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Take the Plunge!

The following blog post is about WATER BAPTISM. If you are interested in baptized at West Salem Foursquare Church please check out this link: WSFC WATER BAPTISM.

 

We are offering baptism at EVERY service during the ENTIRE month of SEPTEMBER!

We encourage you to TAKE THE PLUNGE!

 

In Acts 8 we read about Philip’s encounter with a man from Ethiopia. Philip took the opportunity to expound upon the scriptures and introduce the Ethiopian to the saving knowledge of Jesus. While talking they came upon a body of water, and the man asked if he could be baptized. The New King James version of the Bible says that Philip responded with this prerequisite:  “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”

Before being baptized in water one must come to a place of surrender to Jesus by making Him the Lord and Savior. Our resolve must be similar to the Ethiopian man, “I believe that Jesus is the Son of God.”   Salvation is necessary before taking the next step of Water Baptism. If we have made Jesus the Lord of our life then Water Baptism is an appropriate next step!

Obedience

Jesus left His people with two specific commands that are vital to our growth as Christians. The first is communion (the Lord’s Supper) and the second is Water Baptism. He gave the church these sacraments as a reminder of his death and resurrection. Water baptism is not  our salvation, it is only another step of obedience in the plan of God. It symbolizes “death to self” and “new life” in the power and purposes of Christ. In a very real sense we are saying “Not my will, but yours.”

Identification

In Water Baptism we are identifying with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Romans 6:3,4 attests to this when it says,  “all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death. We were buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

When we are submersed into the waters of baptism, we are symbolically, yet very intentionally, dead to our old ways of living. Simply put: it is buried! As we come up from the water we are made alive to the new life found in Christ. Now that our old life is “dead unto Christ” you want to be sure not to go digging it back up!

Confession

Water Baptism is a public act that renounces sin from our past and professes faith in Christ.  It’s a public expression that Jesus is Lord and that we are now a part of the family of God. Many have referred to baptism as a “outward sign of an inward work.”  It’s a visible and audible confession to our friends, family, and church of the deep work Christ has done in our life. The Book of Acts chapter 10 refers to many individuals that responded to the message of Jesus. During this time the Apostle Peter asked if “anyone could keep these people from being baptized with water.”  The answer was obviously “no” and therefore they were publicly baptized as an open acknowledgement of Christ as Lord.

Release

Nothing could be greater than a life that is fully ALIVE through Jesus Christ! That happens when we are not trapped in bondage to our sin and guilt. In baptism we are crucifying the sin of our life and coming alive to Christ. There is great joy when we are alive to Christ and dead to sin. Water baptism is a symbolic statement of this new life and marks a point of release into further growth and ministry for us as believers.

Not only is Water Baptism a Biblical command, but it is also modeled to us by Jesus who himself was baptized as described in the Gospels. He knew the importance of this sacred moment and calls us to the same obedience, knowing that it will mark a significant point of blessing for our lives!

Say It With Me: Change is Good

Over the last few months I’ve been able to watch a transformation happen on the corner of Wallace Drive and Glen Greek in beautiful West Salem. I drive around that area quite often on any given day, whether I’m heading home, going to the church, hauling our kids to events, or getting groceries at Roth’s Market.

OK…I also fuel up at Starbucks pretty close to there (I’m actually writing this blog post from that hallowed spot).

The transformation in progress involves the ripping down of some old buildings, and tearing out sidewalks, in order to make way for something NEW. We are getting a re-routed intersection for better traffic flow. I personally was wanting a new strip mall, or if I’m lucky, a Vespa dealership, Trader Joes, or H&M (here’s to dreaming).

Regardless, sometimes things have to be torn down and replaced when they no longer serve the purposes for which they were intended. That’s not always a bad thing. Change is good.

Say it with me:  Change. Is. Good.

That wasn’t so hard, right?

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

The old becomes new in Christ. That can be a long, painful process for us, but the end-result is oh-so worth it.

Even when it comes to our methods, programs, styles, and preferences we have to consider that God is into change. Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 9:16-17 “No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wine skins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wine skins, and both are preserved.”

The work that the Lord wants to do in us in these days, I believe, is a NEW work. He desires to change us; making us more like himself.

Are you open to this?  Thankfully, we have a great promise in the Word of God that “His Mercy is New Every Morning.”

Let’s lean into his NEW mercy together!

Five Good Things About This Good Friday

Today is what is known as “Good Friday.” It’s the day that commemorates the death of Jesus Christ upon a cross at Calvary. Calvary is also called “Golgotha,” which means “place of the skull.”  It is a literal hillside immediately outside Jerusalem’s walls. This photo captures what it looks like today, along with a side-by-side display capturing it prior to heavy erosion and excavation.

A really horrific event took place on this site (or one quite similar to it). The death of Jesus was unjustified and unbelievable. It was grotesque. Friends, it’s really difficult to reduce the crucifixion to a charming story, complete with chocolate candy, bunnies or a gold crucifix necklace.

Jesus was an innocent man subjected to a trumped-up trial, followed by agonizing punishment. He was mocked with a crown of thorns on his head and he was hailed by his tormentors as a king. Pontius Pilate, realized he was presiding over a major injustice, looked for some way to release this man in whom he could find no fault, but decided instead to go along with local opinion. Jesus was nailed to a wooden cross and died.

So, it doesn’t seem like there is much good in this series of events.  Or is there? Here are five good things about Good Friday.

1.  Jesus’ death was the perfect sacrifice for our sins.  

Hebrews 9:22 tells us that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Simply put: someone had to die. Only a perfect, sinless sacrifice would suffice, and that certainly rules US out. Jesus, as the only sinless person to ever live, fit the bill exactly. His sacrifice upon on the cross paid it all!

2.  Jesus’ death reminds us to not rely on our own strength.

Luke 23:46 captures some of Jesus’ final words on the cross as he said “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” This was a cry of submission and surrender. The Apostle Paul understood this when he said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”  We can learn from this. A good thing about Good Friday is that we have an annual reminder to submit and surrender to God’s strength.

3.  Jesus’ death is an expression of God’s passionate love for us.

Romans 5:8 tells us that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The most famous scripture of all time, John 3:16, echoes this: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son…” No greater love has anyone shown than to lay his life down for a friend. That’s what God, through Jesus, expresses to us.

4.  Jesus’ death reconciles us to the Father.

Romans 5 goes on to say in verse 10 that “while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son….” This means that you and I have been justified (just as if I’d never sinned), and redeemed (bought back from the enemy), and positioned as a child of God (rather than his enemy).

5.  Jesus’ death was a sweet set up for his Resurrection.

The best good thing about Good Friday is that it’s a launch pad for Easter. Tony Campolo famously said, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Coming!” Death is swallowed up in VICTORY. Just when you think all is lost, there is the hope of the resurrection. That’s good news for modern man.

 

 

Sparrows and God’s Math

I have never been great at math. Whenever the kids struggled with their math homework they NEVER came to me.  Only one word was on their lips:  Mom.

But, to my credit (I’m patting myself on the back now), if they ever had to give a speech then I was their go-to guy!

OK, back to math…Recently in my devotions I read Matthew 10.  Jesus says this in verses 29-31:

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground a part from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Isn’t that amazing? There is not a single bird that falls from the sky without God noticing. And, boy, how much more important are we than a few birds? So much more important that God even knows every hair on your head (or lack thereof for some of you).

But here’s where the math gets funny.

In Luke 12 we read a parallel version of this story. It goes like this:

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Did you catch that?

I’m not a smart man (said in the voice of Forrest Gump), but I definitely caught the difference between the two Gospel accounts.

One says two sparrows are sold for a penny.

The other says five sparrows are sold for two pennies.

Is it 2 for 1 or 5 for 2?

Imagine one hard-working sparrow vendor selling two for a penny.  Then imagine going down the block only to find another industrious vendor selling five for two cents.

Why would anyone be selling sparrows in the first place? Well, in biblical days a sparrow was an acceptable form of sacrifice if a person could not afford to buy a lamb or goat. People at or below the poverty line would buy sparrows for the temple sacrifice for one primary reason:

 

They. Are. Cheap.

 

Whether they are two for a penny or five for two pennies…sparrows are cheap.

And if the Bible tells us that God loves and knows the state of the sparrow, then HOW MUCH MORE does He love and know US?

This is really great news. God loves sparrows…but God loves us MORE!

Through the Roof

Zig Ziglar once said, “I have such optimism, I’d go after Moby Dick and take the tarter sauce with me.”

I love this quote, because I am an optimistic guy. I enjoy taking on big challenges (I know, I know…I’m kinda sick in the head).

I tend to look at impossible situations with tarter sauce in hand.

I’m a cup half FULL kind of person.

What about you?

Recently I was in Capernaum on the north side of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. It was at this historical site that Jesus was teaching in a home. You can read about it in Mark 2:1-12. As Jesus was teaching in a packed out home, four guys brought their sick friend in order to receive a healing touch. They couldn’t get through the doors or windows due to the volume of people engrossed in Jesus’ teaching. There was simply NO WAY to get their friend inside the house.

Or was there?

It is at key junctures such as these that most people get discouraged and walk away (picture Charlie Brown sulking).

But not these guys. They went after Moby Dick with the tarter sauce in hand!

They went through the roof.

Not many folks would think to go through the roof. That takes work, costs money, makes a mess and causes a scene.

AND…it’s what gets friends healed.

I love the optimism. May we become more and more like these guys, especially when it comes to our friends that need to get to Jesus.

Young Mountain Men

I saw something in the Bible that I hadn’t seen before.

This is not abnormal, in that I’m always discovering things in the Bible that are new and revelational. But, in this case I thought I had “mined” most everything out of this particular passage: Genesis 22.

Genesis 22 is about Abraham’s call to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah (fairly familiar story, right?).  Obviously the primary characters are Abraham and Isaac. You could also throw in an angel of the Lord and an innocent ram caught in a thicket.

The angel of the Lord, speaking on God’s behalf, gave last second instructions to Abraham to NOT slaughter his son Isaac (whew). Evidently, God was looking for obedience more than sacrifice.

Abraham passed the test. End of story, right? Nope. I found something that I hadn’t seen before. There are two other characters in this story that leapt off the page in my most recent reading of Genesis 22.

Two Young Men.

When Abraham woke up early in the morning, verse 3 tells us that he not only saddled his donkey, but he “took two of his young men with him.” No big deal, huh? Abraham probably needed some extra help for his journey. OK…so I read on.

Coming to verse 5 I discovered a second reference the young men: “Then Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey.'”  That caused me to underline the passage in my Bible AND go back in order to underline verse 3. I’ve been reading the Word of God long enough to pick up on patterns such as these. As a matter of fact, under my breath I whispered “I’ll bet these young men show up again in this passage.” And with that, I read on…

In verse 19, my suspicions were confirmed: “So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba.”  

OK. So there it is: three references to two young men in a story that is predominately about Abraham and Isaac.

Who are these young men? I don’t know, but their inclusion in this story has reminded me of some really important things in leadership and ministry.

1. Take others with you to the mountain. Abraham obviously took Isaac with him, but he extended his circle to two young men. I love this model. It may not always be practical or possible to take people with you, but when you can, do it. As a pastoral leader, I try to make room for as many young leaders as I can. Going to Costco? Grab someone. Heading to a conference or hospital visit? Bring a young leader with you.

Recently, I invited two of our leaders to go on a road trip with me to a memorial service for Jerry Cook, who is an author and Foursquare legend. With notebooks in hand, we captured our thoughts and impressions during the service then debriefed over a meal and the trip home.

Are you climbing a mountain (metaphorically speaking)? Then, bring others with you.

2. Young leaders are developed daily…not in a day. There came a point in the journey to Mount Moriah that Abraham determined the young men should “stay here with the donkey.”  Man, that must have been frustrating for them. Who wants to babysit a donkey when they could climb a mountain? I’ve known many emerging leaders that have felt similar frustrations; desiring to experience more and lead further.

Friends, leaders are not made in a day. It takes time. Be thankful for and faithful with the opportunities you’ve been given. I often say this to young leaders: “Don’t demand a ministry. Develop one.” And that may involve the care of donkeys, while more seasoned leaders go to the top of the mountain. You’ll most likely get there some day, and when you do you’ll realize just how stinking hard it is, and the intense sacrifice that is involved.

So, be patient.

3. Develop long-term mentor/student relationships. In verse 19, when Abraham returned to the young men (with an alive Isaac in tow), they all together “arose and went together to Beersheba.” One can’t read too much into this, but I appreciate the imagery of them all moving and living together in one place.  For me, it illustrates symbiotic relationships that can be formed and nurtured between mentors and students over a long period of time.

There are great benefits found in learning communities of mentors (Abraham) and students (young men). In my personal and ministerial life, I have grown to highly value the godly, older men that have access to my life. Similarly, I’ve chosen to be that kind of a person to a number of younger leaders.

So much is gained. So much is learned. So much is deposited…and withdrawn.

Are you a leader? Do you have “young guns” around you and going places with you?

iLeadership

As the primary leader in a growing organization, I am always on the look out for good people to be a part of our team. My eyes are perpetually peeled. I’m looking as I stroll through the church lobby during our weekend services. I’m watching out of the corner of my eye while ministering at camps, retreats or conferences. I’m scanning to see who is serving, caring, giving, and developing their God-given talents for Kingdom purposes.

I love my job.

Occasionally I have the opportunity to invite certain folks to join our team. It doesn’t happen often and it isn’t for everyone. Of course, any follower of Jesus could have the capacity to be a leader, and may function as such to varying degrees, but not all can be called or commissioned to full-time, professional service in the local church. That simply wouldn’t be practical or possible.

When I look for leaders, I watch for three very important characteristics in that person. I call it iLEADERSHIP.

1.  Leaders that Initiate.

First and foremost these individuals must be able to move forward with initiative and not wait for someone to hand it all to them. We know that the road to somewhere nasty is paved with good intentions. Good intentions are noble but not enough. One must take further steps to initiate action.

2.  Leaders that Integrate.

I look for people that can partner and play well with others. Lone Rangers need not apply. Sure, those kinds of folks may be workhorses and high capacity initiators, but if they don’t have chemistry with a team then problems will ensue. Mark my words: in the short-term you may think you have secured the best leader, but in the long-run you will experience acute misery. So, place a high value on integration.

3. Leaders that Innovate.

Simply put: they have the capacity for change. One must be able to creatively take nothing and make it “something.” It’s an art (Max DePree calls it Leadership Jazz). Understandably, not everyone can pull this off. That’s OK, because the Body of Christ is big and all are welcome. But when it comes to leadership, I find it extremely important to have people that can embrace change and run point on innovative efforts. 

This is iLEADERSHIP.
What leadership characteristics would you add?

Preachers and Drunks

JesusLovesYouThe story is told of a drunk man that stumbled through the woods until he came upon a preacher baptizing people in the river. He tripped into the water and bumped into the preacher who asked the drunk, “Are you ready to find Jesus?” “Yes I am,” the drunk replied. The preacher dunked him into the water then pulled him up and asked him, “Brother have you found Jesus?”  The drunk replied, “No!” Shocked at the answer, the preacher dunked him into the water again a bit longer. He pulled him out of the water and asked again, “Have you found Jesus, my brother?” The drunk again answered, “No, I have not found Jesus.” By this time the preacher was at his wits end so he dunked the drunk in the water again, but this time he held him down for about 30 seconds. The man started flailing his arms and legs so the preacher finally pulled him up and asked the drunk the last time, “For the love of God, have you found Jesus?” The drunk wiped his eyes and caught his breath only to say to the preacher, “No, but are you sure this is where he fell in?”

Aside from the obvious theological problems of this story, there is a bigger reminder to us about how Jesus can get lost by Preachers and Drunks alike.

Sometimes we lose him in the cultural stereotypes that we’ve been given. Other times we lose him in the trappings of the church, with all it’s traditions, rules, and hypocrisies. Oddly, we can sometimes lose him in the Word of God. We can become so caught up in the phrases and miss the person. This is verified in Jesus’ own words found in the Book of John “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you have life” (John 5:39,40).

Where did Jesus fall in?  Where can he be found? How can we truly understand his love for us? I like how the French Philosopher Maurice Blondel puts it: “If you really want to understand a man, don’t just listen to what he says but watch what he does.”

We know that Jesus loves us because the Bible tells us so (you’re humming the children’s song right now, aren’t you?). But what I appreciate about Jesus is that he didn’t just TELL his disciples (us) about his love…he SHOWED them (us).

I believe he showed them (and still does to us today) with a towel, tears and a table. I want to unpack three  familiar passages and look for where Jesus fell in…

Towel // John 13

Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. (John 13:1,4,5)

It was historically customary for a servant to wash the dust off of the feet of anyone who entered the home of the master.  But in this particular case no one did that, so the guests feet remained dirty until Jesus humbled himself, took off his outer clothing, wrapped a towel around his waist and began to wash their feet. 

Jesus was showing us what love looks like. He knew that before he could TEACH he had to TOUCH.  The disciples didn’t need a lecture on dirty feet. Neither do many of our unsaved friends. They need someone to get down and simply wash off the crud!

I love how Philippians 2:7 drives this home. Note the connections I’ve made to John 13:  “He made himself nothing (took outer clothing off), being made in human likeness (towel), and took the very nature of a servant (wash the disciples feet).”

This is how Jesus SHOWED us love.  How else does he show us? 

Tears // John 11

Jesus wasn’t there when his best friend Lazarus died. When he finally arrived everybody was a mess. Mary was crying. The Jews (perhaps paid mourners) gathered around the grave and joined in the grieving. This must have been like a room full of people watching Marley & Me or My Sisters Keeper (trust me: these are Weep-Fest films).

Vs. 34 – “Where have you laid him?” “Come and See Lord,” they replied.

Vs. 35 – “Jesus wept.”

Vs. 36 – “See how much he loved him!”

Jesus didn’t just say it, he showed it. You may wonder why (if he really loved him) he didn’t do more than just cry. Other wondered that too:

vs. 37 – “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

If Jesus really loved Lazarus, why didn’t he keep him from dying? The same logic can be applied to this question:  Why doesn’t Jesus keep bad things from happening to us?  If he’s really sovereign then wouldn’t it make sense for him to cut off death, pain and suffering at the pass?

Consider this scenario:  Have you ever said to someone “I don’t want you to fix it. I just want you to listen?” Over the years, I have discovered that some of my greatest growth has come out of lots of pain and I honestly didn’t need someone to fix it, but instead I needed to know someone was walking with me, listening to me, and weeping with me.

Such was the case with Jesus.  He wept before he ever raised Lazarus from the dead. You know, perhaps the greater miracle is that the God of the universe can cry. Through his tears he SHOWS us the full extent of his love.

Table // Luke 7

In Luke 7 we discover a pretty shady meal time. The table was set and around it we have a Pharisee, a Prostitute (called The Sinful Woman) and Jesus.

This all sounds like the makings of a good joke: A Pharisee, a Prostitute and Jesus walk into a house…

Both the Pharisee and prostitute were shunned by society, but Jesus sat at the table with them. That’s him showing LOVE. Thankfully he does the same with us. He invites us, with our shady backgrounds and sinful propensities, to eat with him. He welcomes us to the table.

Consider the Last Supper.  At that particular table was one who would deny him (Peter), another who would betray him to be killed (Judas), and a bunch of folks that would abandon him (rest of the disciples).

Looks like Preachers and Drunks are in good company.

Towel, Tears, and a Table: It’s through examples such as these that we discover again how God demonstrated his love for us in this: that while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Keep it REAL

filepicker-Gw4aY4VjRsGRCvFqStvm_keep_it_realRemember the classic scene and dialogue in the movie “A Few Good Men?”

Tom Cruise:  “I want the truth!”

Jack Nicolson:  “You can’t handle the truth!”

Sadly, often times, we can’t handle receiving the truth or giving the truth.

So we avoid it. We end up dropping hints, manipulating, guilting, and stone-walling people. Anything to avoid telling the truth.

The end result is that we forsake open, honest relationships and replace it with “pseudo-community.” It’s simply not REAL.

Marriages, family relationships, friendships and churches are often based upon an inability to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

Truth without Love is brutality.  Love without Truth is hypocrisy.

 

It’s so important to have both truth AND love. Why?

Because we’re all members of the same body, and what gets propagated by one member WILL affect others. It’s the law of community. That’s what we discover in Acts 5 with Ananias & Sapphira. They willfully chose to sell some land. They could have kept the proceeds of the sale for themselves. No harm, no foul. But they opted to give the earnings to the disciples to be shared with the whole community of faith. Again, no harm, no foul.

Until…they lied about the amount. They told Peter “that’s all of it” when it actually was only the partial amount of the proceeds.

In a nutshell: They both fudged the truth. As a result, Ananias fell over dead, and later so did Sapphira.

Ouch.

One thing for us to know is that Ananias & Sapphira were “good, church folk.” Did you know that a recent Gallup Polls tells us that the ethical conduct of Christians varies only slightly from non-Christians?

Ouch.

That means Christians are falsifying income tax returns, plagiarizing, ignoring construction specs, not obtaining a permit, exaggerating about a product, and telling people what they want to hear.

Years ago, Fred Hollomon, the Chaplain of the Kansas Senate, prayed this prayer:

Omniscient Father: Help us to know who is telling the truth. One side tells us one thing, and the other just the opposite. And if neither side is telling the truth, we would like to know that too. And if each side is telling half the truth, give us the wisdom to put the right halves together. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

For followers of Jesus this ought not be the case. The truth ought to be in us and flowing out of us. Anything less is simply not real.

Awake My Soul

awake7Ah Ezekiel.

Ezekiel was a prophet at the same time as Jeremiah. When he was 26 years old he was taken into captivity to Babylon along with about 10,000 of his fellow Jews. In the fifth year of captivity Ezekiel received a call to be a prophet of the Lord and for the next 22 years he ministered to his fellow captives.

If you were to split his prophetic ministry into two halves and used the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem at 587 BC as the dividing line it would look like this:

1. Prior to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem Ezekiel spoke of DOOM.

2. Then after 587 BC Ezekiel was a prophet of HOPE.

Isn’t that what we need sometimes?

Not doom. We have enough of that.

I think we need more Hope.

Especially when we’re feeling spiritually dry, dusty, or dead. Lord, give us hope! When we’re in a spiritual valley, we need glimpses of perspective that comes through hope.

I think we all understand the concept of “valleys.” This is where we feel trapped, confused and discouraged. I imagine that’s how the children of Israel felt while they were in captivity…until one of their own, Ezekiel, started to speak hope into their valley.

That’s what he did in chapter 37, the famous vision called ‘The Valley of Dry Bones.” It was given to him more than 2,500 years ago for the Babylonian exiles. I think the words still apply to us today.

Here is the Vision:

The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?

“O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”

Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.

Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’”

So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.

God’s question to Ezekiel is an important one: “Can these dry bones live?” I think this is a question He is still asking us today. Now, from a human point of view the answer to this question is obviously NO. But with divine perspective, we know nothing is impossible.

“God gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.” Romans 4:17

God takes that which is dead and makes it live again! How does this happen? I believe the text gives us two ways:

1. The Word of God

2. The Spirit of God

As Ezekiel walked through the valley of dry bones the Lord told him to prophesy (which means “to speak”) to the bones.  He said to the bones: “Hear the Word of the Lord.” As he spoke the Word of the Lord the bones started coming together with sinew, muscles, and skin.

Imagine this scene. Freaky and weird, huh? Especially for a good Old Testament Jewish prophet, because he isn’t supposed to touch dead things! But when God’s Word gets in contact with dead people it causes life.

Is it doing that in you? If not, then are you in close enough contact with God’s Word, and is it getting into you?

What is the Word of God saying to you? God is speaking, but are you listening? When we listen to God and his Word, it has the power to pull the dry, fractured parts of our life together. Things start to make sense again.

 

In a nutshell: The Word forms us.

 

When your life is falling apart, when you are in spiritual valley of dry bones then be quick to get in contact with the Word of God and let it form you.

Notice then in the text that the bodies that had formed didn’t have breath so God said to Ezekiel:  “Speak to the breath and tell it to breathe on these dead bodies so they can live again.”

 

In a nutshell: The Spirit fills us.

 

The BONES became a BODY with the Word of God and the body became an ARMY with the Spirit of God.

Friends, we need BOTH! Oh to be formed with the Word AND filled with the Spirit!

Join me in this pursuit. Join me in crying out to the Lord: AWAKE MY SOUL.