Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Colossians: Christ the Fountainhead of Life Week 1

Colossians: Christ the Fountainhead of Life Colossians 1:1-12 Week 1

Have you ever had a great shower? that shower in the morning that just wakes you up and is so refreshing that you didn't want to get out. That shower is refreshing because that shower head is the source to you of wonderful hot water refreshment! Oh yea makes me want to take a shower right now? Just as that shower head is the source of that nice shower, Jesus is the fountainhead like a shower in the morning when your butt is dragging. It gives life it starts me off like wow what a beautifully awakening thing. The gospel is Jesus in his supremacy, his knowledge,many things good or worthy of praise ultimately come from Him, and will return to him as a fragrant offering of praise. He is like the shower head or the fountainhead that awakens us to everything. I am going to do a series on Colossians, and in it I will seek to show you that he is the source of all life. Lets have a look

Objective statement: we all can be deepened in gospel awakedness by seeing and savoring our positional status in Christ the fountainhead of life as seen in Colossians 1:1-14. Or first position in the gospel is...

Position #1. We are GREETED in the Gospel: 
I love the German culture of greeting. Every time I talk on the phone with German family or see them they greet me. It is awesome at first I did not know what to do with a greeting, But after a while I learned that they are just thinking about you America is not a culture of greeting and maybe should be. "Gruß Gott" in the south of Germany is a typical greeting it literally means Greet God! What a greeting! The point of sending a greeting is that you know that people are thinking about you. The gospel of Grace and peace means that God himself is thinking about you!!! He is sending His Grace and Peace to you!!! Paul starts off there. You must start off there. You must know that God himself is greeting you!!!

What are the greetings of the gospel. How does the gospel arrive to us? 
-Grace to us from God: undeserved, unearned, favor and kindness
-Peace to us from God: that passes all understanding. And in Christ God has made peace between us and God. whereas before there was animosity or wrath, but He has greeted us in the peace of the Gospel through Christ!

His greeting goes...
1) Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2) To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. 

Position #2. We are made THANKFUL and AFFECTIONATE in the Gospel 
Have you ever noticed how American pop culture is not a culture of affection, but a sort of schizophrenic emotionally backward culture. Every reality show must have at least one emotional breakdown in a tirade, or a weepy mess.
And then when someone has a real emotional moment of compassion, hope, joy, affection, by way of a real emotional response, they are lambasted or at least feel obligated to apologize for their 'unprofessional meltdown. What a double standard! We encourage immature emotional tirades, and handcuff people from real emotional connection. The gospel however is a totally counter-cultural thing. We are freed from emotional dependence and immaturity into a freedom to be truly thankful, and affectionate. Paul is "always" thanking God for the people at Colossae, and expresses a deeply affectionate posture toward them and those involved in their "love in the Spirit"

He writes...
3) We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4) since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5) because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6) which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, 7) just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf 8) and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. 

3. We are QUALIFIED in the gospel: 
Christ through his death on the cross qualifies us to be brothers with Him! 

After Jesus resurrection he tells the women at the grave to go tell his 'brothers' that he is alive and "I ascend to my father and your father"

"Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her." (John 20:15-18 ESV)

Paul describes our Qualifications in the gospel this way...
9) And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10) so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11) May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12) giving thanks to the Father, who has "QUALIFIED YOU" to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13) He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14) in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

G2427: ἱκανόω
Pronounced hik-an-o'-o
to enable, i.e. qualify:--make able (meet)

Because of Christ we are qualified and enabled to become His brother and to share in the complete inheritance that he will enjoy...
Romans 8:17 says "And Since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering"

In closing we see deepened in Gospel awakedness by understanding our positions in the gospel better we are...
1) Greeted by God in the gospel, 2) We are made Thankful and Affectionate in the gospel, and 3) We are Qualified By Christ to stand before God  and He gives us everything we need in the gospel. If this were all the gospel that God would have given to us, it alone would be enough However, the extent of the gospel goes, deeper, richer, wider, and higher than we could ever imagine. And so we rest in this little revealed goodness, knowing it is only the tip of the iceberg of the glorious riches in Christ.feel free to respond to His goodness as revealed in the gospel by worshiping with the song below...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Alabaster Worship

Have you ever had a terrible experience of worship? Why do you think is was terrible? I have! I have had awful experiences. I have felt disconnected, I have felt lackluster, I have felt many times like the songs were not my style. I have felt depressed, sad, proud, sinful, and otherwise disengaged. Many of these times in worship were definitely when I should have humbled myself even though I was feeling something else and taken the opportunity to worship with abandon. That is why the story of the woman who anointed Jesus with an alabaster jar of expensive perfume is so refreshing and inspiring to a worship-less person like me. It makes me believe a person as disengaged, judgmental, and harsh as I am might be capable of authentic worship. Worship is for the needy. Please take a moment and read or re-read the passage in Matthew 26:6-13 that describes the story where this woman anointed Jesus with her costly perfume.
"Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, “Why this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”"
Here's what I observed in the passage.
1. Worship is costly (or at least should be).
Notice this woman brings two things into the dinner meeting at Simon's house. First, she brings an alabaster jar. This item in that culture would surely have been very expensive. The Mark account says the woman broke the jar! It's as if the perfume meant for Jesus could not be contained in any vessel, and it must be let out so it can perform the worship and fulfill its purpose. Mark and Matthew also noticed the vial/jar contained "very costly perfume." I have noticed in my own life when I was really giving Jesus everything in worship, those were the moments when giving worth to God usually cost me something. It cost me something in money, time, position, plaudits, social standing, reputation, or something even more valuable. But true worship is finding value in the one who is only supremely valuable. The woman here gave a beautiful gift in the alabaster which was very costly by human standards, but pales in comparison the how costly our master is in His majesty. He alone is supremely valuable, and no gift no matter how valuable could begin to show His supreme worth, but we can and should try. Nothing is ever wasted which is bestowed on Jesus, but the disciples cry "Foul." They say "what a waste!" And Jesus rebukes them.
2. Worshiplessness is often disguised in religiosity.
Notice as the disciples cry "Foul," they say this perfume could have been sold and "the money given to the poor." These guys are thinking along great religious lines, but they are just probably mad they didn't have the idea to anoint Jesus, so they make a super religious comment. They firstly call this act of worship a "waste"; again nothing is ever wasted that is bestowed on Jesus. Jesus hears our faintest cry, and receives our greatest gifts. Whatever those gifts may be, none are wasted that are given in a true heart of gratitude. The disciples cry against the waste of worship, and in the same breath give a religious antithesis to worship: works. This woman finds it easy to worship, and the men find it difficult. I have found that women many times are more capable of high praise. Please do not get me wrong; men can be found also to praise God with great affection, but that is what we as men have to tap into. We need to tap into our affectionate side. This woman tapped into a deep affection for the Lord and unashamedly, unabashedly, and publicly showed her affection. Sometimes I have found liturgy within religion masks an affection the original authors of that liturgy experienced as they wrote those words. How can you strip down the trappings of religion through dead works to authentically, affectionately, and passionately worship the living Christ?
3. Worship is the point of the Gospel.
Since Jesus is greater than all things in the universe (Colossians 1:15-29; 2:2-3) and His death is the greatest thing that has happened in human history, then it makes sense that such a great act of worship by preparing Jesus for burial would be mentioned "wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world." I asked myself what was so special about this one act that it would be mentioned in all the world hand in hand with the gospel? The answer is that worship is the point of the Gospel. Proclamation of the Gospel exists because worship does not exist yet in every place in the world. Where worship does not exist, then Gospel proclamation must happen, and what is the message of the Gospel? Receive Christ and worship Him! He is Lord and he's worthy of your alabaster jar, and much, much more than you could ever give Him. Jesus' rebuke of the disciples was this: "She has done a good thing." Christ has done a good thing to us on the cross by receiving us as brothers and making God our Father. So what good thing can we do to Him in response? You cannot clap loud enough, shout loud enough, sing beautifully enough, dance hard enough, or play skillfully enough. As David said, "I could become even more undignified than this." My deepest and most undying affection should only and always be reserved for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
So clap, shout, sing, dance, play, weep, kneel, lay prostrate, raise hands, bow, meditate, smile, laugh, rejoice, and break your alabaster jar on the feet of our Lord. Know that nothing is ever wasted which is bestowed on Jesus out of love. This song "Alabaster" by Rend Collective might assist you in pouring your perfume on Jesus. If I worshiped this way every time I had opportunity, then I would never have a bad experience in worship because it's more about Jesus than me!


Friday, February 28, 2014

Christ is the Fountainhead of Knowledge

Christ the Fountainhead of Knowledge and Life

I have been thinking and meditating on this concept lately. Jesus is the source or fountainhead of all Wisdom, Knowledge, and Life. I have come across several scriptures that flesh out this idea...

For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light. (Psalms 36:9 NASB)

"For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns That can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13 NASB)

O Lord, the hope of Israel, All who forsake You will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, Because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, even the Lord. (Jeremiah 17:13 NASB)

And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, (Hebrews 5:9 NASB)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5, 10, 14 NASB)

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. (Colossians 1:15-20, 28, 29 NASB)

Christ is the fountainhead of all knowledge and wisdom so transformational education services/christian education must and can only originate with Him (Colossians 1:15-20, 28,29) . Personal transformation starts at salvation and continues in a person until they have been transformed into the likeness of Christ on the great day of transformation at the resurrection of the dead when we shall all 'be like Him'.
Because there is none wiser, none stronger, none more glorious than any teacher in all the universe as our creator. Only He can exegete and expound on any mystery in the entire universe. So then He must not just be referred to and given lip service within our curriculums/education, but He must be, and is the center of our entire curriculum in transformational educational services/christian education. He is the fountainhead of ALL knowledge and wisdom, and without Him we actually do not have true wisdom because the "Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of wisdom". If He is the creator and sustainer of all life in the universe (see Colossians 1:15-29) then He is The Lord, master, inventor, initiator, creator, author, and sustainer of math, science, language, history, culture, philosophy, and any other system of learning that we have currently, or will establish in the future.
Therefore we must not just add Him as the tack on to our subjects within transformational educational services or christian education. As teachers we must always look to Him to illuminate our darkened minds to understand the deep mysteries of His world, and universe which He has so wonderfully made. This means 'setting apart Christ continually as Lord of our hearts', so that we may continue to keep Him as The Lord of our subjects. 
You cannot be a teacher in a transformational education or christian education without entering this process of transformation yourself. This brings me to our part in transformation that is described in Romans 12:1-2 the word transformed there is 'Metomorphoo'. It is what it sounds like, a metamorphosis. A living thing being changed into something of completely different quality. 

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God,  which is  your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1, 2 NASB)

μεταμορφόω is the greek if you are interested or met-am-or-fo'-o meaning to transform (literally or figuratively, "metamorphose") to change, transfigure, transform.
The transforming power is not a thing to be sought out by us because we are great and inspired individuals. Notice it is something that we seek by the 'Mercies of God'. We seek transformation in Him because He is a merciful God who will certainly do it in us because we seek it from Him. And that metamorphosis that we seek will certainly happen according to that great mercy which He is ready to disseminate and extend to us. 
The way this presenting of our bodies should be understood in the greek is as a 'one time' act. I had been a Christian for 20 years or so at the time I understood this. I had never presented my body to God. I went home to my little apartment and was studying the passage again. I realized I must do this too, so I kicked the chair out from under me made some space in my apartment and laid down on my face prostrate and presented my body to God. Things almost immediately changed for me. I was a different person physically. I had given God my body for Him to do with what He wanted from now on. I was transformed. I was 'metamorphooooooed'. And now anything I do physically I do as a response to Him having ownership of my body and soul. People used to ask me when I played basketball "who do you play for" (They don't ask me anymore. They usually ask me to get off the court now). So back in the day, I would say "I play for Jesus". Before I had only played for my own fleeting glory, and now I do everything I do, physically, for the fountainhead. Have you ever once and for all presented your body to God as an act of worship? If not do it today! It will transform you!
The other two aspects of transformation are not conforming to patterns of this world and renewing your mind. What pattern of this world do you fall prey to easiest and what mercy of God are we leaning on to resist that pattern of ungodliness? After we move away from the pattern of this world, we should not leave those minds, as empty slates. We must renew them into usable vessels for The Lord, creator, and sustainer of all life. Remember we are leaning on the 'fountainhead of all knowledge and wisdom' for the renewal of our minds, how can we then fail as transformed people? It would be impossible because the 'fountainhead' of life and knowledge will not fail, He has not failed, and He cannot and will not ever fail. How then can we fail in this transformation process if we are yielded to Him being transformational agents when Christ our greatest and most wise transformer is our source and the fountainhead for our own personal transformation? We cannot fail! while keeping Jesus at the center of our own transformation! By the mercies of God, He will transform us, and in turn we can and should transform those around us. This is the basis and source of our work in any field. and He will certainly do it when we pursue Him with abandon! I want to give you a chance to respond to the fountainhead in worship. This song is called 'Pursuit'. So pursue Him as your great fountainhead and sing to Him!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Should Christians Resist the Antichrist and End Times?

I saw a interview of Dr. Robert Jeffress on The O'Reilly Factor. He was discussing His new Book "Perfect Ending". He is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas Texas. I do not like naming or labeling people usually in things that I write, but today I thought it appropriate. I was and have been blessed by the ministry of Dr. Jeffress in the past. I have listened to him and followed the building project of First Baptist. I appreciate that they stayed in the city instead of moving to the burbs. I also appreciate his boldness in proclaiming the gospel. If you did not see the interview please take a moment and watch it here...

I thought he was very eloquent, and explained the end times well. I was glad that he distanced himself from saying anything like Obama being the Antichrist. Being in Ministry and attending church for my entire life. I have had my steady diet of end times teaching, Bible Studies on Revelation, and novels such at Left Behind, among a smorgasbord of end times books series. Christians are fascinated with the topic. If you want to be noticed in the Christian world then maybe write a book on the topic. But something seemed off to me last night as I watched this interview. Why are we as Christians fascinated with the end times? Then I asked the question, "Should we resist the Antichrist and the onset of the end times?" I think one of the main reasons we are fascinated with the end times is because we love this world too much. Let me explain. The difficulty and hardship during the end times will come before the return of Christ, and we like to talk about it because we want to resist that evil end coming. We want to resist the Antichrist coming into this world because we as Christians want to resist evil, but my question last night was "What happens after the Antichrist returns?" JESUS comes back!!! So I thought as I was considering our fascination with opposing "one world governments" it seems misplaced. Christians who love to talk about the end of this world and seek to oppose politically or otherwise the power that would lead to an Antichrist rising up, seem to want this world to continue in its current pattern as if this world were better than HEAVEN! When Christ will return He will bring with Him the New Jerusalem (which will be better than our wildest imaginations) down from heaven and He will reign on this earth! setting all things right that have been wrong. It seems to me like people who oppose the end could also be accidentally opposing the return of the KING! They like this world too much. As Christians this world is not our home. I want Heaven. I want the rewards that come with it, as Hebrews 11:6 says "Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him". Nothing we can do in this world will prevent God's end coming. It will happen as He has pre-ordained it. The Antichrist will rise as God has allowed it, and Jesus will return as the Godhead have been planning it from eternity past!

As Christians talk about the Antichrist it seems like we also seem to be fighting it because we are afraid of what those terrible days will bring. We should not be afraid of this Antichrist. He is a vanquished foe. We can even talk about him in the past tense "For lo his doom is sure". Jesus will come and destroy him (2 Thess 2:8). Just like his death on the cross destroyed the works of the Devil, he also will destroy that servant of the Devil, the Antichrist. 1 John 3:8 says,

"Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil." 

We should not resist the Antichrist because Jesus has done this work already! He is a defeated foe! To be clear I do not want you to think I am welcoming the evil of the end times. I write this to help us be prepared for the evil and persecution that believers will surely face. However our strength will rise from leaning on Christ to pull us through and strengthen us for the evils that we will face in those times.

Lastly, should we resist the proliferation of overreaching government or the onset of a one world government? Should we resist this foreordained outcome? I am not aware of any command from the Lord for doing this. However we are commanded to make Christ known in the nations (Matthew 28-18-20). And Jesus does warn us that we will be persecuted (Matthew 24:9). All this energy that we exert in the direction of fighting and delaying the inevitable, I believe distracts us and takes us away from the task Jesus has given us of making his victory on the cross, and imminent return known among the nations. As our great 'end times' book Revelation tells us every tribe and nation and tongue will worship the Lamb before the throne in heaven, 

"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands." 

and so our part in that is to make Christ known among the nations so that He can return, and every nation can worship Him too. The reason that He wants the nations to know Him is that they are made up of people, and He loves people.

I am glad that I saw this compelling and thought provoking interview, so that I can realign myself with the great commission of Christ rather than the great commission to oppose the Antichrist and overreaching government. We trust Christ. a bulwark never failing. Let us rest in His strength that will one day will make itself plain!

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Why Does God Hide Wisdom From the Wise?

"At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way! “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:25-30 NLT)

I had always wondered why Jesus said these words found in Matthew 11. It has always puzzled me and even made me think in the past that God was mean. Why would God hide the wisdom of repentance? Aren't all people asked to turn to God and receive salvation? This almost seems out of character for God, or rather of my impression of what God's character should be. He has hidden these things pertaining to salvation from the wise and clever and revealed them to the childlike? really? Wow that almost seems elitist in the opposite direction. And it occurred to me the other day that it has nothing to do with us. First of all, it has everything to do with God and His goodness. Secondly its more about about God than us, and Thirdly ITS MORE ABOUT GOD THAN US!!!

God hides wisdom from the wise because it's more about God than us. What will we say if we see wisdom revealed through the already wise? We might say, "Wow that person is really wise! and becoming wiser. Isn't God so blessed that He has then on His team?" But God reveals wisdom through babes and the unwise because when we all see the unwise and babes exhibiting wisdom as revealed through salvation, then we will know it could have only come through God. We will give glory to God because we realize and know that this particular wisdom could have only come from God! What "things" is Jesus talking about here? God reveals to the unwise and babes certain 'things'? What things did God reveal to babes and the unwise? I believe that the context is salvation. This makes it all the greater that God only reveals it to those of us on the unwise spectrum! I'm very grateful for that personally, more than that I'm grateful because it shows Gods great grace. We could never earn that right to receive this great wisdom of God that leads to salvation. He could only grant it to us through his great kindness and goodness. As Romans 2:4 says, "Don't you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can't you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?" I'm pretty glad it's up to the kindness of God to lead me to repentance because If salvation were up to me it would be like a playground pickup basketball game. I would pick the most talented, the tallest, or at least the ones who look like they can play (ironically I have picked some people who I thought were great players but were really posers). But God picks the least and worst and most unworthy! He goes after the marginalized, the hurt the broken, the needy, the unwanted, the fatherless and the widow. He picks the losers, the outcast, the unloved, the castaways, the ragamuffins and so on and so on. If you are honest with yourself, you and I fit into one of those categories. What a band of misfits He chooses. My point is that He does this not because He is a capricious ogre, but this actually shows how great His grace is when He picks all the worst ball players on the court. It is pretty crazy too that He can do anything with us. He actually turns us around in order that the world could say WOW God has really changed you. What a great God!

Every time that I realize the great upside down grace that God provides to the Church. The grace that He also extends to the hurting world my only response can be worship. Here is a good song to help you respond to whatever God is doing in your heart. Worship Him for His great grace found in Jesus at the Wonderful Cross...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Is Your Selfie Trending Today?

I have been a faithful morning news watcher ever since I have been married. I like to get up in the morning, have my coffee, Quiet Time, and then turn on the news. After I spend time with the Lord, and coffee, I would like to know what is happening in the morning. I appreciate knowing what has happened in our world and being a well informed person. However, I have noticed how the news has moved away from verifiable real news, and toward coverage of the Twitterscape, covering trends, and pop news, and not covering the true news stories of the world that have happened overnight. I noticed on the 'Today Show' they even have a segment and a full room called the Orange Room.
It is set up in their studio to monitor what is "trending today". I am so excited that they have this new room so that I do not miss a tweet, or a tidbit of juicy celebrity gossip, or God forbid any pop news that I absolutely cannot live without. I'm going to call this the 'devolution of news'. Of course we Americans know there is nothing else happening in the world but our nationalistic narcissistic edifices such as Facebook, Twitter, Hollywood, and the like. This nationalistic devolution of our news is just a reflection of the 'culture of me'. Jesus directly attacked that 'culture of me' in his definitive discipleship statement when he said,"if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." The call to discipleship is a call to freely chosen, self sacrificing, service, and death. Sorry but I am afraid that lifestyle is not going to trend very well on Twitter! When we live in this counter-cultural manner we will stick out. We will have that draw, that attraction, that the empty 'culture of me' cannot understand, but will be drawn to when the emptiness of that way of life comes to fruition. Will the Church of Christ flea from the 'culture of me'? Will we seek to glorify Jesus or self? Will we take up our cross by seeking to serve Jesus, and his saints all over the world not just in our own little myopic culture? For instance I was reading the magazine The Voice of the Martyrs today and found out how myopic we might be.  Richard Wumbrand the founder of the a fore mentioned organization said in The Wurmbrand Letters "I am attending now so often church services in America, and I have the constant impulse when the pastor gives the benediction at the end to shout to him, 'But pastor, you have not yet had the religious service.' Every religious service at which the martyrs are not even mentioned, in which a prayer is not offered that God will strengthen their faith, is a divine service which is not valid before God." Maybe Wurmbrand was on to something. What do we set our eyes on? Our super cool selfie? Or rather do we as the writer of Hebrews says, "fixing our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith." I'm Just sayin'

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Is There Any Justice In Christmas?

By all accounts Jesus should not have even been born! Let me clarify by all human accounts Jesus should not have been born. First, in a highly religious community a young teenage girl who was engaged and practically married is found out to be pregnant. Second her husband, or future husband finds out. No this isn't an episode of 'teen mom' on MTV it's the story of Jesus becoming a baby. We know that Jesus was even considered illegitimate by the community in which he lived and ministered because they said about him, "isn't this Mary's son?"(Mark 6:3) Third in that seriously religious community the penalty for fornication or adultery was death by stoning (Deuteronomy 22:22). Mary should have and would have been stoned typically in that day and age. In this 'legal system' a woman found to be with child would be stoned, and baby, and mother killed. In our modern day and age however a same scenario with a super religious family might just abort the baby. It happens more often than you might think (More than 7 in 10 U.S. women obtaining an abortion report a religious affiliation 37% protestant, 28% Catholic and 7% other Guttmacher Institute)
But for the purposes of this post I want to focus on Joseph the father, or the man rather, who married Mary, and took Jesus to be his own son. It says of Joseph that he was a just man, "And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. (Matthew 1:19 ESV). Why was he just? Wouldn't it have been just according to the law of Moses given by God to put her away publicly (nice way of saying divorce) and even put her to death? No, Matthew notices a deeper justice, a Godly justice. Like Jesus said later, "Moses allowed divorce because of your hardness of heart." (Matthew 19:8) Wow! what if Joseph had not been just and done what the law allowed him to do? But Gods plans were deeper and richer and more total than we could have ever imagined. And how ironic that He decided to leave the fate of His abounding awesome redemption in the hands of a 'just man'. And that was the plan from the beginning to let justice reign on the first Christmas night in the deliverance of man through a baby. Yes the fate of justice in this world would lie on the shoulders of that baby boy one day on Calvary where he would drink the cup of the wrath of God for us.
Yes, Christmas is just. It is God's ultimate act of Justice. It is God weaving an incredible story to appease his own wrath in Jesus. Christmas is God fulfilling his demand for justice in Jesus' manger, righteous life, substitutionary cross, and victorious resurrection for you and me. This Christmas I rest in the justice of God, and that His righteous and just requirement is met in that little manger scene when God became man.