A Walk in a Park

The sermon for this morning is from Luke 9:57-62. This is about the call to follow Jesus. It is a very timely message for the congregation I am serving. The following is the opening paragraph to the sermon that God has placed on my heart. The video of the whole sermon will be posted on the church website this week. To God be the glory!

I saw an internet meme recently that said, “Raising kids is like a walk in the park – Jurassic Park.” We chuckle, but there’s a lot of truth to that. One could also substitute “Following Jesus” for “Raising kids”, and still chuckle; understanding that the meaning is still the same. You see, following Jesus is not easy. Following Jesus is not simply a peaceful walk in a beautiful park. Following Jesus has twists and turns; hills and valleys; roadblocks and straightaways. Following Jesus requires the faith of the father in Mark’s Gospel who says to Jesus, “I believe, help my unbelief.” Jesus calls you to follow – now – and not to look back. But as you follow him, he also walks along side to encourage you along the way. You must never follow Jesus with rose colored glasses but understand what a life is discipleship requires: Faith. For if following Jesus were really that easy, don’t you think more people would be doing it?

Plowing Forward

Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” [Luke 9:62 ESV]

When Jesus calls you to follow, he is not looking for excuses.
When Jesus calls you to follow, he doesn’t mean finish your to-do-list first.
When Jesus calls you to follow, you are not to long for that which you left.
When Jesus calls you to follow, you are to follow with eyes wide open and focused on him.

For when Jesus calls you to follow, he is to be the priority above everything and everyone else. Yours eyes are to be firmly fixed on him; moving forward without hesitation. But why is this such a struggle for people? Why do people cling to what they have or look back at what they left? It is simple, really. They don’t truly trust that Jesus knows what he is talking about. When times got tough for the people of God that Moses was leading in the wilderness, what did they do? They started to long for their captivity in Egypt. This didn’t sit well with God (to put it mildly). God demanded trust and so does Jesus when he calls you to follow.

When you begin to follow Jesus but keeping looking back at what you left, you quickly veer off course. Jesus words about the hand on the plow and looking back are poignant. If you are plowing a field, your eyes need to be focused on a fixed object on the horizon, otherwise your row will be crocked – every single time. You WILL go off course.

Jesus is the fixed object on the horizon – AND – is the one who walks by your side. When He calls you to follow, trust the fixed destination and the one who walks with you. When your eyes are firmly fixed on Jesus you will never, ever go of course. The course may get bumpy and scary and troublesome. But come on, people, it’s Jesus. He’s got this.

When you put your hand on the plow and move forward with Jesus, keep going and do not look back. I promise you, you will not regret it and will never miss what you left.

Liturgy of Repentance ~ Fishing

The following is the Liturgy of Repentance for our final Lenten midweek worship tonight. The scripture focus is Matthew 4:18-22; Jesus calling Andrew, Peter, James and John. We are called to radical discipleship; to leave all and become a fisher of people. This is scary and impossible on our own, but Jesus has promised to show us the best fishing holes 🙂

Redeeming God,
through Jesus Christ You have called me to follow.
You have called me to submit.
You have called me to trust.
You have called me to obey.
Oh God, I am blown away.
I have no credentials that would make me worthy to speak for You.
I have often messed up.
I have fallen short of Your glory.
I have sinned.
And You have called me?
Me?
A sinner?
You have called me to radically follow you.?
And to be a fisher of people?
But I don’t know how to fish for people.
I don’t know the right spots or the right methods.
But there is someone who does know.
As Jesus showed his disciples where and when to cast their nets,
show me.
You know where the fishing is good.
You know the best methods.
You know the best timing.
Forgive me, oh God, for when I take these matters into my own hands.
Forgive me, for when I fail to trust You.
Forgive me for trying to be my own fishing guide.
Forgive me for doubting my call.
Forgive me.
Oh Lord, my God, hear my cry: I repent…

To See You

To see You face to face,
is the goal as I run this difficult race.
I dodge and I weave.
I stumble but to You I cleave.
So…
Help me, oh Lord, to see Your way.
Help me, oh Lord, to follow You each day.
For You are my life,
even in the midst of much strife.
For You are my way,
so please guide and mold this big lump of clay.
Oh Lord, I do want to see You.
Oh Lord, I do want to trust you.
For to see You face to face,
is indeed my goal; thank You for Your amazing grace.
In Jesus amazing name I pray,
Amen!

The Pastor -|—

Lenten Sermon Teaser ~ The Good Shepherd

Sermon teaser for our midweek Lenten worship tonight…

The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
[John 10:3-4]

As followers of Jesus Christ, it is our joy to hear the beautiful voice of our Shepherd; knowing that that voice is one of peace and love and compassion. It is a voice of Truth. It is a voice that can be trusted. It is a voice the beckons. It is a voice that soothes. To ignore that voice is foolish and dangerous; not because our Shepherd is vengeful; but rather to follow another voice means following unto our death. The Good Shepherd is the only one who loves us unto death and beyond; for he lays his life down for his sheep. The Good Shepherd is the only one who true cares about you. And therefore it behooves us to drown out the competing voices and listen to THE Shepherd and joyfully follow him…

The Pastor -|—

Qualified

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
[Matthew 4:18-20]

Think about it for a second (or two), Jesus called a group of unqualified men to follow him and be the beginning of the Church. No small task, so one would think Jesus would look for only the best. But Jesus doesn’t ask for a resume or a list of references. He doesn’t quiz them to check their knowledge of scripture. He doesn’t inquire about any advanced degrees. Jesus simply approaches these men and says, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men“. Their only qualification was their un-qualification. JESUS made them qualified to be fishers of men. It wasn’t about oratory skills or knowledge or street smarts or financial savvy. It was only about Jesus. He called, they followed and once Jesus died and rose, the Holy Spirit guided them into all Truth.

And so think about it again. If Jesus can use a group of unqualified men to continue a movement of sorts, don’t you think that Jesus can do something amazing through you. Never think that you are unqualified to follow Jesus or be a leader in the church. If you are called, then you are qualified. Just trust in him and follow.

Awesome God,
You called a group of unqualified fishermen
to walk with Jesus
and to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
As Your Spirit led those first disciples
may Your Spirit lead us now in serving You in this world.
May we not bow to the temptation
that we are not good enough
but rather trust in You
that we may give glory to Your holy name.
May we leap out in faith when Jesus calls,
and may we go with the strength and courage of the Holy Spirit.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior we pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Don’t be a Jerk

I saw a Facebook post recently that said:

“Sometimes the best evangelism is simply telling people you’re a Christian and then not being a complete jerk.”

There is some truth to that but it definitely does not go far enough in today’s world. There are way too many people who claim to be a Christian but do not follow Jesus (which doesn’t make sense to me). For some, “Christian” is just a title to be used when it suits them but when opposition comes the title is abandoned. Then there are people who claim the title “Christian” but under a new and “relevant” definition. It’s like a Twitter post I saw recently,

“Saying you’re a new kind of Christian with a new kind of Christianity is basically saying you’re an old kind of heretic.” [Burk Parsons]

To “simply” say you’re a Christian doesn’t tell me much now days, which is kind of sad. “Christian” used to mean something but now it is just a watered down title. So now what? Well, you can’t simply tell people you are a Christian and then not be a complete jerk. In today’s world, Jesus-following Christians need to confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in their heart that God raised him from the dead. That is salvation and that is the message that needs to be proclaimed.
Jesus is Lord.
Jesus is the Son of God.
Jesus died for you.
Jesus was raised for you.
Through faith, when you confess your sins, you are forgiven.

So don’t “simply” stop at Christian, but confess with your mouth what you believe in your heart…and THEN don’t be a complete jerk.

The Pastor -|—