Connections

Connections between people18 Years

10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him (Luke 13:10-17).

What jumps out at you from that story?

The heartlessness of the “ruler of the synagogue”?

The amazing miracle of healing a woman stricken by a disability for 18 years?

Something else?

Or that Jesus cared enough for her that He called her over, proactively healed her, and then reminded everyone there…in a society that thought bad fortune implied God’s disapproval…that she deserved to “be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day”?

[Read more…]

Jesus Derangement Syndrome

Yelling at Jesus

Hate

If you are on social media and you see the acronym, TDS, what does it mean?

Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Now…don’t worry…this is not going to be a political sermon. However, Trump Derangement Syndrome came to mind after I recently read the story of Lazarus. However, before we review a portion of that…

What is Trump Derangement Syndrome?

My definition would be disliking Trump, his behavior, and/or his policies so extremely you are unable to to properly judge him (or anyone associated with him) rightly, you frequently overreact, and you often behave in a way that would not be socially acceptable if directed toward anyone else.

Basically, TDS turns over control of the brain and body from reason and intellect to emotion.

Now…just because someone says something against Trump, his administration, or one of his supporters does not mean they are exhibiting Trump Derangement Syndrome…and labeling it as such can be unfairly used as a bludgeon. However, some people truly have gone off the deep end when it comes to their hate of Trump.

Lazarus

Moving on…

I mentioned that the story of Lazarus reminded me of Trump Derangement Syndrome. I wouldn’t blame you if you scratched your head at that comment, so let’s join the narrative about that incident to see if I can clear things up. We join the story after Jesus has incredibly (and supernaturally) raised Lazarus from the dead.

45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death (John 11:45-53).

What did the last verse say?

[Read more…]

You Still Don’t Know Me?

Jesus with sheep

Introduction

Has anyone here ever been friends with someone very long…close friends…

And then, one day, they ask a question or make a statement that makes you scratch your head, turn to them, and ask…

“You’ve known me this long, and you say that?”

They should know better than that!

If you’ve ever been in that situation, then the question they asked (or the statement they made) probably didn’t have very positive implications. Do they not understand your character well enough to know that there is no way you would have done, said, etcetera that?!

Today, we are going to discuss a situation like that with Jesus. I wouldn’t say the statement was negative…

But it showed that the questioner didn’t quite learn from his experiences with our Lord.

Hopefully we will. 🙂

Philip’s Question

Let’s turn together to the verses that inspired this sermon, John 14:1-11:

14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

I know that’s a pretty long selection, but I wanted you to get a flavor of the conversation before it got to the punch line, which is in verse 9. Let’s review verses 8 and 9 again…

8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

I don’t know about you, but my experience with Christ through the Word doesn’t have anger in Jesus’ response…but perhaps there is a little disappointment. “Have I been with you so long and you still don’t know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

Think about that.

[Read more…]

Is Jesus God?

Jesus woodcut

Last Week

Last week’s sermon, “Your a God,” taught three things:

  • We are not gods
  • Something isn’t Christian just because it sounds like it
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is not Christian

I also mentioned that I wasn’t trying to rag on the Mormon church…however, they are a denomination that actually believes you can become a God, if you are male:

“As man now is, God once was:

“As God now is, man may be.”1

That is about as far from orthodox as you can get…and it shows how just because someone says they believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He is Lord, and so on…

Well, it shows you something isn’t Christian just because it sounds like it.

Questions

However, we also left last week a few questions:

  1. We know for sure Jesus was a man…but, how do we know from Scripture He is God?
  2. After the time last week telling you humans are not God, is it a contradiction for me to say Jesus is the Son of God…that Jesus is God?
  3. Is Jesus God or just a really special created being?

The first and third questions are really the same…so we’ll touch on #2 to begin with. Is it a contradiction for me to say Jesus is God after telling you humans are not God?

No.

Why not?

[Read more…]

Baby Jesus, Did You Know?

Mary and the baby JesusAway in a Manger

I’m not sure I would say it is in my top three, but I really like Christmas carol, “Away in a Manger.” We all know its first verse, right?:

Away in a manger, no crib for his bed,

The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head;

The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,

The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

It is a simple tune…and the fact that I can recall those words means it’s pretty easy to remember. 🙂

It brings to mind this part of the nativity story:

2 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn (Luke 2:1-7).

In the adult Bible study a week back we discussed how the angel Gabriel gave Mary a heads-up about her miraculous pregnancy and the Savior it would produce, but at that point in Scripture’s narrative I imagine she looked at Jesus the same way Michelle did at Mikey and at Augie when they were first born.

With love, awe, and thankfulness.

However, at some point after His birth, Mary had to ponder the incredible words from God’s divine messenger. What exactly did she know about her newborn’s future fate? [Read more…]

Anticipating the Arrival

Magi on camels traveling to nativityJust Can’t Wait!

Have you ever really, really looked forward to something?

Looked forward to it so much you just couldn’t wait…and it seemed to take forever?

What was it? A trip to some exotic place? Your wedding day? Something else?

Christmas?

Kids, when I was your age I just couldn’t wait for Christmas. It truly was a magical season for my brothers and me, and boy we wanted the day to arrive weeks ahead. Then…Christmas Eve…we couldn’t wait for Santa to come. My parents would keep our full Christmas stockings away from us until about 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning…since they knew as soon as we had them we were going to be wide awake. 🙂

And then…to torture us all the more…after my parents got an hour or two more of sleep…we’d go downstairs…and although we could see all of the awesome gifts under the tree…many with our personal names on them…we weren’t allowed to open any until we had breakfast.

The horrors! The anticipation could have killed us!

Anybody else feel that way with Christmas? [Read more…]

Light as a Feather

Ox pulling plowLight as a Feather

Overloaded

Do you feel overloaded by life?

  • That there is too much expected out of you by your boss?
  • That there is too much expected out of you by your friends?
  • That there is too much expected out of you by your family?
  • That there is too much expected out of you by your spouse or significant other?
  • That there is too much expected out of you by society?
  • That there is too much expected out of you at work?
  • That there is too much expected out of you at home?

My guess is that unless you are younger than a teenager it is very, very likely that you have said yes to one or all of those.

And I suspect that I could changed “expected” to “demanded” in all of those and you would still say yes to at least a couple of them.

Does your neck feel crushed and your shoulders feel very, very heavy with the burdens put on them?

At times mine do. Some of it is my own fault. Bills I shouldn’t have created. Tasks I shouldn’t have volunteered for.

However, even subtracting those and the fact my wife has fair expectations of me…sometimes I feel overloaded…like what I am yoked with is too heavy for me to handle. The burden can overwhelming.

But I have some really, really good news for you and me. 🙂 [Read more…]

Augie’s Sermon on the Second Coming

Jesus in the clouds

Two of Two

This is the second in a pair of sermons…and as with last week…kids I want you to pay special attention…as they said in the military, “Eyes front!” 🙂

Do you remember the name of last week’s talk?

That’s right, “Augie’s Sermon on the Cross,” where we learned why Jesus had to die.

You didn’t forget all of that already did you? 🙂

Do you remember the rules for preaching for children?

  • Use simple words.
  • Keep it short.
  • See #1 and #2.

Did we succeed with those last week? Mostly? 🙂

I’m not sure I would say it was short…but “Augie’s Sermon on the Cross” required a lot of introduction…and this one won’t.

So, shall we stay with those ground rules kids? Simple words and short?

Funny Words

So in today’s sermon we’ll talk about amillennialism, premillennialism, postmillenialism, futurism, preterism, historicism, and eschatology.

Sound good?

Now, those weren’t simple words, were they? Sounded kind of funny too, didn’t they. But, definitely not simple.

And what was rule #1?

Right, “Use simple words.”

But the reason I mention them is because they help show that talking about what people believe will happen at the end here on earth…

[Read more…]

Augie’s Sermon on the Cross

Three crosses with a red sky

Choosing a Sermon Topic

Kids…as best as you can…this week I need you to pay attention. No, I won’t make you put everything away…but you’ll shortly understand why this week and next you shouldn’t tune me out. So…

Do I have your attention?!

I said…

Do I have your attention?! 🙂

Early this week I asked Augie what I should do a sermon on. He responded that I should preach about Jesus on the cross and Jesus coming back.

What do you think? Were those good suggestions?

They were awesome suggestions!

However, to do both at once would break one of the rules of preaching for children, so this week it’s “Augie’s Sermon on the Cross” and next will be “Augie’s Sermon on the Second Coming.”

So far so good?

And the reason, [fill in the kid’s names here], I need you to pay attention is that although this sermon is titled “Augie’s Sermon on the Cross”…it’s not just for him…it’s for you too.

Do I still have your attention? 🙂

Preaching to Children

Now, in order to preach to you, I figure there are some rules. Can you tell me if I have them right?

  • Use simple words.
  • Keep it short.
  • See #1 and #2.

Did I get that right? Three simple rules and we’re good?! 🙂

Let’s repeat the together:

  • Use simple words.
  • Keep it short.
  • See #1 and #2.

Related to those three rules, let me share a quick story about a famous physicist who was also a very fun guy, Richard Feynman. One time he promised to write a lesson about a really difficult topic for students who were starting their first year of college.

He failed at that and said, “You know, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t reduce it to the freshman level. That means we really don’t understand it.”

And to be honest kids, if we adults cannot explain something important about God simple enough that a child can understand…

Well, maybe not a toddler. 🙂

If we adults cannot explain something important about God simple enough for you to understand, then…

Maybe we really don’t understand it. [Read more…]

“The Great Question” About Our Faith

Andrew Klavan begins his “The Great Question” with…

Islamism is the great evil of our age, and the great question of our age is whether this foulness is the natural child of Islam itself or a cancer on its body.

Given the continual, regular atrocities done in the name of Islam (but that we are always told have nothing to do with the “religion of peace”)…

Islamic symbolThis seems an especially apropos query.

Are the terrorist acts of self-proclaimed Muslims an evil aberration or a natural extension of Islam and its holy book? Were the millions purged in Russia and China in the 20th century a natural child of communism? Is the corruption and complete breakdown of the economy in Venezuala (and resulting chaos) a natural result of socialism?

Was the Inquisition a natural extension of Christianity? How about other evil done in the name of Christ the last 2,000 years?

A very wise man said, “We become like the god we worship.”

And everybody worships a god, whether they realize it or not. I’ll unhesitatingly choose Jesus over Allah, Lenin (or Stalin), Mao, or Chavez (or his weaker replacement Maduro). There is no foulness in Christ nor in the pure faith He founded with His blood on the cross.

Can you say the same of ______? When its followers “become like the god [they] worship,” is the result more love and life or more corruption and carnage?

Another “question of our age” I suppose…

Orlando (Jesus Wept)

Jesus wept.

The shortest verse in the Bible (John 11:35) seems especially apropos given the carnage in Orlando. Those two words remind us that the sinless Son of God deeply cares about the pain we feel. In context, Christ knew He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, yet…

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled (John 11:33, English Standard Version).

And…

Woman weepingJesus wept.

There are friends…brothers…sisters…mothers…fathers…children…

Weeping in Orlando.

Jesus weeps with them.

So should we.

Avoid politics. Avoid finger pointing. Avoid judging.

There is plenty of time in the future to do all that where appropriate.

For now, we should just have the heart of Christ…

And weep…

While looking forward to the day when God…

…will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4).

Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

“Be Nice”

"Be nice. Jesus said so."Augie and I were out getting mom birthday cards and gifts…and at the Hallmark Store I couldn’t help but purchase what is pictured here.

Now, Michelle liked it so much that instead of it ending up in my office, it’s in her hutch. 🙂

But, how biblically correct is it?

Well, I suppose it all depends on how you define “nice.” Searching for “Jesus ‘be nice'” on Google, the top three hits were:

Two vote down and one votes up, but says it is not enough…

My Mac’s dictionary’s first definition of nice is: [Read more…]

When Kings (Should) Go Off to War

Genesis 3:5Greetings

It has been waaaaaaaay too long since Michelle, Augie, and I have been here at the Antrim Church of Christ…and as I typed up my sermon notes I knew I could confidently say how great it is to see you all. We may live 2,000 miles away for now, but you are still our family and always will be. How is it that Paul said it? “For though absent in body, I am present in spirit” (1 Corinthians 5:3, in part).

Of course, let’s just hope I never have to continue with the rest of that verse and say “and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing.” 🙂

You will forever be a part of us, and if the Lord does not bring us back in Antrim again, we’ll make sure we put in for the same neighborhood in heaven. Well, we’ll do that even if God does return us here more permanently. 🙂

King David

Although I suspect I could spend a full sermon’s time talking about how much we miss you…that’s not what we are here for, is it? Instead it is to hear the Word of God from the Word of God…so let’s dive right in by turning to to 2 Samuel 11:1:

In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.

That’s a curious verse, isn’t it?

Being spring…it is apropos to base a sermon on…but that’s not what is curious about it.

How many here think the “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle…but David remained at Jerusalem” indicates David was doing something wrong? [Estimate count of hands.]

Well, then you ____ agree with John MacArthur:

Staying home in such situations was not David’s usual practice (5:2; 8:1—14; 10:17; but cf. 18:3; 21:17); this explicit remark implies criticism of David for remaining behind, as well as setting the stage for his devastating iniquity.1

Now, how many of you instead think the “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle…but David remained at Jerusalem” is just a statement of fact…nothing positive or negative meant? [Estimate count of hands.]

Well, then you ____ agree with the Faithlife Study Bble:

This is probably not intended to be a disparaging remark toward David; in 10:7, he takes the same course of action (see also 3:22). The death of such a powerful figure in battle would likely spell defeat for the nation; David stays behind for his safety and the welfare of his kingdom (see 18:1—4; 21:15—17, especially 18:15 and note).2

Although I am an “assume the best” kind of guy, I have to admit I’m with MacArthur. Especially since what follows is one of David’s greatest failures…it really seems to be saying…

“In spring, when David should have been out valiantly leading his army, he instead was dilly-dallying back in Jerusalem.”

Let’s go back where we left off and read four more verses:

2 It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. 3 And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. 5 And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant” (2 Samuel 11:2—5).

So here we have king who God said was “a man after [His] heart” (see Acts 13:22, 1 Samuel 13:14) take another man’s wife and commit adultery.

And, of course, it doesn’t stop there…because Bathsheba got pregnant and her husband couldn’t be tricked into having sex with her (out of solidarity with those in the field of battle)…David had him killed in a cowardly, secretive way.

How does a man after God’s heart fall into such deep, dark sin?

The same way we humans have from the beginning. [Read more…]

“Is It Okay to Be Mean to a Bad Person”

Angry manA month or so ago my little guy, Augie, asked me, “Is it okay to be mean to a bad person?”

How would you answer that? Not just “yes” or “no”…but what would be your reasoning for your response?

I cannot remember exactly what I told him (my memory is not that good), but it was no. I wouldn’t be surprised if I connected my response to the Sermon on the Mount, which, for instance, says:

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:44-45, English Standard Version).

As much as we might get satisfaction out of an evil-doer suffering, it is impossible to read Jesus’ words above and think that “it is okay to be mean to a bad person.” Jesus Himself is our perfect example. Whether “What would Jesus do?” or “What did Jesus do?” — our Lord never returned kind for kind…even when He was suffering most:

And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments (Luke 23:33-34).

Jesus was the epitome of “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

No, Augie, it is not okay to be mean to a bad person.

But a kid without a mean bone in his body probably already knew that. 🙂

Now that You Have Blown It

New Year’s Resolutions

Epic fail signWe are 10 days into the new year…and here is hoping that it has started off great for everyone sitting here in front of me. I know the Lord continues to bless my family and me in 2016.

How many of you made New Year’s resolutions? [Wait for hands to raise.] Anyone willing to share one or two things they’ve resolved for 2016? [Wait for answers.]

Are you interested in what other people resolve? I was…and for my tween/teen class last week we went straight to the Internet to find out. Now, I realize that I have to be cautious with that and I pay heed to something a famous president said said that I found on the web. Abraham Lincoln is quoted as advising…

“Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” 🙂

However, I think Nielsen is pretty safe, and their list of top resolutions for 2015 were:1

Stay fit and healthy 37%
Lose weight 32%
Enjoy life to the fullest 28%
Spend less, save more 25%
Spend more time with family and friends 19%
Get organized 18%
Will not make any resolutions 16%
Learn something new/new hobby 14%
Travel more 14%
Read more 12%

Ignoring the sad commentary on society that not a single one of the top ten resolutions (based on Nielsen’s survey between December 29, 2014 and January 2, 2015) were spiritual…are most of them are at least okay?

If you made any resolutions in 2016…were they included in Nielsen’s list? I had a four that showed up in one form or another…lose weight, be better with money, read more, and get my technical and general ham radio licenses (which would fall under “learn something new/new hobby”).

[Read more…]