Friday, June 26, 2009

We Can't Escape It

Yesterday, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson "went the way of all flesh." And with their passing we are again brought to the stark reality that death is something that none of us can escape. Whether life is lived long, or cut drastically short, death is the specter awaiting each of us.

To be honest Farrah's and Michael's deaths upset me, but not for the reasons which most are upset. I am upset because the deaths of these two celebrities will cause us to forget the ongoing tragic deaths around the world in places like Darfur and Congo. I know some of you are thinking, "come on Randy, lighten-up, quite being so cynical and harsh."

Well, that's just the place I am.

I am sadden by many who are suffering that I personally know...good people...humble people...people who have lived quiet lives of serving God and man, and now find themselves being chased by death. For these and for many others, my heart hurts.

These thoughts of death and dying do bring us to this week's sermon passage from John 12:12-36. It is here we now see Jesus moving straight forward to His death. Not sherking from it, not hiding, but resolved to accomplish that for which He was sent. (John 12:27)

Jesus came for the purpose of dying, so that through His death we might have life. (John 10:10; John 20:21; 1 John 5:12) I cannot say that for anyone else. And as they say, "the proof is in the pudding," or is Jesus' case, in His resurrection!!!

How good it is to know that we can be part of the wonderful harvest that has been brought forth because of Jesus' sacrificial death. (John 12:23-26) And that we, as the fruit of that harvest, have the responsibility to also die to self so that the planting and harvest will continue, and all for the glory of God.

Death does await all of us and the day of our death is known only to Him who is the Giver of life, so let us therefore live in the Light, as children of the Light; working while it is still day so that death shall not be an horrendous end, but a glorious beginning.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Flouresent Monkeys

I don't know if they really glow-in-the-dark, but it seems scientists have created a transgenic monkey. Apart from the usual ethical questions it is rather amazing what is being done these days. The unwrapping of the human genome is constantly changing how we see ourselves, and this has very powerful ramifications, some good and some not-so-good.

In his recent book, "So Beautiful," Leonard Sweet seeks to unwrap the DNA of the church. Sweet's thoughts are worth considering, and in many ways resonant with my own. For a number of years now I have wrestled with the question of who are we as the church, and what is our life to be like as those who have chosen to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives?

One thing has become clear, just as in "making" transgenic glow-in-the-dark monkeys can yield positive results for the human race farther down the road, it can also open a Pandora's Box of unintended results. What is definitely called for is great and humble wisdom.

What the world sees as good and right is not always the case. And what can be said about the world can also be said about the church. In my sermon passage for this coming Sunday (John 12:1-11) we encounter Mary (the sister of Lazarus) pouring expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus. Some in the gathered group, namely Judas, see it as nothing but a waste of time and money. But, Jesus says that Mary has chosen the right thing to do. Mary has responded rightly to her Creator and has lived out that for which she was created, the total worship of the Lord.

This Sunday I am to not only preach about this encounter, but I am to share with the church the direction in which we believe the Lord is leading us as a local congregation. These are truly exciting days and we see God doing some amazing things in our midst and around the world (even more amazing than glow-in-the-dark primates), and yet we need to keep our eyes and heart focused, as did Mary, upon the primary mission which is the glory of God.

What is the DNA of the church? How are we to live out the lives we were created to live? As Leonard Sweet points out, the church, as God created it, is so beautiful. I encourage you to delve deep into the revealed mysteries of God and stand amazed at the beautiful work God has wrought. May we, as His Body, live forth as He designed for His glory.