Monday, November 26, 2012

Christ the KING

Pentecost +26b November 25, 2012
John 18:33-37 -- Christ the King

Over the last month and a half we have looked at the book of Hebrews.
      Hebrews calls us to live a life that is TESTIFIED : HOLY
      Hebrews reminds us we can daily have a SHARP : CONFIDENCE
      Hebrews reiterates our ability to have a GREATER : CONSCIENCE
      Hebrews confirms us our SACRIFICED : SALVATION
      Hebrews wants us to have an ENCOURAGED : FAITH

This morning - we're not in Hebrews.
This morning we're looking at John 18:33-37
Today is Christ the King Sunday.

Today is also the last Sunday of the Church calendar.
Next week starts Advent -- awaiting the dawn
      preparing for the coming of Christ.

Yet today, historically in the church we look at Christ the King.
Historically we pause and reflect upon what it means for Christ to be King

Next week we HOPE for the coming Messiah.
      But today we engage the King.

John 18:33-37 NLT
Then Pilate went back into his headquarters and called for Jesus to be brought to him.
Are you the king of the Jews? he asked him.
Jesus replied,  Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me? Am I a Jew? Pilate retorted. Your own people and their leading priests brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you done? Jesus answered,  My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world. Pilate said, So you are a king? Jesus responded,  You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.

King of the Hill
When I was a child I played King of the Hill every year at summer camp

King of the Hill - we played on a large rock.
      big enough to stand on,
      we could have 6 kids standing still upon it.
      But the goal was to be the only kid standing upon it.

      One would rise to the top - declare themselves KING
      And the others would rush to push the king off his pedistal and claim the thrown.

      It was a game of pushing, climbing, taking shots.

Interesting thing about playing King of the Hill:
      Once on Top -- you don't want to fall down.
      Once on Top -- Its easy to stay on top...

It is hard to get to be on top and be King of the Hill
      But once there - It's easy to stay on top.

King of the Hill has many practical expressions.
      The "rat race"
      The "political race"

Everyone wants to be on Top - and those on Top will do anything to stay there.
      Those on Top will do anything - push, kick, plant their feet...

Political Statement
Pilate didn't care about Jesus religious claims.

The ruling authority didn't care whether Jesus was a good teacher.
The political power house was religiously tolerant
      - just as long as everyone claimed Caesar as LORD.
      - just as long as everyone fell within their political place.

I began to think of this idea of Jesus as King

A King will do anything to ensure he's secure.
A King will do anything to retain their thrown.
A Kingdom will do anything to maintain power.

So this very statement: Are you a King
      Is really said out of fear.

The last two Presidential campaigns highlighted a new artistic style:

I even saw some which seemed to have been done out of fear.

But I wonder, what thoughts or emotions does the same political statement raise within you?

Does Jesus as King sound weird?
Does Jesus as Lord?
How about Jesus as Chief?
Or Jesus as President?
What are your thoughts upon seeing this political image?

When I showed this picture to a few - they raised their eyebrow at "dictator"

Can Jesus really be a dictator?
      is there a definition of "dictator" which is in the positive?

What does it mean for Jesus to be KING?
Does it mean the same thing for him to be President?
Doest it mean the same thing to be LORD, Chief, Dictator?

Pilate didn't care about his "religious" aspirations.
The Roman Empire simply needed to squelch any political aspirations.

And they thought they were doing that.

Upside Down Kingdom
For years I've enjoyed this title: "UPSIDE DOWN KINGDOM"

Jesus' kingdom is so contrary to our system and beliefs it's upside down.
      It's backwards
      It doesn't make sense.

In all reality - the Kingdom of God isn't upside down!
      WE ARE!
We are upside down.
We are backwards.
Our world which we so violently cling to - is the confused, different, dangerous kingdom.

Our society with all of its different governments and kingdoms
      Does everything it can to maintain power.

But we know Christ the King.

Our King does not flaunt his wealth
Our king does not oppress the poor.
Our King is not arrogant, power hungry,

Our KING, Christ the King -- is the Humble King:
He is the God of the broken
The friend of the weak
He washes the feet of the weary
Embraces the ones in need
And I want to be like You Jesus
To have this heart in me
You are the God of the humble
You are the humble King

You are the God of the humble
You are the humble King

Who is this King?
Of the coming King Daniel has this to say (in chapter 7:13-14)
In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man,coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Christ the King was given authority.
Christ was given glory
Christ was given sovereign power
Christ's dominion is everlasting
Christ's kingdom will not pass away
His kingdom will never be destroyed.

Who is this king?

The late S.M. Lockridge says it beautifully in "That's My King"
The Bible says my King is the King of the Jews.
Hes the King of Israel.
Hes the King of Righteousness.
Hes the King of the Ages.
Hes the King of Heaven.
Hes the King of Glory.
Hes the King of kings, and Hes the Lord of lords.
Thats my King.

I wonder, do you know Him?

My King is a sovereign King.
No means of measure can define His limitless love.
Hes enduringly strong.
Hes entirely sincere.
Hes eternally steadfast.
Hes immortally graceful.
Hes imperially powerful.
Hes impartially merciful.

Do you know Him?

Hes the greatest phenomenon that has ever crossed the horizon of this world.
Hes Gods Son.
Hes the sinners Saviour.
Hes the centerpiece of civilization.
Hes unparalleled.
Hes unprecedented.
He is the loftiest idea in literature.
Hes the highest personality in philosophy.
Hes the fundamental doctrine of true theology.
Hes the only one qualified to be an all sufficient Saviour.

I wonder if you know Him today?

He supplies strength for the weak.
Hes available for the tempted and the tried.
He sympathizes and He saves.
He strengthens and sustains.
He guards and He guides.
He heals the sick.
He cleansed the lepers.
He forgives sinners.
He discharges debtors.
He delivers the captive.
He defends the feeble.
He blesses the young.
He serves the unfortunate.
He regards the aged.
He rewards the diligent.
And He beautifies the meek.

I wonder if you know Him?

Hes the key to knowledge.
Hes the wellspring of wisdom.
Hes the doorway of deliverance.
Hes the pathway of peace.
Hes the roadway of righteousness.
Hes the highway of holiness.
Hes the gateway of glory.

Do you know Him? Well

His life is matchless.
His goodness is limitless.
His mercy is everlasting.
His love never changes.
His Word is enough.
His grace is sufficient.
His reign is righteous.
And His yoke is easy.

And His burden is light.

I wish I could describe Him to you. Yes

Hes indescribable!
Hes incomprehensible.
Hes invincible.
Hes irresistible.
You cant get Him out of your mind.
You cant get Him off of your hand.
You cant outlive Him, and you cant live without Him.
Well, the Pharisees couldnt stand Him, but they found out they couldnt stop Him.
Pilate couldnt find any fault in Him.
Herod couldnt kill Him.
Death couldnt handle Him, and the grave couldnt hold Him.

Yeah! Thats my King, thats my King.


Is this your king?
Is Christ your KING?

This morning:
      Is Jesus your King?
      Is Jesus your Chief?
      Have you allowed Jesus to be your Lord?
      Is Jesus your President or your Dictator?
The questions is simply this:
      Have you given all authority over to HIM?

Christ wants to rule your life.
      not in some scary dictatorship
      But in a relationship where you can know true life.

The question this morning simply is:
Have you given him power and authority?
      Do you proclaim him as CHRIST THE KING?

This morning I invite you, as Colossians 2:6-7 says:
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.  Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6, 7 NLT)

This morning:
I invite you to accept Christ Jesus as your Lord.
Let your roots grow down into him.
Let your lives be built on him.
Allow him to rule over your life.
Permit the one - who's kingdom is not of this world
      to step into power - and transform everything!

As you go, receive this benediction:
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.  Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
As you go; be bold in your political associations - of Christ as King
Go and Love!

Monday, October 15, 2012


Pentecost +20b October 14, 2012
Hebrews 4:12-16 -- Sharp : Confidence

Last week we at Beach Cities Christian Fellowship we began a journey in Hebrews.
We talked about the path of suffering, forgiveness and holiness that the great Pioneer of our Salvation blazed;
Hebrews reminds us to be = Testified : Holy

Who is Jesus?
Jesus is God's Son
Jesus was appointed the heir of all things
It's through Jesus that God created the world
Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God
Jesus upholds the universe by the word of his power
Jesus is the purification for sins
Jesus sits at the right hand of the God Almighty

As we looked at Hebrews 2, we discussed our need to be Holy as God is Holy.
Through your comfort,
Through your forgiveness,
Through your experience with the pioneer of our perfect salvation...
May you, being rooted in Christ's Love, comfort others!
May you - be Holy as the Lord is HOLY.
May you be Testified : Holy!

Hebrews 4:12-16
This week we are looking at Hebrews 4:12-16
Listen as I read from the New Living Translation
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:12-16 NLT)

Do you have Sharp : Confidence?

The scriptures tell us the word of God is Alive and Active.
* Is there any doubt that we too... should be?
* Be Holy as I am Holy.
* Be Alive as I am alive!
* Be Active as I am Active!

"The word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword."

Have you ever held a two-edge sword?
* I have a friend in Seattle who owned a few doubled-edged swords.
* Double edged swords are:
1) Heavy - take great skill to manuever
2) Sharp - are very dangerous.
- Why?
- They cut both ways.

Have you heard this statement before?
"The word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword"

When you have heard this before, what does it make you think of?
"word of God..."
1) Scripture
2) "Word" (capital W) = Jesus
3) Spoken word - voice, utterance

Often when we hear "the word of God" we think of: Scripture!
* The Holy Scriptures
* The Bible - sharper than any double edged sword.
- We can read the Bible and it has the ability to cut right through us.

2)   We hear in John 1:1 (in the NIV) say this of the "Word"
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5 NIV)
* Our mind is drawn to John 1.
* The Word of God is Jesus.
* The Word of God can

3) Spoken word. Utterance.
* When we hear the voice of God - it is sharp.

Here in Hebrews, the Greek word used for this "lower case w" is Logos.
- It draws us to the use as a spoken word
- But logos was also used in John.

Is it appropriate for our mind, when we read "the word of God" here in Hebrews to think of
1) Scripture
2) "Word" (capital W) = Jesus
3) Spoken word - voice, utterance

We have just looked at what is sharp.
Let's now spend some time looking at our CONFIDENCE.

What is MOST IMPORTANT in your life?
"Are you Confident?"
Psalm 63:3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. (ESV)
Talk about confidence.
Your Love is better than LIFE!

Chair at Knot's Berry Farm
When I was a boy, I remember visiting Knot's Berry Farm.
There was an Old West interactive show - where they invited people
to sit upon this old chair that was up on the wall.
People of all different sizes were invited.
People of all different sizes were intimidated by the idea of sitting on
a chair where the feet didn't touch the ground.

This past week I had the opportunity to go Zip-Lining
After getting geared up.
Strapped in.
Hooked up
There's a moment when you have to step off the platform.
There's a moment when you have to place your confidence in the

Are you Confident?
What do you have confidence in?

Wikipedia says: Confidence is generally described as a state of being certain either that a hypothesis or prediction is correct or that a chosen course of action is the best or most effective.

At some point - if you're going to go Zip-Lining
You have to have confidence in the college students who
strapped you in
You have to have confidence in the harness that holds you in.
You have to have confidence in the line above your head that
carries you
You have to have confidence that you will stop at the end.
You have to have confidence.

This Morning - the writer of Hebrews is reminding us that we can have confidence!

We can approach the throne of God with confidence.
Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 NIV)

Are you in a time of need?
Do you need Mercy?

Then approach the throne of God.

We no longer have to wait.
We no longer have to go through someone else.
We can approach the throne of grace with confidence.

Last week as we looked at chapter 1 & 2 of Hebrews we discussed Suffering.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15 NIV)

Why can we approach the throne with confidence?
Because we have a God who empathizes with us.
We have a God who understands us.
We have a God has experienced that which we are going through.

Why can we approach the throne with confidence?

Because the "Logos" - the word of God - calls us.
Because Scripture calls us.
Because Jesus Christ calls us.

Because The Voice of God calls us.
The word of God is alive and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

SO let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet did not sin.
Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence,so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4 NIV)

The New Living Translation in Romans 12:2 says:
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (NLT)

Our World says have self-confidence.
Our world looks down on the church, and Christ, and our reliance on God.

Yet, we know we are not to be of this world.
Yet, we know we are to allow God to transform us in a new person.
We know we are to allow God to change the way we think.

How has our thinking to change?
One way - we are to be confident
not in your own doings - but in that of God.

God Loves you.
God calls you.
God wants you -- to come to the throne of grace in confidence!

Are you in a time of need?
Do you need Mercy?

I invite you to step off the platform in confidence that
God will carry you through!

Come to the Holy one,
the one who has been tempted in every way - yet did not sin.
Come to the one who empathizes with you.
Come to the one who is LOVE!

As you go, receive this benediction:
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless till the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. May you boldly approach the throne of grace with confidence. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it!

May you this day, and everyday have a SHARP : CONFIDENCE Go and Love!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pastor's Retreat

Growing up in the home of a pastor, I had heard of these annual gatherings year after year.

I never understand what took place at the annual Pastor & Spouse Retreat.
To me, it all sounded really boring. My perception was that a bunch of old people sat around a conference center drinking Iced Tea. I figured they played rummikub and shared with one another their cheesy sermon illustrations as they listened to speakers, slept on crumby beds, and literally just sat around without their TV-Guide in hand. Throughout my life, in many ways, that epitomizes my perspective of what takes place each year at Pastor & Spouse Retreat.

After a year and a half as Lead Pastor at Beach Cities Christian Fellowship I attended my first Pastor's Retreat. I've been a pastor for a number of years, yet, have never gone.
(Last year, as I saw it = we conveniently had already scheduled our family vacation, and it coincided with the retreat. So I was unable to go. I lost zero sleep over it!)

But this year, vacation isn't scheduled for another 2 weeks.
This year, I had no excuse.
This year, I went.

Sunday afternoon, while my son begged me to play with him and his new Bucky Ship, I packed my bag. I grabbed snacks. I loaded up the mini and headed out. This past Sunday, I journeyed to the base of Big Bear Mountain and joined other pastors from the Anaheim District as we ate together, worshiped together, listened to a speaker (General Superintendent Graves) together, and played together.

To my surprise --- IT WAS NOT BORING!
While the cynical side of my mind tried to gain ground, I laughed, I ran, I ate, and I climbed.

The worship times were great.
The sarcastic reflections (by the "old man") of the previous night were outstanding.
The snacks... filled my tummy.
The messages... inspired.
The meals... tasted great.
The free time... engaged all; as we either went shopping, climbing, or napping.

Had I known growing up that my dad was leaving us to go play with the other kids - I would have thought differently of the events. Perhaps had he told me they got to Zip-Line, climb Rock Walls, and whittle through a Rope Challenge Course - I would not have loathed the idea - and instead would have lavished in the thought of participating in it myself one day.

Having gone and played with the big kids - I now look forward to the next time! 

Monday, July 30, 2012

5th Sundays : Worship through Action

5th Sundays  :  Worship through Action

Yesterday was our second 5th Sunday of 2012.
At Beach Cities Christian Fellowship where I pastor, yesterday we gathered for worship outside. More time and energy went into our Sunday gathering than normal. We certainly spent more money as we threw a Neighborhood Cook-Out which featured: free food, live music from local singer/songwriters, two jump houses and crafts for kids.

This 5th Sunday was an amazing day filled with good times and great music. We spent hours sharing life with neighbors and friends, many of whom we hadn’t previously met. The giggles from children bouncing and running brought smiles to everyone’s face. We couldn’t have asked for a better day in the Beach Cities.

What does 5th Sunday mean?
On the months with five Sundays rather than meet in the Church Sanctuary we meet outside to Worship through Action.

At Beach Cities Christian Fellowship when we look at the life Jesus lead and how he instructed his followers, we see a call to care for others and not be hung up on ourselves. When looking at our own lives, we understand that with Jesus we can find great joy in coming alongside others and serving together. That is why we make space in our lives to be involved in serving the needs around us. 

5th Sundays can consist of: picking up trash around the neighborhood, making sandwiches for a local homeless shelter or helping a neighbor with their yard, cleaning up around the pier, or helping out at a retirement community. With endless possibilities, 5th Sundays are a great way to connect with others and celebrate God, who cares about his people and his creation!

Worship through Action.
Often we worship the living God in the same way week after week, day after day. In our self-absorbed, self-seeking, self-gratifying culture it truly is counter cultural to intentionally set time out for others. Even within the Church, it can seem odd for us to not practice our “normal” worship for the purpose of loving others as God has loved us.

In Matthew ch 22 Christ is asked what the greatest commandment is. He responds by saying "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And the second is like it, love your neighbor as your self."

This is what it means for us at Beach Cities to Worship through Action on the 5th Sundays. We are saying to one another, our guests, and our neighbors – that outward service and worship is vital to who we are.  We are saying to our culture – we worship a living God who is involved in our lives and theirs. We are the hands and feet of Christ in the Twenty-first Century.
How are we as the body of Christ reaching out and loving the poor, the broken, the homeless, and the disenfranchised?

At Beach Cities Christian Fellowship we are intentionally creating space where we Worship through Action – as we step outside the walls of the Sanctuary and bring Glory to God through our active faith.

Monday, July 9, 2012

REPENTANCE: Practice & Proclaim

2 Samuel 5:1-10 — Psalm 48 — 2 Corinthians 12:2-10 — Mark 6:1-13
Repentance: Practice & Proclaim

Recap the previous few weeks:
v Mark 3:13 = Calling of the 12 disciples
v Mark 4:35-41  = Jesus Calms the Storm
v Mark 5: 1-20 = Jesus Heals a demon possessed man
v Mark 5:21-43 = a) Jesus heals the “bleeding” women
                          b) Jesus heals the dead girl

v Over the past 2 chapters: The disciples have experienced
           the AWESOMEness of Jesus

Ø  They have seen him have power over Nature
Ø  They have seen him have power over Satan
Ø  They have seen him have power over Perpetual Sickness
Ø  They have seen him have power over Death

v Now they enter Jesus’ hometown.
Ø  Can you imagine what they must expect?
Ø  Jesus is home.
Ø  Jesus can be who he REALLY is!

v But what happens?
Ø  The people back home, in Nazareth…
§  They remember the Jesus who ran around the town yelling.
§  They remember the Jesus whose father built their tables
§  They remember the Jesus who they went to school with.
§  They remember Jesus.

There is no “hint” of sarcasm, bewilderment, annoyance when the people ask:
           Where did he get this power?
           Isn’t this the Carpenter?
Text says: because of their unbelief, Jesus couldn’t do any miracles among them
           Except… heal a few people

v Over the past few chapters, we – along with the disciples, have seen Jesus’ complete authority.
§  He has power to do unbelievable things…
¨     Calm storms, heal, bring to life, overcome Satan.

v But here, among his people, he could do nothing.
Ø  Because they had “unbelief”
Ø  Because they had unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles
Ø  But you might say: why was he able to cast out the demon?
§  Because the demon believed!
Mark 5:6 When Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him, ran to meet him, and bowed low before him. With a shriek, he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In the name of God, I beg you, don’t torture me!”

v Jesus has power over Satan,
v Jesus has power over nature,
v Jesus has power over sickness and death.
v But Jesus doesn’t have power over “unbelief”???
Mark 6:5-6 because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their unbelief

v Does Jesus truly have “NO” power in Nazareth?
Ø  Can the Holy, Living God do nothing over “unbelief”?

v Or does he choose not to?
v Does God choose to give us a choice…
v Based upon our experiences, our history, our ability to reason, the scriptures we have before us…
Ø  Does God want us to use these, and believe?

From the beginning of time, God has given us Free-Will

Ø  We have a choice.
Ø  We have the opportunity to respond.
Ø  Will respond in belief?

v Jesus goes on from this discussion about his hometown to send the disciples out.
§  He tells them to go out in twos.
§  Take nothing with you
§  Rely upon the provisions of God
§  And if people don’t listen, to dust off their feet.
·        Don’t worry about it… move on.

Ø  Jesus sent them with power & a message
o   He sent & empowered them to cast out demons & heal
o   He sent them with this message: REPENT.

v He wants us to repent.
v He wants us to call others to repent!
Repentance has always been part of God’s plan.
God always grants forgiveness when there is repentance

v God wants us, his creation, to turn to him.
v God wants us to turn from our selfish ways, and towards him.
v He wants the ones he loves to choose his path, His ways.

Ø  He will not make us believe.
Ø  HE gives us the choice to live in unbelief, or to turn to him and believe.

v We have a choice.
v We have an opportunity to respond.
v Will you respond in belief?

v This morning: Do you need to Repent?
Ø  Are there things in your life which aren’t right?
Ø  Are there relationships which need mending?
Ø  Do you need to make a 180 from self-centeredness and turn to God?

v This morning: Do you need to be empowered by your belief in the saving grace of God?
·        You must choose. Choose God! Repent.
·        You must call others to Repent!
·        Light the way for others to turn from their selfish ways, and into the ways of the Living God.

As you Go. Do not live in unbelief, rather turn to God.
Go and Love!