In the age of social media sadly it seems that everyone has a voice, but who has the truth!? Lately I’ve noticed much ado about Catholic boys, Native Americans, Walls, Marches, etc etc ad nauseum. It all seems rather foolish. Pointing fingers left. Pointing fingers right. Pointing fingers south. One mouth saying this, and the other saying that. Eyes shooting piercing glances that would burn holes even in the sun. Such vitriol such gnasty behavior. Uncivilized. Uncouth. Rude. Inconsiderate. It’s easy to observe things outside. It’s easy to point fingers. But the truth is that every person brings something dirty, unwanted, and dare I say it sinful, to the table. And most people ignore their sin. Most people pretend it’s actually virtuous and beguiling. Until each person on this planet stops looking left, right, north and south and begins to look at the sin they have upon themselves. Until they realize they cannot dissolve it themselves. It is something over which only one person has power. Until people come to Jesus we cannot expect less than for sin to be on the table. And when sin is all that’s there to eat people learn to like it.
Christlikeness is what every believer ought have in the front of their mind when we ask the question:
Who should I look like?
Am I becoming more like Jesus?
Here is a message that Zach delivered at a local para-church ministry called "Thrive."
In this message you will hear a great story and what the Bible has to say about who we should look like.
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE MESSAGE
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
THIS HAS BEEN A YEAR FULL OF TRANSITION.
Zach was asked to be a pastor at West Sound Church. This has been a wonderful opportunity for us to continue pining the Gospel in Kitsap County.
We continue in Contenders Discipleship program, and look toward future opportunities to serve Jesus.
- We have moved to Silverdale Washington. This has been a great decision, and we are enjoying the new home with smiles and new memories.
•That those we go to would receive the Gospel with Belief.
•Our financial support team would grow. •The local network of pastors and christians to join us in our endeavor.
FIVE MILE LAKE
PREACHING THE TRUTH OF GOD ONE DAY AT A TIME
Prayer, Support, and a Holy tension.
This road we have been on for nearly three years now has had difficulties. Throughout our missionary journey we are continually reminded of the passage from Romans chapter ten “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!”
We have had times of hardship, and times of great victory. At times our hands have been calloused as well as our knees from prayer. Our tattered hearts match our tattered bibles, but the road is not at an end.
The journey of raising support is never over. Even as I write these words I think of how Jess and I live with this Holy tension of living on faith that God will provide on one side and the other the very real responsibility to provide for ourselves. It is with a joyful heart motivated to preach the word to any who will hear that I ask you to join our team of committed supporters financially, in prayer, and in telling people about a couple in Silverdale Washington who desire to preach the good news of Jesus at no cost to those we are going to.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS, CONTINUED SUPPORT, AND FELLOWSHIP.
-ZACH AND JESS RICKS-
Oh to one day meet my friend.
Oh to one day meet the measure.
Oh to one day mark the end.
Oh to one day mark a beginning to true life.
Oh to one day take the hand of death.
Oh to one day receive the final seal of death.
Then the real beginning.
The time to make a decision for the everlasting is given only in option before the seal of death comes upon each one of us.
Till that seal we all have a choice.
Choose Jesus or reject Jesus.
This seal comes to us all.
We will either meet death as a friend at the end of a joyous life spent awaiting anxiously for heaven, or we fight against death's mark because it signals the end of our power and reign.
In that knowledge of rejection there is some understanding of just how much we need Jesus
Contender's Discipleship Initiative has started at West Sound Community Church and we couldn't be more excited. Bible school in our local church? How awesome it'll be to develop our ministry and learn and learn at the same time!Read More
Who am I?
Am I a daughter, wife, or friend?
When I fail as any of those what do I become?
When beauty fades and my stories run dry…will I still be loved?
Dwelling on 2015 has given me a headache. I’ve come to realize that when you go over all of your decisions and actions there is a lot of excuses, assumptions, and…let’s be real here…sin.
2015 had a lot of sin.
Now, honestly, anyone who knows me…don’t go thinking that I’m about to drop a huge bomb about sexual immorality or experimentation with the world…NOPE! It ain’t that.
I’m talking about the sin that I’m guilty of having committed over and over. A sin that might not seem so huge to you or some random person on the sidewalk.
My sin is all within my heart. It happens in my mind when I choose to submit to my flesh and pride.
My sin is a simple little voice in the back of my mind telling me things like, “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” “I’ve already read that passage, of course I know what it says. I don’t need to read it again,” “Good gracious, why is this person talking to me like I don’t know this stuff?”
This is where I hang my head in utter shame.
That’s not the woman I desire to be.
That’s an enemy that I wish I didn’t know.
I wrote Flesh+Identity a bit ago about speaking at a women’s retreat on Identity in Christ. In creating the message I presented to those women I came to realize how important the topic was in my life.
I’m sure some of you out there can relate to this. My heart is in total agreement with Paul in Romans 7:15-20 when he says,
Knowing that Christ has saved me at the cost of His ultimate sacrifice, knowing that He conquered death so I don’t have to, knowing that He sent the Holy Spirit to be my guide, knowing that I have the Holy Spirit constantly within me…why would I ever, after all that, want to do things in my power?
My own power…
Weakness, pride, sin, feeble, incapable, sad.
Ultimate, infinite, eternal, all-knowing, beyond sufficient.
we’ve got it all muddled up.
We decided long ago that we didn’t trust God. We chose sin and ourselves over Him. We’ve been doing that ever since. Me included. You included. We’re all included.
But, looking back on 2015,
I see so much grace.
Grace given to me by my Savior.
He did die for me.
I’m not alone.
It’s not just me left here on Earth on my own.
He never abandoned me.
He hasn’t abandoned any of us.
The reason for my original ministry name, Jesus and Jessie, came from the basic understanding that in this world…it is never just me. I have the risen Christ as my Lord and Savior. He has graced this world with His unimaginable gift of sacrifice. He gave His life on Calvary. Then God the Father sent the Holy Spirit to us. The Spirit literally made us, Christians, new creatures. We are now born again…born of Spirit. We are adopted by God. We are made His children.
No longer are we abandoned unto ourselves and our own selfish longings and passions. We now have been given the gift of everlasting life, eternal hope, perfect purpose, and unlimited grace. To top all of that off, as if it weren’t enough, He has given us the Bible with which we are given His words of wisdom. It’s those words which the Holy Spirit calls to my mind often that teach me daily. Whether we choose to learn or not is up to us.
In 2015 I lost sight of who I really am far more often than I’d like. I wish I constantly remembered who I am made to be in the power of the Spirit. Losing sight of our identity is a direct path to sin.
Perspective can be powerful.
And so as 2016 begins to unravel itself my hope is this:
that as I live, people would recognize that I have been with the Christ.
I want my life, my words, my actions to deliver grace and truth.
I want to rely on my perfect Creator who has adopted me and loved me.
I don’t want to struggle with identity.
I want Romans 6-8 to become my practice.
I want my heart to align in the holiness of the Spirit.
I wish for more Christ-like confidence,
less self-centered insecurities.
2016 is the year I wish to completely abandon myself
into the completeness of my God.
It is morning, and the light is peering through the window of the door giving light to the house. From my seat in a black pin legged chair against the wall I see the tree my wife and I brought in from outside. We decorated it with lights, bells, and some ornaments.
There is much that could be said about an evergreen tree. When I was younger I wondered why a tree would be brought inside the house, and why we put lights on it, why gifts would be placed beneath its branches.
I think now I know why…
During christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Who lived a perfect sinless life, performed miracles, brought the good news, gave gifts to mankind, and in perfect obedience, because of his love for his Father, allowed himself to be taken by his creation, subjected to being beaten, mocked, and crucified, having the wrath of God poured out on himself instead of us, the guilty.
Crucified upon a tree.
When I look at the tree in our home. I see many things.
I see, like the tree remains ever green, Jesus remains ever the same.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
We bring the tree inside our home and see it every day, I should bring Christ into myself more and more each day.
“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.”
-James 4:7-9 (Emphasis mine)
I see lights on the tree, and like the lights Jesus said he is “…the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
Like Christ is the Light of the world we are called to “…do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life.”
-Phil. 2:14-16a (Emphasis mine)
“…You are the light of the world. A city that is set of a hill cannot be hidden…Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
-Matt. 5:14,16 (Emphasis mine)
The tree needs also to be kept in water. Jesus Christ said “…whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
We place gifts under the tree. Jesus brings the greatest of all gifts. He brings you the ability to know God.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
Though the tree will die, and be put out the house when the season is over, it is only a symbol for us. Remember what Christmas is. Do not just look around but observe what is around you. Ask WHY? Search for answers.
In a simple thing as seeing my Christmas tree I heard the word of God brought to my mind by the Holy Spirit. Text after text, word upon word. This is what it means to walk with God. This is what it means to hear His voice.
Jesus Loves you and He wants you to know the Father, and believe in Him. It is my prayer and desire that you would do just that. Jesus is real, he can be known, and he wants you to know him.
This last weekend I had accepted an exceedingly difficult challenge. My close friend and partner in ministry Hyla had planned a women’s retreat for our church. She asked me to deliver the messages that weekend…but, I had to talk about our identity.
Identity…in Christ. Not just as women, but just in general.
I was told months ago that this would be the challenge. It took me months to prepare four messages of only about twenty minutes. I wrestled from beginning to end on how these messages should be prepared and delivered.
Identity in Christ…are you kidding me. Talk about not only a weighty concept, but an immensely wide topic.
What part of that was I supposed to emphasize? The death of our sin nature, the sacrifice of Christ and His resurrection, the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the spiritual birth of believers, the adoption into the family of God, the difference between flesh and sin nature, the dichotomy of our flesh and our spirit?
Yeah, there was no way I was ever going to do this subject the justice it truly deserves. There was no way that every woman on that retreat was going to walk away understanding every intricacy and beautiful detail of her new identity founded in the Godhead.
But I could be real.
I decided to show them the raw truth.
I’m not perfect.
I struggle every day.
I’ve hurt people closest to me.
The moment I lose sight of who I am made to be in Christ,
I become this needy, ugly version of me.
I become a muddied, silly idea of Christ-likeness.
Indeed, in those moments that I have forgotten my first love,
I have forgotten myself,
who I really am.
I cling to everything that can momentarily satisfy me.
I need of people.
But, people are people.
I need God.
This is what identity is. Our identity is in that law of God. Our ‘inner being’ talked about is the identity we should be living by; it’s founded in God and given to us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet, there’s that dichotomy with the flesh again, ‘…captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members (flesh).’
Our flesh is made up of our physical body, our consciousness, our thoughts, memories, feelings, chemical reactions…
Yeah…that’s right. That’s a lot to battle when you’re used to sinning…often.
Even though the Bible is pretty clear that our sin nature dies the moment we accept the gift of salvation we still have to battle the body that was once born into sin. We live in a sinful world with temptations all around us.
These are all things that can get in our way,
makes us think we need them.
At the end of the day…
if you have the Holy Spirit indwelling you,
you have everything you need.
Your identity in Christ
What He has done for you.
Where you’re going after this planet and life.
So I became real and shared with everyone the struggle of knowing your identity.
I lose sight of my identity…probably multiple times a day.
I suddenly become more concerned with who I think I should be than who I am.
Being married brought out that identity crisis in me.
Every day I have to remember who I am.
I am made new.
I am His.
I am dead to sin.
I am alive in spirit.
I am going to heaven.
I have no condemnation.
God has made new.
God has adopted.
God died on the cross on Calvary.
God defeated the grave.
God has called,
Christ is where we start
and where we end.
He is the in-between.
He is all we need,
all we should want.
The more you know of Him,
the less you should wonder of yourself.
The more you trust in Him,
the less you need trust yourself.
Our identity is in Him.
Know Him to know yourself.
Just before the sounding of my alarm I awoke to the beautiful form of my wife who lay curled up beside me. Her face even in sleep telling me of our new nature of grace and beauty. The result of a life in obedience to Jesus. Kissing her I arose. But even before my feet could reach the floor a faithful friend came once again to the forefront of my waking mind. Often does he come. He is a question who remains ever consistent and true. Without fail four familiar words echo thunderously through my mind: “Whom do you serve?”. They brought me once again to the battlefield where Paul says in his letter to the church at Ephesus “…we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” [NKJV] Do not mistake me. I know that we have a war on two sides: that which is seen and that which is unseen.
What then is the purpose of such a question? Is it to serve myself or to gain favor from God Almighty? May it never be. The nature of the question necessarily begs another question: “What are my options?” From my life experience and from the wisdom of many before me I currently rest upon this conclusion. That there is no option. You either recognize that there is One who is served or you rebel and do not serve Him. For the sake of this article I digress.
This question is faithfully brought to me nearly each day. It began during my time at Ecola Bible School. Before class began the dean of men shared with the first year students, of which I was a member, an excerpt from the book of Ephesians. Specifically he took us to the sixth chapter. Where something old was made extraordinarily beautiful: the Armor of God.
How precious ought the armor of God be to a saint. It supersedes all earthly armament. With its core purpose to “…withstand in the evil day.” Faithful and true ring those words penned by Paul. This letter having been written while under Roman guard during his imprisonment in Rome. It is these soldiers where Paul drew his model of the Armor of God. At the time of it’s writing a majority of the known world was under Roman rule; in particular, the areas where the Gospel message was being proclaimed. This move by Paul was simple and brilliant for this reason: everybody would have known the attire of a Roman soldier. Each soldier would have: helmet, breastplate, waist skirt [made up of of leather strips], a type of greave [designed to protect the tibia], footgear, shield, and sword. In comparison Paul’s example is missing a component. The greaves. You would think that the Armor of God would be complete. This not the case when the two are set side by side. Paul says: “…put on the whole armor of God.”[NKJV] I believe that any soldier of common sense would see benefit in protecting his legs. I do not encourage looking beyond the words of Scripture but here we can draw a common sense type of conclusion: that Paul left it out on purpose. He says “…having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.” [NKJV] I would suppose that a soldier of Rome, when attired for war, would not “shod his feet in preparation for peace,” rather for war. When I prepare for a time of peace I think of it like this: warm sunshine, a chair, a cup of coffee, and taking off my shoes, and kicking back to read.
To my mind again comes the question:
“Whom do you serve?”
I serve Jesus Christ and Him crucified and risen. Paul wrote “… when He (the Father) raised Him (Jesus) from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head of over all thingsto the church…” [Eph. 1:20-22 NKJV] We see that the victory is ours in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Kings of old would ride out with their armies to war. Our King Jesus is not riding out, but seated. And seated at the right hand of the Father. A place of honor and favor. Seeing our Lord seated with victory in hand. We wage war notfor victory but from victory.
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like flame of fire and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called the Word of God. And the armies of heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.” [Revelation 19:11-14 NKJV]
The fact that He will be riding a white horse, and those of us who are of the cross (the armies of heaven), is of great importance. After a war or battle when the king would return to the city from a field of victory he would ride a white horse. In Revelation, Christ, and the armies of heaven, are riding out to wage war ON white horses. Not wearing armor but robes of fine linen with Christ having the sword. Proclaiming victory before the final battle has begun. That is Jesus. It is He whom I serve.
“Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS
AND LORD OF LORDS.
With a sigh, which bespoke of my inability to do what I desired, I slipped my feet to the floor determined to give my all to serve my King.
Lord Jesus, help me to do just that. Help us all who proclaim you king do so from a position of penance.
Written in 1963…can you believe it?
He was directing his words to a very specific event in human history, but the general truth of God saturated all of his words. You can’t ignore the relevance of his words. They are true today as they were then.
What’s that say about the church?
Today the church isn’t closing its mouth or hiding behind doors about something so blatant as the segregation and degradation of race. Instead the church of America has become so intensely tolerant of the things of the world that many of those who claim the name of Christ can’t be recognized as different than anyone else in today’s culture. We were intended to be a transformational force by the very real and sincere delivery of the gospel. People are then transformed…and their families, their communities, their culture. However, in the Euro-USA church (I can’t speak to that which I’ve never witnessed), we have let the culture of the world shape us. Perhaps we’ve traded our dream of Christ and heaven for an American dream.
The idea that so much of the church chooses to sit idle and let time pass while twiddling their thumbs instead of standing up for the oppressed, feeding the hungry, taking care of those in need, and preaching the good news is appalling. We are the ekklesia, the “called out ones,” the ones who are supposed to be shining examples of Jesus. Today we tolerate sin, We often enable when we should voice concern. We call biblical accountability “legalism” and then think it’s ok to be not only “in the world” but “of the world” and call it being relevant.
It’s time to turn up the heat.
Call me crazy…but I think it’s time to finally start acting as our brothers in the past.
It’s time to stand out.
It’s time to speak up.
It’s time to stand and speak…not with a liberal social gospel or a conservative social gospel, but with a biblical and evangelistic gospel.
Because here’s the truth brothers and sisters:
Hell is real!
Don’t forget that.
I can’t stand down. And, I won’t shut up. Not when there hasn’t been significant church growth in America since the year I was born, 1991. I’m just as responsible as you are, brother, sister. Together we are the church.
Together we are supposed to effect change for the cause of our Father in heaven.
I’m praying that you and I both can allow the Spirit to move in us and through us. I pray the church would start moving back to the heart of the Bible. We need accountability. We need to challenge ourselves. We have to be different.
That’s what we were made for in Christ. We are made to shine His glorious light through the shattered pieces of our past as He continuously makes us new.
We are made for His glory
We are made for Him
We are called to share…