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Driving Notes

The Official Blog of WNZR's Afternoon Drive

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Gospel of John

Prayer: Unity vs. Division

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Today we are live at the 2017 Dan Emmett Music and Arts Festival, but also continue our summer-long series on prayer, inspired by The Battle Plan for Prayer by Alex and Stephen Kendrick.

This week we explore the importance of unity and praying for unity.

Genesis 11 is the story of the Tower of Babel.  What do we learn in verses 1-9?

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward,[a] they found a plain in Shinar[b] and settled there. They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel[c]—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

We learn that even ungodly people can be powerful in unity…but imagine the power we tap into when we worship the God of the Universe. THIS is why the enemy specializes in sowing seeds of mistrust and disunity.  He knows what the alternative is – a powerful opponent.

United prayer is powerful.  We need to work to remove bitterness, pride, and selfishness.

John 17 reminds us that Jesus prayed for his people to be unified into one body; God loves and blesses unity.  Unity draws attention to Jesus, who died for us and now lives to intercede for us.

When people see unity, they see what?  Purpose, love and power. It’s attractive and beautiful. The early church in Acts was devoted to prayer and each other.  The unity was so powerful that God’s hand was upon them and they grew.

Acts 2:43 – “everyone was filled with AWE at the many wonders and signs…”

What do we communicate when we are divided?

We communicate pride, selfishness and ignorance.  Ephesians 4:1-3

As prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

God’s blessings fall when we dwell together in unity.  He moves when we remove our hearts of sin.

Mark 11:24-26 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” [26]

I John 4:20-21 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Unity must dwell in a home for it to flourish – the same goes for the church!

Romans 12:18 reminds us to live peacefully with everyone – but when it’s beyond our influence, we pray. We pray for unity with other believers and that we will not allow Satan to divide us over secondary issues.

We fight back against the enemy by CHOOSING to seek the Lord in humility and unity – remember revival happens with a humble and repentant heart.

What would it look like if churches actually worked together within a city to win the lost?  Sharing resources and not caring who gets the credit?

If you want a powerful, unified movement of God among a willing people then you must pray for it and fight for it! Ask the Lord to link you with others who share that mindset.

It’s been done before. Jeremiah 33:3 promises: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

The Chapter 15 Prayer: “Lord, I’ve seen the kind of damage that can result from being in conflict with others, when we’re keeping our distance, especially among fellow believers. I’ve felt the hypocrisy of it all.  I’ve kept seeing the same names and faces when convicted about people I struggle to get along with.  But it’s hindering me, Lord. In my prayer and in my freedom.  Help me take whatever steps necessary to bring healing to any broken relationships. And to desire unity with everyone who claims the name of Christ.  So that together, we can work for your kingdom and the glory of your name.  Amen.”

Thanks for listening!
-Joe and Lilly

Praise for the Good Shepherd

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Today I shared thoughts about Jesus as the Good Shepherd.  I’m thankful for a God who continues to pursue us, despite our tendency to run away, get lost, or try to do things on our own.

Luke 15 shares the three parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son.  They remind us of four very important points:

  • God loves lost people and seeks them out; EVERY person is important to God
  • God celebrates when a lost person is found
  • We may turn our backs on God, but He never turns his back on us
  • God has compassion for the lost – he understands how sometimes how hard it is for us to come home – but still welcomes us with open arms!

John 10 reminds us that Jesus has the authority to be our Shepherd because He and the father are one!

Today’s Word of the Day is maelstrom, which we shared right after the song ‘Eye of the Storm,’ – it means a powerful often violent whirlpool. In the eye of the storm, he remains in control!

Thanks for listening!
-Joe

 

The ‘Son of God’ movie

Five of our MVNU students and I had the opportunity to see a screening of ‘Son of God’ Sunday night 2/23 at the 2014 National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville, TN.  On Saturday night, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey spoke briefly at NRB about the film, their inspiration to share what they believe, and the fact it was opening on 3,100 screens nationwide – huge for a faith-based film.  Clearly, their success in producing ‘The Bible’ miniseries got the attention of the entertainment community.

This is my personal response to the film without spoiling too much:

First, it is shot and acted beautifully.  It is of very high quality.  If you are not aware, the movie tells the story from John’s perspective in the Gospel of John.  He narrates the film from the opening scene from his exile at Patmos where he tells us, “in the beginning was the Word…” and away we go.  If you saw ‘The Bible,’ you’ll recognize some of the flashbacks and opening montage.

There is no question the movie takes a few artistic liberties, but that’s to be expected.  The scene with Lazarus is different in the fact that Jesus enters the tomb instead of calling from outside of it.  There is an almost Jedi-like ‘force push’ in one scene that shows this Jesus is no ordinary man.  You’ll find your own subtle differences with the script vs. the actual scripture.

Since I saw ‘Passion of the Christ’ in the theater, ‘Son of God’ was not as emotionally wrenching for me as I thought going in.  ‘Passion’ was such an intense, raw depiction of the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Christ that it would be hard to duplicate that.  Was it emotionally stirring?  Yes.  But the reality is, having seen this play out before on the big screen, it wasn’t as emotional for me.

What sets this film apart from ‘Passion’ is that it goes beyond Calvary to the resurrection, the appearance to Thomas and the others, and the Ascension.  I loved that.

For the people dismissing it because they don’t trust Mark Burnett and Roma Downey…forget that.  The film is not about them!  Yes, Roma plays Mary, Mother of Jesus, but the point is, I didn’t see any mocking or blatant abuse of the biblical story.  It doesn’t advance some crazy theological viewpoint.

Here’s what I keep coming back to:

1- Many of us have children who were too young to see ‘Passion.’ Our Rachel was 5, so she just wasn’t ready.  But she can see this film and I want her to.  There’s a 10-15 year range of our “Millenial or iY” children that haven’t experienced the story of Jesus played out on the big screen.  They need to see this – with their friends and church leaders who can be ready to respond to them.  They VERY LIKELY will be emotionally impacted by the violence of the trial and crucifixion.  Be there for them!

2- As NRB President Dr. Jerry Johnson said this past weekend, we should be thankful that Hollywood wants to make faith-based films and recognizes that there is an audience for them.  I would hope we would support those films.  We, as the body of Christ, in the marketplace and in the work force, must be ready to answer the questions that will inevitably result.  Answering those questions with truth and love, remembering when we discovered the beauty and majesty of Jesus ourselves, should drive us to intersect with those seeking or those who feel compelled to renew or re-ignite their relationship with Him!

-Joe

John 3:16- what’s the big deal?

Jayme and I have been discussing the Gospel of John for our Thursday Bible series this month.  Recently we got to one of the Bible’s signature verses, the one that’s been paraded around on signs for years- John 3:16. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV).

I sometimes get concerned that the “parading” of this verse has weakened its significance.  That shouldn’t happen.  John 3 is important; critical to our faith.  So what’s the big deal? 

Here’s the big deal.  The entire sequence of John 3 is Jesus teaching Nicodemus about the concept of eternal life, or getting into the kingdom of God.  I like what The Promise Keepers Bible says about John 3: it addresses the one most important issue you face- discovering who Jesus is, and either accepting or rejecting His words and His identity as truth.

Jesus taught Nicodemus the plan of redemption in three basic parts:

1- God loves us infinitely and unconditionally and still seeks us despite our rebellion.

2- God demonstrated that love by giving his Son (Jesus) for us, while we were still in sinful rebellion against Him.

3- We must believe in Jesus in order to receive God’s forgiveness and enter his kingdom.  Believing in Him means we follow His teachings and commands.

When we read John 3, it’s also important that we don’t forget what author and pastor David Platt’s book Radical calls “one of the most neglected verses concerning God’s wrath.”  It’s the last verse of the passage, John 3:36:

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (NIV).

The truth is, we need God.  We need Jesus. Platt calls it “our desperate need for Christ.” Accepting or rejecting Him IS the one most important issue we face.  We become reconciled to God through our belief and trust in Him.  Let’s take the time to consider if we are truly trusting in Christ for our salvation!

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