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In A Christmas Story, young Ralphie wants a Red Ryder BB gun, but his parents’ only response is, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” All the adults in Ralphie’s life seem united in keeping him from this dream.

Even his teacher at school seems intent on dashing his hopes for a Red Ryder BB gun.

Have you ever not gotten what you really wanted?

I asked some people on Facebook to share the most disappointing gift they’ve ever received on Christmas as a child or an adult.

Jani B.—A hockey jersey that was 10 sizes too big #fail #didimentionidontlikehockey

Gary C.—A Christmas Card reminding me how much I owed someone.

Mark S.—Senior in high school… luggage.

Larry M.—I bought my wife an electric razor. Helpful tip: don’t do that.

Megan B.—Every year… my Grandma would wrap up and give us the freebies she received in the mail from TBN. I mean, I had all the free southern gospel music I could handle. Along with key chains, books, note pads & calendars….I should add… one year my sisters and I wrapped them all up and gave them back. I’ve never seen Grandma laugh harder. It was a grand Christmas

Steve L.—My aunt packed a sweater in a box that had contained a really cool truck (evidently given to someone else). My excitement upon unwrapping it quickly turned to utter hopeless disappointment. I am still not over it.

Donna R.—My Grandma would crochet these socks every year. They were pretty and warm but they hurt the bottom of your feet to walk in. Try walking on rocks while smiling at Grandma so you wouldn’t hurt her feelings

Aaron W.—True story. My aunt (moms sister) got my brother a cool star wars toy. She forgot me, so she sent my cousin eric out to the car. She wrapped and gave me…wait for it…a used, faded, cracked gloria estefan cassette tape from her car. I died a little inside.

Austin J.—A block of wood.

Stephany (my assistant and Austin’s mom) said Austin repeated himself all Christmas, “I got wood.”

Tammy D.—My mom made me a Christmas sweater with an appliqué of a cat on it decked out with a bow and bell. I am deathly allergic to cats and Christmas sweaters.

Tammy can relate to Ralphie in this scene.

Who hasn’t found themselves holding a bunny suit when you wanted to hold a Red Ryder BB Gun?

Who hasn’t been disappointed at some point in life?

So, I’m reading Luke from a copy of The Message and I read this:

1 1-4 So many others have tried their hand at putting together a story of the wonderful harvest of Scripture and history that took place among us, using reports handed down by the original eyewitnesses who served this Word with their very lives. Since I have investigated all the reports in close detail, starting from the story’s beginning, I decided to write it all out for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can know beyond the shadow of a doubt the reliability of what you were taught.

5-7 During the rule of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest assigned service in the regiment of Abijah. His name was Zachariah. His wife was descended from the daughters of Aaron. Her name was Elizabeth. Together they lived honorably before God, careful in keeping to the ways of the commandments and enjoying a clear conscience before God. But they were childless because Elizabeth could never conceive, and now they were quite old.

Zachariah and Elizabeth didn’t deserve this.

They lived honorable lives.
They kept the commands of God.
They enjoyed a clear conscience before God.

Yet, they were old and childless.
Anyone here discouraged about getting older?
Anyone here ever dealt with infertility?

Sometimes life just isn’t fair.

What do you do in the midst of disappointment?

Pity party?
Stay in bed?
Unfriend people?

Zachariah gives us a good example of how to deal with disappointment.

Zachariah went to work.

8-12 It so happened that as Zachariah was carrying out his priestly duties before God, working the shift assigned to his regiment, it came his one turn in life to enter the sanctuary of God and burn incense. The congregation was gathered and praying outside the Temple at the hour of the incense offering.

This is a good example of what we can do when we are facing disappointment.

Keep serving.
He was a priest, so he went to work, serving God.
Do you serve God to be blessed by God or do you serve God because you’ve been blessed by God?

Keep seeking.
Here’s what the temple looked like in the time of Jesus:

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The High Priest would go into the Holy of Holies only one day a year—the Day of Atonement.

The Holy Place (where Zachariah entered) was on this side of the curtain and it contained the lamp stand, the table of shewbread, and the altar of incense.

Zachariah was disappointed, yet he still went into the Lord’s presence.

What keeps you from seeking the Lord?
Pain?
Anger?
Hurt feelings?
Disappointment?

Nothing was going to keep Zachariah from seeking the Lord and nothing was going to keep the Lord from seeking Zachariah!

Unannounced, an angel of God appeared just to the right of the altar of incense. Zachariah was paralyzed in fear.

4 things:
1) Angels are terrifying beings, not sweet little Precious Moments Baby-Like beings.

2) I wonder how many times we’ve missed an unannounced visit of the Lord because we chose not to seek Him?

3) God is not unaware of our suffering.

4) God hears our prayers.

13-15 But the angel reassured him, “Don’t fear, Zachariah. Your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John. You’re going to leap like a gazelle for joy, and not only you—many will delight in his birth. He’ll achieve great stature with God.

15-17 “He’ll drink neither wine nor beer. He’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment he leaves his mother’s womb. He will turn many sons and daughters of Israel back to their God. He will herald God’s arrival in the style and strength of Elijah, soften the hearts of parents to children, and kindle devout understanding among hardened skeptics—he’ll get the people ready for God.”

This promise is very specific.
A son.
Named John.
Zachariah will leap (he’s an old man).
Many will delight in his birth.
John will do great things for God.
He’ll not drink wine or beer (like the Nazirites).
He’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit as he leaves the womb.
He will prepare the way for Christ’s ministry.

What do we learn from this?
God is powerful.
God is purposeful.
God is passionate about lost people.

And remember…this all came out of the prayers of disappointed people.

They also had doubts.

18 Zachariah said to the angel, “Do you expect me to believe this? I’m an old man and my wife is an old woman.”

You’re going to see that God’s answer to that question is: Yes!

God expects us to believe that He can do what He says He can do.

Jesus teaches the same thing when He confronts the disciples for having “little faith.”

Remember when Jesus and the disciples were on a boat at night. Jesus was sleeping and a storm came up and the disciples started freaking out.

Matthew 8:23-27
23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

“What sort of man is this?”
He’s the Son of God and He can do unbelievable things!

Do you know that God can do unbelievable things?

Are you asking God to do unbelievable things in your life?
Do you need help? Ask God.
Do you need healing? Ask God.
Do you need direction? Ask God.
Do you need financial help? Ask God.

Let’s have big faith not little faith.

I heard Matt Chandler say this is a sermon recently, “God may say ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ or ‘wait,’ but He will never say, ‘I can’t.'”

When God intends to make something wonderful, He begins with something difficult. When He wants to make something miraculous, He begins with something impossible.—Lord Coggin, Archbishop of Canterbury

Does God expect us to believe this? Yes!

19-20 But the angel said, “I am Gabriel, the sentinel of God, sent especially to bring you this glad news. But because you won’t believe me, you’ll be unable to say a word until the day of your son’s birth. Every word I’ve spoken to you will come true on time—God’s time.”

Well, God was a bit annoyed with Zachariah’s little faith so he made it so he couldn’t talk.

Side note: I don’t want you wives praying for God to silence your husbands!🙂

Side note: If you do, don’t get mad when your husband prays that you’ll get pregnant at an old age.

Silence seems to be so rare these days.
Silence is a great spiritual discipline.

Do you have any time when you are silent?

When we are silent before the Lord it helps us to…

Hear more clearly
I’ve found that when I’m disappointed, I hear a lot of things that aren’t helpful.

I hear my own crying.
I hear my own justifications and rationalizations.
I hear horrible advice from well-meaning friends.

Jesus knew the importance of being silent so He could hear His Father more clearly.

Luke 5:16
Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Speak more effectively
When we’ve been silent before the Lord, we learn more about the Lord so we have more to say that is meaningful.

Psalm 46:10
Be still and know that I am God.

But, if we’ve not been silent before the Lord and heard Him, what do we know?
Only what we see.
Only what we feel.
Only what we know…which isn’t really that much compared to God’s perspective.

Zachariah had more influence over the people because they knew that he had been in the presence of the Lord.

21-22 Meanwhile, the congregation waiting for Zachariah was getting restless, wondering what was keeping him so long in the sanctuary. When he came out and couldn’t speak, they knew he had seen a vision. He continued speechless and had to use sign language with the people.

23-25 When the course of his priestly assignment was completed, he went back home. It wasn’t long before his wife, Elizabeth, conceived. She went off by herself for five months, relishing her pregnancy. “So, this is how God acts to remedy my unfortunate condition!” she said.

26-28 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary.

We’ll all be focused on that part of the story for the next few weeks, but–for now–back to this story.

57-58 When Elizabeth was full-term in her pregnancy, she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives, seeing that God had overwhelmed her with mercy, celebrated with her.

Disappointment can make us self-centered.
If we give into that temptation and throw a pity-party, we miss the opportunity to see God use our pain to bless others.

Her neighbors and relatives were able to party (celebrate) with Elizabeth because she refused to throw a pity-party for one.

59-60 On the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child and were calling him Zachariah after his father. But his mother intervened: “No. He is to be called John.”

I find this scene very funny.

Our relatives and friends just need to stay out of the baby naming process. They’re not that good at naming Our kids. Really Zachariah? You want to call him, “Zachariah”? Very creative!

Mama always wins when it comes to naming the baby.🙂

God’s will should always win. God already said that the boy’s name was going to be “John.”

61-62 “But,” they said, “no one in your family is named that.” They used sign language to ask Zachariah what he wanted him named.
63-64 Asking for a tablet, Zachariah wrote, “His name is to be John.” That took everyone by surprise. Surprise followed surprise—Zachariah’s mouth was now open, his tongue loose, and he was talking, praising God!

What would have been the first thing you would have done after not being able to talk for over 9 months and it was the Lord who took away your ability to speak and forced you to learn sign language?

Would you pout or praise?

Pout or Praise?

We can pout or we can praise and Zachariah is praising God because He’s experienced the power of God.

65-66 A deep, reverential fear settled over the neighborhood, and in all that Judean hill country people talked about nothing else. Everyone who heard about it took it to heart, wondering, “What will become of this child? Clearly, God has his hand in this.”

When we are disappointed, do people feel pity for us or praise for God?

We’re all going to be disappointed sometime or another.

Do we want to be pitied or do we want God to be praised?

Pity or Praise?

God longs to be praised, so—if we will let Him have control—He will lead us to praise Him.

I love how Zachariah allows God to speak prophesy and praise through him.

Look at what his and Elizabeth’s disappointment what transformed into:

67-79 Then Zachariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied,

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
    he came and set his people free.

Bondage to disappointment is transformed into praise for Freedom.

He set the power of salvation in the center of our lives,

Death at the hand of disappointment is transformed into praise for Salvation.
    and in the very house of David his servant,
Just as he promised long ago
    through the preaching of his holy prophets:
Deliverance from our enemies
    and every hateful hand;

Enslavement to disappointment is transformed into praise for Deliverance.

Mercy to our fathers,
    as he remembers to do what he said he’d do,
What he swore to our father Abraham—
    a clean rescue from the enemy camp,
So we can worship him without a care in the world,
    made holy before him as long as we live.

Doubts about whether disappointment will ever end is transformed into praise for the fact that God keeps His Promises.

RueBea R. shared this with me:
(parents are divorced) one year my dad said he was going to pick me up and take me to see the Christmas lights around town. I waited by the window to see when he pulled into the driveway- ended up waiting all night and fell asleep there because he never came. I didn’t get to see the lights that year either. #disappointment

She is a part of Journey and praises God with us because God is a Father who keeps his promises.

And you, my child, “Prophet of the Highest,”
    will go ahead of the Master to prepare his ways,
Present the offer of salvation to his people,
    the forgiveness of their sins.
Through the heartfelt mercies of our God,
    God’s Sunrise will break in upon us,
Shining on those in the darkness,
    those sitting in the shadow of death,
Then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
    down the path of peace.

Disappointment about unfulfilled dreams is transformed into praise to God for a brand new Destiny through an unexpected son.
Back to A Christmas Story….
At the end of the movie, Ralphie is resolved that he’s not getting a Red Ryder BB Gun and then this happens.

Now, I can’t promise you a Red Ryder BB Gun, but I can promise you this:

God hears your prayers.
He knows all about your disappointments.
He loves you.
And, He’ll never give you a block of wood, a cat sweater, or a Bunny Suit, so He’s definitely worthy of our praise this Christmas.

©2016 Arron Chambers

The Seat of Gratitude

November 23, 2016 — Leave a comment

 

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Are you seated?

If not, find a chair and sit down for this post.

Psalm 46

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A song.

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
Selah

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Selah

8 Come and see the works of the LORD ,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Selah

I’m so thankful for God.

I’m so thankful for all He does to provide and protect us.

Let these truths speak into your searching, frightened, and weary soul:

 “God is our refuge and strength . . . The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge . . . Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, though the mountains move in the midst of the sea.”

God is secure.

God is strong.

God is here…with us.

God is here, and ever-presently here, when we face trials and troubles.

How do you respond when debris from  this fallen world falls on you?

I want to respond like Mstislav Rostropovich.

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Mstislav Rostropovich, who died in 2007, was universally recognized as the world’s greatest living cellist. During the height of the Cold War, Rostropovich and his wife spoke out on behalf of human rights and artistic freedoms in the face of oppression at the hands of  Soviet Union.

This enraged the Communist government and Rostropovich and his wife were punished severely.

Their concerts were canceled.

Their foreign tours were canceled.

Their recording projects were canceled.

The state-run media imposed a black-out of their names and activities.

Finally, they were given visas to perform in Paris, but then their Communist government refused to let them back in. They could never come home to Russia again.

They were without a home.

Everything they owned and loved was left behind. They lived in exile until 1989. Until November 9th, 1989, to be exact. The date the Berlin Wall came tumbling down.

The Berlin Wall was a 96 mile long concrete barrier that surrounded the democratic enclave of West Berlin between August 13th, 1961 and November 9, 1989. It was built to stop East Germans fleeing Communist rule that had been set up under Soviet control following World War II, it quickly became the most potent symbol of the Cold War. As many as 265 people died trying to cross it.

When Rostropovich heard the Berlin Wall was coming down, and the communist regime in East Germany was coming apart, his heart was full of gratitude. He knew that his exile from his native homeland would soon be over.

He was finally going home.

So what did he do?

How did he say “thanks”?

He flew to Berlin as quickly as he could. With his cello in hand, he caught a cab, and asked to be driven to the wall.

Upon arriving at the wall he realized that he could not play his cello because he’d forgotten something he never had to remember before: he’d forgotten a chair. You can’t play a cello without a chair. The chair was always ready for him. Never before in his life did he have to worry about the chair.

But now he had to find a chair.

He began knocking on doors of homes close to where he was let off. One German family produced a small kitchen chair. So to offer his joy and gratitude to God for the gift of freedom and homecoming, he sat down in his chair in front of the crumbling wall and played his cello unaccompanied.

So, what did the greatest cellist in the world play on his cello when he picked up his bow?

Something he had never recorded before. He played a Bach cello suite.

“I chose Bach to say thank you to the great God,” Rostropovich explains.

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Rostropovich knew what it meant to have the earth shake, and the mountains move, and the sea roar, and the nations tumble. But he also knew in the midst of it all, “God is with us. And the God of Jacob is our refuge.”1

This has not been an easy year. We had an outbreak of the Zika virus. Terrorist attacks around the world. The United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Ryan Lochte lied about being robbed at the Brazil Olympics. The nation has been in an election year tumult and has emerged bitterly divided.  We’ve faced some things this past year none of us could have predicted or anticipated.

Yet this Thanksgiving we will gather to thank God, to celebrate that God is our refuge and strength, that no virus, terrorist threat, Brexit, delusional swimmer, or Trump presidential victory can separate us from the love of God and the communion of saints.Now this is what I am going to ask you to do sometime this week, on Thanksgiving, or sometime soon: I want you to be Rostropovich.

Find a chair.

Place it in a quiet spot.

And say “thank you” to God for the walls that have crumbled in your life this past year. I’m not asking you to play anything (unless you can), though if you’d like to sing a song, or recite a verse of Scripture or quote a poem, that’d be great!

You can do this by yourself or set up a chair on Thanksgiving and give your friends and family the opportunity to take their turn with you in the seat of gratitude.

As you sit, reflect on Psalm 46 and how the truths of this psalm have come alive in your life this past year.

If you were Rostropovich, what words of thanks, what words of Scripture, would you speak out of our deep gratitude for the God who IS our Refuge and Strength, a very present help in time of trouble? Please share them in the comments section below so we may all give thanks together.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

1 This portion of the story comes from a personal conversation between Rostropovich and John M. Buchanan, as recounted in the message”Glory,” at the Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 2000.

©2016 Arron Chambers

This is all I have to say about this election. I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please leave your comments.

Dealing with Conflict

July 18, 2016 — 1 Comment

How did your parents teach you to deal with conflict with your siblings?

Here are some of my favorite examples of what NOT TO DO:

Put your boys in a cage!

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A parent braided her daughter’s hair together.

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Now, this is actually a clever idea:

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I know of a father who made his sons box to work out their problems.

boxing

Now, that’s a fun idea!

I think I’ve found a way for us to work out our problems with other people in the church!🙂

Here’s the problem, as far as I see it: The problem is that many of us had no good role models for how to work out our problems.

So much of what we learn about dealing with conflict comes from watching our parents, which is problematic if our parents dealt with conflict in one of the following ways:
Yelling—Maybe your parents yelled at each other to “work out” their problems.
Laughing—Maybe you had a parent who just made a joke out of everything to avoid having serious conversations.
Avoiding—Maybe your parents just didn’t talk about it. One would leave or one would change the subject.
Medicating—Maybe you had a parent who would get drunk or high to avoid facing conflict.

This side of getting out the boxing gloves, I think we need to know how to work out our conflicts.

The Christians in Corinth were not handling their conflicts very well. In fact, they were suing each other’s pants off.

Jewish people didn’t ordinarily take their problems to public courts, so Paul is really talking to the Gentile Christians.

The Greeks were known for being a litigious people.

They used the courts for entertainment and amusement.

They would have loved shows like the People’s Court.

Taking someone to court was fun for them.

The Greek Christians in Corinth had brought their love for the courts and suing each other into the Church and Paul—who had been Jewish—was deeply offended.

He didn’t understand why they were looking for justice in the presence of the unjust.
He didn’t understand why they were looking for righteous answers from the unrighteous.

1 Corinthians 6:1
When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?

Ironically, they were eager to judge each other in legal matters, but not in moral matters.

Paul just finished rebuking them for not judging the guy who was committing incest, but now he’s rebuking them for judging each other in legal matters.

It’s easier to sue another Christian than to have a face-to-face conversation where you confront them on their sin.

So, what’s the process we should follow when we have a disagreement with another Christian?

Well, I can tell you it starts with Facebook!🙂

And, here are the best ways to confront another Christian on Facebook:

Sarcasm
“I’ll try being nicer when you try being more like Jesus!”

Passive Agressiveness
“2 Kings 2:23,24”

Are you not familiar with those verses?

23 He went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” 24 And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys.

Vague Accusations
“God and I both know what you did to me.”

Rip a King James Version Scripture out of Context

“Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

Public Shaming
“Hey Rhonda Chambers! When I said that I was not as good-looking at Matthew McConaughey and you yelled ‘Amen’ that really hurt my feelings. How dare you?”

No, really. That’s not how we should deal with interpersonal conflict.

We should be able to work out our problems on our own and when we can’t or refuse to, we are disobeying a clear teaching of Jesus.

Matthew 18:15-17
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

A couple of important questions to ask yourself before diving into conflict?
Do you really have all the facts?
Have you really been “sinned against”?
Is this really my battle to fight?
Is this really a hill worth dying on?

So, how should Christians deal with interpersonal conflict according to Jesus?
Face-to-face confrontation…in private!

Important: Facebook is not PRIVATE!

Take one or two others with you to confront the offender with evidence.

Important: Assumptions & Rumors & Gossip are not Evidence

If the offender is completely resistant to listening, repenting, changing, or doing anything to resolve the conflict, bring it before other Christians (i.e. The Church).

Important: The purpose of this step is not alienation but reconciliation.

If the offender refuses to listen, repent, change, or do anything to resolve the conflict after all of this then you have no choice but to regard the person as someone to be avoided.

Important: We are supposed to love everybody, but that doesn’t mean I have to sit in a fishing boat with you all day…especially if the fish aren’t biting.

In the context of how we should deal with conflict, Paul gives us a glimpse into the future and shows us how we will deal with conflict in the future.

1 Corinthians 6:2,3
2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!

We are going to participate with God in judging on Judgment Day.

We will judge the world.
So, wait.
No need to start that job too early, because it’s not the right time for that.
We are going to be entrusted to help Jesus in judging the world.

We will judge angels.
3 things:
Angels exist to serve us.
There are good angels and bad angels.
Apparently, as a part of the final judgment, we will participate in judging them, too.
We are going to be entrusted to help judge angels.

What’s Paul’s Point: If we’re going to help Jesus judge the world and judge angels…
We are more than qualified to work stuff out on our own.

1 Corinthians 6:4-6
4 So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?

We have it in us to work out our problems amongst ourselves.

Relationships are hard work.
But, it’s worth it because we are family.

1 Corinthians 6:7,8
7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!

Paul comes back to his earlier point: Unrighteous people have no business judging righteous people.

Are we going to have conflict with each other? Yes.
Should we ask “unrighteous” people to mediate our problems? No.
Why is this such a big issue?
We’re family (brothers).
Family should be able to work it out with family.
We shouldn’t air our “dirty laundry” in front of lost people.
Why? It hurts our witness and just makes the laundry even dirtier.
We are better than that.

Let’s keep reading…

1 Corinthians 6:9a
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?

Not only will we help Jesus in the final judgment, we will also…
Inherit the Kingdom of God.

Unrighteous people will not judge anything at the end of time, so they have no business judging our conflicts now.

Unrighteous people will not inherit anything at the end of time, so they have no authority over the Kingdom of God now.

Did you hear that?
In Christ, we inherit the Kingdom of God!

How cool is that?!?

Every inherited anything? Inheritance always come by way of a loss and a tragedy.

And, it’s a tragedy for anyone to miss out on the treasures of Heaven because they preferred the pleasures of Earth.

That’s why Paul describes for the Corinthian Christians was “unrighteousness” looks like.

1 Corinthians 6:9b,10
Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Our momentary choices can have eternal ramifications.
Sin is deadly.
Sin is not cute.
Sin is a thief that steals our inheritance.

The righteous will inherit the Kingdom of God.
The unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Let me pause here and make an important point.

Are we supposed to hate unrighteous people? Absolutely not!

I love what Paul reminds the Christians of in verse 11:

1 Corinthians 6:11
And such were some of you.

That’s such an important reminder in the context of dealing with conflict and judging each other.

Why?

It reminds us to enter conflict with grace.

We don’t hate unrighteous people at Journey because we’ve all been unrighteous people.

We’re all a bunch of “use-to-be’s.”

I can imagine what it must have been like at Corinthian small group gatherings.

“My name is Joe and I used to be an adulterer.”
And then someone else would say, “Me too!”

“My name is Mary and I used to be a thief.”
And then someone would say, “Me too!”

“My name is Tom and I used to be greedy.”
And then someone would say, “Me too!”

Christians, let’s always lead with grace because we’re all a bunch of use-to-be’s.
We used-to-be a lot of things that no longer define us.
But, there is one thing that we need to remember:
We used-to-be unrighteous, but we aren’t unrighteous anymore.
We used-to-be lost, but we aren’t lost anymore!

We do grace—and we must always do grace—because we’re all a bunch of used-to-be’s!

It reminds us to enter conflict with humility.

We are righteous and we may help Jesus judge in the future, but WE ARE NOT GOD.

Being righteous does not give us a right to be self-righteous.

What does it mean to be righteous?

Every once in a while, a member of my team and I will have a hard conversation. Often, when we’re done, I’ll ask a “DTR” question- a “defining the relationship” question.

I’ll ask, “Are we good?”

Or, in other words, “Is our relationship as it should be?”

Being righteous means….
That we are “good” with God.

Maybe you need a “DTR” conversation with God today?
Are you good with God?

Oh, it’s important to know, the only way to be “good” with God is to be “good” with Jesus.

If you are a Christian, you are good with God…you are not God!

How do we become “good” with God?
Paul tells us.

1 Corinthians 6:11
But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

How do we become righteous?
Baptism. (Sins are washed away)
Sanctification. (Supernaturally clean)
Justification. (Being forgiven of all of our bad stuff)

Let me pause here and make another important point.

Does Jesus hate unrighteous people? Absolutely not!

He loves unrighteous people so much that He died on a cross to give them a chance to become righteous…or “good” with Him.

You can become righteous today by putting your faith in Christ.
And then, once you’re righteous you’ll understand the importance of putting down the boxing gloves.

We’re better than that.

We are more than qualified to work stuff out on our own.

We are family.

We work things out when we have a conflict with someone else because God worked things out when we had a conflict with him.

And, brothers don’t hit each other.

But, if they do, they really should use boxing gloves🙂

If you need to make peace with someone today. It’s time to do it.

©2016 Arron Chambers

pinky

I Corinthians 12:14-20, 26

14Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body . . 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it..

Today I want to talk to you about your pinky toe—actually my wife’s pinky toe.

My wife has a habit of breaking her pinky toe. It seems that about every two years my wife will kick her foot on the bed, on a toy, on a curb, or on something else that she didn’t see and break her toe. I always know when she’s done it. It always starts with a loud banging noise followed by my wife’s reaction. Now, my wife was raised with three brothers in the mountains of Upper East Tennessee, so—if she were so inclined—she could swear for about three minutes without repeating herself, but—since she’s not so inclined—she just groans.

I always feel so bad, that she feels so bad.

I’ve never broken my little toe, but I know it hurts, because I’ve seen what it does to my wife. When she breaks her pinky toe, she can’t walk. It hurts to put even the smallest amount of weight on her foot, so, for a couple of days, she has to hop around on one leg if she wants to get around. It hurts to put on a sock, and a shoe feels like an instrument of torture.

My wife does not need to be convinced that her pinky toe is important. It may be a small part of the body, but it is definitely an important part of the body.

Every part of the body is important.

Which is why I love Phil so much.

Phil is a faithful servant at Journey Christian Church. He is one of the first people at church on most Sunday mornings, he opens the church building whenever someone needs to get in, he routinely locks the church up after events, he helps wherever and whenever we need him. I’m so grateful for Phil and can’t imagine Journey without him. He may not feel significant, but he is very important to Journey, to Jesus, and to me.

The Church is a body and every part of the Church is important.

Apparently, some of the members of the church in Corinth were not convinced that some of the other members were an important part of their church, so the Apostle Paul reminds them that every single part of the body, although different, is important. He also reminds them that, in a healthy body, the parts share both pain and joy.

In a healthy church there’s a place for the mouths—those who speak words of inspiration, healing, and encouragement.

In a healthy church there’s a place for the hands—those who touch the hurting, serve the needy, and point the way to God.

In a healthy church there’s a place for the arms—those who hold the tired, protect the vulnerable, and lift the downcast.

In a healthy church there’s a place for the legs—those who stand up for truth and righteousness.

In a healthy church there’s a place for the feet—those who take the message of hope and salvation to everyone everywhere.

In a healthy church body there’s a place for every part, because every part of the body is important.

In a healthy church body there’s even a place for pinky toes like me and Phil.

©2016 Arron Chambers

Ducks on the Pond!

May 13, 2016 — 2 Comments

ducks-on-the-pond_60020

Ephesians 5:15,16

15Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Today has 1,440.

Every year has 525,600.

The typical life has 39,420,000.

Every minute of every day of every year of every typical life is an opportunity. Every opportunity is a chance to grow into more, or shrink into less. Some opportunities are divine and some are not. Some opportunities are Satan’s attempts to get us off track. Satan wants to mislead us as much as God was to lead us.

Knowing not every opportunity is a good opportunity, Paul warns, “Be very careful, then, how you live.” Make good choices. Seek the Lord. Seek the lost. Redeem the times.

My son, Sylas, is preparing for summer baseball. One thing his coach will probably say at some point this season is, “Ducks on the pond!”

This saying is typically used by the coach when cheering on a hitter to drive in a few runs. The Baseball Journal notes, “It can be said in a state of relief (We finally got some ducks on the pond) or in a situation where runs are needed (Let’s go! You got some ducks on the pond!). Either way, you know that there are runners on base who are ready to cross home plate and score some runs. They don’t want to be stranded in the field.”

It’s about seizing an opportunity.

Paul’s correct: “The days are evil” and the nights will one day never end in the place prepared for those who choose to embrace evil opportunities and reject divine ones. Paul is writing to Christians who, in their former reality outside of Christ, were “darkness” (Eph. 5:8). Notice, Paul doesn’t say they lived in darkness; he says that they “were once darkness” (emphasis mine). Choosing to embrace opportunities for evil transforms us from light into darkness incarnate. Opportunities for evil are as equally abundant as opportunities for good, but those who choose to do good are few. Affirming this, Jesus said, “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Mt. 7:13, 14).

Quoting the Prophet Isaiah, Paul writes, “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Eph. 5:14). Paul wants these Christians to wake up to the reality that the ducks are on the pond! They are standing at the plate and there are runners in scoring position.

We are standing at the plate.

Each day divine opportunities come our way and we have a choice. We can choose to make the most of every opportunity, or we can choose to make excuses. Each divine opportunity is a step on a path that leads us to the center of God’s will. Each divine opportunity comes with love—true love—so we are not forced to seize any or all opportunities. Unaccepted opportunities will disappear into our past like mile-markers in our rear-view mirror, but each divine opportunity we accept makes Heaven more real and worth the journey.

It’s been said that, “Opportunity only knocks once.” This is an idiom that means that you only get one chance to achieve what you really want to do. I think only idiots believe this idiom.

I think God immerses us in opportunities. I think He surrounds us with opportunities. I think He daily sends opportunities to our door—occasionally, we hear the knock; rarely, we open the door; and almost never do we recognize opportunity for who He really is.

We say things like:

“You must have the wrong house.”

“I’m not going to accept that—it costs too much.”

“You want the guy next door.”

“I’m not ready. Can you come back later?”

“That’s too nice. That can’t be for me. You must be looking for the person down the street.”

I don’t think the problem is a lack of opportunity, but the inability to recognize opportunity when it’s standing on your front porch.

That’s why coaches yell things like, “The ducks are on the pond!”

This is essentially what the Apostle Paul is doing in this passage. It’s as if he’s saying, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, because the ducks are on the pond!”

What about you?

Can you recognize opportunity when it’s knocking on your door?

What do you see when your wife is on the front porch and she’s asking you to come home early from work so you can talk?

What do you see when your son is on the front porch asking you to play catch after dinner?

What do you see when a co-worker is on the front porch admitting trouble in his marriage and asking you if you have time to talk?

What do you see when that homeless guy is on your front porch—again—asking if there’s anything you can do to help?

What do you see when your neighbor is on your front porch asking you to explain to her the reason for the hope you have?

Looks to me like the ducks are on the pond.

So, you better not strike out.

©2016 Arron Chambers

planting-tomatoes

I don’t have a green thumb. I don’t even have a green pinky.

Plants have a picture of me on the wall of their post offices. Why? I kill plants on a regular basis. This is not intentional. I’m just not a very good gardener.

My brother-in-law, on the other hand, is a fantastic gardener. He can actually put tomato seeds in the ground and tomato plants grow that actually produce tomatoes. Can you believe that? I can’t, because when I put seeds in the ground, dirt grows. Nothing happens, and it should. That’s how God designed the process.

Seeds go in, and something—very unseedy—comes out. I know this process occurs trillions of times every second of every day, but it still amazes me.

Put a seed in the ground and, in the hidden realm of worms, dirt, moisture, and darkness, a transformation occurs that unleashes intended potential. God intends for seeds to become plants. That’s what seeds were designed to do. Unplanted seeds are destined to always be . . . seeds. Unplanted seeds will never know the pleasure of sunshine on their leaves. Unplanted seeds will never know the joy of blooming. Unplanted seeds will never experience the pleasure of providing nourishment and pleasure to others. Unplanted seeds will never know the pleasure of being a tulip and the pleasure of being seen as an expression of God’s faithfulness.

Two important things occur when seeds are planted: death and life.

When a seed is planted in the ground a death of identity occurs—while beneath the surface the seed dies to itself and becomes not seed. But, life occurs as a plant pushes up through the dirt reaching for the nourishment of the sun.

For all of these reasons—and for others we may not fully understand with minds familiar only with the modern approach to horticulture—the Apostle Paul compares being baptized to being planted.

In Romans 6:5, Paul, when describing what happens at baptism, uses a word that is only used one time in the Bible and that word means, “Planted.” This is how verse five literally reads, “If we have been planted with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection” (emphasis mine).

At my baptism, in the spring of 1978, I too, was planted.

At your baptism you were planted.

At our baptisms, you and I experienced death and life. When we were beneath the surface, like a seed, we died to ourselves and became new. As we came up out of the water our intended potential was realized. We emerged as new creations, with a new life, and new identity.

I hope you never look at tulips and baptismal services the same way again.

©2015 Arron Chambers