Tag Archives: Christian Schools

Honor

I want to talk to you today about getting or not getting honored and the temptations that are common to all of us in these areas.  Think about these two questions, first, what do I do when I am disappointed and don’t get an award? Number two, what do I do when I do get what I want or what I have worked for?

Let’s talk about the first question and what is the temptation when you get disappointed.  When your name doesn’t get called. When you have to sit there and watch someone else getting the honor.  What is happening on the inside? What are you saying to yourself? Do you get angry? Do you cross your arms and stick out your lip and pout?  Do feel sorry for yourself? This is very tempting to do. In fact, it is very natural to do that but as we have been studying in the beatitudes, living in the kingdom of God means living in a way that is radically different from what comes naturally.  Here is what the apostle Paul says about what a Christian’s response should be when someone else gets honored,

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

When we see someone else get honored, we are not to think about ourselves, instead, we are to rejoice with that person.  Last year we hosted the regional speech meet. I called up the finalists in each category and then would announce the top scores.  It is quite an honor. You get your name announced and you get a medal put around your neck. A big round of applause. It is not uncommon to see students fight back tears of disappointment when their name is not read.  I remember one girl from another school who had worked very hard but did not get a top score. When the girl’s name next to her did get read as a superior score, the first girl immediately turned to her and gave her a hug.  It was such an amazing example of rejoicing with someone who is rejoicing. It is a great example of how to not look inward to me, but outward to my neighbor.

Now let’s talk about the temptation of what happens when we do get honored.  When our name is called and we get that medal we worked for. What is tempting to do?  It is easy to not be thankful. To not show gratitude to God. It is natural to see something good happen and think you made this happen in your own strength or because of how smart you are.  On top of that, especially the older you get, you become more and more aware and concerned about what other people think of you. You want to be on the stage to prove to others that you are something special.

The big problem with this is you start attaching what you think about yourself based on what others say about you or think about you.  Your identity gets wrapped up in the opinions of your friends, your classmates, perhaps even your parents. If they like you and think you are really something, then you feel really good about yourself.  This feeling doesn’t last because you are trying to fill your eternal soul with temporal things that don’t last. God did not create you to find your identity in anything other than Himself. Think of it this way, we are not to look horizontally for what we can only find vertically.  

You fight against the temptation of pride that comes when you get honored, by pointing to God and giving Him all the credit, all the glory.  You should think, “I made honor roll not because I’m smart but because God gave me the ability to work hard. Praise Him!”

In conclusion, being honored should not be your goal.  Doing your best so that God gets the glory should be your goal.  If you didn’t do your best this quarter, this chapel is a motivation to do better and strive to do your best starting right now.  If you did your best and someone else got honored, rejoice with them. If you did your best and you did get honored, praise God for His grace to you.  

The apostle Paul gives us the cure to how to handle these temptations when he wrote in Romans,

I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Just like in the Old Testament when the Jewish people would come to the tabernacle and offer a lamb as a burnt sacrifice, we are to offer our lives to God as a living sacrifice so that we can say “Thy will be done.”

In the end, it will not matter how many honor roll certificates you have hanging on the wall, how many A’s and B’s you have or don’t have.  What will matter is if you have done your best in all things to God’s glory so that when you face Jesus, you will hear him tell you “well done, good and faithful servant.”  This quarter, let’s do our work so that Jesus will tell us “well done”. It may or may not mean I call your name up at the next honor roll chapel, but if you are working to do your best, God will be glorified and pleased and that is what matters the most.

Whose is the kingdom of God?

I have always wanted to have a backstage pass.  A special card that lets you go back behind the stage at a concert to meet the singer and musicians.  Or a field pass that lets you go down on the sideline of a game. I haven’t experienced a VIP treatment very often but I did a little bit when I was still playing volleyball as an adult. My team was playing in the national championship tournament and my wife was with me.  We walked into this massive convention center for this week-long tournament. We walked down this ramp and a man stopped us. He said do you have your pass? I pulled my player pass out and he waved me through but my wife had to turn back and go up and around to sit in the stands.  I now could go anywhere I wanted to. There were numerous courts, carts of volleyballs, booths, sport medicine clinics, and extremely tall human beings everywhere. And I had access to all of it. My wife, on the other hand, could only watch from a distance.

We have been talking about the kingdom of God.  It is where God reigns as king. It is not the kingdom of self, where I reign as king.  We also talked about the kingdom of God being this big, huge place where love for God and love for my neighbor are the most important things.  Today we are going to talk about who is in the kingdom of God and who can only look at it from a distance.

What do you think would happen if anyone could walk on the floor of that volleyball tournament.  You didn’t need a pass, didn’t have to be wearing athletic clothes, no jersey, didn’t need to be on a team.  Anyone could wander around. What would happen to that tournament? It couldn’t happen. People would be everywhere, and there would be no benefit to being a part of a team.

The same is true about the kingdom of God.  Not just anyone can be a part of it. To be a part of this kingdom, you must see God as your king and realize that your sin keeps you from being a part of his kingdom and that Jesus took your sin, changed your heart, and now you can be adopted into God’s kingdom.  I had a players pass that allowed me access to the playing courts but your pass into the kingdom of God is your heart. One that has been radically changed by the grace of Jesus. We call someone like that, a Christian.

Let’s talk about what that means, to be a Christian.  1) A Christian is very concerned about keeping and living God’s law.  Not because that is what saves the heart but that is how we glorify God and enjoy Him and enjoy His blessings.  Obedience is the best way to show your love for God. We get to practice that here on earth when we obey the adults that God has put over us.  When we obey, all the way, right away, with a happy heart, we actually are practicing for when we are asked by God to obey his law. 2) A Christian always realizes that he or she is constantly in God’s presence.  Every thought, every word, and every deed is done knowing that God knows everything we think, hears every word and sees every deed. A Christian wants all of those things to be well pleasing to God. A non-christian has a completely different view of life.  They are worried about what they will eat or drink, what they will wear, what their friends will think of them. They depend on themselves and they are anxious, worried because they know deep down, there is something missing in their life. A Christian is completely the opposite.  They don’t worry because they know they are in the presence of God and He provides those things to His children because He loves them. 3) A Christian lives their life in the fear of the Lord. Godly fear is not being scared but it is properly worshiping God, showing reverence to God.  A Christian knows that they are not under God’s eternal judgment but at the same time they know they must appear before God to give an account of what they have done with their time, talent and abilities. Their life shows this understanding of how they live their life each day and how they treat others.  It clearly shows that they love God and they love their neighbor.

This all leads to one big question.  Are you a Christian? Are you a part of the kingdom of God or do you just look at it from a distance?  Your heart must be changed otherwise everything that I will talk about for the rest of this year will not make any sense nor will you be able to do it.  The beatitudes is how to live in God’s kingdom which means your heart’s desire is to love God as your king. Only a Christian can do that. What we are going to find with the beatitudes is that Jesus is calling all of his followers, all Christians to radical self-sacrifice.  Radical humility. And a radical call to serve other people, to your own hurt and loss. This is not what you see on TV. This is not what popular songs are about. In fact, it is the exact opposite. They tell you to live for right now. Live for yourself.

It is easy to think, oh yes, I am a Christian so I am fine, I can live my life, however, I want right now because I’m saved.  You need to understand that as much as you needed Jesus’ saving grace when you believed in Him, you need Him just as much today, and tomorrow, and the rest of your life.  The reason you need him is that you and I still fight against sin and temptation. In a minute, we are going to have a special song called Come Ye Sinners. When you listen to the song, don’t think, if it is about sinners, they must be singing about my brother or sister.  They are the sinners. Or think about someone else who you think is a really bad sinner. This song is written to you and to me. 

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy

Weak and wounded, sick and sore

 

That describes you and me.  Sin makes us poor, needy, weak, it wounds us, makes us sick and sore.  When we try to follow our own heart, do our own thing, seek after our own pleasure, which we all do all the time, sin crushes us and breaks us.  Makes us hurt and lonely. Listen to what the answer is:

Jesus ready, stands to save you

Full of pity, love and power

 

I will arise and go to Jesus

He will embrace me in His arms

In the arms of my dear Savior

Oh, there are ten thousand charms

 

Come, ye weary, heavy-laden

Lost and ruined by the fall

If you tarry ’til you’re better

You will never come at all

Don’t wait until you think you are good enough or worthy enough for God, because you will never come.  Here is what to do instead:

I will arise and go to Jesus

He will embrace me in His arms

In the arms of my dear Savior

Oh, there are ten thousand charms

We need to arise, get up and run to our savior.  Run to His embrace, his hug. Run to His forgiveness.  It is there that we find charms, those great delights. As the music team comes forward, I want you to listen and think about how this song is a call for you and for me to arise, get up, and go to Jesus.

What the fall destroyed, Jesus comes to save and make new again.  You and I can be a part of that by being a part of God’s kingdom but you must enter through the narrow gate.  You must enter by way of the cross. It is only there do you find peace of mind and peace in your soul. No more anxiety or worry about things you can’t control.  Only peace. The last song we sing today is about God’s perfect peace being like a glorious river. The chorus of the hymn is

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest

Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

If you are a Christian, you can claim that promise today and every day of your life.

Faith

We will be studying the beatitudes this school year and how Jesus calls his children to live and work in God’s kingdom.  Today we are going to talk about the thing that allows you to be a part of God’s kingdom and that is faith. You can’t just show up at the door, ring the doorbell and say, I’m here, let me in.  In order to be a part of God’s kingdom, which is something so much greater than you or I, there has to be a radical transformation and commitment of the heart, and that is called faith. But not only does faith get you through the door to God’s kingdom, you are also called to daily live by faith.  

I want you to think about something.  There is a difference between amazement and faith.  You can be amazed at something but that doesn’t mean you put your faith into it.  I remember seeing someone bungee jump for the first time. You know that great idea of strapping yourself to elastic bungees and jumping off high places, to bounce around dangling there, for fun.  The first time I saw someone do that was at a fair. Extreme sports was just beginning and I had literally never seen anything like it. It was a huge crane where people would climb up this small ladder to the top platform.  They would get strapped in and then step off plunging to the ground only to be jerked back up. Down and up. I was in utter amazement. I just stood there. Now there was no way that I was going to put my faith into that crane, into those bungees or into those workers hands.  

In the gospel of Mark chapter 6 is a story of Jesus and His disciples.  Jesus sends the crowd away, he makes his disciples get into a boat to sail across the lake and then Jesus goes up a mountain to pray.  In the evening, a storm comes up. The disciples in the boat have been fighting this storm for about 8 hours. Can you imagine 8 hours of rowing in a wind-tossed sea?  They are literally going nowhere. Jesus comes down from the mountain and walks on this stormy water. Let me stop right there. Jesus walks on water. There is now no doubt of who He is, this shows He is the Lord of all, Creator, and King because no one in the universe can do that except God.  And how are we not blown away and stop and fall on our knees in worship? But we read that story and think, oh, that’s cool.

We have all been blessed to hear God’s Word read to us.  In school. Most schools it is very different. In fact, October 4th is Bring your Bible to School day because most kids your age don’t bring their Bible to school because they are afraid to.  They have been told not to. We should be in prayer for our fellow Christians who do not have the same access to God’s Word. You and I have been richly blessed to be in a school that has chapel.  Bible class. Prayer. But my fear is that we begin to start looking at our Bible as if it’s just another textbook and just another literature story. Reading the Bible is a relationship with the God of the Bible.  We are not meant to just read the Bible, but it is a way to meet the God of the Bible. A pastor Paul David Tripp says it this way,

“Your job is not to just master the Word but be mastered by the God of the Word.”

The passage in Mark reads,

And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said to them, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.’ Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure and marveled. For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.”

If all Jesus wanted to do was to stop the storm, he could have just said “be still” while he was on the mountain.  Instead, He takes a walk. In the storm. On the water. Why? He is not after the storm. It has nothing to do with blue skies and calm seas for sailing.  He is after them. The disciples. Their hearts.

Here is what is interesting.  Why are those disciples in a boat out in the middle of the stormy seas?  Were they running away? Did they do something wrong? No, in verse 45 it says Jesus made His disciples get in the boat.  Jesus put them in there. Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen. And put them in that boat, in that storm, because he was after something far greater than a little peace and quiet while he prayed.  He was after their hearts.

Why are you all here at Annapolis this year?  Are you here because your parents made you come here?  Perhaps but at a much deeper level, you are here because Jesus put you here.  I am here because Jesus called me here. The staff is here because Christ has called them here.  He put us all in this boat together. Hope you brought a paddle. And perhaps a life jacket if you can’t swim yet.     

More than just you and I being here.  God is here. He is present in our songs.  He is present in the Bible that we read. The verses we memorize.  But here is the danger. You can be amazed by hearing what you hear in Bible class-the cool stories like Jesus walking on water, you can be amazed at singing songs of worship, amazed by learning new things, amazed by good friends, you can be amazed by all of these things here at Annapolis, but not be living by faith.

Faith is a commitment of your heart to a new truth that changes the way you live your life.  Faith is more than your mind being blown. It is believing that the Jesus that I read about in my Bible, is king over all, including my life.  And I will do what He tells me because I love Him so much. It will change my life. Every day, my life will be changed more and more to be more obedient to what the Bible says.  It will be seen in how I obey my teachers. How diligently I do my school work. And how I honor others.

There is a profound difference between amazement and faith.  The passage in Mark says the disciples did not understand about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.  What? How was that possible? Jesus has just fed the 5,000 and then walked on water and calmed the sea. And their hearts were hardened?  A hard heart means it won’t change. It is like a rock. I can’t mold it. It is resistant to change. A soft heart can be molded and changed.  Here is the big question. Why did the disciples have a hard heart? They had a hard heart because they did not want change because they were satisfied with who they were.  

Your biggest challenge this year, and mine, is not that we are dissatisfied with who we are but that we are all too satisfied. We don’t hunger for the change of the lessons that we are being taught again and again and again.  We read God’s Word and think nothing of it. We hear our teachers tell us about God’s truth and we don’t think about what they are saying. We are corrected by our parents about the same things again and again. We disobey and face consequences but we do not want to change.  If this is you, and if I am honest, this is me sometimes, the warning from this passage in Mark is beware of a hard heart. One that chooses not to change. One that is content with a little faith. The challenge is do not be satisfied. Allow God’s Word to soften your heart because in His word you find a loving Savior who wants nothing less than a heart that is full of faith and courageously advances the kingdom of God starting right here at Annapolis.   

This school year there should be a hunger and thirst for righteousness.  When we get to go to Bible class again, do we think, I can’t wait! What, are you giving me another verse to memorize, yes!  When teachers point out the truths of God in science and books, do we think I cannot get enough of this? Are we in awe of the beauty of God in art and music?  In awe of how fearfully and wonderfully our bodies are made when we are in PE? Is our faith in a God who is in control of all things strengthened when we see the order and harmony in math?  Every day and in every subject, God’s Word and God’s truth is there so that your faith and my faith can grow.

We will not find that radical transformation of our heart that Jesus is calling us all to unless we deeply love the Bible, the wonderful words of life.

Truth

How many of you wear glasses or contacts?  Why do you wear them? It is because something is lacking in your vision and the glasses, with the lenses in them, corrects the problem.  Without those glasses you see blobs. You don’t see rightly.

We have worked our way through Psalm 1.  I realize that it has taken us until April to get through 6 verses.  I guess you could say, it is about time we made through the whole Psalm.  I like to think of it more like making haste slowly.

What I would like to do with the few chapels that we have remaining is to step back and review the big ideas from Psalm 1.  I would like us to hold Psalm 1 up and put it on like a pair of glasses to look at the world through its lens. To correctly see the world around us. Let’s look through the lens of Psalm 1 and let’s see how it views the culture that we live in today.  For each chapel coming up, I will give one or two statements that summarize truth from Psalm 1. Today is statement #1. Here it is:

You and I live in a world of right and wrong, good and bad, true and false.

We do not live in a world of relativism.  I know that’s a big fancy word so here is what I mean.  Relativism is an idea that what I believe to be true for me and what you believe to be true for you can both be true, even if those ideas do not agree.  It is an idea that nothing is for sure. Nothing is absolutely true. It just depends on what you think is right. It’s relative. For example, if I decide to cross the street anywhere I want, and you decide to cross the street only at the crosswalk, it is fine, we both are OK. No one got ran over. You are right and so am I.  It is relative to each person. How about this example? When a teacher asks for quiet, most people are quiet but some whisper, both are basically doing the right thing. Right? Or saying you have read a book when you have read most of the book, or glancing at someone else’s paper on a test but answering most of the questions on your own, or not saying the bad word, but only thinking it in your head or mouthing it without any sound, or looking at something inappropriate on a device but just real quick, and on and on.  

We see the world around us telling us that there is no absolute truth, no real right, and wrong. You can decide. If a lot of people are doing it, it is fine. The teacher steps out of the room and tells everyone to be quiet, what sometimes happens? A few people start talking and then more and more people join in. If someone else is doing it then it must be Ok. Right? It is relative.

Psalm 1 annihilates relativism.  

You would only have to read Psalm 1 to know that the idea that nothing is absolutely true and it just depends on what you think is right, is absolutely wrong.  Here is why.

First, Psalm 1 tells us there is a God.  We all have come to a Christian school because we all believe that right?  So that is really not that big of a deal, right? Psalm 1 tells us, not so fast.  There is a difference between knowing that there is a God and actually believing that there is a God.  One is knowing the facts in your head and the other is having it in your heart. If this was no big deal then why do the first two commandments talk about it? No other gods but God, commandment 1 and don’t have idols, commandment 2.  Those commandments tell us don’t replace God with anything else. God knows our heart and how we so much want to be like God. Wasn’t that the temptation of Adam and Eve? The sneaky snake said, eat this and you will be like God. We all must admit, we are all tempted in that same way.  We all want to be kings and queens of our lives. We want the control to say, or think or do whatever we want and have it be totally fine. No problems. Guess what that is? Relativism. Truth depends on me and how I want things to be. So relativism isn’t just out there in Hollywood or in news reports or the world outside of these walls.  No, it is a very real struggle that you and I face every day. Here is the point,

there is a God and it’s not you.

  Second, Psalm 1 tells us that God is the one who created everything.  There is a mom that comes to school every Thursday to the kitchen and makes goodies for a program called Fed by Bread.  That’s why it smells so good on Thursday. She is the creator of that bread. She takes the ingredients in just the right amounts and follows precise steps so that she gets delicious bread.  It would not be that way if she grabbed a bunch of flour and threw in sugar and oil and water and dumped in yeast mixed it up and threw it in the oven. Same ingredients but very different results.  The one who creates it defines how it is made and what it can and cannot do. The bread can’t stand up and say, “hey, I wanted to be a steak”. God created us which means he has defined how we are to live and when we follow His design, we can enjoy life.  If we try to be something we are not, for example, try to be God, its like bread trying to be steak, it is absurd and a complete waste. We are to obey our creator and follow Him as He has told us how to live.

 Third, since God created everything, it means He decides what is truth.  In fact, He is the truth. As much as we want truth to depend on us, it cannot because we are not the creator.  God tells us what is true. What is right. What is wrong. It does not depend on what people think. Or how popular it is.  There is a right way to use the mind God gave you and a wrong way, right way to respond to a parent and a disobedient way, a right way to use your time and a wasteful way, a good use your energy and a bad use, a right way to use your money and a wrong way.  

When I talk back to my parents, roll my eyes at my teacher, gossip about a classmate, that is wrong.  Even if it makes me feel good. Or no one sees me do it. Or others think its funny. None of that matters.  What is wrong and what is right is defined by God. Not you. Not me. Again, we must all be honest and realize that we don’t like that.  We want right and wrong to depend on what we think. How others react. If we get caught or not.

Relativism is everywhere.  The idea that there is no absolute truth is everywhere.  Including your heart and mine. Let us not forget truth #1 of Psalm 1, You and I live in a world of right and wrong, good and bad, true and false.  We must see the world around us and our hearts through the lens of Psalm 1. Otherwise, we see distortions and can believe them to be the real thing.  In order to know the truth, we must be lead by our great guide who gives us the Bible to be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.

Perish

For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Two weeks ago we talked about how everyone has a destiny.  Destiny means that there are certain events in the future that will happen.  When Darth Vader tries to get Luke Skywalker to turn to the dark side, he says, it is your destiny.  Vader meant this will happen. Thankfully this wasn’t Luke’s destiny because the next movies would have been totally different.  It wouldn’t have been quite as interesting to see them build yet another death star and then have no one to destroy it.

Destiny is the truth that choices and actions will lead you a certain way.  To a certain end. God is a God of order and if you do things a certain way, you will end up in a certain place.  For example, if you stop studying for your tests, stop doing your homework, and instead play minecraft, what will happen to your grade?  It is absurd to think you will make the all A’s honor roll. It is just as absurd to think you can live your life however you want and then expect God to say “well done good and faithful servant”.

In Psalm 1, King David says that if you follow the path of the righteous, which means turning from the path of the ungodly and meditating on God’s word, your destiny is redeemed by Christ and will lead you to heaven.  What is interesting is that seems like a great way to end the first psalm but he doesn’t. He ends with

“but the way of the ungodly shall perish”.

King David says just as sure as we are of the destiny of the righteous leading to heaven, we can be just as sure as the choices, attitudes and actions of the ungodly, will lead to their destruction.  

A famous preacher of the past, Charles Spurgeon said,

“Sinners cannot live in heaven. They would be out of their element. Sooner could a fish live upon a tree than the wicked in Paradise. Heaven would be an intolerable hell to an impenitent man, even if he could be allowed to enter.”  

What Spurgeon is saying is that even if a sinner, by himself, could go to heaven, they would choose not to because they love their wickedness over truth and beauty. This shows how strong our attraction to sin really is. We would want to live in sin than go to heaven.

It is easy to believe that when we look around and see people we obviously can tell hate God but what is extremely difficult to believe is that we all, myself included, have that level of darkness lurking in our hearts.  It took the most extraordinary event in human history, the death of Jesus on the cross, to break the power of sin and the powerful bondage we all were under from it. Only by faith in Christ can we have a destiny of light over a destiny of darkness.  

It seems so obvious that choosing the ungodly path and perishing would be a bad choice.  Why do so many choose it? And if we are honest, why do we sometimes choose it? Only something so powerful and sinister could twist our mind and heart away from the amazing gift of grace secured on the cross, to something that would lead to death.

This is what King David has been fervently warning us about in this first Psalm.  What is this dark and sinister thing that lures our hearts and minds? It is this, you will want to load everything you can into this world so that you only live for yourself.  You will want to get as much as you can out of this world that while you are alive on this earth, you won’t care about living for the next world.  For heaven. You are asking this world to be something it cannot be and that is paradise. God created it good but it is not heaven. God created all the things of this world good, and to be enjoyed.  That big juicy steak. A sunrise on an ocean horizon. Those big white soft snowflakes that fall. The love of a mother. The loyalty of a friend. The satisfaction of success. All these things and more God gave us.  But we confuse all the stuff of this world with our identity. We think that this stuff makes us who we are. Instead, all this stuff is pointing upward. It’s pointing to an amazing creator, to a God who so loved us that he sent His only son to rescue us.

We try to make for ourselves a heaven on earth where we are the rulers of our little kingdom.  We try to become little kings and queens. We want to make the rules. To choose when we want to work hard.  Who and when we have to obey. What we spend our time doing. If we want to be on our phone, then no one should tell us to put it away.  If we want to go home and play video games instead of doing chores, studying for tests or homework, how dare our parents tell us otherwise.  This “me first” way of living is not just a bad idea. It’s not just a bad choice. No, it is much deeper and much more serious. It is a serious heart issue.  

King David writes that when you choose your own path, where you reject God as the king and creator, and that path is the road to destruction and if you continue on that path, you will perish.  We all must look at our lives and decide what is truly important to us. Do I joyfully obey or do I roll my eyes and sigh? When I am asked to help out around the class or at home, do I do it right away or only when forced to?  These are little signs that tell you where you are heading. The direction of your heart. What kingdom you are living for. Your little kingdom, population 1 or God’s huge, amazing, big kingdom that includes the entire history of the world past, present and future?  A kingdom that loves God and loves their neighbor.

Easter is not about bunnies, baby chickens, candy and eggs.  It is about how God sent his son to rescue you from your little kingdom and how he will take you to His huge kingdom that leads to paradise.

Psalm 1 ends with a scary warning that we all must listen to.  The danger is to think I became a christian so I don’t have to worry about perishing any more but the warning is that every day you are moving in a direction, either the way of the righteous or the way of the ungodly.  Christ died, was buried and rose again to give you the grace you need every day to choose the way of the righteous. 

The Seven Deadly Sins Series with Rev. William “Geoff” Smith

The Bible says that a man who controls his temper is better than a man who can overthrow a city. Jesus himself says that anger can start a process in which an individual and the communities of which he is a part can devolve into the fires of hell. Paul says that unchecked anger gives a foothold to Satan. If anger is so dangerous and so difficult to overcome, what can we do about this powerful passion that dwells within us?

The Bible and the Christian tradition through the ages offer several solutions. We’ll start with tradition and end with Scripture. Thomas Aquinas makes the point that

one must distinguish between just and unjust anger.

Just anger is anger which desires to correct sin (whether personal or in others). Unjust anger is anger which wishes to harm others or get even. Knowing these distinctions can be very helpful, as we can ask, if we’re angry, “Do I wish to harm another or to correct sin? If I wish to harm, I should shut my mouth and not act right now. If I wish to correct a sin, I should measure my words to do exactly that and nothing more.” Another strategy, which Jesus recommends, is to take extreme ownership over your community, team, or family and if you are about to worship then remember that if you have wronged another, go reconcile immediately.

In other words, the Christian is a part of a kingdom whose citizens all take 100% ownership of their actions and therefore try to right whatever wrongs they have done.

A final strategy is one offered by Paul the Apostle. In Philippians 4:8-9, he recommends thinking of the best in others so that we might experience the peace of God in the midst of interpersonal conflict.

Coming up this week at SoLaR Chapel…”Pride!”

New Life in Christ

The Bible is a Truth to be obeyed or given adherence to.  So, what happens when we don’t obey?  It usually doesn’t end well!  Obeying creates safety for us that God provides because of his great love for us.

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Like A Tree

I grew up on the farm that my great-grandfather farmed.  The white barn on the property is over hundred years old and is still a working barn.  I remember as a boy walking into the tack room and seeing pictures of his teams of draft horses placed among the actual yokes and harnesses that those horses were hitched up to plow and pull the farm equipment to take care of his 80-acre farm.

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Calling

I grew up on a farm and one of the things I hated the most was during the summer was when my mom would make a list of chores for me to finish before I could do anything else.  The thing that I wanted to do more than anything else was to go fishing but I knew I had to do chores first.  Of all the chores that my mom could write down, the worst ones were cleaning.  This wasn’t vacuuming or dusting, no it was cleaning up after animals.  You see we had a fair number of chickens and horses and they would spend their nights in the coop or stall and they would make their mess inside.  Someone, usually me, had to keep these buildings clean.  It was a hot, dirty, smelly job.  In the 1500’s, people would look at someone who did those kinds of jobs and think, only people who work in the church are really doing the work of God. Today I am going to talk briefly about an idea that Martin Luther brought forward during the reformation that was completely revolutionary for its time.  It was the idea of calling.  He insisted that the farmer shoveling manure and the maid milking her cow could please God as much as the minister preaching or praying.

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Delight

Let me ask you this question, what sets apart someone who is in favor with God and on the way to enjoy the blessings of heaven and someone who is turning away from God and on the path of destruction? The answer is, what makes you happy. I mean deep down, what you really want to satisfy your heart desire.

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