Monday, August 21, 2017

Total Eclipse


Happy Eclipse Day!
Today was fun with America experiencing the eclipse of the sun by the moon.  For a 70-mile wide swath cut across the US, there was a total eclipse. A lot of people I spoke to were excited by the event and made sure to get outside while it was passing through their region. When I went out, there was an eerie darkening (but not darkness) that enveloped the area, kind of like when a big thunderstorm is approaching. As we all know, during a solar eclipse, the moon takes an unusual position relative to the Earth and sun, effectively blocking out the sun’s light. It is amazing that such a small orb, with no natural light of its own, can block out the immense energy and light of the powerful star that makes our mere existence possible.  Without working the metaphor too hard, let’s see how Man can get into a position relative to the Son and block His light from reaching others.

Matthew 5:16
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Things to think about:
·       Jesus says that we are to let our light so shine before others that God is glorified
o   What is the source of our light?
§  Our innate goodness?  Good deeds? Something else?
§  2 Corinthians 4:6 - For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
o   Why does the light of our good deeds attract others to God?
§  Did someone shed light in your life through his or her good deeds that made God attractive to you?
§  Why isn’t the power of our words enough to persuade others?
·      As we noted, it is the orbit of the Moon relative to the Sun that creates the darkness.
o   How do the orbits of Man block the light of the Son?
§  Busyness
§  Worry
§  Pride
§  Lust
§  Greed
§  Indifference
§  Blindness
§  Selfishness
§  Laziness
§  Anger
§  Ambition
o   Which of these orbits do you have a natural gravity to drift into? Are there others you can think of?
o   If you have experienced some measure of victory in one of these orbits, what advice would you give a brother operating in darkness?
·      Only you and God may see some of the spiritual eclipses. Man looks on the outside but God sees the heart.
o   Others are maybe obvious to others and we are in the dark (wives and kids are good for helping us in this area!)
o   Let’s ask God to cast light into the darkness and get us back into our right position with Him and the Son
·      Who is on your heart right now that motivates you enough to not block the Son?


Monday, August 14, 2017

Unknown


God had sent Paul on a missionary journey and one of his stops was in Athens.  He needed to stay there while he was waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him.  It is during this time that he gave one of his most famous sermons at a place called Mars Hill.   I’ve highlighted verse 23 because there is a lot we can learn from his style of engaging with people who don’t necessarily see the world as you or I might.

Acts 17:23
 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.


Things to think about:
·      I love this little excerpt because it says so much about how to reach people.
o   I walked around
§  Paul was in Greece, a very foreign place for a well-bred Jew.  Rather than keep to himself, he went about into the area and explored it.
o   I looked carefully at your stuff
§  He made it a point to be observant of their culture, the things that were of interest to the local people.
o   I especially remember this one thing
§  Paul calls out on item in particular that gave him a point of connection from which he could share the good news.
·      Paul was very intentional in his approach. He got out of his comfort zone and steeped himself in the culture of the folks of Athens.  He wanted to know what they believed, not just tell them what he believed. He even identified a specific, relevant example that provided a door through which he and they could walk.
o   What else do you notice about Paul’s style of engagement?
o   How different of an approach is that compared to today where many just want to scream/tweet louder than the next person?
·      Let’s get level set on what’s going on here and take a step back:
o   While he was mingling with the locals, he spoke with all kinds, not just likeminded people (Jews, God-fearing Greeks, as well as whoever happened to be there). Paul was not an intellectual or religious snob.
o   Just like today, there were hyper-liberals (Epicureans) and hyper-conservatives (Stoics). And just like today, they insulted him by calling him a babbler and peddler of weird ideas.
o   They basically put him on their version of a talk show to interview him on his wacky philosophy.  It is at this point he makes his observation about their altar to an Unknown God.
·      He effortlessly pivots from this Unknown God to the one true God who created everything, gives life to everyone, as well as everything we need.   For in Him we live and move and have our very being.
o    God determined the times and places of all human history so men might seek Him and reach out to Him, though He is not far from each of us.
§  He is still doing this today! You are who you are and where you are by His perfect design so you can know Him.
·      But the real stumper for the men of Athens was the assertion that Jesus was raised from the dead.
o   vv. 30-34 - …but now He commands all people everywhere to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead. When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” At that, Paul left the Council. Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. 
·      Did you ever think that in 2017 you would wind up where you live? (I didn’t!)  But here we are by God’s perfect plan.
o   If you haven’t already, now is a good time to seek Him and reach out to Him.  In Him we have our very being!
o   If you have already taken the step of faith and turned to the one God has made Judge, then how can you take a lesson from Paul to understand other’s points of view and have rational discussions to shed truth amid darkness?

o   Not everyone will believe but that is between him or her and God.  The important thing is that we partake in His work and help others to believe in The Known God.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Fake News



“Fake News” is defined as the intentional dissemination of false or misleading information.  This is not a new phenomenon and is as old as time. If the Gospel is the Good News, then what is some of the fake news being circulated?  Let’s be good journalists and ask the key questions any good cub reporter would.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures… 

Things to think about:
 WHO   
·      Who is Jesus Christ?
o   Fake news says He was a good person, a wise teacher, a prophet, but He is not God
o   The Gospel says in John chapter 1:1-3 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”
o   Who do you say He is? 
o   Who have you said earlier in your life?
·      Who am I?
o   Fake news says either “you’re a pretty good person” so just keep doing what your doing and don’t think about it too much, OR “you’re worthless” and how could God ever accept someone like you?
o   The Gospel says in Galatians 4:6-7 – “Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”
o   Who do you say you are?
o   Have you always felt this way?

WHY
·      Why do we need Jesus?
o   Fake news says you don’t need Him! Just try to be a good person and it’ll all work out. Besides, you don’t want to be one of those religious, crazy, right-wing zealots who looks down their noses on other people.
o   The Gospel says in Romans 3:23 – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life Christ Jesus our Lord.”
o   Why do you believe you do or don’t need Jesus?

WHAT
·      What do I need to do to be a son of God?
o   Fake news says go to church, give some money, and try not to do any of the really bad sins (or at least don’t get caught).
o   The Gospel says in Romans 10:9 - If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 
o   What do you need to do to be a son or daughter of God?
·      What happens after this life is over?
o   Fake news says nothing happens that’s consequential.  You die and you turn into worm food.
o   The Gospel says in Matthew 25:46, “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
o   What do you believe happens when you take your last breath?
o   What if you’re wrong?
WHEN
·      When do I need to make a decision?
o   Fake news says you don’t. See talking points for Who am I? Why do I need Jesus? What happens after this life is over?
o   The Gospel says in 2 Corinthians 6:2, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
o   What is keeping you from saying Yes today?

o   When will be the right time if not today?