Christian Training Center InternationalPosts

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Is Jesus in the drivers seat?

There is a realization I need to come to daily and it is a tough one.

I am not in control. I am not in the drivers seat and I really like the control that comes by driving. Having acted on letting Jesus be in control yesterday and not today isn’t very helpful. Every day I have to know it and live it.

God is God. God has given over control of everything to Jesus. I am to be a faithful servant, finding out what Jesus wants me to do and then doing it.

God has a goal for me. I may not know what God’s goal for me is for a year from now. That is a problem because I love to plan. I can know for today, for right now. If nothing else, I can talk with God (aka pray) and thank him for the long list of things he is doing for me, my family and my country.

I can find out how Jesus wants me to love my boss. We are in a meeting and he is droning on about the same old same old. What does love look like in that meeting?

There is a long list of people I will interact with today. Jesus is in the drivers seat. What should I do to support his message of love? While it became a little overused in some circles, it still is all about “What would Jesus do?”

“You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am.” ~Jesus Source: Mark 8:34-37 (The Message)

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Our Mission & Vision

There is power in prayer. We see it every day. Let us join with you in tapping into the Power of God. Click here to make a request.

Our programs are like an immersion into a new language – the language of living in Jesus.  The goal is fluency in the language of relationships.  Programs share a sequential vision, building an understanding of relationships and family culture.  The foundation is an encounter with Jesus.  This encounter is the means for both insight and vision.  Encountering Jesus leads a radical change in living and relationships

Our Vision is to see generations of leaders victoriously modeling Jesus in their families and communities.

Our Mission is training believers to live a victorious life through biblical Truth, experiential discipleship, and family relationships. 

Values

Life is:

1) Relationships

2) Personal Holiness

3) Biblical

4) Authentic

5) Relevant

Learn more here.

If you would like to donate to the Christian Training Center, please click here.

Was Jesus on a mission?

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Glorify Jesus

Jesus was on a mission. It would be a painful and horrible death. Jesus knew what would happen. Jesus was going to see it through all the way to the end. God had given Jesus a goal.

Jesus was joyful for what God was going to do through him. Jesus asked to go through the pain and suffering for our salvation. Jesus was intent.

Did God stay silent? Not at all. God spoke.

God is God and God has the final word. God has glorified Jesus through his obedient act of sacrifice. God raised him from the dead and Jesus, living eternally, now sits at God’s right hand.

“Right now I am storm-tossed. What am I going to say? ‘Father, get me out of this’? No, this is why I came in the first place. I’ll say, ‘Father, put your glory on display.’”

A voice came out of the sky: “I have glorified it, and I’ll glorify it again.” Source: John 12:27-28

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There is power in prayer. We see it every day. Let us join with you in tapping into the Power of God. Click here to make a request.

Check out our upcoming ministry programs for young adults and families. Please click here.

Our programs are like an immersion into a new language – the language of living in Jesus.  The goal is fluency in the language of relationships. The foundation is an encounter with Jesus that leads to a radical change in living and relationships.

Heroes Semester is a 10-week residential, “family style” living experience like no other! | Participants ages 18-26 come with one purpose – to go deeper with the Lord. Learn more about our programs here.

Strengthening & Restoring Family Relationships — Train to Reign Program | Family is the most vital relationship and the one under the most pressure and attack. Come strengthen your family in a strong relationship with God. Learn more here.

Leadership the Jesus: A Faith at work series — Looking how to focus your faith at work? | This series of leadership programs focuses on leadership skills that drive the purpose and passion for work as laid out by Jesus and based on sound scripture. We might see faith and work as estranged. It can be frustrating. But, in truth, faith and work should share a crucial aim: to see the unseen at work through the power of the Holy Spirit. Nothing new has been made without faith in God. Nothing unseen has been seen without work. When the force of what we do hits why we do it, we wither, or we flourish. Learn more here.

If you would like to donate to the Christian Training Center, please click here.

Are we ready to be servants?

The last will be first | Leadership the Jesus Way

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Jesus, the perfect servant

Jesus is clear about what is important. It is not about being a leader. It is not about who sits in authority at the right hand of Jesus. It is not even about being a servant leader. Jesus never talks about that.

Jesus calls on us to be servants. That is it. There is nothing else. That is our daily job. We live it out at work and at home.

Jesus only came to serve us and sacrifice for us. It is God that put Jesus in charge of God’s country (aka Kingdom). Jesus simply did what his Father wanted him to do.

How do we tune our ears to Wisdom?

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Wisdom – Proverbs 2:1

There is an amazing world out there filled with Wisdom. It is the wonderful world of Jesus. Jesus provides us with great Wisdom. Jesus provides us a life of understanding. God is in a stunning mood.

Will I see what God is doing today?

Should we “just suck it up”?

Self Control

When I was a young man, we used the phrase “just suck it up”. We used it a lot. We didn’t like whiners and complainers. If things were tough or people were giving you a hard time, you had what we politely know of as self-control.

“But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.” | Matthew 5:39–40 (NASB)

Where will Jesus lead us?

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Jesus on Leadership

Jesus is clear about what it takes to follow him (i.e. be a Christian). There is no ambiguity here at all. I have to do it.

I have to change my mind (aka repent) about who is in charge. Jesus is in charge. A follower of Jesus commits to letting Jesus lead. God is God. I am not. This is the “main thing about the main thing”. Everything starts here.

So where is Jesus going to lead me? Jesus leads me to the cross. Suffering is ahead of me. I have to sacrifice what I think God would do to let Jesus be in control. This is not easy stuff for me. I don’t want to suffer. I really don’t.

“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead.” ~Jesus

Source: Mark 8:34-37 (The Message)

Leadership the Jesus: A Faith at work series — Looking how to focus your faith at work? | This series of leadership programs focuses on leadership skills that drive the purpose and passion for work as laid out by Jesus and based on sound scripture. We might see faith and work as estranged. It can be frustrating. But, in truth, faith and work should share a crucial aim: to see the unseen at work through the power of the Holy Spirit. Nothing new has been made without faith in God. Nothing unseen has been seen without work. When the force of what we do hits why we do it, we wither, or we flourish. Learn more here.

What does Jesus require of us?

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I am compelled, by Jesus our Master, to drop everything that takes me away from talking and writing about the good news of life of salvation. We share this in common. We live it together.

Who gets invited to dinner with God?

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King David asks God a great question. David talks with God all the time and he asks God a lot of questions. Do I want to have dinner with God? Is that my desire today? What will it take to get invited? All great questions.

David gets an answer from God. It is great to ask the question. Am I open to the answer? Do I hear what God has to say to me? I hear but many times I miss the goal that God has in mind for me.

Jesus simplified it for me. Love! That is it. Love God and love everyone else I know. the goal is clear. The good news is that God is in a great mood. When I miss the goal, Jesus picks me up, sets me straight on what happened and sends me on my way. God’s gift is to make me whole.

What does Jesus say when I say “I don’t get it”?

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Jesus is clear. Jesus doesn’t pull any punches. Yet, I say “I don’t get it.”

Really? I don’t get it? I say that to Jesus? Of course I do.

I say “Why is this happening to me?” — meaning I don’t get it. It takes a lot of different forms but the essence of what I’m saying is “I don’t get it.”

How does Jesus react to that? Oops! Here it comes. Jesus says “Are you being willfully stupid?”

Not only is Jesus clear, he is direct with me. I don’t get to skate off having pretending I don’t know what is going on. Jesus won’t let me get away with that. All I can do is admit that I am.

What does Jesus do? Jesus, politely and kindly, explains it to me. God’s goal for me is to understand, even when I like to pretend I don’t get it.

Peter said, “I don’t get it. Put it in plain language.”

Jesus replied, “You, too? Are you being willfully stupid? Don’t you know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the intestines and is finally defecated? But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. It’s from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing. That’s what pollutes. Eating or not eating certain foods, washing or not washing your hands—that’s neither here nor there.” Source: Matthew 15:15-20

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There is power in prayer. We see it every day. Let us join with you in tapping into the Power of God. Click here to make a request.

Check out our upcoming ministry programs for young adults and families. Please click here.

Our programs are like an immersion into a new language – the language of living in Jesus.  The goal is fluency in the language of relationships. The foundation is an encounter with Jesus that leads to a radical change in living and relationships.

Heroes Semester is a 10-week residential, “family style” living experience like no other! | Participants ages 18-26 come with one purpose – to go deeper with the Lord. Learn more about our programs here.

Strengthening & Restoring Family Relationships — Train to Reign Program | Family is the most vital relationship and the one under the most pressure and attack. Come strengthen your family in a strong relationship with God. Learn more here.

Leadership the Jesus Way: A Faith at Work series — Looking how to focus your faith at work? | This series of leadership programs focuses on leadership skills that drive the purpose and passion for work as laid out by Jesus and based on sound scripture. We might see faith and work as estranged. It can be frustrating. But, in truth, faith and work should share a crucial aim: to see the unseen at work through the power of the Holy Spirit. Nothing new has been made without faith in God. Nothing unseen has been seen without work. When the force of what we do hits why we do it, we wither, or we flourish. Learn more here.

If you would like to donate to the Christian Training Center, please click here.

Be more like a dog!

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I think this makes for a great way to approach life!

Be more dog:
When loved ones come home, run to greet them;
Never pass the opportunity for a joy ride. Allow the experience of wind and fresh air in your face to be pure ecstasy, rather than an inconvenience;
Take naps;
Stretch before rising;
Run, romp, and play daily;
Thrive on attention, and let people touch you;
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do;
On warm days, stop to lie on your back in the grass;
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie down under a tree;
When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body;
Delight in the joy of a long walk;
Be loyal;
Never pretend to be something you’re not;
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it;
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.
Be more dog.”

Source: Be More Dog | Faith Unlocked

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Cal’s Creative Corner

There is power in prayer. We see it every day. Let us join with you in tapping into the Power of God. Click here to make a request.

We are honored that Cal Huge is selling his photos to exclusively benefit the Christian Training Center International.

Take a visit to his Etsy store. A portion of the proceeds of each sale goes to the Christian Training Center International. The listings are only a small portion of the photos available and more will be added each week. If you have a specific request for scripture on any print or a particular subject that isn’t shown, email Cal through Etsy.

Learn more here.

Will I live the radical life Jesus called me to live?

Radical Sayings of Jesus

I am resolved to do something out of the ordinary. I commit to living a super-ordinary life in Jesus. I will live the radical life Jesus called me to live.

It was Henry David Thoreau who wrote, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” I don’t admire Thoreau as a theologian, but I think he largely got it right in this quote describing the normal human condition and maybe the condition of lots of Christians.

I believe that most of us, including myself, get bogged down in the routines of life. I have nothing against routines, except when they become my master. Much can be said about the righteousness of living a careful, responsible life before God. But, this is not at issue for me in this resolution.

My fear is that the life Jesus lived and died to give us (“I came that they may have life and have it to the full.” John 10:10) can get lost in the devotion to safety, health and routine. I’m not advocating going out today to partake in some “extreme” thrill sport. I’m simply encouraging myself to do something outside of my normal routine, to experience life outside the lines I’ve drawn, to provide myself with the opportunity to “sing my song” and be bold in Jesus. Jesus challenges me leave ordinary behind and live a super-ordinary life in Him.

Today is the day. Now is the time.

God is ready to do amazing things. His Holy Spirit is in me and that is the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. I can live an extra-ordinary life in Him.

How? Maybe it’s as simple as, at the prompting of God, taking the long way home from the store or work to gain a new perspective on the world right around me that otherwise goes unnoticed. Maybe Jesus wants to perform a miracle in someones life I don’t normally see. Maybe He wants me to be the Good Samaritan.

God’s goal for me will be reveled by Him to me TODAY.

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There is power in prayer. We see it every day. Let us join with you in tapping into the Power of God. Click here to make a request.

Check out our upcoming ministry programs for young adults and families. Please click here.

Our programs are like an immersion into a new language – the language of living in Jesus.  The goal is fluency in the language of relationships. The foundation is an encounter with Jesus that leads to a radical change in living and relationships.

Heroes Semester is a 10-week residential, “family style” living experience like no other! | Participants ages 18-26 come with one purpose – to go deeper with the Lord. Learn more about our programs here.

Strengthening & Restoring Family Relationships — Train to Reign Program | Family is the most vital relationship and the one under the most pressure and attack. Come strengthen your family in a strong relationship with God. Learn more here.

Leadership the Jesus: A Faith at work series — Looking how to focus your faith at work? | This series of leadership programs focuses on leadership skills that drive the purpose and passion for work as laid out by Jesus and based on sound scripture. We might see faith and work as estranged. It can be frustrating. But, in truth, faith and work should share a crucial aim: to see the unseen at work through the power of the Holy Spirit. Nothing new has been made without faith in God. Nothing unseen has been seen without work. When the force of what we do hits why we do it, we wither, or we flourish. Learn more here.

If you would like to donate to the Christian Training Center, please click here.

Are we receiving comfort through our wealth?

Jesus lays out the principles of the Kingdom of God. This excerpt is from what is known as the Sermon on the Plain. It is similar but slightly different than the Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon, he also has a series of “woe to you” statements.

Then Jesus looked up at his disciples and said: “Happy are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Happy are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Happy are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”

But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.” Source: Luke 6:20-21, 24

What does it mean to ask according to the will of Jesus?

Jesus is wrapping things up. They’ve had the last supper and Jesus has laid out the new contract (aka covenant, testament or agreement). He is giving them a series of last insights before the crucifixion, burial, resurrection and ascension occur. Every thing is going to move very fast from here but this is very important.

“This is what I want you to do: Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I’ve revealed to you. Ask in my name, according to my will, and he’ll most certainly give it to you. Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks”  Source: John 16:23-24 (The Message)

Is help on the way?

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Hope is a big deal. Faith is essential. These are important foundations in the Kingdom of God. With King David, we get a sense of how this can all come together in the new contract (aka covenant) with Jesus. David has hope an answer is on the way. David has faith everything is going to work out.

“That clinches it—help’s coming, an answer’s on the way, everything’s going to work out.” ~King David Source: Psalm 20:6 

King David had seen some tough times. He might see some more. My challenges probably aren’t close to what he went through as the King of Israel sought to kill him and his men. But David had a heart after God. King David shows us the way to Jesus.

Am I ready to sacrifice what I want for what Jesus wants?

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Jesus is ushering in the Kingdom (aka country) of God. In the Kingdom, things are different. The Kingdom is all about the new contract Jesus has with us. One of the things that is different is the Jesus makes it clear that following him will be difficult. Don’t think so? Just ask the rich young ruler or the man who wanted a little time to go bury his father.

Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for? Source: Mark 8:34-37 (The Message)

Am we ready for what Jesus is going to say to us?

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Judas Iscariot betrays Jesus

When Jesus says he has something hard but important to say I am guessing it is time to pay attention. Something is going on here. I’m not sure I see it all but I can’t ignore this important message “from our sponsor”. Jesus doesn’t pull any punches. Breaking news!

After sunset he came with the Twelve. As they were at the supper table eating, Jesus said, “I have something hard but important to say to you: One of you is going to hand me over to the conspirators, one who at this moment is eating with me.” Stunned, they started asking, one after another, “It isn’t me, is it?”

He said, “It’s one of the Twelve, one who eats with me out of the same bowl. In one sense, it turns out that the Son of Man is entering into a way of treachery well-marked by the Scriptures—no surprises here. In another sense, the man who turns him in, turns traitor to the Son of Man—better never to have been born than do this!” Source: Mark 14:17-21 (The Message)

Since we have been forgiven, what should our attitude be?

The Jesus Manifesto (Matthew 5-7) continues with Jesus teaching us how to pray.

I must learn how to forgive. How I act gets reflected in how I pray. Jesus is clear with me on this.

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” | Matthew 6:9-13 (Christian Standard Bible).

What is my job? What is my main role in life?

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Cup of Suffering

I can see my mom doing this. The mother of James and John wanted Jesus to bestow on her two sons the honor of sitting next to him in the Kingdom. Why not, I’m sure she is thinking. Somebody is going to sit there. Why not my sons? And of course Jesus had said ask and you will receive. Jesus set her straight that she didn’t know what she was asking for.

Then Jesus had to address the riot that ensued with the other 10. Man were they bent out of shape with James and John. Jesus is going to use this as an object lesson. This is what we call a “teachable moment” for the new covenant (aka contract, agreement or plan).

“When the ten others heard about this, they lost their tempers, thoroughly disgusted with the two brothers. So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.” Source: Matthew 20:24-28

Are we ready to wear black? Are we ready to set free those who are oppressed?

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This song, “Man in Black” from Johnny Cash brings me to tears.

Reminds me of Jesus when “He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”

And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

As Johnny sings, Jesus came for the poor and beaten down. Please listen.  It is short.

Man In Black by Johnny Cash

Does Jesus know what is in our hearts? Is He impressed?

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This all came about because Jesus didn’t wash his hands before he ate. Seriously. This was a huge Jewish ritual from the old covenant. Jesus was focused on the new covenant and the Kingdom of God that he was ushering in. Jesus was already moving on.

When he finished that talk, a Pharisee asked him to dinner. He entered his house and sat right down at the table. The Pharisee was shocked and somewhat offended when he saw that Jesus didn’t wash up before the meal. But the Master said to him, “I know you Pharisees burnish the surface of your cups and plates so they sparkle in the sun, but I also know your insides are maggoty with greed and secret evil. Stupid Pharisees! Didn’t the One who made the outside also make the inside? Turn both your pockets and your hearts inside out and give generously to the poor; then your lives will be clean, not just your dishes and your hands. Source: Luke 11:37-41 (The Message)

Jesus knows our hearts. Jesus knows what motivates us. Jesus came to get us right with God, His Father. Jesus does this by speaking the truth to us. One day, Jesus called Peter, Satan. When I follow Jesus, I don’t get a break. I get challenged.

What does it mean to deliver us from evil?

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Evil is real. Evil leads to murder. Jesus is the only solution for evil. Jesus taught us to pray “deliver us from evil.”

Jesus did not ask us to petition the government for better laws. Nothing wrong with that but we need to be on my knees praying for deliverance.

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.” ~Jesus

Source: Matthew 15:19 (NASB)

Will our right-living cause us to glow with light?

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Light of the World

Jesus is clear with us. He says You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14)

Jesus makes us a light for all to see. Our job is to shine the light of Jesus on everything. Jesus said it so He knows what he is doing. If I was Jesus (and be thankful I am not), I would give me that job. I think some of my wiring is loose.

The ways of right-living people glow with light;
    the longer they live, the brighter they shine.
But the road of wrongdoing gets darker and darker—
travelers can’t see a thing; they fall flat on their faces.

Source: Proverbs 4:18-19 (The Message)

Why should we pray for our daily bread?

Prayer

Jesus continues the Jesus Manifesto (Matthew 5 – 7) and the model prayer.

I have needs on a daily basis. We all do. Jesus encourages me to acknowledge that in my conversation with God and ask for the days needs to be met.

The Israelites received manna daily in the wilderness. God is good and in a good mood. He is going to take care of me.

It will be day by day. That is God’s way. Jesus helps us understand that.

How to sacrifice my way of doing things to follow the way of Jesus.

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I love to believe something that isn’t true in the world of following Jesus. Of course it is sad. Many times I don’t even realize what I am doing. Jesus confronts me to make it real. Jesus cuts through all the cultural lies I hear and read all the time. I can’t help myself.

Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?

Source: Mark 8:34-37 (The Message)

How do we make ourselves home in the love of Jesus?

Love and Obey

Jesus, the Messiah, is all about love. We all want to be at home. It was in love that God, the Father, sent his Son to the world to save us from missing God’s goal for our life (aka sin).

It all starts with the love the Father shown to Jesus. Jesus has taken that love and given it to me. I know how to love because of Jesus. Ah, it is great to be home!

I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.

Source: John 15:9-10

What does the revelation of God do for our lives?

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I need to get this in my heart and soul. God has his plan together for me. Now that is some very good news.

The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes.
God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree.” ~King David

Source: Psalm 19 NASB;MSG

Whose children are we?

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The Apostle Paul lays out a basic premise of The Way (της οδου). We are children of God and more importantly, heirs to the new testament (aka covenant, agreement or plan).

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with the Messiah, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” ~Apostle Paul | Romans 8:12-17 NASB

What does Jesus think about money, wealth, poverty, riches and what God wants for us?

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There is a lot of confusion among followers of Jesus about money, wealth, poverty, riches and what God wants for us. This isn’t intended to be an indictment about prosperity ministries but it is intended to offer caution both from King Solomon and most importantly, Jesus.

Prefer my life-disciplines over chasing after money,
    and God-knowledge over a lucrative career.
For Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth;
nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.” ~King Solomon

Source: Proverbs 8:10-11 (The Message)

What is most important? King Solomon makes it clear that wisdom is more important than money. This from a man who was one of the wealthiest of his time. King Solomon suggest spending our time focused on wisdom and not so much on money, careers and wealth.

Are there really false prophets and Messiahs around?

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Who should we worry about? We live in a time where there are many impressive religious leaders. The power of radio, TV and the internet bring them into our world any time we want. Miracles abound including prosperity around every corner. Apparently the poor will be no more in the Kingdom of Mammon (aka money) promoted by the modern church.

And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Messiah’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him; for false Messiahs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance. ~Jesus Source: Mark 13:21-23 (NASB)

How wise does Jesus expect us to be?

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It is helpful to know that some people really don’t care for me. In fact, they care nothing at all. They don’t have my best interest at heart and are hard-hearted. I need to be wise to discern that reality. I have opened myself up to it before. It is no fun, as we all know.

God has a goal and some wisdom for me. I need to listen carefully and closely. Jesus said “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.”

What does Jesus think about marriage? Is it really just between a man and woman?

Jesus is put out with the Pharisees. Jesus points them and us to the Bible. I’m afraid our church leaders are not serving us well and are deceiving God’s people by pretending something that God did (make us male and female) isn’t true. There is a lot to unpack here considering what is going on in our society and culture.

One day the Pharisees were badgering him: “Is it legal for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?” Jesus answered, “Haven’t you read in your Bible that the Creator originally made man and woman for each other, male and female? And because of this, a man leaves father and mother and is firmly bonded to his wife, becoming one flesh—no longer two bodies but one. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.”

Source: Matthew 19:1-6 (The Message)

Are we willing to die for Jesus today?

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Jesus tells us of a principle of how his Kingdom works. Persecution will be real because of our following Jesus. It might even be deadly. That is true even to today. Today someone died for Jesus and His mission.

You’ll even be turned in by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends. Some of you will be killed. There’s no telling who will hate you because of me. Even so, every detail of your body and soul—even the hairs of your head!—is in my care; nothing of you will be lost. Staying with it—that’s what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved.” ~Jesus

Source: Luke 21:16-19 (The Message)

Who will hate me? Jesus warns me that it could be anyone. It could be the closest member of my family. It could be everyone. If I don’t have any enemies, I am probably not living out the mission of Jesus. The clarity of the good news of Jesus brings out the anger in the Evil One.

Will I live to tell the story? In fact, I may be killed. It is happening today all over the world. Persecution of the followers of Jesus is very real. If I am living out the mission of Jesus, it could happen to me. I must be prepared for this.

Who will look out for me? Jesus will look out for me. Everything is in the care of Jesus. That, my friends, is good news.

What is required of me? I must persevere. I must stick with Jesus. Jesus will save me no matter what. That is the real deal. I can’t get discouraged. No matter what, I will get eternal live. Trillions and trillions of years is a might long time.

Consider this about what is happening today. “215 million Christians experience high levels of persecution” around the world, according to Open Doors, a human rights organization. On its recently released World Watch List 2018, which ranks the world’s 50 worst nations wherein to be Christian, 3,066 Christians were killed, 1,252 abducted, and 1,020 raped or sexually harassed on account of their faith; and 793 churches were attacked or destroyed.” Search the news here on any given day to see the latest.

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Susan Pons Book – “And There Was Evening and There Was Morning…”

There is power in prayer. We see it every day. Let us join with you in tapping into the Power of God. Click here to make a request.

Have you read Susan Corbett Pons book “And There was Evening and There was Morning”? It will make you laugh, and it will make you cry. Check out Susan’s book here.

Susan Pons grew up in Valdese, North Carolina. Prior to her marriage, she performed professionally on stage and dinner theaters. The mother of four and grandmother of six, she and her husband, Larry, direct Christian Training Center, International, a ministry dedicated to the restoration of families. She has loved her life.

Check out Susan’s book here.

Our programs are like an immersion into a new language – the language of living in Jesus.  The goal is fluency in the language of relationships.  Programs share a sequential vision, building an understanding of relationships and family culture.  The foundation is an encounter with Jesus.  This encounter is the means for both insight and vision.  Encountering Jesus leads a radical change in living and relationships.

Learn more about our programs here.

If you would like to donate to the Christian Training Center, please click here.

What did Jesus do while He was in the tomb?

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There is a break from the horror of day Jesus is crucified! Jesus is carrying out the plan of His Father. His disciples are huddled up trying to figure it all out. No matter how many times Jesus had told them, they didn’t get it.

I don’t either many days. Jesus is talking to me. Jesus has things He wants me to do. I am scared and I am hiding. Yikes!

Master Jesus the Messiah, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

It is Saturday. Some theories exist about what is going on from the time of the death of Jesus to His resurrection on Sunday morning. Some have a good case for Jesus visiting Hell or Sheol (the place of the dead). Here is one.

From the scriptures, it is clear Jesus did visit Sheol. After His crucifixion, Jesus was laid in a nearby tomb, and His body remained there the entirety of Holy Saturday (Matthew 27:59-60; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53-54; John 19:39-42). Saturday turned into Sunday!“‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last” (Luke 23:46)

  • Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. (Mark 15:46)
  • Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. (Acts 2:29-31)

Without the resurrection of the Messiah, we would be in dire straits. If Christ had never been raised, “your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). The disciples had scattered when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:50), and they spent the first Holy Saturday hiding for fear of also being arrested (John 20:19). The day between Christ’s crucifixion and His resurrection would have been a time of grief and shock as the stunned disciples tried to understand the murder of Jesus, the betrayal of Judas, and the dashing of their hopes. “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  (John 20:19)

The only reference to what happened on Saturday is found in Matthew 27:62-66. After sundown on Friday—the day of Preparation—the chief priests and Pharisees visited Pontius Pilate. This visit was on the Sabbath, since the Jews reckoned a day as starting at sundown. They asked Pilate for a guard for Jesus’ tomb.

They remembered Jesus saying that He would rise again in three days (John 2:19-21) and wanted to do everything they could to prevent that. As we know, the Roman guards were inadequate to prevent the resurrection, and the women who returned to the tomb Sunday morning found it empty.

The Lord is risen.

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There is power in prayer. We see it every day. Let us join with you in tapping into the Power of God. Click here to make a request.

Check out our upcoming ministry programs for young adults and families. Please click here.

Our programs are like an immersion into a new language – the language of living in Jesus.  The goal is fluency in the language of relationships. The foundation is an encounter with Jesus that leads to a radical change in living and relationships.

Heroes Semester is a 10-week residential, “family style” living experience like no other! | Participants ages 18-26 come with one purpose – to go deeper with the Lord. Learn more about our programs here.

Strengthening & Restoring Family Relationships — Train to Reign Program | Family is the most vital relationship and the one under the most pressure and attack. Come strengthen your family in a strong relationship with God. Learn more here.

If you would like to donate to the Christian Training Center, please click here.

What does it mean to follow Jesus?

Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?

Source: Mark 8:34-37 (The Message)

Jesus ushers in the Kingdom of God, explaining to the crowds, not just the disciples, how it works. I don’t think there was an “alter call” afterward. Jesus delivered the message and moved on. Chapters, in the New Testament, can be tricky.

What is the promise of the Spirit of God?

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If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!

Source: John 14:15-17 (The Message)

Jesus was ushering in the new covenant (aka testament, agreement or contract). His death, resurrection and ascension was right around the corner. One final piece of the puzzle is also about to be revealed. After his ascension, Jesus will send the Holy Spirit to be with us in the place of the physical Jesus. Without the Spirit we can’t enter the Kingdom of God.

What is the main thing Jesus wants? Jesus wants me to love Him by being obedient to what he has said. That is the big deal. Love is not in isolation from obedience. Love is obedience. Jesus is God and Jesus is in control. God has given Jesus all authority, both in heaven and here on earth. Jesus makes it clear his goal for me is to love.

What is the promise of God? Jesus promised me the Spirit of God. The Spirit is a friend, helper, comforter, and advocate for me to God. Jesus also said (John 3:5) “I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” The Spirit is essential to living in God’s country. I can’t enter with out the Spirit.

How will I know the Spirit of God? The Spirit of God has been with me. The Spirit of God is not a stranger. The Spirit of God is my helper and that is how I will know him. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of Truth. If what is sense is a lie and attempts to deceive me, it is not the Spirit of God.

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There is power in prayer. We see it every day. Let us join with you in tapping into the Power of God. Click here to make a request.

Check out our upcoming ministry programs for young adults and families. Please click here.

Our programs are like an immersion into a new language – the language of living in Jesus.  The goal is fluency in the language of relationships. The foundation is an encounter with Jesus that leads to a radical change in living and relationships.

Heroes Semester is a 10-week residential, “family style” living experience like no other! | Participants ages 18-26 come with one purpose – to go deeper with the Lord. Learn more about our programs here.

Strengthening & Restoring Family Relationships — Train to Reign Program | Family is the most vital relationship and the one under the most pressure and attack. Come strengthen your family in a strong relationship with God. Learn more here.

If you would like to donate to the Christian Training Center, please click here.

What can I do about my bitterness?

Great message (and short) from John Piper on bitterness. When I harbor feelings of vengeance I show that I don’t have faith in what God has promised.

Vengeance belongs to the Lord. He will repay.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. | Romans 12:18-20 (NASB)

Κύριε Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, Υἱέ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐλέησόν με τὸν ἁμαρτωλόν

Translated: “Master Jesus the Messiah, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”

Our Messiah humbled himself and died for all of us, I pray the Jesus Prayer. God is in a good mood. God’s plan through Jesus has redeemed, restored me and healed me.

I have missed God’s goal for my life (aka sin). This is a big deal. It is not to be ignored.

And so … mercy is required. I need forgiveness.

I thankful that Jesus died for me. I am thankful that God loved me so much He sent His only Son to die for me. I am thankful that God did not want to condemn us but wanted to save us. And save us He did.

What is a wrong with a half-way job?

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What is my role in all this? God doesn’t invade my body and make me change my mind. That isn’t how it works. I have to change my mind (aka repent).

I have to give up and give him all the pieces. I have humble myself and admit that I have missed God’s goal (aka sinned). Many days I am reluctant. God is patient.

God made my life complete
    when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I got my act together,
    he gave me a fresh start.

Source: Psalm 18:20-24 (The Message)

What is more important, Theology or what Jesus says?

Am I clever? I like to think I am some days. So did the Sadducess (Religious Leaders). They thought they had Jesus in a conundrum. Of course they didn’t. I don’t either although some days I try.

I like to infer some great logic or theology from the Bible that just isn’t true. Jesus didn’t come to earth to establish a theology. Jesus came to usher in the new covenant and the Kingdom (aka country) of God. His death, resurrection and ascension accomplished what God’s goal was for Jesus.

Do I know the Bible (Scripture)? Not as well as I should or want to that is clear. Also, the more I immerse myself in what Jesus said, the more spiritual relativism I see. Is it okay to like what the Bible says until it says something I don’t like? Can I then manipulate what it says to my own satisfaction? Or worse, perhaps I should just disagree and move on with what I want it to do regardless. Yikes! This is dangerous.

What is more important, Theology or what Jesus says? In this case, the Sadducees were focused on the theology of the resurrection, which they didn’t believe in. Jesus knows the truth because he is the truth and he knows what it is like in heaven. Jesus also knew the Old Testament. So when you are the Son of God and you know the scripture, that is known as the trump card.

Do I know how God works? Not well enough. Several things have become clearer about how God works. I am focusing more and more on:

  • God is God – God is in control. I am not.
  • God is Good – God is in a good mood. God sent Jesus because he loves me.
  • God is Great – Nothing is impossible with God.
  • God has a goal for me – I need to focus, exclusively, on what God wants me to do.

Some Sadducees, the party that denies any possibility of resurrection, came up and asked, “Teacher, Moses wrote that if a man dies and leaves a wife but no child, his brother is obligated to marry the widow and have children. Well, there once were seven brothers. The first took a wife. He died childless. The second married her. He died, and still no child. The same with the third. All seven took their turn, but no child. Finally the wife died. When they are raised at the resurrection, whose wife is she? All seven were her husband.”

Jesus said, “You’re way off base, and here’s why: One, you don’t know your Bibles; two, you don’t know how God works. After the dead are raised up, we’re past the marriage business. As it is with angels now, all our ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God. And regarding the dead, whether or not they are raised, don’t you ever read the Bible? How God at the bush said to Moses, ‘I am—not was—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? The living God is God of the living, not the dead. You’re way, way off base.” Source: Mark 12:18-27 (The Message)

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About the Christian Training Center

There is power in prayer. We see it every day. Let us join with you in tapping into the Power of God. Click here to make a request.

The Christian Training Center International was founded in the early 1970’s as The Inn of the Last Resort. It is now known throughout the world for its outreach to families, Christian leaders, and young people. Our focus is to enable individuals – especially young men and women – to face and overcome the mounting issues and pressures in their daily lives. Learn more here.

Our programs are like an immersion into a new language – the language of living in Jesus.  The goal is fluency in the language of relationships. The foundation is an encounter with Jesus that leads to a radical change in living and relationships. Learn more here.

If you would like to donate to the Christian Training Center, please click here.

What does Jesus have to say about taking oaths and swearing?

Radical Sayings of Jesus

The Jesus manifesto continues. Jesus takes on oaths and swearing.

Jesus is clear on this. I am to say yes or no. That is it. No “I swear to God” or any variation. Yes or no. No maybes. Anything else is evil.

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Master what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. ~Jesus | Matthew 5:33-37 (ESV)

This is not the sin of “cursing,” but the sin of using oaths to affirm that what is said is true. The religious elites used all kinds of tricks to sidestep the truth, and oaths were among them. They would avoid using the holy name of God, but they would come close by using the city of Jerusalem, heaven, earth, or some part of the body.

What does the will of God mean?

God’s new plan

I need to get on board with what God wants. It is never about me. It is always about God. God has a country (kingdom). In that country, God gets to decide what goes on.

God has put Jesus in charge of His country. Clearly God’s way is supreme in heaven. I am to pray for that to happen here on earth. That is the way to pray. It is laid our clearly in the Jesus Manifesto.

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” | Matthew 6:9-13

What is the atoning purpose of Jesus death?

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It is the Friday immediately preceding Resurrection Sunday. It is celebrated traditionally as the day on which Jesus was crucified.  The Bible instructs us to remember Christ’s death by observing the Lord’s Supper. First Corinthians 11:24-26 declares,

What is healthy fruit? Are we producing it?

Jesus warns us in the Jesus Manifesto (Matthew 5 – 7) where we hear Him say Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing”.

Jesus is serious. There won’t be just a few. There are many of them. Their goal is to mislead us. And they are. It is sad.

The issue here is fruit. Am I producing fruit? I can’t recognize what bad fruit is first I don’t produce good fruit.

Will we disown Jesus? Could it happen?

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Judas betrays Jesus. Peter and the others deny they know Jesus. Nobody is with Jesus at the end.

I am not either. I would have been no different. I have to ask would it have been by betrayal or denial. Master Jesus the Messiah, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ‘‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same. | Source: Matthew 26:31-35

How does Jesus want us to pray?

God is God

I have a Father in heaven. That is some very good news. I am ecstatic over that. I need to get that in my heart and soul. I need to let that seep into my very existence. Staying focused on that makes a difference every minute of the day.

Jesus teaches us how to pray in the Jesus Manifesto. Prayer is to begin with worship. God is addressed as Our Father in heaven. Worship is the essence of all prayer. (In vv. 1–18) Jesus used the word “Father” 10 times! Only those who have true inner righteousness can address God in that way in worship. Reverence is a second element of prayer, for God’s name is to be hallowed, that is, revered and honored (hagiasthētō).

Is there only one God? Can we go god shopping?

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God is God. There is only one God. That God is Yahweh, the heavenly Father of Jesus, our Messiah.

Consider this. In Psalm 100:3 David says “Know this: God is God, and God, God. He made us; we didn’t make him. We’re his people, his well-tended sheep.” This is a big deal and one of the major themes of our life with Jesus. It all starts with “Our Father, who is in Heaven, Holy is your name”. It continues with “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Don’t just go shopping for a god.
Gods are not for sale.
I swear I’ll never treat god-names
like brand-names.

Source: Psalm 16:4 (The Message)

What is the Last Supper all about?

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Maundy Thursday

Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples and instituted the Lord’s Supper, also called Communion. Some Christian churches observe a special Communion service on Maundy Thursday in memory of Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples.

Jesus the Messiah, the mediator of the new covenant – The fulfilment of God’s purposes of salvation expressed in the covenants of the OT, mediated by Jesus the Messiah and sealed in his blood. It is a covenant of grace, the benefits of which include forgiveness, a renewed relationship with God and, through the Holy Spirit, an inward transformation that enables obedience to its demands and so ensures that it will not again be broken. The Greek word is διαθήκη (diathḗkē)  properly, a disposition, i.e. specially a contract especially a devisory will:–covenant, testament.

The Last Supper comes out of Maundy Thursday, also known as “Holy Thursday”. It is the Thursday of Passion Week, one day before Good Friday (the Friday before Easter). Maundy Thursday is the name given to the day on which Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples, known as the Last Supper. Two important events are the focus of Maundy Thursday. The overlying principle is that Jesus establishes a New Covenant with us.

When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!”  | Luke 22:19-20 New International Version (NIV)