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Courageous leaders should be chosen as church leaders not those who are looking for popularity

The Gospel of Ear-Tickling

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

Sermons That Tickle Your Ears Sell

Anyone doubting that should stand outside a typical church on a Sunday morning and listen. “I like the way he preaches.” “He makes me feel good.” “I don’t like what I hear.” “I’m not sure what it is about that preacher, but I don’t like him.” I like, I don’t like, I feel, I don’t feel.

What I want in a church. What we’re looking for. Why we’re considering leaving.

On and on, ad infinitum. People want what they want. And with the availability of churches of all stripes and colors—varieties of sizes, architecture, programs, music, preaching, doctrine—no one need stay where they are unhappy. So, they keep moving.

And so pastors keep studying “what people want in a church.” And lay leadership keeps polling the congregation: “What you want in a pastor.”

God help us.

In the Peanuts comic strip, the children were writing an assignment about their summer vacation. Linus was hard at work. He wrote something like, “Even though I had a lot of fun this summer—at the beach, going to movies, playing ball and vacationing with my family—I could not wait to return to the hallowed halls of learning. I missed my amazing school, my wonderful books and my outstanding teacher. I’m so happy to be back.”

He handed in the paper, then stood there while the teacher read it. He says, “An A-plus? Thank you very much, ma’am.” As he leaves the room, he remarks to another child, “As the years come and go, one learns what sells.”

Many a pastor has figured out what sells and has determined to offer a steady menu of that to their congregations.

This is powered by a lot of things: personal ambition, job security, drawing crowds, increasing the budget and getting noticed.

The flesh craves what it wants. The Gospel of Ear-Tickling says pastors should speak nice words, never rock the boat, and choose only those doctrines that the locals agree on. Or even better, avoid doctrine altogether and stay with topics sure to draw in a crowd. “How to be a winner in a losing world.” “How to overcome your low self-esteem.” “How to be popular and still please God.” “How to romance your spouse.” “How to have perfect children.”

Sometimes the message we preach is unpleasant.

In his final warning to the church–specifically to young Pastor Timothy, but through him to us—Paul implies that sound doctrine may be unpleasant to the ear. The truth of God preached by a faithful disciple of the Lord Jesus does a lot of things…

–it rebukes our self-centeredness.

–it holds us to a higher standard.

–it is like surgery or medicine in that for the short term it can be painful, but the result of which is health.

This is why only courageous leaders should be chosen by churches. They understand these things and are willing to pay the price. Others are not.

“Master,” the disciples said, “are you aware that the Pharisees were offended by what You said?” (Matthew 15). “Let them alone,” said the Lord. “They are blind leaders of the blind.”

Courageous leaders are essential.

It goes without saying that pastors and other ministers must be men and women of courage. But likewise, the lay leaders must be people of strength and firmness.

–Such leaders will encourage the pastor to preach the truth even if it hurts.

–Such leaders will support the pastor when he does preach the unvarnished truth and is receiving criticism. They should remind God’s people that “no chastening for the present time seems pleasant…but afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11).

–Such leaders will speak to members of the congregation who are stirring up strife over what the pastor is preaching. If God’s man is telling the truth and being faithful, the lay leadership should have the courage to stand with him.

–Such leaders will even allow a few unhappy church members to leave when they cannot get their way. They will not blame the pastor for running them away. Anyone who does even a quick reading of the Gospels will see our Lord let people leave Him because they could not take His truth. And He did not blame Himself or second-guess the message He was preaching.

Pray for your leaders, friend. And stand by them, particularly when they are being criticized. If they are faithful, then you be faithful.

God, bless your church. Please.

This article originally appeared here.

We doubt God still provides Genesis 18

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We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who serve with their hands, hearts and heads said … AMEN!

Mary and Martha are always an interesting subject in the church. The tradeoff between serving the church, which is obviously, vitally necessary and what the church’s primary function is, making disciples. The great commandment Matthew 28:19 is very clear when Jesus tells His disciples: “ESV Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”. We are to do two things as the church make disciples and baptize them. All people should be Christian disciples. The Greek word maqhth.j we are not “mandated” to serve, we are mandated to learn, to grow. It is huge when people do things to serve, that does a lot for the church, no question. But we are called to be maqhth.j there are ten references in the NT to being Jesus’ disciple. That a disciple is to learn, to grow and to serve. But to serve properly, one needs to know how to be a proper disciple. It’s being Jesus’ disciple, taking in what He wants you to know and not being rattled by the world and Satan: “Urban legend has it that in 1990 a woman entered a Haagen-Dazs in the Kansas City Plaza for an ice-cream cone. While she was ordering another customer entered the store. She placed her order, turned and found herself staring face to face with Paul Newman. His blue eyes made her knees buckle. She finished paying and quickly walked out of the store with her heart still pounding. Gaining her composure she suddenly realized she didn’t have her cone; she turned to go back in. At the door she met Paul Newman who was coming out. He said to her, “Are you looking for your ice-cream cone?” Unable to utter a word she nodded yes. “You put it in your purse with your change.”

When was the last time the presence of God made you forget what was going on around you? Made you forget the dishes, forget the ball game? Made you forget the bank account? Made you forget where…you put your ice cream cone?

It’s really not a “chicken-egg” thing. There are disciples, who have been brought up in, taught in, practiced in being disciples. To be proper disciples, it’s not enough to just learn, you will also be learning for a disciple, and you should be teaching others as a disciple. That is what it all means to be a disciple in the Greek word mathetes. John refers to “disciple” fifteen times in his Gospel. John’s is the “newest” gospel. Written about sixty years after Jesus’ crucifixion, no doubt John had a lot more time to reflect on the word “disciple”, and emphasize its importance in his Gospel.

Are Mary and Martha being disciples? Yes they are. However, what does the focus of being a disciple mean? Often we tend to project on to someone what we like, what we think they should have. Jesus has about a three year ministry. While we might think three years is a lot of time, think about how much Jesus wanted to convey to His disciples, and how short a time He had to do it. At this point Jesus is starting on the road to Jerusalem, His crucifixion. Three years is not enough. I’m sure you’ve had the same experience. There’s something you really want to pass on to people who are important to you, family, friends, associates, people you’ve grown up with. You think it’s important, but what’s the other person/people doing? Fussing around, trying to make you comfortable. I get it, they are trying to serve, but you really want them to know something, and you want their attention. This is important to you, you want it to be important to them, you want to share this with them. This might be something immediately important. We don’t know what Jesus, Lazarus and Mary are talking about, to be frank, if I’m sitting down with Jesus, I don’t care about anything else that’s going on. I’m going to be completely respectful to him. I am going to offer anything that I could think He might want, but if He’s talking I’m listening. I don’t think Martha was being respectful and I don’t think Jesus thought so either. Dinner’s important, and it’s nice of her to care for Jesus. But maybe Jesus is more concerned about what He wants to share with these three people who have come to be family for Him.

Many theologians make the case that one of the three men who visited Abraham was Jesus. What is called a “Christophany”, a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. Though nothing is spelled out, due to Abraham’s response to these men, and since they seem to know Abraham and his wife, something supernatural is going on here. This is the line of ancestry that precedes Jesus in His incarnation. Seems this would be set up by Jesus with Abraham right from the get go. What’s Abram doing with his guests? Running around getting them the best things that he can serve them, be the best host he can be. They did appear right in front of him, so this is something important. Should Abram be hospitable? Sure! But in this case, obviously these men had something very important to tell Abram, maybe they didn’t want a lot of fussing going on around them. Abraham is 99 years old, Sarah is about eighty. Ishmael has just been born, this makes him the heir to Abraham. This is no small thing. Abraham has become a rather successful man and has much to leave his family. All of a sudden these men show up, one of whom might be God the Son, the pre-incarnate Christ, to announce that now, Abraham will have a son.

Seems to me, that instead of Abraham waiting on the Lord, like Martha, both decided that they had to kind of make things happen on their own. That’s very nice, but, is that really about faith? Abraham, felt, apparently, he was serving God by impregnating Hagar and getting this heir thing jump-started. Right after the birth of Ishmael these men show up to announce what the plan is. God had already made His pact with Abram in chapter 15, in chapter 16 Abram decides to help God out with Hagar and their son Ishmael. Sarah is well past the age of child bearing, so obviously God needs some help here, some service to make this plan go. Jesus is sitting with dear friends and He wants them to wait upon Him by listening, and well, we need to make sure He has other things that He didn’t ask for. Is any of that trusting God and looking for His guidance? Seems there is an element of doubting by Martha and Sarah. That this is just not going to work unless I add my part. That’s not trusting God. When He asks should we provide, immediately? Absolutely. We should make sure that when we know God is pushing us on something that we jump through hoops. Often times we express our doubt because what He’s asking is not something we really want to do or like. We’d rather give Him our plan. Why? Because we doubt His plan and we’re sure that our plan is better than God’s.

David Leininger writes: a time management guru, a professor in the business school at Harvard, speaks about A, B, and C priorities, he notes too many people spend too much of their time on C priorities! He asks, “Why do you think that is?” The answer C priorities are, first, much easier to accomplish, and, second, give you the impression that you are actually getting something done. In other words you can keep busy with the C priorities all day and never get to the more important things. The lesson from Mary and Martha is “Don’t let the good (the C priorities) get in the way of the best (the A priorities). Sound like anyone you know?[1]Jesus is our A priority, but too often we fuss with the Cs and we don’t trust doing the A’s. Sarah, didn’t trust and by not trusting didn’t serve, she decided that despite God’s promise, that she would have a son that she would “serve” by putting her desire aside and serve by jump starting the process with Hagar. We’re not here to undermine Jesus’ promises regardless of our “good” intentions as Martha and Sarah chose to do. We are called to be Mary, to continue to serve no doubt! But when the Lord is in our presence and giving His guidance, we need to put the other stuff aside and listen. Prayer, meditation, journaling, genuine worship, study Scripture, Jesus is always in our presence. When do we chose to take what He’s given us and wait for Him? We often doubt what He gives us, yet He still provides. Afterwards we realize how we weren’t paying attention and received what we did need. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin. Christ has risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah

[1] David E. Leininger, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com

Live Like Genuine Christian Men Proverbs 8

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We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know men of courage and conviction said, … AMEN!!

On the day we recognize our dads, we also remember the Fathers of the Church who gathered together to work out, bump and grind, fashion the Athanasiun Creed. We know how difficult it is to reach agreements on beliefs, goals, a groups dreams to get on paper and everyone have some buy-in. All the men who gathered together to compose these creeds were Orthodox, Scripture believing faithful disciples of Christ. They were also from all parts of Christendom, and bound to have their own cultural views on how we should “be” Christians. Reformed, Evangelical Americans have put their own, albeit wrong spin on Christianity, we should all agree on the basics. The problem is when we have people, e.g. Joel Osteen who believes who Jesus is, but are tragically wrong about what He is about and those errors do impact the core beliefs we see spelled out in the Athanasian Creed.

We have 3 creeds. First and traditional is the Apostles Creed. The Apostles creed comes out of the Acts church, it probably grew as a way to teach members, new and old, about the basics of what we believe. As time went on, lots of, crazy beliefs started to grow about the Christian church and beliefs especially in terms of who Jesus is. The entirety of Christianity pivots on who you say Jesus is. We have a lot of “churches” today that claim to be “Christian”, but they are simply not. In order to be a Christian, in a Christian Church, you and that church need to subscribe to the core beliefs of the creeds that have been agreed upon by the church. Those other “churches” simply would not ascribe to some of the beliefs, these are the bare-bone beliefs, the starting ground, the base-line of being a Christian. Almost always the sticking point of other beliefs is about the person and nature of Jesus, that is, Who Jesus really is.

Heretical beliefs such as the LDS, or Mormons, the other is Jehovah’s Witnesses. Both would say, “sure, Jesus is the son of God, small “g”, not really god. Jesus is really important, brought us a lot, but not eternal god, he’s a created being, may be above us, but not all-powerful god co-equal with the Father. For most heresies, the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force, a Star Wars idea of “the force Luke”. Which is not true, Scripture continually refers to the Holy Spirit as “Him” and ascribes a number of interactive functions that He performs. There’s a lot of heresies out there that like to make our different beliefs about the Holy Trinity a minor point, because it’s all about how we earn our way, we know it’s entirely about what Jesus does to start and bring us to completion in Him.

The deal buster is in how we are saved. The propitiation of our sins, what’s done in order for our sins to be fully paid? Our sins are horrendous, even us ordinary old people. The things we do are truly ugly, mean. We may not kill anyone, but often by virtue of our actions, our words, we do a lot of damage to people. I was with 8 pastors for 8 hours a day for five days. Between the stories in the text books and the other pastors, WOW!, a lot of damage is done to people by all of us.

Today we want to recognize dads, this is your day! I also want to recognize Jim and Betsy for stepping up to make sure the dads of the congregation had a nice breakfast, everything was really great, and if you haven’t, thank those who brought us this gift. We had a great Mom’s Day and Dad’s Day breakfast. Marge wanted to be here to do this, she’s done this in the past at church.

King Duncan in his Father’s Day sermon tells about: “Robert Lewis in his book Real Family Values tells a fascinating story about a heartwarming discovery workers at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, in the winter of 1993. While renovating a section of the museum, they found a photograph that had been hidden in a crevice underneath a display case. The man in the picture had a bat resting on his shoulder; he was wearing a uniform with the words “Sinclair Oil” printed across his chest; his demeanor was gentle and friendly.

Stapled to the picture was a note, scribbled in pen by an adoring fan. The note read: “You were never too tired to play ball. On your days off, you helped build the Little League Field. You always came to watch me play. You were a Hall of Fame Dad. I wish I could share this moment with you. — Your Son, Pete.”’

NASCAR, football, hunting, whatever it is that bonds family and yea, especially father and son is great, none is better or worse, well … hey anyone who’s seen Field of Dreams Kevin Costner meets his baseball dad when his dad was the same age as Costner, and if you don’t get a little misty eyed, remembering your own father, well I would have to check for a pulse. It reminds us that dads are those people who are generally quiet, let their bat speak for them. They want to be that example, and certainly the example for Christian dads is Jesus. None of us is ever going to be anywhere near where Jesus is, despite what Mormons teach, but that is the ideal we shoot for. We talked this past week on the Christian man and Christian woman. The roles God gave us to truly complement each other, man and woman were made to be “one flesh”, to be together, to bring a child into the world. So much depends on the man being that good Christian father, to both his son and daughter. Daughters may not be baseball fans, though I’ve known a lot of women who bonded with their dads because of baseball and have warm memories of sharing that with their dad. One of the many great things about women, while most men get into a groove pretty quick and decide what they’re about, the women, wife, daughter, in their life, often adapt to that in order to create that bonding with their husband, dad. A special trait women have, and a way to honor and support him. It is that difference that comes together as a mom and dad, to complement each other as is described in Scripture over and over again. That way, ladies you especially enable that man to go out and do the things that gives strength to him. You may not think it’s a big deal for a Christian man to go into the world to hammer together something like the Athanasian Creed. A man has to decide what is most important, put aside the fear and take a visible stand for Jesus in that day as well as today. It takes courage and conviction to assert the highest ideals especially in a world that is so full of mediocrity and waffling. You will be popular in today’s wishy-washy culture if you just smile, nod your head, go along to get along. Actually standing for something of substance, not what the world decides is important, what actually is important, is not the road to success and wealth. That road is about being a flatterer, telling people what they want to hear, avoiding conflict and controversy at any price. We’re a world more concerned replaying a disputed call in a football game over and over, than concerned about genuine truth. I see more and more hopelessnesss, shallowness and despondency than ever. Where a beautiful young girl achieves some fame through modeling, an otherwise kind, considerate young girl commits suicide because of the bullying she endures by mediocre, jealous, hateful group who because of their personal inadequacy, inflict their angst of someone who does something with her life, because they can’t accept their own inadequacies and second rate lives. A culture that celebrates the phoney and try to say how genuine it is. A Christian man stands up against the attempts of the culture to drag others down to the lowest common denominator and insists on the highest ideals for himself, his family and those around him. Not in a pretentious way but in a way only a man committed to Christ and posing his life in the way of a strong and passionate man in Jesus. Not too many of those guys! Most simply like to parrot the culture and then tell us how genuine that is. Christian men make a strong witness for the highest ideals in Jesus and insist the world live according to those standards and principles as the men who stood for Christ in history who wrote and put their names to documents like the Athanasian Creed that demands the highest and rejects the mediocrities of this phoney world.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom  Christ is risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah

 

Ascends as Lord of all creation Acts 1 Trinity Lutheran Church,

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We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know Jesus’ sits at the right hand of all power and all glory said… AMEN !

We use the “Common Lectionary”, when people come up to do the readings, they traditionally read out of the service book, that has the daily readings assuring that we observe the important, formative, enlightening events of the Bible. It usually guides our worship. Sometimes the pastor has a good reason to deviate from Scripture, but usually we want to stick to the lectionary. This keeps the pastor focused. Too often in non-liturgical worship, preaching and teaching is more about the preacher’s hobby-horse versus, trying to teach the entire Bible. The entire Bible is important, we need, at the very least to be familiar with the various parts and be able to describe different parts of the Bible and what is going on in those parts. The entire Bible points to Jesus being active before His incarnation, the events Jesus lived through in the incarnation. When we understand that, we have an even deeper appreciation of the entire Bible. People will often tell me how “boring” the Book of Such and Such is. Yet that Book, all of Scripture describes Jesus, God the Son who has lived eternally, John writes in his Gospel: “ESV John 1:3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” As much as the Father was through all eternity, so is the Son and the Holy Spirit. They may not have been revealed until the New Testament, but they very much existed, all eternal God. I’ve had people who claim to be Christian “pastors” say, I don’t preach on the Old Testament, it’s the Gospels and the epistles that really matter. Nothing could be more wrong, and someone who claims to be a pastor, and believes that, is not a qualified Christian pastor. All this is to say that the lectionary keeps us all honest, on track, having a thorough understanding of Jesus, and all of Scripture as possible. While Ascension Day may seem anticlimactic, OK, He rises up into the air and disappears, time to move on… Daniel Marrs writes: “I wonder if our tendency to let Ascension Day slip past uncelebrated has more to do with the simple fact that it feels anticlimactic? The Christmas story tells us that God purposed to be with us, joining himself to human nature and walking among us as a man. And we know how Jesus’ life culminated with the world-shaking significance of the cross and the resurrection. But then he just…leaves. Why? And what does it mean for us?[1]

Jesus is not unique in being bodily taken to heaven, Elijah was lifted up into heaven in front of his student Elisha. ESV 2 Kings 2:11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” It does seem that God’s intention for Elijah that he would be the one who would announce the Messiah’s return. We know he was with Jesus at the Transfiguration. Moses was also, some people believe Moses was also bodily ascended into heaven. Elijah and Moses are thought to be the two witnesses in Revelation 11: 3-12, because they were bodily raised to heaven for these purposes. While Dr Luther stipulated that the Bible did not say anything about the bodily assumption of Mary, he didn’t deny the possibility either. Lutherans have rejected that view, I’m not trying to convince you of it, but just that Mary is included in the list. Isaiah may be also, he was brought into the presence of Yahweh, but the intention was not to keep him there, same for St Paul.

While it might make an interesting discussion, how many angels dancing on the head of a pin, kind of discussion, we know this for sure. Elijah and Enoch may have been raised up to somewhere by God in heaven, and Paul says that he was raised to what he called the 3rd heaven, Jesus was raised to the right hand of God. In His Ascension into heaven, Jesus became the entirety of the universe. Elijah, Enoch, Paul, Mary(?) if God did raise them bodily into some level or part of heaven, Jesus was raised to the right hand of God. Being at the right hand of any ruler was always understood as the person being at the right hand had the power and authority of the ruler. Peter Mikhalev offers this pointed quote: “St. John Chrysostom: “Elijah ascended as if into Heaven, because he was a slave, but Christ ascended into Heaven itself, because He was the Lord.”[4][2] This is generally to be understood as the man who carries out the will of the ruler. Enoch, Elijah, Mary (?) may have bodily ascended to heaven, but to be sure no where near the right hand where as we profess in the Apostle’s Creed: “seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.” By virtue of this position of power Jesus is He whose rule is in complete glory: John Calvin writes: “Christ was invested with lordship over heaven and earth, and solemnly entered into possession of the government committed to him — and that he not only entered into possession once for all, but continues in it, until he shall come down on Judgment Day” [3](Institutes 2.16.15). Mikhalev quotes St Gregory: “…by His own Divine power the Creator ascended into Heaven, because He was returning to there from whence He descended. He entered there where He had habitation from the ages: for, although He ascended as man, as God He possessed both Heaven and Earth.”[14][4]

R C Sproul writes “God’s right hand is the place of “highest favor with God the Father” (WLC, Q&A 54), and the phrase is used throughout Scripture to indicate His power and sovereignty (Ex. 15:6Isa. 48:13).  This means that He is ruler over all and that the kings of the earth rule only according to His sovereign permission. As such, Christ alone is worthy of our highest allegiance, and it is to Him that we must render obedience, even if it means, at times, defying the rulers of this world. Jesus’ kingdom alone is eternal, and His rule is above all others.”[5]

That Jesus raised Himself to heaven, to the ultimate glory of His ruling over all of Creation eternally, also is another demonstration of His Lordship overall creation. Arator writes: “…let us commend the manner of his rule though the powers that are subject to him: born of a virgin mother, rising again by treading upon death, seeking the scepter of heaven He announces such deeds by these angelic servants. Nor do the elements cease to serve their thunderer. In his honor as he is coming, a star does service as a soldier going before the magi. A cloud waits upon him in obedience as he goes.”[6] As He is about to be lifted up, unbeknownst to the disicples, He gives them the great commission, we quote Matthew 28 more often, but Acts starts this way, reminding us we are His disciples, His witnesses to the end of the earth, everywhere. As He says that He is lifted up, the disciples stand there [wide eyed] The angel sitting there had to be amused what you guys doing? He’s told you what to do and He will return in the same way. In the meantime it’s time to turn to for Jesus.” They certainly did in the power of the Holy Spirit whose intentional introduction will be made at Pentecost that we will observe next Sunday.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom. Christ is risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah

[1] https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2019/05/its-ascension-day-heres-what-it-means-for-you/?utm_source=bg&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weeklybrief&spMailingID=59440308&spUserID=MjgzMzMxOTk1NTAS1&spJobID=1644181925&spReportId=MTY0NDE4MTkyNQS2

[2] Did Enoch and Elijah ascend into heaven? Deacon Peter Mikhalev

[3] R C Sproul quoting John Calvin https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/seated-at-gods-right-hand/

[4] Op Cit

[5] Seated at God’s Right Hand   RC Sproul

[6] Arator quoted in Ancient Commentary on Scripture NT 4 p 10

Rock Hall Triathlon Festival

The Rock Hall Triathlon Festival is on Saturday June 1, 2019 to Sunday June 2, 2019. It includes the following events: Rock Hall Olympic Triathlon (Individual), Rock Hall Olympic Triathlon Relay (2-3 members), Rock Hall Sprint Triathlon (Individual), Rock Hall Sprint Triathlon Relay (2-3 members), Rock Hall Olympic Aquabike (Individual), and Rock Hall Sprint Aquabike (Individual).

Finisher's Certificate

Source: Rock Hall Triathlon Festival

The Lamb of God in the brilliance of the New Jerusalem Revelation 21 May 26, 2019 Trinity Lutheran Church, Chestertown, Md

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We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know true life is the eternal resurrection said … AMEN!

The Book of Revelation is discussed at this time of year, because it is part of the “new” church. The Acts church was certainly brand new for those people who were chosen by the Holy Spirit, to start the NT. The Book of Revelation is about the end times. As much interest in the end times, there’s not much that can be done about it. Be curious, look for God’s intent in the end times, but when prophecies start to come to pass about the end times, there won’t be any doubt about what is happening. Further for those who are in Christ still in the world, will be provided for. There is no doubt that God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is always in control. What is biblical the Judgement, Paul writes to the Thessalonians: “ For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18) We know the lead up to that in Revelation. It will be horrible, we should pray that we are in the Lord’s presence and not here on earth during the events described in Revelation. I will stipulate that for the guys, it sounds weird to be talking about a bride beautifully dressed for her husband, weirds guys out to think about. There’s not a sexual connotation to that phrase, it’s much more about the most intimate relationship there is. We’ve had a physical relationship with Jesus since we were confirmed. We eat His Body and Blood. He has given His Body and Blood to us in His sacrifice. Through that we derive the spiritual sustenance, strength, in order to live a strong and healthy life for Jesus. When we don’t eat His Body and Blood then our spiritual health declines, our faith in Christ becomes weaker and we are less able to withstand the attacks of the world and Satan. As much as we need food to be strong do what we need to do in our life, we need the Body and Blood in order to be strong enough to do Christ’s will in the world. Likewise, as the church is the Body of Christ in the world, that we have become one flesh with Jesus by eating His Body and Blood, we become that one flesh in the New Jerusalem. From the very beginning God told Adam and Eve: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24) This is from the very beginning God established marriage, between a man and a woman the only way to become one flesh. We are one in the church in the Body of Christ, we become one with Jesus in the new world, in the new eternal life. If this is a problem for someone, nothing you can do about it. Mormons think otherwise, Mormons are fatally, tragically wrong. Like pretty much everything, people try to create a designer heaven, a designer new world, because they know what’s right, everything should be their way. It’s bizarre to listen to such people talk. God tells us “your ways are not my ways”. That He has a much greater plan that we can’t conceive of, an entirely new paradigm. Randy Alcorn, answered this question. Alcorn is quoting C S Lewis: “But I do think C. S. Lewis’s insight was great, where he talked about the boy who had heard about people having sex and said, “Well, do they eat chocolate while they are having it?” — because he was told is this is a wonderful experience. To him it was like nothing could be better, you know, than eating chocolate. And then Lewis makes the argument that perhaps our sense of loss about the idea of not being able to have sexual relationships is like that boy thinking that chocolate is the greatest joy and that there are greater joys that await us.”[1] The point is that it’s been God’s plan so far, if we’ve trusted and benefited from that plan for however many decades, is it difficult to understand that in so many ways He has something so much more glorious, wonderful, fulfilling, strengthening in what He has planned for us? I don’t think there can be any doubt that the resurrection, the New Jerusalem is going to be magnificent beyond our wildest imagination. So when we talk about the church being the Bride of Christ, it will be for all of us as the Body of Christ, His Church, and that it will be glorious, triumphant and exultant in a way that we can’t begin to imagine. In the resurrection we will be restored to so much more as we are today. Men will be strong, brilliant, creative, the true pinnacle of manhood and strength. Women will also be strong, brilliant, creative, the true pinnacle of womanhood and compassion. We will be restored to the total, complete apex of what it is to truly be a man or a woman. Jesus told us: ESV Matthew 19:4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,” this is how God made us, this was His eternal expectation for us, that we should be the near perfection of what a man or a woman is. We’ve achieved the ability to tinker with that, to try and frustrate God’s will for that person. His will is in how He made us, not how we’ve allowed ourselves to be corrupted and undermined by the world and Satan. It is up to us to follow and cooperate in the fulfillment of God’s word. Not to try to stymie His will but to trust Him to the completion of His much greater, all-knowing, His great love for us that His end will be superior to anything we can imagine. His promise for us may entail some tragedy, some hardship, some misery along the way, but when the ultimate result is to be His man, His woman in the ultimate/eternal resurrection where we will have life and life more abundant. The “brilliance” of the New Jerusalem will be powerfully stunning and focused, right in the midst of that, the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice. Jesus will be that temple, the center of all that is in the New Jerusalem “having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel.” To our post-modern, technological eye that doesn’t seem compelling, but considering the time, that was as radiant as a first century person could imagine. To us it will be stunning almost overwhelming, truly beautiful and magnificent in form, brilliance and strength. “…nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Rev 21:27) Only those who are perfect, that is those in Jesus. Those who are detestable are not in Christ, those who’ve rejected Jesus and chose a debauched life-style of the world, who live one of the lies of the world will not be able to enter, they will be condemned. For an age that loves to think of itself as so genuine, it is so phoney and debased.

As much as the Book of Acts describes the birth of the church, a church that completely changes the concept of what church is in the first century world, so does the Book of Revelation describe the next birth. We’ve had the new birth in Christ in our baptism, we have that new life in Him. In the Book of Revelation we will be restored to a new and eternal life, where God the Son will be our eternal husband and all that means as a provider, protector, enhancer, builder, changer. Whether we are man or woman, that new “church”, that new paradigm, new world, will be so abundant, so lush and promising, so challenging and fulfilling, anything and everything we could begin to imagine that we can have in the very presence of Him, Jesus, who loves us beyond anything we can comprehend and wants us to grow to eternity, to be that man and woman that we couldn’t begin to imagine but that He not only imagines, but has a specific plan for each of us, in this existence we are in now, and of the existence that we who are in Jesus will live to eternity. A promise and reward that is inexhaustible and eternally fulfilling.

We remember today, those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. I particularly like to remember Petty Officer Nathan Bruckenthal, who was in Iraq, part of a boat crew and boarding officer that intercepted a dhow headed at an oil terminal. When he attempted to board, the attacker realizing he had been discovered detonated the explosives he had intended to destroy the terminal with, perhaps causing additional loss of life and also alerted other forces who discovered two other vessels trying to detonate explosions to cause harm at the same time. Only Petty Officer Bruckenthal was killed. As a fellow Coast Guardsman I identify with Nathan, I’m sure most here today have someone who lost their life or seriously injured in defense of their country and fellow man. There is so much tragedy and misery in this world, we should glory in what we remember on Memorial Day. We as Christians have the promise of Christ, that we will have an eternal, physical life that is magnificent, what we are and have now, will fade into obscurity, only remembered as what we lived through in order to be delivered by God into true life.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom. Christ is risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah

 

[1] https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/sex-in-heaven