Jesus Don’t Look Like You Imagine!

There’s a picture of Jesus painted on a church sign near my town. His head rises above the rectangular outline as though he stands on tip-toe peering over the top of the sign. He has long, flowing brown hair and a sickly white complexion, like a flower child of the 60’s who hasn’t been in the sun for a decade or two. You can imagine him playing with children or maybe feeding pigeons with crumbs from the five loaves. But this “Sign-Jesus” is not awe-inspiring, not majestic, not glorious.

Contrast “Sign-Jesus” with the vision of Jesus presented in the book of Revelation. King Jesus’ voice is like Niagara Falls at a full roar (1:15). His face shines brighter than the sun (1:13). He speaks, and hearts are pierced and enemies routed (1:14, 19:15). He is both the Lamb who was slain and the Lion of the tribe of Judah (ch. 5), the ruler of the kings on earth (1:5). In his hand are the destinies of every human being, for he holds the keys to death and Hades. And He is the living one who, though once pierced for our transgressions, is now alive and lives forevermore (1:18). This is a Jesus to be reckoned with, a Jesus to be worshipped, a Jesus to be served!

Now let me ask you a question: when you think of Jesus, which image comes to mind? A soft-spoken, timid “Sign-Jesus,” or an all-powerful, glorious, radiant King Jesus?

I’m afraid we often think of Jesus only in his humiliation, the man of sorrows, our humble Savior, without giving attention to his status now as our exalted Lord who sits enthroned at God’s right hand. In Scripture Jesus’ humiliation leads unfailingly to his exaltation. “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death…therefore God has highly exalted him” (Phil. 2:8-9). Let me suggest two reasons why the exalted King Jesus’ rule is good news for us.

Temptation. Have you ever faced a temptation to sin with sense of defeat or hopelessness? “I can’t fight this one – the temptation is too strong, I’m too weak,” etc.  Sometimes we live as though all we have in our faith is a system of redemption to apply that helps us battle our inner demons. But we have not a system but  a living, powerful Redeemer who is present with us to help us overcome sin. Will there be a battle between the desires of the flesh and the desires of the Spirit? Absolutely. But we denigrate the power of the risen Jesus to change his people if we face temptation with defeatism. Our King breaks the power of canceled sin and sets prisoners free.

Evangelism. The world is full of lost people, people convinced God doesn’t exist, or is irrelevant, or is there to accept them as long as they are sincere. How can we change their minds and convince them the gospel is true? Well, we can’t. But thankfully we are not trying to convince people to elect Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We are simply heralds of the King. When we share the gospel of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord himself by the power of the Spirit is speaking through us. We cannot know who he will speak to, or how, or when. But we can be certain of this: King Jesus is mighty to save! When he speaks, he will be heard. And amazingly he uses our stumbling efforts to share the gospel as his royal, life-giving proclamation to dead sinners!

This is the risen King’s word to us his waiting people: “Fear not, I am the first and the last” (Rev. 1:17). Christian, behold your King!

Photo by Mrs. D. Krebs

Now That’s Interesting! Sort of Not Really Gay, The Incredible Truck Collision, Worst Death Scene Ever, More…

I’m (Kinda Sorta Yeah Not Really) Gay  – Very good article here. “The reality is that I acknowledge my same-sex desires. I talk openly with family and friends about homosexuality, especially as it relates to my commitment to Christ. More importantly, I’m honest with God about my struggles with same-sex attraction. I don’t pretend the feelings aren’t there; on the contrary, I consider them very real temptations. The only denial happening here is self-denial, the daily charge to take up my cross and follow Christ (Luke 9:23). That’s the calling of every Christian, not just those who fight against homosexual desires.”

The Disguised Blessing of Being Unpopular  – This is a good article on creativity and popularity.

Your Body’s Best Time for Everything – “A growing body of research suggests that paying attention to the body clock, and its effects on energy and alertness, can help pinpoint the different times of day when most of us perform our best at specific tasks, from resolving conflicts to thinking creatively.”

Providence Watching Over A Truck Driver – Wow.

The Worst Death Scene Ever – Watch carefully as he squeezes the blood packet after the first shot.

Who Are You? Our Astonishing New Identities

Who are you
Who who who who
Who are you
Who who who who – “Who Are You” by The Who

Who are you? Are you fundamentally a sinner? Are you a good person? Someone in need of more self-esteem?

Are you victim?  Are you a hopeless slave to your passions?  A product of your environment?  Do you need to remind yourself daily, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”

Most of us have no problem identifying ourselves as sinners. But that’s not the sum total of our identity. In fact the most important part of our identity is who we are in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Is this how you see yourself? Do you see yourself as a new creation in Christ? Or do you continue to see yourself primarily as a sinner? Maybe you would say I’m a sinner saved by grace, but the emphasis would still be on sinner.

In How People Change, Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp tell us that as important as it is that we recognize ourselves as sinners,

“Many believers also fail to see the other side of their gospel identity: their identity in Christ. Christ not only gives me forgiveness and a new future, but a whole new identity as well! I am now a child of God, with all of the rights and privileges that this title bestows.”

Who are we in Christ? It’s jaw-dropping amazing when we look at all the New Testament says about believers in Jesus.  In addition to being new creations, we are:

  • Heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17)
  • Called according to God’s purpose (Romans 8:28)
  • Predestined to be conformed to Christ (Romans 8:29)
  • Justified ones (Romans 8:30)
  • Those whom God is for (Romans 8:31)
  • God’s elect (Romans 8:33)
  • Unable to be separated from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35)
  • More than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:37)
  • Part of Christ’s bride (Ephesians 5:25)
  • In the Spirit (Romans 8:9)
  • Loved by God (Romans 1:7)
  • Saints (Romans 1:7)
  • Under grace (Romans 6:17)
  • Set free from sin (Romans 6:18)
  • Slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:18)
  • Slaves of God (Romans 6:22)
  • Sons of the living God (Romans 9:26)
  • Temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19)
  • Future judges of the world and angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3)
  • The body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27)
  • Children of promise (Galatians 4:28)
  • Members of the household of God (Ephesians 2:19)
  • Light in the Lord (Ephesians 5:8)
  • Lights in the world (Philippians 2:15)
  • Part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that we may proclaim his excellencies (1 Peter 2:9)
  • One of God’s people who has received mercy (1 Peter 2:10)
  • Free (1 Peter 2:16)
  • Forgiven (1 John 2:12)

This is who we are in Christ!  Here’s my suggestion – print these out and stick them on your fridge or in your Bible and regularly thank Jesus for these glorious truths.

 

Headless Snakes Shall Have No Dominion Over You!

[This post was written by my fellow pastor, Bob Mundorff (pictured above). And yes, he is a redneck. But I'm a nerd, so we make a good team.]

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you…

Even born-again, Spirit-led, regenerate, new creation Christians have some earthiness left in them. Paul refers to it as “what is earthly in you”. James calls this “desire” that entices and lures us away. Peter calls it “passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul”.

One warm summer evening a few years ago, some friends joined us for a picnic which included an unusual entree… grilled rattlesnake. I remember my grandfather saying that “a snake won’t die ‘till the sun goes down.” In my harvest and preparation of this particular rattler, I found some truth in that old saying. More importantly, I found a great illustration for remaining sin in the life of a Christian.

After lopping his head off with my tree pruners, and bringing him home in an old pillowcase, he just wouldn’t stop squirming enough for me to skin him. So utilizing a little redneck ingenuity, I stretched him out and wood-clamped him to the porchrail. Once I got his skin off and entrails
out, all I had left was a muscle-covered ribcage. Somehow, the instant I freed him from the clamps, it was like he still had a brain even though his head was long gone. He tried to strike me over and over with his bloody little neck-stub.

We fought until I got him into the pot of boiling water I had waiting for him, which by the way, was on my grill (for some reason Jane insisted I do this outside). After forcing him against his will into the pot, I thought the nightmare would be over. But I was wrong. As soon as I turned, “bang” – off goes the lid, and out flies Mr. Snake carcass, squirming across the ground. …It took several minutes after getting him back into the boiling water for this thing to actually stop moving!

That dead snake who acted like he was still alive gives us a good picture of remaining sin in our lives. At the cross, Jesus lopped off the head of sin. Its penalty has been paid (Gal. 3:13). Its power is has been brought to nothing (Rom. 6:6). But that scary, hard to kill carcass of sin’s presence will plague us until heaven. Thanks to Jesus, sinful desires and earthly passions have lost their power over you. Like the rattlesnake, all they can do is neck-stub you. Put to death what is earthly in you! Don’t believe Satan’s lies anymore. Sin will have no dominion over you! God wants you to know the truth that will set you free (John 8:32; Rom. 6:7).

BREAKING: Debate Over Replacement Refs Heats Up When Bill Belichick Is Flagged For Being Unnecessarily Disheveled

BALTIMORE – The debate over the replacement NFL referees got even hotter on Sunday when Patriots coach Bill Belichick was flagged for being “unnecessarily disheveled”. When Belichick stepped onto the field before Sunday’s game against  the Ravens, referee John Eaton immediately flagged Belichick for “unnecessary dishevelment”.

Eaton said: “He was wearing a mustard stained hoodie that looked like it hadn’t been washed for weeks! And he was wearing a snow cap. At first I thought I was looking at a hobo. We can’t have that kind of behavior on the field. So I flagged him.”

Belichick protested, saying, “This is the problem with these replacement refs! This is actually one of my nicer hoodies.”

Belichick wasn’t the only NFL coach or player upset after this weekend. Cleveland Browns coach, Pat Shurmur, complained that the refs were treating his team as if they were a “second rate high school football team that had no chance of winning”. Shurmur said, “They kept saying, ‘Nice try’, and ‘Good effort’ to my guys after every play. What’s up with that?”

In response, referee Nick Lane said, “Wait, what? I thought I was a refereeing an arena football game. Shoot.”

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate said, “You know, honestly, I thought they called a pretty decent game last night. I mean, sure they missed a few calls, but every ref does.”