Category Archives: Sacrifice

Baseball, Pizza, and the Resurrection

Pizza

Supreme. It’s a pretty powerful word that unfortunately in our culture has been reduced to the kind of pizza we eat at Pizza Hut. The word actually means strongest, most important, or most powerful. It is the thing or the person that is superior to all others. It’s not a word that should be used carelessly, and when it comes to deciding who we will allow to be supreme in our lives, we really need to exercise great discernment and caution.

When we were small children, perhaps our parents were supreme in our lives. My father was a large man – both in size and in presence. His voice could boom, and it did when he was excited. I remember when I was 6 years old playing infield on my t-ball team and threw out a base runner for the first time ever. My dad, who was also my coach, jumped up and down in the dugout and roared with excitement. It nearly made all of the other 6 year olds in the dugout cry! I remember to this day the great feeling of not only knowing that I got the base runner out but knowing that I made my dad – the one who was supreme in my life – happy with me.

11From then on, I remember trying to do things that would re-create that moment between me and my dad. I wanted to have him jump up and down and roar his approval of me like that again and again. When I was in grade school, I played whiffle ball with my friends on the school playground at recess. It just so happened that I could hit the ball pretty far, so I asked my dad if he would come by at recess and watch me hit. I’m sure he didn’t have the time nor the desire to do so, but the next day as we ran to the ball field for morning recess, there was my dad, sitting in his car waiting to watch. I don’t know if I hit the ball well that day or not, I just know that I wanted to please my father and make him excited about me again like he was before. He was a big deal to me because he was supreme in my life back then.

You and I have since grown up, and no longer are our parents supreme to us – but someone has most likely taken their place. There is someone in our lives who is more important than all others, and the challenge for the Christian is to fight the temptation to put our spouse, our children, or some other human in that spot. Christ must be the one who we allow to reign supreme in our lives. We must recognize Him as the most important – superior to all others – and live our lives in light of this. Just as I had a driving desire to please my earthly father because I saw him as supreme, so should we desire to please our heavenly Father because He is supreme.

Supreme2

Read these words from the Apostle Paul about the supremacy of Christ from Colossians 1:15-20: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Paul clearly states that Christ is supreme (preeminent) because He is “the firstborn from the dead.” His resurrection from the grave (an event we celebrate this month with great rejoicing!) has propelled Him to supremacy over all things and all people. Because of the resurrection, Christ is the strongest, most important, most powerful One and is superior to all others. May we be reminded of this once again as we celebrate His resurrection this month, and may we live in such a way that we affirm His supremacy over us by our worship, our obedience, our delighting in Him, and our desire to please Him in all we do.

Good News? Really?!

In Luke’s gospel, he calls what John the Baptist preached “good news.”  (Luke 3:18)  However, the news that Luke called “good” included burning in an unquenchable fire.  (Luke 3:17)

firechaff

John preached that when Jesus comes, He will separate the wheat (those who repent and follow Him) from the chaff (those who don’t repent and follow Him).  Jesus will gather the wheat and protect it from the unquenchable fire, but he will gather the chaff and throw it into said fire.  Luke calls this “good news.” Really?  Good news?

Truth is – sin leads to death (an unquenchable fire).  The good news is that repentance changes everything.  Repentance evokes the protection (the salvation) of God, which was won by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  You can’t have good news without first understanding the bad news.

Theologian Darrell Bock explains, “The preacher must bear good news as well as news that exposes sin. A preacher of God’s message must be balanced in delivering both messages. Forgiveness cannot occur except where one realizes responsibility for sin and repents of it.” (Luke: The NIV Application Commentary, p. 117)

Are you proclaiming the good news in its entirety?
Carefully.
Tactfully.
Lovingly.

The good news isn’t good without the bad news too.

A Life of “Making Space”

strangerThe Scriptures call us to be hospitable. Jesus – the epitome of a hospitable God – calls us to be hospitable. But what does this mean? Is it merely what one pastor suggested when he called his people to give up the right of way on a narrow road, to bring a cup of coffee to someone at church, and to make an effort to talk to your neighbors when you pass them on the sidewalk? I’m sure he agrees that hospitality is much more, but unfortunately, I think most Christians see hospitality as an event rather than a lifestyle. Nice little things we do for people rather than a lifestyle of humility, submission, and service. As I read the Scriptures, I’m convinced that the biblical call to hospitality is bigger and more demanding than we ever thought.

One pastor I read says, “Too often Christians think hospitality is just a group of Christians meeting over a meal. That is not the biblical meaning of the concept.” He goes on to say, “Hospitality means making space for the stranger in your world. God has made a place for his enemies to become part of his family by Jesus being treated like an enemy on the cross. He brought us into his home, treated us like family and gave us access to all that he owns, making us co-heirs with Christ. When leaders open their homes and lives to the stranger — the outsider — we show the world and the church how the gospel reshapes our view of our homes.”

This means that as a Christian, you have non-Christians in your life that would call you their friend. They invite you to their parties and events, call you when they are in need, and regularly bring you into their world. They not only call you friend, but they also respect you — you have a good reputation with them. It doesn’t mean they always agree with you or are never offended by the gospel, but regardless, they believe you love them and in turn entrust themselves to you.

Yes. Hospitality is something we extend to fellow Christians, but it’s bigger than this. It’s a way of life, and it includes living in such a way that we willingly and sacrificially “make space” for not just our brothers and sisters in Christ, but for outsiders, strangers, non-Christians.

The Tomb Is Empty!

Here is the powerful video I showed at the end of our Easter service yesterday.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWU0M99P5i4&playnext=1&list=PL83352B0E1738C8BC&feature=results_main[/youtube]

By the way, I did pay for and download the official copy…and it was in English!

Is Your City As Stingy As Mine?

What’s your town known for?  Mine?  Well, Albuquerque is known for – among other things – its famous stretch of Route 66, having the longest passenger tram in the world, being voted the fittest city in the U.S. in 2007, the famous 1945 quote from Bugs Bunny when he said, “I should have made a left toin at Albukoykee,” and for being one of the stingiest cities in America.

Albuquerque is tied with Toledo, Ohio as the fourth least generous city in America.  The extensive 60-city study was done by the Albuquerque-based Tijeras Foundation in 2008.  Through their research, they were able to discover the average percentage of household income given to charity by people in these cities.

The most generous city in America?  Birmingham, Alabama.  The least generous city?  San Antonio, Texas.  The Tijeras Foundation commented that even Birmingham and other top cities have a long way to go, noting that few Americans (evangelical Christians included) approach the biblical tithe of ten percent.

Here’s the top 10 and bottom 10 lists with the percentage of household income given to charity in each city:

TOP 10 MOST GENEROUS CITIES IN THE US

1. Birmingham 3.6%
2. Memphis 3.4%
3. Columbia, SC 3.2%
4. Greenville, SC 3.1%
5. Atlanta 3.1%
6. Grand Rapids 3.1%
7. New York 3.1%
8. Naples 3.1%
9. Charlotte 3.1%
10. Tulsa 3.1%


TOP 10 LEAST GENEROUS CITIES IN THE US

1. San Antonio 1.7%
2. Pittsburgh 1.8%
3. Tampa 1.8%
4. Albuquerque 1.9%
5. Toledo 1.9%
6. Austin 2.0%
7. Boston 2.0%
8. Honolulu 2.0%
9. Ft. Lauderdale 2.0%
10. Orlando 2.0%