Monday, December 15, 2008

The Part I Missed

On Sunday, I had the privilege of kicking off our Christmas series at church. It was a great experience for me (I hope for others), but at the end, I completely forgot to talk about something I had planned to preach! So I thought I'd put it in the blog for anyone who was curious (if you didn't know that I missed something, now you do):

To recap, I preached on Matthew 1:18-25, and got through verse 23. Joseph basically has the choice to believe his pregnant future-wife over common sense, as well as the angel who appeared to him in a dream to assure him that Mary's not lying about where her baby came from.

So now, Joseph's got the choice to take Mary as his wife, or not. He's got the choice to join in God's saving mission, or not. If he does, he's going to take an incredible risk to himself. He'll likely lose the respect of family and friends who will assume that he's the real father of Mary's illegitimate child (at least, illegitimate in their eyes). He might lose business customers and a good standing with the synagogue.

The point is this: Following Jesus is dangerous. You're going to lose something. It might not be your life, but it might be the respect of your friends, colleagues, and family. You could be passed up for job opportunities. Believing in and following Jesus will not make you safer, wealthier, or healthier. If you don't believe me, read the New Testament (and stop reading certain authors who would tell you otherwise).

I'm not saying this will be easy. I'm saying Jesus is worth it.

(I also was supposed to say the word "Lego's," but forgot. In case you're curious, I was going to compare our broken, fallen, sinful world to a Lego set. You see what it's meant to be by the picture on the box, but inside, everything's scattered and needs someone to put it back together. This "reassembling" takes place in, through, and because of Jesus.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hell is for People Who Do Nothing

Matthew 25:31-45 has always been a frightening passage of Scripture for me because it peels back my self-righteousness and calls my greed into account. This isn't just a passage for Christmas, when people are more prone to give or volunteer their time. It's a description of true followers of Christ (the "sheep") and the result of the gospel hitting their hearts (feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and those in prison). Two things hit me from this:

1. We sometimes don't understand the impact of our good works. The "sheep" sure didn't. They fed the hungry, not realizing that in a mysterious way, they also fed Jesus ("Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.") So don't give up on doing good to others, no matter how small it may seem.

2. Eternal punishment, in this passage, is reserved for people who saw those brothers in need and did nothing. Now I know that we're saved because of Christ, not our works, but our lives reveal whether or not we trust and love Him. You can't claim to love God and hate or ignore the people He loves; your actions will expose you as a liar and a hypocrite. Hell is for people who see others in need, others who are suffering, and do nothing.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What might an Obama presidency do in four years? This Focus on the Family "letter from the future" offers some ideas:

Any thoughts?

Monday, August 18, 2008

After all our hands have wrought ...

"And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them." (Genesis 3:21)

God makes clothes for Adam and Eve after they've sinned, realized they were naked, and tried using fig leaves to cover themselves. After they have broken relationship with Him, He still tended to them and cared for their needs. Some people will take this as a picture of what Christ will later do for us (he covers our sin with his righteousness), but the idea that God continues to love us at all is amazing in and of itself.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Freshmen move-in

We had some great respones today from the people moving in. Can't wait to see what happens tomorrow...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Some things...

The City Council again postponed talking about Dr. Unk's, thanks to some great lawyer work. The next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 11.

Harmony is starting "Story," a series on the book of John, starting this Sunday. Come to it, or download the sermon here. But if you're in Greenville, definitely come to it. And then stay after for a Meat-Meat = )

Real Live Preacher is starting a discussion on hell.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Meet Obama, the Antichrist?

Here's an interesting story from Time in which some people connect Barack Obama to the Bible's most famous end-time baddie. My vote is nay for several reasons, among which is that people who have guessed the identity of the Antichrist have historically been proven wrong every time.

I think we often get off track when it comes to our approach to what the Bible says about how this world will end (and another one will begin). Instead of trying to figure out whether Iran's nuclear program plays a role in the final days, or at what time Russia will invade Israel, or what the mark of the beast will be, why can't we instead just meditate and take comfort in the promise that Jesus is coming?

The events that lead up to our Lord's return aren't as important as the Lord Himself. Any end-times theology that doesn't have Jesus as its center is an idol and needs to be rethought or discarded completely.

We won't know everything that happens before the end, not even famous end-times authors who have had to revise their predictions because their initial guesses were proven wrong. The safest bet is to love Jesus, love others, and trust that God knows what He's doing.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Exposed (Heb. 4:13)

"And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account." (Hebrews 4:13)

This is usually a pretty frightening verse to me. Nothing I do or don't do is kept from Almighty God. He sees everything. He knows my deepest thoughts and desires, the things that are so easily kept from everyone else.

And yet, He still loves.

He saw what I would be, but still sent Jesus to redeem, reclaim, renew. His love is not based on what I am, but on who He is. God is the only one who sees me for who I really am and did not stop in spite of all the ways He knew that I would hurt both Him and others. He still is glad to have called me His son, and there are no regrets.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Jesus' crown of thorns

An amazing thought from Echo group the other night that I didn't want to forget.

The soldiers put on a crown of thorns on Jesus. In Genesis, thorns were a symbol of the curse that came as a result of our turning away to God. On the cross, Jesus became a curse on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God (paraphrased from both Gal. 3:13 and 2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus was broken so we could be healed. What an amazing thing God has done.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

"Existence of God," brought to you by Wikipedia

Here's an article that sums up arguments both for and against the existence of God.

Which side presents the stronger argument? And were there any arguments or objections against either side that were left our or not addressed?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Going off the last post...

Instead of focusing on an argument against the existence of God, what proof is there that He exists?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

But who designed the Designer?

I heard this argument against the existence of God: if the world is so complex as to have required a Designer, then the Designer itself would have to be so complex as to require a designer of its own. And that goes against the Christian belief that God is eternal. No beginning, no end.

I haven't come up with a response to this objection, at least one that is totally satisfactory to me (but I haven't lost faith over it, either). My first thought is, we still don't know everything there is to know about our own world and probably never will. How much less are our chances of understanding the supernatural world, let alone the Creator who established both realms?

Looking forward to any responses.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Not that powerful

A thought that's stayed with me today is the goal of my life is not to earn God's love. I can't earn what I already have, and I'm not powerful enough to make Him love me less. The goal is become more like Christ. When that happens, I become more and more what I was always meant to be.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Writing this makes me want a kickin' chicken sandwich...

My church made the News & Observer last week while defending the magnificent Dr. Unk's. Here's the relevant text:

During the Thursday night part of the session, the council
heard from people supporting and opposing restaurant owner Jeremy
Spengeman's request to change the city's definition of "restaurant."
Spengeman owns Dr. Unk's Oasis, located in the Tar River-University
neighborhood. About 30 people turned out in support of Spengeman,
including members of Harmony Church, which have been using the restaurant
for its services.
One man said he thought the restaurant improved the
safety of the neighborhood because it scared troublemakers away from a
nearby parking lot. However, several other individuals said the restaurant
created a noise problem and brought criminal activity into the neighborhood.
Originally, Councilwomen Mildred Council and Rose Glover made a motion
to approve the change. As other council members discussed their reluctance
to support the motion, because it would change the definition of restaurants
citywide, Glover proposed the delay.