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Posts Tagged ‘Acts’

The other night I found myself watching “Finding Bigfoot” a show on Animal Planet, mainly because there are only so many times you can watch Sports Center in one day. Never the less, there I am watching these simian stalkers in their search for real evidence of this beast. I was pulled into the story with comments like

“Just so you know, one of my claims to fame in the Big Foot World is I was the one who discovered Big Foot’s two wood knocks, and figured out that if you make noise, they’ll respond. No other researchers knew that before because they never went in the field that often.” -Finding Big Foot

Seriously, can you find better T.V.?

These “researchers” were very serious about their sasquatch(sasquatches? sasquatchi?). They found witnesses who gave testimony to their own personal encounters. However, their encounters were of the “bump-in-the-night” variety. Ok, sure, they found a big foot print, but come on… I can make baby feet impressions with the side of my hand and a few forefinger pokes. None of these witnesses had much personal investment or real encounter. They were mostly retelling stories of something that almost happened to them. Without these researchers having a personal life-altering encounter, it is difficult to take them seriously.

I am reading Acts (from the Bible) this week. In the first chapter Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to give them his Spirit and they are going to be his witnesses to the world. A witness to what? As soon as I read this I thought if the disciples had tv and this program on big foot was out (of course they would watch it… it’s Bigfoot) would they have thought, “Great, Jesus disappears and now some camera crew is going to follow us around as we give witness to something nobody else can see”?

There are many people who actually view Christianity in this light and I believe one of the reasons for this is that many of us don’t know what it means to be a witness and are simply telling stories of something that is almost happening to us.

Most of the time when the word “witness” is used throughout scripture, it is used in reference to personal experience. We give witness to something that has happened to us or is happening to us. A witness on the stand is only credible if they were there. Jesus is telling the disciples to be his witness. Jesus is telling the disciples to be, by the power of the Holy Spirit, his active and experiential work and presence in the world. They are to give witness to their personal experience of Christ in their life. In short, they are called to live Christ. This is the point of the church. Luke Timothy Johnson writes in his book “Creed” that “the church is, in a real sense, the continuation of the incarnation, the embodied presence of the resurrected Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (doubleday 2003 pg 256)

In order for the Christian to be an effective witness we must begin by being witnesses to what God is doing in us. The question then becomes, “am I willing to open my life to God?” The rest of the book of Acts is about how ordinary men and women become extraordinary witnesses of Christ. They did not tell about things they “kind of” saw. The gave witness to what God was doing in them. Our call as Christians is not to point to some weird moralism told in folklore and mountain myth, but to actually be the proof of witness to the greatness of God, to be the walking miracle, to be the transformed life. What kind of witness are you giving? Does it point to something that is almost happening to you, or have you surrendered to God in such a way that your life is transforming and a living witness?

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The Sermon: Hands or Wings?

The Scripture: Acts 1:6-8

A little late, but here is the sermon from last week. As you may remember, last week the major question before us is essentially, in our walk with God are we looking for a way to cope or a way to live.  Christianity is often seen as a coping device by those on the outside.  I think one of the reasons is that we only treat God as a crutch.  We go to him to ease our guilt, to lift our pains, to comfort us in our sorrows.  We all need comforting and we all need forgiveness.  Jesus did say to bring our burdens to him, however, these were not Jesus’ last words to us.  He called us to be witnesses to the Kingdom of God.  The only way to be a witness to something and be credible is to live it out.  The Kingdom of God is a place where we can be alive, a place where we can help others live too.  Hands or wings?  Do we just pray for a hand up or do we pray for wings to help us soar?

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Sunday May 23, 2010 Sermon Recording Who Said That?

Scripture: Acts 2 and John 10: 1-4

Pentecost. A day that changed the world and a day we can continue to experience.  I have heard Pentecost preached on and talked about in many different ways and generally the focus is placed on the extraordinary means of the miracle and not the miracle itself.  It is often assumed that the means of the miracle, the manifestation of multiple languages being spoken and understood by a great many people, is the miracle when in reality that is just the means.  Just like the burning bush and Moses, the amazing thing is not that there was a burning bush that was not consumed by the fire, but by the fact that God desired to speak to him in the first place.  The Moses story also puts on another perspective; Moses wasn’t chosen because of his qualifications.  And so with Pentecost, God chooses to speak to all people regardless of their background and baggage.  Peter declares, all will be saved who call upon the name of the Lord.

All. Everybody.  No excluions.  Pentecost is God’s willingness to pour himself out upon all who would receive.  He speaks to all who would listen.  The difficulty for most of us is not that we don’t want to hear, but that we resist doing the things that help us hear.  I was watching “My Name is Earl” on my lunch break today and he met a woman who was too vain to wear glasses so she had a Very Large Print Bible.  Here is the clip.

Now she wants to read, but she is going to miss out on a lot reading like this.  Why are we so resistant to change our lives for something we know will improve our life.  My grandmother refuses to wear a hearing aid.  We would be in discussions and she would ask me a question and because she couldn’t hear well she would just make up an answer to either satisfy herself or make her upset. She had the tools at her disposal to hear me, but wasn’t willing to change her behavior to do so.  The result was that she would often be mad at stuff I never said.  (Of course, she also laughed at things I said that were never funny to anyone else.) I would hate for us to miss out on what God has to say to us because we are unwilling to learn how to listen and unwilling to step into a deep relationship with him.

Sunday Worship Songs:

  1. Here Is Our King
  2. How Great Thou Art
  3. Glory To God Forever
  4. Take My Life

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