Thursday, April 30, 2015

The God of all Generations

I once heard an experienced, successful record producer say that he wanted to learn from younger musicians. While at a conference filled with older artists, he said, “Where are all the young people with the fresh ideas?” Though he could rest on his laurels, he knew that young folks had a unique perspective that he could learn from.

I love that attitude. Every season of life offers unique perspectives and insights that benefit people in other seasons of life. The optimism and freedom of youth energizes the wisdom and experience that comes with age. The wisdom and experience of age informs the optimism and freedom of youth. The old bless the young and the young bless the old.

Psalm 145:4 says, “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.” We often read that Psalm and think about older generations telling younger generations about God’s mighty acts. But, I wonder if the different generations in the Psalm inform one another. Younger generations tell older generations about God’s mighty acts from their perspective. Older generations tell younger generations about God’s mighty acts from their perspective. Every generation is blessed because of it. God’s people are edified as a whole.

As you go through the coming week, look for ways that you can learn from Christians of another generation. See how you might bless Christians of another generation. As you do, you will find that each season of life offers a unique perspective on God’s mighty acts. You’ll also be blessed by the different perspectives that come from worshiping the God of all generations.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Recess, Warfare and the Unity of Christ

When I was in sixth grade, recess was warfare. For fifteen minutes every morning and a half hour after lunch, classmates divided into two football teams. Inevitably, we divided along class lines: middle class farmer kids on one team and working poor and poor kids on the other. We’d scream and fight through every down of our short game. Though we said we were playing football, much more was at stake in our minds. We were at war with the kids who were different than us.

You might think that kids don’t understand class at that age, but we did. Human beings learn what separates them very quickly. Race, class, gender, interests, abilities all influence how we understand ourselves. As we learn who we are, we recognize who we are not. We stick with those who are like us and compete with those who are not.

Though this is common, it is far from ideal for Christians. God doesn’t call people to Himself and them divide them up based on their heritage or income. God calls people to Himself and unifies them around Himself. This unity ultimately frees Christians from the divisions and hostilities of life in a world of differences.

In Ephesians, Paul tells both Jew and Gentile that they are one in Jesus. Paul says, “For (Jesus) himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,” (2:14). Jesus brings together all who believe, regardless of their differences apart from Him.

As you go through the coming week, look for ways that Jesus is bringing different people together. Recognize what they all have in common in Jesus. As you do, you will see the incredible grace of God at work in all kinds of different people. You’ll also avoid the drama of recess warfare!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

When Money Buys Happiness

Growing up, my parents told me that money can’t buy happiness.  I didn’t think much of it at the time, but it turns out they were onto something.  The Los Angeles Times reports that a generation of behavioral scientists is finding that money heightens self-interest.  This self-interest often leads people to buy material possessions which, in turn, decreases happiness.

Researchers did find a correlation between money and happiness when people used money to bless others, though.  In one study, people were given a Starbucks gift card and told to go buy something for themselves.  Others were told to give the gift card to someone else.  A third group was told to go to the local Starbucks, buy a drink for someone, and then enjoy the coffee with them.  Who reported being the most happy when using the gift card?  Those who used the card to bless others and then enjoyed the experience with the people they blessed. 

This sounds a lot like the teachings of Jesus.  Acts tells us very clearly, “…remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”  Money won’t necessarily make you happy.  But, we are blessed when we serve the Lord with our money through giving.

This week, look for opportunities to bless others in some small way.  Be generous with the money God has given you.  As you do, you will find fulfillment in something far more valuable than cash.  You will find fulfillment in the Lord who teaches His people to give, share, and be blessed.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Join the Adventure

A couple years ago, I read a New York Times article about an innovative new business. “Videogames Adventure Services” is a “reality adventures” company in Manhattan that uses trained actors and producers to stage adventures for its customers. Actors show up in the customer’s day-to-day affairs and intertwine an adventure or mystery with the customer’s life. The “Video Adventure Service’s” actors infuse exciting fiction into the customer’s everyday reality. The whole goal is to make customers feel like they are living a real life video game.

As I read this article, I was stricken by people’s inability to find adventure in their own lives. People so desperately want intrigue, but can’t recognize it when it is right in front of them. So, they pay top dollar for actors to fake it.

Christians lose something when we forget the adventure that Christ calls us to. As followers of Jesus, everything we do has adventurous implications in the spiritual realm. Caring for a hurting co-worker can be a strategic advance for God’s kingdom in a sick and dying world. Sharing our testimony with a neighbor can be a missile fired at the enemy. Standing up for the less fortunate can be a ninja-like maneuver for the Gospel. Losing site of the Christian adventure robs us of a lot of meaning in life.

In his letter to the church in Ephesus, the Apostle Paul encourages folks to be aware of the spiritual adventure in their lives. He writes, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Faithful living in everyday life is connected to incredible spiritual adventure.

As you worship this Sunday, remember that we stand in the presence of God Almighty. He has begun an all out attack on the powers of this world through His Son, Jesus Christ. He is here. He is on the move. We are His people and we can be a part of it when we join in the adventure.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Good Friday & Easter Morning

Two thousand years ago, Judean and Roman officials conspired to have a man named Jesus of Nazareth executed. They were successful. They charged him as a political dissident, had him arrested, tortured and crucified on a cross. That much is hard to refute historically.

Weeks after the crucifixion of Jesus, however, something changed. Jesus’ disciples announced publicly that Jesus was alive. They claimed they had seen him and spoken with him. They claimed he had risen from the dead. He was alive – in the flesh. Jesus wasn’t just a man in history. Jesus was making history.

Many rejected the idea. Local authorities tried to suppress the message. They had some of Jesus’ disciples arrested, confiscated the property of some, and incarcerated others. But the message kept spreading and spreading. With time, the news about the living Jesus spanned the planet. Because Jesus had made history, the good news about him was shaping history.

Over two thousand years later, the message is still spreading. People all over the world claim that He is the Son of God, crucified for the sins of the world, raised as victor over sin and death. They claim that because Jesus Christ is alive, at work in their lives, the regrets about the past are history. Their fears about the future are history. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is changing their history.

This week, our church family will be worshiping the Jesus who is more than history. On Friday evening, at 7p, Faith Center will host a simple communion service to recognize Jesus’ sacrifice. Then, Sunday morning, we will celebrate His resurrection at 9:00a and 10:45a. Join us for these special worship services at Faith Center – Aloha. Come and worship the God who makes, shapes, changes and redeems history. As you do, you will encounter the God who lives.