Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Opposite Way: Study on the Beatitudes

The Opposite Way: Week 4

"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? "If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48 NASB)

Jesus shows us the opposite way in the Beatitudes...

1. The opposite way is to love your enemies

It's easy to love your family when they are so awesome
Lydia when she said sensory is in the house.
"daddy your handsome"
I was taking my daughter Lydia to the potty at target the other day.  That is the best place to have deep discussions in the mens room at Target.  She looked up at me and said..."Daddy your my sister"... I thought for a minute and said, "No, your my daughter, and I have a sister and two brothers". Lydia looked at me and pushed her poopie out and said, "Oh, good job daddy". It's real easy to love family, but it is a lot harder to love those people who you could call your enemies. A few years ago I got a call from someone who was going on a missions trip with a group from our church.  He was not able to go with us in the end, so I called him to tell him details about his ticket and he then began to attack my and my wife's leadership.  I have to say it was real hard to love him, and in all honesty when he started to attack my wife I think I lost love for him.Do we really love our enemies as Jesus asks us to here?  It is a hard standard, but that is the goal as Jesus has given us. 
What are some ideas to love your enemies. Jesus gives us practical ideas. He says we should pray for them, and greet them. It is hard to greet someone warmly and hate them.  It is also very hard to pray for someone and hate them you actually grow to love them after all. Some other things you could do is surprise them with something good. Be kind to them. Help them in some practical way.

2. The opposite way is to be perfect (morally)
Have you ever tried to stack three balls on top of each other? it is pretty much impossible. or have you ever tried to bounce quarters off a table into a water jug from an office building water cooler? Don't worry I will save you the time...it is impossible you could do it a million times and not get a quarter in there. That is why they have it as the million dollar challenge on the game show Minute to Win it, because no one can do it!
The same goes for being morally perfect. It is impossible we cannot be perfect!
This is impossible because the Bible says that no one is perfect
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23 NASB)
All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. (Isaiah 53:6 NASB)
1. So how can we be perfect?
2. Jesus was the only man to be perfect
3. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15, 16 NASB)
4. We cannot be perfect that is why we need a perfect replacement. And Jesus is that. He lived the life we should have lived and died the death we deserve so that He could rise from the dead on the third day to conquer our sins and all we have to do is as Romans 10:9 says, "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED." (Romans 10:9-11 NASB)

If you chose this counter-cultural way that Jesus describes in these few verses from the beatitudes you will be going the opposite way! He will and will continue to make all things new in you! Please feel free to worship now the God who makes all things new. Below Elevation worship band sings "Making All Things New"

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ye Fearful Saints Fresh Courage Take!

This song has been hitting me very hard lately. It is a song by Jeremy Riddle called "God Moves in a Mysterious Way". Mostly the chorus phrase has hit me with particular ferocity, and I am grateful.  The line goes "Ye fearful saints fresh courage take" and It has hit me between the eyes. The song goes on to chronicle hard times and how they are actually a blessing from God. It gives reasons in the hard times for courage in the midst of fear! I hope it blesses you as it has me! Meditate on the chorus and praise God with me that in the midst of your hard time and fear, courage can emerge.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm

Deep in unsearchable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings, in blessings
In blessings on your head

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense
But trust Him for His grace
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face

His purposes will ripen fast
Unfolding every hour
The bud may have a bitter taste
But sweet will be the flower

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings, in blessings
In blessings on your head

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain
God is His own interpreter
And He will make it plain

In His own time
In His own way...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Opposite Way: Study on the Beatitudes

The Opposite Way: Week 3
The Beatitudes
Jesus shows us the countercultural way of life in Christ in the Beatitudes

My wife recently found a shed to purchase from Craigslist so I went to pick it up.  It was quite an adventure. We went to Point Richmond it is basically the furthest point out in the San Francisco Bay befor you get to water.  It was pretty crazy to get to, but we eventually found the guy he lives on a house boat in the bay and was selling us his storage shed. we must have strapped it down the wrong way becasue once we go on the freeway home it started to act more like a sail than a shed. It was floating from side to side in the truck bed most of the time. I realized that doing stuff the wrong way doesn't work but Jesus explains to us how to go the opposite way of our culture and it actually is the right thing to do and the way of most blessing. Here is what he says...

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:9-12 NASB)

1. The opposite way is purity

- Proverbs 23:7 says "as a man thinks in his heart so is he" Here are a few questions to ask ourselves to keep our thought life pure

- Where do our minds wander when we have no duties to perform?

- What are we reading? Are there books or magazines or files in our libraries that we want no one else to see?

- What are we renting at the local video stores, iTunes, Netflix, and YouTube? What are we spending our time viewing and doing online How many hours do we spend watching TV, etc?

- Is anyone holding you accountable? Use accountability!

2. The opposite way is Peacemaking

I met a young High School student who told me last year that he had been in like over 30 fights.I was pretty surprised and told him my story of how aggressive and angry I was also as a young man and tried to explain the way of peace to him, but he just could not get it. I found out later that he had dropped out of school and is in real trouble with the law and just not doing very good in his life heading in the wrong direction becasue he rejects the way of peace. do you reject the way of peace. If you do not pursue peacemaking then maybe you are actually rejecting the way of peace that Jesus calls us to. Here are a few practical ways to be peacemakers in our culture...
1. Be generous with your smiles.
2. Be kind.
3. Be honest
4. Think about consequences
5. Be fair.
6. Be more loving.
7. Be a voice for the voiceless.
8. Be forgiving.
9. Play with a child.
10. Sing.
11. Learn about another culture.
12. Help someone.
13. Breathe deeply.
14. Be constructive.
15. Let someone else go first.
16. Share.
17. Be a good neighbor.
18. Send a note of appreciation.
19. Tell your friends how much they matter.
20. Say "I love you" more.
21. Respect the dignity of each person.
22. Be a good friend.
23. Send flowers to someone
24. Lose an argument to a loved one.
25. Value diversity.

3. The opposite way is Persecution

You might be called to suffer for Jesus name. Will you be ready? I attended Columbia International University in college.  I was a resident of Memorial dorm. The dorm was a memorial to students who had attended CIU and had given their lives for the cause of Christ . Chet Bitterman was one of those men. 
Chet Bitterman Missionary to Colombia, South America
He said in relation to dying for Christ, "I am willing." Every day I walked out of memorial dorm and prayed that I would be ready and willing to suffer for his name like Chet Bitterman. So not if but WHEN you suffer you can and should rejoice that it has been allowed for your good and Gods glory!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ramen Noodles Chicken Flavored Pride

Ramen Noodles Chicken flavored Pride

I used to love ramen noodles! I still kind of love Ramen noodles. You put them in hot water for a few minutes, and you add the powder and you have yourself some awesome chicken (flavored) soup. But alas I am older now and the days of backpacking, living on pennies a week, and late night exam cram sessions are over (at least for a little while).
So, I caught myself today looking through our sparse cupboards for something to eat for lunch. I found an old stack of ramen noodles packed away behind a box of really out-dated dates (sorry some puns just happen). And so I cooked them. As the water was boiling I said to myself, "self, aren't you past eating Ramen Noodles?" it was a moment of pride before I put the noodles in the water. Is this the season of life that I should be eating a few packs of year old Ramen Noodles? This is where the deceitfulness of pride comes in. It lulls you into thinking you should grow out of certain things because you are better than that. Pride says you are better than that when in truth we are not better than anything or anyone In this life. It is written about many times and many places in the Bible, but never more eloquently by Paul in Philippians...
"Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross." (Philippians 2:3-8 NLT)
Here is the tough balance not thinking I am better than Ramen Noodles, and also looking out for your own interests as Paul says here. I must confess, I lean almost always ever to the wrong extreme of self love and preservation, pride and arrogance. God would you help me/us to lean more toward the example of Christ. Help us follow Christ example in all things as it says "You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had." Not try to have, or strive, but "you must". Lord I am so sorry when I think I am better than that thing or person. If you are willing you could pray with me this very dangerous prayer of humility. It goes like this..."Jesus, please humble me". But be ready the dangerous part is that he will answer that prayer, so be ready to be humbled, and maybe I should be ready to eat Ramen Noodles for a while longer. Who's with me?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Opposite Way: Study on the Beatitudes

The Opposite Way: Week 2
The Beatitudes
Jesus shows us the countercultural way of life in Christ in the Beatitudes

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:6-8 NASB)

Open: what is blessing? It is more than asking a blessing over your meal before you eat. Check out this hilarious video "PRE-BLESSED FOOD"

Being blessed means "inheriting the kingdom of heaven, being comforted, inheriting the earth, being satisfied, receiving mercy, seeing God, being called sons of God, your reward in heaven is great. This is the type of blessing we should seek. It is counter-cultural to seek blessing that is not monetary or tangible in this life.

1. Opposite way is hungering and thirsting for righteousness
Righteousness is doing what is right just as Jesus did. Here is a Righteousness test: "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8 NASB)
If you can say you do these things in every situation then you are righteous. We cannot do these things all the time but we can seek them.

2. Opposite way is being merciful
Mercy is receiving what we do not deserve. The feeling that motivates compassion. Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity continued to grow during her life-time, and at the time of her death, they had 610 missions in 123 countries, including hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy, and tuberculosis. They offered soup kitchens, children's and family counseling programs, orphanages, and schools. We can say that Mother Teresa practiced mercy to the most needy.

Mercy, detached from Justice, grows unmerciful.-- CS Lewis

This also is a good test to see if you are practicing mercy...
"Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow. (Isaiah 1:16, 17 NASB)

3. Opposite way is seeking purity
Seeking to be unstained by sin

My brother was made fun of for seeking purity and not looking at pornography and partying in middle school. He told the guys who made fun if him, "the Holy Spirit lives in my body and i don't want to make him feel uncomfortable."WOW! do we seek purity to this extent that we think of the Holy Spirit and his presence with us always. When we do we will finally be going the opposite way.