Friday, March 21, 2008

The Day the Angels Screamed

“Who is like Him, the Lion and the Lamb?”[1]

Have you ever stopped to think what the angels think of us humans? They probably have a hard time figuring us out. They see and know the awesomeness of God in everything. They surround Him and praise Him, and they knew exactly who Jesus was here on earth. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning….The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:1-2,14 NIV) Yet they see man, created in the image of God, seldom giving their creator the praise that He is due.

The angels and the creatures (of Rev. 5) fully understand the Lion (the power and authority). They also understand the total agape love it was for the Lion, the God of the Universe, to lower Himself and come and save what to the angels must seem like a bunch of ungrateful creations. They know fully the price that was paid. The angels and creatures watched as God created the earth. They saw Him create Adam and Eve and they watched in disbelief as they disobeyed Him. They continued to see the unfolding of the past thousands of years.

Then they saw their Creator lower Himself and come to earth as a man and they watched in total horror when God, as man, was accused, spat upon, humiliated, beaten and then hung on a cross. Can you imagine the anguish they went through, screaming out with every lash asking God to be released to go and stop this. The mighty warriors of God, their swords at the ready; held back. Always there, awaiting their instructions from God and now when it seemed as though they were needed the most, He said, “No”. They scream and they shout, begging the Father to set them free to go to His rescue, not fully understanding then that the sacrifice of the Lamb WAS the rescue. The rescue of God's prized possession, us.

Who is worthy to be praised? The Lion and the Lamb!

(This article is taken in large part from my response in a panel discussion in Theology I at Liberty University)
[1] From “Praise Adonai” ©1999 Integrity's Hosanna! MusicWords and Music by Paul Baloche

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Is Holy Week holy?

We have been talking to some people about a new building for our ministry over the last few days. It's closer to the "action" in town (not sure if that's good or bad!). By action, I'm talking about the mean streets, the club scene. The good part is the building comes with an optional house (a real house!) above it. Anyway, they have just been clearing it out over the last few days. I went by today to show Martha the building and lo and behold, there are about 15-20 people decorating it with palm branches, balloons, tables and chairs. I asked what was going on and they said they were going to have a fiesta this weekend for Easter. Then I turned, looked and saw it; "The Great Wall of Cerveza!" And, they are still bringing it in! It's Semana Santa, or Holy Week, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.

Now, it's not surprising to me to see this and it's not even surprising to me that it would be in the very building that we are hoping to rent to have church and ministry in. It didn't even surprise me when I looked and saw one of the guys we have been ministering to in our alcohol/drug addiction ministry working there nailing up palm branches on the wall. He has had serious drug problems in the past and we have tried to help him. He comes to church occasionally but professes to be a Muslim. He motioned me over and when I got to him, that is when I got my surprise. He said, "Pastor Paul, I'm not quite sure, but what does drinking beer and dancing have to do with the death of Christ and His resurrection ?" I was stunned that he got it and so few of the "Christians" didn't!

I told him, "I've never figured out what they see as being holy about Holy Week".

That's a sad commentary on the actions of "Christians" in the eyes of others when people of other faiths see the hypocrisy of the message some of us send.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Looking out for Opportunities

As a volunteer community warden for the US Embassy in Honduras, I recently had to deal with the health related death of an American citizen. In doing so, I had to give a statement to the Policia Nacional, the Federal Police here. A very nice young officer who is the station commander came by my house with two other officers and we had a pretty good time as we stumbled through my Spanish and their English trying to complete the statement. We did manage to get it done.

When we were through, I mentioned that I was a police officer years ago in Texas so that increased the bond that was forming. I told him what our work consisted of here and then something inside made me ask him, "What is it that you guys might need?" I expected it to be something personal or some luxury item, so I was shocked when he said, "Beds". These officers are assigned here for six months to a year and they live at the station under whatever conditions are there. I went days later to the station to see what they had and sure enough, they need beds! And a kitchen and a bathroom door without a giant hole in it and running water and lights and.... I told them that I would see what I could for them.

But that is not the story. Since meeting them, I have visited the station numerous times and they have come by our outreach center. They have also met Isidro, a local man that works in our ministry. In our talks, the new Jefe (boss man) has now asked Isidro if he will come by the station every week and hold a Bible study! What a great opportunity to teach these guys (only one is a Christian) and then have them leave in six months to a year and take that learning to another station!

(BTW, I am contacting my old police friends in Texas to see if they might start a drive to raise some money to help fix up the station.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

To be in union with Christ

My discussion board response today in Theology about what it means to be in union with Christ.

When we look at union, we need to start by breaking that word down. Union is going to be the state of having unity, so what is unity? According to the American Heritage Dictionary, “Unity: 1. The state or quality of being one; singleness. 2. The state or quality of being in accord; harmony. 3a. The combination or arrangement of parts into a whole; unification. b. A combination or union thus formed. 4. Singleness or constancy of purpose or action; continuity.” When I think of being in union with Christ, that definition hits the nail right on the head! Singleness, harmony, unification and continuity; that is part of the sum of being in union with Christ. To be molded together to form one entity, with one purpose.

Others have touched on the fact of being in union with Christ through the relationship when we accept Him as our Lord, but is that where it stops? In John chapter 17, we have the three prayers of Jesus and it is the prayer for those who believe the message they hear that we can see another key to being in union with Christ. "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me.” (John 17:20-23a NIV) The first thing that we note is the unity of Christ and the Father. “To be one…as you are in me and I am in you”. Then Jesus talks about the unity of the believers, “that they be one as we are one”. Christ prays that the believers would have the same unity amongst themselves as He has with the Father. Then comes the decisive factor, “I in them and you in me”. It is here that we find the ultimate in what it means to be in union with Christ. When we are in union with the Body of Christ, we will be in union with Christ and if we are in union with Christ, we will also be in union with the Father and this will be accomplished through God’s Spirit within us. What is the purpose of all of this? We find it in second part of verse 23, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” The purpose of this unity is to show the world that God loves them and sent His Son because of that love.

Let me close with this as the Apostle Paul urges us to; “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to one hope when you were called-one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph 4:3-6 NIV) There is no union with Christ alone, it must be with the body, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.