Turn Your Projector Off

At the front of our church sanctuary hangs a large HD proportioned screen.  In its “natural state” this screen is a large white rectangle outlined by a black border.  Even though this is the actual color and look of the screen, most people never see it like this.  On Sunday mornings during worship services, this screen is receiving a projected image that transforms it from a simple white rectangle to a colorful picture, song lyrics over a moving background, or an announcement for a future ministry event.  With the projector on, the screen takes on a totally different look . . . and that new look blinds us from seeing the true/natural colors of the screen.  Only when the projector is off can we see the screen for what it really is.

Screens in sanctuaries are not the only things in our lives that receive a projected image that obscures an object’s natural state.  In reality, we are frequently “blinded” from seeing reality because of projections we shine on others.  From the depth of our past experience, personal biases, and future hopes, many times we project onto the world around us our personal feelings so strongly that they blind us from REALLY seeing the truth.  We do this unknowingly and unintentionally, but with a shocking degree of regularity.

Spiritually speaking, our personal “projectors” can broadcast onto the world around us such erroneous beliefs as “there is no God,” “God does not care about me or my problem,” or “I am unlovable or unforgivable because of my sin.”  When we project these beliefs onto our world, we can sometimes be blinded to what is REALLY true.

Jesus’ disciples struggled with this kind of spiritual blindness in their early days of following Christ.  The disciples projected onto Christ their future hopes of a conquering political king, so they were blinded to see the servant-savior.  The disciples were preoccupied with their own performance, so they were blinded to Divine provision.  Because of their “projections” Jesus said of them, “Having eyes, you do not see.”

The disciples (and many religious leaders in Jesus’ day) were blind to see what the blind man Bartimaeus clearly “saw” . . . that Jesus was the Messiah (Mark 10:45-52).  Because of the spiritual truth Bartimaeus saw and embraced by faith, Jesus restored Bart’s physical sight.  Later on, Jesus opened the spiritual eyes of the disciples hearts as they also embraced Him as Savior and Lord.  When the disciples finally turned off their projectors, they were able to see Jesus for who He really was.

How about you?  Are you projecting onto the world an image that is blinding you from seeing authentic reality in your relationship with God?  If so, stop for a moment and turn off your projector.  Close your eyes and listen to the truth of Scripture that accurately defines who Jesus is and what His attitude and actions are concerning you and me.  When we do this, we can see Christ for who He really is, instead of being blinded by our own imaginations.

Last Sunday at Wildwood, we explored this concept from Mark 10:46-52 where we saw two things:

1) Sometimes our sight can blind us.  (10:46-48)

2)  All the time Christ cares for us.  (10:49-52)

As you have processed this message since Sunday, what thoughts, questions, or applications do you have?

A Father’s Stories, pt. 5 (Sermon Audio)

Here is the sermon audio from yesterday’s sermon on Jesus healing Bartimaeus from Mark 10:46-52.  This is the fifth and final message in the “A Father’s Stories” series.

The first link is to the MP3 file for download.  Below that is an audio player for listening online.  Enjoy and let me know what thoughts you have!

A Father’s Stories, pt 5

A Father’s Stories Video Recap

Over the past five Sundays at Wildwood Community Church, I have been preaching through a series entitled, “A Father’s Stories,” looking at some of the famous Bible stories that parents tell their children from the perspective of “grown-up” children of our heavenly Father.  Over these weeks, we looked at the stories of Creation (Genesis 1), David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17), Jesus calling of Simon (Luke 5), Jesus and Zacchaeus (Luke 19), and Jesus and Bartimaeus (Mark 10).  I have arranged the key points from this series into a slide show with music that is posted below.  My hope in posting this is that you might remember some of the things that God has taught you through His Word this past month, and seek to continue to apply them in your lives today.

The song in the video is Matt Maher’s “Sing Over Your Children” and the illustrations are from Ella Lindvall’s “Read Aloud Bible Story Books.”  The video (for some reason) cut off the outer edges when converting to YouTube, so if the margins look truncated on some slides, you will know why.  Hope you enjoy!

A Father’s Stories pt. 5 (Preview)

43 times.  A simple search for the word “blind” in the Gospels shows that the word is used 43 times in the first four books of the New Testament.  That means that (on average) nearly every other chapter of Jesus’ biographies include an encounter with (or reference to) a blind person.  That is a lot!  Why do you think that was the case?  Several theories might explain this phenomena:

1) There were many blind people living in Palestine at the time of Jesus ministry, so EVERYONE came into regular contact with blind people.

2)  Jesus had a reputation for restoring sight to the blind, so blind people (and their families) sought Christ out in search of healing.

3)  There was some strategic advantage to Jesus ministry that healing blind people created.  Therefore, Jesus sought out the blind people so that His power and message would show up well against the canvas of their lives.

While I think there are elements of both options 1 & 2 at play in the frequency of Jesus interaction with the blind, as I read the Gospels, I begin to see a potentially deeper message that Jesus was communicating through these miracles.  I think Jesus was trying to communicate something to all of us against the backdrop of the healing of some blind men.

On Sunday morning at Wildwood, we will be looking more in depth at one of the instances of Jesus healing a blind man . . . His healing of Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52.  If you have a moment, read about this miracle before Sunday and see what you think the message was that Jesus was trying to communicate to us.  Feel free to share your thoughts, questions, etc. in the comments section of this post.

We hope to worship with you Sunday morning in either the 9:30 or 10:50 service as we lift high the name of Christ, and conclude our “A Father’s Stories” sermon series.  Hope to see you there!

Welcomed by a Child

When I get home from work every night, my 3 year old son Joshua acknowledges my return.  When I say “acknowledges,” I mean ACKNOWLEDGES in the same way Dino Flintstone welcomes home Fred after he returns from Mr. Slate’s quarry.  Josh’s enthusiasm always brings a smile to my face.  It also reminds me of how different children are than adults.

Children are not as concerned about appearances as adults are.  If they are happy, they let you know.  If they are sad, they let you know.  If they are bored, they let you know.  Most children have not yet learned the very “adult” art of hiding our emotions.  Josh’s unfettered greeting of me every evening is just another reminder of that.

Last Sunday in our “A Father’s Stories” series of messages at Wildwood, I spoke on Luke 19:1-10 – Jesus interaction with Zacchaeus.  As we talked about on Sunday, Zacchaeus is a great example to all of us of what it looks like to have a child-like faith when it comes to following Christ.  First of all, Zacchaeus (like a child) had a very acute sense of his spiritual need.  Being a tax collector, Zacchaeus was a social outcast and publicly labeled “sinner” by the religious people around him.  Zacchaeus probably wanted to see Christ partly because of Christ’s reputation of being a “friend of sinners and tax collectors” (Luke 7:34).  In addition to his sense of spiritual need, however, Zacchaeus pursued Christ in a radical, rather undignified way for a grown man.  Like a child, Zacchaeus climbed a tree to catch a glimpse of the Savior.  Jesus rewards Zaccaeus’s child-like faith by not only granting Zacchaeus a glimpse, but offering Him an eternal relationship with the God of the universe.  What grace!

As we applied this message for our lives today we talked about how following Christ with a child-like faith means that we relate to God with a “I don’t care what others may think, I am going to follow Christ” attitude . . . an attitude that recognizes our need and “runs” to meet Christ daily in a regular walk with Him.  This kind of unfettered response to the Savior does not hide our emotions as we relate to Him.  We also saw that as we follow Him with a child-like faith, we need to prepare to “Pass through the eye of a needle,” seeing Christ do through us what would be impossible otherwise, as our lives are transformed from the inside out.

As you have reflected on the message from Sunday, how have you applied it?  Feel free to join the conversation in the comments section below.

A Father’s Stories, part 4 Audio

Here is the sermon audio from Sunday’s message on Zacchaeus from our series, “A Father’s Stories.”  In this message we see from Zacchaeus’s life that we can:

1.  Pursue Christ with a child-like faith.

2.  Pass through the eye of a needle.

Listen to the message to find out more and share your thoughts in the comments section.  The first link allows you to download the message or listen via the attached audio player.

A Father’s Story, pt 4 – Zacchaeus

Zacchaeus was a wee little man

This morning at Wildwood, we had the chance to look at the story of Jesus encounter with Zacchaeus from Luke 19:1-10.  This “Father’s Story” is a favorite of my son who frequently sings a song about Zacchaeus.  At the opening of my sermon today I played a video of Josh singing that song.  As a proud papa, I had to post his “performance” on my blog if for no other reason than to have him roll his eyes at me in about 13 years when he finds out what I’ve done 🙂

Sermon audio will be posted tomorrow. . .

A Father’s Stories, pt. 4 Preview

Of all the famous Bible stories that have been (or will be) shared in this “Father’s Stories” sermon series, my son’s favorite is the story of Zacchaeus from Luke 19:1-10.  I don’t know for sure what his primary attraction is to this story.  Many possibilites exist:

1)  He likes the song (“Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he!”)

2)  He is vertically challenged, so he relates to Zacchaeus.  (There is no way to take Kimberly and my genes and get anyone taller than probably 5’6″ or 5’7″)

3)  He is blown away by Zacchaeus as a powerful living illustration of what it looks like to live out two of Jesus more difficult teachings.

As a pastor/theologian, I guess I am hoping that the right answer is #3.  As a basketball player, I am sympathizing that Josh would answer #2.  As a pragmatic realist, I am guessing that Josh really likes the song (#1)!

This Sunday at Wildwood, we will be looking at the story of Zacchaeus from Luke 19:1-10 as we explore week 4 in our 5 week series entitled, “A Father’s Stories.”  As we look at the story of Zacchaeus, we will be be primarily looking at it through answer #3 above . . . seeing how Zacchaeus is a living example to us of what it looks like to live out two of Jesus teaching points from Luke 18.  Which teaching points are they?  Why don’t you read Luke 18 before Sunday and see what you think.

We’ll break this passage down in both of our worship services Sunday morning at Wildwood in either the 9:30 or 10:50 service.  We look forward to worshipping with your family at Wildwood this weekend!

[NOTE:  In the comments section around the post, write what you think are the teaching points from Luke 18 that Zacchaeus lives out, as well as include any other questions or thoughts you have leading up to Sunday.]

The Carpenter and the Fisherman

Simon and his co-workers had been fishing all night . . . and had caught nothing.  Six hours on the lake with zero fish caught equaled an effective wage of $0 per hour.  Tired and discouraged, Simon and his friends hit the shoreline and began to clean their nets.  As they were wrapping up their post-fishing routine, Jesus of Nazareth arrived on the beach teaching the masses.  So many people are crowding around Jesus that He needed to separate from the crowd a bit so that His message could be better heard by more people.  Jesus turned to the tired fisherman and asked to borrow Simon’s boat as an impromptu stage.  Simon obliged and continued to clean his equipment as Jesus preached from his boat.

After Jesus finished His message, He turned to Simon and said, “Let’s go fishing.”  At this point Simon was put in an awkward spot.  Simon had been around Jesus enough to know that Jesus had a lot of wisdom when it came to Theology and the spiritual life.  Simon also knew that Jesus was a carpenter by trade.  If Jesus had been offering Simon advice on constructing a table or interpreting Isaiah 40, then Simon would have probably been taking notes, but in this instance . . . it must have felt odd for the fisherman to get fishing advice from the carpenter.

Simon did not “blow off” Jesus’ advice, however, and headed back out onto the water to fish some more.  This was a FANTASTIC decision on Simon’s part.  Simon caught so many fish on that mid-morning cast that he almost broke his nets and sank his boat.  The volume of fish caught would have brought in a pretty penny on the open fish market.  Simon worked all night for $0, but in a moment, he made a month’s worth of profit!

Simon could have viewed this moment a few different ways.  Simon could have thought to himself, “I was due a catch like this . . . after all I am a great fisherman!”  Simon also could have thought, “Jesus is a great addition to my business team . . . I should ask Him to join me in my fishing business!  We made a killing in one night . . . just think of how much we could make in a year!”  These were real human options for Simon’s response, but both of these options would have been woefully inadequate for the events that had just transpired.  Instead of looking at this moment as a selfish “win/win” Simon realized that he was in the presence of God, because a miracle had just occurred.  Recognizing this, Simon dropped to his knees and exclaimed, “Lord, you must depart from me because I am a sinful man.”  Instead of responding with chest-pounding haughtiness, Simon responded with knee scraping humility . . . and Jesus is delighted:  Simon got it.

Upon seeing Simon on the ground, Jesus responds by giving Him forgiveness, purpose, and fellowship with Him.  What gifts!  What grace!  Jesus says in Luke 5:10, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”   In 5:11, the fishermen are said to have “followed Him.”  In the end, Simon and his friends did not see Jesus joining their business, but they did see Jesus asking them to join His!

This past Sunday at Wildwood, we looked at this passage more in depth as a part of our “Father’s Stories” series.  In this message, we talked about how we (like Simon and the fishermen before us) are given the opportunity to see God at work in the world around us . . even in areas of the world where we think we know best.  When we see God at work, if we submit ourselves to Him, then He gives  us in return forgiveness, purpose, and fellowship . . . we are invited to join Him in His work in this world (even if we fish, or have a business, or raise a family, or whatever, as a part of our day job.)  We have a new higher ultimate purpose and provision in Christ.

What thoughts have you had in response to Sunday’s message?  Any application or questions that have stood out to you?  Feel free to share in the comments below!

A Father’s Stories, pt. 3 (Sermon Audio)

Below you will find the sermon audio from last Sunday’s message from our Father’s Stories series.  This week we focused on the story of Jesus calling Simon from Luke 5:1-11.  You can either download the mp3 of the message or listen in the attached audio player.

A Father’s Stories, pt 3 – Jesus Calls Simon