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At Death: How will you be remembered?

Death is a reality none of us really want to deal with. We tend to think we will have all the time in the world. No need to “get right” now. We think we can wait until later in life to make things right.

Maybe it’s because we don’t really believe in heaven and hell? We sho nuff don’t want to talk about either of them. (I spoke about hell once in a sermon and was called out for using profanity!) Rather, we want to assume that because we say, “in the Name of Jesus” that we’re automatically going to heaven. But is that true?

How will you be remembered in death?

Now, I’m not asking you how your loved ones will remember you in death. Humanity can be too generous and too critical. Some may judge you too harshly. Others might judge you to loosely.

I want you to consider: how will the Lord remember you in your death? How will the One who knows all, sees all and is present in all, remember you at the time of your death? Have you thought about that?

There’s a thought, eh?

But that’s what we see when we look up at the Cross. And, that’s what we hear when we listen to Christ.

First, He says: “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” Not, that we don’t know that we are doing wrong. We definitely know that. But, we don’t see the bigger picture beyond our self-interest. Nevertheless, Jesus offers us forgiveness – while we hang Him on the Cross.

Realizing this, one thief considered our question: how will I be remembered in death? Realizing that he was about to go to a very real place, he made a decision. He wanted to be remembered in a good way.

Sure: we all want to be remembered in a “good way.” But, do we live a life that would result in that type of memory? Or do we hope that our death bed confessions will be enough? Hear me out and let me know what you think…

Lent is NOT About What You “Give Up”

Lent CrossLent starts today for Western Christians. And, the internet is abuzz. Everywhere, there are questions: “what are you giving up?” “What should I give up?” Why should I give up?”

Our observances of this Holy Season are somewhat disappointing.

Lent is not about what you “give up!”

I know many people have grown up with this tradition and have great reasons that allow them to justify the practice. Yet, in basic, if Lent is about what you give up…what are we saying?

For instance: someone will give up chocolate for Lent. We can even go wild and say someone will give up sleeping around during Lent. What is the point of the exercise if as soon as the season is over you begin ho-ing around again? What has been accomplished?

Lent is not about giving something up that you intend to pick up again when Easter comes. Lent is about throwing off those things that prevent us from climbing to the spiritual heights of heaven!

Lent is about giving up our “quickness to anger,” or our “slowness to hear.” It is about throwing off our Pharisaical judgment, where we feel we are better than others because we are Christian. Lent is about giving up and throwing away our excuses for not structuring our lives in ways that make time for God, for Church, for prayer – daily.

What will you give up for Lent? Where are the ugly spots of you? What are the unbecoming character traits? What lifestyle choices have you made that screw up your priorities? What personal ways do you have that damage your relationship with your wife/husband…your child/parent? What habits do you hold onto that prevent you from being who you should be?

Lenten observance should be about three things: prayer, fasting and alms-giving. If you follow Jesus, then like Jesus during Lent you enter into the wilderness to be tempted.

Lent is supposed to be hard. Lent is supposed to be rewarding. Don’t miss your blessing by engaging in a superficial fast! May the Lord grant you a holy Lent! May your life be resurrected unto His glory! Amen!

Christians Are the Gospel’s Worst Enemy

Folk think that because they are Christians, they have won some sort of prize. Because they worship Jesus Christ, people feel entitled to some special sort of treatment. And they are. However for most Christians, it’s just not the special treatment most expect.

This dilemma was to be the focus of my doctoral studies. The problem of chosenness is that those who are the so-called chosen people always seem to misunderstand what it means to be chosen.

This problem of chosenness leads Christians to such foolishness as a “prosperity gospel.” And while many will want to say they don’t believe in the heretical prosperity gospel, it is clearly very popular. T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, and others are household names. Many of you probably read their works or listen to their teaching. There are also multiple reality shows popping up spreading the blasphemous message.

But this isn’t a new problem. St. Peter was expecting the same sort of benefits for being a follower of Jesus. But Jesus rebuked him, calling Peter “Satan” and an offense to Him.

Are you an offense to Christ? Are you a hinderance to the Gospel?

Christians are indeed chosen. We are chosen to share in His glory. But to arrive at His glory, we must pick up our cross, daily, and follow Him.

Will you follow Jesus as He is? Or will you follow Jesus as you want Him to be?

I want you to experience what Jesus really has in store for you. Not the crap that false teachers and preachers want to give you, but what the Gospel of Christ reveals. It’s time…come and get it!

Even God Must Be Obedient

It was always interesting to me. You know: that passage in the Gospel of Matthew 3:13-17, where John the Baptist hesitates to baptize Jesus. Jesus said something interesting in response: “it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.”

To fulfill all righteousness? What in the world does that mean?

Be ObedientWe kinda just read right past that statement without considering what it means. But, to fulfill all righteousness basically means “to do everything that is necessary.” To fulfill all righteousness means to be obedient to all things that are required. That doesn’t clear up the confusion though. What could be necessary for Jesus? Why would God need to be obedient?

We do say that Jesus is God, right? Christians say that Jesus is the Almighty, All Powerful, God of creation, right? So, to whom must He be obedient? Who would God have to obey?

For a people who believe in Jesus alone, and fall victim to the pride and arrogance of such a belief, being obedient is a far-fetched concept. Yet, for some reason God the Son finds it important to demonstrate being obedient.

Even God must be obedient.

But why? Why must God be obedient? What do we learn from an obedient God? And how does His being obedient fulfill all righteousness?

Yet, the Baptism of the Lord shows us how being obedient fulfills all righteousness. And in fulfilling all righteousness, we reveal the Triune God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, One God.

Being obedient to the doctrine of the Trinity is important to living a Christian Life. We cannot succeed at being Christian if we don’t care about understanding even the basics of the Trinity.

To be obedient in fulfilling all righteousness, we must understand that within Himself God exists in Divine Community. Being created in the Image of God, then, means that humanity was created to exist in community. There is no personal relationship with Jesus Christ that will save you, if you have no relationships with any others in community.

So, let us learn and share more: what do we learn from an obedient God?

Gift Returns: I Don’t Want this Jesus

My son made a comment to one of his grandparents: “if I get another gift, I won’t fit in my room!” And the idiot dad that I am said: “Oh yea! Well, I can take them all back!” LOL

Now that we’ve had a chance to open all of our presents and spend some time with them: it’s time to make some decisions. Which ones will go and which will stay.

Gift returns: it’s the American way!

We look at our gifts – even the gifts we asked for – and learn they aren’t quite what we like or wanted. Those clothes don’t fit right. That perfume doesn’t smell right. Her album ain’t as hot as you thought.

Sometimes we know right away: the minute you open a gift you make that stink-face! Sometimes it takes a few days: the gift seems cool at first, but it soon loses your interest. In either case, there’s a way out…gift returns!

Gift returns are such a part of our culture that most gifts come with a gift receipt. And, the ones that don’t can still be returned – even if to the wrong store. No matter how great the gift, if it doesn’t conform to your liking, a gift return is in order.

Gift Return of Ricky BobbyYet the greatest gift ever given, was given to us by God over 2000 years ago. The Word of God became man in order to save us from our sins and teach us to save ourselves from judgment. And like Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights, we all like the baby version best and love to think of an “Eight Pound, Six Ounce, Newborn Baby Jesus, in…golden, fleece diapers, with…curled-up, fat, balled-up little fists pawin’ at the air…”

When Baby Jesus becomes an adult, telling us how to live – we don’t like Him so much anymore. We don’t want Him telling us to give up our sinful ways. We don’t want Him telling us to give to the poor. We don’t want Him telling us to repent now because there’s no repentance at the Second Coming.

We gotta get rid of that Jesus! There’s always gift returns! So, we take that Greatest Gift ever given back to the store…hoping for a less radical “savior”…one who’ll allow us to continue being who we’ve always been.

Yet, the True Light has come to show us the Way! And the Way is full of awesome wonder! It might be uncomfortable at first, but begins to fit like a glove if you keep it on.

So don’t use gift returns to get rid of the True Jesus! This Christmas, let us endeavor to keep the Word of God as He is given…not as we want Him to be. Look at Who He Is, according to Scripture…then it’ll become clear. I’ve outlined a few things from Scripture that I’d like you to pay attention to. So, grab your pens, pencils, paper and Bibles and let’s get to it!