Monday, February 28, 2011

On the Red Carpet

The Academy Awards have come and gone. The striking importance of the Red Carpet to our society is remarkable. Celebrities plan for months, hire advisors, get their hair done, spend amounts of money that could feed a small country for just a few moments in the limelight as they walk into one awards show. Most of them are forgotten, and most of the outfits are forgotten in a few short years. We think of these people as important, their accomplishments as noteworthy, and in a sense, they may be. These "special celebrations" prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Scripture is true against all the world's deception.

"For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you." 1 Peter 1:24-25

As the glory of mankind is paraded around before us it draws into sharper focus the distinct dependability and perfection of the Lord. Studying the Bible is an eternal investment. Sharing the Gospel is a greater act than any thousand major motion pictures. Loving the people in your life with Christ's love is taking part in the Life of Him who is eternal and will endure forever.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Real, The False, and the Hyper-Real

Let no one deceive you with empty words... (Ephesians 5:6a)

From diet, to entertainment, to music, to marriage the world has painted some striking pictures. While media streams forth promises of "the best", "the biggest" and the "real thing" through our lives by TV, billboard and magazine adds we never stop to wonder where the deception stops. Restaurants make impossibly delicious foods, in obscenely large portions and load them down with fat, salt and sugar promising an experience that regular old meat and potatoes simply couldn't provide. Movies offer a view of love, life and marriage that is no where near to reality, and when people stop feeling what the movies promise should always be there, they want out.

Sadly, this is no less prevalent in the modern church. Supped up, hyper-marketed church programs promise results that regular old fellowship, prayer and Bible teaching simply can't provide. Just like that hamburger advertisement, they promise the world and just leave us fat. These programs are like a "12 hour energy drink" being marketed to the people who are rather to be flowing with Living Water! (John 4:10) Perhaps the worst part of this programmatic thinking is that it doesn't add to what we need, it seeks to supplant it. Just as the hamburger advertisement seeks to tell you that the greasy hamburger is far more satisfying than a healthy normal dinner that you could make for yourself, so these super programs promise better results than "the old way."

What was the old way? It was awfully simply, far too simple to market and put a "christian famous" face on and sell for $15.99 at Borders. Beholding the Lord Jesus Christ through His Word. It meant spending time with other believers, looking at Jesus together. It involved knowing each other, befriending each other and walking alongside each other. Spurring one another on towards love and good deeds. It was day-by-day, one foot in front of the other, growth. Like a good solid oak tree, not like an instant breakfast. It meant praying together, sometimes disagreeing and learning how to forgive and love one another through difficulty and disagreement. It is the privilege of being involved in each other's lives, sharing the Good News freely, and growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. God does extraordinary things through the most ordinary means.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Putting Lipstick on a Pig

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

In 1952 E. B. White published one of his best known works: Charlotte's Web. In reading this to my daughter I was struck with something special. Charlotte's Web is the story of a runty pig named Wilbur who was not worth allowing to live, not even worth feeding. But Fern, a young girl, valued his life for no other reason than that she loved him. She believed he was special, even though he had no objective value or ability of his own. He then meets a spider, Charlotte, who befriends him. She writes wonderful things about him in her web. Cryptic messages like "Some Pig" and "Radiant". Wilbur is then objectively judged, and found wanting. He is neither as big or as valuable as the other pigs at the show. However, the final effort of Charlotte achieved it's goal and Wilbur was not made into a Christmas dinner. Wilbur was no great pig, but he was greatly loved.

Perhaps this week you also feel like "no great pig." Heading into this week I hope you learn that you know that you are severely and intensely loved and valued by the Creator of Heaven and Earth. That love was demonstrated for you at the Cross, 2,000 years ago. That love makes you more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus your Lord. That love has placed you in Christ, and identified you with Him in His death, burial, resurrection, ascension and seating at the right hand of the Father. That love will see you conformed to the very image of Christ. Though we had not a thing to offer Him, though we were powerless to help ourselves, He as loved us this much. Don't forget.

Monday, February 7, 2011

His Grace is Enough

And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

It is often far easier to take an inventory of the reasons not to do something, than to find the reason to do it. It is so easy to see our limitations, our difficulties and our challenges as evidence that the Lord can't do anything with us. As we count up all of the reasons "why not" we fall into one of the subtlest traps our three-fold enemy sets out for us: self-centeredness. If our eyes are found looking to ourselves, even to take account of our inability, our eyes are ultimately fixed upon us and our inability and not our Lord, who IS ABLE!

What would the Lord do through you this week? Who would you share the gospel with? Who would you call to comfort or encourage? What would you take part in if failure were not possible? If you know that you could never do this on your own, you are in just the right place to start! Paul penned these words only one chapter after listing off all of his qualifications, he defended himself for the sake of his message that was given to Him directly from the resurrected Christ. But before anyone could wonder if Paul was used of God because of his great qualifications, he gives them a clear illustration of the reality: God uses us in and through our weakness. If we think we can serve from our own strength, our own strength we will waste. The Lord is interested in working through those who know best that is it He and He alone who is doing the work.