Monday, March 30, 2009

Amazed and stunned? Tame and tepid?

We’re starting a new worship service at our church. It starts on April 19th. I’m going to be part of the teaching team. The first series is going to be called “Seriously”. It’s a look at biblical encounters with Jesus.

Remember the story of the paralyzed man lowered from the roof to the feet of Jesus? You find it in Mark 2 but you can’t really understand it until you read Mark 1. That’s my text for week #1. It’s one of my favorite stories. It’s visually rich and hits on some key themes.

The growing reputation of Jesus.
You've got to pay attention to the authority people heard as they listened to Jesus teach.
Everywhere Jesus went he was leaving people amazed and stunned.
Jesus has one of what will prove to be many, many difficult encounters with the religious establishment.
Jesus heals people inside and out. He has little time for evil and wants to free people from sin.
There's something downright inspiring about the folks who carried the paralyzed man to the roof and then lowered him down to Jesus's feet.
Jesus saw the faith of the mat carriers not the faith of the paralyzed man.
People expected Jesus to speak and act.

I’ve been asking myself some questions as I relook at Mark 1 and 2. I’d love to hear how you’d answer them.

Am I ever amazed and stunned by the workings of God?
Is my faith big enough? Do I expect God to speak and act with authority?
Who am I carrying to the feet of Jesus?
Am I so religious that I can no longer see or care about what God is doing outside the box I’ve created for Him?
When I need healing who are my mat carriers?

Do I need to step up my game when it comes to dealing with sin and evil?

The truth.

I am often too busy to be stunned and amazed.
I want God to speak and act …but all too often I don’t expect it.
Carrying someone to the feet of Jesus is something I do help facilitate …but do I feel the passionate desire to do whatever is necessary to help someone discover the living God?
I have to work hard at not boxing God in because when I do I box myself in. I have to fight hard against drifting into religious ‘stuff’ at the expense of life-giving relationship.
I think there are plenty of people who would carry my mat. Will I let them?
Jesus confronted evil and sin all the time. Why am I so silent when it comes to these things?

What about you?

Are you amazed and stunned by the work of God?

How big is your faith?

Are you so religious that you’ve become tame and tepid?

Got God boxed in?

Who are you praying for –that person you desperately want to meet Christ? Will you go to the mat for that person?

Who’s walking with you in good times and in bad?

Do you believe in the presence of evil and the damage that sin does in people's lives?
If you do believe in such things do you speak out when you encounter them?

Would love to hear how you answer these questions. Let me know. You just might help me write my sermon.

5 comments:

thegreenmama said...

lots of big questions. where to start. well, God is both too big and too small for me depending on the day. Some days I make him so big and far and distant and ambiguous in my mind. This is sadly not out of some place of awe and reverence, it is out of laziness. If God is too big and distant for me then how can he (or anyone else) expect me to respond to him or even work toward understanding him.

On other days God is too small. I know all the fancy theological terms for God's greatness but it does not drift over into my life when I am at the grocery store or gas station. I am bored, going through my routine, and rarely think that something miraculous or even a bit spiritual will happen in those places. I don't expect the unexpected.

Both say to me that I need to step up my game and start acting like God is big, start noticing the people on the mat and the people lowering them through the roof. I need to get out of my lazy suburban complacency and act on what I say I believe. And if I say I believe it and refuse to act on it, where does that leave me?

more later. thanks for sparking conversation mike.

Barry Franklin said...

Am I ever amazed and stunned by the workings of God?

I confess I take God's workings for granted most of the time. How often do I marvel at the diversity in personality among our 4 kids for example? They share a lot of the same raw genetic materials yet each is uniquely shaped and gifted by God for His purposes.

Is my faith big enough?

I don't even know how to start answering this question. I have great faith in the goodness of God and His plan for my personal redemption. At the same time I feel very convicted by Jesus' admonishing of the disciples for having so little faith and his encouragement that it only takes faith as small as a mustard seed to move mountains...why is it I never even try to move mountains? It's easy to bogged down in discussions of faith versus works but I think Jesus never separated the two. He spoke of faith in action producing works beyond human capability. My faith is atrophied I fear - shriveling from lack of regular exercise and spiritual stretching.


Do I expect God to speak and act with authority?

Yes and no. I expect it in that His kingdom will be established in heaven and on earth and He will wield ultimate authority and power. But if I am honest with myself, he already HAS spoken and acted with authority throughout human history as recorded in scripture...and I don't consistently recognize His authority in and over my life. I expect Him to speak and act with authority, but the self-centered control-loving part of me doesn't actually WANT Him to.

Who am I carrying to the feet of Jesus?

Ouch.

Am I so religious that I can no longer see or care about what God is doing outside the box I’ve created for Him?

Feeling better now...I don't see myself as being overly religious in the sense of being more caught up in the act of worship and service than the object of worship and service.

When I need healing who are my mat carriers?

My wife and family...friends from church and Young Life. I have lots of people who would carry my mat if I allowed them to know I'm not capable of doing it myself. That is the challenge for me.


Do I need to step up my game when it comes to dealing with sin and evil?

Absolutely. I am bothered by how little sin and evil bother me at times when i am honest with myself. Jesus told us not to judge others by a standard that we don't want to be used to measure our own sin. I think that is at the core of my rationalizing here. If I am lenient with others I just might get leniency. Unfortunately that isn't what God desires. He would much prefer I judge others with mercy and kindness but using HIS set of weights and measures not my own...and that I apply those weights and measures to my own sin and weakness.

Great questions Mike....and TOUGH!

Barry

Mike said...

Thanks to both of you for posting. I'm humbled. Thanks for the honesty. Makes me realize I'm not in this 'thing' alone.

Maybe the great gift we give each other is the questions we ask ...huh?

Cynthia Rosati said...

Am I amazed and stunned by the work of God?

Without a doubt, I believe God works in mysterious ways, in his own time. I've heard myself say many times, "I thank God for unanswered prayer". The things I want aren't always what God wants. When the real plan is revealed to me, I am amazed and stunned! Learning to let go to God is crucial if one wants to experience greatness in this lifetime. I believe Psalms 48:14-For this God is our God for ever and ever, he will be our guide even to the end...says it all!

How big is my faith?

As I say on my page...Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe. We are a tangible world. Seeing is believing. My faith is big, I put my faith in what I cannot see. So much positive emotional energy is generated when people with the same vision come together.

Am I so religious that I've become tame and tepid?

No way, first of all I am not religious...in fact, in all honesty, I walk away from it. I have chosen to worship without the ritual.

Got God boxed in?

My God is not boxed in. He is everywhere and anywhere. I have witnessed miracles in the smallest of situations and I have seen God in action when I least expected it.

Who are you praying for-that person you desperately want to meet Christ? Will you go to the mat for that person?

My pain is global. I wake up every morning and I ask God to take away the pain. Everyday, I hope that the world will be full of peace. I would go to the mat for one person, any person, if they could feel the peace they so desperately need.

Who is walking with me in good times and in bad?

I like to refer to the song,"He Walks with Me". I think this sums up what kind of God we have. He is there in good times and in the bad. He is always walking with me.

Do I believe in the presence of evil and the damage that sin does in people's lives?

Yes,evil is everywhere. It is the master of disguise. There are a multitude of broken souls walking the earth. All victims of sin created by evil. Sin can be forgiven, but we need to forgive others and ourselves to truly be free. Asking God into your life is the first step to such peace.

If you do believe in such things do you speak out when you encounter them?

Yes and no, It depends on my relationship with the person. I am not here to judge, but guide. I think speaking out can be done by being a good listener and understanding the other person's emotional conflict. Exemplifying God's way is the best way to speak out.

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