It seems we hear this a lot- and in the context of justifying someone's poor (or unethical) performance. While poor performance despite good intentions is understandable in some contexts (say, other than eye surgery), such an idea is problematic when applied to ethics: Your evil intentions can spoil even the good that you do, but good intentions cannot rescue evil deeds.
Thus, "It's all a matter of the heart" can be misleading.
Everywhere you look something is broken. And if it's not- give it time.
So many trials and difficulties in life revolve around the truth that everything is broken (or breaking), and we just don't like it. Homes, cars, knees, hearts... you name it, we're broken and breaking.
In other messages we've dealt with the underlying cause of brokenness- sin. But today we will look at the promise of God: Unbroken love for the broken soul.
I'm taking a bit of a break from our congregational reading plan today, turning from Psalms and Jeremiah to 1 John 2. The Apostle John (who also wrote the Gospel and Revelation) wrote three letters to a general audience of congregations. The subject of the first of these letters was assurance of salvation, pointing to Christ for the forgiveness of sins.
I'm ashamed to say that I struggle with it: It has always been easier to identify "whose fault" a loss of a failure was than to figure out what went wrong and fix it. It's always easier to find a reason to lose and a person to blame than it is to find a way to win and a team with whom to do so. But the blame game is always counter-productive.
God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. So goes the introductory line of a tract from many years ago. That is true enough, as far as it goes. God's wonderful plan began in the Garden immediately after man's rebellion. The rest of history is the story of God redeeming mankind- the fallen pinnacle of His creation. The cross, therefore, is God's wonderful plan for your life. He desires that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).
Explaining Resurrection Sunday to your children presents certain challenges. Note that I use the term "resurrection" intentionally, as "Easter" can be generalized to the point of a spring festival celebrating pastel pallets and bunnies that (curiously) lay eggs. Resurrection is the heart of what Christianity is: The manger of Christmas happened for the empty tomb of Easter.
The fever pitch surrounding Jesus had never been so high.
Having just raised Lazarus from the dead, the multitudes followed him with ever-increasing passion. On the day when Jewish pilgrims entered Jerusalem for the Passover, those crowds chanted praise from Psalm 113-118 like the always had. But this time it was different: Their shouts of "Hosanna!" ("Save, Lord!") were directed at Jesus.
Jeremiah is called "The Weeping Prophet"- and for good reason. You can almost hear Jeremiah weeping over the fallen state of his countrymen. God called Jeremiah to warn Israel's southern kingdom (Judah) about their sin and impending judgment. Jeremiah sounded the alarm, and in thanks received imprisonment by his own king. Jeremiah continued his ministry during 70 years of captivity in Babylon. It was a difficult ministry.
I will admit that I stole this title from a friend of mine, by the way. But it fits the text well, so I can sleep at night. It has been well-observed that English-speakers use the term "love" broadly: We love our spouse, we love our kids, we love God. But we also love our cars, our sports teams, our favorite songs... in some cases we even love sin.
Not only had he watched Jesus suffer, but he himself had also suffered for the sake of Christ. Ultimately, he would give his life in Christ's service. When Peter wrote, he connected the suffering of Christ's people to the suffering of Christ Himself. His was first-person experience, and his words comfort and steel us today just as they did when they were first penned.
Our Lenten series on the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 continues with a look at Pergamum. They had some commendable features in their congregations, but they had begun to compromise with the world around them.
In this message Pastor Wade examines the good present in Pergamum, their compromise and how to steel ourselves against it it a way that strengthens both our faith and our interactions with those around us.
One benefit to preaching through the Bible according to some sort of plan is that you are forced to encounter and embrace various difficult texts. We meet one of them today, a brief letter from Paul to his friend Philemon. The text presents various challenges.
First, Philemon is difficult to find. Hint: Find Hebrews. Turn left.
Dave Ryerson is our guest speaker today in Pastor Wade'sabsence. Dave is the morning show host and Program Director for LIFE 96.5 (KNWC) in Sioux Falls. He graduated from Northwestern Bible College in St. Paul this summer with his degree in Biblical Studies and will be working on his Masters of Divinity through Northwestern starting in January 2013. Dave is married to his wife Rachel of 1 6 years with two children, Nick (7) and Anna (5).
A little historical background helps us understand Scripture. For example, it is easy to bury our face in our hands and say of Israel, "What were you thinking!?!" when they rebelled against God. True enough, turning your back on the Living God is pure silliness- but we have all engaged in silliness in our darker moments.
In a world where (often times) everything seems to be falling apart, it's good to know that there is Someone who isn't. Christ holds all things together because "all things were created through Him and for Him." He also holds all things together because in Christ God was pleased to make peace with mankind by the blood of the cross. In Him all things hold together because Christ is over all.
I don't know what a typical congregational meeting is like (it's my first call), but I know that many of my fellow pastors dread theirs. I LOVE OURS. And for all my joking about smoked pork loin and chili dogs, it's not about the food.
Sunday we welcomed Pastor Jason Holt to Living Word. Jason serves as the Director of the AFLC Youth Ministry Department, and was in town in conjunction with a class that I was teaching for that department. On a personal note, Jason is my (much better behaved) friend and best man in my wedding. So I rather like him.
All of us have Christmas memories. My favorite visuals are the Christmas trees with hot incandescent light bulbs glowing in the dark. I loved most Christmas music, and was always sad when radio stations resumed their regular programming- at 12:01AM on December 26. Christmastime seemed so fleeting.
12/23/2012 - 14:41
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - Ezekiel 13 Psalms 49 Read More
Monday, May 20, 2013 - Ezekiel 12 Psalms 48 Read More
Freedom without God is an illusion. Today, from Ezekiel 11:14-21. Read More
Sunday, May 19, 2013 - Ezekiel 11 Psalms 46-47 Read More
Saturday, May 18, 2013 - Ezekiel 10 Psalms 45 Read More