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Archive for December, 2012

A Dream Worth Living For, a Vision for a Better World

God spoke to and directed Joseph, Jesus step-dad and Mary’s husband, through dreams (Matthew 1:20; 2:13, 19-20, 22). That’s after his dream of being happily married was blown to pieces by Mary’s confession of her pregnancy.

If we are not careful as we get older we will dream less because Joseph is not the only one who had a dream die. So when a New Year rolls around we dream more and more cautiously, and then maybe not at all. How many dreams died at the end of a gun in Newtown CT this past week? And not only dreams but the capacity to dream, the willingness to dream?

Joseph didn’t know, he was too busy dreaming his own dreams, but God was working on His dream, not just for Joseph’s life but for all of humanity, all of creation. No one knows history better than God, no one is more aware of human brokenness/sinfulness, no one desires salvation, redemption, and restoration more than Him.

Have you ever asked yourself what our world would be like without killing, without murder? What would it be like with no one stealing, no one taking anything that belongs to another? What about a world with healthy families, no dysfunction, no abuse, no divorce? What about a world in which people trusted and honored God, not gods and religions of our own making, but in the One who gave us life and breath and who loves us too much to quit dreaming, as broken and sinful as sinful as we are? That’s the dream God described when gave the ancient Israelites the “Ten Commandments.”

Maybe your objection is that this is typical preacher fluff or disconnect from reality? Maybe you think the answer is more guns, more procedures, more surveillance, higher fences, armed teachers, six year olds with survival training, more government control, armed guards and police everywhere, more jails, more…? Where will that end?

God invited Joseph into His dream, His vision for this world and Joseph joined in. It didn’t make his life easier but he became a participator in the redemptive work of God. God is still inviting people to join, broken people, devastated people, hurting people, sinners –  people who recognize their own need for redemption and our world’s/humanity’s need for salvation and redemption. This is why God asked His own Son, Jesus Christ, to give His life. If you wonder where you begin joining in God’s dream for you and our world the answer is Jesus Christ.

“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams”

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”.
Romans 12:17-21 (NIV).

God has dream, join. Merry Christmas.

To God be all glory, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

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Who was that kid that just wanted his two front teeth for Christmas? Then again he used to want candy and toys until those darn two front teeth fell out and now the reindeer can’t understand him, he can’t say, “Sister Suzy sitting on a thistle,” and he can’t whistle anymore (“All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth’” by Don Gardner).

Some things just don’t seem that important until they’re gone. Like the “good old days,” I wonder if we recognize them only after they’ve passed by us. The same seems to be true of our health, we don’t seem to be all too concerned until we are hurting, are impeded, or lost functions and abilities.

Have you thought about how many wishes won’t show up on this year’s Christmas lists? Maybe because you can’t find them at the mall or Amazon.com? You just can’t conjure up two front teeth like that? But how many kids wish for healthy home? How many husbands and wives are really wishing for something that can’t be found under a tree? How many people are wishing for real love, escaping brokenness, for something better than what is going on right now?

He just wanted everyone to get off his back. He wanted to be able to do what he wanted. He was tired of his rich “Old Man” being such a tightwad. So he got his wish, Dad gave him his share. He went off and had the time of his life, until it was all gone. Then he wished for different things, for food, for home, for mercy (Luke 15:11-32).

Some things are only found in God the Father’s house, in His arms: forgiveness, restoration, wholeness, meaning, everlasting life, love, and joy. That’s why he sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to look for us, to make it possible to return. Christmas is for the broken, the spiritually lost, and all those who in spite of having messed up are longing to be in God’s house and arms.

One more thought, what if you decide to give your child, your spouse, your parents, neighbor, friends and even your enemy what they need the most, miss the most, and wish for the most?

May this be your best Christmas ever, both in giving and receiving.

Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

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If you haven’t heard, Prince William and his wife Kate of Great Britain are expecting a baby. The United Kingdom is abuzz with the news. Pregnant Kate wound up in the hospital and the press is covering every detail. I imagine it will only get crazier for that poor couple. Can you imagine the day that little princess or prince will be born?

No one of earthly importance noticed Jesus’ birth. Not a single paparazzi was there to take pictures of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. No one was covering the very incarnation of God. Of course since then the birth of Jesus has been the most reenacted birth of all time. The best reenactments, in my opinion, have been those that have taken place in obscure places around the world and had children for their casts. Nervous directors, bath-robed shepherds, funky props, and the doll playing baby Jesus dropped on its heads innumerable times. Messed up lines, made up lines, forgotten lines. Squirming, fits, accidents, and plenty of sickness decimating the cast. Embarrassing moments, hilarious improvisations and glitches, proud and frazzled parents, and a good time had by all, at least most everyone, especially afterwards.

Obscurity, humility, simplicity, love – somehow a high dollar, super polished, performance struggles to embody those realities of the God coming to us in the flesh. The Son of God, the creator and sustainer of all, chose to meet us, engage with us in obscurity, humility, simplicity, and love. And I believe He calls us, those would love and live with God, to embrace them as well. Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, is not something God wants us to just know about, but to engage in.

My prayer for you and me, for William, Kate, and their baby, is that we embrace Jesus Christ fully, worship Him faithfully, and imitate what He chose to redeem us – obscurity, humility, simplicity, and love.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion. Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11 (MSG)

Merry Christmas, love you, Pastor Hans

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