Thursday, March 31, 2016

Faith & Foolishness

"They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country;and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan. Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size." Numbers 13:26-32

Have you been caught in a April Fool's prank yet?

Have you pulled one on someone else?

On this April's Fool Day 2016 I thought I would spend some time focusing on the thin line between faith and foolishness. That line is very thin, so much so that it is often hard to discern the difference.

This story in Numbers 13 illustrates that point in real time!

God, through Moses, had led His people OUT of Egypt and THROUGH the wilderness and was preparing to lead them INTO Canaan, the land He promised to Abraham 600 years earlier. More recently God had reaffirmed that promise to Moses.

Prior to crossing into Canaan Moses decided to send twelve spies ahead to spy out the land for 40 days. These spies, one from each tribe of Israel, came back with their intelligence report.

They had each spent the same amount of time searching out the same territory and seeing essentially the same things. But ten of them came to a dramatically different conclusion that the other two.

Caleb and Joshua came back with the faith perspective. "Yes, there are mighty people in the land but there are great spoils to be had and God can give this land to us!"

But the other ten spies represented the opposite viewpoint. While they agreed this was a land filled with prosperity and potential it seemed to them like a foolish idea to attack the giants occupying the land.

Here are two very differing versions of what constituted faith and what qualified as foolish. These were all good men. They had been hand-picked by Moses but drew the line at very different places. 

History recorded that Caleb and Joshua were right but at the time their conclusion was judged to be foolish. So rather than cross into the Promised Land the people of God cringed at the giants and for 40 years they wandered in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan.

I share this account because those of us from FredWes find ourselves at a similar place in our journey. God has led us to the verge of our preferred future and there will be moments when separating faith from foolish could get a little foggy.

Apparently, this has been an issue with God's people throughout the ages because Paul addresses it with the Church at Corinth in the opening chapter of his letter to them:

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God —that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”  I Corinthians 1:18-31

I think this Scripture provides several insights that could have benefited the ten spies and can give some guidance to us!

What is God's will in this matter?

God had made it clear to Moses and through Moses that He intended to lead them into the Promised Land to conquer it. In fact, He had promised to give it to them.

What is God's wisdom in this matter?

If you know God's will then you have the inside track on His wisdom. Whatever lines up with His will is wise to Him and to us. In fact, if it seems foolish to us it is probably His way of calling us to faith!

What has been God's way in this matter?

A third factor in discerning between faith and foolishness is to observe how God has led you to this point. Have there been points along the way that seemed foolish at the time? At what points were faith required to get us to where we are now? Where would we be if we had done what seemed right to us at the time? 

We know that God's way is not our way so it will sound foolish when we first become aware of it, right?

We also know that God's way is to glorify Himself through us! He may do it through our faith or He may do it in spite of our foolishness!

FredWes, as we move forward to our destiny let's learn from these lines of demarcation - what is God's will, what is God's wisdom and what has been God's way! That will keep us on the footsteps of faith and off the path of foolishness!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March 31, 2016

"And if you give even a cup of cold to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded." Matthew 10:42

If giving a cup of cold fresh water to a needy Christ-follower brings a reward, what does giving a well do?

Honestly, we will never know the full scope of the answer to this question until we get to Heaven. 

Hopefully, when that question is fully answered a significant part of the reward will involve scores of people who became Christ-followers because of the placement of a well in their community by Christ-followers in a small church on the other side of the world.

This Sunday we will get a partial glimpse of the impact our wells are making in Sierre Leone, West Africa and in Mozambique on the south eastern coast of Africa. Scott Drury, representing World Hope will be coming to share some updates on our wells and the clean water component of their world-wide missionary efforts.

But I know the hearts of the FredWes Family and I know they don't contribute to the Flow H20 Fund JUST to receive a reward.

FredWes gives to Flow H20 because it is the right thing to do. FredWes is committed to "Loving people to LIFE" and that involves seeing a need and meeting it. According to the Great Commandment and also, the Great Commission, loving people to life is what God has called us to do. Therefore, it is the right thing - even the righteous thing - to do! That's why we do it!

We also give to Flow H20 because we are resourced to do it! Jesus tells us when we have what we need and we encounter another who needs it we are called to give to him what we have to give. We are also told in God's Word that if we are faithful with the few things we have God will trust us with more things.

We give to Flow H20 because the gift of a well to a community provided by strangers in America who happen to be Christians will reach people for Christ. Reaching people for Christ is one of the primary reasons we exist as a church! Even as I write this article and now as you are reading it God's Holy Spirit is working His people in Sierra Leone and Mozambique to reach people who have been made more receptive to the Gospel through the gift of a well in their village.

Why are we passionate about Flow H20? 

Four reasons:
  • It's right
  • We're resourced
  • It reaches the lost
  • It brings a reward

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Forgiveness Is Like...

"Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”— and you forgave the guilt of my sin." Psalm 32:5

Forgiveness is like the eraser on the pencil.

Forgiveness is like a mulligan on the first tee.

Forgiveness is the cop letting you off with just a warning.

Forgiveness is a do-over when you have made a major blunder.

Forgiveness lifts the elephant off your chest.

In his great book, "What's So Amazing About Grace", Phillip Yancey tells the story of a prodigal daughter who grows up in Traverse City, Michigan. Disgusted with her old fashioned parents who overreact to her nose ring, the music she listens to, the length of her skirts, she runs away. She ends up in Detroit where she meets a man who drives the biggest car she’s ever seen. The man with the big car – she calls him “Boss” – recognizes that since she’s underage, men would pay premium for her. So she goes to work for him. Things are good for a while. Life is good. But she gets sick for a few days, and it amazes her how quickly the boss turns mean. Before she knows it, she’s out on the street without a penny to her name. She still turns a couple of tricks a night, and all the money goes to support her drug habit.
One night while sleeping on the metal grates of the city, she began to feel less like a woman of the world and more like a little girl. She begins to whimper. “God, why did I leave. My dog back home eats better than I do now.” She knows that more than anything in the world, she wants to go home. Three straight calls home get three straight connections with the answering machine. Finally she leaves a message. “Mom, dad, its me. I was wondering about maybe coming home. I’m catching a bus up your way, and it’ll get there about midnight tomorrow. If you’re not there, I‘ll understand.” During the seven hour bus ride, she’s preparing a speech for her father. And when the bus comes to a stop in the Traverse City station, the driver announces the fifteen-minute stop. Fifteen minutes to decide her life.

She walks into the terminal not knowing what to expect. But not one of the thousand scenes that have played out in her mind prepares her for what she sees. There in the bus terminal in Traverse City, Michigan, stands a group of forty brothers and sisters and great-aunts and uncles and cousins and a grandmother and a great-grandmother to boot. They’re all wearing goofy party hats and blowing noise-makers, and taped across the entire wall of the terminal is a computer-generated banner that reads – Welcome Home!
Out of the crowd of well-wishers breaks her dad. She stares out through the tears quivering in her eyes and begins her memorized speech. He interrupts her. “Hush, child. We’ve got no time for that. No time for apologies. We’ll be late. A big party is waiting for you at home!

That's forgiveness - God-style! He takes your penalty and gives you His peace and throws you a party!

Monday, March 28, 2016

March 29, 2016

David, the Psalmist King knew! The one indispensable thing for him was God's presence! He could not - or more accurately - would allow himself to be denied the presence of God.

To "seek God's face" means to come into His presence. The great John Piper frames it this way:

"This happens through “seeking.” Continual seeking. But what does that mean practically? Both the Old and New Testaments say it is a “setting of the mind and heart” on God. It is the conscious fixing or focusing of our mind’s attention and our heart’s affection on God.

“Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.” (1 Chronicles 22:19)

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:1–2)

This setting of the mind is the opposite of mental coasting. It is a conscious choice to direct the heart toward God. This is what Paul prays for the church:

“May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5).

It is a conscious effort on our part. But that effort to seek God is a gift from God.

We do not make this mental and emotional effort to seek God because he is lost. That’s why we would seek a coin or a sheep. But God is not lost. Nevertheless, there is always something through which or around which we must go to meet him consciously. This going through or around is what seeking is. He is often hidden. Veiled. We must go through mediators and around obstacles."

Herein is the merging of discipline and desire. The desire to seek God motivates the discipline to schedule time and screen distractions and study the Word until you hear from God and experience His presence.
Understand that there is a sense in which you are never out of the presence of God in terms of His protection and care. But communing with Him and connecting with Him in that intimate spiritual fellowship that your soul craves requires you full focus.

If you have not sought the face of God for awhile, why is that? Is it because of a lack of desire? Has your heart grown cold? Has sin crept into your life? Have you fallen in love with the world?
Or have you become distracted or diverted or discouraged due to the commotion around you? Has your lack of discipline allow the world to smother your schedule and clutter your mind?

Seek His face today!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

March 28, 2016

"Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"  John 11:25-26

This is quite a claim made by Jesus! Very confident and quite comforting!

If you will live and believe in Jesus, and if you allow Him to live in you by faith, you will never die!

However, there ARE several things that WILL die when you die and I feel compelled to point those out.

When you die, suffering dies. The moment you slip away from your earthly body and into eternity with Jesus - your suffering is over! Forever!

When you die, sorrow dies. At your last breath in this life, you are done with sorrow! Once your spirit enters into the presence of God there will be only joy! Sadness has no place in Heaven! You will shed no more tears. You will know no more heartbreak!

When you die, sin dies. If you die in Christ and enter into His paradise you will enter a safe, secure, sin-free environment. Not only will you be free from sin but you will not have to deal with temptation either!

So, you see, death is final - final for the things that are not worthy of God or right for eternity!

As we bring the Easter Holiday to a close I just wanted to remind you of a few reasons why it is the pivotal event in all of human history! You will never die, but all the things that make your life difficult or painful will die!

He's alive! You will live! Your heart-ache and hardships won't! Your crises and crosses will become crowns!

Saturday, March 26, 2016


"Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!" So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus' head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?" "They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him." At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. "Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him." Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' " Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her. On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord." John 20:1-20

They were overjoyed when they saw the Lord!

That phrase best capsulizes the emotion that Easter should bring to the human heart. Recognizing that Jesus is alive and that our sins are forgiven makes a world of difference in how we view ourselves, our God, other people and our purpose for living!

Everyone of these Christ-followers were filled with joy when they saw Jesus but there is one who was especially thrilled and I think this video clip captures that! 

Take a look:


Peter, a lot like you and me, was his own worst enemy. This was the disicple who had only one speed - full! He had some of the highest highs and a few of the deepest lows.

Peter had been with Jesus and a select few on the Mount of Transfiguration. He had seen the glorified Jesus along with Moses and Elijah! Peter had been there when the 5,000 were fed and then the 4,000. He had been there when Lazarus walked out to the grave! For Pete's sake - he had walked on water!

But he had also vowed that He would never forsake Jesus and in the Garden he impulsively grabbed his sword and tried to decapitate the Roman guard. And on that fateful night after Jesus was arrested he denied three times and even cursed for emphasis.

It was that final failure that almost did him in - until he saw the Risen Jesus! 

Then he was filled with joy knowing that Jesus was alive and his failures were forgiven!

Do you have some failures that haunt you?

Have you betrayed Jesus with your decisions and choices?

Could you use a few “do-overs”? Does some forgiveness sound good?

Well, the good news is, as Peter discovered, JESUS IS ALIVE and your sins can be forgiven!


Peter had fully invested all of his hopes and dreams in Jesus.

Peter had fully bought into all of Jesus’ teachings and accepted Him as the Messiah.

Peter had seen all the miracles and he even done a few himself.

But then everything was up for grabs when Jesus was arrested and killed.

But the good news is JESUS IS ALIVE and everything is TRUE!


For the last few days Peter lived in fear. They had killed his leader and he fully expected them to be coming after him.

He had left his business and his family and invested his entire future in Jesus – then Jesus was DEAD!

In just a few days his future had gone from safe, secure and certain – to fearful and murky.

But the good news is JESUS IS ALIVE and his future is FOREVER!

That is the great news of Easter - WE SERVE A RISEN SAVIOR!

When He died on the cross He conquered sin. He pain the price for your sins and mine! And When He raised form the dead He conquered death! We no longer have to live in sin or fear death!

We can live in joy! We can live in freedom! We can live in power! We never have to be alone! And we know we will live forever!


Friday, March 25, 2016

March 26, 2016

"Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.  Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads  and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”  Matthew 27:38-41

Easter celebrates the greatest event in history the Resurrection of Jesus Christ!

I wonder why we don't get more excited about our Savior arising from the dead to give us victory over sin and death?

Not to be morbid but think about the person whose death causes you the most sorrow and grief. Now think about having that person back alive with you to never die again. I'm guessing you would celebrate that!

But when Easter rolls around you get more excited about bunnies and baskets and bonnets and brunches than you do about a Savior who came back from three days in the grave to conquer sin and death forever. Why is that?

Perhaps we lose sight of the significance of this supernatural event. I fear I am guilty of it as well. As I was searching the Bible this week God led me to this rather unusual portion of Scripture and shared a few insights with me. I want to take a few minutes to share it with you and hope it will bless you as it blessed me.

First, realize the essence of the lie - "save yourself"

The mocker's taunts give several insights into reasons you might be less excited about the Resurrection. 

If you believe it is possible to save yourself you would not be excited about the Resurrection. Why should you if don't believe you need a Savior?

The belief that you can save yourself and don't really need a savior is the essence of sin. Lucifer said to himself, "I can be like God." Later, he tempted Eve, "You will be like God." Believing that would not excite you about the Resurrection.

If you believe you should save yourself from sin or  suffering you would not be excited about the Resurrection.

By the way, in this story Jesus shows you how to respond to mockers. Jesus remained silent and stayed on the cross. He didn't try to retaliate nor did He attempt to defend Himself. In three days He would make a mockery of their mockery when He arose from death and proved them wrong.

Second, realize the essence of love in this story is seen in the fact that Jesus did not come off the cross but hung there to die for the very sinners who were mocking Him. He gave Himself He didn't save Himself.

What a vivid illustration of loving people to life! 

Here at FredWes we are called not to save ourselves but to give ourselves to those He wants to save! We will sacrifice for them and if necessary suffer for them.

Love stays on the cross. 

Love is more focused on saving others than saving themselves.

People who know what it is to love love the Resurrection!

Third, the essence of life is seen in this story - dying on the cross. Jesus gave Himself to save others. He had to die so they could live. But He also had to die in order that He could live the Resurrection life, the everlasting life.

The Resurrection meant a LOT to Jesus! It was a BIG deal because He died!

It will mean a lot to you unless you believe you can somehow save yourself. If saving yourself from needless suffering or sacrifice is your motivation the Resurrection holds little interest to you.

But if you are willing to take up your cross like Jesus and suffer.

If you are more concerned about saving others than saving yourself.

And if you are willing to die to your self-interest, self-centeredness and selfishness then you can experience the resurrection life. You can't truly know life until you die to self and arise to life in Christ!

March 25, 2016

"When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there.  Above his head they placed the written charge against him:    this is jesus, the king of the jews.  Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.   Those who passed by hurled insults at him,  shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”  Matthew 27:35-40

Few places in the Scriptures will you find more irony than in this encounter between the Master and the mockers. It is a sharp contrast between His holy nature and their haughty hatred toward Him.

When you take note of their accusations and slander you are exposed to the nature of evil at its core. 

the very fact that they are slandering the sinless Son of God gives evidence of a corrupted heart. Why would you do that otherwise?

Let's look at their verbal assaults directed His way.

"You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days" 
- in saying this they are implying that Jesus is either a liar or a lunatic for suggesting such a thing. Also, they are effectively calling Him a failure at the most vulnerable times of His life. For what purpose? To what end?

For the record, Jesus was referring to His Body not a building
And He did indeed rebuild it when He walked out of the tomb on Easter Sunday!

"if you are the Son of God!” 
- again, here are these evil men casting doubt on the claims of Christ. If you will remember, this phrase strangely similar to other attacks by Satan the Accuser at various times in Scripture. While the devil is extremely evil he is also entirely unoriginal.

God is under no obligation to prove Himself to Satan or anyone else! 
If the grandeur of creation and the countless miracles He has wrought from the beginning up to the moment of these mockeries haven't proved the true nature of Christ nothing He would do then could convince them!

"save yourself! Come down from the cross" 
- this shows either incredible evil on their part or even more incredible ignorance. Jesus didn't go to the cross to save Himself He went to the cross to save them! In trying to coax Him off the cross they were unwittingly attempting to seal their own fate.

Here again is the ugly, futile and arrogant nature of sin. The very notion that you can "save your self is the essence of sin! It is the lie that brought down Lucifer and Adam.

In conclusion I call your attention once more to the irony that they very thing they were doing was the very reason Jesus was on the cross dying!

What a blessing for them He ignored their taunts and remained on the cross!

What a blessing for you and me as well!