The Word made flesh has given us His Word made text, and He simply asks us to read, hear and apply His heart and promises for us found in Scripture. So, in this chapter I want to briefly encourage your confidence and dependance upon the written Word of God. You will need this strength for ministry, and it cannot be found anywhere else but in the presence of God as you sit at His feet, receiving from His Word.
I feel it necessary to spend a good amount of time talking about the Bible itself. It is necessary as believers and as ministers in Jesus Christ’s ministry, that we understand the God whom we worship and that we come to know His heart toward us as best as possible. His heart, His direction, and His guidance for our lives and for the entire earth and universe are found in the Scriptures. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to our spiritual and physical lives that we think rightly about the God of the Word.
Do You Still Believe In The Bible?
If the reliability of the Scriptures are up for debate in your mind and heart, then so are all of its doctrines, precepts, directives, commandments, prophecies and promises. As ministers in the Lord we need to be confidant in who we are serving. If you cannot place faith in His written Word as a reliable source for knowing Jesus Christ who is Lord of the universe, then you are without knowledge of How you and others must be saved. If you don’t trust His Word, then you cannot trust your salvation – it is now up for debate along with every other doctrine that effects you now and in eternity, including doctrines like salvation, redemption, justification, the trinity, the love, justice, mercy, grace and judgment of God, worship, and how God wants to be worshiped. All of which and many more are very important doctrines to the health and well-being of the believer.
1 John 2:2 says, speaking of Christ, that “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” If His Word is up for debate in your mind, then so is this – That Christ’s death pleased God in dying for your sins to save you from hell. If you don’t trust His word, than you cannot trust that this is true, therefore you either don’t care about your salvation and knowing God or you’re uncertain about your salvation. Pretty important right? The Word of God.
Duh! Were “Church” People!
I recognize that by this point some of you might be thinking, “why are you including this in a book on ministry? Of course we believe in the infallible Word of God, thats why we are in ministry!” I hope this is your response, but I feel that this chapter is necessary because many ministries and ministers are departing from the truth and are now teaching doctrines of demons, having abandoned all absolutes along with the promises of God. Many churches do not teach the Bible anymore. Therefore those assisting in these ministries no longer read, trust in or find their strength in His Word! We must not be these sort of ministers or ministries. We are men and women of God and we are men and women of the truth. His truth is found in the Bible – the Word of God.
“So Why Do We Need The Word Of God? ”
Lets look at a few reasons.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 says,
“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures,which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
First of all, the Scriptures, that is your Bible, are Holy because they are inspired by God. God is responsible for what is recorded and written in the Scriptures. They are His words, He has wrought them and He keeps and protects them. They are “hieros”, that is, sacred or holy. They are inspired by God.
Speaking of the scriptures and prophecy, Peter tells us that “…men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21)
God’s words are necessary and essential. In fact, of His own words, the Lord reveals to us through the psalmist:
“…You have exalted above all things your name and your word.” (Psalm 138:2)
It has been said that no man is greater than his word. If you cannot trust what someone says, then you cannot trust that person. Simply put, if I make promises to you about myself that do not come true or are untrue then you really don’t know me and would actually be better off not knowing me because I would have revealed to you by my lies and broken promises, that I am not who I say I am and that I cannot be trusted. I have revealed to you that I am a liar by my inability to fulfill my word. I may be a liar but God is no liar. In fact, He cannot lie. The reliability of the scriptures testify to the reliability of our God. Our God has given and kept many great promises. To prove Himself, His faithfulness and just to simply bless us, He has written His promises down, as if to say, “you can take these to the bank! I am good and will be good to my word and all of my promises. You have seen it and will continue to see my promises fulfilled.”
The Word of God is a necessity, because it is Holy and divinely inspired by the God of the universe.
Now, I will take some time in presenting you with a bit of evidence, though I am not so interested in defending the Bible or Gods existence as God Himself does not seem very interested in this either. God exists whether anyone believes in Him or not. But, it can be helpful and encouraging to us all, so here we go…
Holy and Inspired
The word Bible comes from the Greek word ‘biblos’ meaning ‘book.’ It is The Book. In the Bible, we have the embodiment of a divine revelation. It is a written work of history centered around one man, Jesus Christ. Now, let me briefly present you with…
5 proofs that present the Bible as the very Word of God:
1. The Character of the Bible.
Written by 40 some authors over a period of about 1600 years and yet the Bible is one book. It has one doctrinal system, one moral standard, one plan of salvation, and one program of the ages. The Bible is in harmony with itself. It does not contradict itself but compliments itself.
2. The Indestructibility Of The Bible. Henry Clarence Thiessen says this about the indestructibility of the Bible: “When we recall that only a very small percentage of books survive more than a quarter of a century, that a much smaller percentage last for a century, and that only a very small number live a thousand years, we at once realize that the Bible is a unique book.”
When looking at the history of the Bibles indestructibility, we must also look at the circumstances through which the Bible has survived. The Bible has been the most adored and praised book as well as the object of more persecution and opposition than any other book in History. For example, before Constantine, Rome, at one point, thought that they had exterminated the Christian religion. Diocletian, by a royal edict in 303 A.D. demanded that every copy of the Bible be destroyed by fire. He killed so many Christians and destroyed so many Bibles, sending Christians into hiding, that he actually thought that he had put an end to the Bible. He inscribed a medal that said, “the Christian religion is destroyed and the worship of the gods restored.” A few years later Constantine came to the throne, making Christianity the state religion. Man cannot thwart the purpose and plan of God, not even through evil or persecution. This is one example among many throughout history. Many stories of persecution and triumph are still being written among our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world today – in Asia, the middle east, and elsewhere.
Know this, that God is still preserving His Word. We have hundreds of manuscript copies of the Bible that predate the birth of Christ. These including detailed prophesies about Jesus Christ, His life, death, and resurrection. Among such manuscripts lies one of the greatest discoveries in modern times: We know them as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Here’s what happened and how God preserved His Word:
In 1947, a young boy wandered into a cave in Qumran (north and west of the dead Sea in Israel). He was looking for some lost sheep, belonging to his father, but instead of finding sheep, the boy stumbled upon ancient coins and a series of pots filled with ancient scrolls; the old testament scriptures. These findings of Isaiah’s writings alone dated back to 100 B.C. The scrolls had been hidden in these caves 2000 years ago and amazingly, they represented every book of the old testament minus the book of Esther.
History has made it obvious to us that God is able to watch over and preserve His word from corruption. This is a true to life miracle. But not surprising, as our God is a God of miracles!
3. The Influence Of The Bible.
Throughout history, the Bible has influenced the arts, literature, architecture, and music. The Bible has influenced the laws of the nations as well as influencing great social reforms and is constantly debated over, defended, or scrutinized in our courthouses to this day.
Thiessen says: “Where is there a book in all the world that even remotely compares with it in its beneficent influence upon mankind?” He called the Bible: “…The revelation of God to needy humanity.”
4. Fulfilled Prophesy. We read earlier in 2 Peter, that men who were “… moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” There is no other viable explanation for the supernatural knowledge witnessed in Bible prophesy, given through man, recorded in the Bible. In it, we see many impressive and detailed prophesies concerning the nation of Israel. Prophesies concerning gentile nations were also fulfilled. God is declaring to us, through scripture, that He is all-knowing. He does not simply give us a record book of past events, but confidently declares to us things to come – future events; Bible prophesy – divine revelation.
5. The Claims Of The Bible Itself.
The Bible claims to be the only infallible revelation on earth in written form given to man. In it contains the only plan for the eternal salvation of man.
The Old Testament itself claims to be the Word of God, with its some 3,800 statement like: “thus says the Lord, now the
Lord spoke, He was commanded to write in a book what the Lord had told him, The Lord said, The Word which came to…, The Word of the Lord came expressly to…etc”
The New Testament writers declared the message of God. Paul makes statements in 1 Corinthians (14:37), 1 Thessalonians (2:13), and Galatians (1:8) declaring that the things he wrote were the commandments of God, that what he preached we were to receive as the very word of God, and that the salvation of men depended upon faith in the very doctrines which Paul taught. John taught in 1 John (5:10) that his testimony was Gods testimony. Peter taught that the commands of God were spoken through the holy prophets and through the apostles (2 Peter 3:2). And Christ revealed that if you have heard or seen Him than you have heard and seen God (1 John 1:2, John 14:9).
All of this, and we have not even scratched the surface of archeological discoveries supported by the Bible and in favor of the Bibles accuracy. No other religious text compares. We don’t have time to talk about the Bibles scientific accuracy – including it’s references to the sun, the shape of the earth, and the suspension of the earth and stars. We could talk about the countless martyrs for Christ, including the willingness of Jesus’ disciples to suffer, but for the sake of time, these 5 points will have to do.
So, our first point of why we need the Word of God according to our text in 2 Timothy was, because they are holy and inspired by God. We can see throughout our worlds history, that His hand is upon them, guiding, protecting, and inspiring them. ” Let me share some other Biblical reasons about why I love the Word of God and why it is needed in pastoral ministry, ministry in general and in our personal lives.
Because the words of God are profitable.
I love the Bible because the words of God are profitable.
We gain from His Word! Ill say it again. We get to gain insight, wisdom, direction, encouragement and many more wonderful things for our life, and they are all delivered to us straight from the God who created the universe and the God who gave you life. That’s why the word of God is profitable for our whole lives! Because God knows best. He knows all of humanity and creation from the inside out – that is, things inside and outside, physical, emotional and psychological. He is in control of all things near or far – into the galaxies and universe. There is no area in your life that He is not in the position to touch, heal, change, or help. He is God, and His word is living, life giving and full of endless power!
Hebrews 4:12 says of the Word of God, that it “is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” We are lost without Gods revelation of Himself to man!
But how do we profit from these words from God?
And what are they profitable for?
Doctrine, Reproof, Correction, Instruction In Righteousness
Well, our text says:
for doctrine [that is teaching],
for reproof [that is, conviction or testing],
for correction [that is, literally to restore to an upright state, to correct your life and character. To make you right.], ” for instruction in righteousness:” The Greek here for our word instruction is: paideia (pi-da-uh) meaning that the Word of God is everything for your growing up in life for the Lord. ”
You cannot and will not grow or mature in Christ if you are lacking the proper nutrition that comes to your soul only by the word of God – interpreted and given proper application by the Spirit of God. It corrects your mistakes and curbs your passions. It increases virtue. This is Paideia – instruction. And this is all for righteousness. That is, for right living before our God. For living a life that is pleasing to Him, for Him, and for His glory. ” Do you understand that the Word of God is essential to your right living for God in Christ? Willing obedience to Gods direction for your life and submission to His instruction will create in you a pure heart – making you a minister filled with personal character. Not just a Christ associated christian but a Christ experienced christian, leader, follower and servant.
Warning To The Phonies
But shame on the pastors, leaders and so-called servants of Jesus who are not rightly dividing the Word of God. Especially to those who are forsaking the Bible all-together! They are leading their congregations down the wrong path and have no clue how to live for God. They are simply and Biblically, bad pastors – ignorant of the power of God.
The Pastor who forsakes the Word of God has forsaken his calling and is no pastor at all but is a wayward – a prodigal, desperately needing to come home. ”
For these pastors and heretics we desperately pray:
“Lord, grab their hearts and set them aright with Your Word that their congregations would be able to worship You in Spirit and in truth!”
“God, help us as servants of You and as servants to Your bride, not to forsake Your promises, but to cling to Your words for our life, ministry, worldview, help, counsel and personal nourishment.”
As assistants in ministry, the Word is our guide. We give the bride of Christ the Words of Christ and nothing else. Your opinion doesn’t really matter in the end. Stick to the Word of God.
The Word of God is power to the believer. It is Spiritual. The Word of God is not a burdensome law. It is not legalism or rules. The Word of God is not a religion! It is safety. It is a glimpse into the very heart of God who rules the universe! It is for your heart, your life, your spirit, and for eternity.
The Word of God is life giving, life changing, miracle working, alive, and true – there is nothing false in it! It is perfect, empowering, encouraging, up-lifting, healing, it speaks to us, guides us, directs us, gives wisdom, judges the thoughts and intents of our heart. It is purity in an imperfect world. It is to be treasured. It is historically accurate, and it is just and right when everything else is wrong!
And do not forget, the Word of God is for you!
Treasure your Savior and treasure His promises. Don’t allow satan to keep you from your Bible. Open it up, be familiar with it, read it, write in it, memorize it – not because you have to, but because He loves you. Guard your time with Jesus. In doing this, you will be and become a spiritual leader to your fellow ministers and to the fathers precious bride of Christ – The Church.
Briefly, if you don’t read the Bible with your wife, then start today. You are to wash her in the Word. If you don’t read with your family, start today. It is your responsibility as a man of God to love and raise your kids in the Lord. Show your family what it is to be a man of God. I didn’t say to preach and pastor them, but to love, disciple and point them to Jesus always.
Take some time right now to pray for your life, family, and ministry.
Check out Jeremiah’s FREE Book in its entirety HERE!
Check out Jeremiah’s FREE Book in its entirety HERE!
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)
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.
Enjoy this two part sermon detailing the life and heart of a good Shepherd. These Mp3’s bring to life the text of John Chapter 10 in an exciting, encouraging and convicting way. Listen, be blessed and pass them along! Thanks.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” – Jesus
The following is a chapter in progress from a book in progress being written by J.N.Wheels
The Necessity of Discipleship
Every minister of Christ is a servant, and a pastor or elder (same thing) is a willing and submitted pastor under the authority of a pastor with vision that is further reaching than his own. That pastor is Jesus. I cannot stress this enough – Jesus has the vision for His Bride (the Church) and it is found in Scripture. Every vision, plan and purpose should be brought into comparison, filtered, thought and re-thought through the lens of the Book of God, The Bible. We are fulfilling His vision for the world around us. As long as we realize this than we can serve together for God’s glory. Man does not have a worthwhile vision apart from the work and direction from God through His Word alone. There is no vision except for the mission of God given to us in His Son, Jesus Christ. Each one of us has been placed in the “body” to help fulfill the vision of Christ.
And what is that vision?
Luke 2:49, 4:43, 24:46-49
We are all fulfilling the great commission of God to reach the lost world that we all live in, and in doing so, we are being conformed into the image of Christ. God placed His Son on the cross with the purpose to save. His justice, anger, and wrath were finally settled upon the body and soul of the one and only perfect man – Jesus Christ. God’s mission is to be known and glorified by saving men and women through the message and power of the good news of Gods Son, that is through the preaching and proclaiming of the Gospel. God’s mission is our mission. And let it be said, there is no mission without compassion. His work is not a job but a personal compassionate mission.
How is God accomplishing this mission?
Through the proclaiming of the “Good News” about Jesus Christ, people are believing, repenting, and being saved. God is saving people as His Spirit draws people to Himself. How He desires to save is through other saved people sharing their true to Gods Word experience about their own salvation and Gods goodness. We preach, people hear, God saves. Is that a recipe? No, it is simply Gods direction for us as believers. The important thing to remember is that Salvation is the work of God, not man or mans techniques, oratory skills…etc God is Savior and salvation belongs to Him. Praise our Lord, that He saves! Now what?
Ok, now we are saved. What for?
In short, For Gods good pleasure. Im still not quite sure why He saw fit to save undeserving sinners and I feel more and more undeserving as the days pass, but for some unknown purpose, He has seen fit in His incredible Love and grace to Rescue us by His own blood, though He did not have to. And in rescuing us, He is also committing to invest in us, making us His disciples – His followers and students. He is making us like His Son. Likeness to Christ is the goal of true discipleship.
Discipleship was the focus and mission of Jesus. He spent His public ministry years surrounding himself specifically with twelve men. These men were His investment here on earth that would affect every generation to come, until Christ returns in the flesh once again. Jesus taught them with His Words and with His life. Not one without the other. We could consider them His apprentices. They shared in His every day life and as a result, they knew Him, His ways, and in knowing Jesus, they were knowing God! As the redeemed of the Lord, we have also become a part of this tight-knit group of disciples. He has invited us into His life, to share in His love and to learn His ways – Gods heart.
This is discipleship. They hung around Jesus, and as a result, they knew God better. They were experiencing their God by experiencing the life and ways of Jesus. Discipleship and disciple-making is the call to the saved.
Are we willing to become disciples?
Disciples are hard core. They left their families and lively-hoods to become more like their savior. They walked away from everything that they once called their “lives” in order to make Jesus their life. Comfort and ease were forsaken in order to gain heaven and relationship to Jesus. Worldly treasures had to be forsaken in order to become a disciple of Jesus. Nothing could be nearer to the heart of a disciple than Jesus. Jesus Himself became the treasure of those who followed Him. If you were not willing to give up everything to follow Jesus, then you were not a follower of Jesus. It was heaven-bound with Jesus or hell-bound with yourself and your earthly treasures. Even family needed to be considered rubbish compared to knowing Christ. Disciples were not “fooling-around.” They wanted and needed Jesus. If it was death for Jesus, then to the grave they went. For disciples, Church was living with and for Jesus, not in and out of a building on Sunday morning. Being a Christian was not owning a bible, but living the Bible, becoming a living letter for the whole world to read. Christ following was not a fish or a bumper-sticker on your fender but His name engraved upon your heart.
Christians, we have a problem.
If you read the Bible and take Gods words serious, than it is not hard to recognize that God is calling us all to a serious and deeply personal commitment. A commitment to Him and His ways and a commitment to one another. But if we are honest with ourselves first and then honest about what we see as we take a quick glance at the “church” around us, we must conclude that we have some problems.
Too many of us “Western” Christians live as though God owes us our salvation. So, now that we have received our salvation (or are deceived in thinking we have it), we, much like retirement, now deserve to chill-out, relax, and take up space in the “church” and the universe, do much of nothing, eat, sleep and then repeat, and all to the glory of ourselves. This is self-idolatry.
Lazy “Christians” become idolaters, idolizing themselves, their routines, their lifestyles, their comfort, their commitment (or lack there of) and so on. They can conveniently come and go at the risk of nothing. Self-preservation and zero risks become the norm of the majority “christian” in America.
Most men, especially, do nothing, while very few do most everything. This has been my experience and I would challenge anyone who thinks otherwise. The laborers are few, says Jesus. We have to pray for men and women who are willing to sweat for the sake of Gospel-furthering discipleship. Those few who are willing to disciple must pray hard and work effectively, living biblically towards the goal of being catalysts in their churches in an effort to make disciples who will go on to be disciple-makers.
I think there are “problem-children” in our churches…
I think we need to be more bold and less apologetic in our discipleship when it comes to completing and passing on this vision. We need to clearly explain to the men and women that are receiving from Christ, the local church, and from their teachers and leaders that they are being invested in for the purpose of making further disciples and progress in spreading what they are now taking in – the Gospel!
We cannot continue to tell people that they may come as they are and stay as they were. If you come to Jesus, He brings a sword, causing division between the life we are living and the sacrificial life He requires us to accept. He makes a line in the sand – For Me or against Me. My way or the hell-way. These are not harsh terms, these are Gods terms. You cannot continue to serve yourself and follow God. As leaders we must preach and teach Christ’s Gospel, lovingly requiring people to align themselves with the Words of Christ. Christianity is not for the consumer. What im saying is this, if people under our oversight do not understand that selfish unbiblical living is sin and not christianity, than we have failed the Gospel message and we are not leading them heaven-word. The old must go.
Unfortunately, our “its-ok-to-be-obese” culture is also creating “its-ok-to-be-obese-Christians” who are always learning, but never making use of the knowledge they have obtained. You could simply call these Christians, “fat-Christians.” They eat at the table, but never share their food. No-one is getting invited to dine with them. Bible study after bible study yet no results as far as impacting the world around them. Fat-Christians will not spread the Gospel because they are lazy and selfish and might not be Christians at all. As leaders, we need to make a steady and bold effort in prayer and action to reach and envision these unfortunate and delusional church goers. Christ died for them, yet they have not understood fully what this personally means for their lives and the lives of others. Unless they are moved by the Spirit to wake-up, they may never enter heaven to be with Christ at all. We need a movement of Christians and especially Christ-loving leaders who will intercede in prayer for their local churches and for themselves that they and their entire congregation would realize and answer the call of Christ upon our lives to be and make disciples. Jesus wants us to move when He gives direction: “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15,16) “Go and make disciples… teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” (Matthew 28:19,20) “If you want to be My disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison – your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be My disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost… You cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.” (Luke 14:26-33) I hope you and I don’t just skip over The Words of God found here. I am sure of this one thing: Our God says what He means, and He means what He says. “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” (verse 35) You and I need to frequently examine and re-examine our lives in light of scripture.
Questions Worth Asking Ourselves:
Do our lives look more and more like the life that Christ requires of us?
Are we living lives that look scripturally heaven-bound? Or hell-bound?
Are we disciples? And are we disciple-makers?
This may be sobering, but I would rather be sober, living in reality, than delusional and on my way toward a Christ-less eternity.
Can’t you see the need for living and fulfilling and spreading the mission of God as active disciples of Jesus?
So what might this life-style look like?
First let me simply say this: Your life will look sacrificial. Christ sacrificed His life in order to save your life. Now we are required to repent of selfish living and to live sacrificially – giving our entire will over to His will. Christ died to save. Repentance is our response in realizing His saving grace toward us. We forsake who we have been (selfish sinners) and we live now for Him by Grace. Jesus requires that we leave the old selfish nature and follow Him in making Him our new nature. If we do not submit to this plan than we are not disciples of Jesus. Disciples and Disciple-makers are self-less and giving like Jesus.
Your life will be relational and missional like the life of Jesus. Jesus was surrounded by people, and some of those people were closer to Him and more frequently with Him in close relationship than others. In order for us to fulfill our mission with Christ we must be on mission in our homes, churches, and workplaces with an emphasis on building relationships towards a prayerful eternal investment. Simply put, we want people to be saved! We are to live out the Gospel with and in front of the world and church, drawing men and women to our Master, Savior and Friend, Jesus. Im not saying that you need to be “preachy” every time you spend time with non-believers but I am saying that we must hang out with non-believers with the intention of genuinely getting to know them, showing interest and true care for them and their personal lives, all with the purpose to introduce them to Jesus. I might be given the opportunity to share the Gospel with them or I might invite them to hang out with myself and some Christian friends where one of my friends share the Gospel with them. Or I might invite them to church with me where someone else lovingly shares Jesus with them. That is why we need to be involved in non-believing relationships and genuine Christian fellowship. Both relationships are important. This way, the body is most effective in living for Jesus and using the individual gifts that God has given each one of us to do great-commission work and glorify God.
In simplicity, your call to serve Him in your local community will help fulfill three things.
1.Win people to Christ by living-out, preaching and or reaching the lost with the clear biblical message of the Gospel. We are to reach the world around us. That world is your immediate context (Home, work, family, friends, neighbors…etc). We do this through relationship building. Jesus was relational. He showed up where people were and lived for God, lighting up the world around Him. He lived in community with those around Him, loving and living for the glory of God. As people watch, experience and join in on your life, they won’t be able to help experiencing the life of Jesus in you. Go win the world!
2.Disciple the saved in Jesus so that they grow up to be healthy and mature Christians who are contagiously enjoying their Gods salvation and fellowship with one another. The ultimate goal in Discipleship is not that Christians share their faith but that they know their savior and who it is they are sharing, becoming Christ-like and Christ-minded, glorifying their God. If we are successful in this than we wont have to twist arms to get the church to speak publicly the name of Jesus. Evangelism will simply be the fruit of becoming like Jesus. If you are being an example of this, those around you who you share your life with (discipleship), won’t be able to resist catching this vision. It should be as natural as breathing and unstoppable because it is who we are. Our identity is truly found in Jesus. We are saved and cannot be anything else. Our Goal as servants in the church is to train others to know that “to live is Christ.”
3.Send others out into the world to do the same. We are all on mission with Jesus wherever he has placed us. We want to be used to help others catch this vision and send them on Gods mission wherever Jesus calls or places them in this world.
Questions worth pondering:
What might Gods mission look like in your fellowship?
Are you a disciple?
What Does a Disciple look like? Act like?
Are you willing to make disciples?
How can you make disciples graciously and lovingly?