WAFJ Tribute

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Deceit of Emotions

Few scenes in the Bible are more emotionally charged than the resurrection scene. Every emotion imaginable was experienced on that first day of the week and those that followed until the time of Jesus’ ascension. Fear, doubt, joy, amazement, confusion, frustration, hurt, pain, hope, embarrassment, despair, and celebration were all crammed into this scene. What an emotional roller coaster ride for those involved.

Emotions, however, can deceive our hearts and distract us from the truth. Negative emotions can throw us into a whirlwind of hopelessness. Over zealous positive emotions can, at times, blind us from reality and lead us to a hard fall. It is not God’s intent that we live our lives completely tossed around by our emotions. He is truth and is constant despite what our deceitful emotions lead us to believe.

In Renovation of the Heart, Dallas Willard reminds the reader that God desires to fill our lives with attributes that offer greater stability and strength. Below are the five characteristics Willard says God desires for us:

Hope – Anticipation of good not yet here
Faith – Confidence grounded in reality (that reality is Jesus!)
Love – Promoting someone else’s good for their sake
(no hint of self-centeredness)
Joy – A deep sense of well-being
Peace – The relaxing of our heart resulting in the assurance that things will
turn out alright.

Don’t be tossed around and fooled by your emotions. Allow the risen Christ to be the focus of your life. He is forever steady. His truth remains eternally secure as the foundation of the world. He is the standard by which all things are judged.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Pastor Gary

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Going to War with a Marshmallow Gun

Last year I stumbled upon a great design for a marshmallow gun. I bought large quantities of PVC pipe and provided instructions for my students to assemble it. Once they got the hang of it, all-out war erupted on the patio! The boys soon discovered that they could not inflict pain on the girls with a marshmallow, but figured out how to gross them out instead. Putting the marshmallow in your mouth before loading it into the gun causes it to stick to its target. Despite having a mess to clean up no damage was done and everyone had a great time.

I thought about that as I read a passage of Scripture from Matthew today.

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver (Jesus) said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first. “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.”

They never had a clue with whom they were messing, did they? They may as well have gone to war with a marshmallow gun. If death and the grave were to be no match for Jesus then an armed guard and royal seal meant absolutely nothing. There is no power on heaven or on earth with authority over Jesus Christ. He absolutely secured that position with His resurrection.

So be encouraged one more time. There is no need to fear even the worst the enemy has to offer because Jesus is forever victorious. Just like the three Hebrew children said to Nebuchadnezzar, “O Nebuchadnezzar…if we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18). That’s trust!

Pastor Gary

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Ironic Peace

Peace is a precious commodity that is in rare supply today. Anxiety, stress, worry, and fear permeate our society. The anticipation of severe negative impact on personal finances by high fuel prices causes stress. Rampant terrorist activity around the world causes apprehension about traveling anywhere. The tumultuous Middle East, including Iran’s nuclear program, generates fear and uncertainty about the future.

Satan loves fear because it can be so incapacitating. God, however, does not intend for His children to live in fear. In fact, the most frequently stated command in the Bible is, “Do not be afraid.” Peace and fear cannot coexist. The absence of fear, however, does not mean the absence of difficulty or even danger for that matter.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together,
with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and
said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands
and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again, Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am
sending you.” (John 20:19-21).

Clearly Jesus indicates to the disciples that peace is not dependent upon circumstances. Catch the irony in this story. The disciples were hiding behind locked doors for fear of the Jews. Jesus appears offering peace and immediately shows them his pierced side and nail-scarred hands that were inflicted as a result of the ferocious indictment of the Jews. Offering peace again, Jesus declares I am sending you just as the Father sent me. “Wait just a minute! We see clearly what happened to you. You want us to leave the safety of this locked room to go out among the Jews and among the Romans and Gentiles who executed your death sentence? That does not sound very peaceful!”

This is not new information. Jesus taught His disciples the same lessons before, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The destruction of all trouble and sorrow and pain is not possible in our world. However, peace comes when our focus is not on the circumstances but on the risen Christ. He has the authority. He has overcome the world. We must simply remain in Him.

Pastor Gary

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Good Dose of Ginkgo Biloba

We have a serious memory problem in the United States. Perhaps it is receiving more attention as the baby boomers approach retirement. The market of memory aids suggests we need some help. The list is lengthy. Post-It notes, alarms, digital reminders on computers and cell phones, beeping key chains, and the clear, plastic sticker from Jiffy Lube remind us to take out the trash, pick the kids up from school, remember where we parked the car at Wal-Mart, and keep us from burning up our car’s motor. Is all of this really necessary? Apparently, the entire country needs a good dose of ginkgo biloba to boost our memory.

Unfortunately, we forget even more important things as well. By Monday morning Sunday’s worship service is often a distant memory. Tragically, so is God many times. It is not new to mankind to forget, though. By my count, the Gospels record 10 separate times after the resurrection that Jesus appeared to His followers and reminded them of the Father’s plan. Where would have become of them had Jesus not reminded them, commissioned them, and empowered them?

He wants to give you a good dose of spiritual ginkgo biloba to remind you that He is the risen Christ and it is His work we are doing. Paul writes in Galatians, “Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you.” Be aware of God’s work in and around you today. Look for His reminders, for opportunities to be involved in His commission, and for His encouragement and strength.

Pastor Gary