Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Gospel & Your Marriage. . . . more

Two weeks ago, we talked about God's purposes for marriage. Last week, we looked at God's plan for marriage. This coming week, we're going to explore the intimate and vulnerable area of sex under the heading, "The Gospel & Your Sex Life."

I've been encouraged by the emails I've received and the discussions I've had with folks who are thinking about and working on their marriages. People outside our church are being referred to and are listening to the messages.

Since we're in the marriage game, I wanted to point you to more great resources on marriage from our Grace library archives. We need to hear great teaching on Biblical marriage again and again and again. Your marriage is worth the investment.

1. Paul and Virginia Friesen on Marriage, February 11, 2007

Session 1
Session 2

2. David Hegg on Marriage, July 2004

Session 1: The Meaning of Marriage
Session 2: Marriage with a Heavenly Mindset
Session 3: Marriage with a Heavenly Ethic

3. Other messages I've preached on marriage

Colossians 3:18-21: Bringing Christ Home: July 6, 2003
Matthew 5:27-32: Kingdom Community & Marriage: August 8, 2004-Part 1
Matthew 5:27-32: Kingdom Community & Marriage: August 8, 2004-Part 2
Matthew 19:1-12: What God Has Joined Together: February 26, 2006

I'll be fired up if you listen to just even one more message, but why not take the time to listen to them all?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Haaken

Posted with LifeCast

sign of my life

My kids call my "beater" a "magic car" because we can fit so much stuff in it. Here's what it looked like when I dropped the kids off at school this morning . . . . 4 backpacks, a soccer duffle and more. How's that for "real life."

(How does the Gospel relate to that? I'm sure I can come up with a way! Let's see . . ."because I am wealthy beyond my wildest dreams in Christ, I can drive a magic "beater." What I drive is not my life, Christ is my life!)

Well, even though I am not what I drive, I finally am starting to think about retiring "the beater" and getting something else. The beater has 212k miles and it was built in 1990. I got it from my bro-in-law when it had 90k miles at least 10 years ago. It was hit by a guy driving a Porsche as it sat out in front of our house last January, so it now has salvage title. She's served us well, but soon it will be time . . . .

So we've been going back in forth in our thinking about what to get next. We probably won't get a new car unless we can find some killer 0% financing. I'm thinking either a Toyota truck with an extended or double cab or perhaps a turbo diesel Jetta wagon, which I've heard get something like 45 mpg and will go for 200k miles plus.

The truck would be fun and practical and I've always wanted a truck.

The Jetta would be practical and economical.

What's your vote? Other suggestions? Maybe I'll make it the next survey?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Piper on Voting

As I, like you, receive the emails tinged with panic and as I smell the fear among Christians, Piper, once more, offers a great challenge as we approach November 4 together . . .

Let Christians Vote As Though They Were Not Voting

Voting is like marrying and crying and laughing and buying. We should do it, but only as if we were not doing it. That’s because “the present form of this world is passing away” and, in God’s eyes, “the time has grown very short.” Here’s the way Paul puts it:

The appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away. (1 Corinthians 7:29-31)

Let’s take these one at a time and compare them to voting.

1. “Let those who have wives live as though they had none.”

This doesn’t mean move out of the house, don’t have sex, and don’t call her Honey. Earlier in this chapter Paul says, “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights” (1 Corinthians 7:3). He also says to love her the way Christ loved the church, leading and providing and protecting (Ephesians 5:25-30). It means this: Marriage is momentary. It’s over at death, and there is no marriage in the resurrection. Wives and husbands are second priorities, not first. Christ is first. Marriage is for making much of him.

It means: If she is exquisitely desirable, beware of desiring her more than Christ. And if she is deeply disappointing, beware of being hurt too much. This is temporary—only a brief lifetime. Then comes the never-disappointing life which is life indeed.

So it is with voting. We should do it. But only as if we were not doing it. Its outcomes do not give us the greatest joy when they go our way, and they do not demoralize us when they don’t. Political life is for making much of Christ whether the world falls apart or holds together.

2. “Let those who mourn [do so] as though they were not mourning.”

Christians mourn with real, deep, painful mourning, especially over losses—loss of those we love, loss of health, loss of a dream. These losses hurt. We cry when we are hurt. But we cry as though not crying. We mourn knowing we have not lost something so valuable we cannot rejoice in our mourning. Our losses do not incapacitate us. They do not blind us to the possibility of a fruitful future serving Christ. The Lord gives and takes away. But he remains blessed. And we remain hopeful in our mourning.

So it is with voting. There are losses. We mourn. But not as those who have no hope. We vote and we lose, or we vote and we win. In either case, we win or lose as if we were not winning or losing. Our expectations and frustrations are modest. The best this world can offer is short and small. The worst it can offer has been predicted in the book of Revelation. And no vote will hold it back. In the short run, Christians lose (Revelation 13:7). In the long run, we win (Revelation 21:4).

3. “Let those who rejoice [do so] as though they were not rejoicing.”

Christians rejoice in health (James 5:13) and in sickness (James 1:2). There are a thousand good and perfect things that come down from God that call forth the feeling of happiness. Beautiful weather. Good friends who want to spend time with us. Delicious food and someone to share it with. A successful plan. A person helped by our efforts.

But none of these good and beautiful things can satisfy our soul. Even the best cannot replace what we were made for, namely, the full experience of the risen Christ (John 17:24). Even fellowship with him here is not the final and best gift. There is more of him to have after we die (Philippians 1:21-23)—and even more after the resurrection. The best experiences here are foretastes. The best sights of glory are through a mirror dimly. The joy that rises from these previews does not and should not rise to the level of the hope of glory. These pleasures will one day be as though they were not. So we rejoice remembering this joy is a foretaste, and will be replaced by a vastly better joy.

So it is with voting. There are joys. The very act of voting is a joyful statement that we are not under a tyrant. And there may be happy victories. But the best government we get is a foreshadowing. Peace and justice are approximated now. They will be perfect when Christ comes. So our joy is modest. Our triumphs are short-lived—and shot through with imperfection. So we vote as though not voting.

4. “Let those who buy [do so] as though they had no goods.”

Let Christians keep on buying while this age lasts. Christianity is not withdrawal from business. We are involved, but as though not involved. Business simply does not have the weight in our hearts that it has for many. All our getting and all our having in this world is getting and having things that are not ultimately important. Our car, our house, our books, our computers, our heirlooms—we possess them with a loose grip. If they are taken away, we say that in a sense we did not have them. We are not here to possess. We are here to lay up treasures in heaven.

This world matters. But it is not ultimate. It is the stage for living in such a way to show that this world is not our God, but that Christ is our God. It is the stage for using the world to show that Christ is more precious than the world.

So it is with voting. We do not withdraw. We are involved—but as if not involved. Politics does not have ultimate weight for us. It is one more stage for acting out the truth that Christ, and not politics, is supreme.

5. “Let those who deal with the world [do so] as though they had no dealings with it.”

Christians should deal with the world. This world is here to be used. Dealt with. There is no avoiding it. Not to deal with it is to deal with it that way. Not to weed your garden is to cultivate a weedy garden. Not to wear a coat in Minnesota is to freeze—to deal with the cold that way. Not to stop when the light is red is to spend your money on fines or hospital bills and deal with the world that way. We must deal with the world.

But as we deal with it, we don’t give it our fullest attention. We don’t ascribe to the world the greatest status. There are unseen things that are vastly more precious than the world. We use the world without offering it our whole soul. We may work with all our might when dealing with the world, but the full passions of our heart will be attached to something higher—Godward purposes. We use the world, but not as an end in itself. It is a means. We deal with the world in order to make much of Christ.

So it is with voting. We deal with the system. We deal with the news. We deal with the candidates. We deal with the issues. But we deal with it all as if not dealing with it. It does not have our fullest attention. It is not the great thing in our lives. Christ is. And Christ will be ruling over his people with perfect supremacy no matter who is elected and no matter what government stands or falls. So we vote as though not voting.

By all means vote. But remember: “The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).

Voting with you, as though not voting,

Pastor John

The Gospel & Your Marriage at SLO High

Today at noon I've been asked to come and share my 10.19.08 message on God's Purposes for Marriage at the SLO High Christian Club. A great opportunity indeed!

Not sure who is going to be there, but I am hoping many non-believers. I'm encouraged that the Christian Club is grappling with real life issues.

Once more, my goal will be to clearly present what the Bible says about the place and value of marriage.

Pray that I might be clear, but winsome . . . gentle, but not pull any punches . . . compassionate toward sinners, but straightforward about sin and its ravages.

Speaking of high school students, I've been much encouraged by Pastor Toddd's recent decision to shift the Student Ministries' small group model toward the all-church Growth Group model as a way of encouraging integration of students in our worship services. I know it has not been a decision that has been popular among all, but already I'm hearing great feedback from high school students who are attending worship and/or listening over the web and working through "the Gospel for Real Life." We are growing together in the same direction.

Monday, October 27, 2008

TED talks

I've recently subscribed to the TED Talks podcast in iTunes. I've been watching and listening on my iphone when I have a quick 18 minutes to spare. It's been a mind-expanding and thought-provoking experience. I love the variety of presenters and it's forcing me to engage in some areas that I've never thought about before. . . .

Here's a challenging idea from Bjorn Lomberg. . . .

What's your reaction to that?

Anybody else discovered TED?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Marriage FAQs

One pastor I'm familiar with does a brief Q & A session after every message he preaches. I love that idea and would be willing to give it a go, if we had the time on a Sunday morning. In fact, I'm thinking about trying it just after the 11:00 AM hour. I would love the opportunity to interact with folks immediately after they've heard the message.

I think it's awesome when questions arise. It means folks are interactively listening. It means folks are thinking enough to have questions arise in their hearts. I want nothing more than this!

Until we try it, I'll continue to use email, growth groups and here at life together to address questions. . . . .

Here's a crack at some questions that have bubbled up in response to last week's message, "The Gospel & Your Marriage, Part 1":

1. What about polygamy? If marriage is between one man and one woman is so important, then why isn't there a clear prohibition of polygamy in the Scriptures?

Answer: I have wondered this myself and I don't know the answer. What I do know is this: every time we see polygamy in the Bible it's a disaster. 4 examples come immediately to mind: Abraham with Sarah and Hagar, Jacob with Rachel and Leah, Elkanah with Penninah and Hannah, and Solomon with his abundance of wives who lead his heart away from the Lord.

I wish that God would have said more explicitly, "only one wife," but for some reason he did not. However both Genesis 2 and Ephesians 5 make clear that God's intentional design is one man and one woman. It's not 3 or 4 or 5 that become one flesh, but 2. The mysterious "one flesh union" conceptually limits marriage between one man and one woman, effectively excluding polygamy.

It's the best I can do on that one. . .

2. What about unsafe or abusive marriage situations? When you talk about "glorifying God by staying in a miserable marriage" are you suggesting that wives stay in abusive or unsafe marriages?

Answer: No, I'm not. Clearly, abusive or unsafe marriages constitute unique circumstances. The best thing a wife can do in such situations is physically remove herself and her children from that abusive or unsafe setting. But that doesn't mean immediately file for divorce. I believe a Gospel-centered approach allows for separation in some circumstances but also leaves room and time for God to work. Stay committed to the marriage, wait, trust the Lord, but don't put yourself in harm's way.

When I speak of a "miserable marriage," I am speaking of the great many marriages that one spouse or both spouses would describe as miserable, but not abusive or unsafe. When we stay in an unhappy marriage, we affirm the truth that marriage is bigger than us. Our perseverance demonstrates a trust in God and it reflects the Gospel where God perseveres for the sake of unfaithful sinners.

3. What about single parent families? You said that both moms and dads are needed to give kids what they need, but what about single parent families?

Answer: As I stated, I believe the Bible teaches that God gives marriage to give kids what they need. This is his design and intention through marriage. Obviously, we are living in a broken world where such is not always the case. In single parent families, I believe that God comes along in a special way and fills in some of those gaps created by an absent parent. That's what all those orphan and widow passages, like Psalm 68, are telling us. I believe the church has a BIG role to play in helping to fill those gaps.

I want to say both: Marriage is God's normal, intended way of meeting the needs of children AND when a parent is missing, God will meet the needs created by the missing parent in other ways and often through the church.

I don't want to back away from the bible's teaching on marriage just because there are single parent families in our church. We want to be straightforward about what the Bible teaches about marriage and, at the same time, over the top in our care and concern for single parents and their kids. In some cases, we are doing a good job of this and in some ways you may not be aware of. In many cases, we can do a much better job of meeting the needs of single parent families.

4. What about singles? If marriage is a "crucible for life transformation", how does God transform the life of singles?

Answer: My pastoral experience tells me that singleness is a gift. It's a gift given to glorify God. Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 7 that a single person is unencumbered by the responsibilities of marriage and family and, therefore, more free to serve the Lord. Most, but not all, singles that I have the opportunity to interact with often speak of an ongoing desire to get married. If God removes the desire to get married, that's a gift. My experience tells me that God is able to give persevering grace even when that desire to get married is never removed.

I tried to state my conviction in the message: For those whom God calls to marriage, marriage becomes a crucible for life transformation (sanctification). For those he does not call to marriage, God is going to get it done another way. . . even through the struggle of that singleness and the abiding desire to get married.

It doesn't matter: both being married and being single afford us many and ongoing opportunities to trust the Lord and to change. As John Piper might say, "Don't waste your singleness. Don't waste your marriage." God wants to use both.

How about your questions? If you listened, post a comment and fire off a question. If you haven't listened, but have some questions about this topic, listen first, then ask your questions. I'm committed to tackling questions on this important topic!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Gospel & Your Marriage

In Sunday's message entitled "The Gospel & Your Marriage," we thought about 5 of God's purposes for marriage . . . (if you missed, you're going to need to hear it so you're ready for part 2 this Sunday!)

1. Marriage is given by God for procreation and the survival of human society.
2. Marriage is given by God for the protection of and provision for women and children.
3. Marriage is given by God for our mutual and complementary help.
4. Marriage is given by God as a crucible for life-transformation.
5. Marriage is given by God as a Gospel mirror.

Because of these things, biblical marriage matters. Marriage as an institution matters. Your marriage matters. Marriage is worth fighting for and defending.

Obviously I chose to tackle this topic because it's vital that we understand that marriage is God's thing, not a malleable, redefinable human construct or social convenience. There is so much propaganda and so many voices speaking at us, it's easy to get lost and confused by it all. I think the first question we must ask as believers is, "What does God think and say about this subject in the Bible?" I am concerned that the voice of God in the Scriptures be heard on this vital issue of our time.

I promised I'd post some additional resources to talk about this topic. Sorry it's taken me so long to do it.

I'm convinced that "because the Bible says so," is an inadequate answer for someone who asks "why marriage is important?" We need cogent, reasoned arguments from history, sociology and the other sciences. That's not easy.

S. Michal Craven over at the Center for Christ & Culture has articulated some of the clearest and best arguments that I've heard in defense of marriage. His six part series "In Defense of Marriage" is available in print or audio versions. Here are the links:

In Defense of Marriage, Part 1: text audio

In Defense of Marriage, Part 2: text audio

In Defense of Marriage, Part 3: text audio

In Defense of Marriage, Part 4: text audio

In Defense of Marriage, Part 5: text audio

In Defense of Marriage, Part 6: text audio

I was shocked to hear how Craven ended his series in part 6 with some reflections on 1 Peter 2, which we looked at under the heading "The Gospel & Your Politics" a few weeks back.

It's a great time to make the point: there is a method to my madness. . . . . the order of these messages is intentional . . . politics, enemies, marriage. All these messages are interwoven really. We need the Gospel to shape every area and sphere of life. It's so vital that we "honor (respect) all people" (I Peter 2:17) and "bless those who persecute you" (Romans 12:14), even as we defend marriage. The Gospel shows us WHY we defend marriage. The Gospel also shows us HOW we defend marriage.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


As I said a couple weeks back, I believe there is much at stake in the upcoming election on November 4. . . . especially here in California. I again urge you to vote your conscience, vote your biblical convictions and vote for the welfare of our community.

But here's the thing. . . .you can't vote if you're not registered. If you've recently moved (like we have) or recently married, you must re-register. The voter registration deadline is this Monday, October 20. Your voter registration must be postmarked by that date.

You can download voter registration info and forms HERE. I just did.

waging peace

Last Sunday we thought about "The Gospel & Your Enemies" from Romans 12:14-21 (Listen Here).

It's Wednesday, about midway through the week. So, how are you doing on your assignment of taking one step, by faith, to "wage peace" with someone with whom you've experienced conflict?

Don't let the week slip away! Maybe your step is to pray. Maybe your step is an email or a phone call or a face to face conversation. Trust the Lord and go for it.

The very best resource that I have encountered in this area of conflict resolution and relational reconciliation is Ken Sande's book, The PeaceMaker. This is such a great read! Put it on your list.

Also Allen Peek sent me this awesome Spurgeon quote this morning that fits well with the idea of absorbing evil and in so doing defusing it. And also Romans 12:21. . . .

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. --Romans 12:21

I wish, brothers and sisters, that we could all imitate "the pearl oyster"--

A hurtful particle intrudes itself into its shell, and this vexes and grieves it.
It cannot reject the evil, but what does it do but 'cover' it with a precious substance extracted out of its own life, by which it turns the intruder into a pearl!

Oh, that we could do so with the provocations we receive from our fellow Christians, so that pearls of patience, gentleness, and forgiveness might be bred within us by that which otherwise would have harmed us.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

the Gospel in action

Recent story in the Trib featuring my friend and personal surgeon, Dan Woods . . .

love it!


Just came from our monthly Ministry Staff lunch. . . . this time down at Mo's. (We have a great staff! Have you heard me say that lately? It's all about the team!)

We had a great discussion about what Grace might look like in 10 years, what changes might need to take place and how we lead our church through those changes. No decisions, but some really good exploratory dialogue. We also talked about some other near-term change possibilities in advance of our 2009 calendar planning day next week.

(I don't think I have the courage to ask you what changes you think need to happen here at Grace over the next 5 -10 years.)

Which brings me to your parking patterns. As the current survey (see sidepanel) moves along, it's apparent that most of you are are still parking on the street, instead over at the parking structure. You say you're not parking close, but I wonder? :) How do we get you to shift your paradigm and park in that oh-so-close parking structure so that we can leave even more street parking open for visitors?

And speaking of patterns, I laughed out after the second hour as I stood by the new corridor into the Founder's Hall/Early Childhood Center . . . . as I stood . . . . ALONE. You all clogged the aisles waiting to get out the door to the courtyard, failing to realize that exiting the new corridor would give you access to both your kids and the courtyard twice as fast.

I finally started waving my arms to see if anyone would notice. A few did and walked over to make me feel good.

Seriously, I'm not sure we get it yet! This new corridor has the potential to greatly improve our Sunday morning campus circulation . . . . if we'll lean into it and use it. Change your thinking, change your direction and get to where you're going quicker. Try it, you'll like it.

Amy Kardel told me that studies have shown that at crowded places such as Disneyland, "the crowd always moves right." Isn't that interesting? I'd love to see some data, but that's sure what's happening here at Grace.

Talk about clogging. . . that courtyard is crazy between 2nd and 3rd. We keep talking about it, but I'm not sure there's anything we can do. Great problem to have!

I smell a few more survey questions emerging from all this.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

our refuge and help

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered;
He raised His voice, the earth melted.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.
Come, behold the works of the LORD,
Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.
"Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.
Psalm 46

As I, along with all of us, watch the meltdown of the financial markets and see the value of my retirement portfolio continue its steady decline over these last two weeks, I have been meditating on Psalm 46.

The Lord shakes the earth and our own lives at various times and in different ways. Why? To expose the foundations of our trust and security. We inevitably and often unknowingly begin to put our trust in a rising stock market, a booming economy, a secure retirement, our good health, and lots of other things.

We don't always mean to put our trust in these things, we just do. The Lord shakes us so that we might be drawn back to Him. And yet so often we get angry and run away from Him when our foundations are shaken. And then, at times, we run back to Him in the hope that He's going to fix it all. Sometimes he doesn't . . . . sometimes are foundations are not just shaken, but removed.

When our kingdoms are tottering, God is there, a refuge and strength, if we will only run to Him . . . a very present help in trouble.

Have you experienced Him so?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

the power of focus

As a staff, we talk continually about focus and calling. What are we as a church called to do? What is our unique mission as this single local church? One of the reasons we talk consistently about this is because it's very apparent that there are lots of folks with all sorts of agendas for the church . . . causes we should be championing, ministries we should be starting, needs we should be meeting. All good things, but we can't do it all and so we must often respond with a gentle "no." It's not easy. We believe there is great power in focus.

If you've been coming around Grace just a little while and you haven't figured it out yet, our focus is the Gospel. We believe the Gospel, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, not only gives us right relationship with God, but it also changes our lives. Therefore, our focus is to be a Gospel-centered church and live Gospel-centered lives.

Our vision is to see lives, families, our community and the world transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our mission is to celebrate, proclaim and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the Central Coast and beyond.

The Gospel Coalition, a loose association of pastors and churches is focused on the same thing. It delights my heart to hear these men articulate our own convictions so well. Here's a great expression of what it means to be Gospel-centered . . .

Our Pastors are working hard to make it to the Gospel Coalition National Conference coming up in April 2009.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Survey #3 Results

So we didn't quite reach 100 respondents, but of the 69 respondents to the greeting survey, here are the results. . .

There was some awesome dialogue in the original post that is definitely worth reading, but the results indicate that the majority of us are generally committed to the concept, though for many of us it's a stretch. That's valuable information.

Any final thoughts?

Get ready, this Sunday is another name tag Sunday. . . .

going green

For the first time this morning, I rode my bike to work from Shell Beach. Rolled out at 5:45 to make it in time for my standing 6:30 meeting with our elder chairman, Scott Morton. It was dark but warm. Felt great to sneak in a few miles before the day began and I can't wait to ride home this afternoon.

I've been trying to figure out a way to do this, without being stinky all day. The new showers in the Early Childhood Center have made it possible. Yahoo!

It definitely requires advance planning to bring my clothes and everything the day before, so I don't have to wear a big backpack. I'm shooting for once, maybe twice a week for now. . . .

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Gospel & Your Politics

In yesterday's message from I Peter 2 (listen here!), we looked at how the Gospel should inform and shape our involvement in the political arena.

We discovered that the Gospel points in 7 directions. . .

  1. Toward an Active Engagement
  2. Toward an Exemplary Personal Lifestyle
  3. Toward a Submission to Authority
  4. Toward a Embracing of our True Freedom
  5. Toward a Humble Respect of All
  6. Toward a Patient Suffering
  7. Toward a Continuous Trust in a Sovereign God

Each of these principles is not only taught in 1 Peter 2, but embodied at the cross in the Gospel.

I had a "spirited discussion" with one woman after the service who thought I was way "too passive" in the second two thirds of the message. She liked the first part, but then thought I encouraged an uninvolved passivity toward the end. She clearly feels I/we should be doing a whole lot more to mobilize our people toward her favored political agenda. I gently tried to point her back to the text in 1 Peter 2. Her response was, "There are lots of other texts." Then she went on to state how Jesus was killed because he spoke up and confronted the injustice of His day. Her underlying assumption was that Jesus was killed for his political activism and outspokenness.

I think this is a common argument among those who believe that churches (not just individuals) should be jumping into the political fray. But I think we need to think a bit more about this point. Is that why Jesus was killed?

It seems to me that Jesus' harshest words and criticism were directed not toward the political establishment of Rome, but toward the religious establishment of Jerusalem. In fact, I'm not aware of one instance in the Gospels, where Jesus spoke out against the Roman Empire. When the religious establishment tried to entrap Him by asking about paying taxes, Jesus affirmed the necessity of paying taxes with his famous, "Render to Caesar" statement. When He didn't have the funds to pay taxes, He sent His disciples fishing to find the money in the belly of a fish.

In other words, this argument doesn't fly. Jesus was not killed for His political activism. Jesus was not killed by Rome, though the Roman leaders consented to His death by washing their hands of the matter. Jesus was arrested and killed by the religious establishment, who sought the permission of Rome to carry out their own devices.

I think all that we see in I Peter 2 is really striking against the backdrop of Peter's earlier attempts to take matters into his own hands through the exercise of force. Do you remember how he tried to cut off that guy's ear? By the time Peter writes, he is a man changed by the Gospel.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments, but I'd ask, if you weren't here yesterday, that you listen to the message first before commenting. It's a volatile topic I want you to hear the context before jumping in. . . .

Thursday, October 02, 2008


I keep hearing great things about the new movie, Fireproof, from the same folks who created Facing the Giants. It's still playing at the Downtown Cinemas. Not sure it will still be there come Friday, but if it is, it could be a great date night . . . Here's the trailer: