The Paraclete

Apparently Greek soldiers fought in pairs.  They would stand back to back so that they could protect one another’s backs as they fought off the enemy troops.  The other soldier was a trusted wingman, an advocate, a helper.  And he was called a paraclete.

What a great concept.  We all need a paraclete.  We could all use an advocate, a helper, a friend who has our back.  In this world, facing the things we face, it would be nice to have someone like that along with us to help us face the journey and fight the battles we have to fight.

In the passage we will be looking at this Sunday, Jesus is getting ready to leave His disciples, but He promises to send them a helper, an advocate, a paraclete.  He promises to send them the Holy Spirit.  Check out the passage in John 14:15-31 and come on out to The River this Sunday to find out more about the paraclete that the Lord promised.

Have You Been Hurt by Church?

Spending time working out of the local Dunn Bros. coffee shop gives me a different perspective on the church than I would have if I spent most of my time working out of a church office.  It allows me the opportunity to hear, firsthand, what unchurched people think about the church.  Unfortunately, the picture is often not very flattering.

I have had way too many conversations with people who are disillusioned with the church.  They have previously been hurt in the church or have found church people to be judgmental, hypocritical, and unloving.  Others have expressed their concerns over the fractured picture they get of the church.  It seems to them like we can’t even get along with each other, and so if we can’t get our own act together how are we supposed to help anyone else?  Good question.

Now I know that just because we follow Christ does not mean that we are perfect, but this is an area where we need to do better.  Jesus reminds us in John 14 that the world will know we are His followers by the way that we love one another.  If that is the measuring stick, then the conversations I have been hearing are not a good sign.  We need to work on this.  And at The River this Sunday, this passage from John 14 will be our focus.  It is called “Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial,” but I think it is really more about loving one another.  Check it out at John 14:31-38 or come on out to The River this Sunday to find out more.

What Other People Think

Do you like it when people say nice things about you?  Like, “your hair looks nice today” or “I like that outfit,” or (my personal favorite) “are you losing weight?”

Or how about at work, when your boss, or a coworker recognizes you for the job you are doing?  Or when a friend let’s you know how much they appreciate you?  Or a neighbor compliments your lawn, your home, or (even better) your children.  It is always nice to get complimented or praised.

On the flip side, it is not so nice to get criticized.  Like, when you make a mistake at work and your boss points it out.  Or when a neighbor complains about how your lawn looks, or that your house is bringing down the property values.  Or when you hear from a teacher at your kid’s school about something your child has done wrong and you feel like a bad parent.  Or when you get a few choice words or hand gestures from another driver on the road.

We don’t like those kind of comments as much, do we?  We want to be praised.  We want to be liked.  We want to be loved.  We want to be valued.  We want people to think, and say, nice things about us.

But does it really matter so much what other people think about us?  To some extent it does.  I mean we want to have a good name and be a good testimony.  But sometimes maybe we are a little bit too concerned with what others think.  This Sunday we are going to look at some people who were a little bit too concerned about what other people thought, and it really got in the way of them following God.  You can read about it in John 12:37-43, or come on out to The River this Sunday to find out more.

Meeting Jesus

About 4 or 5 years ago we went to a wedding for one of my wife’s cousins.  While we were at the reception we were talking with Julie’s aunt and found out that Justin Masterson, a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, (who is now with the Cleveland Indians) was there.  He had gone to the same college as Julie’s cousin and they were friends, so he had come to the wedding and reception.

Well, that got my son, Jacob, very interested, because he is a big sports nut.  So Julie’s aunt took Jacob over to meet Justin.  It was very cool.  Justin spent some time talking with Jacob and gave him an autograph.  He was nice and he made Jacob feel very welcome

I have met a variety of different famous people over the years.  Most have made me feel very welcome and have been very accommodating.  But I had one experience that was not so positive.

I was at a mall in Denver and the Lakers were in town to play the Nuggets.  At the time, the Lakers, were one of my favorite basketball teams.  So I knew the players pretty well.  As I was walking down the hall I saw Byron Scott, their starting shooting guard.  I think he was trying to keep a low profile, but I just had to meet him.  So I walked over and tried to talk to him and he just flat out ignored me.  Eventually I walked away.

I don’t blame Byron Scott for not talking with me.  It wasn’t a big deal, but it reminds me of the different ways it can go when you meet someone famous.  Sometimes you get welcomed and other times you get ignored.

Well, this Sunday, we are going to look at a passage from Scripture that opens up with a few people who just wanted to meet Jesus.  They had probably heard about Him somewhere along the line.  He was pretty famous after all.  They were visiting the area where He was, and they wanted to meet Him.

After looking at this story, I am not exactly sure what to make of the response they got.  It almost seems like Jesus ignored them, but He goes on to share a powerful time of teaching that includes information about His coming death and the life that is available through Him.  Whether they met Jesus or not, if they had the opportunity to listen to that time of teaching, it might have been life changing.

You can read about it in John 12:20-36.  Or come on out to The River this Sunday to find out more.

Dinner with Judas

At I found an interesting opinion poll.  They were asking the question, if you found yourself at the most awkward dinner party of all time.  A party filled with both famous and infamous people.  And you found yourself stuck in a conversation with the most awkward guest, who would it be?

Currently leading the poll is Adolf Hitler.  Some of the others on the short list are Charles Manson, OJ Simpson, Charlie Sheen, and Kim Jong Il.  While I agree, being stuck at a dinner party with any of those people would probably be pretty awkward, it does seem to be a bit of a random list.  But let me add one more name.  How would you like to be stuck in an awkward dinner party conversation with Judas Iscariot?

Well, even if that could be arranged, it wouldn’t be the first awkward dinner party conversation that Judas was a part of.  We find one captured for us in John 12:1-8.  It takes place at a dinner party celebrating the raising of Lazarus.  And the awkward conversation is between Judas, Lazarus’ sister Mary, and Jesus.

I will be preaching on that story this Sunday at The River.  And believe it or not, to some extent I actually agree with Judas a little bit in this story.  And in the end I encourage us all to look a little foolish.  Does that peak your interest?  Come on out and join us this Sunday at 9:30, at 2510 Chaska Blvd.  to find out more.

“Hey, It’s Me!”

Have you ever had someone call you on the phone and the person on the other end of the line just starts talking or says something like, “hey it’s me,” and yet you have no idea who it is?  It’s like the person thought they were familiar enough that you would recognize them and know their voice, but you don’t.  That typically leads to a bit of an awkward encounter.  Do you say, “excuse me, but I don’t know who you are,” or do you just let them keep talking and hope that at some point you will get a clue as to who this person is?

The reason a scenario like that is so awkward is because recognizing someone’s voice implies an intimate relationship.  We wouldn’t recognize the voice of someone we had just met or someone we only occasionally talk with.   But in this scenario apparently the person on the other end of the line thinks that we have that kind of intimate relationship with them and yet we have no idea who they are.

The key is that in order to be familiar enough to know who the person is on the other end of the phone we need to have spent enough time listening to that voice already.  We need to know their voice.  And that takes time.

The same is true with Jesus.  We need to spend time getting to know His voice.  This Sunday we are going to take a look at a passage from Scripture that paints for us a picture of Jesus that many will recognize.  But we will also be challenged to consider whether or not we would recognize His voice? We will be looking at John 10 and considering Jesus as the Good Shepherd.  Consider joining us this Sunday, at 2510 Chaska Blvd. at 9:30 a.m.

Awkward Moments

So the Super Bowl is coming up in just a few days and maybe you, like me, will be going to a Super Bowl party.  Well, I thought I might share a few tips to help us avoid those awkward moments that could come up during the big event.

Tip #1: If you are going for a high five after a great play, make sure that the other person is also planning on the same maneuver.  There is nothing worse than standing up in the midst of a great moment with your hand raised in the “high five” position only to find nothing but air waiting for you up there.

Tip#2:  If you have not been paying close attention to the game and all of a sudden you notice a great play, if nobody else is cheering, make sure it is not an instant replay before you cheer wildly.

Tip #3: It is okay to enjoy the commercials at the big game, but talking loudly during the game and telling everyone to be quiet during the commercials is not acceptable.  The same holds true for the halftime show.

Tip #4: There are always people at Super Bowl parties who are not as interested in the game as you might be.  It is okay to pretend to be listening to them when they talk, but watch out for those awkward moments when you find out that they have been waiting for a response and you have no idea what they were talking about.

Tip #5:   Double-dipping is okay, only when it takes place on your own plate.

So I hope those were some good tips that will help us all avoid any awkward moments at the big game.  It is never fun to be caught in the midst of an awkward moment.  But this Sunday, at The River, we will be catching someone in the midst of a few awkward moments.

In John 5, we find a healing that Jesus does in Jerusalem, but while it is miraculous, it is also a little bit strange.  The man who is healed has several awkward moments in this passage that are hard to understand.  But these awkward moments also can serve as reminders to us about what to do when God is at work in our lives.  Join us at The River this Sunday to find out more.

And, if you are looking for a Super Bowl party to attend, consider joining ours.  We will be at the home of one of our River Church families’.  Give us a call (952-654-7620) if you want to attend.

Never Be Thirsty Again

Did you know that water is our bodies’ principal chemical component and that every system in our body depends on water?  I was reading an article on the Mayo Clinic website ( that talked about how much our bodies need water.  It was a very interesting article that brought up something that surprised me.

According to the Institute of Medicine the average adult male, living in a temperate climate, needs 13 cups of fluids a day.  The total is 9 cups for women.  I had always heard 8 cups, but this article shows that information to be based more on the ease of remembering that number (8 cups of 8 ounces each) than on factual information about what is best for the body.  Although, if we are at least drinking 8 cups, then we will be in the ballpark.

The article also says that if we are drinking enough water, then we should rarely be thirsty.  We should be hydrating ahead of time, before we need it.  That makes sense, but we tend to rely on our thirst to let us know when we need to drink something.

I doubt that I drink enough water.  I know that I get thirsty periodically throughout the day.  Especially when I am being more physically active, or when it is hot outside.  But imagine if we only had to drink one time per day and that would be enough water for that day?  Imagine if we took one drink and then we were never thirsty for the rest of our lives?  That would be incredible wouldn’t it?

Well, in the Bible, Jesus was talking with a woman while sitting by a well, and He told her that He had living water and whoever drank that water would never be thirsty again.  Of course she was intrigued.  She was also confused.  But after spending time with Jesus, her life was changed forever.

You see, Jesus was talking spiritually not physically.  He was referring to that thirst within us that can only be quenched by a right relationship with God.  And that thirst can be quenched, once for all, through Jesus Christ.  You can read the story in John 4 and you can find out more about it at The River this Sunday, at 9:30 a.m.

Megaphone Guy

Have you ever gone to an event in a major city and passed by that guy who stands on the street corner yelling into a megaphone? Sometimes it is a spiritual message like the end of the world, or the need for repentance.  Sometimes it is someone trying to sell you something or maybe even someone who is just a little bit delusional.  But typically our response is to move to the other side of the street to avoid, “megaphone guy.”

But what motivates “megaphone guy” to do what he does?  Have you ever thought about that?  Why is he out there in the cold or heat, enduring the disdain of many onlookers, proclaiming a message that most people seem to be ignoring?  Good question isn’t it?  We don’t know what motivates them to do what they do.  But it must be pretty important to them, or they wouldn’t go through all that trouble.

There was a man from Scripture that I think we sometimes compare with “megaphone guy.”  His name was John the Baptist.  He was definitely out there on the fringe of society.  He hung out in the wilderness, wore clothes made out of camel’s hair, ate locusts and wild honey and preached a message of repentance and that the kingdom of Heaven was near.

But one big difference between John the Baptist and “megaphone guy” was that people didn’t go across to the other side of the street to pass by, they gathered round.  John’s ministry was very popular.  Many people flocked to hear his message and to be baptized.  Some even thought that he was the Messiah.  There were some who didn’t like his message, and eventually he was imprisoned and beheaded because of what he said, but he was very popular with the people.

However, when Jesus showed up, many people stopped following John and began following Jesus.  This made some of John’s followers a little upset.  They didn’t want Jesus taking over their turf.  But John had a very amazing response.  He said, “He must become greater, I must become less.”  John wasn’t jealous of Jesus, and he didn’t look at their ministries as if it was a competition.  He wanted Jesus to succeed.  He even saw his ministry as being all about pointing people to Jesus.

What a great attitude.  And it is that attitude that we are going to look at this Sunday as we take a look at John the Baptist as part of our “Lessons from the Life of Christ” series.  See you Sunday.

Rainbow Man

Have you ever heard of Rollen Stewart?  It is not a very familiar name, although I think many of you have probably seen him before.  He is also known as Rainbow man.  Back in the 80’s Rollen donned a rainbow wig and started showing up at major sporting events.  He first showed up in 1977 at the NBA Finals, where he stood out because of his crazy wig and his even crazier dancing.  Then in 1980 after becoming a professing Christian he made up a sign that said John 3:16 and he began bringing that with him to sporting events.

Throughout the 80’s he traveled all over the place with that wig and that sign, including the Olympics, the World Cup, the NFL playoffs, The Indy 500, The Masters, and even the royal wedding between Prince Charles and Lady Dianna.  He also brought along a little battery operated television to figure out where the best place was to get picked up by the video cameras.  So he was frequently seen on TV.  Sports producers became tired of his antics and tried to keep him off the air, even going so far as to threaten to fire cameramen who allowed Rollen to show up in their frame.

He became famous enough to be parodied on Saturday Night Live.  Unfortunately, his personal life began to fall apart and he wound up in prison serving three life sentences.  But many still remember his John 3:16 sign and his crazy rainbow wig.  And maybe they were intrigued enough to pick up a Bible and find out what that reference was all about.

John 3:16 is the most famous verse in the Bible.  People who have never stepped foot in a church are even familiar with this verse, or at least the reference.  And this verse will be the focus of our sermon this Sunday.  I will be looking not only at John 3:16, but also at the passage surrounding it, helping us to delve a little deeper into what is being talked about.  Join us at 9:30 this Sunday at 2510 Chaska Blvd., to find out more.