WARNING - Work in Progress

WARNING - Work in Progress
WARNING - Work in Progress

Sunday, January 31, 2016

WARNING PREACHY - 01/31/2016

I am writing about a Podcast[1] that I listened to which talked about how the priorities of aviation can share the priorities of ministry.  These priorities are simply to:

1.       Aviate (properly fly the plane), then to 
2.       Navigate (determine how to get to your destination and get there), and after those two priorities have been met then we can 
3.       Communicate (radio others about what is happening out here) 

This morning I am completing my discussion with the third priority of aviation – Communication and my Christian faith.

So in following the priorities I am confident in my faith.  Because of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead my plane is indeed flying[2] flat and level.  And since my plane is in the air I am now navigating, living my Christian life being guided by the Holy Spirit of Jesus[3].  Since these first two priorities are realized then I can move onto the third priority of my faith:  Communicating.

I once listened to a podcast by a guy name Roy H. Williams (aka. TheWizard of Ads) who is a marketing guy.  His main point is that how a message is delivered is not nearly as important as what the core message is[4].  His point leads me to conclude that too often we preachy type people get distracted from the core message of what we are trying to communicate.  I believe this is because we get focused on the how to communicate rather than keeping focused on exactly the what we want to communicate.  So in this post I am going to suggest the what of the Christian communication.

The Christian, no matter the method, needs to communicate the Gospel and the word gospel means “good news”.  So what is the "Good News" of Christianity?  Simply that a man named Jesus has redeemed us – All of us.

It’s true.  When Jesus died on the cross he did so to pay the penalty of sin and to conquer death in this world.  With his shed blood mankind was released from the enslavement to sin and the Law.  Jude verse five points this out.

“Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord at one time delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.”  Jude 5

What Jude is reminding us here is that when God redeemed the Israelites from the Egyptian enslavement (back in the days of Moses) he did so completely.  He redeemed every last one of them taking them all out of Egypt.  But it was later when those who would not believe that were destroyed. 

This makes the Gospel Message really Good News and worthy of our rejoicing and celebration but if (as the Scriptures state) we having been redeemed by the blood of Jesus and still refuse to believe and repent then there is nothing left but judgement.

So we recognize our plane is indeed flying and we are genuinely navigating our way through this life on our way to eternity with Jesus, we communicate to the world that the blood of Jesus has indeed set us on our way and if you want, there is a plane called faith just waiting for you as well. 

The Christian communication is actually quite simple, the question is always if anyone out there is hearing it or not.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

WARNING PREACHY - 01/24/2016

 Last week I wrote about a Podcast[1] that I listened to that talked about how the priorities of aviation can share the priorities of that of ministry.  These are simply to:

1.       Aviate (properly fly the plane), then to 
2.       Navigate (determine how to get to your destination and get there), and after those two priorities have been met then we can 
3.       Communicate (radio others about what is happening out here) 

Today I am going to discuss the second priority of aviation – Navigating and my Christian faith.

Last week I assessed myself and asked the question, am I really a Christian[2].  After establishing that I indeed was a Christian through my faith in the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ I now want to assess if I am navigating this Christian life properly.

I always struggle with this as there are many voices in my head that attempt to guide and direct me.  I am the king of justifying my decisions and opting to do what I think is right and “good”.  Even when I read the scriptures about what was done in history by the men and women of faith before me, I really am left wide open to much interpretation in what I think God is communicating to me.  So knowing myself I have developed a more simple method of understanding the direction of God in my life.  I allow the Spirit of God to guide me directly through the scriptures, my fellow Christians, my mind, and my heart. 

Generally I am guided by these two passages from Scripture.

Matthew 22:35-40

35One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 16:24-25

24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

When Jesus said that all of the Law and Prophets hang on loving God and our neighbor he basically nullified the necessity to have the 10 Commandments hanging on my living room wall.  No longer was the goal to NOT murder, steal, or lie but loving God was shown to be the actuality of loving my neighbor.  For the separate ideas of loving God and Neighbor are inseparably intertwined. 

John verifies this when he writes:

1 John 4:20

“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”

In my understanding here the epitome of loving God is in the action of loving my neighbor.  This loving action then is not just a verbal ascent.  For the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:24-25 are words of personal sacrifice:  As Jesus sacrificed to save (love) me I am instructed likewise to sacrifice myself in order to save (love) others (my neighbors). 

This is my general guidance in my day-to-day life as a follower of Christ.  But for a more specific guidance I seek confirmation for what I believe the Holy Spirit has put on my heart and mind by my spouse, Christian friends who pray with me, or other things that seem almost coincidental (but are actually in direct response to specific prayer for guidance) and most of the time my decisions are directly confirmed by my wife who has prayed for specificity as well.

When I put it all together I know that God is leading me when my self-interested humanity is fighting against what I believe He is leading me to.  This may sound funny but it is true.  When, in the past, I was happy to do what I believed God was calling me to, I discovered that it was not God at all but my own sense of accomplishing what I wanted and convinced myself of what God wanted too.

So navigating this Christian life is learning to be directed by the Holy Spirit.  It’s not a simple three-step process but the intricate nuance that is only known through the real and living relationship with God through Jesus our savior.  And it must be noted that this is how I navigate personally.  It is unique in my personal relationship with Jesus and may not look like your own navigational method.  I would like to think that my way can be easily transferable to others but it would be foolish of me to think that other Christians are not likewise unique in their own relationships with our God.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

WARNING PREACHY - 01/017/2016

I listened to a podcast by Rev. Jim Hollis[1]  the other day that talked about how the priorities of aviation can share the priorities of that of ministry.  The priorities of aviation are simply to 

  1. Aviate (properly fly the plane), then to 
  2. Navigate (determine how to get to your destination and get there), and after those two priorities have been met then we can 
  3. Communicate (radio others about what is happening out here).   

The first priority is the one I am most concerned with right now.  The first priority of properly flying a plane before anything else does help me to take stock of my own spiritual position. 

Am I really a Christian?

I actually ask myself this question quite often as I know that I have a terrible tendency to get distracted.  For example, when I go to clean up the clutter on my office desk I discover that a couple hours have gone by before I notice that I am on a totally different expedition.  Then there is when I intend to quickly run into the store for a simple gallon of milk but I bump into Carl, whom I have not seen since High School, and got chatting so long that the milk I am holding has gotten warm and is likely curdled.  And now that I have children I am always realizing that I forgot to finish this project or that.  And I don’t believe that I am alone in the distraction department, I think everyone is like this in some form or fashion.  Why else would an aviator have to learn these three priorities and remember them all the days of their flying lives?   

My faith then, whether or not I am a Christian, must be determined by some sort of immovable objective since if left up to me would be determined on my never really rational and often distracted attention.  So what is that immovable determinate?  What is it that I can use to judge my belief in salvation and personal spirituality?  I use a statistical impossibility.  I use the impossible words of the Apostle Paul found in 2 Corinthians 15.

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.   
1 Corinthians 15:20

The Apostle Paul claims that it is only in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead that any of us has hope for eternal life.  That is because Jesus died on the cross as the proper human payment for sin and we receive grace and are redeemed by Him.  His resurrection from the dead is the proof that He is the Messiah who fixed the sin of Adam.  But, Paul states:

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” 
1 Cor. 15:19

My read of it sound like this.

‘If I am a Christian, I am because I believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay for my sins.  Then He rose back to life on the third day triumphantly over sin and death.  But if Jesus did not rise back to life from the dead then I am an idiot who is to be pitied more than all people because I was duped.

And so it is that I judge myself according to the immovable fact of the resurrection of Jesus – and nothing else.  I don’t ask myself if I was a good boy this past week, I don’t ask myself if I was obedient enough this past week, and I don’t even consider if I was favored by God because I was so squeaky clean and did all the right things because my faith is only in Jesus and what HE did.  

Justification isn't about me at all.

Did Jesus rise from the grave?  Is Jesus alive, now, today?  Did Jesus, without my input from the likes of me, redeem humanity from the perils of sin and death?  

While some may argue that this sort questioning is too simple to determine one's faith but I beg to differ.  I suggest that this is the sort of faith the Apostle Paul had when he said that he has chosen to know nothing but Christ, and Him crucified.

So I like Hollis’ first priority of aviation as a first priority for the Christian life.  Is my faith solid?  Is my plane even in the air?  Is it straight and level?  As I assess myself against the priority of the resurrection I must agree that I am solidly in the air.  And now that I am floating along on my way I need to get to the next priority of aviation and that is navigation. 

But that will have to wait until next week.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

WARNING PREACHY - 01/010/2016


(Warning: Spoiler Alerts)

As a dad, I am well versed with Disney stories.  Two of my favorites are Tangled (the loose story of Rapunzel and her long hair) and Frozen (a story about a would-be queen with magical powers).  Each movie is fun; both have good songs, both have great character development, and both are love stories.  While they have stories that do center around main-character male/female love interests, these are not the love stories to which I am referring.  The love to which I refer is the kind that causes death.

In Tangled, the story revolves around a princess (we’ll call her Blondie and she has special powers of healing in her hair) who is kidnapped and held captive for a life of seclusion in a remote part of the forest.  A thief named Flynn accidentally stumbles across the tower in which Blondie is hidden as he escapes and hides from his own pursuers.  Through the course of the movie Blondie and Flynn set out on a wonderful adventure and fall in love.  Long story short, “Mother” (the woman who kidnapped Blondie) discovers this budding relationship and shoves a knife in the side of Flynn as she drags Blondie away for a life of servitude.  As Blondie is being dragged away and Flynn is bleeding-out Blondie agrees to go peacefully if she is just allowed to heal him.  Mother agrees and Blondie positions herself to hold the dying Flynn in her lap in order to perform the magic that will save him.  Then in a flash Flynn uses a shard of broken glass to cut off Blondie’s hair thus preventing her from ever serving Mother again.  But in doing this he is no longer able to be saved and dies in her arms.

The love to which I refer has nothing to do with Blondie and Flynn’s first kiss but with Flynn’s decision to cut off Blondie’s hair in order to save her, despite his own death.

In Frozen, the story revolves around two sisters:  Elsa (the elder) and Anna (the younger).  Elsa has powers that she cannot control of which Anna knows nothing about.  As Elsa is crowned queen she loses control of her powers and they are revealed casting an eternal winter on the land.  Elsa takes off and hides away but Anna goes after her in order to help fix the eternal winter.  In Anna’s travel she meets up with Christoph who guides her through the mountains to find Elsa and, you guessed it, a love relationship forms.  Toward the end of the movie an evil prince sees an opportunity to kill Elsa and claim the kingdom for himself.  As the evil prince raises his sword to strike Elsa down the younger sister Anna moves in to shield the queen by taking the sword blow herself and dying in the process.

The love to which I refer, again, is not about Anna & Christoph but about Anna positioning herself between her sister and the sword of the evil prince thus giving her life to save her sister.

Biblical Greek has three separate words for the English word love.  Phileo which is brotherly love, eros which is romantic love between a man and woman, and agape which is sacrificial love like a person who jumps on a grenade to save his squad, or a person who gives up their meal to feed a hungry person.  The love to which I am referring in these two movies is the agape, sacrificial love.

While these movies both portray a great message of sacrificial love there is still a portrayal of love that exceeds even these.  How much stronger would the portrayal of love in these stories have been if each hero had died to save their enemies?

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. (Colossians 1:21)

[But] while we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son… (Romans 5:10a)

The story of the Cross of Jesus is the story of a man who willing died in order to save his enemies.  You and I (mankind) were enemies of God and yet Jesus still went to the cross to die the death that would save us.

…God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

The Gospel (good news) message has been hijacked, I think, by a dominate narrative of heaven and hell when the real Good News is that the Cross of Jesus was for you – His enemy.  A narrative of Heaven and Hell are ultimately about me and what I get out of Jesus but a narrative of the Cross is centered completely on Christ and what He has done.  Granted, the narrative still benefits us but the Cross focuses more on Jesus than myself I think.

Spend some time today and consider the reality that Jesus went to the cross for the soul purpose of sacrificing his life that you might live.  For though bitter sweet this really is good news to us today.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be complete, therefore, as your heavenly Father is complete.  (Matthew 5:43-48)