From Pastor Ken
I was introduced to Jake Pratt along with millions of others, courtesy of ESPN video footage. Jake was a high school senior with Down syndrome. Jake’s family and his school did not see limitations in his life, but only possibilities.
Jake was given an opportunity to leave the sideline roll of manager for the football team that he had held throughout his high school career; on a very special Friday night, he was allowed to suit up with the rest of the players. My heart was overwhelmed as he was dressed out in a team uniform on the sideline. But Jake’s story doesn’t stop there.
When the footage showed Jake going into the game, I watched in amazement as the tears began to flow. As the play was called, everyone on both sides of the ball supported number 90 as he ran for a touchdown. The entire stadium erupted in joy, and I sat tear soaked and speechless.
I will never forget the sound of the fans as Jake was cheered on to what must be one of the most memorable occasions of his life: contributing to a football team he has loved and served for many years. Off the sideline and into the game! Jake did not have to be given the desire to play. He only needed the opportunity.
As I viewed this powerful real life expression of “team,” my mind raced to Romans 12:5, wherein we are told that in the church each member belongs one to another. This indicates that we are responsible for how each member of the body of Christ should be in the play; there are no sidelines in the Kingdom of Christ.
So, church member and church leader, in the spirit of being an equipping church, who are you trying to get into the game? Do you desire to see someone running for the end zone more than yourself? Are you willing to do what it takes to give that “someone” an opportunity to be trained (by this, I mean discipleship), encouraged, and involved in becoming one who ministers and leads. I am so glad Jake’s coach put Him in the game.
Can we as a people of God make our priority to disciple someone until he or she is truly making an impact in the church, and through the church to the world? This becomes our opportunity to create leaders within the church. Let’s not just create good church members, but rather equip active ministers. Let’s put Jake in the game!
Jesus’ Impact as the Good Shepherd
JESUS SAID, “I am the Door” – (3 ways this is applied)
JESUS SAID, “I am the Good Shepherd” – (3 ways this is applied)
For the Church, this is vision.
For the one who is lost, this is hope.
Questions for Further Discussion:
- What person or group did you and your friends “follow” when you were a teenager?
- What qualities do the best friends possess?
- Who did Jesus say was a thief and a robber? (John 10:1)
- What kind of relationship do sheep have with their shepherd? (John 10:2-4)
- Why won’t sheep follow a stranger? (John 10:5)
- What effect did Jesus’ words have on His audience? (John 10:6)
- What did Jesus say He was? (John 10:7)
- To whom did Jesus say the sheep did not listen? (John 10:8)
- What did Jesus say would be the result of entering through Him? (John 10:9)
- How did Jesus contrast His coming with the coming of a thief? (John 10:10)
- Who did Jesus claim to be? (John 10:11)
- Why did Jesus say the hired hand would abandon his sheep? (John 10:12-13)
- What type of relationship did Jesus say He had with His sheep? (John 10:14)
- What did Jesus say He did for His sheep? (John 10:15)
- What did Jesus say He had? (John 10:16)
- Why did Jesus say the Father loved Him? (John 10:17-18)
- What effect did Jesus’ words have on the Jews who heard Him speak? (John 10:19-21)
- In what way is Jesus like a gate?
- How has Jesus been a gate in your life?
- In what way is Jesus like a shepherd?
- How are we like sheep?
- In what way is Jesus your shepherd?
- How would you describe your relationship with Jesus?
- How can we better hear the voice of Jesus?
- What tempts people to follow a stranger? Why?
- How has Jesus made your life full?
- How can you develop a more intimate relationship with Jesus this week?
- How can you be more attentive to the voice of Jesus?
From Pastor Ken
“What does fatherhood mean to me?” This question touches my life deeply, as I am sure for every dad.
My wife and I are blessed with three daughters, all adopted. So, immediately I realize that “fatherhood” is not limited to genetic progeny. In fact, fatherhood is not even limited to proximity. A man can offer his physical heritage and his domestic closeness and yet miss being a father. So, what genuinely constitutes fatherhood in the life of a man? I believe this can be answered in 3 ways: (1) a physical covering, (2) a relational covering, (3) and a spiritual covering. This perspective became real to me as I engaged in studying the Scriptures that reveal Jesus as the Good shepherd. So, I would like to explain these three truths of fatherhood in the light of the truth of Jesus as the Good shepherd.
I really want you to get this!
- Jesus identified Himself as the good shepherd by laying down His life for His sheep (John 10:11) – a physical covering, especially against the dangers of wolves (the darkness of this world). He carried this out ultimately on the cross, praise His name!!
- Jesus identified Himself as the good shepherd by knowing His sheep (John 10:14) – a relational covering; He emphasized this relationship by the significance of the sheep knowing His voice, thus demonstrating that the relationship is very close and personal.
- Jesus identified Himself as the good shepherd by stating (John 10:29) that His Father is greater than all. Jesus was always interested in His followers knowing that they truly belong to God – a spiritual covering.
Jesus truly cares about family. So, would it not make sense to measure one’s fatherhood by the heart of Christ?
Dads, how closely do you resemble the good shepherd when you love your children?
Do you provide physical covering, laying yourself down daily – making sacrifices – so that you are protecting them from the evils of this world. Do you care about what they are watching, who they spend time with, etc. Do you provide a relational covering? Do you take the time to truly know your children, and for them to truly know you? Do you let them into your life, into your space, and into your heart? And most of all, do you provide a spiritual covering? Is your greatest concern for them spiritual? How do you encourage them to truly dedicate themselves to God, Who is greater than all, including us dads?! Are you nurturing your children spiritually by allowing them to hear you pray; are they encouraged by your own walk of faith? Can you pour into them out of the abundance of your daily experience with Christ.
Dad’s, today I ask you a simple question: are you willing to shepherd your children and your home (your precious bride included)? Let’s be real men! Let’s live and love like shepherds!
For every man of any age (and for that matter, every person), shepherd someone’s life today by living in obedience to the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
Join the community of faith at King’s Grant Baptist this Sunday, June 17, to celebrate Father’s Day, and to engage in a study from the Gospel of John, Chapter 10: “How Jesus impacted lives as the Good Shepherd.”
Four Ways to Know the Difference between Real and Artificial Faith.
- RELATIONSHIP – My sheep know ME, that is personal and relational. Salvation is not based on my family connection to God, or my involvement in the church, or the work of my hands.
- Believing (John 10:25-26)
- Hearing (John 10:27)
- DISCIPLESHIP – Jesus calls us to follow him.
- Joining – Matthew 4:18-22 – they dropped their nets.
- Honoring – 2 Corinthians 4:6 – we will shine and give God glory.
- Following – Luke 9:23 – deny self, take up our cross, and follow.
- KINGDOM LIFE – Jesus gives life, abundant and free, not just life in heaven but life that comes up from everywhere here on earth.
- CONFIDENCE – no one can take us away, we are secure in Christ, we hold his hold, but more importantly, he holds OUR hand, like a father grasps the hand of his daughter, he will not let go. The security is based on the father’s ability to hold on, not the daughter’s own strength or effort.
Questions for Further Study:
- What truths are hard for you to accept? Why?
- How did your family typically handle conflict when you were growing up?
- What question did the Jews ask Jesus? (John 10:22-24)
- How did Jesus answer the Jews’ question? (John 10:25-26)
- What did Jesus say His sheep did? (John 10:27)
- What did Jesus say He gave to His sheep? (John 10:28)
- What did Jesus say that no one could do to His sheep? (John 10:28-29)
- With whom did Jesus claim to be one? (John 10:30)
- Why do people today fail to realize that Jesus is God?
- In what way are you Jesus’ sheep?
- What makes you feel secure in your relationship with your friends?
- What makes you feel secure in your relationship with God?
- How secure is your relationship with God?
- How will you demonstrate your thankfulness to God today for your secure relationship with Him?
- What steps will you take to follow your Shepherd closely this week?
The Truth of Jesus Proven Through a Life Restored
First Observation. What Jesus did. (John 9:1-7)
Jesus brought the needs and inabilities of the blind man into the realm of God’s Work.
Second Observation. What the blind man did. (John 9:8-12)
The blind man responded to Jesus reordering His steps.
Third Observation. What the culture did. (John 9:13-34)
The culture was skeptical of the supernatural change Jesus brought to the blind man.
Fourth Observation. What change does. (John 9:35-41)
The blind man believed and worshipped.
Questions for Further Study:
- Who do you know who has challenged “the establishment” or “the system”?
- About what do you tend to get complacent?
- To whom was the blind man taken? (John 9:13)
- On what day did Jesus heal the blind man? (John 9:14)
- What did the Pharisees ask the blind man? (John 9:15)
- Over what were the Pharisees divided? (John 9:16)
- Who did the blind man think Jesus was? (John 9:17)
- Why did the Pharisees send for the blind man’s parents? (John 9:18)
- How did the blind man’s parents answer the Pharisees’ questions? (John 9:19-21)
- What did the blind man’s parents fear? (John 9:22-23)
- What did the Pharisees ask the blind man to do? (John 9:24)
- How did the blind man respond to the Pharisees? (John 9:25)
- What question did the blind man ask the Pharisees? (John 9:27)
- Whose disciples did the Pharisees claim to be? (John 9:28)
- What did the blind man say was remarkable? (John 9:29-30)
- What did the blind man say nobody had ever done? (John 9:31-32)
- What convinced the blind man that Jesus was from God? (John 9:33)
- What did the Pharisees do to the man who was born blind? (John 9:34)
- What divides Christian leaders today?
- How would you react to a miraculous healing?
- Why do you believe Jesus is from God?
- When have your parents disappointed you?
- How do you respond when your authority is challenged?
- What authority have you ever challenged?
- How do people respond when the status quo is disturbed?
- In what way has Jesus upset the status quo in your life?
- When have you allowed fear to control your behavior?
- In what way are Christians today complacent?
- In what way has Jesus opened your once-blind eyes?
- What area of your life about which you have become complacent do you need to allow Jesus to revitalize? How?
- What program in your church about which people have become complacent can you help revitalize?
- How would you challenge someone this week who disputed the authority of God?
Jesus Argues Against the Traps of Religion / John 8:12-59
(4 Ways to know the Difference between Religion and a Relationship with Jesus…)
- Religion: obligation; Relationship: encounter.
- Do you follow Jesus out of obligation or habit rather than because you have had an encounter with the living God?
- Do you believe what others have said about Jesus rather than discovering Jesus through his Word?
- Religion: association; Relationship: change.
- Are you a part of the church because of the relationships here, or because your family is connected to the church rather than being here due to an encounter with Jesus producing a changed mind and heart and habits?
- Are you happy and content with personal preferences at church or open to change than might bring in new people and expressions of worship?
- Religion: claims; Relationship: devotion.
- Do you make claims over the church rather than recognize that the church belongs to Christ?
- Are you able to express your devotion to Jesus in all circumstances and methods without making claims and objections that uphold personal preferences in worship?
- Religion: institutionalism; Relationship: Christ-centered.
- Is your focus really on Christ and his mission at church or do earthly methods prevent you from encountering and enjoying the worship of God and the fellowship of other believers?
- Have you embraced the institution of the church tighter than the Lord over the church?
- In what ways have you sought to build your own kingdom rather than allowing Christ to build his kingdom here at King’s Grant?
Questions for Further Discussion:
- To what sort of things do people today become enslaved?
- What does it mean to you to be free? What doesn’t it mean?
- What did Jesus say to the Jews who had believed in Him? (John 8:31)
- What did Jesus say the truth would do for those who knew it? (John 8:32)
- How did the Jews respond to Jesus’ statement about freedom? (John 8:33)
- Who did Jesus say is a slave to sin? (John 8:34)
- How does Jesus distinguish a slave from a son? (John 8:35)
- What is the result of being freed by the Son? (John 8:36)
- What did Jesus say the Jews were ready to do? (John 8:37)
- Who did the Jews say was their father? (John 8:39)
- In what way were the Jews mistaken about Abraham? (John 8:39)
- What did Abraham not do? (John 8:40)
- What claim did Jesus’ accusers make? (John 8:41)
Of what did the Jews accuse Jesus? (John 8:48)
How did Jesus respond to the accusation against Him? (John 8:49)
What did Jesus say He wasn’t seeking? (John 8:50)
What did Jesus say would be the result of keeping His word? (John 8:51)
How did the Jews respond to Jesus’ claim? (John 8:52)
What question did the Jews ask Jesus? (John 8:53)
Who glorifies Jesus? (John 8:54)
Whom did Jesus claim to know? (John 8:55)
What made Abraham rejoice? (John 8:56)
Why were the Jews so astonished by what Jesus said? (John 8:57)
Before whom did Jesus claim He had existed? (John 8:58)
What did the Jews attempt to do to Jesus? Why? (John 8:58-59)
- How are you like your mother or father?
- To what sin are you a slave?
- From what sin have you been set free?
- How does truth set someone free?
- How has the Son set you free?
- In what way are we like God our Father?
- When do we act like illegitimate children?
- How can you better enjoy your freedom in the Son?
How do you usually respond to things you don’t understand or can’t explain?
How do you respond to situations that you can’t control?
How do you respond when your authority is being challenged?
To what authorities in life do you appeal for truth?
Whose glory do you seek?
How can you honor God with your life?
How does a person keep Jesus’ word?
How well do you keep Jesus’ word?
How do you know that you know God?
- From what enslaving sin will you ask God to set you free?
- What action will you take in order to act more like a child of God?
What is one way that you can honor God with your life today?
How can you seek God’s glory rather than your own in your work this week?
What do you need to do in order to keep Jesus’ word?
From Pastor Ken:
I was speaking with a member of our church family yesterday who has walked through some medical challenges within his own family. He commented that when people learn what he and his family have recently gone through, they usually respond with, “wow, I don’t know how you are dealing with this.” He then replied, “I just tell them, ‘IT’S JESUS’.”
I love his story, for this defines the difference between religion and a relationship with Jesus. Not once has religion ever given someone that sweet presence of a loving Heavenly Father when going through an unimaginable crisis. Not once has religion caused the spirit to rest well in the midst of life’s storms. But a relationship with Jesus? Absolutely! There is no other way to walk through life than with Jesus.
This Week’s Quote: “A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing.” – Martin Luther
I really want you to get this! – Today, don’t fall into the trap of simply practicing religion. Discover afresh and anew the powerful reality of living daily in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world.” He said this to demonstrate to a very religious crowd a truth that is just as significant today as when Jesus first spoke these words: Jesus is the light of the world because He openly reveals God to us, leads us from the darkness of sin, and provides an opportunity to walk in the light (the truth) of His love. Only through Jesus can we really live. Religion may help someone demonstrate faith, but religion should never be understood as equal to faith. Placing your total trust in a relationship with Jesus is indeed the only definition of Christian faith.
One’s religion is only as good as one’s faith in Jesus Christ. Today, cherish a relationship with Jesus more than the simple practice of religion.
This Sunday, May 27, I will share a message from John, Chapter 8, titled, “Jesus Argues Against the Traps of Religion.” (This Sunday will also offer a moment to pause as we commemorate Memorial Day by thanking God for those who have laid down their lives for the freedom of our nation.)
I look forward to seeing you Sunday.
From Pastor Ken
Have you ever felt guilt and shame?
A woman is caught in sin, used as a pawn in religious games by the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. She is paraded before a crowd and before Jesus with her sin and condemnation announced publicly. (John 8:1-11)
This one episode from the Scriptures exposes the brokenness of mankind in two ways:
- A life of religious pride, which sees no need for personal change (as demonstrated by the Pharisees and Scribes);
- A life of guilt and shame which feels unworthy of love and forgiveness (as demonstrated by the woman caught in adultery).
Jesus responded to the pride of the religious leaders by reminding them in one simple statement that they too have sinned: “let he who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Jesus responded to the woman caught in adultery by asking a very important question: where are your accusers? When she realized that those who had previously held a condemning sentence against her had walked away, Jesus then spoke those words that announce freedom to us all: neither do I condemn you.” It is as if Jesus said, I am the only one who stands over you as judge, but I say you are not condemned. Jesus then sent her forward to live a life free from sin.
I really want you to get this!
While the Scriptures remain silent on how the woman responded, we know that several days later, when Jesus died on the cross, forgiveness of sin and a life made brand new became possible through faith in Jesus Christ.
Lewis Smedes, in his book Shame and Grace, recognizes the distinction between shame and guilt: a person feels guilt because a person did something wrong; a person feels shame because a person thinks he or she is something wrong. Smedes will admit that these two actually overlap at times. But, the point is this:
if you feel you are something so wrong that Jesus cannot help, or if you feel you have done something so wrong Jesus cannot help, I announce to you today that Jesus came to take away your guilt and shame.
He didn’t just make them vanish; He died to take away your guilt and shame. Although He was completely perfect and innocent, He bore your sin and shame on the cross. And He gladly did this so that you and I could be forgiven, freed and made new.
Don’t allow guilt and shame to get the best of you. Trust Jesus.
Can you imagine living everyday free from the burden of regret, the oppression of shame, and the perpetual struggle against the condemning feeling of guilt?
This is what Jesus desires for you; I will be sharing a sermon on this reality this Sunday, May 20th, at the outdoor service at King’s Grant Baptist. I look forward to seeing you there.
5 Ways to Honor Your Mother (Radical Love)
Honoring Mothers (Jesus’ example)
Loving Radically (Our Calling)
- Radical love always comes from within a context of otherness.
- Radical love always perceives deeper needs and not just a common expression of care.
- Radical love never allows larger commitments to cancel your commitment to those closest to you.
- Radical love reinforces the bond of a spiritual relationship.
- Radical love always seeks to bear the burdens of others.
Questions for Further Discussion:
- What sort of sacrifices did your parents make for you?
- What to you is the most humiliating situation you can imagine?
- To where was Jesus forced to take His own cross? (John 19:17)
- What did the soldiers do to Jesus? (John 19:18)
- Who was crucified with Jesus? (John 19:18)
- What notice did Pilate have fastened to Jesus’ cross? (John 19:19)
- How did the chief priests want Pilate to change the sign over Jesus’ head? (John 19:21)
- What did Pilate tell the chief priests? (John 19:22)
- What happened to Jesus’ clothes? (John 19:23-24)
- Why were Jesus’ clothes divided among the soldiers? (John 19:24)
- Who stood near the cross of Jesus? (John 19:25)
- What did Jesus say to His mother and the disciple with her? (John 19:26-27)
- Why do you think Pilate had the notice placed on the cross?
- If you had been a member of Jesus’ family or one of His disciples, how do you think you would have reacted to His crucifixion?
- How was Jesus humiliated?
- What sort of humiliation did Jesus suffer?
- What humiliation have you suffered for being a Christian?
- How can we sacrifice our wants and desires so that others might benefit?
- In what way has God’s family become your family?
- To what degree are we responsible for caring for the needs of other believers?
- What want or desire can you sacrifice so that someone else might benefit? How?
- How can you care for another Christian’s needs this week?
From Pastor Ken
Jesus’ words, “He who believes in Me, from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38), represent a beautiful invitation to lay aside doubt and fear, and to come to Him for forgiveness, cleansing, and renewal…to come to Him for LIFE! Do you trust in Him to the point that His life flows liberally from you. Sometimes, negative emotions, frustrations, and expressions of a sinful heart seem to flow more readily. But, the more that you trust Him and the more that you cling to Him daily, the more His life flows from within you like rivers of water… living water that spiritually satisfies your deepest longings, cares, and needs.
Today, remember why you can trust Him with absolute abandon to your own fears and doubts. Today,remember a very fundamental and inarguable truth: Jesus cares! He truly cares, and desires that you come to Him to lay your cares down. He carried the cross, and He will carry you.
From the truth of John 7, fast forward to John 19, where we encounter the words of Christ from the cross.
I really want you to get this! Jesus spoke from the cross to Mary, His earthly mother, words of care and comfort as He placed her well being into the provisional and protective hands of His beloved disciple, John. There is something significantly moving in the fact that Jesus, in the agony of the cross, with the salvation of the world on His shoulders alone, thought of the need of His mother. (John 19:27) In the midst of the greatest love every shown, Jesus cared for the personal life of His mother.
As I reflect on this scene, the passion Jesus has for one solitary life is overwhelmingly reinforced. (He also demonstrated such a passion with the thief on the cross beside Him). At this crucial moment, Jesus cared for the individual life.
The Cross of Jesus!
What an amazing sacrifice offered to the world! What a personal and passionate expression of love and care for one life!
Today, take a moment to realize that He cares for every detail of your life; He desires that you trust Him with every detail. I realize this is a basic truth of Christian faith, but how easily forgotten this truth becomes as we attempt to solve our own problems and deal with life in our own strength. Trust Him. He cares.
This Sunday, Mother’s Day, (May 13), I will share a message from John 19:26-27 on this radical love of Jesus toward his mother, toward the world, and to you and me. Join us as we discover 5 ways to love radically from the example of Jesus’ love for others, including his own mom.