Have you noticed how easy it is to offend people these days? There seems to be such an overt need to accept and to be accepted that we go overboard with the “correctness” of our words and behavior lest we hurt anyone’s feelings at any time. Now, being accepting of others is a good thing, but is it the most important thing? Should we willingly lay all other principles and standards upon the altar of mutual acceptance? Are we compelled to accept the world the way it is without regard to the good we have gleaned from the way it was? How did Jesus do it? He certainly spent time with the sinners of his day but was it at the cost of higher principles? Did Jesus actually “hang out” with sinners? Was his time with them to make them feel good or accepted? What is God’s role in all of this? If we want a relationship with God, does He accept us as we are or is there more to it?
How is it that life seems to go by so fast? How is it that we more often than not look back on our life - the things we did and what we became - with a measure of regret, knowing that we could have been more or contributed more? Have you ever stopped to think of what makes life happen? It is actually a pretty simple equation: TIME + EXPERIENCES = LIFE. Now I know that is an oversimplification, but stay with me. If we can accept that life is the combination of time and experiences, then wouldn’t solving the issue of making one’s life fuller and more meaningful be easier to understand? Time is measurable and predictable and we all have the same amount each and every day. Experiences, be they physical, observational or thoughts, are essentially the sum total of what we do with the time given to us each day. So, what can we do to make our time and experiences produce a rich, fruitful and contented life?
A few weeks ago we began to tell the story of the dramatic events that led up to the conversion of the Centurion Cornelius to Christianity. Because the expansion of Christianity to Gentiles was such a radical shift in God’s methods, radical measures had to be taken! Today we will finish the story and see how its conclusion would change the history of Christian faith by the inclusion of you and me!
Sometimes things need to change. When there is a great plan in progress, the need for great change is likely to be a part of that plan. Since Adam’s fall from grace, God’s plan for man’s redemption has been punctuated by changes, including the great Flood which ended the old world, the calling of Abraham which began the age of the Patriarchs, and the death of Jacob which ushered in the age of Jewish favor. Each change had a distinct purpose. Today’s story about the conversion of Cornelius signaled that another change was on the horizon – a change that would be played out through the experiences of the Apostle Peter and Cornelius, the first Gentile convert. God’s plan was progressing and great change was necessary. But why Cornelius? Why a soldier?
Happy New Year! Happy new beginning! Happy new opportunity to resolve to make changes in your life once and for all, only to be shot down later by the steady force of habit, life and expectations later…wait a minute...that’s not happy! The truth is, for most of us a new year and a new beginning spells disaster and defeat. How can we approach change in a way that offers different results? Well, stay with us – we have a few ideas and a textbook (the Bible!) to back them up!
Sometimes change is in order. Sometimes it becomes evident that the path we are currently following is not leading us in the best direction and a decision is required to alter not only our direction, but our thinking as well. This is what we are faced with when we profess Christianity. This profession requires us to observe, perceive and follow through on a different life. So, are you ready for that?
Time for a Christian Questions pop quiz! Who here in our listening audience is so satisfied with their Christian life that they see no need to focus on further change or development? As you look at your life and imagine yourself before Jesus would he say to you – wow, your character is so fully developed, your prayer life is so complete and your sacrifice of your will is so overwhelmingly perfected that you can stop trying – just relax, for you are the perfect example of my disciple! No? Well, then what are we doing about it? Are you resolving to change, but more importantly, are you keeping your resolve?
Did you ever stop to think how much of our lives are built around our habits? The words we use, the thoughts we think – driven by habit. Our morning routine...a habit. The time we arrive at work...habit. Our actions and reactions to our co-workers...habit. What we eat, where we eat, how much we eat...all connected to habit. How we treat our spouse, our family, our friends and acquaintances – you guessed it – all connected to habit. So, if such a large portion of our lives are based in habit, then we ought to understand what makes a habit and most importantly how to better our habits!
Happy New Year! It is 2011 and it is a new beginning – at least for the calendar anyway. What is your year going to look like? Do you have any changes planned? Is this the year that you will finally – well, you know, is this the year that you will finally – (now fill in the blank...) With a new year usually comes a review of what has been and a preview of what we would like to have happen. My question to you is this – along with your thinking about changes with your job, your home, your car, your weight, your habits etc., are you thinking about changes in your Godliness – are you thinking about how you can finally really make your faith be stronger and healthier? Stay with us as we talk about our thinking - how it works and how to elevate it to a higher spiritual level!
Changing the world. I’m sure that many of you listening have thought about that at one time or another. What would we do, how would we do it, what results would we look for. This morning, we are going to talk about how to change the world from two standpoints; one, our personal world, that is positively affecting those around us. This approach was inspired by the passing of a dear friend of ours, who while only in his 40’s was taken by cancer. Tim left his mark – he changed the world around him and we want to honor that this morning by observing his methods. 2nd, we will look at God’s plan to change the world – the whole world and trace his methods as well. It will come as no surprise to learn the similarities between them. So, stay with us as we learn just how to change the world!