There is a lot of talk , in religious circles, about our lives and ministries becoming more “incarnational”. Like Jesus who took on human form and moved into our world to share the love of His Father with us, we are challenged to do the same. Few do it as well as Thom and Michele Hazelip. I hope this story challenges you and much as it did me. You will be blessed!
Archive for September, 2008
How important is experience in qualifying a candidate to run for the highest office in our government? Mr. Obama himself doesn’t think he has enough experience by his own words.
OK, you say that was then and now he has more experience. Actually only 143 actual days of experience to be exact. I have never been a fan of Bill and Hillary Clinton, but even they know Mr. Obama is not the one to be in the Oval Office.
Come on America…THINK!
Oh, I almost forgot! His own VP choice doesn’t believe in him.
Recently in a Bible Class I was teaching someone came up to me after class and said, “You are a _________.” My reply was no, I am a Christian. We are a world full of labels. Some of the labels describe the group we belong to, the type of work we do. Some are considered positive, other are intended to demean and put down. Others describe our social and financial status.
Wouldn’t you love to be apart of a world where simply because of your faith in and commitment to Jesus that you would just be called a Christian. Sounds kind of New Testament doesn’t it?
The main thing that keeps us from being just Christians is that we have been branded; no, not with a hot iron, but with certain beliefs that make us unique. While we may argue that these beliefs are not a matter of salvation and that we can have fellowship with God and His Son with these differences, they still keep us apart. You know the “birds of a feather” thing. We don’t do things together because we worry who would get the credit, so we go our separate ways serving Him with those different adjectives that keep us apart.
Our definition of unity doesn’t help either. I have heard for years that unity means we all have to say exactly the same things in the same ways. Yet none of us have ever been able to do it. I don’t think this is what Jesus had in mind (John 17:21), or the Apostles either. The unity they spoke of was centered in a faith in Christ and it was already present. Our instruction was to preserve and protect it, not establish it. (Eph. 4:3). Judaizers were the big issue in the first century. What was challenging the unity that already existed was a difference of law and grace, the heart and core of what make one a Christian in the first place.
Division is so ingrained in those who wear the name Christian that individual religious groups separated by adjectives have their own groups separated by even more adjectives. I think that the only way we will ever be able to get rid of the adjectives is to focus on Jesus and not our adjectives. Can we all agree to worship Him, and love and accept each other? No more labels, pigeon holes, boxes…yes and no more adjectives.
I just want to be a Christian. If we could do that then the world would know that God sent Jesus and many of them could be just Christians too.
My good friend Jim Pounders recommended I read a sermon today that was based on Revelation Chapter Five. God is seated on the throne and in His hand is a scroll that has seven seals on it. The question is asked, “Who is worthy to open the seals?’ There was no one worthy. John, the writer of the vision, began to weep because no one was able to open the seals. Then one of the Elders tells John “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” Rev. 5:5. He is called the LION, you know, the King of the Jungle, able to rip his prey to pieces. The image of Aslin from the Chronicles of Narnia comes to mind. As John wipes away the tears and turns his attention to the Throne once again expecting no doubt to see this ferocious beast and there between the Throne and the four beasts standing among the Elders is a Lamb. Obvious wounds are visible for this Lamb had been a sacrifice.
But the sacrifice is alive again and not only worthy because of His death to open the seals, He is the object of worship from all of those around the throne. “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” Rev. 5:9, 10
The sermon writer asks, “How can a Lion be a Lamb”? “The two are opposites. One is the hunter and the other the prey. One is placed in a cage with iron bars; the other in a petting zoo. We have all heard of an oxymoron. It is where seemingly contradictory terms are combined. It is an oxymoron to talk about jumbo shrimp, fresh frozen food, or a holy war. We talk about a cool heat, or a deafening silence. A lion-like lamb is an oxymoron. The terms do not belong together — except in heaven. Here the lion is the lamb. His power was found in his death, because with his death he purchased the souls of people, and he was thereby made worthy to open the scroll.”
We look around today and it would appear that Christians are not winning the battle. Evil seems to reign and the future looks bleak. Some question, “Why doesn’t God intervene and stop all this sin”? We sometimes don’t know how to respond when God has the appearance of weakness. Our sermon writer continues,
“What about a God who appears to be weak? What if it looks like evil is winning and most people are on evil’s side? What if people who follow Christ are ridiculed and even persecuted? What if it becomes a disadvantage to be a Christian? What then? Then only the people who truly love God follow God and live for him. Only those who love God, for who he is, rather than what they can get out of him, dare to be called by his name. Only those who love the truth, regardless of how weak or irrelevant it is made to appear by the world, will follow the truth. It does not take courage to follow what everyone else believes and does, it takes courage to follow the truth when others do not understand and belittle what you believe. It takes courage to do the right thing even though you are punished for it at work or school. It takes courage to stand up for what is right when everyone else thinks you are wrong. These are the kind of people God wants for his followers. Anyone can take the easy road, and you don’t have to be much of a person to do it. But Jesus said we must, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it” (Matthew 7:13)”.
What we fail to recognize is that God IS in control regardless of appearances.
“Remember the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane? The guards came to get Jesus, armed with swords and clubs. Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of them, but Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:52-53). Jesus was completely in control, even though he allowed it to appear that others were in control of him, and even of history”.
Excerpts taken from Sermon Central and a sermon by: