Have You Been Broken? Part 2 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #26)

Pilgrim's Progress
Pilgrim’s Progress

PART A


PART B


TEXT: 1 Corinthians 10:12-13

12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

As we continue our series on Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible, allow me to read from the story of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan as a prelude to our topic for today.

Now, in this Valley of Humiliation, poor Christian was hard put to it; for he had gone but a little way, before he espied a foul fiend coming over the field to meet him; his name is Apollyon. Then did Christian begin to be afraid, and to cast in his mind whether to go back or to stand his ground. But he considered again that he had no armor for his back; and therefore thought that to turn the back to him might give him the greater advantage with ease to pierce him with his darts.

Therefore he resolved to venture and stand his ground; for, thought he, had I no more in mine eye than the saving of my life, it would be the best way to stand.

So he went on, and Apollyon met him. Now the monster was hideous to behold; he was clothed with scales, like a fish, (and they are his pride,) he had wings like a dragon, feet like a bear, and out of his belly came fire and smoke, and his mouth was as the mouth of a lion. When he was come up to Christian, he beheld him with a disdainful countenance, and thus began to question with him.

Last time we saw Christian, he was on his way into the Valley of Humiliation. And, in that valley, he met the great enemy of every believer — the devil, here given one of his many names, Apollyon. Christian’s first test was whether or not he would turn and run or face his foe. And that provides a great starting point for our message today.

Last week, we learned that one of the reasons why we need to be humbled and broken is so that we will be spiritually vigilant so that we will not fall into temptation.

Another reason why we need to be broken and humble is so that we will grow stronger in our Christian faith by applying what we have learned and using the tools that we have been given. Our passage states, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Now, the word “temptation” involves not only an invitation to sin, which we dealt with last week, but a test or a trial. Continue reading “Have You Been Broken? Part 2 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #26)”

Russell Okung: ‘The Great Thing About Jesus is He’ll Meet You Right Where You Are’ (Gospel Light Minute #184)

Russell Okung
Russell Okung

He is an offensive tackle for the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL. He played college football for Oklahoma State University and was named All-American twice. In 2009, he was awarded the Jim Parker Trophy, an award given yearly to the top collegiate offensive lineman. In 2010, he was drafted by the Seahawks. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2012, helped his team win the Super Bowl in 2014, and helped his team win two back to back NFC Championship titles in 2013 and 2014.

He credits Dr. Joel Tudman, his pastor and assistance strength coach at Oklahoma State with guiding him in his spiritual journey after accepting Jesus Christ. He said of his faith in Christ, “Jesus is everything. And the great thing about Jesus is He’ll meet you right where you’re at. It’s free. You don’t have to earn it. You don’t have to work for it. He gives it because he loves us and He is full of grace. ”

He went on to say, “I intentionally bring Jesus Christ into my game by making sure I’m focused on Him when I step on the field. The Bible tells us to not fear or be dismayed and I take that knowledge with me every time I play. My favorite verse is: Romans 4:20 which says, “He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,” It reminds me that God has a promise for all of us and whatever that is in our lives will not come back void.”

He often encourages children and young people to “make time to know God better through His Word. He’s put a hope in you, so learn more about it. Be able to defend it and teach people about what you believe in. God’s called us to do that on and off the field.”

His name is Russell Okung. Continue reading “Russell Okung: ‘The Great Thing About Jesus is He’ll Meet You Right Where You Are’ (Gospel Light Minute #184)”

Marcus Mariota says his Faith in Christ Keeps him Going in Sports and in Life (Gospel Light Minute #183)

Marcus Mariota
Marcus Mariota

He is an accomplished football quarterback. In high school, he played football and was a standout track and field athlete. As a senior in high school, he led his team to an 11-1 record and the state title while being named Interscholastic League of Honolulu Offensive Player of the Year. He was offered a scholarship to play college football at the University of Oregon and was the starting quarterback for the Ducks from 2012 to 2014.

In 2012, he was named Pac-12 All-Conference 1st Team, Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year, and earning the 2013 Fiesta Bowl Offensive MVP Award. In 2013, he earned Pac-12 All-Conference 1st Team honors for the second consecutive year. He was named both Fiesta Bowl MVP and Alamo Bowl MVP, and the Ducks emerged as champions in both the Fiesta Bowl and the Alamo Bowl. In 2014, he was awarded the Davey O’Brien Award, the Walter Camp Award, and the Maxwell Award given to the nation’s best football player. Among many other honors, in 2014, he became the first Duck in the University of Oregon’s history to win the Heisman Trophy. He led his team to victory in the 2015 Rose Bowl and declared for the 2015 NFL Draft a few days after playing in the National Championship.

In an interview with The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, he said of his faith: “Being a football player, faith plays a huge role. When things start to get rough you find comfort in your faith. Knowing that no matter what, you can dust yourself off and be okay. And you know you do it for God’s glory. You do it for your teammates, your family, but also for His glory and to represent His name.”

“Going through the challenges of the season, my faith has been the steadying force that’s pushed me, along with my family, my friends and my teammates. Losing — especially here [at Oregon] — is tough. We have high expectations as a program to go and win national championships. It’s a huge pressure, but you learn a lot about yourself through it. [My Coach] has helped me learn that football doesn’t define me. It’s just what I do. That was a huge life lesson for me. I really took that and ran with it. My faith is what keeps me going and I can always grow in that.”

He went on to say, “I think as an athlete when you’re able to go out there and have the abilities that the Lord has blessed you with, you want to glorify Him. You want to go out there to represent Him in the right light. To represent your family in the right light and to do that through His power. Since I’ve been here at Oregon, I think my faith has grown tremendously. In high school, I learned about God and Jesus Christ, but I wasn’t really invested in it. I think getting involved with FCA really introduced me into my walk and into my journey. I’m not perfect, but I’m encouraged everyday to continue to open up in my faith. I’ve learned that no matter what, my faith will guide me. However I play on the field, I know my faith will guide me. After sports, my faith will guide me. As I’ve grown in my faith, that’s something that’s given me comfort. God has taught me that I can trust in Him. No matter what–whether things are good or bad — I know I can always trust in Him. And that has really allowed me to go All In for Him.”

His name is Marcus Mariota. Continue reading “Marcus Mariota says his Faith in Christ Keeps him Going in Sports and in Life (Gospel Light Minute #183)”

GLMX #232: Beauty is Only Skin Deep

cosmetic_plastic_surgery

Plastic surgery is big business around the world. In 2013, nearly 12 million nonsurgical procedures took place. The International Business Times reports an increase in young people seeking plastic surgery due to what has been called “selfie imperfections.”The article states, “In response to the current obsession with social media selfie photos, more people are resorting to plastic surgery to fix imperfections like prominent noses, unacceptable wrinkles or curves, or hands that don’t look perfect in Instagram wedding ring announcement photos.”

While millions of people obsess about their outward appearance, their real concern out to be about the part of them that they can’t see and that no one else can see. It’s not the outside that needs a re-make. It’s the inside — the soul — that needs the surgery. On the inside, people are messed up because of their own sins, failures, and faults that leave them feeling guilty, inadequate, and even unworthy of success or the finer things of life.

God does not want you to live under the pressure of constantly trying to fix your problems by fixing up your physical appearance. Changing how you look will not change your personality, make you a better person, or make you act nicer toward others. It’s the inside — the part of you that you can’t see — that needs to be fixed. And God is the only one who can fix a person on the inside. He can heal your soul. He already knows your sins and failures. He already knows your darkest secrets. In Jeremiah 16:17, God says, “Mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes.” Ecclesiastes 12:14 also says, “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” You can’t hide anything from God.

Not only does He know all about your faults and failures, but He has done something about them. Two thousand years ago, he sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross and accept the punishment that you deserve for your sins, failures, and faults. Jesus Christ shed his own blood so you would not have to. And 1 John 1:7 says, “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

Today, you can bring everything in your past that you have been trying to hide from others before the Lord Jesus Christ, and He will wash you, cleanse you, and make you a new person on the inside. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

Would you like to be made a new person on the inside? Would you like to have your soul washed, cleansed, and made brand new through the blood of Jesus Christ? Would you like for Jesus Christ to do surgery on your soul, to fix what you can’t see? If so, there are a few steps you must take. Continue reading “GLMX #232: Beauty is Only Skin Deep”

GLMX #231: No Laughing Matter: Satire, Terror, and the Seriousness of Eternity

charle-hebdo-eternity

This past week, the world watched as scenes of terror unfolded in the City of Light — Paris, France. Two Islamic extremists walked into the offices of a weekly satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, and opened fire killing five of the magazine’s cartoonists, an economist, two police officers, and four others. Eleven people were also wounded, some of them critically.

The men who carried out the attacks claimed they were avenging the Prophet Muhammad over some cartoons of him which the newspaper had printed in 2012. While some might question the wisdom of printing such material which is known to be offensive to Muslims, many have rallied behind the magazine in support of free speech and the freedom of the press. After all, one of the biggest factors behind the cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo is that it is satire — humorous commentary meant to generate laughs while also pointing out (and poking fun at) the vices, folly, shortcomings, or abuses of others. Surely, something so harmless could not possibly become the target of a violent terror attack.

But, on January 7, 2015, it did.

And, during that attack, each of those who died or who faced death also faced the seriousness of eternity. Even the most lighthearted person would quickly sober as he thinks of death and what lies beyond.

Some in our world today like to joke about death and eternity. At funerals, people often tell jokes or funny stories about the person who died in an effort to ease the grief of those who are left behind. Some say that they wouldn’t mind going to Hell because all their friends are there or because they think Hell will be one big party. Others often make jokes about what Peter will say or do when they meet him at the pearly white gates of Heaven.

But, in all actuality, death and eternity are no laughing matter. The twelve people who died in the Charlie Hebdo terror attack are either in Heaven or Hell right now. On top of that, their families, friends, and loved ones are left behind grieving over their loss and the tragic way in which their lives were stolen from them. Death and eternity are serious business.

One day, you, too, will face the seriousness of eternity. Hopefully, it will not be in such a horrible way as was experienced by those who were killed this week. Nonetheless, such a moment will come, and the only thing that will matter at that moment is whether or not you are ready to leave this temporary life and go out into eternity.

Once we die, we will not return to this life. We will go out into eternity where we will face God and be ushered into one of two eternal destinations — Heaven or Hell. The Bible says that some “shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” The destination where you end up is based on a decision you make in this life. Since this is the only life you get, I encourage you to choose wisely. Continue reading “GLMX #231: No Laughing Matter: Satire, Terror, and the Seriousness of Eternity”

Former NBA Player and College Basketball Analyst Clark Kellogg: ‘I’m a Christ-follower and Everything I Think, Do, and Say is Influenced by That’ (Gospel Light Minute #182)

Clark Kellogg
Clark Kellogg

He is the vice-president of player relations for the Indiana Pacers as well as the lead college basketball analyst for CBS Sports. After playing college basketball for Ohio State, he went on to play for the NBA’s Indiana Pacers from 1982–1986. In 1983, he was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team.

He said of his faith, “Growing up in a loving two-parent household, I don’t recall going to church much but know my four siblings and I were raised with Judeo-Christian values. I acknowledged the existence of God, but had no real concept of what a relationship with Him was about. Like many of us, I thought doing good things and making my parents and others proud would please God.”

After recovery from a third knee surgery in 1985, he said, “I began thinking about my purpose in life. A local minister started conducting chapel services prior to NBA games. Curious about the peace he had, I asked him to walk me and my wife through the Bible and teach us about God. I learned God loves us, gives us life and breath, and has an ultimate plan for our lives. He wants us to know and worship Him, but sin (falling short of God’s mark) creates a gap between man and a holy God. However, God, because of His great love, provides His son, Jesus Christ to bridge the gap. Through faith in Christ all can be forgiven of sin, made new, and eternal life can be yours.”

He went on to say, “No matter what role I embrace, my faith remains my foundation. Christ is my all and the driver of my life. He permeates my very being and impacts everything I do. Through prayer, patience and asking Him to work through me, I realize I’m always an ambassador for Him. Whether I’m broadcasting, being a husband and father, mentoring guys, or interacting with colleagues, that’s who I am. I’m a Christ-follower and all that I think, do and say is influenced by that. I’m a representative of Christ, and I have the living Christ alive in me through God’s grace. That will always flow out of me as I stay close to Him.”

His name is Clark Kellogg. Continue reading “Former NBA Player and College Basketball Analyst Clark Kellogg: ‘I’m a Christ-follower and Everything I Think, Do, and Say is Influenced by That’ (Gospel Light Minute #182)”

Amar’e Stoudemire: ‘Jesus Gives Me Direction, Purpose, and Hope’ (Gospel Light Minute #181)

Amar'e Stoudemire
Amar’e Stoudemire

He is a center and power forward for the New York Knicks of the NBA. He was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 2002 and played with the team until 2010 when he was picked up by the Knicks. Despite chronic knee problems, he won the 2003 NBA Rookie of the Year Award and was a first-team All-NBA selection in 2007. He also made six appearances in the NBA All-Star Game and won a bronze medal with the United States men’s national basketball team at the 2004 Olympic Games.

Although his mother and father divorced when he was young, his father died when he was 12, and his mother was in and out of jail for petty crimes, he always knew he would play basketball. Due to multiple transfers throughout high school, he missed his entire junior year of basketball. He told Dime Magazine that what ‘kept him going during that difficult time was God.’

He said of his faith, “Although I didn’t start playing basketball until I was fourteen years old, I’ve been going to church my entire life. I grew up in a Christian family, and my father took us to church every Sunday and Wednesday without fail. Even though he died when I was twelve, my mother made sure that Christianity continued to be a central part of my family’s life. That’s why I have such a strong faith today. Going to church helped me develop a relationship with Jesus, and that has given me something to lean on as I have worked to reach my goals.”

He went on to say, “Winning Rookie of the Year in my first season with the Suns was an incredible honor, but I know I can’t claim sole credit. I depend on God for everything I do, including playing basketball. Jesus hasn’t just given me talent though. He also gives me direction, purpose, and hope. Without Him to guide my life, I don’t know where I would have ended up. I still say my prayers every night, and God always gives me confidence and peace of mind as a result. That’s exactly what we need more of these days. I was fortunate to grow up in a Christian environment. That may not be true for you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start living for Christ right now. If you’re looking for someone to lean on, someone to guide and encourage you through these troubled times, I encourage you to begin a relationship with Jesus today.”

His name is Amar’e Stoudemire. Continue reading “Amar’e Stoudemire: ‘Jesus Gives Me Direction, Purpose, and Hope’ (Gospel Light Minute #181)”

GLMX #230: An Inside Job

the-journey-ii

Many people see the New Year as a time to turn over a new leaf, to turn their backs on bad habits and old ways that do not benefit them, and to make changes in their lives that will make their future better and brighter than their past. Henry Ward Beecher once said, “Every man should be born again on the first day of January.”

At this time of the year, many people make New Year’s resolutions that focus on changing some aspect of their outward status — their appearance, their health, their success, their career, or their education. However, the most important change you can make at the beginning of the New Year is not an outward change at all. It is an inward change — a change of your heart, your soul, your spirit, and your mind. The Bible calls it being “born again.”

In John chapter 3, Jesus Christ explains to a man named Nicodemus that “ye must be born again.” The new birth that Jesus Christ is talking about is not a physical rebirth — one that changes how we look on the outside, but a spiritual birth. It is an inside job — one that changes how we really are on the inside.

Why is there a need for us to change on the inside? Well, the Bible tells us that we are all sinners who have done things that do not please God. Just in the past year, you did and said things that God was not pleased with. Ecclesiastes 7:20 says “For there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not.” Romans 3:23 also says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

We are born with a sin nature and are prone to doing wrong. This sin nature is not something that can be fixed by outward means. It cannot be fixed by ‘turning over a new leaf’, making a resolution, or joining a support group to help us change. It can only be fixed by a new birth — a spiritual birth that is only possible through the work that Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross. If you have not had this spiritual birth, the new year is a great time to make this most important change in your life. By being “born again” through Jesus Christ, you will be given a new heart, mind, soul, and spirit. You will be free from the bondage of sin and evil; you will be a child of God; and you will have a home in Heaven. I think that is a great way to start off the New Year. Continue reading “GLMX #230: An Inside Job”

Soccer Star Eddie Pope: “Life is Too Short to Live Without God. He is a Necessity.” (Gospel Light Minute #180)

Eddie Pope
Eddie Pope

He is a retired American soccer player. He last played for Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer. Although he spent eleven years as a defender for the United States national team, he spent most of his career playing for D.C. United. In 2011, he was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. In 1998, he helped United win both the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football Champions Cup and the InterAmerican Cup. In 1997, he was named the MLS Defender of the Year.

He said of his faith, “I grew up going to church every Sunday with my family. Although church was meaningful to me, it soon became more of a routine than a heartfelt faith. That began to change during my freshman year at the University of North Carolina. I was playing both soccer and football. It was a grueling time because I had two practices a day for each sport I was playing. It wasn’t long before I was exhausted. Then a teammate gave me a card that contained some Psalms from the Bible. They made a lot of sense to me. They also provided me with the peace and strength I needed to get through each day.”

He went on to say, “I came to realize that God is a ‘personal’ God. His Word can be applied in every situation. I also realized it was time to quit going through the motions, to stop treating my relationship with God as a routine and to start making it the foundation of my life. So, in a strange way, soccer has forced me to develop a relationship with God. It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. With all the traveling and being away from family, having God as part of my daily routine is essential—even though He is anything but routine. Life is too short to live without God. He is a necessity.”

His name is Eddie Pope. Continue reading “Soccer Star Eddie Pope: “Life is Too Short to Live Without God. He is a Necessity.” (Gospel Light Minute #180)”

GLMX #228: “Hands Up, I Surrender All”

hands-up2

You’ve heard the chant of protesters across America — “hands up, don’t shoot!” For them, that phrase is a statement of dissatisfaction with what they perceive as injustice. But, people put their hands in the air for numerous reasons. People raise their hands in a celebratory gesture at football games or concerts. Some raise their hands in the air as an act of worship or praise in church. This past week, we saw civilians who had been held hostage by a gunman in a cafe in Sydney, Australia, raise their hands in the air as they escaped to indicate to police officers that they were not a threat.

Perhaps you have thrown your hands in the air in frustration. Jewish rabbis raise their hands when giving the benediction. “Jazz hands” are often used while dancing. Some people raise their hands with palms facing inward when they are trying to express that they don’t understand something. In France, you can raise your arm and rotate your hand back and forth to let someone know that you are unhappy with their driving. In Germany, people often clasp their hands together and raise them above their heads to express gratitude. In Russia and former Soviet countries, it is customary to raise your hand in a fist above your head and shake it to express anger. And, of course, we all know that you can raise your hand and wave it in order to say “hello” or “goodbye.”

It’s clear that what we do with our hands can express many messages. But, perhaps, the most important thing we can express by raising our hands is surrender — not only surrender to police and other human authorities, but to God. The writers of the Bible tell us that they raised their hands to demonstrate that they were surrendering to God’s will, that they were leaning on Him, and that they were trusting in Him. Continue reading “GLMX #228: “Hands Up, I Surrender All””