Pastor Chuck's Desk

<< Previous 1 - 2

Where God is Found

 
Where is God!
 

Written by Mike McHargue

I find God in the unknown and the known,
in the far and the near,
in today and tomorrow, and yesterday as well.
I find God in physics and in scripture,
and at the end of the day, when my daughters climb up into my lap.

God is everywhere I look:
up in the night sky and the noonday sun;
in the wind that caresses the trees,
and all that teeming life, competing to survive.

Most remarkable, I find God when I look into my own heart;
in the miraculous spark that makes me move and breathe and wonder how I can
.

Showdown

Showdown
          Blessing or Threat?
         
     Are we threatened when things go as planned?  Haven’t we all had the thought of wanting something to go in that certain way and when it does we do not feel blessed we feel threatened.  Maybe or maybe not but this feeling is just where Pharaoh was when the Israelites were doing exactly what God had told them to do.  We have the Genesis language repeated for us in Exodus 1: 7 as the Israelites were moving forward and multiplying just as they were told to do.  The numbers of Jews were seen by Pharaoh, who did not know Joseph, as a threat.  They could rise up against me, the Pharaoh thought.  Pharaoh resorts to hard labor on the Israelites, tells the mid-wives to kill the male babies, and it does not work.  In fact, this action leads to Moses being saved out of the Nile by the Pharaoh’s own daughter.  Ironic or God lead?  Pharaoh doesn’t know but this is just the beginning of his problems.
           
          The Most Ignorant Question
         
     By now God has heard the groaning of His people.  They are in misery, crying, and suffering.  God is ready to act.  Moses is chosen by God to lead the people out of Egypt.  Moses is instructed and asks Pharaoh to “let my people go” and this asking is done in the name of the Lord.  It is in chapter 5 of Exodus in verse 2 where we may find the most ignorant verse in the Bible, Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.” The Voice translation says the same verse in this way, “And who is this god you call “the Eternal One” that I should heed His message and release His people Israel? I do not know any god by that name, and furthermore I do not intend to release Israel. What was Pharaoh thinking?  He did not know God and he did not understand thought there could not be anyone more powerful than himself.  Pharaoh was in great peril but he was clueless to it.
           
          Not just Liberation but Revelation

         
     We will see God is acting not just for the liberation of His people, the Israelites but He is also acting as He is revealing to them and to Pharaoh just who He is and what His power looks like.  Genesis 9: 16 says - But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.  Moses is leading for liberation, for sure but God has called him to for revelation of His mighty power and so the name of God will be made known to even people like Pharaoh. This revelation is Good News for us as we can know and understand God and His power in our own lives.
           
          You and Me!
           
     God is here for you and me.  He wants us to help liberate those who are struggling and are unsure of what to do next.  In our times of unknowing and difficulty, we can call on God as He has been revealed to us for mighty acts of His glory.  We are a forgiven people as we know God incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ.  The Passover lamb has come to us to fulfill God’s revelation for us.  We know God through the Power of Jesus Christ and feel His presence in His gift of the Holy Spirit.  Come and enjoy both the liberating power of God and the revelation of God and know He loves us, each one so much He came and died for you and for me.  We see in the Exodus story liberation and revelation. We need this liberating and revealing of God to empower us. May God grant us the passionate love for Him which helps us to serve Him daily as we walk with Him?
 Garden Talk
        Creation good and very good
          Adam and Even are enjoying life in the Garden of Eden.  A perfect place created by God for his very good pinnacle of creation, people.  He has created everything on the earth, day, night, sky, oceans, land, birds, fish, animals, and all of it was good.  Lastly, he created people.  He created people and called them very good.  He finishes his creation with a day of rest.  Here we see what we were created to be.  God created us to be the caretakers of all he created and to finish with a time of rest.  What good news we were created with in the beginning.
          Adam, Eve, and a talking snake
         
          
Adam and Eve are together in the garden and a snake engages them in conversation.  He is described as “more crafty” than any of the wild animals the Lord had made.  Interestingly, he engages Eve with a question.  Did God really say?  Now a talking snake may be enough to not enter into a conversation but Eve does.  She responds to him and answers his question.  Now, she could have responded by saying to the snake, good question let’s ask God.  She does not.   The conversation goes on and soon we see Eve and Adam, yes Adam was with Eve this entire time, silent, and not giving any opinion, taking their first bite of disobedience and we have the “Fall” of man.  Our sinful nature is born out of lack of communication with God.
         
         Subject and Object
         
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a book on the creation story and said Eve and the snake had the first conversation about God.  Up until this point, the conversations were with God.  God came to Adam and Eve daily, in the garden, and they talked.  Now Eve and the snake were talking about God.  God had now moved from the subject of the conversation to the object of it.  Where is God in my life or in your life?  Is He the subject or is he the object?  I hope he is the subject because it points to a relationship where you can have daily conversations with God.  If you have God as an object, seek a relationship with Him.  Adam and Eve decided to trust the snake and not God and it had devastating consequences.  God still seeks them and He seeks us.  I know He is seeking a relationship with you.  How?
         
        Seeking the lost
       
         After our first couple eats the fruit and sin against God, they hide.  God comes to them and asks “Where are you?”  He knows where they are but it is good news that He asks and is looking.  God seeks us when we are lost, when we are hurting, ashamed, and sinful.  God seeks His creation.  God even clothes them and cares for them.  We have to decide if we are going to trust God.  Do we believe God has our best interest at heart?  Do we believe God is worthy of our trust enough where we will engage Him in all of our conversations.  When we get asked a question like…did He really say?  Go to Him; seek Him for clarification instead of listening to others or ourselves first. 
          After the “Fall” people are:  lost, broken, unjust, and alienated.  God created us to be:  Peaceful, just, loving, kind, righteous, hopeful, and whole.  We know God has our best interest at heart and He seeks to help us every day.  Make God the subject of your relationships, conversations, and affection.  Refrain from God becoming the object of the same.
 
Blessings!
Messiness to Goodness
          Creation
            As we look at creation we see God spoke creation from a formless void and he did not create with a loud fight or battle, he created in the quiet, no battles, no fights, just creating.  This creation story is different than the other creation stories of people in the day.  There stories were typically of battles, of civil wars, of goddesses being cut in half to form the heaven and the earth.  Not with God who created with a voice and not a battle in the quiet.
            We see creation was worked out in a six day period with the culmination, the finish being Sabbath or rest.  God created all of these things light and darkness, sky and land, oceans and seas, sun, moon, and stars, birds and fish, and then animals and all of this creation was called “good.”  Man, humanity, people were created and this is the pinnacle of creation and it is called “very good.”  We were the climax of creation and we were deemed “very good.”  After all of this creation then what…rest?

           
            What about me?
           
            How does this speak to me and who I was created to be?  What shape am I to take knowing I am part of the story which is the pinnacle or the climax and even more what is my role in this rest business, this Sabbath time?  Am I doing everything God created me to be?  Is finally saying “yes” to the call on my life to be a minister being who I am created to be or is it just the beginning of who God has called me to be?  He has taken another mess, my life, and turned it into something which has the potential to be good hopefully very good.
            What we find is when people are created we are created by this missional God who creates us for mission.  Creation is important; it is the first missional message as God creates with a purpose. 
(1) He brings very goodness to his creation.
(2)The center of God’s mission is creation.  Significant because a spiritual life we focus on Heaven but God’s focus is here where we live in creation.
(3) Everyone is in view, no Israel, no Christians or Jews.  It is connected with the whole world. Global perspective!

           
            High Calling for Us!
           
            Look at us and our role.  It is about image.  What are we supposed to be doing in this world we were created into by the God who created it.  We are being shaped and formed by God for his mission.  Recognize we were made in the image of God.  What does image mean?  It means we are the visible representation of God in the world.  We are the visible representation created to help God with his mission.  We are this visible representation; recognize we are all made in his image.  Our friends and even the people we do not like are made in the image of God.
            What a high calling, an incredible calling that is placed on our lives because of who created us, how we were created, and in whose image we were created. I must strive to be all I can be for God as not only am I made in his image but he came to earth and died for his image, for me.  How glorious is God who loves me and wants the best for me enough that when he created me, he created me in his incredible image.  I pray my representation of Him is guided by a relationship I am building with Him every day. 

 
 

First Announcement

First Announcement
          Jesus Speaks!
            It is interesting to look at Matthew 4: 17 to see what Jesus first words were when making his first public message.  His first sentence is “Repent! The kingdom of Heaven is near.”  We see and we can almost hear Jesus announcing why he is here.  Recognize Jesus did not come to start a religion.  He did not come into the world to start Christianity or to have a building built to bring people to a new denomination.  Jesus came to the world to announce and to show people how to find the kingdom and how to recognize it.
            How does Jesus message shape us?
          We have all read books and/or watched movies where we feel we have been shaped by them.  Maybe Old Yeller was a movie that most of us remember and how it touched our emotions about our love of dogs or maybe you were shaped the first time you ever watched the Wizard of Oz.  I remember both of these movies and the impact they had on me.  The book I remember was In His Steps by Charles Sheldon.  After reading that book, I went right to my parents to tell them about it…they read it as well.  These were shaping times.  What about the Bible and the Biblical stories of Jesus, his message and his ability to help us follow his lead and how it shapes our life? What stories shaped your life?  What Bible stories shaped or continue to shape your life?
            Groups of Influence
            We know there were groups of in the 1st century who influenced thought.  We had the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and the Zealots among others who were influencing thought of the day.    These groups had great numbers in the capital city of Israel, Jerusalem.  Did Jesus start his ministry in Jerusalem?  No. Jesus started in Galilee which was north of Jerusalem and Galilee was not predominately Jewish.  Galilee was full of all types of people and mainly people on the fringe.  Jesus spoke first to the fringes and this is significant.
          New Term for Message
            Dr. Brian Russell introduced a new term to me for Matthew 4: 17.  Instead of repent it is re-align.  We are to re-align ourselves and we may be doing this re-alignment continually as we are shaped by the Gospel message of Jesus.  This re-aligning or aligning fits together with John Wesley’s salvation message of Justification which is a aligning of ourselves to Christ in the conversion salvation experience.  We are to repent, align, the kingdom of Heaven is at hand or as stated by Dr. Russell “Realign yourself continually for the long awaited age of God’s Salvation is now present in myself.  The Kingdom has come, it is here in me and I have brought God here to us. This is shaping language and it is being taught to you and me.  Are we willing to re-align ourselves, continually, to this message of salvation?
Faithful Obedience:  You and Me
Where was he going?
            Abram in Genesis 12: 1-9 is called to go to a new land.  We see Abram listening and God saying verse 1 “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to a land that I will show you.”  Have you had times in your life, job moves, change of life moves, other moves where you were nervous, scared, as you trekked out into the unknown.  Something said go and you picked up and went.  How about Abram?  He was leaving in a time when people didn’t just pick up and move because they would quickly be in harm’s way.  They didn’t know the next clan and may be seen as taking land and would come under physical attack. 
Nevertheless, Abram heard God’s call and said…….ok!  Verse 1 says God said “Go” and in verse 4 Abraham went.  Just that easy!  Abram was obeying God’s command on his life.  Our lesson is to be faithful and obedient.


God’s Promises
            God made Abram some incredible promises.  We see the promises quickly in the passage: 
  1.  I will make you a great nation.
  2. I will bless you.
  3. I will make your name great.
  4. You will be a blessing.
  5. I will bless those who bless you.
  6. I will curse those who curse you
  7. In you, all the families of the earth will be blessed.
We read more blessing in these first 3 verses of chapter 12 than the previous 11 chapters.  God is seriously blessing Abram and his offspring.  Abram was 75 years old and childless when he answered God’s call.  Clearly age is not the concern.  Our lesson, be faithful and obedient.

Leading Us to the Gospel
            Abram, (later Abraham) does indeed show his appreciation and build alters to worship God.  Verse 7 God told Abram I will give your offspring this land and Abram appropriately built an altar to give thanks and worship God.  We know Abram was the father of many nations and in him many were blessed and we can trace Jesus all the way back to Abraham.  In Matthew and Luke we see Jesus lineage traced back to Abraham.  God’s blessing of Abraham and Abraham’s blessing of others is a divine blessing and is within the context of loyalty to the transformation, spiritually speaking, for the people of the future.  We are to be faithful and obedient.


Journey
          Our very lives are part of a great journey.  We can choose to be faithful and obedient as we participate in the journey or we can go on our own.  We can make all of the choices ourselves without consulting God and see how it works out but in doing so we may rob ourselves of great joys and peace.  I believe consulting a trip master like God is one of the best faithful and obedient steps we can take in our lives.  It is also a great model for others.  We are blessed to be a blessing.  We are the receiver of Good News and we are called to “go” just like Abram.  How will we respond to our call to go?  I hope we can respond with faithful obedience with the word……ok! 

Bless Me in My Struggles

Bless Me in My Struggles
          One Step at a Time
            I am sure many of us attended elementary schools where you had different animals represented in the classroom.  This could be something as small and easy as a fish, to something more like a snake or a hamster.  I remember the teacher who showed me the cocoon, the chrysalis which would later reveal a butterfly.  What a fantastic phenomenon.  We would see or were taught how these little greenish worms crawling one day would attach themselves to a branch the next day.  What started after the attachment was the metamorphosis. What did this all mean, how did it happen, why at this time, and who was responsible. The questions were endless and our class was amazed by it all.  What we find out is the outer layer of skin just unzips revealing a green chrysalis within.  This molting when finished, the green pod which is left is motionless for 14 days.
          Change is Good
            Nothing happens for about 12 days and then something starts to reveal itself and it is quite amazing.  The walls of the greenish cocoon become transparent.  Here we see something dramatic happening.  Over the next couple of days there is a real struggle going on in this transparent cocoon and the struggle is not only needed but it is essential to the life of the creature.  I know in my own life when I have struggled secularly or within the wall of Christianity, it has usually been for my own growth and if I had been relieved of the struggle, I would not be the better for it.  Do you know what I am talking about?  Has struggle in your own life built your character and conviction?  Let us look deeper into our creature.
          Struggle Averted…Good or Hurtful?
            The story is a caterpillar was found by a youngster whose mother left him bring it home if he were to take care of it.  He was thrilled to see the caterpillar crawl around and she told him to place a stick in the large jar along with some plant for the creature to eat and watch the change.  He did all she said.  He watched as the caterpillar attached himself to the stick and the silk like thread weaved itself around the stick.  The cocoon started and the mother told her son just how the metamorphosis would take place.  He watched and soon the cocoon was built.  Then while he was watching the cocoon started to open but it looked as if the creature, the butterfly was really struggling.  It looked desperate and like it was not able to break free.  He had an idea.  He would help his new friend.  He ran and got a pair of scissors and just snipped a little larger hole for the butterfly.  Quickly, the butterfly emerged but he was swollen and the wings were all shriveled.  He knew that in time the body would shrink and the wings would expand…but neither happened.  The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.
 It never was able to fly…

          Scientific Answer
            The butterfly was SUPPOSED to struggle. In fact, the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon pushes the fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly would never, ever fly. The boy’s good intentions hurt the butterfly. 
          Did this happen to you?
Ephesians 4: 2  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient bearing with one another in love.  Our task is to understand our own transformation, our metamorphosis and how our struggles have made us into the believers we are today.  I struggled through a divorce and a couple of dead end jobs which had me feeling alone and apart from what I thought life was to be.  The struggle of my own situations have helped me to be more understanding of others and developed my heart which without the struggles would not have been built.
Like the butterfly, we are changed from the inside out.  We are transformed by Christ as we undergo our own chrysalis.  We come into the world as a caterpillar and somewhere along the way, God seeks us and we feel a compulsion to know more and we enter into our chrysalis.  While we are inquiring and learning and asking questions a metamorphosis takes place.  Now whether we ask like Nicodemus “how does one be born again” or Lord how can I become a believer, we will go through this metamorphosis "to change the essential nature of something or someone."  Questions will be asked almost the same as we ask about the butterfly.  What did this all mean, how did it happen, why at this time, and who was responsible. The questions may be endless and your friends will be amazed by it all.  They will probably say what a beautiful butterfly.
Blessings.

Easter 2015 Hallelujah!

Are you looking for a dead man too?

            What are you looking for this Easter Sunday?  We have spent time and effort reading and praying about each event involved in Jesus’ last days on earth.  From the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest, from Pilate’s decision to the brutal beating and torture, even to the Crucifixion and death, we have been reminded of it all.  We placed ourselves in these situations looking at how we may have responded and would we have been any different. 

What about you and me?
     I see myself falling asleep sometimes when I pray just like the disciples did in the garden after Jesus asked for help.  I see myself in the righteous people who knew how to act and knew the Scripture but responded righteously without heart.  I see myself in the peer pressure that Pilate felt when he decided to make a decision contrary to the gut feeling he had inside of him.  He knew Jesus was innocent or at least not guilty enough to be put to death.  No matter, the pressure was too great and he made his choice.  I have done the same thing in my life.  Have you?  Am I capable of being as mean to another human being as studies show we humans are in both the Milgram Study and Stanford Prison study?  Am I one of those?  Think about it, are we?

Crucifixion

We like to think about the crucifixion as far away and hidden but we know it was very public.  Crucifixions were placed at the busiest of places where everyone could see and the crosses were not high up in the air but 6 to 9 feet off of the ground.  This event was so all could see the torment, the contorted features, the blood, and the agony that would serve as a deterrent to every person who may potentially commit a crime rendering a sentence like crucifixion.  The punishment was vile and disgusting.

Easter is here!

      So here we are pointed toward Easter Sunday.  We see in Mark chapter 16 three ladies came to the tomb in the morning with spices to anoint a dead man’s body.  Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome were very aware of what they were to encounter.  It was just after sunrise and they were on their way to anoint the dead body of a friend, when they found the stone sealing the tomb rolled away.  The Romans did not want anyone to steal the body of Jesus so they place a guard at the tomb.  Where was he and how was the stone rolled away?  Did someone steal the Lord?  Did the Romans take him?  What was going on in this early morning of the third day? 

An Angel Speaks

            The ladies arrive, are startled, and find an angel as they enter the tomb.  “Don’t be alarmed, you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.  See the place where they laid him.  Go and tell his disciples and Peter.  He is going on ahead of you into Galilee.  There you will see him, just as he told you.”(Mark 16: 6-7 NIV)
            Are you looking for a dead body or are you full of the conviction of Jesus risen from the dead.  Has this Easter story transformed you as well? Can you feel the joy that comes with this day? We affirm in our Creed that we believe in the risen Christ who died, was buried, and on the third day rose again. Thanks be to God for that third day! Thanks be to God for the promise of a new heaven and a new earth! Thanks be to God for the hope of life eternal through the saving grace of Jesus Christ – who was crucified, dead, and buried, yet rose again and lives and reigns forever!

Hallelujah!
Happy Easter 2015!

What Do You See?

What do you see when you look at the Cross?
 
          This week we look at Jesus being at Golgotha, the Place of the Skull, being fit for a cross.  What do you see when you look at the Cross?  Do you see a terrible form of punishment inflicted on a populace to instill fear?  Is this what you see?  I would think if we saw this type of execution we would never want to be a part of it.  We hide our capital punishments today.  It is too upsetting to watch someone die so we execute in the middle of the night under a cover of darkness.  Not the Romans, they crucified people in the busiest of places to demonstrate power and might so the people would stay inline. 

What do you see?  Do you see extreme pain, excruciating tortuous pain, even to the point where the person on the cross can breathe in but the positioning does not allow them to exhale?  The only way to exhale is to push up with the feet and with limited breath; this is extremely difficult.

What do you see?  Do you see nails and ropes?  The person was sometimes nailed to the cross but not always.  Sometimes ropes were used to hold the person in place to die on a cross.  Think about nails going through the wrists, the pain of it.  Think of nails being driven in your feet as they are crossed.  Do you see and feel the nails pierce the skin all the way through your body part to come through the other side?

What do you see?  Do you see blood running from the body, body fluids oozing from the pores in the skin?  More sweat from the pain creates more fluid and the body is awash with blood, sweat, and this loss of fluids creates dehydration.

What do you see?  We think of crosses being on a high hill so far away, in the distance and difficult to see.  What if they were in a busy place and only about 6 to 9 feet in the air so you could look face to face with the person on the cross?  Can you see His eyes and His contorted face?  Is He looking at you?  What do you say, how do you feel, can you even look at this site?

What do you see?  Do you see a friend, a person who is looking at you with love and compassion maybe looking at you the same way you are looking at him?  Do you see a man who healed the sick, gave sight to the blind; talked to people others didn’t talk to, taught with great stories, a man who laughed and joked and ate meals with friends, what do you see?

Is it what or Who?

For believers, it is not what we see.  For believers it is who we see.  I see a Savior who was willing and chose to die a horrendous death for me.  I see God in the flesh that in the worst imaginable circumstance, this torturous death on a cross, brought about the most glorious of outcomes.  I see Jesus Christ who saved me from sin and death.  I am so powerfully grateful for Jesus and what He did for me.  I cannot thank Him enough but I communicate with him daily.  I ask Him for forgiveness and he gives it to me because he loves me and wants the best for me.  When I look at the Cross, I see and feel who Jesus was for me.  The person who died was raised demonstrating for me the Agape love only He can give.

What or Who do you see?

http://www.writepassagenow.com

Video Studies and Faith Based Cartoons for Adults/Children

<< Previous 1 - 2