Monday, June 29, 2020

Darkness and Light

We live in dark times.  The COVID-19 global pandemic, racism, Godzilla clouds from the Sahara – there’s just no end to the intensity and pervasiveness of the darkness that envelops the world.  And yet in one sense, this is nothing new.  Since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, people have been in an epic struggle between dark and light, evil and good.  If all we had at our disposal were newspapers and politicians, it would be pretty hopeless.  But thanks be to God, this isn’t the case.  Today, let’s consider Light and Dark and our individual and collective responsibilities as Christians.

Matthew 5:14-16
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  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:
The World lives in Darkness
·      John 3:19b – “but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”
·      Acts 26:18 (Jesus speaking to Paul) – “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
·      Why does sin shroud Man in darkness?

God is Light
·      1 John 1:5 – “This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”
·      In John 1:4-5, the apostle tells us, “In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

We have been brought into the Light
·      In John 8, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
·      Colossians 1:13 – “For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves”

We are the Light of the world
·      Matthew 5:14-16 – “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
·      1 John 1:6-7 – “If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”

Our Response
·      Thinking about your family, how do we let our light shine before others?
·      Thinking about your neighbors, how do we let our light shine before others?
·      Thinking about our society, how do we let our light shine before others?
·      Thinking about our world, how do we let our light shine before others?

Monday, June 8, 2020

Do Something

Matthew West - Do Something - YouTube

Last week, we talked about how God is looking for people who will stand up and be counted, especially in the face of injustice.  We read in Isaiah 59:16  “He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene.”  I ended our note with Be Somebody. But be somebody to do what?  Whether big or small, God calls us to not just talk about, even agree on things that aren’t right, but He also commands us to Do Something.  We’re going to look at one of the most familiar verses, found in James 2 that clearly communicates that the walk has to match the talk.


James 2:14-17

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?   In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.



Things to think about:

·      Given the protests that have gone on for over a week now, clearly there are a lot people who are motivated to “do something”

o   We can agree that the violence and looting isn’t helpful

o   What constructive actions have you seen people take?

o   Hopefully we can also agree that the Church needs to stand up and be involved

o   What have you seen the Church or Christians do to make a positive difference?

o   What do you think the church’s response should be?


§  What Scripture or Christian principle would you use to support that view?

·      Our verse is about seeing the needs of the local community (a brother or sister) and meeting them. 

o   Seeing the needs of the community can come in Small, Medium, and Large sizes

§  Small – one person you know (or know of) where you can meet their needs

§  Medium – a group, area, or other trait that addresses the needs of a larger group of folks.

§  Large – getting involved at the city, state, or national level to affect change for the better

·      Do you find yourself sufficiently motivated to Do Something to bring justice where God has given you the sight to see its absence?

o   What does that look like for you?

§  If not, James 1:5 - If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

o   Have you already begun to put your faith into action?

o   Do you need an extra dose of courage to overcome any fear or reluctance to act?

§  Psalm 56:3-4 - When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise— in God, I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

My prayer for each of us that we will find our role in addressing injustice in whatever form God has called us to intervene.



Monday, June 1, 2020

Race and Christianity

Remembering George Floyd: Devoted father, 'gentle giant' | USA ...

First of all, please know this is a very strange blog for me to write.  I'm afraid that even in the writing of it I may be offending some.  If that's the case, please accept my apologies. But I'm more afraid of being a coward and not addressing a topic I feel needs to be addressed. Ephesians 4:15 implores us to  "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ."

The George Floyd tragedy and the COVID death disparity are the two most recent examples that the world Africa-Americans and other people of color live in and the world whites live in are very different.  James 2:1-9 is about the forbidding of favoritism and it seems to me that racism is an ugly form of favoritism.

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 

Things to think about:
  • Speaking the truth in love - Love without truth is mush.  Truth without love is harsh.
  • I believe God is the Artist who loves color would have us celebrate the variety in His creation. I don't believe in color blindness because that tries to ignore the beauty of the quilt God has made.  I am richer when I embrace others from different backgrounds who don't necessarily look or sound like me.
    • Why should you see color?
  • Full transparency about the current climate (How do you really feel about it?)
  • What you (don’t/want) to understand about race, police violence, etc.? What is the lingering question you’ve always wanted to ask?
  • Advocating in your respective circles for your brothers (When topics of race surface do you stand in the gap, tend to agree or remain silent?)
  • What can we as a group do to help? Heal? Change for the better? 
Isaiah 59: 1-9
So Justice is driven back,
    and Righteousness stands at a distance;
Truth has stumbled in the streets,
    Honesty cannot enter.
Truth is nowhere to be found,
    and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.
The Lord looked and was displeased
    that there was no Justice.
 He saw that there was no one,
    he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;

so His own arm achieved Salvation for him,
    and His own Righteousness sustained him.