Something Special

This week, as we continue our series, Standing Firm, we are talking about the third part of the foundation Peter builds before getting into the meat of his message. We’ve talked about the hope we have in Christ and the fact that we actually need to live out that hope if we want it to do anything positive for us. This week we’re talking about what that foundation can do in and for our lives if we’ll embrace it. We all want to be someone. Peter here tells us how.

Something Special

We live in a celebrity-obsessed world. Hopefully you don’t waste too much time doing this, but have you ever looked at the magazines in the racks at the checkout counters in stores? Almost without fail, their front covers are filled each month by one celebrity or another promising to tell readers about something they couldn’t possibly have known yet and on which their whole lives are hanging. Why are they covered with celebrities like this? Because the marketing folks know that you and I are more likely to buy something because Dwayne Johnson has something to tell us about physical fitness. We’re more likely to shell out some dough because Scarlet Johansson promises to give us the skinny on the squabbles her co-stars had on the latest movie set. The same thing goes with TV shows. We are much more likely to tune into the latest game show if it features a rotating celebrity cast than if it is just filled with…normal…people. News programs regularly include celebrities on their round table panels, not because they are particularly knowledgeable about the subjects being covered, but because they want more viewers and celebrities are the way to do that.

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Digging in Deeper: James 1:19

“My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you noticed lately that everyone seems angry? No matter what the issue nowadays, it feels a bit like anger is the only tool in our toolboxes anymore. You pick what the situation may be. Someone is arrested and things don’t go as smoothly as they normally do. Anger. The markets drop like a stone. Anger. Covid infection rates go up…or down. Anger. Schools wrestle with what will be the best approaches this year to keep students safe while fostering a genuine learning environment. Anger. The Olympics are starting. Anger. Congress acts. Anger. Congress doesn’t act. Anger. The line is longer than usual at the grocery store. Anger. Anger, anger, anger. What’s wrong with us? This morning I don’t have any recent media reviews for you. Instead, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why we are so angry as a people. I’d like to share some thoughts if you’ll have them.

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Morning Musing: Mark 13:11

“So when they arrest you and hand you over, don’t worry beforehand what you will say, but say whatever is given to you at that time, for it isn’t you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever been put on the spot to speak? Some people thrive in that kind of an environment. I’m not generally one of those. I’m the kind of guy who wants to have everything written out ahead of time. I’m much better on paper than in person. I’d rather put in the effort to memorize a sermon entirely than to walk into the pulpit with nothing more than an outline. In fact, I’ve done that. In seminary, our preaching classes all pushed us in the direction of preaching without notes. They wanted us to learn how to think from an outline. I refused to play ball. I wrote my sermons, memorized them word for word, and dutifully delivered them without notes. The thought of being expected to deliver more than a few words without some sort of heads up makes my stomach churn. Sometimes, though, you don’t get that chance. Sometimes you don’t get that chance and the words you’re expected to deliver are a defense of the Gospel in a pressure situation. Jesus here offers some hope for those situations.

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Look Alike

As we continue in our new teaching series, Standing Firm, this week we’re talking about what to do once we have set ourselves firmly on the foundation of our hope in Christ. If we are going to claim such a foundation for ourselves, there should be some pretty profound implications that has for our life. What those implications are is what Peter explores in the next section of his letter. Thanks for joining me in thinking through these.

Look Alike

I am sitting down right now. What’s wrong with that statement? Well, perhaps most notably…it’s not true. My words and my actions don’t line up. We naturally expect there to be a connection—a rather direct one at that—between what someone says and what someone does. In fact, the whole of human society is rooted in that belief. When there is a disconnect here, everything is more difficult than it otherwise would be. For instance, think about what might happen if you went to the store and didn’t believe there was a connection between the words of the manager expressed in the price tags on various items and the action of the items’ actual cost. What would you do? It’s easy to simply say you wouldn’t buy it, but what if this was a jug of milk and you had a hungry little one at home? Now things are more complicated. You might try and barter the manager down to the price you believe it should really have. But what if the manager doesn’t believe there is a connection between your words regarding the amount of money you are able and willing to pay and what you will actually give him when the time comes? Now you’re thinking about how you can steal the milk because you have a baby to feed and he’s thinking about how he can protect his product. We’re starting to have a real mess on our hands, aren’t we?

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Morning Musing: Mark 12:28-31

“One of the scribes approached. When he heard them debating and saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which command is the most important of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The most important is “Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other command greater than these.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever been around someone who is just different from all the people around them? That’s always an interesting experience. These folks…well…they’re just different. They think differently. They behave differently. They speak differently. It’s like they are just operating on a different wavelength. The whole world around them could be focused on one thing and when the time comes for them to speak up they’re talking about something completely different. The character Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series was like this. Whenever she spoke it was about something that seemed completely off the wall relative to the conversation she was in, but if you thought about it very long, she could see the truth better than the rest of them could. As Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders were in the midst of a fierce debate, a scribe came up who was just different from everyone else and asked his own question. This question turned out to be the most important one of all.

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