Monday, March 23, 2009

Thirsting after righteousness

I've been reading "Wesley's 52 Standard Sermons" and came across this the other day. One of those "wish I would have said this" sort of things.

“And it is as impossible to satisfy such a soul, a soul that is athirst for God, the living God, with what the world accounts religion, as with what they account happiness. The religion of the world implies three things: (1) The doing no harm, the abstaining from outward sin; at least from such as is scandalous, as robbery, theft, common swearing, drunkenness: (2) The doing good, the relieving the poor; the being charitable, as it is called: (3) The using the means of grace; at least the going to church and to the Lord’s Supper. He in whom these three marks are found is termed by the world a religious man. But will this satisfy him who hungers after God? No: It is not food for his soul. He wants a religion of a nobler kind, a religion higher and deeper than this. He can no more feed on this poor, shallow, formal thing, than he can ‘fill his belly with the east wind.’ True, he is careful to abstain from the very appearance of evil; he is zealous of good works; he attends all the ordinances of God: But all this is not what he longs for. This is only the outside of that religion, which he insatiably hungers after. The knowledge of God in Christ Jesus; ‘the life which is hid with Christ in God;’ the being ‘joined unto the Lord in one Spirit;’ the having ‘fellowship with the Father and the Son;’ the ‘walking in the light as God is in the light;’ the being ‘purified even as He is pure;’—this is the religion, the righteousness, he thirsts after: Nor can he rest, till he thus rests in God.”
– John Wesley in Sermon on the Mount, Discourse II

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Steelers to Lose Super Bowl Trophies

The latest from ESPN...


The Super Bowl XLIII Champion Pittsburgh Steelers, the only team to win six titles, will soon be losing half of those trophies. After a meeting between NFL Commissioner Rodger Gadel and President Barack Hussain Obama, Obama decided to redistribute half of their Steeler Super Bowl victories and trophies to less fortunate teams in the league.

“We live everyday in the country that invented the Super Bowl,” said Obama “We are not about to lose this Great American tradition in the wake of these difficult times.” Obama’s plan calls for the Steelers, who are a successful NFL team, to give half of their Super Bowl trophies to teams that are not successful or have not been as successful as the Steelers. “The Detroit Loins are just as much a part of the same fiber of the NFL as the Steelers and they should, no rather will, be entitled to a Super Bowl Trophy as well.” Obama explains in his plan that he has imposed on Godel and the NFL.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, who by virtue of hard work, excellent team play, stellar draft choices, responsible investing of free agents, careful hiring of coaches and excellent community service and commitment to their fans, has prospered greatly during the past 30 years and have won six Super Bowl Trophies. But President Barack Hussain Obama’s plan calls for the Pittsburgh Steelers to carry the larger burden of the NFL’s less successful teams. Obama went on to further proclaim, “In these difficult times we are all in this to work together. We must reclaim the NFL Championship Dream for every team, for every city and for every fan.”

“My plan will not affect 31 of the 32 teams in the league.” Obama assures. That’s over 95 percent of the teams in the NFL will not have to worry about loosing any Super Bowl Trophies. “The worst teams in the NFL and the teams that can’t seem to get a break and win a championship will no longer have to worry about going without a title.” Obama promises. “We are a country and league of hope. We all need to make a change.
It does not matter the color of the teams uniforms, the personal decisions that the teams make or their performance but rather if they are a member of this great American league.”

The Super Bowl XLIII trophy will be redistributed to the 0-16 Detroit Lions. Through no fault of their own incompetence, the Lions could not manage a victory all season and this trophy will help ease the pain of their lack of performance and give them hope once again. The redistribution of Super Bowl XL trophy will go directly to the Steeler’s division rival the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals who also have fallen on hard times have never won a Super Bowl. This victory will bring a smile to hundreds of Bengal fans all over the world as they can now celebrate. Finally, one of the Steeler’s two Super Bowl victories over the Dallas Cowboys will go back to the Cowboys since the league needs to provide hope in the face of difficulty and provide hope in the face of uncertainty. This is a heavy burden for the Steelers but together we can all prosper.

All hope is not lost for Pittsburgh fans, Barack Hussain Obama has another plan in place. Obama has meet with MLB and commissioner Bud Selig on a similar plan. The New York Yankees will redistribute two of their world series trophies to the Pittsburgh Pirates as a supplement to their loosing 16 straight seasons and counting. This plan will help stimulate the Pirates and enable them to regain the American Dream. Barack Hussain Obama will be meeting with the NHL and Michael Phelps in the upcoming weeks as this issue is high on his agenda for “Hope and Change.”

Friday, March 13, 2009

Scripture

"The Bible is the record of the activity of God. God is the center. Everything is of God, comes from God, and returns to God. In other words, we are faced at the very beginning with this category of revelation. It is God who speaks. It is God who acts. It is God who intervenes. It is God who originates, who plans everything everywhere. It is a revelation of what God is, and what God does. It is a record of God revealing and manifesting Himself."
- Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones

“The external words of Christ, just like the words of the prophets, are to prepare us for, and point us to, that inner speaking in the heart by the Holy Spirit, which alone is life and power…How many have sought by study and meditation and acceptance of the words of the Bible to find God, and yet have failed. They knew not that these were but the finger-posts pointing to the living Son,--words coming, indeed from God, most needful and profitable, and yet not sufficient; only yielding us their true blessing when they have brought us to hear God Himself in His Son.”
- Andrew Murray

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jesus and Moses

“Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house.” – Hebrews 3:3, 5-6a

This passage of Scripture was part of the text for my sermon last week, and there is a powerful message in this. To get there, it’s important to ask a question. Why did the author of Hebrews find it important to mention the fact that Jesus was greater than Moses? Certainly part of it has to do with the fact that in this book Jesus is elevated to a place above people and angels in an attempt to show His superiority. In the first chapter we have the prophets, which would have included Moses, and the angels, who were superior beings to humans in the Old Testament. So why this?

To discover the message, it’s important to remember who Moses was. Moses was the man who was chosen by God to lead the people out of Egypt. From his hand came many, many miracles, displaying the power and delight of God on his life. When Aaron and Miriam said he should share his leadership, and spoke of him as a selfish leader, God Himself came down and defended Moses, telling them that Moses had been chosen by God, not the other way around. Moses didn’t do what he did because he wanted to, which is evidenced in the burning bush experience. Instead, he followed the will of God, being faithful “in all God’s house.” God had called Moses to be a servant. Moses was faithful in that calling.

In addition to this, it was Moses who gave the law to the Israelites, teaching them to obey God, and what it meant to serve Him. It was Moses who wrote more of the Bible than anyone else, including the Apostle Paul. To the Israelites, Moses was a hero, a leader, and someone with an intimate relationship with God. He communed with God in ways no one else had the opportunity to do.

But why not Abraham, the friend of God? Or what about David, the man after God’s own heart? Why Moses? The answer, I believe, can be answered in what John Maxwell calls “The Law of the Lid.” In his book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” Maxwell states that the Law of the Lid is this; “Leadership Ability Determines a Peron’s Level of Effectiveness.” What this law states is that a leader will only be able to lead others to his own level in any particular category. In other words, I am a pastor, and as such, I can only lead my people to my level of spirituality. I can’t lead them closer to God than I am. They may be able to get there, but not because of my leadership.

If you take this idea to the passage about Moses and Jesus, we see that the distinction the author makes between the two has nothing to do with whether one or the other was called by God. They were both doing as they were supposed to do. Moses was faithful in “God’s house.” Jesus was faithful as an “Apostle.” He was sent by God. It also has nothing to do with whether they were faithful. The author states the faithfulness of both. The difference is that Moses was faithful as a servant, while Jesus was faithful as a Son.

If you apply The Law of the Lid, you see that Moses could only teach the people to be the servants of God. Certainly he did this, faithfully and with great patience and diligence. He gave the law, led by example, and showed true love and compassion. He encouraged the people to follow after God. However, he was still only a servant of God, and that was the highest level he could lead the people. Under his leadership, the people would never be more than servants of God.

Jesus, however, came as a faithful Son over the house of God. When He came, it was with the intention of teaching us to not be servants of God, but to be sons and daughters. Certainly some of the aspects of servant hood still apply. We are called to be obedient, but now it is out of love, not duty. Jesus taught us to call God our Father, and to pray in that sense. His death was for the purpose of making us part of His family.

So the important distinction between the two is in where they can take us. Many of the Hebrews were considering going back to the ways of the Old Testament, and the author of Hebrews is telling them that is only so good. Those who continue to follow the legalistic patterns set forth by the Pharisees of Jesus’ day only prove that those who follow Moses will only ever know God as a master, and never as a Father. Jesus came to lead us to a higher level, and the highest of servants is sill nothing compared to the lowest of children. The law has its place; of that there can be no doubt. But the law can only take us so far; it can only teach us to be servants of God. If we want to learn what it means to be a son or daughter of God, we must follow the pattern of Christ, becoming His disciple, and learning through His example what it means to be part of God’s family.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Global Warming?

My wife was reading me a letter to the editor of one of our local papers today, and a lady wrote in with this to say; "The debate is over; the science is clear: Global warming is happening and we need to do something about it."

So then we're listening to Glenn Beck, and he reads part of an article I thought quite humorous. The "Global warming" debate is supposed to be over, right? Well, what happens if the globe really isn't warming, and may not for the next thirty years. Now, this isn't the news coming from some right wing conspiracy theorist. This is from the Discovery Channel itself, just one of the groups who have been teaching on this for so long. Now, these aren't my words. Feel free to read the whole article here. Let me just give you a piece of it.

"But climate is known to be variable -- a cold winter, or a few strung together doesn't mean the planet is cooling. Still, according to a new study in Geophysical Research Letters, global warming may have hit a speed bump and could go into hiding for decades."

Wait, it hit a "speed bump?" So it's not really global "warming," it's global "climate change" right? Meaning sometimes it gets warmer, and sometimes it gets colder? Hence the "global cooling" scare of the 1970's? Isn't that what many scientists have been saying all along? Meanwhile, there are those trying to put us all on a guilt trip for driving our big cars, trucks and SUV's, using regular light bulbs, and oh, yes, trying to actually stay warm during this particularly cold winter. But then you read the next paragraph...

"Earth's climate continues to confound scientists. Following a 30-year trend of warming, global temperatures have flatlined since 2001 despite rising greenhouse gas concentrations, and a heat surplus that should have cranked up the planetary thermostat."

So while those of us in Western PA are doing all we can to bring on an early spring, we're really not accomplishing anything at all? What a bummer.

Well, I'm no scientist, but maybe those who claim this debate is finished should go back and check the numbers one more time.