Jesus Desires for You to Discover Your PASSION! (Complete Seminar Text)

04/10/2017 § Leave a comment

Text from Spring Break 2017 Seminar for Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, Akron OH and guests, April 7-8, 2017 at the Hampton Inn by Hilton, Stow OH:

Day 1 – Friday

Thank you for attending this year’s Spring Break 2017 Relationship Conference presented by Akron Alliance Fellowship Church.  We sincerely hope that you have a great time here this weekend, and that you are inspired and encouraged by what God has to say to you!  A special thanks to the staff at the Hampton Inn by Hilton for hosting this event for the sixth consecutive year!

If you were with us in 2015 for our seminar, Your IMAGE and Forgiveness, and last year’s A PACT with Jesus: Making the Right Choices, you would have noted that both of these programs were to help its participants begin and continue the process of developing a closer, healthier and vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ.  In order for a believer in Christ to grow in faith, he has to do more than just go beyond the basics.  This annual seminar series provides practical methods for a present believer, and even a potential believer, to reach one’s fullest potential as a child of God living in a manner that brings praise to Jesus Christ!

Our discussion this weekend is about developing a passion for service in Jesus Christ.  In order to develop this passion, there has a starting point.  The starting point for this process begins with you.

Why does it start with you?  It is necessary for you to undertake a self-analysis of who you are, what you are and where you are going.  This self-analysis can be simple or detailed, but it should address, in some manner, the following questions (beyond just defining who you are) …

[Handout H-1]

What is your purpose (present)?

What do you want to accomplish in the future (future)?

By putting answers with these questions, it merely establishes a baseline. The most important things that you are to face and reckon with over time is what is happening today, which includes for our discussion within the immediate future (days), and your goals for the future (extended months and years from now).

The answers to these questions are just a baseline for your path moving forward.

Your past formed the path that you have traveled to get to where you are today. Your past has provided defining moments of your life that indicate who you are in this moment; however, it is important to note that who you are today does not have to define who or what you will accomplish in the future, and we know this because of the change that Jesus Christ provides for us each day.

In the same way that Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, created in you a new person, He has the ability to continue to mold and shape you into a person that can do even more things through Christ, who gives you the strength and ability to do them (Philippians 4:13)!

So when we analyze these two questions, what do you see about yourself?

(Discussion)

I trust that, with this weekend’s discussion, you will be able to see your role in the body of Christ more clearly than you do now, and that you will also gain the desire to live your life in Christ to its fullest.  You are able to do this with confidence in the knowledge that you are right where you should be in Christ.  There is no better place to be, and this is how you can live your life with passion in Jesus Christ.

[Dinner Break]

 

Part A – Under Construction

This weekend, we will be discussing a number of construction projects.  These construction projects will start with you.

Your review will require self-examination and self-exploration, and at the same time, a fair amount of planning and preparation as you go.

You are always under construction because of how God shapes and moves you throughout your life.  This is whether you have an intimate relationship with Jesus or even if you do not.  As much as we like to think that we control our direction or even our destiny, we really don’t have that kind of power over our lives.  We don’t have any control over the course of life.  God is the author of all life and what happens in it.  You have often heard the use of the words “God is in control.” Scripture does not use those exact words, but there are verses that support God’s predominant role in your life:

Proverbs 19:21 ESV

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

The life of a believer is indeed guided through the help of the Holy Spirit when making decisions.  I also stated that even non-believers, those who do not have a relationship with the Lord, are also under the “God is in control” umbrella even if they do not realize it.  How do I know this?  Take a look at Isaiah 45:1-7:

Isaiah 45:1-7 HCSB

The Lord says this to Cyrus, His anointed,

whose right hand I have grasped

to subdue nations before him,

to disarm kings,

to open the doors before him

and the gates will not be shut:

“I will go before you

and level the uneven places;

I will shatter the bronze doors

and cut the iron bars in two.

I will give you the treasures of darkness

and riches from secret places,

so that you may know that I, Yahweh,

the God of Israel call you by your name.

I call you by your name,

because of Jacob My servant

and Israel My chosen one.

I give a name to you,

though you do not know Me.

I am Yahweh, and there is no other;

there is no God but Me.

I will strengthen you,

though you do not know Me,

so that all may know from the rising of the sun to its setting

that there is no one but Me.

I am Yahweh, and there is no other.

I form light and create darkness,

I make success and create disaster;

I, Yahweh, do all these things.

Recognition of God’s control in your life is an important aspect of effective planning.  If, for example, you take into account how the weather impacts your life, your plans actually take into account the upcoming forecast.  If there is rain in the forecast, it can certainly affect whether or not you will attend a baseball game or plan a picnic.  If there is snow and cold weather and you love to ski, then you would plan to hit the slopes!  If there is a hurricane in the forecast, you can choose to stick it out (at your own peril), or to evacuate to a place of safety.  In all three of these situations, decisions are being made because of events that are beyond one’s control.  In the same way, recognizing that God is in control still requires you to make a plan for your life.  In going further, God would not want a person to live a life of ambiguity.  Planning is essential as it is preparation for the future.

 

Part B – God Has a Plan for Your Life

It is reassuring that God has a plan for each one of you, as well.  But it is important for us to see that, in addition to planning and preparation, one recognizes that God’s plan for your life involves recognition of who He is and what He means to your life plans.

Jeremiah 29:11-12

For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration— “plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.

In your planning and preparation, you are to:

  • Call on Jesus Christ
  • Search for Him with all your heart
  • Pray to Him (and He will listen)

When you involve the Lord in your plans as you seek Him, He will make His presence known to you, and you will see how He gives you hope for the future!  He keeps His promises and wants to see you succeed in whatever you do!

Construction projects start with a dream.  A thought.  A desire to change something for the better.

Your construction project will not be successful unless you know what you are undertaking.  Your personal construction project must have a goal.  What is it that you want to accomplish in this endeavor?  What needs to be worked on?  What needs the most attention in your life?

Let’s review what your goals are.

[Handout H-2]

What are your short-term goals?

What are your long-term goals?

Use the handout (No. 2) in front of you to capture your short-term goals and your long-term goals.  Write down what your short-term goals are and what goals you would like to accomplish in the future.

In order to start a fire, you need a spark.  You provide the spark, and let the Spirit’s leading and guidance do the rest!

From here, you need to compare what your goals are to what you believe your life purpose is (from Handout No. 1).

[Handout H-3]

What do you presently do each day?

What do you LIKE to do, and if you could, would do every day?

Who do you admire and why?

What do you love to learn about?

What can you talk about all day without getting tired of it?

What excites you? (or) What inspires you? (or both)

[Discussion]

 

Part C – Passion Defined

When one uses the word “passion,” what comes to mind?

Before I delve into dictionary definitions, let’s see if we can come up with one or two word synonyms or descriptive terms that can help us define the word “passion.”

(discussion) (with note taking)

With our mini-definitions, I will provide two different definitions of “passion” from American Heritage and Merriam-Webster:

pas•sion

  1. A powerful emotion, such as love, joy, hatred, or anger.
  2. Ardent love.

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

1

(often capitalized)

a:  the sufferings of Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death

b:  an oratorio based on a gospel narrative of the Passion Bach’s St. Matthew Passion

2

obsolete:  suffering

3

the state or capacity of being acted on by external agents or forces

moldable and not moldable … and many other passions of matter — Francis Bacon

4

a (1):  emotion “his ruling passion is greed” (2) passions plural: “the emotions as distinguished from reason a study of the passions”

b:  intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction

with enough passion to make a great poet — W. B. Yeats

c:  an outbreak of anger a crime of passion

5

a:  ardent affection:  love He had never felt such passion for any woman but her.

b:  a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept a passion for chess a passion for opera

c:  sexual desire a look of passion in her face

d:  an object of desire or deep interest

© 2017 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated

 

It should be noted that the word “passion” has a number of meanings that range from the sufferings of Jesus Christ to something that borders on one losing control of himself.  To help with this for our discussion this weekend, we need to highlight that the passion that we will be discussing does not encompass everything you see in these definitions, but it does capture something that may be elusive to many people when it comes to their relationship with Jesus Christ–intensity.  It is this intensity through the power and enabling of the Holy Spirit, that helps a person to recognize what he or she is passionate about, and how a person lives an intentional life of service for God’s glory in Jesus Christ.  It is an amazing parallel to how Jesus Christ lived and died for each one of us.

 

Part D – An Intentional Life of Intensity in Christ

According to John Piper, it was Jesus Christ Himself that lived with intensity His intentional life.  The intensity was His desire to remain obedient to the Father as he intentionally suffered and died on the cross for each of us.  His desire was to ultimately pave the way, by His actions, for every person who acknowledges Him to experience eternal life.  His passion was for us!  His agape love for us, from the beginning of mankind, reflects to us how much He thought all of this through, and you were included in His plan!

When you consider that you were part of God’s plan in being here to live, what do you think about this?

(discussion)

[Dismissal for evening]

Piper, J. (2014). The Intensity of Christ’s Love and the Intentionality of His Death. Desiring God Series. Retrieved March 14, 2017 from http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/bible-study/the-intensity-of-christ-s-love-and-the-intentionality-of-his-death.html

 

Day 2 – Saturday

Part 1 – Heart Matters

Your ongoing efforts of self-examination and self-evaluation are not much different from our ongoing theme of our church studies, which is learning more about your own personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  In order to know more about who you are in Christ, you need to know more about Jesus Christ.  There are simple reasons why this is so important:

1.) Jesus Christ is your Creator who knows all about you.

2.) Jesus promised a Helper, the Holy Spirit, for you to help you to live your life.

3.) The Holy Spirit is an intimate helper and sanctifier within your daily living.

By knowing more about Jesus Christ, you will grow more and more:

  • You will see things as Jesus sees them
  • He will give you greater insight into your ability to succeed in Christ
  • You will do your best as Jesus wants you to be your best!

Faith Stages Handout

[Handout H-4]

Faith Stages

Powerful, Purposeful, Principled and Approachable

Trusting completely in Jesus Christ helps you to reach your greatest potential through the enabling and enriching presence of the Holy Spirit.

P

A passion-filled believer is:

Powerful.  Your power comes from your affiliation with the Holy Spirit and righteousness.  He is responsive to our needs and gives us energy through His presence.

Psalm 138:3 HCSB

On the day I called, You answered me;

You increased strength within me.

2 Timothy 1:6-7

Therefore, I remind you to keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.

A passion-filled believer is:

Purposeful.  Your passion is derived from knowing your purpose.  The moment that you know and understand your purpose in Christ, your flame of passion has been kindled, and there is nothing that can put it out!

Ephesians 2:10 ESV

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Philippians 4:13

I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.

When I finally determined what my life purpose was in my relationship with Jesus Christ, it gave me a new meaning to my faith and what I was striving to accomplish—not for my own benefit, but for the benefit of the body of Christ and for the purpose of winning people to Christ.

A passion-filled believer is:

Principled.  In line with our previous discussions on making a PACT with Jesus Christ for effective decision-making, a believer in Jesus Christ desires righteousness and lives according to His standards of Christlikeness.  He adheres to a lifestyle that honors God and keeps His commands.

Principled believers rely upon the wisdom and words of God for daily living.

James 1:5

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.

Psalm 119:105

Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.

_____________

A

A passion-filled believer is:

Approachable.  In the same way that God is approachable because of the redeeming power of the blood of Jesus Christ shed for all of our sins, we are to be approachable to those individuals within our spheres of influence.  We are to be and remain as lights in a dark world.  We are to be attractive in this world not because of our appearance, but because of our Christlike love for others.  Love goes a long way in making you approachable, especially when it is shown to those that the world sees as unlovable or unattractive.

1 John 4:7-19

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him.  Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.  No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.

This is how we know that we remain in Him and He in us: He has given assurance to us from His Spirit.  And we have seen and we testify that the Father has sent His Son as the world’s Savior.  Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God—God remains in him and he in God.  And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.

In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, for we are as He is in this world.  There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love.  We love because He first loved us.

Note that in this passage there is what seems to be a progression of faith in how we are to love one another.  Note that true perfection in love comes where fear no longer matters anymore to you.  Since fear is a tool of the enemy, a passionate believer in Jesus Christ is reaching perfection in love with a strong progression of faith in his or her life.

[Discussion]

[Break]

 

Part 2 – Abundant Life and Spirit-Filled

A passion-filled believer is living the:

Abundant life.  The ultimate goal of every person, believer or not, is to live an abundant life.

John 10:10 ESV

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

What is the abundant life?  It depends on how you look at it.  The non-believer, or even some believers, may associate abundance with wealth or riches.  That is not God’s definition of abundance. (Remember the plight of the rich man who knew what he needed to do to follow Jesus but was very sad because he couldn’t do it:

Mark 10:17-27 NLT

As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good.  But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’”

“Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!”  This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God.  In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”

And yes, it is possible, through Jesus Christ, for you to live a life of abundance.

Jesus does not just want you to simply exist.

He does not even want you just to have what you might deem to be a carefree life.  That’s not biblical.

He does, however, want you to have the abundant life.  He wants you to have a life that overflows with God’s presence in every aspect of your existence.  He wants you to experience the completeness of life according to His will and purpose for you.  The effect of an abundant life will be the blessings of life that God will show you because of your faithfulness to Him.

Heading before this passage:  Blessings for Obedience…

Deuteronomy 28:1-14

“Now if you faithfully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all His commands I am giving you today, the Lord your God will put you far above all the nations of the earth.  All these blessings will come and overtake you, because you obey the Lord your God:

You will be blessed in the city

and blessed in the country.

Your descendants will be blessed,

and your land’s produce,

and the offspring of your livestock,

including the young of your herds

and the newborn of your flocks.

Your basket and kneading bowl will be blessed.

You will be blessed when you come in

and blessed when you go out.

“The Lord will cause the enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you. They will march out against you from one direction but flee from you in seven directions.  The Lord will grant you a blessing on your storehouses and on everything you do; He will bless you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.  The Lord will establish you as His holy people, as He swore to you, if you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in His ways.  Then all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by Yahweh’s name, and they will stand in awe of you.  The Lord will make you prosper abundantly with children, the offspring of your livestock, and your land’s produce in the land the Lord swore to your fathers to give you.  The Lord will open for you His abundant storehouse, the sky, to give your land rain in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow.  The Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you will only move upward and never downward if you listen to the Lord your God’s commands I am giving you today and are careful to follow them.  Do not turn aside to the right or the left from all the things I am commanding you today, and do not go after other gods to worship them.

Not everyone reaches this goal because of the challenges of life and deception from Satan:

Mark 4:1-9

Again He began to teach by the sea, and a very large crowd gathered around Him. So He got into a boat on the sea and sat down, while the whole crowd was on the shore facing the sea.  He taught them many things in parables, and in His teaching He said to them: “Listen! Consider the sower who went out to sow.  As he sowed, this occurred: Some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn’t have much soil, and it sprang up right away, since it didn’t have deep soil.  When the sun came up, it was scorched, and since it didn’t have a root, it withered.  Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it didn’t produce a crop.  Still others fell on good ground and produced a crop that increased 30, 60, and 100 times what was sown.”  Then He said, “Anyone who has ears to hear should listen!”

When Jesus explains this parable (to His disciples), you can see why many people fail to live the abundant life.

Mark 4:13-20

Then He said to them: “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any of the parables?  The sower sows the word.  These are the ones along the path where the word is sown: when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word sown in them.  And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, immediately they receive it with joy.  But they have no root in themselves; they are short-lived. When pressure or persecution comes because of the word, they immediately stumble.  Others are sown among thorns; these are the ones who hear the word, but the worries of this age, the seduction of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.  But the ones sown on good ground are those who hear the word, welcome it, and produce a crop: 30, 60, and 100 times what was sown.”

When you get right down to it, the only thing that keep us from living the abundant life is our lack of faith in the power of Jesus Christ over the enemy.  The enemy is Satan, who is described in John 10:10 as the one who seeks to kill and destroy, but God’s power and ability overcomes anything and everything that Satan can do.  The key to living the abundant life is to resist Satan and to seek and remain in fellowship with God through Jesus Christ.

James 4:7 NIV

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

You know you are progressing towards the abundant life that Jesus wants you to have when you are advancing past the “baby milk” stage of faith and just looking at life for the basics:

Matthew 6:25-33 ESV

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

You are worth so much more in Christ!  In order to experience the abundant life, you will have to throw caution to the wind and life a life of faithfulness in trusting the words of Jesus Christ.  He wants so much more for you!  A passion-filled believer lives with purpose, and experiences the abundant life in Christ!

The sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, in your ongoing fellowship with Christ, will give you the ability to produce the multiples described in Mark Chapter 4 as you live for Christ in abundance!

______________________

S

A passion-filled believer is:

Spirit-filled.  The true abundant life can only be achieved by the believer in Jesus Christ.  The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the catalyst that enables you to achieve this abundance and live a passion-filled existence!

Ephesians 5:18

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit…

Being filled with the Holy Spirit is instantaneous upon accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life, but the Spirit does not turn the believer into a mind-numbed robot.  You have to allow the Spirit to be in control in order to offset your own fleshly nature.

1 Thessalonians 5:19 ESV

Do not quench the Spirit.

Galatians 5:19-21 ESV

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Being Spirit-filled means successful living in reverence and service for Jesus Christ.

Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

The Holy Spirit teaches believers how to live a Christlike existence, and His lessons are invaluable as He sanctifies with His presence.

Being Spirit-filled gives you the ability to live a life a passion for Jesus Christ:

Colossians 3:12-17 HCSB

Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.  Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity.  And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.  Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

[Discussion]

[Break]

 

Part 3 – Sensitive, Servant, Sanctified, Stands Firm, Sharer of Faith

A passion-filled believer is:

Sensitive.  A follower of Christ who is mature in his or her faith and lives a purpose-filled life is sensitive to his or her environment.  Prayers are less about self and more about others.  It extends beyond close friends and family and even reaches those who do not know the Lord and those who need encouragement.  Sensitivity in Christ means love, care and compassion for others.

Look at the words of Christ in Isaiah 61 as to being sensitive to the needs of the people:

Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me,

because the Lord has anointed Me

to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,

to proclaim liberty to the captives

and freedom to the prisoners;

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,

and the day of our God’s vengeance;

to comfort all who mourn,

to provide for those who mourn in Zion;

to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,

festive oil instead of mourning,

and splendid clothes instead of despair.

And they will be called righteous trees,

planted by the Lord

to glorify Him.

Your life of sensitivity, after all is said and done, glorifies God!  The softly spoken words and demeanor of a passion-filled believer represents peace and comfort for those who need simple encouragement all the way to those who are in the midst of a turbulent experience.

Proverbs 16:24 ESV

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

1 Peter 3:8 ESV

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

A passion-filled believer is a:

Servant.  The desire to live in a Christlike manner in sensitivity lends to being a Christlike servant.

John 12:26 ESV

If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

1 Peter 2:16 ESV

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

Being a servant is exactly what Jesus Christ wants us to do before others.  He set the example before His disciples:

John 13:12-17 HCSB

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.  “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

A passion-filled servant understands the importance of devoting his service to Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit is the enabler through the humility of the servant, and God is the one who receives the glory!

____________________________________

S (#2)

A passion-filled believer is:

Sanctified.  The Holy Spirit’s presence in the believer is a sanctifying presence.  Sanctification is the combination of the believer’s growth in the likeness of Christ. It is the accumulation and application of God’s wisdom and knowledge from none other than Jesus Christ, who A. B. Simpson refers to as “The Sanctifier.”  Jesus Christ proclaimed that the Holy Spirit is the One who will teach and remind believers of the words of Jesus Christ.

John 14:26 ESV

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

The Holy Spirit works within you from the moment of your conversion in recognition that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior.  It is best described as an ongoing cleansing process as you put off the old and grow in your new life in Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Sanctification is what God desires for your life.  You cannot live a life of passion in Christ without sanctification, because it is the essence of an obedient lifestyle.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 NIV

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.  For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.  Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

Sanctification does not mean a life of perfection, but it does mean that you desire to be holy as the Lord is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  It means that the believer desires a greater faith walk and a closer relationship with Jesus Christ, and both of these requires a humble, teachable role within the presence of the Spirit.

 

A passion-filled believer:

Stands firm.  In living according to the IMAGE of Jesus Christ, one of the most important aspects of living is under the “E” for endurance.  Every believer has to endure a daily onslaught of temptation and fleshly desires.  A believer has to not only endure a multitude of issues and distractions, but also must stand firm in the face of any opposition, especially any challenges to your faith in Jesus Christ.  For the person who is living with a passionate conviction in Jesus Christ, it can and will be done without any hesitation or uncertainty.

Philippians 1:27-30 HCSB

Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith that comes from the gospel, not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of destruction for them, but of your deliverance—and this is from God.  For it has been given to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him, having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I have.

Standing firm means that there is nothing that can shake you from living a life of passion in Jesus Christ.

 

A passion-filled believer is a:

Sharer of faith.  This is something that becomes more and more comfortable over time as you allow the sanctification process to continue.  Sharing the love of Christ, your faith, is an act of discipleship.  The believer not only shares about Jesus Christ to those who do not have a relationship with Him, but also gives encouragement to other believers as often as necessary.

1 Peter 3:13-17 HCSB

And who will harm you if you are deeply committed to what is good?  But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.  However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame.  For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

Mark 16:15 ESV

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”

Colossians 4:5-6 ESV

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Romans 1:11-12 HCSB

For I want very much to see you, so I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, to be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.

A passion-filled believer reflects the image of Jesus Christ for all to see, and one who readily shares his or her faith does so with confidence and assurance that the truth is being spoken.

[Discussion]

[Break]

 

Part 4 – Influencer, Iron-Sharpener and Instructor

I

A passion-filled believer is an:

Influencer.  Sharing your faith, in the leading of the Holy Spirit, is influential.  The words spoken are given with conviction and in righteousness to those who hear them.  A passion-filled believer is speaking in accord with the will of God, who desires for every person to enter into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 2:3-4 HCSB

This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

There is a difference between an influencer and a coercer.  An influencer shows the love of Christ in their speech to others.  One who coerces is not really allowing the Spirit to work in the life of the hearer.  The words spoken are to reflect the love and concern of Jesus Christ.

Matthew 5:13-16 ESV

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

An influencer provides words of wisdom and knowledge about not just the gospel, but everything that is beneficial.

Proverbs 9:9 ESV

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

 

A passion-filled believer is an:

Iron-sharpener.  The proper influence must originate from the Spirit of truth.  When referring to Scripture, the believer must use these words properly in order that God is glorified:

2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

An iron-sharpener is actively speaking about matters of Scripture to provide others with food for thought and encourages feedback from others.

Proverbs 27:17 ESV

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

 

A passion-filled believer is an:

Instructor.  A believer who faithfully and consistently reads and studies the Bible is more than just a Bible student.  He is an influencer, iron-sharpener and also an instructor.  A passion-filled believer gives instruction on Christlike living with both words and actions everywhere he or she goes.  An instructor not only shares godly wisdom and knowledge but also reflects how to behave properly and live with character in all situations and circumstances.

Proverbs 19:20 ESV

Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.

Psalm 32:8 ESV

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

[Discussion]

[Break – Checkout]

 

Part 5 – Obedient to God and His Word, Outreacher, Neighbor and New Creation

O

A passion-filled believer is:

Obedient to God and His Word.  Being obedient to God means loving Him with all of your heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37), and it includes an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 14:15 ESV

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

1 John 5:3 ESV  

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

Loving God and obedience to Him are synonymous.  You cannot do one without the other.  A passion-filled believer strives to live in faithfulness and trust in the Word each day.

 

A passion-filled believer is an:

Outreacher.  Believers are not to stay amongst themselves or even within their small group of friends.  Passion-filled believers go outside of themselves.  They go where the Holy Spirit takes them in ministering to others, and allow the Spirit to take the lead in all discussions and opportunities to witness to others.  The outreach efforts truly reflect to others the person’s love for God, reverence to God and faithfulness.  This is a significant difference to those who claim to desire to minister to others.  Outreachers live in this manner each day, and to be prepared to minister to others at any given moment as the Spirit prompts.

Matthew 28:19 ESV

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:8

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Romans 10:14 ESV

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

2 Timothy 4:2 ESV

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

_________________________

N

A passion-filled believer is a:

Neighbor.  In order to minister as an outreacher for Jesus Christ, you have to be the neighbor as described within the greatest commandments of Jesus Christ:

Matthew 22:36-40 HCSB

“Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”

He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and most important command.  The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

In the simplest of terms, you are commanded by Jesus Christ to convey the same love to your neighbor, as a neighbor, as you love God and desire to serve Him in whatever ministry it is that you are participating in.  This is offered as wisdom given that there are often many situations where your interactions with others may be misconstrued, misunderstood or flat out rejected.  A passion-filled believer understands that love in ministry and service often takes time when trying to reach others for Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

So, you being a neighbor to others is the essence of Christlikeness and Spirit-filled living.  Your love for Jesus Christ will shine before everyone and they will see the sincerity of your care and concern for others.

 

A passion-filled believer is a:

New Creation.  Every day is a new day…a new adventure.  Jesus Christ’s sanctifying power through the Holy Spirit transforms you as a new creation each day.  Your actions of reading, studying, meditating on His Word and living out a faithful life in Jesus Christ is a constant life transition that will also show the growth and development as a new creation.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21 NIV

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

This ongoing “newness” in Jesus Christ is an ongoing development.  Our challenge is to remain close to Him, and in our closeness, obedience and service to Him, He will continue to renew us as we strive for holiness.  He continues to provide us with the ability to resist sin and those things that block our ongoing transformation to a place of freedom and righteousness in His name.  We are being made new every day in Jesus Christ!  A passion-filled believer puts nothing above the importance of fellowship with Jesus Christ.

[Handout H-5]

Passion Chart

 

Conclusion

Your passion in Jesus Christ does not require anything complicated.  If anything, it requires a simplistic, God-oriented approach.  Sometimes the most obvious solutions to answers are right in front of you.  My desire for you, after this discussion concludes, is to challenge each of you to really search your own heart and mind as to where you are in your present relationship with Jesus Christ and how you are living for Him.  It is impossible to separate your relationship with Christ and having a good grasp of what your reason and purpose is for being here.

If it means that today is the day you begin to get deeper into the Word of God and learn more about who He is, then that will be good and proper for you.  God will respond to your sincere efforts to get to know Him.

If you believe that you are already doing what the Lord would have you to do, then your place of service will be affirmed by your actions; however, you should also be prayerful that God will move you to a different area at any given moment and begin to expose you to ways where you will learn and prosper under His direction.  It takes being flexible and open to learning new things, but it also means that you are sensitive to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Your passion in Jesus Christ is in your control.  Jesus has always been present in your life.  He was there from the beginning (John 1:2), He was present in your past, He is present now and He will be with you in the short term and long term future.  He wants you to seek Him and love Him as One who has your best interests at heart.  He wants to see you succeed in Christ, and He wants you to live up to your greatest potential.  He wants you to live the abundant life!

Evaluate your life today, your love for Christ, and what you can do to improve upon this.  Your passion in Jesus Christ is a flame that will continue to burn brightly as you discover and live out your God-given gifts and talents.  All it takes is the desire to seek Him with greater intimacy and do even more than you ever have before.  God will respond to your loving commitment to Him where everyone will see you, but Christ receives the glory!  Amen!

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines

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Roller Skating Enthusiasm – From the Euclid Rollerdrome to Pla-Mor Roller Rink

06/04/2011 § 1 Comment

(Number Two of a Series)

I was first introduced to the Euclid Rollerdrome in 2004, and thought that it was, far and away, the best skating floor that I had ever seen.  I couldn’t believe how smooth and well kept the floor was.  The floor’s excellent condition was because of the efforts of the rink’s owner, Keith Broda, who was a dedicated skater and lover of roller skating.  He really did a tremendous job keeping up the floor, if not the rest of the building.  It remains, in my mind, the most ideal roller skating experience in memory.

Jeff Piorkowski / Sun News

 

It was a complete surprise to all of us who regularly attended the adult skating sessions when the Rollerdrome closed in October of 2008.  It closed without warning, and our regular group of skaters migrated to United Skates of America for a brief period afterward.  It was a letdown to skate on USA’s floor in comparison to the old Rollerdrome floor.  The USA floor was not as well kept as in previous years and skating sessions in 2008 and early 2009.  There were several slick spots on the floor where there was moisture from the overhead air conditioning units.  It was also very dirty (my wheels were absolutely filthy after each session) and there were bits of debris on the floor where you could experience a sudden stop if you ran over something.  During one session, I witnessed a young lady barely get out onto the floor when one of her wheels caught a bearing or a loose item on the floor, and she fell and fractured both wrists.  From that moment on, I was concerned for my safety and my wife’s safety, and I knew that I would be scaling back from skating there unless there was a dramatic change to the floor conditions.

It was about five months since the Rollerdrome closed that The Big Rumor began to circulate throughout the roller skating crowd…The Rollerdrome was going to reopen!  A loyal friend of our group of skaters was trying to open up his own skating rink business.  I was hoping for the best but preparing for the worst because it was almost too good to be true–especially in the present economy where businesses were closing…not opening.  Nonetheless, there was a definite buzz in the air for a few weeks as we kept hearing about it more and more, but we could not confirm anything…until we heard that there was now a projected opening date at the old Rollerdrome.  When the word got out that there was a grand opening coming in the Spring of 2009, the management at USA tried to entice attendees with a super-discounted session the following week, but there was no way that I would be coming back if the old Rollerdrome was open again…it was no contest.  No, I haven’t gone back since then.

The grand opening of the Pla-Mor Roller Rink was a moment that I compared to the movie Field of Dreams.  It was an amazing sight to see the rink on opening night.  Bright colors…a clean floor…the newly decorated walls…lights…sounds of a booming speaker system.  Yes, it was the same floor in the same building that I remember, but with new signage, new posters, and fresh coats of paint.  It was a thing of beauty to me.  There was nothing grand or magnificent about it on the surface…it was merely a place where I was now able to pick up where I left off at Rollerdrome and build on those wonderful memories with some new ones…and enjoy skating once more.

The name Pla-Mor was a revival of an old skating rink near University Circle, and the name takes on the same meaning for those who skated there as it does for those of us who remember the glory days at Southgate, the older United Skates of America, and the Rollerdrome (for more on the ownership of the new rink, please refer to this article on the rink from June 2009 on Cleveland.com).

Pla-Mor’s floor is one of the best in the Cleveland area for skating.  The floor has not always been as exceptionally clean as the Rollerdrome floor, but it is still more than acceptable for skid-free skating.  The management, in fact, does an excellent job keeping debris off of the floor surface and makes sure that any issues that may develop are handled quickly.  It was recently resurfaced with a heavy varnish that took some getting used to when it was first applied, but the end result was an improvement to the surface after the rink’s reopening.  I enjoy fast skating on the outside of the rink, and a good grip is critical.  My wife is more of a dancer, and the skate surface in the center area is smooth and free of obstruction (I learned recently that not all floor surfaces in the center area are smooth…some surfaces are not sanded down properly and some can be so poor that they are warped.).  The Pla-Mor surface is firm and is a good fit with Bones wheels, as long as the floor is clean and free of excess dirt and your own wheels are clean.  I have been using a soft window-like cleaner to clean my wheels before every session to prevent unnecessary buildup.  A quick tip—if you use too harsh of a cleaner on your wheels, you could cause premature deterioration and dull their surface, which would adversely affect your grip and traction.

The floor of the Pla-Mor rink is a decent size.  At one time, the USA floor in Wickliffe was one of the largest that I had ever seen, but over time, the floor had lost real estate because of extra seating in the audience and because of the addition of laser tag in an adjacent area.  Pla-Mor has no obstructions or areas that can encroach the floor.  There is bench and chair seating available on three sides of the floor as well as an ample supply of lockers where you can pay an extra dollar to lock your personal belongings.  There is also a snack bar available, but a lady has been bringing in meals and desserts every week for about five dollars a plate that would rival most Thanksgiving dinner menus.  The air conditioning, at times, has strained to keep the rink at an optimal level of comfort, and the music has been more often good than outright bad.  There is much to be thankful for in that the diehard roller skaters now have a place to go once more each week to create more great memories.

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

Roller Skating Enthusiasm – Southgate Skates and Rink Nostalgia

05/28/2011 § 1 Comment

(First of a Series)

I’m writing about Cleveland area roller rinks because there just isn’t much available as a critique or a review of the quality and atmosphere (past and present) of the rinks.  My only qualification for making any commentary on the subject is that I consider myself a roller skating enthusiast (quad wheels, please, not roller blades).  I’ve been skating off and on over the past 30 years, and have seen my share of roller rinks past and present.  While some rinks were better than others, even the rinks that were in the “worst” condition was still one of the best places to lace up your skates and roll to the music.  To be an enthusiast for roller skating usually means skating wherever you could find a rink, even when you were traveling.  By my definition, a skating enthusiast rolls at least once a week or as many as three or more times a week.  I’ve skated in Cleveland, Akron, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton and Louisville KY.  Others may tell you that they’ve been to many more places such as Youngstown, Pittsburgh, and even Charlotte.  That’s what being a passionate skater is all about!

Personally, my fondest memories from the 80s occurred at Southgate Skates in Maple Heights, Ohio.  I started in 1980 during the disco craze and I got hooked from then on.  I learned to skate there (it took about a month), and it was in no time that I earned my nickname “Speedy” (which still has been revived from time to time even today!).  I was even employed there as a skate guard for a season, and was a DJ for a couple of adult soul skate sessions!  For all of those reasons Southgate was a special place for me, and I hated to learn when it was closing (about 1990) because it became too expensive for the owner to pay for the insurance costs to keep it open (at least that is what I was told).  From there, I wound up attending the United Skates of America roller rink in Wickliffe.  There were fewer choices for rinks in the 90s because it just became more expensive to own and operate a roller rink.  The Roller Palace in Mayfield Heights also shut down after operating for many years under financial difficulty.  United Skates was part of a larger company based in Columbus that had rinks in several cities, but even they were looking at ways to add profitability to their rink locations by adding laser tag, additional party sessions, and stuff like that to offset the liability insurance bubble.  I remember having to sign the waivers for every session, and I believe they still require them today.

Southgate Skates was converted to a rink from an old A&P grocery store.  It was a very inviting place when you walked in the door. The floor area was on the left as you came in and the DJ booth was on a platform not far from the entrance.  On the right were the skate rental area and the concession stand.  The rest of the area was made up of the customary orange uni-body tables and benches for eats and drinks, and some additional bench areas to change shoes and skates.

The lights and the music definitely set the mood for me and for the others there, and I enjoyed the jazz music early in the Thursday evening skating session (Searching by Roy Ayers and Knucklehead by Grover Washington, Jr.) to roll to, dance to, or skate backwards—much like a warm-up session before the soul music would play.  A great skating song at the time was “Taking the Waterfront By Force,” an instrumental by Ian Darby, and we even rolled to a little of “The Wall” by Pink Floyd.  There were many more great songs…just think back in the disco era for those great roller skating songs (which are much different than dance music songs).  I loved the routine, and I always looked forward to every Thursday evening there.

Southgate had its detractors.  It would always be labeled as a rink with a “small” floor area by its attendees.  In comparison to the other area rinks at the time, the rink was definitely smaller than the Roller Palace in Mayfield Heights (now defunct), and was much smaller than the United Skates of America rink in Wickliffe.  The advantage of Southgate, in spite of its size, was its location on the southeast side of town, which was very convenient as it was close to my home.  What I would learn over time, however, is that people who love to skate (including me) would drive up to an hour or more for the love of skating, and would wrestle in the minds about attending the special holiday sessions, including the crazy sessions at Roller Palace or USA that would be all-nighters.  Those were just as much events as they were for skating.

If you were to ask most people about the floor at Southgate, many would say that the floor was entirely too slippery.  It was actually in very good condition—almost pristine.  There was a large coat of varnish on the floor and it protected it from virtually any mars or scratches that would cause dips or divots.  It was very smooth to roll on, and for me, it was where I was able to move very quickly as I picked up speed on the outside as I moved around the rink.  If your skate wheels were in any way worn or too smooth, you would likely find the surface unnerving to skate on.  I started on Chicago brand wheels and added a jump bar for jumping on the floor.  Jumps did nothing to harm the floor (I wound up bending my jump bars a couple of times, though).  I also learned to never use urethane wheels on that floor—I almost broke my neck.  There would also sometimes be issues if there were a lot of people in the building.  Humidity was not a friend of the skater.  Skating at Southgate was an acquired taste, and it did take some getting used to if you were not a regular attendee.  If you compared it to the floor to the latter days of the Roller Palace, you would know that the Roller Palace floor was best described as chippy and rough—in rather poor condition.  There was virtually no varnish on the floor.  I understand that this was not like its earlier days at all.  The floor at USA was in good condition at that time, too, and was the largest in the area.

There were four poles in the middle of Southgate’s skating floor as building supports, which is often typical for converted use buildings.  The poles were not a danger to the skaters moving around the floor, and they were wrapped with padding and carpeting.  They were, however, a departure from other area rinks at the time that had no poles or obstructions.  The other barrier that was on the outside area of the floor was a railing that resembled a banister rail that was secured to the floor.  The rail, in retrospect, was a hazard in that there was no padding when you made contact with it.  I had the unfortunate circumstance of falling and sliding into one of the metal screws on the post of one of these rails.  I should have gotten stitches from the gash in my shin, but I still have it as a “marker” of remembrance to this day.  It was not long after that experience where I made sure that I would continue to get better as a skater to avoid slipping and falling.

Every rink has its good points, quirky areas, and even their bad points, but all of them still produced great memories for all of the skating enthusiasts that attended them.  Amazingly, I still see some of the people who attended Southgate Skates back in the 80s today at my new home rink, the Pla-Mor roller rink in Euclid, which was formerly the Euclid Rollerdrome.  As we are still skating today, some thirty-plus years later, we are a testimony to the love of roller skating and of the unbridled passion of the roller skating enthusiast.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.

Now Available – My New eBook!

05/19/2011 § Leave a comment

My new eBook, Faith & Fundamentals For Living a Healthy, Christian Life, is now available on Barnes & Noble’s website, BN.com and also for your Kindle on Amazon.com.

It is a book of essays on various topics pertaining to your faith and life development.  Do you know your life purpose, and if so, are you passionate about it?  The key to your success is in the development of your relationship with Jesus Christ.

A Fanatic For Christ

12/12/2010 § Leave a comment

As the holidays approach every year, first Thanksgiving, and then the Christmas shopping season, you would have to have lived in a cave to have not seen the change in television commercials promoting sales, early hours of bargain hunting, and even stores open on Thanksgiving Day and midnight on Black Friday.  The national retailers look to finish strong after a mediocre sales year with a flurry of activity, and they already know that the time and money spent in advertising is going to reach consumers that are ready, willing and able to make excuses to spend money!  It’s time to go Christmas shopping to get out of the doldrums.  I want to save money, so I need to spend money!  You know the drill.

The retailers spend money for advertising because they anticipate that their potential customers will resemble the woman in the red jump suit who is working out at the store lifting packages with one arm as if they are barbells, circling the dates on a calendar in anticipation of Black Friday for an early morning shopping fest while she flexes her muscles.  She also screams with delight as she reads the circular loaded with deals.  The stores want to see you spend money during the Christmas season as if you are in a state of frenzy.  They want shopping fanatics.

A fanatic, by the way, does not mean that you have to have a screw loose or that you are missing a few cards from the deck.  A fanatic means that you are a person who has a significant or even extreme amount of enthusiasm for something, such as in politics, or even, of course, religion.  We have seen extremism associated with both politics and religion, and most of us know when that extremism goes beyond reasonable sensibilities.  This is also evident when we look at fans (which is short for fanatic) of sports teams and the behaviors that are associated with being a fan.  Many sports fans will readily associate alcohol with being a fan, and we know that it doesn’t often end well when there is too much booze for sports fans.

I’m a sports fan, for sure.  I also love to watch college football, and I also love roller skating, and I’m a big fan of my wife, of course!  But all of those subjects, even my wife, have to be viewed from the proper perspective.  My passion for life itself must be derived from the one that gives the reason for me to be passionate for life…this is the zeal for Jesus Christ that every Christian should experience.

My point to all of this is that you do not have to be crazy to be a fanatic.  You can be a fanatic for Christ, for example, and not be characterized as a Bible Thumper, or as a Holy Roller, or “Goody Two Shoes,” or some other term that implies more of what are perceived as negative character traits than positive ones.  You can be a fanatic for Christ by living enthusiastically, positively, and pointedly for all of the things that Christ represents.

Please note that, while I have nothing against the word “fan,” the shortened version of the word “fanatic,” the two words come across with different interpretations.  To be a fan of something is OK, such as a fan of a musician or of a sports team, while being a fanatic implies even more of a commitment and a passion for something.  Given this conclusion, is your commitment to Christ more of that as a fan, or is it more like a fanatic for Christ?

When you have a healthy relationship with God through Jesus Christ, you can begin to see what it really means to be a fanatic for Christ.  Our challenge, especially as we are reminded over and over during the Christmas season about how Jesus is the reason for the season, is to see Christ in such a way where, to the average Christian, He means more to that person than just that of a favorite football team or sports figure…more than a favorite band or artist…more than an actor or performer.  The name of Jesus should fire you up in such a way where His name truly is above every name!

How do we capture that zeal, that passion for Christ that is missing at times?  The answer is in our relationship with Christ.  Our relationship with Christ will determine how we live and breathe for Christ, which others will see in our actions as we live for Christ at a high level.  Our life for Christ, in our relationship with Christ, helps us to build and develop relationships with others through Christ, and wins people over to Christ!  It is all accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit, but we must always remember that the Spirit works through the believer that trusts in Him and relies upon His wisdom.  The love and trust for Christ is a magnet that attracts others who want to know more about Him directly to you!

To be a fanatic for Jesus Christ requires repetition and practice of an effective Christian lifestyle.  It requires practice because we have natural opposition to this effort because of our own fleshly nature, and because Satan does not want us to be successful in this lifestyle.  We have to overcome the things that are not healthy for us, especially sin, and move towards the things that create a bond with Jesus Christ.

First, being a fanatic for Christ means that we must forsake sin.

Romans 13:12-14

The night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.

Forsaking sin means more than just turning away from it.  Our attitude should be the same attitude that God has about sin.  He hates it.

Psalm 5:4

For You are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil cannot lodge with You.

Just as God has nothing to do with sin, He also wants us to have the same mindset.  Remember, because we are in the flesh, we must have an attitude that hates sin, because our flesh desires it greatly.  We can’t have a zeal for Christ if we do not forsake sin.

Next, a fanatic for Christ must have a heart of forgiveness.  Just as God has forgiven our sins because of our faith and trust in Him, we also must have a heart of forgiveness for others.

Matthew 6:14-15

For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well.  But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.

This includes treating others the way that Christ would have you to treat them, without malice or holding grudges.

Ephesians 4:32

And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

After forsaking sin and having a heart of forgiveness, a person who is a true fanatic for Christ is one who relishes in fellowship.  There is a desire to seek out others to share the passion that you are living out in Christ.  After all, it is God’s desire that each and every one of us shares the gospel with others (Matthew 28:19-20).  Our fellowship in Christ through the Holy Spirit gives us the confidence and the ability to fellowship with others.  Your message that you communicate to others is in line with the verses from 1 John 1:3:

1 John 1:3

What we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may have fellowship along with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

The fanatic for Christ does not chase persons away in fellowship; on the contrary, he or she draws people nearer to where they are comfortable in relationships of friendship.  Friendship is what allows for sharing, caring for others, and allowing the Holy Spirit to work deeply in the lives of those who are seeking the Lord.

A quick recap—a person who is a fanatic for Jesus Christ must readily forsake sin, forgive others, fellowship with others, develop friendships, and finally, focus on the strength, direction, and power of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit enables us with the ability to withstand pressures and difficulties, and also fortifies us with energy when it is most needed.  Our focus, in order for the Spirit to work through us, is to listen to remain obedient to Jesus Christ’s commands:

John 14:15-16

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.

The Holy Spirit is always available to the believer in Jesus Christ.  The more that we focus on the Spirit, the more we learn about the abundant life that we truly have in Jesus Christ.  It is that life of abundance that creates the fanatic for the one who loves Jesus and lives for Jesus.

Are you a fanatic for Christ?  Is your zeal for the One who gave everything for you?  Think about what it truly means to live a life of enthusiasm for your Lord and Savior.  It should be a life of passion where you turn away from the things that ruin your fellowship with Christ and trust in His Word.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. For more content, please see melvingaines.com and melvingaines.blogspot.com.

No Greater Love

03/30/2010 § 1 Comment

Good Friday is a sacred day for Christians as we contemplate the depth and breadth of when Jesus died on the cross.  It is an event that we sometimes need to give greater attention as it is not a holiday in the sense of taking the day off of work, but it truly is a holy day.

The events of this day make up what we refer to as Good Friday, a day that, on the surface, seems to be the definition of anything but “good,” but in reality, the death and burial of Jesus Christ is the beginning of the events that brought about the opportunity for each and every one of us to experience eternal life.  It is all about the measure of God’s goodness in that He felt that we were worth the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.

First, we are to understand that Jesus’ death was far from an accident.  While at first glance Jesus’ death was the result of a mob of angry dissenters bent on His destruction, it was actually part of God’s plan for eternal life for everyone who believes in Jesus Christ.  Remember that Peter tried to defend Jesus when He was about to be captured, but Jesus responded in Matthew 26:53-54—

Matthew 26:53-54

Or do you think that I cannot call on My Father, and He will provide Me at once with more than 12 legions of angels? How, then, would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?”

Consider that Jesus spoke these very words in John 17:1-5:

John 17:1-5

Jesus spoke these things, looked up to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son so that the Son may glorify You, for You gave Him authority over all flesh; so He may give eternal life to all You have given Him. This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent–Jesus Christ. I have glorified You on the earth by completing the work You gave Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with that glory I had with You before the world existed.”

John 17:24

“Father, I desire those You have given Me to be with Me where I am. Then they will see My glory, which You have given Me because You loved Me before the world’s foundation.”

Jesus was to complete the work that was planned all along on this sacred day with His death on the cross.  It is clear that Jesus is speaking from the timeframe of BEFORE the occupation of man populating the earth, which means that we were part of the plan for salvation before Adam and Eve existed!

One cannot begin to measure the magnitude of what Jesus’ death on the cross involves except to conclude that His death on the cross was an act of benevolence and eternal love.  His act of love was an act of obedience to His Heavenly Father, and His love for the Father also transcends to love for each and every one of us.  Listen to these words in John chapter 15 that speak of this love for us a deep, sincere friendship that is born out of obedience to the words of His Father:

John 15:9-17

“As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is My command: love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father. You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. This is what I command you: love one another.”

John 17:26

“I made Your name known to them and will make it known, so the love You have loved Me with may be in them and I may be in them.”

The love of Jesus is a love that is far from the sadness that one would experience from a lack of understanding of what actually happened to Jesus on Good Friday—the love of Jesus for us should bring about a true joy in our understanding of Him and of our growing relationship with Him.  Without His death on the cross, we would not have the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised for us to live within us.  Without His death He could not demonstrate to the world’s believers the ability to overcome death by rising from the dead.  All of these things were part of the plan of God for all of us, and they were done out of love.  Even when Jesus was being nailed to the cross, He asked His father to forgive those involved for their sin, because He loved them.  True love is to forgive even when you have been hurt.

Do you see the lessons that Jesus gives us on Good Friday?

  • Keeping promises
  • Sacrifice
  • Forgiveness
  • Love
  • Joy

We do not have to wait until Easter Sunday to experience the joy of a risen Savior.  We can experience joy today in that Christ paid for our sins by dying on the cross one time that sacred day, and we believe in Him and will have life ever after with Him because of His amazing love.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. For more content, please see melvingaines.com and melvingaines.blogspot.com.

For openers…

09/11/2009 § Leave a comment

I’ve concluded, not in recent days but over time, that the information we receive on a daily basis is highly sanitized and controlled by persons who desire to present their own agenda.  I have also learned, even more recently, that the mainstream is becoming less and less mainstream.  The voices of truth and reason are less and less prevalent, and it seems that civil discourse is becoming a rarity.  I know what I believe when it comes to my faith and service to Jesus Christ, my political leanings, my passion for righteousness, and I know that others feel much the same as I do, except that we are always facing a dumbing down or politically correct society that is actually disguised as one that persecutes Judeo-Christians.  The hostility towards believers is often astonishing to me, but not surprising.  It’s OK to talk about other religions or religious tolerance but not necessarily about Christ.  It’s OK…I don’t mind being a voice in and from the wilderness.  John the Baptist was a voice from the wilderness, and his message was revolutionary.

All of us should have an opinion about something.  It’s terrible if you always check the box next to “No Opinion.”  Consider that, as long as we have freedom of speech, we should use it to the best of our ability.  If something bothers you, it doesn’t always serve us well to keep quiet.  Speak up at the proper time, but do so with intelligence and civility.

I like many different subjects, and I aim to weigh in on many of them as often as I can, especially as things bubble up in the media or as events unfold.

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