Watch or Listen!
Watch or Listen!
Audio Book Version:
As far as Gods people were concerned,
It had always been about “the Kingdom” – God’s rule here on earth. About God’s people living in and living out the fulfilled promise of the one and only true God.
This reality hinged upon the promises of God being fulfilled in a man, a king, a ruler that would be the deliverer of Israel – Gods people – a son and descendant of the son of David from the tribe of Judah. This would be the King of the Jews! The king of the people known as the praisers of God – for that is what Judah means: “to praise.”
The Jews were in fact to be the praisers and worshipers of God, and that is what the Messiah, the Christ, the Promised King would do, He would unite the people of God as worshipers of God and rulers with Him forever.
That is the promise, and what good is a promise unless it is fulfilled?
That promise and its fulfillment is what the entire bible is about.
Will God be true to His promise?
Will he fulfill His covenant with man?
And to us, the question is asked:
Will we accept His King? …even if it comes in the form of a
helpless baby? … born of an unwed mother?… in a barn, atop
a pile of hay, surrounded by animals?
Its easy to like the promise, but will we accept its fulfillment?
The Gift of a savior came… but it took some time.
Like most major changes throughout history, the gift of a savior king for Israel would not come without major opposition.
People fear change… it makes us feel uncomfortable.
It threatens our norm and moves us unwillingly a lot of times from our comfort zone.
The birth of a savior had been rumored as wise men had followed a star from the east to Bethlehem where they believed that THE Messiah had been born.
Upon this discovery Herod, the King and ruler of Palestine, fearful that he would lose his power and maybe even his throne, decided to take his fate into his own hands and he acted in a most desperate and wicked way.
He ordered that all male children in Bethlehem under the age of two were to be murdered. (Jer 31:15)
Joseph, as we know had been forwarded in a dream and had fled to Egypt to keep his son Jesus safe.
Imagine, a father, protecting (or saving) his son, who would later become his Savior.
Like Herod, people who would protect their own power over their own lives – their own will and comforts, have always had and always will have a hard time accepting their own need for a Savior.
To acknowledge God, is to acknowledge that you are not superior in the universe.
If God exists, than He by default is more powerful than us, and
if He is more powerful than us than He rules over us, and if
He is Ruler, than He must have rules and If He has rules, than
one day we must be accountable to them.
And for most, that is simply unacceptable.
To acknowledge God as ruler and king of our lives would require us to accept His ways and change ours.
It would require us to acknowledge our state of needing Him and His rescue if we were to find out that we were indeed not perfect like Him.
If a holy God demanded that were unacceptable and unworthy of His kingdom in our imperfect and sinful, dirty state of being, than we would NEED a rescuer, an offering of forgiveness… a ransom.
Herod could not accept a ruler over his life, threatening his kingdom, and so he refused to bow the knee and violently resisted the will of God and took matters into his own fleshly hands.
But the will of God can not be thwarted.
God would fulfill His promises to usher in His Kingdom with the promised Messiah seated on the throne.
Truly, the clay is in the Hands of the Potter, and the Potter will have His way with His purposed vessels.
Truly, the Kingdom of God was at hand and there was nothing man could do to stop it.
The Messiah and Savior and King had been born and He was being raised as one like us – only without sin or imperfection.
The Kingdom of God was upon us all and God had sent a messenger to prepare the way….
He was not a normal man…
normal meant 9-5, vanity, well-groomed,
respected, a home owner, a car payment,
SHOES for goodness sake!
But not our messenger.
John was anything but normal.
He was a believer.
He was a disciple of God and a forerunner of the messiah.
He was truly willing to look a fool for the sake of setting the stage for the one who could save his own soul and the souls of those who would repent and believe.
It is in fact those who are weak and humble and willing to follow God, who prepare the way for others to meet their maker and Savior. Remember Paul’s words to the Corinthians about their calling
“26For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,[c] not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being[d] might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him[e] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
1 Cor 1:26-31
God would use a man, clothed in camels fur and belted with cow skin and who lived in the dusty wilderness, eating grass hoppers and honey.
Not a great looking celebrity or CEO or viral sensation.
Not a rich man or an impressive man, but a CALLED man.
A man whom God had selected. A Humble man. A man willing to do the will of God. A man willing to forsake worldly comforts to afford others the comforts of an eternity with God.
A man willing to speak the truth even if it cost him everything.
A man willing to be laughed at and insulted and questioned and beheaded.
John was not a man chasing riches or popularity. He was chasing God. Longing to follow Him and do His will. To make Him know, even if it cost Him everything.
Herod had feared that the messiah would live to conquer his throne, but it was Gods desire to conquer the hearts of men.
His victory was to overthrow the sin and rebellion that man had become accursed with. His Gift to us in His coming was the gift of repentance and the fruit of salvation.
Changed hearts, leading to a changed mind that could finally worship God without needing the continuing sacrifice of an animal, but worshipers who could continually come before God forgiven by the blood of their savior and sin-conquering King.
The Kingdom of God was upon us. God’s promise was being fulfilled and John The Baptizer was preparing the way!
It was the beginning of the Good News, coming in the flesh:
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”
4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
John’s Message like a Truth Sword cuts through our armored skin and penetrates our souls.
His preaching and message was the truth from God, highlighting the chasm that sin had laid before us and the Father, that could only be bridged by the sacrifice of the son. Our sin kept us from the Kingdom of God and it was only through the Son could that bridge be repaired.
Sin was the injury. Repentance was the healing balm.
of our advent series we talked about our fall into the cursed life because of Sin and our desire for it. Joel highlighted our need for a Savior because of our being cut off from the righteousness that is needed to live in fellowship with a Holy God. That is what holiness is and what it does – it is cut off from fault and error and sin. You cannot live righteously and wrongly at the same time. In order for God to be right (holy), He must keep those who are wrong out of His Kingdom.
But God’s purposes were not to keep us from Him forever, not even sin could separate us from the Love of God.
Randy emphasized the Prophesies concerning the coming of our savior. God not only planned our salvation, but He verbally predicted it for us in written form before it would even take place. He told us that He would save His people, and He saved and is saving His people through the promised Messiah – the Christ – The Savior of Gods people, just as He had promised. Jesus Christ.
Ryan reminded us that God’s ways are not our ways. Christ did not arrive with flashing light and a parade. He was born of humble means and circumstance. There was no room for Him in the inn. He was a baby. Helpless, needy, dependent upon His mothers milk and needing a blanket to keep warm. This was how God showed up in the flesh. Just as God had planned, sovereignly. The conqueror of Sin, born as a baby.
Josh shed light on the reality that the light of the world has shone in our hearts and he highlighted the emphasis in scripture that the people of God would be the bride of Christ. That Jesus as light of the world would shine in our hearts and give us life. That God has promised salvation and He has delivered on that promise.
What will you do with that promise?
Will you believe?
Will you Repent?
Belief itself is not without it’s evidence. Just as the proof is in the pudding, the evidence is in the fruit.
Salvation as a gift is to be received and the gift received leaves itself evidences.
The first being a repentant life.
Repentance is a deep inner change of the mind, heart and
That doesn’t happen without showing its evidence.
You can know who God is and be an unbeliever – an unrepentant person or being.
Example: The Devil.
A Person who has heard the truth and received (i.e. believed) the truth has experienced a miracle.
This is in fact, known as regeneration.
The gift of God to us, in removing the blinders from our eyes and the snares from our feet so that we can believe and see Him in His glory and grace and be recipients of the Gift of God – Salvation.
This Salvation is all of God alone.
Speaking of God’s Servants, Paul says to Timothy(2) (2:25-26) that
25 He must correct those who are in opposition with courtesy and gentleness in the hope that God may grant that they will repent and be led to the knowledge of the truth [accurately understanding and welcoming it], 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
When I pray for my unbelieving friends and family members, I pray that God, in His great kindness and mercy would grant them repentance as a gift of His great grace.
What was Johns message in the wilderness?
It was that the Light was coming into the world and that it was now time to confess our deeds and repent, that we might receive new life.
His message was direct, and bold and to the point:
To the religious, he rebuked, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear Fruit in keeping with repentance… Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
And to all:
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3
The change God seeks is the change of the heart and mind. He takes evil men and replaces their calloused hearts with fleshy hearts. He takes a perverted mind and purifies its thoughts. He takes and old filthy garment and replaces it with a new clean and spotless one. He takes our unworthy sacrifices and becomes the pure spotless lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
This was the coming Kingdom that John preached about. The Kingdom of God and Christ who would forgive the repentant sinner and make His kingdom in their hearts.
But the Kingdom came to those who would believe and receive?
It is both.
Many knew Jesus, but did not receive Him for who He divinely Is. They know Him, heard him, ate with him and saw his miracles, and yet they did not receive the gift of God, but instead rejected it. Even the demons believe, says the scriptures. Repentance was not a fruit of their lives but rather a hardness of heard. Rocky hearts do not grow on trees, fruit does. Those who are connected to the vine bear fruit and that fruit resembles Christ. Those who’s stony and prideful hearts keep them christ are not attached to the vine but remain on the ground, only observers but not partakers of the fruit. Though they may gather close to the branches, they are not part of the tree.
This is why it is so important for us to speak the truth as John did. He was a witness to the truth, faithfully preaching a baptism unto repentance, why? So That many would believe and receive the gift of God in Christ – Salvation.
Who do we call to repentance? Who do we ask to believe? Who do we pray for, that repentance might be granted?
We preach to all, we pray for all, and we love all.
“for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Who is the “whoever”?
We don’t know…. And so we preach the good news to whoever we can, and we pray that GOD, who is rich in Mercy, would grant the same repentance to those hearers that he has granted to us, even though we were sinners.
Consider John 1-3 with an emphasis on the word receive.
If God’s good news of how He has loved you, and sent His Son Jesus to die for you has reached your ears and pierced your heart and has created the feeling of remorse for your sins for maybe the first time, than can I rejoice with you, that a miracle has taken place. That is a Gift from God for you.
Receive this Gift gladly. Accept this reality that God has allowed you to repent and turn from your sins and not only believe Him but to obey Him.
This is the fruit of a life reborn – regenerated and made to come alive for the first time.
Its not Just about believing, it’s about being born again of God alone.
John said toward the end of John chapter three, that
“He (speaking of Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease…whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true…whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life…”
John’s Gospel is the only gospel that does not mention John the Baptist’s death and his beheading at the hands of Herod. . .
It’s as if John the Baptist simply fades out of the picture just as he would have wished.
John simply described himself as a Voice. The voice of one crying out in the wilderness.
We all have a voice.
What will your voice give witness to?
John proclaimed the coming of his Savior and told people to believe and receive Gods Gifts of Grace: Repentance unto Salvation.
I cannot imagine a better way to be a voice, than to proclaim the Salvation that has come to us by God in Christ Jesus or Lord.
J.N.Wheels talks with guest Jeremiah Jasso about the importance of keeping with sound doctrine in the the church for this generation and future generations. Should we be scared of Doctrine? Should we as christians embrace and teach doctrine? What is doctrine anyways? Find out on this episode of the 3M Podcast w/ J.N.Wheels.
To listen to the full episode click HERE and find the 3M Show on your favorite Podcast platform.
What is written below is in response to another pastor within my community publicly condemning his congregation for exercising their liberty to drink alcohol in public or private – just so you know the context.
“Why even beat this drum?” you might ask, since I have publicly debated this topic multiple time’s online. I do believe passionately that if we begin to twist scripture to fit our own and every personal deep seeded conviction, and then pressure those around us to believe and practice the same, and especially if we are going to allow those who speak in our pulpits at our churches to do the same, we are going to:
1. Lose an entire generation of people and congregants who can see through the clouds of legalism that is spewing forth from this type of interpretation, even if they cannot articulate it. and
2. We are allowing our churches to produce accidental pharisees even though the intention was well meaning.
I cant even count the number of people I know and have met who are leaving the church or are discouraged and bewildered in their church because of the heavy handed doctrines that are being taught in regards to the topic of christian liberty. Pastors telling people what they can and cant do in life, in their families, in their careers. “Then what am I allowed to do?” Thus, the bewilderment of so many.
As pastors, preachers or Bible teachers, we are not instructors on every detail of everyones life, but rather conveyors of truth. Once that truth is accepted, it is up to the individual to grow into maturity and make their own decisions that can glorify God. We help them get there through discipleship. Not making them into our image but Christ’s.
This topic (on restricting liberties) always comes up around the issue of alcohol (which I believe is a “non-issue”) which is why some have come to believe that I am defending only the believers right to drink alcohol (because I do enjoy my craft beer) but that is not the case at all. In fact, that is not even what this article is about (not about alcohol). I am defending the believers right to their God given, fought and died for liberties in general – all of them.
Once you begin down the slippery slope of restricting others liberties (legalism), it becomes inevitable that you will produce in yourselves and in your church a horrific result of “christian superiority” over those who are not like you. That is dangerous and that is exactly where the pharisees erred. You and I cannot fill in the blanks where God has decided to keep silent or give liberty.
Which is exactly why my conversation began with the following verse:
(Following is my public online response)
“For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” 2 Cor 10:12
We all know that eating the food and where it comes from makes no difference (in relation to food offered to idols). But just because we know that we can eat it, lets not become, in our knowledge (or liberty), arrogant. Rather, in love we should consider the weakness or ignorance on these things (liberties) that those weaker or younger in the faith might display by their sensitivity to such matters. (1 Cor 8:1-8) These people’s conscience were still captive to the influence of these (false) idols. Thats not where we want to leave people. “their conscience, being weak, is defiled.” (1 Cor 8:7)
Corinthians encourages us to grow in the grace and knowledge of God, not stay weak in mind and faith. Paul was concerned about those who still believed in the power or influence of idols (that they, the idols, are something when they are not – idols). He is concerned that the one mans knowledge (which is commended), that it is ok to eat meat, even if it was once offered to a idol, would encourage another (weak minded and confused) believer that its ok to worship Jesus and to continue to worship idols as well. The context is to say, “we don’t worship idols, but some still haven’t gotten there yet – or figured this out yet” We should help them get there by getting our meat elsewhere if need be. He is not condemning the mature christians liberty but commending it by saying, “hey, we know better, and because of that, lets be mature enough not to send our weaker brothers and sisters, stumbling back into the idols temple and away from the one true God.”
But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse. But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols?
And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 1 Cor 8:8-11
He is talking about leaving the faith and going back to idol worship. We are to raise up or disciple our congregations to believe that there is One true God only who is worthy of our worship and that idols are nothing, therefore eventually they will grow up, not stay weak, and realize, like those with knowledge, that the idols that the meat is offered to are literally nothing and that the meat is just that, meat. “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? “Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” Jesus – Matt 15
This kind of teaching was at the core of Jesus’ teachings toward the pharisees and those trapped by legalism. Its about the heart. We encourage people to grow up! And in growing up in Christ, its becomes natural to make decisions based on our love for God and one another.
We encourage christians to grow and mature in a way that helps them to make all their decisions in a way that glorify God. When teachings like this (“dont do this or that”, “god revealed to ME that this is a stumbling block and unwise for you”) are taught year after year as people sit under our guidance, it becomes confusing, harmful and non-beneficial. Its encouraging christians to sip on the pastors milk when they should move onto the meat – maturing and being able to make their own decisions based on the scriptures. Thats where we get true wisdom – not from pastors who make statements like: “when God revealed this to me.” Thats nothing but legalism and extra-biblical teaching. This leaves no room for maturing or discussion or differing opinions on the matter (which the Bible leaves open for discussion). What else can be said or discussed among the church if the pastor is claiming that his opinion is from God?
Example from the Video: “You think you have the liberty to drink?” You cannot practice liberties, even “in the privacy or your home” your liberty “is a stumbling block” expressing “liberty” in “air quotes” “thats how some of you started drinking” ….etc.
A fat person finally got themselves on a diet and grabbed an apple before heading to church only to find mature believers at church eating extremely unhealthy donuts that the church provided…. stumbled.
Where does this logic stop?
Paul was not discouraging liberties. For Liberty Christ has set us free! “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” Gal 5:1
It is not beneficial as pastors to tell people what liberties they can and cannot partake in. The bible does not teach that alcohol is a sin. It does not discourage the use of alcohol. Rather, it encourages wise decision making and giving God Glory in all things with our liberty. Any teaching that makes a believer think that they are pleasing God by not doing this or that IS LEGALISM AND THERE IS NO OTHER WAY AROUND IT. Stick to the text. trust God to grow up the believer. They WILL make decisions that prove their love for God and one another.
First of all, the context here was never speaking about alcohol.
Second, if your going to condemn others liberties in this one area, then you should discourage all liberties (like my donut example above). i.e. Christians shouldn’t use the internet because some people got save from porn. Christians shouldn’t eat food because some christians were saved from eating disorders. Christians should not throw parties in their homes because a christian was saved from a party lifestyle. Christians shouldn’t be seen in malls because some christians were saved from excessive spending and vain lifestyles. You shouldn’t talk sports because that one guy was saved from gambling on sports…etc
This logic above is wrong because we were not saved from these things alone but from all sin and lots of those things (like the meat offered to idols) were not sin in and of themselves but it was the idolizing of them and rejecting God in order to do life on our terms that was and is the sin that we are all saved from. Idols.
If alcohol can lead to drunkenness, therefore we say “stay away!”, should the same reasoning be applied to everything? Because of the potential? If gaining wealth can lead to “the love of money” which is the root of all evil, should we not also say “stay away from money all together!” Should the church stop accepting tithe to avoid this temptation? Because it has certainly corrupted so many believers and churches. Certainly not. Instead we are encouraged and even commanded to walk in wisdom with our liberties not without them. We as individuals and churches should have a structure that allows accountability in these areas of our lives.
Don’t demonize “liberty” for the false assurance that it will keep people from sinning. Encourage people, that they have the liberty to Give God Glory in all things and in everything that they do.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
1 Cor 10:31
Though I do not think the following comment is necessary as a follow up, I have provided it for clarification due to a good brothers feedback. Thanks brother.
Sin is NOT liberty. If you cannot practice self-control or sobriety in any liberty than it has become an idol and a sin to you. You are better off abstaining from those liberties that cause you to sin. Drunkenness is Sin and cannot glorify God. Being high is the same, therefore drugs that cause you to lose your faculties and become intoxicated cannot qualify as liberty – they are sin and should be repented of and avoided.
“…So Obadiah went to tell Ahab that Elijah had come, and Ahab went out to meet Elijah. When Ahab saw him, he exclaimed, “So, is it really you, you troublemaker of Israel?”
“I have made no trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the Lord and have worshiped the images of Baal instead. Now summon all Israel to join me at Mount Carmel, along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who are supported by Jezebel.”
So Ahab summoned all the people of Israel and the prophets to Mount Carmel. Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent…”
1 Kings 18
Here is the test of our faith.
Here is the awesome display and testimony of God.
Here is the challenge and examination of our ability to believe.
This is God, burning from heaven the doubts and disbelief of the majority. The popular crowd popularly believes not. I mean, “how un-cool to believe in God!” and yet God cares not about “cool” or popularity or politically correct but He is burning hot with faith and belief in Himself needing no one to believe. He IS whether we want to believe it or not.
And here is one man, Elijah, who has heard the Word of God and believes it. But He doesn’t just sit on it like most do. He acts upon it. He is moved by it and He is moving others and challenging them. The truth has become like a burning fire, wasting away doubt and spewing over in great fullness, the faith that is always present when the word of God is personally activated through belief. One grows weary of holding it in like that prophet Jeremiah. He challenges all the false prophets to see and prove who the real God is. And when His turn comes to cry out to His God, Elijah does so with great convincing faith and authority.
He asks with boldness and confidence.
He asks for the seemingly impossible.
He asks for a request that to most would seem ridiculous.
He calls down fire from heaven!
Because the word of God had come to this man, and he had welcomed it. The Word of God had become in him, a burning fire! God had asked of a man to call down fire – to display the power and amazing strength of the only Lord. God wanted to get the glory. God wants to display His power – to gain the victory, but where are the Elijah’s?
Where are those who believe that God can, when none else could?
Where are those who are willing to be outnumbered, yet on God’s side?
No man stands alone when he stands with God! Why can’t more of us believe this?
What would happen if the seeker-friendly, comfort-ease, western culture, have-everything-but-everything-is-still-not-enough Christians would throw off their comfort-guards and embrace in humility, the beauty of holiness – standing out for the Lord? Being separate from “worldliness,” yet involved in God glorifying works.
Where are those who are willing to embrace the truth of His Word, and suffer a little for the sake of eternal gain. What if we threw out our timid, afraid-to-trust-His-promises prayer lives and instead entered boldly before His throne-room of grace?
What if we asked because He has told us to ask?
What if we seek because He tells us – seek!
What if we came desperately, steadfastly, and unwaveringly knocking? Pounding! Desperate to see Gods glory revealed!?
What if we started to ask God for what seems impossible?
Will we ask Him to burn up the false idols?!
Will we be willing to lay our idols down?
To restore the nation!?
To breath life into this “lazy-boy” church!
To pour the water of His Spirit upon our lives and churches – drenching us until we drown!
Let us come… Being filled and overcome by His presence until we beg, “No More!” Until we glimpse so much glory that it scares us! Until we are gasping for breath. Flooded by His presence!
There, we shall lay, with no response except that of being prostrate on our belly, face full of carpet and heart full of His radiant light and life.
We must not back down or be intimidated until His fire falls from heaven! Until His glory is revealed! Praying and agonizing until revival comes to ourselves and to those stumbling in the shadows! God is waiting for a desperate people – sick of doing things their own way, in their own strength, He wants us to cry out to Him with prayers like that of Elijah:
“O Lord, God… let it be known… that you are God…Answer me, o Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”
What in Life do you prize the Most?
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I never knew how special life was until we had our little baby Emery.
She became proof that God indeed does make beautiful things and that He is still creating perfect and beautifully.
In fact my wife and I never wanted kids the whole time we were dating and a year and a half into our marriage. That all changed after my wife and I witnessed a tragic movie theatre shooting. The next morning, my wife found out she was pregnant (surprise!). Two days later or so we had a miscarriage. God used these two tragic events to change our hearts and to let us know how special life is. It is a privilege and a blessing. This video is a tribute to the beauty and grace given gift of God called life. Thank you God for your gifts, for only you can give and take away.
Starring my beautiful wife Lindsay and my one of a kind (knit in her mother’s womb) baby girl, Emery (or as we like to playfully call her – Em’s)
Enjoy and pass it along.
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The following is what happens when a Preacher and DJ hang out…
Click on it (below) or right click to download…
“I Bet They Don’t Know.mp3″
Music/ReMix: Micah Herman
Vocals: Jeremiah Wheelersburg
I bet they don’t know
That He’s right here!
It’s been awhile now
since we’ve been hiding
Hiding from thoughts,
Hiding from ourselves.
We’re in need of,
of a Rescue.
Oh Jesus please come save us
Oh Father please come save us
We need Love
We need Love!
(Gospel message: J.N.Wheels)
The following is my brothers Account of what happened…
My brother is in town until Tuesday the 24th. I wanted to spend Thursday night with him and his wife; because there are a lot of ministry responsibilities I have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. A movie would give us time to chill together, and meet up with friends he hadn’t seen for awhile. At about 10:30 I tried to order my ticket online to the midnight (12:01) showing of Dark Knight Rising. Something kept going wrong with my phone-I kept getting an error notice, so I hoped tickets would still be available at the counter. When we arrived I asked the guy at the counter if I could still get a ticket for the 12:01 showing. “It’s sold out,” he told me. “Aww man” I sighed. “Do you have a group waiting for you?” he asked, “yes” “you know what, I can sell you a ticket” he told me. “Sweet!” so we made our way to theater 8 and found our group middle center. We were early, and the previews hadn’t even started and so we talked and laughed and joked. My brother caught up with friends and chatted with Pastor Daryl Wilmoth who recently planted Front Range Calvary. When the movie started we could not have known what to expect-the villain was being introduced. Then Bruce Wayne. Then, I don’t even remember how, a gun scene broke out on the screen. Guns were firing, and then I heard loud pops and gun sounds in my right ear. I thought maybe they had surround sound effects. That’s when we noticed down to our right that someone was holding their face and people were looking down and starting to stand. People began running and checking exit’s and then running back in and shouting to not exit that way, “there is a guy with a gun.” we didn’t know what to do, or where to go. Do we leave? Are we better off staying here? Is this for real?! My brother’s wife Lindsay began to panic as we tried to process what was happening and what we were going to do. People began filtering out the upper exit of the theater. We decided to make our way up as well. When we exited people were still wondering what was going on. We looked over the edge of the “bridge” and saw everyone running and screaming, police running and calling commands with their large guns in hand. We knew we needed to get out. We had no idea where the gunman was or how many there were. Was this gang related? Who was he? Where was he? Was he in the lobby? We needed to run through the lobby to get out. We needed to move now. That was probably one of the scariest points, running through the lobby not knowing if a gunman was causing all this chaos in that area. Are bullets going to fly by? Am I going to get hit? Has anyone been hit?! That question was answered when we exited the building and saw the police cars and rescue vehicles and heard the officer shouting “we need every available ambulance here on scene NOW!” my thought was “is it really that serious?” but looking around I could begin to see that yes it was. People were being carried from the theater bloodied and in shock. People were carrying their injured friends to safety. People, who moments ago had been strangers, had now in an instant become family. They were crying and helping one another look for missing loved ones. We made our way to the sidewalk at the end of the lot. We took a role call of who was with our group of friends. Everyone was there. We knew people in theater 9 and so we began making calls and checking if they had made it out ok. Around us lights were flashing. I’d never seen so many police or paramedics. What could we do? How could we help? Some of our friends were carrying people to ambulances other were standing in shock. We called a prayer meeting. “Let’s pray” we wrapped our arms around each other and began praying for wisdom and direction from the Lord to these men and woman serving the people. As we prayed two young ladies ran to our group crying, “our dad is not responding, our dad isn’t responding!” we hugged them and prayed for them right away. We prayed with others and followed the direction of the police as they tried to put the pieces together and process what was going on. We were all questioned and asked to share about what we had seen and heard and then at 3:00 we were allowed to leave. My wife knew nothing of what had happened up until this point. I didn’t feel it was necessary to put her into a panic. She text me while we were driving out and asked how the movie was. I replied to her text, “it was action packed, I’ll tell you about it when we get home.” When we got home we shared with her what had happened and tried to rest a bit. I had text my pastor what had happened and around 4:00am he called and asked me what had happened. While telling him, I began processing the morning in a different way. It had been easy to tell my wife what had happened, but this time I couldn’t do it without tears. Pastor Ed said, ” I’m going to go down there and see how we can serve. You don’t have to come, unless you want to.” I said, “I’ll come.” he picked me up and I tried to share some more. Again, the tears flowed. The families had lost loved ones. People were still uncertain of the condition of their friends. I needed time to process. We went through the Starbucks drive through and sat in the parking lot for a bit. “Joel, you need to let it out. You’re still running on adrenaline.” he was right. I talked through it some more and then we made our way to the Aurora Medical Center. Teams from the pastoral and leadership team were already showing up at each of the local hospitals. There were so many families to pray for and minister to. We comforted friends who had loved ones in surgery and recovering from gun shot wounds to the head and chest. After we left we made our way to Gateway High School. There I was reunited with the two young girls who had been separated from their father. They had just received confirmation that their father had passed away. I sat with them for a long time. What could I say? I asked questions, both to them and to the counselors. Before I left, they let me pray for them and I gave them my number in case they needed anything. Pastor Ed, my brother Jeremiah and I decide to broadcast live on 89.7 Grace FM (Our church’s Denver based Christian radio station) to see if the Lord might use the airwaves to provide some sort of comfort and encouragement to our city. Little by little the Lord used it. People called in and shared what they were going through. We prayed that the Lord would cause us to remain sensitive to His voice and direction. At 4 pm we went live again- talking through our experience and comforting others that shared theirs. At 6pm the community gathered at Calvary Aurora and healing (though only the beginning) was taking place through prayer, tears and hugs. It’s a long road we’ll be walking down, but we won’t be alone-Jesus is with us. He will be with us, and as a people and Church, we are committed to serving and loving this city for the long haul.
This is an un-edited, un-finished, rough draft of my experience of the tragedy that took place at Century 16 theaters here in my hometown in Aurora, Colorado at the Midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. This is tragic. I hate that this happened, but i felt an urgency to share my experience in detail. I am so sorry for the families that have lost loved ones. I am praying for you.
Hope is often found where hope is fully lost. Turn To Jesus, He IS Hope.
I was there, at the shooting. I felt the shrapnel. I heard the shots. I witnessed the confusion. I smelt the smoke and saw the sparks. My eyes burned and my throat choked on the gas. Confusion was in the air making friends with panic. Chaos was born in an instant and as reality struggled to set in, there, hope was lost.
I’m on vacation-or so I thought. I came to relax and rejuvenate-to vegg out. I wanted to relax. I planned to leave my small troubles behind for a week. I flew into Denver Wednesday morning. I was visiting from Lake Tahoe California. I was excited and blessed to be visiting my friends and family here in my hometown – Aurora, Colorado. One highlight of this trip was sure to be the opening of the new Batman movie.
I must confess that I am a huge batman fan – I even drink my coffee out of a batman mug at home. So on the second night of my vacation to get away from “life,” you can imagine that I was excited to see many of my friends at the midnight premier of the new “Dark Knight” movie. Excitement was in the air as well as anticipation. Anticipation for seeing the new movie and for seeing many of my friends who were waiting ahead of my wife, brother and I inside theater Eight.
The theater was packed as we expected it to be. Especially at this particular theater. Century 16 is a beautiful theater with huge screens and small ticket prices. At $6.50 per ticket, this was the place to be with all your friends for a carefree fun night of popcorn and excitement.
We dropped my brother off at the entrance so he could buy himself a ticket. We parked the car in the back of the far right parking lot, as the parking lot was packed. The darkness of the corner lot was the only place left to find an open spot. Lindsay and I ran through the parking-lot toward the theater as we jested about not wanting to spend much time outside, after all “we don’t want to be shot” we said to one another. Only God could have known that less than an hour later we would be hand-in-hand running out of the theater, praying to God that he might spare our lives.
We entered the theater and met up with my brother Joel. He said that he was just sold the last ticket to the 12:01 movie. At first they told him that theater 8 was sold out and yet at the look of disappointment on my brothers face, the ticket-seller asked if he was meeting a group inside? “Yes” was his reply and the worker said, “You know what, ill sell you one.” So with relief we passed the ticket counter and enter the lobby and concession area together. I soaked in the impressive theater as I had not been here in a long time and I was excited to be home, soaking in these old familiar places. From the Ticket counter on the right you turn to enter the very large two story lobby filled with concession stands, coffee counter and candy bins. You can look upstairs toward a large balcony with a staircase on each end. The staircases sandwich the popcorn and candy counters and at the top (second-floor), you can enter your theater from above the audience, level with the projector.
We bought our candy on the lower level, used the Restroom and then entered theater 8 below the balcony from the ground level entrance. Lindsay and I had not been home for a while and some of these friends we were meeting, we had not seen in a year. We looked up toward the crowd as we entered, one of my best friends Ian, quickly spotted us, waved, I waved my candy back at him, and we quickly made our way to the three seats he had been saving for us. We shuffled in, shaking hands with the two rows of friends from church. I was very excited to see and catch up with one of my old friends and Pastors, Darrel. Darrel joked about being the oldest person there and then offered the remainder of his popcorn to us as he had already eaten half a tub and a candy item as they waited for the movie to begin. We took it and shortly after, the Dark Night began.
The movie started and the excitement began to build. The movie was heavy and dark as was to be expected; yet it was inviting. It was fantasy. It was a moment to sit back, relax and be entertained with people you love. I held my wife’s hand tight as the movie began. No one expected that this Dark Knight was about to turn into an incredibly Dark Night. It was about 25-35 minutes into the film when the first major action-gun sequence began, and as the sound of on-screen gun-fire filled the air and our ears, a much louder popping-crackling sound spliced through the movie-noise. Everyone looked to his or her right, searching for the noise, all assuming that this was some sort of live special effect noise set up by the theater (we hoped for the best). Most everyone did their best to continue watching the movie. It was loud and exciting and we were not going to allow anyone or anything to ruin our experience and this much anticipated film, yet I could not take my attention away from the right middle entrance. Suddenly more cracks in rapid-succession rang out, this time accompanied with sparks, smoke and a dusting of some sort of shrapnel. At this point I was completely annoyed, believing that someone had thrown a crackle-bomb into the air or some other firework as some sort of prank, yet as anyone would be, I became uneasy and on guard. I stared to the right of the theater, about 3 or 4 rows beneath me as a small group of people were looking down, fixed on something. At this point, some people were whispering, as some were still trying to watch the movie. Everything was unclear at this time as communication was impossible because the movie was still playing, the lights were still off, and the guns were still firing on the movie screen. Some people to the right ran out the bottom exit toward the lobby and entrance to the theater. Little by little, the group below and to the right began to exit quickly. At this point, they had everyone’s interest and attention. I became concerned and we all started to stand up, looking around, waiting for answers. Soon, the same group who had just left, quickly ran back into the theater, in the dark while the movie was still blaring and shouted over the chaos on the screen, “nobody leave out the front! There is somebody out there shooting people!” We all hoped that this was still a prank! We hoped for the best even though this sounded like the worst. The group ran out the left front side of the theater next to the movie screen and then some of them quickly ran back in. I looked at my wife, grabbed her hand, and looked around toward every exit. My wife looked very worried at this point, then the fire alarm began to go off, flashing lights on both ends while the movie was still playing. The alarm was loud, the movie was loud, thick panic was in the air, and the theater was still dark. At this point my precious wife began to look increasingly fear-filled. She wanted to make for the exit. I grabbed her hand and told her that we had to keep our cool and stay put for the moment. “We cant just run out there, what if someone is out there waiting to shoot us as we run? We need to trust God and wait a minute.” People began to shout,” Turn off the movie!” we could not hear the message coming over the loud speaker because gunfire was still coming from the movie. I finally focused hard, trying to hear the loudspeaker message. “An emergency has taken place inside of the theater, please exit the building.” We looked at one another, I looked at Pastor Darrel, one row below me, and we knew we had to get out of there. I looked at Lindsay, held her hand and said, “let’s get out of here.” Joel, Lindsay, and I quickly made our way up the stairs to our left, opposite the screen, toward the upper theater 8 entrance that led to the balcony above the lobby and main entrance.
We quickly reached the exit and there we were, atop the balcony, I stared around the wall looking down at the lobby as crowds were running around in panic. Police were flocking into the lobby with rifles and shotguns. Behind me people were running out of theater 8 and 9. Reality was soaking in as the movie came to life. People were leaving the theater 9 door covered in blood! My wife was in hysterics, saying, “I don’t want to be here, I want to go!” It was a war zone. I grabbed my wife and looked intently into her eyes and yelled, “Look at me! Don’t panic!” I reminded her that she had a God in heaven who loved her. “Don’t act like you don’t have a God.” I reminded her and myself that there was still a loving God who even in this chaos can create order. We stared down into the chaotic lobby below as we choked on the tear gas filling the air as it flowed out of theater 9. To the right, flocks of innocent people were running down the staircase, pausing at the bottom, taking shelter behind the railing, hoping for direction and then running for the front door toward the parking lot. We all assumed that a gunman might be in the lobby shooting people. I looked around for my brother. At the moment all I cared about was staying close to my brother and Lindsay. All I wanted was for these two people who I loved more than my own life, to make it out of here alive. “Joel!” I shouted. He was standing nearby. Together we looked below, looked at the staircases, looked behind us. More blood. It looked as though some people were running back up the staircase to the left. “We need to go!” So made our way quickly down the right staircase as you look out toward the parking lot. This all felt like a horrible scene from a movie that we had somehow become a part of. We were living the movie out and we could not escape this reality. We stayed low as we hurried down the stairs. The Columbine shooting flashed through my mind. When we neared the bottom of the stairs, we paused to take cover before we tried to prepare to run the short distance toward the glass entrance doors. As we paused to look around for the gunman, I pictured one of us being shot as we ran for the door. I quickly prayed, “please Jesus, let my wife and my brother get out of here safe!” I knew Joel was behind me, but I wasn’t sure where he was. We looked one more time through the lobby as people and police filled the scene. People in panic ran out as Police ran in. It seemed as if this lasted forever, though I’m sure it was but a moment. We finally ran for our lives, holding hands! Thank God, my wife was outside! We stood on the nearest median. Again I reassured her that we were together. I told her to pray and to quote scripture to herself. My next thought was for my brother. I never saw him exit the theater! Where was he? I looked back at the entrance scanning the chaos. I couldn’t find him! I was desperate to find him so I started yelling “JOEL!” It was panic. I knew it was no use yelling so I took my phone out and looked for his number. He answered his phone right away as he was looking for us. I told him where we were, he met us and we decide to make our way toward the back of the parking lot. We were hoping for safety. More and more police officers were flooding the parking lot and heading toward the theater entrance. We were looking for our large group of friends and we quickly found them as Ian flagged us down. “Is everyone ok?” “Is this everybody?” we asked one another. We decide to move back to the outside of the parking lot. As everyone gathered, I began to soak in the scene as if we were moving in slow motion. I couldn’t believe this was happening and that we were a part of it. The gravity of the situation began to set in as I could not help but hear an officer next to me yelling into his radio “I NEED EVERY ABULANCE IN THE CITY HERE RIGHT NOW!” “I need every available ambulance here right now!!” He yelled this three times as he made his way closer to the theater to help. Pastor Joel (my brother) and Pastor Ian gathered our friends in a circle; they held hands and began to pray. They prayed for the crowds, the medical care teams and the police. They prayed for the hurt and hurting. I prayed with my eyes open as I looked around.
Many were still running out of the theater. The parking lot was full or cars and people. I noticed the blood. So many were bleeding or had blood on themselves. I saw Pastor Darrel Carrying a young woman in his arms as he ran toward the ambulances. I wanted desperately to help. I prayed as I walked back toward the theater trying to see if there were anymore injured who needed help. I cried out to God, “God, please use me, please help these people!” As I walked through the lot, I saw four people carrying a bleeding girl between themselves. Two of them had her arms around their shoulders while the other two were carrying her legs. I rushed closer to them, and as I looked for the girls’ eyes, I noticed that she was still alive! “Thank you Jesus!” I thought. As they passed me, I prayed for her safety and recovery. I turned briefly to watch them run toward the Paramedics. Just then, I noticed another man heading as fast as he could run in the same direction. Close to his chest he held a little girl. She was covered in blood and looked lifeless. My heart was sinking and breaking for the scene that lied before me. Again as if in slow motion I stared around the lot as I made my way closer to the entrance. The eyes of the people looked drained, empty, and hopeless. I prayed for hope and I found hope in knowing that my friends were gathered just a short distance away, praying to our loving God who is the God of Hope and healing.
…To be continued… this is too hard to finish right now…
Please continue praying for the families involved and for those who have lost loved ones. If you have been affected by this shooting and need help or prayer, please contact Calvary Chapel Aurora at http://www.calvaryaurora.org.