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Advice and Direction

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Advice and Direction

While babysitting my 4 ½ yr. old granddaughter at her house, I asked if she knew where some hand lotion might be.  My hands were really dry and even cracking around my knuckles.  Her response was spot on and priceless.

“Grandpa, go down the hall to my bedroom,” (as she pointed in that direction.) 

“Go over to my dresser.  On top on the right side there is a small tube of lotion with a blue cap. Snap open the blue cap.  Squeeze a little lotion into your hand. Close the cap and put the tube back on my dresser.”

Then, continuing to illustrate by rolling her hands over each other, she said, “Rub it in like this.”

These moments make me smile and now serve to outline a few thoughts about the advice and direction in our faith walk. She spoke from experience.  She spoke from a complete grasp of the situation.  She provided visual aids to show me what I needed to do.  And, she knew what I needed to meet my need.

The current sermon series on The Terrible Advice of Jesus creatively explores how Jesus’ comments from the perspective of the non-believing world can come across as counterintuitive, confusing or even terrible advice.  For instance, these two verses: “Turn the other cheek” (Mt 5:38) and “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44) make no sense to many people. Yet they are part of Jesus’ terrible advice on how to live well. 

1 Peter 3:15: “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it” (NLT); or, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect...(NIV)”

Comparing the two verses creates this truth:  As Christ-followers we are commanded to live out of and speak about our personal experience with Jesus Christ. As a response to salvific grace, we live our lives as thank-offerings.  To live as thank-offerings equates nicely to worshipping Him. Once we understand from what we have been saved and how, it is our reasonable act of worship to surrender all to His advice and direction, even if it seems terrible advice at times.  This verse doesn’t suggest, but commands that we live life from an experience of knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This means we have put Jesus in the driver’s seat of our lives.

When I was about 3 yrs old my brother, Greg, was my savior.  I fell into a swimming pool and he, being 5 years older, plucked me out of the pool.  He saved me; yet, I don’t worship him.  I like him.  We get along well.  However, the one I worship saved me from eternal damnation: He died for me, so that I, in turn, can live for Him in grateful thanks.  Jesus is death-conquering hero, making Him a king worth to whom I can easily and fully surrender my everything. To honor, revere and worship Him as Lord means I check with Him, ideally, on every action and decision.  That is, I would not want to contradict my reverence by acting independently of His advice and guidance.  Life flows and goes so much better when I live like this. 

So, firstly, we speak from our experience with Jesus. He asks us to share our experiences with others to guide them to meet the ultimate need of their lives: a relationship with Him.

 Secondly, we need to  grasp the needs and neediness of those around us.  Sometimes we bemoan the state of our world.  We wring our hands in either worry or frustration. We read the paper. (I just started getting one again.)  We hear or watch the news. We know there are needs in the world.  We also know many will look sideways at believers; many will not understand our motivations; many will always be at odds with or antagonistic to people of faith; and, many live in ignorance about God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I’m not saying people uneducated or stupid. I am saying that we who have an experience with Christ are obligated to show, tell and illustrate that experience – like my granddaughter did with the lotion.

Lastly, the people of this world need to be shown and experience the power of the Cross through the love and forgiveness of the people of the Cross. 

This passage challenges us to up our game and always be ready to offer truth in a grace-filled way, to turn the other cheek and to forgive.  This passage call us to live as a people of hope – which using hope as an acronym can mean – heavenly optimism pervading every day. Jesus lives in our hearts.  We worship him in our hearts.  With Christ as savior and Lord, we have lives of purpose, power, and directed toward heaven’s goals, and we shall, can and must be the most hopeful folks in the world. So, live life with a smile!

My granddaughter helped me meet a need because she shared clearly, directly and lovingly.  May we, like her, give advice and direction to meet the needs of rough, dry, and even cracked souls with whom we live, work and play.  May we with gentleness and respect share what we believe, why we believe and what a difference to our own souls our belief gives us.

As a Faith Development pastor let me offer a couple of ways to hone your practice and conversational skills to honor 1 Peter 3:15. Check out Alpha, and Fourward, and any of the numerous on-going women’s, men’s, co-ed groups.  To work out your faith walk, do it with others in community of small groups or serving groups. These groups are available at WRCC.  Just go to the website, snap open the “Connect” tab, and squeeze out some time and you’ll be prepared to give the reason for the hope that is within you!

Posted by Tim Garner with

The Christmas Dragon

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Silent night.
  Brutal night.
Hell and heaven
  Meet to fight.

I doubt this version sounds familiar, but consider its appropriateness; over 2,000 years ago God fired the opening shot in a war for your soul and mine in the small town of Bethlehem. Jesus’ birth is the culmination of all that God worked in the previous 4,000 or so years since since sin entered the world.  In Genesis 3:15, God reveals a glimpse into His plan when He tells the Serpent,

“I will cause hostility between you and the woman,
      and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike your head,
      and you will strike his heel.” (NLT)

So it shouldn’t be a big surprise when we read what the disciple, John, describes in Revelation 12:3-5. Here we read a decidedly different perspective on the Christmas story. There’s no stable, no manger and no Heavenly Host singing “Gloria, in excelsis Deo.” Instead our enemy, the serpent...now depicted as a giant red dragon is poised, ready to pounce.

“I saw a large red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, with seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept away one-third of the stars in the sky, and he threw them to the earth. He stood in front of the woman as she was about to give birth, ready to devour her baby as soon as it was born.

"She gave birth to a son who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And her child was snatched away from the dragon and was caught up to God and to his throne.” (NLT)

The coming of Immanuel (God with us) signified the first salvo fired in the war of souls.  Not a world war...a cosmic war. One that shows how deep the love of the Father is for us. It wasn’t by chance or accident. Paul tells us that it was God’s plan all along in Galatians 4:4,5:

“But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.” (NLT)

Christmas time always leaves me in wonder. Not at the tinsel, snow or other trappings...but at the fact that God Most High chose a lowly baby to be born and grow into the man who would rescue me from a death trap of my own making.  Relient K wrote a song that still moves my heart every time I think about it:

“And I, I celebrate the day
That You were born to die
So I could one day pray for You to save my life…”

This cosmic war that began in Bethlehem and rocked the heavens was all so that you and I would accept this gift...this Jesus.

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