The highest compliment Jesus ever gave was to a messed up heathen woman. The story is recorded in Matthew 15. A Canaanite woman comes to him desperate for him to heal her little girl. When your child is sick, there’s nothing you won’t do to help them. She is ignored, asked to leave, and finally insulted – by Jesus nonetheless! But she won’t give up. And in response to her persistence, Jesus gives the ultimate compliment: “Woman, you have great faith!”

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We Have Authority

If you’re listening, the Holy Spirit will sometimes use familiar passages of scripture to say something fresh, something you hadn’t seen before, something you need to hear right now.

I was reading the story of the crazy men in Matthew 8 – these are the guys so infested with demons that when Jesus cast them out, they entered into a herd of pigs, the pigs ran off a cliff and drowned. Even the pigs didn’t want them. Here’s what I saw:

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Children's Bread

In a moment that forever defined audacious faith, this woman refused to take “No” for an answer – even though she was fully aware that she did not deserve it.

The story is recorded in Matthew 15 of the Canaanite woman who came to Jesus begging for him to intervene in her daughter’s suffering. Jesus ignored her – but she would not be denied. When she finally found her way to Jesus and pleaded with him directly, he replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” Ouch. That had to hurt. But to this, her response was, “Yes, Lord… but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” And that was it. Jesus healed her daughter. She did not qualify for a miracle. She was not a Jew and was not living a righteous life. In spite of this, her faith convinced her that if begging dogs, by virtue of their persistence, get thrown scraps, she could get results too.

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Start Again

The time that Peter was recommissioned has always inspired to me.

I don't know about you, but there have been times when I have felt like a colossal failure. There have been times when I have blown it - big time. And afterwards, it seemed like the appropriate thing to do was to hang it up. Walk away. Give up on the dream.

That's how Peter felt in John 21. Prior to that was his epic failure. He was so passionate about his walk with Jesus that if he had to lay down his life and die with him, that's exactly what he was going to do. Until, that is, a teenage girl mockingly suggested that he, too, was a follower of this Jesus. What does this mighty man of God do? He caves. He denies he even knows Jesus. Three times.

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Don't Achieve. Receive.

Saul wanted David to be his son-in-law but David wasn’t interested.  At least until….

The story is told us in 1 Samuel 18.  After David’s amazing victory over Goliath, King Saul wanted him to be a part of his family.   He offered his daughter to David.  But David couldn’t fathom the idea of being a part of the royal family. It helps us to understand better where David is coming from to recognize that, unlike today, there was no such thing as “upward mobility”.  Whatever station in life you were born into determined your social status until you died.  These things rarely changed.

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Blacksmiths Wanted

During the reign of Saul, king of Israel the scripture says, Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!” So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plowshares, mattocks, axes and sickles sharpened…. So on the day of battle not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in his hand; only Saul and Jonathan had them (1 Samuel 13:19-22). The enemy’s plan was simple: We can’t let them sharpen their tools, otherwise they’ll be too formidable a foe! And it worked tragically well. The army of God was ill-equipped for battle. What an interesting parallel to the church today.

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Calling the Valiant

Hi everyone! We had a great first team night last night. If you missed it, here’s the highlights: We first recognized the weight of the need in our city. If 20% of the people in Rochester actually have a relationship with God, that means that 800,000 people, all within 15 minutes of us, are presently perishing. And that breaks the Father’s heart. That’s why doing church the way it’s always been done just doesn’t cut it anymore. We need to reinvent church. We also recognized that our Sunday morning service can no longer be for us; it has to be tailored for the unchurched. It can be powerful without being religious. We are going to create a church that unchurched people love to attend.

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Hello everyone! Wanted to give you an update on our journey. We left ROC after prayer last Saturday to fly to Oklahoma City. There we enjoyed our time with our dear friends Clint & Angela Rogers. They wanted us to see Life Church in OKC. That place inspired us! They do such an amazing job with the media presentation of the service - videos, lighting, etc. to enhance the message in a creative and engaging manner. The service was great. And as we were being dismissed I couldn't believe the service lasted only 57 minutes! From the content of the service (nothing was watered down), you would never expect that they could fit all of that in an hour-long service. Shows you that you can pack a lot of good stuff in a shorter period of time than we thought if we're disciplined about planning the service. From there we traveled to Las Vegas. That was an experience. We had never been before - and honestly never had a desire to go.

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Let the Scales Fall Off!

One of the excuses I have used for not being more actively involved in sharing my faith with others is, I believed that people who weren’t saved, weren’t interested. I know that the Father loves lost people, so much so that he has done everything that he could possibly do to prevent them from spending an eternity without him. His heart breaks for those who are not in relationship with him. I also believe (or at least I accept it as doctrinal truth) that people around me who do not know Jesus will perish – they are headed for a very dark future. But neither of those two things has moved me to actually do something about it. And this is the primary reason.

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Reinventing Church

That’s a question many of us, who actually like church, have. But that’s the problem: For the most part, church is conducted in a way that those of us who like church, like it to be. But church was never intended for us. Jesus created the church for the purpose of reaching the world, that is, the unchurched. We must, therefore, ask the question, Are our Sunday morning services designed with church people or unchurched people in mind? If the primary purpose of the church is to reach unchurched people (and it is) then we better make sure that our weekend service – the time more than any other that showcases who we are and what we’re about – appeals to those we’re trying to reach. Imagine we ran a Chinese restaurant and our vision was to expose all of Rochester to the delicious taste of authentic Mandarin food.

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Do you still not understand?

Jesus had told his disciples to watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod.  They had no clue as to what he meant.  “Maybe it’s because we have no bread.”  When Jesus heard this, he reminded them of the feeding of the 5,000 and the feeding of the 4,000:  In the one case, five loaves ended up being 12 baskets full.  In the other, seven loaves became seven baskets full – and this was after the multitudes had eaten all they wanted.  After they had witnessed this, he does not understand how they could be talking about their lack of bread.  “Do you still not understand?”

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We’ve all done it – had times when our computer or phone wasn’t working as it was supposed to so we rebooted it.  Sometimes all it takes to fix a problem and get back on track is a reset. Peter needed one – and Jesus gave it to him.  In Luke 22 it’s recorded that after Peter denied Jesus, and he realized what he had just done, he wept bitterly. The stinging pain of his failure caused him to think he needed to give up on his ministry calling and go back to fishing.  But it’s there, in John 21, that Jesus appears to him and lets him press that reset button.Three times Jesus asks Peter if he really loves him.  Peter doesn’t understand what’s going on.  It’s hard enough for him to see Jesus after he failed him so miserably, but yet to have his love for him questioned?

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