Mission and Vision

Simple Church Success exists to equip, inspire, and support those who want to know Jesus better and are hungry for simple participatory gatherings of two or more people.

We partner with Luke 10 International Ministries toward being a engaged network of visionaries, trail-blazers, church-planters, supporters, and inquirers who are learning to BE the church in simple Holy Spirit led, Christ-centered, Biblical ways.

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“…flowery beds of ease” What’s you sleep number?

flowery-bedAre you struggling and fighting discouragement? Take heart. That’s the normal battleground of a true believer.

“This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.” (Ephesians 6:12, The Message)

The old hymn asks, “Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease while others fight to win the prize and sail o’er (over) bloody seas?” Then it bravely answers, “Sure! I must fight if I would reign. Increase my courage, Lord! I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by Thy word.”

Hymnologist, Amos R. Wells, reports, “Isaac Watts (1674–1748), who wrote this hymn, was the father of hymn-writing in the English language. Isaac’s own father was not a member of the state church, and was twice thrown into jail for opposing it. When Isaac was a baby his mother often carried him in her arms to visit his father in prison.”

Like his father, Isaac Watts chose to stay in the fight for the kingdom of God. Writing new hymns got him in trouble with the established Christian church. Still, Watts pressed on, in spite of the opposition, to write over 200 popular hymns!

In Jesus’ day, John the Baptist was locked up in prison for taking a stand for moral righteousness against the local governor. About John’s suffering, and anyone else that seeks to serve the Lord, Jesus asserts, “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence and violent people take it by force.” (Matthew 11:12)

In others words, if you are a true believer, plan on doing battle! Our earth-bound side believes the glories of modern advertising and longs for those promised “flowery beds of ease.” Our born of God, heaven-bound side responds, “I must fight if I would reign. Increase my courage, Lord!”

Paul, the apostle, makes it clear that the fight will come to us if we seek to do good and serve the Lord. He writes, “So I find this law at work: when I would do good, evil is right there with me.” (Romans 7:21)

Just so, David, the Goliath-slayer, returned with his army to the village where they camped, found it burned to the ground with all their wives and children kidnapped. “David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God” winning the battle in his heart first, then leading his men to rescue everyone! (1 Samuel 30)

Our battle is not with people or circumstances, but against false imaginations, worries, fears and negative thoughts that try to separate us from trusting God. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) Our battle is against spiritual wickedness, this present darkness, and spiritual forces of evil in the invisible heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12) Discouragement, Depression and Death-Thinking are chief adversaries against God’s love, grace and peace.

Are you discouraged? Run to Jesus! Receive your gift* of righteousness which he bought for you on the cross! Then take refuge in him and his name.

“The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous (*the gift openers)  run to it and are safe.” (Proverbs 18:10)  Run, Believer, Run!

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

Please reply!  To say, Hi! Or, Why? Or anything in between.

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The Big Bang Way!

big-bang“Bang!” and the universe began.

On April 24, 1992 we read that the “Big Bang” had been confirmed by scientists. They were thrilled to believe they had found the beginning of the universe.

“A Very Big Bang,” is what Patricia and Robert Mondore titled their follow-up article. Using the Bible they showed us God’s version of the Big Bang. “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made…For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm” (Psalm 33:6,9). God speaks with “A Very Big Bang” when he wants to!

John, Jesus’ disciple, writes in his first letter about the Big Bang “beginning” of God’s Good News. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.” (1 John 1:1–2)

Later, John writes in his Gospel about God’s Big Bang sound as “the Word.” The sound that leads to sight and light.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1–5, TNIV)

God’s Big Bang sound begins visible creation! God speaks, “Let there be light, and there was light!” (Genesis 1:2)

Later, Jesus used Big Bang technology when he said to the raging sea, “Peace! Be still!” The water obeyed.

Jesus used Big Bang technology when shouting, “Lazarus! Come forth!” And, Lazarus came forth from the grave!

Jesus cried with a Big Bang on the cross. With a loud voice he shouted, “It is finished!” And the work of paying for and removing our sins was complete!

He teaches us to use Big Bang skills saying, “Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and do not doubt in your heart but believe that what you say will happen, it will be done for you.

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”” (Mark 11:20–25, TNIV)

Got a mountain blocking you? Big Bang it! Speak and tell it to move out of the way.

Got a need, or desire, or a “whatever”? Big Bang it! Ask God for it. Then praise him by faith for the answer.

Got a blockage of unforgiveness toward anyone—God, another person, or yourself? Big Bang it! Purposely, specifically, forgive. Then your load of unforgiveness will be removed and you will be set free!

Say it! Believe it! Then see it!

That’s the Big Bang way!

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla meeting 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Learn more at: www.simplechurchsuccess.com or contact John at (209) 564-7201

The Chowchilla News Pastor’s Commentary by John Parker for Wednesday, August 10, 2016

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ASHAMED? No longer!

martin-you-should-be-ashamed-of-yourself“You ought to be ashamed of yourself!” Tragically, this reprimand is considered appropriate.

Adults speak it over children. Religious leaders speak it over their own followers. Political leaders do the same. Many of us speak it over ourselves as we accept years of judgment and cultural conditioning. 

These words are not from God. God isn’t shaming us. Satan is, however, in order to separate us from God into shame and darkness.

“Do not be ashamed!” is Paul’s theme in the following Scripture passage (abridged). See if you can find the three (or four) times he writes about not being ashamed.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News…

“That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return…

“May the Lord show special kindness to Onesiphorus and all his family because he often visited and encouraged me. He was never ashamed of me because I was in chains. When he came to Rome, he searched everywhere until he found me. May the Lord show him special kindness on the day of Christ’s return. And you know very well how helpful he was in Ephesus.” (2 Timothy 1:7–18, NLT)

Did you find the “do ashamed” references?

The first one is, “so never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him.” This helps Timothy the young man whom Paul is writing.

It may be tough to remain unashamed when people accusingly ask Timothy, “Why is you leader, Paul, rotting in jail? I thought he knew God? Your God must be very weak.” Paul bolsters Timothy by reminding him that the gospel involves suffering, rejection, and looking foolish in the world’s eyes at times.

The second one is about Paul himself. He writes. “I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust…”

If you are in a situation where you may feel foolish and ashamed, heed Paul’s words. Get closer to Jesus.

Knowing Jesus, the one who suffered the ultimate shame of the cross, but who did so without being ashamed, is our inspiration. (Hebrews 12:2) Paul was not ashamed as he sat in jail because he knew Jesus suffered and won. Paul knew he would too.

The third instance is about Onesiphorus, who, like Timothy, is a friend of Paul. Paul brags about him, “He was never ashamed of me because I was in chains. When he came to Rome, he searched everywhere until he found me.”

Likewise, the Lord has people around us who are not ashamed of us even when shame surrounds us.  If you feel ashamed watch for them. They are the true Jesus’ people.

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

First published in The Chowchilla News “Pastor’s Commentary” by John Parker for Wednesday, August 3, 2016



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Pain and Gain

no-pain-no-gain“No Pain, No Gain!” proclaim the athletes.  Going through hard times is essential to growth and success, they believe.

Jesus and his main followers believe it too. “Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7–8)

Jesus emphasizes letting go of what seems important in this life in order to gain real life. He asserts, “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.” (Mark 8:35)

Jesus values losing in order to gain. “Yes,” Jesus replies, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.”” (Luke 18:29–30)

Jesus warns against illusions of gain that may seek to avoid pain. He cautions, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (Matthew 6:19–21)

Jesus’ followers and key writers, Peter, James, and Paul each praise pain for gain. Don’t seek it out but don’t avoid it when it arrives either. The pain of suffering grows us up in God’s grace and love and other lasting gains.

Peter writes, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.” (1 Peter 4:12–14, NLT)

James tells us that suffering is cause for great joy. He writes, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be mature and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:2–4, NLT)

Paul testifies with many scriptures that pain brings gain. The following one promises that suffering brings hope and love.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Romans 5:3–5, NLT)

Do you have spiritual, social suffering? Rejoice! Great gain will follow!

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla meeting 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Learn more at: www.simplechurchsuccess.com or contact John at (209) 564-7201

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Losing heart? Five ways to find it again!

lostheart_590_843The 92 year old woman I sat with today confided that she was tired and just wanted to die. She was losing heart.

You don’t have to be 90 to lose heart. “Each day in our nation there are an average of over 5,400 suicide attempts by young people grades 7-12.” (jasonfoundation.com) People of every age can lose heart.

Thankfully, my senior friend, after said she wanted to die, brightened a bit and said, “Or maybe I should wait for the Lord.”

In a nutshell, she described the Bible’s advice about living down here. The apostle, Paul, wrote it this way:

“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.

“These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

“For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not hand-made—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration.

“Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies!

“The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less. That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet!

“Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.

But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions.” (2 Corinthians 4:16–5:9, The Message)

Paul’s words teach us to:

  1. Be realistic. Don’t be surprised. This life “often looks like things are falling apart on us.”
  2. SEE the invisible. “The things we can’t see now will last forever…” Focus on them.
  3. Believe in Jesus and “the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us.”
  4. Listen for the Holy Spirit, who through Jesus’ salvation, “puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.”
  5. Know that we will each stand before Jesus someday.  Therefore, “cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions.”

Paul’s words motivate us to stick it out!

My octogenarian friend gives us the final word–“Wait for the Lord!”

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla meeting 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Learn more at: www.simplechurchsuccess.com or contact John at (209) 564-7201

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What’s bugging you?

jonah-and-the-gourd-vine“The sun beat down on Jonah’s head until he grew faint and wished to die. ‘Death is certainly better than living like this!’ he exclaimed.” (Jonah 4:8)

Jonah was so disappointed that he wanted to die. Life had not gone according to plan.

What pushed Jonah over the edge?  A shade tree!

The large plant he was enjoying for shelter from the scorching sun suddenly died. That’s it! Nothing more. But it was the last straw for Jonah. He was tired of life being beyond his control and not going his own way.

Those little things, like the dying plant, can add up, right?

Jesus helps us counter the little things by urging us to live in each moment. He says, “Today’s evil is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:34) He is encouraging us to not let the evils of yesterday or worries about tomorrow accumulate.

Jesus also gives us the following prayer to pray that keeps us fresh for today. “Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9–13)

Jesus reminds us  that the devil wants us to die. He calls him a murderer and a liar, saying, “the devil…was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)

This “father of lies” persistently tries with little things and little lies. He wants us convinced that dying prematurity is a desirable notion, our own idea and the best one.

But those are lies.  Like me, you’ve probably heard stories of those who have wanted to die, and even tried to take their own life, but failed. The gun didn’t fire or the pills didn’t work, and so on. Those who told me such stories have always said they are glad they are still alive.

Jonah gives us hope. Yes, Jonah is negative; but God never quits caring for him. He doesn’t punish Jonah. Instead he reasons with him as he does with us today.

“Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?”

“’Yes,’ Jonah retorted, ‘even angry enough to die!’

“Then the Lord said, ‘You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?’” (Jonah 4:9–11)

Jonah doesn’t respond and that’s how the book of Jonah ends. It’s not neat, tidy and wrapped in a pretty ribbon. It does let us see that God is still trying to reason with Jonah.

God’s love is actively seeking to save those who are lost. Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Thank you, Lord, seeking to make us whole.

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla meeting 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Learn more at: www.simplechurchsuccess.com or contact John at (209) 564-7201

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One of the Living Dead? Not Queen Esther!

Are you one of the living dead? Are you barely existing, zombie-like, in despair, defeat or depression?

Believe and declare that God has assigned you to be here on the planet for such a time as this, and that can all change. You will start living in abundance today—here and now and forever!

Queen Esther decided to live—even if it killed her!

The Bible (Esther 4-5) says that her cousin, Mordecai, challenged Queen Esther to risk her life, saying, “If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else; but you and your family will be wiped out. Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.”

Although it was against the royal law, Queen Esther had the ability to walk into the throne room for an audience before her husband Ahasuerus, the mighty King of Persia, unannounced. There was only one catch. If he did not extend his royal scepter to her, she would be killed immediately.

The king had a bad track record regarding treatment of his previous wife, so presuming on his good graces was a risky venture. She decided to do so anyway.

“Esther answered Mordecai: ‘Go and get all the Jews living in Susa together. Fast for me…If you will do this, I’ll go to the king, even though it’s forbidden. If I die, I die.’”

Esther, believed she was “made queen for just such a time as this.” Here’s what happened:

“Three days later Esther dressed in her royal robes and took up a position in the inner court of the palace in front of the king’s throne room. The king was on his throne facing the entrance. When he noticed Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased to see her; the king extended the gold scepter in his hand. Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.

“The king asked, ‘And what’s your desire, Queen Esther? What do you want? Ask and it’s yours—even if it’s half my kingdom!’”

Queen Esther, risking death, finds favor. Her courage saves her people from annihilation.

Abundant living comes though embracing life even when everything looks like death. It means claiming God’s calling on our lives when the darkness deepens and the storm swells.

Esther believes, takes action, and life follows! Jesus, later, does the same!

In the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before his crucifixion, “He bowed with his face to the ground, praying, ‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.’” (Matthew 26:39)

By choosing to die to his own life, fears and desires Jesus lives! He leaves the garden, calmly goes all the way to die on the cross, then rises from the dead for our salvation!

Now it’s our turn. Jesus says, “If you save your life you will lose it. But if you lose your life you will save it.”

Jesus’ prescription for abundant living is to start dying to everything you hold dear, are afraid of losing, and think brings life. Then, he promises, you will truly live.

“For me to live is Christ!” (Galatians 2:20)

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla meeting 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Learn more at: www.simplechurchsuccess.com or contact John at (209) 564-7201

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Your Life is Worth Living! Accept no Substitutes!

Your Life is Worth Living!  Accept no Substitutes!

“What’s the point of living?”

“I’m just in the way, no one wants me or needs me anyway.”

“It would be easier to just die.”

These are the voices of the spirit of death. It likes to talk people into losing purpose, giving up, and wanting to die. It is an unloving spirit and a suicidal spirit.

It deals out its deadly doctrines directly against the truth of God’s love and purpose. It is atheistic and rebellious. It preempts God’s plan for our lives by getting us to declare we, and/or those around us, would be better off with us dead and gone and out of the way. It is a liar that comes along when we are suffering, hurting, and tired.

The prophet Elijah got seduced by the spirit of death. After he’d won a mighty victory over the false prophets of Baal and helped the nation of Israel turn back to God, Israel’s wicked Queen Jezebel threatened him.

She raged, “The gods will get you for this and I’ll get even with you! By this time tomorrow you’ll be as dead as any one of those prophets.”

She was powerful and convincing. Elijah took her threats seriously and that set him up hear and believe the spirit of death.

“When Elijah saw how things were, he ran for dear life to Beersheba, far in the south of Judah. He left his young servant there and then went on into the desert another day’s journey. He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all—to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life—I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!”” (1 Kings 19:1–4)

Thankfully the Lord came alongside with food, water, angels, time and rest to encourage Elijah back toward life and living. He had more life for Elijah to live!

He has more life for us to live too! No matter how bad things seem, or how useless you may think you are God wants you to live.

Most of us who desire to serve the Lord have been attacked by the spirit of death. Just before writing this column I encountered at least three people who were struggling and thinking about giving up and getting out way or another.

I read a book about a man who had terminal cancer. He almost gave in and resigned himself to die. But the Lord gave him this Bible verse: “I shall not die, but live, And declare the works of the Lord.” (Psalm 118:17) Through tenaciously clinging to, believing and declaring that verse by faith in God’s promise he regained his hope and eventually his complete health.

The truth is God is at work in our lives even when we can’t make sense of it.  The Bible says, “For we are his (God’s) workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) And, “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)

Let’s deny the devil’s lie and declare God’s truth, “I shall not die, but live, And declare the works of the Lord.”

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla meeting 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Learn more at: www.simplechurchsuccess.com or contact John at (209) 564-7201

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Jesus: Terrorist Fighter How did he do?

wise men with jesusJesus is a terrorist fighting expert. However, Jesus’ strategy for fighting terrorism may seem disappointing, weak and impractical.

Terrorists fought Jesus constantly. In his day the government was the terrorist. Before the United States came into being that was the norm. That’s why we declared our independence and rallied behind the slogan, “Don’t tread on me!”

Jesus lived his entire life was under the threat of murder from religious and political powers. When Jesus was an infant, “King Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem.” (Matthew 2:16–18)

Jesus anti-terrorist strategy was a huge disappointment to many. The radical extremists and general populace he lived among believed Messiah would come and set them free. They were sure he would overthrow the tyrannical terrifying Roman government of their day and set them free. Jesus failed them.

Even his own disciples became disillusioned.  “Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things…and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”

But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”” (Matthew 16:21–23)

Impatient for action, Judas may have set up Jesus’ arrest expecting Jesus to finally rise up and fight! Jesus didn’t and devastated Judas hung himself.

Taking charge, Peter pulled out a sword and cut off a soldier’s ear. Jesus, taking charge back, commanded Peter to put down his sword, gently healed Malthus’ ear, and allowed himself to be led away, like a lamb to the slaughter. All of his disciples. “left him and fled.” (Mark 14:50)

Jesus doesn’t think like us. He doesn’t think in terms of massacring the patrons of a bar—gay or otherwise. In fact, he was accused of hanging out with sinners, drunks, and sexually promiscuous partiers. When Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”” (Mark 2:16–17)

Jesus is not for massacring anyone. “He came into the world not to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:17)

Jesus strategy for responding to evil is counter-intuitive and may seem illogical and even wrong. Some pass right by his teaching, “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:27–28) Yet, he says that we love him if we obey his commands. (John 14:15)

Jesus strategy addresses our deepest fear—death. He says, “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear God…Yes, I tell you, fear him!” (Luke 12:4–5)

Finally, Jesus commands, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:24)

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla meeting 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Learn more at: www.simplechurchsuccess.com or contact John at (209) 564-7201

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“How do I know that I love God?”

chicken-or-egg“How do I know that I love God?”

Jesus’ answer is obedient love. He says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” (John 14:15) and that love is seen in action. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34)

Which came first love or obedience? Ask Jesus. He’s been doing both forever!

Is it that chicken and egg deal? Okay, which came first?

He would answer, “Both! Let it go! Just love and obey and obey and love!”

Jesus describes obedience as hearing and believing. He explains, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24)

Receiving and believing in Jesus brings a new life of love. John writes of Jesus, “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:11–13)

Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20) If you are an “anyone” you can invite Jesus into your life. Then love begins in your heart as you personally and spiritually sit at table and “eat” with Jesus.

My mother called John 3:16 God’s telephone number, that “anyone” can dial. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) By faith, substitute your name for the word “whoever” the gift of eternal life is yours and love begins.

Some, who were interested in Jesus’ ways, asked him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”” (John 6:28–29) While we often think in terms of doing something, Jesus wants us to first believe something.

Belief leads the way in obedient love. The man asked, “What must I do to be saved?” The command comes, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved….” (Acts 16:31)

This kind obedient belief promises, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.” This promise begins a new obedience of love, “and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.” (1 John 5:1–2)

Love and obedience are tied together. Jesus put it this way, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34)

John explains it this way, “If anyone obeys God’s word, love for God is truly made complete in them.” (1 John 2:5)

“So, how do I know that I love God?” The answer seems to be, obey Jesus’ call to believe. Then God’s love will be “made complete” in you. God will see to it.

“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

“Giv’m heaven!”—John Parker

John Parker serves with Connections Simple Church of Chowchilla meeting 10 AM Sundays at Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Blvd. Learn more at: www.simplechurchsuccess.com or contact John at (209) 564-7201


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