Friday, September 29, 2006

Gospel Liturgy

Many of you know Matthew, Mark, and Luke have a lot in common. This is why the three are referred to as the synoptic Gospels because they generally follow the same literary outline. But, even the Gospel of John, very different as it stands in comparison to the other three, places John the Baptist’s ministry at the beginning as fundamental to the whole glorious story of Jesus the Messiah coming to save his people. We cannot possibly begin to understand Jesus Christ and His mission for the world, and what He has accomplished for the world through His life, death, and resurrection until we begin to wrap our minds around John and what he was doing out in the desert next to the Jordan.

John the Baptist no doubt was a radical in first century Judea, and his ministry was challenging all the different strands of Judaism of his day. Without any authorization from the authorities of his day, other than God the one who proclaimed that one would go before Him to prepare the way for His coming, John was beginning a New Exodus by leading the way for many to pass through water so that they may be forgiven of their sins and prepared for the one who would come after him.

All four gospels begin with John, and all four gospels end with Jesus. All four end with the Resurrected Lord of the universe surrounded by His disciples adoring him. We have come this day to surround the Lord’s Table and feast on Him that we may receive His life and be changed. But, we cannot possibly understand that meal and receive its blessing unless we begin at the beginning with the message John brought forth. Repent! For the kingdom of Heaven is at hand! The one who was to come after me has come and died and he lives forever more. Turn from your wicked ways, confess your sins, and receive the Holy Spirit!

Let us confess our sins together.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Lord of the flies

At work we have two large doors, like garage doors. We slide them open to let sunlight and fresh air in. It’s another thing to be thankful for.

Burning silicone smells like dead fish, and the stench that can be generated by seven men working in one place is enough reason to be thankful for the fresh air. And there’s something about the sun illuminating the path before you, and a cool breeze on your back, to make you feel like a kid again: carelessly enjoying the play God has created you for.

Moments later I look over at one of my co-workers spinning around like my son discovering the wonder of dizzy. This is not because he is enjoying his time. Rather, little specks of darkness have floated in with the light, sunny breeze. I would laugh at my round, fuzzy, frustrated friend, but all the while I am smacking my wrist, swinging at the air in front of me, and attempting a 180-degree elbow-punch hoping to send one of twenty different flies to its grave.

As I go back to my work with one eye on the fly to my right and my heal kicking back into the air hoping it will somehow let the flies on my calf know that, “This is your last warning, damn it!” I begin to wonder why God has created flies. They annoy everyone. But they don’t annoy God. He created them and called them good. I imagine from God’s perspective, watching us bat at the air with unheard of karate moves is paralleled with the humor of watching Napoleon Dynamite’s Kip learn Rex-Kwon-Do.

I am reminded that God is hilarious. He has the greatest sense of humor. It must make him laugh watching the pinnacle of His creation get in touch with the lower parts and become more like Him.

After a long week of work (and according to my calculations) the most fly kills at MEI (that’s where I work), I am ready for the Sabbath. As I sit, stand, stand and sit to hear the Word, pray the Word, sing the Word, and eat the Word, I am ushered into the presence of the living God with His angels and saints before Him doing what we have been created and redeemed to do: worship the Triune God. While I am basking in the glory of it all, my one-year-old son sleeps across my lap, but his sleep is haunted by the presence of nothing else but a plump, juicy fly who’s decided to use my son’s forehead as a launching pad. My arms are pinned by all 22 pounds of my son, but with my fingers I do my best to swipe them away. Soon after I notice one come back with two others to puke upon my head and pant leg! At this point I had to free one of my arms out from under my son’s little head. “It’s on, you bastards!” I start swinging, with my one free hand while mindful of the reverent worshipers behind me and my sleeping son upon me. While I was swatting the flies away from me I began to notice the young lady to my left and I were playing ping-pong with 3 or 4 flies. I stopped and put my arm-like pillow back under my son’s head figuring the flies are there because of my aroma and not the women’s.

As I begin to feel better because of the self-sacrificial act I committed I noticed that two flies had conjugated on the top of my knee so close that the four little feelers before them were swapping spit as I was attempting to sing the 34th Psalm.

Instead of thinking about the application of imprecatory prayers (believe me that would come later) I was asking myself, “Why is God making me go through this right now?” As I stand in His presence in the Holy of Holies I’m swatting flies, and missing.

Then I was reminded that a table was set before me and a meal was about to be served. Flies love our food and this day was no exception. The meal I was about to eat with all the other saints around the world had flies wanting to get a piece of the action as well. This meal is like no other meal. As long as we eat it we confess the Lord’s death until he comes.

I was also reminded that flies love sweat and blood. Christ could have killed all the flies that landed upon him while on the cross but that means he would’ve had to come down. With that in mind I thanked God for the Great High Priest before Him, who is able to sympathize with all my trials and temptations, even flies.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Effeminate Fall '06

No need to spend $500 dollars on these outfits. Prance into fall by ransacking your 12 yr. old sister's jean drawer! Any top will do...heck, while your in your sister's closet, find something there.


"The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
which shines brighter and brighter
until full day."

What a beautiful picture of the path Christ has set His disciples on. He has sent forth His Spirit into our lives joning us to Himself, giving us all his righteousness, and continually making that righteousness a reality in our everyday lives until the day there will be no sun, but only the light of the glory of God filling the new heavens and new earth.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Micah 5, The Total Christ

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, Who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, Whose origin is from of old, From ancient of days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; Then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.
And he shall be their peace...Then the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which delay not for a man nor wait for the children of man. And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, which, when it goes through, treads down and tears in pieces, and there is none to deliver.
Your hand shall be lifted up over your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off.

This chapter is such a wonderful example of how God works to further His kingdom. The Church at this time was obviously in a very prideful and therefore sinful state (see ch.1). And we all know what God does when the Church is acting like this; she gets smacked across the face by a rod.
He brings forth judgment to purge her from sin (v.1, 10-15) and discipline to make her more beautiful for the sake of world (v.4, 7-9).
The nations which rage against God are here used by God to humble His people (ch.4:11-13, 5:1), a slap across the face! Certainly in times like these, when the Church is seen to be a mockery in the midst of the people, our reaction is far too often bewilderment and hopelessness. But the prophet shows that the faithful ought never to be in such circumstances.
God always works through death and resurrection. The prophet reminds them of the humble circumstance from where God has brought forth for them the promise of salvation, His eternal kingdom in which they will be a part of.
His people were at the brink of disaster with the Philistine army before them and a faithless king leading them (I Sam.). Yet, out of this seemingly hopeless state God brought forth a man, a king in fact who was a Shepard boy (v.2, 4). Not only was he from the most humble of places, Bethlehem (v.2), but David was in the humblest of circumstances. He was the youngest brother left out in the fields to tend to the sheep while the nation was at war. Man had not asked him to lead them in fight but rather to serve them bread. Does this sound familiar? David came to feed his brothers but he ended up fighting for his brothers, laying down his life (true bread), which resulted in conquering the enemies of God and him becoming king (death and resurrection).
By saying that a ruler will come from Bethlehem (v.2), God is reminding the people of His promise of salvation through the line of David (origin from old, ancient). We are also told here that this is God’s eternal plan. Therefore, we know that He is speaking of His Son, Jesus Christ the Son of David (the eternal word, who is also the son of David).
Like David, Jesus is from Bethlehem, the city of David, and he will come forth to rule over them "in the majesty of the name of the LORD". But unlike any other king, Jesus like David, is a gentle Shepard who brings forth peace and security for His sheep by conquering all the beasts so that he may lead them to still waters (v.4-5).
A very important point we must take note of is found in verses 5-9. Yes, the king has come and therefore his kingdom with him, but this kingdom is surrounded by beasts and enemies which need to be conquered. When Jesus’ ministry began his kingdom was at hand, and through his death and resurrection (and ascension) it was inaugurated, but it’s still yet to come in its fullness.
In these verses we see how this is to be done. Christ crushes the head of the serpent under the foot of the Church (v.3 His brothers coming forth, v.5 seven Shepard’s with him, v.7-8 the remnant of Jacob). In doing this God spreads his grace through the Church like dew over the grass of the fields, like rain on a dry and weary land replenishing it, that it may bear good fruit (amazing peace through destruction of evil). We also see the Church is like a roaring lion conquering all the beasts throughout the land.
As God’s people we will go through many difficult times. But, we must remember that this is a part of God’s work in bringing forth His kingdom. We share with Christ the responsibility of bringing the kingdom of God to bear on earth as in heaven. Wow, what an exciting mission! The trials, as we must remember, are for the purpose of making the faithful more like the Shepard King, more like the one from Bethlehem, the one who was born in a manger, the one who took on our flesh, the one who became a servant, the one who died on a cross and now reigns over all. We are called to bring forth the glory of the King like dew and rain on the grass of all nations, in the midst of many people. Our message through our lives needs to be a breath of fresh air. When people see the Church, (first step being we need to be seen) our families, and all that comes from us, they need to be refreshed by our fruit. This comes from the preaching and the living out of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When this is done faithfully the Church will stand in the midst of the entire world like a mighty lion that has conquered all!

Friday, September 15, 2006

I'm wondering what combination of ingredients could be as good together as white flour, butter, sugar, and chocolate? I'm welcoming ideas.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


God in creation, in His Word and Gospel, presents Himself as something to be desired. Everything about Him is beautiful, maybe too beautiful. Maybe this is the reason why we turn from Him because we cannot handle the beauty he presents to us in His creation and gospel. But the truth is we cannot see this beauty and we don’t worship in the beauty of His holiness because of our lack of faith. We hear these wonderful promises given to us that we would live forever in the presence of the creator God in His New and Perfect Creation but we don’t believe it. We don’t believe that such a wonderful gift would be given to us sinful rebels and that we can begin to experience this eternal life today. If we did believe we would see His beauty in new and fresh ways daily, and our lives and worship would be greatly affected by this beauty, and the world would be changed. He is the infinite God who spoke all things into existence and is recreating all things through that same Word. He possesses so much goodness, beauty, life, and truth and these things have been poured out into His Son Jesus our Lord in whom he calls us to believe in. Through faith all that is Christ’s becomes ours. This includes the grace, beauty, life, and truth of God. God raises his voice and cries out to us daily saying, “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? If you would just turn at my reproof I would pour out my Spirit upon you I would adorn your head with a graceful garland and pendants for your neck”.
So now as we seek to enter into his presence and worship Him in the beauty of His holiness, let us turn to Him and pray that He would forgive us for our lack of faith in His precious Son in whom He loves, and that he would open up our hearts, by the power of His spirit, to receive His wisdom, so that we may go forth this day seeking after it like a treasure, and that we may give this treasure to the world that she may be redeemed and beautified in the holiness of God.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

coffee shop

The older man – deaf and dumb,
Hat pulled down low, slightly and awkwardly
It covers his face.
He sits in his chair – low and limp.
His eyes break from the frothy-filled in-house cup as he glances at the man sharing his table.

He doesn’t notice my gaze.

The coffee shop filled with treats has become stuffy with students marching in and out of it.
They eat and drink,
And talk about everything,
From the 15 different things they are planning on doing this weekend to how they wish they had read this or that book,
Yet, it remains quiet enough to hear the old man bark and see his friend give him a hand.
Handing out words with symbols.
Handing out love with words.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Receive the Word

God has spoken this day into existence like every other day, and He has called you into this place, where you are surrounded by those who have been created in His image to hear his Word spoken again. This is the same Word that was heard by all of creation when he spoke it into existence and called it good. This is the same Word that called down the rain from the heavens to flood the earth so that it may be destroyed and turned into something new and good. This is the same Word that called Abram out from the land of Ur of the Chaldeens that he may be given a new name, Abraham, a father of many nations, the father of the faithful. This Word was spoken and written down at the top of Mount Sinai so that the people of God may have a light to lead them in this dark and fallen world and that they may be a light for the nations. This is the same Word that brought the curses of the covenant upon that nation for not loving God, trusting God, and ultimately for not believing God’s Word to them: that he was their Father, a mighty warrior, a faithful husband who loved them with all of His heart, soul, strength and mind. This is the same Word which promised his people that he would send forth a king to crush their enemies, vindicate them over the beasts, and establish them as a kingdom which would last for an eternity. This Word was with God in the beginning, and this Word is God! This is the same Word at the beginning of time which went forth from the mouth of God declaring, “Let there be Light,” and darkness fled. This Word was spoken again after darkness had crept back into God’s glorious creation and the hearts of man, “Let there be Light”. This Word and Light is not some abstract principle of logic and reason, rather it is a person, the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, who became flesh to live, die, and rise again for the salvation of the world. This is the very same Word which is spoken to you today to bring forth salvation and fresh blessings to your life, that you may be shaped by it and renewed. Jesus Christ is not waiting for you to figure him out and follow him. Today is the day of salvation, believe in him, submit to Him, and follow him today!