Advent: Hope

Today is the beginning is of Advent. Advent is a time for us to prepare for Christmas. It isn’t about shopping, baking, decorations or even preparing for the annual Christmas concert, play or cantata.

Advent is about what God did for us. It is about God’s Radical demonstration of love.

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17 (NIV)

Humans were created by God to have a relationship him. Sadly, humans rebelled. It was God who took the initiative to bring restoration and healing to humans.

 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8 (NIV)

Christ came into a dark world so we might have hope.  A hope that endures even in the most difficult situations. A hope that isn’t based on our circumstances. A hope that gives purpose and meaning even when life seems pointless. A hope that is anchored in the past saving work of Christ, the ongoing strength for today and the promise of future reward.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Uncertain Times

It seems that our entire country is falling apart. Yet another ambush on police officers happened today.  It appears this too was sparked by earlier events.

We are in the midst of a messy and contested presidential election time. It seems that both candidates and political parties only want to cause more divisions in our country.

In times like this I am reminded that true peace and hope only comes through Christ.  It is because of His promises, I’m able to say it is well.

It is Well by Horatio Spafford and Philip Bliss
performed by Audrey Assad

Easter and Good Intentions

Well, it is almost 10 PM and I haven’t gotten a post for Easter written. I try to post something each day between Palm Sunday and Easter. However,  things just haven’t worked out as planned.  Between church, family and other responsibilities it is has been a busy week. According to the Big Guy it is one of the busiest weeks for a minister. I concur and would add for a minister’s family as well.  Anyway, back to this post. Today as I was thinking about what to write. It struck me that I was missing the point of Easter.

The point is that Christ his risen. He did what he said he  would do.   Because he has risen through faith we can have the hope and promise of life eternal.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1 Peter 1:3 ESV

Because He Lives by Matt Maher

Justice Really?

Justice? Really?
That is not right.
Yet another example of money winning and what is right being ignored.
Disgust
Outrage
Anger

These thoughts and more have flooded my brain since the verdict for 16 year-old who killed our friend B.J. and 3 others was sentenced to 10 years probation. The kid was drunk (3 times the legal limit if he was over 21), speeding in a truck packed with other teens.  B.J. and 2 others were trying to help a stranded motorist.  B.J. was doing the right thing. The teenager on the other had was out for a good time.  This was not the boy’s first alcohol related offense. Yet somehow last week the judge felt it was better to give this “poor” little rich boy 10 years probation. Somehow  lack of structure, money and poor parenting had absolved this kid from responsibility for his actions.  Meanwhile in neighboring Parker County a woman caught stealing tools got 70 years. She is a habitual thief. However the sentence just seemed obsessive compared to the light sentence the kid received.

As I was trying to process the outcomes of these two cases. Thoughts of the unfairness and cries for justices swirled though my head. It was absolutely unthinkable that somehow a teen who killed 4 people could get off just because he had money. At the same time someone without money got a harsh sentence. Neither was innocent. Neither got what they deserved. One thought that kept lingering was that the kid didn’t get what he deserved. There was no justice. The kid should get the sentence he deserved.

As I was praying and processing my emotions, I realized that I didn’t get what I deserved either. You see just like the kid I too am a sinner.

22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Romans 3:22-24, ESV

Maybe my recklessness hasn’t caused another’s death but I have my own issues. I was upset at the injustice of the situation. It was as if I had forgotten that I have no righteousness on my own. In reality, I’m no better that the kid.

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.” Romans 3:9-12, ESV

Maybe in my eye’s the things I’ve done aren’t as bad. But any unrighteousness separates me from God. Sin is sin and I deserve death.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23, ESV

Yet for some reason God saw value and something redeemable in me. God is able to look past all of my weakness and mess-ups. God was not only willing to forgive me He devised a plan for my redemption. Christ came to bring sinners like me redemption, hope and a future.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17. ESV

The Day After

Today is May 22nd. According to one minister the world was supposed to end on May 21st.  The past several weeks Rev. Camping received a lot of media attention for his doomsday prophecy. Camping claimed that he had a word from the Lord revealing the end of time.  He even had a small group of followers. Some of whom quit left their family and lives to follow him.  Most people didn’t take him seriously. This wasn’t the first time that Camping had made a similar false prediction.

What happens to those who have chosen in good faith to follow a teacher claiming to have the truth?  I’m sure that many are feeling betrayed and questioning their faith and even. Truth is that putting our faith and hope in anyone or thing other than God leads to disappointment.

19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, (Hebrews 6:19, New International Version)

The Solid Rock by Edward Mote and William Bradbury
Preformed by 4Him

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

Chorus:
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide his face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In ev’ry high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

Chorus

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

Chorus

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

Chorus

Holy Week 2011: Tuesday

 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  John 3:16-17 NIV

In Christ Alone performed by Adi Camp & Geoff Moore

Just a reminder that it is because of Jesus that I have a hope and future. There is nothing I can do to earn salvation.

 7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.  Philippians 3:7-11 NIV