Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How Radical?

I read a great article discussing how radical we should or should not be as Christians. I'll share that down below, but here are just a couple of thoughts and questions to go with it.

1) What is our call as Christ followers?
2) What does it look like to live out that call on a day to day basis?
3) What are we giving up in order to follow Him each day?
4) Would other people describe us as Christian? Would they describe you as a "radical" Christian?
5) When was the last time you did something that was out of your comfort zone in order to follow the call of following Jesus? 

Here is the article: Why the Critics are Wrong: We're not Radical Enough

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sabbath: rest with God

Do you feel like you go non-stop week to week. Do you wake up tired? Are you drowsy or nodding off part way through the day?  Maybe you need to rest. Not just sleep. Maybe you need time off, not just from work.

God sets up the pattern in Genesis 2 of rest after work. Not that He needs the rest...
"Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done."

And in one of the most famous passages, He choose to include it in the 10 Commandments: Exodus 20
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." 

One of our elders pointed out to me that God made man on the 6th day. So God's last day of the week was a day of rest, and man-kinds first day was God's day of rest.  We were made to be in relationship with Him. To walk with Him and talk with Him. If you are so busy that you can't slow down for your relationship with him, if you feel stagnant, if you feel like you aren't growing in Him, slow down. Stop. Take a rest. Find your rest in Him and He will draw close to you as you draw near to Him. 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:28-29

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Two Ways of Living

Here are my notes from a recent sermon out of Romans chapter 8.  

Romans 8:1-4 "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."

1.  No longer under condemnation, but are justified, sanctified and will be glorified.

2.  That’s good news!

A. What Controls You?

1.  Romans 8:5-8
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

2.  Story/Example- I Love food...word picture of a steak grilling, the smells the anticipation, the sight...set my mind on it...nothing else will satisfy

3.  Controlled by Sinful Nature: Galatians 5:19-21,

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

- Life Controlled by Sinful Nature: Most of us don't go out with the intention of sinning...

B. Controlled by the Spirit? 

- However if we are not setting our affections on being in communion with or abiding in the Spirit then we find ourselves going toward sin because of our fleshly desires.
    1.  We must recognize Power in weakness: 2 Corinthians 12:9,10
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10 NIV)

-Until we recognize that we can't do it on or own. That we can't face our sin and succeed. That we can't stand up as we want. That we can't earn our own way...

   2. Controlled by the Spirit: vs 5  Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. (Romans 8:5 NIV)

-Paul says it this way in 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20; Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 NIV)

So what does this life look like? How do we live in the mind of Christ, allowing the our Bodies to be a Temple of the Holy Spirit? 

C.  Live by/in the Spirit

1.  Romans 8:9-11
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

2.  Food for the body example continued: Rocky Road vs Veg. & protein -Coming off the mountain on Trek all we wanted was a burger: meat because of our diet of trail food

      3. "blue elephant"- I can't tell you don't think about a blue elephant with out you thinking about a blue elephant. You have to replace the vision of a blue elephant with something else...otherwise all you think of or see is a blue elephant.  
  -Our must be Desire found in him. We can't just stop desiring what our flesh wants; we have to replace it with the desire for the Spirit and the things of the Spirit.

4. Abiding in Him: John 15:5-12 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. (John 15:5-8, 10-12 NIV)

       - instead trying "not to do the wrong thing" or not thinking of a "blue elephant," one must remain in him and remain in his love. Then our heart and mind are set on Him.
        a. How do we know that one is abiding in Him? He says that you will have JOY & you will show LOVE. Simple right!

    b. Paul puts it a different way when speaking of the Fruit of the Spirit: Galatians 5:22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25 NIV)
      -Do you wonder why you worry, or don't have peace. Do you ask where joy comes from? and wonder why some people never seem down?

    c. Small note on Discernment 1 Corinthians 2:14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:14 NIV)

There is a cost to listening to the Spirit and allowing grace to be a gift.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer argues that a central part of understanding discipleship is distinguishing "cheap grace" from "costly grace." Cheap grace does not "cost" us anything personally, does not force us to change what we hold dear. To attain cheap grace, we merely make our faith accommodate whatever we want; we suffer no discomfort in the process. In contrast, costly grace means making a sacrifice for faith. It is "costly because it costs someone their life, and it is grace because it gives a person the only true life" (Bonhoeffer 1995, p. 45 Cost of Discipleship as quoted in Virtual Faith by Tom Beaudoin p. 119)

D. Close: Life in the Spirit is costly- Luke 9:23-24 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. (Luke 9:23, 24 NIV)

Are you choosing to be "controlled by the Spirit?" Or are you allowing yourself to be controlled by the flesh? Have you cheapened grace by accommodating your faith to your desires? Or are you allowing yourself to realize the great cost of grace and aligning your desires with His? 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Trek Adventure

My last trip with our youth up on a mountain was in the summer of '07. We had a rough trip that year, a long summit (Princeton isn't one of the easier mountains), multiple trips to the emergency room (yes they recognized us), and it was my first major trip away after Claire was born.

This would certainly be a different trip. We had a smaller group of youth with a large number of adults for a trip like this. We decided not to do white water rafting and instead went to the Great Sand Dunes NP. It was tremendous! Extreme heat and overall exhaustion kept us from spending a ton of time, but what a great experience.

Then we drove to the TEAM Ascend property. Sitting right at the base of Mt. Elbert the highest in Colorado, it is a beautiful setting to begin the week and get focused on who Christ is and why we are there to climb a mountain. 

Our focus this week was on the life of Peter. Two main scriptures stood out to me, and I have continued to ponder them over the last two weeks.

23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24)

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”Jesus said, “Feed my sheep." (John 21:15-17)

Much time has been spent and will be spent explaining each of these verses.  You can think on them and pray about them for a very long time before you might begin to get it.  But I ask this question:

"What will you do about them?"

If you really love Him, there is action involved.  Here are the verbs involved: deny, take up, follow, lose, save, love, feed, take care. When we begin to see our faith in these terms we can't help but to act on them.  It seems like James had something to say about faith and works...

Anyway, it was an incredible trip with lots of great discussion, laughs and fun. Looking forward to more time with these incredible people.


The summer of recovery and difficulty

The last year and a half have been in a word; hard. The pandemic has left us disconnected, grieving, uneasy, fractured, and wondering what i...