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April 25, 2016, 8:37 AM

A Kingdom Built on Service

Big question:  What is your kingdom built on?  

Now you can interpret the idea of "your kingdom" in many different ways:  Family; Career; Church; Community; etc... Lets look at ALL of them and answer that question.  What is the foundation for everything you've built?  

If its not Service then we need to re-pour the concrete and foundations for what we think we've built.  Two moments come to mind in making this statement:  1 Kings 12: 3 - 7 and John 13: 1 - 17.  

Both contain the foundations for what could have become great kingdoms.  The first was the moment Rehoboam had the opportunity to be a worthy king, earning the devotion of his people forever.  He is advised to "serve the people" and be a leader who shepherds his community.  However, and that is a BIG however, he chooses to be served by the people in harsher measures than they've known before.  He builds his foundation on reputation, pride, arrogance, and power.  How does that work out for him? 

The second illustration is at the doorstep of a more relevant kingdom being established:  the Church.  Jesus is mere hours away from arrest and crucifixion and he has a final message he needs to get across to those he has entrusted his kingdom.  Service. He washes their feet, becoming the lowest servant in the room of which he is far and above the most worthy and important.  

The example he sets before us is to build a kingdom on self sacrifice, putting oneself in a place in which others will become great.  That is leadership 101:  setting others up for the win.  The remaining moments of Jesus' life prove this even further, giving us the lasting image of sacrifice and redemption on The Cross.  But it is the moment in John 13 that drives the point home:  Serve.  

If the apostles had tried to move ahead after the Resurrection through reputation alone, the Church would have failed and not become a global movement.  If they had tried to impress the people in Jerusalem with their names and association with Jesus to draw people in, the Church would've been forgotten as time dulls even the sharpest memories.  

Throughout the Old Testament we can identify moments when leaders turn from serving others to self-serving.  And every time, EVERY time, its bad news.  Moses and the rock; Abraham and his lies about his wife; David and Bathsheba; Solomon and his idolatry; Jonah and the Ninevites; on and on and on.  

What is your kingdom built on?  What is our church built on?  The kingdom of Israel went from powerful to a torn apart mess because of a lack of foundation.  Don't let it happen to yours.  

John 13: 12b - 15  “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am.  And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. (NLT)

April 4, 2016, 8:36 AM

Your Self Worth

In our Sunday School class yesterday (04/03) I recalled a mind-blowing discovery I had this week:  God had prepared for Israel's demands for a King.  This may not blow your minds yet, so let me expand the thought process.  

In the period of the Judges, God had prepared a system of leadership that was effective, but temporary and volatile at best.  These people were not meant for a totalitarian style of leadership, nor were they a suitable form of nation-wide, long term, create a lineage of monarchy style governing.  The period ended with Samuel taking the place as God's chosen mouthpiece to the people.

In his time (Sam's), the people's eyes start wandering to the nations around them, discovering the power and stature that comes with having a physical centerpiece of rule to act as the figure head of a nation.  Jealousy ensues and we get the act of rebellion that finally breaks Samuel's back.  They reject "him" as their leader and want a king.  God corrects Samuel's interpretation of their rebellion and clarifies that Israel has rebelled against God, not anyone earthly.  

We read this chapter and shake our heads at the ignorance, short-sightedness, and sinful desires of Israel.  They become a punch line to sermon points:  "Don't be like Israel, Church..."  And yet...  And yet... God had planned for this all along.  

He loves and cherishes his people so much that within that love he plans to use and work with their rebellion and disobedience.  Within Israel's own law is a caveat for the behavior of a King.  Not just a king of some foreign nation, but the king over Israel.  (Deuteronomy 17:14 - 20).  He declared in his promise to Abraham AND Sarah (so there's no confusion which son he's blessing) that among their descendants will be kings.  

God loves us so much he plans ahead to cover our lack of faith, trust, and obedience!  He loves us so much that he still uses our poor choices to further his kingdom and create beauty!  

And if that doesnt change what you see reflected in the mirror, you need to read your history books again.  Through the law, the wanderings, the Judges, and even the wars, God reflects his compassion on us.  And he proves again and again how much we are worth to him.  Even when we demand a king.  

Romans 8: 35 - 39    

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” )  37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

March 28, 2016, 8:51 AM

What's Different After Easter and Resurrection Sunday?


March 21, 2016, 9:29 AM

Call EMS!!!

Lets start with a question.  What are your signs of life?  As human beings, a part of a very active society we have certain signs of life.  At the most basic level, we breathe, eat, have blood flowing through our veins, etc...  On a grander scale there are signs that we are living and active beings.  We walk, run, crawl, speak, laugh, etc..  And beyond that we have a social life (for the most part!).  We have families, friends, coworkers, etc...  

We give off signs of life with everything we do. If I were to drive by your house an any given day of the week, I would most likely see signs of life.  You would be out mowing your lawn, sitting on the porch, talking and interacting with your family, or whatever it is you do when you get off of work.  It would be obvious, even to the simplest of minds, that someone lives in your house.  

So lets turn that on to our spiritual lives.  We also have spiritual signs of life, which include prayer, study, faith, etc…  I ask you this question church, ARE YOU ALIVE?  You see, a complete stranger could figure out if you are physically alive from far away.  But do your closest friends and family members know you are spiritually alive??  Are we hiding all signs that God is active in our lives?  I am not confronting the evangelism issue here, I am confronting the basic actions necessary to sustain a spiritual life.  

If there was a way to check your pulse spiritually, would you have people calling 911 for you?  Our Savior gave everything he had for us, and yet we hide.  We have been offered a free trip through eternity, and yet we ‘fake it’.  We have been offered an ABUNDANT LIFE, and yet we go through the motions…  

Its a simple message for a complex time:  Live Life Out Loud!  Express gratitude; Ask Forgiveness (and offer it freely); Be Polite; Give Generously; and Serve Humbly.  Make sure that everyone knows we're spiritually alive!

Romans 6: 5 - 11 (NLT) 5Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was.6We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.7For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.8And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.9We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him.10When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God.11So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

March 14, 2016, 8:06 AM

All Other Ground

I used to think quicksand was going to be a major obstacle I would have to overcome at some point in my life.  Much like "Stop, Drop, and Roll" I was certain my quicksand survival technique was going to come in handy (I've never had to "stop, drop and roll" either...).  

Today, the song in my head is this chorus:  "On Christ the solid rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand; All other ground is sinking sand."   I dont know why its in there, or why it was what I hummed throughout my early day routine.  But its there, so I'm going to talk to you about it now.  

There's a word in there that sticks out to me:  ALL.  All other ground.  Everything but Christ is sinking sand, not a suitable place for a foundation.  Nothing but Christ.  Hear that?  It is a truth, expressed in song, that must be more than just a catchy tune.  

When life comes crashing down, where is our foundation?  Will wealth and reputation reach out to us in grief?  Will the treasures of the world comfort our souls in sickness?  Does anything, but Christ, have the ability to use words like "always" and "never?"  The only person that can use infinitives is God, as he Was, Is, and Will Be.  

Which foundation have we chosen?  

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