Monday, December 12, 2011

Why Are You Here?

Scripture Reference:  1Peter 2:4-10 and 2Timothy 2:2


People have some funny ideas about church. 

The first one is that church is a building.  It’s not.   

The second is that church is a business that sells a product called God to the people who come.  It’s not. 

The third that going to church is just showing up on a Sunday morning.  It’s not

 The church is the body of people who gather together.  It is the living, breathing extended family of God, gathering together to worship him and to encourage each other.

It’s about living together in that messy, knocked-around, whoops-I-made-a-mistake, let-me-help-you-up-when-you-fall, kind of way. 

Peter calls us living stones, being built into a spiritual house with Christ as the cornerstone:  The Church!

Like the toy bricks that you had as a kid, we build upon each other to be a wall.  We are strong because we stand together and we stand with Christ.

The church is US!

Why are you here?  Why do you come to church on Sunday?  Why should you make it a priority to be together with your church family every week?

The answer is simple:  We are stronger together.  We encourage each other.  We build each other up.  The strong among us today help the weak.  And tomorrow, when we struggle, they will be strong to help us. 

Church isn’t about habit.  It’s not about business.  It’s not about going to a building because that’s what your parents did?  It’s about people.

Let me encourage you to make Sunday morning a priority.  Be here with your family through thick and thin.  Build them up and you’ll find that they build you up too.

Life is a Journey.  You don’t have to walk alone.

That’s why you are here.
Pastor Rodger

Why Am I Here?

Scripture Reference:  Genesis 1:27-31, Deuteronomy 6:5, and Matthew 22:34-40

Philosophers have been wrestling with the question of existence for millennia.  Why am I here?  The answers are there in God’s word.  From the beginning of the Bible, God lets us know the answer to the question, “Why am I here?”

God put us here for relationship.

We are here to care.

Care for God.

Care for Each other.

and Take Care of Creation.

That’s why I am here.

God put us here to take care of the place.  We are caretakers and we haven’t been very good at it.  All too often, Evangelicals get so focused on heaven, that we are no earthly good.  All arguments about global warming aside, we need to take care of the planet, and yet, we often push away others who care about the environment.  We seem to present the idea to the world that Christ is coming back, so it doesn’t matter how we keep the place.  But God cares about creation and we are called to take care of it.

We are also called to care for one another.  Do we do that very well?  Christians are unfortunately known for treating our own brothers and sisters in sin very poorly.  We have similar divorce rates and even higher abortion rates as the rest of the world.  God cares about our relationships with one another, so perhaps we should treat those better too.

Finally, We are called to care for God; to love Him with all of our hearts and mind and strength.  Sadly, we don’t do a very good job of that either.  Worship on Sunday is just another activity that might fall to the wayside for work or entertainment.  We don’t spend time with God in His word or in prayer.

God put us here to care.

That’s the answer to the question:  “Why am I here?”

The answer then calls us to get to work:

1.       Let’s care for God.  Make it a priority to spend time with Him each week.

2.       Let’s care for each other.  Get counseling, build relationships, seek help, so that when times are hard we can turn to those closest to us for support, and know that they will be there to walk with us.

3.       Let’s care for creation.  Let’s show the rest of the world that we care about the creation that God gave us.  Let’s glorify God by living simply, by cutting our trash, by recycling, by cleaning up.

Let’s care and show the world that we care. 

Pastor Rodger

We Are Back!!!

After hours of technical support, changing to a new server, internet provider issues, and not one, but two computer crashes, the Monday Morning Bible Blog has returned.  We will be restarting the blog beginning the first week of Advent (Sunday, 11/27/11).  If you would like to listen to any of the sermons that are missing between August & November, please contact Mountain View Christian Church to obtain a CD of the sermon:

Mountain View Christian Church
2927 East Campbell Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85016
(602) 955-9414

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

We're Sorry

Due to computer network problems, we have not been able to publish the last two Bible Blogs.  We are working on the problem and will put up any missing blogs and sermons when the problem is solved.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wisdom - 31 Days of Proverbs: Wisdom versus Knowledge

Click Here to Listen to the Sunday, July 31, 2011 Sermon by Pastor Rodger S. Loar

Click Here for the August 2011 Proverbs Contest

Scripture Reference: Proverbs 1:1-33

Knowledge, Yeah, we’ve got. that Information, it’s all over the place. Data, it’s pouring out of our computers at an unbelievable rate. Trying to keep up with all of this is like trying to drink from a fire hose.

It’s been said, “Knowledge is power.” But, power needs control.

The problem with knowledge is that you need wisdom to apply it.

Wisdom, however, is not running in large amounts. In fact, it seems that the more information we have, the less wisdom that seems to be present.

Open any newspaper. Flip on the TV news. Look at the entertainment sites on the internet. There are plenty of intelligent people, people with college degrees, people in charge of companies and government agencies who are doing dumb things. These are smart people, but they lack wisdom.

The month of August is Wisdom month for MVCC. We will be reading the book of Proverbs, seeking wisdom. Proverbs 2:4 instructs us to seek wisdom as one would look for hidden treasure. We should search for wisdom as a thing of value.

Our challenge to you this month is to begin reading the book of Proverbs. Read one chapter each day, chapter 1 on August 1st, chapter 2 on August 2nd, and so on till you complete the 31st chapter on the 31st of August. Don’t worry if you missed yesterday, it’s easy to catch up. It should only take 5 – 10 minutes each day to complete the challenge.

Proverbs is a fun book of wise sayings. You’ll find yourself laughing at ones like Proverbs 25:24 (especially if you are a husband). You’ll find some that are humorous, but Oh so true like Proverbs 27:3 and others that are just plain wise advice such as Proverbs 22:24-25.

I encourage you to highlight the best proverbs that you come across. Share the advice on Facebook. Write them down and memorize them. Wisdom is a valuable thing.

Pastor Rodger

Monday, July 25, 2011


Click Here to Listen to the Sunday, July 24, 2011 Sermon "unBroken Part II - Broken to unBroken" by Pastor Rodger S. Loar

Click Here to Listen to the Sunday, July 17, 2011 Sermon "unBroken Part I - Unbroken to Broken" by Pastor Rodger S. Loar

Scripture Reference: Romans 5:19

Much of the world believes that people are basically good.  But are we?  God's word teaches us that we are made in God's image, but that we are sinful and rebelious... Broken.  It also teaches us that God has redeemed those who have believed in Jesus Christ, making us whole again... Unbroken.

What are we then?  Broken or unbroken? 

When we come to realize that humanity is both broken and at the same time can be unbroken, then it changes how we treat each other.  If we recognize that the people we meet are children of God, made in his image, then it makes us treat them a little more special.  If we also realize that they are broken sinners that need God, it also makes us a little more understanding and hopefully grace-giving.  Finally, if we add in the idea that we are all redeemable through Christ, then it allows us to share hope with them where they are.

This isn't always easy, when you deal with someone who is a jerk, when you wonder about someone who has hurt a child, or who has murdered, when you deal with someone who time and again has hurt you.

But, when we balance the brokenness and unbrokenness of humanity, and we ultimately see that we too are the same, then we can be more welcoming, more grace-filled, more unconditionally loving and we can bring hope to a world that so desperately needs it.


P.S.  I write this with a caveat:  I struggle with this too.  This very day, one day after giving the second sermon in this series, I encountered someone who was a rude jerk to me.  Though patient at first, I ended up blowing up and yelling at her.  I share this only to let you know that the struggle goes on and that even the rudest people you meet still need hope.  Let's keep working on this together.

Pastor Rodger

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sharing Your Story - Medic!

Click Here to Listen to the Sunday, July 3, 2011 Sermon by Pastor Rodger S. Loar

Click Here to Download the Four Neighbors Activity

Scripture Reference:  Matthew 9:35-38

I’ve never been a farmer or a herdsman.  I’ve worked in a small garden, and I used to spend summers with my Uncle and Aunt on their farm with chickens and cows.  But, let’s face it, I don’t know a lot about the day-to-day goings on of your average sheep.  You probably don’t either.
Yet, when Jesus, in Matthew 9:35-38, says he had compassion on the crowds, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd, I have no problem visualizing what he is talking about.  I can see a herd of sheep being scattered by the winds and rain, by wolves nipping at their heels, by vultures taking their lambs.  They run to and fro seeking anything that will take away the bad things.
Now, look around.  Look at your friends, your coworkers, your neighbors, and your relatives.  Do you see it?  Do you see the way the fill their schedules with anything that might distract them from the realities of this life?  Funerals and Hospitals and other such things are to be avoided at any cost.  Turn off the news and stay away from controversy.  They turn their eyes away from the homeless man on the corner and keep your kids from hanging around ‘those kids’ that might affect them.  They stay away from anything painful or difficult and keep themselves immersed in a world of entertainment and busy-ness.  Why?  Because, if they stop for even a second, they might actually see the dangers and realities of the world out their.  They might have to question their mortality.  They might just have to question the condition of their lives and the choices that they’ve made.  This is often why they stay away from church.  They often claim that Christians are judgmental, when it is really that they are afraid of their own conviction and the urging of God.
Harrassed & Helpless,  they stay on this path of silent pain and hectic numbness which keeps them from God.
That’s why we are all called to bring the good news of Christ to the world.  It’s not just the job of one or two pastors, but the job of every Christian to share with those around them.
Remember the old 70s television show, M.A.S.H.?  That’s what we must be like.  We are called to be medics who go out into the battleground of the world and bring the wounded back for healing.  Church is a hospital for the sick and hurt.  It is a place to get revitalized and then sent out to rescue others.
Take this challenge.  Go and share your story with your friends, relatives, neighbors, and coworkers.  Don’t be a jerk, don’t be obnoxious, and don’t be fake.  Be yourself and listen to them and then share your hope with them.  Pray for them.  It matters, and it is what we are called to.
Pay attention and you’ll see that the people you care about are out there on the battlefield, they are wounded and crying out for help.  Have the courage to brave the fire and you could save someone. 

Pastor Rodger

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sharing Your Story - Earning the Right to be Heard

Click Here to Listen to the Sunday, June 26, 2011 Sermon by Pastor Rodger S. Loar

Click Here to Download the Four Neighbors Activity

Scripture Reference:  1Corinthians 9:19-23

“How much do you have to hate someone, to believe that everlasting life is possible, and not tell them about it?”  That is a quote by Penn Jillette, a performing magician and known Atheist.  Can you believe an Atheist said that!?!?!? !  Why is it that someone who doesn’t even believe in God gets it, and those of us who follow Jesus, so often do not?
There seems to be two very strong views about evangelism in our Christian Culture.  There are those who believe in abusive and manipulative tactics such as canvassing a mall with tracts, holding up signs or using bullhorns on street corners or at stadium events, or vomiting Jesus in every conversation they have with every person they meet.  Then there are those that use the quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel always, and use words if necessary,” as an excuse to say, “My actions should show Christ without having to say anything.”  This then becomes an excuse never to share the hope of Jesus with others.
Somewhere in the middle ground must be the truth.  We must be willing to share our faith without being a scary, obnoxious, jerk.  Even then, people may have an issue with it, but at least we are doing our part.
I wrote in my personal blog about a couple of girls talking about the issue of proselytizing.  Like so many others in our world, they didn’t believe that a person should share their faith.  I don’t understand that point of view.  I am more like Friar Tuck in the 1991 Movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, when he says to Azeem the Moor, “Let us open a bottle and do our best to save each other's souls.”  If you are a Muslim, an Atheist,  or just about any other belief system, I’m willing to sit down and have an open line of discussion.*
Don’t you think there is more of an issue with a person who has a belief that is life changing who doesn’t want to share it with those they care about?  Especially when it is something as important as eternal life!
If you are a believer in Christ Jesus, they you are called to make disciples.  You are called to share your faith with your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers.  What’s more, I would hope that you urgently desire to do so.  You would warn them if they were in a burning building.  You’d try to save them if a car was bearing down on them on the street.  Why in the world wouldn’t you care enough to share the hope of our Lord with them, a hope that could save them for eternity?
Yes.  It is scary to put yourself out their and share your faith.  Yes.  Some people take offense to any mention of religion.  Yes. They might reject you.
Or… Maybe they won’t.  Maybe if you have spent the time getting to know them, concerning yourself with their values, listening to their story, touching their life: then maybe they will listen.  You have to earn the right to be heard. 
This isn’t about manipulation.  It isn’t about false pretenses or pushy sales tactics.
It is about relationships.
It’s about caring enough about those who care about you that you can share hope with them.
I would much rather you share Christ in small ways on a regular basis with those ten to twelve people who are close to you in life than to hand out a thousand silly tracts to people you don’t know.  One way is making disciples, the other is annoying and provides little or no follow-up to help a potential new disciple take more steps.
Whatever happens, we CANNOT let the our fear keep us from sharing our hope with those close to us. 
God calls us to it, and if we care enough about someone else, then we must share in love.
Pastor Rodger

* I have a standing offer:  If you want to talk about God, have questions about the Bible, are interested in spiritual things, want to talk, or just want to share your story: I’ll meet you at a local Phoenix coffee house or restaurant and buy the first cup of coffee (or tea, soda, etc.)  Just visit and click on the ‘Free Cup of Coffee’ button at the bottom of the page.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sharing Your Story - Speaking of Spiritual Things

Click Here to Listen to the Sunday, June 19, 2011 Sermon by Pastor Rodger S. Loar

Click Here to Download the Four Neighbors Activity

Scripture Reference:  Acts 8: 26-38

Sometimes, we Christians get in our own way.  We get our panties in a bunch (that’s a theological term) about our non-believing friends acting like non-believers.  Our culture is full of books and movies that are spiritual in theme, but we get upset when they don’t line up with our Christian belief system.  Last time I checked, a non-Christian, by definition, isn’t going to line up with Christian ideals – hence the ‘non’ in front. 
Books like the Da Vinci Code or the Secret raise ideas that aren’t biblical.  Books on angels skirt the edge of biblical truth, often leaving the realm entirely.  Movies come out such as Eat, Pray, Love, or The Last Temptation of Christ.  Oprah often recommends books with spiritual undertones.  People like Deepak Chopra, Emmet Fox, or Edgar Cayce are read by many.  There are books on lost gospels and prophecy and self improvement through meditation and prayer.
Most of these things are absolute hooey (another theological term).  But, hooey or not, they raise people’s interests in spiritual ideas.  They intrigue our friends, neighbors and coworkers and get them talking about and considering creation and the creator.  They get people thinking about the divine, the sacred, and about the mystical.
And what is our reaction as a Christian community?
Picket, Protest, Boycott, Whine, and Complain.
Now, wait a minute here.  Shouldn’t we be excited for the chance to openly discuss religious topics with our non-believing friends?  Wouldn’t this make a great opportunity to compare ideas and let God’s truth speak for itself?  Don’t you think this could be an opening to share Christ?
I do.
The simple truth is, though most of these books and movies are full of ideas that are ultimately anti-biblical and false, they often include kernels of truth that will allow discussion to take place and ideas to be shared. 
The book of Jude in the Bible contains a quote from a non-biblical source (1Enoch).  Paul quotes from secular poets in Acts 17 and from a Cretan prophet in Titus 1! 
The truth stands up for itself and can endure questions.  So, why do we get all fussy about books and movies that question the Bible or our belief system?
Let’s take the example of Philip in Acts 8.  When we see someone reading something scriptural or spiritual, let’s open up lines of discussion with them.  When our friends, neighbors, family, and coworkers are interested in the divine, let’s take the time to encourage that behavior, but point them to the real truth that’s out there.
Pastor Rodger

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sharing Your Story - Daring to Know the Unknown God

Click Here to Listen to the Sunday, June 12, 2011 Sermon by Pastor Rodger S. Loar

Click Here to Download the Four Neighbors Activity

Scripture Reference:  Acts 17:16-34

“I believe in God, I just don’t need to go to church.  You see, God and I have got this agreement: I don’t bother him and he don’t bother me.”
This quote sums up the opinion of many people.  They believe in some vague notion of a god who is out there, but not one that actually affects their life or might actually require something of them.  It’s a nice neat way to box up the spiritual portion of your life and put it away and it’s a nice way to dodge conversation that might be a little uncomfortable or make you think.  It works great, all the way up to the point where you have to deal with hard times, the death of a loved one, or your own impending death.  Then the discussion about God gets personal.
The truth is, the idea behind this quote is pretty silly.  If you really believed that there was a being who was powerful enough to create and destroy the very universe, then it would probably be pretty urgent to discover who that being is and, more importantly, discover if that being expects anything out of you.
As Christians, we are called to bring hope to the world, to share the truth about a Messiah who came through our Creator, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  We can do this by challenging our friends to consider the vague god that they believe in, and wonder who that god might be.
Blaise Pascal, a physicist and philosopher suggested we consider belief in God as a wager.  He proposed it is better to bet on the existence of God and be wrong than to bet against there being a God and be wrong.  That is, it is in our best interest to look into belief in God, because, if we are wrong, then it is no big deal.  We’ve lost nothing.  But, if we bet against the existence of God and we are wrong, the consequences could be drastic.
Now, I don’t believe that Pascal’s Wager (as it is formally called) is a good enough reason by itself to believe in Jesus; there is much more evidence and understanding of history and prophecy needed before you arrive at that destination.  But, I do believe it is an excellent evangelism tool to challenge someone to consider whether or not there really is a God and then to challenge them to the importance of further consideration of who that God may be. 
Because, if there is a god, any god, then the consequences of non-belief could be dire and must affect how we live:
  • If god is Kali of the Hindu pantheon then we may be required to perform self-mutilation as a form of worship.
  • If god is Gaia then we must revere nature above all things and prepare our lives for a constant battle of kill or be killed. 
  • If god is Allah of Islam, then we would be required to extreme submission and obedience or face total annihilation.
  • If there is not God at all, then we are wasting our time being ‘good’ and should logically take whatever we can get, from whoever we can take it from, and in whatever way we can get it, so that we might live as comfortable as possible in our short brutal lives.
  • And, if God is YHWH, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and He is the God that sent a promised Messiah to redeem the world from sin; then we should recognize him and joyfully share the love and hope that he promises.  (and this is obviously what I believe based on the evidence that I have found).
It really is OK to talk about ideas, to challenge people to think about spiritual things, and even to be challenged yourself in your thinking on these things.
As followers of Jesus, we Christians have received the most amazing free gift in the world and have the added bonus of being able to share that gift with others.
Won’t you encounter the people you care about and challenge them to consider Pascal’s Wager? 
Won’t you take the time to listen to their story and share your own?
Won’t you care enough to share the hope of Christ with them?
Won’t you dare them to know the unknown God?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sharing Your Story - Evangelism and the Problem of Sin

Click Here to Listen to the Sermon for Sunday, June 5, 2011 by Pastor Rodger S. Loar

Click Here to Download the Four Neighbors Activity

Scripture Reference:  John 4:4-26

Evangelism is a scary word for many Christians.  We know we are called by God to share his word with our friends and neighbors, but we are scared.  Evangelism brings up all kinds of negative connotations because of the rude, obnoxious, and pushy ways that people have been taught to do it.

The truth is, if you are living your life as a believer and making a positive difference in this world, you are already doing basic evangelism.  You don't need a big testimony of conquered drugs or prison life, you have a story that you are sharing, just by being you.  Don't be afraid to share your story, and don't forget to ask your friends and neighbors what their story is.

One of the largest stumbling blocks of evangelism is our attitude towards sin.  Yes, we should hate sin for its effects on us and on the people around us, but a condescending judgmental attitude will show people a God who is unforgiving and hateful.  God does hate sin, but he loves the people he created.  He loved us so much to send his Son to die for us!!!  All of us!  That includes the woman who is single and pregnant, the homosexual at work, the new age lady at the grocery store, and even you.

We must learn to use care in how we deal with sin.  Don't be afraid to ackowledge it.  Jesus acknowledges the sin of the woman at the well in our scripture today, but he gives her hope.  We need to give the world hope.

Share your story with others, live your life out in front of your non-believing friends, but for goodness sake, don't be an overbearing, judgemental, jerk.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Philippians 4 - A Hero for the Next Generation

Click Here to Listen to the Sunday, May 29, 2011 Sermon by Pastor Rodger S. Loar

Click Here to Download the Philippians Outline Chart

Scripture Reference:  Philippians 4:4-13

Sometimes I think we Christians talk too much about our brokeness.  We say things like, "We're all just sinners," as if that explains everything or that is all that God wants us to be.  While it is biblically true that mankind is fallen, we also need to recognize that we are made in God's image and that we were made for something more than our brokenness.

The church today desperately needs people who are heroes.  We need people who rise above our broken state and demonstrate that God is working in our lives.  This demonstration isn't for our own glory, but for God's.  We do ourselves and our Lord a disservice if all we focus on is our sin, because other people are watching.  Why would someone want to come to Christ if all they see is a bunch of self-focussed, navel-gazing, whiners who project defeat?  How are our children supposed to grow into a vibrant and powerful church for a new generation if the message they get is that we cannot live up to God's expectations, so why bother?

Have we read 1Timothy 1:7?  We aren't supposed to be a bunch of shrinking violets or milk-toast weaklings!  God gives us the power to conquer sin in His name!  Can I get an Amen?!?!?!

In Philippians 4:8, Paul calls on us to focus on the good things, to ingest a diet of healthy thoughts about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. God's word is at the heart of all of this, but it also includes the stories we read, the shows we watch, the art we see, and the actions we contemplate.  How far these things truly are from the steady diet of mental junk food that we get from television, movies, and much of what passes for entertainment in our world.  Paul tells the Philippians to fill themselves up with good stuff, not garbage.  The same holds true for us today.

He then goes on to tell them in Philippians 4:9 that thinking about good things isn’t enough.  His message, which is consistent throughout the Bible is that we are supposed to put these things into practice.  He tells the Philippians that any example they saw in him should be put to work in their own lives.

This is where we need to take a hard look at our church today, and let’s not stop there, we must look into our own lives as well. 

Where are the heroes?  Who are our examples?  Where are the older men and women who we can look to in order to see faith put into practice in daily practical ways?

If you are a parent, ask yourself honestly; “Are the daily choices that I make in my money, my schedule, and my actions an excellent example or a poor one for my kids?”  Do you teach your kids to be generous and thrifty with their money or do you demonstrate wasteful spending and rampant materialism?  Do you teach your kids the importance of solitude and simplicity, or do you allow them to fill their schedules and your own with an overload of activities?  Do you teach your children selflessness and service, or do you put your own selfish wants and desires first?

If you don’t have children, or if your children are long grown and out of the house, then ask yourself; “How can I be an example to the next generation of Christians?”  Can you volunteer time as a mentor to a new believer?  Can you help out with Sunday School?  Can you lead a service project to give others in the church an opportunity to experience God’s work?  Can you bless a ministry with your time and money in a sacrificial way? 

Let’s build a vibrant church of powerful men and women of God.  Let’s be an extended family of people who can be honest about our shortcomings but not let them defeat us.  Let’s grow together, passing the message of hope and power to others.

Let’s be heroes that provide examples for the next generation to follow.

Here are five practical ways to become a hero:

  • Read the biography of a hero such as John Wesley, Jim Elliot, Corrie Ten Boom, or John Newton.  Read the writings of Charles Sheldon, Shane Claiborne, Chuck Colson, Erwin McManus, or others who call you to action in your faith.  Then brainstorm some ways you can follow their example in your own life.  Then do something about it. 
  • Make a commitment to turn the television and internet off for a week.  Use the time you would have spent on these activities to serve others by volunteering at Neighborhood Ministries or at one of MVCC’s ministries (call the church office at (602) 955-9414 for some ministry opportunities.
  • Select a ministry and begin helping out.  Make a donation that is over and above what you would normally give to bless this ministry.  Volunteer your time to work in the ministry.  Commit to support the ministry with your time and money for a year.
  • If you are a parent, take a break from extra-curricular activities, team sports, clubs, and the dozens of other outside activities your kids have taken on.  Commit to coming to church as a family every Sunday for the next three months.  After church, go to lunch as a family and discuss what each person learned at church that day.  Talk with your kids about how they (and you too) can put the lessons to work this week in practical ways.
  • Join one of our Revo Groups at MVCC.  The focus of these groups is on putting faith in action through regular meals together, regular study together, and regular service together.  For more information on joining one of these groups, contact our church office at (602) 955-9414.

Pastor Rodger – 05/2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Standing Firm

Click Here to Listen to the Sunday, May 22, 2011 Sermon by Pastor Chip Moody

Click Here to Download the Philippians Outline Chart

Scripture Reference:  Philippians 3:10 - 4:1

Stand firm. Stand fast. Stay faithful. Keep the faith. Never give up. Stand your ground.

We all want to be that guy who never gives up when the chips are down; to be the one who remains strong and faithful to his family, his friends, his principles. It takes the courage we want to have; it takes the determination we want to exhibit. We want to be faithful to Jesus Christ in a world that assaults us with their insults, their skepticism, their impatience, their intolerance.

Stand firm. Oh, how we want to do so.

Here is what the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:1: “. . . THAT is how you should stand firm in the Lord!”

Whoa, wait a minute. I need the HOW part to help me stand firm in the Lord. Where is that part?  In one of those ironies that pop up now and then, Stephen Langton, who established the Bible’s chapter divisions in the year 1205, made a booboo here. Verse 4:1 should have been in chapter 3. (To his credit, he got most of the chapter divisions right.)

So we back up to chapter three to find out HOW to stand firm in the faith. But the HOW isn’t what you think it is.

No talk of church business meetings, committees, building funds, Sunday Schools, or seminaries. No talk of degrees, certifications, titles, or pedigrees. In fact, Paul makes clear that these things are “of the flesh.:”  He means that they have no eternal value, and are in fact tainted with the brokenness of the fall as much as anything else we bring to the table of life. He thinks that compared to the glory that is to come that these things are trash:

“. . . I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord . . . I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ  and be found in him . . .” Philippians 3:8-9  

He was telling the disciples at Philippi that standing firm is something other than what we can do for ourselves. It is something God must do in us. He uses the athletic imagery of the Roman games to illustrate:

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Forget what lies behind. Strain toward what lies ahead.

That’s it? That’s how you stand firm in the faith?


The passage goes on to say:

“Only let us live up to what we have already attained.  Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.  But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” 

I boldfaced the words I wanted you to see most. Note that he says our citizenship IS in heaven. Present tense. It is now that you are citizens of the Kingdom of God. It is not something we are waiting for.

Second, the power that transforms us into his likeness is his. We can’t do it. God says he can. No, actually he says he will. Done deal.

So we are citizens of the right kingdom by Jesus’ sacrifice for us. And it is he who empowers our ongoing progress in becoming like him.

That’s why Paul can write: “Forget what lies behind. Strain toward what lies ahead.”

The past? Forget it. It doesn’t count anymore. Sure, learn from it. But it isn’t worth worrying about.

The future? It belongs to God, not to you or me. We only think we influence it. (For some reason we keep thinking we are in charge of our life.) Paul is telling us to keep our eyes on the Christ who has saved us, is saving us, and will save us.

“Forget what lies behind. Strain toward what lies ahead.”

And THAT is how to stand firm.

Sound too simple? Maybe it’s meant to be.

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One final note:  This was the last Sunday for Chip as Pastor at Mountain View Christian Church.  Pastor Chip has retired from the day-to-day life as a pastor at MVCC.  This doesn't mean that he's slowing down, heaven's no.  Chip is the Dean of Students at Phoenix Seminary and is teaching the next generation of Pastors and Church Leaders for God's church.  We, at Mountain View, wish many blessings on Chip and Gina Moody and thank them dearly for the 22 years of service that they have given this community.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Philippians - Now, About that Attitude of Yours

Click Here to Listen to the Sermon for Sunday, May 15, 2011 by Pastor Chip Moody

Click Here to Download a Copy of the Philippians Outline Chart

Scripture Reference:  Philippians 2:1-16

“Be like Jesus.”

Yes, you read that correctly. Be like Jesus. It astonishes me that we can say this so blithely.

Be like Jesus. You’re kidding, right?

Is there anything else you would like me to do? Leap a tall building in a single bound? Stop a speeding locomotive? Catch a bullet between my teeth? It shouldn’t be a problem for someone who can “be like Jesus.”

But there it is in Philippians 2. Be like Jesus.

The precise words are “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus . . .” What attitude? Oh, only absolute unfettered selflessness, that’s all.

Really? Selflessness?  I suppose there are times when I am somewhat selfless . . . maybe.


But Philippians 2.5-8 describes this selflessness in a not so “sorta” kind of way.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who,
although He existed in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied Himself,
taking the form of a bond-servant,
and being made in the likeness of men.
Being found in appearance as a man,
He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross. [NASB]

Nothing sorta about this. The attitude we are to have is that of Jesus as he emptied himself of his glory to become incarnate in human flesh and offered himself to crucifixion for the sins of the world. You know. Selfless.

Oh, that attitude.   

Paul the Apostle wrote to this church of Philippi, a solid, healthy, and joy-filled church, to concentrate on selflessness, for in it they would find what all humans seek, as well as what God desires us to have--harmony with one another. Peace in the flock. Healthy relationships with brothers and sisters in the Lord. Peacemaking.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing;
 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent,
children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,
 among whom you appear as lights in the world,
 holding fast the word of life,
so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory
because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. [NASB]

I find it fascinating that Paul seems to be saying that at then end of the age Paul will be most proud to be able to say, “In a selfish world I planted churches in which everyone got along nice.”

That would take a miracle, you say.  Well . . . yes, I think it is a miracle. Selflessness is a miracle that only comes about because of the transforming work of God in my life. Because of the presence of God in me, thanks to Jesus, I can choose to put myself last, consider others better than myself (v. 3), and we can achieve a level of love for one another the world without God can’t experience.

Call it abundant life. After all, most of our most troublesome problems are about relationships, especially relationships with those we are supposed to love and who are supposed to love us. Most other problems don’t keep us from abundant life. Bad relationships always do.

So be selfless, Paul writes. Doesn’t he know how difficult this is? Doesn’t he see the inherent complexity and confoundedness of getting along with others?  Yes he does. And he knows the only successful solution for our inability to get along is—you guessed it, selflessness.

So be like Jesus.


Philippians - Joy in All Circumstances

Click Here to Listen to the May 8, 2011 Sermon by Pastor Rodger S. Loar

Click Here to Download a Copy of the Philippians Outline Chart

Scripture Reference:  Philippians 1:1-30

How do you have joy in all circumstances? 
Life is deucedly tough sometimes.  Can I get an ‘Amen’?  As a pastor, you  get a glimpse into the pain in a lot of people’s lives.  It seems that every day, someone close to me is going through their own private hell.
Here’s just a few from the last few weeks: 
  • An old friend sent me the news that a mutual friend from Junior High and High School had murdered his wife and then shot himself.
  • A friend of mine got THE diagnosis of the ‘C’ word.
  • Another friend is in the suffering in the hospital and the doctors cannot seem to find out what’s wrong.
  • Several friends are going through varying degrees of serious marital problems.
  • Several friends have lost their jobs.
  • Others are dealing with serious workplace conflict.
There’s divorce, medical problems, family fights, betrayal, death, and a thousand other real life problems.
The question then is:  How do you be joyful in your circumstances?
Our current series at Mountain View is on Paul’s letter to the Philippian church.   Paul is writing them a letter of thanks and encouragement.  He is thankful for their support and encouragement and he is encouraging them as they work through problems of persecution and internal conflict within the church.
The irony is this… Paul was in prison, facing possible execution.  You’d think that he would be the one that needed the encouragement, but here he was encouraging them.
Encouragement.  Joy.  Unity.  These are all powerful themes in this letter.  They are also things that should naturally flow out of being a believer.  We have received the greatest gift in the entire universe, the hope of salvation in a loving God.  It would seem that nothing else should phase us.  Why fear death if we know where we are going?  Why fear persecution when we have a Lord that gives us strength?  Why worry about squabbles and fighting when we are part of the greatest world-wide body of people?
Those are three great questions, but the simple truth is that we are all human.  We do get discouraged.  It is possible to get so overwhelmed that we forget our joy.  Disunity does happen due to our selfishness.
Well then, what’s a Christian to do?
God has given us a gift that makes a difference:  Each other.
We can encourage each other.  We can share joy with each other.  We can be unified with each other.
Encouraging another person can be simple.  Write a short letter to them.   Take someone to coffee or lunch and let them vent.  Pray with them.  Drop a short line on Facebook or by email.  Call them up during the week or give a hug on Sunday.  This brings them joy and it builds unity.
The funny thing about encouraging someone else is that it builds our own joy too. 
We live in a world of discouragers.  There’s always someone ready to tear you down at work, at school, and often in our own families.  That’s why we need our fellow Christians to be encouragers and that’s why each of us must make the decision to be an encourager.
Our practical application during this series is to send an encouragement letter to someone.  Sit down with paper and pen and write a good old fashioned letter or card to someone that you know needs encouragement.
Do this and you’ll make a difference in someone’s life.
It might just be your own.