Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Change

The Corinthians were a mess. Think about sitting in a living room with 20 Christians. The guy on your right is having sex with his step mom. The contractor on his right is suing the couple across the room for not paying for the addition he built them. A couple of the more spiritual dudes are arguing about who is the greater authority in the church. The large guy next to them is bragging about his recent date with a prostitute before he came to church that day, and the single girl next to him is sleeping with the convert on your left. Not to mention the remaining couple is having major marital issues. What a mess and we are only in chapter 7 of 1 Corinthians.

Help.

I gotta say this is all pretty painful stuff for a pastor to deal with. And has anyone thought about what the community is thinking about this group of rebels?

Paul the Apostle is direct and kind. Listen to his words...."Don't you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the kingdom of God? Don't fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin or who worship idols, or commit adultery or are male prostitutes or practice homosexuality or are thieves or greedy people or drunkards or are abusive or cheat people none of these will inherit the kingdom of God? 1 Cor. 6.9-10

Now here is the amazing news. Change is not only possible, but is real for you. Look at vs. 11 "Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

"you were like that once." Change. And the process is explained...cleansed...made holy...made right by means of calling on Jesus and His Spirit.

The true evidence of the presence of God and His Spirit is...change.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hope for Hard Core Corinthians: Chapter 5

In chapter 5 of 1 Corinthians Paul the Apostle lays down the hammer for sexual sin. He will call out the guy who was having sex with his step mother, Paul will prescribe the treatment, and the long term prognosis. Check it out.

Another sin emerges in this passage. Paul says in vss. 2 and 6 ...you are so proud of yourselves (for this sexual sin)...your boasting about this (sin) is horrible.

Pride...the act of firing God.

I am proud, I fire Jesus, I then disconnect from moral conscience. I pink slip the living God and distance his character from the everyday workings of my life.

Another sin results...I do nothing about sin. I wink, slap the proverbial back of sinful choices and pretend I am ok.

Now that is another thing to consider.

The way sin works is that it is not just about me. My sin impacts community. Ever heard someone say their sin is only about them? Not true.

Ask the child of a broken home, or children of parents who drink, drug, criticize, gossip.

Paul prescribes direct treatment for sin to protect the community of faith. He says this sexual sin is like leaven that corrupts the whole.

I don't feel a calling to be a Holy Hall Monitor, you know getting into everybody's stuff. But when community is in crisis, family, faith, work community...time to step up...call it like it is...no more abuse, no more sin...time to rehire Jesus and put him back to work in the moral mess of our culture.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Believers Gone Wild: 1 Catastrophes 2

Hey bloggers,

In chapter one of First Corinthians Paul talks about Jesus, being holy, he challenges us not to be divided in the way we think of Jesus.

In chapter 2 Paul will speak of maturity and depth. He will present the Holy Spirit as a basis of transformation and change. In 2.18 he will give the end result of the work of the Spirit..."the mind of Christ".

I would love to hear your reflections on the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is first Holy. This connects to the premier concern of Paul in chapter one, we are called Holy and we are to be His holy people.

Have you noticed that there is a bunch of activity around the Holy Spirit which frankly is pretty creepy?

You know, the TV preachers of the 80's doing prostitutes and affairs, the cover ups, the replapses, yada, yada, yada.

How about a few years ago the leader of a major evangelical movement confessing to drugs, gay masseur, and more? His ministry was full of the Holy Spirit...(?)

Check out the major cults in history and you will uncover immorality blamed on the Holy Spirit. This is very similar to the Corinthian believers.

I am not throwing stones, but I have seen a bunch of weird stuff blamed on the Holy Spirit. Have you? I would enjoy hearing your reflections.

The Corinthians had special spiritual experiences which Paul will affirm later in the book. But in this chapter we are led to a deep truth of the Holy Spirit...we will in the end have the mind of Christ.

This means I will think like Jesus in my marriage, and in my work, I will connect my morality to the mind of Jesus, how I drink (I am alcohol free by the way) and what I watch.

So in the end...experience is not the cool stuff of the Spirit...but the mind of Jesus.

Do you have a crazy story or two? Love to hear it. In the end...The Spirit causes me to think, to have the world view, the orientation of Jesus in all I do.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

First Catastrophe...I mean First Corinthians!


Welcome to the book of First Catastrophes...I mean first Corinthians.

Ever walked into a mess? You know, a room full of drama, deception, danger, and disaster?

Paul the Apostle had the swagger of a UFC fighter. He was shipwrecked, snake bit, side swiped, and shaken to the core by his own faith community as he carried out the great commission to reach people for Christ.

I wonder though was he ready for the Corinthians? After establishing this small group faith community in one of the most immoral cities in the east, Paul left for Ephesus. While there, he learned his small group had a few "issues"; nasty division, immorality, specifically sex with a step mom...eoooh, getting hammered at communion, and more.

What would be the first thing you'd say? You know, without swearing?

Paul calls them holy.

Look at the passage: I am writing to God's church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ their Lord and ours. 1 Cor. 1.2

Instead of hammering them, Paul shows them where they are. These hard core people stand...holy.

Holy means separate, special, sacred as opposed to worthless, common, and unholy.

This makes me squint and rewrinkle the creases in my forehead. How about you?

As I follow Jesus, he calls me holy. As the Corinthians brutalize their beliefs, Paul points to the foundation of faith...God is holy.

We are followers not because we performed, but because God loves and declares.

I forget where I stand sometimes...do you? I assume that if I am good enough, God accepts. This is heresy. God accepts because He is good.

But when he calls me holy...something happens within...the being holy motivates me to "do" holy. The vision calls me higher than mediocrity. By the way, mediocrity begins with the word...me. Holy touches his being, his holiness declares me worthy, special, and accepted.

I am working with a bunch of marriages right now. Some are catastrophes and others are pending...but all of these marriages are...holy. Holy inspires hope.

I spoke with a single friend this week...she is so grateful for her church. The church is holy, she is holy accepted, beloved, included, has immense purpose and value. I think we have something here.

Is the world a mess and you have no control over the catastrophes? He calls you...holy. Go ahead and unwrinkle that contorted forehead. God is good and HE is holy.