Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Wild Ride

In Revelation 1 John is worshiping and "in the Spirit" when something happens. He is carried into a vision in which he receives images, commands to tell, visual actions of other characters, pictures of things no person has ever seen and direct communication from God.  John's experience, written down by God's command ["write in a book what you see"], is our book, "The Revelation of John."  One version shows this title as "The Revelation to John" (probably more correct).  But the best title is given in Chapter 1, verse 1, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ ... "  

I am amazed and amused at how many people want to know about this book.  Rooms of books and commentaries have been written down.  Millions of sermons have been preached.  An ocean full of speculation has been expressed.  I wonder if much of this is what one of my professors called, "a spiritual bubble bath a mile wide and an inch deep."

At any rate, I am in hopes we will maturely, cogently and completely delve into the Revelation, going deep to let Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Bible reveal what is there ... not our pre-conceived notions ... not bad theology from movies and books ... not hyperbole from TV evangelists ... not even our traditions (we will examine which if these might be most valid).  I hope our spiritual bubble bath will wash away everything except Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Over the next few months our sermons will focus on this last book of Scripture.  We will hear about witnesses, Dragons, horses, riders, bowls, sounds, smells and word-pictures of things that are vividly strange.  It will be a wild ride.  I hope you will make a point to be part of this teaching each and every week.  Pray that I will be God-led in what I say, teach and preach.  Randy

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Part We Miss

I am amazed at the depth and breadth of the Scriptures we have been studying.  Just a few words are able to tell us much about God and about a healthy relationship with God, people and ourselves.  I marvel at the Hebrew word for soul (Nephesh) which describes a God-breathed and God-imaged part of the people God made and loves.  The Hebrew concept of kindness means we treat those not related to us as if they were family.  I could go on, but rest assured I have loved this journey through the "Great things of God!"

This week we will explore the Great Commandment from Matthew 28.  I could preach about evangelism ... God commands us to GO.  I could preach about how Jesus imparts His authority to people like you and me, His Church.  I could preach about some who doubted and failed to grasp the blessing of belief.  But I will focus on something in this passage that is often overlooked.  Jesus did say "make disciples."  He did say "go."  He did say "baptize."  But He also commanded us to teach people to do the things he said.  This is often missed in the missional and evangelical parts of the Great Commission.  We are to teach!

This should energize all of you who are part of the teaching ministry at AUMC.  John teaches on Wednesday nights.  All of our Sunday morning teachers follow this command.  The times I embark on a teaching passage I am hopefully teaching the people what God has said, most times through Jesus.  The Great Commandment is part external, going and winning.  But it is also internal, teaching, growing and equipping.  Let's check it out Sunday!  Randy

Monday, July 13, 2015

Required Behavior

John was talking Sunday about the old "WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?" bracelet.  He said it had a good message and was a good reminder to think about how Jesus would walk through your day, your situation and your struggles.  The prophet Micah asks another question that, I believe, is largely ignored by Christians of our day ... "WHAT DOES THE LORD REQUIRE OF YOU? (Micah 6:8).  The question is both rhetorical and, in legal terms, asked and answered.  Micah isn't asking our opinion.  He isn't seeking today's wisdom that is different from the wisdom of his day.  He is doing what prophets do ... they tell us what God is saying word-for-word.  So, this is what the Lord says we must do (it is a requirement).

I will save the last part of the answer for Sunday but I did want to talk a bit about the first part of God's required behavior ... do justice (or do justly).  In the Hebrew context a judge is not merely judicial.  A judge presides over all aspects of governing.  We carry this forward in Alabama as we have a County Judge (ours is David Money) who presides over the governing process for the county.  God takes this to what I believe is the correct conclusion.  God's people are to conduct all life in such a way that God's order, justice and presence are manifested.  Most of us want to complain about government, politics and the political process.  God is saying that you and I are to judge (govern) our daily lives under God's rule. If we see a person in need we apply God's rule to help those in need.  If we see an injustice happen before our eyes, we take the appropriate action (we don't walk on the other side of the road).  Micah reminds us of a truth that our society has failed to grasp ... if God's people do life in God's way, it will make all the lives around us better.

I was watching 48 Hours, a TV show about police seeking the truth about a crime.  In this real-life setting it is interesting to watch the people who see the crime and when the police arrive they run for the protection of their home.  I think Micah would remind them, DO justice.  When good people fail to do this crime grows, criminals become more bold and justice does not happen.  Who is responsible for justice?  We are!  Government works when the people do justice.  Jesus said, if a friend wrongs you or does something that should be addressed you go to that friend.  If injustice happens in front of you, stop protecting the criminal ... because if you and I fail here, the crime will visit our own doorstep.  Micah is right.  Randy

Monday, July 6, 2015


Over the past few years it has been interesting to see how our sharing of faith has been viewed in America.  In my first years as a child I don't remember that "God-talk" was viewed negatively but it certainly has changed for the worse.  So, what should we do?

I think there are two very appropriate responses to negative people and negative press we seem to attract as Christians.  The first is pretty simple.  When God-talk is negatively viewed and even suppressed, we talk about God anyway.  Our passage for Sunday will include parts of Deuteronomy 6 in which God tells His people to talk about God when they get up, when they walk down the road and when they Go to bed at night.  Andy Andrews does this in a beautiful way as each night he prays with his kids and asks them, "How was your day?  Did you do anything you regret and need to confess?  Are there things you need forgiveness for?  Are there things you wished you had done?"  These questions call his children to reflect on God's activity in their day and to seek God's activity in the days to come.  Confession, forgiveness and dreams are always appropriate places for God-talk.

The second response is to think and reflect upon our actions.  How am I impacting those around me?  Is my witness reflective of Jesus or is it an expression of my self-centerdness?  Is my God-talk, as expressed through my actions, truly God-talk or is it ME-talk?  "God told me ___ !" ... "My God is like this!" ... "I don't think God meant that!"  Do you see how those statements frame God in a very me-oriented box?  Thankfully, God is not anything like me!

Mother Teresa had her God-talk and actions suppressed in India.  A group of officials gathered to determine how they could expel her and end her Christ-oriented work.  It seemed the expulsion would happen until one official said, "Expel her when you find someone else willing to do what she does!"  Her God-talk and God-action trumped their religious persecution.  May it also be so here! Randy