We start a new sermon series this week title Pain Killer. It’s a series about bringing our pain to Jesus. This week we look at the pain of loss. The front cover of the announcements this week follows.
Death is ever-present. From the moment we’re born, we are moving closer and closer towards death. Babies who warm hearts with their giggles and smiles are moving towards death. Preschoolers, despite their wild play, laughter and energy, are moving towards death. Teens, adults, seniors—we’re all inching closer to death every day of our lives.
Death seems so final. On the one hand, we know that there is life in Jesus for those who trust completely in Him. We’ve heard Jesus’ words to Martha before:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26
And yet, believing and dealing with the pain of loss are two completely different things. Death seems so final because it’s the end of our time with our loved one. There’s life to come, yes, but we’re still stuck with the stark reality that we will never see our beloved child, wife, husband, mother or father again here on earth. Jesus, the very Son of God, wept at the loss of His friend Lazarus—and Jesus even knew He would raise his friend from the dead!
So how do we cope with the pain of loss? The pain so deep and sharp that it threatens to overwhelm us and pull us under the waterline, drowning in it. We bring it to Jesus, the one who understands our pain. The one who understands and walks through the pain with us. The one who understands and brings life through death. The one who is life.
I know not every job is like this, but one of the interesting things about my job is that it is very integrated with my life. Here’s what that means. There aren’t a lot of clear boundaries as to when I’m working and when I’m playing (play here is defined as not work).
Now, generally speaking, I certainly major in work while at work and major in play when at home. But, largely because of technology, my work and play bleed into one another fairly regularly. Some examples:
- Email: Despite the fact that you can email me at my work account (an @FirstTrinity.com email) or my play account (@gmail.com), it all goes to the same place. This means I process both work and play email every time I check my email. This is why you may get a work-related email from me at 11 p.m. or a play email at 1 p.m.
- Blogging: Generally speaking, I read blogs when I have an opportunity to do so. It’s easier to divide work and play blogs, but I read both types in both places. I also do some play blogging at work and work blogging at play.
- Twitter: One of the things about Twitter that I love is that I can get small bits of teaching wherever I am. I can also get Fantasy Football news and information. And updates on my friends’ lives. Work and play co-exist.
Sometimes it’s best to have a clear divide between the two things. For me, that’s often on Mondays, which is my “day off”. Very rarely do I respond to work requests on Mondays. Occasionally, but not often. There are also times where I need to erect a barrier so play things don’t interrupt me at work. Usually this involves shutting down my email/twitter/blogging software and focusing exclusively on work.
So here are two theological questions associated with this:
- Is your relationship with God integrated with your life?
- When do you build a barrier to keep out the world and focus exclusively on God?
Of course, God wants both: Life integration and moments of exclusivity.
Or does He? We’re continuing our Urban Legends series at Sunday School this weekend looking at the statement “God wants you happy”. It’s a tough one to think about. Does He want us happy? Or does He want us full of Joy? And is there a difference for people today?
Tough question. Looking forward to our discussion this weekend about it. What are your thoughts? Does God want you happy?
I loved John McCain’s VP pick, mostly because it was so unexpected. Obama picked exactly who I thought he would (older, experienced, male statesman). But few saw this coming, which led to all kinds of excitement among the GOP base and other voters. I’m not one to sit and watch Fox News or CNN for hours (largely because I don’t have access to it unless I’m here at my Mom’s house), but I couldn’t help myself last night as I wanted to find out about Palin. I didn’t see this coming, so I couldn’t help but spend time reading about it and listening to people talk about it. (Ironically, I find myself wondering if it’s too late to pull the ol’ switcheroo and make Sarah Palin the presidential nominee.)
But politics aside, I wonder if God’s people ever felt this way. God specializes in doing the unexpected, from floating axe heads to stopping the sun to countless others. Did the people rush to hear the news of what God had done? Was it so amazing that people couldn’t stop talking about it? I imagine it was. Do we have the same reaction to God’s Word?
Isaiah 43:1-3a 1 Bot now, this is what the LORD says–he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 “For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
No matter what happens in our life, our future is secure. God has redeemed us. He keeps us safe. He is our God. He’s bigger than our fears and more powerful than our enemies. Have you come to God with your fears lately?
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1 Peter 5:10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, establish, strengthen and settle you.
Change is all around us. The culture is changing, the seasons are changing, our lives our changing. Even truth is changing, according to the world. But God is unchanging. He is our firm foundation, restoring, establishing strengthening and settling us. Where are you feeling unsettled in your life?
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Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
No matter how stained we are, how rotten we feel, how bad we’ve screwed up, there is forgiveness in God. For free. Where do you need God’s forgiveness today?
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Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Feeling disconnected from the world, like no one is there for you? God promises to be with us wherever we go, whenever we are. God promises His presence. Have you spent time enjoying it today?
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Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
In a world full of stress and things that just have to be done, where can we find rest? Jesus offers it freely. Are you resting in Christ?
|« The Runners-up||Promise #4 »|
My Joshua Men’s Group got together this past Saturday at Panera Bread to study Hebrews 6:13-20. The section in the NIV is titled “The Certainty of God’s Promise.” We got into a discussion about which 5 promises we would pick to hold onto. I’ll be sharing mine over the next week or so.
It was hard to pick just 5 as my favorites. I searched online and through my Bible software and came up with a list of about 35-40 that immediately jumped out at me. I narrowed that list down to 10, then ranked them. Honorable mention goes to the following:
- Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
- 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
- John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
- Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
- Psalms 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.
The Top Five:
The joy of the writer’s strike first set in for me when Heroes season 2 was cut short. I had hoped the strike could be resolved so we could continue getting more new episodes of Heores, but alas, it was not to be so. Then I learned that 24 would be canceled because of the strike. Not the end of the world, but it is one of the shows I enjoy watching with Jaime. Ok, that’s not entirely truthful. Good thing I’m not on the Moment of Truth, one of the new “reality” shows to come out of this strike.
If you missed the premiere last night, you didn’t miss much. Basically, they ask increasingly awkward/embarrassing/humiliating questions that you have to answer truthfully on national television while your friends and family sit there and are stunned by your answers. The first guy confessed to doing something that would cause his wife to distrust him in one question and to putting off kids because he didn’t think he’d be with his wife long-term. He made it to $25,000 and then was untruthful and lost all the money he had “earned.”
How hard it must be for the family and friends to hear these answers come out. I’m sure this will lead to many divorces and broken relationships as the show progresses. It’s an interesting picture of our relationship with God, however. God hears all our darkest secrets, lusts, fears, lies, doubts and more. But God doesn’t end the relationship because of it. Instead, He loves us, forgives us and cares for us.
The Crossroads group is having a fun event this Friday night. We’re calling it “Sex at it’s Best” and we’re using it as the kick-off event for a new Sunday AM series titled Best Sex Ever. The kick-off event will be a nice dinner at the church, complete with dress-up attire for the participants.
One of the activities we have planned for the evening is a game where students have to guess whether a line of text is a song or a Bible verse. If you want to give it a try, here’s the list:
- Nightingale give us a song of a love that once belonged.
- You wear yourselves out trying the new and the different, and never see what a waste it all is.
- I’m off to see my lovers. They’ll wine and dine me, dress and caress me.
- Do you believe in him? All you have to do is let him in.
- Everything about him delights me, thrills me through and through. That’s my lover, that’s my man…
- I know that you are something special. To you I’ll always be faithful.
- My heart is broken. I’m lying here. My thoughts are choking on you my dear.
- I believe love goes everywhere we go.
- His words are kisses, his kisses words.
- Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style.
- Let my love open the door to your heart.
- Your body is a sacred place.
- You bless all my memories. You soften the fall of my tears, And in my arms you’re more than enough.
- There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is a much a spiritual mystery as a physical fact.
- I feel you on my fingertips. My tongue dances behind my lips for you.
- You’ve climbed into bed with sacred whores and loved every minute of it.
- My love’s kisses flow from his lips to mine. I am my lover’s. I’m all he wants.
- Can you hear my voice, do you hear my song. It’s a serenade so your heart can find me.
- I’m not just hanging back to punish you. I’m committed in love to you.
- And when you figure out love is all that matters after all, it sure makes everything else seem so small.
Cindy, one of our Crossroads Leaders, came up with the list. I’ll share the answers after the event. I’m looking forward to tackling this subject with the youth as we explore what the Bible really says about sex, love, lust, dating, dress and more. Should be an interesting adventure!
Google just released their Zeitgeist 2007 statistics. Basically, it’s a snapshot of what people are looking up online through Google. One interesting piece is the “Who is …” search ranking. Here’s the list:
- who is god
- who is who
- who is lookup
- who is jesus
- who is it
- who is buckethead
- who is calling
- who is keppler
- who is this
- who is satan
People are searching for God and we have an opportunity to share Him with them this Christmas season. Considering inviting a friend to Christmas Eve services this year!
Also interesting to note are the top entries from the “What” and “How” categories. They are: “What is love” and “How to kiss.” I guess that means our “Best Sex Ever” Crossroads series that kicks off in January should be a hit. I’m excited about looking at what the Bible has to say about this topic with our youth. Should be a blast!
You know the verse, right? Jeremiah 29:11:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
I love the entire verse, but I am especially mindful of the first part this evening. We just wrapped up the 4th Commandment at Cornerstone tonight. Our 5th verse of the evening was 1 Timothy 5:4:
But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.
We talked about caring for our parents and grandparents as they grow older. It just so happens that next week at Remix, we are going to visit a nursing home with the youth. Darcy and I set the schedule back in June or July, not even thinking about the obvious connection to the 4th Commandment. God certainly knew the plan, however.