Thursday, June 1, 2017
Sunday, April 16, 2017
Today, Christians all over the world celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ. No doubt, defeating death is a cause to celebrate. Christ endured death. We had invented death in a collaboration with Satan, and together perfected it with the cross . On it, Jesus took our punishment, so man might once again be joined to God.
Easter sounds so simple 2017 years later. Here in America, we will all go to a egg hunts, eat a lot of ham, and blow up social media with our family photos. I enjoy it every year.
Sermons tend to be better at Easter. After all, today many people will come who rarely attend. Over the years, I've heard all sorts of metaphors come from the Easter celebration. Can anything offer more hope than an empty tomb?
Every year, like the early followers of Christ, we come to gaze into an empty tomb. It's where you go from here that matters. Before the resurrection, most of those followers scattered in front of the cross. After meeting the resurrected Christ, those followers embraced the cross.
Christ life is an example we must live by. His life, His example includes His death. Jesus said " It is Finished"
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
2 Corinthians 5:21
"It is finished", are the words on which eternity pivots. Spoken on the cross, Christ calls us to death and life. We cannot have one without the other. Death to this world must come to have life in Christ. We cannot hope in our resurrection without embracing the cross. "It is finished" echoes through the ages, not as the ending of life, but death to hopelessness.
Rarely is it taught at Easter, but tucked away in the resurrection story is the great commission. Jesus returns from the dead to give us one task. Preach the Gospel. Tell the world about Him. What He has done for us is finished. What we do for Him cannot be. Once we meet the resurrected Christ, serving Him who saved us must become more than annually gazing into an empty tomb. He came that we might have a full life. May we look outside the tomb, embrace His cross for us, and follow Him.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Sunday, January 1, 2017
This Year, I Resolve to Lose my Life.
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Sunday, November 13, 2016
Sunday, September 11, 2016
I guess some of it is ok, providing it makes sense and is truth. Often, these sermon series go a mile wide and an inch deep. It looks like they go around their elbow to get to their thumbs. I call it the Sherlock Holmes version of faith, because it reminds me of this quote from the character.
“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?
The only problem is you can not ever equate, infinity times eternity, carry the three, divided by one, equals never eliminate the impossible with the power of God. His is not a variable to the equation. He is the immutable answer to it.
Other times, pastors are content with wading in the shallow end of the pool. Andy Stanley, ironically, author of "Deep and Wide", a pastor I once respected and admired, decided to go head first into the shallows from the high dive.
Within the first two minutes, Stanely insinuates some people are stuck "somewhere in the middle" with God. At the risk of sounding dogmatic, I can't find any scripture where God is a fence straddler. Since five minutes into the sermon he states "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. This is where our troubles began", I can only conclude, if Stanley was looking for trouble, he wasn't looking at scripture. The sermon goes on to question the bible's inerrancy. Stanley suggests, holding to the perfection of the bible might have "unnecessarily" prevented someone from coming to Christ or either caused them to leave Christianity. Eluding to the problematic unsubstantiated claims of the Old Testament, as the reason for questioning Christianity, Stanley says, "you grew up, but your faith didn't grow up with you". He calls into question the biblical account of creation's timeline, the flood, the Exodus, and the battle of Jericho. From there, he argues the validity of the bible doesn't matter, because the apostles didn't have the bible as we know it. Making the case, because the bible, as we know it, wasn't even put together for almost 400 years after the crucifixion, Stanley concludes the apostles did not believe in Jesus because of an infallible Old Testament. He warns that our children will not except the infallibilty of the bible. Twenty-nine minutes into the sermon, he basically makes the claim the the apostles would not have defended the Old Testament against scientist or historians. Stanley insist that Christianity doesn't "hang by the thread " on the validity of the bible, but rather in the truth of the resurrection. He concludes his sermon, telling us we can know that Jesus loves us, because John and Peter tell us so.
Where on Earth did we get that from? Oh yeah, the bible.
Stanley seems to think the Gospel will become more logical if scripture can be labled unreliable... Fascinating. (Sorry, I couldn't resist). You don't have to dive deep to dismantle this rationalization. You can't vet your star witness by poking holes in their testimony. Seriously, forget anything theologically or doctrinally wrong with the sermon and disconnect as much emotion as you can. Then, ask yourself this question from a skeptical point of view. Which is harder to believe, that today's historians and scientists got some facts wrong from 6000 years ago, or that actually eye witnesses confirming a virgin gave birth to a man that would rise from the dead are true? Would any science confirm a virgin birth or resurrection? Face it, no matter how intellectually invested you become in Old Testament miracles, or the resurrection narrative, no matter how emotionally attached you become to Christ through a relationship, it will require a belief in the supernatural power of God, who can do the impossible, even raise His son from the dead, as taught by the scriptures. While I'd never allude that Christianity doesn't have a analytical component, the Gospel, and the word of God, (I never seperate the two) never required or meant only for logic. According to the bible, the understanding of the gospel lies in a revelation beyond mere human logic. God gives all understanding, yet man continues to trust in his own wisdom, concerning the things incapable of comprehending. The foolishness of God trumps the loftiest enlightenment afforded to man.
1st Corithians 18-30 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
The theological and doctrinal holes in the sermon would require we look at scripture as well. To one who has underminded their authority, why would scripture matter? Still, according Acts 17:11- 12. The first century church "searched the scriptures daily" and "as a result, many of them believed". Meaning, according to Luke, Old Testament scripture played a role in belief from the beginning.
Consider these words of Peter from his second book1.16-21.ESV For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. Nothing, according to Peter, undermines scripture. The scriptures were confirmed by their testimony.
In the first chapter of John, we find that "in the beginning the word was with God". Luke writes in Chapter 4, Jesus say's he has "fullfilled" the scripture. Matthew records Christ saying "heaven and earth shall pass way, but my words shall never pass away." Though some would make the bible into an idol, in the absence of scripture, on the altar of his imagination, every man will sculpt a controllable god made in his own image, forged in the fires of personal passions, made from intangible fragments of his selfishness. To get another gosepl, you need a different Jesus. One disconnected from scripture, that will do.
In 1600 years, the bible, as we know it, has stood the test of time. It can survive a few more bad sermons. Stanley was right about one thing he said. " as the bible goes, so goes our faith. Psalm 119:105 says "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." I hope the word not only lights your path, but that you hold on to it so firmly, the word that put on flesh causes you to shine.