Religion vs. Reformation

In the recent election, a survey was conducted and the question was, “Are you a born again believer?”… Over 70% of America answered YES to this question. As much as I want to love this statistic, there is NO way this is true. It also went on to say that every president since Carter has been a “born again” believer. Again, as much as I love that answer, our country paints a different picture. IF we are that full of born again believers as a nation, then why, since Carter’s time in office, have MILLIONS of babies been disposed of in the name of convenience and “rights”?… Why do we have the struggles with poverty and hunger right here in our nation as we do? Why then, is the United States the leading nation for profits in the Sex slave and porn industry? It doesn’t take long when doing research on this to find that the problem is the understanding of what it is to be truly “born again”. This word comes from a greek word, ?????????, which means “Born from above”. Webster’s Dictionary would define it to be “created again”. It’s very clear that when scriptures talk of regeneration, it’s an understanding that we are dead to who we used to be and alive in Jesus. NO middle ground here. The word we see this culture getting regeneration confused with is “reformation”. Webster would define reformation as “making better, creating something better”… The very thing Paul warns the church in Philippi to stay away from – the “I’m not as bad as I used to be” mentality. It’s very easy in this culture to compare our lives to others and think we are “doing pretty good.” The more we press into that, the more we distance ourselves from the reality of our need of Jesus and nothing but the blood of Jesus! Hell is full of folks who spent their whole lives trying to recreate a souped up, better version of themselves.

In the text of John 3, we see a man, Nicodemus, who spends his WHOLE life “reforming” himself. He used his ability to follow all 613 Jewish Laws as his ticket into Heaven. Yet, Jesus implodes everything he had been taught. Jesus’ message is loud and clear in the ENTIRE text we read: “IT’S ALL ABOUT ME”!!!!! It’s not about religion, it’s not about rules, or anything else. NOTHING but the blood of Jesus!!!

We then see how ole Nick just couldn’t put the pieces together. The text tone shows that Nick couldn’t frame it up, so we saw Jesus do what he still does today: He meets Nicodemus right where he was at! Jesus knew he wasn’t getting it, and doesn’t condemn Nicodemus for it. He simply helps him understand by telling a familiar story from Numbers 21. We looked at the story of the snakes biting and killing the people in Numbers 21, but how God told Moses to make a snake out of bronze and put it on the staff and that anyone who looked at his staff would be healed from their snake bites. Jesus was able to tie this story into what He came to do. HE clearly quotes Numbers 21, saying, “Nicodemus, sin has entered into the framework of humanity. We have ALL been bitten and I am the only remedy to that sin!!” Jesus, though the rest of the scriptures, continued to unpack this reality: “IT’S ALL ABOUT ME!!!” For God so loved the world, HE gave his only son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life… Are we living a life in that acceptance, or are we working for it? How we answer that question dictates whether we are walking in freedom or not! Are we reformed or regenerated? How would Jesus call you out today?

Soli Deo Gloria!

Ryan Hurt


40 Days with Jesus

So last Sunday began our first look into the 40 days with Jesus series that will be leading up to Easter in April. Like everything here, I have felt strongly led to do everything in my power to get underneath the “cutesy” side of Christianity, and into seeing Jesus for who he truly is. I believe with all my heart that when we get a glimpse of the risen savior, what he did for us on the cross, and the power of the blood that was shed for us, it changes everything!…

I sat in a youth room years ago and heard Daniel Hancock unpack the Gospel in way I had never heard before. It not only changed my life, but I truly got a glimpse of Jesus in a way that forever changed everything, including the direction of my life. When people see the Lord I saw that night, it’s life changing. It has since been my mission to do everything in my power to show the amazing grace that Jesus offers.

We began this journey into the 40 days with Jesus looking at the story through the eyes of John the Baptist. We saw that in Matthew 3 and in John 1:29, when he saw Jesus coming, he knew without a shadow of a doubt that THIS was the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world! We took this snapshot and asked ourselves: do we see Jesus in this light? Do we see him as the Lamb of God who takes away ALL our sins? Or do we find ourselves trying to create a better version of ourselves that he might like?… This led us to the next part in the text. In Matthew 3, John warns the religious to be careful finding their identity in religious behaviors, lost in the imaginations of their hearts. Religion sends hundreds of thousands to hell because they miss the whole point: that it’s all about Jesus! (Matthew 7:14)….Church is good, and would even encourage folks to get plugged in and serve the local church, as we are the bride of Christ. But, we can’t find our identity in the church. It must be found in Jesus.. That we gain Christ and THAT be our anthem first and foremost.

We then see Jesus give us the model of baptism as he climbs down into the Jordan to be Baptized by John. Not to wash away his sins, but to show us (by example) what he would do for us on Calvary. That he would die on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, raise up from the dead 3 days later, and then send his Spirit to us to help us in the broken Genesis 3 world we live in! It’s such a  beautiful picture of what he did for us creating the most unbelievable love story mankind has ever seen! We then took time partaking of communion as we challenged the church to spend the next 56 days, and 8 Sunday’s in a season of Lent where we are running hard after Jesus, finding time to be in his word, opening our hearts before him, and asking him to reveal our hearts to us. The challenge was also to fast from anything that stands in the way of that! I can’t wait to hear the amazing testimonies that will come out of this study! I look forward to the days ahead as we make this journey in an intentional pursuit of Jesus!!! C’mon Lord!


Ryan Hurt


But God…That’s not what I wanted to talk on!

It’s so funny how God works, you would think by now I would have learned that any time I desire to take the reins from an all sovereign God, it will never end well! Thank GOD for his amazing grace, for always dealing with my stubbornness, and granting mercy in my continued picking up the pieces after disobedience! That being said, last week was yet another attempt by me to let God know what I wanted to talk about, which ended up with me scrapping all my notes on Friday night, finally understanding this was a battle that I was not going to win!

We are at the place in the story of David where he is on the run from King Saul. I noticed, as I was preparing for the upcoming days, this “wilderness” that was mentioned 4 times in 1 Samuel 23. But as I read it and began feeling the nudge of the Holy Spirit, my thoughts were “We have already talked about the wilderness and we can’t talk about it again”… or so I thought. You see we pastors fall in a dangerous trap where the spirit of comparison is thick in the circle of ministry (whether we admit it or not). That comparison makes us think we have to do things certain ways, on certain time schedules and certain preparation in doing so! When the Holy Spirit steps in and has HIS ways of wanting things to go, well it can sure wage war against everything else! This was EXACTLY what happened in me last week!

On Friday I threw in towel and realized this “wilderness” that God was showing me was a different wilderness than we discussed before. This was a wilderness caused by sin. God no doubt allows us to be in the wilderness in times of testing, and growing and preparing as we discussed in the previous weeks but the wilderness can also come because of sin. Because of Genesis 3 and their desire in the Garden to choose the things of this world over the Lord’s will it forever damaged humanity! Because of this decision, bad days happen and the phone call comes that can rock us to the core. Because of Genesis 3, none of us are subject to days of blue skies and rainbows for the rest of our lives. Even for believers! God NEVER promises that there won’t be bad days but he promises to be with us when they do (not if) come!

There is this underlying messages in a lot of today’s churches and that message is “Get to this spiritual level, and nothing bad will happen anymore”.. If you just pray hard enough, go to church and serve enough, tithe enough .your marriage will be perfect and foolproof, your bad days will HAVE to go away, and your bank accounts will be full of money! Some of these churches will even preach from pulpit that in seasons where you are broke, or spouse left you it was YOUR fault for not praying like you should have… This is NOT the Gospel and can show you from Genesis to Revelation from Moses, to Abraham, to Joseph, to David, to Peter, to Paul, to ALL the disciples a life marked by great and abundant seasons as well as seasons where the phone call came and in fetal position wondering where God was. If these people of the bible, ultimately making the hall of fame people of the bible in Hebrews had bad days….so are we! Whether you are an atheist or the next anointed Billy Graham the reality of life is bad days are coming, the phone call is coming. It’s not because you lack in faith or didn’t create enough “work” for the kingdom. Rather it’s because we have an enemy who sees the opportunity to shut down any work of God and will always do what he can to enter into the framework of our stories to try and do so… this is exactly what happens in the story of David in 1 Samuel 23.

David has been in a season of abundance. He literally went from zero to hero overnight as he defeated the giant. He has been anointed to be the next king, he has defeated a 9 foot giant, he has heard the shouts of support from the Israel army and has heard the singing in the streets of just how great he was…. A good season….. but it’s this singing that satan sees and opportunity to step into the story and rear his ugly head. He does so by using pride through Saul. This pride of the people singing David’s praises over his sends him into a rage and goes on a witch hunt after David. By 1 Sam 19 David’s season of abundance is over as he is crawling out a window on the run for his life! For the next 10 years plus David is on the run from Saul.

As we unpacked this story the question went from not if these days would come or not to “How do we respond when they do”? How did David respond? We know exactly how he responds by looking into Psalm 18. We saw that it’s Psalm 18 that unpacks David’s unwavering faith in the Lord in these difficult days. He responds in the first 6 verses by showing his human-ness as he uses words like “encompassed” and “assailed” and “entangled and “confronted”…it’ every obvious that David is beat down with these bad days. Then he shifts gears and begins to see the sovereignty of the Lord in the next set of scriptures as he sees “smoke from the nostrils” of his God…. He begins to see that that the God of angel armies is on his side! He then says a profound statement in Psalm 18:18- “but the Lord is my support”. It was this sentence that we landed this sermon on. Is this our response? Can this be our response? Can we in the darkest of our days simply trust that God is in control and HE is our support? This is what made David, David. God I’m entangled in this and my life is tired of being in the wilderness and don’t have the answers for everything but I know all sovereign God that you are in control and you are my support and I can’t stop, I won’t stop! He has no idea that right around the corner is the greatest King Israel will ever see. All he knows is that the God of angel armies is on his side.

We paralleled this with the life of Paul and showed his stance was the same. Paul writes to the church in Philippi where he even states “I know how to abound in good days, and I know how to abound in days of need’… he goes on to say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”…. In other words I can’t begin to understand why things happen the way they do and some of those things are too big for me to even over come but I know that your in control and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! I can’t stop… I won’t stop! The Lord is my support! Is this your response? How do we respond when the phone calls come? Do we shake our fist at a “genie” that we have made the Lord or do we trust that even when satan and sin tries to damage us the God of angel armies will never be duped? He WILL work all things for HIS glory and our good and we can shout because of this “I can’t stop, and I won’t stop”!!!! Can we become more intent in trusting the God David trusted in his bad days and in his good days as well! The LORD is my support!