A non-guilty Lent

I don’t recall where I was speeding hurrying to get, but I had been listening to the song Christ is Mine by CityAlight when I realized my gas tank wasn’t going to get me there.  Determined to find a place $.02 lower per gallon, I skipped a few gas stations before I finally stopped.

As I entered the parking lot and pulled alongside the pump, the bridge of the song hit me:

Come, rejoice now, O my soul
For his love is my reward
Fear is gone and hope is sure
Christ is mine forever!

Maybe you should listen to the song, too.

I had heard that song countless times before because I love CityAlight.  We’ve sang a few of their songs at worship in our church.  But there was something at that moment that brought me to tears.  Okay, not a full-on ugly cry, but a swelling in my eyes that was coupled with a smile on my face.

It had to be a gift from God.

It’s been a while since I’ve ditched the overly somber observance of Lent.  Yes, it is a time of repentance and reflection.  And I do those.  But I’ve learned that guilt isn’t a gift from God.  Jesus never said, “Repent and feel guilty about what you’re repented about.”  Rather, with repentance, God gives joy and peace.

In that moment that was something I received.

I hope Lent is a time you can experience those gifts as well.

Stay blessed…john

Another Sermon Podcast #284

I was out of town last week and forgot to post the weekend’s sermon. How fitting that is for this week’s podcast!

SHOW NOTES

Proverbs 3:1-8
Admonition to Trust and Honour God
My child, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments;
for length of days and years of life
and abundant welfare they will give you.

Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them round your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favour and good repute
in the sight of God and of people.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be a healing for your flesh
and a refreshment for your body.

Numbers 15:37-41
The Lord said to Moses: Speak to the Israelites, and tell them to make fringes on the corners of their garments throughout their generations and to put a blue cord on the fringe at each corner. You have the fringe so that, when you see it, you will remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and not follow the lust of your own heart and your own eyes. So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and you shall be holy to your God. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord your God.

 

I opened the sermon with this video from Tim Hawkins.

Stay blessed…john

A different spirit

Churches are dying. The Christian faith is dying.

At least that’s what the reports indicate.  It reminds me of the reports the “spies” came back with when they first explored the land God had promised the Israelites.  In the book of Numbers, a group goes to discover this new land.  Oh, it’s nice alright, but it’s full of giant, dangerous people.  We’ll never be able to go there!  The group said that and I’m sure a few other things to convince the rest of the people they couldn’t follow through with what God told them.

Thankfully, not everyone in the group agreed with that assessment.  And don’t get me wrong, there’s truth within those statements (theirs and ours).

Later in the story we’re told Caleb and Joshua were ready to go to this new land.  At first, though, we’re only told something significant about Caleb.  What was different about him?  You read for yourself:

But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me wholeheartedly, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.

-Numbers 14:24

Did you catch it?  Caleb didn’t just have a different report.  He didn’t merely hold a different perspective.  He had a different spirit.  And it was that spirit that helped him follow God “wholeheartedly.”

So, you see, you may not need as many ideas as you think to save the church.  You may just need people with a different spirit to lead you.  You may just need a new spirit yourself.

Stay blessed…john

Vows to keep

I was reading about the nazirite vows.  These vows were made to set oneself apart for God.  Read about it in Numbers 6.

It got me wondering about the kinds of vows we make to God and what prompts them.  When was the last time you made a vow to God?  Lent is approaching and I know you may be thinking of making a vow to not drink or eat something in particular.

Although I would always strongly encourage you to consider making a significant sacrifice, giving up Coke is fine.

More important, though, is why you’re giving something up.  You’re supposed to?  Tradition?  Everyone else is doing it? Maybe I’ll lose a few pounds?

Whatever vow you make to God, whether during Lent or any other time, is an important element of your life with God.  So, make sure to take it seriously.  Know what you are expecting from God during your vow and, perhaps more so, pay attention to what God is expecting of you.

Stay blessed…john

Sermon Podcast #283

In this week’s episode I’m talking about how I’m not talking about something. The rest is about blessings and God’s glory.

Romans 12:1-3
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Leviticus 9:1-7, 22-24
On the eighth day Moses summoned Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel. He said to Aaron, ‘Take a bull calf for a sin-offering and a ram for a burnt-offering, without blemish, and offer them before the Lord. And say to the people of Israel, “Take a male goat for a sin-offering; a calf and a lamb, yearlings without blemish, for a burnt-offering; and an ox and a ram for an offering of well-being to sacrifice before the Lord; and a grain-offering mixed with oil. For today the Lord will appear to you.” ’ They brought what Moses commanded to the front of the tent of meeting; and the whole congregation drew near and stood before the Lord. And Moses said, ‘This is the thing that the Lord commanded you to do, so that the glory of the Lord may appear to you.’ Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘Draw near to the altar and sacrifice your sin-offering and your burnt-offering, and make atonement for yourself and for the people; and sacrifice the offering of the people, and make atonement for them; as the Lord has commanded.’

Aaron lifted his hands towards the people and blessed them; and he came down after sacrificing the sin-offering, the burnt-offering, and the offering of well-being. Moses and Aaron entered the tent of meeting, and then came out and blessed the people; and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. Fire came out from the Lord and consumed the burnt-offering and the fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.

Stay blessed…john