Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 In Books

This past year I read some great books. I thought I would share the books that impacted me this past year:

1) You See Bones I See An Army by Floyd McClung
2) Generous Justice by Tim Keller
3) The Complete Book of Discipleship by Bill Hull
4) Radical Together by David Platt
5) What Is The Gospel by Greg Gilbert
6) Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married by Gary Chapman
7) The Marriage Builder by Larry Crabb

What book(s) did you read this past year that really impacted you?

In the coming year I have my sights on...
Biographies: Deitrick Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas and Frederick Douglass Autobiographies by Frederick Douglass and Henry Louis Gates
Race/Culture: Yellow by Frank Wu, Being Latino In Christ by Orlando Crespo, Living In Color by Randy Woodley
Church & Mission: Let The Nations Be Glad by John Piper, Oneness Embraced by Tony Evans, Bloodlines by John Piper, Operation World by Jason Mandryk, and The Trellis & The Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne
Bible Study/Theology: How To Read The Bible For All It's Worth by Gordon Fee

Monday, December 26, 2011

Who We "See"

I was recently at Home Depot to buy paint for our house. While we were standing in line for our paint, another customer approached the paint counter with a Home Depot sales associate right behind him, trying to keep pace. This customer was noticeably irritated by the sales person, and was evidently coming to the paint counter for "outside assistance." It became evident that this man, and the man who was trying to help him were having some communication struggles. The sales person was of Asian descent and his English was not the best as he spoke. However, the man who was shopping (and irritated) acted as if he didn't even see the salesmen. He dismissed what he said, got the answer he needed, and quickly walked past him to get back to what he needed. Now let me say, that I understand that sometimes communication can be difficult when someone's English isn't that strong. It can be frustrating when you feel like you keep "missing" each other in communication. However, the thing that really made me upset as I observed this interaction was how the salesperson became seemingly invisible to the customer. He chose to not see him and to not acknowledge his efforts to help him. The sales associate became worthless to him once he no longer saw him.

That same weekend, a man came to our Saturday service and breakfast with a large "Jesus" tattoo in the middle of his forehead. This man and his tattoo got my attention, and so I made it a point to get to know him and hear his story. I learned that he was staying at the rescue mission here in Richmond, but that he was originally from Seattle. Without going into great detail, he was recently divorced, relocated, and out of work. I began to ask him about life at the mission (homeless shelter). He stated that he greatly appreciated both having a place to stay, and a consistent meal. However, he said he was greatly disappointed and disturbed by the way the staff treated the men who came there. He shared that many of the staff "talked down at them." He further added that they seemed to lump everyone into the same category - drug addict, lazy, mentally challenged, etc. - rather then seeing the uniqueness of each person and each person's story. In other words, the issue with the staff at the mission is that they don't "see" the individual residents. It is because they don't truly see them that they feel compelled to talk down at them.

Whether or not we "see" people is critical. How we view someone, greatly affects how we treat them. When we lump people together (stereotype), seek to avoid certain people, or look down on people, we won't truly see them, and we will be unable to converse or connect with them in any type of meaningful way.

My good friend Aaron often says, "we cannot minister to someone who we think less of." Therefore, lack of sight and condescension go hand in hand. I love reading the Gospels and observing the way Jesus interacted with people. He interacted with all types of people. No one was above or below his compassionate reach. He saw people: tax collectors, women, Samaritans, lepers, politicians, etc. His sight always stirred compassion rather than condescension. Matthew 9:36 (and others) states, "When He saw the crowds, he had compassion for them..."

It was this "compassionate sight" that led him to the cross. Romans 5 says that "while we were still weak (helpless)" and "while we were still sinners" Christ died for us. That's the beauty of the Cross, and the beauty of the Gospel. It is the Gospel that then transforms how we "see" others and compels us to love everyone. Peter lost sight of this new "Gospel vision" in Galatians 2, and his brother Paul had to lovingly get in his face to remind him of his new eyes.

While we're at work, at school, in our neighborhoods, out shopping, etc. let's be mindful of the people who cross our path each day. May we be a people who "see" everyone with our Gospel eyes. Amen.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Our Great High Priest

This past Saturday & Sunday I preached a message entitled "Consider Jesus: Our Great High Priest." It was a challenging study for me. I read through the book of Hebrews, some chapters several times. There is so much in that book! I still don't know if I fully understand all the priesthood entailed, but I was definitely encouraged in the study as I thought about all that Jesus is! Here is my outline. You can also listen to the message here.

Consider Jesus: Our Great High Priest

The office of priesthood was instituted by God in order to maintain fellowship between the holy God and the sinful nation. Priests were...
1)Chosen from among men and ordained/appointed to minister on behalf of his fellow man before God.

2)Offered gifts and sacrifices for sins.
-In offering sacrifices, they showed that sin was very real and deserving of death!
-The priests went before God as the people's advocate and intercessor.
-A blood sacrifice had to be made (usually bulls or goats).
-Sacrifices had to be made over and over, each year.

3)Supposed to be compassionate with sinners, because they themselves were subject to weakness.

4)Offered sacrifices for themselves as well as those of the people, for they too needed atonement.

Hebrews 4:14-16
Since then we have a great hight priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

I. A Greater Priest

a)His Selection & Term
-Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 7:16; Hebrews 7:23-24

b)His Intimacy with the Father
-Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 10:12

c)His Sinlessness
-Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 7:26; Hebrews 7:27-28; 2 Corinthians 5:21

II. A Greater Sacrifice
He gave Himself...once and for all...he sat down!
-Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 9:25-26; Hebrews 10:10-14

III. A Gracious Savior & Sustainer
"Jesus can both sympathize with and deliver us!" - Mark Driscoll

Sympathize mans to feel or suffer with.
-Hebrews 4:15-16; Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 2:18

"It is Jesus our priest who knows every hair on our head, day of our life, longing of our heart, and thought on our mind. At this very moment, Jesus is brining our hurts, suffering, needs and sins to the Father in a prayerful and loving was as our priest." - Driscoll

Friday, December 02, 2011

Christmas Giving Opportunities

Christmas is a reminder of the greatest gift that this world has ever received, God's Son, Jesus Christ. The Gospel Of Jesus Christ compels us to be a people marked by generosity. During this Christmas season, here are two good options for gospel motivated generosity...

1)Sunshine Gospel Ministries' Annual Christmas Store
Each year Sunshine collects donated gifts (store bought gifts) for kids ages 0 through 18. They then set up an actual store, where parents can shop for their kids. Everything is marked down 75%. This gives parents in the neighborhood of Woodlawn a more affordable way to do Christmas shopping. Each year the store is a blessing to 50-80 families. You can buy gifts online at Target for the Sunshine store here. If you want to read more about the philosophy/theology of the store, check out this blog entry.

2)Africa Revolution's "Compassion Needs Wheels" Campaign
Africa Revolution is doing an amazing work alongside local churches in Swaziland: making disciples, caring for orphans, and doing medical missions. They have an urgent need for a new van for transportation for ministry outreaches. Their executive director Allan says, "We have come to realize that a reliable, sturdy vehicle is our primary tool to facilitate all our ministry. It enables us to to get the job done! Whether our team is doing rural medical missions or community outreach, we are totally dependent on our vehicle." To donate towards a new van click here.