Mark My Words- Conflicting Dates

So far, Jesus has broken the rules, investing in the rejected, bringing more than law—than good enough or sanitized—when only sanctification (remade) will do! In our third scene we find the disciples again are seemingly breaking the rules…

CONFLICTING DATES (Mark 2:23-24, 27-28) 2One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” 27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Rule: Working on the Sabbath is illegal! Great intention and purpose, but the disciples aren’t harvesting they are hungry! The stifling rules had gotten in the way of real-life… Don’t speed is fine until you have a pregnant person in the passenger seat screaming…Jesus puts things back in the right order—the law was meant to provide a blessing not to become a burden. From Israel’s story Jesus goes about planting the church’s story, fulfilling the old, but initiating the new, not based on regulations but on renewed relationship.

Six-year-old Angie and her four-year-old brother Joel were sitting together in church. Joel giggled, sang, and talked out loud. Finally, his big sister had had enough. You’re not supposed to talk out loud in church.” “Why? Who’s going to stop me?” Joel asked. Angie pointed to the back of the church and said, “See those two men standing by the door? They’re hushers.” Continue reading “Mark My Words- Conflicting Dates”

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BECOME #3- New Harvest

If you are just joining us, welcome! We are in the midst of a look at the building blocks of discipleship. The first week, we looked at what we believe but also how we believe. An identity more than fleeting idea.  Now we are shifting gears to look at the transformation process concluding today in a new harvest.  So far we have seen the process of receiving the Holy Spirit as belief prods us to baptism, and seen how the Holy Spirit works as he cuts through the hardness of heart—counseling us when we are teachable, but as we look at the second building block of a disciple BECOME—we find the beauty of…

Counseling Leads to New Harvest (Galatians 5:22-25) 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.  These elements lived out to the full are the very essence of Jesus Christ. He demonstrated God’s love for us. We proclaim “Joy to the World” since we have found the “Prince of Peace.” On and on it goes, in living out the fruit of the Spirit we are actually taking on Christ-likeness. It isn’t a coincidence that God puts application at the heart of each element that goes into a disciple. Relationship with the Spirit of God, leads to relationship with those around us. Against such things there is no law. In fact, where our spiritual ancestors failed to follow God wholeheartedly, that the law’s very essence is fulfilled—loving God and loving the people around us as if they were ourselves. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. When we live by the Spirit we are able to walk in cadence to the symphony of Scripture.

When is this new harvest coming? Where is self-control when I open my mouth and insert my foot? Where is love when I am consumed by anger? Peace when prone to march to war? It reminds me of a conversation between an older Christian woman in her 80’s and a 21 year old that recently had been baptized in her church. For a month after his baptism he was elated, on fire, and excited. Yet, on this Sunday the woman found the 21 year old in the sanctuary praying before service obviously upset and she asked him what was wrong. He told her that he didn’t know what was wrong with him—he was frustrated that he had fallen short of his new life, sinned again, and wasn’t sure of what to make of it—The woman smiled a knowing smile and replied, “Young man, keep in mind that crucifixion is always a slow death!” Jesus had called us to follow him to Calvary—take up your cross and follow me—and yet the process isn’t overnight but on-going. Here is the beauty that unfolds in faithfully and intentionally becoming like Christ!

Lee Strobel, in his book, Case for Christmas shared a story from his early journalism days. He was tapped with writing a story on the poorest family he could find in Chicago. The family (a mother and her two daughters) had nothing on their walls, one cup of rice, one bed, and daughters shared a sweater on their cold early morning walk to school. After publishing his piece, he decided to check in on the family, it was Christmas Eve after all. When he walked into the house it had been transformed. Readers had generously sent the family clothes, gift cards, and toys. Lee was surprised though to find the family boxing up some of the items. He asked if they were disappointed in what they got. The mother replied that they were so grateful for all they had received. She added that she couldn’t keep all that stuff knowing that her neighbors had nothing. “After all, these gifts are great, but the greatest gift comes tomorrow in Jesus Christ.” The comments left Lee shook, as an atheist, he was wondering what is it about this Jesus that caused a family with nothing to give away stuff when they got something. The fruit of the Spirit allowed him to see a picture of Christ.

If you read John Grisham or like law dramas, think of what happens as double jeopardy, Double jeopardy is the law that it is illegal or unjust to try and/or punish a person for a crime that they have already been convicted of. We find that Jesus Christ has already been crucified on the cross for the sins of the world—and that as we receive the Spirit, embrace the counseling and live out the fulfillment of the law—we take on the Image of Christ—meaning that we no longer can be tried or convicted of what Christ bared on our behalf.

I like the quote by John Owen who builds off the foundation of belief: Every time we say we believe in the Holy Spirit, we mean we believe that there is a living God able and willing to enter human personality and change it. Nowhere along the way were you meant to stay exactly the same through relationship with Jesus Christ. Stagnation has no place when the Holy Spirit is given space. Growth isn’t an option, it is an outlet. Relationship isn’t a responsibility it is a natural response. If you aren’t being changed, it isn’t because God doesn’t have the power to change you, it isn’t because God doesn’t have the desire to change you, it isn’t because you don’t have excess to what can change you, for the disciple of Jesus Christ—we have to embrace the Holy Spirit and put the second building block in place.

Empowered #7: THIS AIN’T YOUR MAMA’S CHURCH!

thisain'tyourmama's

Last week we looked at the periods of waiting that sporadically invade our life and yet more often than not, if I had to guess I bet—you probably spend more time racing (around) rather than resting with things constantly changing around you. Sometimes change is slow and steady other decades like in music—as we moved from Elvis Presley to the Beatles with the British Invasion—to today’s classics—“What does the Fox Say?” Other times change happens in an instant—from the calm of September 10th to terror of September 11th—-Despite the speed at which it occurs, a social scientist rightly quipped, “The only thing constant in life is change!”  Even the church is getting in on the action– One church in particular- located in Merced, CA- have gone out of their way to embrace change—called aptly, “This Ain’t Your Mama’s Church.” Meeting each week not in a church with four walls, comfy chairs or padded pews, no soft-spoken messages, but instead on two wheels, with lots of horse-power, chaps, leather and angels to spare, but that is only because some were former Hells Angels. It is a motorcycle church! So today we are going to look at what happens when the waiting is over!

Today we continue in our Empowered Series, through the book of Acts. We move from the church being called on to Wait to seeing that when God is ready—change can transform everything. In our text from Acts 2:1-13, we will see the three major changes in the life of the early church which still impacts our faith today!

We begin in (Acts 2:1) When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.

Pentecost had come, let the party begin. But what are we celebrating? Sometimes it is easy to forget that the Jews practiced this event before Christ and still after Christ in the festival called Shavout- (Sha-voo-ot). Originally, it marked God giving Moses the Law on Mount Sinai, and annually celebrated by the Israelites honoring God’s provision, blessings, and concern by bringing the first fruits of the harvest to the temple. Yet here in our text, we see that after the every year being the same that this AIN’T YOUR MAMA’S PENTECOST- Look what happens in Acts 2:2– Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. In fulfillment of Christ’s promise, like a trumpet sounding announcing the arrival of royalty, or a major decree, the blowing wind acknowledges the arrival of the far greater power and presence-the Holy Spirit!  As God bottled his love for humanity in Christ (Romans 5:8), he pours out that love through the Holy Spirit—leading John to say “It is the Spirit who gives life.”

The change in the church can easily be taken for granted, the spirit came at Pentecost and the church was formed and we turn the corner,” but don’t miss the explosive change– It would be like a farmer waking up each morning—hooking up the old plow to the old horse who has seen better days. Every inch of progress would come at the price of blood, sweat, bulging arms, and lots of naying. The contrast of Pentecost would be waking up in the morning, walking out to your field and finding the latest and greatest planter from John Deere, fully equipped with GPS, air conditioned cab, and precision planter. When we try to live on our own power—we barely break the surface, each step forward only comes at the expense of our blood, sweat, and tears yet the infusion of power, precision, and the presence of God changed the entire landscape and offers to change our entire lives.

Look what happened here, God took a long-standing tradition and turned it into a moment of transformation. Not simply the memorialization of God’s law– into a true moment of interaction with God’s grace allowing us to be real with God—breaking the surface–no fake smile, plastic halo, or hollow words. Just as God did with Pentecost, he can do in your life. What things do you do everyday nearly on auto-pilot, stopping at the coffee house for a cup of joe, meeting with your friends, maybe God is calling you to take your tradition and start using it as a moment of transformation.  Usually though we avoid change as much as possible—change messes with our schedules, our sanity, and our sociability—yet sometimes only change will catapult us towards Christ! It took Moses seeing a burning bush that wouldn’t be consumed to get him out of the literal rut he probably walked in following the sheep! When is the last time you’ve tried growing in your faith by serving in a unique way, or read something that might solidify your conviction or reached out to someone new, or strived to disciple the next generation of believers? If the answer is never, or not for a long time, lets allowed the Holy Spirit to wake us up as it woke up the first Christians.