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There Is No Denying Who Jesus Is

Christmas Day

There Is No Denying Who Jesus Is

Text: John 1:1-14

Jesus had disappeared into the clouds as he ascended into heaven only a few decades earlier, but already controversy was plaguing the Church.  A man named Cerinthus seems to have lived in the city of Ephesus and was teaching something radical.  Cerinthus claimed that Jesus was not truly God and man, but just a mere man alone.

Meanwhile, a Greek philosophy called Gnosticism was infiltrating the Church as well.  Gnostics believed that knowledge is supreme and rules over all.  The pursuit of knowledge and gaining knowledge are most important in life.  Knowledge is even more supreme than Jesus, gnosticism would say.

This could not continue.  People needed to know who Jesus really is.  So a man very near and dear to Jesus wrote about it.  His name was John.  John was one of the twelve disciples and one of the three (Peter, James, and John) that was closest to Jesus.  If any human knew anything about Jesus, the apostle John would be one of the few who knew the most—from firsthand experience even.  Read the rest of this entry

Am I Safe?

14th Sunday after Pentecost

Am I Safe?

Text: Romans 7:1-8

Where were you?  That was the big question to ask this last week on Thursday.  Where were you 13 years ago on September 11, 2001?  Every year Americans take time to reflect upon one of the greatest tragedies on American soil in U.S. history.  Some of you were there in New York.  Some of you know people who were there in New York.  All of us remember where we were, what we were doing, and how we found out.

None of us will forget the feeling either.  It was so terrible an attack and so personal an attack and so close to home that no matter how many years pass by we will not forget.  The destruction.  The dust.  The deaths.  The sadness.  The tears.  The anger.  The fear.  This is the terror that terrorism brings, and we all experienced it personally.

Now here we are 13 years later and still waters are starting to break again.  For 13 years we have had relative peace.  Yes, there have been attempts at attacks.  Yes, there has been war in the Middle East.  Yes, soldiers have lost their lives.  But we have had relative peace and quiet, especially here in America.  Now though, the glassy sea of peace is being disturbed by waves of terrorism.

Our archenemies are at it again.  Muslims, worldly enemies to Christians for some 1,400 years, have another faction of militant soldiers taking arms against us.  Thirteen years ago it was Al-Qaeda.  Today it is Isis.  This group is taking up jihad—holy war—in active, aggressive, and frightening ways.  They are hunting down Christians.  They are marking their homes with that U-shaped symbol you may have seen (which stands for the word Nazarene in Arabic).  Men, women, even children are not safe as they are brutally slaughtering any they find.  The public nature of these attacks and the video footage they purposefully share strikes fear.  Now rumors are spreading about Isis living among us in the United States and immanent and impending attacks.  There’s a reason they are called terror-ists. It makes a Christian wonder.  Am I Safe? Read the rest of this entry

Here is the Man! Rejected.

4th Wednesday in Lent

Here Is the Man!  Rejected.

Text: Mark 14:55-65

Bakhytzhan Kashkumbaev was released from prison on February 17 this year. The 67-year-old retired Presbyterian pastor had been in prison for nine months in Kazakhstan. He was originally arrested on charges of “intentionally inflicting serious harm to health.” Some of the main charges were brought by the family of a woman who was attending his church.  The family claimed that Kashkumbaev caused the woman to be mentally ill.

When the authorities originally raided his church in 2012 they confiscated materials, brochures, valuables, and even a certain red-colored communion drink they claimed had hallucinogens in it.  They accused the church of espionage, fraud, money laundering, and possession of extremist literature.  While in prison for those nine months Pastor Kashkumbaev experienced torturous conditions, including attempts to mentally break him and the denial of health care and medicine for his heart and circulation issues. It is disgusting to hear what people will say and do when they reject Jesus Christ.

Pastor Kashkumbaev’s story is similar to the stories of many early Christians in the Roman Empire.  They accused Christians of being in a secret cult or sect, of defiance to the emperor, and even of being cannibals (because of Christ’s body and blood in Communion). It was fun and sport to drag Christians out of their homes and throw them to the lions or the gladiators and watch them die in agony and pain.  It is disgusting to hear what people will say and do when they reject Jesus Christ.    Read the rest of this entry

Christ the King

Christ the King Sunday

Christ the King

1. Who he is
2. What he does
3. Who we are
4. What we do

Text: Colossians 1:13-20

Intro

Who is Jesus Christ?  “Uh.  Silly question, Pastor!  We are at church right now.  We’re at Christ the King Church right now.  Come on!”  But really.  Who is Jesus Christ?  We talk about him a lot.  As Christians we base our whole faith on Christ.  It’s kind of important to know who Jesus Christ is.

Most people in this world know about Jesus.  Many people in this world talk about Jesus.  There are cross earrings and necklaces all over the place.  There are Christian bookstores and publishing houses.  There are Christian magazines.  Even Time magazine has had Jesus on the cover.  Men roll up their sleeves to show a cross and/or crown of thorns tattoo on the arm.  Women show the little cross tattoo on their shoulder blades or ankles.  There are Jesus and cross bumper stickers.  There are “What Would Jesus Do?” bracelets.  There are “Jesus is my homeboy” tee shirts.  Jesus pictures and artwork.  Jesus coffee mugs.  There was even a Saturday Night Live skit with Tim Tebow having a conversation in the locker room with Jesus.

But who is Jesus Christ?  Muslims call Jesus a great prophet, but not as good as Mohammed.  Jews call Jesus a great teacher, but not the Messiah.  Many Americans use his name like a curse word, shouting it when something bad happens.  Some Christians think of Jesus like a lucky rabbit’s foot—they pull him out when they need him and hopefully he’ll make something good happen.  Similarly, other Christians view Jesus simply as a best friend or a guardian angel—if you commit your life to him enough he’ll make your life happy and easy.  And many, many others who don’t have an opinion about Jesus Christ might admit they simply aren’t sure—but they know he’s important.

If you want to know who Jesus Christ really is and what he has done, there is hardly a better or clearer place to look in all of the Bible than the book of Colossians.  The eight verses before us today from the first chapter of Colossians are a beautiful description of him on this glorious day to help us better understand Christ the King. Read the rest of this entry

This Means War!

13th Sunday after Pentecost

Memorial Service on the 10th Anniversary of September 11

This Means War!

Text:  Ephesians 6:10-18

Intro

I was up bright and early in the morning for class.  No matter how interesting the subject, first hour class was never fun for a college student.  After two morning classes, I had a break third hour before we had morning chapel on campus.  I walked back to the dorm room.  Fall was not far off, so the temperature was nearly perfect in Minnesota.

I walked into my room and my roommate immediately said, “Dude, you gotta see this.”  I glanced at our TV.  He had the news on.  I think the first thing I said was, “What?  Is that real?”  I couldn’t believe what I saw—two massive skyscrapers billowing fire and smoke into the air.  America was under attack!

Every day we had gathered for chapel in college.  As usual I sat with my friends and next to my girlfriend (Becky).  But chapel certainly had a different mood and feel that day.  This was an epic event for the world, but in particular for our generation.  My grandfather remembers where he was on December 7, 1941 for Pearl Harbor.  My father cried as a grade school boy when they announced on November 22, 1963 that the president had been assassinated.  But our generation has had nothing traumatic happen yet.  The world wars were just history facts.  Vietnam was something we saw in graphic movies or that our parents sometimes talked about.  The Persian Gulf War was seemingly no big deal.  We went over to the Middle East, flexed our American muscles, and called it a day.  My generation had experienced nothing like this.

I could tell it would be a historic day, and not just because 2,977 people lost their lives.  This was an attack on American soil.  This was the Middle East versus the United States; terrorists versus people living in peace; Muslims versus Christians.  All I could think was, This Means War!  Rally the troops!  Strap up the armor!  Fire up the jets!  Lock and load!  This Means War! Read the rest of this entry