WARNING - Work in Progress

WARNING - Work in Progress
WARNING - Work in Progress

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Your Contract with God – 3/26/2017


Matthew 26:26-29

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

A covenant is an agreement between two parties, and the covenant between man and God has been signed by the blood of Jesus.  This is no simple handshake deal; this deal has been signed by the very lifeblood of Jesus when He went to the Cross.

In our culture, contracts are easily negated.  The court system is full of companies and persons that break contracts.   We have all learned since we were children this way of the world of contractual law: contracts are only an inconvenience to doing what we presently want to do.  I often wonder where honor is among men who make such promises.  But the covenant of God is more than the legal, business, and social contracts of our culture, for this covenant has been sealed with the very blood of God.

The forgiveness of men is absolute, and it has been signed in good faith by the author of the contract.  This is not a contract like a marriage or business dealing that can be negated and void, because the price that was paid is too high for that.  No, this covenant is signed and sealed by the Creator of the universe and Grace mandates that it is never going to be nullified.

Today, the Cross calls us to follow Jesus out of our slavery to sin and death and into the desert toward the Promised Land -- relationship with Him.  As we get closer to celebrating Easter, let’s remember that the empty tomb has significance because of the contract that was signed by blood; and when we see that tomb, we should know that the covenant is still valid today.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

God is Gay?– 3/19/2017


A person once told me that God was gay…

“He’s gay huh?”  I inquired.

“Yep!  The Bible says that God created man in His own image so God is gay.”  This I was told in the utmost of sincerity.

I don’t want to get into the gay issue here, but I do want to address the idea that God must be gay thing.

God is not gay.  I’m sorry, but God is not a sexual being.  My biggest gripe with the statement has nothing to do with the gay issue at all, but rather, my gripe has to do with the desire of men to make God like ourselves. 

God is not gay for the same reason He is not a republican, a democrat, an American, or even an MSU or UofM fan (sorry).  God is totally other than His creations, and to suggest otherwise is to make a God in our own image rather than us having been made in His image. (Genesis 1:26)  And for those who want to argue the point, God did create man in His own image, but just because men can be gay does not mean that God is gay; if this were the case then God must be an idiot because we men are often that. 

No, God is certainly not defined by me and my actions, but rather I am to be defined by Him and His actions.  And His actions were crazy!

God became flesh.  (John 1:14) 

Right here, the Creator became part of the created: crazy right?  In the miracle of miracles, the Eternal Creator put on the limited flesh of mankind and became human like us in every way.

He dwelled among us.  (John 1:14)

Then for some 33 years Jesus lived among us, loving us, teaching us, and suffering us.  I might tilt my hand a bit but I think it’s crazy that He endured the smell.  Have you ever entered a barn and had your breath taken away?  I imagine leaving heaven only to be born and laid in a manger must have been quite the shock to the olfactory senses.

Not only the smell, but Jesus hung out and loved a bunch of ragtag people that He called friends.  I can only guess that these people were like the unpopular kids at school, the people in society that really anger us and whom we avoid.  He loved them and taught them about a restored relationship with their God.

And then He suffered death.

Please don’t miss this because this is the craziest part!  God demanded death as the consequence of sin so Jesus took that death upon himself in the place of the ragtag men whom he loved.  Romans 5:8 states that while you and I were still sinners He died for us.  He accomplished the ultimate Pay-it-Forward.  The significance is that the death of Jesus forgave the sins of men before we even thought to ask. (Ephesians 2:1-5) 

Early on in our marriage, my wife and I had a spat.  While it doesn’t always work this way, I was actually in the right, so I prayed.  I asked God to change her heart and show her the error of her ways.  As I prayed, God impressed on my heart that I needed to go apologize to her.

“Apologize!?”  I protested, “I didn’t do anything wrong, it’s her who’s at fault.”  As I whined about my righteous position in the argument, I was impressed with the question: did Jesus do anything wrong when he died on the cross for me?

It was at that point that I knew that I needed to love my wife like Jesus first loved me; sacrificially.  It wasn’t easy, and to this day is always a vicious battle in my soul.  And because of this, I can only imagine the anguish Jesus endured when He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane and sweat drops of blood on His way to the cross.  (Matthew 26:36-46)

So no, God is not gay but He is sacrificial.  For some reason our Creator loves us and leads us to live a sacrificial life unto Him for the benefit the ragtag mankind in our world.  He certainly is not like me but I need to strive to be like Him.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Who Are We? – 3/12/2017

WARNING PREACHY…  (unedited with bad grammar, incomplete and likely not very good - I hope you enjoy)

I just returned from a conference of minsters, it was a great time of seeing old friends and fellow workers for the faith.  The messages are always excellent because unlike the regular Sunday morning sermon at church, the speakers are not required to speak words for the unsaved but rather are free to boldly to the saved.  The alter-calls have a different purpose in these meetings.

This week started with two questions; “Who are we? And “Where are we going?”  The question addressed the churches, as they worked together, but also dealt with people individually as specific Christians.  While all the speakers dealt with this question in some way, the very first presentation gave the answer that hit home the most.

Who are we and where are we going?

Quite simply, who we are is a matter of identity and our identity is not something that we decide but rather is something that we receive.  Not what we decide but what we receive.

Matthew 9:14-15

14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”

15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.

We (the church) are the Bride of Christ because Jesus called himself the Bridegroom.  Simply, the reality of our identity is in relation to Him, and can only be determined in relationship with Him.  While the conference was dealing mainly with the identity of the church on the local and global scales, the reality of our individual identity being received from Christ is already determined and something we must receive from Jesus.

This has a huge impact.

As the Church, we are not free to determine our own corporate culture but rather we are to patiently wait on Jesus to inform us of what we shall be. (Acts 1:4)  Too often, however, we decide what we would like to be, what makes us feel best about ourselves, and what direction best fits our own theological and biblical ideals, and as a church we then develop ourselves.  Unfortunately, we as a church have become so consumed by our culture that we operate the church like any other man made business. 

Do you feel the rebuke?  Yeah, me too, and if the rebuke to our churches stings a little then the rebuke to us as individuals is more painful I think.

So the question for you and me is; who are we?  Are we persons who have decided our own identities or have we received our identities from the Jesus who’s influence is determined from the cross?

If you are like me, you’ll need to go back to Jerusalem and wait on the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Do you Doubt? - 3/05/2017

Matthew 11:1-6

11 After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.
When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 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. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

True life is born of the Cross. 

At the Cross, everyone struggles with doubt in Jesus.  At the Cross, even His own disciples abandoned Him and went into hiding.  I’m not suggesting this is right but I am comforted that I am not alone.

Many years ago, in despair, I laid hands on a person and boldly asked Jesus to intervene and heal the person; and miraculously He did.  This was the only time in the history of my entire life that I ever experienced such a clear and drastic positive response to such a prayer.  And since that time, I have often struggled with whether I had actually experienced what I remember experiencing. 

The verses above help me to see that I am not the only person to struggle with this sort of doubt.

John the Baptist was in a prison, a prison and on death-row in fact, and as he assessed his life he is wondered if Jesus was actually God’s Messiah.

Do you remember the day that John baptized Jesus?  He proclaimed that he was not even worthy to untie the shoes of the Messiah, that while he baptized with water the Messiah would baptize with the Holy Spirit, and that Jesus needed to baptize him rather than he baptize Jesus. (Matthew 3)  John even proclaimed “behold the Lamb of God (John 1:29) referring to Jesus.  Heck, John even experienced the audible voice of God from heaven declaring that Jesus was His son, whom He loved.  And despite all of that John had a faith crisis.  His life took a turn toward the unexpected and he found himself in prison because the king’s wife who wanted his head on a platter.  (Matthew 14)
John must have been totally broadsided by this.  His whole life was devoted to God and the introduction of Jesus as the Messiah.  He wasn’t supposed to end up on death-row, but rather to enjoy the riches of God’s kingdom as one of His prophets.  And in his personal struggle, in order to make sense of things, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was actually the One who was to come--or is somehow he got it wrong.

I do this.  Too often I have an idea about what the future is supposed to hold, and when things don’t play out the way I expect, I begin to doubt myself, I doubt God, and even doubt my own experiences.  How about you?  Do things not play out the way you think they should and then you begin questioning everything that you thought you knew to be true?

How are we supposed to handle doubt when the struggles of life pound us?

Like John, I think Jesus says that we need to pay attention to the miracles and blessings, and not our own life circumstances.  I know, easier said than done.  To this day, I still continue to waffle between faith and doubt depending on my emotional status on any given day.  But we can take heart as the Cross is not the end of the story, but rather, we must take hope in the resurrection from the dead and the new life in Christ.

Two-thousand years ago, in a prison’s death-row, a man who baptized the Son of God struggled with his faith because of his life’s circumstances.  The Bible never tells us how his battle ended; if at the end of it he had faith or not.  But he struggled, and I am comforted as I struggle because it is in the midst of my struggles that I know I still have faith.

It’s when I stop struggling that I will worry.