The amazing International Space Station

1200px-International_Space_Station_after_undocking_of_STS-132
A couple of sermons ago, I talked about the International Space Station as an illustration. I forgot to include this thought-provoking quote that impacted me:
 
“Few of us give a thought to the International Space Station, even though, when the future measures our collective contribution to humanity, the ISS will prove the single best thing we did. Less than a century after the Model T was state of the art, we manufactured a kind of galleon in space and have sent men and women from 10 countries to live in it, along with a host of short-term visitors, without recess or mutiny or fatality, for nearly 20 years.” -Chris Jones, Wired Magazine.

Learning from Joseph

JosephRevealedToBrothers
I have noticed a lot of people struggling with their mood, outlook, and emotional health in the last few weeks. I love how authentic everyone is with their feelings. This vulnerability is so much better than the days when Christians wore masks of perfection.
 
Still, why now? Is it all the recent rain? Is it the winter darkness and lack of vegetation? Is it the loss of momentum from New Year’s resolutions?
 
While I don’t want to minimize anyone’s personal experience, I must observe that some of this angst is predictable. Most years, we start January with some level of optimism but seem to plod through the winter months with a survival mindset. While winter doesn’t bother me as much as some people, believe me – I have my challenging times each year!
 
I wrote all of this because I think Sunday’s sermon is going to help people. We will look at a statement Joseph made in Genesis 45:5, “God sent me ahead.” Discovering Joseph’s perspective on his life may give you some perspective on yours.
 
Join me at CIL at either 9am or 10:45am.
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“The Recognition of Joseph by His Brothers”
Date: 1816-1817
Artist: Cornelius, Peter von, 1783-1867

Christianity Offers Something Different

Forgiveness

What does Christianity have to offer culture? The last couple of years it has become evident that a post-Christian culture does not understand grace, forgiveness, and transformation. We offer these.

While that which is secret, underground, and unchecked needs to be exposed; as Christians we oppose the evil stronghold, not the person.

God forgave us, so we forgive.

All humans are flawed.
All humans behave wickedly.
All humans are offered grace.

“What God has made clean, do not call impure.” – Jesus (Acts 10:15)
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*This is not in direct reaction to any current news story, but a general observation about our culture’s response to individual shortcomings.

Do not skip Sunday night service for the Super Bowl! :-)

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The evangelical church has gone through several phases since the Super Bowl started taking place right in the middle of the traditional Sunday night service.

Phase 1 (1980s): You are a bad Christian if you even think about skipping Sunday night service to watch the Super Bowl.

Phase 2 (early 1990s): We will all watch the Super Bowl at the church. This will include a potluck, youth fundraiser, and technical difficulties.

Phase 3 (late 1990s): Watch the Super Bowl with a group from the church, but you have to turn it off and do a devotional at half time.

Phase 4a (late 2000s): Watch the Super Bowl at home, but don’t enjoy it too much. Don’t get used to skipping church!

Phase 4b (late 2000s): The weekly Sunday night service is eliminated. (See the correlation to Phase 4a)

Phase 5 (early 2010s). Make the Sunday morning worship service to the Almighty God revolve around a Super Bowl theme. 🙂Worship team, buy your favorite NFL jersey to wear on stage.

Phase 6 (late 2010s): Skip church all day, because it’s Super Bowl Sunday.

 

* Disclaimer: I had fun writing this post. It was not meant for pastoral direction or cultural critique.

Your Job is More Important than You Realize

As we return to a more normal work rhythm, let’s not take for granted the jobs, institutions, vocations, and traditions we now carry on.

I love this thought by author David Brooks:

“A person is born into a collection of permanent institutions, including the army, the priesthood, the fields of science, or any of the professions, like being a farmer, a builder, a cop, or a professor. Life is not like navigating through an open field. It is committing oneself to a few of the institutions that were embedded on the ground before you were born and will be here after you die. It is accepting the gifts of the dead, taking on the responsibility of preserving and improving an institution and then transmitting that institution, better, on to the next generation.”

If you appreciate the Bible, you’ll read it

William Tyndale
Why do Christians love the Bible so much?  There are many answers, but let’s not forget this crucial reason:  individual Christians have not always had the Scripture!

For centuries only spiritual leaders could access the Bible. This arrangement made God’s people vulnerable when leadership did not follow God’s heart. The courage and sacrifices of John Wycliffe (1328-1384), William Tyndale (1494-1536) and their ministry partners left us an incomparable gift – the Scripture in English.  Read their stories some time.

As you pick your Bible to read in 2019, remember that the ability to read Scripture in your native language was very costly.  Whatever we appreciate becomes valuable to us.  Let us approach Scripture reading with deep appreciation.

We get to do this!

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The New Testament Bible Reading plan can be found by clicking here.