Post-Easter Self-Control (Fruit Of The Spirit)

It’s the day after Easter and you’ve probably broken fast. Maybe you took that first sip of soda in weeks, or you finally got to checkout with your online cart full of things, or (like myself) you were able to dust off your Wii U and play it again. What’s different now, post-Easter?

Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is made up of nine attributes: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The point of these attributes is to contrast acts that are not of the Spirit – things like idolatry, hatred, drunkenness, selfish ambition, etc. And if you’ve been following us since the beginning of Lent, you would have noticed that each week touched upon a different attribute.

Today as we consider self-control on this day after Easter, think about how Jesus has changed everything for us. The old has gone and the new is here! As easy as it may be to jump back into old habits that we gave up for 40 days, we should think about the good that God intends for us because as Galatians 5:1 says, we are free… a liberty that includes a freedom from sin.

Thanks to the Holy Spirit, we should have better discernment of good from bad – a self-control that will continue to help us be free. And though what we fasted may not be a clear-cut good vs. bad, I’d imagine that the things we gave up were put on hold for 40 days because we felt the effects of constantly being exposed to them. But even if you didn’t fast something, I’m sure a certain image comes to mind when you think of this topic.

Jesus died and rose again so that in this Christian life we can oppose the things that go against this new life given to us. So we just wanted to encourage you, brothers & sisters, to persevere with the self-control gifted to you so that you can overcome and live for the glory of the Lord. The Holy Spirit is at work within us, so let’s make the most of this post-Easter season… It’s a new day!

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin… – Romans 6:6

For more on the fruit of the Holy Spirit / posts for Lent:

Reflection Song: Only You

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Easter Faithfulness

Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!

Today we rejoice and celebrate for our Lord Jesus is risen from the dead and is victorious over sin & over death. He has overcome the grave and just as He lives, we live – lives that are lived for Him. Just as God reminds us of His faithfulness on this day, we too live lives that are faithful to Him. For because of the cross where Jesus died for our sins, we are made new, made alive to God, and dead to sin.

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Happy Easter, everyone!

Reflection Song: He Has Overcome


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Goodness (A Good Friday Blog)

Why is it called Good Friday if Jesus suffered and was crucified?

“Good” in this sense can also mean “Holy”, which is why you may also hear it as “Holy Friday”. And goodness in Greek, agathosune, can be defined as an uprightness of heart and life (for the benefit of others). So when we think of today and all that happens, we see that Jesus lived a life and died a death that shows this kind of holiness in action.

We could not have Easter without Good Friday (because death is needed before resurrection) and, likewise, we could not have Good Friday without Easter (because His story doesn’t end with tragedy). So when we take a step back and look at this day as a whole, we see the significance and necessity – that Jesus, with the love of God, was sent to the earth in order to take our sins to the cross, suffer, and die. We could take James 1:17 quite literally when it says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” Jesus Christ was the perfect gift and the perfect sign of love.

All the way to His death, Jesus was humble and obedient. He exemplified this holiness, this goodness, this agathosune, for all to see. He was selfless. And as we prepare ourselves to be the same, especially today, we look to the cross where Jesus died for our sins. In fact, 1 John 2:2 says that as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, Jesus died for the sins of the whole world!

So even though Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday) is right around the corner, let’s pause for a moment today to contemplate the cross. Jesus, the perfecter of faith, endured the cross and scorned its shame (Hebrews 12:2). It’s a suffering and death we deserve but He bears it all for us, even descending into hell before raising up from the dead.

What an amazing sacrifice made for us today! It always amazes me when I think about the meaningfulness and symbolism of this day. And even though it would be easy to see today in terms of tragedy, suffering, death, and all-around horribleness, we know that leading up to Resurrection Sunday it really is a Good Friday.

Reflection Song: Here I Stand


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Lent, Week 6: Gentleness & Kindness (A Palm Sunday Blog)

In some translations of the Bible, gentleness & kindness are almost interchangeable. Today we celebrate this gentleness/kindness as Jesus, our King, enters Jerusalem humbly and gently on a donkey. As Palm Sunday, many of us might imagine the crowds, the masses, the shouts of “Hosanna!” (Matthew 21:9), and a mess of palm branches on the road. But this time we want to invite you to think of the calm & quiet nature in which Jesus arrived this Holy Week.

Gentleness and kindness could mean “meekness”, but not “weakness”. Jesus was a perfect example of this as He obeyed and submitted to the Father, yet carrying out an eternal plan. While many on this day expected a militant ruler, warrior, or conqueror, our Savior came in riding on a lowly colt! Zechariah 9:9 prophesied, “See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

On one hand, gentleness is humility, grace, obedience… and kindness is an uprightness, a caring, a kindness of heart. We aim for these two as we strive to be like Jesus, who displayed gentleness & kindness in His life and death. It is this gentleness and kindness that God showed as He offered salvation to us – the same characteristic that is at work within us through the Holy Spirit… that we would offer up our own lives as well, especially during this Lent season, as we think about the life and death of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.

Jesus has come today! As we embark on Holy Week, let’s think about the selfless sacrifice Jesus made for our salvation. He surrenders Himself to the Father’s will with gentleness (humility, grace, obedience) and kindness (uprightness, caring, gentleness) just as we should. For those who have given things up for Lent, how is that going? Do we allow the Spirit to guide us as we surrender ourselves so that all that we do is done with a spirit of gentleness & kindness?

In this final stretch, continue to be an example of Christ as He continues to be your guide in all things. May His gentleness and kindness carry over to you today.

Reflection Song: Prepare The Way


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Lent, Week 3: Joy

Do you ever regret giving something up for Lent? Whether or not fasting is fairly new to you, it’s easy to lose sight of why we do it.

Yet, Lent is a time to fast with joy. There may be times where you feel like you are fasting grudgingly, reluctant to continue or maybe even start! But remember why we are are doing all of this as we make our way towards Easter: preparing a way for the Lord. This isn’t a time to be somber or grim – it’s a time to find joy in the cross! A joy that brings freedom by the power of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. (“Shout for joy, Hallelujah! He has overcome!”)

I imagine it this way… Say you are burdened with carrying a ton of heavy textbooks in your backpack. This weight, this burden, is then lifted and you experience walking like you’ve never felt before – that release, that freedom, that joy! The same is with our sins or the things that detract us from Jesus. When we let go of these things and know that the power of the cross releases the hold of sin and death in our lives, our walks are forever changed and we are set free! That ought to stir up some joyful response in us!

Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:16-18 about fasting: “…do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting… But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father… who sees what is done in secret…

This week, try to tap into that joy in your life and walk with the Father. He knows what you’re doing and wants the best for you as you strive to resemble Christ. Lent isn’t about feeling sad or regretful – be joyful as you fast and prepare with spiritual gladness this Lenten season as you are with God and as He is with you. Keep going strong with the joy of the Holy Spirit!

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.Psalm 51:10-12

Reflection Song: He Has Overcome


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Lent, Week 1: Dirty Foreheads (An Ash Wednesday Blog)

“…for dust you are and to dust you will return.” – Genesis 3:9

…a verse that we often hear on this day to remind us that we came from dust and will return to dust. Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, and the day where we mark our foreheads with the ashes from burnt palms from last year’s Palm Sunday. It also marks the beginning of the 40 days of fasting many of us tackle each year – from junk food, to shopping, to the internet, to games… we usually fast something to imitate Jesus in the desert.

And though Ash Wednesday isn’t specifically mentioned in the Bible, we follow this tradition to reflect and prepare for Easter. You may or may not be attending a church service for it but as you think about the countless number of dirty foreheads going around the world today, consider the significance and meaning of it. In the shape of a cross, some may leave it on for a moment, and some may even leave it on all day as a public profession of faith.

And soon (about 40 days), we’ll contemplate the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for us. Let today be a reminder of that as you see the foreheads around you. We were once dirty but made clean because of Jesus, continually being made more like Him. And during this Lenten journey we will post weekly thoughts like last year so that we can prepare the way of the Lord together for Easter.

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18

Reflection Song: Nothing But The Blood


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

It Is Finished

“Tetelestai!”, shouted Louie Giglio at Passion 2015, as he began to illustrate just what that word means: the single Greek word that covers three in English… “It is finished”. It is only mentioned twice in the New Testament, and both are in John 19 when Jesus paid it all and died for us on the cross. But what exactly is finished?

The system – everything we knew before, the religious system – is finished. Sin – the very sin that makes us dead, but no longer has power over us – is finished. Shame – and all that’s tagged along with it such as guilt, condemnation, pity… – is finished. And self – you & me, the small picture… because Jesus was selfless and sacrificed Himself for you & me – is finished.

But the beautiful thing about Louie’s talk is that he talked about what’s next: When Jesus said, “It is finished” that’s when it began for us. “It” may be finished, but it’s also a brand new start. With Jesus’ last breath, came our first – His last words are our first. We didn’t know life until He gave it to us – our life begins where His ended. Tetelestai.

John 10:10 says that Jesus came so that we would have life to the fullest. We are already in the second month of 2015. It feels like just yesterday we were talking about the New Year. What needs to finish in your life so that you can begin anew? In fact, in just 2 weeks it will be Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent as we prepare for Easter. So today, we invite you to reflect upon your life as the big picture and consider the things that are done & finished, in Jesus’ Name, so that you would have life to the full. It’s not about you or me. Let’s make it about Jesus Christ.

Reflection Song: Here I Stand

Honesty Is The Best Policy

If we are to follow Christ then truth, honesty, and integrity are essential. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Honesty is a necessary component in following after Jesus. Conversely, dishonesty will pull us away from Him.

This past weekend we led praise at the New Life Summer Retreat, which had the theme Honesty. It was a really authentic time of worship and growth. Unlike your “conventional” retreat, there was no guest pastor to preach amazing sermons. Instead, testimonies were shared within small groups, and several were shared during the main session. We were really encouraged by these powerful stories and it was apparent how relationships were beginning to grow because of them.

Being honest with others isn’t easy in a time where we hide behind communicating through text messages, Facebook statuses, and Instagram comments. It’s so easy to mask your true self. But the testimonies shared were powerful and displayed how God has worked and is working through each and every one of us, molding us into the son or daughter He intended for us to become. What I was reminded was that honesty not only shows your character, but it also shows your faith. Throughout the Bible we are assured that it is impossible for God to lie. That’s a lot harder to say for ourselves… but with God setting the example, we ought to strive to be more true to others and to ourselves.

Proverbs 11:3 says “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”

In fact, we heard many stories of struggles, difficulties, and straying from God. A lot of it was covered up by deception, lies, and even trying to fool oneself. But as soon as they shared about how the truth was discovered (or re-discovered), that because of Jesus Christ we are a new creation, the stories took a turn where lives began turning back towards God the Father!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I thought of my own testimony – of who I was and who I’ve become because of Christ. We’re all constantly changing and experiencing changes. So it is important that we never lose sight of what’s ahead so that we stay true to who we ought to be in Christ. Surround yourself with honesty, truthful people, so that you too can be more honest and open with others, yourself, and God.

Today, let’s remember to stay in the truth, speak and live the truth, and you may also be helping others around you to the Truth! Jesus, the author of eternal salvation, is the way, the truth and the life… Let’s motivate and cultivate honesty through the love He’s shown us!

Reflection Song: Only You

Jesus Saves

There’s an old joke where Jesus and Satan have an epic debate and try to settle the matter with an essay, where God would be the judge. Jesus and Satan got on their computers and began typing with all they had in order to finish on time… but just as time was up, there was a power surge. God then decided that Jesus had won. Upset, Satan asked, “How can that be when the power loss erased both our work?”, failing to see that Jesus’ work remained intact. God announced, “Jesus saves!”

Not too long ago, my trusty USB flash drive malfunctioned (which, to this day, I have no idea of how it happened). It’s fine – I bought a replacement and now I know to be careful with the files that I save on it. But it got me thinking… We put so much of our trust in things that fail all the time, no matter what kind warranty or return policy it has. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. This means if we are for sin, then the only outcome is death; death is the end-result of sin. But because of Jesus Christ, God granted us eternal life and our sins were washed white. There’s no need to worry when it comes to the faithfulness of God!

Today is exactly one month following Easter, and still we’re reminded of Jesus and the life He gives. Often times we fall short and lean on something that’s bound to fall, when we ought to be trusting and leaning on Jesus’ name. Let’s not take for granted the precious blood that Jesus spilled for us to display the free gift of grace by God. Whenever you experience something breaking or life feels like it’s collapsing around you, remember that Jesus saves and one day Satan will ultimately be defeated!

Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is Yours! (1 Chronicles 29:11)

Reflection Song: Nothing But The Blood