Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Doctrine for Dummies (week 2)

The Apostles Creed is our basis for this study, and this week I'm addressing the line, "I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, Our Lord."

1. I believe in Jesus Christ
a. Christ is the Greek word for Messiah which means "chosen one," "anointed one" or "deliverer." He has come to deliver us from the penalty, power and punishment our sins deserve.
b. Jesus is the beginning of faith, and He also is the object we place our faith in.
c. Jesus was a real person who lived a life on this earth for 33 years, worked miracles, taught with authority, died on a cross, rose again from the dead, and is now a man forever in heaven seated at God's right hand. This we believe!

I once had an interaction with a group of Mormon missionaries who asked me if I believed in Jesus Christ. I said, "yes, of course I do." They then asked me which one I believed in. "I wasn't aware there was more than one!" I replied. No matter how funny this is, there are many people out there who do hold to this view. I believe in the one and only "from the Father full of Grace and Truth." Let us not be tempted to make up a nice Jesus that fits everything we want and need like Thomas Jefferson did. He took the Bible and edited it to remove the supernatural elements, miracles, and perceived misconceptions of things Jesus could not possibly have said. Frankly, the only way we can get to know the true Jesus is to read the Bible and know what Jesus actually said. When I was in college, I had a project in which, with no assistance, I had to go through all the gospels (the books directly about Jesus' life) and find all the direct commands of Jesus. It was groundbreaking and eye-opening for me; I know it will be for you as well if you do it. We cannot forget Peter's classic confession- in Matthew 16:13-17, Peter says of Jesus, "you are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the Living God." Who do you say He is?

2. God's only Son
a. John 1:14 & 3:16-18 describe Jesus as God's one and only Son
b. In these passages John the Revelator uses the Greek word monogeneis to describe the special relationship between the Father and Son. This word means "the only generated one." This refers to Him as the only eternal generated of the Father. This word implies that the Son and the Father are of one and the same nature. This means that the Son is also eternal. The prefix "mono" is attached to the word meaning "one" or "only" and thus Jesus stands alone as the only "unique" or "incomparable" Son of God. This we believe!

3. He is our Lord
a. John 20:28 is Thomas' declaration of Lordship. When faced with the presence of the Risen Lord, he said "My Lord and my God." Thomas went on (according to Foxe's Book of Martyrs and native southern Indians) to give his life as a martyr in India for this Lord.
b. Definition of Lordship (this is the simple version): There is no part of my life that is not turned over to Jesus for him to be in charge of. When I was in high school, I had a hard time letting Jesus be in charge of my athletic life. I thought He would make things no fun anymore. That was a wrong assumption. He made things better for me athletically when I bowed the knee to His control of that area. It was not always the path I would have chosen, but it was always better for me to take the road of His choosing. It helps to think of Lordship as we would our bosses. We all have bosses, some good and some not so good. When I think of bad bosses, the image of Michael Scott from the popular show The Office comes to mind. If you go back a little further, there's a movie that set that show up called Office Space. Here's a clip from that movie showing how bad a boss can be. It's pretty funny- enjoy!

After having viewed that, you might now be subject to nightmares or daymares of terrible bosses. But we can know and trust that Jesus is never a bad boss, never uses His authority to keep you under His thumb, never fails to love and care for you! Wow. What a Lord! What area of your life do you need to give to Jesus to take charge of today? What thing have you kept back for yourself? He is a good Lord and an even better boss. Release that one thing to Him now to take good care of for you. Cast all your cares upon Him because He cares for you!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Swagger Wagon

I hope you have seen the Toyota commercial "swagger wagon"; it's kind of poking fun (okay, it's really poking fun) at parents who do crazy stuff for their kids. It's really funny how much pride these people take in their Toyota minivans. Well, I joined the ranks of the minivan world. We were in need of a car recently with our little Honda on the fritz and much money needed for a repair. We started to pray that God would GIVE us a car. I received the best spiritual advice I have ever received from my mechanic when he said, "pray and make it known." So we floated prayer requests that we were in need of a car. Someone let us know about a vehicle that their father had, and it just happened to be a minivan. Not just any old minivan, it was a 1993 Chevy Lumina minivan! The car actually ran and had ONLY 80,000 miles on it. I went to see it and sign the papers, and WOW, talk about a "swagger wagon." It had door handles that didn't open, the seat belt was broken, the roof was falling, the paint is fading, etc etc. Oh, and did I mention that is looks like a spaceship out of the 1980's sci-fi era? But it ran and it was exactly what we had prayed for- an older family vehicle! God is good like that; he gives us what we need! Not more than that.

So I want to swagger in my wagon if I may. As the Apostle Paul wrote, "I will boast all the more in my weakness, so that the power of Christ can work through me" (2 Cor. 12:9). Another verse comes to mind: "Some boast in horses and some in chariots, but we will boast in the name of the Lord our God" (Ps. 20:7). So have a look at the pimpin' new swagger wagon I'm rollin in. I will boast in our God and His provision and be proud that my God supplies all my needs according to His riches in glory. How about you?

If you're up for a big laugh, I attached the swagger wagon video. Have fun.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Doctrine for Dummies

Doctrine for Dummies (Week 1)
The Apostles Creed

When I say the word doctrine, what comes to your mind first? What came to my mind when I heard that word while in college was huge books and lots of boring reading. But I've come to know that it doesn't have to be that way. Doctrine is defined as "a system of teaching." In a nine-week series I'll take a look at the Apostles Creed and explain it as our main system of teaching. I will seek to break it apart for us 'dummies' and help us understand its implications for our lives. The first part of the Apostles Creed says,

"I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker (creator) of heaven and earth"

There are three parts to this first section of the Creed; the first is
1. I believe in God (Hebrews 11:6)
A. Belief in God is the beginning of doctrine; if we cannot get past a true and honest belief in God, then we cannot go any further.
B. God IS our faith. Everything starts and ends there; without him there's nothing. He is the Alpha and Omega of everything, including our faith.
C. My children come to me for everything at this time in their lives- they want to read books, play games, watch videos with me, and many more things like it. They not only believe that I exist, they also believe that I will reward them with good things when they come to me. This is what Hebrews 11:6 describes about our relationship with God, that he will reward those who seek Him. It isn't sufficient to just believe that God exists; we must seek Him and His reward.

2. The Father Almighty (Psalm 91:1 "he who dwells in the shelter of the most high will abide in the shadow of the almighty")
A. Description of His glory: Revelation 4:1-11. AMAZING! If you take a moment to read that chapter in Revelation, you will see a glimpse of the ALMIGHTY in power and glory.
B. He is a loving father and Almighty (in perfect balance).
C. I find it really hard to be a loving father and almighty to my kids because sometimes my wrath takes over my love, or my love outshines my wrath. But God never allows his wrath to take over his love, or vice versa.

3. Maker (creator) of heaven and earth (Hebrews 11:3)
A. By faith we must believe He is the maker. We were not there; we did not witness God creating, but we must by faith accept it. It would take as much faith to accept some other means of us arriving here as it does for us to believe in God doing it (i.e., we're alien spawn, or single cells arrived on the backs of crystals; sounds like science fiction) because we were not there. Faith is believing in something you haven't witnessed, and we didn't witness creation but we accept it by faith.
B. One time I searched for myself how many scriptures I could find that define or describe creation. With no concordance I found 20+ scripture references on how God specifically created this world and continues to hold it together. There are a plethora more than this. This was just me with a Bible looking up the passages I could remember. If you believe the Bible is the word of God- true and inerrant- you must believe God is the Creator and Sustainer of life.

This is a picture of the God we serve; He exists and rewards those who seek Him. He is our Father the Almighty, and He created everything from nothing (ex nihilo). This is the God we serve and we start there. Our only response can be that of worship. To help us worship, I attached a video of a song that puts the Apostles Creed to music. Have a look at this- it's by Rich Mullins, a great artist in his time who's now with the Lord.