If I look back at my new life with Jesus, the periods where my growth stagnated or I felt stuck almost always were periods where I was captive to bitterness in my heart toward others. I think all of us, if we are honest, can recall a time where we have experienced significant pain at the hands of our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we find ourselves in these situations, forgiveness seems far less gratifying than personal justice or writing relationships off.
1 Peter 3:18-22
Focused Text: 1 Peter 3:18-22
Many refer to this portion of Scripture as Christus Victor (meaning “Christ the Victor”). This concept focuses on not only Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross, but also on the cross’ accomplishments especially as seen in His resurrection from the grave. Note how Peter weaves the cross and resurrection events into a beautiful picture of Christus Victor.
At the Crossing, we’ve just started a new teaching series in the book of Acts, called, “Kingdom Come – The Unstoppable Gospel To The Ends Of The Earth.” Acts covers a period of approximately 33 years. J.B. Phillips wrote that “in no comparable period of human history has any small body of ordinary people so moved the world that their enemies could say, with tears of rage in their eyes, that these men have turned the world upside down!’”
Can that be said about us today? Surveys reveal that the majority of Christians in the West don’t speak about their faith with others. In my 40 years of being a believer, I struggle to recall anyone initiating a conversation with me about the Lord!
Things that we consider good, significant and important, people and activities of our past remembered as pleasing – all such pieces of our life produce the emotion of JOY. Why? Because God created us to do more than merely exist; he made us to enjoy life, not to robotically function in an emotionally detached way.
During the holiday season, our family loves to visit neighborhoods that go all-out in terms of Christmas decorations. Lights symbolize hope and provide a sense of comfort and reassurance, in contrast to being engulfed in darkness. I can remember when we lived in Ireland being on a lonely dark country road and turning off the car headlights while still driving ever so slowly. It would be an understatement to say that our young daughters wanted me to immediately turn the lights back on!
It’s Christmas time again! A favorite tradition in our family is to make time to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. In this Christmas classic, Charlie Brown is trying to find the meaning and purpose of Christmas. He becomes disillusioned with the emphasis on gifts, and eventually breaks down, crying out, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!”
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
1 Pet. 1:3-5
Misplaced hope invites disappointment. When we place our hope in the uncertain, we set ourselves up for failure. We may place our hope in worldly success (promotions, praise, etc), materialism (possessions), the fulfillment of our desires, or any other number of fleeting, uncertain “riches.” When these pursuits do not come to fruition, we become upset, disappointed, frustrated, and discouraged. However, in Jesus we have a better hope – the certainty of which will not disappoint.
I am going to share something with you all that is dark and sinister about myself …I hate decorating the house for Christmas. I loathe it, truly. I love Christmas, but I just hate the trappings. In our family it has become tradition that we do Christmas decorating the day after Thanksgiving. This past Friday morning after Thanksgiving I noticed my wife Elizabeth didn’t say anything about decorating and so I quietly went about my business. I was thinking that perhaps she forgot and would not see any other houses decorated over the next 3-4 weeks and she would forget that we needed to decorate our home. Friday came and went, then Saturday, then Sunday, and still nothing. Yesterday I got the text…”Hey honey, let’s meet later on with the kids and pick out a tree.” That of course was code for “we are decorating today”.
As we were looking for the tree something wonderful and fascinating happened. Continue reading “Imperfect Trees”
My daughter was born September 16th, 2013. Eight days later my wife was dying. Due to complications from the birth, my wife Sarah developed two very aggressive infections that had gone septic (the infections entered her bloodstream and had spread throughout her body). We didn’t know this as she was being rushed by ambulance to the hospital. What we did know was that her heart rate was dangerously high, her blood pressure fatally low, and that she didn’t have much time.