All in for Jesus

In poker there is a term that I have heard that means you are risking everything: All in. I don’t know if you use it in other games of chance (I’m not a gambler, so I am no expert), but I have heard it associated with poker. I have also heard a similar idea warned against in the old adage, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” So, my question today is – do you have anything that you trust that way?

In poker there is a term that I have heard that means you are risking everything: all in. I don’t know if you use it in other games of chance (I’m not a gambler, so I am no expert), but I have heard it associated with poker. I have also heard a similar idea warned against in the old adage, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” So, my question today is – do you have anything that you trust that way?

It’s a scary thing to trust anything that much. I mean, for some things you just have to: chairs, airplanes, cars, etc. In those we kind of have to… how would you sit in a chair or ride in an airplane without trusting it completely?

However, for things that we can choose to trust it is a different story. Our investment advisors tell us that we should diversify. Our doctor tells us that we should eat a little of every food group. When starting a new business we are warned that we should hold something back just in case it fails. All of this advice appeals to wisdom – the wisdom of spread out risk.

So, when it comes to the message of Jesus, which type of trust is it? Is trusting Jesus like flying in an airplane, or is it like investing in your future? Consider these two quotes from Jesus:


John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”


Sounds like an airplane type of trust, doesn’t it? It doesn’t sound like Jesus expected his followers to have a little of Him and (just to be safe) have a little of something else. Jesus said that those who followed Him should risk everything for Him.

The explorer Cortés discovered the importance of this type of commitment. After a mutiny by those loyal to the Governor of Cuba, he sank his ships so that no one would think that they could go back to the safety of Cuba or Spain. His crew had to be committed to their mission or they would die.

What about us? Are we “all in”? In case you were wondering, it is possible to be “all in” and yet live in constant worry that you might have made the wrong choice. You see this on airplanes all the time. You see people nervous (even scared) to trust the plane that they are on. They hold tightly to the seat with white-knuckled fear. They hyperventilate or get sick. They cry and cry out during the flight at every bump of turbulence. That doesn’t sound like an enjoyable way to travel. Instead of enjoying the view, marveling at the speed of the journey, or catching up on their reading these folks are suffering. Not a good way to travel at all!

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Is this you and me with Jesus? Are we “all in” the same way those who are afraid of flying are “all in”? Are we sick inside, but we still think that we are supposed to follow Jesus? Are we scared that we might have made the wrong choice, but we don’t see another option? That is no way to live your life!

So, what’s the answer? I see two keys from the lives of those believers who show us that following Jesus is a life of joy. First, they are convinced that the message of Jesus is specifically for them. Paul epitomizes this in his statement to Timothy, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” (1 Timothy 1:15) When we are sure that Jesus’ message is for us then we can live in the joy that we are truly forgiven. Second, they are convinced that God’s love for them is both great and unchanging. They believe this statement, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Roman’s 8:38-39)

Have you truly discovered these truths in your life? Have you heard that Jesus’ message is for you? Are you one of those “sinners” like the apostle Paul? Have you discovered that Jesus died for you? What about the second message? Have you been convinced yet that God’s love for you is that great? Do you know that His love is unchanging? He won’t love you less when you stumble? He won’t forsake you when your life isn’t as perfect or as useful as you would like it to be?

Those who know the joy of Jesus testify that He is worth risking everything. They declare that living for Him brings joy. They tell us that being “all in” is the only way to live. Let’s embrace that way of living today.

Something to think about,

Pastor John

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At Calvary – Episode 74 – Letting God Drive

Who gets to drive the car of your life? This week, our group thinks a little deeper about letting God be in control. Can you imagine being a “back seat driver” to God? It seems ludicrous, but how often do we do just that? So, grab your Bible and turn to Psalm 25.

Looking for more? You can always find all of the episodes right here…

At Calvary – Episode 79 – Is Purity Popular? At Calvary!

Pure. Innocent. When did these words become insults rather than praises? Our culture treats the pure as if they are deficient in some way. The words innocent and naïve are treated as synonyms. Why do we do that? Paul explains … Continue reading →
  1. At Calvary – Episode 79 – Is Purity Popular?
  2. At Calvary – Episode 78 – Wise or Foolish?
  3. At Calvary – Episode 77 – When People Don’t Think about God
  4. At Calvary – Episode 76 – Suppressing Truth, Suppressing People
  5. At Calvary – Episode 75 – The Wrath of God, Not Always What You Think It Is

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Growing… Patiently

This week I want to talk about a struggle in life that I think is common to many. We struggle with impatience. When my children were younger, I always wanted them to learn things or do things faster. I had to fight the urge to just do it for them! I learned that being impatient didn’t help them grow up any faster. I needed patience. We need to apply patience to our walk with Jesus as well. What do I mean? I mean that when we think about the great men and women of faith, we long to have their faith, but rarely do we notice the time it took for their faith to grow into the maturity that we so long for. 

Let’s think about one of those great people of faith. Let’s think about Paul. In our minds I think that we think about Paul getting saved on the road to Damascus. Then, after an appropriate period (we think months) we again think of him now with Barnabas starting his first missionary journey. With a time-line like that, he looks really impressive. However, Paul’s written testimony gives us a different picture. He says:


Galatians 1:18 Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days.

Galatians 2:1 Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also.


Now, we aren’t sure of the exact years, but from Paul’s own testimony he did not start the missionary journeys that he is famous for well over a decade! A decade and a half! We think of Paul as this unstoppable force for Christ. However, he grew just like we all do – over time. He did not come out of his conversion fully formed. He matured. He grew closer to God. He took the time to do so.

Do you and I give God time to work in us? Or are we impatient? Impatience shows itself in two ways: 1) We spend a great deal of energy punishing ourselves for not being as good as others. and 2) We feel a persistent temptation to give up and throw in the towel. Maybe it is time for us to embrace a little patience. Is it time for you to be patient with yourself? Is it time for you to just focus on walking with Jesus and not persistently (and maybe just a little obsessively) measuring your progress against other Christians?

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One final thought… You and I might think that our slow growth is unnoticeable by others. We may not believe it, but others notice what God is doing in us. Paul noticed that. In his early days he noticed that believers wouldn’t trust him, but they did rejoice that the one who used to persecute the church was now sharing the gospel with others. (Galatians 1:23) So for us others may not outwardly applaud or let us know that they are watching, but they are! They are observing our changes. Those who love us and Jesus are aware of our growth. They may be cautious, but they do notice.

What should we do with these truths? Be patient. Focus on Jesus instead of progress. You and I are our own worst critics. Let’s stop that. Instead, let’s walk with the Lord. Let’s chase after Jesus. Who knows, over time we might be surprised at the joy-filled life we are living.

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Something to think about,

Pastor John

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At Calvary – Episode 73 – The Power of God to Save

Why do Christians get excited about Jesus? Is it the excitement because Jesus is popular, like a movie star? Is Jesus simply super friendly and so everyone loves Him? Why do Christians get so excited over Jesus? In the book of Romans, Paul tells us one key reason why we get so excited over Jesus. Jesus is the expression of God’s love that has the power to save us from our own brokenness.

Looking for more? You can always find all of the episodes right here…

At Calvary – Episode 79 – Is Purity Popular? At Calvary!

Pure. Innocent. When did these words become insults rather than praises? Our culture treats the pure as if they are deficient in some way. The words innocent and naïve are treated as synonyms. Why do we do that? Paul explains … Continue reading →
  1. At Calvary – Episode 79 – Is Purity Popular?
  2. At Calvary – Episode 78 – Wise or Foolish?
  3. At Calvary – Episode 77 – When People Don’t Think about God
  4. At Calvary – Episode 76 – Suppressing Truth, Suppressing People
  5. At Calvary – Episode 75 – The Wrath of God, Not Always What You Think It Is

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Stand for Something, not Everything

We live in the age of hyperbole. Maybe it comes in waves (like fashion trends), but I don’t think that we can deny that we see hyperbole everywhere. Advertisers have always used it to create demand, but politicians and pundits have caught the hyperbole bug too. I have yet to hear anyone who is arguing their position say that what they are fighting for is small potatoes in comparison with someone else’s issue. They don’t say, “If we have some extra money, let’s deal with this issue.” No, it is always earth shattering, republic threatening, or life crushing if we don’t do something now, NOW, NOW!!!

We fight over everything and anything. I wonder when we do that if we don’t lose something: real causes. Have we lost our perspective? Are we running after everything, and thus are not truly standing for anything?


1 Corinthians 2:1 — 2

1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.


Paul chose carefully what he focused on. He didn’t mean that he couldn’t talk about other things, or even that he didn’t talk about other things. However, when it came to essentials Paul had made a conscious decision to prioritize: his message was about Jesus. Have you and I done that? Have we made a conscious decision what our life’s message is going to be about?

I think that it is a choice we all either make, or it will be made for us. Either we will choose what our life will be about, or we will live a life of jumping on whatever bandwagon is popular at the time. My choice as a preacher of the gospel is simple: I choose to know nothing except Christ crucified. That is what I stand for. That is my message. What is your message? Is it clear? Do people know your message because you’ve made it clear?

May we all commit to a clear message of our life. I have found that having a clear message and purpose for life is essential. When I let the winds of culture or popularity choose for me, I lack conviction. When I choose, I discover a vitality and passion that moves me even when others don’t stand with me. Then I know what I stand for. It is then that the people in our life also see what is important to us.

Let’s stand for something instead of everything,

Pastor John

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At Calvary – Episode 72 – Eager to Be Together

Paul longed to be with the Roman Christians. As he shared that with them, Paul revealed a heart that was open. His heart was open to the Roman Christians who were Gentile. His heart welcomed the Jewish Christians. His heart longed to welcome the lost Greeks and barbarians. Paul’s open heart challenges us to open ours.

Looking for more? You can always find all of the episodes right here…

At Calvary – Episode 79 – Is Purity Popular? At Calvary!

Pure. Innocent. When did these words become insults rather than praises? Our culture treats the pure as if they are deficient in some way. The words innocent and naïve are treated as synonyms. Why do we do that? Paul explains … Continue reading →
  1. At Calvary – Episode 79 – Is Purity Popular?
  2. At Calvary – Episode 78 – Wise or Foolish?
  3. At Calvary – Episode 77 – When People Don’t Think about God
  4. At Calvary – Episode 76 – Suppressing Truth, Suppressing People
  5. At Calvary – Episode 75 – The Wrath of God, Not Always What You Think It Is

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Getting What We Need from God

Have you ever thought about what you want from God? I know that I have. I know that I have little right to tell God to do things for me, but I also know that God’s Word tells me that He loves me and wants to work in me. I want Him to work in my life. I want Him to love me in that “agape” way that the Bible talks about. I want that love to be constant and unchanging so that I know that He will always receive me. I don’t think that these desires violate what the Bible says that God does in our lives. In fact, I think that it encourages these desires.

Here is a second question that I have regarding what I want from God: am I coming to Him in a way that puts me in a place to receive those things that the Bible encourages me to seek? In other words, am I coming to God in a way to receive what I so desperately need and want?

God’s Word declares two general paths that people take to get these things from God: the path of legalistic ritual or the path of grace filled relationship. Consider these words from Paul:


Galatians 3:10 — 11

10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” 11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “ The righteous man shall live by faith.”


There is a warning in this passage: as good as the Law is, it won’t get us what we want. We want forgiveness. We want love. We want to know that God is committed to us and receives us. Some people try to get these things by being “good enough”. They follow the rules set down by their church, their family, and their community so that they will be “good enough”. The problem is that it never is good enough, is it? There are always more requirements, more expectations. How frustrating! Yet, it is what the Apostle Paul warns us in Galatians: “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” In other words, we shouldn’t be surprised that following the rules is both unfulfilling and self-defeating. The Law is designed to be that way. It only shows us what we don’t do. It doesn’t give us confidence in what God is doing.

Paul also declares the other way to God: faith! What is faith? Faith is our response to grace. Grace makes promises. Faith believes those promises. Faith acts based upon those promises. Faith trusts those promises. In faith, our relationship with God is not based upon achievement or any type of merit. (How could I ever be good enough to earn love? That’s not what the Bible reveals love to be.) In faith, our relationship to God is based upon His wonderful promises to us. This is grace.

Which way do you and I approach God? If we try number 1, we will always be frustrated. We will be frustrated because there is little hope in legalistic rituals. In those, there is only a sense that I can never measure up. However, in approach number 2 we discover great hope: God loves me because He said so. I didn’t earn it. I don’t even fully understand why, but He has promised it. I can trust Him! That is what I want to do. I want to come to God in faith. What about you?

Something to think about,

Pastor John

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At Calvary – Episode 71 – Discipleship, Openness, and Safety

We talk about encouraging one another, but have you ever really thought about what conditions will make it possible to encourage others? They are asking questions. They are asking… Do you really care? When you find out about my real struggles, will you treat me like a leper? Are you safe? Can you and I honestly answer those questions? How can we prove that we are a safe person to share with?

Looking for more? You can always find all of the episodes right here…

At Calvary – Episode 79 – Is Purity Popular? At Calvary!

Pure. Innocent. When did these words become insults rather than praises? Our culture treats the pure as if they are deficient in some way. The words innocent and naïve are treated as synonyms. Why do we do that? Paul explains … Continue reading →
  1. At Calvary – Episode 79 – Is Purity Popular?
  2. At Calvary – Episode 78 – Wise or Foolish?
  3. At Calvary – Episode 77 – When People Don’t Think about God
  4. At Calvary – Episode 76 – Suppressing Truth, Suppressing People
  5. At Calvary – Episode 75 – The Wrath of God, Not Always What You Think It Is

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God Loves Us More Than We Understand

I have a bad habit in my prayer life. It isn’t that I don’t bring my requests to God. It isn’t that I don’t believe that God can answer my prayers. My habit is that I routinely decide which needs are too small to bring to God.


1 Peter 5:6 — 7 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.


This encouragement from Peter always catches me. It doesn’t catch me because of the call to humility. Anyone who has heard the teachings of Jesus knows His opinion on pride. However, here in 1 Peter he connects it to how we pray in a profound way. In the midst of talking about prayer and exaltation, Peter urges us to cast all our anxiety upon God. He doesn’t tell us to bring God just the big stuff. He doesn’t say to take to God just the “spiritual” stuff. Peter tells us to bring all our anxiety to Him – every single thing.

I know the usual response. It usually goes something like this: “I pray for others. I pray for the needs of my church and community. I pray for my family. But, I don’t pray for myself much because my needs are little compared to others. God needs to take care of those bigger needs. I can manage these small things.” I don’t want to be too hard on us for trying to be humble in our prayers, however I think we have missed the point. We have missed that we aren’t actually expressing humility when we say such things. We are making the love and expansiveness of God smaller. We are missing that He loves us so much that He wants to know what is on our heart. We are losing sight of what it means for God to be omnipotent = He is so powerful that He can work in the smallest of our problems!

So, instead of shielding God from our little needs I propose we do something truly humble – bring Him every single one of them! Let’s acknowledge our complete dependency upon Him. Let’s embrace a love that wants to know every need of our heart. Let’s marvel in a God like Him. He is so great that He loves you and me. He loves us in our smallness. He loves us in our brokenness. He is always faithful. So, when you think of humility don’t try to make yourself smaller. Make Him bigger. Make Him your everything. Make Him your strength. Make Him your confidence. Make Him your answer. He is big enough for even the little things.

Something to think about,

Pastor John

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At Calvary – Episode 70 – Prayer and Discovering the Will of God

We are told that God hears us when we pray, but what is prayer? How does a person learn how to pray? Is there a certain way to pray? These are significant questions. They are connected to the question of God’s will that comes up time and time again. So, let’s hear from God’s Word as we think deeply together about prayer and the will of God.

Looking for more? You can always find all of the episodes right here…

At Calvary – Episode 79 – Is Purity Popular? At Calvary!

Pure. Innocent. When did these words become insults rather than praises? Our culture treats the pure as if they are deficient in some way. The words innocent and naïve are treated as synonyms. Why do we do that? Paul explains … Continue reading →
  1. At Calvary – Episode 79 – Is Purity Popular?
  2. At Calvary – Episode 78 – Wise or Foolish?
  3. At Calvary – Episode 77 – When People Don’t Think about God
  4. At Calvary – Episode 76 – Suppressing Truth, Suppressing People
  5. At Calvary – Episode 75 – The Wrath of God, Not Always What You Think It Is

Posted in podcast | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment