09/11/2015

Seeing Jesus in every part of the Whole Story of the Bible.

 

This weekend, we began our journey through the Whole Story with a look at the promise of redemption that flows through all of Scripture.  Jesus is the fulfillment of that promise and we see Him in every book of the Bible. Here is a text of a song that speaks about the presence of Jesus in all of scripture.  As you read the Bible, look for Jesus.

 

Jesus Christ is in Every Book of the Bible

In Genesis, Jesus is the seed of the woman.

Exodus, he is our Passover lamb.

Leviticus, our high priest.

Numbers, the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.

In Deuteronomy, the prophet greater than Moses.

 

In Joshua, Jesus is the captain of our salvation.

Judges, he is our judge and lawgiver.

Ruth, he is our redeemer.

I & II Samuel, he is our trusted prophet.

Kings and Chronicles, he is our reigning King.

Ezra, he is the rebuilder of our broken down walls of our lives.

 

In Nehemiah, Jesus is our restorer.

Esther, he’s our Advocate.

 

In Job, Jesus is our ever-living redeemer.

Psalms, he’s our shepherd.

Proverbs & Ecclesiastes, he’s our Wisdom.

Song of Solomon, he’s the lover of our souls.

 

In Isaiah, Jesus is the Prince of Peace.

Jeremiah, the righteous branch.

Lamentations, the weeping prophet.

Ezekiel, the glory of God.

Daniel, the everlasting God.

 

In Hosea, Jesus is the forgiving husband.

Joel, the giver of the Holy Spirit.

Amos, the builder of the city of God.

Obadiah, our savior.

Jonah, the firstborn of the dead.

Micah, the ruler of all ages

Nahum, the avenger.

Habakkuk, the God or our salvation

Zephaniah, our savior.

Haggai the restorer of the kingdom.

Zechariah, the Priest on the throne.

Malachi, the son of righteousness, with healing in his wings.

 

In Matthew Jesus is the king of the Jews.

Mark, the servant.

Luke, the son of man.

John, the son of God.

Acts, the giver of the Holy Spirit.

 

In Romans Jesus is the righteousness of God.

I Corinthians, the giver of gifts

II Corinthians, the triumphant one, giving victory.

Galatians, the liberator of our souls..

Ephesians, the head of the church.

 

In Philippians, Jesus is our joy.

Colossians, the head of all things.

I & II Thessalonians, our hope.

I Timothy, our faith.

II Timothy, our stability.

 

In Titus, Jesus is truth.

Philemon, our covenant friend.

Hebrews, the messenger of the new covenant.

James, the Great Physician.

I Peter, the cornerstone.

II Peter, our purity.

 

In I, 2, and 3 John, Jesus is love, light and truth.

Jude, the one who is able to keep us.

Revelation, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

 

04/29/2015

Works on Work!

I have loved the feedback many of you have given regarding our current series on work:  Butcher, Baker and Candlestick Maker.

Some of you have asked about some next steps or support materials to help you live for Christ in your workplace.

Many of our Calvary people are in a Biblical Business Training (BBT) group across the city and at the church. BBTs are a place where people can grow in their faith at home and in the workplace. If you want to find out more about being part of a BBT, check out their web page and group finder.

http://b-b-t.org/

We have referenced several books during the series. These are great resources to have in your hands.

 

Every Good Endeavour  by Tim Keller  is a comprehensive book by Tim Keller that helps us understand what the bible has to say about work.

http://www.amazon.com/Every-Good-Endeavor-Connecting-Your/dp/1594632820

 

Work Matters by Tom Nelson helps people connect their workday to Sunday!

http://www.amazon.com/Work-Matters-Connecting-Sunday-Worship-ebook/dp/B005UK87HI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430342562&sr=1-1&keywords=work+matters

 

Your Work Matters to God by Doug Sherman is a classic treatment on how faith intersects with work. It was one of the very first books to explore this topic and remains incredibly helpful.

http://www.amazon.com/Your-Work-Matters-Doug-Sherman/dp/0891093729/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430342679&sr=1-1&keywords=work+matters+to+god

 

 

 

03/09/2015

Beautiful and Broken

Years ago a friend told me that the only people he found truly interesting were those who were honest about their brokenness and who were being healed by Jesus.  I first scoffed at such a notion but then realized how true that was.  There is incredible beauty in brokenness.

We chafe at that idea because our culture doesn’t like broken things. When something doesn’t look like it can be fixed, we tend to throw it away. We toss away broken toys, furniture and electronics. Sometimes it is easier and cheaper to buy something new rather than fix something that is broken. Tragically, families break and we discard them. Workplaces are broken and we don’t want to go there. Our past is broken and we try to hide. People break and our tendency in church is to toss them aside. We don’t know what to do with them. Jesus died for the broken.

The ancient Japanese discovered beauty in brokenness. When a ceramic bowl broke they tended to fix it unlike us who are used to throwing it away. A 15th century Japanese shogun sent a broken tea bowl back to china to have it repaired.  It was returned to him in one piece but the way it had been repaired made it look ugly.  He asked some Japanese artisans to fix it.   They developed a method called Kintsugi which simply means ‘golden joinery’. The craftsman used a process where gold dust was used to highlight the cracks and fractures of the bowl. Instead of trying to hide the brokenness, they used gold to highlight it. And these bowls became some of the most valuable pieces of property a person could have. Everyone loved the beauty the cracks provided. In fact they would come to break vessels just so that they could be fixed by the Kintsugi craftsmen. These artists became some of the best craftsmen in the country because even though the break was more obvious, the repair was more beautiful.

We hide our brokenness. We live in guilt and shame because of it. Which is odd because every one of us is broken.  No amount of hiding can cover up all our cracks. People see them. The more we try to hide them, the more others notice them.  The more we pretend to be perfect, the less beautiful we become. The pathway to beauty is being honest about our brokenness. St Augustine wrote:  My sin was all the more incurable because I did not think myself a sinner.  How much more beautiful our lives become when we are honest about our brokenness and take that to Jesus. The gold of His love can make something beautiful.

Paul says in Ephesians 1:1 that we are saints. That's how God sees us when we are in Christ. But he reminds us Ephesians 2:1 that we are broken. Until we recognize the beauty that God can make out of our brokenness we will never know what it is to become who God has called us to be. In order to show the world the surpassing greatness of Jesus’ power, we need to not be afraid to say my God has saved me and has made me a Saint because he fixes the broken world of a sinner. 

Here is the best part. When the Kintsugi craftsmen repaired these broken vessels from around the world, they were no longer considered Korean plates or Chinese bowls or Indian dishes. Once they were mended with the kingsugi method, they were forever considered Japanese. The repairman had left his mark and everyone knew who it was that had repaired it.

Has Jesus left His mark on you? Those repairs let us and others know we belong to Him?

 Kintsugi1

 

01/25/2015

Generosity and counter cultural living!

As we concluded our Fructiferous series, I used a quote from the early church. In the 2nd century, the church was exploding even when the Roman Empire was trying to stop it.  Embedded in a very anti Christian culture, the church grew. Why? How? Mathetes wrote a letter to Diognetus explaining how the church grew. The writer speaks of the fruitfulness of the early church that came from their counter cultural way Christians were living.  Here is what he wrote:

 

For the Christians are distinguished from other men ..... They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; ... When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.   Letter to Diognetus from Mathetes  (1st Century)

 

Mathetes noted 4 ways Christians lived differently.

 

They were not racist.  They did not just identify with their own racially. Their native land was not their native land because their citizenship was in Heaven. Because of that they did not separate from others based on race. They truly loved everyone. That sets Christians apart.

 

They were fruitful because they had a high view of life. They do not destroy their offspring.  In Roman culture if you had a baby and you didn't like the look of the baby the father would have the baby killed. If the dad wanted a boy and a girl was born, the girl was often killed. Life was expendable. But the Christians had a high view of life. This month is a month that celebrates the high view of life.  Life before birth is valuable. Life that doesn't meet society's standards of real living is important. Humans at the end of life are valued and have dignity. That sets Christians apart.

 

They were fruitful because they lived with a different sexual ethic. They have a common table, but not a common bed. What a phrase. They invite everyone to eat, but the marriage bed is honored. They are in the flesh, but they don't live  after the flesh.  In Roman and Greek culture, anything would go.  Their families were fruitful. Their marriages were fruitful. The willingness to live rightly paid major dividends.

 

Fourthly they were fruitful because they were radically generous. They shared their table with everyone and anyone.  Though they were poor, they were rich. They had nothing, but they had plenty of everything.  They were poor yet made everyone else around them rich.  The people could not believe how quick they were to share.. They were short on many things, but lived with great generosity and it spoke to the culture. They saw God as a giver and it made a difference in their lives.

 

We have the same to offer. Living counter to our culture leaves the sweet aroma of Jesus. And that is contagious.

Generosity and counter cultural living!

As we concluded our Fructiferous series, I used a quote from the early church. In the 2nd century, the church was exploding even when the Roman Empire was trying to stop it.  Embedded in a very anti Christian culture, the church grew. Why? How? Mathetes wrote a letter to Diognetus explaining how the church grew. The writer speaks of the fruitfulness of the early church that came from their counter cultural way Christians were living.  Here is what he wrote:

 

For the Christians are distinguished from other men ..... They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; ... When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.   Letter to Diognetus from Mathetes  (1st Century)

 

Mathetes noted 4 ways Christians lived differently.

 

They were not racist.  They did not just identify with their own racially. Their native land was not their native land because their citizenship was in Heaven. Because of that they did not separate from others based on race. They truly loved everyone. That sets Christians apart.

 

They were fruitful because they had a high view of life. They do not destroy their offspring.  In Roman culture if you had a baby and you didn't like the look of the baby the father would have the baby killed. If the dad wanted a boy and a girl was born, the girl was often killed. Life was expendable. But the Christians had a high view of life. This month is a month that celebrates the high view of life.  Life before birth is valuable. Life that doesn't meet society's standards of real living is important. Humans at the end of life are valued and have dignity. That sets Christians apart.

 

They were fruitful because they lived with a different sexual ethic. They have a common table, but not a common bed. What a phrase. They invite everyone to eat, but the marriage bed is honored. They are in the flesh, but they don't live  after the flesh.  In Roman and Greek culture, anything would go.  Their families were fruitful. Their marriages were fruitful. The willingness to live rightly paid major dividends.

 

Fourthly they were fruitful because they were radically generous. They shared their table with everyone and anyone.  Though they were poor, they were rich. They had nothing, but they had plenty of everything.  They were poor yet made everyone else around them rich.  The people could not believe how quick they were to share.. They were short on many things, but lived with great generosity and it spoke to the culture. They saw God as a giver and it made a difference in their lives.

 

We have the same to offer. Living counter to our culture leaves the sweet aroma of Jesus. And that is contagious.

01/18/2015

Knowing and obeying the commands of Jesus

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:18-20)

 

We are called to live fructiferous lives. The first command given to humans is to be fruitful and multiply. Jesus' last command to His people was to multiply disciples through going, baptizing and teaching people. The teaching part is specific. We are to teach people to obey the commands that Jesus taught.  As I mentioned this weekend, that got me looking at what the commands of Jesus were. And to be honest, I was humbled not only at the ones I did not know, but at the ones I was not obeying.

 What are those commands? Years ago, I attended some seminars through the Institute in Basic Life Principles. One of the handouts looked at the commands of Jesus. Here are 49 of them as listed through IBLP.  It is one thing to know them. It is another to share them. The mission is to obey them and to teach others to obey. This is a life long pursuit! 

 

Here are 49 of Jesus' commands with a character application:

          Repent—Matthew 4:17—Humility

  • Follow Me—Matthew 4:19—Meekness
  • Rejoice—Matthew 5:12—Joyfulness
  • Let Your Light Shine—Matthew 5:16—Generosity
  • Honor God’s Law—Matthew 5:17–18—Love
  • Be Reconciled—Matthew 5:24–25—Responsibility
  • Do Not Commit Adultery—Matthew 5:29–30—Self-Control
  • Keep Your Word—Matthew 5:37—Truthfulness
  • Go the Second Mile—Matthew 5:38–42—Deference
  • Love Your Enemies—Matthew 5:44—Creativity
  • Be Perfect—Matthew 5:48—Sincerity
  • Practice Secret Disciplines—Matthew 6:1–18—Faith
  • Lay Up Treasures—Matthew 6:19–21—Thriftiness
  • Seek God’s Kingdom—Matthew 6:33—Initiative
  • Judge Not—Matthew 7:1—Discernment
  • Do Not Cast Pearls—Matthew 7:6—Discretion
  • Ask, Seek, and Knock—Matthew 7:7–8—Resourcefulness
  • Do Unto Others—Matthew 7:12—Sensitivity
  • Choose the Narrow Way—Matthew 7:13–14—Decisiveness
  • Beware of False Prophets—Matthew 7:15—Alertness
  • Pray For Laborers—Matthew 9:38—Compassion
  • Be Wise as Serpents—Matthew 10:16—Wisdom
  • Fear God, Not Man—Matthew 10:26—Boldness
  • Hear God’s Voice—Matthew 11:15—Attentiveness
  • Take My Yoke—Matthew 11:29—Obedience
  • Honor Your Parents—Matthew 15:4—Honor/Reverence
  • Beware of Leaven—Matthew 16:6—Virtue
  • Deny Yourself—Luke 9:23—Determination
  • Despise Not Little Ones—Matthew 18:10—Tolerance
  • Go to Offenders—Matthew 18:15—Justice
  • Beware of Covetousness—Luke 12:15—Contentment
  • Forgive Offenders—Matthew 18:21–22—Forgiveness
  • Honor Marriage—Matthew 19:6—Loyalty
  • Be a Servant—Matthew 20:26–28—Availability
  • Be a House of Prayer—Matthew 21:13—Persuasiveness
  • Ask in Faith—Matthew 21:21–22—Patience
  • Bring in the Poor—Luke 14:12–14—Hospitality
  • Render to Caesar—Matthew 22:19–21—Gratefulness
  • Love the Lord—Matthew 22:37–38—Enthusiasm
  • Love Your Neighbor—Matthew 22:39—Gentleness
  • Await My Return—Matthew 24:42–44—Punctuality
  • Take, Eat, and Drink—Matthew 26:26–27—Thoroughness
  • Be Born Again—John 3:7—Security
  • Keep My Commandments—John 14:15—Diligence
  • Watch and Pray—Matthew 26:41—Endurance
  • Feed My Sheep—John 21:15–16—Dependability
  • Baptize My Disciples—Matthew 28:19—Cautiousness
  • Receive God’s Power—Luke 24:49—Orderliness

·  Make Disciples—Matthew 28

01/09/2015

Fructiferous tales from the Atrium

I love the conversations I have in the Atrium between services. This past weekend as I talked with a gentlemen new to Calvary, i asked what brought him to the church.  I loved his answer. He told me about a guy who came into his retail shop.  In coversation, he found this person so fruitful and overflowing with love for Jesus in his life that he just had to know more about him. In particular, he wanted to know what church he went to. If he was an indicator of the fruit of the church, he wanted to check it out. The gentleman told him he went to Calvary and where it was. For a first time visitor, this guy was so excited. he couldn't wait to see what God had in sotre for him.

The best part!  After the service, the man made sure to tell me he was coming back.

Are you more in love with Jesus today than last year? Than a few years ago? Watch out for the other attachments in your life that keep you from Jesus. And abide deeply in Him.

Thanks for living fructiferously and drawing people to Jesus!

12/17/2014

Party with an Impact

For the second year in a row, we decided to have a Calvary staff Christmas party with the purpose. We divided the staff into seven teams, gave them 40 dollars and released them into the community to bless people with random and intentional acts of kindness.  Armed wtih cell phones, they took pictures and video of the results.

Following dinner, we shared stories and pictures of what each team did. There is always lots of laughter and lots of tears and the staff get blessed way more.

Three of the teams headed to Ferguson. They pumped gas, bought treats and prayed with people. Some teams bought gift cards and prayed for just the right people to receive them. One woman wasn't able to get her Chrtdistmas pay check and wouldn't have much to share with her kids for Christmas. A small gift card would go a big way. Others went from business to business thanking them for their continuing support of the Community. Still others partnered with the Billy Graham organization and helped pay for turkeys and meal vouchers for Christmas. 

Other teams went and got some movie tickets, theatre popcorn, candy and cookies. They put together some movie treat bags and brought them to DFS where they blessed families with them.  Others bought donuts and pizza and treats taking them to the construction workers laboring in the cold at the apartments and gas station next door. Then they took treats to the new medical center across the street. The doctor said she had heard great things about Calvary and its youth ministry. She was quick to add that it has been medically proven that teens who are part of a church youth group have a better chance of staying out of trouble. She encourages her patients to become part of a youth group.

Another team bought some treats and had some left over gifts and went to Our Lady's Inn to help single moms over the holidays. They just had a request yesterday for more gifts and our team was the answer to their prayer!

Another team said we want to get the community to enjoy the blessing of giving so they went to several nearby businesses. Within 90 minutes, they had received over 700 dollars worth of donations including milk shakes, hair cuts, restaurant coupons and smoothies. They blessed many people standing in line, waiting in the cold and at the nearby schools and offices reminding them that Jesus sees them, loves them and was born to save them.

It is such a simple idea that has incredible results. To be honest, it is a bit addictive. People are already thinking about what they can do next year.

There is benefits in reducing, rejoicing and reflecting. A little reduction of our needs and more about others brought a great time of reflection and people left rejoicing. I trust your Christmas celebrations are as equally joy filled.

 

 

 

12/04/2014

Simple Christmas: REDUCE

Paul, the apostle, encouraged us to make it our ambition to lead a quiet life.  We started the year looking at that verse and we have returned to the theme of simplicity at the end of the year.  If leading a quiet life were easy, we would all be doing it. But the expectations others put on us on top of the already unrealistic expectations we have for ourselves keeps us very busy.

 

If we don't reduce at Christmas for the sake of knowing Jesus more, then knowing Jesus will be reduced out of Christmas.

 

I hope you got your Gingerbread scented ornament to hang in your car or your house as a reminder to focus on the important things this Christmas. To help you do that as Christmas approaches, here are a few ideas I think are creative and helpful in bringing the simple message of the Messiah to Christmas. And please....don't try all of them at once! Do a few and save the rest for other years!  Have fun.

 

 

35 Gifts your Children will never forget

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/35-gifts-your-children-will-never-forget/

 

Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar

http://www.coffeecupsandcrayons.com/random-acts-christmas-kindness-printable-advent-calendar/

 

Simple and Doable Ideas for Families

http://www.wholefamilystrong.com/2013/12/06/simple-christmas-real-simple-doable-ideas/

 

10/03/2014

Helpful Apologetic Resources

I have found one of the things many Christians keep secret is the fact that at times they have some doubt about God and issues of faith. This creates a lot of guilt because they think they should never have a question for God. The reality is that doubts can creep in from time to time and when we use those to look more towards God, they can lead to deeper faith. This was true of John the Baptist. He was imprisoned for his preaching about Jesus and he even sent word to Jesus asking for some proof that Jesus was who He said He was. He wrestled with doubt, but died with greater faith. At Calvary, we have been looking at some of the doubts people have regarding faith. We have also been looking at whether it is reasonable to believe the foundations of the Christian Faith. I trust that you have been encouraged in your own faith and that you have some tools to enter into a dialogue with others. Many have asked me where some good resources are to explore some of these topics further. Here is a list of some of the resources our Teaching Team has used and some others. My first experience with apologetic writings were those of Josh McDowell. His books Evidence that Demands a Verdict and the follow up More Evidence that Demands a Verdict were very helpful. They have formed the foundation for a lot of the writings today. His son Sean McDowell has followed in those apologetic footsteps and has written some helpful books particularly for teens including his book Apologetics for a New Generation. William Lane Craig is one of the best Christian Apologists today. He has written a number of books and articles. You can find out more at his website www.reasonablefaith.org Lee Strobel has written some very readable books that are helpful for our own faith and to give to others who have questions. These books include The Case for Faith, The Case for Christ, The Case for the Resurrection and The Case for a Creator. One of my favorite pastors to listen to is Tim Keller. His books are very thoughtful and Christ focused in particular The Reason for God and his other book Walking with God through Pain and Suffering. If you are looking for another resource on suffering, CS Lewis wrote a couple books at different reflective points in his life including the Problem of Pain. If you are looking for websites you can trust, the One Minute Apologist has short 2 to 3 minutes videos that give concise and understandable answers to some challenging questions from the best apologists today. www.oneminuteapologist.com More and more, we will have opportunities to engage people in spiritual conversations. It is my prayer that we won’t shy away from those conversations, but able to engage people well.