Sunday, September 14, 2014
Zacchaeus The Tax Collector
Okay, we've all heard the story. A short guy climbs a tree to see Jesus. But Pat Dorbin, who spoke to our church a few weeks ago, brought out the underlining meaning of the event. Jesus came to meet with Zacchaeus, one on one. He sought the little Z out, to meet him on a very personal level.
I don't think Zacchaeus ever expected to get to talk to Jesus. Much less having Jesus declare he was coming to his house that day. I know it sounds like Jesus invited himself over for dinner, but Pat explained that at that time, in that culture, coming to someone's house was a tremendous honor for the host. It meant acceptance, a stamp of approval. No wonder the religious leaders dropped their jaws and stuttered out their condemnation. Tax collectors were not well thought of. They had a reputation of over charging on taxes and keeping the extra for themselves. Then for Jesus to have dinner at the man's house was outrageous. Sort of like Rush Limbaugh taking Hillary Clinton out to lunch and announcing his backing for her presidency. Or Obama doing a commercial for Fox News.
The tax collector was also astonished. He was so moved he declared he would give half his money to the poor, and anyone he had cheated he would give them four times the amount back. Now that is repentance! Jesus thought so, too.
Pat reminded us that God has a habit of meeting his creations one on one. He seeks us out. We see it all through the Bible. Moses and the burning bush. Mathew and Peter's call by Jesus. Not to mention Paul's visit from Jesus after he rose again.
You are not just one of the crowd to God. He is seeking you, on a personal, one-on-one search and rescue. If you know Him rejoice in this. If you haven't yet had this amazing encounter, He is personally waiting to meet . . . with YOU.
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Cut to the Heart
"What do we do?" the people cried.
My son Todd, now Pastor Todd, preached this sermon on the Pentecost when we visited his church at the beginning of the summer. Peter and the disciples were in Jerusalem, and the Holy Spirit came down on them. They began to speak in tongues. Fire appeared on their heads. Peter began to preach to the amazed crowd.
He knew what they would understand the most. He spoke right from the scriptures. "What was spoken about in Joel is happening, right now!" They understood immediately, and the words did not simply go in one ear and out the other. They cut to the heart. The words spoke of a new way. They tore down the old. But the power of the Holy Spirit gentled their hearts, softened their resolve to the law. Peter went on to remind them that it was they that crucified Jesus. These word cut again deep and brought them to tears. They shouted, "What do we do?" Peter answered with a mighty cry, "Repent. Turn, turn from your wicked ways." And they did! They listened, they repented, and told others of Christ. That was the beginning of the Christian church.
This topic makes me think of an older generation of Christians that do not want to listen to the younger ones coming along. The ones that are trying to remind us we need to take a look at where the church has been taken these last years. Have many in the church become slaves to laws that make it impossible for the lost to find Jesus? Other churches have walled themselves in. Afraid of a secular world. Or have become complacent on how they represent Christ. Do some of us need to soften our hearts, listen, and repent? Even though it may hurt to change we need to evaluate where we have focused our energies. Is it politics? Ranting about Hollywood? Or seeking out the tender places of peoples hearts and lives that need God's healing. Then rolling up our sleeves, and jumping in with both feet to fight for, not against, the ones that need us most.
Saturday, August 30, 2014
What practical advise the Bible can give. At times I am amazed. Here Paul does not say, "Give to God." He says here are practical ways to do so. Such as don't wait for when the need to give money arrives. Then reach in your pocket to give the change that has been left over. Set some aside ahead of time. Make sure you have a supply to give. He asks us to give to the gospel and give the gospel. In other words, give resources to help get the gospel out there, and also do the work yourselves. Giving time and talent, caring and listening, being aware of those around you that need your help, that need to hear the gospel.
It is all too easy to complain, and discourage those we have chosen to give us direction. Sitting on the bleachers it can be tempting to yell at the umpire and second guess his choice. We can let our feelings be heard, but then trust that God is leading through these servants of God. Yes, not our servants, God's.
Above are two different versions of the same picture. They show the many hands of the church working together to create the beauty of the Gospel.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Peace in the Storm
This sermon sketch probably says it without my added words. This is from the 1 Corinthians series that Pastor Greg preached on. What should you do when your life is filled with worry, confusions, and fear, like a bird caught in the perfect storm? Cover yourself with the word of God, fill your nest with prayer, wait, and trust. When things are going well the peace is easy, worry doesn't strike, and things seem clear and direct. How would we know how strong God's peace can be unless it is tested in the storms?
This week I have been plagued with worry over a particular situation. Confusion and fear can slash through the skies on what seems like a cloudless day. cutting into your stomach like a lightening strike. Washing my mind in prayer held me up for a time. White knuckling my trust got me through the nights, until about 1:00 or 2:00 am. The peace would come, I'd drop my guard for a fraction of a second, and the floods of "what if's" would deluge down.
I went to my weekly job of taking care of three especially, wonderful children. With their winning smiles they convinced me to come to the storage room so they could listen to Adventures and Odyssey and work on their Legos. Somehow having me there with them was important. So, they set up a cushy office chair by the raw wood shelves, and I sat down with my cup of coffee, feet up on the plastic Lego box. I glanced to one side and saw a piece of paper, with printing on it, taped to the shelf. I recognized my own handwriting. It was a verse I had once printed out for the kids with green marker, sometime last year. It read: In an acceptable and favorable time I have heard and answered you; and I will preserve you. This first sentence of the verse was all that I needed at the moment. Thanks, God, for planning ahead to build my faith. And the word of God finished my covering in the storm.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
1 Corinthians 13
Love is patient - homeless, welfare recipients, stop lights
Love is kind, - Treat all foreigners as native born. Love them as yourselves.(Leviticus)
It does not envy, - Why can't I have. . . be like . . . do that, too???
It does not boast, - I am sooo busy, I can't tell you how many committees, church functions, worship rehearsals, Bible Studies, choirs, programs blah, blah, blah....................blah, blah I am involved in..
it is not proud - oh, and I never miss a Sunday at church. My kids are all honor students, home schooled of course, and I never use wheat or sugar.
It does not dishonor others, - Why don't they just get a job, like me?
Not self-seeking. - Why should my insurance have to up?
Not easily angered - %&**#@?//#
no record of wrongs - BLANK
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the TRUTH. (yay!)
Oh, by the way . . . it NEVER fails.
Saturday, May 31, 2014
1 Corinthians 12
Have you ever stubbed your toe? Such a small piece of our bodies, yet it can demand the attention of every other part when it's injured. This chapter in Corinthians helps us understand the importance of each member of the body in the church. Reading the scripture itself tells the message best and needs little help from me.
However, this sketch is my interpretation of the body of my little church, Living Hope Covenant Church. Each limb and digit using the Spirit of God to hold together and do ministry. I could say I made her a woman because the church is called the bride of Christ. But really I liked having the long hair to work with. Her skin color, eyes and hair color, even the size and proportion of feet and hands, show that she is made up of a diverse group. She is most useful when every limb is in working order and no part is swollen beyond its proper proportioned size. It can be crippling when a hand decides to leave us, or a thumb wants control a foot. But we pull together and allow God to recreate a missing part or to crack us into alignment like a divine chiropractor.
Hmmm, did I go too far? Well, I hope this helped you see this chapter in a more visual way. God Bless.
Friday, May 30, 2014
1 Corinthians 9
Many Christian Americans have decided that we are in a fight for our rights. Our freedom of religion, of speech, our right not to be offended, to be able to have our say, as often as we can, about how the rest of the world should behave. Paul on the other hand took a different tact. He gave up his rights to Jesus. He would rather put up with anything than be an obstacle to the gospel. Paul would be a slave to people. He would become weak to share with the weak, He never demanded his rights in order to preach. Paul walked up beside those he disagreed with to become like, or equal, with them, in order to relate the gospel. Not to become "holier than thou" as the saying goes.
Think of all the hot spot, touchy subjects that separates people. Can we approach these areas with more love and less hostility? Can we make sure our own ideology is in line with how Jesus taught us and not what we might think should be fair?
What if instead of fighting against the "secular world" we fought for them. Maybe the fight isn't a matter of us being treated as we think we deserve, but fighting to love, listen, and pray for broken people and the starving hearts we touch everyday. We don't like being pushed around. I get that. But if someone tries to steal a wallet instead of brandishing a gun, doesn't God want us to give them our ipad, too? I think so. I've seen posts on Facebook to "like" if we want prayer or the ten commandments back in public schools. I would rather have the Christians back in public school. Christians, not demanding they be allowed to talk their religion, but to be courageously living their Christianity. With as much love and sacrifice as God will allow them to make.
If there is a war to be fought maybe it is with our own selves as we strive to be more humble, more willing to sacrifice our pride, and to risk being vulnerable in world that needs Jesus, not our opinions.