Monday, March 19, 2012

Lent 4B - Snake on a Pole

Lent 4b      March 18, 2012
John 3:14-21     Snake on a Pole
v "Pick up your cross and follow me"
§  Sometimes the very things we are asked to do by God
¨      seem like follishness to the "world"
¨      like crawling under a table...

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. (1 Cor1:18)

v The cross is foolish.
§  It was the most humiliating and excruciating form of capital punishment. 
§  It was not only to punish the offend-ant
¨      but also to strike fear in the onlooker.
§  The cross is foolish. it's weird. it doesn't make sense.

v Our text today is from John 3.
§  When I say: John 3:16 - what do you say?
¨      Can you quote vs 17?
¨      And, what comes before it?

Numbers 21:4-9
They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

 Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.
The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived. (Numbers 21:8, 9 TNIV)

v First time I read this passage... When I finished - all I could say was "WEIRD"
Ø  People grumbling
Ø  God sends snakes.
Ø  The snakes bite people. Some people die
Ø  People pray that they be taken away
Ø  God tells Moses to Make A Snake
§  WAIT!  What?
¨      Make an image?
§  Did he really just say that?
¨      Difference here from the "Golden Calf"  =  God told him to do it.
·        it wasn't on our own basis... but God's.

Here we find 3 things:
          1. Snakes - a reference to the GARDEN
          2. God doesn't remove the snakes.
          3. God does PROVIDE salvation = life.

·        The image of the snake - draws our attention to the serpent in the garden.
·        The serpent in the garden, was cleaver - and deceitful - and was "killing" the people.
·        The serpent told Eve : “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. (Genesis 3:4 TNIV)

Ø  The Israelites were discouraged
Ø  The Israelites were grumbling
§  about food
§  about being out in the "wilderness"
§  about being bitten by snakes.
Ø  They prayed that God would take away the snakes. 
§  They wanted their discomfort changed.
§  They thought the only way to be saved is for them to go away.
Ø  In our own lives:
§  We often pray that God would remove the pain, discomfort, death...
§  We often pray that our lives would be easier.
          God provides... LIFE
Ø  He doesn't remove the snakes... the potential for being bitten.
§  but he provides a way to live.
§  he provides Life.

§  We find in this Old Testament text: 
¨      In the midst of the pain, God provides life.

In our Gospel Text
Jesus says: " as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. (John 3:14, 15 NLT)

v While our desire may be the removal of the aches and pains, and the fear of death....
Ø  God provides LIFE.
§  Everyone who believes in Christ will have eternal life!
The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. (1 Cor 1:18)

v The story of Moses - doesn't make sense.
§  Lots of Old Testament stories don't...
v But, In God - all things are new.
Ø  While the message of the cross is foolishness to this world - IT IS the power of God - to us who:
          a) look up                        b) turn from our selfishness  
          c) pick-up our cross        d) and follow HIM.

Jesus doesn't put a lot of requirements upon us...
          simply look up to the cross. 
          simply believe

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 TNIV)

v This passage from John 3:14&15, has so many implications for who we are.
§  In the midst of our pain - God is there.
§  When we want life to be different - God provides
§  What we want to happen, may not happen.
Ø  But what we receive will be better.
Ø  If we believe - we will have eternal life.

This passage speaks to the power of the RESURECTION.
          The historical story in the OT
          The transformational one in Christ JESUS.
          While God doesn't remove the snakes.
          God DOES PROVIDE salvation = he provides LIFE.

Just as Moses lifted up the snake…so the Son of Man…

As you go: Lift your eyes. Look to God above, and believe.
Go and Love.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lent 3B - What's your Marketplace

Lent 3b      March 11, 2012
John 2:13-22     What's your Marketplace

In our culture - we often hear about selling out?
o   How do people sell out?
o   How have/are you Selling out?

v On September 25, 2011 the Gospel Text was: Mathew 21. The same story-line found in this week's passage from John. 
v With that text, we looked at the Authority of Christ... 
§  That Sunday was the first time that we had our sanctuary seats "in the round" - based upon Jesus coming into the temple and messing things up - we had our seats in the circle around the communion table.
§  That morning I asked the question: Have you given Christ the Authority to mess things up in your life?

Quote to remember: 
"The business of business is people pleasing, 
     The business of the Church is transformation."

This week - similar story, but we will be looking at the piece in the text where Jesus says:
 "Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!" 

          What images does a Marketplace bring to your mind?
          - Israel '99

1.    I found it really interesting how the Jewish people, or at least the Jewish religious system was (either for ease or because of corruption) selling access to forgiveness.
2.    Then we find within church history several hundred years later… we too sold access to forgiveness. (LUTHER) = 1500's
3.    then several hundred years later, we can see it again as churches were selling places of dignity. People could buy their pew. (Methodist...) (which is part of why the Naz broke out right?) = late 1800's

Yet the Grace of Christ is Free!
Christ came for Transformation 
          - and he didn't set a price tag along with it

The Jews, the Catholics, the Protestant Christians – we have all found ways to place limitations and restrictions upon that which God intended to freely give.

v We're not selling animals for sacrifice.
v We're not selling pardons for sins, or the chance out of purgatory...
§  But sometimes our emphasis is on the wrong thing.
·        we get so involved in the "practicalities" of worship, buildings and activities
·        that we forget the "Heart of Worship"

Sometimes we sell-out.
          Churches across the country – that (perhaps inadvertently) put limitations upon entrance into the community.
          - Hipster Church
          - Cowboy Church

Jesus takes the story of the Temple and the Marketplace a step forward as he says the BODY IS THE TEMPLE.

If that is the case:
Ask yourself this question: What's my "Marketplace"?

I came across that great quote last week: 
     “The business of business is people pleasing, 
     The business of the Church is transformation.”

v It's easy to get into the practice of "people pleasing"
§  A lot of us don't like conflict.
§  A lot of us want to be liked.
¨      But - Jesus didn't come to please all!
¨      He didn't come pleasing the religious. 

"The business of business is people pleasing”
·        Jason bought a burrito; it came with a rubber band.
·        They gave him a free meal the next time
“The business of the Church is transformation"
·        How are you different?
·        How are you changing the world?

v This statement for me: begs the question
§  Who are we here for?
¨      The Who, What, Where, When, Why

The things we do, our practices; Are they people pleasing?        - Are they designed to our liking?

Ø  If we believe Christ (and his Church) is for Transformation - then the things we do and our practices -- are not for us. 

v What would it be like if the things we did were not geared toward those who are already attending... but for those who ARE NOT.
§  Who would be coming?
¨      Who would we be geared for?
§  What would be different?
¨      What would the gathering be like?
§  Where would we meet?
¨      Where would they come from?
§  When would we meet?
¨      When would they want to meet?
§  Why would we meet?
¨      Why would it matter?

v How is our language, gatherings, & systems?
§  how are they inadvertently turning the temple into a marketplace 
§  when we ourselves have received that which is free. 
¨      GRACE!
§  GRACE is free!

How is your life,
How are you, as the Temple of God - working for the Transformation of others?

As you go, May the Transforming Grace of God flow freely from your life. Go and Love.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lent 2B - Lose Your Life to Save It

Lent 2b      March 4, 2012
Mark 8:31-38       Lose Your Life to Save It

Two Options:
A.  a)  Simon Says or Follow the Leader.
B.  b)  Questions:
1.    What have you done that was: a hard decision & hard to do? (new workout? diet? counseling? dentist? missions trip?)
2.    Was your choice was worth it?
3.    What reward did you receive?
4.    How was your life changed?

Today’s Message is a “3 point message!”
          The 3 point message is Biblical.
                             It’s “Jesus-ical”!
1.    Turn from your selfish ways
2.    Pick up your cross
3.    Follow me

v In this life:
§  What do you have to lose?
§  What would be the most difficult thing in your life to give up or give away?
§  Facebook Responses:
¨       My family & irreplaceable family heirlooms
¨       My Family
¨       Pudge Pizza (I think that was just in gest…)
¨       Air
¨       My kids

Ø  How does our situation, personality, history, experience
          play into “OUR” Cross?

v Is everyone’s cross the same?
§  Is my cross the same as yours?
¨      Disciples – leaving behind their family
     (let the dead bury their own)
¨      Rich Young Ruler
     (go, sell everything, then inherit…)

Ø  Is the “YOUR” here purely individual – or is it also corporate?

We find in vs 34 – Jesus speaking and calling the crowd
          This message is for EVERYONE!      

v What does it mean to follow?
§  In Jesus’ day, what did it mean?
§  How is it different today?
¨      Is it different? Should it be different?
§  What does it mean to be a disciple?
Ø  You must be discipling!!!
§  (Forming Christlike disciples in the Beach Cities)

v Sometimes we’re crippled to follow.
§  Why?
Ø  Because we see the larger picture
¨      and don’t know how to do it!
§  We see a half marathon… and decide we can’t do it
§  We see a giant mountain… and decide we can’t do it.
§  We see a whole village… and decide we can’t do it.

“Major league catcher Rick Dempsey once said that good baseball players can’t think about winning the World Series or winning 162 games – the big questions. He said that you have to break the game down to its smallest parts: one game, one inning, one pitch at a time. If you’ll play it one pitch at a time, you’ll eventually look up and see that you won the game.

Following Jesus and the way of the cross begins with small steps. Later, we’ll look up and discover where he’s led us.”

SeaStar story: Here’s one… I can help this one!

Vs 38 = If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
(Aw DANG!)

v What is God calling you to do?
v How is he asking you to follow him?
·        One time I was called to start a business within the church – a coffeehouse.
¨      There were those who thought it was utter foolishness. Not “of God”
·        One time I was called to run in a half-marathon
¨      I doubted it myself!
·        One time I was called to fly to Tanzania, climb a mountain, visit some kids in dire communities, and impact their lives.

v What is God calling you to do?
·        Can I climb a mountain?       NO – not right now…
·        Can I run a half marathon?   Yep – check.
·        Can I climb a mountain, get kids sponsored… and be forever changed?             Yep!

v Remember that famous passage:
·        I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

v What is God calling you to do?
·        Turn from your selfish ways.
·        Pickup your cross.
·        Follow Jesus Christ.

Ø  The Kingdom of God is upside down!
o   I shouldn’t be able to do that!
o   I’m too big.
o   I’m out of shape.
o   I’m this… I’m that…

Ø  The Kingdom of God
     Asks us to turn from our selfish ways and follow him.

Lose your Life to Save It!
          What do you have to lose?
                   Your self respect,
                   Your dignity
                   Your pride

Are you willing to set aside your:
          self-righteousness and self-preservation?
          And be utterly shameful for the cause of Christ?

Christ’s Kingdom is an UPSIDE DOWN kingdom.
-      It’s contrary to the ways of the world.
-      It demands you turn from your selfish ways
-      It requires you to Pick Up Your Cross
-      It’s following in the ways of the Liberating King!
     The King who came to set the captives free!

As you go, Turn from your selfish ways,
Pickup your cross and
Follow Christ.
Go and