Monday, February 16, 2015

History and Theology Coming Together

Historical: belonging to the past concerning past events

Theological: study of God and religious belief

There were many reasons I loved the Charlie Brown Christmas special. I could relate to Charlie in so many ways. We were both snappy dressers, could talk before we had hair and had the best of friends. When Lucy pulled the football. Yeah that's my sister. Towards the end of show we have Linus, another character I could relate with. Loved my blankey. But it's one of the only times I remember the Bible being quoted on public television. Charlie has wondered what Christmas was about. Linus bravely steps to the stage and simply says--IT'S JESUS. But not just that Jesus was born-'Glory to God in the Highest.' The creator had come to His creation. Jesus was God.
Not too many people are confused with the meaning of Christmas. They have a pretty good grasp on the historical Jesus. That he came as a man, born to Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth, had a group of followers. But we need to pair it up with theology. We are reading the story of Immanuel, God with us.
So what do we do? We speak, preach, love Jesus. Jesus will 'cause great joy, which shall be to all people.' This is why we evangelize, have world missions and yes plant the Gospel of Christ through new churches. (That's why I'm not too thrilled with the approach of 'same church for 50 years, talk to the same people, sit in the same seat, sing the same songs'...rant over!)
So we don't just share with people that there was a guy named Jesus a couple thousand years ago. We say Jesus is God. And that very fact should change your life. It's changed mine. The beauty of Old Testament prophecy is treated like garbage if we don't see Jesus as the Messiah. The story of God is very old and yet that's exactly why it should change our life today. Jesus was God then, He is now, and He will be forever.
My historical view of Jesus has to include my theology of God because they are one in the same.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Surviving Sorrow

Did you know that you and I have something in common?? I'm not being corny-I absolutely, 100% know that you and I have something in common-we've experienced sorrow. Either it's in the past, in the present and there will certainly be sorrow in the future. What's makes us different, potentially, is how we deal with sorrow. Either we will use the treasures of this world to ease or cope with sorrow, or we will use something out of this world to provide direction through sorrow. We'll call that faith.
For the treasures of this world we find everything from drugs/alcohol, money, sex, you fill in the blank. What we have found time and time again is that the answers that the world provides are short lived and usually adds to the original problem. So why do we engage in it? Because we crave to be in control of our cure. We want to be the doctor, we want to be the director, we want to be the savior of our own life. Have you ever tried this? How has it ended? I'm not pointing my finger at you-I've been there before as well. It's hard because we live in a world where the message of self is relentless.
So how can faith factor in? Faith has been commonly described as believing in what isn't seen. A great definition, but for me its meant the deepest level of understanding. Understanding that I'm here for a reason, understanding that there is a God, understanding that he has provided us a way to know Him. And understanding that after we leave from this world we will be somewhere for eternity.
When we are able to have faith and put our sorrow in eternal standards I believe we can...get ready...REJOICE! I know, I know. Crazy, right?

The LORD is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

That's why I put my faith in God, and when I say God-I'm talking Jesus Christ. The one who died for me, for my sins, so that I can experience a lifetime of salvation. I truly believe that as I experience sorrow in this life, God is working in me and through me to touch others around me. And also He is revealing a good plan for my life. As hard as it seems, as counter cultural it may sound-in my sorrow I will not stop loving God. For He alone is good.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Attributes of God

In January, at The Rescue Church, we started to investigate a book of the Bible-Luke. I can relate to Luke and how the book was written. Luke does all his fact checking, detective work only after Jesus has left the earth. He has already died, resurrected, and ascended back into heaven. And so Luke has his work cut out for him. To write his book he needed to sit down with eye witnesses, read previous accounts of Jesus' life and simply listen to people's stories. One of the stories that has stuck out to me has been the story of Mary. Luke lays out an amazing beginning as an angel, Gabriel, comes to Mary to tell her that she will be with child. The challenge? She's a virgin. She's betrothed, or engaged, to this great guy Joseph. And so let the tension begin! Gabriel tells Mary that 'nothing is impossible with God', and I'm sure Mary was thinking-YEAH! No kidding Gabriel because this is impossible! But she simply says, 'I am the Lord's servant.'
God takes a middle school aged young woman from a small, insignificant town and says the savior of the world will come from your womb. I'm not sure about you, but that encourages me. Every time I feel insignificant, or useless, under qualified, I realize that this is only a chance for God to show HIS mighty strength through me. I just need to say yes.
At this time in Mary's story something impossible has already happened-her relative Elizabeth, who was barren, is now with child at a very old age! So Mary makes the journey to see her and talk to her. While on her journey Mary does something amazing that I've missed many times-she simply worships. In some Bible translations, they've coined this passage as 'Mary's Song.'
It turns out what I had missed from this passage was exactly what I needed. I needed God. I needed to realize what my God is capable of doing. Mary, the middle school girl, about to be disgraced by her family, her religious community and fearing that Joseph might walk out on her, starts worshipping. In my eyes this would have been a great time to worry, right? How is all of this going to work out?? Yes, God I know you said all that stuff awhile ago, but I need to be practical, I need to figure out a plan, I need to find an escape route so they don't tie me up in the town square, abuse me, spit on me, make me out to be the town prostitute...
But Mary worships. And what we find is that Mary lays out some attributes of God. I studied 12 that she laid out, there's probably more, but I just focused on 12. God is: Lord, Savior, Omniscient, Mighty, Personal, Holy, Merciful, Powerful, Sovereign, Gracious, Generous, and Faithful.
No doubt out of those 12 there's 1 or 2 that you hang onto continuously because you need them. Or maybe you're like me sometimes and you need all 12 at once!! I think that's where Mary was at this point. She simply reminded herself that God was God. He would protect her, guide her, and bless her.

What do you need to be reminded of today? One of these 12 or maybe another attribute of God? Whatever it may be, instead of worrying-worship. Give God the glory-don't give it to your circumstance. Rest in knowing that He holds your future in His hands and that He loves you.