Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sermon on Mark 1

Preached on Mark 1:1-8 Sunday night. My big idea for the message was that repentance plays a key role in preparing us for Jesus and change. Here is a snippet of my message for those of you interested (or for those of you needing a sermon for Sunday, ha!).

- What does it take for you to get ready for change?

For me, I like to have a heads up. For me to get ready, I want to be prepared and know about the change. Knowledge is power, right? But even that sometimes isn’t enough. When Jesus comes He brings change. He brings radical change. 2 Corinthians says, “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the new has come and the old has gone.” Jesus brings change.

- What does it take to get ready for the Lord Jesus and the change He brings?
- What does it take for you to get ready for the Lord’s coming? (When He comes He brings a renewal and a revival to our hearts.)
- What does it take to get ready for a revival? To be awakened to the fact that God’s kingdom is here. It’s all around us just waiting for us to enter into.
- What does it take?

How many of you find it pleasant to be woken up by an alarm clock? I haven’t found an alarm clock yet that has a pleasant sounding alarm. Your dreams are usually interrupted abruptly by the brash beeping telling you loudly that a new day is here. Wake up! An alarm clock is a great symbol for change. There is a new day here. The old day is gone. Change has come. An alarm clock is also a great symbol for John the Baptist and his ministry spoken of here in the Gospel of Mark.

Before we get into talking about John the Baptist, Mark makes it clear in the first few verses that what we are about to be woken up to is very important. This is what was promised in the Old Testament. It is very good news.

Verse 1
That’s the word used in the opening line here (the Good News/Gospel). In Jesus’ time to announce the Gospel was to announce the arrival of the Messiah. The arrival of God’s Anointed One. The Jewish people of Jesus’ day would have known with the arrival of the Messiah comes freedom. Freedom from Satan and his kingdom and the dawning of a new kingdom. This word is just loaded with meaning and good news. In a nutshell it means the good things God has done through Jesus. It means a change is coming and something new is brewing.

Verse 2 & 3
Mark goes on in verse 2 and says this was written in Isaiah, but this is actually a mixture of Isaiah and Malachi (common practice in those days to just mention more prominent prophet). He wants us to know that this Good News is something God said He would do and promised in the Old Testament. The most important day in history, and in the world, is when God took on human flesh and made His dwelling among us. What’s about to happen is more important than any day we have (e.g., landing on the moon, 4th of July, September 11th discovery of America, discovery of electricity, etc.).

Think about this day like this. If your favorite actor/athlete came to town and no one told you about it, you would be bummed and feeling like you missed out on something special. Thankfully, the Jews had someone to give them, and us, a heads up about this important day. The alarm clock is buzzing very loudly to wake them up to this new day. His name is John the Baptist. Verses four through eight tell us about this man and his ministry.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sabbath (pt 3)

Chapter 3 of Sabbath by Dan Allender investigates the issue of time and how it can be made holy. One important note brought out in this chapter is that Sabbath was given before the Fall and as a commandment to the Israelites. God takes Sabbath seriously. Why? One marvelous quote at the beginning of this chapter answers, “Sabbath is not merely an event that happens in time; it redefines the nature of time and how we are to live it.” To me that sums up why Sabbath is so important. It leads to a proper perspective on time.

To really get at what it means to practice this Sabbath keeping in a God-honoring way we must first look at what we believe about time. What are our preconceived notions about time? What does America think about time? Allender shares some stats here that aren’t too surprising when you consider how prideful we are about work in this country.
§ 1 out of 3 is chronically overworked.
§ More than half of white collar workers log more than 40 hours a week.
§ 75% of these white collar workers work on the weekends.
§ 37% of Americans take fewer than 7 days off per year.
§ Only 14% take vacation of two week or longer.
§ Americans take shortest paid vacations in the world.
§ 20% of those who do take vacations report to stay in touch with the office.

Are these stats due to faulty thinking of time? Most people think they need more time, can make more time, can steal time, and spend and use time. This chapter points out that time is actually beyond our reach and control. Sure we have watches and alarm clocks, but they don’t really control time, they just control us. Time is, “to be breathed like air.” A proper way to think of time is to look at it as a gift and to honor it. Then we can enter the Sabbath and see it as, “the day that bridges two great events in time; creation by God and the re-creation of the new heavens and earth by God.” Sabbath is a day to play. To have fun. To see something beautiful happening around you and just sit back in your recliner and watch it.

Entering into Sabbath requires three things: receiving the day, intending the day, and protecting the day. When we receive the day we prepare and anticipate her arrival. We are excited about what is to come. Intending the day means we do all the necessary preparations for our activities so we don’t have to work on the Sabbath. If we are going to eat stew we buy the ingredients the day before and put it in the crock pot to cook so we don’t have to do anything. Protecting the day means we do whatever we can to keep the day set apart as special. If we have to turn off our cell phones we turn them off. If we avoid TV we avoid TV. The point is to have a plan to make this day truly unique and different from the other six days of the week.

Any thoughts?

Start Here book

About This Book
You want to do hard things.But you don’t know where to start. You are changing the world around you. But you are tired and burned out. You feel called to do the extraordinary for God.But you feel stuck in the ordinary. Do Hard Things inspired thousands of young people around the world to make the most of the teen years. Now Alex and Brett Harris are back and ready to tackle the questions that Do Hard Things inspired: How do I get started? What do I do when I get discouraged? What’s the best way to inspire others? Filled with stories and insights from Alex, Brett, and other real-life rebelutionaries, Start Here is a powerful and practical guide to doing hard things, right where you are. Are you ready to take the next step and blast past mediocrity for the glory of God?

START HERE (click for book link).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sabbath (pt 2)

Chapter 2, titled Sensual Glory, explores the connections between this holy day and sensuality. Delighting in God’s creation involves all our senses and it must be preceded by awe and gratitude. Allender points out that God’s creation is truly the work of an artist. Good art requires us to sit back and take it in. To appreciate what is before us.

I was just in the Smoky Mountains staying in a cabin with a beautiful view of the mountains. It was delightful and inspiring to look out from the back porch of our cabin each day and give thanks for the masterpiece that was before me. It was fun to just stand and stare. We are encouraged at the end of this chapter to surround ourselves on the Sabbath (whichever day that is for us) with beauty. We are to plunge our senses into magnificent colors, fine textures, great smelling fragrances, soothing sounds, and good tastes. This is enjoying and delighting on the Sabbath.

So, what do you think?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


One of the books on my Shelfari I’ve been working my way through is Sabbath by Dan Allender (part of the Ancient Practices Series by Thomas Nelson Publishers). I picked this book up for next to nothing on vacation last week in TN. I'm glad I found it. This series focuses on learning and applying seven spiritual disciplines. This particular book is on the discipline of Sabbath.

Chapter 1 (Highlights)
Here are some thoughts and reflection from the first chapter.

Chapter 1 examines why we don’t Sabbath. So, why don’t we? For one, we live in a culture that takes great pride in work. Those who work hardest are most respected. We are proud to work 14-16 hours a day. Pride is actually what leads to this unhealthy work ethic. Even more dangerous is that this newly-developed pride can lead us to start thinking we can control time and do what others cannot or have failed to do. This thinking keeps us going and going and going. Dan Allender’s main reason for why people don’t practice Sabbath is that they struggle to believe that God wants them to have a day where they just sit around and bask in the pure delight, wonder, and joy that is all around them. This seems like a waste of time to most people.
Another aspect touched upon in chapter 1 is defining what Sabbath is. Sabbath is more than rest because we are tired because God rested on the seventh day and He doesn’t get tired. Good point. Something I never really took into consideration when reading that passage in Genesis. So, if it’s not just rest because we are tire, what is it? Allender believes on the seventh day, “God celebrated and delighted in his creation.” A good illustration of what this rest is like is given in the paragraph that follows. Allender uses pregnancy and the time after the birth to describe what God’s rest on the seventh day was like. First mom and dad wait patiently while the baby is being formed in mom. Then, one day the baby is born and becomes a separate and distinct thing. It’s a new life. We can see her. We can touch her. Now mom and dad begin bonding with this new life they have created and a fellowship begins among them that could last for eternity. Maybe God’s rest on the seventh day is like this. It’s the point in time where He begins building the relationship with His creation and enjoying His work. It had to be beautiful (still is, but sin has tainted things from what they used to be). He sees what has only been an idea in His head take shape and form and become reality.

Some questions I’m thinking about are:
- How hard is it for me to break and Sabbath from work?
- How do I define Sabbath?
- How do you define Sabbath?
- How do I celebrate Sabbath?
- Is there anything I can improve upon with this discipline?
- How do you celebrate Sabbath? Do you?