Wednesday, December 30, 2015

GOD USES SMALL THINGS! Is it about trust or obedience? (a blogpost for a sermon to be preached at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI, on Jan. 3, 2016)

As Paula and I were discussing the new sermon series at Kenwood beginning this weekend ("God Uses Small Things!", she put everything in perspective.  We were talking about having faith in God even when His plan seems to make little sense.  I focused upon trusting God while His plan might seem silly or even crazy.  Paula said (a paraphrase), "You've got to trust and obey."

She nailed it.  That's it.  Not only must we trust, but we must obey.

Sing with me, "Trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

GOD USES SMALL THINGS! (a blogpost for a sermon to be preached at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI, on Jan. 3, 2016)

A stick in the hand of God's servant is much more than a stick.

Any stick, branch, or twig could be a magic wand, sword, or staff when I was growing up.  There was no end to the possibilities.  Possibility was not bounded by "reality."  Anything could be something amazing.  Nothing was impossible.

This truth of children ought to be the truth that Christians live with every day.  With faith all things are possible.  With God anything is possible.  These are not simply theological truths; they are the foundation for our life in Christ.

Our messages through the series, "God Uses Small Things!" will focus on how our God chooses to use small things to accomplish His goals and bring Him glory.  

Thursday, December 24, 2015

THE CHARACTERS OF CHRISTMAS: an expectant audience (a sermon to be preached on Dec. 27, 2015, at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI)

This is Christmas Eve, the day before Christmas.  Can you imagine Mary and Joseph on their first Christmas Eve?  Were they waiting with great anticipation?  Were they "ready"?  Can you imagine what it would be like to be waiting for the Messiah to come . . . tomorrow?  

Waiting is a large part of the human experience.  We wait on the mail.  We wait on our children.  We wait for good news.  We wait and wait and wait.  

What have you been waiting for?  

Are you still waiting for the Messiah?

What are you waiting for?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

THE CHARACTERS OF CHRISTMAS: the Modern Audience as Participant (a sermon to be preached on Dec. 27, 2015, at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI)

The audience is a central figure in the way we understand literature today.  We focus not only on who wrote what but who would read what.

This ancient gospel is a story for the modern reader as much as the original recipients.  We are the audience.  We are the ones intended to grapple with this difficult story just as much as the people in ancient Israel.  

What are your thoughts as you read the story?   What does the story compel you to do?  Who do you connect with in the narrative?  How has the gospel changed you?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

THE CHARACTERS OF CHRISTMAS: the Audience (a sermon to be preached on Dec. 27, 2015, at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI)

Joseph, Mary and Jesus are the primary characters in the Christmas story, but they are not the only characters.  There are angels, shepherds, and a whole host of other people.  The last character that I will be talking about on Sunday will be the audience (you and me).

The Christmas narrative presses the listener toward faith.  This incredible demands a response.  This little baby was born the king of the Jews.  He was the son of God.  Jesus was the messiah.  This story demands a decision.

Either you believe that he is who the Scriptures say or you don't.  What will you do with the Christ child?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

THE CHARACTERS OF CHRISTMAS: Jesus and You (a sermon to be preached on Dec. 20, 2015, at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI)

Jesus is the reason for the season.  Right?  Our self-absorbed, narcissistic, me first culture believes that Christmas is all about us, and that is 100% correct.  Just not in the way we think.

What I get, who I see, how much I enjoy the party, where I go, why I wanted the other sweater matter little during this Christmas season.  Christmas centers on us but not in that way.  My personal wants, likes, preferences, and indulgences only obscure the real reason we stand center stage in the cosmic Christmas story.  The haze of personal gratification only confuses the issue.

Christmas is all about us because Jesus made it all about us.  Jesus may be the reason for the season, but we are the reason that he came.

Philippians 2:5b-8 says,

Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death
        even death on a cross!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

THE CHARACTERS OF CHRISTMAS: Jesus and a Special Sunday of Worship (a sermon to be preached on Dec. 20, 2015, at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI)

I am getting excited about Sunday, Dec. 20, worship.  We have great music, a few special songs, some video, and the greatest reason to gather - God sent His son into the world for us.  Come and join us as we worship the King, the Christ child, the Savior!

See you Sunday.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

THE CHARACTERS OF CHRISTMAS: Jesus as Stranger (a sermon to be preached on Dec. 20, 2015, at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI)

Have you ever felt that uneasy feeling like you just don't belong?  Perhaps it was a party or a trip to a new city or a move to another part of the country or a new job.  I think we have all had that sense of being an outsider.  We were different; we didn't belong.

I wonder how Jesus felt as He found Himself in a strange land that He had created.  To be God and experience newness.  To be God and feel the comfort of your mother's touch.  To be God and know hunger.  To be God and . . .

Monday, December 14, 2015

THE CHARACTERS OF CHRISTMAS: Jesus (a sermon to be preached on Dec. 20, 2015, at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI)

"The Characters of Christmas" series has looked at the primary figures in the Christmas story.  We have considered the active faith of Joseph and the profound belief of Mary.  This week we will look at the Son of God becoming flesh and consider the humility necessary for God to become man.

As we move toward Christmas day, we relish in the opportunity to worship our God and Savior for His mercy and grace.  Won't you join us as we worship the Christ child on Dec. 20 at 9:30am.  Let us gather to give Him praise!

John 1:1-18New International Version (NIV)
The Word Became Flesh

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life,and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name,he gave the right to become children of God 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of graceand truth.15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and[b] is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

Monday, November 16, 2015


 The next two Sundays I will be preaching about "Feast and Famine:Thanksgiving for the Blessing and the Curse."  Join us on Nov. 22 as we talk about the great feast of God's bounty that He has lavished upon us in all His blessings.  There will be a dinner following worship that morning with a "Soup, Stew, and Chili Cook-off."  Come join in the fellowship and a great meal.  You do not need to bring anything to stay.  Nov. 29 we will talk about famine and the curse and how our Great God blesses us through hardship and difficulty.  Rex Odglen, Wolverine Christian Service Camp director, will be with us that morning as we share the blessing of our special camp offering with him.

In December, we will begin a series on "The Characters of Christmas."  We will look at Joseph on Dec. 6,  Mary on Dec. 13, and Jesus on Dec. 20.  This series will be filled with special surprises like drama, hand outs, special music, videos, and an extra dose of Christmas spirit.  Dec. 27 will be "A New Year/A New You: A Hope for Change" as we end 2015.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT: Gentleness (a sermon to be preached on August 23, 2015, at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI)

I am back after a bit of a break from blogging.  I will be back on a regular basis again.  

Here is some nerdy Bible geek information about our fruit of the week, gentleness.  Thank you,

Strong's Concordance
prautés: gentleness
Original Word: πρᾳΰτης, τητος, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Transliteration: prautés
Phonetic Spelling: (prah-oo'-tace)
Short Definition: mildness, gentleness
Definition: mildness, gentleness.
HELPS Word-studies
Cognate: 4240 praýtēs (compare 4236 /praótēs, another feminine noun which is also derived from the root pra-, emphasizing the divine origin of the meekness) –meekness ("gentle strength") which expresses power with reserve and gentleness.See 4236 (praotes).
For the believer, meekness (4240 /praýtēs, "gentle-force") begins with the Lord's inspiration and finishes by His direction and empowerment. It is a divinely-balanced virtue that can only operate through faith (cf. 1 Tim 6:11; 2 Tim 2:22-25).

NAS Exhaustive Concordance
Word Origin
from praus
NASB Translation
consideration (1), gentleness (8), humility (1), meekness (1).

Thayer's Greek Lexicon
STRONGS NT 4240: πραΰτης

πραΰτης, see πραότης

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance
From praus; mildness, i.e. (by implication) humility -- meekness.
see GREEK praus

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT: Patience (a blogpost for a message to be delivered at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI on July 26, 2015)

Macrothymia is the Greek word used by Paul when describing the fourth fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22.  The word means "long-suffering, patience, forbearance, longanimity."  This word has two parts macros and thymia.   Macros points toward a long duration.  Thymia refers to rage, passion, or anger.   The usual usage of the term finds its place when self-restraint does not hastily retaliate.  This notion of patience fits within the context of a wrong suffered.  Patience, as in "having to wait for something," may be implied but does not carry the wait of the original idea.

Waiting is a life skill.  Waiting is not a fruit of the Spirit.  Sometimes life happens more slowly than we like.  We cannot  rush it; we just have to wait.  We are not in control.  Say that with me, "We are not in control."  We must wait.

This spiritual fruit waits for God to answer in the midst of strife before resorting to our own actions.  Long-suffering is much more than being held up in the check out aisle at the grocery store or at the red light on the way home.  Let us pray we have patience when we really need it.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

JAME PRACTICAL WISDOM FOR TODAY - Works (a blogpost for a sermon to be preached on May 10, 2015, at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI)

New International Version
Made Alive in Christ
1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesha and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:1-10

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

JAME PRACTICAL WISDOM FOR TODAY - Faith (a blogpost for a sermon to be preached on May 10, 2015, at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI)

New International Version
Faith in Action
1Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for.
3By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
4By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
5By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”a For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
7By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
8By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because sheb considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
13All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
17By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”c 19Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
20By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
21By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
22By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.
23By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
24By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
29By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.
30By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.
31By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.d
32And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37They were put to death by stoning;e they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.  (Hebrews 11)

Monday, May 4, 2015

JAME PRACTICAL WISDOM FOR TODAY - A Working Faith (a blogpost for a sermon to be preached on May 10, 2015, at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI)

Faith and Deeds
14What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is uselessd ? 21Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”e and he was called God’s friend. 24You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
25In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.  (James 2:14-26)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

JAME PRACTICAL WISDOM FOR TODAY - Favoritism (a blogpost for a sermon to be preached on May 3, 2015, at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI)

Favoritism eats at the foundation of any organization.  Favoritism destroys the fabric that makes up the church.  Favoritism mocks the lavish grace of our God toward all humanity.

Favoritism is a real problem for the Church.

Favored status of members is often a turnoff for people who are not part of the organization.  The "club" mentality of any group has a negative impact upon outsiders.  Class distinction by way of favored status stifles the vitality of the Kingdom.

I often refer to our congregation as family.  For anyone who has grown up in families with the "favorite" dynamic, you know damaging that is to the entire family system.

Love should favor all, not just some.  Love prevails.

Monday, April 27, 2015

JAMES: PRACTICAL WISDOM FOR TODAY - Equality in the Church (a blogpost for a sermon to be preached on May 3, 2015, at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI)

New Living Translation
A Warning against Prejudice
1My dear brothers and sisters,a how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?
2For example, suppose someone comes into your meetingb dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. 3If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, 4doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?
5Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? 6But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? 7Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble namec you bear?
8Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”d 9But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.
10For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. 11For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.”e So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law.
12So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. 13There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.  James 2:1-13

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

JAMES: PRACTICAL WISDOM FOR TODAY - Interpersonal Communication 101 (a blogpost for a sermon to be preached at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI, on April 26, 2015)

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, . . ."  (James 1:19).

Enough said.

Monday, April 20, 2015

JAMES: PRACTICAL WISDOM FOR TODAY - Living Proof (a blogpost for a sermon to be preached at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI, on April 26, 2015)

Good advice.   When is the last time you listened to a good piece of advice?  Did you heed the warnings, accept the challenge, understand the nuance?

James offers great advice to his readers about living our lives in this world.  He stretches between listening, anger, getting rid of moral filth, doing the Word, controlling our mouths, and true religion.

How well will you listen to this advice?  What is the most important part of receiving sound advice?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

JAMES: PRACTICAL WISDOM FOR TODAY - Trials and Temptations (a blogpost for a sermon to be preached on April 19, 2015 at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI)

I have always been fascinated by why people write what they do.  Why does James link trials and temptations in almost the same thought?  Does he see temptation as part of the testing that helps us become "mature and complete, not lacking anything."  If so, should our outlook on temptation change?

Most of us (understandably so) would prefer to stay away from temptation.  Should we take a new approach to temptation by seeing the opportunity in the midst of the curse.  I am not advocating creating scenarios where we encounter temptation, but I am pressing the manner in which we understand the reality of temptation.

I want temptation no more than I want trials, but there is a benefit to both.  My maturity and growth are connected to these terrible t's.  I may not want them, but I may need them.  I may pray they would never come upon me, but I must see what God is doing in the midst of them.

I believe that God works through both, the blessing and the curse.  To miss this is to miss how we exist in this world.  We are not merely God's receptacle of good; we are God's overcomers of the curse.  We demonstrate His lordship when we are stewards of blessing and victors over the curse.  We do not get "either or"; we got "both and".  God receives the glory in both the blessing and curse.  God gets the praise at all times in every situation.  Our God rules over the perfected and the fallen.  God meets us in the trial and the temptation.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

JAMES: PRACTICAL WISDOM FOR TODAY (a blogpost for a sermon to be preached on April 19, 2015, at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI)

My next sermon series will stroll through the Book of James.  Practical Wisdom for Today is a series that takes seriously the intersection between the Word and our lives.  Read along in the Scriptures as we work our way toward Sunday.  The schedule below will help us to get from here to there.

4-19         James: Practical Wisdom for Today       Trials and Tribulations                         James1:1-18         
4-26         James: Practical Wisdom for Today       Living Proof                                            James 1:19-27
5-3            James: Practical Wisdom for Today       Equality in the Church                         James 2:1-13
5-10         James: Practical Wisdom for Today       How Faith Works                                    James 2:14-26
5-17         James: Practical Wisdom for Today       Taming the Tongue                                James 3:1-12
5-24         James: Practical Wisdom for Today       Sowing the Seeds of Peace                   James 3:13-18
5-31         James: Practical Wisdom for Today       Trusting God                                           James 4:1-12
6-7           James: Practical Wisdom for Today       The Dangers of Pride                              James 4:13-17
6-14         James: Practical Wisdom for Today       Warnings to the Rich                            James 5:1-6
6-21         James: Practical Wisdom for Today       The Rewards of Perseverance              James 5:7-12
6-28         James: Practical Wisdom for Today       Prayers of Faith                                       James 5:13-20

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

24 HOURS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD - Abuse (a blogpost for a sermon to be preached on March 2, 2015, at Kenwood Church based on Adam Hamilton's work by the same name)

Abuse is never an easy topic to discuss.  Verbal, sexual, physical, psychological, child, elder abuse.  The list goes on and on.  Discussing such matters is always filled with angst and pain.

I have noticed in my 25 years of ministry experience and 48 years of life experience that people who have suffered abuse usually connect more effectively with others who have met a similar fate.  I have often been surprised that the nature of the abuse is not always the common denominator.  Abuse in its broad sense seems to offer a framework for connection.

If you have been abused, run the the son of God that went through abuse.  The one who understands the pain of torture, pain, humiliation, degradation.  God came in the flesh, in part, to endure what we endure.  We have a savior who understands.  Really he does.

If you have felt the pain of abuse, let Jesus help you heal.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

24 HOURS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD - Ridiculing the King (a blogpost for a sermon to be preached on March 2, 2015, at Kenwood Church based on Adam Hamilton's work by the same name)

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."  This little bit of wisdom or a powerful spell for a preteen weirdo did not have its desired effect for me.  I was almost 6 feet tall in 6th grade.  I needed to lose some baby fat.  I looked Asian enough to receive the label "chink".  I was a nice kid too nice to fight back at the older kids who loved to make fun of this smart, goofy, genial kid.

The truth is that the words always hurt me.  Now I grew to be mature enough that I didn't give the bullies the power they so terribly wanted.  But until probably 7th grade, the words hurt.  In fact, I would have rather fought one of them than have to listen to their stinging words.

Jesus was mocked as the "king of the Jews."  True words but spoken with the wrong intent.  I am sure that Jesus was mature enough to live above the trite words of an immature crowd.  I am also sure that these attacks broke the heart of the king of heaven who all too well know they would some day all know him as he truly is - "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that he is Lord."

Monday, March 23, 2015

24 HOURS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD - The Torture and Humiliation of the King (a blogpost for a sermon to be preached on March 2, 2015, at Kenwood Church based on Adam Hamilton's work by the same name)

Torture has become a more common word in the American vernacular since the rise of radical Islamists.  Surprisingly the term is used to describe the actions of both sides of this global conflict.  The amazing part of that fact to me is that we have naively placed this word and its accompanying actions somewhere deep in our minds as if to say that such things certainly cannot happen in our modern world.  The truth is that torture has always been around because it works.  The humiliation, degradation, physical abuse, psychological terror, and unbelievably creative means of inflicting pain have always brought about their desired effect--the breaking of the human spirit.

How does torture work on a human spirit that cannot be broken?  When that spirit is combined with the essence of the God-head, what really happens?  "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" (Mt. 26:41) seems to imply that the body cannot keep up with the willingness of the spirit.

How much more humiliated can the son of God who "being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death--even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:8) be.  The torture was just the beginning.  Humility in the flesh would be humiliated and then some.  

Humility would triumph over humiliation!
6Who, being in very naturea God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very natureb of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
      to the glory of God the Father. 

(Philippians 2:6-11)