Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: November 2006

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Almost There

Only one final left. Whew.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thankful for Suffering

This past Sunday I was given roughly 2 hours preparation notice that I would be preaching the morning services due to the pastor being suddenly ill. Although not thrilled about the lack of time to adequately prepare, I was grateful for the blessing to stand behind the pulpit and speak God's Word to his people.

Although the prospect of pulling a sermon out of the "list" that I have preached before was inviting and would have been understandable under the circumstances, the fact that Thanksgiving week was approaching, I wanted to present a fresh and new message for the people. I turned to Daniel chapter 3.

We find ourselves in a holiday week of "Thanksgiving" where we remind ourselves of the many blessings we have from God. We "count our blessings" as the hymn says and point out the things that we have cause to be thankful for. Our salvation, our health, our family and a wonderful God usually tops the lists, and for good reason. Certainly we should thank God for those incredible gifts he grants us, gifts that He is certainly in no way obligated to grant.

But we are not too quick to count our suffering as a thankful part of our lives. In fact, it seems that this holiday can be turned into more of a "forgetting the hurt" than it really is remembering the good. If we want to take seriously the command to be thankful "in all circumstances", then we must take a step beyond the simple notion of forgetting the difficult parts. We must move beyond a forced smile that tries its best to cover the real hurt, a smile that will not last in the evil day. No matter how good we are at faking being thankful, at some point it will collapse. And it will collapse hard.

The famous text that finds Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego near the flames of the fiery furnace is typically best remembered for the great faith of the three men. Their unwavering faith, even in the midst of an almost certain death, brought about the protection from God. But it is the words of these guys in verse 18 of chapter three that should cause our minds to ponder. After being asked what kind of god would protect these men from the king, they respond in verse 17 that their God is "able" and "will" protect them. The "able" shows the power of God, the mighty hand of the one true God who can do anything, where the nations of the world are like a "drop in the bucket." (Isaiah 40). Then, still in verse 17, they demonstrate their faith in that capable God by saying with certainty that God will rescue them from death.

It is in verse 17 that most of us remain in our daily lives. We rely on the powerful God who will make things better. Period. But verse 18 brings a whole new dimension to the situation. Shadrah, Meshach and Abendego go on to say in verse 18 that "Even if He does not. . ." They were going to worship God and only God even if He did not protect them. They did not base their worship and trust in God only on the fact they He could protect them and thereby should protect them. They based their worship on the fact that He is God.

How strange it is that we as believers will all acknowledge that we are thankful for the cross of Jesus Christ. We thank God daily, as we should, that He loved us so much to send His only son to die. Without the cross, there would be no resurrection. Without the resurrection, there would be no salvation. So, we are thankful for the cross of Jesus. Our prayers, although we don't intend this, go something like this: "Thank you for pouring your wrath on Your only son. Thank you for his passion, his suffering and his humiliation. Thank you for his death. Your only son. And also thank you for keeping me from any harm."

We thank God for Christ's death because we can see and know his eternal purposes for that evil act. God was not flippant about what was happening to his son, rather, he was bringing about the redemptive plan for all humankind. This same God is not flippant about our lives either. We must grief and cry and hurt through our suffering with the understanding that God is using this for His eternal good and purposes, and therefore we are to rejoice with thanksgiving for the suffering we are forced to endure. The act of being formed into the image of Jesus Christ is sometimes painful. That is what the overly used Romans 8:28 verse is all about. The "good" is not that we are fine and dandy without any pain. The "good" is that we are becoming more like Jesus.

We are never going to enjoy our pain and hurt. We are never going to want more of it, and we shouldn't. Be we should remember the one and only God is worthy to be worshipped and thanked not just because of all the evil he prevents, but also because of the suffering we will endure.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A New Look

I am working on a much better picture, but I decided to go ahead and get a more recent picture of me on my blog. My previous picture was not really reflective of my current look, mostly because I have cut my hair, so here is a photo of me preaching for now.

Sorry for the lack of posts, I have been overwhelmingly busy and finals week is coming up, so the posts might be few and far between for a couple of weeks. Keep checking back though.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Church Bulletins

These are actually pretty funny. These are apparently from actual church bulletins:

AM Sermon: "Jesus Walks on Water"
PM Sermon: "Searching for Jesus"

Our youth basketball team is back in action Wednesday at 8 PM in the recreation hall. Come out and watch us kill Christ the King.

The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been canceled due to a conflict.

Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Trinitarian Comprehension: Why the early Church leaders deserve respect.

One of the many reasons we should be thankful and in awe of the providential hand of God that brought about the leaders of the early Christian church is through their willingness to wrestle with the new and mind-boggling concept of the Trinity. Consider with me these brief points:

The Trinity was a entirely new concept. It was only after the life of Christ and the understanding of the Holy Spirit did church leaders begin to wrestle with the truth that God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit were all one God in nature and three in person. Even with such proclamations as Thomas who responds to Jesus with "My Lord and my God," we come away with an understanding that Thomas, although speaking a glorious truth, was probably not even aware himself of the depth and magnitude of his own statement. In other words, Thomas believed, rightfully so, that Christ was God, but was not aware of the Trinitarian underpinnings that would ultimately be a distinguishing mark for Christianity.

Secondly, since the earliest Christian leaders were coming from a background steeped in Judaism, the concept of monotheism was of the utmost importance. One of the key elements that set Judaism apart from other religions was the declaration of only one true God, the God of Abraham and Moses, the "I AM." Since these early Christians were breaking away from Judaism and uniting with Christ as Savior and Lord, it would have been all too easy to slip Christianity into a polytheistic religion. In is in areas like this that we must be thankful to God and to our predecessors who have been unwilling to take the "easy way out" and wrestle with the teaching of Scripture to the glory of God. At this point in Church history, Christian leaders could have taken key verses that proclaim Christ as God, ignoring some of the more subtle verses that maintain a monotheistic approach, and simply pronounce that although the God of the OT was a monotheistic God, things have changed with Christ and we now have two or three Gods to whom we will serve.

We have not arrived where we are by chance. The determination of those who have gone before us in standing firm on truth and God's word must be exampled in our own lives today. Most of the early church councils dealt with the issue of how Christ relates to God and how the Holy Spirit fits into all of that. By the grace of God, we still serve one God today. We must continue to read, to study and to defend our faith, even in the realm of a post-modern society.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Christmas Wishlist

My Christmas Amazon wishlist can now be found by clicking the link to the right. Although this is primarily a tool for my family's convenience this year, anyone is welcome to check it out.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Lack of Posts

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, I have been a little under the weather the last few days. Have a great rest of the weekend.