Posts Tagged "Paul"

Healing Hanky – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Feb 5, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Healing Hanky – Pastor Matt

Imagine  Immanuel Church has a special speaker this Sunday morning.  This speaker is a world traveler, and as part of his sermon he takes out a handkerchief.  He starts waving around the piece of fabric and says that it is a handkerchief that once belonged to the Apostle Paul.  He then goes on to say that this particular handkerchief has healing abilities, and if anyone is sick and wants to be healed they would have to come forward touch the hanky and receive healing.

What would be your response?  Would you feel strange?

Honestly, apart from my immediate doubt that  said handkerchief actually belonged to Paul, I would have a hard time believing something inanimate would have actual healing powers.  It would feel very hocus-pocus.   It wouldn’t sound like something God would do…heal through fabric.

In Acts 19:11-12 it says, “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.” 

When I read a passage like this it gives me pause.  It doesn’t seem like a normal way the Holy Spirit tends to work in our world; and yet, it is in the Bible.

So what do we take away from this passage?

The operative word in this verse is “extraordinary”.  In other words, the Holy Spirit’s power was distributed in ways that were beyond the scope of the expectations of the early church: the Holy Sprit had the freedom to things that were unique and unexpected.

Today we have the same Holy Spirit.  Therefore, the Holy Spirit has the freedom to work outside of what we think is ordinary.

What if the Holy Spirit started working in extraordinary ways that were unique and unexpected in our church?  How would we respond?

Here is one thing I know about myself: I don’t like to feel uncomfortable.  Here is one thing I know about God: He is totally fine with making me feel uncomfortable.    And if God starts working in extraordinary ways, I hope that any uncomfortable feelings that I might initially have will be followed by a deepening faith.   I would hate to miss out on the work of God because of my own limiting expectations.

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Seeing is not Faith – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Jan 28, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Seeing is not Faith – Pastor Matt

Let’s pretend that every year our church did a spiritual audit of every member.  Our pastors would call you into their office, sit you down and determine your spiritual health.  They would tell you if you are doing a good job in your relationship with Christ or they would tell you your spirituality needs a lot of work.  Of course they would base their statements on things like attendance, tithing, general friendliness and willingness to volunteer.

What would be the problem with doing that?  Well, no one can be a perfect judge of spirituality based only on things that they see.  How many times have we heard stories of Christians who were seemingly strong in their faith only to find out later that they had a hidden sin or issue that did serious damage to themselves or others?  Or what about those quiet individuals who don’t get any public recognition but are the spiritual pillars of the church?

We certainly wouldn’t want our spirituality to be measured by people who cannot see the full work God is doing in our own hearts.  So how can we measure the spirituality of others?

I had a friend recently say, “It doesn’t take any faith to say what you see in people.”  In other words, what we see in people is so often different from what God sees.  What we might see as an immature Christian, God sees as a chosen son or daughter filled with the Holy Spirit who is hungry to grow in their faith.  So when it comes to seeing our fellow Christians, we need to have faith to see them the way God sees them.  We need to have faith to love them the way God loves them.

Paul’s hope for us in Ephesians 3:18 is, “… [that we] may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”

It doesn’t take any faith to say what you see.  It does take faith to believe what God sees.  And God sees a church filled with individuals of immeasurable worth and infinite potential.

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“You’re Leaving?” – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Aug 5, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

“You’re Leaving?” – Pastor Matt

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Christian life is the idea that God uses people to run his church.  As we are all people, we can attest to the fact that we tend to take a good thing and make a right good mess.  I have occasionally asked myself, why would God use selfish humans to spread his good news around the world?  There must be a better way?  In Matthew 28 Jesus simply hands his disciples his rolodex and his daytime planner and says, “go and makes disciples of all nations.”  He leaves the building of the church to Peter, James, John, Mary, Bob, Janelle and  ______ (insert your name).

If I were Jesus, and I could still feel the freshness of my wounds, I wouldn’t be leaving the building of the Church in the hands of these scallywag disciples.  I would have rented a warehouse right next to the temple and started a very hip and contemporary worship service called FUSION 360.  But that isn’t Christ though is it?  To our amazement, he trusts us to do the work of the church like a father who knows his son is now a man.  We find an example of this in 2nd Timothy:

But you keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.  2 Timothy 4.5

We find in this passage a unique perspective of Paul.  He is at the tail end of his ministry.  He is writing to encourage Timothy to keep up the fight in the proclamation of the Gospel.  In many ways, this letter is a type of “passing on the mantle” between Paul and Timothy.  Paul is finishing his work whilst Timothy is still fresh.  What is fascinating about this passage is that Paul tells Timothy to discharge all of his ministry duties.  Timothy is to join Paul in Rome and take his place.  But he is to leave all the work that he had accomplished in the hands of others.  In many ways, Timothy will be acting as Jesus did in Matthew 28.  He is giving up his work into the hands of people that might not care for his ministry the way he must have.

This tells me a number of things.  First, whatever ministry I am doing/volunteering is not my ministry.  It is a ministry in the global movement of the Church.  Second, if Christ is willing to place the building of his kingdom in my clumsy hands, I must recognize that others will be willing and able to do the same job and perhaps do much better.  And third, there must be a point in the ministry where we work ourselves out of a job.  In other words, in any ministry we are apart of, we need to make it possible for that ministry to succeed even if we must leave.  And that means, among many things, to cultivate the kind of relationship we see between Paul and Timothy.  Paul takes the inexperienced Timothy under his care like an apprentice and then hands the authority and work over to him.

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