What Does it Look Like to Love God?

Jesus said the greatest commandment is for us to love God with all of our heart, soul, and might. But how do we do that? What does that practically look like in our lives?

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093: Harry Potter & the Gospel

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone took the world by storm in the late 90s and then again in the early 2000s with its film adaptation. Over the decades that followed, enthusiasm for the series remained a constant in culture garnering millions of fans. But for all its support, the story also found itself mired in controversy over witchcraft and magic. In the first episode of the Clear Creek Resources summer series, Jon Coffey discusses Harry Potter, its tension, and the biblical truths it echoes with Rachel Chester, and Church on Wednesday campus elder, Daniel Garcia.

 

Bring the Fish

There’s a character in the Bible who you’ll miss if you aren’t looking for him. He’s only mentioned in one verse, but his role in the story is fascinating.

He’s a young boy. We never even learn his name. But one day somewhere near the Sea of Galilee, in the midst of a crowd of over 5,000 people, he gets to give Jesus something.

You see, there’s a problem.

Jesus – an emerging celebrity in the land – is ministering to people, healing the sick, teaching about God’s kingdom, and making extraordinary claims about who he is and what he’s on earth to do. All of that adds up to a lot of people wanting to see this guy for themselves; to see if the stories are true. Jesus wants to teach them about the love of the Father. He wants to dismantle their false beliefs about who God is and what he wants for them. And he also wants to meet their needs.

In this case, he wants to feed them.

But where can you find enough food to feed a stadium full of people? And who’s going to pay for it?

That’s what the disciples want to know.

Until our pal – the boy – enters the story.

One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?”

– John 6:8-9

Scripture doesn’t say whether Andrew just happened to notice this boy with a picnic lunch, or if the boy came and tapped him on the shoulder to offer his meal. But however it happened, the moment comes where this bread and fish is offered to Jesus.

And he gets that look in his eye; that look the disciples have come to know all too well.

Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.”

– John 6:10

I’m willing to bet he said it with a grin.

Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”

– John 6:11-14

And that’s the end of the episode. We never hear about the boy again. Jesus leaves the crowd and journeys on.

So, doesn’t the boy seem kind of insignificant?

Well, here’s the thing: he is insignificant. He’s just a kid who brought some fish to a get-together.

What is significant is the impact these offerings made. What is significant is the miracle-working fully man, fully God Jesus ending up with the fish in his hands.

Did he need this boy’s meal?

Of course not. He could have produced fish from thin air or called bread to rain down from the sky. But, instead, he invited this picnic-packing kid into the work he was doing.

And it’s the same with us.

In the middle of this great big world and this grand eternal story, it’s easy to feel small and insignificant.

It’s easy to feel like you have nothing to offer God, or, at least, like you have less than someone else.

But God doesn’t care how much you have. He’s concerned with what you do with it.

Just like the boy in the story, we are invited into the work he’s already doing, and that makes what we have significant. Because in the hands of the God of the universe, even the smallest offering of our time, energy, talents, or resources can have an exponential impact – an eternal impact.

All we have to do is bring the fish.


 

092: Watching Movies with a Christian Worldview

How do Christians engage movies, books, or songs that aren’t created by a Christian or explicitly Christian in its main message or themes? Is it okay to watch content that includes explicit language, violence, or sex? On this episode, Ryan Lehtinen is joined by Rachel Chester and Yancey Arrington to talk about these questions and more as they introduce the Clear Creek Resources summer podcast series on movies and the glimpses of gospel truths within them.

 

New Creation

REMEMBER // RECOGNIZE // REPEAT

REMEMBER the promise of New Creation 

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.”
– Isaiah 65:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
– 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Behold, the dwelling place[ of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’”
– Revelation 21:3-5

 

RECOGNIZE the presence of God in Prayer

Father, you are our creator, redeemer, and restorer who makes all things new. We long for the return of Jesus, when every tear will be wiped away, and all that is sad will become untrue. We hope in this promise.

Help us to live in light of the new creation, showing others what your kingdom looks like, and trusting you when we feel overcome by sadness, pain, and tears. Your promises are all true in Jesus and we rest and hope in the day when they are fully consummated.

 

REPEAT the rhythms of God’s presence

Remember that the new creation is marked by justice, peace, love, and the presence of God.

What is a small way you can demonstrate to someone near you what this new creation will look like? How can you seek justice, trust God completely, and love others in a tangible way that points to God’s care and restoration of his creation?

In your small corner of the world, show others justice, peace, and love. Embody the gospel around you and illustrate the kingdom of God.

 

“Is He Worthy?” – Andrew Peterson


 

Transformation

REMEMBER // RECOGNIZE // REPEAT

REMEMBER the promise of Transformation 

“Thus says the Lord,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
‘I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you to profit,
who leads you in the way you should go.’”
– Isaiah 48:17

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
– 2 Corinthians 3:18

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
– Galatians 2:20

 

RECOGNIZE the presence of God in Prayer

Father, we pray to be transformed by the renewing of our minds through your word and your spirit. Help us to understand your will for our lives and help us to look more like Jesus every day.

We pray that our church is a people who are marked by love, who demonstrate joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Father, we confess we stumble and fail, but we trust that you are transforming us as we follow you. Help us to live by faith in Jesus and become more like him as we grow in our relationship with him.

 

REPEAT the rhythms of God’s presence

Ask someone you trust how you could look more like Jesus. God calls us into intimate community. We are adopted into the family of God, and in our family, we love each other and spur one another to holiness. To grow in likeness of Christ takes courage and humility.

Be courageous and humble today and ask your brother or sister-in-Christ to walk with you as God’s Spirit transforms you into a new creation — a new creation that is fully who God created you to be and represents Christ to those around you.

 

“Build My Life” – Passion


 

Peace

REMEMBER // RECOGNIZE // REPEAT

REMEMBER the promise of Peace

“You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.”
– Isaiah 26:3

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
– John 16:33

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
– Romans 5:1

 

RECOGNIZE the presence of God in Prayer  

Prince of Peace, our greatest need is you. Thank you for loving us and granting us peace with you through Jesus. Our world is busy, chaotic, and confusing, but in Christ we have true and lasting peace.

Father, would you quiet our anxious hearts and help us to live into the perfect peace of Jesus, trusting you and finding rest in you, even in the midst of tribulation. We pour out our anxieties and fears at your feet and pray for peace that surpasses all understanding.

Father, we pray for peace for ourselves, peace in our families, peace at work, and peace in this world. Help us to be peacemakers, drawing others to your son, so that they too can know the presence and peace of Christ.

 

REPEAT the rhythms of God’s presence

Become peacemakers. In a world that is fraught with strife and contention, let us be a people of peace. Although we were rebels and sinners, God has given us peace with him and peace in our hearts through Jesus.

With your family, online, with friends and with enemies, step away from anger and contention. Ask God to help you become a peacemaker, one who lives in truth, but never in a way that harms others or disparages the name of Christ.

 

“PS23” – Tanner Smith


 

Forgiveness

REMEMBER // RECOGNIZE // REPEAT

REMEMBER the promise of Forgiveness

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.”
– Isaiah 1:18

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.”
– Ephesians 1:7 

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
– Colossians 1:13-14

 

RECOGNIZE the presence of God in Prayer

Father, thank you for the grace and forgiveness you have shown me in the person, life, and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Help me to believe your promise that I am completely forgiven for all of my sin—past, present, and future. I don’t understand it, but I am so grateful. Help me to step out of shame into new life in Christ.

I pray  your Spirit would transform me through your grace into the image of your Son. Help me to sacrifice for others as he has sacrificed for me. Help me to forgive others, as you have forgiven me. Help me to love, completely, those who have harmed me.

In all ways, Father, help me to be a light that points others to forgiveness and redemption in Jesus.

 

REPEAT the rhythms of God’s presence

Treat others as God has treated you: with grace.

In the face of sin and suffering, completely forgive others, as you have been forgiven in Christ.

Remember someone who has wronged you, pray to forgive them, and find a way to love them today, as Christ loves you.

 

“Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace)” – Hillsong Worship


 

God’s Presence

REMEMBER // RECOGNIZE // REPEAT

REMEMBER the promise of God’s presence

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.”
– Isaiah 43:1-2

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
– Psalm 46:1

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of Christ Jesus our Lord.”
– Romans 8:38-39

 

RECOGNIZE the presence of God in Prayer

Lord I come to you today overwhelmed by the way you love me and take care of me. But there are also times when I feel distracted, overworked, drained, and pushed beyond my ability to endure. In those moments, help me to be willing to acknowledge how I am feeling and turn away from the distractions and worldly attachments that never really satisfy.

I want to rest in your presence and find the true peace my soul longs for. Help me to stay close to you and depend upon you. Even when you feel far, Father, help me to know you are near.

Today, help me to remember that there is not one step I am walking alone and I can trust you with the deepest needs of my heart.

 

REPEAT the rhythms of God’s presence  

Remember that God is the only one who truly fills you with peace, purpose, and joy. When you feel afraid, remember he is with you today, tomorrow, and always.

When you feel overwhelmed, remember he sees you and knows you completely. When God feels distant, run back to his open arms where you are safe and loved.

Today, find time to spend alone in the presence of God. Seek him and set your heart and mind to remember God is with you, and that he is more than enough.

 

“Another in the Fire” – Hillsong


 

Follow Me

A few years ago, a few friends and I road tripped to Colorado to do a bike ride from Durango to Silverton. The route went through two mountain passes that topped out at almost 11,000 feet. I remember as I was nearing the top of the final climb, I was going slow enough that I kept wondering if it would be faster to just get off my bike and walk.

But, then I looked up and saw a sign just ahead; I had made it to the summit.

Immediately, everything changed.

The road started going down. I could catch my breath. I could enjoy the scenery, and I was going fast enough that I didn’t even have to pedal. Just getting over that mountain pass made all the difference.

The gospel of Luke gives us the story of how Matthew became one of the twelve disciples of Jesus.

Before he met Jesus, Matthew was a tax collector. During the Roman rule, the Roman government would hire Jewish men to collect taxes from the Jewish community. This system encouraged corruption and extortion, and the profession was viewed as being made up of traitors, cheaters, and liars. They were socially, morally, and religiously outcasts of the society.

But then something happened that changed everything for Matthew.

After this he [Jesus] went out and saw a tax collector named Levi [again that’s Matthew], sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.”  And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

– Luke 5:27-28

That’s it for Matthew’s story. One day he’s sitting at a tax booth, scamming people, and the next, he leaves everything and follows Jesus.

He’s all in.

And pretty much that’s all that’s said about him in the rest of the Bible, except for the mention of him being one of the twelve disciples following Jesus.

There’s something about his story — and stories like his — that for a long time in my life confused me.

I grew up going to church as a young kid, more so when I was younger but less toward high school. And throughout that whole time, I made some assumptions about church and Christianity based on what I had observed of people who said they were Christians. You see, I always thought church was just a lame hobby where you tried to be good person. It was this one-hour religious thing, where you wore clothes you normally didn’t wear, and talked like you normally didn’t talk.

So, what it seemed like was there were some people who were really into it, but most people were content to be on the fringe. Half in and half out. Like, “We’ll come on Sunday some. But we’re not coming to your weird potluck in the fellowship hall. That’s not us.”

That influenced not only how I viewed church but how I viewed God.

I thought, as long as I was morally in that middle ground with everyone else, then me and God were okay too — that God was just happy to be included as if he was just looking for some friends. Low commitment required. The goal was to try to live life, be a good guy, and sprinkle a little religion on there every once in a while.

So “all-in” stories of complete life-change like Matthew really confused me.

There was no promise attached to it like riches or blessing, and no real direction for what would happen next. All Jesus said was, “follow me.”

Why did Matthew leave everything? Why couldn’t he just keep doing what he was doing, go to church, try to be a little less shady, and sprinkle a little religion on there?

Why couldn’t he just stay in the middle ground?

It wasn’t until I went to college and attended a church there with some of my friends that I finally got it. I finally understood, because the same thing that happened to Matthew happened to me. I met Jesus. Not literally. Matthew literally met Jesus. But it felt like that. I was introduced to who Jesus really is, as he’s revealed himself in the Bible.

Suddenly, I was all-in. Everything changed for me — my values, my dreams, my purpose, the way I ordered my life, the way I viewed other people — everything changed.

But, the truth is just knowing who Jesus is, is not enough. Jesus came to Matthew and then he called him to do something. He simply said, “Follow me.” But then Matthew had a choice to make — to stay or follow.

And, so do we.

What does it look like to follow Jesus?

In his Gospel account, Matthew recorded what Jesus, himself, said is the answer to this question as he was speaking to his disciples.

It’s what changed everything for me.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 

– Matthew 16:24-25

This is probably very different than what the disciples originally pictured when they signed up for all of this.

But, notice, this description is who Jesus is as a person, and what he did for us —he humbled himself, denied himself, and went to a cross.

He’s saying that’s what it looks like to follow him.

It’s just not about what we get out of it. It’s not about personal gain. And it’s not about all the great things we get to do.

So, what do you get by following Jesus if you’re not getting stuff from him?

You get Jesus.

Looking at Matthew’s story, that’s all that Jesus offers him. He just said, “Follow me. If you leave everything you know and come with me, you get me.”

So this is what I realized as a half-in, half-out supposed “Christian.” When Jesus says, “follow me,” he’s only giving you one way to do it: deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow him.

There’s no middle ground.

No hanging onto your shady tax collecting business. No hanging onto your sin. No hanging onto living life with just a little religion sprinkled on it.

You must leave all of that behind and follow him.

And when you do, everything changes.