Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sadness and Joy

I'm a biker. OK, I admit it, not the ride into the village and burn everything you see kind of biker that's portrayed in some movies, but one who more like all the bikers that are out there kind of biker. We are normal, loving, compassionate and pretty nice people. Today, after chucrh, I attended a memorial service for a fellow biker who was killed last week when the rider, for no apparent reason went straight as the road curved. They hit a wall and Kathy was killed. She was on the back and her boyfriend, Jimmy was very seriously injured. I only knew her slightly because she worked at the hospital where I was a chaplain. I had spoken with her only briefly a few times. I never shared Christ with her and I am told she knew the Lord so at least I won't have that to live with.
We are all diminished by someone's passing. And in the biker community, we grieve greatly for the loss of a brother or sister. But as I told a few today our loss is heaven's gain. But as I thik about the few meetings I had with her, I keep asking myself, "Why didn't I ask her if she knew the Lord?" Isn't it my duty (I preached on that today) to tell everyone about Jesus? It's not only my duty, it's an honor to tell others about the joy I hold in my heart. And I am joyous, I am so elated that God calls me "son" and if I am so happy, why isn't that the first question out of my mouth when I meet someone? If that the thing that makes you joyous, don't you want others to be joyous too? Wouldn't you tell someone if they were blind and about to walk off a cliff?
If they are offended by the question, just apologize and move on, but according to Peter, we should always be ready to show why we have hope... 1 Pe 3:15
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
We have Christ. Let us no wane in our efforts to show Him to a world that doesn't know and fails to understand such a wonderful savior.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pick up that cross

In Matthew 16:24 it says this; Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
A lot of folks think this means that you must live a tortured existence filled with self denial in order to follow Christ. I'm pretty sure that's not what He meant.
We can look at this statement by Jesus both literally and figuratively. And as I read many of the statements made by those who had written commentaries on this verse, I was surprised to see that the majority had looked at this verse only in the literal sense, which means that Jesus was saying that, “if you follow me you will more than likely will be killed because of it.”
Now although it may be true that there are certainly many people who have been killed because they were Christians, I don’t think that Jesus meant that most or all of those (look at the word ANYONE) who would follow Him would die a tortured death. But I do believe that Jesus was trying to get across to us the point that to follow Him meant that there must, and I don’t mean should, but there must be a lifestyle change. A follower of Christ must have a heart that thinks more highly of others than himself, a heart that is more prone to giving than taking. A heart that is passionate about loving his neighbor. That’s the denying himself part.
Now the take up your cross part: I have heard many people say that to take up your cross is to bear patiently those trials we are given and so it is, but there is so much more than that. If all we did was to endure the trials laid upon us, then we are like bridges that many people pass over yet the bridge gains nothing from the experience. I don’t think that is what God intends for us through trials.
When Jesus said that His followers would “take” up their cross, it implies that there is an action involved. That we would rush to the cross and I am certain that the cross of which he spoke is merely one’s duty. You see, the cross of Christ was His duty. It was that thing for which He had come to earth. It was only through this implement of death, this implement of torture that He would be able to accomplish the mission for which He had come. He had heard the voice of His Father and He knew He must obey that voice with all He had. He was to embrace His cross. He was to run toward His cross and secure salvation for all mankind by that one act.
For each of us, our cross will be different. But it is important that we embrace it and hold it close to our hearts every day of our life, for in that embrace, in that closeness we will discover the fullness of what it means to bring God into our life. Perhaps your particular cross is to become a missionary. Perhaps your cross is to work in the arena of social services. And perhaps your cross is to become a doctor. Whatever it is, it is your mission as a Christian. And it has been put in your life or will be put in your life in order to accomplish two things. And I promise you that your cross, your mission, the goal that God has set for you will always do two things.
Your cross will always help you to show that you love God with all your heart and soul and strength and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. You see, that's what the cross of Christ showed us. That He loved His Father with all His heart, because He obeyed Him and He loved us because He died and rose again to open a door that no man could close. Without His cross we could not enter into rest and without our cross we can not show someone else that kingdom.
So run over and pick up that cross. If you're a mom, be the best mom you can. If you're a janitor, be the best at it that is possible. No matter what you do, do it as unto the Lord and it wil show up that you love your cross. Doesn't matter if it's a trial, tribulation, your job, your mission or just something you do. Hold it close and enjoy it so that one day you will be able to hear Him say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant".