WARNING - Work in Progress

WARNING - Work in Progress
WARNING - Work in Progress

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Prowling Lion – 5/28/2017


I’ve had recent discussions of the reality that once a person officially enters into the ministry of Jesus Christ, there seems to be a target on their back. 

1 Peter 5:8-9 
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

In the past year I have had friends, and close acquaintances, fall from their positions in ministry.  It’s easy to shake my head and wonder how they could let that happen, but the reality is that I am in the cross-hairs; and so are you.  Peter has written his letter to Christians, and so if we have committed our lives to following Jesus in this world then the devil is on the prowl for us; preacher and parishioner alike.

I generally think the devil hates us, but I wonder if this is true.  A lion doesn’t prowl around because of hate, a lion prowls because it is hungry.

I once saw a documentary where photographers in Africa had gotten chummy with wild lions.  So long as the lions were well fed during the night, the human photographers were able to form real relationships with the lions during the day.  It was really cool to see these wild lions actually enjoy the friendships with these humans, but they were still lions and one night one of the humans went outside the gated compound and was killed by one of the prowling lions.  The lion didn’t hate the man; it was just a lion doing what lions do.

I might have been right in the first place, the devil probably really does hate you, but the point is that we should never be lulled into thinking that it is safe to let our guards down because the devil is going to do what the devil does and we need to always be sober-minded and alert.

John 8:44
44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

1 Thessalonians 3:5
For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain.

John 10:10
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

James 4:7
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Don’t Miss the Point – 5/21/2017


In the passage below, the Apostle Paul is on a missionary journey and presently in Athens.  These are the words that he shared with the philosophers in that city about the foreign deity he was preaching.  The part that I pick up is the part that seems to so easily slip past us —because our American culture seems exactly opposite of the culture that existed in Athens some 2000 years ago.

The part that our American culture will so easily get offended at is in verse 31.  In it, Paul says that God has set a day for Jesus to judge the world. 

Our culture does not like being judged by ANYONE!   

We say things like “you can’t judge me, the Bible says ‘Judge not lest ye be judged’ or we say “take the plank out of your own eye before you judge me.”  We typically try to defensively deflect every accusation with religious sounding piety in order to avoid our own sins.  We don’t even like the idea of God judging us.  Even many of today’s churches lean more toward self-help or personal benefit than actually calling out and dealing with personal sins.  Because of our culture’s avoidance of sin we tend to miss the obvious point of this passage.

Not only does verse 31 speak of a day of judgment but it speaks of the proof given by God in the resurrection of the man who will judge.  I don’t know if it’s because we are American and have celebrated Easter every year of our lives, but we typically take the resurrection of Jesus from the dead for granted which is the exact point that we should notice in this passage.  We know this is true because immediately in verse 32 the author writes that the Athenians took offense and sneered at the concept of the resurrection from the dead.  Apparently, they didn’t flinch at the concept of being judged by God, but the idea of a dead man actually coming back to life did.

This causes me to pause.  Am I more offended by the idea of judgment than I am enamored by the idea of a dead man who lived again?  I have to admit, I do spend more time thinking about judgement than I do the wonderful fact of the resurrection.  I suspect that I am not alone in this misaligned faith focus.

Acts 17:24-33

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

But Are You a Priest? – 5/14/2017


1 Peter 2:4-5

“4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

My daughter came back from the playground frustrated, “we’re oddballs in this place” she complained, granted, she’s 13 and she often reacts as though the world is a horrible place and conspiring to specifically make her-alone suffer, however I asked her what she meant. 

She explained that everyone on the playground claims to “believe” in Jesus and some tell her that they go to church, but she claims that the way that they act and speak indicate something different than what they are telling her.  Let me reiterate, she’s 13 so when I point out that her own actions often indicate that she means something other than what she says as well – it never goes over well.

Each of us can go around all day (and we often do) pointing out how somebody else has a speck of dust in their eyeball while we avoid the planks in our own, but the real question, I think, is are we priests of God being built together as a Holy priesthood, or do we simply “believe in God”, go to church, and call it a day?

My family and I struggle with this, and that makes me happy because when we stop struggling I think we’ll have a real problem.

James 1:19

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

How about you?  Do you struggle to be a priest or do you just believe in God?  According to St. Peter it matters.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Give Me Jesus – 5/7/2017


God is not so much about fixing things that have gone wrong in our lives as He is about finding us in our brokenness and giving us Christ.” ~Sweet & Viola[1]

This quote, in the context of the book, is proclaiming a simple transformative revelation and relationship with the person of Jesus Christ; relationship for the sake of the relationship itself and not what we humans can get out of it.  Many of us Christians “love Jesus” because of the feelings we get at the Sunday morning worship time at church, or because we get to go to heaven when we die, or even because we are still waiting for our miracle, but what we Christians should desire is simply a relationship with Jesus, the Christ, only because of who He is.

When I married my wife, I had visions of how she would improve my life as we lived our lives together.  Truthfully, she has not lived up to most of the ideals that I had, and to be candidly honest, I haven’t lived up to them either.  We are now in our 19th year of marriage and what we’ve both learned (and are learning) is that we are in relationship with each other regardless of any benefit that we might get out of it.  We should be selflessly devoted to each other, for the sake of the other; simply for the sake of the other.  What a terrible relationship it would be if we were only in it for what we could get from it.

The quote above puts into words and helps me to consider my relationship with Jesus.  Am I seeking Him for what He can do for me, or how I can feel, or am I seeking Him simply for who He is?

Honestly?  I have to admit that I too often fall into the trap of caring for Jesus because of what I get out of Him and not simply because He alone is worthy of my love and honor.   

I need and desire to change that.

1 Corinthians 2:2

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

[1] Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ (AMAZON--http://a.co/02bJ9Or)