Friday, July 20, 2012

Three for One

"To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare him to? As for an idol,a craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashions silver chains for it. A man too poor to present such an offering selects wood that will not rot. He looks for a skilled craftsman to set up an idol that will not topple." Isaiah 40:18-20 We are all wrapped up in this move. The Internet is turned off. This post is brought to you by my iPhone and a pair of thumbs that are no match for a speedy teenager. This post will stand in for yesterday, today and tomorrow. Try to remain calm. More consistent posts will follow and the daily schedule should resume Sunday. Isaiah brings two more outstanding questions to the table, more to chew on. Nothing compares to God. Nothing is worthy to stand in as His image. He can not be replicated. Men do their best, trading the Living God for substitutes less demanding, altogether more manageable, something we can manipulate with our human hands. But our God is no mute idol. Success, Beauty, Wealth, Fame and Security, all of these things we worship, making tremendous sacrifices along the way. But every single one of them is fleeting, failing. At Broadway, I pray we can grow together as a people who sacrifice for the glory and honor of the Living God above all else. And may we learn to live lives of service in our community exposing false gods as we point people to the One and Only I am.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What Are We Worth?

"Before him all the nations are as nothing;
they are regarded by him as worthless
and less than nothing."
Isaiah 40:16

We all make value judgments. 
Is that car worth the price tag?
Is that trophy worth the time and energy?
Is that trip worth the effort?

What are we worth?
I had a great professor at ACU that taught me a lot about early American Literature.  One of his favorite lectures revolved around the influence of colonial religious beliefs on poetry and prose in those early years of American history.  He directed us to the hymnal at one point for a profound visual aid, a hymn written by Isaac Watts in 1707:

Alas! And did my Savior bleed?
And did my Sovereign die?
Would he devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

This is the first stanza... sobering stuff, huh?  We are as worms.  That is our value.  Is that the pick-me-up you needed today?  Dr. Harper brought us to this song with a purpose though, and so does Isaiah.  Our worthless estate is an important revelation if we are ever to understand the amazing grace of God.  That sacred head for our sorry souls?!  What a deal!

God knew exactly what he was doing, though.  It's true; He regarded us as worthless, as less than nothing, but He wasn't willing to leave us that way, so He changed our fortunes forever with the sacrifice of His Son and the gift of His Spirit.  Now, we are His children, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, the Body of Christ.  At Broadway, may we learn to rejoice everyday in this gift and live a life worthy of the calling we have received, to prove valuable for the Master who paid so precious a price for our freedom.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Score

"Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires,
nor its animals enough for burnt offerings."
Isaiah 40:16

Our worship is not enough.
In the great exchange, His blessing for ours, we can never even the score.
But, many of us try.

We think we've been to church three times this week; we've earned the right to have a little fun Friday night.  We reason that we've tithed for years; why should it matter how we spend our extra cash? We figure that we've been good most of our life; what's the real harm of a wild week in Vegas?

And the real danger isn't in the deed as much as it is the deal-maker mindset.  God didn't need dead sheep anymore than he needs a little extra cash in the collection plate.  But anyone bargaining with God has missed the point entirely.  God's grace is so great, his blessings so abundant that our offerings are never enough to settle the score.  We offer our sacrifices, the time, the talent, and the treasure at our disposal, because we love the Lord.

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21)

This is a promise just as surely as it's a fact.  And we should realize worship and sacrifice is not only an opportunity to see where our heart lies, but also an opportunity to tell our heart where we want it to go.  May God continually grow in us at Broadway hearts that worship with everything we've got, not to even the score, but to sincerely love the Lord.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Weightlifting at Broadway

"Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
they are regarded as dust on the scales;
he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust."
Isaiah 40:15

I noticed on Facebook yesterday that there is a mighty man among us.
Cody Nelson won some hardware at the Firefighter Olympics this past weekend; four hundred thirty-five pounds on the bench press! We could have put the entire Rogers family in buckets on either end of the bar, and Cody might have mustered the strength to lift us from the ground.  That blows my mind!

And as impressive as that is, Isaiah says we could summon all the nations of the earth, and they'd be like a drop in the bucket for the LORD! Of course, when was the last time you were looking to pick up Canada? It's not like we even think about that sort of thing.  We're too busy with our own heavy-lifting.  We carry the weight of great expectations, disappointments, failures, stress and worry, illness, heartache, and sin.  The sad thing is, so many carry on as if there's no one stronger in the room. 

Surrounded by a world of weary weightlifters, Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

The strongest one who ever walked the face of the earth offers a trade... your burdens for his, and it's not a trick.  His burden is light, because sin, worry and sickness have no staying power there.  Christ carried those things to the cross and left them in the tomb.  They have power over us no longer. 

There is love that came for us
Humbled to a sinner's cross
He broke my shame and sinfulness
He rose again, victorious

Faithfulness none can deny
Through the storm and through the fire
There is truth that sets me free
Jesus Christ, who lives in me

You are stronger, You are stronger
Sin is broken, You have saved me
It is written: Christ is risen
Jesus, you are Lord of all

No beginning and no end
You're my hope and my defense
You came to seek and save the lost
You paid it all upon the cross

You are stronger, you are stronger
Sin is broken, you have saved me
It is written: Christ is risen
Jesus, you are Lord of all

So, let Your name be lifted higher,
be lifted higher, be lifted higher

This is the only lifting we have to do.  It's our job to see that the Name of Jesus is high and lifted up for all to see.  May Broadway come to be known as a place where burdens are lifted for all as Christ is exalted in wholehearted worship and prayer.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Our Faithful Guide

"Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him,
and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge,
or showed him the path of understanding?"
Isaiah 40:14

Too many of us live our lives here in a relentless tug of war to seize control and lead the way.
Through the years, I've ministered to my fair share of stubborn mules teens.  I've counseled parents in my office at their wit's end, because their son or daughter is so "strong-willed" they can't see eye to eye. 

Among my favorite weeks in ministry have been the ten wilderness trek experiences I've shared with teens and their parents.  On one of those great adventures, we were set to hike to the summit of Mount Hope in Colorado, a peak that rises to around 13,960'.  I had with me a motley crew from Montgomery, low-land city dwellers accustomed to life at around 300' above sea level.  The week was a struggle.  I'll never forget how things began, at the precipice of a mountain, rappelling.  Taylor was paralyzed by fear.  As she stood there harnessed, her heart racing, she could not bring herself to back down the cliff.  A storm rolled in rescuing her, putting an end to the rappel that day, but the storm did not rescue her from the mountain and the grueling hike that waited for us the next day.  The storm didn't rescue her from the steep approach to the summit three days later.  Along the way, God taught Taylor to trust Him.  At the end of the week, she walked down that mountain with a different perspective entirely.  She was no longer barking demands for the Divine.  She had learned to trust the Lord, even in hard times through the peaks and valleys, knowing that God's counsel is sure. 

Teens and parents need someone wiser for the way, but first, the hearing-impaired must humble themselves.  We have to know the answer to these questions Isaiah offers up, and we must meet our Savior with ears eager to listen.  May God continually grow in us at Broadway a desire to listen to Him, our Faithful Guide.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Counselor

"Who has understood the mind of the Lord,
or instructed him as his counselor?"
Isaiah 40:13

I know some brilliant people, but God is an entirely different league.
Think about it.
God was the one who worked out the math on the circumference of the earth.
It was God who penned the best-selling book of all time.
Who built the periodic table of elements? That's right, God Almighty.
There's not a subject he can't handle, so why do we act as if he needs our counsel?

Peter played the fool.
Jesus made his intentions known, unveiling the plan that the Messiah would be the Suffering Servant.  While Jesus' words were still hanging in the air, Peter pulled him aside to rebuke him.  Jesus looked at the other disciples, then gave Peter the tongue-lashing of his life: "Get behind me, Satan.  You have in mind the things of man, not the things of God." (Mark 8)

Our minds are home to a host of selfish thoughts and wicked intentions.  The mind of God is altogether holy.  Offering Him advice, working with the broken-down processor I've got at my disposal... that's crazy.  The only sane thing we can do is choose to honor Him as Lord and Master.  From Heaven, He can see it all.  We should be honored and overjoyed that He has offered to serve as our Counselor... and we should listen.

The really cool thing is that something changes in us as we listen, the renewing of our mind.  And while we never grow so wise to play counselor to The Counselor, we do learn to think like Him.  May God teach us to listen so that He might grow in all of us at Broadway a beautiful mind set not on the things of man, but the things of God.

Life's Q&A

"Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
or weighed the mountains on the scales
and the hills in the balance?"
Isaiah 40:12

At times, we really need to wrestle with questions from the Lord, don't we?
When we get too big for our britches, when we forget our place, when we forget our God, questions like these wrest us from our stupor and restore us to sanity.

Jesus asks the best questions:
To his eager disciples, resolute to follow him wherever he might lead, whatever the threat, he asks, "Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?" (Matthew 20)
To teachers of the law blinded by their self-righteous pursuit, he asks, "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" (Mark 3)
To his disciples, faced with the overwhelming thought of feeding 4,000 people in a remote place, he asked, "How many loaves do you have?" (Mark 8)

Perhaps the greatest question of all came in Mark 8, as Jesus gathered his disciples to talk. 
He first asked, "Who do people say I am?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"

Peter had an answer ready.  He rose to the occasion.
During the lunch hour in Decatur, Alabama yesterday we polled the people on the street.
We asked them this very question, and most of them were tongue-tied.  I was surprised at how many Christians struggled to articulate their faith, to answer this question with confidence.  That's a shame.  The church, the people inhabited by the Holy Spirit should be ready at any moment to give a reason for the hope that we have.  Are you?

Give it a shot with a reply right here... Who is this Jesus?