Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Crown at His Feet

Interested in the perspective of a queen? Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603) thought about her own death and the return of Christ and said, "I wish I could be alive when Christ returns because I would like to be the first earthly monarch to take my crown and lay it at his feet."

Elizabeth I never married. Some suggest that one of the reasons was that she would have relinquished royal power if she had a husband next to her; and she didn't want that. If that's true, it wasn't any man, or any love, that could compel her to relinquish her power. Christ alone compelled her.

Jesus has been given the name that is above every name that at his name every knee should bow. Our dream of humbly bowing to his feet when he returns reflects our heart of humility before him while we are waiting for the return. Give him your crown, your attention, your heart, and your love now. Then when you bow before him at his return, both of you will be smiling. That's Life at Work!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Changing Church

Two men sat on a park bench, eating lunch and talking about their church experience. With an expression of consternation, one said to the other, "My congregation is becoming more Christ-like… the same yesterday, today, and forever." (Leadership Journal, Fall 2008, p. 82)

Some of you will read that and immediately think, "What is he complaining about? The church should be just like it was yesterday and should stay like it is into the future!" Others of you will read it and think, "I understand that frustration. The only thing my church has changed in twenty years is the number of people who come. We've been in decline for ten years!"

So, should the church change?

Absolutely not!

And Definitely yes!

When the Hebrew writer said that Jesus was the same yesterday, today and forever he was warning the readers to guard against departing from the new, better covenant. Those who had taught them had led godly lives following Jesus. If they followed the same way, they would live godly lives, too. The consistency of Jesus confirms that truth. "Stick with what you've learned from those who taught you," the writer contends! Grace is much more beneficial than ceremonial foods!

Few people actually believe though that the church should not change in any way. I say "few." I don't know of any, but I don't know everybody.

We meet in buildings with padded pews. We sing songs from books or screens. We evangelize via Facebook, blogs, or church websites. We print material, we purchase advertisements, we have bank accounts (perhaps blank accounts right now), we own property and pave parking lots, we drink our fruit of the vine from tiny plastic cups, and we stare at the back of the head of the person in front of us during the communion. We baptize people in chlorinated water circulated through filters. We have Bible Classes and Children's Bible Hour. We wear suits on Sunday mornings (at least the real Christian men do) and jeans on Sunday night. The readers of Hebrews didn't do any of that. The list could go on and on.

Change? No way! I'll take God's grace over my filthy rags!

Change? Yes! How can we become all things to all people so that we can save some?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Believing is Seeing

Thomas saw, so he believed!  John reveals in his gospel account how Thomas came to believe in the resurrection:

"Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it," he said.

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."

Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:25-28)

We haven't seen the nail holes, but we believe.  Thomas saw and believed. What can we see because we believe?

Paul prayed that the eyes of the hearts of the faithful in Ephesus would be enlightened (1:18). He wanted them to see what they could see because they were believers.

First he wanted them to see their hope; namely, the riches of their glorious inheritance. Paul had already mentioned our inheritance when he wrote about the deposit of the Holy Spirit and the guarantee he represents (1:14); so I really believe that Paul is saying that we can see, through the eyes of faith, our salvation that will be seen when Jesus returns! Language like "streets of gold" and "gates of pearl" are is used to help us picture heaven. We also love the language of victory, eternal life, and glory! Our faith gives us the ability to see that the spiritual blessings of redemption, adoption, and forgiveness with culminate in Heaven! Can you see it?

Then Paul mentioned that he wants us to be able to see with the eyes of our heart that the power God used to raise Jesus from the dead works for us as we live our lives for God. We are the "fullness of him who fills everything in every way!" (1:23). Accomplishing the work of Jesus who will accomplish the work of God seems like an impossible role until we see by faith that God's incomparably great power is at work in our lives! We can accomplish the dream of God because we are empowered by God! The hungry can be fed! The enslaved can be set free! The oppressed can be rescued! The lost can be saved! Can you see it?

That's Life at Work!