Church Shopping: Philly’s Restoration

God offers us strength in the midst of our weakness, the ability to see the big picture through patience to find all that he promises, and ultimately Jesus shows us all that is at stake.

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Finding Restoration When you Feel Robbed—Some of you might be sitting out there and feel cheated by God, that he robbed you of what was rightfully yours, a spouse, a child, a job, etc. (Revelation 3:11-13) 11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. 13 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Continue reading “Church Shopping: Philly’s Restoration”

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Church Shopping: Philadelphia’s Patience

In our dependence on God, we are made dependable by God for something that transcends us or even our own ability, but for the people in Philadelphia, and maybe for you and me it can be a challenge to:

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Stay Patient When You Feel Pressured (Revelation 3:9-10) I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

Jesus was aware of their struggles and gives them the promise of vindication in the midst of others apparent victories. Continue reading “Church Shopping: Philadelphia’s Patience”

Church Shopping: Philadelphia

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Chuck Swindoll in his book Hand Me Another Brick told the remarkable story of Thomas Edison. Edison had invented the microphone, the phonograph, the incandescent light, and more than 1000 other things. You probably recognize his notable line, “I haven’t failed, I simply found 10,000 ways that it didn’t work.”  He was famous for his innovation and creativity, but in December of 1914 after working for 10 years on a storage battery he was feeling the finance strain of trying to come to a breakthrough. This particular evening spontaneous combustion had broken out in the film room. Within minutes all the packing compounds, celluloid for records and film, and other flammable goods were in flames. Fire companies from eight surrounding towns arrived, but the heat was so intense and the water pressure so low that the attempt to douse the flames was futile. Everything was destroyed. Edison was 67. With all his assets going up in a whoosh (although the damage exceeded two million dollars, the buildings were only insured for $238,000 because they were made of concrete and thought to be fireproof), would his spirit be broken?

It was the same situation my dad found himself in one day driving home from work. He saw the smoke rising over the hill. As he got closer, that pit in his stomach grew worse, and finally as he rounded the last corner, his worst fears were realized, everything he had worked for was gone in a heap of ashes from the flames. Those are moments in life that many of you have probably endured, moments that have the potential to leave you with nothing, to break your spirit.

Today, in our sermon series Church Shopping, we visit the church of Philadelphia that like Edison has seemingly every reason in the world to give up.  Yet, Jesus begins in the ashes reminding them of His:

Strength In the Midst of Weakness (Revelation 3:7-8) To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Every door seemed to be slammed in their face. A natural disaster in the form of an earthquake devastated the city. A man-made disaster devastated the economy when Emperor Domitian deciding the fertile volcanic ground was producing vineyards that rivaled or surpassed Rome ordered the burning of their fields, and Jesus alludes to their religious disaster. Then came a spiritual closed door. The Jewish synagogue pushed the Christians out the door (they were early on considered a sect of the Jews). Jesus in response focuses first on his character and then on their circumstances. He describes himself as fulfilling the role in a royal house of majordomo–the bearer of the keys. The one who despite their appearance could lock or throw open any door.  Continue reading “Church Shopping: Philadelphia”

The Light

imageThe light of the device dims the light of the fireflies dancing through the night. 

The noise of distraction crowd out the note of the divine.

The torment of sin becomes our new normal making the touch of the Savior like a midsummer nights dream or a mirage.

The creator calls out, through the wonder of each violent thunderbolt, each canvas filled with a sunset, every morning the sun flirts with the horizon-every atom held in place professing their devotion to the God of heaven and earth.

 

Visions @ VBS

This last week has been hard to post, hard to focus or think at all. Each day our church played host to a throng of kids from kindergarten through fifth grade. Each morning they descended onto our campus.

At first I grumbled to myself about the loss of office time, huffed at the rumble that made its way down each hallway each time more kids ran through the door. All I could see was the work to be done.

Thankfully, the week didn’t end there. It was while standing in the back row of the sanctuary that I had a vision at VBS. There a room full of children and volunteers, from different places, walks of life, present for different reasons all sang out a chorus of truth—I AM A C- I AM A CH- I AM A C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N…In the midst of work was the future world of the church calling out. The lessons, songs, scripture, and games weren’t some added accessory, but our hope for the future.

Father Knows Best: Children First

Father’s Day is a great reminder that we need to put first things first, building a stable marriage of Christ as a model to our children, that our children are from God so we are managers rather than makers, but the most important role is personal, that each of us are:

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Children First (Ezekiel 18:4) “Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mineEphesians 1:6 (MSG) Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

You are a child of God first. Think about what this means–God, the creator and sustainer of the world has made you a priority, loves you, and has an identity for you. Yet, until you realize that identity you can easily run after a lot of things trying to belong, when all along you belong to him. Timothy Keller added beautifully, “Our adoption means we are loved like Christ is loved. We are honored like he is honored—every one of us—no matter what. Your circumstances cannot hinder or threaten that promise. In fact, your bad circumstances will only help you understand and even claim the beauty of that promise. The more you live out who you are in Christ, the more you become like him in actuality.” Continue reading “Father Knows Best: Children First”

Father Knows Best:

Not only are fathers called to take on a spiritual leadership that creates the condition to build character in your children, but we each have to take on a correct perspective. We need to each remember that as parents, we are actually…

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Adoptive Fathers and Mothers (Psalm 127:3-5a- NLT) Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! In the Ancient Near East, children were seen as a blessing—they ensured the parents had someone to care for them later in life, they were a sign that God had provided enough to care for a large clan, and they carried on the family name. The Psalmist is absolutely clear as to the source of the gift, the Giver is God. Meaning for us, no matter how you came to parent your children: adopted children, foster children, or have your own biological children, we cannot confuse our role of steward with God’s role as sovereign. Don’t miss the trajectory of an arrow. An arrow is not meant to stay forever in the quiver, but is meant to be shot out into the world. We take on an adoptive role rather than an author role. Continue reading “Father Knows Best:”