we have a tremendous opportunity to bring our friends to Jesus. If any one of us has a friend who does not know Christ, or who does not care for Christ, or who is even hostile to Christ, it our Christian duty not to let that friend go. We must bring our friends into Christ’s presence. We cannot force people against their will to accept Christ. We cannot make people Christians, but we can do everything possible to bring them into Christ’s presence.
Filed under: prayer
Someone asked me the other day, “What is the number one thing that I can do to prepare for the opening of the DLC?” I thought about it for a moment and replied, “Pray.” Prayer does two things for the effectiveness of ministry. First of all, prayer is the key that unlocks God’s infinite grace and power (see James 5:16). All that God is…and all that God has…is at our disposal when we pray. But we need to use the key. We can accomplish great things on our knees.
The second thing that prayer will do is prepare you to minister. I’m sure you remember the story of Moses, and how he went up onto the mountain for forty days. He desperately wanted to see and experience God’s glory. After spending time in the presence of God, Moses caught so much of the glory in his own face, that when he came down from the mountain, he had to wear a veil over it, because God’s glory was so bright it would have blinded the people.
In the same way, when we “go up onto the mountain of prayer,” away from the world, and spend time alone with God, we will catch the rays of His glory. It is not so much that our faces will shine (though I believe that sometimes even our faces shine), but our character will reveal the glory we have experienced in God’s presence. Each time we commune with Him, we catch something new of His glory and reflect it out to the
world (see 2 Corinthians 3:18).
Don’t miss the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 7th. How awesome to join believers across our nation and around the world on this special day. We are having services at noon and 6pm. Find a church in your city and take time to participate. We are never to busy to pray. We are too busy not to pray.
“Greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done in this city.” The words of the song, “God of This City”, filled the sanctuary on Sunday, March 1st, 2009. The church together in one voice declared these words to the Lord as our outreach anthem for the new building. Then on that day and the following weekend, we made our way to the DLC for “Sharpie Sunday” and over 400 people added their prayers, favorite Scriptures, and words of blessing for the future of the DLC to the floor of the gymnasium. We are literally laying a foundation and preparing our hearts for the amazing impact that this ministry is going to have in this city. Check out the following short video and witness my vision for Sports Outreach in our city:
What is God doing in your city? Are you committed to venturing beyond the walls of your church and reaching into the community with the Good News? The signature of irrelevance is a church that is inwardly focused. Think outside the box. Push the envelope. Be a catalyst for change in your congregation to be involved in “greater things”. And if you are already engaged in community outreach – keep up the good work!
In December 1891 Dr. James Naismith created the game of basketball. Dr. Naismith’s invention came during that winter when his supervisor asked him to come up with an indoor game to attract young men during the harsh New England winters – in order to share the gospel on a year-round basis. With nothing more than a soccer ball, two empty peach baskets, a ladder and ten handwritten rules he had created a game that would become the most watched and played indoor sport in the world.
I bet you didn’t know that basketball was invented to share the gospel. I want to let you know that we in sports outreach ministry are using the game of basketball for its intended purpose. In fact, every recreation activity will be an avenue for ministry to our church and community. We are committed to finding ways to relate to people where they are in a culturally relevant and attractive manner that meets their needs, physically and emotionally, as well as spiritually.
In Colossians 4:5-6 the Apostle Paul encourages the church to “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Believers should live in such a way that they will attract and inspire non-Christians, giving them a favorable view of the Gospel and the church. Believers should give a verbal witness that is winsome, full of character and worthy of respect.
I am passionate about the calling on my life to equip believers to make the most of every opportunity to reach out to people through the most creative and relational means possible. A healthy balance of faith and practice make a lasting, positive impression on a person who is far away from God.
Filed under: sports outreach, sportspastor | Tags: florida gators, football, Gospel, NCAA, prison ministry, sports, Tim Tebow
Tim Tebow is the quarterback for the Florida Gators. He was the first college football player to both rush and pass for 20 touchdowns in a season and was the first sophomore to ever win the Heisman Trophy. Since Tebow won the Heisman Trophy, he has sought to spread his message of faith as far as possible. Winning college football’s most coveted individual award has provided him with a broader audience.
“Because of my name recognition and because of who I am, I’ve been given an opportunity to go places where most other people can’t go,” Tebow said. “I can go into prisons and speak, and no one will say anything. I can go into schools and speak, and they’ll love to have me. I can go to all these different places because of who I am as a football player. That’s a platform the Lord has given me, and I think it’s my responsibility to take advantage of it.”
Please take time to read the following article by Mark Schlabach who covers college football and men’s college basketball for ESPN.com. Read the full article, “Heisman provides Tebow broader audience for message of faith” here.
This inspiring article is full of quotes from Tim Tebow and details his experience of leading 120 inmates to trust Christ during a recent visit to the Gainesville Correctional Institute, a minimum-medium security state prison in Florida.
Filed under: Life and Leadership, sportspastor | Tags: Bible, courage, dreams, Erwin McManus, God, leaders, leadership, Mark Batterson, passion, perspective, potential, prayer, responsibility, sacrifice, Scripture, teamwork
My dreams are bigger than me and I like it that way. My dreams will require divine intervention if they are going to be realized. My dreams are a vision that needs to be communicated to God’s people so that they can join in on the privilege of doing something that is greater than themselves. My dreams require responsibility, sacrifice, and teamwork. My dreams require prayer and perspective. My dreams are bigger than me and I would not have it any other way.
I listened to a sermon by Mark Batterson recently on the topic of courage. He pointed out that throughout history and throughout Scripture the people whose stories are passed down and stand the test of time are those about people who did something courageous. We don’t tell stories of those who chose to be comfortable rather than challenged. We tell the stories of those with a passion and zeal for life. We tell the stories of those who had dreams that were bigger than themselves.
Erwin McManus once spoke on the topic of passion and leadership. He pointed out that we follow people that are confident and passionate about the adventure that is in front of us. Leadership is influence. Often those leaders that are passionate are followed even if they are going the wrong way.
The Bible has tons of stories of people who made poor decisions and went the wrong way. We can learn from the mistakes of others. But we can also be inspired by those same men and women who realized if they were going to be successful in accomplishing God’s call on their future that they would have to ignore the doubters and pursue God ordained dreams that can only be accomplished if there is divine intervention. Dream big because God is big. Give him a chance to show his power and might and give him the glory when what you dreamed becomes reality.
Filed under: Life and Leadership, sportspastor | Tags: church, church leadership, Jesus, ministry, pastors
Pastor Greear notes that “there are two kinds of churches–the kind where the church is an audience gathered to share in the personal fruitfulness of the pastor, and the kind where members are equipped to be fruitful themselves.” I have seen so many well-meaning churches limit their ministry to one main thing in the name of “Good to Great” and not in the name of Christ Jesus. These churches make it all about Sunday morning and forget that ministry also happens in the life of the believer Monday – Saturday. It is not about a Sunday Morning show centered around one charismatic leader. It is not about observation, it is about multiplication. Church leaders should equip the saints for the work of ministry. Go and make disciples – be a fruitful church that glorifies the Father (John 15). Read Pastor Greear’s complete post here.