Monthly Archives: March 2012

Words From The Cross: Father Forgive Them

Through the years of speaking many times about Jesus and his final moments, I have been mindful of what I would do with my final breaths here on earth. I certainly would not waste any words as every word is precious for the speaker and the listener. I wouldn’t waste a breath saying or attempting to say something that wasn’t important for me to pass onto those nearby. I have to believe Jesus is the same. I have to believe that the last seven phrases he spoke from the cross reveal to us what was really most important to him.

Even though Jesus was suffering from blood loss, dehydration, trauma and fatigue, He still had he presence of mind to offer up prayers and carry on a conversation concerning forgiveness. Forgiveness was obviously a huge motivation for Jesus dying on the cross for us. It was one of the main reasons he came to earth altogether. And here he is within the final few hours of his life making the request of God for us! From the cross he cries out: “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34. This prayer was not only for those who were guilty of driving the nails, or the religious Pharisees, or the Roman government, or the disciples who abandoned him…it was for us, all of us!

One of Jesus’ roles is intercessor (Isaiah 53:12, Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25) but the thought of him being caught in the moment , fresh from the beatings, the persecution, the rejection and abandonment of his friends and disciples, is really astonishing to consider. How could this guy do that? How can he plead for my forgiveness? Dr. F.B. said:

 “in uttering this first cry from the Cross, our Lord entered that work of intercession which he ever lives to continue on our behalf. He thinks, not of himself, but of others; he is occupied, not with his own pain, but with their sins. He makes no threat but instead offers a tender prayer of pleading intercession.” 

Jesus was fully coherent and present in that moment. Jesus knew who he was and that he was destined to be the intercessor for all of us. He also know he was destined to be the sacrifice for us and our sin. In this scenario when others could have justified their bitter and condemning responses, he  still loves and offers a prayer of intercession and forgiveness. In this time, Jesus is not mumbling some trite prayer for people, he is fully engaged in his role and fulfilling the whole reason he came, securing our redemption and the forgiveness of our sin!

Jesus was fully aware of who we were in that moment.. We were ignorant. We were indifferent. We were enemies. And yet he prayed for us! He deliberately mentioned us in his final hours because he could not bring himself to do anything other than love us! It’s one thing to to love people who love you back but it’s quite another to love your enemies!  However, this is exactly what Jesus preached and what He did (Matthew 6:12, Matthew 18:21-22, Matthew 26:27-28,Mark 2:5, John8:1-11,John 8:22-23). Jesus praying for our forgiveness reveals his heart to us and his willingness to love us to death! It shows that his love went way beyond words to the ultimate sacrifice of his own life.

This prayer was answered and we are the beneficiaries of it! About seven weeks after this prayer was uttered from the cross, thousands were accepting the fact that it was they who killed Christ, who were guilty of the atrocious sins against God and Christ and begging for his forgiveness.The Church was birthed and the blood of Christ cleansed people from their sins. He still makes intercession today, pleading for our forgiveness and desiring for all to receive the free gift of salvation. What an amazing Savior! What an amazing God!

 

 

 

George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as student pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA

What the #@?!*

BLEEEEEEEEP!

Not being someone who cusses a lot (come on! we’ve all had a few that have slipped and more than a few we have chosen), but this is ridiculous! The New York Department of Education has come out with a new list of 50 words that have been banned from standardized tests! The list consists of words that are thought to evoke unpleasant feelings or spark controversial discussion. For more on this topic read here: Dirty Words

It is amazing to think that taking away words like “birthday” or “dinosaur” is healthy and good! Sure there are people who may not celebrate birthdays or even believe in dinosaurs but now these words now being deemed “inappropriate”. It doesn’t make sense to me! How is it that kids and teachers alike in many schools have no problem cussing and using strong language that is much more offensive than “Rock ‘n’ Roll” and yet have no problem doing so? Moreover, most kids wouldn’t be allowed to have any kind of music device or phone carrying mp3s on their persons trolling the halls school! I feel like if we are gonna ban words, let’s ban words that are truly offensive! What do you think about New York’s ban on these words? Give me some feedback!

How Did He Do That? Part 6

 
11And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 12When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
 
Have you ever wondered what God is gonna do with this?  What is going to do with these “leftovers”? What good are leftovers? What good is this tired old talent or way of doing things?
 
 
 

Did you know that the average American produces about 5 pounds of trash a day?

Did you know that Americans throw away about a half-a-pound of food each day?

Did you know that up to 295 billion pounds of food is thrown away each year?

These facts are staggering to consider when there is so much poverty in the USA and around the world! Knowing these statistics makes what Jesus did at the end of this passage all the more beautiful! Jesus instructed the disciples to collect up the leftovers so that nothing would be wasted. He was going to send the food back home with the boy! The boy’s small offering would now be rewarded as a blessing to his entire family and perhaps even the whole village!

What are you wasting?

After an event like that in our culture, many people would not have given a second  thought about simply discarding the leftovers. No one would have wanted to take the time to collect it up and store it up for use in the future. No one would have wanted to take the time to carry it back home. Who has time for that??? But this was evidently important to Jesus.

Jesus didn’t waste an opportunity to be a blessing for the future.

He took something that was right now and prepared it to be a blessing for the next day. What many would have left or thrown out, Jesus prepared for tomorrow. Just because something may seem old or tired or used up doesn’t mean it is! It may need to be repackaged, refreshed, or reheated but it can be recycled to be sure! Jesus will take what we have given Him and prepare it for the future if we are willing to use it again. Don’t simply discard a practice, a program, or a principle because it’s “old”. Certainly be open to new ways and practices. Technology and social media are wonderful new inventions that can go far in reaching people and making an impact in this generation and future ones. However, don’t ignore the things that have worked for years and simply do away with them because they seem “old”. Allow Christ to prepare it for tomorrow. This will require us to place it in His hands once again. Maybe it’s old and tired because we have “made” it? Allow Him to remake it and it may just very well be a blessing for the future!

Jesus looked to the future to impact the present.

Where did the blessing of the fish and bread come from? A little boy! No one would have suspected the blessing for the entire throng to come from a kid…and yet it did! Jesus didn’t reject the gift of the kid. How often do we dismiss what kids or youth have to offer because we feel they would have little to contribute? How often do we not include them in discussions about church and future church because we really don’t want their input or feel like their ideas would be valuable? Jesus demonstrated that He could use a kid and what a kid had to offer to bless those who were present and even beyond! Perhaps we need to survey what kids like and dislike about church? Maybe we need to include teens and even kids who don’t attend church to find out what we could work on to reach future generations? Maybe we need to give some more responsibilities to the youth and make them feel like a bigger part of God’s redemptive plan?

Jesus didn’t waste an opportunity to be a blessing beyond those who were present.

Have you ever been part of the “outsiders club”? You know what I mean, right? You’re sitting with friends who begin talking about a trip they were on but you didn’t make. They have their inside jokes, their stories that just aren’t as funny or special to you because you were not there! Frankly, you just don’t care!  That’s what is so awesome about this part of Jesus not wanting anything to be lost. He didn’t want others who were not there to miss the blessing either! He sent the baskets full of bread and fish back with the people. He didn’t hoard it or simply make enough for the ones present. He made more than enough for those present and then sought to be a blessing to those who were not. He wanted to include as many as possible in the blessing of this gift from the little boy. He wanted to bless others who were not there so they could share in the story! How have you tried to hoard blessings for yourself? How could you include others in the story and blessings of Jesus? How have you been limiting what God is placing in your hands to be a blessing to others?

Even though wasting food is tragic and inexcusable, wasting time and opportunities are more so! Jesus didn’t waste this food and He certainly didn’t waste time or opportunities. May we be faithful followers and do as He has shown us!

 
 
George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Youth Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA
 

Failure Doesn’t Have To Be Fatal

151,600.

It’s a large number. In fact it’s a daily average.

It comes out to about 105 per minute.

What is it?

The number of people who die each day. On average, 151,600 people around the world die every day.

However, this number drastically rises when people experience failure. Suicide, depression, isolation, and despair, along with a host of other things flood a soul with darkness when a failure is experienced.

But failure is not fatal. At least it doesn’t have to be.

God sees ‘success’ and ‘failure’ more in terms of relationships than of achievements, more in ‘being’ than in ‘doing’… Noah got drunk, Moses got angry and Gideon became scared. Peter could be inconsistent, Paul inconsiderate; Thomas doubted, Martha pouted. But God continued to love them and turned their failures into victories… The good news of the Christian faith is that failure need never be final. Ron Elbourne, ‘Parson’s Pitch’ 

How can we move from suffering the fatal blow of failure to a future full of hope?

Read Philippians 3:13-14

Focus Forward.

Press On. Only look back to gain perspective and wisdom. Don’t allow yourself to spend more time looking back than forward. A runner loses races by nanoseconds when they look backward instead of focusing forward. Spending much time on past losses and failures consumes energy that could be used to forge forward. Use the past for help reshape the future. Whatever you do, spend more time looking forward to what’s next than back at what could have been!

Listen Forward.

Lean In. Often voices from the past can haunt and taunt us. Instead, listen forward to the calling of God. Lean into the wind…the wind of His voice, His Spirit. Learning to discern the voice of God is crucial when we experience failure. Allow the Lord to woo you forward out of the mire of the deep losses. Listen to the words of forgiveness, hope and love that He showers on your soul. Pay attention to the sound of His voice as He comforts and consoles your soul. God never comes at His child with condemnation. Conviction, yes. Condemnation, no. Romans 8:1

Reach Forward.

Give Up? NEVER! Just remember that when you fall down, it’s much easier for everything else to be looking up! Our God is a God of the future. He is always moving and seeking to move us forward. His desire is not ever for us to move backward. Nor is it His desire for us to remain where we are but to reach forward for where He is. He is extending His hand seeking to lift us up  and all we have to do is reach forward!

George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as Youth Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA.

How Did He Do That? Part 5

 
11And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 12When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
 
Have you ever wondered what part do you play in God’s mission? As hard as it may be to believe, God has a role for you somewhere down the line. Part of how God does what He does is through us.
 

This passage clearly states that Jesus took the bread, blessed it and then gave it to His disciples to distribute to the rest of the crowd. On another occasion in Mark 8:1-10 we see Jesus doing something similar. He took the bread, blessed it and gave it to his disciples to pass out to others. What was Jesus doing in these instances? He was showing that how He does things is through us…with us as an extension of Himself.

The disciples enjoyed being close followers of Jesus. They loved getting the nitty-gritty teaching up close and personal. What Jesus was teaching them here, albeit subtly was that serving is as important as teaching. He was teaching through serving. Far too many people simply want information, “teaching” but Paul holds nothing back when he says that knowledge just “puffs up.” Service keeps us humble.

Precepts without practice results in pride.

Jesus taught a great deal of Truth but He also embodied that Truth. He did more than teach…He lived it out among them. He served and He expected His disciples to serve. And with a crowd like this there was no better time to serve! It is ridiculous how many people just want to talk about Jesus stuff and never do what Jesus did!

John 13:13-17 shows us Jesus heart for His disciples modeling His example:

13You call me your teacher and Lord, and you should, because that is who I am. 14And if your Lord and teacher has washed your feet, you should do the same for each other.15I have set the example, and you should do for each other exactly what I have done for you. 16I tell you for certain that servants are not greater than their master, and messengers are not greater than the one who sent them. 17You know these things, and God will bless you, if you do them.

Jesus disciples His Disciples to make a difference.

Yes, the miracle is from the Lord! He broke the bread and blessed it. But then He bequeathed it to His disciples to serve. It is no different today. Jesus is constantly putting things back into our hands to serve others with. He is not holding back…But are we? Are we keeping blessings to ourselves? Are we spiritual hoarders? Are we not making a difference because we don’t want to serve others? Perhaps the real miracle is not that Jesus could produce food to feed over 8,000? Maybe the real miracle is that we are the ones He’s using!

The method is the miracle!

In this case and throughout His entire life Jesus was handing off ministry to others. Sure there were times when only He could do something miraculous. However, there are plenty of times in the scripture when Jesus passes the torch on to His disciples and encourages them in being like Him (Luke 9:1-6, Luke 10:1-20, Matthew 28: 18-20, Acts 1:8). What is important for all disciples of Christ to remember is that we cannot mishandle what the Lord has willingly and graciously placed in our hands! He has entrusted us with the Bread of Life!  How is the Lord asking you to pass something on? How has He given you something to give away to another?

 7But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
 
 
 
George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Youth Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA
 

No Bullies!

At some point we have all been affected by a bully to some degree. Many of us have even bullied others to a certain extent…just ask your siblings. But the bullies of old have morphed and become stronger, meaner, and more prevalent than ever! No longer is the bully just an oversized kid in the classroom among his or her peers. Nowadays bullies are almost everywhere the victims would want to be. And there seems to be no escape! With technology, cell phones, and the Internet, bullies can have their pleasure in tormenting their prey as much as they desire. An estimated 160,000 miss school everyday out of fear of being bullied with about 2.7 million children being bullied each year!

Studies and surveys have shown that 90%!!! of 4th-8th graders reported some form of bullying!

Look at these stats from http://www.bullyingstatistics.org

  • Over half, about 56 percent, of all students have witnessed a bullying crime take place while at school.
  • A reported 15 percent of all students who don’t show up for school report it to being out of fear of being bullied while at school.
  • There are about 71 percent of students that report bullying as an on-going problem.
  • Along that same vein, about one out of every 10 students drops out or changes schools because of repeated bullying.
  • One out of every 20 students has seen a student with a gun at school.
  • Some of the top years for bullying include 4th through 8th graders in which 90 percent were reported as victims of some kind of bullying.

There is clear evidence that bullying  in school is impacting our children dramatically. Much of this activity though started at school continues online via social sites like Facebook or Twitter, continuing virtually everywhere the victim goes.  Over half of all teens say they have been a victim of cyber bullying with 1 in 3 saying they have been threatened online.

Cell phones are the most common vehicles of technology  for digital harassment since they are much more private and individualized forms of communication. Digital harassment differs from cyber bullying in that it is usually between two people once romantically involved, although that’s not always the case.  Unlike Facebook or Twitter where parents or friends may intervene from being able see messages or pictures more easily, students are much more reticent to reveal their text or pic messages via mobil devices. Therefore cell phones provide easy-to-use tools for bullies and numerous ways for tormenting their victims outside of school.

A new documentary will be released on March 30 that will chronicle 5 victims of bullying at school. I would encourage every parent, youth worker and student to watch this movie to not only be informed but to take a stand against bullying in our nation. The movie will be released Unrated, after a petition of more than 500,00 decried it’s “R” rating. The movie reveals a real and raw look into the lives our kids live each day! Watch the trailer for the movie here: Bully

Here are a few general steps to take in dealing with your child and bullying.

Understand that bullying is a huge problem and your child is likely either exposed to or a victim of bullying.

Be engaged in the lives of your children. Isolation and ignorance provide ways for the bullying to continue. Knowing their friends, watching their behavior, and having meaningful open discussions with your children about bullying is vital in their thriving at school and in society. As a parent, teacher, or youth worker, being more actively engaged in the lives of your children will help safeguard them from bullies. Take initiative!

Understand that not everyone will stand up for those who are being bullied!

Be involved in your local school system. Many teachers and principals are not aware (and quite frankly some do not even care stating that it’s part of “growing up”) of the bullying that goes on in the halls or cafeteria. Being engaged means being involved. As adults, it is our responsibility to be actively involved in the nurturing and care of our kids. Don’t leave it to the school system to do something. Get involved!

Exercise your right and responsibility to be involved in the protection and safety of your child!

Be active in prayer and teaching. Many children may end up modeling behavior seen at home, on TV or in movies that is aggressive or violent in its nature like bullying. Praying for your child and instructing them in the ways of the Lord is essential. Help your child understand the right and wrong ways to deal with conflict, instilling within them a love for all people. Teach them how to control their tongues and be self -controlled when dealing with pain and anger. Be instructive!

There are many tools and resources available for helping you and your child deal with bullies. Here are a few links to assist.

National Crime Prevention

Pacer Center

Pacer for kids

Pacer for teens

Commonsense

Stop Bullying

 

George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and works as student pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA

How Did He Do That? Part 4

 
 11Jesus took the bread in his hands and gave thanks to God. Then he passed the bread to the people, and he did the same with the fish, until everyone had plenty to eat. John 6:11
 
Have you ever wondered: “how did He do that?” Have you ever thought that it would take a miracle for something to work! Here’s a classic case where Jesus did something incredible.
 
 

This passage says that Jesus took the bread in His hands. This is where the miracles begin. To get to the place where we are scratching our heads in wonder and amazement, we have to let go of what we are holing onto.Jesus did something great for all that were there because of what was placed in his hands.

Never underestimate what Jesus can do with whatever He has been freely given!

Other passages tell us that there was a little boy who had these fish and bread. He could have held onto it but he freely choose to let it go and let the Lord use it. How often am I tempted to hold onto what I have? I can easily find myself operating out of a scarcity mentality and discover that my faith is not as strong as I thought. Whether it’s with money, or things or even the homeless fries at the bottom of the BK bag, I can seek to grab more and keep more for myself rather than share. Not this little boy! He let it all go in complete trust and expectation of something great.

Let Go and Let God!

To be sure he knew what he gave the Lord…it wasn’t that much, especially for so many. Phillip even chimes in to this same sound confirming that a few fish and some bread would barley make it past the first couple mouths. But it wasn’t about how much the boy gave; it was about who he gave it to!

Jesus was not concerned about how much it was but that He had something to work with!

Don’t miss what I’m saying. I believe Jesus could have commanded rocks to become bread and called for quail to come and visit them to be dinner. Surely Jesus could have done that. However, Jesus was pleased to have these items in his hands from a generous little boy seeking to give all he had to the cause! Too often we can become caught up in the quantity or even quality of the offering. We can begin to measure things and try to “out-do” the next guy with something bigger or better. We can even go the opposite route and not give anything because we figure it would never measure up at all. Hogwash! Christ cares more about our heart in giving than in the amount we give. He is able to take whatever we give and expand it, multiply it, and use it beyond our comprehension! I can assure you that this little boy had no idea what Jesus was gonna do with his small sacrificial offering!

Anything in Jesus’ hands is a sure bet!

I’m sure there were people in that crowd that had no idea what was going on. There were probably more than a few who had an interest into what Jesus was gonna do about this crisis because they were starving! And then there were a few who were expecting Jesus to be a colossal failure. A couple of fish and bread? I can hear the crowd up front murmuring. I can hear the doubt in the disciple’s voices. I can see the bug-eyed boy as Jesus takes the bread and breaks it and starts to pass it out. And he breaks it again…and again…and again…and again. And it doesn’t stop until they are all completely full. They couldn’t eat one more morsel! Who would have thunk it? How could this be possible? NO WAY! But it happened and there were thousands who would have testified that day that those fish and that bread was the best they’d ever tasted!

How did He do that? By blessing a small offering from a little boy. By breaking what was taken and making it available to all. Jesus can and will do amazing things with whatever He is given. It doesn’t matter from whom it comes or how much it is; He can and will use it to be a blessing to others.

 
 
 
 George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Youth Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA
 

Cheating To Win

Reebok posted some ads recently in Germany that provoked many scathing remarks via Twitter and the Internet. Quick to cry “foul”, the shoe company that has been faltering in its step lately wasted no time in removing the ads and publicly apologizing:

“The signs were removed as soon as we were made aware of them. I can assure you that Reebok does not condone this message or cheating in any way. We apologize for the offensive nature of these materials, and are disappointed that they appeared at all.”

Dan Sarro

For a company that is lagging behind, someone stooped to cheating? Is this a surprise with 74% of high school students admitting to cheating in school over the last year. Another investigation in Atlanta found that 44 schools and 178 teachers and principles had been cheating by falsifying test scores over the last 10 years! Whether it’s a lack of ethics, pressure to succeed, or the thrill of the act, cheating has become a widespread epidemic that has now crossed over into almost every domain of our lives.

As the Reebok ad tritely stated: it’s better to cheat on your girlfriend than your workout. The cheating in relationships is encouraged here. This is not an uncommon value lived out by many. Some numbers show that anywhere from 30%-60% of all married couples will have some kind of infidelity within their marriage. Of all marriages in the US, 50%-70% of them will end in divorce and many of those marriages will dissolve because of “cheating” on a spouse.

Cheating isn’t just at school or in the home but on the sports field also. This site chronicles the “15 Greatest Sports Cheats Of All Time.” From point-shaving to performance enhancing drugs, every major sports arena has fallen prey to cheaters. It has become such an issue that Dale Murphy, founder of “I Won’t Cheat”, says soon the winners will “be (he) who has the best chemist and who is on their cycle at the right time. And that’s a scary, disturbing thought.” But his comments are not just true of the sports industry. It really is scary all the way around and something has to be done to rectify the issues on all fronts: sports, school and home!

Even though many know the exact repercussions of cheating, they are not dissuaded from pursuing the thrill. Some won’t care if they are caught while others will regret it longterm. Some will have  major consequences while still others will find ways to cheat the system. In the case for Reebok, they heard the public outcry and being desperate to save their image, they removed the ads. Thanks for being “sensitive” Reebok but I’m happy to see that cheating on the girlfriend just didn’t work out!

George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Youth Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA

It’s Hot Alright!

We all knew Apple’s latest improvement on the iPad would be hot…but this hot? Boiling over at 116 degrees Fahrenheit, the picture above  shows the difference between the latest iPad 2 and 3. The model on the left is significantly cooler (-13 cooler), which is the iPad 2. Selling over 3 million in 4 days, no one seems to be bothered that the iPad3 is really hot…no seriously…really hot!

And The Winners Are…

And the winners are Katiness and Peeta and The Hunger Games. Grossing an estimated $155 million  The Hunger Games is the distinct winner this past weekend at the box office. With the movie breaking a few records with this milestone,  Jennifer Lawrence helped rake in cash and scores of people who were certainly more than hungry for The Hunger Games.

Having not read the book nor being terribly familiar with the story or plot, aside from the trailer, I was happily pleased with the acting, overall story and directing of the film. I enjoyed the length of the movie and found the themes in the story to be relevant and thought-provoking. I enjoyed the movie once but I am not sure if this is in the category of a “must-see-again” movie for me. Maybe on DVD from Redbox but I am not sure if I will contribute to the estimated $350 million. How about you? Would you see this movie 2 or more times?

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