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Friday, April 25, 2014

Collide with Grace Message Outline

Collide . . . with Grace
Ephesians 2:1-7
Collide: Part 2

1. Collide with the stark picture of everyone without God

Ephesians 2:1–3 (ESV)
2 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

2. Collide with the truth about God’s grace toward us enemies

Ephesians 2:4–7 (ESV)
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Prayer for Good Friday

Father, before the creation of the world you planned to send Jesus to the earth to suffer on our behalf to satisfy your wrath against our sin. Jesus, you did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but you emptied yourself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found as a man you humbled yourself to the point of death.

You willingly suffered in the garden on our behalf, falling on your face in the dirt before your Father pleading for another way, yet saying and over and over, “not my will, but Yours be done.” The disciples slept through your trauma even though you pled with them to watch and pray with you because of your great grief. You were arrested with swords and clubs and torches in the middle of the night after the betrayer’s kiss from Judas. Though you spoke the worlds into existence, you allowed yourself to be bound and led away. You were tried before the religious leaders and many false accusations were hurled against you. There you were struck and mocked, slapped and spit on. After keeping you awake all night, they took you to Pilate where you faced more questions and mocking. 

Pilate marveled at your refusal to answer the accusations of the religious leaders. The people chose a murderer to receive mercy over you and called for your crucifixion. Behind closed doors, a whole battalion of soldiers gathered around you. They stripped you and placed a scarlet robe on you and put a reed in your hands, all mocking symbols of power, They twisted together a crown of thorns, which they “placed” on your head. They knelt before you, offering you precisely what you deserved, but in full mockery. Then they spit on you, jerked the reed from your hand and struck you on the head with it.

Then they led you to the actual crucifixion, but from exhaustion due to grief and lack of sleep and abuse, you could not carry your own cross. They forced a stranger into carrying it for you. Then they crucified you, you spared us many of the details of that horrible experience, because apparently the physical aspect was only a part of what was going on there. In the end you cried out with grief and pathos we cannot fathom, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” And then you died. And in the moment you accomplished more than we can grasp or explain, the wrath of God was satisfied and just like you parted the Red Sea, a way was created for salvation and for us to be reconciled to God.

But then on Sunday . . .

Collide . . . with Hope: Easter Sunday Outline

Collide . . . with Hope
Easter 2014, Bethany Place Baptist Church
Luke 24:13-35
Collide: Part 1

How do you recover once life has crushed your hope?

Lots of people know many facts about Jesus but avoid the crucial piece that would enable them to collide with who he is and what he is here to do.

1. Recognize that pain can blind us to truth

Luke 24:13–24 (ESV) 13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

2. Discover the crucial piece we miss

Luke 24:19–27 (ESV) 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

3. Experience hope

Luke 24:28–35 (ESV) 28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The story of the pager and the “tumor”

When Kat and I were in seminary I worked for a small courier company delivering packages to and from businesses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. This was almost 30 years ago and pagers were just beginning to become a thing. I remember well the day they gave me one. All it would do is beep, which meant that I was to stop, find a phone, and call the office; that was the extent of the technology at the time. They told me that day that when the battery ran out on the pager that it would give a long continuous tone. That was how I would know when it was time to change the battery. But I forget about that.

One day I was walking into the Alcon Labs Surgery Research facility near the intersection of I-35 and I-20 just south of Ft. Worth. The building was partially under construction so there were all kinds of noises on site. As I approached the building, I began to hear a long continuous tone which I thought had something to do with the construction. The tone continued as I walked inside and I thought it was odd when I stepped into the elevator and the noise got louder. I walked into the area where I was to deliver my package and handed it to the young woman across the counter. I asked her, “Do you hear that noise?” She said, “Yes? Do you know what it is?” I said, “No,” and then I left. When I got back in the elevator, the sound got louder again, but I still had no clue what was really going on. I stepped out of the building and walked to my little company truck. When I got in and closed the door, the sound got louder again. You have to remember I’m fixated on the idea that this noise has something to do with the construction going on at the site. Because of this I’m expecting the sound to gradually diminish as I drive away, but that does not happen, at all. So maybe a mile down the road I come to an irrational conclusion: I must have a brain tumor.

I’m not making this up. There is nothing in the world funny about tumors of any sort, especially brain tumors, but my reaction is ridiculous. For the next 10 minutes I’m increasingly freaking out and by the time I arrive at my next stop, I’m planning my funeral. I was forgetting that the person that I spoke to at Alcon said she could also hear the sound.

I arrived at my next stop, it was a branch office for GMAC financing, I’ll never forget it. I approached the counter to deliver the package and the person behind the counter said, “Is that you making that noise!” Finally, I realized what was going on and I had a good long laugh at my own expense back in the truck.

Here's a message I preached recently called How to Avoid Freaking Out, from Mark 6:45-52. As you can see, from the above story, I’ve had some experience with this. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

How to Avoid Freaking Out Message Outline

How to Avoid Freaking Out: The Paradox of Confidence
Mark 6:45-52
Hi Def Faith: Part 5

How can we learn to stop worrying about terrible things that may happen and trust God instead?

Gain insight into trusting God by opening your heart to see how God has worked in the past.

1. Develop confidence in Jesus before trouble hits

Mark 6:45–49 (ESV) 45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. 47 And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out,

2. Learn to hear Jesus’ voice

Mark 6:50 (ESV) 50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

3. Stay spiritually tender to sense God’s ways

Mark 6:51–52 (ESV) 51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

Questions for further reflection and discussion:

  1. What can learn from Jesus' desire to get alone and pray? What other incidents in Mark's gospel can you identify where Jesus did this? 
  2. In the immediately preceding story Jesus fed 5000 people with five loaves and two fish but in this incident Jesus saw the disciples struggling yet he allowed them to continue to struggle? Why do you think this is?
  3. In what circumstances that you face now do you need to hear Jesus saying to you, "Take heart, it is I. Do not be afraid?"
  4. Mark wrote this some years later under Peter's direct influence, reflecting back on this incident under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and he explains that the apostles were astounded because they did not understand about the loaves for their hearts were hardened. The NASB says they did not gain any insight. What do you think Mark means by this? How should they have been able to gain insight? How do we gain insight into trusting God and what does that look like?
  5. In what sense do you think their hearts were hardened? How are you in danger of a similar sin and how can we counter this tendency?