in search of a new god

new god


John 6:29|

“Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” (NLT)

[the search for significance]
Context is vitally important in understanding any Scripture so here’s the background information we all need. A large group of people had followed Jesus and in the evening hours, sat down. The disciples urged Jesus to send these people away because they were hungry and the disciples felt they could become upset or frustrated. Jesus, being the cool guy he is and all, told the disciples to feed the people with five fish and two loaves of bread.

Jesus is always asking us to do the impossible!

As the story continues, Jesus blesses the food and it multiplies, again and again and again. The food is multiplied so that the entire crowd (5000 men at the very least) were fed by the hand of God. Over 5000 people witnesses and experienced a move of God.

The next day the crowd woke up and discovered Jesus and his disciples had left them and went to the opposite side of the lake. The crowd followed Jesus. When Jesus saw the crowd arrive, he pointed out the reason they were there; they had not come because he had performed miracles but because they were given something to eat.

I want to pause for a second to ask this question: Why are you looking for Jesus?

Jesus continues on and shares with these people that they were seeking something perishable but they should be seeking eternal life. The crowd, wanting to please Jesus, told him, we want to do the work of God as well.

Then Jesus reveals the truth about the work of God. That the only work God wants from us is this-to believe.

[the search for purpose]
Jesus has this way of breaking down walls and barriers and revealing truth and grace in a way that impacts those who are truly seeking him. You see, Jesus said something that sounds so simple but it’s deeper than we can imagine.

First, Jesus plainly told the crowd, “I know why you’re here! You didn’t come because I have the ability to heal the sick, raise the dead and change water into wine; you came because you were hungry and you were given something to eat.”

Sometimes people seek Jesus because of what he offers in the temporary settings of this world. Sometimes all we are seeking is the blessings of a future with hope, we throw our lives towards a God who is all about us and is willing to give us what we need. Make no mistake, food was something this crowd needed but the focus was wrong, their hearts were wrong. They were seeking, not what Jesus wanted to give them but what they wanted him to provide.

Sometimes, personal satisfaction is the catalyst for following Jesus.

Jesus’ response not only expels people who seek him for their own purpose but also for the religious minded as well. In Jesus’ time, the religious leaders had built themselves into a society of demigod’s who believed that God was for them because of their religious activities.

Jesus made it more simple. What does God want from us? Faith in Christ.

True faith rests on the person and work of Christ alone.
True faith always seeks after Christ.
True faith abides in Christ and through grace produces obedience.
True faith leads us to live a life worthy of the calling we have already received.

When we seek after Jesus because of temporary needs fulfilled, we are in search for a new god. Yes, we are already loved by God. Yes, he cares about us and he will provide for our needs. Prosperity is not what we think though; prosperity is what God gives us, even if that doesn’t lead to much.

When we seek after Jesus because we believe he approves of our activities, we are in search of a new god. We are not seeking to worship Christ but simply to work and we work for ourselves when we do that. Working for God flows out of our worship for God.

Follow Jesus for who he is and what he has done for you.

in search of a new god| written by mike monica


why i love jesus and religion.

This past Sunday I attended Riverbank Church ( as they began a series in the book of James. I had planned on writing about the topic of faith without works however, due to unseen circumstances, I have had to rearrange a few things for the blog.

So I wanted to share this with you guys. Again, this covers the topic of semantics. I know one of the more popular phrases in Christian culture these days is I love Jesus but I hate religion. I know as you read that you’re probably thinking, yeah so what?  I’ll be honest I’ve said the phrase more times than I can count. I’m part of the guilty party who loudly stands up and says, I love Jesus but hate religion!

Heres where the issue lies, the phrase is problematic. Sure there are books that focus on Jesus hating religion and Jesus being better than religion.  The problem is that religion is always focused on what we do or can do to earn acceptance, favor, right standing and forgiveness from God.  It is completely self centered. The truth is that our acceptance to God is all because of Jesus. Our favor from God is all because of Jesus. Our right standing with God is all because of Jesus. Our forgiveness is all because of Jesus. When we discuss the idea that we can do something to earn something, we have ventured beyond religion and into legalism. Legalism says do, not religion.  Legalism says Jesus plus your works equals salvation.  Legalism is the problem.

This is why I love Jesus and Religion|

James 1:27|

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

When you or say I love Jesus but hate we hate religion, we imply that …

1] Caring for orphans doesn’t matter.

2] Caring for widows doesn’t matter.

3] Abstaining from the world by seeking first the kingdom of God & His righteousness doesn’t matter.

The first problem so to say that the church encountered was this lack of caring for widows. The problem was addressed and we were introduced to Stephen who became the first known martyr. His death gave Paul the opportunity to arrest Christians and thus meet Christ on the Damascus road. The issue was widows were being overlooked in food rations. The disciples taught a Biblical principle of staying faithful to your calling and delegating responsibility to able men. What the disciples did not do when they heard about issue was throw up their hands and cry, I love Jesus but hate religion.

Religion doesn’t teach that obedience earns our salvation; that is legalism. Religion may be the “To-do” list of Christianity but it still is a matter of the heart. Our obedience or lack thereof is a response to the identity and work of Christ. He gave his all and so should we.

Love Jesus. Love Religion. ____________________________________________________________________

why I love jesus & religion| written by mike monica

who is jesus| jesus is our light


Perhaps one of the greatest questions we can ask ourselves as believers is how we should respond to others. In doing so, we are given the opportunity to reflect the heart of God to an unbelieving world seeking after answers.

Jesus, while he was God in the flesh, used every opportunity to reflect the heart of God towards others. In one particular Scripture (John 8) Jesus is outside of the Temple holding a Bible study when he is encountered by a mob of angry legalists who desire to end the life of a woman caught in adultery. It is here where Jesus reveals just how God responds to us and how we are called to respond to others as we walk in the light.

John 8:12|    

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

1] Respond with Love.

The teachers of the law caught a woman in the act of adultery. What do you do when you find someone in sin? When we walk in the light, we don’t expose their darkness for dark purposes. The teachers of the law made the woman stand before the group in hopes of punishing her and trapping Jesus. When we find someone in the act of sin, we confront the sin in hopes of exposing the person to the light. In love, we have to address the sin with the person to show them how their actions offend God. In Matthew 18:15 it says, “”If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” As followers of the light, we can bring light even into the darkest of situations by the way we handle it.

2] Respond with Grace.

The teachers of the law announced this woman’s sin publicly. They made her stand before the group as they explained her wrongdoing to everyone. Can you imagine the shame, the fear, and the guilt she experienced? When we know about the darkness in a person’s life do we humiliate, shun, and embarrass them? Followers of the light do not. We have to address their sin, but taking it to the crowd is definitely not a way to win them over to follow Christ. Followers of Christ have to be mindful of our response when people’s darkness is announced to us. Do we sit and listen? Do we laugh? Do we criticize? Do we marginalize? Do we gossip about it with others? What did Jesus do? He reminded the crowd, as we should, that only the perfect ones among us have room to condemn. I love how He says it in Matthew 7:5, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Strong words of warning for us. We must be careful of how we respond to reports of wrong doing.

3] Respond with Faith.

Reminding someone of their darkness will not draw them closer to Christ. Sharing the truth about the power of the light will encourage them to turn away from the darkness of sin. Jesus did not condemn the woman or the teachers of the law. His actions gave room for the Holy Spirit to convict each of their hearts. The accusers put down the stones and walked away. The woman was given directions to leave her life of sin. In that moment, Jesus spoke these words to the people, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Every sinner can walk away from darkness and have light.

Before we expose a secret sin of someone else’s, or participate in gossip, or remind a believer how they used to be pause and allow the light of life to remind you of the day when you turned from darkness to light.


Have you been responding to sin in a way that draws people closer to Christ, or pushes them farther away? Have you leaned more toward condemnation or have you prayed for conviction. Ask God to show you how to respond in a way that allows Him to shine when you are confronted with darkness.


Jesus is Our Light| Written by Tesha Fritzgerald

Be sure to check out Tesha’s blog @



who is jesus| jesus remains our freedom

John 8:36|

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

Just consciously consider that! Like all the Holy Scriptures, John 8:36 is overwhelmingly astounding, particularly when you meditate on it continually from time to time. If you are going to direct your focus on anything, then you are bound to give that something your utmost time, attention, and consideration. That applies to the entirety of the Word of God, and John 8:36 is no exception. Yet, it does not take long for the revelation of John 8:36 to come bursting forth; literally exploding within your spirit by the Holy Spirit; disclosing the sovereignty of Jesus’ all-surpassing power of authority to “make you free!”

Certainly, John 8:36 is Jesus’ direct statement, not narrated, but uttered from His own mouth! Consequently, all four Gospels recording the life, lifestyle, and experiences of Jesus, The Christ, the Anointed One, are narrated from either eye-witness or second person accounts, and are divinely inspired of the Holy Ghost. Nonetheless, there are multiple passages in the scriptures (usually highlighted in red) whereby Jesus is speaking directly, and positively John 8:36 is one of them. Also, John 8:36 specifically affirm, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” Notice the Word does not say, “set you free,” but rather “make you free!” No one can change, delete, or add to what God has said. Similarly, no one can disqualify you from your freedom purchased and freely given to you by Jesus, as He is the sole Liberator.

In the beginning of John, Chapter 8 Jesus enters into the temple early in the morning and begins to teach the people. Obviously, His speaking and teaching is with authority, power, and demonstration of the Holy Ghost. Also, as usual, the Pharisees and Jews are present, and some with their negativity, who do not have ears to hear and yet refuse to hear. In John 8:12, Jesus testifies, “I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” Yet, the Pharisees respond, John 8:13, “You are bearing witness about yourself, your testimony is not true.” Therefore, because of their negativity and refusal of heart to hear what Jesus said earlier, they also refuse to hear what He says later. So, on the other hand, they miss the opportunity to hear the essentialness of the truth (they could have taken part in) spoken by God the Son in John 8:36, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” They could have been free that very moment when the Word was spoken had they received it, but they deliberately refused to hear the Word.

Further, you may continually hear the statement, “I thought only God can make you free!” You are right! Only God CAN make you free! Jesus, the Son, is just as much God as God is Himself. Remember, God highly exalted Him (Jesus) and “bestowed on Him the Name that is above every Name,” Philippians 2:9; and because He “bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors,” Isaiah 53:12; and further, “God, Who at sunder times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, Whom He has appointed heir of all things, by Whom also He made the worlds…” Hebrews 1:1-2. The Amplified Bible states, “…Whom He appointed Heir and lawful Owner of all things…” So, Jesus, God the Son, Who is appointed lawful owner of all things, has definite authority and power to make you free. John 8:36, Amplified Bible states, “So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men], then you are really and unquestionably free.” You are really (in truth), and unquestionably (incontestably) free!

Conclusively, Moreover, this is the provision of John 8:36, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed:”

• You are not tied or attached by cost in any way or form

• You are not a prisoner or slave; you are not bold to any person

• You are allowed to make your own decisions with your freedom of choice

• You are not limited by rules and regulations to anyone or any thing

• You are not affected by something adverse in the natural or below

• You are available for something, specifically, something good and beneficial

• You are a person the Son made “free indeed!”

[So, rejoice in the freedom you have received by the Son Who has made you free indeed!]

 Jesus remains our freedom| Written by Mamie L. Johnson

who is jesus| jesus is our freedom


So, being a former camp counselor, and—well—former kid, one of my favorite games to play was always Capture the Flag. Now, if you don’t know the gist of the game, then you probably grew up wrong. Okay, I’m joking. I’ll explain it. So, you have two teams on either side of a playing field. At camp, we divide the camp area in half. Each side is given a flag and chance to hide their flag on their side of the playing field. Now, once the flag is hidden, the game can start. Your object is to get the other team’s flag and bring it back to your side. To do that, you must cross into enemy territory, and once you cross that line onto their side, anyone on the opposite teams can tag you and take you to the designated jail. Now, the only way you could get out of jail is if one of your team members runs through and tagged someone in jail thereby freeing everyone captive in the jail to go back to their team’s side—free.

So, when I played capture the flag, I watched those who were brave enough to go onto the enemy’s side and look for the flag so they could bring it back and win the game. Then there were others who stayed on our side and tried to catch the enemy and put them in jail. I was neither. What I liked to do in Capture the Flag was wait until we had some of our team captured in jail, and I liked being the one to free them. It was an essential part of the game. See, if a lot of your players were stuck in jail, you had a weaker offense and defense. The only way to keep your team strong was to make a sacrifice and run at the jail guarded by the other team and hopefully find a way to free them without getting captured yourself.

It’s funny, but I look at a lot of Jesus’ teachings, and I see the theme of “freedom” etched throughout them. Freedom is actually a huge element in the Gospel because without Jesus, we are trapped and enslaved by the sin that entered into the world from the very beginning. So, I’m looking at John, and Jesus is teaching to a crowd on the Mount of Olives. As I’m reading, something sticks out.

John 8:31-36|

“Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?”

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever.So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”

See, the Jews believed that because they were “God’s chosen people” and promised descendants of Abraham that they were cool. They had no worries. They were on God’s team. Free.   Jesus had to pop their bubble. Remember these are the people “who believed in him”. They were on the road of following Jesus. They were going after that flag. Playing on the team, but Jesus says, ‘unless you are faithful to my teachings and know the truth, you are not free’. In Capture the Flag terms—you’re on the team, but you’re stuck in jail. And for the next several verses, Jesus tries to get them to see that fact—that just because they can see freedom, doesn’t mean they are free.

The difference between this and Capture the Flag is that the jail that sin traps us in doesn’t open the moment the flag is found. In fact, we so often stay in this jail watching game after game go on; rejecting the tag from our teammates who are trying to form a rescue party.   We don’t see victory, because we don’t know Truth. We don’t know Truth because we don’t know Jesus a.k.a the Truth a.k.a the Son who can make us free.

So what are you a slave, too? You see, it’s more than reading your Bible and being a “good church member.” There is more to being a follower than being involved in small groups, Bible studies and religious media. Following Jesus means we allow him to be known in our lives. Our lives should be known by Him! It’s that instant when you go from being a slave to being a son; from being in jail back to your side of the field; from being a prodigal son to inheriting the promise from the Father.


Jesus is Freedom (Part One)| Guest Post written by AC Jones

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the more you know [8 things your pastor wants to tell you]

The following guest post was written by Landon DeCrastos


Currently, the church I pastor is seeing more and more new people each week in our worship service. On a personal note, I have been incredibly encouraged concerning the growth I am seeing and the excitement on a weekly basis. Some people have approached me after a short time of attending and have sought to become more involved in the church. This is also great!

As I have reflected on this in the last few days, I have felt the need to tell people what they should expect when joining my church. The following are the 7 things that you should expect when taking the step to become a leader or generally involved in this worship community….these things are universal and can be applied to any other church.

1. Someone will eventually hurt your feelings….Someone is going to say something to you, or step on your toes, or even blurt something out randomly that will offend you.

2. You will encounter hypocrites. Churches are full of them and many are leaving the church for this reason… stores, civic groups, concerts, political groups, bus stops, restaurants, parking lots, hospitals, call centers, parties, and family reunions are also full of hypocrites….good luck avoiding those too.

3. Someone in my church will annoy you. Fact: everyone has an annoying side.

4. My message will not make sense to you on occasion. That’s okay…perhaps God will use it in your life later.

5. The music may not connect with you this Sunday. That’s okay….perhaps God will use it in your life later.

6. There will be discouraging times in our church. You can bet on this…..we are a church full of people with problems and regular discouragements. It just makes sense that a group of people would reflect this….

7.  Church will be boring at times. ….umm……..I got nothing. Sorry.

8. I am “not perfect.” …I love being a pastor and there is nothing else I would rather do. However, I am human and I make mistakes. God has me in the process of becoming more like Him.

There are going to be times that I let you down, I fail you and I mess up. I’m not perfect. Please forgive me as we both live out our calling to be all that God calls us to be.

Overall, the church is not only a family but it is a redemptive and purpose-oriented community. Due to the fact that it is filled with people, not everything is going to be perfect. When we are interacting with people with wounds, hang ups, and brokenness we have to understand that grace is not just something for people on the outside but we are the prototype before distribution.

Redemptive communities require imperfection to participate.

Please check out Landon’s blog @


my secret

I have a secret I’d like to share. I have a confession that I want to open up about. It’s something that I’ve not been proud of but God has and continues to work in and through my life and opens my eyes to see how great he really is. Are you ready for my secret? Here it is…

I hate my testimony.

A number of years ago, I finally got out of the military and returned home. I was going to stay in Mississippi but I realized the job market wasn’t all that great and all I could pull was a job at the local Wal-mart store. That wasn’t my thing so I decided to return home.

I worked for a construction company for about 3 or 4 months before moving on. I finally got involved in at Grafton Christian Church. I enjoyed being back at church which was the first time I had returned in a long time. I was reacquainting myself with fellowship with believers.

My best friend, Paul and his dad were conducting a Youth Group, which I was, somehow, given the title Youth Group Assistant Leader. It was a title I didn’t earn and it was a title that I didn’t deserve. I sure as heck wasn’t living the Christian life. I had one foot in church, one foot in the world. I was trying though. In all honesty, I was simply struggling to make sense of God and why things occurred the way they did in my life.

Then, one day, right after church there was a group of young people going out to New York on a mission’s trip to feed and clothe the homeless. I got into the back seat of the van and just began talking with them. One of the individuals asked me, “Are you going with us?” I said, “No, I didn’t sign up.” Then the Missions Trip Leader said, “We just had someone cancel because they got sick so we have an opening.” So, I said, “Sure, I’ll go.” I raced home, got a change of clothing for my overnight stay in New York and went out with the group.

We arrived at our hotel and were briefed as to what we will and should expect when we go out and meet people. One of the first objectives we had was to unpack our things and then write out our testimony. They reasoned with us that writing out our testimony were to help us become familiar with it because in sharing what Christ has done in our lives, we needed to keep it short. So, our testimony should not last more than five minutes because we don’t have much time with these people.

My immediate thought was, “Only five minutes? How in the world am I going to share ALL that God has done in my life in less than five minutes? Sharing the news of Jesus and his work in my life would take years.” So, we went off to our rooms and then I began to work on my testimony. I got a piece of paper and a pen and I was ready to write.

Nothing came of it. I sat there while the other guys were making a mess of the room and goofing off. Finally, after several minutes, one of the guys looked over and asked me, “What are you doing?” I glanced up quickly and said, “I’m trying to work on my testimony.” And the other guys were like “Oh yea, we should probably work on that.”

I continued to look down at my blank piece of paper and try to formulate some thoughts but still nothing came of it. I had nothing to say. I know when and where I came to know Christ. I remember the event like it was yesterday. Despite my intimate knowledge, nothing came to me.

I ventured out with the rest of the group into the neighborhood to begin ministry. I was, of course, freaking out because I had no testimony to give. I was afraid someone would actually ask me, “What has Jesus done for you?” My response would be nothing because that is exactly what I had written down-nothing!

Of course that never happened. We went out and handed out clothing like jackets and blankets as well as Bible tracks to people passing by and then we headed back to the hotel. The following day, we had a time of worship and a short message. We ate breakfast and then we headed out to a soup kitchen and helped to feed the hungry. After that, we were heading home.

On the way home, I thought about my testimony and how I couldn’t come up with any words to describe what God had done in the past. I am sure my ongoing struggle had something to do with it as well but it was like a thorn in my side, something I had to figure out.

As time passed, I was involved in a new church, Abundant Life, and I had an opportunity to preach. I wanted to get my testimony nailed down. I worked on my sermon, “It Ends Where It Begins” and did my absolute best to make sure I knew my testimony. The sermon clocked in around 47 minutes. That is pretty far off the five minutes that I had when I was on the mission’s trip.

One of the issues I faced was that I considered my testimony alongside the testimonies of others. I love reading and hearing about testimonies. I love reading the stories of transformation that comes only through Jesus. I love watching the expression of hope, love, grace and faith as people share what Jesus did for them.

In fact, I did a short series for my blog in which I reached out to people to share their stories of how Jesus transformed them. You can read their stories here:

To me, I always felt like I needed to have a great testimony and while I struggled with some things before coming to know Christ, I was rather young. Not to dismiss the serious issue this is, but the hardest thing I faced as a child was the untimely death of my father who passed away when I was just 11 years old. That was huge and it still has a hold on me to this day.

Yet, when I read of people who grew up and were involved in drugs, alcohol or cults, that means something. When I read of people who grew up with physically abusive parents that means something. I never really loved my testimony because I never went through anything like a major addiction.

It seems to me that I’ve had more struggles as a believer then before I became one. During the blog series, Jesus Changed My Life, I thought about sharing my testimony but I decided against it for two reasons. First, I wanted to step away from the “spotlight” so to say. I wanted others to have the chance to share their story and let Jesus shine through. Secondly, with almost every blog post I share, I put a little bit of my testimony in.

On the website,, I have a Reader tab in which I read the blogs I have subscribed to. I read through the introductions to them once a week. If one title catches my eye, then I read the entire blog and there are some bloggers I read religiously because they are just that good. A few weeks back, I came across a blog which struck a chord with me because it was about testimonies. It inspired me to write this very blog.

You can read the blog that inspired me here:

In thinking and pondering about this blog, I came to this realization.

I don’t have a testimony, I am a testimony.

My testimony isn’t about what I’ve gone through; it is about what I am going through. Every day God’s mercy is new which means he is still working in and through my life. My testimony is ongoing because I am growing and maturing and sometimes I am stuck in a state of dryness. Through it all, Jesus is there!

I do have a past, which includes the death of my father, a time of sexual abuse, a struggle with pornography and lust, depression, anger and insecurity. Those are things that have weighed me down and sometimes they continue to rise against me, to this very day!

A testimony isn’t about the stuff that happened to you, it’s about sin and death which are very real. My testimony isn’t about God saving me from fits of anger and a period of depression. My testimony isn’t about God helping me cope with the death of my father or a struggle of watching his beautiful daughters take their clothes off. No, those are aspects of my testimony but the underlining theme is Jesus Christ brought me out of death and gave me life! He saved me from death and power of sin by giving up his life for me.

My testimony is about Jesus saying, “Father, forgive Michael for he knows not what he is doing.”

My testimony is about Jesus saying, “It is finished.”

My testimony is about Jesus saying, “I am with you always.”

I am forgiven. I am free. I am loved.