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Archive for the category “The Life Church”

Friday Review: “The I AM Statements of Jesus”

“Jesus in the Present TenseI_AM_StatementsofChrist

Here’s something for those who would like to go a little deeper into the Scriptures during the “I AM” Series at The Life Church on Sundays.  Or if my posts have stirred your interest in the topic this is a good resource to accompany you in your Bible study.

I love the title “Jesus in the Present Tense”.  It speaks to me of insight, immediacy and involvement.  I do not expect to be a passive observer while reading a book titled this way.

It tells me that the author will not limit himself to prodding theological expositions or exegetical drudgery.  Though Wiersbe does not disappoint if you are interested in Scripture references.  Wiersbe’s writing is a veritable cornucopia of supporting Bible references.

Wiersbe moves the reader through the initial Moses question of whom shall I tell them sent me and then into Apostle John’s usage of I AM.  He then follows in straightforward fashion a review of the seven I AM statements of Jesus.  He then adds a section one would not expect, one about the cross and the shame quoting from the OT.  He follows this up with “I AM Jesus” from the Book of ACTS and completes the book with a look at the responses we can have to the revelation of the Great I AM “Living and Serving in the Present Tense”.

As an accompanying work to a study on the I AM statements of Jesus it is quite good.  As I mentioned Wiersbe has loaded this book with scripture references and cross references.  How deep you go is up to the reader.  The book reads well and is instructive even without taking the many tangential explorations offered.

The book is an easy read.  Wiersbe truly hits his stride in The Door and The Shepherd sections where examples and application abound.   The earlier sections are instructive and, yes, full of scripture.  But I couldn’t help feeling that Wiersbe was just giving me surface thoughts (don’t get me wrong, Wiersbe’s been at this a long time and his surface thoughts beat many preachers deep reflections).  But if given a little bit more time to write he would have unlocked some secret revelation vault and would have knocked the reader’s socks off with additional insights and examples. 

The Door (or Gate) section impressed me the most.  How could anyone provide so much inspirational insights about “I AM the Door”.  But he does and then nicely weaves it into The Shepherd chapter.    

I recommend the book.  Easily accessible.  Full of insights.  Great title and focus on “Jesus in the Present Tense”.  Our relationship with Jesus is now and we have a relationship with source of the Seven I AM statements. Jesus is our Bread of Life, our Light, the gate and shepherd caring and protecting us. He is the resurrected one who brings us Life. Not only does he lead the way, he is the way!  Not only does he show us truth, he is the truth!  He not only brings us into life, he is the life!

The True Vine section that focuses on abiding is true food for the soul and rest to the weary.  Abiding epitomizes the Present Tense we are to live in.  I am reminded of books like Brother Lawrence’s “The Imitation of Christ”, Murray’s “Abiding in Christ” and Watchman Nee’s “The Release of the Spirit”. 

The study of the seven I AM statements of Christ will not be an end in itself.  It will spur you on to want to know Jesus more and more.  Wiersbe book is a great resource to have as you pursue the Great I AM! 

Amazon’s Audio-Digital Combination

To go through the book I used a combination of Audible (audio) and Kindle (digital, paperless). There is a wonderful app that Amazon has in place now that automatically synchronizes between your reading and your listening.  It’s called “Whispersync for Voice”.  If you read pages 12-25 on the morning and then use audio on the way to work, the audio will not start at the last place you listened it will ask you to choose… 1) last time you listened 2) furthest point via reading.  Your audio can “sync” up to page 25 right off and you continue in the book without skipping a beat!

There is an even newer addition to reading experience available from the folks at Amazon… it’s called “Immersion Reading”.  On your Kindle Fire HD you can listen and read at the same time while the Amazon app highlights the words being read!

The “I AM ___ Series” at The Life Church

The I AM Series

I-AM-Web New Series at The Life Church 11234 Balls Ford Rd Manassas, VA 20109

Sundays 9:00 AM, 10:45 AM & 12:30 PM

Pastor David Baird has started a series on the Seven “I AM” Statements of Jesus.  Each statement is rich in meaning and significance for our lives.  As one man said, “It is Jesus in the present tense”.

But why “I AM”?  “I AM” is actually the name that God asked Moses to use in the response to the question that the Israelites would surely ask.  “Who sent you?”

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:13-14

 God wanted to be known as “I AM WHO I AM” or simply “I AM”.  The heavy emphasis on the present tense gives the impression of timelessness or someone beyond time.

The word used for “I AM WHO I AM” is YHWH.  No vowels as it is not to be spoken! The people of Israel would add the vowels of Adonai and the result would be YAHWEH or more familiar to many of us… JEHOVAH.  This then is the name of God that was given to Moses and the people of Israel at the time of the Egyptian captivity and the subsequent Exodus.

Later Jesus would use this name in describing himself.  “Before Abraham was, I AM.”

Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”  So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:56-58

This statement by Jesus has drawn attention to seven statements known as the “I AM” statements of Jesus found in the book of John.  Each statement contains the words “I am” followed by a descriptive noun that describes who Jesus is and what he means to those who put their full trust in him.  Many see each statement as a description of a characteristic of God. 

Pastor David will be looking at these statements over the coming weeks and pointing us to the character and provision of Christ in our lives NOW.  It is not the Jesus of the past that we look at only but it is the Jesus who comes into our lives now in the present tense.  Through these messages you will come to know Jesus as the one who sustains and provides for us, who brings us light and guidance, who cares for us and provides life in abundance with great purpose, significance and fulfillment.

I_Am_7

The messages are also available online if you are not in town, not able to come or would just like to listen to the Bible says about the Great I AM.

Link to the website of The Life Church

Link to Watch & Listen to Messages

The Anchor Debut – Elevation EP

anchor_debut

The new all original music EP by Elevation Band out 1.20.2013

The Life Church, 11234 Balls Ford Rd. Manassas, VA hosts a regular Sunday night young adults meeting called “Elevation”.   The meeting features a time of worship led by an amazingly talented group who have by default become called “Elevation Band”.

This past Sunday January 20, 2013 the band and the ministry debuted their first recording of original music.  The EP is called “The Anchor”  and is now available on iTunes and on Amazon (see link below).

The band led worship Sunday the followed it up by playing a live set of the EP much to the joy of the almost 1,000 in attendance.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Anchor/dp/B00AYHYSMA/ref=sr_shvl_album_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358818710&sr=301-1

Modern, young, singable, God centered with brilliant arrangements and great vocals.  Be ready to be lifted into praise and worship of the King of Kings!

 

Freedom & Religion

Freedom.  Religion.  In your mind do these terms go together? When you think of Freedom do you think of Religion?  When you think of Religion do you think of Freedom?

This past Sunday, July 1, my Pastor at The Life Church, David Baird gave an excellent message.  Not sure of  the title… I was going to put a link on this post to an audio file but I don’t see it up yet.  In any case let’s call it “Freedom & Religion”.  The message focused on three relationships freedom and religion can have.

The first relationship that he spoke on was called “Freedom OF Religion”.  This part was definitely prompted by the coming 4th of July Celebration on Wednesday.  Pastor expressed his gratefulness for being in a country where Religion can be for the most part practiced in Freedom. He said it is great to be able to drive down the street and see churches, synagogues, mosques and temples where people can freely worship.  He took the opportunity to chide those who would try to remove “God” from government contending that those kind of references did not violate government’s mandate of not establishing religion.  Prior to the message we saw a video that showed an amazing number of inscriptions referring to God on government buildings and some powerful quotes from our founders concerning God and effective government.

The future of the use of the word “God”, prayer at school events and at government facilities, Bible clubs and Church meetings in public schools or displaying of the Ten Commandments anywhere in government is still not resolved and is currently up in the air.  Judging by the way the courts are approaching these types of things as violations of the “separation of Church and State” I foresee the removal of the word “God” from the pledge of allegiance and from our coinage in the not too distant future.  Just think, the government’s National Day of Prayer was recently ruled as unconstitutional. 

The current status can be summed up by a commentary I saw on the web saying… “Though the ”place of religion in our society is an exalted one,’ the Establishment Clause, the Court continued, prescribed that in ‘the relationship between man and religion,’ the State must be ‘firmly committed to a position of neutrality‘.”  I find this to be an odd interpretation of the Establishment Clause which says that government shall “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  (I hope to write a post about it in the near future.)

Regardless of how all this shakes down I join with Pastor David in grateful thanks for the freedom that our country provides us now for practicing our faith.

The second relationship that he spoke on was called “Freedom FROM Religion”. This part focused on truths found in the book of Galatians. Our Pastor is pretty passionate about this aspect of the Christian Life.  He has been quite adamant about us being a church that celebrates its freedom FROM religion.  He reminds us of this regularly!

Galatians 5:13 says “For you were called to freedom” (ESV)  and 5:1 states “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery”. The yoke or bondage is what Pastor defines as “religion”.  He defines it by saying “Religion is what we do to get God’s acceptance and approval.  It is performance-based living of any kind!” As Galatians says, a life based on the law is bondage and does not bring freedom. Pastor then referenced Galatians 5:12 to reinforce the severity of leading a Christian back into this kind of “religion”.  “I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves”!   That’s right…  emasculate!  That’s a nice word for “castrate.” Paul is pretty darn serious about keeping us out of dead performance-based religion!

The third relationship that he spoke on was called “Freedom FOR Religion”.  For  this part he went to the book of James.  He said if there is a good side to religion then it is defined here in James 1:27 “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world”. So there is a good side to religion and we are to wholeheartedly embrace it. 

It’s also important to note that we at TLC seldom use the word “religion” to describe the Christianity that we are to live.  The word that Pastor David would use to describe the Christian life is LOVE and not religion.  For we have been set free to LOVE as it states in Galatians.

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another”.  We use our freedom to love… to love God, to love people! (Gal 5:13)

Because Freedom FROM Religion and Freedom FOR Religion go hand in hand we embrace both. The Apostle Paul exhorts us therefore to put off the OLD and put on the NEW! We thank God for this wonderful FREEDOM in Christ! For the “from” and the “for”!

What I’ve heard many times before applies here…

“It’s not Religion, it’s a Relationship!”

Or as singer Scott Wesley Brown used to sing in the late 70’s…

“I’m not religious, I just love the Lord!”

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