Evangelism 2010

Posted by on December 27, 2009 under Sermons


How do we see evangelism taking place? What is our perspective when you consider some of our standard synonyms for evangelism: Outreach, Soul-Winning, Church Growth. Would we use words like “Recruitment, Sales, Signees”? Probably not, but we have used methodologies from the domain of sales and recruitment.

Here’s how I have envisioned evangelism and outreach:

  1. We have information to share. We find a way to communicate it to others. One-on-one or mass broadcast. It makes little difference as long as the information gets out.
  2. Hearers can understand or not.
  3. When they understand, we ask them to make a decision – Yes or No.
  4. If they say yes, then they move closer to us and become like us.


Let’s read Acts 10 –

  1. Some background to the reading. Peter has had a dream about unclean animals. God has told Peter through the dream not to call unclean anything that God has made. Now he sends Peter to meet a man, a Gentile who is seeking God, named Cornelius. God has told Cornelius that someone is coming to see him.
  2. As we read through their encounter, ask yourself if the evangelism pattern we’ve just described takes place.

Here’s what I learned from Acts 10. Feel free to disagree or revise, but we will have something to think about, right?

  • Unlike our first perspective, God is very much involved. God has set the agenda. He sets Peter’s schedule and prompts Peter. Without God’s involvement, Peter would not be looking for Cornelius and Cornelius would not have sought out Peter.
  • Next, conversation takes place: Questions are asked, story is told. Story is told and gospel is announced, experience is related and witness is given that interprets and names the experience of the other
  • And then there’s something else … the Holy Spirit is involved. And the movement is toward one another. God draws the parties together.
  • And instead of one becoming more like the other, they both become more like God.

Could we do Evangelism that way? Why not? What other choice do we have?

So What?

  1. Following God Through Open Doors – What if we believed in 2010 that God has already set up appointments and encounters. What if he is working in the lives and hearts of those who are seeking him. What he needs are disciples like Peter who will get up and go. Not salesmen to beat the bushes or anglers to reel in the fish, but faithful disciples who will follow God through open doors. [Our campus ministry students started praying … “God, you open the door and we will enter in.”] Paul wanted to go to Asia, but the Spirit of Jesus said no. Instead Paul was directed to Macedonia. Where is God sending us? What doors is he opening? What doors are closing (to us?)

  2. Humility and Trust – Such an approach means being humble. Maybe more humble that we have been. Perhaps we don’t have all the answers, but we know who does. Maybe we cannot convince everyone, but we can love everyone. It means giving up control and letting go of power and coercion. (Peter and his friends were convinced, not the other way around)

    We have lessons to teach, but we also have lessons to learn. Our lives and our life together has been enriched by some of the people that one would assume “we are helping.” There’s no distinction. If you’ve been a Christian for 80 years or became a believer yesterday, then God may work through you to tell the truth and live out the truth.

  3. Telling the Truth, Living the Truth – I don’t want to diminish the need for us to tell the truth. It’s not something that is easily reduced to a few facts. Rather it is a rich meaningful story, a lens through which we understand ourselves and others. It is good news that cannot be made into Cliff Notes. (Remember those, boiled down stories – but not the real thing.)
    That’s because it has to be practiced. It is an art and we cannot tell all we know. We have to invite people to taste it and try it for themselves. Come live among us and see? (But what will they see if they live among us? Will they see God’s spirit at work? Will they see Christ leading us?)

  4. Open and Attentive – Is our fellowship open? God was keeping the boundaries open and he gave Peter a dream to shake him into being attentive. Otherwise it would have become quite easy for Peter and the other believers to ignore that God intended for the Gentiles to become a part of their fellowship. Are we open to those that we might receive? Are we attentive to guests and others? I think we are very friendly and when we think about it we would say yes we are, but do our habits and structures support that? Peter acknowledges that his typical practice would never have put him inside Cornelius’ home. But he is learning, he is open to what God is doing.

  5. Tuned Into the Spirit – We must be able to receive the spirit’s frequency. We have to be able to recognize it among us and in others if we are going to follow God. It’s not so hard if we trust in God and incorporate his word. We must help each other too. Wisdom plays a part in this. In Acts 15, the whole assembly unpacks Peter’s experience. Takes a lot of prayer. Somewhere between the arid absence of spirit and the excessive baptizing of any whim or hunch is a synergy of God’s living presence and our maturing as disciples and as a community of believers.

Who’s Missing From the Nativity?

Posted by on December 20, 2009 under Sermons

Revelation 12

  • A woman in labor
  • A child soon to be born
  • A monstrous force waiting to devour the vulnerable

Herod the Great

  • 73 – 4 BC
  • Powerful but unpopular
  • Executed family members
  • Massacre of Innocents (Matthew 2)

Hebrews 2:11-18

    14 Because God’s children are human beings-made of flesh and blood-the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. 15 Only in this way could He set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.

Escaping the Dragon

Christ Sympathizes With Us

  1. The Dragon Makes War
  2. Endurance: Making Friends with Jesus means making enemies
  3. Suffering: Christ identifies with the mourning and the innocents

A Hero Will Rise …

Posted by on under Sermons

I am always excited to see a movie trailer or ad for a show or story of any kind that contains this phrase. It shows up often. It’s the core of many great stories … A Hero Will Rise.
There’s something about the arrival of a hero that stirs us.
It is the promise that when things are at their worst – A Hero will rise.
When it seems like evil has the entire world in its grip – A Hero will rise.
When the villains seem like they are going to get away with their schemes – A hero will rise.
When we are oppressed or in need of rescue – A Hero will rise.

The prophecy in Micah 5 promises that a hero will rise. This teaser preview of coming events is somewhat out of place in Micah. The rest of Micah’s prophecies are judgments aimed at the wicked. Micah’s prophecies tell the truth about the injustice in the world and the corruption among God’s people. The wealthy and powerful who oppress others are warned of God’s coming wrath. False prophets who refuse to speak the truth are warned of their ruin. The leaders of God’s own people who take advantage of their position are held responsible for the coming destruction of Israel. The people of God are told put on trial because they have forgotten God’s merciful rescue from Egypt and slavery. They are held accountable to do what is right, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God.

It’s a rough prophecy that warns of the coming judgment of God. But in the middle of the plain truth is the promise that … “A Hero Will Rise.” This is the ray of light that pierces the darkness.

Heroes often come from the most unlikely of places. They are not manufactured or trained to be heroes. They just are who they are. History and fiction are rich with this theme …

  • Superman came from another planet with powers and abilities beyond those of mortal men, but he was raised as Clark Kent from the Midwest town of Smallville.
  • Sgt. York came from the hills of Tennessee
  • Harriet Tubman, “Moses,” was the daughter of slaves in rural Maryland
  • Gideon was the least in his family form the weakest clan in one of the smaller tribes in all Israel
  • And King David was the youngest boy from a rural family outside of a little town called Bethlehem. But he became the rescuer of Israel.

Micah proclaims that out of the unlikely town of Bethlehem – A Hero Will Rise.

  • The savior of God’s people will not come out of Mighty Jerusalem, the holy capital, the center of power. No, the ruler of Israel will come from little Bethlehem
  • Micah says that his origins are from the distant past. Like the heroes of old, the ruler will stand in the tradition of all those other heroes.
  • He will be empowered by God’s spirit. He will threaten the powers of evil and secure peace.

From the first century, the church of God has read Micah 5 and heard the story of Jesus’ birth. Matthew quoted Micah when he told us how the wise men hoped and wicked Herod sweated. Because out of Bethlehem … a Hero will rise.

Luke knows it when he tells us all the circumstances that lead to Joseph and Mary and dwelling in Bethlehem. Luke is saying, you remember Bethlehem, don’t you? Micah said that out of Bethlehem – a Hero Will Rise. Shepherd’s leave their flocks to go see THE Shepherd- the Hero of God’s people.

This phrase, “A Hero Will Rise” stirs us. That’s good, because I think we’ve lost the impact of the phrase “Unto Us a Savior is Born.” It has become a caption for Christmas cards. It’s a sentimental birth announcement. We expect it to be dressed up in blue ribbons with a picture of a stork – “It’s a Boy!”

But that’s not what the announcement is all about. Unto Us a Savior is Born = A Hero Has Risen! A savior is not a church office. He’s a hero. A rescuer. A shepherd. A freedom fighter. A Champion.

Micah tells it like no other …

  • The Birth of Christ means that God’s people have a righteous ruler – A Hero has risen
  • The Birth of Christ means that exiles will be gathered up and brought together – A hero has risen
  • The Birth of Christ means that the ruler leads with God’s strength and majesty – A hero has risen
  • The Birth of Christ means that there is real hope for peace – A hero has risen
  • The Birth of Christ means that the powers of evil shake and worry – a Hero has risen

The powers of evil and injustice killed the Hero, they crucified him, but – A Hero has risen. The Hero born in Bethlehem is risen and he will come again to establish justice and show mercy.

The sin and wickedness that corrupts our lives is trampled under his feet and thrown into the ocean – A Hero Has Risen.

The wealth and pleasures that we trust in so much are being plowed up and the mountain of the Lord is lifted up – A Hero has risen.

Permanent Good

Posted by on under Bulletin Articles

How would you like to do something “permanently” that, at the moment, was good? How would you do it? Are you sure you would like your name permanently attached to anything? Do you know how many objects of praises later are objects of curses?

Have you driven down a dedicated highway and wondered, “Who was that? What did he do?” Have you walked by a building prominently named for someone and wondered, “Who was that? What did she do?” Instantly a memorial becomes a question mark.

Whatever good we do lasts, at best, a lifetime. Hopefully, it touches a younger life. Hopefully, the younger life touches someone with the good you started. Eventually someone asks, “Where did that come from?” The response, “I do not know, but it sure blessed me!” We should be so fortunate as to be the anonymous person who began a good that blesses others. Remembering your name is unimportant when the good you do blesses someone you never knew and who never knew you. God knows who did what!

Here are some permanent things that should cause us all joy:

  1. Forgiveness in Jesus Christ is permanent-God does not withdraw forgiveness.
  2. Reconciliation in Jesus Christ is permanent-God will never withdraw reconciliation through Jesus.
  3. Sanctification in Jesus Christ is permanent-God will never withdraw sanctification through Jesus.

So are hope, mercy, grace, and resurrection permanent. God made them permanent in Jesus Christ. Because of what God did in Jesus’ death and resurrection, God will never say, “Oops! That is not available any more. Sorry!”

If the only one who knows you in judgment is Jesus, that is more than enough. As your mediator, he will introduce you to God. “Thank you, God, for the gift of Jesus! Thank for making what You do through him permanent!” Have you responded to God’s gifts?

Christ or Culture?

Posted by on December 13, 2009 under Sermons


  • Is it sacred or secular?
  • How do we order our time?
  • How do we use it?


  1. Embrace them
  2. Reject them
  3. Selective:
      – By what standard?
      – Sacred or Secular Observance?
      – What is the cultural situation?

Cultural Calendar

“Christian Calendar”


Martin Luther

  • Celebrate only on Lord’s Days and festivals of the Lord
  • Abrogate Saints days
  • Moved Feast of St. Nick to December 24

Church of Scotland

  • 1560 Book of Discipline
  • Made all holidays and festivals illegal
  • John Knox

John Wesley

  • Holy days had no valuable end
  • Pragmatic
  • Kept most major holidays and seasons

Civic Holidays

  • What is the current, popular understanding of any of our holiday seasons?
  • How do we engage that as disciples?
  • Can we transform the holidays?


  • Christ came into this world
  • Christ is in this world
  • Christ is coming into this world again
  • Advent = Latin adventus, coming

The Lord Rejoices With Us

Posted by on under Sermons

Read Zephaniah 3:14-20.

It’s a great scene. It’s a great promise. It’s a happy ending. God, the victorious warrior is singing and dancing among his people. Everyone is exulting! (What does that word mean?) But the path to this image goes through Zephaniah 1:2 – “I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth! Says the Lord.” How do you get from there to the singing and the joy? Are these even from the same prophet?

The Problem in Judah:
A little over 700 years before Christ was born, God’s people were divided into two nations. Judah and Jerusalem were in the south and everyone else was in the north. The folks in the north were invaded by the super-power of that age – a nation called Assyria. Since Judah and Jerusalem were spared the invasion and destruction, they were fairly confident that God was on their side. Over the next 100 years, the Judeans became intoxicated with that privilege. And the worst part of it was that they assumed that their own self-interested path to power and pleasure was God’s will. They thought that it was all a sign of God’s favor. So Zephaniah has come to alert them to the truth. He makes three observations: (1:4-6)

  1. They were passionate about other gods. They wouldn’t have used this word, but they had become idolatrous. It showed in the way they claimed to follow the Lord, but they would seek wisdom and guidance from the sun, moon, and stars on their rooftops. Anything to encourage luck and fortune. What’s the harm?

  2. They were pledging allegiance to God, but they were also pledging allegiance to other powers. It showed in the way they compromised their devotion to God. They believed that it was just good sense to do business with the likes of Assyria or Babylon or other kings. And if you have to worship their gods, well maybe that’s really just God – the Lord. Why would they compromise? For the sake of security. Security and self-preservation was so important to them and it showed in the way they sacrificed their children – the future generation that God had entrusted them with. They loved their lifestyle more than that.

  3. They were indifferent to God. They used to seek God. They used to worship God. But no longer. And it showed in their lack of expectations. They really didn’t expect to do anything good, or anything bad. In their own hearts they had tamed God. He became their mascot. He was the concept behind their cultural traditions. Really cool, but mostly harmless.

It’s this third problem that may be the root of the other two. If you don’t expect much from God, then how can you ever imagine exulting with God? How can you experience the joy of Zephaniah 3:14-20. If you don’t expect much from God, then why not seek pleasure, comfort and security in other options? Why not? Well, Judah did. And they found out that God is jealous. If we want to experience the joy of Zephaniah 3:14-20 then we have to walk through the rest of the prophecy too. We need to invite Zephaniah to preach to us also. Before we get to the exulting, we have to deal with the warning. Zephaniah 1:2 calls us to a righteousness that is the beginning of triumphant joy. It leads us through the refinement and cleansing that restores a relationship with a wild, jealous God. Because, if we want the joy, then we have to accept the tears. If we want the love, then we have to accept the awe of a God who really cares about what we do. A God who will not stand for us acting like his love doesn’t matter!

What Zephaniah is saying to us:

  1. We have sought comfort, pleasure, and meaning in sources other than God. We seek our fortune through fame, popularity, wealth. We seek wholeness through material things and these things – sometimes very good things – become addictions or powers that rule us but let us think that we are in control. It shows in our materialism. It shows in our weariness and stress. It shows in our lack of satisfaction. (Do you want a list? Porn, drugs, sex, gambling, shopping, spending, attention, food, astrology, sports, science, medicine, recreation … some are socially acceptable, some are not, some are better and some are worse – we can even do it as a church by trusting in our programs and structures more than God’s spirit).
  2. We have sought security in powers other than God. It shows in out fear, our worry, our anxiety to be in control. It shows in the way we hover over our children and shape them into our own image rather than the image of God.
  3. We have lost the expectation of God really doing anything. And that shows up in our worship and our life. Is God just an author? Did he write a great book and leave us to figure it out? Or is he a living creator who is active and alive in our life and our life together. Well if he is more than an author, then where’s our expectation? Where’s our awe?
    1. Remember that God is a jealous God. He will not settle for a loveless marriage with us. The worse thing about a loveless, hollow marriage is that it has all the semblance of stability. The couple will always remain together and there is no threat of divorce, but there is a deadness beneath the surface because no one really cares. It would be better for them to have an argument, because at least that shows they care!
    2. God is not satisfied with our worship if we just plod through a pattern. It isn’t enough that we tick off five acts of worship. It isn’t enough that we are aCappella (or non-instrumental) – you cannot rest on that as being satisfactory. Read Ephesians 5:18 … before we sing to one another in songs hymns and spiritual song we are to be filled with the Spirit!
    3. There are so many different options of improving our worship, but one will work without fail – Be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
    4. The Spirit isn’t something we “work up.” It is a gift from Christ. When we were baptized we received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). If it has been quenched, then fan it into flame.

Let’s proleptically start expecting that the image in Zephaniah 3 is our past and our present as well as our future.

How Do I Determine My Needs?

Posted by on under Bulletin Articles

Recently I was rearranging a drawer. In it was an old certificate that was faded and cracked-ready to become worthless tatters. Almost 60 years ago it was very important-worth saving. Now it is the height of unimportance. About 60 years ago it said something about me that I thought was important. Now it is laughable! Time changes everything-especially that which we view as an important need.

In pursing what we call life, we confuse want with need. Have you noticed how often we refer to a want as a need? I laughingly told someone recently that it took me 25 years to acquire my hunting gear (oh, how deliberately I assembled each piece I needed). It took maybe a month to dispose of it (suddenly I did not need any of it).

I wonder how much all of us acquire in life only to discover “I did not need that.” Joyce often says there will not be a dumpster big enough to hold all that our children will throw away when we die. We can, even now, hear them say, “Why did Mom and Dad keep THAT?” When we die, we all will leave many things that none of us would like to be used to define who we were or what was important in our lives.

There is an eternity. This physical life is NOT all there is. With Jesus, when we are presented to God, who we were will be far more important than what we owned. The issue in physical life (to God) will not be what we managed to acquire, but who in Jesus we were. The issue will be how we lived because we understood Jesus’ values (which are God’s values). It will involve the importance we placed on the eternal.

Wonder how our priorities in physical life would change, how our purchases would be altered, and how our collections would change if we lived life again after we met God? You do not have to meet God to change-time will show us how silly we are! As we get older, the things that were so important in younger days become unimportant. Refuse to let the unimportant rule your existence! Live for the eternal!

Time and Faith

Posted by on December 6, 2009 under Sermons


  • Is it biblical?
  • Is it historical?
  • When did it become religious?
  • How did it become traditional?
  • What is the significance of it?

Romans 14:5

  • One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike.

Genesis 1:14

  • Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years …

Seasons and Feasts

  • These are the LORD’s appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times. – Leviticus 23:4


  • Is it sacred or secular?
  • How do we order our time?
  • How do we use it?
  • What about memory and growth?
  • What is the Sabbath?

“Christian Calendar”

The Lord’s Day

  • 1 Corinthians 16:2
  • Acts 20:7-11
  • Revelation 1:10
  • Didache
  • “We all hold this common gathering on Sunday . . .” – Justin Martyr

Make it Official

    “All judges, city people, and craftsmen shall rest on the venerable day of the Sun. But countrymen may without hindrance attend to agriculture.” – Constantine, 321 AD

#1. Easter

  • Passover was the most important date in Jewish year
  • 1 Corinthians 5:7-8
  • Baptism ceremonies (2nd – 3rd centuries)
  • Fixed on Sunday
  • Jerusalem pilgrimages

Travels of Egeria

  • Wrote about “the Great Week” in Jerusalem
  • Special services for each day
  • Following the course of Jesus’ life

Two Seasons

  • Lent – Preparing the learners for baptism
  • Easter/Pentecost season – Fifty days after Easter
  • Easter was more important than Lent to the ancients

#2 Pentecost

  • Leviticus 23:16 – The giving of the Law on Sinai
  • 2 Corinthians 3:7-8, Acts 2
  • The day of Christ’s ascension into heaven
  • The arrival of the Holy Spirit
  • [Ascension is later separated from Pentecost]

#3 Epiphany

  • Focus on the Incarnation
  • January 6 – Follows nine months after April 6
  • Feast of the Magi
  • Twelve Days of Christmas


  • Gregory of Nazianzus
  • Sermon of December 25, 380
  • East prefers January 6 as the date of birth
  • West prefers December 25

Fire and Soap

Posted by on under Sermons

Read Malachi 3:1-5.

There’s a great fire and brimstone text for ya! A severe word of rebuke for a world drenched in sin. God will show up and condemn all those adulterers and liars. All those cheaters and oppressors are going to be judged with fire! Doesn’t it remind you of those sandwich board prophets walking around shouting “Repent, the end is near!” Or maybe the bullhorn street preachers quoting snippets of Scripture about hell and fire and the penalty of sins. [Brother J. would draw a crowd at the University of Arkansas campus, he would point a finger and call sin a sin. On spectator said, “You know they also thought Jesus was offensive.”]

Maybe we ought to be more direct and shout it to the rooftops. Think of the state of the world around us. How often do we hear of another celebrity adulterer? Sports figures, politicians, even ministers who cheat and lie. And we look to Dr. Phil and the team at ET to explain to us why men cheat. Or O’Reilly and his body language expert can sort out the difference for us. Right here in our own town we have increased violence. Who are these people threatening to shoot law enforcement and killing one another in broad daylight. Something has gone wrong! What’s happened to our community and our nation? Maybe we need to be more like that bold street preacher and shout the truth from the rooftops. Let’s warn them once, maybe twice, that THOSE people need to change their ways. They need to turn or burn! Why don’t we do it? It’s right here in the text right?

Well, if we insist on using the bullhorn, let’s at least be clear about who Scripture points the bullhorn at.
Benjamin’s rule for reading the OT # 15 is this … Israel = Church.

God is sending his messenger to refine and cleanse his own people. As far as THOSE people of the nations go, he actually has hope that he will be honored among them. God is bringing his people to trial because they say they seek God, but they aren’t really living like it. They dress up and keep the procedures, but they aren’t really living it out. They claim than they seek the Lord, but they really have no interest in following his ways. God would rather that they just shut the doors of their worship house than continue to cry out to him and offer half-hearted broken offerings.

Problem: God’s people (the nation of Judah) are going through the motions when it comes to their faith. They want the Lord to help them with all their needs, but they aren’t willing to devote themselves to Him. God accuses them of breaking faith with him.

God has a greater hope that his name will be revered and honored among the nations that do not know him than he does that his own people revere him. The Lord would rather that the doors of the temple be shut. No worship would be better than the dried out pitiful sham of worship led by the priests. Their worship has become a set of procedures and they put their faith in going through those procedures.

Solution: “I am going to send a messenger and he will prepare the way before me.” If they seek the Lord, then they are going to get the Lord. But God knows better than to simply “arrive” – his holiness would be too much for these people who claim to know everything about it and claim to be keeping the covenant. But God can see right through them and he knows that his holiness would shock their system.

Now here’s where the rule comes in. If the messenger in Malachi is going to refine and cleanse God’s people (Judah and Israel) and we are going to read this Scripture as if it were delivered to us, then is God sending his messenger with the refining fire and bleaching soap to the church or the world? The answer is … the church.

The world is going to act like the world. In fact, what is surprising is the world (those outside the church) may not follow God’s ways, but they actually have a sense of awe and a desire to love God. That’s where we step in as evangelists and witnesses – but that’s for another sermon. Before we get there, God’s messenger calls us to ask if we are ready for his arrival.

After all, what good does it do for us to cluck our tongues when we hear of celebrity infidelities and wonder why men (or women) cheat, when we aren’t keeping our own hearts pure? There are all levels of suggestive magazines and programming. Pornography is available on the internet, or you can just get on the Victoria Secret catalog list. What good does it do to be angry about leaders who lie to us when we are quick to gossip or slander? What good does it do to be very precise and exact about our own investments or contributions to government and not apply that same standard to the generosity we share in Christ’s name? What good does it do to be outraged or terrified at murder and violence and yet we become angry with our family, neighbors, workers, even brothers and sisters?

We need to be purified by the refiner’s fire and bleached with the strong soap because we have the temptation to “play at church” and not get serious about holiness. Israel did this and the church can do it too. “But we are saved by grace!” That’s not a license to be slack about God’s way – that’s motivation to follow his way all the more, not to win a prize, but to honor the one who gave you life.

And when we put down our bullhorns and sandwich boards, let notice something about the refiner’s fire and the strong soap (fuller’s soap). They are not images of destruction. They are images of renewal – it’s not fire and brimstone, it’s fire and soap! The refiner used fire to burn out the impurities from metal – and he has left with a purer, better piece of metal or jewelry. What came out of the burning process was something beautiful and useful – not something scorched. The fuller, or launderer, used a soap made from lye and uric acid. It was made to clean out the bugs and mud that gets caught up in lamb’s wool. This isn’t gentle dove soap. It is an odorous, burning, rather messy process – but what comes out of it is white wool … something beautiful and useful.

The hope of the church and the world, is for God to purify and cleanse his people. Salvation is not just a matter of justifying sinful people. It is also a rehabilitation of sinful people. (Vampire Christianity, by Dallas Willard. We just need Jesus for his blood). Jesus didn’t save you so that you could go wallow in the dirt. He did not set you free so that you would return to slavery. The day you submitted your life to Christ was just the beginning. We are all in the process of being saved.

God doesn’t intend for us to become a bunch of prudes or delicate flowers who have to be sheltered from evil. He intends to make us stand. He intends to make us useful. He is calling us to be pure and clean – holy so that we may also be his messengers. A community of John the Baptists who are able to prepare the way for God.

The Illusion of Control

Posted by on under Bulletin Articles

We live in a confidence filled society! We can make most anything permanently okay! Really? How often does such confidence plunge us into deep trouble?

A water main breaks. It is strategically located to deprive us of all water. We have difficulty reporting the problem (no quick fix). Finally, the proper people look at the situation and diagnose the problem (good!). However, there are no parts on hand (bad!). No one knows where to look for the parts (terrible!). The water delivery system is so old the parts have to be made (awful!). Being in control of needed water was just an illusion. Do you have any idea of how many things must be washed? Hauled water lately?

An extensive ice storm comes. A strategically located pole snaps, falls, breaks the lines, and ruins the transformer as the domino effect pulls service from your house. Instantly, you are without electricity (bad!). Because of the demand produced by the storm, there are no poles available (worse!). In the priority system, situations that can be fixed easily are first, and situations that require a lot of work are last (much worse!). Sadly, no one even can guess when your power might be restored (you have got to be kidding!). How many times did you turn light switches on? With what results? Do you feel in control?

Your job ceases and your 401(k) must be your safety net. The local economy nosedives to the depths, and your job is not returning. You look for work, and there are ten applicants for every job opening. Stress evaporates health, but you cannot afford medical help. Feel in control?

The only certainty is a date with God. Depend on Him. Let Jesus’ coming be a true time of celebration, not merely another demonstration that we have no control.