03/11/2018 - The Heart of the Gospel

March 14th, 2018

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“The Heart of the Gospel”

John 3:14-21


  • Those very special verses...

    • The Golden Rule
    • The Great Commission
    • John 3:16
      • Our focus: "For God so loved the world..."
    • The Context:
      • Jesus has been speaking to Nicodemus
      • Jesus recalls the story of the Israelites, judged for idolatry and bitten by serpents, who only had to look to the bronze serpent Moses placed on a pole to be healed (Numbers 21)
      • In coming to see Jesus at night, Nicodemus had moved from darkness into the light
    • The Heart of the Gospel
      • For God so LOVED...           

        • For God IS..
        • Love stretches back through eternity past, BUT God chose to share that love by creating others with the capacity to love each other and to love Him
      • For God so loved THE WORLD...
        • NOT "worldliness!"
        • God so loved every fallen, broken person that has ever been or ever will be; though He hates the evil that we do, he loves each and every person He created so much that He bore our sins in Christ on the cross.
      • Are we sharing God's Love?
        • Are we sharing and living the message that God loves everyone He created?

          • Or do we send the message that God only loves some?
          • We are all human. We have our "comfort zones."
          • Christians have a reputation for being a clique. Is that fair? 
        • Are we sharing God's love within our fellowship?
          • John 13:34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you..." How well are we doing this?
          • Christians have a reputation as divisive and combative, with churches splitting even over little things. Is that fair? 
        • Are we sharing the kind of love God has?
          • God's kind of love is not content with those that already share in it.
          • God's kind of love is explicitly self-sacrificing. How many times have we placed our wants before others' needs?
          • Jesus said, "Be ye perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) Many Christians, including Methodists, understand that to mean "perfected in love," so that every decision, every action, has love of God and love of others as its motivation. 
          • Example: In 1st-century Rome they practiced sex-selective infanticide.  Imagine living in a world so callous that the cries of abandoned infants are ignored as an accepted, necessary part of a "modern society."  Then imagine this one, crazy group of people who start to say, "we will take them!  Don't kill them!"  That was a shock to the Roman world that left an impression of God's kind of love.  And such extravagant love went on to transform the world...
          • That is the kind of love that can fill our hearts, our minds, our very lives... if we let it.

12/03 - When the Time Comes

December 7th, 2017

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When the Time Comes

Mark 13:24-37 

  • What were you doing on Monday, September 26th, 1983?

    • ...In Hickory Level the high temperature was a perfect 72 degrees, with 8 miles of visibility.
    • It was also the day our world almost ended.... Stanislav Petrov, the man who quite possibly saved the world, died this past May at 77.
  • The first Sunday in Advent is one of hope: the hope that Light will shine amidst the darkness
    • Jesus spoke of a time of darkness: Signs in the heavens, light being extinguished!
    • Jesus spoke within a time of darkness: Israel occupied by Rome, 400 years since God had spoken through the prophets
    • And the darkness still tries to surround us: 34 years ago we were so close to destruction, and never even knew it!  And this week we find out that North Korea can now reach Washington DC with their brand new ICBMs
  • But Jesus assures us that Light will overcome the darkness, and councils us to keep awake!
    • The problem with the darkness is it makes you want to pull the covers over your head, to go to sleep. But He tells us not to, even though it might be more comfortable to be lulled by things that don't matter, to drift off into distraction.
    • Are we awake? We are ready if it were to BE now?, if an angel appeared and said, "It is time to stand before Jesus...?"
    • Would you be comfortable with...
      • your prayer life? ...your treatment of others?...your patience or lack thereof?...
    • If the answer to all of that was yes, then are you maybe too comfortable?

  • Final words
    • Do you remember David Cassidy?

      • 1983's Joseph in his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat?
      • Teen heartthrob star of the Partridge Family?
      • He also passed away this year, this past week actually, at 67.
      • His daughter Katie Cassidy (Laurel Lance on "Arrow") shared this on Twitter:
        • "Words can't express the solace our family’s received from all the love & support during this trying time,” the Arrow actress wrote. “My father’s last words were ‘So much wasted time.’..."
      • Yet we serve a God who "redeems the time," who takes what this world calls a waste and makes it fruitful and holy.
        • "Arise, shine, [people of God] for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you."
        • "Wake up, and strengthen what remains..."
        • May God open our eyes, convict our hearts, lead us to repentance, forgive us our sins, and fit us for His service.

11/26 - On the Word of the King

November 30th, 2017

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On the Word of the King

2 Timothy 3:14-17

  • Are We Confident in the Word?

    • "From childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." As true for many of us as it was for Timothy.
    • "... for the Bible tells me so." The secular culture replies, "so what?" 
      • That HAS to have an impact. If not on you, then on your children, or grandchildren...
    • So let's spend ONE Sunday just on this Word of our God and King
  • You Can Be Confident in the Bible's Construction
    • Let me tell you the story of the New Testament...

      • Sharing the Stories of Jesus, reading letters from the Apostles

        • Letters being recognized AS scripture (2 Pet 3:16)
      • As the Apostles start to pass, the Stories are written down
        • Matthew, Mark (Peter), Luke (Paul), John
      • Each local church has their own copies of letters and gospels, each deciding whether they are genuine, with the same Jesus
        • The earliest list was compiled in AD 170. It included all of the New Testament books except Hebrews, James, and 3 John. Some of them accepted the Apocalypse of Peter, although others "will not allow [it] to be read in church."  They rejected the letters claiming to be Paul's letter to the Laodiceans and to the Alexandrians.
      • Over time, a consensus developed as to what was accepted:
        • (1) Because the apostles were the eyewitnesses of Jesus, the writing had to be directly connected to an apostle.
        • (2) The writing had to be "orthodox"; that is, it could not contradict Old Testament or the teachings of the apostles.
        • (3) The writing had to be accepted in churches throughout the known world, not just one group of believers
      • In 367, the Festal Letter of Athanasius listed as authoritative the same twenty-seven books that appear in our New Testaments.
      • In 382 a group of bishops and theologians, including some eastern representatives, met in Rome. The list was discussed, formalized, and published.
        • Not at all like Dan Brown's claim that " books were compiled and edited by men who possessed "a political agenda... to solidify their own power base."
      • You Can Be Confident in the Bible's Translation
        • American Bible Society: "the number of printed English translations and paraphrases of the Bible,... complete or not, is about 900."
        • Things to remember as an informed consumer:
          • Modern translations have better sources than older translations
          • All translations come from a particular time, place, and people, which effects the translation choices
            • : NIV "the man of God" vs NRSV "everyone who belongs to God" in verse 17
          • Paraphrases translate idea-for-idea, rather than word-for-word.
            • “And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks (goads)” (Acts 26:14 KJV). But The Message? "Why do you insist on going against the grain?’"
          • My personal choice? A more literal translation with study notes to explain the meaning or background of difficult passages...
        • A good practice: test the translations against one another (easy for you, or your grandkids, to do now); weed out the bad ones
      • You Can Be Confident in the Bible's Teachings
        • "I have a problem with..."

          • v16: "ALL Scripture..."
        • Things to remember
          • The letters were, for the most part, written to particular churches with the understanding they would be shared with others. You can expect them to target the particular problems at that church.
          • The entire NT was written within a first-century context. Sometimes that means we have to step back from the particular practice to look at the principle underlying it before we can apply it to our lives.
          • Within their context of a small, persecuted religious minority, the status quo was subverted instead of protested
            • Can you find the letter to Philemon?... A slave is sent home to his master, but the master is told the slave is his brother.  How can slavery survive? 
            • The church challenged Rome by rescuing babies from exposure in trash heaps, taking care of the poor, etc.
          • We are more distant from the first century, but have greater resources than any of the generations that have gone before.
            • Granted there is a lot of chaff mixed in with the wheat, and a lot of people with agendas, but they usually reveal themselves.
            • If I could leave you with one thing, it would be a holy excitement for the Word of God, and a desire to spend TIME studying this Word, given by the Creator of the universe, whose message to us is Life and Love.

11/19 - Consider the Lillies

November 30th, 2017

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Consider the Lilies

Matthew 6:25-34

  • The Enemy of Thanksgiving

    • Taking things for granted/Always wanting more? Good candidates, especially in our consumer culture!
    • But there is another: fear, worry, stress
      • I want to be thankful. But all these things I'm stressed about keeps getting in the way!
      • And even if "life is good" for you, there is a whole smorgasbord of stress offered up to you each day! So much to fret over, to say "what is this world coming to" about!
    • Cares and Lures of life:
      • Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23):

        • 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.
        • 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing.
      • Most of the Christians that I spend time with, and I myself... we seem to have a pretty good handle on the lures. It is the cares that are tripping us up.
        • ...And that's why I always seem to return to these verses in Matthew 6...
      • Giving Thanks, Being Content
        • In Matthew 6, Jesus seems to be talking to those distracted by the cares more than the lures

          • They weren't the rich (whom Jesus did spend time with)
          • They were stressed over things most of us take for granted
            • Q: Are you more concerned with having too little this Thanksgiving, or eating too much?
          • Jesus redirected them:
            • Your Father knows what you need... yes!
            • But also, isn't if "funny" that Jesus directed them to look at the birds flying overhead, and the flowers blooming all around them?
              • Doesn't that sound restful?
              • Paul said "whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent, praiseworthy... think about these things!" (Philippians 4) Jesus seems to be saying, "look at them, seek them out!"
            • Against Our Society of Lures and Cares...
              • Advertisers offer us lures; the news offers us cares
              • Jesus offers us contentment, and thankfulness is key. They go hand-in-hand. 
            • Homework:
              • You know yourself (God knows you better, but...)

                • If you are vulnerable to the lures... Remember that story (maybe you lived it) of the parents who spent a fortune on a Christmas gift, and the child had more fun with the cardboard box it came in?... BE THAT CHILD
                • If you are vulnerable to the cares... If you've got the weight of the world bearing down on you, quit trying to prepare yourself for how bad things can be, take it one day at a time, and be thankful for what, and who, you have. Consider the lilies and the birds flying overhead, that God provides for them, and will provide for you...
                • If you've learned how to practice thanksgiving, if you've learned (as Paul did) the secret of contentment beyond your present circumstances, help your family to see it.

11/12 - For The Coming Generations

November 16th, 2017

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 For The Coming Generations

Psalm 78:1-8

  • It Makes a Difference

    • My Dad was a soldier

      • Paratrooper, purple heart recipient
      • Didn't talk much about it; only shared a few stories
      • But he handed down to me a fundamental respect for soldiers, for their struggles, for why they fought
      • And having received this from him, and having seen my father's service respected at his funeral, it is almost painful to see the American flag held in contempt...
    • That connection is becoming more rare
      • Recent statistics show just one-half of one percent of American adults have served on active duty at any given time. Fewer that one-third of those under 30 have immediate family members who served. 
      • And if you look at the difference between those who live in the big cities and those from the rural areas, the differences get larger.
    • And with the loss of that connection comes a loss in understanding, respect, and common values. That happens when the important things are not passed on to the next generation...
  • So it is with our Faith, and its Foundations
    • Remember that push years go to "not force our kids into our faith?" Against this today's scripture says: " We will not hide them from their children; we will tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. "
    • How well do you think we've done?
      • Noah, Jonah, Moses, Sampson...ok
      • Do they know the story of David and Jonathan? Or David and Absalom?
      • Do they know that a prostitute named Rahab became the ancestor of Jesus?
      • How Elisha prayed so his servant could see God's armies defending them, and he saw the hillside surrounded with "chariots of fire?"
      • They know the 23rd Psalm; do they know that the 22nd Psalm was the cry of Jesus on the cross?
      • For that matter, have we told them of our personal struggles with faith, when God delivered us, or gave us strength to carry on?
    • These are the foundations of our shared faith, mutual understanding, common values...
      • Are our foundations solid? Will "the children yet unborn,... set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments;... that they should not be like their ancestors, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God"?
      • (God's church is there to equip you and support you in this calling; this is something God's church and God's families do together. But the church can never take your place.)
    • Beyond the Foundations, we must Build Well
      • But even if we get that RIGHT, that is only the first step!
      • Do you think the Pharisees had a strong biblical foundation?   And yet they put Jesus to death...
        • Of all the national instances of violence in the last few months, only one was (possibly) seeking fame. The others killed, at least in part, because they thought they were in the right... just like the Pharisees when they had Jesus killed.
      • The foundations must be solid, yet Christ-like love is the mortar that holds them together...
        • Every story we share is told in the light of Jesus' love, sacrifice, and resurrection... done so ALL may come to Him
      • Please consider this well...
        • God has given us infinite grace, but in this world we have a limited amount of time

          • We know (hopefully) that our faith has made us "better," in how we handle the trials of life, how we reach out to others...
          • But bringing it down to that limited resource of time, please consider this question: What practical difference has it made in my family's life that we identify as Christians, excluding all church-based activities? And should I be satisfied with the answer?
            • Maybe there should be more time with my spouse, with my kids, sharing the stories, talking about the faith, praying for the hurting and lost?

11/05 - On That Great Day

November 7th, 2017

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On That Great Day

1st Thessalonians 4:13-18

  • Those Who Have No Hope

    • Hope is in retreat in a world "too sophisticated" for faith

      • There was an inscription in Thessalonica which read: “After death, no reviving, after the grave, no meeting again.”
      • A typical inscription on a grave: ‘I was not, [then] I became, [now] I am not, [and] I care not.’
      • Is that so different from today?
    • The members of the church at Thessalonica were surrounded by this, had grown up hearing this, and their hearts were troubled by this.
  • The Gospel of Hope
    • Against this, Paul offered them Hope in Christ

      • Paul, who proclaimed to the Athenians in Acts 7:31 that the proof of the Gospel was the resurrection of Jesus.
      • That is worth our consideration: Mohammed is in his tomb, as is the Buda, but not Jesus of Nazareth, for His tomb is empty
    • Paul told the Christians at Thessalonica that he did not want them to be uninformed, and "grieve as others do who have no hope."
      • He is not saying "do not grieve." Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus! He is saying that our grief should be mingled with HOPE.  And that hope is of reunion!
    • On That Great Day!
      • Verses 14-17: The Rapture verses

        • Books have been written, movies have been made, but while the method of our reunion is important, Paul tells us the reason even mentions it in verse 18: "encourage one another with these words."
      • The Dead in Christ are Resurrected
        • Elsewhere Paul had said that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
        • In verse 14, "through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died," those who have been "absent from the body."
        • And in verse 16, "For the Lord himself... will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first." At that moment the promise is fulfilled, that what was sown perishable, is raised imperishable, never to die again.
      • Those Living in Christ are Changed
        • Verse 17: "Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them..."
        • "Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." - 1 Corinthians 15:51-52
      • A Completed Reunion!
        • Verse 17: "Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever."
        • No more tears of reunion in Heaven while tears of parting on Earth. The Shadows are over.  Now comes the Morning!
      • Let no one steal your Hope
        • Let us give the last word to Peter (which no doubt would have made him happy)

          • Does this sound at all familiar? "I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.” 2 Peter 3:3b-4 (NLT)
          • "But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. " 2 Peter 3:8-9 (NLT) Less than two days since Jesus arose?  Yes, we still have our sure and certain hope!

10/29 - Reformation Day

November 2nd, 2017

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Reformation Day

Romans 3:19-28

  • Happy Anniversary Protestants!

    • You can't know where you're going until you know where you've been.
    • In 1517, Martin Luther started the Reformation
      • The New World was barely known
      • John Wesley, the Methodist Movement, and the American Revolution were still 200 years in the future
      • Perhaps most significantly, their image of Jesus was not one of joy, but of fear...
    • Christianity in the World of Martin Luther
      • Christians had faced on/off persecution until the mid 300's and emperor Constantine, who united east and west under a Christian banner

        • But Constantine had a problem, and he solved it by delaying his baptism until it became evident that he was dying
        • The problem? Christians still sinned after becoming Christians!
      • The Sin Conundrum
        • Their baptism imagery was "died in Christ, raised a new creature, sins washed away" so you could now enter righteously into heaven!
        • But how do you wash away the sins you will commit tomorrow?
          • The guilt is forgiven in Christ. They thought the "stain" of sin had to be balanced out, washed away by works of righteousness
        • "Solutions:"
          • I still have sinned! Receive forgiveness in Christ, delay entrance into heaven, the sin stains are "purged" in the fires or purgatory
          • The saints have more righteousness than they need. The Pope can distribute that righteousness as he sees fit, and can delegate that distribution to those under him.  So, if you do something nice, like give money to the building fund, you can have your accounts balanced, your sin debt reduced.  You earned an "indulgence."  By the 1500s, indulgences were for sale...
        • AND their image of Jesus had become "Righteous Judge" rather than "Blessed Redeemer"
      • Martin Luther...
        • NOT from a well-to-do German family. Going to become a lawyer, until a lightning storm set him on the path of being a monk

          • He cried (through St Ann) "God save me!" And took his vow seriously...
        • He became a monk, professor of theology, composer, priest...
          • Scandalized by the corruption he saw in the church in the sale of indulgences
          • Also terrified by the sin he kept uncovering in his own heart
            • Like Wesley, he struggled with finding peace!
          • On 31 October 1517, Luther wrote to his bishop protesting the sale of indulgences, with a copy of his "Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences", which came to be known as the Ninety-five Theses. As the story goes, Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg on 31 October.  And it went viral...
            • Quotes as saying, "Here I stand. I can do no other. May God help me"
          • His great insight? Luther, along with his contemporaries, viewed the righteousness of God as that which separated even the committed Christian from God, for we could never be that  He knew, because he had tried, over and over again. That the righteousness of God was given as a gift through faith, that in Christ we were clothed in God's righteousness, that was the great engine of the Reformation, and perhaps its greatest recovery of Christian truth.
            • Recovering the image of Christ as Blessed Redeemer
          • Lessons from the Unfamiliar
            • Perhaps the biggest change from then to now is the lessening of our anguish over sin.

              • They obsessed over it; they monetized the washing away of it, all to feel secure. If on All Saints Day you visited the list of relics and holy sites it was possible to receive over a million years off of your time in purgatory, which means it had to be possible to get a million year sentence!
              • We have almost done away with the word, except for Sunday. Small sins are mistakes, the tendency to sin is "being human," we blame our behavior on our parents or our genetics, and when we feel worthless we shore it up with a healthy self-esteem. 
                • There are many examples... I'll give you one of mine...
                • What about you? What have you done this week, this day, that you regret, or feel guilty about, or know you really should have done differently?  What if that's not just "being human?"  What if it's the buildup of "little things" like that which are separating you from God?
              • The insight of the Reformation was that we are not saved by doing; we are saved by Jesus. But that doesn't mean "go out and paint the town red!"
                • Remember Luther had this conviction, the conviction that John Wesley had, that the publican had in the parable, that Paul had when he thought of all his good works and qualifications and called them refuse compared to God's holiness: we are sinful creatures who break God's heart by our wounding of ourselves and others, sometimes without even trying, sometimes (God forgive us) with malicious glee.  If we shrug that off without dealing with it, without weeping over it, and then try to say, "but God forgives me"...  that's not the Gospel.  That's us fooling ourselves.
                • But thank God Luther also had this insight, the insight John Wesley had upon hearing Luther's preface to Romans being read, the insight taught through Jesus' parable of the "publican", the realization that we do not have to cower before the unattainable righteousness of God, for what we cannot attain has been given to us...

10/22 - New Wine

October 26th, 2017

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New Wine

Luke 5:33-39

  • Change is hard...

    • Even if the old is worse, the old is familiar, maybe even comfortable
    • In matters of faith, maybe even harder...
      • Jesus was asked why He and His disciples did not "look" like the others that had come before, why their practice or "forms" had changed. He used it as an opportunity to communicate that in Him, the New had come...

        • #1: The Wedding Party - A celebration is not a time for fasting; also linked up to His references to the bridegroom coming to take the bride away...
        • #2: Patching Old Clothing - New material has yet to shrink in the wash, so patch made of it would pull away and rip an old cloth when washed. Purely about form it seems, and an image for those who thought Jesus had come to put a new "shine" on the old ways.
        • #3: Wine and Wineskins - New, still fermenting, wine needs a container that can be stretched... it needs a new flexible wineskin. This was about the change in form needed by the change in the covenant.
      • Wine in the New Testament (literally, "New Covenant")
        • Wine is Jesus' "blood of the new covenant" in communion
        • Wine was featured in Jesus' first miracle, the wedding at Cana (wedding imagery again)
        • Acts 2:13 " But others mocked them and said, "They are drunk on new wine!"" Luke (who wrote Acts) includes this intentionally, linking the Spirit back to Jesus' new wine parable...
      • What does this have to do with us?
        • We shouldn't expect that ANYTHING is included in the New Testament simply as a record of what Jesus taught others, with no claims upon us!

        • #1: We are still in love with old forms...
          • We don't like change, even when that change is necessary!
          • In every age's and every place's receiving of the Gospel (the New Wine), the forms have changed, though the Gospel remains the same
            • If we get too stuck on the way we worship rather than the God we worship, we're in danger of making a mess of things.
            • : Once upon a time, the pipe organ was considered a disruptive innovation in worship, and people DIED to give us the Bible in anything other than Latin
          • #2: In this modern age, we are too easily distracted and disconnected from the Vine, the New Wine, Christ, the Holy Spirit...
            • We neglect our relationship with God yet expect to remain "OK"
            • Imagine a new wineskin filled with old wine, alongside one filled with the new: As fermentation happens the skin with new wine is stretched, grows, firms up, while the one with old wine remains limp and unstretched. Soon the difference becomes obvious.
          • So the questions of the day:
            • Lord, have I become more in love with "doing church" than I am in love with you? Has it been too long since I humbled myself before you, and let your will be done in me and through me?  Have I started to substitute my judgment for an honest seeking after yours?
            • Lord, am I just going through the motions? Have I started to replace our relationship with other things, maybe even good things, but things which will leave me dry and exhausted?  Am I trying so hard to be this person that I know you desire me to be, but feel like I'm running in place? 
            • Lord, am I willing to dust off my Bible, renew my prayer time, avoid that which draws me further from you and sours my spirit, cling to that which renews me and fills me with your love?

10/15 - Laity Sunday 2017

October 19th, 2017

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The sermon for Laity Sunday was delivered by our youth director Mark Stich, speaking about true happiness. Thanks Mark; well done!

10/08 - Where Is This Coming From?

October 19th, 2017

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Where Is This Coming From?

Mark 7:14-23

  • And yet again this past week, we've dealt with horrible news...

    • The Shooter (I will not use his name)
    • Two Questions:
      • HOW can we prevent it?
      • WHY did it happen?
        • Some would say because we haven't prevented the HOW
        • But the reason...?
      • The topic of Evil is once again in our minds...
    • The Ever-Present WHY
      • Woke "coincidentally" this morning to the song The Hurt & The Healer by MercyMe which starts off, "Why? The question that is never far away..."
      • Basically why do bad things happen to the good?
        • We've seen disasters and asked: why did God allow it?
        • The Bible has answered, because sin has entered the world and broken it
        • Others have answered that we encourage people to take risks through regulatory incentives, but the truth is that we believe that people have a right to be foolish if they want, and if the consequences are theirs alone. "Foolish" for me and for you might be different...
        • But that has to do with disasters and tragedies; Las Vegas was a perpetration of violence, and so we ask...
      • Why did he do it? How could he have done such a thing? 
        • We wish to make it comprehensible, we then feel safer
        • We hope he had a mental break, for that would mitigate his responsibility
          • (and we can convince ourselves that we would seek medical help if we find ourselves at risk)
        • We alternatively hope he was a hidden monster, for that would make him other than us
      • We want, maybe without admitting it to ourselves, reassurance that we would never become like this, perpetrators of evil
      • That is why studying Nazi Germany, or Communist Russia is such a challenge:
        • We cannot lie to ourselves that they are not people like us
      • 4 Kinds of Evil (one of MANY models)
        • The Ends Justify the Means

          • An Example: Romans 3:7-8
          • To lie, cheat, steal, use others all for yourself
          • An Antidote: "Love your neighbor as yourself..."
        • Blind Idealism
          • Two Examples: 1 John 4:1; Matthew 7:15-18a
          • Noncombatants killed: 12 million by Nazi Germany, 9 million by Stalin's Russia, 30+ million by Mao's China... all in service to their "ideals"
          • Leonard Lyons in “The Washington Post:” "In the days when Stalin was Commissar of Munitions, a meeting was held... One official arose and made a speech about ... the tragedy of millions of people dying of hunger.… Stalin interrupted him to say: “If only one man dies of hunger, that is a tragedy. If millions die, that’s only statistics.”"
          • THE Antidote: The Gospel, wherein God asks us to come and "reason together" with Him
        • Vengeance
          • An Example: Romans 12:19-20
          • A response to being threatened or harmed, physically or otherwise
          • But are we content with "an eye for an eye?"
          • An Antidote: Romans 12:19-20
        • Sadism
          • The true monsters: Those who were born without connection to others, or who have followed the above paths, to the extent that harming others becomes "fun."
          • The Antidote: Don't start down these paths...
        • Leaving the "Why" in God's hands
          • We may never know why, in this case (and in others)
          • At some point we have to trust God, and move forward, and not get "stuck" in the moments of darkness that mar our lives
          • At some point we say, "As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice."
            – Psalm 55:16-17

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