Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sunday Sermon Notes 6.21.09

God is...Our Abba

When you think of God...what do you think of? Is God an idea to you? A distant figure? A being hard to figure out? Depending on how you answer this question, you'll reveal the kind of relationship you have with this God. So it's helpful to think about how Jesus describes God - when Jesus thought of God, what did he think of?

Jesus thought of God as his "abba" - the Aramaic word for Father or Dad (Jesus spoke in Aramaic - the local dialect, but the New Testament translated his teachings into the Greek language). The Lord's Prayer teaches us to pray to God as "our Father", or our Abba. Do you ever think of God as your Abba, as your Dad?

When Jesus thought of God as his Abba, what did that mean for him? There is a really interesting story that reveals quite a bit about their relationship. Remember when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, getting ready to be unjustly arrested and put through a unfair trial? As Jesus prepares for his betrayal by one of his disciples, he groans out this prayer:
"Abba, Father,” he said,
“everything is possible for you.
Take this cup from me.
Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Mark 14v36 [TNIV]

When Jesus thought of his Father, he thought of his Dad as one who was highly capable, of great ability, of infinite strength. Which is kind of like kids who think their dad can hit a home run every time they are up at the plate, or think they can pull a tree out of the ground, or always have an answer for the question "why?"

When Jesus thought of his Father, he thought of his Dad as one who have him tough assignments, who required difficult work, who put him through some hard experiences. Jesus respects his Dad, trusts his Dad, but he still doesn't like the task given to him by his Dad. Kind of like when our dad's force us to get up for school, or not quit the job, or pay for the damage to the car, or apologize to the neighbor for breaking their window.

When Jesus though of his Father, he thought of his Dad as one whom he would obey. Because he respected and trusted him, Jesus would take the next required step, even if he didn't want to, even if it felt impossible. Kind of like when we agree to the curfew our dad sets for us, when we agree to eat the asparagus and liver for dinner, when we agree to save some of our allowance instead of spending it on junk.

Jesus thought of his Dad as one who was highly capable, who had high expectations, and who expected to be obeyed. But Jesus also respected this Dad, trusted this Dad, clearly loved this Dad. And Jesus knew that his Dad loved him. And so it is for us: we have a Dad in Heaven who we can respect, trust, and love - and who loves us.

Clearly we view our Abba in Heaven through the lens of our abba on earth - our experiences with dad at home deeply shapes how we first think of Father God. Yet God the Father and Jesus the Son invite us to learn from and experience the Abba on his terms - and to let the resulting knowledge shape our perspective of our dad here on earth.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Whole Person in a Broken World - the Task of the Church: Part Deux

What accounts for the great ineffectiveness of so many churches and Christians? How can there be so much church-stuff and Christian-stuff, so many signs and sounds, and yet it seems that the world pays so little attention? How is it that the church and Christians so greatly misunderstand or misjudge the world?

Again, Dr. Paul Tournier has some interesting insights...well, at least I think so.

Have we not seen that the modern world is acting like a neurotic? Dr. Jung does not claim to be a Christian. But he sees, far better than many Christians, the true meaning of the anxiety of our time. I am always amazed to hear so many ministers complain of the religious indifference of our contemporaries. "How do you manage," they ask me, "to get those with whom you talk to interest themselves in religious problems?"

I have no answer to that question. I do not need to stir up any religious disquietude in my patients. I know that they are full of it already and far more consciously than they admit. If we look upon them as being indifferent, we are not establishing between them and us the climate in which they will disclose their real torment. Let us be the first to discern what modern man is seeking.

He is thirsting for God. "The aggrandized body is waiting for a supplementation of the soul...and mechanicalism requires a mysticism." The question is whether the religion which is now to be given to men is the true one. Otherwise they will go on inventing new religions which will inevitably break down one after another.

Everybody today is searching for an answer to those problems to which science pays no attention: the problem of their destiny, the mystery of evil, the question of death. I an not saying that the church of today is not answering these questions. The trouble is that the answers are being given in terms which our contemporaries no longer understand.

These people use a completely different language to express their personal and social difficulties, a concrete, direct kind of language which the church must adopt if it is to make itself understood. As the world was despiritualizing itself the church has been disincarnating, disembodying itself. Hence there is a tremendous misunderstanding, which undoubtedly is just as much the fault of the church as of the world. "The number of not find the answer in religion, who are searching in despair, is considerable...We cannot say that the church has dealt brilliantly with the problems which arose from the industrial revolution."

To be sure, if the world does not listen to the church, this is often because it does not want to listen to God, against whom it has rebelled. And yet the church justifies itself all too easily if it thinks that the fault lies only in the world and not in itself.
~ Paul Tournier, The Whole Person in a Broken World, pgs 148/149

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Whole Person in a Broken World - the Task of the Church

Less and less people in the United States participate in a church on any given Sunday. For some who gave church a chance, the experiences were less than helpful. For others who never gave the church a chance, they had pretty good reasons. So does the Church have a chance at being useful in our society? Can the Church be a force for good...or just juicy headlines? What is the task of the Church in our culture - in our lives?

Dr. Paul Tournier wrote these words in 1964 - from Europe, amidst some dark and dismal days for the church. Yet - and we'll see what you think - his words ring with hope.

It is my conviction that the church's hour has come. The church, instituted by God, the servant of God, must again become his instrument to effect the synthesis for which all men of our time are consciously or unconsciously yearning. And here I mean the church in the broadest sense, not only the clergy, not only the established churches, but all those who have been gripped by Jesus.
~145/146 of very different outlooks, doctors, lawyers, economists, scientists, writers, freethinkers, atheists, Jews, as well as Catholic and Protestant Christians are searching for something completely new. For something which is not simply a prolongation of the cultural development of the last several centuries, but which will rather interrupt the development. For something which is not so much on the order of scientific analysis but is more on the order of intuitive analysis; for something which no longer fragments man but rather restores his unity.
~ 147

I am convinced that we today, we Christians, must unite two things which are often opposed but which Christ joined together. On the one hand we must have a clear consciousness of our own unique vocation, our calling to make His voice heard, that voice which alone can provide a true answer to the questions of this tormented world.

But at the same time we must guard against making His divine person the subject of division between us and other men, against rejecting them under the pretext that they do not possess the truth which has been given to us. Without concealing anything of our faith, let us seek that which brings us closer to them, that common need for a spiritual renewal, even though they may put it in words different than ours.
~ 148

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday Sermon Notes 6.14.09

God is...One

Everybody has a belief about God. It can get pretty confusing trying to sort out what to believe about God.  With all the different religions, with different branches of Christianity, thousands of denominations, millions of churches...

But there are some core beliefs that Christians have about God, and one of them comes from our Jewish roots is central to our understanding of God.  It comes from a famous prayer, called the Shema: Hear O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

According to some Jewish theologians, there are three traditional points drawn out of this prayer: God is NOT none, God is NOT two, God is NOT many.  In believing that God is one, we believe that God does exist, that he has integrity - thus is not a god of good and a god of evil, and that God is not polytheistic  - there is only one of him and he has all the power often attributed/distributed to thousands of other little gods.

What we believe about God shapes our life. Often times our actions reveal what we actually believe about God. Saying we believe something about God is not quite the same as living out a belief about God. Which is why it is important to take moments to reflect on what you really do believe about God. If you want your life to be different, you may need to absorb some different beliefs about God - or fully absorb the right ones you have in your head, and get them into your heart and hands.

It's in this direction that Paul is going when he writes to the Christians in Ephesus, trying to help them make a connection between their belief in the One God and their actions towards God and neighbor.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
There is one body and one Spirit,
just as you were called to one hope
when you were called;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 4v1-6 [TNIV]
Our belief in the One God ought to bring about an integrity in our own lives and a unity with the lives of others. Just as we have to work at understanding our belief in One God and Father of All, so we have to work at integrity and unity. When we pour little effort into our integrity, when we dismiss the value of unity - we reveal what we believe about God.

Integrity isn't about convincing people that you have it all together, and unity isn't about pretending that everything is fine with you and someone else.
Integrity is being honest with yourself and God and others about who your really are - and about your work to become one person with yourself, God, and others. Unity is the social side of integrity - connecting to others as they really are - working in a spirit of justice and mercy.

Paul goes on to say that we are to "walk in the way of love." If we're going to believe that God is One, then integrity and unity are going to be central to our life, to our way of doing life, to our walk of love. If you are convicted over your lack of integrity, over your lack of unity, then confess it, repent, and seek out help to strengthen your belief in the One God, the One Lord, the One Spirit.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Times at Fair Oaks Farm

Jim and Naomi took our family over to Fair Oak Farms nearby Winamac Indiana. It's one of the largest dairy farms in the nation - over 30,000 cows! It's a neat place - alongside the working farm is a educational center of sorts, teaching in creative ways about how the farm works and promoting dairy products. Jim was a dairy farmer, and this means that Tara used to drink unpasturized milk, which she claims was very tasty. I don't know much about dairy farms, and neither do our kids, so we learned alot about milk.

Emma enjoyed learning where milk comes from. I'll bet this is about how happy Tara looked at six years old when she had to milk cows.

Jim teaching Isaac where vanilla milk comes from. Later on we'd look for the chocolate cows.

Emma getting ready to climb a big milk carton!

Go Emma Go!

We just got done watching a calf being born. Amazing. Kids are standing in front of a calf born in the morning.

Say Cheese!

Taking a bus tour, seeing where the cows are kept. A lot of cows. Thousands of cows!

Naomi, Emma, Tara, Eli taking a break. It was a sunny day!

By about four in the afternoon, Eli was exhausted. And so was his dad.

Boing Boing Boing!

A train ride was a highlight. This was the first of many times around the tracks.

Levi and Isaac taking their turn to climb the mammoth milk carton!

Keep climbing guys!

Isaac on a John Deere!

Say "Hey", Emma!

Here Eli, I'll hold your foot down on the accelerator while you steer like a maniac!

Keep going Levi!

Jim, Naomi and the grandkiddos!

We had fun!

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Healing of Persons - ...accept...everything

In my effort to understand - myself, my life, my wife, my children, my ministry, my family, my country, etc. I only get more frustrated. To understand...requires so much work, so much knowledge, so much intelligence. And time. And I don't want my effort to understand to take away from my time and energy to actually do life with those I love. But the yearning to understand is still there, in a deep way...

Once again Dr. Paul Tournier has some helpful words, some perspective for me. Here's a paragraph that I thought to be instructive.

Accepting suffering, bereavement, and disease does not mean taking pleasure in them, steeling oneself against them, or hoping that distractions or the passage of time will make us forget them. It means offering them to God so that he can make them bring forth fruit. One does not arrive at this through reasoning, nor is it to be understood through logic; it is the experience of the grace of God.

I had an old and dear friend, one of the men I have esteemed most highly. For some weeks his health had been deteriorating. It was on Christmas Day that the doctor who tended him asked me to go with him on what must be his last visit.

The patient could speak only with difficulty. Medicine could afford little relief; we concentrated on surrounding the sick man with our affection. I was left alone with him for a moment. He spoke painfully to me: "There's something I don't understand..." He did not succeed in saying what it was he did not understand. This struck me particularly in a man who all his life had been devoted to intellectual clarity. Faith had always had the last word with him, but it was allied to a most lively intelligence. One felt that he was still troubled by whatever it was he did not understand. But he was too weak now to put his problem into words. And I realized that it would have been useless to ask him any questions, or to start a discussion.

After a moment's silence, I bent over him and said quietly: "You know that the most important thing itn the world is not to understand, but to accept." With a happy smile he stammered: "Yes... it's true... I do accept... everything." It was almost the last thing he said. After my visit he fell asleep. During the night he suddenly awoke, sat up, and said aloud: "I am going to heaven," and died.

~ Paul Tournier, The Healing of Persons, p155

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Why U2 is the greatest rock band in the world

Reason number one: Bono's real name is Paul, and my name is Timothy

Reason number two: Hewson and Hallman 
- last name starts with "H" and ends with "n"'s something... right?

Reason number three: my wife's name is of Irish origins (Tara means "king")

Reason number four: the four guys have been together since 1976. and they're still friends.

Reason number five: the themes they sing about are connected with the biggest themes of life - some of it playful, some of it serious, some of it probing.

Reason number six: their name, U2, is brilliant for it's simplicity and it's layers of meaning

Reason number seven: U2 is a bunch of rebels....against the typical, predictable rock-n-roll scene

Reason number eight: they have an intriguing way of infusing Christian themes into their art and life.

Reason number nine: inspiring songs like...
* Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
* 40
* Magnificent
* Beautiful Day
* Mysterious Ways
* Pride
* Where the Streets Have No Name
* Wake Up Dead Man
* All Along The Watchtower.

Reason number ten: because that's just what I think.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sunday Sermon Notes 6.07.09

God is... Magnificent!

At Anchor we've started off June by joining in the OnePrayer series - over 1,600 churches around the world!  OnePrayer is a movement of churches coming together to serve, share and give as part of the Church.  Anchor is all about that!

Last year for the preaching themes, we prayed: God, make us...
This year, the preaching theme centers on: God is...

One of the ways that the OnePrayer series connects churches is through video-sermons.  Preachers from all over the world videorecord a sermon and submit it to the website.  Then other churches can download it and show a video-sermon of a preacher from some other part of the nation or world.  Cool idea.  We did three of them last year, and it went over okay.  The upside is that it's a neat way to connect the congregation to other good teachers.  The downside is that the preacher goes on for more than thirty minutes on the video - you've got to be really really, really good to do that.  Unfortunately the ones I previewed for this year didn't pass the test.  Maybe we'll find some that do, yet.

The first sermon was inspired by U2's masterpiece Magnificent.  Haven't heard it yet? Check it out at YouTube.  Great song about worship - about how a husband and wife want their life together to be one of worship of The Magnificent.  The song inspired me...and it prompted me to develop a sermon about God being The Magnificent.

The obvious text was Mary's Song - traditionally titled the Magnificant (because in Latin the first word is magnificant).  Interestingly, Psalm 34, in my opinion, is a foundational song for what Mary created.  I read through both songs for clues for why David and Mary magnified the LORD.  

Here's my summary: 
God is...Magnificent because he is 
Beauty-Full, Strength-Full, Mercy-Full, and Remember-Full.

God is Magnificent when he is Beauty-Full.  What are the times when you walk outside into Creation and gasp - when you sigh in relief, when you stare in wonder, when you soak up the sunrise or sunset -and then you breath out a prayer of praise and thanks to God?  It's in moments when we notice the world saturated in magnificent beauty that we see the magnificence of God.  

Sure enough it is easy to see what is ugly and defiled in the world.  Rivers polluted and forests hacked, mountains stripped and fields gouged.  It's easy to see what's wrong in the world, to miss the beauty because of what's been battered.  And yet what is most beautiful in the world is not seen in Creation alone, but within each Human.  God made us Imago Dei - in his image. We are made in is magnificent image - to look into the eyes of another man or woman is to look upon beauty-fullness.  Except that most women and men I know refuse to look in the mirror and see beauty.  They keep choosing to see what is wrong.  But if we are crafted in Imago Dei, then we have the option of seeing in ourselves and one another The Magnificent.

God is...Magnificent when he is Strength-full, Mighty-Full, when he is Capable.  When God comes through, when he helps us turn a corner, nail down a victory, start again, push through to the other side - then we praise God, thank him, and magnify Him.  How many times have you needed help from the outside - when you were too tired or confused to do the next right thing.  And so God comes to you - in the guise of a friend or stranger - and makes possible a new way forward.  When we go over these moments, we see the magnificence of God - we don't deserve those miracles, and we can't barter for them - they are gifts that God loves to give.

Scriptures repeatedly refer to the power of a seed as a picture for the power of God.  Take whatever seed you want - a peach core, a wheat grain, a mustard seed.  There is latent power and capability in that tiny little pod.  It gets put in the ground, it gets watered, it gets fueled, and then out if sprouts a seedling, and then it stretches high, it bends with the wind, and then it increases in firmness and height and it's leaves soak up sunshine; some power is at work bringing out of that seed something that is new and yet natural.  And at the right time a harvest is made possible - all from that little seed.  And so God's power is at work in you - you are the seed, your deeds are the seeds, your attitude and choices are seeds from which God will take and plant and fuel and bring forth from it more than we could possibly imagine or hope for.  

God is Magnificent when he is Mercy-Full.  When God gives you a break, when he helps you let go of your sins, when he helps you replace despair with hope, when he helps you yank out the root of bitterness and fill the space with shalom - that is worth uttering prayers of praise.  When God brings people into your life who forgive you, who make amends to you, who guide you into freedom from past guilt and shame, when you find opportunities to give mercy - when we think about it - that's a beautiful moment to magnify the Lord.  God is merciful to us, and we best value that mercy when we give out mercy to others in response.  To those who see this at work in their homes and schools, in churches and workplaces - it's magnificent!

God is...Magnificent because he is Remember-full.  God never forgets us, never abandons us, never leaves us alone.  God is loyal, he is faithful, he is persevering, he is patient, he endures.  God thinks of you - a citizen of the world he created and loves - and continues to work to help you receive mercy and give it.  He remembers you - and for those of you who have chosen to follow the way of Jesus - he remembers your sins no more.  When he remembers you - and he does it very often - he does not remember someone who is a failure, prone to mistakes, a flop - he remembers you as one made in his Imago Dei - every deed and word a seed for his work as the Great Farmer!

When God thinks of you, he thinks of you as you are according to his reality, his perspective on the world.  He remembers you according to his great mercy and might - he seeks to redeem and restore all people - his interest is not in reminding you of your sins, but of reminding you of his gifts of grace and new opportunities.  When God thinks of you, he is interested in helping you work through the consequences of your actions, which are seeds for him to do a new thing.  How magnificent is that?

Psalm 34 has become a central song for me - in where I am at in my journey.  Maybe it can be for you also - a song inspired by a Magnificent God at work in his Magnificent World.

Monday, June 01, 2009

U2 & Letterman - a Top Ten that is actually funny

Tara and I used to watch Letterman's Top Ten all the time when the boys were babies - their feeding time was right around 11:30pm.  About eight out of ten times the Top Ten wasn't that funny.  Maybe four out of ten of the actual Top Ten items was funny, and the Number One was almost never funny.

Anyway, I didn't see any of the shows when Letterman hosted U2 for a week.  I'm sorry I missed it.  So lucky for me I found some clips of when they were on CBS.  Here's the link to U2 doing the countdown of the Top Ten with too-tall Dave. I laughed at nine out of the ten items.  The comment about cheese wasn't that funny.

Sunday Sermon Notes 5.31.09

Happy Pentecost Sunday!

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.    Acts 2v1-4

Happy Baptism Sunday!

When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."  Luke 3v21-22

This is a pretty special Sunday - the weaving together of the two themes of water and fire, of baptism and Spirit.  Pentecost Sunday reminds of the day when the Spirit of God descended upon each believer in the Upper Room - it felt like a thunderous wind blew through depositing flickers of light upon each of the Jesus followers praying in the room.  Pentecost was the fiftieth day (seven weeks plus one day) from Passover.  It is a Jewish harvest holiday.  And God used that holy day to spread his presence throughout the world by putting his Spirit-crop into all who would receive it.

Pentecost Sunday has become a traditional day of baptism, thus it is often referred to as Whitsunday, or White Sunday - since it is common for those who get baptized to wear a white robe as they enter the water.  Baptism on Pentecost - a beautiful mix of metaphors.  For Christians who have been baptized and received the Holy Spirit, they have a fascinating story to share - a story of water and fire.

The water of baptism carries layers of meaning: to be immersed in the water is to have your sins washed away, it is to be buried and then to be raised up born again, it is to be initiated into the community of Jesus followers, it is to have a new beginning.  The fire of Pentecost carries with it also multiple meanings: the flame makes you the light of the world, it's a lamp unto your feet, it is a blaze that consumes your impurities, it's a furnace that unthaws cold hearts, it's a fire that reminds us that God can bring good out of everything.

For those of us with these metaphors as part of our story, we know that being immersed in water, we know that letting the Spirit be at home in us, doesn't guarantee a problem free life. We know that having our sins washed away doesn't keep us from sinning again.  We know that having the Spirit guide us doesn't mean that we'll never stray again.  But we come to believe that the Same Spirit which prompted us to be baptized and welcome him is the Same Spirit that will sustain us on the long journey we call life.

We need more people to share their story of water and fire, their honest account of their life leading up to baptism, their life following baptism, their life before the Spirit, their life with the Spirit.  We're not looking for cute, inspiring, fairy-tale stories of faith.  We're yearning to be reminded that if the Spirit perseveres with you and your real-life journey, then maybe the Spirit will endure with me.

Part of my story of water and fire, of my starting again and of letting God bring good out of everything centers on the death of my brother Matt.  I know that many people go through far worse tragedies than what our family endured, but that doesn't lessen the pain in the moment. And in the moments and days following his death, I found my faith faltering, my anger raging, and my bitterness sending down deep roots.  When my youngest brother had died just before his fourteenth birthday in 1994, as sad and terrible as that loss was for our family, I/we kind of thought that we were immune from that kind of sadness in the future.  

So when Matt gets killed by a drunk driver at age twenty-three, just after Christmas 2001, the immunity was gone.  Now anything could happen.  A trip to the grocery store was accompanied by thoughts of possibly never coming home alive.  It became a constant companion - fear and anxiety about another sudden death.  And the God I had been believing in became a very confusing person.  I was not able to wrap my mind around the "reasons" for this tragedy.  I could not figure out why God let this happen - to us.

I began to feel my faith slipping away.  Here I am, a pastor, and I'm going to need to show up on Sunday with a message from a Lord that I'm really, really, really confused about, angry at, and deeply frustrated.  What am I going to do?  Out of integrity, I should quit.  But I need a job to feed my family - so don't quit.  At least not yet.  Where will I find resolution for my despairing faith?  I took several steps, one being that I decided to go back to school. I needed time to study/read/think/learn from others who had gone before me - brilliant thinkers and intelligent writers, honest believers and authentic followers - to help me build a new faith. 

Here I was, an adult, a pastor, a family man, and I needed to decide whether I was going to believe in Jesus or not.  At age four I had asked Jesus into my heart.  At age ten I had received forgiveness of my sins.  At age sixteen I accepted the call to become a pastor.  And now at age thirtysomething, I'm having to decide as an adult, not a kid, not a teen, whether I want to be a Christian or not.  I was baptized at age twelve - was I willing now almost two decades later, to let God give me a new start again?  At some point in my life the Spirit had come into my life - and now as an adult with fear and worry and despair and sadness attached to my soul - was I willing to let God's Spirit take me as I am?

I had gotten in the habit of trying to stop being afraid or worrying so that I could be a better Christian, a better person, etc.  But that tactic was only bringing frustration.  So then it seemed like the Spirit was prompting me to turn the fear and worry, the despair and sadness over to him, let him influence it's affect on my life.  And so that is what I've been trying to do.  On this side of that decision, it has proven to be the better tactic.

And so for you - and your story of water and fire - the things in your life that you want to be different - or the good in your life that you are trying to hang onto/milk for all it's worth - give it over to God.  Let him take what is good and not good in your life - and let him find ways of bringing more good out of it.  God doesn't need you or me to be problem free, to be worry free, to be sin free - he just needs you and me.  When we hand the stuff in our life over to his Spirit, we give the Spirit more to work with.  And when the Spirit has more to work with, the effect of the Spirit gets stronger and stronger.

Give the Spirit more to work with: keep turning your life, your relationships, your hopes, your failures, your frustrations, your job, your finances, your sins, your mistakes, your talents, your problems, your opportunities - keep giving it over to the Spirit.  How?  First you got to want to do it.  If you really want to do it, the Spirit will help you do it.

People need to hear your story of water and fire, of new beginnings and inspiring opportunities for good.  Turn more and more of your life over to His Spirit, give the Spirit more to work with, and be willing to share your story

Sunday Sermon Notes 5.24.09

Be The Anchor!

“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

Luke 11v13 [TNIV]

Be the Anchor: Go in the Same Spirit

You want to be strong for someone? You want to give/be hope for another? Then be the Anchor.
You need someone to be strong for you - to pour strength and hope into you? Find an Anchor.

The past bunch of weeks we've been exploring ways to be an Anchor, and to let Jesus be our Anchor. This message wraps up this series with this final thought: the Same Spirit that made Jesus an Anchor in his day is the Same Spirit that can make us an Anchor in our day.

Wherever we go in life, as a follower of Jesus, God wants us to go in the Same Spirit which he placed upon/within Jesus. And when you think about how hard it can be at times to do/say/think/go the way of Jesus in everyday life, the need for that Same Spirit becomes obvious. Jesus tries to make it clear: when you ask for the Same Spirit, God will be glad to give it. It's almost as if the whole point of the Lord's Prayer is to direct us toward the need and availability of the Same Spirit.

When you need the right word to say...or the strength to keep your mouth shut so you don't say the wrong thing; when you need inspiration to get up and do the right thing...or a prick of the conscience to avoid doing the wrong deed. When you need direction, revelation, reminders - the Same Spirit that shaped the way of Jesus will shape your way. Everyday.

A lot of Christians don't know much about the Holy Spirit, the Same Spirit that was at work in the days of David and Daniel and the Disciples. The Apostle John spends some time teaching about the Spirit, but Luke spends lots of words telling stories about what Jesus did through the Spirit.

The invitation to you and I is to want the Same Spirit to go with us into every conversation, every scenario, every dark place, every interesting opportunity. This Same Spirit makes good possible in an enduring and redemptive way. This Same Spirit, if you want Him, gives energy and insight, inspiration and direction for furthering God's work in you and through you. Who wouldn't want that?