Thursday, December 30, 2010

Jesus, the 3rd Savior

Sermon on Sunday, January 2nd.

Title- Authority: Jesus among other Saviors

Key passage- John 2:13-22

Supporting passage- 1 Corinthians 15:1-8,12-20,58

Jesus!- What is the significance of Jesus’ resurrection?


Hook- A snapshot of our Culture: Starbucks Spirituality (pluralism, syncretism in the USA)

Book- John 2:13-22

Look -What is the significance of His resurrection? Why does it matter? Why is it awesome?!



Book (Slide 2)

Temple Rampage #1- John 2:13–22 (NAS)

Wedding Feast in Cana > Capernaum w/ mom, brothers, disciples > Passover in Jerusalem

13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

(+1100 ft. in elevation in the central mountains)

14 And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables.

(ἱερῷ - temple)

15 And He made a scourge of cords (whip-of rope probably), and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; 16 and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.”

What was Jesus freaking out about?

(Matt. 21:13- 2nd clearing, Jesus said, “My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you are making it a robbers’ den.”

-He was zealous/angry that His Father’s House had gone from a place of prayer and worship to a common marketplace and an opportunity to make money.

- The sales would have been distracting to worship, not allowing the Gentiles to worship in quiet.

- According to Leviticus, you were supposed to bring a sheep, oxen out of your own herd (sacrifice). You were allowed to buy doves, which is why we see Jesus stopping to talk to those selling the doves.

The whole thing had become a mess!

Can you imagine the mess that Jesus made, during a very busy time?!)

17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house will consume me.” (PS. 69:9) 18 The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?”

basically- who do you think you are? What are your credentials? Who are you to say and do these things? What gives you the right to do this? Who has given you the authority?

Bring it home-

1. 2 Other Saviors- (expand service 2) Did you know that there had been 2 known, at least with any type of decent following, “Saviors” that had preceded Jesus, and plenty of different groups claiming to speak for God?

Here is some info. on them:

esus, the 3rd Savior

1. Athronges (likely derived from ethrog, "citron") (diadem dude) was a leader of the Jews during the insurrection under Herod Archelaus. A shepherd, in common with his four brothers after proclaiming himself a messiah, Athronges led the rebellion against Archelaus and the Romans. After a protracted struggle Athronges and his brothers were defeated.

2. Simon of Peraea or Simon son of Joseph was a former slave of Herod the Great who rebelled and was killed by the Romans in 4 BC.[1] He has been identified as the messiah of Gabriel's Revelation. He is mentioned by Flavius Josephus [2]

Gabriel's Revelation is a three-foot-tall stone tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew text written in ink, containing a collection of short prophecies written in the first person and dated to the late first century BCE.[3][4] One of the stories allegedly tells of a man who was killed by the Romans and resurrected in three days. It is a tablet described as a "Dead Sea scroll in stone".[3][5] Attributed to Simon of Peraea.

According to Josephus (a “Jewish” Historian of Palastine):

-a slave of king Herod, but in other respects a comely person, of a

- tall and robust body; he was one that was much superior to others of his order

-put a diadem on his head, while a certain number of the people stood by him, and by them he was declared to be a king, and he thought himself more worthy of that dignity than any one else."

-"He burnt down the royal palace at Jericho, and plundered what was left in it. He also set fire to many other of the king's houses in several places of the country, utterly destroyed them, and permitted those that were with him to take what was left in them for a prey. He would have done greater things, but care was taken to repress him immediately.

[The commander of Herod's infantry] Gratus joined himself to some Roman soldiers, took the forces he had with him, and met Simon. And after a great and a long fight, the Pereans were destroyed. Although Simon had saved himself by flying away through a certain valley, Gratus overtook him, and cut off his head."

In light of this, I think they were asking Jesus a very logical, normal question. They should ask Him this question.

Authority Questions- In our culture today, this same question still comes up, but differently.

I#1- Prank at Moody a) toilets (PP), b) mandatory floor meeting- beauty is in the authority

I#2- For example- The police. I am getting to the age now where a lot of police officers are younger than I am. If I were to get pulled over, I could say… but they have the badge, they have the car, they have the authority.

Today, in Western culture, people ask, “Who are you to say that you are right, that Jesus is the only way, that not everyone is going to Heaven? Who are you to say that Jesus is THE way, THE truth, THE life? What makes the Bible or Jesus any better than Mohammad or other religious leaders?” They are asking a normal, good question of authority. A question we should ask as well. What would your response be to these questions?

Here is how Jesus responded to this great question-

19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this, and in three days I will raise it up.”

Temple (ναὸν- dwelling place, temple. Different word than the typical word for temple-ierw.

Used in 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19 in reference to the body of believers being Temples of God)

20 The Jews (not understanding what Jesus was saying) then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” (and it was still being built- was finished in 63AD)

21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body.

22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

What was Jesus saying here? (slide 3)

The proof of Jesus’ authority, the exclamation point to His message & actions is that God rose Him from the dead. His resurrection is the capstone.

Most other prophets, and all other “saviors” are dead and their bodies decayed. (mention what happened to the other dudes)

However, Jesus has risen bodily from the dead! And fulfilled Messianic prophecy (Psalm 16:10- “For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.”)

Look & Took (slide 4)

Why does it matter? What is the significance of His resurrection? What difference will this make in my day to day life? Why is it awesome?!

9 Exclamation Points

1. Resurrection =! -Not only did Jesus do miracle after miracle, but Jesus’ resurrection is the grand proof of His authority. He has the right to tear up the temple. He has the right to set things in order. God has given Him the right and supports all Jesus taught and did. Jesus has been given all authority & He has called us to make followers of all nations.

1 Cor. 15:1-8

2. We are standing in the truth. - We can stand firm and confident in our position in Christ.

3. Assurance of salvation. We can be confident that He has saved us. And that we have begun eternally living!

(slide 5)

1 Cor. 15:12-20

4. We have unthwartable credibility - Our faith has credibility that is unthwartable, we carry in us the Word of Life.

5. We can have hope in death- We and our loved ones, who are in Christ, will live, even though they die. Those, in Christ, will not perish. Our loved ones, in Christ, will not perish.

6. (v. 17) We are holy. We are in deed declared righteous and holy before God through faith in Jesus. It is really true.

7. (v. 20) Our faith is worth it. It is worth the discipline, worth the obedience, worth the persecution, worth the odd looks from family or co-workers, worth sacrificing for.

1 Corinthians 15:58

8. We can live an unwasted life. We can confidently give ourselves fully to His Cause. We can stand firm in our faith, and join the team, to be fellow laborers in Christ; advancing His kingdom and His purposes.

9. When challenged, we can Relax. We can answer people’s questions of authority with full-confidence and love.

a) We live in a pluralistic/syncretistic culture, with many gods, many versions of what is true. When someone asks, “Who are we to tell someone they need to accept Jesus?” We are sharing what the resurrected one has said. We are speaking on Jesus, the RESURRECTED Savior’s behalf.

b) When people ask, “Who are you to say that your god is the true god and someone else’s is false?” Jesus rose from the dead.

c) Who are you to say what is right or wrong? Jesus rose from the dead.

d) Why should I attend church and get involved with a community of believers? Because Jesus said to, and He rose from the dead.

e) Why give of my resources (money, time, energy) to support the local Church and missionaries? Because Jesus rose & He has called us to join His Cause

f) Why should I bother reading The Book and pray? Because Jesus, the author of the Bible rose from the dead, and wants us to know and follow Him, and teach others also.

g) Why should I go out and share my faith with others? So that they may meet the one, Jesus, who rose from the dead, and have life for themselves.

h) Why should I abide in Christ, stay close to Him through obedience to what He has called me to? Because He rose from the dead.

Look at these 9- What more do we need that Jesus hasn’t already given us, who trust in Him?

You want authority?

Jesus’ resurrection showed His authority because God rose Him from the dead, approving His message. Other saviors, other religions will come and go. But Jesus lives forever, and has been given all authority. And that is why Christians can walk in hope during the years of trial, hardship, storms, and persecution.

Take some time to thank God for the authority He has given Jesus. And that we can be a part of what He is doing here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Paul's frustration as an apostle for Jesus

The assumption in culture today is that if I am happy than God is happy with me. If I am frustrated or thwarted than God is not happy with me.

Let's look at how Paul lived as an apostle for Jesus.
First, Paul was loved, chosen, and called by Jesus as an apostle-one sent out to tell people the Good News of forgivenss through Jesus. Paul ran his 'race' well, and God is pleased with him.

2. When Paul encountered Jesus he completely lost his vision. After receiving Jesus something amazing happened to Paul, he DIDN'T receive his sight least right away, but had to walk around blind until his friend Ananias was used of God to heal Paul (Acts 9).
3. Paul continually faced frustration & contention from the Judaisers. If it were me, I would pray that God would either bring them to Christ or get rid of them. But these Judaisers were allowed to bother Paul & hurt the young church throughout his ministry.
4. Paul was given some kind of 'thorn in the flesh'. He prayed three times that God would get rid of it. God told him no, he was stuck with it. 2 Corinthians 12:7 teaches that Paul was GIVEN this thorn to keep him from bragging/arrogance.
5. Paul was put in jail several times, when he could have been out sharing the Good News. This, at a surface level seems like a waste of time, energy, and resources. Why did God allow this?
6. Paul was beaten for Christ, his ship sunk, he was bitten by a venomous snake, he went hungry, was left for dead. Why would God allow this to happen to Paul? (2 Cor. 11:23-35; Acts 27)
7. He had arguments, heated arguments with other apostles (good men), such as Barnabas. He was abandoned by Christian friends (Acts 15:39; 2 Timothy 4).
8. He was forbidden from going to Rome, even though he tried and tried to go there. His reasons for going were noble, but God did not open the door for him (Romans 1:13; 15:22-24).

So what was his response? Did he become jaded, pessimistic, feel hurt by God, believe that God didn't really care about him?

Philippians 4:9–13 (NAS)

9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. 10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Paul understood that God was sovereign, and he came to a point where he was at peace and in submission to God's sovereignty, and care for Paul. Paul was engaged in the calling that Jesus gave him. He new that Jesus would enable him to do whatever Jesus wanted him to do. He rested in the love that he had in Christ. Therefore, problems, thorns, hindrances, sin, lost their power to put a damper on Paul's attitude and perspective. God has given you adequate help, in Christ, to have this same attitude and perspective. The choice is ours what angle we will live from, what attitude/perspective we will allow to color our world.

In addition, I don't see Paul being a jaded or hopeless person. He was content, in peace with his position/lot. He was joyful to serve his Lord, in spite of the difficulty that it brought. Eventually, God even allowed Paul to be martyred (probably beheaded in Rome, under Nero) as the grand exit to his race of life. What a way to go!

I think it was safe to say that God loved Paul & was pleased with him. However, if you looked at his life from an animistic angle, you may think that God hated him. Good thing God is not an animistic type of God! Jesus is our propitiation, through which we can have peace with God & have a sonship/daughtership with him. May we be encouraged by this.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Forgiveness, do we need to ask for it?

Someone asked me this question this past weekend (I am consolidating the question), "Do we needed to ask God for forgiveness in order to be forgiven?".

How do we receive forgiveness?

Well, regarding salvation, I see that X is forgiven by taking Jesus as X's savior (through faith, belief).
We are not forgiven based on good works, praying certain formulas, or other human efforts. We are forgiven through God's grace by faith in Jesus as savior.

-John 3:16, Romans 3:23, Romans 5:1, Romans 5:6-9, Ephesians 2:8-10, Romans 10:9,13, Romans 8:1, Romans 6:23, Mark 1:15

Note: There are also some things that accompany salvation, things that a redeemed person is quick to do. If someone refuses to do these, no life changing faith has taken root, they are still in their sin. With new life, comes a desire to confess, repent, and be identified with Jesus (baptism). This also has definitely been my experience.
1. Confess with their mouth that Jesus is their lord (Romans 10:9-10).
2. Repent, turn from a self-directed life & pursue honoring God. I would say that repentance is the most inseperable of all of these. Because no one can come to Christ unless they realize that they sin and need help (1 John 1:8-10, Mark 1:15).
3. Baptism, symbolizing/ making an outward sign of an inward change. Baptism also means to be identified as a follower of Jesus.

Some funn
y questions to make the point-
1. Can someone be a Christian and refuse to call Jesus their God, Lord?
2. Can someone come to Jesus for salvation without realizing that they need salvation?
3. Can someone accept Jesus as savior, but reject him as lord/leader?
4. Can someone accept Jesus as savior, but refuse to be obedient to him? This tells me that their is no heart change. This would show that the heart is unredeemed.

What about asking for forgiveness?
There are passages in the Bible that tell us that we have to do other things to receive God's forgiveness.

1 John 1:5–10 (NAS) — 5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
Well, this, I believe, is a call to humility. To admitting that you are in need of a savior.
This bumper sticker is controversial-

For me, as a Christian, this bumper sticker says, foremost, Christians know they aren't perfect, but know that we are forgiven through faith in Jesus. Of all people, Christians realize they aren't perfect. I say this because, why else would they have come to know they need a savior?

Other passages:
1. Matthew 6:12-
Matthew 6:12 (NAS) — 12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Actually, this is the only New Testament passage that tells us to ask God to forgive us. But we also need to note that this is before the cross, before redemption was made, before the price for our sin has been paid. To form a theology for today on having to ask forgiveness, would be a bad idea.
In response, (and in support of this bumper sticker) check out:
Colossians 3:13- Lord forgave you (Colossian Christians)
1 John 2:12-A Christians sins have been forgiven
Acts 10:43- Through His name, everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins
Ephesians 1:7-We have forgiveness in Him
Revelation 1:5- God has released Christians from their sins
Romans 8:30- in reality, Christians are already glorified

Do Christians still sin? Yes, but because God has changed our hearts, we are in pursuit, not of how we can sin, but how we can live a life that glorifies God.

A Remedy
Salvation is always a matter of the heart!!! Not mere verbage. So here is the deal (according to the Scriptures)-
1. Problem- We all sin, and are therefore separate from God (who is holy & just).
2. Remedy- Jesus shed His blood to pay the price for our sin. He rose again physically so that we can also rise and walk in newness of life & have an eternal relationship with God.
3. Solution- those who take Jesus to be their hope of salvation (their savior), will receive this salvation and forgiveness of all sin. Those who decide not to take Jesus as their savior, remain unforgiven and guilty before God.

Personal questions- do you realize that you offend God and need salvation? Have you received Jesus as your savior & is it your desire to let Him lead your life? What's stopping you from doing this today?
Reminder- There is a sense of urgency here. Tonight, tomorrow is not guaranteed. And we only have this lifetime to make this important decision. Why not do it today?

Monday, October 25, 2010

What does "following Jesus" look like today?

1. Can someone accept Jesus as their hope of salvation, but not as Lord?
Can they hope to have eternal life if they reject them as their lord? No. Conversion leads to increased lordship. If someone rejects the lordship/leadership of Jesus over their life, it shows that they do not have a converted heart, their is no "new birth". Where there is no repentance, their is no acceptance of the savior. Mark 1:15, Jesus taught, "Repent and believe the good news (that Jesus is the Messiah/savior)". Repentance/turning from sin is part of the process.

2. Before you accept Jesus as savior & lord, you must count the cost. Do you really want God to forgive you? Do you really want to repent/turn from a self-directed life & follow Him?
Here is what Jesus recommends-
Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them,
26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.
27 “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
28 “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?
29 “Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him,
30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
31 “Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?
32 “Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.
33 “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
If you realize that you sin, are convicted that you have been dishonoring God and need a remedy, and want to change from self-directed living, and live a life that is honoring to God you can cry out to God for forgiveness, then receive His provision for your forgiveness, the savior Jesus. Ask Jesus to come and be your saviour and you will have eternal life.

In considering whether you want salvation or not, you should consider whether you want to follow Jesus/ honor God in your life.
Side 1- A case for NOT accepting God's peace-offering, plan of salvation for you.
A. If you really don't want God to cramp your style or lead your life, then you can't accept Jesus.
B. If you are still opposed/indifferent to God & His son Jesus, then you can't have this salvation until you are willing to bend your will.
C. If you still want to "sin" or do things you know are wrong (according to God's standard), and don't want any authority over you, then you are not ready to accept Jesus.
D. Being a Christian will mean being rejected & persecuted for your faith. They did it to Jesus, they will do it to you.
E. Suffering and having a burden for hurting people is a common by-product of being a Christian.
F. Accepting Jesus means that everything you have is at the disposal of God (your life, your resources, your dreams)

Side 2- The consequences of rejecting Jesus as savior and Lord are:
A. You have no peace with God (although you may FEEL that God has no problem with you, God does).
B. If you die, before you gain this peace with God, you know what the consequences are. In case you don't, it is eternal separation from God in a place of conscious torment (by the way, Satan does not run "Hell"). More on what Hell is like some other time, or you can email me for a study on Hell.
C. Contrary to religion, following Jesus is about freedom. Freedom from the consequences of sin both here & in the eternal state. Sin always brings death, and can be seen in life.
Examples of sins that lead to death-
God doesn't want you to be drunk- what are some negative consequences to being drunk? He says this to give you life, freedom, protection, wisdom.
God doesn't want you to sleep around- what are some destructive consequences that lead to bondage here?
God tells us it is not good to slander people-what are some destructive consequences that lead to bondage here?
God tells us not to rebel against authority- what are some destructive consequences that lead to bondage here?
Jesus tells us to "turn the other cheek"- what are some destructive consequences that lead to bondage if we don't? If we are people of revenge?
See what I mean here? Following Christ actually brings freedom, not bondage. However, to the person who prefers vice, then Christ will seem like one who puts chains on them.
D. Answered prayer.
E. Power for caring for others
F. Ability to understand the Scriptures
G. A helper (the Holy Spirit) to give you peace, comfort, perspective during hard times

3. So what does following Jesus look like today?
When you ask someone to be a Christian, so many different caricatures or straw-men come to mind. Guys standing on corners with signs, angry people, wimps, Jewish people, unstylish people, hypocrites, kind people, compassion, care, boring, fun, cowards, courageous, etc.
A. Submitting your will to God's will. This may mean God leading you to the mission field, it may mean God has you go to the college of your choice, into the career of your choice-then getting a job & making that your mission field. We should be open to where God may be leading us.
B. Perseverance. It means not denying Jesus when persecution comes. We stand with Jesus, even if it means we lose our job, friends, family. This is common in Muslim cultures. It means that work, etc. takes a lower priority to doing what Christ has called us to do. Because you are a Christian does NOT mean that you won't have any problems. In some respects, your problems may get worse, as mentioned above. We are still a work in progress (mentally, physically, emotionally, volitionally).
C. Lover of God. You will honor God in your thoughts, attitudes, words, deeds. No compromise! In fact, you do this not because you "should" but because you want to. Because you love God. Once again, God isn't impressed with our checklists of morality, he wants our hearts. For example, David struggled with a few very bad things, but still had a heart that strived for God. God was impressed with this. God will give you a heart for Him.
Part of this loving God is learning how to live for Him and how to represent Him well. It looks like having a desire to dig into Scripture to learn what God has to say & learn what God is like.
D. Caring for people. This means stepping outside of yourself and considering the interests of others above yourself. It may look like caring for a sick grandma, may look like volunteering at a soup kitchen/ crisis pregnancy center, going on trips to help people in Haiti, etc... It will look like getting involved in a local church and encouraging others in their faith by serving somewhere. Part of this is also a growing desire to invite others to enjoy the blessings of having peace and a relationship with God & his "called out ones"/Church.
E. Eternal rest. Death becomes a comma for the Christian. Afterward following Jesus means an eternity of rest & enjoying the presence of God with those who have trusted in Jesus as well, in a state unmarred by sin, death, destruction, and suffering. To the Jewish person, Heaven/paradise/Eden is likened to a fig tree- with thick leaves it is a place to rest, away from the intense heat of the sun. For the Christian, our current side of the comma is the closest we will get to Hell. For the lost, our current side of the comma is the closest they will get to peace & heaven.

Choose today, whom you will serve.

New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 (Lk 14:25–33). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Like a G6 (iced coffee edit)

Poppin Frappies in the ice, like a blizzard
When we buzz we do it right gettin buzzard
Sippin iced coffee in my ride, like Three 6
Now I’m feelin so fly like a G6
Like a G6, Like a G6
Now I’m feelin so fly like a G6

Verse 1

Gimme that St-Starbucks
Gimme that Ca-Caribou
Ladies love my style, at my table gettin wild
Get them bottles poppin, we get that drip and that drop
Now give me 2 more bottles cuz you know it don’t stop

(808) Heck Yeaa
Drink it up, drink-drink it up,
When tired girls around me, they be actin like they caffeinated
They be actin like they caffinated, actin-actin like they caffeinated
When sleepy girls around me actin-actin like they caffeinated

Poppin bottles in the ice, like a blizzard
When we drink we do it right gettin buzzard
Sippin cappies in my ride, like Three 6
Now I’m feelin so fly like a G6
Like a G6, Like a G6
Now I’m feelin so fly like a G6

Verse 2

Sippin on, sippin on capp, Ima ma-make it fizz
Girl i keep it gangsta, poppin cappies at the crib
This is how we live, every single night
Take that bottle to the head, and let me see you fly

(808) Heck Yeaa
Drink it up, drink-drink it up,
When tired girls around me, they be actin like they caffeinated
They be actin like they caffinated, actin-actin like they caffeinated
When sleepy girls around me actin-actin like they caffeinated

Poppin bottles in the ice, like a blizzard
When we drink we do it right gettin buzzard
Sippin cappies in my ride, like Three 6
Now I’m feelin so fly like a G6
Like a G6, Like a G6
Now I’m feelin so fly like a G6


Its that 808 bump, make you put yo hands up
Make you put yo hands up, put yo, put yo hands up
(You can’t Touch this)
Its that 808 bump, make you put yo hands up
Make you put yo hands up, put yo, put yo hands up
(You can’t Touch this)
Hell Yeaaa, Make you put yo hands up, put yo put yo hands up
Hell Yeaaa, Make you put yo hands up, put yo put yo hands up

Poppin bottles in the ice, like a blizzard
When we drink we do it right gettin blizzard
Sippin cappies in my ride, like Three 6
Now I’m feelin so fly like a G6
Like a G6, Like a G6
Now I’m feelin so fly like a G6

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

God's favor & human perspective

Psalm 5:12 "For it is You who blesses the righteous person, O Lord, You surround them with favor as with a shield."
I have a dear friend, who is a Christian. However, she really struggles with how God could love her. When she hears verses like, For God so loved the world..." she believes that it is true, except He doesn't love her. She feels unlovable.
One reason for this is because she had been praying for God to bring her a guy who she could love and be loved by. Soon afterward, it seemed that God brought a guy into her life (maybe He did, I dunno). Anyhow, things got a bit...let's say outside God's best for an unmarried couple, so they eventually broke up. Although she loved & had affection for him, she still felt a bit dirty for what she had done. Which helped her to eventually convince herself that she was dirty, and that God couldn't love her. Because she had violated the very thing He said not to do & because she had also violated herself.
Now she is growing in bitterness in God because God took the guy (like Jonah & the plant), and she is mad that God doesn't love her (which God never said, but she believes non-the-less).

Let me offer a different angle on this whole thing, in light of this verse I did for devotions this morning-"For it is You who blesses the righteous person, O Lord, You surround them with favor as with a shield."
I believe that God loves & is affectionate toward this friend, because she is a Christian and she has not yet hardened her heart toward God. I believe that God broke them up because they were unable to have an honorable relationship, so God was SHIELDING her (and probably him) from more trouble. He did that BECAUSE He loves her. I wish that she was able to understand this, but at this point she will not listen to anyone, and is not able to hear. Plus, I am afraid to pry.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Who does God hate? And a practical rabbit trail on Shepherding

Psalm 5:5- "You hate all who do iniquity, You destroy those who speak falsehood; You abhor the man of bloodshed & deceit."

Hate- could it be that hate is the opposite of God's favor or willingness to help? To be against, to oppose, to find aweful?
Then I see a verse like Romans 5:8- while we were still sinners, Christ died for the ungodly. His enemies, those who oppose Him.

In thinking about this & about people, I have to say that not all people are belligerent to God. Some are clueless, ignorant, lost. Which then takes me to Jesus' teaching on the heart soils. Here is a description of the 4:

1. Belligerent- hard, stubborn, on purpose against, obstinate, like a rock or beaten down path. These are the types that often killed the prophets. There are many I know like this. They, like Pharaoh, have hardened their hearts against God.
2. Shallow- tend to be emotion or fear driven. Emotions & thoughts are very powerful to them, and often they are carried away. They are kind of like boats in waves, or trees in wind. They get excited about God for a bit & at times, but then blow the other direction as the waves & ever changing winds of life carry them. It is hard for this type of heart/person to get footing & sometimes they are prone to follow emotional-driven cults or ideals.
3. Weedy soil- burdened & choked, worried, need-driven, their minds are always troubled by fears & problems. Occasionally they feel free to live & to follow God, but the load or overwhelmingness of life chokes out their progress & "sends them back to Go". Just when they think they are doing well, something else comes along and hamstrings them once more. Sadly, sometimes they give up hope.
4. Good soil- I can't judge why it is good except, that I don't believe any soil is good without God's hand on it. It is pliable, top soil who accepts the teachings of Jesus & wants to know & eager to grow crops.

#1 soil people grieve me. I think this is the type of person God speaks of here in Psalm 5:5. They are Psalm 2:1-3 types.

So, as a shepherd, or small group leader, or teacher, how do we:
1. Identify people's hearts? Or do we?
2. Care for people at each type? Or do we make a distinction?

I believe the Lord has called us to both broadcast seed (throw seed) and to plant seed.
Examples- if we are speaking to a crowd we throw seed. If we do more intimate teaching times we can plant seed and better cultivate the soil.

Judging a heart's health among individuals in your flock is hard & needs to be done with great care (need to read 1 Samuel 16:7, 2 Corinthians 5:16).
1. I know a teen who most would say is a #1 soil type, I would say (after spending a couple of years weekly with him) that he is a #2/3 type.
2, I know another teen who most would say is a #3,4 type. However, caring about this person & through years together I am very fearful that she is or is dangerously close to becoming a #1 heart type, who is good at acting like a #4.
3. I know two guys who people say have #4 hearts ("good hearts") but I know them well & fully believe that they are #1s all the way. However, some people are idealistic in this area and would probably even say that Satan had a "good heart" deep down inside. While I would like to believe this, sadly it is not reality.

So how do you serve & help people with each heart type?
1. You invite all, and pray for the hearts of all, that they would love Jesus and love others.
#1 soils- I THINK you pray for them, and be open to caring for them. They will not respond well to you or to God, because they are set against you and against God. God would really have to show them severe mercy. Sadly, it usually takes something very drastic in order to till up their soil.
#2 soils- I love to use the "Train" teaching (fact-faith-feeling), to help them set their cars in order. They need help with their thinking process, order, and logic. They need to learn that life is deeper than emotional truth. I need to think through this some more.
#3 soils- Need to iron out what is a normal load that everyone has to carry through life & what is a burden in which they need help...I know this sounds harsh. They will often need someone to enter their mess & walk with them through problems. They need a lot of care & a lot of time. I need to think through this some more to develop it.
#4 soils- Need to be given direction & then need someone to mentor them.

I believe these types can be lumped into 3 major types
1. Hard soil (#1)
2. Mixed soil (#2 #3)
3. Cultivated soil (#4)

I also believe that they can be lumped into 2 super types
1. Impermeable soil (#1) is not redeemed-because they are closed to God
2. Penetrable soil (#2,3,4) may or may not be redeemed-depends if Christ is in the soil. At times, the soil is recognized by the yield.

One note on this super types- note that yield only comes through faith. Taking Jesus as savior and lord is what redeems us, a redeemed person then should produce good works in joining with Jesus' mission of reaching others (read Ephesians 2:8-10).

Anyhow, these are my thoughts on this. May our hearts be top soil hearts! Always open to Jesus and desiring to produce a yield of good works.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Swingsets & Heaven

I will never forget the moment when my son, Benjamin, didn't want my help swinging on the swings. "I can do it myself", Benjamin told me. Similarly, that is how most of the world thinks about earning the right to be in Heaven. They wrongly believe that they can or have to do it themselves.

However, one day a young, what we would consider moral or devout man came up to Jesus and ask what He must "do" to enter Heaven. Jesus challenged Him and said, "Why do you call Me (referring to Jesus) good? No one is good except God alone." Jesus didn't even allow Himself the title of being good....which basically tells me that if salvation was up to me doing enough good to be considered good.....then I'm screwed! Jesus' disciples then asked Him, "Who can be saved?" Jesus' response was, "With man this is impossible." (Luke 18:19-27).

So, one day when you stand before God, He may ask, "Why should I let you into Heaven with Me?" What will your response be?

If it's, "Well I'm a pretty good person. Haven't stolen, murdered, or cheated anyone.", "I went to church every week & gave some money.", or "I took care of my ailing grandma.", then you will fall short because the "I did it myself" answer does not make you perfect. In order to enter Heaven, you have to be perfect. And unless you are either completely full of pride, or completely ignorant, you know that you are far from perfect. You, me, we all have missed the mark of perfection, we all are defiled, prone to sin, prone to be selfish at times, prone to think evil thoughts once in a while...right?

So what will you say to God on the day you meet Him? Either when Jesus returns or when you die. What will your answer be? Is it possible for anyone to be saved or are we all lost?

Email me, or send me a message for the answer if you want. Or here are a few passages from the Bible that give the answer. Don't take my word for it, look it up for yourself:
Romans 3:23
Romans 5:6-8
John 3:14-18
John 1:12
Romans 10:9-11
1 John 3:13

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Theology of the Church

What is the purpose of the church? What is the church suppose to be doing?
There are 5 types of churches that I see:
1. Seeker church- focused mainly on winning the lost (or shuffling the sheep).
2. Country Club church- focused on fellowship and feelin' good.
3. Holy Huddle church- focused on discipleship and being separate from the sinful activities of the world.
4. Liberal church- focuses on caring for the poor, needy, hurting.
5. Dead church- doesn't really excel in any of these areas. People go because they have always gone to that church. They don't want to be like "those other churches" so they don't really do anything.

Now let's look at the dark side of each:
1. Seeker church-usually struggles with discipleship or depth (um, kinda like GCC in Mishawaka).
2. Country Club church- people are struggling, dying, going to eternity apart from Christ everywhere & they don't seem to mind much. Keith Green drew a brilliant picture of this church. ------>
3. Holy Huddle church- similar to #2 but with less joy & don't even bother helping anyone, especially those outside of the church. They are typically so individually focused on their sin, that they don't have much time for others.
4. Liberal church- terrible theology, and some become so bad at theology that they forget about the depth, richness of being in Christ. Also, they sometimes neglect their personal holiness.
5. Dead church- there is no dark side seeing that it is all the same color of black. ......I have nothing else good to say about this church.

So, what is the church suppose to do? What is it good for? What purpose does it serve? Is it more than just hanging out with sinful people on Sunday morning? Why does God want us to be a part of this messy thing called "the body of Christ"?
Oh, ekklesia- is the Greek word for church. It means the "called out". It is those who are believers in, trusting in Jesus, the Son of God, as Christ (savior) and are striving to live for Him.

This study is a brief summary of my studies & is not an in depth blog. If you want a lot of supporting verses, let's go out for coffee & have fun digging through the text.

So what is the church suppose to do?
I see 5 primary thrusts.
1. Help people come to know Jesus, so they can have peace with God (Matthew 28).
2. Help people grow up in Christ (Matthew 28). What is commonly referred to as discipleship.
3. Equip & encourage Christians to serve (Ephesians 4).
4. Care for the needy, hurting, helpless (Matthew 22).
5. Live a holy life (Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 22).

In my opinion, all Christians need to focus on: 5,4,3 (at least in encouragement), 1
According to Ephesians 4, pastors need to focus primarily on: 3,2 while not neglecting the others. People in the church, who are not called to be pastors serve in 1,2,4. Pastors equip people that they can do this well.
So, if you are a Christian, you should be about living a holy life, caring for people, encourage people in their faith, help people grow in Christ (teach a class, lead a small group, help with VBS, start a sports ministry, etc), and reach your neighbors with the good news (neighborhood Bible Study, help a neighbor shovel the snow, missions, frequent a place to share Christ, etc).

Let the pastors focus on their thing & don't leave all the work up to them. I was just talking to a Catholic lady yesterday and she asked me why I don't see a priest for confession. I wanted to tell her that I believe in the priesthood of all believers, but didn't because I wanted to keep the focus on Jesus. We all can take part in serving God. Ephesians 4 says that pastors are to equip God's people for service. A pastor's job is to proclaim God's word & train YOU to serve in various ways.

Also, some people, who say they are Christians (cough), separate themselves from the local church & still think God is happy with them. Nope. God has called us to community. These people need to put away their angst & get plugged in. Is the church often annoying & full of hypocrites? I certainly hope so! Hypocrites & annoying people need Jesus & need to grow up in Him, just as we educated, sophisticated, near perfect people do (I smell a bit of sarcasm here).

Anyhow, in order to be a healthy church, which fires on all cylinders, we need to put focus on all 5 of these areas. In order to be a balanced Christian, we shouldn't put all of our focus on one area. So evaluate yourself to see if you are living out a healthy theology of what it means to be a Christian.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bedouin Hospitality

So we were hiking in Israel & came upon a Bedouin (Muslim) community. We asked if we could join them & they very quickly said yes. A few observations-first, the women immediately broke out a fire & cooked us some bread and hot tea. Second, the kids and women tried to communicate with us. We were welcome to stay for a long time. I found out later that we could have probably stayed for up to 3 days...all 18 of us. After 3 days they would start to put less sugar in the tea, which would be a hint that our time to stay had come to an end. However, we didn't stay for more than an hour.
These people didn't know us. We were of a different religion, custom, culture & who knows what our "business" was. However, in that culture, you take in guests because you never know if God is sending you a messenger.
In the Bible you see this with Abraham & Sarah (Genesis 18). You see this principle taught in Hebrews 13:2 and Romans 12:13; 1 Timothy 5:10; 1 Peter 4:9 and more. Jesus taught that we are to even love our enemies (Matt. 5:43-44)and that a faithful person needs to invite strangers in (Matthew 25:35). Having strangers stay in your home should be normal for Christians; we should look forward to it.

Excuses people give to not obey Christ in this area:
1. But what if they are dangerous? Then use common sense.
2. But they may steal something! So what. Then hide what is valuable to you. Better yet, sell the stuff that is expensive and give to the poor. What about being more concerned with saving something...their soul?.
3. But I am not a person who likes guests. Well, grow up in your faith. Hospitality (which means inviting strangers in) is a normal Christian thing. Chances are you have bought into some of our cultures problems. You need to spend some time with the Lord and work this out so that you are one who likes guests, or at least is open to having strangers in when an opportunity comes.
4. But they might be dirty. Probably. That is why God gave you money. You can clean the stuff AFTER they leave.
5. But God has called me to be a good steward of my stuff & this is bad runs the risk of damage. See #2. I personally think that Christians should put less value on stewardship & much more value on people and advancing his kingdom.
6. What might people think? Well, this would set a great example for you to follow.
7. I don't have the time. Perhaps we US people should be less busy and "tithe" our time to do things such as these.
8. I am out of town. That is understandable.
9. There are more important things to focus on. No, I disagree. People are to be #2 on our list of important things. Remember what Jesus said about the sheep & the goats. This is a common conservative Christian response. Well, we aren't called to be conservative but generous.
A good illustration of this is the Hebrew Bible law. Farmers were to leave the corners of their crops for the poor. In other words, they weren't to harvest all the stuff they planted. That way they could help care for the poor.

Hospitality is a great way to care for your neighbors & to share the love of Jesus with them. Who knows, they may accept Jesus because of YOU. And who knows, they just may be an angel or more yet, Jesus.

Convinced? Contact

Monday, August 2, 2010

Alright, Jesus is messing me up

So, this morning I am reading Luke 6:20-26, and on several levels this is breaking down a lot of the "religion" that I have been taught. Here is the passage:
And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
22 “Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.
23 “Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.
25 “Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
26 “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.
So I used to actually read verse 24 like this, "But woe to you who are rich(er than Jeff Korhorn), for you are receiving your comfort in full." I also took this & have read this context, especially verses 20-21 as those who are spiritually poor, hungry, weeping. However, that interpretation doesn't make any sense with the rest of the context. Because that would mean that those in verse 25 who are spiritually rich, spiritually well-fed, and spiritually happy now will suffer later. Is Jesus saying that there is punishment for those who are spiritually vibrant? I don't see it.
Here Jesus seems to be talking about physically poor/rich, hungry/well-fed, weeping/laughing.

So is it wrong to be rich? Is it wrong to be well-fed? Is it wrong to laugh? What is rich? What is well-fed? What does He mean by "laugh"?

A few thoughts, as I think through this out loud on my blog-
1. This verse in Mark comes to mind right away.
And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
35 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.
36 “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?
37 “For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
I think Jesus is teaching, as He typically does, at the heart of man. He's challenging our hearts.
Possibly, and this is the part that is bugging me, is He teaching that we should give up our excess: our possessions, our food, our money, our hearts to those in need? Then, what is excess?
For the sake of not becoming a checklist, I am gonna keep what I think I should do to myself. But I will say that I think I need to live radically different. I tend to live in fear of not having enough, I am often discontent (needing just one more thing), we (by looking at our weight) spend more than enough on food and I am probably overweight because I eat when nervous & bored. All that to say, I am often self-centered. There are people in Findlay living on the street & the "danger patrol" says that I shouldn't have anyone live at our house because they might kill my children. To me, the people I see on the street, would not & last I checked, God was sovereign & good. We can always find excuses not to do good.

Anyhow, there is a lot for me to think about. Jesus still continues to mess up MY life.

New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 (Mk 8:34–37). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 (Lk 6:20–26). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dealing with People

Alright, this is more of a self-study for me. Dr. Perry, from Moody Bible Institute, gave me this passage once to preach on. I knew at that time, and I know now that this is one of the hardest passages for me to live out; one I continually need to work on.

2 Timothy 2:23-25
"But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.
The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,"

1. When a Christian ("Lord's servant") is quarrelsome, rude, impatient, harsh they are not being a good representative/ambassador for Christ. They are allowing the impulses of the flesh to control them instead of God's Spirit. I know I struggle with this from moment to moment. I strive to be controlled by the Spirit, but often surrender to the strong pull of the flesh-impulses.
2. Refuse foolish and ignorant speculations (knowing they produce quarrels)-
μωρός mōrós; fem. mōrá, neut. mōrón, adj. Silly, stupid, foolish, from which the Eng. word “moron” is derived. Used of persons meaning morally worthless (Matt. 5:22). It is a more serious reproach than raká (4469), raca, which scorns a man by calling him stupid, whereas mōrós scorns him concerning his heart and character. Used of things (2 Tim. 2:23 “foolish and ignorant questionings” [a.t.]; Titus 3:9). In Matt. 5:13 and Luke 14:34, it refers to salt that has lost its flavor, become tasteless (mōraínō [3471]).
ἀπαίδευτος apaídeutos; gen. apaideútou, masc.–fem., neut. apaídeuton, adj. from the priv. a (1), without, and paideúō (3811), to instruct, chastise, correct. Unlearned, untaught, ignorant, stupid, foolish. Of persons (Sept.: Prov. 8:5; 15:15; 17:21). Only in 2 Tim. 2:23 referring to nonsensical, i.e., inept, trifling, absurd disputations.
So basically don't get into moronic, worthless, morally empty discussions and don't argue things you are ignorant about or don't know much about. Don't get into stupid arguments that don't really mean anything. Avoid, decline, refuse, don't engage in these type of "conversations", they aren't in any way beneficial. Don't only not die on these hills, but don't even step foot on these hills.

3. "The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all"- first, I am a servant by choice. I have decided to take the name of Christ upon myself, my life. Furthermore, God has allowed me (for whatever reason, or no reason-certainly by no merit of my own) to bear His name.
μάχομαι; μάχη, ης f: serious conflict, either physical or non-physical, but clearly intensive and bitter—‘to clash severely, struggle, fight.’
A Christian (follower of Jesus), should not get into bitter conversations/fights/conflicts with people. They should, rather, strive to be at peace with all men (especially those who are in opposition! or from a different viewpoint) (Hebrews 12:14). Our role is to be not quarrelsome but to be kind to all (ex spouses, people of different worldviews, people who hate you, family, co-workers, your boss, your teacher, your teammates, the opposing team, etc.).
Kind is a hard word for me to wrap my head around. Is it kind to be direct in your approach (commonly my approach) or does kind also include a soft, around the horn approach or a gentle approach-direct but gentle (ie ask good questions)?
It is to be gentle, mild, easy toward all. This is hard for me because I have an intense, direct style. I get nervous when I have to confront someone on an issue and tend to go direct, to dive in, to "Geronimo" the situation. So pray for me about this, that I would be more of a kind, gentle person (kinda like Jon Jeter if you know him).
"with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth"
Gentleness- πραΰτης, ητος f; πραϋπαθία, ας f: gentleness of attitude and behavior, in contrast with harshness in one’s dealings with others—‘gentleness, meekness, mildness.’
πραΰτης: μετὰ πάσης ταπεινοφροσύνης καὶ πραΰτητος ‘be always humble and meek’ Eph 4:2.
πραϋπαθία: δίωκε … ὑπομονήν, πραϋπαθίαν ‘strive for … endurance and gentleness’ 1 Tm 6:11.
In a number of languages ‘gentleness’ is often expressed as a negation of harshness, so that ‘gentleness’ may often by rendered as ‘not being harsh with people,’ but gentleness may also be expressed in some instances in an idiomatic manner, for example, ‘always speaking softly to’ or ‘not raising one’s voice.’
The picture in the context is of meeting the opposition of aggressive, controversial people, absorbing the pain without losing one’s temper and lashing back at them. People are like eggs, and talk like lions. They may boast of how great they are, but often it is to cover frailness. People are sensitive, brittle, hurt easily & deeply. People should get a tat that says, "Fragile: Handle with Care". I need to value people enough to deal with them gently.

If you are a Christian, and your "wiring" makes this difficult, like it is for me, then let's work on this together and be the representatives God wants us to be, so we can represent Him well. With God's help.

Liefeld, W. L. (1999). The NIV Application Commentary: 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (261). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament : Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (748). New York: United Bible societies.

Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 1: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament : Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (494). New York: United Bible societies.
Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 (2 Ti 2:23–26). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.