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Archive for November, 2009

A New Look At Sin

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

What’s the good word? I am continuing my class on the book “Prodigal God” and the last chapter we read was just a big two-by-four in between the eyes. Back to the story of the Prodigal Son, or perhaps the Two Lost Sons. I talked in my previous blog about being an elder brother. There are two types of people Jesus is talking about in this story. Younger Brothers, who fail to keep the rules, and go out and squander everything, and the Elder Brothers, those who keep all the rules and play nice. But in this story Jesus says that both are wrong, and both lead to alienation from God. The hearts of the two brothers were the same. They each wanted their father’s possesions. Jesus is saying in essence, that you can rebel against God either by breaking the rules or by keeping all of them diligently. You may be thinking, but how is that possible? Many of us think if we do all the right things, say all the right prayers, then God owes us something, a good life or a ticket to heaven. But who needs a Savior with that kind of thinking? You are your own Savior. Jesus may be your helper or your inspiration, but he isn’t your Savior. So how does that change our way of looking at things? To know that we can alienate ourselves by rebelling or by following the rules? Jesus is saying “Everyone is wrong, everyone is loved, and everyone is called to recognize this and change.” Timothy Keller says, “the prerequisite for receiving grace is to know you need it.” And that’s the good word for today.

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Elder Brother

November 18, 2009 Leave a comment

What’s the good word? I was convicted on Sunday. What was I convicted about? Well, it was about being an elder brother. Now, I am an only child, never had a younger brother or older brother, nor was I either of those myself. I was teaching a class on the well known story of the Prodigal Son on Sunday and something hit me in between the eyes. This isn’t a story about one son who was far away from his father, this was about two sons who were far away from their father. We like to focus on the younger brother as a church because he was the one who took his part of the inheritence and blew it all on gambling and prostitutes. We like to focus on this “lost” child, because, well aren’t they the ones we are supposed to focus on? Yes, but if we don’t pay attention to the elder brother we miss who this story was intended for, the Pharisees. The elder brother was far from his father too. Remember what the elder brother did when the father took back the younger brother into the family? He said, “Father, all my life I have done you right. I’ve been good. I’ve done everything you’ve asked me too, but this son of yours (notice he didn’t say my brother) squandered everything and now you are throwing him a party?” Do you see it? We are all guilty of this. When someone receives grace, aren’t we a little jealouse because we feel they don’t deserve it? You see this son was just as far from the father as the younger brother, but not because of what he did wrong, but because of his righteousness. He too was only interested in what he would get from the father as a result of being good. Don’t we do that? “Ok God, I’ve been good, I’ve been doing what I am supposed to do, why aren’t you blessing me?” Until we can confess not only our wrong doings but our righteousness, we can’t be the followers Christ calls us to be. Remember, the target audience of this parable is not “the wayward sinners” but the religious peope who do everything Scripture requires. Jesus is saying, both the religious and irreligious are spiritually lost, both life paths are dead ends. Wow! And I thought I knew this story well. Perhaps I should get to work on that. And that’s the good word for the day.

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Worship Gathering?

November 9, 2009 Leave a comment

What’s the good word? I’ve been thinking more and more about worship lately. Perhaps it is because of where I am at in my current ministry setting. What I have been pondering (struggling?) with is the term worship service. Can we call it a worship service any more? I would like to think we can but I think we can’t. We can’t until our way of looking at worship changes. Service entails doing something. I think we have lost the fact that worship is not about us. We come to worship on Sunday mornings, in some places Saturday nights, and we expect something out of it. We focus on whether we like the songs or not, we focus on how well the preacher preached the sermon, we focus on what was done or not done that we didn’t like, what we did or did not get out of the worship service, and suddenly we seem to have lost the meaning behind why we are there in the first place. If we are going to use the term service, we need to be reminded that we are there in response to the goodness of what God is doing in our lives. Worship is about God, not us. But if we can’t get passed the service being for us and not for God, then what do we call it? We call it Worship. Or  worship gathering. If I recall, worship service is never used in the Bible, but there is always reference to a gathering of people FOR worship. Perhaps just by switching the word we use, maybe we can begin to get back to the heart of what worship is about. God! And that’s the good word for today!

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