Sunday, December 02, 2012

Advent Conspirarcy

 During the holidays advertisers are doing everything in their power and budget to creatively increase your level of dissatisfaction and get you out of that easy chair and into the mall. Or at least to the computer on their website, credit card in hand. 
Big Business thrives on our dissatisfaction, displeasure and unhappiness. Why? Because the more displeased, dissatisfied and unhappy you are- the more profits for Wal-Mart, Kmart, Costco, Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, Honda, Toyota, Ford, Volkswagen, Apple and Microsoft…. 
Intended or unintended there is spill over. In a consumer culture it is normal to become chronically critical, dissatisfied, unhappy, hard to please people. We also become dissatisfied with our homes, our spouses, our kids, our church, ourselves. And maybe even God…. 
The Bible teaches that there is another conspiracy in the works. An Advent Conspiracy. God is conspiring to enter your heart, change your life, pluck you out of the dissatisfaction conspiracy and plant you firmly in the kingdom of God. There is intended spill over. We become people who are changed and filled with a love for God, a love for life and a love for others. As we change, so does the world around us. We can trace this conspiracy back to Abraham and Moses, but it is seen most clearly in a baby born in a stable in Bethlehem, 2000 years ago. Christmas is about his birth and rule and reign as the true king of our world and the entire universe. 
We need to understand that Wall Street has conspired to thwart Christmas and turn it into yet another moneymaking opportunity. And we need to admit that they have done a pretty good job of hijacking our holiday. This holiday season let’s take back Christmas. Come be a part of the Advent Conspiracy. Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, Love All. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

Global and National Day of Prayer

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2: 1 - 4 This month we celebrate both the National Day and Global Day of Prayer- Special days of prayer set aside as a reminder that we are to pray for our nation and world on a regular basis. This year the pastors in Fremont are asking Christians to assemble at their communities flag pole and pray at noon on May 3. This could be city hall, school flagpole, post office, or library. We will celebrate Global Day of Prayer in worship on Pentecost Sunday. As we pray for our nation and world we need to remember that God’s kingdom has no geographical or national boundaries. How can we be citizens of a kingdom without boundaries? Peter writes about this in his first letter. Peter tells us that God’s people are chosen race, a holy priesthood, a holy nation, and a people for God’s own possession. He is also very quick to remind us that once we were not a people, we were separated from God and each other, but now we are the people of God, united by the common bond of belonging to our savior, Jesus Christ. With this is mind, Peter urges Christians live as resident aliens, like those with dual citizenship. Have you ever noticed that we have two flags in our sanctuary? One is the national flag. The other flag is the Christian flag. We have two flags in our sanctuary to remind us that live in two kingdoms – The kingdom of God and USA. Christians live in geographical countries and we have ethnic cultural backgrounds , but our true allegiance, our true citizenship is the kingdom of God. Through out history and even today many Christians live in countries where they do not experience the religious freedoms that we enjoy. During the early years of the church the Roman government oppressed and persecuted those who followed Jesus. They did not have a vote or voice in politics as we do today. It is interesting that despite persecution, Paul instructed the church, in as much as it was possible, to obey the laws of the land, pray for national leaders, and live at peace with their neighbors. When the law of the land commanded worship of Caesar as God, the church found that it was not always possible to submit to Roman rule. Jesus taught to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to give to the Lord what is the Lord’s. Worship belonged to God, not to Caesar. When the early Christians refused to worship Caesar, they were saying, “Yes, we live in Roman and might even be Roman citizens but our primarily allegiance is to Jesus – not Caesar.” Many early Christians paid with their lives for proclaiming Jesus as Lord, but even in the face of oppressive cruel governments the Bible says we are to pray for our nation and nation’s leaders. What are we to pray concerning our nation and national leaders? Especially when they do things and promote things that are not pleasing to God? We can pray that they would come to follow the Lord and be lead by him. We can pray that they would practice justice and mercy, protect the hurting and oppressed, and do the will of God – even if they don’t know God. An interesting study would be to read through Scripture and find all the times that nations and leaders who were opposed to God, were actually used by God to accomplish God’s purposes. You might be surprised at all the times God did just that! Psalm 33: 10 The LORD foils the plans of the nations; 
 he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. 
11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, 
the purposes of his heart through all generations. We have an awesome privilege in our country- we get to vote for our leaders and we have a voice in our government. We live in a beautiful land rich with freedoms and opportunity. But in our freedoms and national pride we need to be careful in our prayers. We need to pray not so much that God would be on our nation’s side. but that our nation would turn and be on God’s side… For our hope is not in who sits in the white house – our hope is in the Lord who breathes stars into existence and thwarts the plans of nations. His plans are accomplished and stand firm forever. Let’s pray often for our leaders to be in line with plans of God.