Thursday, April 28, 2011

SCOUTING FOR SCRIPTURE

This Sunday we are being joined by the Boy Scouts of Troop 604.  It's Scout Sunday.  They are going to be serving as ushers, helping out with serving Communion and the reading of Scripture.  After the service they are serving at our monthly FirstSunday Fellowship meal.  It should be a great day all around.


My struggle is of course what to preach on such a day?  Well, of course it's "BE PREPARED!" the Boy Scout motto.  We are going to look at how following Jesus can make us prepared to face the immediacy of today, and the anxiousness of tomorrow and the uncertainty of the future. 

As I looked again at the Boy Scout Oath and  the Scout Law, I was drawn to the connections with Philippians 4:4-9. It there that the Apostle Paul calls the the church to center itself on Christ and that as we do we shall have the peace that will get us through our today's, tomorrow's and even our future. Looking farther on in Philippians 4:8-9 we can see the call to a high and holy character, not unlike that to which the Scout is called to in the Scout Law.


I find it interesting, and even a little encouraging that the Boy Scouts of America still consider duty to God central to their oath, something that should be central to all of our lives as well. (Matthew 22:37-40)


It should be an interesting day as we gather together to worship the One who truly can make us prepared for all that life brings our way. Our God is surely better than a well-equipped Swiss Army knife, a satchel of dry matches, or even a GPS.  The best way to "Be Prepared" is to be living in right relationship with our Creator, through that personal relationship we can have with Jesus Christ. (Romans 10:9)
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

TYPES OF PRAYING

OVER THE PAST FEW WEEKS I have been facilitating a Sunday morning class utilizing the thought-provoking and challenging curriculum by Francis Chan called BASIC.  We have looked at the importance of fearing God and last week of following Christ, this week's lesson deals with the Person of the Holy Spirit. As with the previous lessons, this one also challenges my own personal comfort zone.  Thus, in many ways that is saying this is great stuff!

The video segment for this week, which deals with how Jesus told His followers to wait for the coming of the the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1-8) and how the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples of Jesus Christ at Pentecost (Acts 2:1:1-41)

After I watched the segment I headed off to Walnut Creek to spend some time with my daughter, and as I was driving along the 680 Freeway my thoughts turned to the way the disciples were given to praying as they waited for the promised Holy Spirit.  (I suppose thinking about prayer while driving on the Bay Area freeways is not a bad thing to do, anyway.)

What grabbed my attention is that the disciples were regularly praying and waiting. If we hold to the idea that the Bible says Jesus spent 40 days walking around after His resurrection before His accession into heaven (Acts 1:10-11) and that the Holy Spirit came on the Jewish celebration of Pentecost, which would be 50 days after the Passover, then the disciples where meeting for at least 10 days, everyday for praying and waiting. I was struck by how we spend about 10 minutes praying about something...maybe even 30 minutes at a church business meeting if it's a really serious issue, and then we move forward. (Sure there are a few hearty souls who pray and fast for a long time, but most of us and our churches, it's more like perfunctory prayer and then rushing forward, rather than waiting for the rushing wind of the Spirit. Acts 2:1-4)

Anyway, while I was driving and praying (eyes open of course...I don't have that much faith) I thought about all the ways we pray...and here's my list: (I'll let you add in the details)


We pray prayers of:
Worry -- God help us for this big problem
Weeping -- for the our needs and the needs of others
Worship -- giving thanks and praise for who God is
All these are good and needed and even spoken of in the Bible, but the prayers we have difficulty with are the prayers of:
Watching -- Keeping our eyes open for the tongues of fire of the Spirit's Presence
Waiting -- Patiently listening for the wind of the Spirit's Power

These are the prayers we too often blow right by...not enough activity for us American Evangelicals. But maybe, just maybe, it would be worth the wait.  Sure, it may be a little scarey...but oh the results!



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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Counter Intuitive Kingdom Buidling



THE NEWS TODAY IS FILLED with those trying to build or rebuild kingdoms.  Whether one reads of Egypt, Yemen, Cote d'Iovire, Libya or even Burkina Faso it seems that even if the kingdom change begins with peaceful twittering's, things quickly escalate to rock throwing and grenade heaving.

It seems to have always been this way with humankind.  We seek change, sometimes even for the good, but it requires great shows of power. When all is said and done it is the powerful that remain in power, and those who started with the least end up with even less, one only needs to consider the genocide in Rwanda to see that tragic truth unfold.

This makes my sermon passage for this coming Sunday, April 10, 2011, even more striking.  In Mark 10:13-31 Jesus addresses the design, development, and deployment of the Kingdom of God.  It looks nothing like the kingdom-development that is taking place around our world as I compose this Pastor's Study blog.

This week we have a group from our church serving down at the Dream Center in Los Angeles.  They are seeking to love and serve those who society often sees as the unlovely or worse those who are "throw-aways."  They are serving, in Jesus' name those whom Jesus called the "least of these." (Matthew 25:40) They are serving those who might well be first in the Kingdom of God (Mark 10:31), and thus I thought it would be good to direct my sermon thoughts to how Jesus describes the Kingdom of God.

This week, at our church, we will also be celebrating the importance of children, as we join hands with the the child sponsorship program of Compassion International. On Compassion Sunday we alert our church family to the needs of the children throughout the world and how they can be actively involved in caring for the needs of those to whom Jesus says the kingdom belongs. (Matthew 19:14)

So, with these two important events taking place this week, it is a good time to take a series look at just what the Kingdom of God is, and how one finds entry into it. The contrasts are great. For on one hand we are to come as little children (Mark 10:14) and on the other hand those who choose to be part of the Kingdom are called to follow Jesus, not only in giving up, but also knowing that we shall receive persecutions (Mark 10:30).

Truly, the Kingdom of God is a great reality, the Kingdom of which I desire to be a part of, and of which I desire to help others attain.  It is a Kingdom not established through war but through peace.  It is a Kingdom not made of the powerful, but of the weak. It is a Kingdom not acquired only through right belief, but through faithful and obedient following of the One whose Kingdom it is, Jesus.

The Kingdom of God, made up not of His warriors, but of His children.

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Friday, April 01, 2011

What's Your Condition?


Back in 1968 Kenny Rogers and the First Edition made a hit recording of  "To See What Condition My Condition was In." Knowing that this song most definitely has to deal with the drug culture of the 1960's it makes a good intro into the topic of my sermon for this coming Sunday, April 3, 2011.

We believe that God created Adam and Eve in His image, but they sinned when tempted by Satan. In union with Adam, human beings are sinners by nature and by choice, alienated from God, and under His wrath. Only through God’s saving work in Jesus Christ can we be rescued, reconciled and renewed.  
At first glance it does not seem like a very "good news" kind of statement, but if we are at all honest with ourselves I believe it does truly speak to the condition our condition is in. Sadly, this present condition was not the condition for which we were created.  As Genesis 1:26-27 says, we were created in the image of God.  We were created to live in relationship with our Creator.  The reality is that loving relationship did not seem to be enough for us. Rather than being content and satisfied with God being Creator and we living as His creation, we chose to take matters into our own hands...we chose to be gods.

As history as adequately shown, we have not done so well in being gods.  We are not, in theological jargon, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, nor sovereign enough to pull off being god with any measure of success.  In fact, history proves we have messed things up pretty bad...often blaming the True God for the problems that our own selfish sin has created.

The condition gets worse! For not only has God left us to our own devices (see Romans 1:18-31), but we are also under the penalty of death for our sin. (Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23, the first part)  Our present condition, apart from some miracle, leaves us without any hope.

But thanks be to God!  For He Himself has proved that "miracle." The solution to our condition is found in the Person of Jesus Christ and His death upon the cross and His resurrection from the dead!  The Scriptures tell us that God sent His perfect Son to take our place. To take upon Himself that sin and its punishment that was ours! (2 Corinthians 5:21 and Romans 5:9 and Romans 6:23, the last part!)

As our Statement of Faith makes clear, our condition was not God, but because of God's great love for us (John 3:16-17 and Ephesians 2:8-9) not only have our sins be atoned for (1 John 2:1-2), that is we have not just been forgiven, (1 John 1:9) but we have also been reconciled, that is brought back into that relationship with the Sovereign Creator God that we were meant to have from the beginning!

But wait, it gets even better! Our condition is not only rescued and reconciled, but it is also being renewed. God is once again at the work of working out His Image in us, the very image of His Son. (Romans 8:29-30 and 1 John 3:2-3)  Now, there's something to get excited about!

So, my dear reader, "What condition is your condition in?"

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