Tag Archives: God the Son

Meekness and following the world’s lead Matthew 5:5

The world tries to shut the church up, by saying something to the effect: “Doesn’t Jesus say “the meek shall inherit the earth”? So that means you should just shut up and mind your own business because that what meek means.” Yea, No! And the last thing on earth we should be doing is listening to the worldly/secular about the Bible. They take a few isolated phrases (oh yeah, judge not blah blah blah…), think they really know what they’re talking about and throw those phrases around. As always, the secular is about an inch thick and a mile wide. Problem is too many in the church, who also don’t know what they’re talking about, who call themselves Christians but don’t read the Bible, don’t truly serve, just cave in to the secular do what they’re told and even have the chutzpah to tell others in the church what they should and shouldn’t do. Liberal Christians dismiss way too much in the Bible, have this sort of half-baked, groundless spirituality and try to sell that as real Christianity. This folks is the height of dishonesty, if you don’t really know what you’re talking about then do everyone, yourself included, and keep your mouth shut. Presuming to teach the church about Christianity is the height of arrogance, is called the sin of presumption.

Now I’m going to quote the Blackabys at length because this is the best explanation I’ve seen of what “meekness” according to Jesus, in the Greek, the original meaning actually is talking about in Matthew.

“The word Jesus used had a different meaning. His picture of meekness is that of a stallion that has been brought into subjection to its master…The stallion has lost none of its strength or endurance; it has simply turned these over to the control of the master.” (Experiencing God day by day Henry Blackaby, Richard Blackaby p 235) Meekness is in terms of submitting to God and His will, not the world’s. We have the power of Christ, yes we are supposed to be winsome, welcoming, encouraging. No the other extreme of the image of the church being “well you better just get everything together right now and be the perfect person, yada, yada!!” Well that’s wrong too, seems there’s always this middle that Jesus wants us in and we  either think we’re supposed to be just weak and stupid or we let the world convince us that we’re being bullies by proclaiming Christ. The middle is often too hard for people, yea even Christians. Most people like nice and cozy black and white. My experience in the corporate world, the military, government, school, church, there is no such thing as a black and white. There’s this place where you are supposed to leave yourself open to the Holy Spirit’s guiding and most of the time it’s not some nicey/nice vacuous cream puff. It’s hard to stand up for what’s right, I get it, but like the old saying “if it was easy everyone would do it”. Being a Christian isn’t easy, Jesus told us there is a narrow road, a narrow gate to salvation. Because the Holy Spirit guides us we know what that is and that is what we have to tell the world, even when obnoxious bores are telling us to shut up. They will, because they can’t tolerate the truth, they live in their own little fiction which leads to destruction and they don’t want to know the truth and they don’t want anyone else to either. “Meekness is not submitting to everyone around us, it is taking our direction from God. Meekness means a life submissive to the Holy Spirit…” Read the Bible, when people were standing for God they were not bashful about it. If anything they were very much asserting the truth of God, the truth of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection, the truth of the Bible. And yes quite often, be it an Old Testament prophet, Peter, Paul, John they were not bashful and they were very assertive. I’m not saying for anyone to go out of there way to be obnoxious, but again that big gray area. You must know what you’re talking about, be serious about it, get past this gloopy, sweetey Christianity, assert that we are all sinners in need of a Savior, that we do need to understand that and repent of our sin. We need to be baptized, not our decision, but because the Holy Spirit has led us, we need to be instructed in the faith so that we can function as knowledgeable Christians, we need to regularly attend worship and grow in our fellowship and Christian maturity, we need to regularly receive the true Body and Blood of Jesus and we need to be open to the leading of the Spirit to witness to those around us about Jesus.

It basically means to be mature, strong, knowledgeable baptized sons and daughters of God, we call that being a “disciple” of Jesus. Just as anyone else in the Bible is. To be any less is to cave into the world, and to be faithless to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Christ saved us, He is the ultimate truth, the world is a lie, especially when it presumes to teach us something that it doesn’t even understand. This idea that a Christian is supposed to be a malleable cupcake for the world to push around is just not Biblical and it certainly is not going to serve anyone.

Body of Christ 1 Corinthians 12: 12-31a First Saint Johns January 31, 2016

[for the audio version click on the above link]

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 are part of the Body of Christ which is His Church said … AMEN!

The Apologetics Study Bible prefaces this discussion this way: “The church in Corinth was in some degree of turmoil, and Paul wrote this letter in response to some disturbing reports he had heard from the church as well as by way of reply to a set of questions the church had sent to him.”[1]

Have to give the Corinthians credit, they did realize that they were not where they should be and took the initiative to write to Paul and acknowledge that, and ask for guidance. As Christians we could take a cue from that. It’s a guy thing, if I’m lost I’m going to keep driving around thinking I will find the way. What happens? You usually end up more lost than you started. Today’s sermon is related to the last sermon in that we are given gifts in order to serve God and serve His church. But it is more than just properly utilizing your gifts, it’s understanding that as a Christian it’s not just about me. It is about the community, community is made up of many parts, the Holy Spirit guided you to be a part of this community. All the parts of your body are important. If you do not have all the parts then you are limited in what you can do. The church is the same way and this is also about your stewardship in the church. When all the parts of the Body, the Church, are working to the level that God designed for them and placed them together for, the Body/the Church functions at its finest level and serves each other and our neighbors much more effectively. The Corinthian church was sadly dysfunctional, it wasn’t the Body of Jesus, it was each man and woman for themselves. Much like today’s world; what am I getting out of this, I do for me let everyone else handle their own life. If I’m an eye, well too bad for the rest who can’t see. Imagine First St Johns where we have those who are so gifted in so many things, and yet chose to keep their gifts to themselves. Next week is our Chili-dog/bingo bash, what if Marge decided not to share her award winning chili? We would all be the lesser for it.

Paul writes that in baptism, in that new life that we are given, we are baptized into one body. It doesn’t matter who we are or what we are or do, it matters that we are all equally brought into the Body of Christ through baptism. Likewise we all eat the Body of Christ and drink His blood, all equally, all to our soul’s health. If we are all equally baptized and share in the Body and Blood of Jesus, doesn’t that mean that we also bring to the Body our gifts that make the Body stronger?

One aspect that seems to be ignored in today’s world is the understanding of synergism. Together we are much stronger in our individual life and in the Body of Christ by bringing our time, treasure and talent together, not withholding it and keeping it for ourselves. It is the synergism of the Body of Christ that not only helps us to grow and strengthen as a person, but also as a church. I bet you that any player in the NFL would like to be on the Carolina Panthers right now, than they would the 3-13 Tennessee Titans! You can be a superstar, but if you are in it just for yourself, no one’s really going to know you and you’re sure not going to be getting a Super Bowl ring anytime soon. If you’re Cam Newton, everyone knows you and you’re probably getting fitted for your Super Bowl ring right now.

Jesus has put together His church for a time and a place and a reason. He has made you part of His church in this time and place. For a tiny band, we had a 2015 season that would make any church sing and praise! We came together as the Body of Christ and in God’s strength proceeded to make a mark for His Kingdom in this community. That is because people put aside their individual agendas and came together as His Church to work His will. We all recognized that we’re baptized and given new life in the same water as everyone who is part of First Saint Johns. We all ate the same Body and drank the Same Blood of Jesus as everyone here and stepped up to collectively and in a positive and uplifting way build the Body of Christ in York! One of you were the eye, one the arm, one the leg and all came together in the Holy Spirit’s brain, vision and guidance to bring us together to accomplish so much in bringing the Gospel of Jesus to York. If someone chose not to come together, the rest realized the importance of what was being done and were used by the Holy Spirit to compensate for those who chose to withhold their gifts. Likewise for those who chose to take and to be a drain on Christ’s Body, others were guided to work around those who were hindering the advance of the Kingdom. Ben Paynter writes in Men’s Health Magazine quoting the journal Philosophical Transactions “… that men throughout the ages have clustered in tribes to stay motivated, embrace risks, conquer pain and build empires.” The Kingdom of God is the greatest empire and we as the Body of Christ, His Church, here at First Saint Johns are an integral part of the Kingdom. We have been clustered together by the Holy Spirit so that we can motivate each other, embrace the risks that we have taken. We have conquered pain, we have overcome the obstacles others have thrown in the path of Jesus’ Church. But it could only happen because, unlike the Corinthian Church we chose to take the difficult path. The result? Many have been touched by the church to hear the Gospel. If you have been listening to the radio station, the platform that we have all helped to build, was used by Bill Stockwell to broadcast a powerful message of the scourge of heroin addiction that is having a destructive impact on the York greater community. You all here, as members of this church had an impact on the world that far outstrips anything you could have done individually. You submitted to the will and leading of Jesus and accomplished far more than you would have if you decided: “If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’, nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” Everyone, even those who did not think they had strength, stamina, skill or resources, decided that they would only grow and serve each other and themselves by bringing their gifts and blessings together to serve their part of the Body of Christ here at First Saint Johns.

Okay, no one’s going to be getting sized for a Super Bowl ring, but I have no doubt that for those who came together and overcame in order to bring about such great service for the Kingdom he or she will be the recipient of great treasure in heaven. You have followed Jesus’ promise: “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Because we have come together, because we have been good stewards, because we have acted like the Body of Christ we have laid up that treasure in heaven. That treasure in heaven will make a Super Bowl ring look like something you can get out of a gumball machine.

The Blackabys write: “If you are not a part of a caring community of believers, you are missing out on what God designed you for. You are also in danger of falling into sin. You must link your life with others who are seeking God’s will. Seek to be a person who willingly joins others in carrying out God’s assignments. Strive to be a source of support and encouragement that those around you need.”[2]

Let’s grow in our stewardship. How much more can we give of our time, talent and treasure in order to accomplish more for the Body of Christ in the world? We have seen what our mustard seed faithfulness has done in the past year. What can we do this year and the next? It doesn’t have to be a huge feat, so often the smallest mercies, gifts, blessings that you bestow on a young man or woman, on just one who is less fortunate, have effects that echo through years, decades. How would the Holy Spirit guide His church to use that extra money you give now to have an impact on the Body of Christ that will ring through our community for the good of so many, for years to come?

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom

[1] The Apologetics Study Bible p 1707

[2] Blackaby’s Experiencing God Day by Day p 327

God isn’t going to push, He will encourage

Rev Ken Klaus – Lutheran Hour Ministries: “Years ago I called on a man, a member of my church, who was a good man, at least in the eyes of the community. By that I mean the fellow was honest in his dealings with others; he took good care of his family, didn’t drink, gamble, or swear. He was always faithful and conscientious in paying his bills and taking care of his other debts. During our visit I asked, ‘Tell me, you pay all your other debts, but I never see you in church; I never see you at Communion, and the church offering plate never sees a dollar from your account. Why are you faithful in paying your debts to others, but not to the Lord?” He thought for a minute and then, without being flip, he replied, “Well, pastor, I don’t pay so much attention to God, because He doesn’t push as hard as everybody else.”

Listeners, that guy had it right. The Lord is not going to push; He is not going to beg; He is not going to twist your arm. What He is going to do is say, “Look at My Son who gave His life to save your soul. With faith in Him You will be in heaven; without faith, you are headed for hell. Jesus is the best thing which has ever happened to you and for you. Don’t turn your back on Jesus. Be ready for the day when He will say to this world, ‘enough is enough.’ When that day arrives, I want everyone to be glad to see Me.”

Pastor Klaus is one of my favorites, you have to check out  wwwlhm.org to hear the audio versions of these sermons from Pastor Klaus and also Pastor Greg Seltz.

Have to consider his point. No God’s not going to get up in your face, not normally. To those who don’t know Jesus, yes the Holy Spirit is going to keep tugging at you, getting in your head sometime, continuously pointing to God. But, wow, we really give the world carte blanche, “entre” into our head, never thinking an hour ahead of time. Then we have the arrogance to decide, when we really have to, “well God’s just going to have to take me as I am, I’m good enough.” No you’re not, I’m not, no one is, God accepts us under very simple conditions. We follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, we are baptized in the Name of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We receive the true Body and Blood of Jesus, what was sacrificed as payment for our sins and we hear His Word preached. No heavy lifting, all for your benefit, yet too often, because God doesn’t push, we think the nonsense around us is more important.

True life is in God the Father, His Son Jesus, guided by the Holy Spirit. It is a life of meaning, “life, life more abundant”, of joy, promise and hope. Do you get that in the world? Ya, no, just more grind, more gimmee, gimmee, and in the end, we all know death, hopelessness, complete loss and eternal condemnation. I have yet to have anyone give me any other possible outcome. True life in Jesus and then we die, we go to be in His presence, but then true, eternal, perfect, abundant challenging life in Jesus in the resurrection. Gotta tell you, seems logical, it is God who leads you into salvation, but you can resist and refuse, and for what?

Acting Audaciously

Audacity will usually be rewarded. We started here at First St Johns at what was probably its lowest point in a history that dated back to 1875. We still have a long way to go and it’s certainly all about God’s will. The question remains as to how we may or may not end up, we could still very well not make it, but this church would be missed.
There is no doubt that we have made a mark, the test is, will the church be missed if it closes tomorrow? Without qualification I would say yes, that FSJ would be missed. Jim McClure the editor of the York Daily Record identified FSJ as a community outreach church, we have made a mark with the Food bank, employment group, Grief Share, NA, AA, prayer breakfast, workout area and of course the radio station has garnered an immense amount of attention.
Regardless, God has used us for His purposes, but it doesn’t mean He has to keep us here. I have learned that acting audaciously, doing things that appear to be over your capacity does get attention and does generate support. When things are happening, people will notice. They’re not going to notice a church that is just hiding behind its walls. When I started at FSJ I started walking around the neighborhood. When I told our neighbors who I was, they told me they thought FSJs had closed. Who is going to respond to a place they think is closed? But if they see activity, they see involvement, there’s at least a chance they will respond with physical and financial support. We’ve seen that happen at FSJs. If you are doing things to serve, to be a Christian disciple, people will provide money when they see that things are happening, that there is a level of excitement and we’ve seen that happening at FSJ.

It does make me wonder what so many churches are thinking when they seem to chose to passively conduct Christian ministry. Remember the “Parable of the Talents”? (Matthew 25:15-28 ESV) The “Master”, clearly God; Father, Son and or Holy Spirit (Matthew Henry says the Master was Jesus). The Master gives His servants 5, 2, and 1 talents to be used to enrich Him. A “talent” was about a 100 pounds of silver, in today’s value that would be about $2,000., certainly not an inconsequential amount, especially for the first servant who is given about $10,000. The first servant takes the $10,000, entrusted to him and what does he do? Brings another $10,000. Good job! Right? “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'” (Matt 25:21)
The second servant takes the two talents he’s given, brings back $4,000. Not too shabby, I’d sure like to find out what they invested in. But the third servant just returns the one talent he was entrusted with???? Wha…. What’s the point? What good is that? And yet there are plenty of churches out there who somehow think that they are serving the Lord. They’re not, they’re just serving each other. Matthew quotes Jesus as saying: “You wicked and slothful servant!” Pretty strong! But was the servant there just to hide the money and return it to his Master? Anyone can do that, he was there to serve his Master and he was “afraid” and chose to just run away from his responsibility. So it is with so many of these dying churches.
There are the churches that are dying, the churches that aren’t going to burn out, but rust out. They sit around bemoan their fate, maybe do some bake sales, or find a few children to have a VBS for, then they go back, carefully count their pennies, agree that if they’re careful and no serious problems they may make it another year and then go and do the same uninspired, unexciting things they’ve been doing and only that. They sit around and wonder why no one else is interested in being a part of their church. How do they really expect that God is calling to call them “good and faithful servants”? Why on earth would God send someone there to be discipled? Discipled to what? Sitting around with a lack of faith and service and hope that you can hide from reality?  How are they really serving, except, maybe, each other, just returning to God what He gave them, in fact if anything, not even what they were given. Why on earth would anyone think that God is going to bless and encourage that kind of attitude?
The flip side, so it appears to me now, is that you do things that do attract attention, you get people involved in things. Sure they may not work out or are as successful as they should be. Servant 3 would take that as a reason not to do that activity, or anything else for the duration. FSJ takes that and says, “ok, how do we make it better? What should we have done before…” and we start again.
Now, the radio station thing? Pure nuts, right? But it has generated attention and even given us entree to people and groups that we would never have had any opportunity to go to otherwise. People have seen what’s happened, they have moved on faith to support us, encouragement, prayers, financially etc. They have been a part of something they’re proud of, that their neighbors see in the newspaper, hear about in other places, they hear exciting plans and opportunities. Hopefully they get involved and of course it generates more interest, support and activity in the church.
You know what? We may not be around in another year, wouldn’t be the first, won’t be the last organization not to make it. But if we don’t make it, there will be a lot of people who will say; “what a shame, they did a lot of good stuff… hmmm, what could we do to help them get back into the game?…”
Conversely Servant 3 closes the door and not with a bang, but with a whimper and nary a person notices. No one was served, no one grew or was encouraged. Nothing was done to get people excited or involved, just poof, no one showed up for worship the next Sunday and really no one else noticed or cared.
Could be compared to a human, the one who slowly kills themselves through selfishness and bad habits and the bad habits; cancer, obesity, cardio, pulmonary, diabetes, liver disease on and on and they finally die. And the person who pushes themselves in one more triathlon and gloriously just drops right there on the course. Both knew they had a chance to die and one chose to just keep to himself and die a lonely, miserable death. The other one decided, one quick blaze of glory. Who wouldn’t want the blaze of glory? You’ve served others, you’ve made yourself a better person for your spouse, children, family, friends and they will remember you and may even live by your example. You’ve lived and served as a true disciple of Jesus. There are plenty of Christian servants who maybe didn’t “succeed”, but the results of their service will be, is, known by God and will be rewarded. The other? Doesn’t inspire in the least, is really seen as just miserable and even pathetic and no one misses them for an instant.
When we are being Servant 1 and are doing great things for the Kingdom, being faithful, being audacious, faithful to God’s will but crazy to the world, we may not be around next year, but we will be missed. Yea I’d rather do it the FSJ’s way.

What you need or what you want? Often a big difference.

I’m just going to go for this. It may seem that I am trying to antagonize people, I’m not, I’m really not. But on the other hand, I’m really trying to push people to really look at their relationship in Christ and the church, if any, that is supposed to be discipling you in a real relationship with Christ.

I am sure that you are all smart enough to realize that you need to trust, rely on and get the right information from the people you hire to do the job, whatever job they do. Oh yeah, I think we all know the type of person who can surround themselves with “yes-people”, we also knows what happens in most of those situations, hmmm let’s see Ken Lay of Enron and Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco jump immediately into my head. I’m sure we all know it wouldn’t take long to come up with a long list. We know that most of the time those kind of people ride the vessel down to disaster. You expect your lawyer, accountant, CIO, to give you the most prudent advice, to be successful, but to also trust that their practice is in keeping with real doctrine and teaching. Every profession has doctrine and teaching, however we also know that a lot people kind of make it up as they go along, it’s the same in “churches”.

It occurs to me that you should also have that kind of faith and trust in your pastor. It’s always been a mystery to me why people will

 

insistImageon the most expert direction in other parts of their life, but when it comes to your eternal soul, uncritically turn to clergy who they know will tell them what they want to hear, as if church only functions to make them feel good. There are times when it is entirely appropriate to comfort, it’s always appropriate to give the hope of Christ as Savior. But as Paul teaches Timothy: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:  preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 3: 4:1-5)
Timothy is a student of Paul’s, being trained for ministry, what Paul is teaching Timothy, well, we are there. We’ve been there for a long time and I will readily admit, the church has been its own worst enemy, clergy are all too often more concerned with telling people what they want to hear, taking the path of least resistance, that too often people see that as the way church is supposed to be, and it’s been happening for decades, probably at least since the 1950s.

Ya, I’ve probably said this ad nauseum but if you went to your doctor do you want him/her to tell you the truth, or pat you on the head and send you away with “don’t you worry about that cancer”. We all have a cancer, it’s called sin. It eats your soul up just like cancer eats your body. It’s the clergy’s job to tell you this and not let you die in your cancerous state, smiling and comfortable the whole way down. Seriously, you run into a pastor who, figuratively speaking, pats you on the head and tells you to your face, ‘don’t you worry about that sin thing, that’s so old-fashioned”, I suggest you run not walk and find someone who will help you deal with reality. Anyone who has the slightest clue knows full well that we all have sin issues.

Let’s be honest, you work in the world, you know when you have to confront reality in your work. Isn’t it time to deal with the reality of that vacuum in your soul? You know the reality of your sin, the reality of Christ dying for you, the reality of Him controlling your life and not you. But you keep putting it off, avoiding it. Your spouse, your children? And ya for guys, you know it’s on you. You don’t get your life together, so you give the rest of the family, let’s use the political phrase, “plausible deniability”. Yea, cute, but are you living up to your responsibility as a husband and father?

Yea, it is the church (that is the wrong churches that are out there) and many are not providing the teaching and guidance it should. But you’re the one who is leaving your critical thinking at the door, you’re buying into it and even, uncritically, precipitating it. You are uncritically accepting what you get and not looking critically at what is being taught and practiced. Do you run your business that way? Why on earth would you trust your eternal soul to someone who won’t sit down with you, look hard at your life, get you to think critically and eternally? Instead, you trust someone who just smiles, tells you what you want to hear and sends you on your way. Does that make sense?

It does kind of amaze me you get these smart/tough business types: “I want the straight story from everyone. I want to know how it is!” But they then expect their pastor to give them some little puff-piece as if the Christian thing really isn’t true, but “I’m paying for someone to magically make it true” (i.e. the pastor is supposed to work out everything for me. Yeah, right?) Huh, really? I guess your world is reality and church just there to throw in your money and you get  what you want. If that’s what you really think, I would take a really hard look at your life as a whole. Salvation is in Christ, Christ established His church, Matthew 16:18, in His church is baptism, His Body and Blood, others to disciple you, and those for you to disciple. In His church is the Word of salvation through His Word in the Bible, and His preached Word through His Ministers. It’s His way, it’s not throw in your money and get what you want. It’s to learn to get your life in line with your Savior, being guided by the Holy Spirit, that’s reality! Do yourself a favor and get to First St Johns, sit in a pew and listen (promise you don’t have to talk to anyone) and I don’t care if you throw in a dollar or five hundred. If you feel I’ve really wasted your time after a couple of months, I will happily pay you your $8 back.

Business people love to tell you how hard core they are and how serious they are “Just the facts mam”, market share, ROI, EPS, my personal favorite EBITDA, analyzed financial statements for twenty years, can throw around all the jargon you can imagine. Hey that is important and I liked the challenge of the corporate world. But the ultimate reality isn’t production, cycles, financials, .WSO/DSO, market share, it is your eternal soul. Let’s start dealing with the ultimate reality and live your life in that reality.

First St Johns is at 140 W King St in York, Pa. Worship is at 10:30, before that we have our “Coffee Break Bible Study”, Wednesdays at 10am at the corner of W King and Beaver Sts. So come on down, see what you’re missing in your life, in your family’s life, OK, I’ll buy you coffee! May God richly bless you.