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Resurrection Day Thoughts (Thank You)

The dust has finally settled from a very busy Holy Week, and things have finally slowed down a bit as I share a few thoughts.

Abba's House Wide

Easter of 2017 was  wonderful day! From spending time with church family (and seeing a lot of new faces) to spending time with family and friends as we worshiped together, laughed, ate, and celebrated with thanksgiving and grateful hearts the gift of salvation and the hope that resurrection brings, Easter was a very special day this year.

WorshipWhile we gathered to celebrate Jesus, and the victory that He won over the devil, death, Hell, and the grave, we were reminded that His victory did not come without cost or consequence. Courage, sacrifice, humility, meekness, and lowliness of heart are all attributes at the ready for all who would follow Him. While I am eternally grateful for the sacrifice He made — the only sacrifice by which we can hope to be saved — my gratitude runs deep as well for the people of God and the obedience and diligence which they exhibited on this most Holy day.

I would like to thank all of those who helped care for the dozens of children who came to the house of the Lord on Easter (and every Sunday); folks who forego the experience of worship and teaching in order to minister to the upcoming generation of infants, toddlers, and small children, and take care of their needs with joy and love.

I thank all of the men and women who greeted people with smiles and kindness, assisted visitors, gave directions to those not familiar with our campus, and who diligently walked the parking area throughout the service, making sure things stayed safe and secure.

Abba's House busI thank all of those who volunteered on the Abba’s House bus, and provided a reliable and safe way for the underprivileged of our city to get to and from church to hear the Good News of Jesus’ love.

Vol 3I thank the dozens of volunteers who sacrificially gave of their time during the weeks before Easter; making phone calls, handing out water bottles and invitations at ball games, recreation parks, and places of business, and giving a smile to a stranger in need — inviting friends and strangers to join us on Easter.

I want to thank all of the musicians and singers who led us in worship, and helped create an atmosphere in which the King of Glory was exalted and glorified.

I want to thank all those in our bookstore, who served with joy, and provided refreshments to let us feel just a little bit more at home.

I want to thank all of those who volunteered as support and technical staff, who kept everything running smoothly so the rest of us could see and hear, and enjoy His presence undistracted, not just in the House, but across the world.

I want to thank every member of Abba’s House for making a welcome and inviting place for our guests.

I want to thank our entire staff who worked tirelessly to provide all of our volunteers with the support they needed, and who worked as a team to make the day a very special one.

Abba's House Med WideI want to thank Pastor Ronnie Phillips, Jr for joining me on stage as we shared from our hearts the message God had given both of us for day, and who ministers beside me with an anointing and heart for people.

Last but not least, I want to thank all who joined us — if even for the first time — in the House or online. I hope you came with an expectation, and left with a sense of the greatness and glory of the Most High God. I pray that your life was touched for eternity through our time together, and that it will not be the last time; that you will choose to join us again and become a part of the family we call Abba’s House.

You are ALWAYS welcome at Abba’s House!

God bless!
Pastor Ron

What’s In A Word?

American author Russell Bradley Jones tells the true story of seven Russians taken captive many years ago in Finland. They were to be put to death at sunrise. As they waited through the long night some cursed, some cried, some called out for their mothers. One named Kos Kinen began singing an old Christian hymn.

“Where did you get that you fool?” they asked.

“My mother taught it to me.” he replied, “and I am giving my life to the Jesus my mother taught me.” “In a few hours I will be with my Savior.”

By 4:00 a.m., Kinen had led the other six men to faith in Jesus Christ. At 6:00 a.m. they marched out to be shot. They requested to die with their faces uncovered, with arms stretched to heaven they sang…

Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Safe on His gentle breast.
There by His love oe’r shadowed.
Sweetly my soul shall rest.

They were shot. Forgiveness turned their doom into a moment of glory.

Dore CrucifixionDuring the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, He never verbally attacked His accusers, cried for compassion, hurled desperate insults at His captors and torturers, or spelled out the doom awaiting those responsible for the circus of a trial He had forced upon Him. Pastor Rick Warren summed it up best in a comment he made during a Q & A session at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in 2016…

We are most like Christ when we are silent in the face of our critics.

The Bible tells us that Jesus remained silent in the face of the hate, ridicule, and false accusations. Even as He hung on the cross, His thoughts were of others.

A Word of Pardon.

“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do…” ~ Luke 23:34

  • This was the word of a Son who had influences with the Father.
  • This was the word of a Savior who was giving His life for others
  • This was the word of a Priest who stands between sinful humanity and the wrath of God
  • This is the Word of Pardon for all who will receive Him.

A Word of Promise.

“Today you shall be with me in Paradise” ~ Luke 23:43

Even in the darkest of times, His thoughts were still of redemption. As this thief hanging next to Him repented, the sinless Lamb of God made a promise of eternal life to this man who was paying the price for his bad choices.

A Word of Care.

“Woman, behold your son! [John], behold your mother!” ~ John 19:26-27

In the middle of all this, Jesus, as the first born, took care of His earthly mother. Jesus gave that assignment to John who carried Mary to Ephesus where she lived for Jesus until her death. Jesus did not shirk His earthly responsibilities.

A Word of Passion.

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” ~ Matthew 27:46

Here is the High Priest alone in the Holy of Holies. Here is the scapegoat alone in the wilderness. Here is the dark moment when the humanity of Jesus is at its peak.

“God forsaken of God” – who can imagine it? Here is how it should read, “My God, My God, why? Hast thou forsaken me?”

The answer is no!

The Apostle Paul said that “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19). He felt forsaken that you and I might never be alone.

A Word of Suffering.

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” ~ John 19:28

Again we see Jesus’ humanity! In the awful agonies of crucifixion, Jesus suffered intense dehydration. He became thirsty, that we might drink from His fountain of Life.

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. ~ John 7:37-39

A Word of Triumph.

“It is finished!” ~ John 19:30

Jesus’ words here have four meanings.

To bring to a close.
To finish a performance on task.
To fulfill all obligation.
To pay the bill in full

Jesus brought to a close all of the law and prophets.

Jesus finished the tasks of suffering.

Jesus paid for our sins in full.

Jesus finished off Satan.

A Word of Glory.

“Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” ~ Luke 23:46

Despite what the priests, Pharisees, Romans, and Pilate may have thought, there was never a moment when Jesus was not in control of His destiny. Even during each horrific moment on the cross, Jesus was still in charge and was still Lord.

This same Jesus — Messiah, Lord, Triumphant Conqueror, and King —

… wants to be the Lord and Savior of YOUR life!

Are your sins forgiven? Do you know Jesus Christ? He died for your forgiveness.

Like the Russian prisoners at the beginning of this blog, you can receive Jesus today!

Here’s how.

Facts, Fake News, and Finding Truth

Marquee

Throughout the last campaign season and continuing on through the first three months of this year, we have all heard the phrase that has become a staple of public discourse — the allegation and labeling of certain news reports as “fake news”.

We’ve come a long way from the days of Walter Cronkite — the most trusted man in America. Nowadays, “news” reports are peppered with opinion, innuendo, and bias from the very people who are supposed to be objectively reporting what is going on. From the very beginning of many news reports — especially those pertaining to President Trump and his administration — the commentary is framed in such a way as to support a conclusion that may or may not be factual.

Recently, President Trump came to Nashville for a rally. Since Nashville is a couple of hours from where we are in Chattanooga, one of my staff members volunteered to go to the rally and report back what he observed with his own eyes. Here is what he had to say…

After meeting up with a couple of friends outside of the city, we drove to the Nashville Municipal Auditorium for the rally with President Trump. We parked about 4 blocks away (after navigating through streets that were blocked off for security reasons), and walked to the auditorium. At the point at which we reached the venue, it was a little after 2p.m., with the start time of the rally scheduled for 6:30p.m. Upon walking past the front of the venue, we noticed lots of police, Secret Service agents, barricades, and people. The line had long-since formed, and stretched out of sight. There was a small area cordoned off near the entrance where a handful of protesters had gathered. The few signs on display addressed an array of topics and grievances, some of which were fairly odd. If you counted everyone in that area (sign or no sign) as a protester, there might have been about 20.

Street preachers

Street evangelists.

We proceeded past the entrance on the long walk to the end of the line. The crowd was calm, well-behaved, and respectful. Lots of smiling faces of people eager to see the President as people conversed, laughed, and occasionally broke into spontaneous cheers of “USA!… USA!…” and “Trump!…Trump!…”. There were a handful of street preachers with loudspeakers, preaching a message of salvation to a crowd who, for the most part, remained respectful of their right to be there. It was obvious that these people were not there to protest, but were simply there to use the opportunity to share the message of the Gospel with a fairly captive audience. When one of the bystanders engaged one of these men in a conversation, the street-preacher exclaimed that he had been to “other” events, and the current crowd was much more well-behaved and respectful.

#5

At this point in the line, we were only 8/10 of a mile from the entrance.

It was around 2:30p.m. when we finally made it to the end of the line. According to Google Maps, we were about 8/10 of a mile from the entrance. We got in line and began the long wait. Within 10 minutes of standing there, the line grew to extend roughly 150 yds. beyond the point where we were standing. Within 20 minutes, the line was once again out of sight. As we stood in the sea of red “Make America Great Again” hats, I was struck by a few things. In spite of the cold (and it got much colder), people weren’t complaining. The crowd itself was made up of young and old, men and women. There were a lot of high-school and college aged young people, as well as a lot of children. There were people dressed comfortably (sweatshirts and jeans), and others who were attired much nicer. There were poor people there. There were affluent people there. When the street vendors came by with hats, shirts, and buttons, people engaged them in conversation and broke out their wallets to purchase their wares. When the (very) occasional protester happened by with their signs (some of which were quite misguided and/or offensive), the crowd remained respectful and for the most part, did not engage them, even in the face of their contrary (and even bizarre) viewpoints. Those who chose to engage did so without name calling, or hate-filled aggression, but simply spoke to them about their grievance of choice, and shared why they believed them to be in error.

 

At 3:30p.m., the doors opened and the line began to inch forward. At one point, there was a commotion of police lights, and a huge cheer went up as the Presidential motorcade passed by. It was interesting to see strangers become friends, and listen to the conversations about the hope people felt in America once again.

As the line continued to move forward, the sun continued to set, and the temperature continued to drop, the crowd remained vigilant in their determination to see the President. At one point, after standing in line for more than two hours, one of the people standing next to me got a news report from one of the local news agencies on their phone. It was being reported that “hundreds of protesters had gathered to protest Trump”. We couldn’t help but laugh. From start to finish, we witnessed maybe 50 people protesting. Some of the signage of people we initially thought might be protesters turned out to be people who, with no chance of getting in, decided to utilize their time carrying signs in support of the President, and essentially being cheerleaders as they walked up and down the crowd, cheering on those in attendance.

We were roughly 2/10 of a mile from the entrance when President Trump took the stage. Those of us outside broke out cell phones, and watched the LIVE feed of what was happening inside. As the line sped up slightly, we remained hopeful that we would still make it in before the President finished.

It wasn’t to be.

We made it to within 40 feet of the doorway when the President began to close his remarks, and knew at that point that our 4-hour vigil had been in vain.

But actually… it hadn’t for me. I had come for the experience of witnessing first-hand what a Trump rally was about, and while I never made it to the doorway, I think I got just as good a sense of that during my time standing in line. What I witnessed was a lot of people who love our country and wanted to support a President who shares that love. The full house of nearly 10,000 people inside was what the country saw in news clips and social media stories. What they didn’t see was the literally thousands of people who stood faithfully outside, and never made it in… people who still felt pride in being there to support a President who has taken a lot of heat for standing up for them.

Well, my fingers and toes have finally thawed out, and I am thankful for the (albeit chilly) experience of spending a few hours with other Americans who have renewed my faith in the goodness and kindness of her people.

Proverbs 10:9 says…

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes
crooked paths will be found out.

Trust but verify ReaganIn this day and time, finding out truth is not as complicated as it would seem. I believe we have become so used to instant gratification that we determine truth the same way. “If the media says it, it must be true”, may have had some relevance in times past, but today we live in an age where people speak before the truth is known, and report before all of the facts are in. I have seen it become such a vicious cycle: Someone reports a story which is proven to be false, then tries to manufacture data or spin the story in such a way as to try to maintain some degree of credibility. It seems that people have lost the ability to say “I was wrong”, when in fact those three words are a crucial starting point to regaining lost credibility. Oftentimes, an apology can get a lot better response than a defense.

Truth is not subjective. Truth is not open to interpretation. There is not such thing as “your truth” and “my truth”. Truth stands on its own power and authority. The Bible puts a great deal of importance on truth as we read…

The LORD detests lying lips,
but He delights in people who are trustworthy. ~ Proverbs 12:22

I think if we all slowed down and took more of an interest in the truth, we would find that honesty is still the best policy, and that being truthful in the first place is less exhausting that than the ensuing damage control involved when we sacrifice our integrity.

We might also find that the place of truth is the starting point of finding favor with God.

Fresh Oil Flashback

As we approach the beginning of our Fresh Oil New Wine 2017 in three days, I thought I’d let you take a look back at why this conference is so special. From the diversity of speakers to the atmosphere that accompanies each one, we have had some amazing moments through the years.

In 2008, Ray Hughes joined us…

 

The next year, Tommy Barnett was a special guest…

 

Damon Thompson was with us in 2010, and joins us again this year…

This year’s speaker lineup is one you won’t want to miss. Pastor Ronnie Jr. and I will be joined by…

Perry Stone
Damon Thompson
Rabbi Curt Landry
Dr. Dwain Miller
Dr. Randy Caldwell
Matt Smith 
Tony Valdes
and more…

There will be something for everyone… Children’s services with Jeff McCullough. A Women’s Luncheon with Sandra Kay Williams. Worship and Word from start to finish!

So join us for Fresh Oil New Wine 2017! Rise Up, and take hold of all God has for you!

fonw17

Unhinged

trump-swearing-inOn November 8, 2016, the American people spoke.

On January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United Sates.

And from that time until now, individuals, groups, and organizations have become increasingly hostile, hateful, lawless, and… well… unhinged.

We have seen protests, riots, assaults, and rampant crime in our streets, all under the guise of 1st Amendment rights. We have gotten a front-row seat to unprecedented obstruction with the “slow-walking” confirmations — courtesy of Democrats in the Senate — of President Trump’s cabinet (in fact, not since the inauguration of George Washington in 1789 has a president had to wait this long to have his cabinet confirmed). We have been subjected to a steady string of “false news” reports from a media openly hostile to our new leader and leadership. We have become witness to the spectacle of Hollywood liberal acolytes using award programs and entertainment platforms for the purpose of lecturing the “uneducated masses” on the evils of President Trump, Vice-President Pence, and anyone associated with them — seemingly from birth.


The 1st Amendment of the Constitution has long been a cornerstone of the American way of life. To know that we can worship, believe, speak our mind, and have a free press without fear of persecution from the State is a right we should be able to count on.
The 1st Amendment of the Constitution declares…

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

IMG_1905Many of those who rallied behind the lawful election of Barack Obama, and told those on the opposite side of the aisle to “deal with it” are now becoming increasingly hostile to the rule of law. When “We won!” was the reply to those who disagreed with the incoming flood of immoral and, in some cases, arguably unconstitutional legislation, those of a Republican or Conservative bent did not flood the streets, obstruct traffic, destroy property, and participate in disgusting and offensive demonstrations.

Of what do I speak? Well, for anyone who has (some might say ‘wisely’) not viewed news programs or current events, allow me to get you (partially) up to speed…

  • On January 20 (Inauguration Day), rioters took to the streets in parts of Washington D.C., throwing rocks at police, smashing storefronts, and setting vehicles on fire, apparently in an attempt to disrupt the Inaugural parade route. Over 200 were arrested and charged with felony rioting (a federal offense that, if convicted, carries up to a 10-year prison sentence, and up to a $250,00.00 fine).
  • On January 21, The Women’s March on Washington took place on the streets of Washington D.C., and around the nation. While the group’s policy platform includes “reproductive rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, religious discrimination (primarily that against Muslim Americans), LGBTQ rights, gender and racial inequities, workers’ rights, and other issues“, one of the co-chairs of the march was Linda Sarsour, a Muslim activist who allegedly advocates Sharia law. Among the highlights of the march were women dressed in “vagina” costumes, profanity-laced tirades and pontifications by celebrities such as Madonna, Ashley Judd, and Scarlet Johansson, and the marked absence of any pro-life women’s groups (who were told they were not allowed to participate because they were pro-life).
  • On February 1, riots broke out at UC Berkeley as the result of a scheduled lecture by Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos. Yiannopoulous, a gay “right-wing” commentator, had to be escorted off campus by police amidst the cancellation of his lecture due to violent protests that included Molotov cocktails, masked agitators, and personal assaults on innocent bystanders. In the end, the campus upon which the “free-speech movement” began in 1964 has become a bastion of censorship and intolerance by the very people who are screaming for tolerance.

For all of their protests, riots, whining, and foot-stomping, those who protest our new administration seem to be missing an important fact…

We are a nation of laws. We pride ourselves in the rule of law. While other countries devolve into chaos and madness, America remains stable because of our laws. And while the former administration made it a point to ignore certain laws it didn’t agree with (particularly regarding immigration and social issues), the Trump administration promised to return to the rule of law. While liberals try their best to derail this administration at every single turn from doing what the American voters tasked it to do, those same voters are, for the most part, in favor of President Trump’s actions. Interestingly enough, the same people who are for the stonewalling of the Trump cabinet are the same people who are criticizing President Trump for not moving faster in accomplishing the goals he set forth in his campaign.

Seems a bit like criticizing a sprinter for not running faster… while ignoring the fact that his foot is chained to the floor.

So criticisms, tantrums, and protests aside, what does the Bible have to say about submission to authority…

 Coffee Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. ~ Romans 13:1-7

“Those who resist will bring judgement on themselves.” In the King James Version, it says it this way…

“…and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”

Regardless of what any of us think of a politician or leader, we would do well to heed the words of Paul in this passage. Whether judgement falls as the result of our earthly actions by the hands of authorities here on earth, or judgement is stayed and awaits us in the afterlife, we can rest assured that God is good for His word, and that judgement for acts or rebellion against God-ordained leaders is inevitable.

I have lived through many presidents in my lifetime, and I have probably never agreed with any of them 100% of the time. Still, while I might be critical at times, I have always been careful to pray for our leaders, and while standing for what is right, do so in a law-abiding fashion. It seems that the words “civil disobedience” have come to mean whatever methods people decide upon in the heat of the moment. It is one thing to chant, picket, and protest outside of a building. It is quite another to violate someone else’s rights by burning property, physical assault, and making threats of violence. While it is lawful under our Constitution for an individual to stand up and regurgitate whatever banal ideology they choose, it is not lawful to threaten to kill the President or hurt innocent people. Signs and slogans make you a protester. Threats and violence make you a criminal thug. While one may land you in the newspaper, the other will likely land you in jail.

For the last 8+ years, many laws have been ignored simply because they were socially unpopular, particularly laws pertaining to immigration (hence “Sanctuary Cities”), and social/moral issues. As President of the United States, the person who occupies that office has taken an oath to “uphold and defend the Constitution“. That includes abiding by the laws contained therein, or any laws passed legally through the legislative process set forth in the Constitution… whether or not that particular President agrees with their validity or not. The President himself is answerable to the people for how he carries out his oath. If a President disagrees with a law, then he has the right to have those in Congress try to advance legislation to repeal such laws.

I would contend that the ire against President Trump may have less to do with his lawfulness (or perceived lack thereof), and more to do with the reining in of an attitude that “laws were made to be broken”. Many (if not most) of the protests I have seen are people fighting back against the rule of law, protesting what should be common sense enforcement of the laws of our land. Whether it is immigration, gun control, etc… in most cases, we don’t need more legislation; we simply need to enforce the laws already passed and on the books.

At the end of the day (and to coin a phrase), there’s a new sheriff in town, and he’s dusting off a Constitution that has long been ignored.

Faith for the Finale

Think about this…

Would you run a marathon — leading the entire way by a mile — only to sit down at the end, 5 feet short of the finish line?

Would you finish Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2 in E minor with a pianissimo oboe solo?

Would you compete for an entire season — going undefeated for all of it — only to refuse to come out of the locker room for the championship game?

vince_lombardi_bart_starrFor many of us who are sports fans, we just witnessed a historic event. In Super Bowl LI, we watched as the New England Patriots — who were down by 25 points at halftime — came back to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the 5th time in a stunning overtime defeat of the Atlanta Falcons. Never before had a team overcome more than a 10-point deficit in the Super Bowl. Never before had “The Big Game” gone into overtime. When the New England Patriots came out of the locker room for the 3rd quarter, it looked like it was all but over. I had friends who actually turned off the game because it looked like such a blowout. “On to other things.” So what happened?

Well, one of the things that the commentators kept saying was “how young the Atlanta Falcons were”… How young they were…. How quick they were… How much older the Patriots were. Yet for all of their youth and exuberance, it seems that they lacked the one thing that the Patriots did have: Focus. During the second half, the Patriots stayed focused on winning. They stayed focused on the task at hand. They kept their eyes on the prize. Whether it was blown coverages or senseless penalties, the Atlanta Falcons went from a team hungry to win to a team trying not to lose. Somehow, they lost sight of the hard-fought lessons that got them to Houston. They had the motivation and energy to make it to the championship, but lacked the grit and determination to get them across the finish line.

The entire human race is running full-throttle toward the edge of eternity. So even though prophets, preachers, seers, and scholars have been discussing the Last Days  and The Day of the Lord for over 2,000 years, how should we live now.. today? What should our mindset be in 2017? Should we be filled with fear or faith?

Among the customs of some Native American people was a ritual of a young man passing into adulthood. He would be taken out into a place away from the community; he would then be blindfolded and left in that spot all night. He was not to remove the blindfold until the morning came and the sunlight began to shine through the blindfold. So all night, he was in that place, feeling alone and isolated… unsure of his surroundings and what potential threats waited for him, unseen because of the blindfold.

Well, I am sure you can imagine his surprise when, upon removing the blindfold at morning’s light, he found himself surrounded by his kinsmen — his father and uncles. Though he may have struggled with the fear of loneliness and the unknown, there was never a moment when he was not being watched over by his elders, who remained just out of reach and by his side the entire night.

Just like the young brave was never abandoned by those who loved him, so we are never abandoned by a loving Heavenly Father who never lets us out of His sight.

It is that unwavering attention to His children that allows us to run the race, and have Faith for the Finale.

At Abba’s House, I have just begun a series of messages by the same title…

Faith for the Finale.

I want to encourage you to join us, whether in person or online, as I take you through the steps and mindset that it takes to be an overcomer in adversarial times, and what YOU need to do in order to finish well the race set before you.

See you Sunday.

Pastor Ron

The Super Bowl & The Ultimate Underdog

Wow! It was a game for the record books!

Football in grassNo team has won a Super Bowl in such dramatic fashion; coming back from such a 25-point-deficit at the half. No quarterback or coach has won as many Super Bowls. No Super Bowl had ever gone into overtime before.

Just like every other year for the past 50, another Super Bowl has passed into the history books. Kudos to both the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots for playing such a great and hard-fought game. Congratulations to Robert Kraft and his Patriots for coming out on top, and being the Super Bowl LI champions. Once again, the Vince Lombardi Trophy will make its way to Foxborough, MA.

All of the excitement of the day reminds me of the words of the man himself — Vince Lombardi…

Once you agree upon the price you and your family must pay for success, it enables you to ignore the minor hurts, the opponent’s pressure, and the temporary failures.

So as Christians, what is the cost of living the Christian life in a world that — in most cases — neither welcomes, appreciates, or respects us? What is the price we are called to pay?

The answer…

We are called to come and die.

The Apostle Paul summed it up when he said…

“I am crucified with Christ…” ~ Galatians 2:20a

We are called to die to our self-interest for the sake of something greater.

We are called to die to our sin.

We are called to die to our worldly desires.

We are called to die to ourselves.

With respect to the world, we are called to be the ultimate underdogs.

However, it is though that death that Jesus can live through us, giving us a life more abundant that we could ever imagine.

So, ask yourself this…

Are you a living sacrifice that is acceptable to God, or are you a living sacrifice that keeps crawling off of the altar?

What price are you willing to pay for the One who paid it all for you?