WARNING - Work in Progress

WARNING - Work in Progress
WARNING - Work in Progress

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Who Are You? – 10/15/2017



WARNING PREACHY…

Often, when I look at my children, I am overwhelmingly amazed at the reality that they are the products of me and my wife; literally everything from each of our individual histories make our children a unique individual in their own right.

From very early in Christian history, theologians and philosophers have been trying to look at Jesus and pick out which part is from the humanity of Mary and which is the deity of God. The effort is called Christology and there are a variety of reasons for doing this, but I believe that it is ultimately a futile effort which distorts the uniqueness of our Redeemer.

When scientists separate hydrogen molecules from water, they are left with oxygen, and what they began with is no longer water. I realize that to take out from my children what is there mother, leaves, well, it would leave just me.  In the same way, I believe, the effort to separate the humanity of Jesus from the deity of Christ would leave something other than the individual Jesus Christ who walked this world who is the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6)

Luke 1:30-35

30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.

Colossians 1:15-18

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.
 
I often feel that my life is a big adventure, something akin to Indiana Jones’ adventures; my purpose is to discover God in all the nooks and crannies of this life and to always be exploring who He is.  In the person of Jesus Christ I have discovered a mother load and I suspect that it will take all of eternity to explore all that He has to show us.

Ephesians 3:8-10

To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.

Who are You?

I ask this question because it makes personal my Christian life that I can often subjugate to a corporate and democratic mindset of managing.  As I remember that my Christian life is supposed to be a great adventure of discovering God, then I realize that I am less inclined to be distracted by the business of the faith.

When was the last time you went on a grand adventure that promised not to reveal the labyrinth of the halls of discovery until you were in the thick of it?  It definitely takes courage to go this way but if you want, you can come with me.  

Think it over. I’ll be here when you want to come with.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

He is Up-Side-Down… – 10/8/2017


WARNING PREACHY…

Matthew 5:17

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

Jesus is the Antithesis to Life.

Each of us think that life should be (or is) a certain way: we each have been raised to understand the world in a certain way from our variety of experiences.  Our parents, our teachers, our churches, our culture, our media, our education, and everything else make us believe what we presently believe and think about the world around us.  When Jesus walks into our lives he flips all that we know upside down.

Matthew 5:2-11
And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Jesus began his Sermon on the Mount with nine concepts of life that were radical to the mind of the Jew in his day; that would have been gospel (good news) to the people on the outside of the inner circle of the Jewish religious system.

Blessed are those who Mourn, for they shall be Comforted.”

In light of this last week’s shooting in Las Vegas, I think it appropriate to focus in on this verse.  How are the thousands of lives that are affected by this event to be understood?  In fact, how are we to understand the devastation of this event along with the destruction of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria?

In each of these devastations; the loss of life and property, the suffering and pain that people have experienced, and will experience for many years to come, and quite likely for the rest of their lives, will be felt.  How can people be comforted by Jesus?

John 14:6

“I am the way and the truth and the life.

In the light of devastations, all sufferings, and all that we’ve been told and believe to be true about the world, Jesus stands counter to them all. 

The world would have us believe that it is the proper way to understanding the reality of this world we live in.  But Jesus says that He is the way, not this world.  The Bible states in Ephesians 2 that outside of Jesus we are subject to the way of the Ruler of the Air (the devil).  However, Jesus said that He was the way if only we would accept it.

The world would have us believe that it is the truth, its variety of systems; rules and laws.  But Jesus claims that He is the only truth.

John 18:37
37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.  Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

It is very hard to believe that Jesus rises above the pain and confusion that we feel in the midst of devastation.  When my father died of natural causes, I was terribly devastated inside and I was angry that God allowed it to happen.  But as I mourned my loss I slowly realized that it wasn’t God that killed my dad, it was the ruler of this world of sin and death that did it.  Did this realization take away my pain?  Certainly not, but it helped me to categorize it in my brain and place the blame squarely where it belonged.

John 8:32

32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

When devastation comes, everything seems to revolve around death in our world.  The world is full of wars, genocides, cancer, acts of terror with its bombs and mass shootings, overdoses, suicides, and the list continues, but in light of it all stands One who claims to be life.  Jesus, is the antithesis to the fake way of this world and its false truths.  The death and devastations that affect us all every day, that want to drown us in sorrow and despair are contrasted by the Word that became Flesh who is named Immanuel – God with us  (Matthew 1:23).  Against all that the world would have us believe, the poison cool-aid it offers us to drink, Jesus stands offering us water that refreshes and heals.

John 7:37-38

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Who Am I? – 10/1/2017



WARNING PREACHY…

Who Am I? – 10/1/2017

Matthew 16:13-17

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.”

In Mark’s Gospel, Peter simply answers the question and the story moves on.  In Matthew we see that Jesus responds to Peter’s answer by saying, Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.”

The true knowledge of who Jesus is is a matter of revelation.

Last week we saw the Saul realize who Jesus was and he fell to the ground and was blind for three days before he became Paul, the greatest evangelist the church has ever known.  And it seems that anytime anyone had a revelation of Jesus they seemed to “fall as though dead”.

In 1994 I had a reality check on my own mortality and I prayed out “God, if of you exist, I need to know who you are.”  And I didn’t care who he was, I just wanted to know the truth.  And over the course of the next month, or so, a series of events happened and it was revealed to me that this Jesus of Nazareth actually rose back to life after he was executed on a Roman cross.  I did not see a vision nor was not struck blind or fall to the ground as though dead, but the results of my understanding was overwhelming and that single fact drastically changed the entire course of my life forever (and yes, for the better).

This question of who Jesus is is a faith question through and through, and it’s a battle some times to continue to believe and keep the faith.

Luke 7:18-23

18John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
20When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’ ”
21At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 23Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

In Luke 7 we learn that even John the Baptist began to have doubts about who Jesus was.  When he found himself in prison this guy who baptized Jesus and saw the dove descend upon him and heard the voice of God call from heaven approving Him as Hus very Son began to doubt.

This world is the under the authority of the devil and we are beat up all the time with reports of wars, murders, rapes, molestations, and a slew of weather related devastations and we are continually wondering if God is even real.  But if we listen to the words of Jesus as he answers John’s disciples and look at the good and the blessings in this world then maybe we will be able to see the reality of Jesus touching our world.

Seeing the positive in our world can be difficult, but if we attend to counting our many blessings and naming them one by one then maybe, just maybe God will reveal to us Jesus in our own worlds today.

PS.  I often think about the birth of my children and with that thought alone I see the clear love of Jesus in my life.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

What Was It? – 9/24/2017



WARNING PREACHY…

In Jesus Manifesto[1] authors Leonard Sweet & Frank Viola ask a very good question…

“What was it about Jesus that was so incredible, so captivating, and so compelling that it caused a former Pharisee to be totally enamored with Him?”[2]

As I am sure there are a number of ways this could (or should) be answered, I’m going to go out on a limb and offer my two-cents.

Jesus actually existed. 

Before he became known as the Apostle Paul, his name was Saul and he was an up and coming Pharisee; a Hebrew of Hebrews, an educated leader and teacher of the Jewish Law.  He made a name for himself going after and arresting Christians for their heresy of teaching people about Jesus. (Philippians 3:4-6)  On one occasion when Saul was travelling to Damascus to arrest Christians, he learned that the Lord Jesus Christ actually existed.

Acts 9:1-9

1Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, 

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

I imagine a scene where a highly educated and powerful young college man was itching to make a name for himself by going on mission that would change his political position in the Jewish community forever.  His zeal for the Jewish faith was red hot and his youthful enthusiasm for his task had even caused him to oversee the death of one of the Christian church’s first deacons: Stephen. (Acts 7:54-8:2)  This task lead him to travel to Damascus in order to arrest the Christians there, but while on his was He is stopped by an angelic being.

Saul encountered this angelic being and fell to the ground hearing it ask him why he is persecuting him.

Saul asked “Who are you Lord?”

I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” was the reply.

This was huge!

The very first thing that Saul learned about Jesus was that He actually existed and was alive.  He knew Jesus was a spiritual teacher who had been arrested and executed on a Roman Cross in the past, and he had heard the rumors of Jesus’ resurrection from the grave, but like many other people, he did not believe that those rumors were true.

This event changed everything.  From that day forward, this youthful educated man became the greatest evangelist the early church had ever known.  Saul’s name changed to Paul and the rest of his life was to tell people about the dead man who had come back from the grave.

The Start of Change…

As the reality of the resurrection of Jesus became a fact in Paul’s mind, He was all in, and in my personal experience it was the same way.  No, my experience with meeting Jesus was not so eventful, but when the realization that Jesus was very much alive and active came to me in a very real and present sense, then I had no choice but to become aware of His awesome presence in every aspect of my life and world.  I could no longer ignore Him.  Spiritually, I had become new inside; I had become Born Again.

What will change your life? 

“It’s not the doctrine of the person of Jesus.  It’s an inward revelation of Christ in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.[3]  If you don’t know that Jesus is alive then seek Him.  The task of the Holy Spirit is to reveal to men the living savior, and I can attest that when you cry out to Him, Jesus will make himself known to you.

Matthew 7:7 & 8
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.


[1] http://amzn.to/2yyWtza
[2] Sweet, Leaonard & Viola, Frank, Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sonvereignty of Jesus Christ (Nashville: Thomas Neslson, 2010) 24.
[3] Sweet, Leaonard & Viola, Frank, Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sonvereignty of Jesus Christ (Nashville: Thomas Neslson, 2010) 19.