Saturday, September 29, 2012

"Thy Kingdom Come"- The Marshmallow Man - Dougie Spence

By now you have probably realized that I am not a pastor, nor do I have a Doctorate in Biblical studies. I am just an average dude who somehow landed a gig writing for the church blog, I’m still not sure how it happened. I think that as long as I keep coming up with stories, the pastors won’t realize that an intruder is writing on the blog site. Well, that is until this week.
This week the section we are on is “thy kingdom come”. For the life of me I cannot think of a cute story or fun anecdote about my life that relates to “thy kingdom come”, in fact when I was thinking about how to write this blog I realized that I had no idea what that even meant! So I went into research mode. When I say research mode I actually mean hours of staring at a computer, where I eventually end up on Facebook.
When I finally got down to business I realized that there are many interpretations for “thy kingdom come”. Some seemed reasonable, some thought that it meant that we are to pray for this life to be over so we can be in heaven (which sounds a little morbid to me), and I think some weirdo related it to the marshmallow man in Ghostbusters… not saying it was, but that might have been my original idea.
When I started doing some word searching in my Bible I came across a crazy verse that brought a whole different perspective to me. Matthew 12:28,  “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you”. It sounds like Jesus is saying that we will experience the kingdom of God when the Spirit of God is at work in our lives.
When we experience healing, witness miracles, and see a life transformed by God, that is experiencing the kingdom Of God. I just got done reading the book of Acts; in it we see that Paul and Luke experienced the kingdom of God on a pretty frequent basis. I want to see that happen in my own life. I know that I will be praying “thy kingdom come” often and with boldness. I want God to use me to make an impact on the people around me.
If you have witnessed the Spirit of God working around you, please share your stories in the comment section.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Thy Kingdom Come: What Kingdom?--Linden Malki

What does it take to make a Kingdom?

First, a King. By using "Thy Kingdom" in His prayer to the Father,  Jesus is making it totally clear that God is the ultimate authority. In the Old Testament, the authority of God is usually seen in a political context; His people and their leaders are accountable to Him. But in the Gospels, the main theme of Jesus' preaching is the Kingdom of God. What does that look like?

A King exerts his authority over some kind of community; a King without subjects is a joke. Most kings initially acquire authority by conquest. The subjects have limited choice: acquiescence, exile, or rebellion. Jesus talked constantly about the Kingdom, but never by conquest. He was building a Kingdom by invitation! On one hand, He says "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom." (Luke 12.32). St Paul told the Romans that "The Kingdom of God is not what you eat or drink [in the context of the Jewish law], but rightousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Romans 14:17).

On the other hand, there are requirements: to follow Him, to seek it first above all else (Luke 12:31); and to be reborn by water and the Spirit (John 3:5). In other words, this Kingdom does not merely require political allegience, but putting all that we are under His authority.

The Kingdom that Jesus preached confused many of his countrymen, who were hoping and praying for a Kingdom of God here and now,  expecting the Old Testament conquest and power pattern. Matthew tells of Jesus preaching about the Kingdom of Heaven. This takes the whole thing into a larger but less concrete form. Every kingdom anyone had ever experienced was defined by physical borders. So does this mean that the Kingdom is limited to a place called "Heaven", not on this earth?

Yes, it is obvious that there is an eternal Kingdom, directly ruled by God, that will have some kind of manifestation here at the final return of Jesus, as well as extending beyond anything we can comprehend now. But it isn't only "out there" waiting. Jesus kept saying that the Kingdom is somehow here, within, among us. He also describes it as being made up of the poor in spirit, the persecuted, spiritual children, those who seek and those who follow, growing like a seed underground and growing up to bear the fruits of the Spirit.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

"Hallowed Be Thy Name"- Bringing Honor To The Name, Dougie Spence

My all-time favorite sports team is the Denver Broncos. Some great names have played for them; John Elway with the many fourth quarter comebacks, Terrell Davis being drafted as a nobody and becoming one of the greatest running backs of all time, Ed Mccaffrey with stickiest hands and most awesome catches that were shook off with a neck twist after every one of them, Champ Bailey who is one of the most feared corner backs in history, the list goes on. They have played in five Super Bowls, winning two back to back. They are amongst the greatest teams in the NFL.
The greatness of the Broncos is what brought me to them, but what made me a true fan has nothing to do with their on-field talent. I am a Bronco fan because of who they are off the field. Many of them are very involved in charities. It doesn’t take long for a new player on the team to start a local charity. And if a player shows tendencies to get into trouble on or off the field, the team will generally let them go.
To be a Denver Bronco it is all about class. If you are a class act, you will have a long career with one of the classiest teams in all of sports. If you show a bad attitude or have an enlarged cranium, the Broncos will get rid of you for someone who is more deserving of that uniform.
It is extremely important to the Broncos that players wear their name in an honorable way. This is the same for God. When we claim to be Christians it is our job to bring honor to the name of God. If we act without class under the name of God, what example are we giving to the world?
Our actions should inform the world that we are children of God. If we claim to be Christians but do not back it up by the way we act, we are doing an injustice to the name of God. Hallowed means to honor as holy, so this section means to bring holiness to the name of God. Let’s make a conscience effort to bring holiness to the name of God every day.
Are you in? 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hallowed Be Thy Name: What's In a Name - Pastor Chris Reinhard

Have you ever called someone by the wrong name? Have you ever been called the wrong name? It can be a little embarrassing for both parties involved. There are certain phrases you can use to avoid the situation, but they can still be a little awkward.

How are you doing, man?
What's up dude?
Hello my brother, or my sister. (getting that wrong is a whole other topic)

And the longer you know a person the more awkward it becomes. So what's in a name?

Names are important not because they are a methodically arranged set of letters that can be uttered from the mouth of one person and understood by the ears of another to be talking about a specific person. A name is important because it is symbolic. It symbolizes our character, our nature, our person-hood. Our name is what set's us apart from others. When you think of someone by name, you don't think of the letters you think of the person.

God's name is of the utmost importance, many times I feel as though we underestimate this. One of the most famous verses on this is, "thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain." But even this we do not understand. This is so far beyond using God's name as a curse word. This is more about claiming his name on your life, and not living up to it. His name is so Hallowed (different, set apart), that if you claim that name on your life, if you claim to be one of his children, and don't live up to it, it is sin. We must take it seriously when we claim the name of God, or Jesus Christ, on ourselves. Now we no longer just represent ourselves, but Him as well.

What about you, Are you keeping his name Holy by the way you represent it?


God Bless
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hallowed Be Thy Name:What Does It Tell?--Linden Malki

If you tell me your name, what all are you telling me?

It tells me not only who you are, but it connects you with a family. Recently, my son and I spent several days in the Provincial Archives in Vaasa, Finland, tracing my mother's family records. We found that the church records for my grandfather listed him as Juhan August Simonson Maunuksela, which told us who he was, who his father was, and where they lived. This led us back to a couple of generations of Simon Simonsons, and then to a Simon Mattison. And we also found a grave marker in a parish church for Matti Maunuksela.  A family name pins us to times and places. People often judge us by what they know of our family's name, and they also judge our family by what they know of us.

It was not long after the church began to spread in its first century that its people began to be associated with the name of its Head (Acts 11:26). This leads of course, to our being judged by what people know of Christ and His Father.  On the other hand, many people's first opinion of God is colored by how we reflect His Name.  Jesus commands us to pray that His Name be safe in our hands. "Hallowed" means that His Name is to be kept holy. This means that it is to be set apart for the worship of God.

If people hear the Name of God coming out of our mouths, are we speaking as as God's Children?

Too often we hear the Name in very poor company. It may be nothing more than a thoughtless expression of anger or insult. It may also be used to impress others with no thought of anything beyond our own self-image. It can be used in a threat or a curse. It has been said that the fastest way to get someone's attention is to call them by name. How much more so does God listen for His Own name!  We are responsible for how we use His name; He is listening!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Our Father Who Art In Heaven - Dougie Spence

My dad raised me right. He instilled values that I will use for my entire life. He taught me to always treat women with respect, and to always work my butt off even if I happened to be working for an idiot. He also taught me that the important things in life are in this order; God, family, country, and music.

Yes, my father instilled in me the greatness of Rock music. We would dissect hours of Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Tom Petty, Petra, DC Talk, all of the monumental bands. Ever since I was a little kid we had music trivia running all day, it was part of my childhood to know exactly which Beatle was singing which song. To this day I quiz everyone around me on random facts about different rock bands, just ask the guys who work for me.

Even though I am married now and haven’t lived with my parents for years, I still make time to hang out just me and my dad. We play video games, eat pizza, and of course listen to music. But sometimes I wonder if we have the same relationship with our Father in heaven.

Do we give Him the time to mold us the way our earthly fathers do? Even if we had a bad relationship with our dad, it will in some way mold us into whom we are as people. It is easy for our earthly fathers to have some sort of impact on us. It takes a complete effort on our part to allow our heavenly Father to impact our lives. I encourage you to take time out of your day to “talk music” with your heavenly Father. If given the chance He will mold your life in ways you never thought possible.
How has your earthly father impacted your life? What about your heavenly father?

Testimony - Dougie Spence

When I was younger I had a very legalistic view of Christianity. I’m not sure if it was the church I was raised in or my own standard I held myself to. Either way it felt completely unhealthy.
When I was a young teenager I was very involved with the drama team of a large church in a small town. So needless to say many people knew who I was. Not only was I in front of church fairly regularly I also helped teach the younger kids whenever the opportunity became available. I soon realized that if I was going to be one the faces of our church I needed to make sure I was a “good Christian”.
Once I realized that people knew who I was and knew which church I was a part of, I knew that I could no longer show weakness in my faith. Pastors and leaders would tell stories about times before they were Christians, but now that they knew God they were completely different. None of them shared about struggles they were having now, so in my head I had decided that to be like them I had to be perfect.
Perfect meant that I had no struggles, no lapse of faith. I had to show that I was a “good Christian”. Eventually this mentality jacked me up. Whenever I would sin I would actually feel sick to my stomach. But no matter what I could not talk to anybody about my struggles, after all they might look at me differently if they knew I actually had struggles. So I kept everything bottled up inside me, the struggles, the questioning of God, the complete confusion about what God wanted me to do with my life.
Then one day I walked into North Point (at that time it was called Calvary Baptist), Pastor Paul spoke from the heart. He had no problems informing us about the fact that he had struggles in his life. He had questions for God, he had confusion, but ultimately he wanted to do what God wanted him to do. He admitted he wasn’t perfect, but he loved the one who is perfect and was trying to live his life the way Christ called us to do.
As I got more involved with North Point I realized that God doesn’t call us because we are perfect, he calls us because we are jacked up people who need Him. Yes we are called to live like Christ, but when we are having issues we need to talk with our mentor and life group. Only through accountability will we actually be able to live the way we are called to.
Once I realized this it felt like a weight had been lifted off of me. No longer did I have to take the burdens on myself, what I have to do is trust God and allow Him to take care of my burdens. He has the strength to handle my problems, and only through Him will I ever live a life that pleases Him.

Friday, September 14, 2012

At the Father's Feet by Pastor Paul

If you or I attempted to enter the Oval Office it would not go well!  The Secret Service would grab us or shoot us.  One way or another, we would be leaving quickly!  This picture of John John playing at the feet of his father tells a different story.  Imagine John John running all over the White House!  Can you imagine the Secret Service smiling and watching as the little boy in pajamas climbed over and under everything in sight?

Look at the smile on the Presidents face.  I suspect he is aware of the photographer about to make history.  He understands the glorious complexity of the moment.  The most powerful man in the world is working at the most prestigious desk in America while a little boy plays at his feet.
I doubt if John John was even aware of the moment.  He was just playing at the feet of his father.  He was doing what nobody else in the world could have done at that moment.  Why?  Because he was the fathers son, and that made all of the difference!
Listen to the words of Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT) and marvel at the invitation we have been given!

14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven,
Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe.
15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses,
for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.
16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.
There we will receive his mercy,
and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
Because of the Blood of Jesus Christ we can call God our Father and enter His Heavenly Oval Office.  Just like John John we can come to Abba Father in our Pajamas and receive mercy and grace for all our needs.  We can play at His feet, and our coming will make Him smile!  WOW...