IN the Face of Tragedy

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”  /Luke 13:1-5

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In the face of life’s tragedy we want an answer to the question of “WHY?” A day ago, we got news of a crushing loss that struck a family we met through ministry. It is shocking, horrifying, and the question rumbles all the louder: “WHY LORD?”

As unsatisfying as it is sometimes, we know the answer to the why. An imperfect world gives us imperfection. In the pain of loss, as we seek Jesus, he refocuses us. Instead of being lost in the question of why, he calibrates us to wake up to the question of: “WHAT WILL YOU DO IN RESPONSE!”

When are each of us going to wake up to our own need for repentance? When is tomorrow too long to wait? Today you have enough time to stop and come back to Jesus. Take a few minutes right now and allow the light of God to shine into the dark places, turn back to holiness, and let’s repent instead of perish.

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Now or Never

Earbuds blaring, makes it hard for actually hearing the words that come from your mouth .

Going through the motion, 1 foot in front of the other while our hearts seem to be for another .

Who is your conductor, for whom do you lift your voice and where you find your rest?

Constantly we are tempted by the sirens offering comfort which in turn becomes our soma, nothing more than an ongoing coma. My Lord and my God some mock others marvel, mesmerized by a mission that goes beyond each moment.

Lord wake me up from the silence, playing a mime is just a waste of my time , flailing around without changing the times.

How easily we lose sight this whole planet doesn’t revolve around us but that doesn’t stop us from the fight to devise it…

Before you blow your final trumpet let us be found making more disciples, dying like a seed in the garden trying to produce an abundant harvest.

Finally a plan with a greater purpose that exceeds all my contrivance. The final restoration not postponed in your slowness but we saw patience purchased at a price of the Prince of Peace, when it was now if never you responded.

Dirty Jobs: Tearing Down the Walls

It is as we open the door for people to change, as we start rebuilding lives rather than watch them continue to unravel that we find the true goal isn’t just between two people, but between us and God.

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Reconciliation Advances through Repentance (Gen. 50:15-20) So far in the account of Joseph, running towards reconciliation, we’ve seen testing, we’ve seen fear and cowering, but this is the first time that we get to see repentance. 15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” With Jacob’s death, we see that rebuilding a broken relationship is a process more than a pinnacle moment.16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. 18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. 19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

They send a manufactured letter superficially on behalf of their father, but finally the brother’s throw themselves before Joseph—fulfillment of the dream he had as a boy—his brothers bowing down to him not in ignorance of his identity but in acknowledge of his faithfulness and their sin. You would think repentance would make them appear weak—and yet in their weakness they find grace. Joseph is able to put on for a moment the glasses of God—perfect 50:20 vision to see the world as God promised it would be. Continue reading “Dirty Jobs: Tearing Down the Walls”

Church Shopping: Renovation

Jesus, doesn’t stop with pointing out their expiration date but points out it is time for a…

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RENOVATION- (Revelation 3:3) Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.” Continue reading “Church Shopping: Renovation”

Mark My Words-Simple Message

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It was 48 hours before Thanksgiving 2013. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, unlike Christmas there are no last-minute deadlines, presents, or gift-receipts to worry about. 2013, unlike the years before or after had some added excitement, we had finished our adoption paperwork and all that was left was the hurry-up and wait. We were told that “our” baby could be born in hours, days, or weeks. Fast-forward 24 hours before Thanksgiving 2013. All of a sudden, I started to get sick. Run of the mill cold symptoms, stuff that doesn’t warrant spending a $25 copay, or risking sitting in a doctor’s office with sick people and risk catching something, something that rest, Nyquil and a soft bed can fix. That is until about 12 hours until Thanksgiving. Chelsea was working nights and it was around 6:00 a.m. I was lying in bed groggy, coughing, and uncomfortable (like the guy in a Nyquil ad with Kleenex’s everywhere)-not a pretty sight when my phone started to ring. My wife said, “It’s time, the birth mother is at the hospital!” Talk about a simple message. Just a few words (simple message). All of a sudden, I went from having no-where to be, to having somewhere to go! A few words changed everything. I still can remember rushing to Prompt-Care, rushing around looking for socks, patting myself down trying to make sure I had everything (urgent calling) and when I finally got in the room I told the doctor the context, “Listen, I have a baby to go meet!” It was all riding on her medical opinion, all those years of med-school, all the training, all the preparation…Would I be allowed to go into his room, to hold him, to touch him…? (surpassing authority)

Continue reading “Mark My Words-Simple Message”

I SAY

Today, I am going to mix it up a little bit. We are in the middle of a series looking at the building blocks of discipleship and tomorrow we will continue. This morning while driving I saw the a beautiful sunset and these words of repentance came to me.

I say “grace” and then work to gain ground in the race against my shadow, always a step ahead or only one step behind.

I say “love” but when I look in the mirror there is a foggy myopic outline of a Pharisee, a plank blotting out God’s power.

I say “hope” only to get trapped instead in the hurricane of hurry and pushed back to earth by the altitude of my ability.

I say live in “community” only to find myself pulling back.

Finally, in my silence, your words break through my hardness of heart–“turn, turn, turn back!

Not to who you used to be or your little identity, but to ME!”

I say…”YES LORD!”

BECOME #1

Tim Hawkins is a Christian comedian who often uses church sports stories for his routines. Within his routine he shared about what he life was like, where he had been, what he had seen, struggles and setbacks and finally he told the audience, “I’m coming off a few years of backsliding. Every night it was drunkenness and fighting and foul-language. Finally I said, ‘Ya know what? I’m quitting church softball!'”

If this isn’t your first time dealing with church people or Christians, you probably aren’t surprised the phenomenon which I call Christians behaving badly. Pastors fall from grace, congregations divide, or you accidentally sat in someone’s family pew (they let you know it).

An older guy found out the hard way when approaching a street light. He was being tailgated by a stressed out woman on a busy boulevard. Suddenly, the light turned yellow just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection. The tailgating woman hit the roof, and the horn, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection. As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, finger-printed, and photographed, and then placed in a holding cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, “I’m very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the ‘Choose Life’ license plate holder, the ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ bumper sticker, the ‘Follow Me to Sunday School’ bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk. Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car!” (Unknown authorship)

Over the last few days we have been looking at the Big Picture of discipleship. We found that Christ’s mandate is commonly quoted– “Go and make disciples of all the nations” but unfortunately, rarely implemented. 70% of people raised in the church are falling away (LIFE WAY RESEARCH). Last week we looked at the first building block is what we BELIEVE—Not just what we belief, but how we believe—belief as an identity rather than just an idea. We looked at how our faith is grounded in fact rather than just a rosy fiction, and how belief allows us to live distinctly. Yet belief alone isn’t sufficient. James wrote about belief alone—“Even the demons believe and tremble.” In other words it isn’t only about what we believe, but where our beliefs take us. We are going to focus on the second building block—BECOME—seeking to be transformed.

Belief Leads to Action—In Acts 2:37-38- After the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples as promised, Peter rose up among the crowd and preached the first church sermon confirming Christ identity and allowing their belief to become the bedrock for something more: 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

He uses their belief “they were cut to the heart”—and prods them to start becoming something more. He tells them the process– “Repent and be baptized”—An internal and external step towards holiness—repentance is an internal turning from sin towards the Savior, and baptism an external sign of obedience and trust. It is turning from sin that allows us to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. In fact, what is cool is the imagery here reveals that we aren’t just starting a process of becoming better versions of ourselves, but actually becoming more and more like Christ—following in the death, burial, and resurrection through the darkness, depths of the water and replacing it with the divine new light.

Repentance becomes the preparation for God’s transformation to start working. One Christian business man, saw this idea play out when he least expected. He was actually on a tour of a large manufacturing plant noticed a man using a fiery torch of high intensity to work on huge slabs of steel. Operating from a blueprint on a nearby table, a pointer traced the pattern and then by a clever system of levers enlarged the design as it was burned into the metal. There were times, however, when the flame would not make any impression. When this happened, a chemical substance was applied to the resisting patch, and immediately the cutting could be resumed. The worker explained that although the torch was able to go through clean steel 8 inches thick, if it encountered the slightest film of rust on the surface, the flame would not penetrate it. (http://ministry127.com/resources/illustration/sin-hinders-the-work-of-the-holy-spirit)

Transformation most of the time isn’t a matter of God’s power, but a question of our resistance or receptivity. Don’t be shocked when you aren’t changing when you are giving change lip service, but not lee-way in your life. Don’t be surprised when you don’t feel close to God and haven’t made time for God. From time to time it is necessary that we look at our lives and seek out areas that are out of line with our heavenly Father.