Archives For General

It Came From Within

Life isn’t just about our thoughts and actions.

When I was young I tested the boundaries of what I could get away with. When I explored negative behaviors my parents stepped in and corrected me. I learned what I could and could not do. Certain words and behaviors were against the rules. As I grew older I learned how to take control of my words and behaviors.

Every now and then my old words and behaviors slip through the filter I have set up. In a moment of frustration I may say something I know is wrong. When confronted with a tough decision, and the pressure is mounting, I may make a choice that is against what I was brought up to believe was right.

In Matthew chapter 15 Jesus tells us, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart.”

Our mouth and our actions are a window into our heart. Inside we may tell ourselves that we are a good person. Jesus would tell us that we just have a sophisticated filter. The things that come out of our mouth are what really lurks deep in our spirit.

In this five week series we will examine four conditions of the heart that are the root of sour attitudes, hurt-filled relationships, and regretful actions: guilt, jealousy, greed, and anger.

Join the rest of the New Life Men in Sunday School Classroom WC104 every Sunday morning at 9:00.

New Series: On Location

James Dibben —  April 27, 2013

On-Location

Two thousand years ago on the side of a mountain Jesus looked out over a crowd and proclaimed: “You are the salt of the earth.”

He said those words to a group of people who were under the rule and authority of the Roman empire. They must have thought He was crazy. They must have thought: “We aren’t the salt of anything. We just live each day hoping to be left alone. We have no influence. We have no authority. There is no way this is what God wants for us.”

What Jesus was trying to tell them is that their very presence makes a difference. Jesus was explaining that His followers are a preservative for biblical values on the earth. The fact alone that we are all “On Location” where God has planted us gives Him hope for the earth.

In this new series we are going to explore exactly what Jesus meant when he told that crowd they were salt and light to the whole earth.

Join us every Saturday morning at 9:00 AM in WC104 right around the corner from the coffee station.

5-things-God-Uses-to-Grow-Your-Faith

Don’t we all want amazing out-of-the-box faith? Don’t we want to be the kind of people who believe God has everything under control no matter how bad things look? Can you imagine the kind of peace we would all experience if we had that kind of faith?

This is exactly the kind of faith God wants us to have.

In the beginning it was the lack of trusting God that broke relationship with Him. Ever since then God has been drawing everyone back into a trusting relationship with Himself. God’s desire is to have a relationship of trust with his creation.

Faith and trust are really the same thing in this context.

Trust is the currency of all relationships.

-Andy Stanley

The thing that is the most honoring to me is when the people I love trust me.

“I know dad is 10 minutes late but I’m going to wait right here because he said he would be here and I trust him.”
“I know I haven’t heard from my wife today but I trust her.”

Our faith in God is nothing more than trust. When we trust God in any arena of life we are expressing faith in His power to manage the outcomes in those arenas.

Matthew 8:5-10

5 Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, 6 saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.”
7 And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”
8 The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!

As far as I know, this is the only time recorded in scripture where Jesus was amazed by someone’s faith. If big faith is something God loves too see, then we need to be sure to know what He uses to grow our faith.

During this six week series we will explore the five main things God uses to help us have big faith.

I hope you can join us Sunday morning at 9:00 AM in WC104 right around the corner from the coffee station.

Are you thirsty?

James Dibben —  February 6, 2013

This is a quick review of last week’s Sunday School lesson. We meet every Sunday morning in room WC104 at 9:00 AM. This story takes place in John Chapter 4

Photo Credit: MotleyPrincess

Photo Credit: MotleyPrincess

The woman at the well.

If you have spent much time in church or reading the New Testament you are most likely familiar with this story. If we can read it with new eyes and ears we can learn something with her.

Her personal story is, likely, a lot more complicated than we have all taken the time to examine. We know from the story that she was married five times and was currently living with a man resulting in a minimum of six serious relationships. The scripture doesn’t tell us why she had been divorced so many times but let’s consider some of the possible reasons.

Infertility: In this culture one of the primary responsibilities of a woman was to provide offspring for her husband. If this woman was infertile she would have been considered worthless by all the men of Samaria.

Widow: It is possible that all five of her husbands had died. If that was the case then it is very likely that everyone viewed her as a women who was cursed by God.

Affairs: It is possible that her husbands had left her for other women. If this was the case then she would most likely have some very negative feelings about herself.

We don’t know if she had been divorced five times because of her behavior or because of the behavior of others. What we do know from the story is that she was physically thirsty and that she was also spiritually thirsty. She had tried everything in her power to quench her thirst but life had left her thirsty.

The author of this story, John, gives us some interesting details. He tells us that she came out to the well in the middle of the day. Normally the women of the city would come out early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat. They also came in groups for safety and company. The woman in this story did neither. She came all by herself.

Imagine for a moment as she heads toward the well she passes a few Jewish men. These were Jesus’ disciples. He had sent them into town to get food. She must have been very surprised to see these men. Jews never went into Samaria. The Jews looked down on Samaritans. Samaritans were a mixed race of Jews and other nations as a result of being invaded in 720 BC by Assyria.

After she passed the disciples she would have looked up and noticed a single man sitting at the well. It was no accident that Jesus was sitting there waiting for her. Even John, writing this story years after its occurrence, stats that Jesus “had to go through Samaria” when we know that he did not “have” to do that at all. Normally Jews went around Samaria. Jesus “had to go through Samaria” because Jesus and this woman had a divine appointment.

Little did this woman know she was moments away from a one-on-one conversation with the Savior of the World. That plays would be written and performed about her. That Songs would be written and performed in her honor. That for time and eternity she would be known as “The Woman at the Well.” All she knew was that she was physically thirsty and there seemed to be a thirst that went beyond physical thirst. A thirst she had tried every possible way to quench but life had left her thirsty, and there waiting for her at the well was the Savior of the World.

In Verse Seven Jesus begins the conversation: “Will you give me a drink?”

Jesus said a lot in this one sentence. Jesus was making a statement about her.

“You are worthy to drink after. You are not someone I am afraid to touch. I won’t even go out of my way to avoid you. In fact, I have gone out of my way to have this conversation.”

The woman is shocked He even spoke to her. She knew that the Jews listed Samaritan women just below tax collectors and Samaritan men. She is so surprised by Jesus’ question that she never gives him an answer to his original question. All she can do is ask him why they are even having a conversation at all. There is no doubt that she never even made eye contact once she reached the well. In verse ten Jesus continues the conversation.

“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

The woman’s response to Jesus reveals the confusion she was experiencing on the inside. Please do not think of her as being dumb. She was in the presence of Holiness. When someone was in Jesus’ presence they knew there was something different about Him than anyone else. She knew this conversation was about more than just physical water and physical thirst. That is why she brought up Jacob and asked Jesus if He was greater.

Finally, Jesus does something incredibly insensitive. He does something that would get therapists fired. He does something that most people would never put up with. He looks at her and says, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” He reaches right into her most recent wound and rips the scab right off. I bet a thousand different excuses are running through her mind as to why all those marriages didn’t work out, and why she was now living with a man she wasn’t even married to.

The woman does what we do when faced with our sin. She retreated and answered Him: “I have no husband.”

Jesus wasn’t finished: “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”

Jesus, suddenly, abruptly, painfully and insensitively put her in touch with her thirst. She had tried everything in her power to quench her thirst. Jesus was saying to her, “life has left you thirsty, hasn’t it?” Jesus had something to offer her, but before she could really receive it she had to own up to the fact that her own attempts to quench her thirst had left her thirsty.

This is the lesson for us as well. There is no amount of stuff. No amount of relationships. No amount of work hours. No amount of sales. No amount of drugs or alcohol. No amount of anything that can quench the spiritual thirst we have in our souls for something more. We can try and try and try, but in the end no amount of our own attempts have the potential to quench the thirst we all have for real significance.

Have you ever used stuff to quench your thirst? How have your own attempts left you thirst?

Portions of this post are excerpts from Andy Stanley’s series Defining Moments available at North Point Resources

The smart bomb

James Dibben —  January 30, 2013
Photo Credit: Keith Moyer

Photo Credit: Keith Moyer

Grab your imagination for a moment. Don’t get scared, you can do it. It’s in there somewhere. It’s okay if you haven’t used it in a while. It’s like riding a bike.

You are the smartest dude who has ever lived. God himself has told you so. You have unlimited funds. You manage the greatest kingdom on the earth. Anytime something goes wrong you can just write a check to fix it. If your neighbor needs car repairs, and can’t afford it, you can just toss a few bucks his way. The leadership of your church call you regularly to get solutions to complex problems. Your mom and dad are amazed at how well you manage all your business dealings. You have 700 wives. Okay, maybe that last one is enough to wake you up from this dream.

I have just given you King Solomon’s life. He had all the above and much more. Yes, he even had the 700 wives. He chose those wives in complete opposition to God’s command.

1 Kings 11

1)King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. 2)They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love.

9)The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.

Solomon had decided, in his own wisdom, that it would be wise to marry the wives of foreign kings to help keep peace with other countries. Eventually Solomon came around, but not before the kingdom of Israel went through civil war and ended up divided. In the book of Ecclesiastes Solomon laments his attempts to use his own wisdom to gain all the stuff he wanted. At the end of Ecclesiastes he sums up what he learned.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

13)Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
14)For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

God personally made Solomon the wisest man to ever live. If there was ever a man who could say, “God, thanks for the information but I’ve got it from here,” it was Solomon, yet at the end of his life he knew that even with his wisdom, which was superior to all men on earth, he was a very fallible man.

Wisdom isn’t about knowing everything. Wisdom is about being obedient to God’s commands.

Defining Moments

When I say “Inconvenient Truth” what is the first thing that comes to mind? For most of us I’m sure it is Al Gore’s 2006 film about climate change. Regardless of what you believe about climate change you are aware of this movie because of the claims it made. For many people it challenged their current belief system. They were forced to either accept this new information as truth or decide to keep their old views.

Just as there are inconvenient truths in the physical world there are also inconvenient truths in the spiritual world. We all want to put God into our own little box. We want to believe what serves our own needs. We have all created a nice little comfortable world where God’s word can be manipulated to make us feel safe, relaxed and happy. Real discipleship includes standing in the bright and uncomfortable light of God’s truth regardless of what we want to believe.

John 8:31-32
Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

For the next nine weeks in the Men’s Sunday School Class at New Life Assembly we will stand in the light with several characters in the bible, and watch as each of them experience new truths that challenge their current belief system. Many of them will stay in the light of God’s truth and experience real change. Some will decide to return back into the darkness where they feel safe and miss out on life changing possibilities.

Will we decide to let the truth of God’s word change us forever, or will we decide to go back into the darkness where we feel safe?

I hope you will join us at 9:00 AM in Sunday School classroom WC104.

God is up to something

James Dibben —  December 31, 2012

scott and family

Yesterday my long time friend Scott Williams got baptized.

Scott’s humble words spoke volumes.

“Thirty years ago when I was ten I received Christ. Today I want to be baptized to show my family I want to be the man God has called me to be.”

Scott did this because he believes something special. He believes something many other people at New Life Assembly also believe.

Psalm 33:11

But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.

God has plans and He is up to something in the world!

Yesterday morning Pastor Todd Blansit shared how God has used New Life to reach our community. Over the last twelve months we have distributed over 180 thousand pounds of food with the help of Harvesters; 1300 people a month were fed. Over 200 people either received salvation or rededicated their lives. The Wednesday evening service attendance increased four fold with the addition of Pastor Barry Young. We opened our second campus in Concordia MO.

Pastor Todd challenged us yesterday to look to 2013 with anticipation. Not just anticipation of what God will be doing. No, he challenged us to look to where we can be a part of God’s plans.

God has invited each of us to play a part in His plans. God has a multi-generational plan to reconcile this world to Himself. All He asks is that each of us join in His plan.

Nothing can stop the plans of God!

The message my friend Scott sent everyone at church yesterday is a simple one: “Our own lives are just too small of a thing to spend all of our time on.” Both of Scott’s daughters have grown into amazing women, yet Scott still realizes that his work on this earth has not come to an end. He realizes that God is up to something in the world and he wants to be a part of what God is doing.

Many men would be tempted to put life in cruise control after their children are raised. Scott’s simple act of obedience speaks volumes to the rest of the men at New Life.

Scott, thank you for being a shining example to the rest of the men at New Life. God is up to something and you aren’t afraid to join in the journey.

Overcome!

James Dibben —  November 20, 2012
Back to the heart of worship

Photo Credit: Elis W. Alves

Revelation 12:11

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony

Last Sunday, in our our Men’s Sunday School class, one of the men shared his testimony.

He shared how he got saved while in an addiction rehabilitation center.

The room was completely silent for three-to-four minutes while he shared. It was beautiful. You could hear sniffles coming from several seats in the room.

Nothing that can be said from any Sunday School stand or a sanctuary pulpit can even compare to what he shared with our small class. Nothing can beat the story of someone walking out of the darkness and into the light. That is the entire reason Christ made his trip to this earth. Christ came to meet our greatest need: rescue from total destruction.

Use your imagination with me for a few minutes as I paint a possible scene in heaven during this man’s testimony last Sunday morning.

The crowd is like nothing I have ever seen. I’ve been to an NFL football game. I’ve attended a Promise Keepers seminar. This crowd of people is beyond explanation. Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children seem to be facing the same general direction. From this distance I can’t quite make out what is at the front of the crowd, but every few minutes a hush flows over everyone. Those of us at the back only become quiet because everyone else in front of us is doing so.

The area we are standing in doesn’t get completely quiet though. There is a slight hum coming from where everyone is facing. The hum is rhythmic but I am unable to make out what it is. After several minutes the entire crowd breaks out into song and dance. The sound is deafening as millions of people leap to their feet in celebration. After a dozen or so of these events I decide to work my way to the front of the crowd so I can see what all the excitement and commotion is about.

It takes several days to get close enough to understand what is happening. As I break out into the front of the crowd I am overwhelmed by what is in front of me.

An angel standing a few feet to the left of the throne of God motions to the crowd. The palms of his hands are facing down and he is moving his arms up and down in unison. His wings quickly synchronize with his arms and he slowly rises about ten feet from the ground. As the crowd gets quiet the rhythmic humming coming from the front are the four creatures at the great throne.

Revelation 4:8

Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”

Suddenly the ground below us becomes clear and we can see a small Sunday School class with about eight men. In the corner sits a man. He squirms in his seat. The crowd around me starts to smile. Apparently they have seen many scenes like this one before. I nudge the women next to me. She places her finger in front of her lips and motions me to remain quiet. She points to the man in the corner of the room. I realize he is feeling the desire to share his salvation story but is nervous. Finally, he takes command of the room. The four creatures lower their volume just enough to allow us to hear. Everyone around me leans in to every word coming from the room below us.

The very instant the testimony comes to an end the angel slams himself to the ground causing an ear deafening clap of thunder. A wave of excitement and cheer erupts over the crowd. Children join hands and dance in circles singing praises. Men and women shout proclamations of God’s grace and mercy. I turn and face the immense crowd of millions behind me, and I watch the wave of worship rush completely out of sight.

I turn back to the throne and wait in anticipation for the next testimonial.

New Series: Breakaway

James Dibben —  November 15, 2012

BREAKAWAY

I am so excited to be starting a new series in our Men’s Sunday School class (aka ManDurance Training).

Many of us are trying to figure out why we haven’t been able to build the kind of life we dreamed of.

At a young age we decided we wanted to be different than everyone else. We wanted a different car than everyone else. We wanted a different level of success than everyone else. We wanted different relationships than everyone else.

As we look back over our lives we realize we are living a life pretty much like everyone else around us. We drive the same cars, we have the same marriage and our children act like all the other children.

Culture would tell us that the best solution is to run away and start over.

God’s word tells us to do something completely different.

Romans 12:2

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The good news is God does want us to breakaway from the rest of the world, and live a different kind of life than everyone else!

Having a breakaway life is a lot more than making different decisions. It will require us to change our belief system as well.

Over the next six weeks we will examine four core beliefs that have the ability to change our thinking and, as a result, change the direction of our lives.

I hope you will join us at 9:00 AM in WC104 (around the corner from the coffee station) as we put together the pieces required to live a Breakaway life.

Abraham Lincoln is considered by many to be the best US President in the history of our nation.

This last summer I studied American History from 1492 up till the end of the Civil War. There was one thing that Lincoln did which I found to be quite amazing.

In the aftermath of the war there was no shortage of ideas on how the South should be re-admitted into the union. Of all the ideas Lincoln’s was possibly the most unlikely. Lincoln offered the Amnesty Proclamation.

The Amnesty Proclamation was also called the “10 Percent Reconstruction” plan. This plan only required 10% of a states voters (not including Confederate officials) to take an oath of allegiance to the U.S. and adopt the Emancipation of slaves to achieve re-admission into the union.

Lincoln was met with a lot of opposition from his own party, the Republicans. They were concerned that such a lenient plan would allow the southern aristocracy to return, and many slaves would be forced back into captivity. Lincoln’s main concern was the successful return of the states to a single union, and He blocked anything else which was more strict.

I think we have read and heard so much about the civil war that we cannot grasp how deeply divided this country really was. Imagine being the president and watching half-a-million American men die because of the South’s addiction to forced human labor. I cannot being to understand how angry he must have been, yet his focus after the war was on unification. He was so radical in his belief that all this ugliness needed to be put behind the American people, that he took extreme measures to get everyone moving forward.

I can’t imagine being strong enough to have that kind of forgiveness. I can’t imagine being able to so quickly let thousands of large land owners in the south return to their property, and lives, with only 10% of them admitting they did anything wrong or even need to do anything different in the future.

I don’t know of any evidence that Lincoln was a Christ follower. I do know he understood the value of forgiveness. By following his decisions you can tell that he believed forgiveness served not just the forgiven but also the forgiver.

Matthew 6:14-15

14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.