United with…

lombardi 3

From a sermon on Ephesians 1:3-14:

4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

We are born into the world in union with the human race. We are born in union with the creation. We are born in union with Adam. What that means is that we are born into “original sin.”  The sin that is in the world can be seen in two ways. First of all, the guilt and corruption of sin is attached to all people since Adam and Eve rebelled.  The Bible calls this our union with Adam.

Romans 5:17 – For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! 

Let me give you an example.  Suppose you played for a team that won the championship.  Let’s say this is the year Green Bay wins the Super Bowl.  You, however, while on the team, did not play.  You were the 2nd backup quarterback.  Aaron Rogers stays healthy, and they put in the 1st back up once or twice, but all you ever did was practice.  Yet even though you did not play, because you are a member of the team, you get a Super Bowl ring.  There is power in being united to a team.

We are born onto a losing team – Adam’s team. When we are in union with him, all the wages of sin are due for us.  But here is the blessing God chooses to unite us to Christ. So because we are one of His, we gain all the benefits of salvation. Our 3rd string quarterback  did not play a single snap to win his ring.  We did not do anything to earn  salvation.

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Faith is more than Brain Activity

walking

I’m starting to read Romans in anticipation of a sermon series in 2019.

Here are some interesting verses on faith:

1:5 – “…we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations…”

  • Paul’s is seeking OBEDIENCE that is from faith.  The ultimate purpose is not faith without obedience, but faith expressed or lived out in obedience.

16:26 – “…according to the command of God, to bring about the obedience of faith…”

  • the 5th verse and the next to last verse form an “inclusio” on the obedience of faith.

4:12 – “…who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had…”

  • He does not say “think” or “feel” or “think” but “walk” which is a metaphor throughout scripture for a person’s way of living.  See Psalm 1; Proverbs 3:5,6; Deut. 8:1ff.

6:1-14 – Baptism, Death and Resurrection, Presenting your members to God….all ideas speaking of new life of obedience of faith.

This is Romans, the greatest source of understanding salvation by Faith alone (1:16; 3:23-25; 3:28; 4:1-8; 4:22-25; 5:1; 8:1; 10:5-13).  Yet the idea of obedience, walking a godly path, living a resurrected life, permeates this book from start to finish.

The Reformers spoke of faith as knowledge, then agreement and then trust.  We are on thin ice if we think of faith as only knowledge, only something that happens in the mind.

By Invitation

giftI was comparing Colossians 3:12-14 to attending a wedding.  the first half verse is about our identity.

  • as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved..   v. 12a

Weddings are by invitation.  You don’t show up uninvited.  Your admission is not up to you.  This is a way to think about being “chosen”.

We could get into a long discussion of election and predestination.  If I thought that I could work out that issue in a couple of minutes, I would. But as Christians have debated that issue for 2000 years, I will move over to the importance of it.

When you go to a wedding, it is because you are invited.  Someone chose you to come.  It would be very strange to walk into a wedding uninvited. Maybe you just love weddings.  Would you attend and stay for the reception?  No.

You belong to the wedding because the Bride and Groom invited you.

The same is true for you as a Christian.  You did not crash the gates.  You did not come and say, “Hey, this looks like fun! Let me in!”  The Lord made a way for you to come in Jesus.  He paid for your invitation. The Lord not only invited, but he persuaded you.  He persuaded you through the power of the Holy Spirit, through the prayers of others, through the truth of the Gospel.

Don’t think that you are better than others. You are in the family of God because the Lord chose you to come.

You were invited and then you were able to attend.  As to choice…well that takes us back to Augustine and Calvin.

a 5 star vacation

big8This is the sort of resort

That provides a view

And an escape

Where your needs

are met by the staff

A star for the location

A star for peace

A star for the food

A star for the staff

A star because it does it all

You are safe from the residents

And crime

And unsightly poverty

That could ruin your time.

How this resort elevates this place!

here is the church

This is the sort of church

That gives you a view

And an escape

Where you needs

Are met by the staff

A star for the campus

A star for the speaker

A star for the music

A star for the programs

A star to make a difference.

You are safe from the world

And its strife

And those who have fallen

Into poverty, addiction and despair.

How this church elevates this place?

 

Calm in the Canoe – a parable

canoeFrom the shore we can see the man in the canoe.  He is not paying attention to the danger he is in, because his eyes are closed.  What he does not see, we can see clearly.  Just down river is a quick succession of rapids through large boulders and then a 30 foot waterfall.  We call out, but he is not connected to the world.

I am in my canoe.  It is taking me on a journey.  I do not strive or turn, but am satisfied to follow the path of water and current.   I have closed my eyes and taken the position.  I have been breathing slowly, allowing myself to be completely in this time and place.  The flow of the river, the lapping of the waves, the gentle breeze on my face all are sensed, not as separate sounds, but part of one sound.

We start to shout, but he is not listening.

I heard chattering monkeys just then, but now they have receded.

We call out: Danger is ahead!  Turn to Shore!  Your life is in danger.

Quietly I flow, the water flows, the canoe flows, all time flows, we flow as one.
He must have fallen asleep.  We try tossing a stone against the boat, but it is hard to reach.  The first and second try miss, but on the third we hear the “clunk” of success. He stirs, but then returns to his sleep.

Nature and I are one. The river and I are one.  Time and I are one.  Words have no meaning.  All is at peace.

Just now we see the boat enter the rapids…he awakes at the third stone he hits, but not in time.  He starts to paddle, but will he get to shore in time?

What is that, the flow is interrupted. I open my eyes and the peaceful waters are shouting. The mirror water is mist.  There is a roaring just ahead.  Rapids!  Waterfall!

I grasp my paddle and pull deeply in the water, but the roaring grows louder.

Just as he goes over the edge, he reaches upward and cries out. Then he is gone.

It’s too late.  I’ve come to the edge.  Someone help me!

 

David Carlson

9/26/17

63 Years is just a start

pianoWe lost one of our members last week.  A year before we had honored her for 63 years of service to our music program at the church.  She did much more than that, but she did play piano, organ and sing in the choir and various duets, trios, quartets and so forth.  Her license plate, to make the point clear, was “MUSICK”.

It strikes me as good practice for eternity.  Take a look at the scenes of heaven found in Isaiah 6 and various chapters of Revelation, and you will find praise and worship.  Some of our familiar songs come from these chapters, such as “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

With whatever else we may be doing in Eternity, we will be offering worship.  What is 63 years? It is incredible to us. How can anyone do that for so long?  Yet what is eternity?  All our accomplishments and longevity will be like a drop in the bucket of eternity.

Oh, and did I forget to mention the Psalms – 150 songs of worship.

I rejoiced with those who said to me,
    “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

Psalm 122:1

What is a Pastor?

Sheep

The word pastor means shepherd. I am a pastor and have been for over 30 years. Sometimes when you do something for a long time you have to be reminded of the basics.  We can get lost in detail or repetition and we lost sight of the goal.  We can move from being pastors to being survivors, or salesmen, or self promoters.  We can be in business for ourselves.  But we are shepherds under The Shepherd.

I was taking a day off walk through a near by natural area, and a thought I’d scribbled on  a post it note the previous week reappeared in my mind.  I’d written down “lost sheep, potential shepherds and the lost”. So as my walk turned into a sort of prayer walk and meditation, I began to think about this.

As a Pastor I am a shepherd.  What does that mean?

Practically I have no actual sheep, but I deal with people.

In the Bible the word Pastor means shepherd and there is a lot on that theme.  Moses and David were shepherds before their calling to be leaders.  The Prophets sometimes spoke of the false shepherds in Israel who led the people into danger.  Jesus called himself a true shepherd. Psalm 23 is a loved psalm because we need the Lord to be our Shepherd.

So I have come to this description of a pastor:

  • Feed the Flock – go read John 10 where Jesus speaks of himself as the shepherd and then John 21 where he called Peter to “feed my sheep.”  Pastors feed by teaching, preaching, praying, guarding and training the gathered believers.  We care for the sheep who belong to someone else.
  • Find the Strays – Luke 15 has three stories of lost things that were found, the lost coin and the lost son are in there, but the first is the story of the shepherd who left the flock (regular attenders) to go find the lost one from the flock (a stray).  So we need to find those who are off in the bushes and invite them back into fellowship with the Lord and his people.
  • Welcome the Lost – Jesus used two metaphors to describe the mission of the church in Matthew 9.  After Matthew summarizes Jesus ministry in v.35 as teaching, preaching and healing, he spoke of the crowds of outsiders as sheep without a shepherd.  Then he switched from shepherds to harvesters, that God would send workers into the harvest.  Pastors should find ways to reach out to the outsiders.  They are not enemies, and even if they are, “while we were enemies, Christ died for us.”
  • Maintain the Pen – I’d like to stop at the first three, but there are practical matters.  Sheep would lived in walled in areas, pens.  We pastors have some practical structures to deal with like buildings, budgets and boards.  These can not be neglected, but a building, a budget and a board without the people would be nothing at all.

If this is so, then I can summarize my work simply.  As a pastor I am to:

  • Feed the Flock
  • Find the Strays
  • Welcome the Lost
  • Maintain the Pen.