Grace in Handling Conflict

I’m happy to have Trevin Wax preaching for me today.  He’s preaching from 2 Corinthians 10…

2 Corinthians 10:1-18 (HCSB)
1  Now I, Paul, make a personal appeal to you by the gentleness and graciousness of Christ—I who am humble among you in person but bold toward you when absent. 2  I beg you that when I am present I will not need to be bold with the confidence by which I plan to challenge certain people who think we are behaving in an unspiritual way. 3  For though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an unspiritual way, 4  since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments 5  and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ. 6  And we are ready to punish any disobedience, once your obedience has been confirmed.

7  Look at what is obvious. If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should remind himself of this: Just as he belongs to Christ, so do we. 8  For if I boast some more about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for tearing you down, I am not ashamed. 9  I don’t want to seem as though I am trying to terrify you with my letters. 10  For it is said, “His letters are weighty and powerful, but his physical presence is weak, and his public speaking is despicable.” 11  Such a person should consider this: What we are in the words of our letters when absent, we will be in actions when present.

12  For we don’t dare classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. But in measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves to themselves, they lack understanding. 13  We, however, will not boast beyond measure but according to the measure of the area of ministry that God has assigned to us, which reaches even to you. 14  For we are not overextending ourselves, as if we had not reached you, since we have come to you with the gospel of Christ. 15  We are not bragging beyond measure about other people’s labors. But we have the hope that as your faith increases, our area of ministry will be greatly enlarged, 16  so that we may proclaim the good news to the regions beyond you, not boasting about what has already been done in someone else’s area of ministry. 17  So the one who boasts must boast in the Lord. 18  For it is not the one commending himself who is approved, but the one the Lord commends.

Saturday Stuff

*Here’s the list of the 2015 Oscars.

*The Avengers 2 team poster reveals some things about the movie coming out on May 1.

*Here’s a breakdown of the what you’re seeing in the picture of Jason Mamoa as Aquaman.


6-String Salvo, February 27, 2015

bigstock-Guitar-9506791. My friend Duane Geib serves as our Associate Pastor working with college students and young adults.  He’s started a new blog called Let’s Do Coffee where he’ll talk about issues that come up in his working with these folks.  Check it out!

2. I’m always encouraged when Randy Alcorn writes about heaven as he does answering the question, “Might some animals talk on the new earth?”

3. Steve Ham helps us understand how we can arrive at a young earth and 24-hour period days in Genesis from Scripture alone.

4. I like these 10 biblical formulas to change our lives from David Murray.

5. John Piper lets us know how average people with no scholarly training can know the Bible is true.

6. Trevin Wax summarizes the Evangelicals and Catholics Together statement on what marriage is and why it matters.

Here’s The Original Pine Mountain Railroad with the Journey classic Don’t Stop Believin’

The Most Important Thing

When I go on mission trips, I make several lists.  I have one list for the things I need to pack.  I don’t want to forget underwear, or toothpaste, or towels, or any other essential such as that.  I include power cords, sermons I may preach, books I want to read and music/sermons I want to listen to.  Will I need sunscreen, mosquito spray, or sheets?

Another list I have is all the things I need to do before I leave.  I have blogs to write, sermons that need to be ready to go for when I return.  My phone message is changed.  Phone calls are made and emails are sent.  I schedule my Tweets and FB posts.  I call the credit card company and my cell phone carrier.  I check to make sure my shots are all up to date and also check to see if other shots might be suggested.  An important item is to check to make sure my passport is up to date!

My last a couple of days are a flurry of activity as I prepare to leave.  And while I may leave knowing I’ve checked off every item on my to-do list and that I’ve packed everything I need, I may have forgotten the most important thing…prayer.

My suitcase, my backpack, and my body may be ready and prepared for the trip, but is my heart?  Mission trips aren’t vacations where the goal is to get there and relax.  Mission trips are entering battle grounds where we are trying to push back the darkness with the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Prayer reminds us that the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh.  What will it matter if I have my deodorant but don’t have the Spirit’s power?

As we go through our day-to-day activities, we must not forget prayer.  And when we’re going on a mission trip, we must not forget prayer.  Prayer is the most important thing.

Truths That Fuel Emotion

There is no doubt that the truths of Scripture fuel worship.  The songs we sing, the Scriptures we read, the God we worship should all contribute to a truth-filled time of worship.

Sometimes, though, we can become so careful about proclaiming truth that we remain unaffected by that truth.  Corporate and individual worship shouldn’t be emotion-free times.

And how we were raised or the faith tradition in which we grew up are not excuses for remaining unaffected by the truth we sing/hear/celebrate.

What are some of the truths we proclaim in times of worship that ought to continuously move us emotionally?

  1. Our sinful rebellion against our Lord. In the hymn Amazing Grace we sing about God’s grace that “saved a wretch like me.” When we think about the state of our souls before salvation and the wrath of God we would have experienced for eternity, we should be moved by God’s mercy towards us.
  1. Our Lord Jesus Christ coming to seek and to save sinners. The Bible reminds us that Jesus became flesh to seek and save sinners. He humbled Himself for us.  He sought us when we were strangers.  He did not leave us to our helpless estate.
  1. Our Lord Jesus Christ saved us while we were His enemies. Christ didn’t die for us after we repented but before.
  1. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus we have been declared righteous. No longer can any man, any angel, any demon call us unrighteous. We have received the righteousness of Christ and can now stand before the Father in Christ.
  1. Through our Lord Jesus Christ we have received adoption. Not only are we declared righteous but we are called His sons and daughters. We are joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.
  1. Jesus is preparing a home for us and will return for us. One day we will see Jesus face to face and we will receive resurrection bodies that will live forever in a glorious new world.

These are just a few of the truths we celebrate during our times of worship that should so thrill us that we can’t help but respond with all our hearts, soul, minds, and strength.

The Bully in Me

A common mantra that is heard on some of the Hollywood awards shows deals with the childhood/teenage struggles that homosexuals have had because of their sexuality.  Some of these struggles come via outside sources such as bullying.  But another source of struggle is often within the mind of the person as they deal with their sexual desires.

Not all bullies are “out there”

I think we are wrong to dismiss so quickly some of the shame and/or guilt that these folks feel as the sad remaining echoes of a by-gone Judeo-Christian morality that has been hammered into the minds of our children.

Every person with the capability to think, unless they are sociopathic, has to struggle with moral issues, decisions concerning those moral issues, and the consequences of those decisions.  In other words, we wrestle with morality, not simply due to how we’ve been raised, but due to the fact that we are created in the image of God who has created us as moral beings.

Why do we know some things are wrong?

The question isn’t whether we have an innate morality, but what do we do with that innate morality?  Through our thought processes, do we allow our morality to accuse us of wrong or do we deny our morality so that we excuse of behavior?  Do we suppress the truth of God within us or do we welcome His truth?

Based on Scripture, I’m saying that dealing with an innate morality is the common struggle of every living person.  Paul calls this the law of God written on our hearts…

Romans 2:14-16 (HCSB) 14  So, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, instinctively do what the law demands, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the law. 15  They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts. Their consciences confirm this. Their competing thoughts will either accuse or excuse them 16  on the day when God judges what people have kept secret, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus.

There is never a good reason to bully someone because of their beliefs or behaviors.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t say beliefs or behaviors are wrong.  That isn’t bullying, that’s loving compassion.  Often, what we say isn’t new to them because they have been struggling internally with their beliefs and behaviors.

What if the bully is within me?

But what happens when the bully is within me?  What happens when the culture around me encourages behavior for which my conscience accuses me?  A person doesn’t have to be raised in a Judeo-Christian moral environment to feel the war that goes on between their desires and their conscience.  Unless we’re trying to remove all morality, we should hope that we live amongst people who feel guilt and shame before they act on their thoughts.

Freedom from the moral anchor of absolute truth doesn’t free us from our consciences.  Just because the culture is doing what is right in its own eyes doesn’t mean I can merrily join with them, or that I become free from the nagging voice in my head that says my behavior is wrong.  Thus, the bullying doesn’t come from religious radicals condemning me for my sin which might be easily dismissed.  My conscience is the “bully” that forces me to confront my thoughts/behavior because of God’s common grace given to me by being created in His image.  And that common grace then leads me toward the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The desire to sin, free from guilt and shame, is a desire every human being has experienced.  While our culture may desire a world that silences the so-called bullies outside of us, it will never silence the “bully” within.

Grace in Relationships

Yesterday I preached from 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1.  You can listen to the sermon here.  The notes are below…

Let me state up front what this text does not refer to…

1) It does not refer to interracial marriage

2) It does not mean we are to withdraw from the world

If anything in my life is pulling me in a direction away from my passion for Jesus and His gospel, I’m in an unequally yoked relationship.

  1. A believer’s priorities are different from an unbeliever’s priorities. 6:14-15
  1. A believer is in relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. 6:16-18
  1. The promises of the gospel fuel the believer’s passion for Godly relationships that grow us in holiness. 7:1

Why might we become unequally yoked?

  1. We’re immature in our faith.
  1. We believe the lies of Satan.
  1. We don’t understand what we have in Jesus.
  1. We may be an unbeliever.