Dad’s Job Description
Happy Father’s Day 2015

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Father’s Day is celebrated around the world, but that hasn’t always been the case. The very first Father’s Day was celebrated on July 5, 1908 when a West Virginia church held a service to honor 362 men who had died in December of the previous year in an explosion at the Fairmont Coal Company mines.

In 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by a widower, began working in her town to get fathers honored in the same way mothers were honored on Mother’s Day. She was successful in her efforts and on July 19, 1910, the first statewide Father’s Day was observed in Washington State. Most men weren’t in favor of “Father’s Day” because they said it wasn’t “manly” to give gifts like cards and flowers to men. The observance of Father’s Day spread over time beyond Washington State and has been observed in one way or another since the early 1900s. Father’s Day became a national holiday in 1972 when President Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a national holiday. Continue reading “Dad’s Job Description
Happy Father’s Day 2015”

Spiritual Warfare: Going on the Offensive
Ephesians 6:17-18

ephesiansLast week we began studying the last section of Paul’s letter to the Church in Ephesus. Throughout Paul’s letter he has been encouraging the brothers and sisters in Ephesus by teaching them about the many, many, blessings that God has showered upon His people. Paul taught them that they have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3). Paul taught them who they are in Christ…they have been chosen, predestined, and adopted as God’s own people (Ephesians 1:4-5). He has taught them what they are, corporately, as the Body of Christ…He has destroyed the dividing wall that separates people because of race, ethnicity, culture, and every other particularity that we use to divide, and He has made us one Body (Ephesians 2:14-19). He has taught them why they are to go about doing the good works of God…They are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). He has taught them how to interact with those closest to them; husbands, wives, parents, children, masters, employers, slaves, and employees…they are to mutually submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21-6:9). He has alerted them to the fact that their enemy is not any person, but spiritual forces in unseen places. He has shown them how they are to defend against the attacks of the enemy and how they are to engage the enemy with spiritual weapons (Ephesians 6:10-17). Every lesson, every truth, that Paul has so passionately shared with the people of Ephesus is applicable for you and me. You can go to the best schools in the nation, you can gain an Ivy League education, and not learn more relevant, powerful truths than what we’ve learned in the months that we’ve been studying Paul’s letter to the Church in Ephesus. Continue reading “Spiritual Warfare: Going on the Offensive
Ephesians 6:17-18”

The War Continues!
Ephesians 6:10-18

ephesiansI am a soldier, a prayer warrior, in the army of my God.
The Lord Jesus Christ is my Commanding Officer.
The Holy Bible is my code of conduct.
Faith, Prayer, and the Word are my weapons of warfare.
I have been taught by the Holy Spirit, trained by experience, tried by adversity, and tested by fire.
I am enlisted in His army for eternity and I will not turn back.
I will not get out, sell out, or be talked out.
I will be faithful, capable, and dependable.
When I am called to action, I will stand at attention, act with precision, and serve with devotion.
I am a soldier, a prayer warrior. I am not a baby.
I do not need to be pampered, petted, primed up, pumped up, picked up, or pepped up.
I am a soldier, a prayer warrior.
No one has to call me, remind me, write me, visit me, entice me, or lure me.
I am a soldier, a prayer warrior. I am not a wimp.
I will stand my post. Saluting my King, obeying His orders, praising His name, and building His Kingdom.
I am a soldier, a prayer warrior.
No one has to send me flowers, gifts, food, cards, candy, or handouts.
I do not need to be cuddled, cradled, coddled, cared for, or catered to. I am committed.
I cannot have my feelings hurt bad enough to turn me back.
I cannot be discouraged enough to turn me aside.
I cannot suffer enough to cause me to quit.
When Jesus called me into His army, I had nothing.
If I leave the field of battle with nothing then I still come out ahead.
My God shall supply all of my needs. I shall win because my Savior is the Victor. I am His soldier.

This morning the war rages on and casualties are mounting. Before you are led to believe that I am speaking about the war that is taking place in Afghanistan let me steer you in the right direction. There is a war taking place. A war far greater than the war against terrorism. A mission far more crucial than any undertaken by any military today. The war that I want to speak about this morning involves every single person on the face of the planet. The war is being waged against men, women, boys, and girls of every race, every socio-economic background, the educated and uneducated, those who are able bodied, and those who are confined to nursing homes, wheel chairs, or hospital beds. The enemy is not an Iranian, Communist, Terrorist, or a member of the Taliban, but the enemy is the sin within. The war that American fighting forces are waging while we are sitting securely in the sanctuary is a very real war, but the fact of the matter is that even with all of the devastation that the terrorists have unleashed upon the world, far more lives are being devastated by sin. I don’t say that with insensitivity or with a callous heart. I know that there have been tens of thousands of lives impacted by car bombs, IEDs, and attacks like the one on the US Consulate compound in Benghazi. Continue reading “The War Continues!
Ephesians 6:10-18”

Spirit Filled Work
Ephesians 6:5-9

ephesiansSeveral weeks ago we began to take a look at a section of Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus that began back in Ephesians 5:18 where Paul encouraged the folks to be filled with the Spirit instead of being filled with wine. We learned that being filled with the Spirit of God leads to godly living while being filled with wine leads to debauchery, or ungodly living. Paul then lays out for us what godly living looks like in our closest relationships—the relationships shared by husbands and wives, parents and children, and last of all, masters and slaves, or in our day we would say, employers and employees. It is the last pair of relationships that we will take a look at this morning.

For many followers of Jesus today the thought of God being in the workplace or of our relationship with Jesus having anything to do with “where” and “how” we work is a thought that doesn’t even enter their mind. For many, God is confined to a building on Sunday morning, but those who have this mindset need to be reminded that, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;” (Psalm 24:1 NIV) For the followers of Jesus every area of life is an invitation to watch God at work, every sphere of life is a mission field, and every aspect of life presents us with the opportunity to surrender it to God’s will. Our work is an opportunity to allow the Lord to work through us, but if we see our work as nothing more than a job, instead of God’s assignment, then our work will be nothing more than that…just work. Let’s take a look at our Scripture for this morning and see what we can learn. Turn with me to Ephesians 6:5-9 and let’s begin. Continue reading “Spirit Filled Work
Ephesians 6:5-9”

Spirit Filled Homes: Parents and Children
Ephesians 6:1-4

ephesiansHow are families to function? Most people never really give it a thought. We get married, eventually have children, and do our best to make things work. In Paul’s day there were well established “household codes” that served to provide structure, a chain of command, and guidance for the family unit.

When thinking about “household codes,” it might help us to think about the companies where many of us work. Within most every company there are a set of guiding principles, “policies and procedures,” that regulate employee actions and establish specific methods of carrying out those actions within the company. We can’t just do whatever we want and expect to maintain our position within the company. There are expectations and procedures for everything from what time we are to show up to work, to the way we address and deal with disgruntled customers, to how decisions are made within the company. What’s true in your company is also true here at Britton Christian Church. I can’t just make an arbitrary decision because I feel God is leading me to do something. There are policies and procedures to follow.
Policies and procedures help companies maintain order and stability as they go about their business. Policies and procedures are also set in place to help companies avoid the chaos that will inevitably happen when everyone does “what is right in their own eyes,” to borrow a phrase from the book of Judges. Continue reading “Spirit Filled Homes: Parents and Children
Ephesians 6:1-4”

Spirit-Filled Homes
Ephesians 5:21-6:9

In our Scripture for today we have an incredible opportunity to learn about the transformative power of the Holy Spirit upon the relationships we share in our household. Paul talks about the relationships of husbands and wives, parents and children, and “slaves and masters,” or in our day, we could say, “employers and employees.” Dr. Craig Keener, in his book, Paul, Women & Wives, discusses what was known in the ancient world as “household codes.” These household codes set the course for how members of a household were to relate to one another and they were developed to try and maintain the social structure of ancient societies. Dr. Keener writes,

The Roman aristocracy felt their power base increasingly threatened by social changes occurring around them. These changes included the upward mobility of socially inferior elements, such as former slaves, foreigners, and women. Foreign religions were sometimes suspected of aiding what the aristocrats viewed as a subversion of the appropriate moral order. (Kenner, Craig. Paul, Women & Wives. pg. 139.)

The Romans were especially sensitive and agitated by foreign religions, like Judaism and Christianity, that they felt were a threat to upsetting the social structure of their society. As I’ve been studying Paul’s teaching, and learning about the lengths that the Romans, Greeks, and other societies of old went to in trying to maintain the social order of their day, it caused me to think about our own society. Continue reading “Spirit-Filled Homes
Ephesians 5:21-6:9”

Transformed Relationships
Ephesians 5:21

There is an ever-growing awareness in our society of a general malaise that has left us feeling uneasy about our lives. We are unfulfilled with our present situation and uncertain about our future. We are not content with who we are or what we are doing. There is a gnawing feeling that there has to be more to life than what we are experiencing. We are disillusioned because the things, people, and experiences that we thought would fulfill us, that others told us would fulfill us and make us happy, have failed to do so.

I’m not talking about a mid-life crisis. I’m not describing the angst felt by those who have lived more than a few years, looked back on their lives, and concluded that they’ve failed to accomplish what they had hoped to accomplish. I’m not referring to those who are entering the last season of life and feel like their best years are behind them. I’m talking about a pervasive problem, a persistent emptiness that plagues the young as well as the old, the rich as well as the poor, and men as well as women. It is the kind of emptiness and discontentment that leads an 8th grader, with the best years of his life in front of him, to kill himself in the hallway of his school. Anyone who is contemplating taking their own life has come to the place where they feel utterly alone in a world of seven billion people. As Cade Poulos pulled the trigger this week he was surrounded by a sea of students in the hallway of the Junior High in Stillwater. Alone in a sea of people. Isn’t that a tragic irony of our time? Continue reading “Transformed Relationships
Ephesians 5:21”

Under the Influence
Ephesians 5:18-20

We are living under the influence. There is no way to escape it. There is a conspiracy of influence taking place all over the world. You turn on the television and there are those peering at you through the screen that are doing their best to influence your buying habits, shape your beliefs, and change your mind. Madison Avenue may be nothing more than a street in New York City, but the influencers of society gather there every day to try and come up with new ways to influence you and me. Politicians are on television every day trying to win you and me over to their side. They tell sordid tales about their opponents, shine a spotlight on how they will better our nation, and pull every trick in the book to try and win our vote. We are being shaped, swayed, and seduced each and every day whether we are aware of it or not.

Those who are part of our lives, the people we work with, go to school with, our family members, or those who influence us through our headphones, phones, computer screens, or television sets can either have a positive or negative influence on us. I watched an ESPN documentary this past week called, “Unguarded.” The film is about a basketball player named Chris Herren. Chris was a McDonald’s High School All-American coming out of Fall River, Massachusetts. Chris went to Boston College on a basketball scholarship. Shortly after he arrived at Boston College he walked into his dorm room and found his roommate and two girls doing cocaine. They invited him to give it a try, but Chris said, “No thanks.” One of the girls said, “Come on, it won’t hurt you.” Chris said he did his first line of cocaine and it took him 18 years to stop. Influence is powerful…and can be powerfully destructive. Continue reading “Under the Influence
Ephesians 5:18-20”

Making the Most of the Time
Ephesians 5:15-20

Our God is such a gracious and kind God. Long before we ever recognize His wonderful blessings, long before we ever recognize His involvement in our lives, long before we ever bow our knees and acknowledge His goodness and mercy…He blesses us. Jesus said,

45 …He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:45 NIV)

We can go through our entire lives and never acknowledge God’s provision, His mercy, and the many ways that He blesses us. Many people, rather than acknowledging God’s provision, attribute the blessings they experience to themselves or they chalk it up as “luck” or “coincidence” and never even give God a thought. When they go through the difficulties of life, the gut-wrenching times of life when you feel like you can’t breathe, then they tend to blame those hard times on others, chalk them up to bad luck, or worse yet, they blame God even though they never give Him a thought at any other time. When we fail to recognize His Sovereign hand at work in our lives then we will miss one of the greatest lessons that we can ever learn in life. The lesson is this: Life has purpose. History is “His story,” and we, each and every one of us, are part of the story. If you understand this then you know that your life has purpose, that God has a plan, and that there is nothing in life that is random or merely a coincidence. Continue reading “Making the Most of the Time
Ephesians 5:15-20”

Behavior That Fits Our Belief
Ephesians 5:3-14

The last time we were together and taking a look at Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus we were urged to “imitate God.” If that were the only direction Paul would have given the brothers and sisters in Ephesus, and us, then we would be overwhelmed with the mere thought of imitating God. He is the God who spoke Creation into being (Genesis 1). He is the God who split the Red Sea so His people could cross on dry ground (Exodus 14). He is the God who turned Moses’ staff into a snake and then back into a piece of wood again. (Exodus 4) He is the God who offered His only Son as a sacrifice for you and me and then raised Him back to life in three days. (Matthew 28) I could fill our entire time together this morning with the miraculous acts of God recorded in Scripture. If this aspect of God was what Paul had in mind when he said, “imitate God,” then we would be overwhelmed.

For some of us, when we hear that we are to “imitate God,” we might automatically think of God’s perfect perfection, His absolute purity, and His uncompromising holiness. Would this not also leave us overwhelmed? We read in Scripture that Jesus told the people, “Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48 NIV) We know that this is the call of God upon our lives, but at the same time we know that Jesus came and died for us because we are far from perfect. We are broken, sinful people.

Paul wrote to the people in Ephesus and began his new sentence with these words, “Be imitators of God…” As he began the sentence he already had in mind the aspect of God’s character that he wanted to highlight, and it was love. Let me read to you the first two verses of Ephesians 5.

1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV)

Continue reading “Behavior That Fits Our Belief
Ephesians 5:3-14”