Stream

(It seems that our former exchange student is well out of harms way of any damage resulting from the earthquake, however another exchange student might be at risk of the tsunami as she lives off of the coast of Columbia. Even though the earthquake was of a higher magnitude, there were fewer people in the damage zone in buildings that were built stronger. I’ve noticed that I’ve had little trouble in translating the spanish text on the screen, so my extra hours studying is paying off even though my abilities to speak Spanish aren’t as sharp as they once were. I’ve found a Spanish news channel streaming out of Chile, and I’m following along as best I can. I think the news channel is saying that people are sleeping in the streets and many villages in the area have suffered structural damage. Bridges and highways have collapsed. Power is out. Viña del Mar and Valparaíso are among the damaged cities. See for yourself what they see at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/tv-de-chile )

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Mystery of Mysteries

Ephesians 3:1-13, “1For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—

 2Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

 7I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.”

Where you stand on Jesus says alot about you and what you believe. Many people believe that they know the answer to this mystery. “Jesus is either Lord, liar, or lunatic.” C.S. Lewis once explained. Some hold him to be a great teacher or even a prophet. While others claim to have a deeper understanding and a more thorough knowledge of this mystery. To me, the greatest part of this mystery is that we’re among the chosen to whom its answer is revealed. In fact, we’re to be apart of it. Paul could have said ‘through the elders’ or ‘through the pastors’, but he told us that ‘through the church … the wisdom of God should be made known’. It’s through every God-fearing Christian that all sorts of people get to see God’s wisdom for themselves. Who doesn’t love a good mystery? Who doesn’t love the greatest mystery of all?

Corruption of Speech

James 3:1-12, “1Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
 3When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

 7All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

 9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

Watching what we say isn’t always easy. My dad is a fan of Overhaulin’ and even he observed that some people were so surprised they couldn’t help but curse. Sometimes though, even when you’re planning to say something good, the tongue lets something else slip. So yeah, the thing this preacher was planning to say does sound much worse when he actually says it. And, whenver you hear that phrase you will have a hard time keeping a straight face ever again. But for such cases we should remember to be forgiving because it may just be around the corner when our tongues corrupts our speech.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IymxMidkyI4

Nothing But the Blood

To most outside of the faith, being asked “Are you washed in the blood?” conjures up images of something that sounds like a very bad idea. Forget the fact that during the dark ages a countess once actually bathed in blood, or so I heard on the History channel.
I’m certain that with so many slasher movies that have come out in the last few years, people have seen blood baths in more ways than one. However being washed in Jesus blood only involves faith.

Remember how the Old Testament went to great lengths to describe the tabernacle and then the temple? Then God explained the role of the priests, to sacrifice animals to pay the price for the sin of the people. Blood always paid the price. The problem was that it had to be done over and over again because people sinned over and over again. So in the same way that God send the ram that spared Abraham’s son, He also send a lamb that spared every daughter and son of Abraham and those who would be grafted into the family by that lamb’s blood. The deed has been done. When the people were spared by the blood of animals, they were asked to touch that animal to transfer their sin from themselves to that animal. We’re asked to touch Jesus by our faith to transfer our sin from ourselves to Him.

So when you’re asked “Are you washed in the blood?” You’re really being asked, “Have you accepted Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins?” Sometimes Christians forget what the terms they use sound like to those outside of the faith.

Your blood speaks a better word
Than all the empty claims I’ve heard upon this earth
Speaks righteousness for me
And stands in my defense
Jesus it’s Your blood

[Chorus]
What can wash away our sins?
What can make us whole again?
Nothing but the blood
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
What can wash us pure as snow?
Welcomed as the friends of God
Nothing but Your blood
Nothing but Your blood King Jesus

Your cross testifies in grace
Tells of the Father’s heart to make a way for us
Now boldly we approach
Not by earthly confidence
It’s only Your blood

[Chorus]

We thank You for the blood
We thank You for the blood

We praise You for the blood
We praise You for the blood

Nothing but Your blood
Nothing but Your blood King Jesus

The Boss

To tell you the truth, I like that new television show, Undercover Boss. It’s nice to know that somewhere even the most anonymous hard worker just might get some sort of recognition. There’s nothing quite like a donation given to your favorite charity in your name while another worker is given a raise or a promotion. Soon I wondered just what it would be like if there was an episode where the head of the church infiltrated various churches for a day. Just what would the best of the best look like? How terrible had things gone at the worst of the worst?

The Bible tells us that Jesus’ return is the sort of thing that nobody could possibly miss. So while our boss might not check on us, we should also remember the verse that tells us that some people have actually helped angels without knowing it. We should take God for his word about the whole omniscience thing and remember that every action or non-action we take is known. Another verse tells us that every worker builds on the foundation, the one laid by Jesus. Some works are made with all sorts of things, straw, gold, precious gems. If they withstand the fire that tests them, it is indeed a good thing. Other works will burn right up but the worker will be saved. What have you done for your Jewish Carpenter lately?

Indeed

The good thing about not knowing which church to pick is that you can sit down and compare the best of the best side by side. At the moment though, I’m drawing a blank. You see, both churches have very little for me to do. I’m not a musician, so singing and playing instraments is out of the question. I’ve done the whole nursery thing for years and I’m not keen on doing that again. That just leaves … well nothing. My last church created a ministry dedicated to freeing slaves. There would have been alot of things to do. Organize recycle efforts, schedule times to go and clean along various roads, taking in whatever cans we’ve found, making calls, building a safehouse, etc. The problem was that I wasn’t there long enough to get to know people or to get involved. The church before that had lots of odds and ends. The hand out chocolate bars on valentines day ministry, the visit the local retirement homes ministry, the wash windshields ministry, etc. It’s just that with all that was going on, they forgot to secure God’s blessing in a couple of areas that ultimately lead to their self-destruction. Even the church before that created a program to keep kids occupied from three to six in the afternoon. But neither of the churches that are on the top of the list have very much for me to do. What do you suggest I do? What sorts of your things does your church offer that I can do?

Disaster Movies

have you noticed the terrible tendency of disaster movies to punish arrogant people by killing them off?
In The Day After Tomorrow it was the corrupted stock trader.
In Category 7 it was the trigger-happy punk ex-boyfriend.
In Meteor Storm it was the uncaring news reporter.
In The Poseidon Adventure it was pretty much everybody.

Unfortunately, most real life disasters aren’t so choosy. The lives of both the good and the bad, the humble and the arrogant, and the wise as well as the foolish are up in the air. While there might not be any poetic justice in reality, there is ultimate justice just waiting at the end of our lives. Perhaps that is why there isn’t any justice in a disaster or during the fallout of one. Actually, I’m glad that some arrogant people are spared in a real disaster, because it is these that need to live until they learn that they can’t live without Jesus. Isn’t that pretty much another definition of grace?