Making Sunday Special – This Sunday June 2, 2013

Using the time honored tradition of preparing for the Lord’s Day (Sunday)  where we cease from our full time occupations, gather with God’s people (attend church), and engage in  acts of mercy (as we have opportunity) – we take the next three days -Thursday – Saturdays and prepare our hearts for the Christian Sabbath by reflecting on the following passage that is the main text for this week in the Pentecost Season!

“Viewing Faith”  Luke 7:1- 10

1  After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, bhe entered Capernaum. 2 Now a centurion had a servant1 who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. 3 When the centurion2 heard about Jesus, che sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, d“He is worthy to have you do this for him,5 for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us eour synagogue.”6 And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, fdo not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. 7 Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But gsay the word, and let my servant be healed.8 For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 9 When Jesus heard these things,hhe marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such ifaith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

 

Making Sunday Special @ Christ Church Westshore! Sunday May 26th

Using the time honored tradition of preparing for the Lord’s Day (Sunday)  where we cease from our full time occupations, gather with God’s people (attend church), and engage in  acts of mercy (as we have opportunity) – we take the next three days -Thursday – Saturdays and prepare our hearts for the Christian Sabbath by reflecting on the following passage that is the main text for this week on Trinity Sunday!  

Romans 5:1 – 11

1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoicein hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemieswe were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Preparing for the weekly Day off! “Making Sunday Special” May 19, 2013

This Sunday at Christ Church Westshore – 8 AM, 10:30 AM  Bay Middle School  

Acts 2:1 – 13  “Being Filled with the Spirit pt. 2”

When fthe day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like ga mighty rushing wind, and hit filled the entire house where they were sitting.3 And divided tongues ias of fire appeared to them and rested1 on each one of them. 4 And they were all jfilled with the Holy Spirit and began kto speak in other tongues las the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And mat this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And nthey were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking oGalileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and pMedes andqElamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and rproselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And sall were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others tmocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

Sunday after the Ascension! May 12, 2013

Tonight, as we wrap up our True Discipleship Series for the year, and our Mother’s Day celebration, I wanted to provide a wonderful blog post from The Gospel Coalition Website posted by Chuck Colson, Rector of Church of the Ascension in Arlington VA. Worth the time to read.

He Is Ascended! So What?
Several years ago, when naming our fledgling church plant, our core group wanted to choose a name that reflected a theological concept essential for our life and witness in metro Washington, D. C. Living in the city at the center of the world’s system of power, we realized the significance of the exaltation of Jesus to God’s right hand for our context. After some lively discussion, and despite some concerns about accessibility for the general public, our new parish had a name—the Church of the Ascension. The theological weight of this great event had captured our imaginations.

Through the process, I learned that Jesus’ ascension is a deeply confusing issue for many Christians. What was the ascension about? Was Jesus defying the laws of gravity to provide one final proof that he is actually the Son of God? Or was it the vertical departure of Jesus’ soul to heaven, where we will join him for all eternity? Questions like these revealed a misunderstanding of the ascension and a disconnect between Jesus’ ascension and the gospel.

So what is the purpose of Jesus’ exaltation to God’s right hand? And how does it relate to the gospel?

First, Jesus’ exaltation to God’s right hand brings the gospel story full circle.

Designed to explain how God brings his reign to the earth, establishing his rule over the nations, Luke’s Gospel concludes with Jesus’ ascension (Lk. 24:50-53). The ascension wraps up the unfolding story, closing the loop Jesus publicly opened by proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom (Lk. 4:17-21, 43; 8:1). Rising from the dead, Jesus won the decisive battle, defeating death and the Devil, and has been enthroned at God’s right hand where he rules over the nations.

Through his death and resurrection, Jesus took what Satan offered him in the wilderness (Lk. 4:5-7). But rather than worshiping Satan to receive authority over the nations, Jesus vanquished his power, establishing God’s authority over the kingdoms of the earth. Accordingly, the disciples worshiped Jesus, recognizing that the nations and their glory belong to him and no other (Lk. 24:52; see also Mt. 4:8-9; 28:16-20). Therefore, Jesus’ ascension was his enthronement. He now reigns at God’s right hand until God’s kingdom is fully and finally established on the earth (1 Cor. 15:20-28).

Owing to our emphasis on Jesus’ atoning death, we can struggle to integrate Jesus’ ascension into our gospel preaching. This tendency isolates Jesus’ passion from the subsequent events of Luke’s Gospel, interrupting its narrative logic. Luke intentionally links Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension in order to lead us to specific conclusions regarding Jesus’ identity and task. By divorcing events designed to function as parts within a whole, we miss Luke’s intentions and truncate our gospel preaching.

Our citizenship within God’s kingdom requires Jesus’ substitutionary death (Col. 1:13, 20-21; 2:13-14). Incorporating Jesus’ ascension into our gospel preaching in no way diminishes the treachery of our sin or the significance of the cross. But emphasis on the cross apart from the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus short-circuits the overarching narrative of the gospel. Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension are indivisible, essential events within a story. Together they witness to the fulfillment of Jesus’ preaching about the coming of God’s kingdom to the earth through his Davidic Son.

Second, Jesus’ exaltation to God’s right hand means that gospel preaching proclaims a royal reality, not strictly a system of salvation’s mechanics.

Jesus’ exaltation to God’s right hand means that preaching the gospel involves proclaiming his lordship over the world to the world. For the apostles, Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension establish a new state of affairs, or a royal reality, on earth. All people everywhere should “obey” this gospel (Acts 5:32; Rom. 1:5; 15:18; 16:26; 2 Thess. 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17), acknowledging God’s reign by confessing, “Jesus is Lord!” (Acts 2:36; 10:36; 16:31; Rom. 10:9, 12; 1 Cor. 12:3; 2 Cor. 4:5; Phil. 2:11; 2 Thess. 1:8). To believe in Jesus is to confess that he is God’s rightful king who, through his death and resurrection, has taken up his reign (Eph. 1:19-23; Phil. 2:8-11; 1 Timothy 3:16).

Consider the rhetorical climax of Peter’s sermon on Pentecost:

This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.

Interpreting the strange work of the Spirit that morning, Peter integrates the death, resurrection, and exaltation into a cohesive account of Jesus’ installation as “both Lord and Christ.” Per Psalm 110:1, Jesus has taken his seat at God’s right hand to rule the earth from heaven. For Peter, Jesus’ cross is the way unto his throne where he presently reigns over all (1 Peter 3:18-22).

Jesus’ lordship isn’t just about his divinity or our personal relationship to him as the one who is sovereign over our lives. The titles ascribed by Peter identify Jesus as the Jewish Messiah—the rightful King, chosen by God, to rule the world (Ps. 2:8; 72:8, 11; Dan. 7:13-14; Zech. 9:9-10). In other words, to proclaim, “Jesus is Lord!” is to state a cosmic reality, affirming an office that Jesus occupies, not simply to express a personal opinion. And, when Peter does so, he is preaching the gospel.

The apostolic sermons, as recorded by Luke, are not mere records of penal substitutionary atonement (Acts 2:14-39; 3:12-26; 4:8-12; 5:29-32; 10:34-43; 13:16-41; 14:15-17; 17:22-31; 20:18-35). While we can deduce the representational, substitutional, and penal nature of Jesus’ death from statements within these sermons (Acts 3:18-19; 5:30; 10:39; 13:29, 38; 20:28), it seems apparent that the sermons are not extended theological discourses on the nature of the atonement.

Rather, they narrate the climax of God’s covenantal promises, sworn to Israel, through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. Sitting at God’s right hand, Jesus is the reigning Lord who dispenses the Spirit and His gifts (Acts 2:33, 38; 10:44-47). As Lord, he will return to judge and renew the world (Acts 3:20-21; 10:42; 17:31). Jesus’ Messianic role as judge is not bad news; it secures the liberation of the creation from sin’s pollution (cf. Ps. 2:9; 98:7-9; 132:16-18; Rev. 20:11-21:8). And, at the conclusion of the sermons, the apostles summon everyone to receive the forgiveness of sins, being reconciled to God, through repentance and faith in Jesus’ name (Lk. 24:46-47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 4:12; 5:31; 10:43; 13:38; 16:31; 17:30).

Preaching this gospel involves proclaiming historical events, but gospel preaching is not some history lesson. The key redemptive events—Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension—lead to the conclusion that he is the Christ, who rules the world in accordance with God’s promises to David (2 Sam. 7:10-17; Ps. 2:7-9; 132:11-12; Lk. 1:68-72; Acts 13:32-34). Gospel preaching, reformed according to Scripture, emphasizes the identity and office of Jesus as the result of his death, resurrection, and exaltation by God. Consequently, gospel preaching ends, not in history, but in the bold proclamation of the present reality of Jesus’ reign and a summons to align with the true King through repentance and faith.

Third, we share in Jesus’ exaltation to God’s right hand where we experience the riches of God’s grace.

As the exalted Lord, ruling at God’s right hand, all things have been put under Jesus’ feet (Ps. 8:6; Eph. 1:23; 1 Cor. 15:27; 1 Peter 3:22). Paul captured this beautifully when he prayed that the church in Ephesus:

may know . . . what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Paul wants believers to know the power God exercised in Jesus’ resurrection and exaltation. He then explains how we experience this power:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

Dead in our sins, we once followed the Devil and the course of this world (Eph. 2:1-3). But God raised us from this grave, making us alive together with Christ. United to Jesus, his death has become our death (Eph. 1:7; Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:11-12; 3:3), and his life has become ours as well (Eph. 2:5-6; Rom. 6:4-5; 8:11; Col. 2:13, 19; 3:1). What is true of him is now true of us. And, though difficult to comprehend, we are seated with him in heaven now (Eph. 2:6). By God’s grace, we participate in Jesus’ past, present, and future life, experiencing the benefits of forgiveness (Eph. 1:7), new life in the Spirit (Eph. 1:13; 2:10; 4:24), and the hope of the world to come (Eph. 2:7). But these benefits are ours only through our union with the living, ascended Christ.

Understanding that God’s riches flow into our lives through our union with the exalted Christ, our preaching will resist the errors of proclaiming salvation’s benefits (soteriology) apart from salvation’s history (Messianic Christology) and of proclaiming salvation’s history without concern for salvation’s application. Salvation is our incorporation into Christ’s historical work through faith.

Rightful King

To the extent that we restrict the gospel to salvation’s benefits, we unwittingly sever the nerve of the apostolic message. And, to the extent that we identify the gospel solely with the expiation of sin, we truncate our preaching. The riches we inherit in Christ only belong to us because Jesus has taken up his throne after conquering sin, death, and the Devil. These benefits are ours through solidarity with the reigning King who comes as a new Adam to inaugurate a new humanity (Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:20-28; Eph. 4:24; Col. 1:18; 3:10-11).

To proclaim that Jesus is the rightful King of the world is audacious. Sitting at God’s right hand, Jesus dismisses all hints of a privatized faith that accepts Jesus as one option among many or as a pragmatic means of self-actualization. To believe in him is not to hold a personal opinion, but rather to profess an objective reality that governs the world.

To be on the right side of history is to believe that Jesus is Lord. By faith, we confess that the sun does not set upon Jesus’ empire, and never will until the sun gives way to God’s greater glory (Rev. 21:23). All authority in heaven and earth belongs to him; therefore, go into his inheritance, calling everyone, through repentance and faith, to bring their lives into allegiance with this reality—Jesus is King!

Chuck Colson is rector of Church of the Ascension, a congregation of PEARUSA (Rwanda), in Arlington, Virginia.

Weekly News Roundup – May 10, 2013

On Fridays, I post some of the more interesting articles I’ve come across throughout the week to highlight what’s happening in the world, USA, the Christian Church, in the world of religion, sports, and in culture in general.

CLEVELAND — Three Women Missing for 10 years, found in Westside neighborhood!  During interrogation with police, Ariel Castro, the man charged with kidnapping and raping three women over roughly 10 years, referred to himself as “coldblooded,” addicted to sex and unable to control his impulses, WKYC Channel 3 News has learned.

Billy Graham plans to lead his largest ever Crusade – Billy Graham is planning to preach publicly one last time—and he wants to do it in homes across the country. This fall, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Assocation (BGEA) will launch “My Hope America with Billy Graham,” a video evangelism course that “combines the impact of video programs with the power of personal relationships.” The series will allow churchgoers to host small groups and view videos culled from messages that Graham has recorded throughout his career.

Chaplains in the Military – (Wall Street Journal) Mollie Ziegler Hemingway: The Pentagon’s Problem with Proselytizing   So is the case about Pentagon policy closed? Not at all, say some religious-liberty advocates.  For one thing, the Pentagon statement clarifying that military personnel would not be court-martialed if they “evangelize” also said that “proselytization” is considered a Uniform Code of Military Justice offense.

The Internet is for porn. We all know that, but until now we may not have realized to what extent porn dominated the Internet. According to this infographic by new porn website Paint Bottle, porn takes up a huge percentage of Internet bandwidth.
Tribe bring Hot Streak to Detroit this Weekend!   – On Thursday morning, Indians traveling secretary Mike Seghi handed Ryan Raburn his per diem for the team’s upcoming road trip. The journey begins Friday with a three-game set in Detroit, Raburn’s former home.

True Discipleship Part II. The Disciple’s Character 5. Be Filled with the Spirit Week of May 5, 2013

Scripture: Eph. 5:18 Memory verse
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
Goal of this Week’s Study:
The Participant will be learn to allow the Holy Spirit to fill them!
The Text: Paul, writing to the church in reminds them to avoid ‘escapism’ as a means to cope with life, but rather to be filled with the Holy Spirit who will empower them for the life that God desires for them!
As a young teacher and coach, I coached in a High School that was very different culturally than what I was used to growing up in Northern Virginia. LaPlata High School in Southern Maryland was a mixing bowl of rural, small town, and suburban Washington DC teenagers. There was a constant tension between the rednecks, townies, and rich kids; with the result that there were fights nearly every day, drugs being dealt continually, and the administration lacked the backbone to deal with the problems leading to further dysfunction, and frustration among my colleagues. At one point, in my time with the Lord I literally cried out and said, “Lord, I can’t do this job! Help me Holy Spirit! Fill me for this task” At that point, I felt an incredible warmth overcome me as I confessed my sins of self reliance, pride, and lack of love for the students and athletes that I taught and coached.
From that day forward, I was so aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence and noticed in not only a change in my outlook, but also how peaceful and hard working my students and athletes became! Now, not all of them, I don’t want to give you the impression that every one of the students I taught instantly loved to exercise, but there was a definite change, because I had changed! In addition, several of them through our Fellowship of Christian Athletes Ministry that I participated in with some colleagues gave their lives to Christ! I learned that every day I embark out into the world in my vocation, ministry, or even the mundane tasks at home – I need to ask the Holy Spirit to fill me for each task of service. In addition, as I have at times failed in service, and each and every time that I have sinned, I have asked Him to refill me, and He has always done so. The filling of the Spirit energizes and empowers different gifts in different persons, but in every case brings glory to Jesus and attracts others to Him.
The turning point in my story was when I asked for the Holy Spirit to fill me after I had confessed my sins, and yielded myself to God. Until that point I had not allowed Him to work through me, I was relying on my natural giftedness – to my great frustration.
Every person who has been born of the Spirit has the Holy Spirit living in them. Romans 8:16 states:
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
However, not everyone is filled with the Spirit and empowered for service.
Are you filled with the Spirit right now?
God desires you to be filled – and to be filled to overflowing!
What it means?
In John 20:22 Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” This allowed the disciples to take up His mission, which they could accomplish only under the Spirit’s leadership. But even though Peter had the Sprit of Chris in him already, at Pentecost a major change occurred in him. When the Holy sprit came in His fullness on the church, Peter was filled with the Sprit. Before that time, Peter was a coward who denied Jesus three times. As he was filled with the Spirit in Acts chapter 2, we see no sign of the old Peter. He was transformed and preached boldly as he allowed God to work through him!
Today:
Disciple’s today face the same problem the original disciples did – trying to fight spiritual battles with human resources. Most Western Christians live and serve as if Pentecost never happened. They try to obey Jesus’ commands on their own strength; yet they wonder how Satan so often outsmarts and overpowers them. They ignore the mission of the Holy Spirit who came to continue Jesus’ role of inspiring, empowering, and guiding them.
Is the Holy Spirit a personal, intimate friend who fills your life?
You may have tried to read your Bible, pray, witness, teach, or serve without relying on the Holy Spirit’s power. You may have tried to solve a problem in your personal life, such as dealing with a rebellious child, or improving an estranged relationship, without asking God to fill you with the Holy Spirit.
The solution to your inadequacy lies in experiencing the Holy Spirit’s presence and power as the disciples did at Pentecost. WE cannot repeat Pentecost, anymore than we can repeat Calvary. However, we can lay hold of the power of Pentecost just as surely as you can experience the redemption of Calvary!
How to be Filled…
Say aloud this week’s memory verse – Eph 5:18
We can learn a great deal about this verse in its original language – Greek. The phrase be filled is:
1. Present Tense – You are to be filled now in the state that you are in. And, continually doing so. I means to keep on being filled
2. Passive voice – Means that you cannot do this yourself. Someone has to do it for you.
3. Imperative mood – Means that to be filled is a command. As a disciple, it is not an option for you.

What part of this verb do you need to be most reminded of?

Then, Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you! And you live each day and certain tasks come your way – the Holy Spirit will empower you to complete them! You may feel a warmth come over you, or you may not! The important thing to remember is that as a Christian – you have the Holy Spirit, the question is – does the Holy Spirit have you! May we all be filled with Spirit daily!
The World’s Way
• Col 3:8
• Gal 5:19 – 21
• Eph 4:31
The Spirit’s Way
• Col 3:12
• Gal 5:22 – 23
• Eph 4:32

What God said to Me:

What I said to God:

Praise – Confess – Ask

Taking the Day off! “Making Sunday Special” – May 5th, ’13 Empowered for Discipleship!

This week’s text – Ephesians 5:15 – 21

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.