Fully Live A Life Of Love



When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He wanted us to believe that He was sent by God, that He is the Son of God, and He is the Messiah. He did it to show us that everything that He said was true, and everything that He did was from God - and that means that all of God’s promises are fulfilled through Jesus.

Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life


“And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice—the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live.“ - John 5:25


Jesus wept for the pain that Lazarus went through and He wept for the reality that people are living in because we don’t see that we do not have to despair. At a funeral we are not without hope because we live with Jesus, we die with Jesus, and we rise with Jesus. He is the Resurrection and the Life.


Jesus has authority and power over death. Jesus is the embodiment of the resurrection Himself. He was raised to life and He can raise us to life, too. Jesus is the resurrection for us and He is the first of what is to come. Jesus gives us life to live that is full of hope and free from despair where we can trust in Him fully.


Our Purpose is to Live Fully


“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.“ - John 10:10


We tend to worry about what the future might hold for us, forgetting that God has everything in control. That is the doing of the enemy stealing away God’s purpose for us. We don’t have to worry about what’s coming next. We don’t have to worry about where things are coming from because really, it all comes from God.


God created us to restore life as we were created to live, to take care of and love God’s creation and that includes each other. He created us to work hard, to serve our coworkers in love and to point other people to the hope that God wants them to have.


Jesus Wanted the People to Believe that God sent Him.


“The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.“ - John 1:4


We have Jesus, who lived and died for us, showing us that God’s Word is true so we can live the life that He has given us to live.


A funeral is where we can see very clearly the shortcomings of the physical reality that we experience right now.  It is also the gateway or the door that we step through to our new bodies and the new creation that will come. 


Start every day living with that reality, fully in focus, free from the noise around us. Let us live that way with the help of the Spirit.


Happy Father's Day

...you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.

Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” -Romans 8:15b NLT


Happy Father’s Day!


Everyone can be called a child of God, from the standpoint of being created by Him, and loved by Him.  But sin separates everyone from God, so we don’t naturally know God as our Father.  God sent Jesus to bridge the separation between God and man, being God and made a man.  When Jesus was baptized God said,

“This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” -Matthew 3:17 

And Paul reminds us that we are baptized not only into Jesus death, but also His life.  Through baptism, we are adopted as God’s own children, and we call Him “Abba” (Aramaic term for father), “Father”, “Dad”, “Daddy”, “Papa”, “Pop”, and as Ella says to me now, “Dada.”  We get to use these intimately personal names befitting a father who loves us dearly, because He does love us dearly, and because He did the work to make us His children. God is truly, legally, our Father.  Our birth certificates have been changed from children of sin, to children of the Heavenly Father.


In our baptism we are intimately tied to Christ, we die His death with Him (more importantly, He died in our place), and we rise from the waters to our new life in the resurrection even as we wait for our bodily resurrection when Jesus comes again.  


The life we live, we live as children of God, heirs of the kingdom with Christ.


    What was it like the first time you got to call God, “Daddy”?


And we live, sent to share the love of Jesus, the love of the Father, with everyone we meet. 


    What would it feel like to see someone you know get to call God, “Daddy” for the first time?


This Father’s Day is special to me because it brings me great joy when my little girl says, “Dada”, and gives me a hug, or just leans on me because it makes her feel good to know I’m right there with her.


Spend some time with your Father today.  Call Him whatever your name for Him is, and wrap your arms around Him, and lean on Him knowing that He is right there with you.  

I would love to hear what you learn as you reflect on what it means to you that you God is your Father, and how it changes the life you live.  If you have a Penzu journal, post something about Father’s day, and add a quick note about how you see God, or a quick thanks to Him.  And check out others’ stories while you’re at it.


Your brother in Christ,

Matthew Wipperman



The Spotlight Belongs to Jesus

We tend to read miracles written in the Bible as stories told for our benefit. But truth be told, the Word is God is all about God, not about us. We tend to view miracles as to how it would help and encourage us but that’s just a small part of the Scripture. It is for us to believe in the One who is being introduced in the Word. 


In the story of Lazarus, people tend to see that it was for Lazarus’ benefit. That the story was all about Lazarus getting raised from the dead and how it must have been so cool for him to experience it. But no. This story WAS NOT for Lazarus’ benefit. It was only for Jesus’ and God’s glory!


Here are 5 important words to remember that the Scripture ultimately aims to highlight Jesus and to glorify the Father.

  1. DELAY 


“So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days. “ - John 11:5

Here we find the deliberate delay of Jesus upon hearing the news of Lazarus’ sickness and death. He decided to stay for 2 more days even after hearing what happened to Lazarus and even though He loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.


How would you feel if you were sick and the person that you wanted to stay by your side to encourage you and pray for you decided to delay coming to you? Martha and Mary even told Jesus  that if only He had been there early, Lazarus would not have died (John 11:21, 32). But here, we see that Jesus’ delay was all part of the plan to once more confirm the prophecy of Jesus’ death and resurrection and to give God greater glory.  



“Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial.  You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” - John 12:7

This was a prophecy that Jesus made to His disciples signifying that He would go away. In verses 23-28, we find Jesus again prophesying of this death and how it will bring glory to the Father. Jesus’ act of informing His disciples of His death and foretelling His resurrection around the context of this miracle shows that everything that happened in the story is all about Jesus’ resurrection from death to life.



“You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” - John 11:42

The variety and multitude of witnesses who were present at the tombstone of Lazarus to watch what Jesus would do gives us an indication that it was more than just raising Lazarus from the dead. Jesus wanted the people to see that He is the resurrection and the life -- that they would have no other option but to say “Oh! He backs up every Word He’s ever spoken! He must be the Messiah!”  More so, Jesus wanted the witnesses to believe.


They assumed and thought that Mary would go to the tomb to weep over her brother, but God had a better plan. He wanted the people to witness firsthand who He really is so that they would believe that the Father sent Him.

  1. BELIEF 


“Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen…” - John 11:45

We find two groups of people who witnessed Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. The first group is the believers --those who were convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. These were the people who knew that the miracle was not just about Lazarus rising from the dead, but that it’s about someone greater. They needed no other proof before they believed for their eyes of faith were opened to the reality of the Messiah who was face to face with them.



“But some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.” - John 11:46

There were also those who were full of unbelief and were afraid that many would turn to Jesus. They were offended and went away to report the incident to the high council. It was from that time on that they began to plot Jesus’ death (John 11:53). The miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection was not enough to make them believe in Jesus. Instead, they tried to find fault in what happened. Rather than rejoicing in the revelation of the Messiah, they were hard-hearted and blinded to the truth.  There was great unbelief in their hearts. May we never be like the Pharisees and Sadducees. 


Ultimately, we see from these 5 words that the spotlight was not for Lazarus to begin with. It was all for Jesus. It was all for God. All for His glory. As we read the Scriptures, may we come to the knowledge that everything written in the Bible is to give glory to the One from whom all things come from and to whom all things return.


We Need Reminders

I have been away from the gym I work out at for over a year, last week I went back!  It was really great to see people that I haven’t seen for so long and to be encouraged in moving once again.  I am always amazed at the difference between exercising alone or in a group class. I sure work a lot harder when someone is leading and showing me what to do, and reminding me, I can do it!  I was thinking about the similarities between the reminders from the instructor and the reminders we have been sending out as a church to you. 


“Pull your belly in” -  “Tighten your core” - “Use your breath” - “You can do it” - “ 10 more seconds” - “Pull your belly in” - “Grab a drink” - etc. 


And these and more instructions, reminders, encouragements are repeated over and over.  Why?  Because, we forget!!   


“Write in your Penzu journal” - “Love your neighbor” - “Listen well” - “Give it a try” - “Write what you are thankful for” - “Read your Bible” - “Connect to lifeGroup” -  “God is with you” - “Welcome in Jesus” - “You are loved” - etc.


Why so many instructions, reminders and encouragements repeated over and over?  Because, we forget!!


We understand your lives are busy. There is a lot that you manage and you don’t want to have to do “one more thing”.  What if the “one more thing” helped you manage the other things?  Could it be that the spiritual disciplines of reading God’s Word, prayer, worship, being in community, living out the Gospel in your neighborhood would help the rest of the pieces of your life?  


The reminders are not intended to make you feel overwhelmed, or any kind of guilt or shame.  They are meant to remind you to look up and fix your eyes, thoughts, and mind on the one true God and know that He is with you and for you.  To just pause for a moment and be reminded that you are a child of God.  You have a purpose.  You matter.  God wants to use you to share His love with those around you. 


The goal is not the Penzu journal.  The goal is to have every Household know they are bringing living water to those around them by Welcoming in Jesus, Engaging with neighbors, Listening well, and Loving to try.  The journal is just a way for us to help encourage each other with stories of how it is going, what we are trying, and how we are struggling. To see that God is at work!  To be reminded it is a lot of fun to join Jesus in what He is already doing and writing it down is a way for us to remember as we look back at what God has done so we can give Him all the glory and praise.  The Penzu journal is just one way that we thought we could try.  


It is not too late to start a journal if you have not done that yet. (Did you know there is an app? You can write in your journal on your phone if that is easier for you)  You don’t have to write a lot, or even in complete sentences, just jot down some thoughts.  The June prompts are short and sweet. Even just put in a picture of what you are thankful for, or what you saw that reminded you of God, or a part of creation that made you be in awe of your Creator.   Try asking your kids to help you, or let them write in it themselves.  This process is meant to be a delight not a burden. Take a minute and read some of the stories. I think you will be inspired and know your brothers and sisters in Christ a little better and  even know how to pray for them.  All throughout scripture God reminded the Children of Israel to remember, to celebrate a festival so they wouldn’t forget all God had done for them.  We need reminders.  We need Jesus.  And, we need each other. 



  1. Jesus was a man.

“People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene....” - Acts 2:22


Here Jesus was described as Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man. Many in our society today think that Jesus is just an idea, or some kind of a philosophy or theology that is made up by man. The truth is and will always be this: Jesus was a human being who lived in the 1st century. He lived for around 33 years and did ministry publicly for 3 years. Jesus was a man -- in the flesh, a man who felt pain, emotions, hunger, and exhaustion, and was even tempted by the devil (yet, He did not give in to any temptation). He went through the normal day to day life of a human being and felt all the struggles of being in the flesh. 

  1. Jesus has unchallenged credentials

“People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know.” - Acts 2:22


Wherever Jesus went, signs and wonders broke out. Jesus performed countless, undeniable miracles that could not be challenged, questioned, nor disproved, even by the religious people. His credentials were unchallenged. He gave the lame man the power the stand and walk, He caused the blind men to see, dead people were raised from the grave, He multiplied food causing the five fish and two pieces of bread to feed a huge crowd of over 5,000 people with 12 basketfuls leftover, He walked on water, He caused the mute to speak, and even drove out demons. 

  1. Jesus died.

“But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him.” - Acts 2:23


During His time, people were debating whether Jesus really died or not. But the Word of God is our source of TRUTH. Jesus did actually die and in verse 23 in Peter’s sermon, Jesus’ suffering and death was a part of God’s plan all along. Jesus is NOT a man who was just caught up in some political problem back in the day and loved some people the wrong way. God knew what would happen. It was all planned. And God’s prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed, and with the help of lawless Gentiles, they nailed Him to a cross. Why would God do such a thing? To send His Son to die for sheep who would reject Him and go on their own way? Because Jesus’ suffering was all part of the plan.

  1. Jesus receives total victory over death.

“God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this.” - Acts 2:32


Death was not the end of God’s plan for Jesus because He received total victory over death and was glorified. Peter said in verse 32 “God raised Jesus from the dead.” There’s no tomb to visit. Jesus actually rose from the dead! Jesus is alive and He defeated death and the powers of hell forevermore! This is good news to every believer who receives Jesus.

  1. Jesus is God. 

“Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today.Acts 2:33


Jesus of Nazareth was not just a man. He is also God. He’s a God-man! A true God and true man. In verse 36, Peter said, “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” Jesus is not just a good teacher. He is not just a prophet. He is Lord and Messiah! What a powerful truth! 


This is the SIMPLE GOSPEL. These are the words that will equip us to share the Gospel message of Jesus to all. It is our prayer that as you read these five truths about Jesus, the simple Gospel will stand on its own and that you will let the Spirit of God work through it and through you. May the Holy Spirit empower you to share the Gospel in all its truth and simplicity so that others may come to know Jesus, our good and faithful Shepherd.