Friday, November 30, 2012

Mission & Core Values

Companies and Churches are known for these. So I thought it would be good to reveal my own.

Answers the question, "What do I do?" or "What is my Purpose in Life?":

My focus in life is to make disciples of Jesus.
My desire is to tell people, "Come, follow Jesus with me."
I get it from Matthew 28.

Core Values
Answers "How do I do what I do?" or the manner in which I do things or my ethic. I have 8.

1. Accurate. I will strive to accurately handle God's word.
2. Creative. I will creatively present God's word.
3. Obedient. I desire to be obedient to God.
4. Pure. I will strive to live with purity of character.
5. Care. I will care for the person in front of me.
6. Respect. I will respect the sanctity of life.
7. Compassionate. I will remember that people are on a journey-give them time to grow.
8. Thankful. I choose to have thankfulness for all God has done to me through Jesus.

All of these come from Matthew 22.

Feel free to hold me to it.  What is your mission and core values?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Success in Preaching

Question: How did your sermon go?
I hate that question. 

But to answer, success for me is: 
1) Is God being highlighted (Jn. 3:30)?
2) Am I depending on God, not myself? 
3) Am I handling the Text accurately? 
4) Am I letting the Spirit convict & not me being heavy handed?
5) It isn't boring, but engaging. 
6) 1 Peter 4:11, am I preaching God's word with authority and confidence?
7) Hebrews 10:24-25, is it encouraging & empowering to the Church?
8) My wife approves.

That is what goes through my mind in preparing and delivering a sermon.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

From Hurt to Healing: Dealing with "Enemies"

Title: From Hurt to Healing
Text: Matthew 5:38-48

Have you ever been hurt by someone before?  I mean, really hurt?  Deeply. Have you ever felt the sting of hate from another?

We live in a world that is affected by The Fall, therefore, if we haven’t already, at some time in our life, someone will hurt us deeply.  Maybe it will be a broken relationship, maybe it will be someone who seems motivated by vindictiveness.  Quite possibly it may be something as easy as a misunderstanding or miscommunication.  But whatever that is, we will sooner or later be hurt by another person, to some degree. Sadly, none of us are immune to this. And that goes for believers too.  In fact, Jesus said in John 16:33, “In this world, expect trouble.” He also said, “If they hated me, people will also hate you (Mt. 10:22). 

Q: So, how do we treat these people who hurt us?  What is God’s prescription for this pain? 
This morning, I want to dig into this with you, but before we do, in your bulletin is a place to take notes.  Please take a look at this, and grab a pen.  I want you to first, make a list of people you would consider an enemy OR someone you have been hurt by. (give time to write down a few)

Book: Matthew 5:38-48 (NIV)

2. Revenge: What the Law says, what Jesus says...(Ex. 21:24, Mt. 5:38)
Eye for Eye
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 

-Exodus 21:22-24
22 “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth,hand for hand, foot for foot,

-Leviticus 24:18-20
18 Anyone who takes the life of someone’s animal must make restitution—life for life. 19 Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury.

Notice: These passages never suggest personal revenge.  Rather, this is the Law, which is establishing the Judicial/Legal system for the nation of Israel.  In culture, it is natural to seek revenge, but Jesus is about to take us deeper.  To an unnatural place, a place of dependence

39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

39-Resist- anthistami (anti histamine)- to oppose, set self against
Q: What does it mean to turn the other cheek? 
1. A slap to dishonor someone was done with the backhand.
2. The side of honor is the right hand (ie Jesus seated at the right hand of God).
3. To backhand someone on the face, especially the right side was to dishonor them.  In other words, if someone dishonors, disrespects, or humiliates you (ie gossip, slander, pinch out of relationships, etc).
4. [demonstrate] To “turn the other cheek” is to literally turn your back on them.  Instead of resisting it is to blow it off & continue on your way.

40-41- Q: Why is this so hard sometimes? 
I think because A) we want to be respected, B) we fear being taken advantage of, C) we have a high view of justice (vs. understanding God will care for us, God sees what happens, God will take care of our reputation)
a strong person/a person strong in their walk with Jesus, should be able to take some blows in life. 
[Illustration of the Bouncy House]

42- Q: What does this mean?
How does this fit into the whole evil person wanting to dishonor or use you?
-Spurgeon, “A miser has no place in the family of God.”
*Be willing to be taken advantage of.  Holy smokes is this hard for some more than others!  It goes against our grain.  It is spiritual.
How is this possible?  I struggled with this.  And I believe it comes down to a perspective (Eph. 6:12).  People are not the enemy! (read 2 Timothy 2:23-26)

Jesus is going to take us deeper…

3. Enemies: What the Law says, what Jesus says...(Lev. 19:18, Mt. 5:43)
Love for Enemies
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 

Leviticus 19:16-18
16 “‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.
“‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.
17 “‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.
18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

*According to Culture: But, it doesn’t say we have to like our enemies!  Especially those nasty Gentiles! So, treating enemies poorly eventually worked into the culture (see also the Quran on Revenge).  They people were comfortable with bending the Law to fit their own lifestyles.  This is nothing uncommon to do.

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 perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

44- Q: Why?
What does “love” mean here? Agapao- to be fond of, love dearly, to treat well
Love looks like…
-Looking out for their well-being, although your flesh would rather look for an opportunity for a “teaching moment”.
-[Suzie & lattes] It is brining your secretary a latte, when you’d rather bring her a piece of your mind.
-Speaking well of someone who treats you poorly, even though others are inviting you to speak poorly.
-It is not taking revenge or pot shots, even though they would feel so good.  Instead, we release this person & this situation to the Lord and allow Him to take care of business.
-It is laying down our pride & being like Jesus who died for us while we were still his enemies. Allowing God to take care of our reputation.

James 5:16- GOD answers the righteous person’s prayers
[Joe (Chicago), God will enlarge your heart.]

Why do these things?  What does it help?
We are called to be strong in our faith and have a mindset like Jesus.  For example, Jesus on the cross, “Father, forgive them. For they don’t know what they are doing.”

Some people don’t really understand what they are doing.  We do, and we need to step up and be strong, trusting Jesus’ wisdom on things.

4. Live it out: What does Jesus call us to?
[4 wheeling with Ellie & how following Jesus can go against the grain of our flesh]
1) Look at your list again, in light of this passage, how does God want us to treat these people?  Do it.
2) Let’s pray & ask God to take care of business with them, and to judge between us.  Then give God time to work, just like he did in the situations I told you about.  It is hard, but it is good & will alleviate a lot of stress from your life.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Old Man & The Ring

A discouraged young man went to see his mentor one day.
"I am a complete failure & feel worthless." he said.
The old man said, "I am busy.  You can either come back or you can help me finish my work so we can spend some time together."
"Sure", the young man excitedly said.
The old man turned and handed the younger a gold ring, "Take this to town and sell it.  Take no less than 1 gold coin for it."
The young man took the ring and went to town.  After several hours of asking people to buy the ring, he was never offered more than a couple pieces of silver.  Feeling even more rejected, the young man returned.
"No one was willing to pay the price for this gold ring", the young man told his mentor.
"Then get on the horse and take the ring to the jeweler.  He will know what the ring is worth" , said the old man.  "But don't sell it to him, no matter what he offers you.  Then come bring the ring back to me."

The young man got on the horse and headed back into town.  He came into the jewelers shop and asked the man to assess the ring.  "If you sell it to me now, I will give you 63 gold coins for it", the jeweler said.
"I was told not to sell it", claimed the young man.
"Well", said the jeweler.  "I could give you seventy gold coins, but it will take a couple days."
The young man thanked him & returned to the mentor.
"What did you discover", said the mentor.
"The gold ring was worth seventy coins", said the young man.
"Yes", the jeweler calmly said, while working in his shop, "a jeweler knows the true value of the ring, unlike the common men you saw in the market.  Never forget that", the old man put down his tools and turned toward the younger. "You are looking for people to give you your value or to notice what you are worth, instead of considering the Master's evaluation. If you want to see what you are really worth, look at the cross. And never stop looking at it.  People will never recognize your true value.  Only God can see that."