Posts in Ryan Sharp
Change Your Mind

Key Scripture: Colossians 3:18-4:18

The reason most of us come to church is to get help with our relationships. Our marriage is struggling, our family is failing, and people are constantly disappointing us. God’s Word is clear: The Truth of Christ and good news of the gospel is our only hope for a changed life and healthier relationships. Why, then, do so many of us still struggle? Nothing in our lives will ever change until how we think about everything changes. Our minds are naturally conformed to the world’s self-focused way of thinking. Jesus came to transform us by renewing our minds. He came to show us that the surest way to get over our problems is to get over ourselves. Worship and sacrifice free us to experience the fullness of life Jesus offers us. To experience life change, we need a change of mind.

Scripture References: Romans 12:2, 2 Timothy 3:1-2, Matthew 16:25, Revelation 5:11-14

Exclusive Truth

Key Scripture: Colossians 2:1-23

Truth isn’t popular. Our world prides itself in being “inclusive” to all truth, yet all truth is exclusive by nature. Jesus claimed to be the exclusive Truth and the only Way to God. To call Him just another great religious teacher is to seriously misunderstand Who He is and what He said about Himself. He came to pay the infinite and impossible debt we owed God because of our sin. This means we no longer have to keep working to pay it off through exceptional moral living or religious performance. We can rest assured in the Truth that our sins are forgiven and we are righteous in Christ, regardless of how we might feel in any given moment. This is truth worth celebrating!

Scripture References: Matthew 18:23-27, Jeremiah 17:9, Luke 8:13

Gospel Truth

Key Scripture: Colossians 1:15-29

The only Truth that can change lives and change our world is the Truth of Jesus Christ. He is the perfect expression and visible representation of God to us, the One who made all things and holds everything together. As we get to know Him more, we become more like Him; as we become more like Him, we become less like this world. This difference will always bring opposition from those who stand against the good things of God. As Christ followers, we must be willing to endure any hardships that result from our standing for the Truth of the Gospel. We must speak boldly about sin, grace and the Cross of Jesus Christ. We must never be ashamed of the good news of Jesus – for it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes!

Scripture References: John 5:39, John 14:6, Philippians 3:8, Hebrews 1:1-3, John 1:1, James 4:4, John 15:18, Acts 4:29, Romans 10:13-14, Romans 1:16, 1 Corinthians 1:18, 22-24

The Truth

Key Scripture: Colossians 1:1-14

Countless Christians in the American Church today live in fear of standing for Truth and supporting the authority of Scripture. Why? Because we’re afraid of offending people and being labeled “one of those” narrow-minded and intolerant Christians. The result is often a timid, silent, and private form of Christianity that bears little resemblance to the revolutionary, world-changing Faith of the early Church. While our efforts to show God’s love to others must continue in full force, we must never stop boldly proclaiming His Truth. But we can’t proclaim what we don’t first possess ourselves. It’s time to once again cultivate a hunger for the knowledge of Christ and the Truth of His Word. It’s time to hold fast to the gospel as if life itself depends on it – because now more than ever, it most certainly does.

Scripture References: Colossians 4:6, Amos 8:11-12, Joshua 1:8

Gun Violence

Key Scripture: Genesis 4:1-18

Gun violence and mass shootings have become a pervasive and petrifying problem in our country. Since 1982, there have been 109 mass shootings in the U.S. that have left 883 dead and 1,328 wounded. It seems no place in our society is really safe, as these acts of violence have taken place at schools, the workplace, restaurants, and even churches. Gun violence as a whole results in more than 11,000 murders every year in our country and more than 20,000 deaths by suicide. When the news breaks of yet another shooting, the public debate over gun control and mental health begins anew. How do we stop this evil from happening? To stop violence in our country ultimately requires going to the source of the problem: the human heart. When a person feels extreme rejection from an individual or from society as a whole, that hurt can turn into anger and acts of vengeance. As the Church, we must show people they are known and loved and give them a place to belong. We must also examine our own hearts for any evidence of anger or bitterness and sever the root of violence through the grace and forgiveness found in Christ.

Scripture References: Matthew 5:21-22, Hebrews 11:4, Genesis 3:15, Romans 6:14, Hebrews 12:24, Matthew 5:23-24, Ephesians 4:32, Ephesians 2:13

Immigration

Key Scripture: Luke 10:25-37

Immigration and mass migration have become complicated and divisive problems in our country. Since 1960, the U.S. has continued to serve as the top destination for international migrants as the land of freedom and opportunity. This influx has led to increasingly tense public debate over our national economy and security as we struggle to balance our humanitarian responsibility with our ability to care for humanity. Is the ultimate solution walls and travel bans, or can we make a greater difference as the Church? Immigration is a problem for our country because the Church has failed in her imitation of our Christ. God repeatedly calls His people to care for the foreigner and love the immigrant, not as a matter of public policy but as a matter of personal responsibility. Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan reminds us that the surest solution to immigration concerns is not an open or closed border, but the open doors of the Church and Christian homes. Will we love others the way He has loved us?

Other Scripture References: Deuteronomy 10:18-19, Psalm 146:9, Leviticus 19:9-10, Leviticus 19:33-34, James 2:15-16, 1 John 3:17-18, Matthew 25:35, John 8:48

Abortion

Key Scripture: Proverbs 24:11-12

Abortion is a most serious problem in our country and in our world. This past January 22nd marked the 46th anniversary of the landmark SCOTUS decision, Roe v. Wade, that made it illegal for any state to ban abortion. Since that time, nearly 60 million legal abortions have been performed in the U.S., an average of 1.3 million abortions per year. This means that for every 1,000 babies born, more than 200 have been killed prior to birth. How is this still happening? Every day, lies are told and laws give permission for this evil to be committed in ignorance and defiance. As the Church, we must educate and inform people with the truth – that every unborn child is very much a child and has a God-given right to life. We must also offer hope to those considering abortion, showing them it is not their only way out. We must use our voice to speak for those who don’t yet have one. We must fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.

Scripture References: Luke 18:15-16, Luke 1:44, 46, Psalm 139:16

Racism

Key Scripture: Ephesians 2:13-16

Racism remains a serious problem in our world. People are still pre-judged by the color of their skin and by their outward appearance, not by the content of their character. Our divided World is desperately in need of a united Church who is determined to see each other as God sees us. Jesus died to bring an end to pride, to fear, and to prejudice. The Cross demolishes distinctions we make for ourselves and unites us in our humanity, our sin and our salvation. As the Church, we are called to fight against Ignorance by listening to and learning from others who have different experiences than we have. We must overcome Indignation and pursue reconciliation and freedom through Forgiveness. We must oppose Indifference and acknowledge racism as our problem – not just their problem. One day, “every tribe and language and people and nation” will be united in God’s presence forever. Until then, let’s give the world a glimpse of that glorious Day!

Scripture References: Galatians 3:27-28, James 2:1, James 1:19-20, Romans 5:8

There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period that the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was the thermostat that transformed the mores of society…If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. – Martin Luther King, Jr. (Letter from the Birmingham Jail, 1963)

Apply Within

Key Scripture: Matthew 5:13-16

Poverty. Racism. Immigration. Gun Violence. Abortion. Human Trafficking. Our world has problems. God has plenty to say about the problems in our world, and He wants to use His Church to do something about them. The Christian Church has been the single most influential and world-shaping entity in human history. Recently, however, we have lost – or rather, abdicated – our position of transformational influence. We tend to focus on the wrong things and do little to meet the needs and fix the problems our culture is actually facing. We care more about our needs being met in church than we care about meeting needs as the Church. We have lost sight of the need, the brokenness, and the Battle. And it’s time to re-engage. Help is Wanted. Apply today!

Scripture References: Isaiah 5:1-2, Matthew 7:16-20, Matthew 16:18

(Those who have) applied to serve in the legion of the expendables; who love not their lives unto the death; who volunteer to suffer for Christ’s sake and who follow up their application with lives that challenge the devil and invite the fury of hell. – A.W. Tozer

Wise Christmas

Key Scripture: Matthew 2: 1-12

During the Christmas season, we never seem to have enough money. Our bank account balance falls miserably short of everything we want to buy for friends and family, so we put it on a credit card and hope for the best. Instead of snow-balling our debt and paying it off, we end up crushed by a financial avalanche. If you’re missing Peace because of all of the “stuff” you need to get, it’s time to put Christ back in the center of your finances. Give regularly back to Him, especially during seasons when it’s most difficult to give. Learn to give like Him, caring more about the person than the present. The greatest gifts we receive have nothing to do with what we want, and everything to do with who we are and who we’re becoming. Instead of buying gifts that cost a lot, give gifts that mean a lot - and rediscover the Peace you’ve been missing.

Scripture References: 1 Timothy 6:17, 1 Timothy 6:9-10, Ephesians 4:28, Malachi 3:10