Tuesday
Feb082011

HOPE

I recently overheard a conversation that left me heavy-hearted.  Nothing was said that I hadn’t heard before, but for some reason the words hit home this time.

 

It was a group of young professionals discussing marriage and children.  You’ve probably heard these ideas before, but the basic sentiment was that they were never going to get married or have kids because the world is a bad place.  “I don’t want what my parents had.”  “All of my friends are divorced.”  “Why would you bring someone into this world of hate, hurt, and disappointment?”  “Isn’t the world overpopulated enough already?”

 

Most of us have thought along those lines at least at some point in our lives, but let me be clear.  I wasn’t struck by the points in the conversation I wanted to debate, but by the amount of hurt in their words.  Life has not been easy for them, to say the least.

 

In our recent sermon series we learned from Genesis that the world as we know it is both good and bad, blessed and cursed.  In fact, one of God’s acts of compassion was to stop Adam & Eve from eating from the Tree of Life, which would have meant an eternity of dealing with the world’s brokenness.  So, we can search for the fountain of youth, but we won’t find the Tree of Life anywhere.  At least, not yet.

The story of Adam and Eve is in the very first chapters of the Bible.  The final chapters of the Bible, Revelation 21-22, depict a coming reality.  The vision is of a city coming to earth from heaven, and what is in the middle of the city?  The Tree of Life.  “And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.  No longer will there be any curse.” (Rev. 22:2-3)

 

I can imagine interrupting the conversation with the young professionals and arguing for how wonderful life is.  I think they would have said, “That’s nice for you, but you don’t know what my life has been like.”  And they’d be right.  I do not think we can find lasting hope by simply focusing on the positives.  I believe enduring hope is found only when you face the dark realities of our broken world, not just because they are true, but because they make us yearn for an answer, a reversal, a solution, a hope, a cross.

 

There is something else envisioned in the middle of that future city from heaven.  It is the Lamb.  The river that nourishes the Tree of Life flows from the Lamb and his throne.  Jesus, the Lamb, is the source for the healing of the nations and the removal of the curse.

- Pastor Luke

Tuesday
Apr132010

EMPTY

Empty is an interesting word.  When I hear it I immediately think of the gas tank in my car or my stomach at about lunchtime.  I hear people say they are running on empty and Jackson Browne did pretty well while “Running on Empty.”  I know people who say their house feels empty now that the children are gone.  The idea behind empty is that something is missing, something that should have been there is gone.  Empty is not a good thing, …usually.

On the first Easter morning empty took on a whole new meaning.
“They (the women) found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.”  Luke 24:2-3

The grave was empty so life, and death, would never be the same.  That empty grave means that the promises of Jesus are true and that the forgiveness He brings is real.  Because the grave could not hold Jesus it cannot hold us either.  In the emptiness of that tomb we leave our past behind and discover a future securely ours in Jesus.

In most of life empty is a challenging thing, a missing of something we need, but on Easter morning the fact that the tomb is empty, really empty, is the best of all things.

“He is not here, he is risen.”             Empty.

- Pastor Kevin

Tuesday
Apr132010

CELEBRATION

If Christmas is not a celebration then I don’t know what it is.  We get together for parties, we eat great meals (not to mention cookies), we open gifts, we get together with family and friends and we sing some pretty great music.  That is a celebration.

One of the things that I have come to understand about myself is that I have a hard time celebrating things.  I think in many ways I am too task oriented, always thinking about the next thing to get done.  Maybe you find yourself moving from one event to another, from one celebration to another anxious to check off the next thing on your list.  It seems as though many of us have lost the ability to slow down and really celebrate any event.

With that in mind let me risk being trite and predictable.  After Jesus was born that dark night in Bethlehem a great celebration took place out in a field.  Angels sang, shepherds stared and finally ran to celebrate this birth.

Luke records that the shepherds “returned glorifying and praising God for the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”  (Luke 2:20)

The shepherds found that they couldn’t help but celebrate the birth of the One who loved them before they were born.  I want to invite you to join me in the next couple of days to find a few minutes, maybe even carve out a few minutes, when you don’t think about the next thing on your list, your next goal to be achieved or the next celebration to be a part of.  Take a few minutes and celebrate that the God of the universe broke into your world as a baby so that you would have no doubt that you are loved.  In the face of this baby we find forgiveness for our lack of attention to spiritual things, we find a look that is not sizing us up but is instead inviting us in, we find not another thing on our list but the beauty of a completely perfect moment.  In short, we find Celebration.

- Pastor Kevin

Tuesday
Apr132010

CERTAINTY

One of the things that I have come to notice in my life recently, is that I have less and less certainty about things I thought I had long ago settled.  I had settled in my mind that mint chocolate chip ice cream was the best, but now I find that I am drawn to more fruit flavors; I was certain that I could sleep anywhere but I now find that sleep is harder than I thought; I had a certainty that I understood how life works and now I have to admit I have no idea; I had a certainty how kids should be raised but now I have kids of my own.  I’m telling you my certainty is being messed with.

I have also come to realize that much of what I was certain about in my faith has begun to unravel.  Don’t get me wrong, I am certain of God’s grace in Jesus, I am certain of my place in heaven, and I am certain that the Bible is true.  What I have less certainty with is how the truth of God and the grace of Jesus are to be lived out in my life.  I find myself more and more uncertain that I understand what God is up to in my daily life and in the lives of people around me.  But I have also come to see that my need to be certain of these things, my need to know the answers to the questions and the purpose to every event in my life may just be sinful.  Maybe my certainty has become an idol that allows me to feel in control and less dependent on God for my every breath.

In the Old Testament book of Proverbs God has this to say, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”  Proverbs 3:5

Is that God’s way of saying give up your certainty for mine?  I am certain of so little these days, but in this I have complete certainty.  God is good and He loves me.  I am certain of those things because Jesus died and rose for me and maybe that is enough certainty for me.

- Pastor Kevin

Friday
Nov132009

THIRSTY CYCLES

Jesus once had a conversation with a woman at a well.  As everyone had to do, this woman had repeatedly come to draw water from the well.  Jesus told her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.” (John 4:13-14)  The next part of the conversation turned to this woman’s life, and how she’d had five husbands, and was now living with another man.  It became apparent that this woman had repeatedly looked for love, been satisfied for a while, and then found herself longing again.  She was caught in a disappointing cycle.  It was just like drinking the water from the well.


Until recently I had not understood what Jesus offered to this woman.  He offered her something that would break the cycle.  He offered water that would end thirst.  He told her, “If you had what I’m giving out, you would be free of your destructive love cycle - you would be satisfied.”  When we understand that, I believe there are two questions that follow.


1)  What “thirsty cycles” are in my life?  What are the things I keep chasing after, yet even when I get them, leave me empty later?  Achievement?  Consumerism?  Love?  Religion?

2)  It sounds really nice that Jesus gives something that will break the cycle, but what is it, and how exactly does it work?  Is Jesus’ gift going to help me with today’s issues?

To be honest, I don’t know if I fully understand the answer to the second question, and I would love to hear your thoughts.  In short, I believe the answer to the question is grace.  It’s really at the cross that Jesus gave us something that will “well up to eternal life.”  Because of his death we have forgiveness for all the cycles we’re caught in, and we have the promise of eternal life.  There is lasting satisfaction in Jesus’ love, sacrifice, value, forgiveness and promised future.  And I believe it’s that satisfaction that will begin to well up in us, break the “thirsty cycles” we’re in, and start overflowing into other lives until we reach heaven and find a new meaning to the word quenched.

- Pastor Luke´╗┐