Friday, July 28, 2006

Finding Purpose Galatians 3

Galatians 3:15-24
Finding Purpose

“Purpose” Video at

Park Illustration:
Imagine being given a park to care for. The owner and designer of the park says, “I am giving the management of the park over to you. Your job is to make the park a beautiful place for everyone who comes to it. The owner says if you have any question just ask I will always be around to give you guidance..

At first this situation work great, and it is actually our children who don’t appreciate the park as much. They don’t know what a blessing it was to be given the park to manage. They are not as comfortable asking the owner for his help and guidance.

Our grand children a flat out disrespectful of the park. They: Break the equipment, trample the flowers and ignore the upkeep of the grass.

The owner becomes sad, seeing less and less people come to the park. The park becomes a dirty and run down place. The owner has a decision to make. Does he kick your family out of the park, maybe bring in someone else, or does he take a little more control. He was holding back waiting for the grandchildren to come to him. He decides to provide more structure.

The owner had some representatives puts up schedules for maintenance, Keep out signs by the flower beds, rules for how to play on the equipment. Those who do not follow the rules are asked to leave the park, and those who do not help with the maintenance are asked to leave the Park.

After a few years the park looked better, but he noticed most people saw the park as mainly a place to work. People didn’t walk on the flowers, but they did not enjoy them either. Most people obeyed the equipment rules, but he didn’t see the joy on their faces like he used to.

The owner could not take it anymore, he desired so much for people to enjoy the park. He decided he was going to take the responsibility on Himself. He was going to come along side every person working and help them, instruct them, provide them with joyful companionship. He decided to walk with everyone through the flower gardens and point out the beauty. He decided to join those playing on the equipment and really show them how to enjoy life and have fun.

This is the story of our lives with Jesus and I drew that illustration from reading the passage in Galatians 3:15-24

Read passage in the MESSAGE VERSION (Galatians 3:15-24)

Abraham had the Promise of being blessed by God to be a blessing to the world.

The law was given as Instruction for what God wanted and did not want in the world

Jesus has come that we might again live in the world in Relationship with God (as children of God) rather then just rule following subjects.

As I process these three things this week I had this recurring thought. How does is effect our lives? What is our Park? Do we all go through this process of Promise, Instruction and Relationship?

First of all we all need to know what our Park is (what is the promise God has made to us).

Promises from the Father:
1. Created in the image of God (imago Dei)
2. Dominion/Responsibility for the Earth
3. A Redemptive Gift/Personality
· Prophet, Servant, Teacher, Exhorter, Giver, Ruler and Mercy

Promises from the Son:
1. Reconciliation with God
2. Partnership (belonging/unity) with God
3. Eternal Life

Promises from the Holy Spirit:
1. Internal Change
2. Healing and comfort
3. Power for living

Now I want to talk quickly about the Instruction God provides for us. I would like us to think about some of the Jobs we have had thus far in life. If your experience is like mine the bigger more demanding the job was the more instruction and orientation the job required before starting.

My first job official job at age 15 was cleaning a grocery store parking lot. The instruction took one day. Don’t blow dust and peoples cars or on People when they are walking, arrive at this time, put the trash here. Watch out for the flowers.

After College I took a job as a Factory shift manager. I had two days of paper work. Computer tests on sexual harassment. I spent 2 weeks following another manager around. I did shifts with every job in the department.

The instruction found in the law is given to orient us to a life in God’s image. With a responsibility for the world. With a Redemptive Gift and personality (with a Purpose). As I thought about this during the week I realized the best situation for us is if we get this instruction on life as early as possible.

Now all of us who have worked in a job know that orientation only gets you going in the right direction and establishes some expectation. You can’t and would not want to have a rule for every situation. There are lots of situation were you simply need to ask your supervisor for help, or make a decision based on what you think would be best for the company. Then you can process it later based on the result.

In our life with God we don’t want to get stuck in ORIENTATION and INSTRUCTION. We want to move on to Relationship.

In review. If you do not know what on Earth you are doing (breathing up the air here). The promises God has made and the Purpose for your life. The instruction found in the law and taught by God’s people seems pointless.

Others can know they have promises and purpose, but lack instruction on how to get the job done?

What Paul is trying to get across to the Galatia’s is that they have the instruction and now they need to get going and trust their relationship with God. Don’t worry as much about the rules as working with Jesus.

From your perspective what would Paul Say to us? And Why?

People of Emmaus…
· Please recognize the promises of God and his purpose for your lives.
· Please seek the basic instructions God has given for your lives
· Please trust Jesus and join him in fulfilling your life’s purpose.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Galatians 3 Good Enough

Read Galatians 3:1-14

Paul Calls the Galatians foolish. A fool is not someone who is ignorant of the truth, but rather someone who knows the truth, but does not live according to it.

Foolish - those who knew better, but failed to use what they knew
- Hospital story this week. This Tuesday morning I was suppose to go to the hospital and sit with my neighbors wife during his heart surgery. On Saturday night I looked out the window and I saw them. I knew I need to talk to them about the detail and the big detail was I didn’t know their last name or have phone number. On Sunday Gabi and I were headed to Madras and I got paper out to write them a note and ask for their name and phone, but I decided to wait and get it Monday night. Monday night turned into getting home after midnight. I figured I would get up early and wait for them to leave. They left 1 hour before they were suppose to be there. So I go down to the Hospital to find Rod. No last name. I had to talk to 4 nurses before I found one merciful enough to break Protocol and give me his full name. Then I could go to the information desk. This was Foolish. I knew better.

The people of Galatia Started their relationship with God by Faith by believing in Jesus, but now Paul says they are trying to finish it on their own.

As I reflect on this idea this week I started to think it might be a human tendency, but maybe it is just my tendency. I am often humble in my beginnings I always ask Gabi were to find everything, but I rarely let here finish telling me before I have run into that room and started trying to find it on my own. The other day I was taking out my dish washer and I got stuck, I asked Gabi to take a look she found a screw that I had missed I pulled it out and as she said "what about lowering the tensioners." I promptly pulled forward and chipped the front of the counter top.

In our relationship with God their seems to be this same temptation to get some forgiveness to get some healing and then start working again at being good enough to earn our place in Heaven and in Relationship.

Paul gives a great example of something we simply can’t earn. Healing. Being Good or not being Bad never healed anyone –

Give all the kids a Fan. I have just given you all a new, perfectly good fan. I invite you all to use it to cool yourselves. Try spinning the fan with your finger. Try waving it in your face. What is wrong with you Fan? What can you do to fix it? The only thing that will make your fan work is electricity, power, from a battery.

Paul is trying to tell the people of Galatia that Faith in Jesus is were the power is for miracles and for salvation. What we have to remember is that it is easy for us to see our hand working the Fan, and we can feel good about trying to make it work, but if we want to see the fan work right we have to have faith in the electricity we cannot see.

Abraham followed and believed the voice and call of God. No strategic plan, no child. Those who faithfully follow the voice and call of God are called his children.

Abraham is Blessed to be a Blessing to the rest of the world. Paul reminds of this covenant and that God has fulfilled the blessing in Jesus. Genesis 12:3 “All families of the earth be blessed”

Paul uses the phrase “works of the law” three times. In reference to laws being the source of salvation or being “IN”

Verse 10 may sound a little funny to us. Cursed are those under the Law. My first thought was why are those who keep the law cursed? Huh. I can understand that we do see the spirit move, but why cursed.

To bless and be blessed is to give and receive the favor the grace of God. Everything good comes from God.

To curse or be cursed is to LIMIT or be LIMITED.

In Joshua (8:30-35) the Israelites are told to renew their covenant with God. They are instructed to do something incredibly interesting. 6 tribes were gathered on Mount Gerizim, the Mount of Blessing, and 6 tribes were Gathered across the way on Mount Ebal, the Mount of Cursing. The blessings of God were read and the people responded with “Amen.” Then 12 curses were recited and after each curse the people recited amen. The curse covered immorality, idolatry and disobedience to God (Deuteronomy 27:15-26). Essentially they are calling a Curse (limit) on themselves if they are disobedient according to the Law.

So if you want to be blessed by following the law you must do it perfectly or you will incur a curse.

I want to bring us back to our video clip. Most of the people in the video are Cursed. They are LIMITED by an understanding of life that says that their goal and objective is to be Good enough according to a set of rules. For many of them they are creating their own set of rules, but the outcome is the same. They want their lives to and they push the fan. Every time they sin they make the fan harder and harder to push. While all the time the power of God is available to heal their fan and drive their lives

The curse of the Law is seen as the Limit and the Spirit is seen as Power.

How do we share with our Friends the Limits of a Good Enough theology?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Galatians 2 Stingy or Relentless Grace

Galatians 2:11-21
Stingy or Relentless Grace

Do you ever get frustrated when people use a word and you are not sure what it means, but it seems like you would be foolish to ask. I felt that way about the word grace for a long time.

Grace seems to have a hundred and one different uses, and it has a hundred one different meanings. Think about all of the different ways we use the word grace:
We call someone a gracious host, we say “grace” around the dinner table, ballerinas move gracefully, we leave waiters and waitresses a gratuity of 15%. When we take communion or get baptized we call them a “means of grace.” We Christians have this phrase, we are saved by grace through faith, not by works.

The rock star Bono, of U2, sings “Grace makes beauty out of ugly things” We sing a (Chris Tomlin Remake) “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saves a wretch like me, I once was lost, but now am found.”

I hate to say it, but the scriptures don’t make the word any simpler to understand. Variations of the word are used hundreds of times, in many different ways. The standard definition seems to be that grace is “God’s favor toward human beings.” So in this case, God redeemed and picked the Hebrew people, that was grace. The gift of the law, that was grace,

Even though it’s the same Greek word for grace, the New testament translates grace into other similar words like “thank” “favor” “credit” “blessing” and “approved” or “Loving help”. The New Testament describes Jesus’ death and resurrection as the ultimate act of grace. Acts chapter 14, and 20 call the story of Jesus life, death, and resurrection as the “Gospel of Grace.”

Paul uses the word grace as shorthand for the gospel story, and the freedom we have to serve Christ.

Our definition might be: God’s relentless favor towards human beings in the Gospel Story. This would bring us back to the Gospel being the WHOLE story of God’s interaction with humanity

1. The creation story: humans as Eikons) of God (created in the Imago Dei.
2. The fall story: humans as cracked Eikons (fallen).
3. The story of God with his people: Israel’s history and the Church’s history.
4. The Cross: where the story of God’s work finds its focus,
5. The Resurrection: where the story of God’s work is unleashed with power.
6. Pentecost: where the story of God’s work is spiritually empowered.
Paul in Galatians gives us this picture of God who is relentless about grace, and warns us how reserved if not stingy Humans are with Grace.

We are going to read about Paul catching Peter reserving the Grace of God for a select group.

Read Galatians 2:11-21

High School Story (Josh, Gus, Joey and Ben)

The easiest way for all of us to feel this story is to imagine with me, that you are back in High School. Think back on the groups in your school (jocks, Smart kids, Popular crowd, outsiders, the ethnic groups). Where were you?
I can remember coming off an amazing summer at camp in between my Sophomore and Junior year. I was honestly filled with the Grace of God ready to love anyone. In my first class I recognized a new kid named Josh from California. We quickly connected and before I knew it I was hanging out at his house and inviting him to Church. Then Josh connected me with the other friends he had made Gus, Joey and Ben. I had been around these guy for a few year, but never really connected. With Josh as a bridge we built a friendship and they started coming to church and hanging out.
It did not take to long before I started to notice a problem. The old crowd that I had worked my whole life to get into did not accept Josh, Gus, Joey or Ben. As the school year wore on I made more and more choices to exclude these 4 from activities. I pulled back my favor

When Peter comes to town he is an honored guest. Powerful in the spirit and probably extremely encouraging a uplifting to be around. He is going from home to home eating with all those who will accept him.

Then some of his Jerusalem Buddies show up. They are friends Peter has been hanging with his whole life, they are in the group. And Peter looks around at his company and starts pulling his FAVOR (grace) back from some of those less tidy homes. He stops visiting some of those questionable people.

The guy with his foot always in his mouth
The guy who denied Jesus 3 times
Forgiven Resorted
The one who was filled with the Holy Spirit
First spokesman for the Gentiles

Peter Gets stingy with God’s Grace

I see a God reflected in the Bible and know in my life to be Relentlessly offering his favor. I think we get a picture of what God is like when we observe Babies. Have you been to an airport recently? Airports are becoming these interesting places were most people go into a Bubble. They hold back favor and grace because there are just to many people, and to many people they don’t know. But if you watch most babies every person they look at or sit next to they will engage that person, they will smile. They have not yet developed a criteria for offering Grace.

I spent a few seconds amazed that Peter could be such a hypocrite. Amazed that after experiencing the Grace of Jesus in his life so many times. He had lived the whole Gospel. How could he be making these mistakes. Then I got over the fact that even the greatest Human leaders need correction, and started doing some Self evaluation and reflection.

Am I stingy with God’s Grace or Relentlessly reflecting his Favor?

When I was in High School I pulled my grace back from those who needed it and unfortunately a Paul did not come around to correct me. Josh stayed connected in his relationship with God and continues to be a great example of a Grace giver. Gus, Joey, and Ben all saw my hypocrisy and left the church. All three have spent some time in some occult practices. Gus I know is still involved in some dark areas of life.

Now even Peter slipped into these habits of stinginess, and I want us to ask our selves. Where we are stingy with God’s Grace? In the Spirit of Paul I want us to NAME our Hypocrisy.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Galatians 1 Gospel Branding

Tonight we are going to talk about the Gospel and Gospel Branding. What do you think of when you hear the word BRANDING?

When I was growing up this related to an experience of trying to hold down a calf that weighed about as much as I did knee on its neck while my Grandpa pulled a brand from the fire and scorched the fur and skin of the poor calf. It would ball and the worst part for me was the stench. The purpose was to show a distinction of ownership.

Now branding might more readily bring to mind the marketing techniques of a company to distinguish their product or service. We currently have a culture of BRANDING. We will use Taco Bell as an example: Old buildings to New buildings
· Make a run for the border.
· Nothing ordinary about it.
· Cross the Border.
· Fetch that food!
· Taste that food! Dong!
· Change Is Good
· Want some?
· Yo quiero [I want] Taco Bell.
· Think outside the bun.
· Spice up the night.
· Good To Go
Co Branding
· Pizza Hut and KFC;
· Taco Bell/Long John Silver's
· A&W/Taco Bell

In the early church there is some BRANDING and REBRANDING and Co BRANDING going on. Paul in Galatians is pretty TOed about this. Before he became the Apostle Paul, was known by the name of Saul, and he was a fanatical Jew who persecuted and killed the first Christians. He was a feared man by the first followers of Christ. On the road to a town by the name of Damascus, Saul was struck by lightning and was blinded. During that experience with the bolt of lightening, God penetrated the rigid shell of Saul’s life and he was transformed. Christ got into his heart. The Gospel got into his heart. Eternal life. Forgiveness. A life of love.
Have you seen this transition from Slavery to Sin or the Rules to a life of Freedom? Have you felt it like a wind through your own soul?

The Apostle Paul then begins to uncoupled Christianity from the rules, regulations and rituals of Judaism; from the circumcision of Judaism. Therefore, Spanish Christians could be Spanish. Gallic Christians could be Gallic. Roman Christians could be Roman. None of these new Christians needed to become Jewish in order to be Christian.

However their have always been these attempts to remove this freedom and enslave the gospel to a particular culture and Time (to Brand it).

What is the Gospel? The Good News of Human Salvation Through the Trinity through History

Galatians 1:3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

1. The creation story: humans as Eikons) of God (created in the Imago Dei.
Communicated by the words OUR FATHER2. The fall story: humans as cracked Eikons (fallen).
Communicated with the words sin and a need for rescue3. The story of God with his people: Israel’s history and the Church’s history.
All this is done “according to the will of God”4. The Cross: where the story of God’s work finds its focus,
Paul says he gave himself for our sins
5. The Resurrection: where the story of God’s work is unleashed with power.
We have been rescued from the evil of this Age or Kingdom
6. Pentecost: where the story of God’s work is spiritually empowered.

The gospel story taken from here and then branded over and over again. It starts with the Jewish Christians. Then the Romans want the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH. Then the Protestants start their own branding process. Currently their Hundreds of recognized Denominations that create their own Brands of the Gospel to distinguish themselves from others.

This is not a black and white issue for me. I don’t think we can label denominations as totally Bad or evil. But I was challenge by Paul’s words this week.
In verse 10
Am I now trying to win human approval, or God's approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

I think we need to be extremely careful about letting the Gospel become a servant of people. The people in power or the people in need. I want to illustrate this by walking through the story of the Gospel and showing how some people emphasis just one part of the story and it becomes a NEW BRAND

Some preach what I call a Creation Day Only gospel: they focus on humans as made in the image of God, the Eikon of God, and they see nothing but potential, potential, potential. They see human goodness — and there is plenty to see — and they see human development — and there is plenty to see. And that is all they see.
Universalists have BRANDED this part of the Gospel and sell it well.
Most Agnostics hold to this Gospel of their own goodness.

Others believe in what I call a Fall Day Only gospel: they focus on humans as sinners, as polluted morally, as messed up mentally, as disturbed in the soul, and as unconquerable in the body. In other words, they see nothing but problems, problems, problems. And that is all they see. This, too, distorts the gospel.
This Gospel has actually been Branded by Many groups to create a sense of superiority over the UNBELIVER. The unbeliever is incapable of anything good until the believer swoops into save the day. This gospel has opened the door to slavery and oppression. Those without the gospel are considered utterly BAD and BROKEN.

Humans are both good and bad. They are not all good with some bad, or all bad with some good. Ordinary humans are capable of being both majestically good and miserably mean. A gospel worth believing will affirm both.

Others preach a Good Friday Only gospel: they see everything happening at the Cross. The gospel is about forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness. I affirm that Jesus died for us, but having my sins cancelled (or whichever term you want to use) is not enough: God wants to do more for us than simply erase our problems. Some see nothing but the Cross. I have no desire to minimize the Cross, but a Good Friday Only gospel is not enough because for the Bible it was not enough.

Let us say that we have done something mean to our spouse: being forgiven is not what we want. What we want is total reconciliation, not simply the erasure of what we did. Forgiveness brings us back to level, and we want to ascend into the presence of God.
Others preach an Easter Day Only gospel: Jesus rose for our sins to liberate us from death and sin. This, too, is not enough. The gospel is more than liberation: it is liberation from a particular problem: Eikonic distortion. We want to be liberated, not for the sake of liberation, but for the sake of becoming what God made us to be: Eikons who, when pressed, give off God’s glory. An Easter Day Only gospel distorts the gospel because it liberates for the sake of freedom and not for sake of Eikonic restoration.

This BRAND can be recognized by lots of references to Heaven. The whole point of the Gospel story becomes saying a prayer that Gets your butt into heaven. For many in the Evangelical movement this has become their Battle Cry. Time is short people need to Confess and be Saved. The thing I found in High school is that after may of my friends were saved. They soon returned to life as usual, but with a sense of eternal security. They had this personal liberation that could be lived however they wanted.

Finally, others preach a Pentecost Day Only gospel: Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to flood us with his presence. Now, for some this becomes the Ecstasy Gospel of exaggerated experiences, for others it becomes the Empowerment Gospel of Power. The Spirit is designed by God to empower us to become Eikonic in all we do. The Spirit enables us to transcend who we are now so we will become more of what we will be and what we can be.
To suffer or have pain is a simple lack of faith.

Over the next few weeks we want to keep talking about the Whole Gospel Story, for the Whole Person, for the Whole World.

What BRAND of the Gospel did you grow up around, and how did it treat the other BRANDS?

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