Monday, September 27, 2010

Shouting Doesn't Change Anyone!

Click Here to Listen to the Sunday, September 26, 2010 Sermon by Pastor Don Allen

Scripture Reference:  1Peter 3:12-18

Shouting slogans and arousing fear are popular methods for getting attention. We often use them in disciplining our kids, or arguing with a friend. They might be effective ways to get people out of office. Or even to get rid of people we don’t like. But they don’t change people’s hearts. Or produce lasting positive change.

Shouting doesn’t change anyone. Fear is not much better. It leads to more fear.

Peter’s counsel in this passage is radically different. As the shepherd of disciples in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) who suffer in the face of hostility, Peter gives his readers a manifesto for the Community of Jesus-Followers. A way of engaging with the hostilities around us.  A  way of living the Jesus- life between us.

“Be compassionate and humble,” Peter says in verse 8. “Do not repay insult for insult, but with blessing,” he continues in verse 9. And he goes on, reminding them to keep from speaking evil about others, and their ‘lips from deceitful speech (v.10). In other words, “Seek peace and pursue it (verse 11).” And a final thought: “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened (verse 15).”

Jesus’ followers should reflect something of His character, don’t you think?

Here is a list of some practical ways to apply Peter’s guidelines for living amid hostility. Since we are in different places in the road of discipleship, you may sense that God is showing you a different way to live out Peter’s principles. That’s OK. The main thing is to take a step further in that journey this week by choosing one thing and doing it.

One more thing… why not invite someone to take that step with you?

  1. Maybe you have a broken relationship with someone. Peter reminds you: “Seek peace and pursue it.” God will honor your efforts to restore a relationship. Take the first step and reach out to that person; be compassionate and humble as you speak with the person.
  2. As election season heats up, observe how the candidates treat each other. Write to one or two of them: if they seem to attack each other and fail to focus on the issues, let them know that you are not satisfied with that approach, and challenge them to a more civil campaign. Or write a note of appreciation to a candidate that seems to avoid pettiness and shows genuine concern for serving the people.
  3. There are a lot of hateful and fearful messages floating about the internet. Most of them are designed to scare people and have no practical or positive advice. If you get one of these, take the right step: delete them. Do not forward them to your friends. Instead, spread messages that bless and do not curse (see verses 8-9). Start a revolution of good news messages!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Forever Forgiven

Click Here to Listen to Sunday Sermon for September 19, 2010 by Rabbi Bruce Rapp

Scripture Reference:  Leviticus 17:11 and Leviticus 23:26-32

Forever Forgiven?

Reflecting on the Sunday message, and how it spoke of the Day of Atonement, (Yom Kippur).  I am reminded of those things we do as a means of showing ourselves worthy unto God, attending church on Sunday morning, giving a tithe or offering, fasting and praying.

The Jewish people hope that God has forgiven them for their sins this past weekend. That their names are written in the Book of Life and they have pleased God.
I am not sure if God has accepted their offering, only God knows. I am not sure if they afflicted their souls this Yom Kippur in the manner that God would acknowledge. For that matter if we in our Christian ways are just giving “lip service’ too.

 I think God is expecting more from us than just the formalities of our faith, whether Jewish or Christian.

The prophet Isaiah talks about “Fasting that pleases God”: Isaiah 58:1-12.

  1. Can you see Jesus speaking these words?
  2. Is this the heart of God?
  3. Is this the true means for afflicting our souls?

For more information about Bruce and Jews for Jesus, visit

Monday, September 13, 2010

In the Same Way

Click Here to Listen to Sunday Sermon for September 12, 2010 by Pastor Chip

Scripture Reference: 1Peter 3:1-7

“In the Same Way . . .”

1 Peter 3:7

The topic of marital submission is one that is controversial in Christian circles. Why? I don’t believe it is because of the scriptures. I believe it is because of our culture and because of our inherent selfishness and will-to-power. The scriptures, as I read them, call on all Christians to be in submission to each other. Let me talk about how this look in our First Peter passage we studied last Sunday.

In this passage we read, “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives . . .”

But this passage does not exist in isolation. It is part of a larger admonition on the subject of submission in general. Let’s look at that larger context. Peter’s train of thought follows this order:

1. Everyone, be in submission to the governing authorities. [verses 2: 13-17]

2. Slaves, submit to your masters [2:18-20]

Then Peter slows for a moment to tell us that Christ is the supreme example of submission. [2:21-25] Then he continues:

3. Wives, in the same way (as Jesus), be submissive to your husbands. [3:1-2]

4. Husbands, in the same way (as Jesus), be considerate is you live with your wives. [3:7]

5. Everyone, live in harmony with sympathy, love, compassion and humility. [3:8]

The telling point for me is the phrase “in the same way.” Peter admonishes, in the same way as Jesus submitted his life to God, to others, and to you, exhibit this submission as a part of your citizenship, your marriage, your work life, your church life.

That Jesus is our model of submission is obvious. But somehow, even with the words “in the same way,” we have created a climate in which submission for a wife looks distinctly subservient to the submission of a husband. I say this should not be. Am I rallying to the feminist cause that wants to deny differences between the sexes. No way. I’m not a feminist. But I am a Christian. And my Bible says that in Christ there is no hierarchy of status when it comes to our saved standing before God. “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.” [Galatians 3:28] And if there is no hierarchy in our standing before God in our regeneration, salvation, and redemption, then I have hard time assuming hierarchy anywhere else.

The Apostle Paul makes the same argument in Ephesians that Peter does in his letter. He admonishes the whole church, “Submit to one another out of reverence or Christ.” [Eph. 5:21] He then goes through a laundry list of relationship much as Peter does, calling for submission from wives, husbands, children, parents, slaves, and masters.

So, the wives ask, should I submit to my husband or not. And my answer is an unqualified yes. And your husband should be submitting his needs and wants to you in the same way.

The way that Jesus did.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Being Citizens of Two Kingdoms

Click Here to Listen to Sunday Sermon for September 05, 2010 by Pastor Chip

Scripture Reference:  1Peter 2:13-17

What an interesting thing to read in the scriptures about how Christians are to submit to governing authorities, when those authorities were the very ones persecuting the Christians! If that were happening here in the US we would be calling our lawyers and demanding our rights, threatening to “take this all the way to the Supreme Court.” But Christians in the first century had no such democratic protections like those we are blessed to enjoy. Equal protection under the law only worked if you were (a) Roman, (b) an actual citizen (most were not), and (c) loyal to the Emperor. Peter is writing to people without those protections. Many, if not most in the churches to whom he was writing, were Jewish by ethnicity. And as far as the first century Romans were concerned, anyone who worshipped one God must be Jewish. Only later did they understand the distinction between Jews and Christians.

While it may be difficult for some today to pray for and submit to constituted legitimate authority, it certainly must have been harder in Peter’s day. In fact, I think it must have stuck in people’s craw to have to pray for an Emperor who called himself a god. Or to submit to a local magistrate who has just told you to pack up your family, forfeit your business, and hit the road. But what other choice did they have? They had no protection.

Not only could they not fight city hall; city hall was fighting them.

Peter’s message to us is clear: Live under authority showing grace and peace.

This prompts the disciple who lives in a democracy to ask some important questions, especially since we have the “right to seek redress” from the government.

  1. Since God calls us to submit to the authorities, is it ever right to break laws in order to make a social or political statement? (Yes, I mean like the Boston Tea Party.)
  2. Are Christians blocking the entrance to an abortion clinic disobeying God by doing so in violation of a no-trespassing law?
  3. How can we pray for a President, a member of Congress, or a more local official that we believe is wrong, corrupt, or bad for We The People? In other words, I may not be able to thank God for him or her, but what kind of prayers can I appropriately pray on their behalf?
As you think on these things, let me share the quote I left you with at the end of the sermon on Sunday. George Matheson (1842-1906) wrote these words:

Make me a captive, Lord, And then I shall be free;
Force me to render up my sword, And I shall conqueror be.
I sink in life's alarms when by myself I stand;
Imprison me within thine arms, And strong shall be my hand.