Archive for June, 2012

Complete Recovery

Years ago I was a youth pastor roaming the halls on a Sunday morning before Bible study. “Quick! Help me!” an adult teacher called me into her classroom, “Where in the Bible does it say we deserved Jesus to die on the cross?” (She was serious)  I answered, “I can’t think of a place that it does, but I can think of many places it says that we don’t deserve it.” She gave me a look that said, “are you sure went to seminary?” and walked away to find someone who could answer her question how she wanted. Knowing my fellow ministers, I doubt she got the answer she wanted.

In Luke 7, Jesus met a Roman centurion (military commander) who had a sick servant. Even though the Jewish elders told Jesus that the centurion “deserved” Jesus to heal the servant (after all, he gave lots of money), the centurion knew better. “I don’t deserve to have you come under my roof.” The man said he didn’t measure up to Jesus.  Jesus told everyone that the centurion “got it” more than any of the Jews Jesus had met. They were so busy trying to show they “deserved” God to recover them, that they missed it.

I have learned that me frustrated faith times stem from feeling entitled to God acting in my life. After all, I’m a pastor. I sacrifice a lot, right? (Invitations to Pity Party sent…)  But, my fulfilled faith times occur when I realize I’m getting more from God that I could ever deserve!

You can’t seek a Lord until you quit being one yourself. You can’t be lifted up until you admit how far down you are.

Recently, a young family in our church had a near tragic occurence. Their one-month old child developed spinal meningitis. If anyone didn’t “deserve” for this to happen, it would be them. Sweet folk, with servant hearts, they trusted the Lord through a midnight ambulance ride to Dallas and weeklong stay in pediatric ICU at Children’s Medical Center. The outcome could have been sad, but thanks be to God, they are now home with a healing baby! Another of our members is in an ICU this week, after an accident that has left him with many broken bones and a very long road of recovery. His parents, also members, are retired ministers. They are another “underserving” family. Our church is surrounding them with care and prayers.

Neither of these families have said, “we don’t deserve this”. Instead they are expressing awe and praise at how God is blessing them with love and peace during a time of difficulty. Like the centurion, they get it and have great faith. As the Lord works to bring about recovery in these homes, I’m reminded of how the people saw what Jesus did (heal sick and raise the dead), and how they responded in the rest of Luke 7:1-16.

They were filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” (Luke 7:16 NIV)

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Choosing Fathers

What follows is the core of my father’s day sermon. Read through, but read through to the end to catch the twist…

Luke 6:12-13 (NIV) One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles…

Those apostles became “fathers” of the early churches. From Thomas heading East (as far as India maybe), to Peter in Jerusalem , and John in Asia Minor, they scattered and led.  Jesus chose them after prayer.

Right fatherhood happens the same way. It isn’t just a genetic occurence. The definition of Father isn’t easily clarified. It is the man who is the source of life, wisdom, provision, direction in the life of others that is known as Father. Biological matter alone doesn’t make one a father. Legal documents don’t make a man a father. Rather, it is selfless discipleship to Jesus that puts a man in the place to be a Father, sending out others to life, love, and God’s kingdom work.

Four charactistics of God-chosen fatherhood are:

Be a Provider, not a profiteer – Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” exemplifed a life that gave what was needed for the child at each stage. You see, children aren’t their for your benefit (bring you a drink, clean your house, or worse), rather you are their to be a steward of the resources God has given you to help them become successful in Godly lives.

Be a Protector, not a prison gaurd – God has placed you as a watchmen to keep out the evil that wants to disrupt your family.  So, be proactive about the media and messages that come through the air or wires. Talk with children and help them learn from Scripture what is right and wrong.

Be a Professor, not a preservationist – Indiana Jones was a professor who was teaching his co-adventurers. Don’t be trying to keep everything safe in life, instead let the teachable moments be shared experiences where you children learn from you.

Be the Propulsion, not a passenger – remember the Flintstone’s car? Fred had his feet on the ground, Dino sat in the back.  Godly fathers aren’t along for the ride, but are actively leading their families to Christ and his church.

So, it’s a basic sermon with solid truth for fathers right? Except I had an unexpected response. I received a text from a single mother that said, “I really liked your sermon on fathers.” At first I thought “Uh oh, I missed it with her and wasn’t sensitive about the single moms.”  But, she went on, “I realize I have to be the father figure at times for my child and I needed to hear what you said. It helped. Thanks.”

I’m glad it’s Jesus that does the choosing…

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