...for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

2 Corinthians 3:6

AA for All of Us – Pastor Matt Ragain

Posted by on Mar 7, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an incredible organization.  They exist for the soul purpose of helping people overcome their addiction to alcohol.  According to AA there are three (of 12) things someone must do to start the process of recovery: (1) admit they’re powerlessness over alcohol and the unmanageability of their lives, (2) the admission of a power greater than themselves to restore them to sanity, and (3) make a decision to turn their will and their lives over to God as they know him.

There is a reason the first three steps sound like following Jesus; because, this is the process someone uses to come to faith.  Regardless if we struggle with some kind of addiction to alcohol, we are all addicts.  We are addicted to ourselves.  We have the power to rule our lives and we protect that power at all cost.  We all wear an invisible crown.

Jesus clearly says—in Matthew chapter 8—that following him is going to cost us something.  Jesus isn’t saying our lives will become miserable if we follow him, but our lives will never be the same.  There is a cost to following him.  The cost is this: we take the crown off our own head and we place it on the head of Jesus.  In other words, we are no longer the ruler in charge of our lives, but rather, Jesus is.

We see this most clearly in the life of the disciple Peter.  Peter struggled in many ways, and Jesus never gave up on him.  Peter even betrayed Jesus by denying him publicly.  Peter was like many of us, he was afraid of what would happen to him if he gave up his crown.  Later, in the book of John, Jesus tells Peter that he is going to die because of Jesus.  Much later in life Peter joyfully goes to his own death, because the crown was no longer on his head but on the head of Jesus.

Why was Peter so willing to die for Jesus?  Because he knew that in giving up his life he would actually gain everything.  Jesus says, those who find their lives will lose it, but those who lose their lives on account of me will find it.

Christians need to go through Alcoholics Anonymous because we are all addicted to ourselves. Only in giving up that addiction can God create something new and beautiful in us.

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2 Brothers – Pastor Matt Ragain

Posted by on Mar 6, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Jesus says that the one who hears his words and obeys is like a wise man that built his house on the rock. There are two things this person must do: hear and obey. Obedience cannot be accomplished without hearing. Hearing is not realized until what has been taught has been put into practice.

Jesus gives another parable to make this point. There were 2 sons and their father told them to go work in the vineyard. One son says no, but later changes his mind and goes to the vineyard to work. The other son says yes, but later changes his mind and does not go to the vineyard to work. Jesus asks which son did what the father asked? Well, obviously it’s the first son.

This is such an important parable to understand. We see how hearing and obeying are closely intertwined. The first son did not want to go. He even told his father no. You might call this son incredulous or foolish or ungrateful. Perhaps he was just grumpy. Whatever the reason this son spoke boldly and wickedly to his father. He refused a simple request to his father’s face. And yet something did not sit well with this son. After considering his father and perhaps the request, the first son concludes that his initial refusal was too strong. The first son, realizing his mistake, is moved by his conscience to obey the father by going to work the vineyard.

By contrast the second son does the opposite. He wanted to please the father. He likes the father and doesn’t want to disappoint, so he says he will obey and work the vineyard. But after some time this son begins to think about the inconvenience of working the vineyard. His father probably doesn’t even need help in the vineyard anyway. What is the big deal? So what if he doesn’t go. His father has other workers.

This parable shows clearly the difference between what we say and what we do. We might say that we love and follow God, but our lives reflect the reality—or unreality—of that belief. The son who truly believed was, ironically, the son who said he would not go.

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