WARNING - Work in Progress

WARNING - Work in Progress
WARNING - Work in Progress

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Why Were You Born? - 1/29/2017


Mark 1:35-39
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

Do you ever wonder “why” you were born; for what purpose? 

I remember being young, probably grade-school young, and wondering why I had been born.  Not just born, but why born in America, why born white, why born where I did not live in poverty and hunger like so much of the world outside of my existence.  I remember, even then, thinking that it could not have been random.  I won’t go so far as to say that I had a developed sense of my spiritual self, but I do remember being aware there must be causation.

When Jesus began his ministry, he came on the scene with a bang.  From the moment of his baptism he was a star and it took him no time at all to get an entourage (his disciples) together.  One morning, as his rise to stardom was beginning; he got alone with God and prayed.

(At this point, there are many who will argue that Jesus knew himself as deity, and he was just conferring with the Father part of the deity to orientate himself.  I don’t agree; I believe that he was fully a man needing guidance by the Holy Spirit of God, just as you and I do, in order to know who he was as a man.  This is the debate of Christology and not one that I will argue or try to settle here, but I personally need a savior who is every bit of a human like me, so this is my position on the matter.)

Getting back to my point, when Jesus was alone and praying with God, I suspect Jesus spent this time aligning himself with his world.  Asking the questions of God, “why was I born?”; “why was I born a Jew?”; “why was I born a child of David?”  Of course I’m speculating, but in our Lord’s humanity, it must have crossed his mind at least once.

So Jesus spent time with God, and His disciples came and found him urging him to continue the road show.  (I’m positive that the healing gig was super cool and the word of mouth advertising was incredible; Judas (the keeper of the money box) was probably thinking about the ticket sales.)  But Jesus emerged from his time of prayer knowing himself in relation to the world and God, and he said, Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”  (verse 38)

I asked the question earlier, whether you knew why you were born, and for what purpose?  Did you have an answer?  Often, I think, people have not really thought about it because we don’t often get away to get quiet with God and seek guidance by his Holy Spirit.  So I want to encourage you to do so.  Go on retreat and be still before God.  Shut off the phone, the ipod, and the computer, and simply seek God.  It’s very difficult to do this but an exercise of great importance.

Oh, and I want to add just one thing.  Notice that the reason Jesus was born was not for his own benefit and comfort but for the benefit and comfort of the rest of the world.  I think it is naturally humanistic for us to come away from times of seeking God with clarity that calls us to our own desires.  Beware of this tendency.  Your existence in this world is bigger than that.

Psalm 46:10
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sad Symbols of Allegience - 1/22/2017


22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? (Luke 9:22-25)

My daughter drew a picture with all the colors that she had.  She’s 11 years old and as girly as they come.  She would have used more colors in her picture if they were in the box, and if she had had sparkles to glue to it, she would have made it perfect.  

It’s funny how little girls just do that, they are not like little boys who basically have just two colors; white and black or blue and red.  But little girls, they always seem to want every color of the rainbow in their drawings, and they seem to have an innate sense to put all those colors into the ROY-G-BIV order so it looks like a rainbow.

What I learned from her picture was just how politicized our world has become. 

Someone on Facebook saw and commented on the picture.  They commented on the rainbow as though she were supporting their political movement: as if my 11 year old had something more significant in mind with her picture than just using every color she could get her hands on. 

As I contemplate this, I am saddened that a little girl cannot even draw a simple picture without it being politicized by someone seeking to find support for their political cause.  I know that politics are not new to our world but I really was saddened by this.

People have politicized their points of view in order to gain support with the masses.  But for me, I need something that is not so self-focused in order to make it relevant for the world.  That’s why the only symbol that I hold dear is the cross of Christ. 

The Cross symbolizes selflessness.  The cross is not American, Russian, Canadian, or Australian.  It does not promote Republicans or Democrats even if they try their darndest to make us think that it does.  It is not the emblem of pro-life or pro-choice or is it concerned with a sexual preference and it certainly is not promoting who are what we are married to.   It’s not pro-labor, unionized, nor is it in favor of the company’s bottom line.  The Cross stands for none of these things because It’s of far greater significance than any of these political causes or ideals. 

The Cross of Jesus is ugly.  It’s been bloodied by the stripes of the savior.  I am sure that when he was taken down it even had pieces of torn flesh from his back on it.  There may have even been some of his hair left when it dried to the woodI am positive that it was grotesque in sight and smell.  Not only did it have the bloodied flesh left on it but it may have even had the wet and dirty of the Savior’s bladder and bowels stained on it.  The Cross of Jesus is truly the emblem of suffering and shame.  And in spite of it, the Cross of Jesus is only about forgiving sinners; we sons and daughters of Adam.

The Cross really is the only selfless symbol that I know of.  On it, Jesus carried out His duty and met the demand of death to pay for the sin of mankind.  His single act of righteousness makes us righteous; if we would have it.

So today, if I am to choose a symbol to show allegiance to, it is the Cross.  It may not be pretty, it’s not an attractive ribbon, flag, or rainbow, but it is the only symbol that calls me to selflessly recognize the world around me.  I hope that as my children grow, they will see past the many symbols and ideals that will ask for their allegiance and simply pick up their own cross and follow our Lord.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Pray For Peace – 01/15/2017


The other day I heard a preacher admit that he was troubled by the violence in the world today, that we Christians needed to band together and pray that things would get better, and that he was deeply troubled and could not understand why the world was as violent as it was.  I didn’t say anything as it wasn’t my place, nor was it the proper place or time, but I was troubled that a preacher struggled with such a topic.

The violence and evil in our world is the fundamental reason that Jesus is good news.  Our world is woefully infested by sin.

Genesis 6:5

     The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.

From the very beginning sin has tainted mankind so that our hearts are always focused on our own interests.  This sin is the reason for the violence and mayhem in our world but so we often want to blame something else.   For instance, with the help of the Pink Floyd[1] we sing that money is the root of all evil today.

 1 Timothy 6:10

     For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

But as much as we want to blame the money, the scriptures tell us that money is only the root of many kinds of evil actions.  It really is not the money that is the problem, it is the self-interested sinful man.

It doesn’t have to be money that triggers the self-interest of men, it could be sex; for people don’t cheat on their spouses because they are trying to do what is best for them or their children.

But money and sex are not the only things that cause evil, it can be something as simple as a cookie.   
Have you ever given a cookie to a child and instructed that child to split it with his sister?  Who got the biggest piece?   

Self-interest is the problem and it stems directly from when sin entered into the world.  When mankind was banished from the Garden it was left to fend for themselves, and it is not good for children to fend for themselves.

1 John 3:7-10

   7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

Of course there is a good amount of generalization that can be concluded from the versus from 1 John.  We all know people who do good and loving things while they are proclaimed atheists just as we know people who proclaim Christ but struggle and fail often.  But generally those who are following Christ recognize they are self-interested beings and they legitimately struggle and fight against this nature.

And so, the primary problem with our world today, amidst all of the money, sex, murder, and cookies, is the self-interest of men which has been the problem since the time of Adam and Eve.   

So the message of every preacher is always to be the solution to the sin problem.


On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross
The emblem of suff'ring and shame
And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

In Jesus, we see the only human who was not self-interested.  He was not interested in money, nor was he interested in sex, however, if he ever tasted my grandma’s homemade oatmeal cookies he might have been interested in those, but I digress, Jesus was selfless and he taught selflessness.  Then he demonstrated the epitome of selflessness when he went to the cross to die for the penalty of sin for you and me.

Romans 5:6-8

     6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

So I do not share the request that we pray things will get better, but rather, I pray that those of us who claim Christ as our savior will tell our broken world that Christ is the solution to the sin problem.  For only when men follow Jesus as his disciples, may the evil of self-interested men be realigned so that peace may prevail.

Luke 9:23-25

     23Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0kcet4aPpQ
[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXAqoZuYvyA