Rocky and The Cornerstone

cornerstone1 Peter

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Wow, it’s great to be back after a week away. I had hoped maybe to record an episode while I was out, but that didn’t happen.  I missed you.  I think I mentioned in episode 35 that Brittan and I were going to a Church Planting retreat and I’ve got to tell you, it was better than advertised. We came out of that retreat fired up and ready to run. I’m so glad we went.

Thank you for your kindness and patience while we were away. But here we are back in the camper and ready to look at 1st Peter.

Let’s start by taking a look at the author. Even though, he only wrote the two letters that bear his name, Peter is one of the most well known Jesus followers in the world, and certainly one of the most beloved.

We learn from the Gospels that Peter was a fisherman by trade and that he was introduced to Jesus by his brother, Andrew who was a follower of John the Baptist. Peter almost instantly became one of Jesus’ closest confidants.  Over the three years they were together , Peter was the source of many displays of great faith, as well as one of the great betrayals.

Peter is the only one of the disciples who was willing to get out of the boat and walk on water. It was Peter who declared, You are the Christ, the son of the living God. It was this declaration that got his nickname, ‘Peter’, or, ‘Rocky’.  He is the follower who produced a sword on the night Jesus was betrayed and waded in, however awkwardly, to defend his Lord.

Yet, that very night, it was this same Peter who committed an act of treason as egregious as the betrayal of Judas Iscariot.

As Jesus is being tortured and tormented by the priests, Peter denies ever having even met the Nazarene. The last time, he swears on oath, he does not know Jesus. At that moment, a rooster crowed and Peter remembered Jesus’ prophecy that the Big Fisherman would deny him; a prediction repudiated and refuted by the apostle. Luke says that as the rooster crowed, Jesus turned and looked at Peter.

Do you get that?  Jesus was close enough to hear Peter’s adamant denials. Right when Jesus needed a friend the most, Peter, said, ‘Him? I have no idea who that is?  You must be mistaking me for someone else?’

Later when Jesus has been raised, the angel tells the women, “Go tell my disciples, and Peter, that I’m alive.”  Mark is the only writer to recall that little detail, but remember, Mark is writing Peter’s memories of Jesus.  No doubt those two words, and Peter, stung like a burning sword. Peter had openly told the world that he was not one of Jesus’ followers, and Jesus took him at his word.

John records that a few weeks later, Jesus took Peter aside and asked him 3 times (one for each denial), if Peter loved him.  Three times, the last one with tears, Peter declares his love. Jesus welcomes him home.

Perhaps, I’m overstating the obvious, but that story can be our story. Many of us have done all we could do to distance ourselves from Jesus. Some of us by our words, some by our actions; but each of us, no matter how loud or vile our betrayal, can be welcomed back into the fold.

I know, because I was one who spent decades professing

discipleship and proclaiming His glory, then at the first real test of my faith, I abandoned ship. I spent years living a life that screamed denial and making a mockery of all I once professed. I will tell you that story another day. I look back on those years with regret and great embarrassment, but in the end, He healed my broken soul and gave me back my seat at the table and my voice to proclaim His greatness and His grace.

It was not to faithful John, or to any of the other apostles, but to Peter Jesus gave the priviledge of delivering the first Gospel message, on the day of Pentecost that saw more than 3k people come to Christ. I’m sure many of those in the crowd were among those who had heard him deny ever knowing Jesus. Now they hear Peter say, ‘This Jesus, whom you crucified, has been made both Lord and Christ.’  Wow.

Peter is also the one chosen to be the first to openly preach to a gentile audience.

God will do the same for you, for me, for any of us. He still makes beauty from ashes.

Eventually, the maniacal Nero, has Peter executed for his refusal to renounce his Christ and Peter is crucified, albeit upside down.

This is the Author of the two open letters that bear his name.

I must confess, the first letter has some things that I find rather diffuclt get my head around. Later, down the road, we will take a few weeks and unpack some of the more challenging passages, but for now I just want to look at one place. That’s 1 Peter 2:6-8.

1Pe 2:6  For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

1Pe 2:7  So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”

1Pe 2:8  and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

 

Let’s park here for just a minute, because Peter is addressing one of the issues we’ve all dealt with. Why is it that many people reject the Gospel?  The simple truth is, the message of the cross just doesn’t fit the world view of literally millions of people. Paul said it this way, ‘It’s a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the gentiles.’

It is very rare that anyone studies the Christian message thoroughly then decides against Christ. More often, it’s a knee jerk reaction based on preconceived notions.  For that crowd, regardless of the facts, or rebuttal to their objections, they’ve made up their minds ahead of time and those minds are now closed. Most have a ‘pet’ topic, be it, hypocrites in the church, creationism, exclusivity of the Gospel, supposed contradictions in the Bible, the existence of pain in the world, a rejection of the doctrine of Hell, or one of a handful of other popular memes, and they smugly regurgitate canned objections but never stick around for honest investigation.

Instead, they get loud and start name calling, which is nearly always the fallback tactic of those whose argument is weak.

It’s really sad, but that’s the real world. There are times when we need to patiently stick with it, because the skeptic is a loved one, but there are other times, we need to, as Jesus said, ‘wipe the dust from our feet and move on.’ The message of Christ is a precious cornerstone to the lives of many many others and we need to keep moving to find those individuals.

Look through the book of Acts and take note of the number of times, Paul gave up on people and moved on.  There is no value in drilling a stone in search of blood.  The harvest is plentiful. Jesus said so, but we’re not going to harvest sweet water from salt springs.

First Peter is packed with great insights into God’s promises to His children and establishing our identity in Christ.  Take time this week to read it. It is deep water, but clean and cool for parched hearts.

And, that’s all I got this week. I can’t wait to dig into 2 Peter next week.  In that short letter Peter is going to be swinging for the fence. Don’t forget to send your questions and thoughts via email or on the comments section of the show notes. Until then, Be blessed and be a blessing

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Episode 14 – Every Day, Every Way, Every Where

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Acts 5:40-42

The Gospel is rarely politically correct – Verse 40

A weird Rejoicing – 41. Apostles weren’t masochists, they merely understood that God trusted them.

Verse 42 – Every Day, Every Way, Every where.

Day after day, they never stopped

teaching and proclaiming

in the temple courts and from house to house

note: Chapter 6 begins, In those days, when the number of disciples was increasing. – The Gospel WILL bear fruit.

Next week – Route 66 begins. Gospel of Matthew

Episode 13 – Prime Directive Part 4 –

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Luke 10:1-11

  1. A model for world evangelism.
  2. There’s nothing wrong with the harvest, there’s just a shortage of farmers.
  3. Step 1. Pray. Bless
  4. Step 2. Stay Remain in the same house
  5. Step 3. Care. Heal the sick. Find a need and meet it. Find a hurt and heal it. Meet physical needs
  6. Step 4. Share. Announce the arrival of the Kingdom.

Seek Heaven. Identify with community. We’re not a hit and run, one night stand kind of kingdom.. Meet felt needs. They can only be truly learned by being there and identifying. It’s only when a community can see how much care that they will care about what we say. But in the end, all the praying and caring in the world, only matters once we share the Gospel.

Here’s a link for the 1984 edition of the NIV Bible

Thanks for stopping by; Please use the comments section for questions or feedback. We love interacting.

Radio Show Episode 12

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Show Notes

Conversions in Acts

Chapter 2 – Pentecost

Chapter 8 – Ethiopian Official

Chapter 9, 22, 26 Saul of Tarsus

Chapter 10 – Cornelius,

Chapter 16 – Lydia, Jailer,

Someday will do a study on baptism, but today we want to merely show how intimately it is tied to receiving the Gospel. In the 21st century we have made conversion a private inner arrangement where we say a prayer and at sometime in the future we may, or may not, make that decision public. We have no examples of that in the New Testament. Even the commission itself says nothing about going and leading in sinners prayers, but rather going and baptizing. At it’s core, Baptism is the place where disciples publicly claim a change of allegiance. I was a follower of Moses, Diana, Apollo, myself, now I am a follower of Jesus. There are no examples of a delayed decision to baptism. It’s immediate in every case. Pentecost is a feast day, lots to do, yet 3000 people took time from preparations to wait their turn to be dunked in water. The Gaza road is a desert, the only water would have been standing pools or runoff streams. The Jailor was in the midst of pandemonium in the wee hours of the morning. Something about this Gospel demanded immediate action.

I find it really interesting that these days, we have days, weeks, sometimes even years between initial decisions and baptisms. Often, we even have classes to make sure ‘candidates’ understand what they’re doing, whereas in the book of acts, there is no such thing. They don’t have a theology of conversion, in fact, as the stories are told, baptism is virtually synonymous with conversion. My personal testimony is this. I was 10 years old when I followed Christ and was baptized. I remember the youth pastor came to visit and hold a ‘class’. I remember zero about that visit. All I knew was, I wanted to follow Jesus, so I was baptized. I got Jesus as a 10 year old. I got theology much later (and some of it was wrong).

Here’s what I want you to do. Go back and read all of the accounts of conversions in Acts. How do they look in side by side comparisons to how ‘decisions’ look today. Are we calling for radical discipleship in the same way the early followers were? Are we getting radical results?

Please share you thoughts. Go to the show notes and use the comments section. Or email me directly. I would dearly love to dialogue with you.

Podcast Episode 11

empty tomb

 

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Sermons in Acts

There is one theme that runs through every sermon in the Book of Acts: The Resurrection of Jesus.

For Jewish Audience the Resurrection establishes Jesus as Messiah

For Gentile Audiences the Resurrection of Jesus, establishes the fact of life after death and that Jesus will be Judge of eternal destiny

Sermons

Acts 2 – Peter on Pentecost, Resurrection establishes Jesus as Messiah

3- Sermon following Lame man at gate – Resurrection establishes authority of Jesus as Messiah

5 – Before Sanhedrin, Jesus as messiah (Not a sermon actually, but a defense FOR preaching)

7 – Stephen on Trial – Jesus is Messiah, resurrection is more implicit than explicit.

10 – Peter before Cornelius, Jesus raised and is Judge of all, life after death.

13 – Paul in Antioch of Pisidia – Resurrection establishes Jesus as Messiah

17 – First 5 verses summary of Paul’s sermons Thessalonica, Jesus as Messiah. Later in Chapter, Paul’s sermon in Athens, Resurrection, Jesus as Judge of all, life after death.

23 – Not a sermon, but Paul uses Resurrection as a defense to create dissention  between Pharisees and Sadducees

24 – Defense before Felix – Resurrection is key to Gospel

26- Paul’s Sermon of Defense before Festus and Agrippa – Jesus is Messiah.

Conclusion: The importance of the doctrine of Jesus’ Resurrection cannot be overstated. Take that event out and there is no Christianity at all. See I Corinthians 15. IMO, Evangelism works best by beginning with the Resurrection and working backwards. Once Jesus is in place, all other teaching and doctrine falls into place.

Please leave you thoughts in the comments section. See you next week.

 

The Church’s Prime Directive – Rediscovering The Bible Online Radio Show – Episode 10

commissionEpisode 10 – The Prime Directive

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What is the #1 Purpose of the Church?

Glorify God?

Show God’s Love via Acts of Mercy?

Live a live of Holiness?

I suggest it is found in the Great Commission

Great Commission in all 4 Gospels and Acts

Matthew 28:19,20

Mark 16:15,19

Luke 24:46,47

John 20:21

Acts 1:8

 

Diagram of Great Commission in Greek

Make Disciples (command)

Go (method) (participle – carries weight of command it supports)

Baptize (method) (participle – carries weight of command it supports)

Teach (method) (participle – carries weight of command it supports)

 

 

America 2.0 – An Episode of ‘The Twilight Zone’, or a New Mission Opportunity?

Planet of the ApesRemember the ending of the original “Planet of the Apes” movie with Charlton Heston? It was so dramatic with Heston’s character falling on his knees in the sand and cursing the human race as the camera pans out to show a nearly destroyed Statue of Liberty, half buried in sand and water.

The film was universally seen as part Science Fiction, part morality play, but who among us dreamed it was also part prophesy?

The America I grew up in is gone; relegated to TV Land nostalgia and reviled as an ignorant, unenlightened piece of human history. America 2.0 is here. It looks similar to the original, but nearly everything beneath the skin has changed. For those of us who grew up in the first one, America 2.0 is like being in a parallel universe or waking up in an episode of ‘The Twilight Zone.”

In the new world, Morality has been transformed into something personal, situational and democratic. We used to speak of truth, right and wrong, good and evil; now it’s Your/My truth, or how we identify.

Here in America 2.0 ‘Religion’ is bad and has been supplanted by ‘Spirituality’ as the preferred philosophy of the day. This NEW spirituality is tolerant of every world view except one based on the Bible, even if that world view wants to eliminate the one they hold.

The people of this new America have a different perspective on Government and our relationship to it. They look differently at social institutions like marriage and the family, as well as matters of life and death.

America 2.0 creates, embraces, enforces or overturns laws based on democracy and popular opinion rather than the constitution. I am not sure the Constitution is relevant to America 2.0 other than in some quaint, historic way.

It’s a strange feeling to live in a place where so much looks and sounds familiar, even comfortable, but beneath the surface is fundamentally different than what I know. Sometimes I become disoriented and confused, unable to get my bearings.

Looking back, I’ve had some of these emotions before. Thirty Five years ago, I moved from my familiar Old Kentucky Home, to the already Post Christian, United Kingdom, and my world was dumped on its head.

The U.K. was stunningly beautiful and offered great opportunity.  The language was (mostly) the same, and on the surface the changes in culture were only slight. I thought adjusting would be a snap. Boy Howdy was I wrong.

I should have taken a cue from the fact that they drove on the opposite side of the road as I was used to doing, that there was a different way of thinking.

As the days slipped into months, the differences piled up, and I went into what’s called, Culture Shock. The Brits generally viewed EVERYTHING differently than I did. To one degree or another, culturally, socially, educationally, spiritually, morally, economically and politically, I was in unfamiliar, often uncomfortable, territory. The only similarity seemed to be that the British Politicians were just as stupid as American ones; just with differently cut suits.

Slowly, it dawned on me that I was the outsider and if I was ever going to reach people with the Gospel, I was going to have to accept that and would need to make some adjustments and learn to communicate in ways that were understood by the wonderful residents of my adopted country.

On the whole, I was able to adapt, and had a delightful 13 years in Great Britain (mostly spent in Scotland).

Those of us who are Christ Followers would be way ahead of the game, if, instead of railing against how our country has changed, and wasting time and energy trying to recreate the America of our past, would recognize we live in a different country; the one I call America 2.0, and treat it like a mission field.  (How’s that for one complex sentence? Grammar Police, beware! Oops, too late.)

If I understand my Bible, and I think I do, our citizenship is in Heaven. We are foreigners here, and don’t fully belong.  We are ambassadors of another Kingdom. We are here to promote the benefits of our home and encourage emigration from here to there (Remember, Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36), and that Peter reminded us in 1 Peter 2:11 that we are ‘strangers and aliens in this world’).

There are going to be many uncomfortable encounters as our world views collide. We must stay focused on our task, sharing good news and setting captives free.  Paul reminds us in his second letter to Timothy that ‘a soldier does not get entangled in civilian affairs, but does his best to follow the orders of his commanding officer (4:2). Jesus’ Good News never changes, and sharing His hope and love is our singular mission. As men and women respond to Him, cultural, moral and even political challenges will work themselves out.

I urge the Church, to focus on people over culture shift, to keep the main thing the main thing. These things I’m suggesting are counter intuitive to what many of us have grown up believing related to faith and patriotism. I dare say, many of us, especially those of us on the social, political and religious ‘right’ side of the spectrum, have a hard time separating our Christianity from our patriotism. As a result, we lean towards conflating a ‘revival IN America’ with a ‘revival OF America’.  The culture that WAS America has moved away. Whether it was better or worse than this America 2.0 is of no consequence. The Church, if we are truly the Church, we were foreigners then, just as we are aliens now.

We used to sing a song, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.”  I’m challenging the body of Christ to return to that philosophy.  As I understand the Bible, it is by HIS stripes, rather than the stars and stripes, that we are healed.

I went to Scotland as a Christian Ambassador, not an American one. It was not my place to get involved in their political wrangling. It was my job to preach Christ and Him crucified.

As Christ followers, we are not citizens of America OR America 2.0. What good does it do when we are obvious foreigners to them? We don’t even speak the same moral, spiritual or political language.

It is my deep conviction that we would do a better job pointing the citizens of America 2.0 to the true freedom of the Kingdom of God, rather attempting to turn the whole culture of a country back to a system that didn’t work any better than the one they’re trying to create now.

If you’ll permit an overly simple analogy, there is very little value in telling people not to play with matches if they’re house is already on fire.  Our task, if you will, is to rescue people from the flames. We can worry about putting out fires, and fire safety after the rescue is completed.

The fact is, America has been replaced. We live in America 2.0.  I suggest that rather than fall in the waves in despair and anger along with Charlton Heston, that we delight in the pioneer opportunities of bringing God’s Good News to a brand new place.