Understanding Christian-To-Christian Sensitivity

Posted by on January 25, 1998 under Sermons

In this society, as we struggle in our relationships, there is a loud heart cry that few people hear. This heart cry comes from many wives, many husbands, many parents, many children, and many Christians. What is this heart cry that few people hear? “You don’t have to have my feelings. You don’t have to have my needs. But please respect my feelings and my needs.”

“If you ignore my feelings and my needs, you ignore me. If you are blind my feelings and my needs, you are blind to me. If you laugh at my feelings and my needs, you laugh at me. If you ridicule my feelings and my needs, you ridicule me. If you trash my feelings and my needs, you trash me.”

  1. Let me share with you a simple but true illustration.
    1. A wife must make a decision that troubles her.
      1. She approaches her husband in this way: “Honey, I really need to talk to you. If I have to make a decision, and I am really trying to think it through. It would help so much if I could just talk to you.”
        1. He says, “Sure!” and begins to listen.
        2. After listening five minutes, he thinks to himself, “She’s rambling. She isn’t being logical. She isn’t putting this together. I will help her.”
        3. He interrupts and says, “What you need to do is obvious. Just do this, this, and this, the problem is solved. Let me logically explain to you why.”
      2. It is obvious that he insulted her; she obviously is angry; and immediately a chilling silence fills the house as she walks off.
    2. Her husband must make a decision that troubles him.
      1. He does not even tell his wife that he has a decision to make.
        1. In fact, he does not say a word to her.
        2. He withdraws into himself and becomes silent and moody.
        3. He is unapproachable and obviously does not want to be disturbed.
      2. She senses that he is struggling, so she tries to approach him: “Honey, is something bothering you? Do we need to talk?”
        1. He replies, “Nothing is wrong! I am just thinking. All I need is space.”
        2. Bewildered, she feels like she has been rebuked and rejected.
      3. He thinks the matter through, makes his decision, and everything is okay.
    3. Consider a huge secret: women search for conclusions; men solve problems.
      1. The way that women search for conclusions is by talking to someone.
        1. When a wife asks her husband to listen, that is all she wants.
        2. She does not want him to think for her or give her advice.
        3. She does not want him to solve the problem for her.
        4. She does not want an editorial.
        5. She wants her husband to listen–if he understands her feelings and needs, he listens.
      2. Men solve problems by reasoning within themselves.
        1. They don’t want to talk; they want to focus.
        2. They don’t want someone else’s evaluations; they want to reason within themselves.
        3. And they want to be left alone while they think.
        4. If his wife understands his feelings and his needs, she lets him think.
    4. Do you realize how many marriages suffer times of excruciating pain because husbands and wives do not understand each others’ feelings and needs?
      1. Do you realize how much heartache this ignorance creates?
      2. Do you realize how much pain is created because husbands and wives are ignorantly insensitive to each others’ feeling and needs?
  2. The insensitivity of ignorance is the problem Paul addressed in Romans 14.
    1. Jewish Christians did not understand the spiritual needs of Christians who worshipped idols before conversion.
      1. They did not understand the spiritual realities of a person who worshipped idols in the past but now believed in Jesus Christ.
      2. Jewish Christians were certain that these Christians should think and feel just like they thought and felt.
      3. Jewish Christians did not want to understand their feelings and needs; they just wanted to change their feelings and needs.
    2. Christians who worshipped idols before conversion to Jesus Christ did not understand the feelings and needs of Jewish Christians.
      1. They did not understand the spiritual realities of a person who stopped trusting the law in order to trust a Savior.
      2. They were convinced that Jewish Christians should think and feel like they thought and felt.
      3. They did not want to understand the feelings and needs of Jewish Christians; they just want to change their feelings and needs.
    3. So this is what they did to each other.
      1. Jewish Christians looked at non-Jewish Christians with contempt (Romans 14:3).
      2. Non-Jewish Christians condemned Jewish Christians (Romans 14:3).
      3. Jewish Christians said that there were some days that were more holy and more important than other days (Romans 14:5).
      4. Non-Jewish Christians said that there were no special holy days (Romans 14:5).
      5. So each condemned the other or caused the other to spiritually stumble (Romans 14:13).
    4. Paul said:
      1. Stop the condemning; stop holding each other in contempt (Romans 14:3).
      2. Neither of you are to Lord over the other (Romans 14:4).
      3. Be true to your own understanding and your own conscience (Romans 14:5).
      4. Each of you must understand this: the other does what he does for the Lord to express his faith (Romans 14:6).
    5. Paul said, “Both of you are Christians; you need to be sensitive to each other’s spiritual feelings and needs.”
  3. Last Sunday I stated that we did not recognize the spiritual needs of different groups within the congregation.
    1. I stated that we needed to grow in our respect and sensitivity for each others’ spiritual needs.
      1. You may sincerely respond, “David, I think we are a sensitive congregation.”
      2. “I really think that we are quite considerate of other people.”
    2. In many things and many ways that is very true.
      1. This congregation does an incredible job of responding to other people’s physical needs.
      2. Yet, in many ways, we do not understand how to respond to other people’s spiritual needs.
      3. In important ways, identifiable groups don’t understand each other’s spiritual needs.
      4. When we don’t understand each other, we react against each other.
      5. When we react against each other, we stop respecting each other.
    3. Allow me to explain the kind of insensitivity that I am talking about.
      1. In each generation, personal perspective is the interpretation of life and life’s events on the basis of experience and knowledge.
      2. In that interpretation, experience is always more powerful than knowledge.
      3. Life experiences influences all of us more than what we were taught.
    4. For the sake of example, let me continue last Sunday’s illustration.
      1. I contrasted the experiences of those above 60 with the experiences of those below 20.
      2. This is the basic contrast:
        1. Those above 60 have experienced war, poverty, and stable relationships.
        2. Those below 20 have experienced peace, prosperity, and unstable relationships.
  4. There are many ways to illustrate this, but let’s illustrate it with the words, phrases, and content of the songs different groups enjoy in public worship.
    1. Since distinct illustrations are best produced by extremes, let’s contrast the songs that the depression and World War II generations love with the songs our below 20 generation enjoy.
    2. The songs the generations who experienced the depression and World War II love to sing are about God helping us with this world’s troubles.
      1. “Be With Me Lord” It includes the statements, “I cannot bear the loads of life unaided,” and “If dangers threaten, if storms of trial burst above me head, if lashing seas leap everywhere about me…”
      2. “Safe In the Arms of Jesus” includes, “Only a few more trials, only a few more tears.”
      3. “It Is Well With My Soul” includes “when sorrows like sea billows roll.”
      4. “Whispering Hope” urges “Wait till the darkness is over, wait till life’s tempest is done” and speaks of the “deepening darkness” and “the night being upon us.”
      5. “Does Jesus Care” talks about pain, burdens, distress, weariness, grief, dread, and fear.
      6. “Precious Memories” is a nostalgia song that talks about precious father, loving mother, old home scenes from my childhood, and not knowing what the years may hold.
      7. “The Church In the Wildwood” is a nostalgia song that talks about the little church building in the woods that I knew when I was a child.
    3. I asked Brad (our youth director) to give me the songs our teenagers most enjoy.
      1. The most popular is, “Light the Fire,” [not in our song book] that praises God and asks for a better relationship with God. “Light the fire–in my soul. Fan the flame–make me whole. Lord you know–where I’ve been. So light the fire in my heart again.”
      2. “Step By step” praises God and promises follow His ways by walking in His steps.”
      3. “I Will Call Upon the Lord” praises the God I trust.
      4. “Nobody Fills My Heart Like Jesus” thanks God for breaking through “my heart,” and for all that Jesus did in saving me. It declares that “nobody fills my heart like Jesus.”
      5. “Thank You, Lord” thanks God for all He has done and all He will do.
      6. “Listen To Our hearts” says, “God, only my heart can tell you how much I love you.”
      7. “I Want To Be Where You Are” says, “I want to live every day of my life in your presence.”
    4. Let me focus you on some basic insights.
      1. The songs we who are over 60 love cannot mean to our teens what they mean to us because the teens have not had our experiences.
        1. To us, those songs are wonderful, powerful statements of our faith that come out of our childhood, out of our war and poverty experiences.
        2. But those songs do not reflect the childhood or the experiences of our grandchildren.
      2. Our teens live in an evil society, but not a society struggling with war and poverty.
        1. They value relationships.
        2. The songs they love celebrate God’s personal help, praise God for relationship, and affirm that relationship.
        3. To those of us who are above 60, relationship does not mean to us what relationship means to our grandchildren.
    5. Two things must happen to increase our understanding and sensitivity to each other’s spiritual needs just in the songs we sing.
      1. We who are over 60 need to share why our songs mean so much to us, and teens need to listen.
      2. Teens need to share why their songs mean so much to them, and we who are over 60 need to listen.

When a group makes it clear, “We don’t like your songs, and I am not going to sing them,” are we not being insensitive and destroying respect? Is it not clear that each person loves the songs that reflect his/her experience and touch his/her spiritual needs? If we are insensitive about something as simple as a song, wonder in what other ways we are insensitive?

I am so grateful that we belong to a loving God. And I am so grateful that we belong to the resurrected Jesus Christ.

God can do things humans find so complex we can never master.
God knows what every heart needs. He knows what every Christian wants to say to Him. He doesn’t hear us singing and praying as a group, but as individuals.
Your Christian brother or sister may not understand you as you think they should. Your Christian brother or sister may not be as sensitive as you think they should be.
But, God knows. God sees. God cares.
Don’t think about other people when you worship. Don’t think about other people when you serve. Think about God.
Are you living like a person who trusts in God? Have you become His child? We invite you to Jesus Christ who understands every person, including you.

Jesus’ Focus On “The Price”

Posted by on January 18, 1998 under Sermons

What is the “price” we Christians must pay to be Christians? Jesus indicated in many ways that the “price” existed. The fact that a “price” exists should not surprise us. If his sacrificial life and death on a cross was his “price” for becoming our Savior, it should not surprise us that there would be a “price” for belonging to him as Savior.

But what is the “price” that Jesus had in mind? The New Testament repeatedly emphasizes that (1) we are saved by grace through faith; (2) we are not saved on the basis of human deeds; (3) we cannot earn our salvation; and (4) we cannot place God in debt to us. All that being true, what is this “price”?

Tonight let Jesus give us some important insights into the “price” by studying Luke 14. I encourage you to take your Bibles and follow with me as we study.

  1. Understanding the situation is important.
    1. Jesus was invited into the home of one of Israel’s prominent religious leaders.
      1. The man was a leading Pharisee–a Pharisee who was a member of the Sanhedrin.
        1. If the Sanhedrin was the Jerusalem Sanhedrin, the man was a nationally recognized scholar who was a member of their highest court.
        2. This man invited Jesus and some guests into his home to eat.
        3. It was an honor to be invited to have a meal in this man’s home.
      2. It was a Sabbath day–the day that Jews honored God by not working.
        1. The Pharisees strictly honored the Sabbath by strictly doing nothing that could be considered work.
        2. All human acts of work were divided into thirty-nine different categories.
        3. Ask a Pharisee about any human act, and he would tell you if that act was an act of work that would violate the Sabbath.
    2. Carefully note two facts.
      1. First, note that Jesus accepted the invitation.
        1. Jesus associated with all kinds of people and went into the homes and ate with all kinds of people.
        2. He was so willing to associate and eat with anyone that he was criticized by the Pharisees because he associated with sinners and tax collectors.
        3. Luke 5:29,30 records the occasion when Jesus attended a huge reception for tax collectors in Levi’s house–tax collectors were on the bottom of Jewish society because they had an earned reputation of dishonesty and greed.
        4. In Luke 7:36-50 and in Luke 14:1-24 Jesus had meals in the homes of Pharisees, and this Pharisee was at the top of approved, religious society.
        5. Jesus associated with everybody.
      2. Second, note that Jesus had a teaching for everybody.
        1. Everybody needed to learn something.
        2. Depending on what they needed to learn, Jesus taught different people different lessons.
  2. Carefully consider the lessons Jesus taught different people who were in the Pharisee’s home.
    1. First, Jesus taught a lesson to the Pharisee who invited him and to the guests who were experts in the teachings of the Old Testament.
      1. One of the guests was a diseased person; he visibly had signs of a person suffering from heart, kidney, or liver disease.
      2. The Pharisees classified healing on the Sabbath day to be an act of work if the person healed was not dying that day.
      3. Jesus did not ask them if healing was an act of work.
      4. Jesus asked them, “Does it violate the law of Moses to heal someone on the Sabbath day?”
        1. They did not answer his question.
        2. So Jesus healed the sick man.
      5. Then Jesus asked them, “If you had an animal that fell into a well on the Sabbath, would you pull it out of the well?” Their laws permitted them to do that.
    2. Second, Jesus had a lesson for the invited guests.
      1. Your seat at the meal indicated your importance, your social significance.
      2. Each guest was busy trying to determine where he would sit.
      3. They wanted the most honorable, privileged seat they could have.
      4. Jesus taught them by using a parable.
        1. “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t take the most important seat.”
        2. “If you do, someone more distinguished than you will arrive, and you will be asked to move.”
        3. “You will be embarrassed in two ways: you will be disgraced in front of everyone, and the only seat available will be the most unimportant place at the feast.”
        4. “Sit down at the most unimportant seat, then you will be asked to move to a more important seat and be honored before everyone.”
        5. “The person who exalts himself will be humbled; the person who humbles himself will be exalted.”
    3. Third, Jesus had a personal lesson for the Pharisee who was his host.
      1. “The next time you invite guests into your home for a meal, do not invite friends, relatives, or wealthy neighbors.”
      2. “They will repay you by later inviting you to pay you back.”
      3. “Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind–invite people who need your kindness and cannot repay you.”
      4. “If you do that, God will repay your deeds when the righteous are resurrected.”
      5. Jesus said, “Instead of playing the social game of “who is who,” concentrate on helping people who need your help.”
    4. One of the guests who heard Jesus’ statement said, “Blessed is everyone who eats bread in God’s kingdom.”
      1. There were things in that statement that they understood that you and I would not see.
        1. A very popular idea was that God’s kingdom would be an earthly kingdom.
        2. A common symbol of the resurrection of the righteous was the banquet–in the same way that we use the idea of heaven they used the idea of the feast.
      2. I don’t know what the guest was trying to do–he may have made that comment to break the tension or to ease the awkwardness of the moment.
      3. Jesus responded by giving another parable about the feast , the Pharisees’ common concept of heaven.
        1. In the parable a wealthy man prepared an enormous, expensive feast.
        2. When the food was ready [remember slaughtering, preparing, and cooking took a long time in those days], the man sent a slave to tell all the invited guest to come.
        3. The guests made excuses and refused to come.
        4. The man was angry, and told the slave to go into the streets of the city and invite anyone he saw–including the poor, crippled, blind, and lame.
        5. The slave did, returned, and told him that there was still room for more people at the feast.
        6. The man said, “Go out into the countryside and invite anyone and everyone–my house will be filled for this feast.”
        7. “None of the guests that I invited will eat this meal.”
      4. Jesus point: those who are at God’s feast truly will be blessed, but they will not be the people that you expect to be there.
  3. When Jesus left the Pharisee’s home, the enormous crowd waiting on him followed him.
    1. He turned to the crowd and said, “If you want to be my disciple, there are some things you need to understand.”
      1. “Your commitment to me must be more important than your family.”
      2. “You must not be ashamed to carry your cross and follow me.”
      3. “Just like a king that declares war, or a man who begins to build a castle, you need to count the cost before you begin.”
      4. “If you are to be salt, you must keep your saltiness–or you are not useful.”
    2. There are sermons upon sermons in these statements.
      1. He is not teaching that people who follow him must neglect their families to be faithful.
        1. The New Testament is quite clear: Christians have special responsibilities in family relationships; denying those responsibilities make the Christian worse than a person who does not even believe in Jesus Christ.
        2. He is teaching that our top priority in life is following Jesus.
      2. The cross was a horrible symbol of shame and disgrace in that time.
        1. Jesus said they must realize that following him would not lead them to earthly prestige and honor, but to public shame and disgrace.
        2. Their desire to be his disciples was a commitment that was not afraid of shame or disgrace.
      3. The salt statement basically declared that if they were not willing to be an influence for him, they were of no value to him.
      4. Considering these realities, they needed to consider the cost of following Jesus and know that they were willing to pay that price.
  4. I want you to see something that is extremely important in this chapter.
    1. This is not just a collection of parables and situations that were just thrown together for no reason at all.
      1. Luke had a reason for placing these things together.
      2. Notice that no one had it “all figured out” and had nothing to learn.
        1. The Pharisee host had something to learn.
        2. The experts in scripture had something to learn.
        3. The guests had something to learn.
        4. The “tension breaker” guest had something to learn.
        5. The people waiting to follow him had something to learn.
        6. It is obvious that the tax collectors and sinners in chapter 15 had something to learn.
      3. Please note that they had different lessons to learn.
    2. No one has all the answers, no one has it all “figured out,” no one has come to the perfect knowledge of all the right conclusions.
      1. The roots that spiritually nourish and develop a Christian are not developed in a system that binds religious rules and requirements.
      2. The roots that spiritually nourish and develop a Christian are developed by having a heart and mind that constantly grow toward the mind and heart of Christ.
      3. There certainly are commands to be obeyed.
      4. There certainly are things that are required of the Christian.
      5. But maturing as a Christian is not as simple as listing the commands and requirements and doing them.
    3. Let me illustrate the point in this way.
      1. If Jesus visited with us, he would do the same thing with us that he did in the Pharisee’s home.
      2. He would say to me, “David, you need to think about and understand this.”
      3. He would say to the elders, “Men, you need to understand this.”
      4. He would say to each group in this congregation, “What you need to understand is this.”
      5. Truthfully, he would say to each individually, “This is the lesson you need to understand.”
      6. And the lessons would not be the same for each of us.

Why? Because each Christian is growing in mind and heart closer to the mind and heart of Jesus, closer to the mind and heart of God. None of us, on this earth, will ever develop the mind and heart of Jesus and of God.

That is the “price.” We learn. We understand. We change. We develop. We mature. We become more and more Christ-like. And that is hard. That is the most difficult, expensive price that we can pay to belong to Christ. But that is the basic price of following Jesus.

As Christians, we must never be afraid to grow spiritually. We must never be afraid to learn anything scripture teaches us. We must never be afraid to understand anything that we did not understand in the past. As long as Christ and the Bible is the teacher, we must not be afraid.

As we grow, we are always leaving good growth for better growth.

Our “Right Now” Challenge

Posted by on under Sermons

In today’s world do you think being the church that Christ built is easy? “Oh, no! Being Christ’s church in today’s world is extremely difficult. It is harder than it has ever been. When the church began in the first century, things were so simple. Today things are so complicated. The denominational approach to Christianity confuses people. Today there are so many different theologies. Today many people create their own personal beliefs by combining ideas from different religions. Then there are the problems: abortion, homosexuality, adultery, sexually active singles, troubled homes, divorce, greed, dishonesty. It is much harder to be Christ’s church today.”

Do a little research. The problems the first century church faced were more complicated than the problems Christ’s church faces today. The church of the first century faced difficult problems that we have never faced. Inside the church, things were more difficult than they are now.

So were things outside the church. Divorce was more common among the Jews and the Romans than it is today. In fact, the Roman government was the first government to use civil law to attempt to stabilize marriage. Fathers who did not want a baby had the baby taken outside the city and left to die as soon as it was born. Homosexuality was common in Greek society. Some religions practiced sexual intercourse as an act of worship. The first century world was a very corrupt world.

  1. Consider one enormous challenge that faced the early church.
    1. A congregation came into existence in a new area when people were baptized into Christ, and these were the first Christians ever to exist in that area.
      1. Each Christian had to learn 100% of everything about Christian existence.
      2. Many converts had nothing in common but their belief in Jesus Christ.
    2. Consider just three situations.
      1. The first congregation of Christians was established in a Jewish community in Palestine–all its members were Jewish.
        1. A Pharisee was baptized–Pharisees believed that you had to strictly obey Jewish religious laws.
        2. A Sadducee was baptized–Sadducees believed God blessed people by giving them money and possessions; life after death did not exist.
        3. Jews who had always lived in Palestine were baptized.
        4. Some Jews who were reared in other countries were baptized–their worship practices were a little different to the worship of Jews in Palestine.
        5. Can you imagine the problem of trying to lead all these new Christians to the same understandings?
      2. The first congregation in a city in another country is established.
        1. People who worshipped idols are baptized–idol worshippers believed in many gods.
        2. Atheists were baptized–atheists were so disgusted with powerless idols that they rejected all gods.
        3. God-fearers were baptized–God-fearers believed in the God of the Jews, but they had not converted to Judaism.
        4. Proselytes were baptized–proselytes had converted to Judaism.
        5. Can you imagine the difficulty of leading all these new Christians to the same understanding?
      3. Then the most complicated situation of all–the first congregation is established in a community, and this congregation has both Jewish and non- Jewish members.
        1. Can you really imagine the difficulty of leading that congregation to a common understanding?
        2. Can you really image the difficulty of getting these people to agree?
    3. Let me give you a specific example from the Acts 16:11-34.
      1. Paul and Silas visited the city of Philippi.
        1. As always on the first Sabbath they were in a city–they looked for the place that Jews worshipped.
        2. They found and taught a group of women meeting on a river bank.
      2. Lydia was one of those women; she believed in the God of the Jews.
        1. She was a business woman [rare for that time] who sold special color of cloth to wealthy people [only the wealthy and rulers wore this color].
        2. Though she was from the city of Thyatira, she had a household in Philippi; that probably means she was wealthy and had servants.
        3. She and her household were baptized, and she insisted that Paul and Silas stay in her home.
      3. Later Paul had trouble with the city rulers because he healed a girl.
        1. He and Silas were publicly beaten and thrown into jail.
        2. The jailer was ordered to make certain that they did not escape.
        3. At midnight as Paul and Silas sang and prayed in their cell, an earthquake opened all the jail cells.
        4. The jailer rushed into the jail, saw the cell doors open, assumed the prisoners had escaped, and was in the act of committing suicide when Paul stopped him.
        5. Paul taught him and his household and baptized them that night.
      4. This new congregation started with a professional woman who believed in God and with a rough, insensitive jailer who was not a Jew.
        1. From its beginning, it contained people from society’s top and bottom.
        2. From its beginning, it contained people with different religious backgrounds.
      5. The letter called Philippians was written by Paul to this congregation.
        1. Members had trouble getting along with each other (2:1-4).
        2. While many good things happened in the congregation, they also had some bad motives, selfishness, and conceit among the members (2:3).
        3. Paul begged them to improve their relationships. (2:1-2).
        4. Paul’s solution (2:3-11):
          1. Regard other members as being more important than yourself.
          2. Stop thinking about your own interests; be concerned about the best interest of others.
          3. Imitate Jesus’ surrender and humility.
        5. There were two devout Christian ladies in serious conflict with each other; Paul said help them end their conflict (4:2,3).
  2. The “right now” challenge facing us is our “right now” realities.
    1. We must make a serious commitment to address the real spiritual needs of every group in this congregation.
      1. The spiritual needs of the married are not the spiritual needs of the single.
      2. The spiritual needs of the widow are not the spiritual needs of the divorced.
      3. The spiritual needs of marrieds with children are not the spiritual needs of single parent homes.
      4. The spiritual needs of the 60 plus are not the spiritual needs of teenagers.
      5. The spiritual needs of those with no Christian background are not the spiritual needs of third generation Christians.
      6. For many real reasons, we are different. Jesus Christ perfectly ministers to every spiritual need in all of our different situations.
        1. As Christ’s church, Christ gave us the responsibility to minister effectively to all spiritual needs just as he ministers to all spiritual needs.
        2. Our “right now” challenge is to become aware of different spiritual needs, to be sensitive to each other’s real spiritual needs, and to effectively minister to all spiritual needs of all Christians in all situations.
    2. Last fall this congregation had twenty-five teenagers of the age to begin college.
      1. Most of them were born in 1978 or 1979. Do you know what that means?
      2. The Iranian hostage crisis happened when they were infants.
      3. They have no memories from the Carter era.
      4. They were not yet teenagers when the Persian Gulf war began.
      5. They were not yet three years old when the world understood the reality of AIDS.
      6. They likely have never played a 78 rpm record or heard an 8-track tape.
      7. The digital disc was presented to Wall Street before they started to school.
      8. All their lives first class stamps have cost more than 15 cents.
      9. They have never seen or used a slide rule.
      10. Few of them have ever lived in a house without an answering machine.
      11. Few have ever used a TV with just 13 channels.
    3. Teens and young adults, let me ask you some questions.
      1. Not counting a camping trip or wilderness retreats:
      2. Have you lived every day where there was an outhouse but no bathroom?
      3. Have you hand drawn all the water you used from a well?
      4. Have you cooked on a wood stove, taken your milk from a cow, fried your chicken after cutting its head off, or harnessed a mule?
      5. Have you ever lived for over a year without electricity, without a telephone, and with only one family car?
      6. Could you live that way?
    4. Look around at all the older adults in this assembly.
      1. Most of them did all of that–for years.
      2. Very few [if any] of them want to do it again.
      3. But most of them could if they had to.
  3. May I state the obvious: we don’t understand each other; we don’t understand each other enough to respectfully acknowledge each other’s spiritual needs.
    1. The truth is this: we have as much trouble understanding or being sensitive to each other’s spiritual needs as a converted Pharisee had when he tried to understand a converted idol worshipper.
    2. We have wasted too much time and energy telling each other, “Your spiritual needs do not exist; Christians don’t have those spiritual needs.”
      1. We act like spiritual needs will disappear if we pretend that they do not exist.
      2. Those needs do not disappear; the people who have those needs disappear.
    3. I could illustrate this reality in a hundred ways, but let me use just one.
      1. In the churches of Christ, our teens are in a major, devastating crisis.
      2. Often parents and the church are in denial–we don’t understand the crisis.
      3. Instead of helping them answer their questions, or helping them deal with their real world, we either (1) tell them to isolate themselves or (2) say, “Christians don’t think that or do that.”
      4. Teens, we do that because we are afraid–afraid of your problems; afraid we may not know the answers because we really don’t understand.
    4. Teenagers have been sending us a message for the several years.
      1. We have often said, “Teens are not responsible; teens don’t know how to work; teens don’t take life seriously.”
      2. For several years, American teens have lived in a prosperous country that has had no major war.
      3. They have lived in a country where many adult relationships are terrible.
    5. Adults, we lived in times when there was war, and there was no prosperity.
      1. We worked hard for what we have, and we measure ourselves by our hard work and prosperity.
      2. Here is one major difference: we measure self and life by hard work and achievements; many teens measure themselves and life by relationships.
      3. They look at us and say, “I want relationships; relationships are more important to us than possessions.”
      4. “It is more important to me to protect relationships than it is to work like you work and let relationships suffer.”
      5. And we don’t hear.
      6. And we don’t understand them; and they don’t understand us.

How long will it be until we begin to identify the real spiritual needs that exist all around us? How long will it be until we work with Christ to meet those needs?

I don’t have all the answers. No one in this life has all the answers.

The good news is that there is not any spiritual need in anyone that cannot be met by Jesus Christ. I know the power is in God and the solution is in Jesus.

This is where we begin–
by real faith and real repentance followed by being born into Christ through baptism
–the beginning point.

Give your sins to Jesus. The solution begins when you take whatever is your problem to Jesus, the Savior.

If Everyone Agreed With Us . . . What Then?

Posted by on January 11, 1998 under Sermons

What happens after you accomplish your goal? Nothing? Once you reach your goal is there nothing left to do?

What happens after you achieve your mission? Nothing? Once you complete your mission, is there nothing left to do?

This morning my specific objective is to get inside the mind and the heart of each Christian present. I want each Christian here to think and to feel. I want you to be unable to stop thinking and feeling after you leave.

What you to think and feel are good, powerful thoughts. But I want those good, powerful thoughts to trouble your mind and heart.

So I ask again, what happens after you accomplish your goal, after you achieve your mission?

  1. Let’s begin to challenge our hearts and minds by thinking about Jesus.
    1. What was Jesus’ specific mission, what was his specific goal when he was born?
      1. That is a reflex answer–all of us as Christians know that answer by heart.
      2. Jesus’ specific mission on earth from his birth was to die for our sins.
      3. Jesus’ specific goal was his crucifixion, his execution on a cross.
      4. That is why he came; he came to die on a cross.
    2. Did Jesus achieve his mission; did he reach his goal?
      1. Yes!
      2. He died for our sins.
      3. He was crucified on a cross just outside the city of Jerusalem.
    3. When Jesus accomplished his goal, when he achieved his mission, was there anything left for Jesus to do?
      1. “He came to die on a cross for our sins, and he did.”
      2. “He did exactly, completely what he was sent to do.”
      3. “So, he went back to heaven, sat down by God, and was finished.”
      4. Wrong!
        1. Achieving his goal and mission made him Lord, Christ, and Savior.
        2. His death allowed him to begin his work as Lord, Christ, and Savior.
        3. Accomplishing his goal and mission did not complete his work; it only began his work.
        4. His work was possible after he reached his goal, fulfilled his mission.
  2. What is the goal, what is the mission of the West-Ark congregation in the Fort Smith area?
    1. Is our goal as a congregation to lead other religious people in Fort Smith to biblical agreement on specific salvation and worship questions?
      1. For example, is our goal, is our mission to seek agreement on:
        1. The importance of baptism by immersion in accepting salvation?
        2. The importance of taking communion every Sunday?
        3. The importance of singing without musical instruments in worship?
        4. The importance of complete independence for every congregation?
      2. Can we define our goal and our mission as a church, in the terms of baptism, communion, singing, and congregational independence?
      3. Please, please do not misunderstand my question.
        1. I fully agree that the New Testament clearly reveals that baptism by burial in water is part of the salvation response of people who become Christians.
        2. I fully agree that the New Testament teaches that baptism is for the remission of sins, that it does place one in Christ, and that it is involved in the process of God adding the person to the church.
        3. I fully agree that the New Testament reveals that the Christians of the first century gathered on Sundays to remember the death of Jesus by sharing the Lord’s supper.
        4. I fully agree that Christians in the first century sang in worship without the use of instrumental music.
        5. I fully agree that congregations in the first century were independent even though they cooperated.
        6. I fully agree that these matters need to be understood.
        7. My question is not should they be a part of our teaching; my question is should these four things define our goal and mission as a congregation?
    2. Did you know that there are 7,959 verses in the New Testament? (Biblical Analysis, C. H. Woodroof and Arvil Wellbaker, ADCO Publications, 1968, p. 251.)
      1. From the time of Jesus’ resurrection and the establishment of the church, there are 39 verses that use the words baptism, baptize, or baptized. That is .005% of the verses in the New Testament. Does that mean baptism is not important? Absolutely not–we cannot make baptism unimportant. But it does mean that baptism is not a core subject.
      2. In the entire New Testament, there are 28 verses that speak about communion or the Lord’s supper. That is .004% of all the verses in the New Testament. Does that mean the Lord’s Supper is not important? Absolutely not–we cannot make the Lord’s Supper unimportant. But it does mean that the Lord’s Supper not a core subject.
      3. From Acts forward, singing is mentioned as a Christian activity in 3 verses. That is .0004% of all the verses in the New Testament. Does that mean it is not important? Absolutely not–we cannot make singing unimportant. But it does mean that it singing in worship is not a core subject.
      4. Congregational independence is never discussed in the New Testament. The word autonomy is not found in the New Testament. Does that mean congregational independence is not important? Absolutely not. It means two things. It means that we have a problem today that they did not have in the first century. And it means that autonomy is not a core subject.
  3. Let’s suppose we accomplished our goals regarding baptism, communion, singing, and congregational independence in Fort Smith.
    1. Let’s suppose that every religious group in Fort Smith that declares itself to be a Christian group agreed with our study.
      1. Each group agrees on the purpose and method of baptism.
      2. Each group agrees that communion should be taken each Sunday.
      3. Each group agrees that we should sing without instruments in worship.
      4. Each group agrees that every congregation should be independent.
      5. They all agree that baptism by immersion for remission of sins, weekly communion, singing without instruments in worship, and congregational independence are consistent with the teachings of the New Testament.
    2. If every religious group in Fort Smith reached honest and complete agreement with us on those four matters, what would be different in this congregation?
      1. Would indifferent husbands and wives begin to love each other?
      2. Would Christian husbands and wives who are abusive or neglectful stop abusing and neglecting?
      3. Would indifferent or cold Christian parents become loving parents?
      4. Would Christian parents who ignore or neglect their children stop ignoring and neglecting?
      5. Would homes that experience distress, hostility, and fighting become peaceful and caring?
      6. Would Christians who are in conflict with each other, feel contempt for each other, or ignore each other stop acting that way?
      7. Would Christian husbands who commit adultery, or Christian wives who commit adultery, or sexually active unmarried teens and adult singles stop?
      8. Would all dishonesty, lying, and deceitfulness stop in our lives?
      9. Would the quality of fellowship, encouragement, and mutual burden bearing among Christians improve?
      10. Would our common addiction to materialism, to hunger for money, and to pleasure come to a screeching halt?
      11. Would the quality of our praise to God, would the earnest intensity of our prayers, would the serious study and application of God’s message to our lives make a gigantic step forward?
      12. If every religious body in Fort Smith agreed with us on baptism, communion, singing in worship, and congregational independence, what would change in this congregation?
      13. If we reached our goal, if we achieved our mission in those four matters, what difference would it make in this congregation?
    3. Don’t blow me off. Don’t say to yourself, “David, that is silly nonsense.”
      1. Would you really like to know how many wives or husbands in this congregation have been abused in their marriages in the last fourteen years?
      2. Would you really like to know how many children in this congregation have been abused in their homes in the last fourteen years?
      3. Would you really like to know how many families in this congregation have been hurt by adultery or by sexually active teens in the last fourteen years?
      4. Would you really like to know how many lives have been severely hurt through unethical, unwise, or dishonest decisions in the past fourteen years?
      5. Would you really like the know how many people have been spiritually destroyed by greed in the last fourteen years?
      6. Would you really like to know how many people have mortally wounded themselves in their passion for pleasure in the last fourteen years?
    4. If you sincerely think that I am talking nonsense, would you really like to know:
      1. The actual number of adult children that came from homes in this congregation who are no longer spiritual, who no longer worship, and who are no longer involved with God on any level?
      2. The actual number of people who used to be members of this congregation who now never worship?
    5. Is all that is necessary to reverse all these situations just a matter of getting everyone to agree on baptism, communion, singing, and congregational independence?
  4. One core subject in the New Testament is Christian relationships–both with Jesus Christ and with people.
    1. There is major emphasis on being a rebuilt people with new hearts and minds.
      1. This core teaching centers on being transformed, on understanding that God recreated us, on understanding what it means to be new creatures in Christ.
      2. People genuinely converted to Jesus Christ grow to be different people.
        1. You see it in the way they treat their husbands or wives.
        2. You see it in the way they treat the people born to them.
        3. You see it in the way they help and care about other Christians.
        4. You see it in the way they treat people, any people.
    2. May I ask you some questions?
      1. Do you understand how to let Jesus be Lord in your life, heart, and mind?
      2. Do you understand how to let Jesus rebuild your heart, your mind, and your life?
      3. Has the church ever taught you how to do that? I did not ask if the church told you to do it; I asked if the church taught you how to do it.

Do you think that Christianity is just a matter of doing church and agreeing on baptism, communion, singing, and congregational independence?

Do you understand what I mean when I say that it is time to stop doing church? It is time to learn how to be Christians.

Many of you do understand, and understand deeply, why you need to have a higher focus in your life and in this congregation. It’s all right that some don’t yet understand–as long as they are willing to grow.

I am thankful that I can belong to Christ and be a part of His crucifixion through baptism. I am thankful for Communion which reminds us of the Cross. I love to sing and to praise God. I value that no other congregation can tell us what we must do or understand.

There is more to driving a car than just knowing how to start it. There is more to being a child of God than just starting the process.

We want people to see that we have a relationship with Jesus Christ and that we have a relationship with each other.

There is nothing more wonderful than for you to die to sin and be raised to life through baptism into Christ. Surrender your life to Him. We will rejoice if we can assist you in any way spiritually.

“I’m Confused . . . What Do You Want?”

Posted by on January 4, 1998 under Sermons

People always have had problems with relationships. Relationships have confused every past generation. Relationships confuse us. That confusion becomes more evident every year. People experience difficulty when they try to get along with other people. More know how to argue and fight with others than they know how to enjoy others. Many people have a lot of acquaintances but few friends.

In no relationship is it more obvious that relationship skills are declining than it is in marriage. Troubled marriages outnumber stable marriages. Grieving marriages outnumber joyful marriages. Marriages in conflict outnumber marriages that cooperate. Marriages that show contempt outnumber marriages that express respect. More marriages fall to separation or divorce than rise to genuine contentment.

In talking with people whose troubled relationship causes them sorrow and anxiety, I hear this statement. “I am just so confused. I really tried to make things right. I tried to make him (or her) happy. But the harder I try, the worse it gets. I just don’t know what he (or she) wants.”

“I just don’t know what he (or she) wants.” That statement is an indicator statement. It places a finger on the pulse of misunderstanding. One of the reasons we function so poorly in relationships is because of this: we have a poor understanding about what is to occur in relationships. We want good relationships. We just don’t understand what is necessary to build a relationship. We don’t know what is expected.

That is true in both relationships with people and relationship with God.

  1. In your relationship with God, do you know what God wants?
    1. Probably many of us are confused in our relationship with God because we don’t know what God wants in the relationship.
      1. We don’t feel close to God–in fact, when we need to feel our closest to God is often when we feel very far from God.
      2. We feel like God is rejecting us instead of accepting us–when we struggle spiritually is also when we feel that God is disgusted with us.
      3. When we talk to God, we either feel very stiff or very habitual in our prayers.
        1. As we pray, we feel like we need to apologize for bothering God.
        2. While we are very sincere in what we say, we always seem to say the same things in the same way.
      4. We appreciate our salvation and we want God to be pleased with us.
      5. We just don’t feel that we are making God happy.
        1. We try to learn all that we are supposed to do, but knowing those things and trying to do them does not make us feel close to God–not as a child should feel toward his loving Father.
        2. We try to attend worship and study assemblies faithfully; sometimes we feel close to God in an assembly, but many times we don’t.
        3. We try to do what we are instructed to do–be baptized, take communion, worship–but sometimes we feel so empty, like we are going through the motions because we are supposed to.
    2. If I asked you to explain your understanding of what God wants, what would you tell me? Certainly, you could answer that question in many different ways.
      1. You might explain that God wants us to obey Him and discuss what we are to do to obey God.
      2. You might explain that God wants us to worship Him and discuss meaningful worship.
      3. You might explain that God wants us to help and serve other people and explain how we are to help others.
      4. You might explain that God wants us to teach other people about Christ and explain the importance of being evangelistic.
      5. You might explain that God wants us to help the church grow and mature and stress ways that we can do that.
      6. You might explain that God wants us to help those who are spiritually weak or struggling and explain how we can help each other with our burdens.
    3. I want you to carefully consider Paul’s answer to that question; listen as Paul explains what God wants in Titus 2:11-14.
      1. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, (La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation) 1996.)
      2. Let’s set the context of that statement.
        1. Paul is writing a letter to a young preacher named Titus.
        2. It is likely that Titus began his work as a preacher and missionary under the direction and guidance of Paul.
        3. When Paul sent this letter to Titus, Titus was working with some young congregations on the island of Crete.
        4. People living on Crete had an earned reputation for being wicked people who honored evil–some evil things were considered to be good.
        5. The island also had an influential Jewish community that created some serious problems for Christians.
        6. These congregations needed some stable leadership from mature, godly men.
        7. Paul left Titus at Crete to set that leadership in place.
        8. Titus needed to give careful attention to himself as he did that–to set leadership in place in a congregation is an enormous responsibility.
          1. So Paul reminded Titus to give careful consideration to the way that he related to and interacted with the people in those congregations.
          2. He had some special instructions for Christians who were young women, young men, or slaves.
  2. Then, in Titus 2:11-14, Paul explained what God wants when He saves people.
    1. First, Paul affirmed that God created the opportunity for all people to have salvation.
      1. Every person has the opportunity to escape an evil life and begin a new life.
        1. Anyone could be forgiven.
        2. Anyone could become God’s own son or daughter.
        3. It was extremely important to remember this when working among evil people.
      2. God’s goodness made salvation possible for anyone.
        1. God was unrestrained in revealing His goodness.
        2. God’s goodness was expressed as it had never been expressed.
        3. That was what Christ’s coming, life, death, and resurrection were all about–giving God the right to reveal and express His goodness without restrain.
      3. But notice (verse twelve) that God’s goodness or God’s grace instructs or disciplines (it trains people).
        1. God’s goodness teaches the person who accepts it how to discipline himself or herself.
        2. God’s grace is a gift, but if I accept the gift, it teaches me something.
        3. These people had lived out of control lives before they became Christians.
        4. God’s goodness made it possible for them to be Christians.
        5. But God’s goodness did not give them permission to continue to live out of control lives.
        6. God’s goodness intended to train them in how to live disciplined lives.
      4. When people accept God’s grace to gain salvation, they are to allow that grace to teach them.
        1. God’s goodness teaches them an essential negative lesson:
          1. Renounce the life that was controlled or directed by ungodliness (feelings and thoughts that have nothing to do with God).
          2. Renounce the life that was controlled or directed by earthly desires (passions that only consider physical desires but have no concern for God).
        2. God’s goodness teaches them an essential positive lesson:
          1. In your real life circumstances, live sensibly–do not merely do what you feel like doing or what you think will give you pleasure and satisfaction; bring yourself under control.
          2. In your real life circumstances, live righteously (uprightly, doing what is lawful, doing what is right–remember the situation in Crete).
          3. In your real life circumstances, live godly (think and act in ways that are appropriate for the person who has decided to belong to God).
      5. Why? Why will the person who accepts God’s salvation completely change the way he or she has lived?
        1. Before he or she accepted God’s goodness, he or she lived for greed, lived for pleasure, lived to satisfy the desire that controlled his or her thinking, ruled his or her feelings, or made him or her feel good.
        2. After accepting God’s goodness, he or she lived for something entirely different.
          1. It was not even found in this physical existence and experience.
          2. He or she began to live for hope rather than gratification, the hope that existed because that Jesus Christ the Savior would return.
          3. That is when our great God will give us a good life that will not end.
          4. That is when we will experience the joy of being a part of His eternal glory.
      6. God gave Jesus in death for us for two basic reasons.
        1. The first was to redeem us from all our lawless deeds (again, remember the situation and circumstances at Crete in its lawless society).
        2. We are pardoned; we are freed from all our past lawlessness.
        3. The second was to bring into existence a purified people who belonged to God out of personal choice and desire.
          1. That is what God has always wanted.
          2. That is what He wanted with Adam and Eve.
          3. That is what He wanted with the people of Israel.
          4. That is what He wants in Christians.
        4. He wants a people who belong to him because they want to belong to Him, not because they have to belong to Him.
          1. It is their first choice; it is their number one desire.
          2. No matter what they could own, no matter what opportunities they could have, no matter what they could do–belonging to God would always be their first choice.
        5. Because they by choice belong to the great God whose goodness gave them a Savior and salvation:
          1. They are consumed with the desire to do good deeds for others.
          2. They are consumed with that desire because their God gave them His goodness.

What does God want? He wants you to let His goodness train you: (1) train you to renounce ungodly desires and passions, and (2) train you to live under control while you do what is right and appropriate for people who belong to God. He wants you to live in hope as you look forward to the return of Jesus Christ. He wants you to belong to Him by choice and be consumed with a desire to do good.

A Christian who understands God’s grace does that. A Christian who does not do that has a lot to learn about God’s grace.

When Human Achievement Becomes My Idol

Posted by on under Sermons

Which is healthier, life in the city or life on the farm? Which is better, life in the city or life on the farm? Which is more rewarding, life in the city or life on the farm? Which offers the most meaningful opportunities, life in the city or life on the farm?

I grew up on a farm. For several summers one of my first cousins who lived in Nashville, Tennessee visited for a week. One summer he visited when we were clearing a creek bottom. In years past, the area had been a sloping field that bordered a creek. It had not been used for years, so it was filled with blackberry briars and small trees about four or five inches in circumference. Dad hired a small bulldozer with a huge, heavy disk to knock all the small trees and briars down and cut them up. We had to use axes to cut the roots out and stack everything in the brush piles to be burned.

This was a weeks long project that included a hot, dusty, dry July. We were right in the middle of this project when my cousin came for his visit. The daily routine was to go to the creek bottom very early in the morning and work until mid-afternoon.

The first day my cousin worked about two hours and went to the shade. He was totally unaccustomed to that kind of work. The truth is that it was probably dangerous for him to even try it. About the third day he asked me, “Don’t you people ever do anything but work?”

Occasionally my family made visits to Nashville. And, occasionally, I would spend an afternoon with him in Nashville. The city terrified me as much as the country bored him. I felt totally insecure. I was overwhelmed by the realization of how easy it would be for me to get lost. I could not imagine how he found his way around. His world was as strange to me as mine was to him. I was just as out of place in his world as he was in mine.

Which is healthier, better, more rewarding, and offers the best opportunities? That depends on the city, the farm, and the family in question.

  1. There has been one major advantage to life in the country: the rural setting more readily encouraged dependence on God.
    1. A few generations ago, most of our population lived on farms.
      1. In those days people were in control of so little when it came to farming.
      2. Far more was unpredictable than was predictable–the weather; the seasons; how wet or dry it would be; how late spring would come; how early fall would come; how long would harvest weather continue.
      3. Farm life very effectively humbled people–the farm constantly reminded you that you were not in control.
      4. Perhaps farm life still does today, but maybe not to that degree.
        1. Farm tools and machinery today are incredible–and very expensive, but incredible.
        2. But the seasons still remain unpredictable.
    2. In the city we are surrounded by constant reminders of the power and the creativity of people.
      1. Our streets, homes, utilities, conveniences, systems, hospitals, fire stations, businesses, factories, trucking terminals, airports, and sophisticated machinery suggest every moment of the day that we are smart and in control.
      2. Appearances suggest that we can control anything, that we can solve any problem, and that we can fix any situation that needs to be fixed.
      3. Our whole environment constantly impresses us with human intelligence, human ability, and human creativity.
      4. In the city–outside of the “neglected area” steeped in poverty–our environment challenges us to believe that “we can solve any problem.”
      5. Even in the poverty stricken, neglected areas of the city, we are still convinced “we” could solve the problems if only “they” and “we” worked together.
    3. In any prosperous city environment, it is too easy to become our own god as we admire, praise, and worship our achievements in science and technology.
      1. In basic ways, people have not changed much.
      2. People have always been drawn to the gods that they made.
      3. Something in all of us seems to yearn to be more powerful than the god we worship.
      4. If we make the god, when we worship it, we are actually trusting our own power and creativity.
  2. In Isaiah 44:13-17, Isaiah writes about Israel’s addiction to idolatry.
    1. Were Isaiah writing right now, I think he would have begun his statement in this way.
      1. “Think about this: a man takes a piece of wood, measures it, takes some red chalk, and draws an outline on it.”
        1. “Then he shapes the piece of wood with a plane and a compass until the statue looks like a beautiful person.”
        2. “Then he takes the statue he made, and sits it in his house to worship.”
      2. “Think this situation through from beginning to end.”
        1. “The man begins by planting a tree and watching the rains make it grow.”
        2. “When it grows big enough, he cuts it down.”
        3. “He uses some of the tree for firewood to warm himself and to bake bread.”
        4. “He uses some of the wood to make a god, and then falls down before it and worships it.”
      3. “He takes half of the wood to build a fire to warm himself and cook his food, and is satisfied; he really enjoyed watching the fire burn as he warmed himself and ate.”
      4. “But with the rest of the wood he carves an image.”
        1. “Then he bows before that image, worships it, and prays to it.”
        2. “As he prays, he says, ‘Deliver me, for you are my god.”
    2. That entire picture is so foreign to us, so unbelievable to us, so ridiculous to us, that it is difficult for us to believe that anyone would do that.”
      1. Worship something that you made with your hands?
      2. Pray to something that you carved from the wood that you cut?
      3. Call a statue that you carved from the same tree that you used to make your fire and cook your food your god?
      4. Ask something you carved to deliver you?
      5. Would you ever consider doing that?
  3. Perhaps we do it everyday and never realize it.
    1. We know about enormous problems that concern us–let me use just two examples.
      1. Likely the single most frightening medical problem in the last decade is the AIDS epidemic.
        1. Basically, a virus destroys a person’s immune system so that his or her body cannot fight any form of infection.
        2. Enormous numbers of people world wide are infected with the HIV virus.
        3. Not everyone who has the virus develops AIDS, but thus far, those who develop AIDS have not been cured.
        4. In some cases the disease is arrested, but there is no certain way to know whose case will be arrested and whose will not be.
        5. Continuing treatment is extremely expensive.
      2. The basic reality is this: if you have the virus in a developed country, you have access to the expensive treatment; if you have the virus in a poor third world country, you die.
        1. Our primary cry, our basic concern from the moment the disease was identified was simple: use our incredible technology, invest all necessary money and effort to produce a vaccine or develop a cure.
        2. I fully realize that this is a very complex problem that has many different dimensions to it, and each aspect of the problem is deserving of serious thought and discussion.
        3. The only thing I want you to consider is our basic concern and response: find a vaccine, develop a cure.
    2. On an ABC evening news report this past week, the massive computer problem that could occur in the year 2000 was discussed.
      1. When computers significantly began to enter our work place in the 1960’s, the early programmers used a system to identifying dates with a two number code–70 for 1970, 81 for 1981, 95 for 1995.
      2. The computers were not programmed to recognize the numbers 00.
        1. So, unless reprogrammed, computers will think that 00 means the year 1900, not 2000.
        2. The reprogramming project is so massive that it could take years.
        3. Just as an example, the world wide banking industry, our social security system, and our medical system, and all our tax and government service systems are computer dependent.
        4. So there is the possibility when January 1, 2000 arrives that all main computers will think it is 1900.
        5. If true, they cannot function.
      3. Basically, we tend to react to that possibility in this way.
        1. “It can’t happen.”
        2. Why? “It just cannot–nothing that bad, that massive, with that many serious consequences can happen.”
        3. Why? “Technology and science cannot fail us.”
  4. For decades we have developed and advanced technology and science.
    1. Things that people could not imagine in 1950 are so common place that we do not even think about them.
      1. Prepare a cooked meal in five minutes in a microwave.
      2. Pick up a telephone, dial a series of numbers, and in seconds talk to someone 10,000 miles away–and they sound like they are next door.
      3. Send a letter by e-mail anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds, and possibly have a reply within ten minutes.
      4. When you walk back into your home this afternoon, just look at all the science and technology that surrounds you.
    2. We brought science and technology into its current status and state of existence.
      1. We have not created anything.
      2. We have just discovered and developed what we discovered.
      3. It feeds us, it warms us or cools us day and night, it treats our sickness, it brings us pleasure and satisfaction.
      4. And it has become our god.
      5. So when we are confronted with the ugly, harsh realities of the health problems created by AIDS, we cry out, “Science and technology, deliver us. You are our god. We made you, we depend on you, and we trust you.”
      6. When we think about the potential computer crisis in the year 2000, we cry out, “Science and technology, deliver us. You are our god. We made you, we depend on you, and we trust you.”
      7. Except for being better educated and more sophisticated than the man who cooked over the open fire and carved his god out of wood, are we really that much different?
        1. What we have made will save us.
        2. What we have made cannot fail us.
        3. We trust what we made–it is our god that surrounds us, rules us, and protects us.
        4. It must be our god, for we are certain that it cannot fail us.

Bible study classes, religious practices like baptism and communion, and religious traditions like schedules for assembling are to be held in church buildings. For it is in church buildings that we worship our traditional God.

But the real, everyday world god is science and technology. This is the god that makes our world work. This is the god we trust.

Considering the thousands of years that man has walked this earth, one more time, have we as humans become our own god?

Who or what do you worship?
In the reality of your life every day, who or what do you reverence?

What do you honor? What do you praise?
Are you aware that worship involves what you elevate above self?

Do you worship the God who made us? Do you worship the God who loves us even when we abuse Him? Or do you worship yourself, what you have, or what you made?

In God alone is the power of life eternal. Within Him is the power of forgiveness, which He grants when we are baptized into His Son.

I invite you to worship this God.
I invite you to belong to this God.
Begin by giving Him your life.