Friday, December 24, 2010

I WONDER AS I WANDER

THE CELEBRATION OF THE BIRTH OF JESUS, THE MESSIAH, is soon upon us. May we all come to ponder anew the birth of the One who would take away the sins of the world. (1 John 3:5)

A couple of days ago I woke with the Christmas carol, "I Wonder as I Wander" running through my head. It's been a long time since I have sung that Christmas hymn, but the opening stanza has continued to run through my mind.
I wonder as I wander out under the sky, How Jesus the Savior did come for to die. For poor on'ry people like you and like I... I wonder as I wander out under the sky
I am one who is prone to wander. I wander with Jesus, trying to comprehend the mystery of God taking on flesh, Emmanuel, God with us! (Philippians 2:6-7 and Matthew 1:23) Sadly, sometimes I wander apart from Jesus, the Savior. Needless to say, those are not good "wanderings."

But today I am wondering about this One born to save. What was it like for the eternal God to put on the bindings of human flesh? What was it like for the One who has lived in light inexpressible to now walk in the place of great darkness? It is truly a wonder to ponder!

I invite you to take time this Advent season to stop and ponder anew what the Almighty can do. As you wander the malls and halls, as you wander over the hill and through the woods to grandma's house, take time to experience the wonder that is Emmanuel, God with us. The Christ-Child, born to die, for you and for me.

Blessed Christmas to you!


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Friday, December 10, 2010

What are You Getting and Giving for Christmas?

JOY! It's part of Christmas! The angel declared, "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people." (Luke 2:10) That joy was to be something more than a pleasurable feeling, it was intrinsically linked to a person, namely Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, the Son of God. (Luke 2:11)

Last week, in my sermon, I spoke of about "Getting the Gifts We Need." The gift we looked at last Sunday was the gift of God's peace, again it was more that just the "peaceful easy feeling that wont let you down," rather it is about a relationship with the One who is the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

This week I will again be dealing with the topic of getting the gifts we need, and as you probably already noted we will be discussing the gift of God's joy.

One of the things I have discovered while studying is that one of the attributes of the joy that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ, is that this joy motivates us to serve. In fact, as we serve others, often in the less the happy situations of life, our joy increases. I guess somehow this relates to Nehemiah 8:10 that states "the joy of the LORD is our strength."

I was thinking about joy and service, or better stating joy and sacrificial giving to other when I was given a link to a powerful video interview about a man who sought to serve the very least of society. He crossed social, cultural and economic barrier in order to joyfully give to the "least of these." (Matthew 25:40)

I was challenged and humbled by this man's selfless giving. The title of the piece is, "We Could All Learn Something from this Guy." I encourage you to watch it. And may we all be motivated to share the joy that is our in and through the Person of Jesus Christ.
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

CHRISTMAS TIME IS SCARY TIME

DRIVERS TEXTING SANTA WHILE DOING 75 MPH, SCARY! Drivers switching lanes like shoppers in line at Safeway, scary! Following a Toyota Corolla with three Christmas trees tied to the top, scary! Not to mention the attitudes and actions of those who have been up all night in order to get in the store doors by 3:30am only to shop for 8 hours straight! Yep, scary!

You see what I mean? Christmas time is a scary time.

But, when you think about it, Christmas time, if I can actually use that word anachronistically, was a scary time from the beginning. Consider Zachariah's response in Luke 1:11-12 -- fear. How about Mary's response in Luke 1:29 -- fear. Let's not forget Joseph's thoughts in Matthew 1:20 -- right again fear. And then there were the simple shepherds out in the fields late at night as recorded in Luke 2:8-9, their response, yep, fear. I suppose that is why in each of these encounters the angel had to say, "be not afraid." (Luke 1:13; Luke 1:30; Matthew 1:20; Luke 2:10)

As I thought about Christmas and fear (the subject of my sermon for the second Sunday of Advent), I realized that fear often comes when we can't see what's coming around the bend, or when there is something we cannot control, or leaves us feeling out of control. These realities can bring fear to bear in each of our lives just like it did to Zechariah, Mary, Joseph, the Bethlehem shepherds, or myself driving down the 680 freeway last weekend.

The amazing, grace-filled reality of Christ's coming 2000 years ago, was that He came not to bring fear, but to release us from its powerful grip! He came not to make us slaves to fear, but sons and daughters of God the Father.

The question therefore that is before us is, "How do we respond to the announcement of the Advent of the Anointed One?" With fear or with faith? Those who encountered first-hand Christ's arrival can give us great help in understanding the results of our response.

Thus, the theme for this week's sermon...any thoughts?
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Monday, October 25, 2010

UNVARNISHED

MAYBE IT’S A QUIRK OF MY NATURE, but I actually enjoy taking an old piece of furniture or an old gizmo or gadget and clean it up and put it back into use, maybe even as something different than what was originally intended. There is something cathartic in removing years of old varnish and waxy build-up and discovering underneath the beautiful grain of the wood.

One thing that I have learned in the work of restoring old furniture is that it is a messy, smelly, and sometimes toxic process. The chemicals used to remove years of varnish or paint is not stuff to be trifled with. The tools of the trade, steel wool, scrappers and sandpaper, need to be handled with care, lest damage be done to both the piece to be restored or to the one doing the restoration.

The other lesson that I have learned is that the work of restoration is not a quick process. To do things well takes time. Both the removal of the old and the application of the new cannot be hurried. The beautiful thing is that when the right material is applied and the correct tools are used and the proper time is spent the result can be a handsome piece of furniture that can be used and enjoyed for many years to come.

The work of restoring broken relationships takes no less effort than that of a good piece of furniture. In seeking to restore a relationship using the correct tools and applying unhurried time can yield positive benefits that can even make the relationship restored even more beautiful than it was in the beginning.

This work of restoration is what Jesus Christ accomplished through His death and resurrection. His sacrificial death paid the price for our sin and made it possible for our broken relationship with our Abba God to be restored. And the restored relationship is even greater than what had been. The shed blood of Jesus worked to remove the varnish of sin and allowed the beautiful work of the Master Carpenter to be seen in and through us. A work that is to be to the glory of God.

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The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of ScriptureThe Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture by N.T. Wright

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Some good reminders of why THE BOOK is THE BOOK and why i is the authority for faith and practice.



View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

PEACE AT ANY COST

WE ALL WANT TO LIVE AT PEACE. But, what price would you be willing to pay in order to live at peace with those around you? Will it be "peace at any cost?"

This coming week's sermon passage is taken from Genesis 32:1-32. It deals with the soon to be coming encounter between the two estranged brothers, Jacob and Esau. (Genesis 25:34 & Genesis 27:1-46) In this story we see Jacob taking steps toward restoration. The twenty years away from his brother seems to have softened Jacob a little. He has been on the receiving end of deception and now worries as to how he will be received by the brother he had cheated. Would there be a warm-welcome or would there be a war? Whatever was to take place, Jacob thought to offer an olive branch of peace to his brother, and a costly one at that.

I am a peace-loving guy. Definitely more dove than hawk, I might even make a good Quaker. I suppose I might even have a bumper sticker on my truck that would read: "Why Can't We All Just Get Along?" I desire peace in my home and my church. I desire peace between brothers and sisters in the family of God and in their families around the hearth. What I do know in all this is that without peace with our Creator there shall never be peace between people.

So, here's the question, as I prepare for the Sunday ahead, "What is the cost of purchasing peace?" I believe Jacob's actions show us a starting place of humility and of initiation. It impinges upon me to start the restorative process and to do so with a heart of true humility.

As I consider those two starting points listed above, my mind moves to the peace which Jesus Christ purchased for us on the Cross. (Revelation 5:9; Revelation 14:4; see also Psalm 74:2) He initiated the restoration of peace with God, and He deeply humbled Himself to attain it. (Philippians 2:5-8)

He who is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) became the peace-maker (Ephesians 2:14-17). And it is to this work that He has called us as well.

Shalom!


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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Just Finished Reading

The Art of Dying: Living Fully into the Life to ComeThe Art of Dying: Living Fully into the Life to Come by Rob Moll

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Given the number of people I know who have passed-on lately, and those that are "waiting in the wings" I found this a helpful, informative, and encouraging book. Filled with positive reminders and helpful thoughts as we deal with the reality of death. Good thoughts for helping those who are close to dying and those who shall grieve their passing.



View all my reviews

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

NAMES CAN BELIE MUCH ABOUT A PERSON. We can learn a person heritage, nationality, often and decade and place location of their birth all from the name that was given them. Some kids grow into their names and others may turn and run from their implications.

Truthfully, sometimes I have to wonder just how sober the parents were when they named their children, or if they gave much thought to the ramifications of how a class full of third-graders can massacre a classmate's name. The art of names and naming is serious business, it is that which is closest to us, and without getting to "pun-ish," names name us.

Of course, all this naming stuff is nothing new, it has been going on from time-immemorial. What is interesting to me is not only what the names may have said about a person, but how they in many instances seemed to determine what they would become.

My sermon text for this coming week is Genesis 29:31-35 and Genesis 30:1-23. Contained in these few verses is the birthing and naming of Jacob's 12 sons. The sons who would eventually be the patriarchs of the Twelve Tribe of Israel. Their names not only speak of the heritage, but would also speak of their future. Not only did they seem to "grow into their names," but so did their progeny.

Each of us have been given a name (or two or three for that matter, not to mention nicknames), some of us have loved our names, and borne them with honor, and some of us may have despised our names and maybe even sought to change them. Yes, names do name us. For those of us who have chosen to follow and obey Jesus Christ, as Savior, Lord and God, we have been given another name as well, His. It too, is a name that can make us. It describes not only our heritage, but also our future. It is a Name that names us.

How well are we wearing that Name?

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Monday, September 06, 2010

Now THAT was GOD!

IT MAY NOT BE AN APPROVED TEXTING ABBREVIATION, but for years we have used the initials TWG, to declare, That was God! Whenever we would experience an event, or heard a story where it was clear that God has "shown up." Sometimes it was a miraculous healing, or sometimes it was a special gathering with God's people where the Spirit of the Lord was evident, or sometimes it was just that "serendipitous" encounter that was anything but serendipitous. It was clear that is was nothing short of a TWG encounter.

This coming week's sermon text is Genesis 28:1-22 and it most definitley contains a TWG encounter for Jacob. While on his way to seek a wife he has a dream while using a rock for a pillow (I guess that would give you dreams, if not a sleepless night!) In his dream he witnesses a ladder ascending from earth to heaven, and if that is not enough, he hears the voice of God reminding him of the blessing that was given to his forefathers and which will also belong to him. The LORD not only restates the blessing of which Jacob is a part, but He also reminds him of the great truths that He shall never leave him, and that the LORD Himself will accomplish what is needed to bring about the culmination of the blessing!

It is all a pretty amazing TWG moment.

What strikes me, too, is Jacob's comment, "Surely the LORD was in this place and I did not know it." I wonder how many times I am in the "LORD's presence" and I do not know it? How many TWG moments do I miss because I am sleeping with my head upon a soft pillow or am I napping in the relative comfort of my life?

I believe this passage gives us some "clues" as to how to keep ourselves aware of the TWG moments, beside using a rock as a pillow. Care to venture what some of those might be? You can also join us on Sunday to get this pastor's take on it as well.

Sweet dreams!


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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

STAYING POWER

LIFE CAN DEAL YOU SOME POWERFUL BLOWS!

Over the past few weeks, whether it has been while reading the news paper, or watching the news on the internet, or getting a phone call from a member of our church, or sharing an ever-increasing litany of prayer requests with our prayer teams, I have been struck by just how bad and cruel life can be.

Floods in Pakistan. Murdered missionaries. Plane crashes. Military personnel wounded or killed. Cancer. Job loss. Foreclosures. Broken marriages. Need I go on?! It is beyond obvious that life can knock you down and then kick you in the head and leave you for dead.

As I look at the lives affected by these tragic events I notice that there are those people who seem to stand strong through the midst of it all. It's not to say that they take it like water off a duck's back, but even though they are suffering they choose to stand erect even under tremendous weight. They are quick to admit that "this hurts," but they choose not to live under regret or bitterness. They have chosen to push through, and in many cases that I have witnessed, they have remained gracious and thankful people.

I am amazed at their staying-power.

The question is: "How do they do it?" Its got to be more than just some Pollyanna world-view, that all will be "OK." It comes from deeper than just spouting some positive thinking mantra. And it surely is not found in some pill or body-wash. Where does it come from?

This coming week's sermon passage comes from Genesis 26:1-35. Last week we looked at the growing strain between the brothers Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25:19-34). (#22 in "Origins: Beginning Again with God") Now we focus on Isaac and the troubles brought on by drought, hostile neighbors, poor decisions, and even wealth. Through it all we see a man who chooses to remain where God has him. We see a man with staying-power.

Not to give away the whole of the sermon (hey, then some of you wouldn't come to church), but suffice it to say, to develop staying-power we need the "three P's" of Promise, Presence, and Peace. And we will see that when we develop these in our own lives we can also use them to develop staying-power in our children, which is, as a parent, a real desire for me.

Therefore, I encourage you to spend some time in Genesis 26:1-35 and see what is needed to be a person who can stand strong, even when life knocks you down.
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Friday, August 13, 2010

WHAT'S YOUR FAITH WORTH?

WHAT'S THE PRICE OF YOUR FAITH? For Esau it was a bowl of stew. Oh sure, we may say that he really did not stop believing in God, but his actions belied deeper issues, that of being willing to sell that which was a of great worth in order to enjoy some momentary pleasure.

My sermon text for this week is Genesis 25:19-34, which actually covers quite a bit of territory. Yet, what has grabbed my pastoral eye this week is found in the final verse of the section where the writer of Genesis records, "So Esau despised his birthright." (Genesis 25:34).

I suppose many of us have "despised" our birthrights from time to time, especially that birthright granted by faith in Jesus Christ. There are times we have essentially sold out our faith because we desired, or maybe even acquired, that which would bring momentary pleasure. Sin seemed to satisfy better than the Savior.

As I have been studying this week I have been struck by how many different times this issue has come up in conversation (as at our men's weekly Bible study) or in my own conviction and even on other blogs.

One blog that I subscribe to, "Out of Ur," posted a sad, and yet interesting article by Gordon MacDonald. In the blog-post brother MacDonald deals with the question of "How do we respond when someone quits the faith?" His musings are worth the time to read and ponder. So, I encourage you to do so, and then, take a hard look at this week's sermon passage, or better yet, if you're in the area, come and join us as we look at the topic of selling our faith.

Of course, if you have any thoughts, pertaining to the topic at-hand, feel free to post a comment below.

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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

LOSING the PROMISE

THE PROMISE DID NOT START WITH ME, and the Promise does not STOP with me. This is a thought that ran through my little noggin while at a youth leadership meeting this past Sunday. I really was paying attention, but my mind kept drifting back to my sermon of the morning on Genesis 21:1-21 and the birth of the child of promise, Issac, ("Reasons to Laugh") and then my mind raced forward to this coming week's passage, Genesis 22:1-19, where Abraham does the unfathomable and offers his promised son upon the altar of sacrifice.

Sure, we can read ahead and see that it all turns out OK, but seriously, what must have been going through Abraham's head, not to mention the mind of Isaac as his dad was binding him and raising the knife over him! As a dad myself, picture is more than terrifying.

Let's be honest, there is enough sermon material in Genesis 22 for a month of Sundays and a plethora of The Pastor's Study blog entries, so I will not even attempt to get too deep here, though truth be known, I have had great personal time already in this passage...suffice it to say, here's what has grabbed me thus far:

First, this passage has strong personal application for me right now as we will be commissioning my daughter Trinity for missionary service in Rome. You can check out her own musings about this coming adventure at All Roads Lead to Rome. So, in some ways I am offering up my first-born on the altar of missionary service, and like Abraham I am going to have to trust God.

This leads to the second thing that has latched onto my heart and that is it is not about the promise that God made to Abraham, or the promise that God has made to us, but it is about trusting the God who made the promise. Again it is taking God at His word, trusting that He knows what He is doing. It's an issue of fearless trust, not in the promise, but in the God who made the promise.

I believe that is where the rubber meets the road for me right now, am I trusting in the "what" or in the "Whom?" I am seeing right now that I must make sure that the promises that God has made to me, to us, does not replace the One who made the promise. It's a subtle distinction to be sure, but one I believe I must now make. Some may say that we cannot separate God from His promises, that they are one in the same. That may be true, but I personally want to be sure that my heart's focus is right, lest when God asks me to give up the promise, as He did of Abraham on Mount Moriah, I falter, and turn from trusting Him fully, completely. Lest I turn from that life of complete surrender, which sadly I too often do.

LORD, have mercy on me, as I seek to live the life of surrender to Thee and Thee alone.
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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Living in Sodom: Not a Good Thing

The Destruction Of Sodom And Gomorrah, a paint...Image via Wikipedia

SODOM AND GOMORRAH WERE NOT GOOD PLACES TO LIVE, at least not after the LORD got through with them. Talk about declining property values! And what about that house next to the pillar of salt? Needless to say, things were not good for quite some time...in fact, not mush going on in the region still!

As I read the account of the destruction of the cities of the plain my mind races to the thought of just how destructive sin is! Sin can destroy whole cities! And that the sins we commit by commission or omission really do matter. So, as I am giving thought to my sermon this week from Genesis 19:1-38, I am thinking about sin (I know, probably not a good thing to be thinking about) and how we get ourselves into places of sin, and what it takes to get out of, and stay out of, those places. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift of grace through Christ Jesus our Lord! (2 Corinthians 9:12-15)

One way for sure to be begin everyday on our knees in prayer seeking the Lord for both His mercy and His strength. This is one of the reasons last week I called our local church family to prayer. I sought 40 people to pray for 40 days for 4things. They are
  1. My heart to be a habitation for the Holy Spirit.
  2. My home to be a lighthouse for my neighborhood.
  3. My church to be a place of positive impact in our community.
  4. My community to be powerfully touched by the grace of God.
I am sure that there are many other issues to be addressed in regards to making sure that our communities do not become like Sodom or Gomorrah, but I believe the four items of prayer are a great place to start.

Care to join us in prayer?
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Monday, April 26, 2010

A COSTLY COVENANT

OK, I'LL RISK HONESTY HERE...I cannot read this week's passage (Genesis 17:1-27) without saying, "OUCH!" Circumcision of little 8-day old baby boys is one thing, but full grown men? "OUCH!"

God's covenant promise is backed by God's word to Abram, (now Abraham), but Abraham has a part to play as well is this covenant, there is a cost which must be enacted. Again, the cost will involve the shedding of blood, another act which points to the blood which will be shed upon the cross of Jesus Christ. This covenant act which Abraham takes upon himself, and which he performs on all the men under his care, is a visible sign of obedience. Obedience which cannot be stated in word alone, but through the visible and costly act of circumcision. The one who takes this mark shall never again be the same.

The male follower of Yahweh would forever carry in his flesh the mark of that relationship. A visible, though often hidden, sign of being a man of the covenant. As followers of Jesus, the Messiah, we are called to the circumcision of our hearts. The cutting away of the old, so that the new would develop. (Colossians 2:11-15; Galatians 5:6-11) A sign hidden from human eyes, but visible to God, and yet at the same time a mark which must be evident through the lives that we live. Whereas in the under the Old Covenant the act of circumcision was a expression and sing of faith, it is now faith expressed through love that is to be the sign. (Galatians 5:6)

I guess it all comes down to obedience. Obedience that is more than just some act of the flesh, but an obedience that bears forth the heart of God. For the obedience that God truly desires is that costly sacrifice of living out God's heart in our world. A heart that cares for the needy, the down-cast, the widow and fatherless. For as the LORD said through the prophet Jeremiah, the worship He wants is not that of word and promise, but of caring for those for whom God cares. (Jeremiah 7:1-11) I suppose this is again the living out of the very Image of God in our everyday lives.

The Covenant of Grace, though free to us (Ephesian 2:8-9) did not come cheaply, nor may be hold it as so now! We live under a costly covenant!
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Thursday, April 22, 2010

It Bears Repeating...

While studying for this coming week's message from Genesis 16:1-16, I came across this quote:

"When our hearts are too much set upon any creature comfort, we are easily put upon the use of indirect methods for obtaining it. Inordinate desires commonly produce irregular endeavors. If our wishes are not kept in submission to God's providence, our pursuits will scarely be kept under the restraints of His precepts.
"
Thank you Matthew Henry.


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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

THE AMAZING RACE

The Amazing Race logoImage via Wikipedia

MY FAMILY ENJOYS WATCHING THE AMAZING RACE on Sunday evenings as we partake of a light Sunday supper. We cheer on our favorite teams and wish we could visit the exotic places and be involved in the various tasks they must perform. Of course it all looks so much easier from our family room, and we might not think it so "enjoyable" if were were pressured by lack of sleep, unfamiliar surroundings and the constant push to come in first. The Amazing Race is also the amazingly tough race. It's not without plan and reason that "mandatory pit-stops" are written into the itinerary.

The Christian faith has been likened unto a race (1 Corinthians 9:24; 2 Timothy 4:7, Hebrew 12:1) and therefore it is a good metaphor for our lives as followers of Jesus Christ. The problem arises, as I see it, when we fail to take the mandatory pit-stops. When we rush ahead at light-speed rather that God-speed. We can get so focused upon winning the prize set out before us, that we never slow down in order to check the map and regain our bearings.

This is, in part, what happens to Abram and Sarai in Genesis 16:1-16. God has promised the aged couple a son, a heir, and a family line that will out-number the stars that Abram can count. But when things don't happen as fast as they would like, rather than taking a pit-stop they rush forward on their own wisdom and ingenuity and leave in their wake broken relationships that will last for millennia.

As I read through the passage there are a few things that catch my eye, notably, when we rush ahead at our speed we leave broken relationships along the road, and our decisions can have both immediate and long-term negative affects. (Genesis 16:3-12)

The good news is that God's grace and mercy still operate in the midst ramifications of our poor choices. (Genesis 16:9-16)

I am sure that there is more that I could share, but another racer just when whizzing by me and I must catch up! Wouldn't want to be late, ya know!

Happy racing!
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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

FAITH UNLIMITED

THERE IS AN OLD HYMN, Standing on the Promises, that we sometimes sing at our church (Felton Bible Church). One of our previous song leaders would always introduce this hymn by calling the congregation to stand to their feet, because, "We can't be standing on the promises while we're sitting on the premises!" There's some real truth there!

The second verse reads,
Standing on the promises that cannot fail
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail;
By the living word of God I shall prevail--
Standing on the promises of God.
As Christians we like to say that we stand upon the promises of God and yet when things are not turning out like we think they should we quickly turn to doubt. I suppose this comes from the brokenness of our nature. And as doubters we do not stand alone in the annuals of Biblical history; take the leading personality in our sermon text for this coming week, Abram. (Genesis 15:1-21 is the text at hand for Sunday April 19th, "Lord willing and the creek don't rise!")

In our text we see Abram doubting God's promised provision that Abram would become a mighty nation. The crux of the matter is that Abram is limited by what he can see, which is the barren womb of Sarai his wife. In another way Abram is looking down at the premises before him, while God calls him to look upward to the promises that will be numbered at the stars in the heavens. (Which by my estimation is a lot!)

As we read through the text a powerful reality begins to unfold, an unfolding which will not reach its culmination until the Cross of Christ. God tells Abram to recall the call he had given to him years before while Abram and family were still living in Ur. But this time when God restates the call he placed upon Abram's life, the LORD seals it with a covenant cut with blood. Where God's word should be enough, His WORD will become enough, and once again a covenant will be established and those who believe shall be credited with righteousness not of their own! (1 Corinthians 1:30-31, Philippians 3:9-10, Romans 3:22)

So, what kind of faith do I possess? That which is limited by what I see, or unlimited by trusting in God who sees?
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Saturday, March 27, 2010

When Your World Crumbles

This Sunday's sermon (Palm Sunday 2010) is focusing upon the final week of Jesus' life here on earth. We are going to be looking at the events leading to His crucifixion, and how, with normal eyes, this week looks like one in which His world was crumbling around Him.

The issue before us is to look at that week with eyes of faith, rather than normal eyes. To be able to see beyond the near future and to see and know the goodness of God.

I came across this video, which tells much the same story, a story of a world crumbling away at a man's feet, but how he chooses to look with eyes of faith, and in the looking discovers a God who is good.

The Story of Zac Smith from NewSpring Media on Vimeo.


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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Created for Love

With Valentine's Day coming this Sunday it seems only appropriate that I focus our Genesis study on Genesis 1:26-31 and Genesis 2:1-25.

As a look over these passages, with all the information contained within them, there are so many ways I could go in my thoughts for this coming week's sermon (New series in Genesis: "Origins. Beginning Again with God"). But there are two things that grab me most of all at the present moment. First, that we are created in the image of God (Imago Dei), and second that we are called to live out that image in relationship with one another, specifically in the relationship of marriage, and as the Body of Christ, the church.

The image of God in us certainly implies His moral attributes, but I also believe it includes the Community of God found within that eternal relationship we call the Trinity. As an Evangelical Christian, who holds to the veracity of Scripture, I believe that our One God has eternally existed in a three person Godhead, referred to as the Trinity. God has expressed Himself, through the pages of the Holy Bible, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and I believe that part of the image we hold is the need for living within community. As we do live within community we bear forth God's image more fully. Even His moral attributes are best exhibited to, for and with others.

In looking at the opening chapters of Genesis we can note that the first community is found within the relationship of the first man and the first woman. This relationship therefore becomes the foundation of all subsequent communities which were to follow. I would go as far as to say that the strength of all our communities finds its basis in the strength of the marriages that make up that community. We might even want to call that the bedrock relationship. Not only because God created them male and female and brought them together (Genesis 1:27; Genesis2:22-25), but because the marital relationship is to be reflective (image-bearing) of God's relationship within the Trinity, and of the relationship of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:21-33).

So, as we consider the buying of Valentine's cards (short video worth watching) and lavishing loving words upon those we love, especially those of us who find ourselves in that bedrock relationship called Holy Matrimony, let us not forget the glorious and awesome responsibility we bear within those relationship, the responsibility of bearing-well the Image of God. As you gaze into the eyes of the one you love, remember that you are peering into one created in the image of God, nad to love that one is to love God as well. (1 John 4:7-21)

So let us love!
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Friday, January 29, 2010

Back to the Beginning

AT MY AGE, not too old and definitely not too young, I have reached that point where I sometimes forget why I went to a certain room. I stand there looking around, knowing that I came here for a reason, but for the life of me I cannot remember what that reason was.

I have discovered that in times of localized memory loss there are two things I can do to help me remember. First, it is to go back to where I was...a returning to the "beginning of my journey" with the hopes of having my memory "restarted." The second is to enlist others to help me remember, which usually means asking one of my family members, "Do you know why I am here?" To which they often answer by slowly and sadly shaking their heads side-to-side with that worried look that clearly states, "Dad's not losing it, he's lost it."

This need to remember the past so that I can live in the present also applies to my walk as a follow of Jesus Christ. There are times I seem to wake up in this world and wonder, "What am I doing here?" or "What is it that I am supposed to be doing here?" It is this type of situation, and these types of questions that prompted me to set off on a new series of sermon from the book of Genesis.

The purpose of this new series, "Origins: Beginning Again with God," is to take us back to the book of beginnings to be reminded of who God is, and how God works, and what is our relationship with God. My hope and prayer is that as we go back to the beginning we will gain the wisdom and strength that is needed to not only remember why we are here, but so that we can live the lives that God created us to live.

This week we begin with the words that not only begin it all, but form the foundation and framework of all that follows, "In the beginning God..." (Genesis 1:1). If your desirous of joining me on this journey I would also point you to Psalm 148:1-14, here the psalmist reminds us, once again, of why were "in the room."

God bless you on your journey of remembering.
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Heart of Worship

RECENTLY OUR CHURCH FAMILY SANG, Matt Redman's song, "Heart of Worship." In the midst of that song we are reminded that the central point of our worship is the Person of Jesus Christ. That got me thinking about that recurring question in my life, and the life of the church, What does it mean to worship?

There have been many books written on the subject, a multitude of sermons preached, and even a few wars fought. I suppose there is not much I can add to the plethora of discussions that have taken place, but I felt that as we are moving forward as a church, facing a new year, and a new tomorrow, it might be good for us to take a look one more time, not for the purpose of finding something "new" but simply as a way of reminding ourselves of some the truths regarding this thing called worship, to which we are called.

As I am working on putting together my sermon for this coming Sunday (January 17, 2010) here are some thoughts that are settling in my mind regarding this emotional, and often highly personal, subject of worship.

First, as we are reminded in Redman's song, worship is all about Jesus, well for that matter it is about the whole Triune God. The danger comes when we place ourselves at the center of worship. When this happens worship quickly degrades into an argument about choruses, choirs, candles and comfort. Thus, if we remember anything iy must me the adage that it is not about me, it is about God.

Second, worship is life, or maybe better stated, life is about worship. This is at least part of what the Apostle Paul was referring to in his letter to the Church in Rome (Romans 12:1-2) where we are told that worship is the presenting of our bodies as living sacrifices through acts of service. This brings up a third point regarding worship.

Worship is communal. After reading Romans 12:1-2 we must continue reading and as we do we shall see that the Apostle Paul turns his thoughts toward our living together as the Body of Christ. I must believe that this flow in his letter is not without design. Worship takes place within community, and this community extends beyond the walls of the church and a given hour on Sunday morning (or Saturday night as the case may be.)

There are most definitely many more areas of discussion we could address, but for the sake of this blog, and my study for this week's sermon, I would like to suggest just one more area of thought and that is that worship is about story.

Worship as story means that it is about living out the story of God in our lives. This story is to declare who God is and who we are in relationship to Him. Our "service of worship," whether it be as a corporate gathering on a Sunday morning, or as we spend our day working in a cubical or caring for our family, is to be the recounting of God's past faithfulness, in the midst of our present life as an expression of our future hope in Christ. Our worship flows from the reality of our relationship with the living God.

Worship is many things to many people, and thus it will always be a "hot topic," but let us remember in all of discussions that total worship is what God deserves and worship is the life we were called to live. So, let us worship!
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