I have a colleague and friend who I often have deep theological discussions with. These discussions come at random times, but it always seems as though they come at the time when I need them the most.
Not to long ago, we had a discussion about salvation and what it means for us.
While I am going to butcher the quote, it went something along the lines of: "All too often, Christians think we are all about making bad people good, but really what Jesus came to do was to make dead people come alive."
Now, I don't know about you, but when he said that, it hit me; I have been looking at all of this all wrong.
If you joined us in service this past week either in person or online, you would have heard a sermon that challenged us to put everything into perspective. I won't go into all that this time, if you want to watch it, it's on Youtube. Often times I find that the message that I preach on Sunday mornings is really a message for me and I can only hope that there is at least one person out in the congregation who needs to hear the same thing that I do.
This week, I have been inundated with calls, emails, and even meetings to talk about what God put on my heart to say. While I am thankful for the affirmation, I think what this week has taught me is that when the Spirit speaks, people still listen. Which means a couple things.
(1. The Spirit IS real.
(2. The Spirit STILL speaks.
Which makes me think: If the Spirit is real and if the Spirit still speaks then that means that the Bible is true. Not that I have struggled with this personally, but I know many who do. And if we read the bible (and we believe everything we read), when we read Ephesians 2, we can see exactly what my friend and colleague said.
You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of the flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.
This whole thing is not about just becoming a better us, it's not just about living our "best life." This whole thing that we do, being connected to a church, being a part of the community of faith, is not just to fill a check-box on our passport to heaven, it is about celebrating the fact that I was dead in my sin, and Christ made me alive!
How's that for perspective?
Let us pray,
O God, you are good, and your steadfast love endures forever. We repent of our sin in believing that you came just to make us better and we turn to your truth that you have and will raise us from death to life. Help us to hold on to that hope of our salvation and the hope of our resurrection; that it is both a present and future hope.
Give us the ability to be a new creation, to have new life in you.
In Jesus Name We Pray,
You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot.
It is no secret that I really like bacon. In fact, since Miranda and I have been married, I have loved to get up on Saturday mornings, make some coffee and make breakfast. Naturally, bacon makes a frequent appearance on Saturday mornings.
A few years ago, we had a Pug named Emma, who would often get up with me on Saturday mornings and wait until the bacon was ready and she would get the "first fruits" of my labors. Bacon day was truly the best day for Emma and I.
Sadly, we lost Emma earlier this year, and bacon day just wasn't the same. But, the sizzle must go on.
I think what I love about bacon the most...well...beside everything...is the saltiness. While most people have a sweet tooth, I have a salt tooth. No, it's not the best for you, but neither is sweets. Everything in moderation. Mostly.
But there is something special about salt. It brings out the flavors of the food, it preserves food, and without it, food would just be bland. Have you ever tried cookies without salt? Esta No Bueno.
My brothers and sisters, Jesus calls us The Salt of the Earth. He tells his disciples, and those who were listening to his Sermon on the Mountain that we are the ones who bring flavor to the earth; that we are the ones who are called to bring out the best in the world. Ultimately, he tells the Church, DO NOT LOSE YOUR SALTINESS!
But unfortunately, I believe the Church in America has become less salty and more bland like the rest of the world...and instead of bringing out the best in those around us, we fit right in.
Over and over again, God tells the people of Israel that He has set them apart, he made them HOLY. Not better than, but different. He did this to show the world his grace and mercy. And What's better than that, he sent us Jesus, the perfect example and sacrifice.
He didn't do all of that just for us to be like everyone else. He did that to show the world what it truly means to be the Salt of the Earth kind of people.
So...how about we get to work? How about we stop being like the rest of the world and actually believe that we have the power of God's Holy Spirit living within us; the same power the raised Jesus from the dead lives, and it lives in us!
I think it's time to get Salty.
What do you think?
Let us Pray,
God of us all,
Help us to reclaim the power that you want to give us. Help us to become, once again, the salt of the earth, bringing out the best in everyone we come into contact with. Help us to be that light shining upon a hill so that others may know that you are a Good, Good Father, and that you came to save us!
In Jesus name we pray.
Depending on where you find yourself on the political spectrum you either had a great night, or a not so great night last night. And while I have my opinions, and my political leanings, I refer you to last week's blog where it doesn't really matter where I stand, because Jesus is the king to the throne of my heart no matter who is in the White House.
Today, however, I want to focus on something that brings me hope, joy, and peace. James 1: 17
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
I am reminded today that God has so many good gifts to give us. Not only that, but he is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and there is nothing that can separate us from the love of our Father in Heaven.
So...where do we go from here? On a national level, I have no idea. But as a church? Well, that's much more clear. We need to be the Church. We need to take care of each other. We need to watch out for each other. We need to continue our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
This church, this place, these people we call our church family, we should all be each other's priority.
I am reminded of the Acts Church:
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and have everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And THE LORD added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Church, this is who we need to be. We need to be together. We need to have Jesus (who is EVERYTHING) in common. We need to meet together, break bread together. We need to be devoted to the teachings of Jesus, to fellowship, and to prayer. This is what it means to be the church.
It is my hope that we haven't lost our way; that we have become something we weren't meant to be. It is my hope that we can repent from our desires to be all about me and we can turn to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
It's time for us to be the Church.
Let us pray,
God, forgive us for our sins. Forgive us for not humbling ourselves, for not praying, for not seeking you first, and for not doing what you have called us to do. Help us to see that EVERYTHING GOOD comes from you, and to recognize that you are the same God yesterday, today, and forever.
Forgive us we pray!
In the name of Jesus!
Growing up in the United Methodist Church, I have always had a passion for ministry. Now, I have been called to serve the people of Llano at an awesome place called Lutie Watkins Memorial!