The Son of God had Stones

Young David knew what was at stake. He heard Goliath and knew what Goliath said was a reproach on the men of Israel (1 Samuel 17:26). The men fled as if the army of Lord depended on them. They feared Goliath because they did not fear the LORD.  David knew that it was not the honor of men at stake. Goliath “defied the armies of the living God,” (1 Samuel 17:36) and David knew that God would defend His name, if there were only a servant to clothe Himself in the strength of the Lord, a man with the stones to face Goliath. The Israelites fled because their strength was nothing to Goliath’s. David stood up because the strength of the Lord was greater than Goliath’s; “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this philistine,” (1 Samuel 17:37).

David had the stones (1 Samuel 17:40). More, in fact than were needed, because his faith was great enough to move mountains, to slay giants, to stand for the whole nation in battle. David didn’t ask for permission, David didn’t care about the Philistine’s feelings. David wasn’t PC and didn’t kowtow to the idols of God’s enemies. David stood up, marched out and challenged the enemies of God. David needed five stones, but God only needed one thrown in faith.

The Son of God had stones.

John the Baptizer declared that the mighty man of God is here (Mark 1:7). The greater David feared the Father more than Rome, more than Satan, more than the powerful scribes and priests who sold out to the idol of the Roman Imperial cult (John 19:15).  Jesus said to Peter “on this Rock I will build my church,” (Matthew 16:18) and Jesus didn’t ask for permission. He didn’t bow to the self-made God-emperor of Rome. Jesus declared Himself Lord (Mark 1:14-15) and faced the consequences (Mark 15). Continue reading “The Son of God had Stones”

Stop Entering into Temptation

And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” – Luke 22:40

The cross stands before the disciples. Sorrow fills them. Temptation is coming. Jesus encourages them to pray so that they can stand. Jesus offers them true rest, the source of true strength.

Burdened and confronted with spiritual warfare, with their own weakness and vulnerability, the disciples attempt to gather strength for the coming fight. They seek rest.

So, they sleep. It seems natural. It seems logical and even reasonable. We are physical creatures. And when life wearies us and presents us with huge challenges we try what we can to comfort ourselves and strengthen ourselves.

We all do this. The money doesn’t add up so we withhold our tithe. The time doesn’t add up so we sleep, in the morning and veg out in the evening. We have a few extra minutes at the end of the commute so we grab a coffee. The energy doesn’t add up so in the face our spouses’ need we appeal to our need for sleep or some time to just “relax.” The resources don’t add up so we’ll wait to invite that family till our house is bigger or cleaner or nicer.

Continue reading “Stop Entering into Temptation”

This is My Body Broken for You

We have been called to arise; to enter the Holy of Holies and worship the Triune God. We have come by the sacrifice of another, by the leading of His Spirit to worship our Father in Heaven.

We have come to raise our voices and respond to the goodness of our Lord. We have come to be renewed and strengthened. Those you have ears to hear, let them hear.

Ephesians 5:15-17 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

That’s the challenge; understand the will of the Lord, and walk and act accordingly. But our flesh likes easy, safe, selfishness. We have our own desires. We have our own wills and they struggle against the Spirit and our faith every day. The mission of the Lord is others focused. The love of the Triune God faces out. The will of the Father is that His children will lay down their lives for others just like our older brother Jesus laid down is His life for you.

The calling of the Christian Faith is “This is my body broken for you….Husbands, Wives, Parents, Masters, servants, friends…this is your calling. Everyone, this is your calling. This is a calling so heavy only the humble can carry it. It will break the backs of the proud. This is my body broken for you…

Look around. Look around this church. Look around your neighborhood. Look around your family. You were not given bodies and redeemed for mere pleasure or selfish pursuits. Life was poured into you so that you could pour it out in the service of others.  This is my body, broken for you…

This requires walking by faith, fighting the easy safe selfishness that our flesh loves so much. It requires looking up and looking out. To the condition and welfare of others. It requires prayer, putting on the mind of Christ by daily submitting to His word and it requires repentance.

Now let us confess and ask God to forgive us for our selfishness and ask for the Spirit of God to reveal and lead us in understanding the will of our Lord.

 

 

The Redeemer Church Story

You are part of an epic story. A tale with twists and turns, a journey of redemption. It began with the fall mankind, and it has been marked by sin, death, and suffering… but then a triumph that brought forgiveness, life and hope.

Redeemer Church is the place where we tell this story in a thousand ways. It’s a simple story of death turned life. And at the center of this tale is the one who made it possible… Christ, our great Redeemer. The Son of God, who came to make all things new.
The result of sin is death. The Bible makes this clear. And it was our sin. Our own choices. Our own actions filled with lust, hate and selfishness in the beginning of God’s beautiful world that led us far, far away from him. Into a place of hopelessness. A place of death. But the mystery we celebrate, that moment in our story where the unexpected happens, is when… in Christ… we find the unimaginable. We turn our heads, we look around in amazement… and we rejoice. Jesus the Redeemer. He takes the dark, sinful threads of our own stories, and weaves them together to create a picture that is entirely and completely glorious. Unexpected. Undeserved. That very sin that brought us death, Christ took it upon him and paid the penalty of that sin. He shed his blood… he died! However, that wasn’t the end… he rose again! He busted the chains of death because death could not hold him. And life has now come through death. A life like you could never have otherwise known. And a life that could only have come out of the death we created with our own sin. Redeemed by his love! That is beautiful irony! The darkest hours of your life — the things you’ve done that you believed were unforgivable… these are the very things that make up the biggest comeback story you could imagine. Rejoice! It’s very real.

And because of this, we now go into our world and bring the redemption and love that has been given to us. We make, create, bless, serve, give, help and restore–bringing the goodness we have received and pouring it out upon the world. Knowing that the goodness of the Lord will overcome evil, justice will overcome injustice, righteousness will overcome unrighteousness, and Jesus will triumph over the darkness.

That’s what Redeemer Church is all about: telling that story within our lives. We are here to celebrate it. To live it. To proclaim it. Fullness of Christ, fullness of life!

Sailing with Jesus in the Hold

We know that Jesus is our anchor, but that is a metaphor about assurance that only works when there is a storm, or port – the idea that we need to firmly stay put and Jesus holds us in place amidst the tossing seas. Anchors keep ships in one place. And that is a helpful image at times, but if it is the only nautical metaphor we employ for Jesus it gives us the impression that the Christian life is meant to be static and safe.

Ships are made to sail, though. The Spirit is like the wind, going where He will and our job is to learn how to sail. Not play it safe in a cozy cove somewhere. Another helpful metaphor for Jesus, in terms of ships, is ballast. Ballast is weight used to keep a ship steady and upright in the water. Anything can be used as ballast, whatever is in the hold of a ship must be evenly distributed to keep the ship sailing properly; ballast keeps a ship stable.

Imagine a modern freighter where all the containers of Camry’s are on the port side and all the containers of Duracell batteries are on the starboard side. That ship would list and roll. In wooden ships they carried over 3,000 gallons of water and after three months at sea, the weight shifts, so the barrels, the resources, the ballast needs shifting.

When you get the ballast wrong what happens is either the ship is tossed about like a cork in a hurricane or the ship can’t sail properly – it’s sluggish and unresponsive to the rudder or it lists to one side and no amount of wind can get the ship up to top speed. Continue reading “Sailing with Jesus in the Hold”

Love is Our Livery

1 Corinthians 16:14 “Let all that you do be done in love.” John 13:35 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you.” Col. 3:14 “…put on love…”

Are you known in your circle of friends and relations as a Christian? Do the people at the supermarket where you shop and the club where you work out and the people on your commute look at you and know that you are a Christian?

Should they? In the OT the people of God were known as the people of God because of their dress (tassels, beard curls, the cloth and cut of their robes, etc.) They were also known by their behavior and by their speech.

How are the NT believers known as the people of God if all of the clothing and purity laws have been fulfilled in Jesus?

The Apostles instruct us to be clothed in love; to put on love like you put on a robe. Jesus said love would be the identifying marker of Christians. That love would be our livery.

What is a livery?

It’s not simply a uniform. It’s more than that. It is clothing but it’s a sign of covenant; of fidelity and family. Continue reading “Love is Our Livery”

Go and Walk on Water

Matthew 14:28-29 “And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.”

Jesus doesn’t command Peter to walk on water. He commands Peter to “come.” To obey the command Peter must walk on water. But Peter doesn’t hesitate. Peter knows that Jesus provides the necessary ability to obey His commands, no matter how impossible they seem.

All of God’s commands involve doing things that are impossible for us to do – in ourselves. What makes God’s commands look so easy are the circumstances. Tithing is easy when you have your budget under control. Loving your neighbor is easy when they are lovely. Respecting your husband is a cinch, those times he’s actually acting respectable.

But how hard is tithing when what’s going out is more than what’s coming in? How hard is respecting your husband when he won’t get off the couch?

Often, we have the command from God. There He is. Right there, just a few yards off the port side and all we have to do is walk over to Him….right across the top of water. That’s all. God puts all of us in a position where obeying Him defies reason, logic and even physics. God wants us to know our weakness. Just ask one of the mom’s present about obedience and a lack of sleep.

But all of God’s commands are this way. For a season, we’ll think we can do it ourselves. That we are capable, wise, have the resources and fortitude. Inevitably we’re on the boat and obedience requires us to step onto the water and hope that it will hold us up.

But there are so many times when we never take a step. We argue thus; “look, man, what you’re asking is impossible. I can’t tithe because I can add – there isn’t enough money. Our family can’t afford Christian education. I can’t invite people over; I don’t have the resources or energy. I can’t get involved in that person’s life; I have no idea how to help them. What do you mean we’re pregnant again?”

God commands us to do things we can only do if He provides the ability to obey. All His commands are this way.

A relationship with Jesus requires obedience. Obedience requires dependence. We don’t like obeying and we don’t like dependence. We like to oversee our own lives. We like to be strong. We like to be capable. We like to be our own masters.

So, we see the impossible task and we avoid it because of the idols of our hearts. Listen to some of the things the Apostles came to know and love about Jesus, which strengthened them in their faith and thereby, strengthened their obedience.

Mark 10:27 “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 “But God said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Ephesians 3:16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

1 Timothy 1:12 “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service”

Don’t focus on the command. Don’t focus on the circumstances. He gave us the Spirit. He strengthens us. He appoints us to His service and provides what we need to serve Him faithfully. If we love Him. If we depend on Him. If we walk as He walked; humbly submitting ourselves to the Father’s will, trusting him, following Him, then He comes to us just as He came to the disciples on the boat. He commands us to follow Him and just like Peter he provides what’s necessary to follow.

Even if it requires the impossible.

The Wrong Way to Pray

You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. – James 4:2-3

If James says there is a wrong way to pray, a wrong way to ask, then it follows that there is a right way to ask, a right way to pray.

God’s reception of and interaction with prayer is conditional. One condition to God not hearing your prayers is envy.

Envy affects fellowship with the body and fellowship with God. Envy causes you to murder, fight and quarrel – even if you only do so in the hypocritical confines of your own heart. Envy causes you to demand things from God that are self-serving and self-glorifying.

You cannot be an envious, ungrateful, quarrelsome and covetousness person and expect God to listen to you. He will not. Envy is a discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions or qualities. It’s not just wanting what someone else has but envy leads to negative feelings about the person and your own circumstances. Bitterness. Ingratitude. Inordinate longings. Strife. Quarrels and fights. Envy unsettles relationships and it unsettles prayer. Envy creates negative feelings about the person who has what you are coveting. It’s hard to prefer another or to think well of others when you hate them for what your coveting. Envy grabs hold of our desire for a better spouse, better job, more money, less belly fat, better cars, jobs, friends, families, homes and jobs and inspires a host of unholy thoughts and actions in response.

Continue reading “The Wrong Way to Pray”

Using Your Eyes Correctly

 Proverbs 11:12 “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.”

The one who sees the circumstances and character of his neighbor as fodder for criticism, instead of prayer, lacks sense. To be wise is to see as Christ sees. To minimize the worth of your neighbor; to belittle them, is to say something profound about yourself, not something meaningful about your neighbor. Self-righteousness, arrogance and unwarranted spiritual pride are all tied up in the belittling of neighbors. 

A proper judgment of your neighbor – understanding that your neighbor is created in God’s image, is a being in the process of sanctification, is a blessing to be received, served, built up, thought well of – is true wisdom. Continue reading “Using Your Eyes Correctly”

Say the Same Thing

1 John 1:9 reads “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

The word ‘confess’ literally means to “speak the same thing.” To confess your sin is to call your sin what God calls it. We so often like to add adjectives and qualifiers to our sins. We rationalize our sins. We cover our disobedience with leaves and hide from God behind trees of self-justification like Adam in the Garden.

But physically hiding from God in a well-manicured garden is as ineffective as hiding our sins behind well-manicured excuses. We convince ourselves that we only told a white lie or a half-truth. We convince ourselves that we’re OK so long as we look but don’t touch.

We have “respectable” or “character-flaw” sins. The “everybody does it,” sins. The “I just am the way I am,” sins. We tell ourselves that we don’t gossip, we just “share” our concerns with anyone who will listen. We don’t covet; we saddle ourselves with thousands of dollars of debt to acquire the stuff we want. We excuse our anger and belittle others, we brow beat our wives and lord over people calling it ‘tough’ love. We despise others and feel justified in despising them because of how terribly they have sinned or how foolishly they’ve acted. We convince ourselves that our jobs, hobbies and entertainments aren’t idols. And yet we’re too ‘busy’ to play with our kids, to pursue our wives or clean the house. We’re so busy we don’t have time to read our bibles, to pray, to sing, to fellowship or serve the community. Continue reading “Say the Same Thing”