Monday, February 20, 2012

In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night

This past weekend I was at ConNooga in Chattanooga, TN, our fifth year there as a family and fan group (Fans For Christ).  The service was amazing, and I preached on faith and Green Lanterns.  Here is an excerpt from the sermon, with a modification of the GL oath....

We can look at a power ring as faith.  It’s small, has a rather insignificant appearance, and yet can be the greatest source of power in the universe with the capability to do virtually anything the wielder imagines.  Let’s look at some of these parallels.

1.       The ring focuses the wearer’s willpower.  Without strong willpower, the creations of the ring will be weak.  Faith focuses our belief.  Without strong belief, the actions of faith will be equally as weak.
2.       The ring channels willpower and energy.  It is not the source of the willpower or the energy, but merely a conduit for these things to act.  Similarly our faith is not the source of our power, but the way in which our power works through our belief.
3.       Without the ring, you have nothing.  You can have Hal Jordan’s willpower, but without the ring you can’t do as much.  Our belief in God is strong and powerful, but we much channel it through faith in order to accomplish truly amazing works.
4.       The ring can create amazing constructs that defy natural laws and can be considered impossible.  Faith can break laws of biology and physics just as easily, resulting in healing that doctors can’t explain, money that comes from unexpected sources at just the right time, and news that is better than was expected.
5.       The ring’s energy comes not from the wearer or itself, but from the main power battery on Oa.  The ring is a receiver for this energy and doesn’t actually create it.  The power in our faith doesn’t come from the faith itself, but from God.  God is our power battery, and we can do nothing without His help.  Without the Oan power battery the ring is just jewelry.  Without God, our faith is just as empty.
6.       The ring needs to be recharged every (usually every 24 hours), being placed in a small power battery to draw on the energy of the main power battery.  If we go without prayer, reading the Bible, and fellowship with Christians for too long, we will become drained of spiritual energy and will lose power in our faith.  We need to have these contacts with God daily in order to keep our faith strong.
7.       The energy and constructs of a power ring are visible for all to see, and you can’t easily hide them.  This is actually joked about in the new Justice League comic book.  When we use our faith, the power of God is evident for everyone to see.

Our faith, Biblical faith, is our own power ring.  As cool as it would be to be a Green Lantern, it’s better to be a Christian.  When Satan is attacking us as fiercely as Sinestro or Parallax, call on the power of this faith, and you will prevail.  Take your faith with you everywhere and use it regularly.

In brightest day
In blackest night
With godly faith
I join the fight.
Let Satan tremble
At Jesus’ might
The holy power
Of God’s true light.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Showing Love

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:34-40  (NIV)

How have you shown love recently?  Okay, this isn't a condemnation to anyone, but merely a reminder.  Jesus himself said that everything in the Bible and the words of God's prophets boils down to only two things:  love God, love each other.  We are called to love God with everything that we have in us.  And because we love God so much, we are supposed to love each other at least as much as we love ourself.

For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.  1 John 3:11 (NIV)

How far does this love go?  Pretty far!

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.  1 John 3:16 (NIV)

How do we do this?  How do we actually love each other?  By acting in the right way.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESB)

I want everyone to take these words to heart.  Love God more than you love anyone or anything else!  And love each other by not being rude, not being arrogant or boastful, acting patient, not being irritable, and treating each other as we want to be treated.  Such is God-like love, and this is how God looks at us.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Obsession With The Christian

Recently on the Facebook group for Fans For Christ there was a discussion about preachers condemning the "evils" of Pokemon.  The thread was pretty long, and I'm not going to repeat it here (join the group if you want to see that and more). But one of my good friends posted a comment that really struck me and I thought it was worth repeating.  Here are his words...

Of course, one could turn it around, and say that what we are defining as "too much God" or "obsession with the Bible" is better expressed as "not enough God" and "obsession with the Christian".

For these sorts of things seeks to answer the question "What must I do, that will make God love me?". And a second question, like the first, "What must I do, that Satan shall not conquer me?". And so preachers and teachers, most times out of compassion and care for their flock**, will search the scriptures, seeking to find The Answer which will calm the conscience.

But we tend to seek that answer solely in terms of "what I must do", or "what must I avoid", and under such terms we miss the Cross, and what Christ Himself has won for us. In our religion, we miss God and His Christ, because we tend to seek only ourselves.

"What must I do, that will make God love me?"

Nothing; he already loves you to the point of death and beyond. "Believe in Him whom He has sent." He has called you and redeemed you out of death's shadow, for His sake, for love's sake (but now I speak redundantly). So act without fear, in the perfect love already given to you.

"What must I do, that Satan shall not conquer me?"

Remember that your Lord has already conquered him; he is in great wrath, for he is a defeated enemy. "I saw Satan fall from Heaven like lightning." "And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, 'Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!'" "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

This is what we should find, when we seek after God and search the scriptures: the Christ who saves us and keeps us. Who loves us in spite of ourselves, and who gives that love freely.