Monday, March 31, 2008

Waffling at First Watch

I went to breakfast at First Watch today. I met a friend there for lunch. I ordered my favorite, the Trivecta. It's a great breakfast, an airy waffle, two eggs over medium and two strips of bacon. I go there almost as much as I go to Panera so I know the waitresses and they know me. The waitresses had recently gotten married, so I asked her how married life was. She said great except her husband was going to be mad at her because she lost the setting in her wedding ring. I didn’t realize she had just lost it and was in the process of looking for it between waiting tables, but she was. What I should have done is stopped to pray with her, but I didn’t. Later she came and told me she found it, but since I didn’t pray with her before, I missed the opportunity to let her know that God cares about the things that we care about.

That seems to be the lesson of Jesus first miracle at the wedding of Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11). At the wedding Jesus turns water into wine. Just like losing a diamond, running out of wine was not a life and death situation but it certainly was important. Besides embarrassment, some commentators inform us that litigation was possible. (Can you imagine being sued for not providing enough food and drink at a marriage ceremony?) Miraculously Jesus turns the water into wine and not only avoids embarrassment for the family but impresses the guests by serving the best wine last.

The key was Mary came to Jesus at the moment of her crisis, When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine, v.3." What crisis are you facing today? Who are you turning to? No matter what your crisis is, you can come to Jesus.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Desperate People Video Clip

Check out this clip from ER. It's the clip we showed at journey church last Sunday. I mentioned it in yesterday's post. We used it to introduce the Desperate People sermon series. It reminds us that desperate people all run, the questions is in what direction. In the case of this man he ran to God. The same was true in the case of the thief on the cross. In the case of the repentant thief, desperation caused him to do four things. (Luke 23:40-42).

(1) Fear God, "Don't you fear God," he said, . . ., v. 40b
(2) Accept responsibility for our actions, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.” v. 41 a
(3) See Jesus for who he really is, "But this man has done nothing wrong." v. 41b
(4) Pray. Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

Amazingly in his moment of weakness, Jesus answered his prayer, "Jesus answered him, 'I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.'" Luke 32:43 Jesus' words in reply to the repentant thief offer three important proofs for us today.

(1) Proof that the Lord alone has power to save.

(2) Proof that salvation is of grace and not of works. What works could the thief do he was nailed to a cross.

(3) Proof that the Lord's mercy is availalbe to anyone no matter when or where they come to Him.

Whether we are facing iminent death or not we are all "desperate people." What are you doing in your desperation? Are you ridiculing Jesus or running towards him? Jesus’ response to the repentant thief, if it teaches us anything, is that he wants us to run towards him and when we do he will hear our prayer.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Desperate People

This weekend at Journey Church we began a sermon series called “Desperate People”. We began the message by showing a video clip from ER. It was a clip from an episode called "Atonement". The story is about a man looking for forgiveness before he dies. The Chaplin, unable to give him answers, becomes the object of the dying man's frustration and fear. Angrily he shouts, “I need a real Chaplin, who believes in real God, and a real hell. . . I need someone to look me in the eye and tell me how to find forgiveness because I am running out of time.” Needless to say it is a pretty powerful clip.

The clip reminded me of another desperate man who was facing a similar fear. It was he thief on the cross. The thief was running out of time and needed answers too. Fortunately Jesus was there and he ran to Him. Not everyone does.

There were two thieves crucified on the cross next to Jesus, one on the right and one on the left. Both were equally near to Christ. Both saw and heard all that happened during the six hours that He hung on the cross. Both were condemned and dying men, yet one died in his sins, and the other was promised eternal life with Jesus in paradise (Luke 23:39-43)

39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"

40But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."

42Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

43Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

So where are you in relationship to Christ, are you running towards Him or ridiculing Him? All of us, whether we realize it or not, are just like the two thieves, desperate and dying. The question is “what are you doing in your desperation? Are you ridiculing or running towards Jesus? If we learn anything from this passage we learn that Jesus wants us to run to Him and when we do he will hear our prayer and do even more than we could ask or think. Ephesians 3:20-22

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter @ journey church

This week I shared some ideas to help prepare ourselves for Easter. If your tradition is to hide Easter eggs, you may be interested in this...try hiding cans of soda instead of Easter eggs. Seriously! This is something a family actually does. It was a family tradition someone shared as we began our house church meeting tonight. We were one of five different homes where journey church met to observe Good Friday communion.

Journey church will meet Easter Sunday at a different time and a different place. We'll be meeting at 10 a.m. at Embassy Suites in Dublin. (Directions here) It's not far from the Dublin Recreation Center where journey normally meets for weekend gatherings. If you don't have a place to worship this Easter, you are invited to join us at journey.

This Sunday we will begin a message series called "Desperate People: Life-changing Encounters with Christ." Desperate people demanded desperate measures, which is the reason Christ died on the cross that He might redeem & rescue us from our desperate condition. I Corinthians 15:3 & 4 says "For what I received I passed on to you, as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised the third day, according to the scriptures." Join us this week as we look at the thief on the cross and discover the hope of forgiveness found in Jesus.

Have a great Easter!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Top Five Things to Do With Easter Peeps

OK, you’ve see them every Easter. They are those tasty little marshmallow-y treats shaped like baby chicks. They come in yellow (original color), white, pink, violet, and blue. Peeps are the most popular non-chocolate Easter candy and are only 34 calories a piece. But besides being a delicious, calorie conscience candy treat, they also make for some great entertainment. Here is a list of the top 5 fun things to do with these widely popular Easter treats.

5) Peep Smores – That’s right you can make old-fashioned smores with any color peeps. Take a graham cracker and place half of a Hershey chocolate candy bar on half of the graham cracker and instead of a marshmallow, place a marshmallow peep on top the chocolate then top it all off with the second half of the graham cracker. Place in the microwave on a microwave safe plate for approximately 20-30 seconds. (be careful not to place in the microwave for too long, the peep can explode and make a mess, ie. refer to number 4)

4) Peep Jousting – Take two Easter Peeps insert a toothpick a quarter of the way into the front of each peep. Place them on a microwave safe plate directly opposite one another. Put the plate of peeps in the microwave for 60 seconds or till they explode. Remove the plate and see which Peep has "stabbed" the other peep with it's toothpick. The Easter Peep whose toothpick is piercing the other peep is the winner!

3) Peep eating contest – Invite your friends over and see who can eat the most Easter Peeps in a 30 minute period. The world record is 102. (At that rate you might want them to bring their own)

2) Peep fondue party – Take your left over chocolate Easter bunnies and melt them in a fondue pot. Skewer your Easter peeps and dip in the chocolate and enjoy. You may want to have other items for dipping.

1) Hide and “peep” – (My favorite!) This game is like “hide and seek” only you hide the peeps. After hiding the peeps send your family or friends off to find as many peeps as they can. Award them points for each peep they find. For fun use different colored peeps and give each color a different point value.

Optional: Don’t Make a "Peep." You might want to play this game if you’ll having trouble getting your kids to go to sleep after eating too much Easter candy. Place a package of three peeps by their bed and promise them they can eat them tomorrow if they go to sleep and don’t make a “peep”. If they’re not quiet and you have to come in, take one peep away each time you have to come in the room. Hopefully they will have a least one left by the time they go to sleep.

PLEASE NOTE: Unfortunately Peeps will be harmed in all of the above activities. Please do not attempt these things at home without parental supervision.

Preparing for Easter

Did you realize Easter is THIS SUNDAY!? It’s the earliest ever in my life time and probably yours (unless you are 95 or older. The last time it was this early was 1913. The next time Easter will be this early (March 23) will be the year 2228, 220 years form now.) So what’s my point? My point is, now that Easter is almost here, how are you going to observe it?

When the boys were young we used to get them matching outfits. Actually Grandma got them matching outfits. (thanks Mom!) We also colored Easter Eggs, had our own Easter Egg hunt and went to church. We usually had a Good Friday Service, Easter Sunrise Service, Sunday School and Morning Worship.

How do you “celebrate” Easter? Well, over the next several days I want to share a few suggestions with you of how you can prepare and observe Easter. Feel free to share with me your ideas too. First, you can read a series of daily Scripture readings. The scriptures are all taken from the Gospel of Mark and follow the events of Jesus during his last week leading up to His death, burial and resurrection. If you want to involve the entire family, just for fun you could put each day’s verses on a separate piece of paper and then put them in a plastic egg. One for each day. Mark each egg with the appropriate day of the week (ie Monday, Tuesday, etc. . .) You could even put something unique in each egg to visualize the object of the day’s reading. See examples below.

Monday (Mark 11:1-11) Triumphal Entry (branch or leaf)

Tuesday (Mark 11:12-19) Cursing of the Fig Tree & Cleansing of the Temple (coin)

Wednesday (Mark 14:1-11) Prediction of Crucifixion, Anointing by Mary and Betrayal (perfume)

Thursday (Mark 14:12-42) The Last Meal, Peter’s Denial Foretold, In the Garden (cracker)

Friday (Mark 15:1-47) Jesus’ trial and crucifixion (nail)

Saturday (Mark 15:24-16:1) Burial and Sabbath day (stone)

Sunday (Mark 16:2-13) Resurrection (piece of cloth or empty to represent the empty tomb)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

You're Still The One!

Yesterday was my wife, Carol’s 55th birthday. I know she doesn’t look like it, but none of us do! After all 50 is the new 40. Anyway, I’ve known her now for 38 years. It doesn’t seem like that’s possible, but it is. I remember one of the first times I “noticed” her. She was practicing cheerleading with the rest of the team on the steps of West High School. My best friend, Sam and I stopped to tease them, which is something we were prone to do a lot. What I remember about Carol is that she was cute, fun loving and laughed at my jokes. I think it was then that we became friends. Little did I know that she would later become my wife, but there was a lot I didn’t know.

I didn’t know how faithful and loving a wife she would be for nearly 35 years. I didn’t know how creative and caring she would be when it came to making a home for our boys and me. I didn’t know how full of wisdom and discernment she would be when it came to understanding people and situations as well as myself. Neither did I know what a strong shoulder she would be for me and others to lean on in their most difficult times.

No doubt there are still other things I don’t know about Carol, but I’m looking forward to finding out, because Carol, you’re still the one and will be forever. Love, me!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

One Hour on Sunday?

A number of years ago Joe Aldrich wrote a book that created quite a stir in the evangelical community. The book was titled Lifestyle Evangelism. It received a lot of criticism and still stirs up some controversy today. Some of the criticism may have been deserved but the basic premise was right on. The point was that people needed to know that we cared about them personally before we confronted them with the gospel. It was clearly a reaction to the approach to evangelism that was popular at the time.

Well, rather than debate that subject here, the point I want to make is that we have subtly done the same thing with the Church. We have taken the Church and made it a prescribed presentation of an hour on Sunday. Jesus never meant for “church” to be something that we can be over and done with in an hour or even a day. That’s because church is not a place, but a people. It’s not a business, but a body and it’s not a bunch of rules and rituals, but a relationship.

Instead the church is. . .

  • a place for friendships,

  • a place for fishers of men,

  • a place that feeds His sheep,

  • a place of forgiveness and

  • a place for followers of Christ.

At least that’s the model Jesus gave His disciples when he appeared to them on the beach in John 21. Here Jesus called them his “friends”, v.5. That was amazing considering they had denied him only days earlier. Further, he reaffirmed their calling as fishers of men when he helped them catch a “boat load” of fish after having fished all night and caught nothing without him.

Third, he told Peter to feed His sheep, reminding them that the church is a place of caring protecting and providing for people who like sheep are stinky, stubborn and sometimes stupid. Nevertheless they are “his” sheep, so we should care for them no matter what.

Fourth, Jesus said the church is a place of forgiveness. Three times Jesus asks Peter, “do you love me?,” reminding Peter of the three times he had earlier denied him. Peter was humbled and replied, “Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you.” Lastly Jesus called Peter to “Follow me!” It wouldn’t be easy this time because following him would mean following him to the cross.

The life Jesus called his disciples to was more that can be done within four walls and one hour on Sunday. It requires a lifestyle of intimacy with Christ and with one another.