Posts Tagged "jesus"

But I Say to You…

Posted by on Nov 10, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

But I Say to You…

One of the best things about living in America is our access to Christian resources and information.  If you want to read a book about the various Jewish festivals, all you have to do is hop on to Google books and you will have libraries of information at your figure tips.  If you had a question about a specific Greek word, just hop onto lumina.bible.org.  If you want to be encouraged, pick up one of the gazillion books pastors write every day.

Living in the English-speaking world provides us with historically unimaginable resources.  One can think back 500 years to the reformation when Martin Luther and his compatriots would painfully print off pamphlets describing their Biblical positions and challenged/encouraged many believers.  Most Christians, however, couldn’t read the pamphlets let alone the Bible.

Here’s the danger with having a cornucopia of Christian information—we can focus so much on resources that we forget to go directly to the Word of God.  I have realized, at times, I’ve read more about the Bible then the actual Bible.

Is it more important to be familiar with popular Christian authors, or the Bible?  Is it more important to read about the insights of others, or finding your insights from scripture?  Is it more important to have an intimate knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, or know what God has said?  There are many professors and teachers who know lots of information about the Bible, yet they don’t know the first thing about the living Word.

During the time of Jesus, it was popular for people to follow certain teachers.  These teachers were not much different than our teachers today.  They were insightful, smart and excellent communicators.  But in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says over and over, “But I say to you.”  In other words, Jesus is clarifying what the law actually means.  The teachers were the experts in God’s Word; yet, Jesus reveals their mistakes.  When our favorite author or speaker says something wonderful, let’s not forget Jesus’ words, “but I say to you.”

I’m certainly not advocating throwing all of C. S. Lewis’ books or Jesus Calling away.  Reading insightful Christian authors is one of my favorite pastimes.  But C. S. Lewis and Jesus Calling are not scripture.  They can reveal truth, but they cannot bring the true transformation of the Holy Word.

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One-Eyed Badger

Posted by on Nov 3, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

One-Eyed Badger

Have your reactions ever surprised you?  Have you ever said to yourself, “this is not like me”?  Have you ever driven happily down the highway, and a loathsome inconsiderate cuts you off?  Does your reaction portray your identity in Christ?  Or does your reaction portray that of an eye poked badger?

The irony, of course, is that our reactions—not matter how unpleasant—come from within us.  We still have actions that betray our sinful hearts, even if their infrequency gives us hope they don’t exist.  What gives?

Romans 12:2b says “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  How is one truly transformed when exterior circumstances poke that old sinful badger right in the eye?

The vast majority of our reactions are “spill-over” from how we live when things aren’t filled with stress.  This begs the question, how are we living the transformed life when things aren’t going wrong?

God doesn’t just want to transform the parts people see; he wants to transform the whole person.  This means that if God is calling us make changes in environment or routines or calendar or friendships or entertainment, we make those changes.  Even if they seem unimportant or inconsequential,  they are the little things that make the whole of you.  If you are unwilling to change the little things, there should be no surprise when you see a surly one-eyed badger in the mirror.

The reality is, our reactions show us who we are.  The good news is that our reactions are symptomatic of the needed transformation.  We can choose to ignore them, or we can go badger hunting.

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Honor Part Duex – Pastor Matt Ragain

Posted by on Mar 3, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Honor Part Duex – Pastor Matt Ragain

This past Sunday I spoke on how we tend to seek honor from others.  Receiving honor is not a bad thing, in fact it can be incredibly encouraging and it’s often a real gift.  The dark side to honor, however, is when we find life from it.   If our hearts are bent toward the honor we receive from others, we will spend our lives working to make ourselves worthy of honor.

Jesus teaches about honor in the parable of the wedding feast.  But he doesn’t stop there.  He goes on to say that when you give a dinner you aren’t to invite all those individuals who are expected to return the honor, but you are to invite those who cannot hope to return the honor.  Rather than inviting the rich and wealthy, we are to invite the poor, crippled and lame.  Why?  These individuals cannot hope to repay you.  The poor the cripple and the lame are exactly the type that cannot give back what has been given to them.

This parable is, in part, an illustration of us.  If God were to throw a party, into which category would we fall? Would we be the friends and rich neighbors?  Or, would we be the poor, crippled and lame?  The friends and rich neighbors would be expected to return the favor.  How can we return any favor to God?  We can’t.  We would certainly fall into the category of poor, crippled and lame.  This is our category because we cannot earn God’s favor.

This parable is also our calling.  We are to live like God.  We are to surround ourselves and befriend those who cannot hope to give us anything in return.  We are to mimic what God has already done for us.  We are to give freely to those who cannot reciprocate.  Yet, how many of our relationships are based on the idea of reciprocation?

Question: What kind of expectations do you have for friends?   What happens when they do not meet your expectations?

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A Long Season – Pastor Mark

Posted by on Aug 24, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

A Long Season – Pastor Mark

Being the long-time Twins fan that I am, I have been excited about their surprising showing.  “Go Twins!”  But when they go into a slump, which they did the first part of June, I found myself thinking, “OK, here they go…back to reality.”  So I was interested when one of the veteran players was asked, “How does this team handle losses?”  His response wasn’t what I expected, but it was good.  He said, “Baseball is a game where you can lose 62 games in the season and still make the playoffs.  It’s a 162 game season.  Losing 62 games means you won 100!  So we don’t let it get us down and we’ll go out there tomorrow and play our best and have fun.”

That attitude is a good one to take into your life as a Christian.  You are going to lose some “games” – a lot of them, in fact.  But if you let your losses take away your joy, if you take every defeat personally, you won’t be able to go out “the next day” and live for Christ.  For example, there’s a challenge in 1 Peter 3:15 that says, “Always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

There are days when I walk away from a conversation and think to myself, “I could have said it so much better.”  It can really feel like I struck out.  But I can’t quit.  I replay the conversation in my mind.  I think about what I could have done differently.  I try to listen to my “Coach” and determine to do better the next time.

So as we live this life as Christ-followers let’s remember that it’s a long season.  God isn’t expecting perfection.  He’s looking for a teachable heart and a willingness to keep “swinging the bat.”

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Where Does Jesus Come From? – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Jun 2, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Where Does Jesus Come From? – Pastor Matt

Where does Jesus come from?  This may sound like an odd question, but in actuality, the truth of the gospel hinges upon its answer.   The prof of its importance can be found in John chapter 7.  The religious leaders and the Jews are arguing and debating the place from which Jesus comes.  Their argument is logical: the prophets say the Messiah will come from a place no one knows.  If Jesus comes from galilee (a place many people know), than Jesus cannot be the Messiah.

Jesus rebukes them and cries out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from.  I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true.  You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” 

Jesus does something amazing here.  He validates the truth of the prophets, and simultaneously shows that the religious leaders are misunderstanding the prophets. Jesus says they do not know his origins, not because they don’t know his hometown, but because they don’t know the one from whom he was sent: In other words, they don’t know God.

Our human hearts are laid bare in this scripture.  We become staunch in our own understanding rather than our relationship with God.   We want to have God, but on our own terms.  We want to know Jesus, but only based upon the knowledge we already possess.  It’s like falling in love and not expecting anything to be different.  The contrary is true.  Falling in love, by definition, is a falling away from our old selves into something new, leaving us different people.

And Jesus rightly says that they don’t know where he comes from because they don’t know the Father.  In other words, true knowledge is dependent upon knowing the Father.   If you don’t know the Father, you will not know the place from which Jesus comes.   Likewise, if we know the father, we don’t find comfort in what we know but in whom we know.

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