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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Making Eggs Fly

The resurrection of Jesus is the core of our faith, yet it could be argued that we don’t talk that much about it. Each Easter we roll out some familiar songs and perhaps buy a new shirt or dress. Just one Sunday a year to celebrate the resurrection doesn’t seem sufficient. Paul said, “If Christ is not raised, then our faith is in vain.” We know this is critically important. You’ve heard the definition of insanity: Continuing to do the same thing but expecting a different result. Perhaps the level of transformation we see in ourselves and in those around us is not what we long for because we are not living daily the implications of the resurrection. 

In another place Paul said,
Philippians 3:8, 10–11 (ESV) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord . . .  that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Can you describe your daily experience as knowing the power of Jesus’ resurrection? I can’t;  not all the time. Our experience would look radically different if we knew Jesus in this way, in the midst of our real lives. We need more time, more than once a year, to think about the greater implications of the resurrection.

We need fresh thinking about the fundamentals. We need the Biblical equivalent of what Vince Lombardi is reported to have said at the beginning of camp each year for his professional players, “Men, this is a football.” For believers, that may be these words from the angels spoken to the terrified disciples at the tomb, “He is risen!” Or maybe Mary Magdalene’s announcement a little later, “I have seen the Lord!”

To help us grasp that what God seeks to do in us is a transformation requiring resurrection power, I’ve titled our Easter series from a quote by C.S. Lewis. He said,
It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.
What God is doing in us, and what we are seeking to encourage one another to do, will be impossible in our own strength, no more effective than teaching an egg to fly. Our Easter series is called, “Teaching Eggs to Fly: Why the Resurrection Must Change Us.” This Sunday’s message is a kind of preparation before we get into four views of the resurrection in the following Sundays. It’s called Foolishness vs. God’s Will from Ephesians 5:17-21. 
I’m starting the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus early this year. Will you join me?

This post first appeared at

Get a Grip

Get a Grip
John 20:11-18
from the series Making Eggs Fly

Get a grip on the right source for our future hope when trapped in grief, shame, or sin.

Paralyzed by pain John 20:11–13 (ESV) 
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”

Setting our sights too low John 20:14–15 (ESV)
Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

Shockingly repurposed John 20:16–18 (ESV)

Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Foolishness vs. God’s Will Message Outline

Foolishness vs. God’s Will
Ephesians 5:15–21 (ESV)

We must be filled with the Spirit to influence the world, especially those we care about the most.

Understand what God wants
Ephesians 5:15–17 (ESV) 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Be controlled by the Spirit
Ephesians 5:18 (ESV) And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

Look for these results

Ephesians 5:19–21 (ESV) 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Bird Watching and Learning to Trust

John Stott is one of my heroes of the faith. He died just a few years ago. He was a pastor in London for many years and a brilliant author and preacher. One of the things he was known for was bird watching and he had this to say about this text in his commentary on the passage I preached from in Sunday’s sermon at Bethany Place from Matthew 6:19-34.

Next, Jesus turns to the subhuman world and argues the other way round. He uses birds as an illustration of God’s supply of food (26) and flowers to illustrate his supply of clothing (28–30). In both cases he tells us to ‘look at’ or ‘consider’ them, that is, to think about the facts of God’s providential care in their case. Some readers may know that I happen myself to have been since boyhood an enthusiastic bird-watcher. I know, of course, that bird-watching is regarded by some as a rather eccentric pastime; they view the likes of me with quizzical and patronizing amusement. But I claim biblical warrant for this activity. ‘Consider the fowls of the air,’ said Jesus according to the AV, and this in basic English could be translated ‘watch birds’! Indeed, I am quite serious, for the Greek verb in his command (emblepsate eis) means ‘fix your eyes on, so as to take a good look at’.17 If we do take an interest in birds and flowers (and we should surely, like our Master, be gratefully aware of the natural world around us), then we will know that although birds neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, yet our heavenly Father feeds them, and that although the lilies of the field (anemones, poppies, irises and gladioli have all been suggested as alternatives to lilies, although the reference may be general to all the beautiful spring flowers of Galilee) … neither toil nor spin, yet our heavenly Father clothes them, indeed more gorgeously than Solomon in all his glory. This being so, can we not trust him to feed and clothe us who are of much more value than birds and flowers? Why, he even clothes the common grass which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven!

‘You see,’ writes Martin Luther with great charm, ‘he is making the birds our schoolmasters and teachers. It is a great and abiding disgrace to us that in the Gospel a helpless sparrow should become a theologian and a preacher to the wisest of men Whenever you listen to a nightingale, therefore, you are listening to an excellent preacher It is as if he were saying “I prefer to be in the Lord’s kitchen. He has made heaven and earth, and he himself is the cook and the host. Every day he feeds and nourishes innumerable little birds out of his hand.”

Stott, John. The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (The Bible Speaks Today Series) (p. 164). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.