Who is First?

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Jeff Jones

I’ve never met anybody who, in describing Jesus says He’s a bad guy. Everybody that I know believes that Jesus was a wonderful person, a great teacher, a great philosopher. But when you actually look at who He said He was, when you read books like Matthew, Mark and Luke and John, He claimed to be much more than a great teacher, or great leader or great compassionate person. He claimed to be God Himself. Who came to this planet, took on flesh to live among people just like you and me with all of our hurt, suffering and sin. The Bible says first of all that He wanted to identify with us. He wanted to know what it was like to be us, to be relatable. And He came to die on the cross for our sins to take the punishment that you and I deserve. So when you think about who Jesus is, He didn’t come to be just a great man. He came to make it possible for us to know God.

Jerry Zucha

Jesus is first because He’s made Himself real to me. He gave me what I was searching for and He has been there every moment of my life now. He’s so real that though I’ve never seen him with my eyes, I know who he is and I know what he’s done and it’s been the greatest joy of my life to have that kind of relationship with Him.

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Where does church fit into all of this?

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Tony Evans

The best way to understand the church is an American embassy. America has embassies all around the world and they’re in foreign territory but they’re ruled by the laws of the homeland. All embassies are sovereign territory, they do not belong to the country they’re in, they belong to the country they’re from. The church is God’s embassy in history, reflecting the values of eternity in the locality of earth. The job of the church is not to provide merely weekly inspiration. It is to manifest how God would address an issue if God, Himself were personally here addressing it, since we’re His body. So the question is not “Did I like the sermon and did I like the songs?” That’s not enough. It is, “How is God addressing the hurts of the people? How is He being a mother to the motherless and a father to the fatherless?” He’s creating surrogate parents through His people. “How is He addressing the issue of the poor, how is He the collapse of society? He’s providing fathers for those who don’t have them, as male mentors. In other words, the role of the church is to be the visible, physical expression of God’s activity. If all you get is a sermon and song, well you can get that from a radio or television broadcast. What you can’t get is life on life touch and that’s what the people of God should be providing.

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How to Talk with God

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How to Talk with God

Discover how to communicate with God. Learn how to use Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 6 as a guide to talk with God.

Jeff Jones

The purpose of prayer is to communicate with our God and be relational. Prayer certainly moves the heart of God and His decisions. Sometimes we think, “Why pray if God already knows everything, then He’s already gonna do what He’s gonna do.” Yet we see in the bible sometimes that He listens and He acts according to what we say and it says that He changes His mind because of somebody’s prayers, the people He has a relationship with. “You have not because you ask not.” So part of it is because prayer actually makes a difference and prayer also enriches our relationship with God. In communicating with my wife, if we go very long without significant communication, our relationship suffers and it’s the same way in relationship with God. It is a long distance relationship and one day we’ll be able to see Him and talk with Him but through prayer we’re able to keep the lines of communication open and cultivate a friendship with God.

Jerry Zucha

Prayer is not a hocus pocus kind of religious language that when you get it right, magic things start to happen. Prayer is a genuine dialogue, a real conversation with God. The neatest thing about prayer is that you don’t have to say the right words or do the right things or jump through hoops. It’s an intimate conversation with a God who’s alive and real and who wants to know our struggles, pains, heartaches and our cares and it does make a difference. I’s not as much about changing the circumstances and situations as it is changing our own perspectives and desires. Prayer is something that is real because God is real.

John Meador

God wants us to communicate with Him. He’s so good about communicating with us and we are so inept in communicating with Him that I find, when I pray, God begins to answer and I find that I’m changed. I think in part we struggle to pray to someone we can’t see and sometimes the struggle is in realizing that the answer may not come right now. It may be down the road, it may be later or the answer it may be no. When I respond to everything, it’s usually because I’m trying to control things and put things in a box. When I pray and wait, God does some pretty unusual and supernatural things. All of a sudden my whole perspective changes because I’ve spent time listening and waiting on God. I’ve learned that having a relationship with Jesus Christ is based on trust and the only way to have that assurance of eternal life. The only way to Heaven according to Jesus Christ is through Him. All kinds of religions in the world say that they are the way and that they are the path, and then there are those who say that there are many paths. To know that my sins have been forgiven and that I’ve been given the gift of eternal life; to receive that is a matter of putting my trust in Him, the One who came for that very purpose, to reveal Heaven for us, so that we can know the way. In fact He says, “I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through Me.”

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What is so great about the Bible?

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Pete Briscoe

The Bible claims for itself that it is God breathed, that it is written by the Holy Spirit of God Himself through human instruments. The bible was written over thousands of years, in a number of different cultures in three different major languages, yet the entire thing all points in the same direction. There is a theme that goes all the way through the whole thing, it’s absolutely remarkable. I thoroughly believe that the bible is breathed of God, that God wrote it. As a result, it is thoroughly relevant in every single age because God is timeless. And so there’s aspects of it that are a little archaic but there is something useful in every single passage of scripture for people living today. When I was a little boy, I was growing up in England and my buddy Andy and I were playing in the yard one day and my dad came to us and he said whatever you do, do not go over the wall at the end of the yard. Andy and I never noticed the wall at the end of the yard before. As soon as he turned around, over we went and while having a great time, we heard this grunt behind us. We turned around and there was the biggest, nastiest bull you’ve ever seen and he was charging towards us. When we got back over that wall, my father was waiting and told us to sit down. He said, “The reason I told you not to go over the wall is because I knew there was something on the other side that could hurt you. I knew that bull was there. I didn’t want you to get hurt. Whenever you read something in the Bible where God says don’t do this, He’s not trying to spoil your fun. He in His great wisdom knows there’s something on the other side of that line that will hurt you if you go there and it is out of His immense, amazing love that He puts boundaries in place for us.” Even the boundaries in scripture help us today because we know that there’s something on the other side that will help us. Everything in scripture helps us in someway, because it is God breathed, it is written by God Himself, to the people He loves.

Jeff Jones

John Meador

The fact is that we haven’t changed much, human nature hasn’t changed. The relevance of the bible is that it was written to the same kind of people we are today. It’s evidential that it was written by prophets who prophesied and fulfilled those prophesies under impossible odds, so it’s a supernatural element of inspiration that far exceeds anything else that we find out there today.

Jerry Zucha

Even though it was written thousands of years ago, when you open it up and start reading those words, you stop and you think “That’s me! That’s the thought I had, that’s the emotion I felt, that’s the struggle that I’m dealing with now in my life.”

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How do I become Second?

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Hal Habecker

If there’s a hunger in your heart to know Jesus more receive Him by faith and when I say that, I mean, simply say, “Lord, Jesus, I believe you died for me. Come into my life, forgive my sin- make me into the man or woman or teenager that you want me to be. Give me your purpose in living, give me your perspective and what life is all about,” and He’ll do that. Whether you’re a little person like I was when I trusted Him or you’re a grown person dealing with all the issues of an adult life, :all we have to do is ask and receive it by faith.

Richard Ellis

You know the crazy thing about this whole Jesus dying on a cross, being buried and raised from the dead is that the Bible says it is foolishness to the people who are dying without it. But to the people who believe, it’s the power of God to change their life. It’s as simple as a prayer, “God I’ve screwed up my life, I’m a sinner. I need your forgiveness. I do believe that when Jesus died on that cross, He died in my place. He was the sacrifice to pat for my sins. To give me a fresh start, a clean slate; like being born all over again. So God, I’m done, Your way, not my why. What I’ve been saying is right, I’m not going to say anymore. I’m going to say what you say is right. I agree with you now I accept this gift of eternal life. I accept the forgiveness of my sins. Make me clean. Just start all over again. Come live in me—through me. Change me. I know it’s going to be tough. I’m not asking for all of my problems to go away. I’m just tired of living without You. And I sure don’t want to die without you. Change my life. Like you’ve done with so many other people”

Jerry Zucha

We’re not perfect and that’s the reason we all need Christ because we’re all in process and we’re all on a journey. There are times on our journey that we all fall down and mess up but the coolest thing is that God loves us anyway. He picks us up, puts us back on a path and moves us along and hopefully when people see us, they’re not seeing perfection, but they’re beginning to see little glimpses and shades of Christ who is living a life through us. Knowing Jesus isn’t difficult. It’s a matter of simply acknowledging that He is who He says He is. He’s not just an ordinary man. He’s not a teacher, He’s not a just a good person to follow. He came from God uniquely. The Bible says that all who call upon the Lord will be saved and that has to be the entrance to a relationship with God: through His son Jesus Christ. When you make that acknowledgement, it’s not the end but the beginning of a great relationship.

Tony Evans

If you would like to meet Jesus, the Christ, then let me introduce you to Him. He was born of a virgin, because He was the sinless Son of God. He lived a perfect life, for thirty three years. He was crucified on a cross in your place and my place, for our sins. He rose from the dead, three days later in order to create the biggest transaction that will ever be in your life. The bible puts it this way, “He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” So let’s call this deed, credit. On the cross, God credited your sin onto Jesus Christ and if you would trust Jesus Christ as your substitute, God will credit His perfection to your account. Everybody likes a credit and there’s no better way to meet Him, than to, receive what He offers for free. And let Him credit you with who He is so that you can begin experiencing Him for yourself.

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What is the good in God when there is still bad everywhere?

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John Meador

God has created everything, yet has allowed us to make choices that ultimately end up being bad, that result in evil, pain and suffering. The only way that we can explain that is that God doesn’t interfere with our choices. In following the things that God tells me to do, in the scripture through principles and commandments, I begin to live my life by it; and though evil can still penetrate my life, there’s a greater protection, still, I have a better ability to handle it. I don’t see suffering as being inconsistent with a loving God. I see a loving God that’s allowed us to make the choices that we make even though sometimes they result in pretty bad consequences.

Tony Evans

A lot of people want to blame God for bad things. Ok, let’s get rid of God, now who’s responsible for the bad things? Getting rid of God doesn’t solve your problem because the bad things that happen,happen because of the presence of evil in the world. God has given men the ability to choose and when men choose individually or collectively to move away from God, they have invited, instead of the blessing of God, the judgment of God. What God says to us, is that if we would get on His side, it won’t nullify evil and its effect but He will be able to use the bad to make the better. Knowing God, while it doesn’t eradicate evil and what its results happen to be, means that we no longer have to deal with evil, without rhyme or reason.

Jeff Jones

God created the world perfect. He created you and me to live in perfection and that’s what we’ve been designed for, the perfect environment such as Adam and Eve in The Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve chose sin, sin entered into the world and along with it came death and destruction leaving the world more like hell. And now, there’s suffering and disease and difficulty. The bible says that one day God will come back and will make the world right again and it’ll be the way it was supposed to be. In the mean time, God promises, if we’re open to Him, to be our redeemer; meaning coming in and begin to make our lives the way they were supposed to be. He’ll enter into our hurt and enter into our pain and bring hope and meaning even in the midst of the futility until He comes back.

Jerry Zucha

Love has to be a choice, if loves not a choice then it’s really not love. God created us in such a way that we can make choices. If he would have made us any other way, then we would have simply been robots and we wouldn’t know the incredible depth of love and even through the bad things that happen in this world, there’s something more powerful and penetrating and more potent that any of the evil that happens and that’s love. And the Bible says that greater love has no man than this, that a man would lay down Hid life for His friends and Jesus says “I call you my friend” so God provided the ultimate answer by allowing His Son to die on a cross for us even at the hands of evil men, so that we could experience love.

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Why is Jesus the only way to Heaven?

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Hal Habecker - many ways

One of the hardest things for the human heart to comprehend is accepting someone else really loving you for who you are and accepting you for who you are. To me, the most incredible thing about God’s love is that He really loves me for who I am. There aren’t any pretenses on His love saying, “If you do this I’ll love you,” but instead He loves you with an incredible love that just reaches into your heart. Why He does that? It’s one of the mysterious things about who God is and how is He able to love like no one else in this world? People always have some angle of pleasing somebody or there may be some catch to a relationship, but not God. He loves me innocently, massively. There are six plus billion people in this world, and He loves you as if you were the only one. To me, that’s the heart of God’s message and that’s the reason Jesus came. In order for us to see that love, He came to reveal who His Father was. It’s all about His love; it’s all about His incredible capacity to wrap His arms around us, no strings attached.

Jeff Jones

There are always people who we compare ourselves with, who we think are better, smarter, prominent and therefore must matter more to God but when you look at when Jesus came here and who he chose to relate to and be with, it wasn’t necessarily the brightest and the best. He hung out with them a little bit, loved them but he actually went to the marginalized, hurting people that were really open to Him. Often it’s at our point of humility that God can really enter in to our lives and so, when I’m feeling small or insignificant I remember that He was drawn to people like me. Two thousand years ago, the problems that people faced are really the same today. Things haven’t changed much; they dealt with the same stuff that we do such as self image issues, sexuality, suffering and doubts. So from that perspective the bible relates exactly to what we experience. The bible even says itself that it’s not a dead book, it’s actually alive because He not only has spoken but there’s that sense of which He still speaks through His truth and through His words to our hearts.

Jerry Zucha

When you stop and you think who you are, it’s easy to just feel like you’re one of billions and billions, but I think DNA proves how special you are and how unique you are. The Bible says that God fashioned you and he formed you and He made you unique and He loves you just the way you are. I think Jesus knows exactly who we are and where we’ve been in life. He loves us no matter how low we think we’ve gone or how despicable we think we are. If we were good, then He wouldn’t have had to come, but the point is none of us are good. So he came to heal us and to give us hope and a relationship. He pulls us up from a pit and he sets us up on a rock and gives us a hope.

John Meador

One of the most amazing things to me about God is that God does love us as individuals. I know the things that are not attractive about me but amazingly, He loves me. I think that’s just a part of how big God is. He had a purpose in creating us and that He wants to fellowship with us, and interact with us. His purpose in my life explains some of the reasons why God would care to love me and the more I know about it, the more I’m amazed.

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How do I know everything that happens in my life is God’s doing?

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Jerry Zucha

I think that no matter what you’re chasing, you’re going to chase it and you’re going to come up to the end and there’s still going to be that void. There’s always going to be that next step, that bigger hill or grand thing that you can’t really grasp and so you’ll find yourself constantly frustrated. There has to be something bigger than yourself that keeps you from chasing after something that you’ll never find. For me, Christ showed me that he made me and he made me special and I don’t have to keep running after that next thing. He filled that void and he took me right where I was regardless of accomplishment. If you want that relationship, what I’ve come to understand is it’s so easy and he offers it, he just lays it out before us. Whoever wants it, whoever desires it, they just have to call out to Jesus and just say, “Jesus, I need you.”

Hal Habecker

I don’t believe you need to do anything to prepare yourself to come to Jesus. I was very young when I trusted Christ, and thenI learned the words of Jesus. He said to come to Him, hearing His words, seeing the way He lived His life and accept it, embracing it as your own. The gospel says that Jesus Christ actually became sin for me on the cross and that when I receive His death for me, I become a follower of His and as a little boy I received that message. My years since that have been an ingoing pilgrimage learning to know His love in my life. The biggest obstacle for me, even as a man today is, amI really loved for who I am? The message of the gospel is, Jesus really does love me for who I am you are loved for who you are. His goal is to change me to become like Himself because He is perfect and well, that’s not true with me. Still He loves with an everlasting love and this is not a performance deal. You don’t have to be a certain way, before He loves you. It just like a Father embracing a little child: He puts His arms around that little person and it doesn’t matter what He does and as that little person begins to have self awareness and he understands when his dad isn’t pleased, his dad still loves him and cares for very much about him and wants him to know, more than anything else, that he’s secure in his dad’s love.

Pete Briscoe

The Christian life is impossible to live, but it’s thoroughly natural for Christ to live it through me. There is unbelievable abundance in life in Christ and so why would you want to live a life that is impossible, look at the alternative. The alternative is separation from Him, death spiritually. I think we look through things to be enough for us and we discover at some point that they’re not enough. The conversations I have with people and the pain that people experience makes me realize that Christ has answers for those things. The woman whose husband walks out and leaves her with 2 or 3 kids at home; the world has very few answers for her. But Christ is the answer for her; not that He can make the guy come back, but He can meet her there and carry her through and that she can find her life in Him. So even though the circumstances don’t change, there is still life, joy and rest for our souls.

Jeff Jones

Once you begin a relationship with Jesus by inviting Him into your life, that’s just the beginning. The way you cultivate a relationship with God is similar to the way you cultivate a relationship with any friend; through communication and time. The good news for us is that God has spoken through the bible that isn’t some dry dusty book written two thousand years ago, it’s a book that He still wants to use to speak to us today. So as we read the bible and we’re open to God, I believe God will speak to us and communicate to us through the words of the bible. As we talk with Him, through prayer, we cultivate a relationship. As we surround ourselves with other people who are also on this journey who want to encourage us, we then grow in our relationship with God. As we serve, we make a difference in the world and we find Jesus often, not just at church, but everywhere we are; among the poor and God makes Himself known to us there and enriches our relationship that way, with Him, too.

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Does God care about me?

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Hal Habecker

One of the hardest things for the human heart to comprehend is accepting someone else really loving you for who you are and accepting you for who you are. To me, the most incredible thing about God’s love is that He really loves me for who I am. There aren’t any pretenses on His love saying, “If you do this I’ll love you,” but instead He loves you with an incredible love that just reaches into your heart. Why He does that? It’s one of the mysterious things about who God is and how is He able to love like no one else in this world? People always have some angle of pleasing somebody or there may be some catch to a relationship, but not God. He loves me innocently, massively. There are six plus billion people in this world, and He loves you as if you were the only one. To me, that’s the heart of God’s message and that’s the reason Jesus came. In order for us to see that love, He came to reveal who His Father was. It’s all about His love; it’s all about His incredible capacity to wrap His arms around us, no strings attached.

John Meador

One of the most amazing things to me about God is that God does love us as individuals. I know the things that are not attractive about me but amazingly, He loves me. I think that’s just a part of how big God is. He had a purpose in creating us and that He wants to fellowship with us, and interact with us. His purpose in my life explains some of the reasons why God would care to love me and the more I know about it, the more I’m amazed.

Jeff Jones

There are always people who we compare ourselves with, who we think are better, smarter, prominent and therefore must matter more to God but when you look at when Jesus came here and who he chose to relate to and be with, it wasn’t necessarily the brightest and the best. He hung out with them a little bit, loved them but he actually went to the marginalized, hurting people that were really open to Him. Often it’s at our point of humility that God can really enter in to our lives and so, when I’m feeling small or insignificant I remember that He was drawn to people like me. Two thousand years ago, the problems that people faced are really the same today. Things haven’t changed much; they dealt with the same stuff that we do such as self image issues, sexuality, suffering and doubts. So from that perspective the bible relates exactly to what we experience. The bible even says itself that it’s not a dead book, it’s actually alive because He not only has spoken but there’s that sense of which He still speaks through His truth and through His words to our hearts.

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