May 23, 2010

Living in Worship – John 4:23-26 – David Hanke

so what if you fail?

I’m very sad this morning about this.

My first response:  ‘Are you kidding, me?’  Not because he is a particularly great guy or because he is a ‘Christian’.  I don’t know him.  And I’m enough out of the loop that I wouldn’t even recognize him on the street.

I’m just sad and frustrated that another family gets devastated and another marriage gets blown up.

He’s right about this:  MY COMFORT IS THAT GOD IS A GRACIOUS AND FORGIVING GOD TO THOSE WHO SINCERELY SEEK HIS FORGIVENESS AS I DO.

And he’s right about this:  BUT I AM SO ASHAMED TO HAVE HURT THOSE I LOVE.

I’m very disappointed.

On Sunday

I talked about sexual immorality.

Let me emphasize 3 things:

1.  Sexuality is hard no matter your demographic.  It is difficult to be outside of a marriage covenant and to have sexual desires (ie, to be single and to choose the discipline of self-denial).  It is difficult to be inside a marriage covenant and be faithful to one person forever and to grow deeper in intimacy and serving each other (see 1Cor 7: 1-5).  This is why it matters first and foremost what you believe about Jesus, the resurrection, and the Holy Spirit living in you.  We can only approach sexuality the way the Bible describes if we are fully convinced about what God has done in us and for us through His Son.  If you are not fully convinced, the behavior is merely rigid moralism.  But even with the Holy Spirit, the teaching of 1 Cor 6 is challenging (to be clear, it’s not confusing, not culturally mitigated, not obtuse– it’s challenging. It’s difficult.)  It really is hard to follow Jesus and it really is choosing to lay down your rights and it really is letting parts of you be put to death (pruned!) so that real life can happen.

2.  ALL of us have a ‘past’.  We all have stuff we have done that brings shame and condemnation. What do we do with our guilt and shame? There really is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.  Ps 32.5 says that God even forgives the ‘guilt’ of our sin.  He can wash away guilty feelings and shame.  Only God takes seriously the depth of our wrong.  He doesn’t flinch at what we have done.  And only God moves commensurately to provide forgiveness and new life.

3.  Many of us have a ‘present‘.  We have stuff we are doing, stuff we are mired in, that feels like it has a real hold on us.  We might like to stop it or do something differently, but we don’t know how.  We just feel despair.  In two weeks (May 30) we will look at Galatians 5 and think about the freedom that Christ brings for those who are in Him, for those who have the Spirit.

There is hope.

May 16, 2010

Dealing With Temptation – John 16:25-33 – David Hanke

May 16, 2010

All Parish Meeting

A little week-end reading

If you want to read ahead for Sunday and then small group, take a look at these links.

Reviewing a new biography of E. M. Forster

Time to throw out virginity and tactical nukes

Girls, hooking up, Taylor Swift, Glee, and true love

porn, devastation, it’s as bad as you think

And while you’re at it, friend me so you can see the conversation taking place on my facebook page.

Just trying to keep it real.  See you on Sunday.

God’s checklist

I’ve been thinking a lot about checklists since David’s sermon on Sunday.  He did a great job of describing the way we imagine God constantly standing over our shoulder, monitoring our every thought and action and marking down all of our failures on some sort of divine checklist.  The result?  A profound sense of condemnation–the unshakable feeling that God is perpetually disappointed in us, the conviction that God wishes we would get our acts together so he wouldn’t have to keep on doling out so much grace.

Nothing could be farther from the truth, of course.  God isn’t stingy with his grace; he’s more lavishly generous than we will ever understand (check out Psalm 103, especially verses 11-14). And God doesn’t keep a running tally of how many times we’ve committed the same sin, his disappointment increasing with the frequency of our failings; when we seek his forgiveness, he wipes the slate clean (see 1 Corinthians 13:6 — “Love keeps no record of wrongs”).  Yet it can be so, so hard to really believe that — to live in the day-to-day conviction that there really is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

I think part of the reason is that we still keep those checklists in our head, even if we know that God will forgive us when we mess up.  And not just that: I think that those checklists are often ours more than they are God’s.  They’re what we think God wants from us, what we imagine he demands of us.  But the problem is that our idea of what God’s checklist looks like can be incredibly skewed.   And so we find ourselves condemning ourselves for not living up to a standard that may not be God’s standard to begin with.

Don’t get me wrong: Scripture is plenty clear in lots of ways about how we’re supposed to live, and it’s also clear that God cares how we live.  But somewhere between “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” and “What do I do about this coworker who is driving me absolutely insane?” things can get kind of messed up.  We know we’re supposed to love, but we don’t necessarily know what it looks like to love.  And whether it’s because of our own sin or our brokenness or the woundedness we carry from others, we can end up with a pretty warped understanding of how we ought to love people.   We confuse humility with self-negation.  We mistake servanthood for doormat-hood.  And we end up condemning ourselves for not living up to a standard that doesn’t reflect God’s desires for us in the first place.  (We also end up condemning others for not living up to our ideas of God’s checklist… but that’s another blog post.)

The point is this: we don’t just need Jesus to wipe clean God’s checklist for us; we need the power of the Holy Spirit to give us new eyes to see what God’s checklist really says in the first place.  Or, for those of us who tend toward the perfectionistic, maybe it’s better to think of it not as a checklist, but as a goals statement.  Not as some list of criteria that God hopes we’ll one day live up to, but as a description of the kind of life and heart that God wants to help us grow into. Not a checklist for our lives, but a guidebook — from a God who is as lavish with his grace when we falls short as he is with his praise when we flourish.

According to whose checklist are you evaluating yourself?  What would happen if you asked the Holy Spirit to give you new eyes — God’s own eyes — by which to see it?

May 9, 2010

Free from Condemnation – Matthew 5:17-20 – David Hanke

May 9, 2010

Mother’s Day Reflection – Ray Blunt

Experiencing Life

On April 25, we thought about being Spiritually dead… this week we took off after life. Experiencing life! How does the Holy Spirit bring those who are dead to life, wake ’em up?

To get after that, I talked about the process of moving from death to life from three vantage points: the mechanical, the volitional, the experiential. For each category there was a prayer response and an image. Here they are:

  1. Mechanical:  It is the Holy Spirit that brings people to life so they can respond to the claims of Christ and His call on their life.  It is like a computer coming out of sleep mode–  the screen just goes from dark to an image, but lots of things are going on in the background that get it ready for input and instruction.  That’s what it is like when spiritually dead people wake up…  prayer point:  put a list of people next to your computer monitor and every time your computer ‘wakes’ up, pray that God would wake somebody up.  “God, please wake up____ to your goodness and love.”
  2. Volitional:  The Holy Spirit wakes us up, makes us alive, so that when the opportunity comes for us to hear words and see signs that point us to our need for a Savior in Jesus, we will respond.  It’s like turning on a light switch.  prayer poing:  ‘Name’ your light switches.  Every time you flip one on, pray that God connects the dots for someone who is curious and seeking.  Put the right words, the right signs at the right moment.
  3. Experiential:  2 NT images of coming into a relationship with God:  The Holy Spirit washes us and the Holy Spirit adopts us into God’s family.  prayer point:  random idea–  every time you brush your teeth, pray that you would ‘experience’ being spiritually washed:  forgiven, without guilt or shame, at peace with God.

One of the primary Holy Spirit gifts for those who are following Jesus is that we would EXPERIENCE Him–  that a relationship with God would not just be cognitive, or disciplined, but an experience of life.  We’ll talk a lot more about life in the Spirit in the weeks to come.

And for those who are over-achievers…  in the past 2 weeks, I have gone back to one of my favorite and most influenced by books:  Redemption Accomplished and Applied. Probably the most succinct and careful treatment of the process/order of salvation.  You should read it at some point in this lifetime.

May 2, 2010

Experiencing Life – John 16:7-15 – David Hanke

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