Imagine you are an actor, who has moved to Los Angeles, is sharing an apartment with four other people, working odd jobs, and waiting for your big break. One day your agent calls. A famous director is looking for someone to play a role in his new major motion picture. The audition is at 3:00.
So, you call your part-time employer, tell him you’re going to miss work today, and you go in for the audition. You’re given a script with the lines: “Don’t even think about it. Please. Please. You’ll ruin everything.”
You ask, “So what is this scene about?” and are told, “The Director isn’t telling anyone. Just do your best.”
You don’t know if your character is a scientist, working in a lab with highly explosive material or a spouse whose partner has threatened to file for divorce. How can you know how to act if you don’t know the story?
That is the same kind of problem many people have in trying to live as a Jesus-follower: They don’t know what story they’re in. This text will help us understand our story. This message is based on John 1:1-18, and is meant to open the new series, “Allow Me to Introduce Myself” -Jesus. Each week of the series, we will be introduced to a truth about Jesus from the Gospel of John, revealed in Jesus’s fascinating “I Am” statements. Continue reading
I thought I’d be telling you all about my skydive adventure. Friends and I were scheduled to jump Sunday afternoon at 4:00. I left church quickly after the 11:00 worship time concluded, changed clothes and was getting ready to go … Continue reading
“How y’all doin?”
On a trip to Tennessee and North Carolina, my wife and I heard that line again and again. It reminded me of being in Boston, only there it was “How-ah-ya?” or “How-ya-doin?”
I love languages and dialects and so, while we were in Boston, I told my wife I just had to try “How-ah-ya?” on somebody. It took me awhile to work up the nerve – I was afraid of ruffling some New England feathers – but finally tried it out on a clerk in a store. “How-ah-ya?” I asked. My son, who was living in Boston, said I got it wrong. It sounded like I was from the Bronx.
In North Carolina I never did get up the nerve to try “How y’all doin?” I wasn’t sure what the penalty is for impersonating a Southerner and I didn’t want to find out. I certainly didn’t want people thinking I was making fun of them.
A couple of years ago, doctors discovered two 90 percent blockages in my heart, sent me for a heart cath, and inserted two stents. When I told people what was going on, I discovered that many friends and church family … Continue reading
Kevin Looper preaches from Mark 4 and 5, with insights into who Jesus is and what he is like. In the heart-pounding adventure of the turbulent night at sea and in the heart-stopping horror story centered around the tombs, Kevin points out the startling insight that the disciples (in the first story) and the demons (in the second) were afraid of Jesus and that Jesus was afraid of nothing! Continue reading
“Do you have a religious preference?” That is what the nurse asked after leading me to the exam room where I was to meet the doctor. There were other questions I wasn’t expecting, questions health care professionals ask nowadays, like: “Do you feel safe in your own home?” But it was the question about religious preference that struck me.
It sounded so odd. “Do you have a religious preference?” as if religion was sold at Baskin-Robbins and comes in thirty-one flavors. Maybe I should have asked her to put down the religious flavor of the month.
People read about God’s wrath in the Bible, hear how Jesus died in our place, and bore our sins, and conclude that an angry God just had to punish someone and Jesus (who is not angry) didn’t want it to be us. So, he deflected the blow and took the punishment. People don’t usually put it that crudely but that is how many people understand what happened.
This summary of the good news sounds a lot like bad news, but because there is truth mixed in with the falsehood, people swallow it whole. The worst part of it may be the heretical way it separates the Father and the Son into a kind of good cop/bad cop team. Instead of seeing a Father who is determined to rescue his children, we get a God who is determined to hurt them. Instead of the biblical understanding that sin is ruining us, we get a God who will ruin us. Fortunately for us, the Son, who in nicer than his Father, intervenes. Otherwise, we’d all be toast.
That is heresy. The Son is not the good cop and the Father the bad cop because they are both good and neither one is a cop. This teaching does one of the greatest disservices possible: it makes it almost impossible for a person to fully trust the God and Father of Jesus.