Monday, December 17, 2007

take time to realize...

I heard a song this morning with the title, Take Time to Realize, and of course that got me to thinking...

take time to realize that -

you woke up this morning
you took a breath this morning
you did not fall down in the shower this morning
you are blessed this morning
you saw a bird fly
you saw a car go by, without hitting you
you saw the police pull someone over and it wasn't you
you drank coffee
you said hi to someone
your kids gave you a hug
your loved one gave you hug
someone kissed you or shook your hand
you have life
you have life abundantly
you have the ability to share your story
you can buy a cheeseburger
you were created
you were created with a purpose
you are fulfilling that purpose
you are a child of the Father
you have brothers and sisters
you know what a cross is
you know the true meaning of Christmas
you have opportunities
you have a friend
you can say the name Jesus
you have a friend named Jesus
you have an opportunity to tell others about your friend
you should be thankful

You can add something to this list, whatever you want. Just take time to realize that God loves you and stop letting the little things control us. Next time you think the world is going to end and it just can't get any worse, try to put it in perspective with how big God is and what He has done and think, "really, is it that bad?"

It could be worse, always realize that it could be worse. We have a choice to make each day - give our day to God and have the same attitude as Jesus Christ or let the little things bother us and take our focus of God and others.

Friday, December 14, 2007

accept the legend

Friday’s are my day off of work. Each Friday I go exploring across the Vegas Valley. Today my adventure took me to Red Rock Canyon and Red Rock Resort and Casino. I saw the 9:30am showing of I Am Legend.

I watch movies with a “theological” mind and this movie was over-run with theological messages. I am going to break those down into three parts. If you plan on seeing the movie be careful as you read this. It might be a spoiler.

First of all, Robert Neville, is the only human survivor on Earth to his knowledge. Due to a botched experiment a virus has wiped out humanity. Robert is the only one who can save humanity. Normal humanity was wiped out. There were several zombie like creatures due to the viral infection. They didn’t die, but were sort of mutated. They represent the evil of the world. They lived in complete darkness and any hint of light was painful to them. Robert’s job when they came after him was to expose them to light and try to offer them a blood serum that would save them from their mutated state. There are many scripture references to darkness and light. This is one of the first Bible messages I see from this movie. The darkness could not associate itself with the light. It was painful and all the zombies cared to do was hide. They waited for darkness to come, so they could come out and search for the blood that would cure them. I think we are like that sometimes. We all have that hidden darkness, or shame, or sin that we let consume us. It is painful if that comes to light and others see it. We end up searching for the blood of Christ that forgives when no one is looking. If that sin were to come out it would embarrass us and that is why we hide it. Just like the zombies couldn’t hide from Robert, we can’t hide from Christ. Seek the forgiveness that Christ offers and live in the light. Jesus says He is the light of the world and whoever follows Him will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. What a promise.

Secondly, there is a section of the movie where Robert and a lady talk about God’s plan. She says that she is sent to Him because it is part of God’s plan. She says she was sent to get him and take him to a colony where some survivors are living. Robert denies that there are other living humans. Robert say’s there is no God. God did not do this, we did this. He is partly correct. We did do this. We have screwed up. A long time ago, we screwed up, but Jesus was sent to help us. It was all part of God’s plan. Just as the lady heard Robert’s voice over the radio and she arrived to help, God saw our need for a Savior. He saw that we were just doomed and we needed someone to help us out. We celebrate Christmas this month. God knew we could not and would not get better, so He sent His Son to help us out. It was part of God’s plan. The rest of God’s plan comes next.

Lastly, as the movie draws to a close the evil zombies have found out where Robert lives. Thousands of zombies attack his home. He tries everything he can to stop them. He shoots them, sets off bombs and explosions, but nothing is slowing them down. He and the lady retreat to his lab in the basement and enter into a glass cage where one of the zombies is being kept for research. He notices that the blood serum from his body (Robert is immune, he cannot be infected) has started to heal this zombie. He pleads with the zombies attacking him that he can save them, but they keep attacking. He sends the lady through a secret passage to escape. Right before he closes the door to send her out he gives her his blood. This blood will be able to save humanity if there is anymore infection. She doesn’t want to leave him to die, but he tells her this is God’s plan. She leaves as the zombies continue to attack. With no guns or anything else to protect him, he reaches into his desk drawer and gets a grenade. He pulls the pin and rushes head on into the zombies, sacrificing himself and killing all the zombies. How more Bible can you get? He offers his blood to save humanity and then wipes out evil by sacrificing his life. That is the rest of God’s plan. Yes, He sent His Son into this world as a baby. That baby grew up and lived a perfect (immune) life. That baby, as a man, gave His blood, and died as a sacrifice so that humanity be saved.

The movie ends saying that God’s plan continues because of the legacy that Robert wanted to leave. He worked so hard to leave a legacy. He died in order to leave a legend. He was a legend. Are we leaving a legacy? There are people in our midst who need us. What is the legacy we will leave behind for them? What about the people of the future we will never meet? What will be the legacy for them to see in years to come? Be a legend.

Most of you that read this will already be believers of the message and will have accepted the free gift. Maybe there is someone out there who needs the best gift ever this Christmas – Jesus Christ. My prayer is that you will “accept this.” Go see the movie, you will see what I am talking about.

Friday, December 7, 2007

solitude

I am sitting in a cafe all by myself. It is filled with art, flat screen tv's, very modern IKEA type furniture and is impeccably clean. It is on one of the busier street on the South side of Vegas and yet I am all alone.

It is cloudy and gloomy outside. The rain drizzles and a cold, cutting wind blows across the parking lot filled with cars, but no one is in here. The coffee is great and the atmosphere of this place is amazing. I have been looking for something like this since we moved here.

Why am I alone? I usually go to these types of places on Friday's (my day off) in order to meet people and talk with them. I did this in Marin and have done it in other places I have lived. There is no one to talk to. I am going to talk, no wait, I am going to listen to God.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

complainers...

I have been doing a lot of reading lately and it has caused me to do a lot of thinking. We, as ministers, battle the daily grind. We wake up and help everyone get ready for work, school, class, or whatever and then we are expected to be perfect, energized, happy ministers. I hear too often complaints in ministry. I am guilty of it too and I am not pointing fingers. We complain about people. We complain about money. We complain about the other pastor. We complain about being tired. We complain about too many phone calls. We complain about too many interruptions when trying to read or prepare. We complain because we have to be in two places at once. We complain because people in the church don't think like we do. We complain because there is only one Starbucks in town. Did I say that? Anyways, whatever it is we (you) probably have complained about it.

Think about this: Jesus' parents did not understand him when he spent all His time in the temple talking to the leaders. Jesus' family thought He was crazy. His friends did not understand the heart of His mission. He had friends who stole and betrayed. He had friends who said they did not even know Him. His friends would argue about who is the greatest. They fled when He was arrested. They associated Him with Beelzebul. Through false accusations, He was crucified. He went forty days without food. He was tempted. He did not have a place to lay His head. He ministered to so many that He did not have time to eat. He walked many, many miles to minister to people. He was arrested. He was beaten. He was sentenced. He died.

Through all of this Jesus never complained. Why do I think I have it bad? Why do I complain that I have to stop and get gas? At least I have a car to drive me from ministry appointment to lunch and to ministry appointment or whatever the schedule may be. At least I have time to rest and remove myself. Jesus couldn't do this. People followed Him wherever He went.

Jesus even chose to deprive Himself of His rights to save humanity at His death. He agonized in the garden. His death was not an easy one. It was full of pain, torture. It is beyond description.

The point is that Jesus foregoes several legitimate rights in order to be effective in His ministry. Do we do that? I don't. He became all things to all people so that He might save some. Another topic of discussion could be, why did He say "save some" and not say "save all?"

Doulos - bondservant - someone who could be free, but chooses not to be. That is how Jesus served us and that is how the attitude of our servant hood should be. Ajith Fernando says, "We are children of the King and servants of the people. We pay a price so that we can identiy with people and serve them effectively."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

my feet are dirty

This past Sunday, I spoke about John 13: 1-17. If you are not familiar with this passage it is about Jesus washing his disciples feet. Now think about it. It is the night before Jesus is to be executed. He is going to die in just a few hours and what does he want to do for his disciples? He wants to wash their feet.

Now it is probably dinner time. It has been a long day. The disciples feet are dirty, dusty and who knows when their feet were washed last. Jesus wants to take this time as a time to teach them.

I probably would have had the same response as Peter (read v. 6-8). Would you want the Son of God to wash your feet? No, you would want to wash his. Jesus responds to Peter by saying, "unless you let me wash you, you have not part in me." What does he mean by this? I see a little bit of Pride vs. Humility here. Are we too proud to think the the Son of God could lower himself to wash our feet? Are we humble enough to listen to Jesus and allow Him to cleanse us of all the dirt in our life?

This is what I told the youth - Jesus has washed us, cleansed us and we have become part of Him. It should be our hearts desire to serve others. Jesus tells us we should wash one another’s feet. This doesn’t necessarily mean for you to take off your friends shoes and socks and a get a rag and soapy water and scrub off their toe jam. It just means serve someone.

Read Philippians 2:5-8. God had to humble Himself and become a man. Jesus was that man and he had to humble himself and be obedient to death upon a cross. Jesus is the suffering servant. To me that is what this story is about. It is about serving with humility. Jesus served his disciples that night by washing their feet. Think about how good it feels when you have been walking or working all day and you pull those shoes off, then next those socks and jump into the shower or bath and wash your feet. That is what he did for them. They were probably refreshed. I think he did it because they had dirty feet, but I think He did it for a bigger reason.

How did He serve? He cleaned their feet. He taught them a valuable lesson. He died on a cross. I don't know who reads this, but if you need to humble yourself and say Jesus please wash me clean and help me start over, please do so. I have been trying to explain to the youth the magnitude of Christ's death. It was bloody and more gruesome than we can even imagine. I think sometimes we paint to pretty of a picture of His death. It was bad.

Think about what He did for you. He has offered us a free gift. Are you ready to accept this free gift?


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Part 1 of 2

part one really has nothing to do with part two, but I wanted to mention two things today.

A few summers ago I took a class at Golden Gate called Theology and Imagination/Film and Faith. Basically it was about watching films, reviewing those films, developing a Biblical message from those films and using it as conversation pieces if the subject ever came up. Believe me it is really easy to find messages in TV and Film.

The other night I was watching Grey's Anatomy and I was really struck by what Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) said in one certain part of the show. The scenario is this: two ambulances collided, a man is trapped inside and dying. There is no way to save him. His wife works at the hospital and Meredith rushes to find her so that the nurse can say goodbye to her dying husband.

What Meredith says afterwards just struck me. I am just going to paraphrase what she said. She says that she has worked at that hospital for a long time and has never seen the wife. She is a complete stranger. She has never met her, but she is the one who handed her the most awful news she will ever get. Meredith will always be in the wife's life story the one who handed her the bad news. That is how this woman will remember Meredith. Meredith's boss replies to her and says, "that's the job."

Now I have thought about this a lot and this will sound cheezy and over baptized and whatever other words you want to use, but how true is this for us as Christians. We are all someone in someone else's story. We will have encounters with strangers. We will have encounters with someone we have never met. We will have encounters with someone that we have never seen before. We need to be the person in someone's life story that shares with them the good news. Maybe, just maybe that is how they will remember us. We may never ever see that person again, but we will have left an impression, a legacy with that person. THAT'S THE JOB!

Just as Jesus did with the Samaritan women. She did not know him. They were strangers. Jesus shared with her the good news. He became part of her life story. What happened? She went and told everyone else and others believed.

That is how it is supposed to work. Get involved in someone's story. Do your job and share with them the good news. How great it will be that when you have shared the news and the person has heard and believed the news, you will be a part of their new story to be shared with others and so on.

God Bless!

Friday, November 16, 2007

God is big

Have you ever read Psalm 86? Particularly verses 8-13. If not take a moment and read those now.

8 Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord;
no deeds can compare with yours.

9 All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, O Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.

10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
you alone are God.

11 Teach me your way, O LORD,
and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.

12 I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.

13 For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.


I had never read these verses until a couple months ago. Well, I probably had read them, but not in the way I did this time. This is such a worshipful passage. I am suprised that it as not been turned into a song (maybe it has and I just have not heard it yet).

There is none like our great God. He has made the nations and the promise is that they WILL come and worship and glorify His name. Lord teach us, teach us, teach us. Lord break us and mold us and show us your way. You alone are God. Help us walk in your truth with an undivided heart. I will praise you forever Lord. You have saved me!

What is your response to these verses?