Saturday, February 6, 2016

Apostle's Creed: Crucified, Dead, and Buried

"Under Pontius Pilate, he was crucified, dead, and was buried."

Ever since my surgery this past December, I've been watching the Romans Women's Bible study series by Michael Kruger.

He made a wonderful analogy comparing Christ's substitutionary atonement to a modern situation.  Suppose a there was a man on death row.  A terrible murderer faces a just capital punishment.  Suppose Kruger took this man and invited him to live in his home all the rest of his days.  This would be outrageous.  Imagine at the same time that Kruger offered his son to die in the man's place.

This is exactly what God did when he sent Jesus to die for my sins.  My sins make me deserving of eternal death at the hands of a just God.  But God in his mercy sent Jesus to die instead and invited me to live in his home forever.  This is what he did for all his saved elect.  Jesus paid the price.  It cannot be unpaid.  In fact, it was paid before I was even born and could make any decision, good or bad.

This can help a Recoverer because he knows that Jesus died to take away his sins.  He is no longer a slave to his addictions.  She is no longer a slave to her need to please or help people.  This is true love.

Romans 8:31-32 "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?"

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Apostles' Creed: Conceived by the Holy Spirit

"He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary."

If you are recovering, then it is critical that you believe God the Son came to earth as a baby.  He was the only sinless human being.  Conceived by the Holy Spirit, he did not have two sinful parents.  Being born of Mary, he was completely human.

As the only sinless human, he is the only one we can look to for salvation from our sins.  If you have been saved and still struggle with a sin, then look to him.  Make confession to him.  He is the mediator between God and man.  To look to another for that is a blasphemy and insult against the gift he has given us.  No other religion has this privilege, therefore they do not lead to the same God.  To come to the true God, you have to come through Jesus as this is the only way God sent to himself.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Apostles' Creed: Jesus

I haven't read my previous post about God the Father Almighty, Maker in heaven and earth.  However, I think that I said that if you have a hurt, habit, or hang-up, then it is good to remember that God made you and that you have sinned against him.

Why is that good news?  Because of the solution, Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.  God did not leave his beloved people in their sins.  He sent Jesus, God the Son, to be both man and divine.  He lived a perfect life that I never lived and died the brutal death that I should have died.  Knowing that, I can move on from whatever mistakes I have made and the serious errors in which I have ruined lives.

He did not send another way for salvation.  I must believe in Jesus to be saved from God's eternal wrath.  I cannot get to heaven by being a sincere Muslim or by joining a cloister or being a member of my church (though if I am saved, I will belong to a church).  People outside of Christianity do not know Jesus and do not worship my God.  But the good news is that they can come to Jesus to be saved.  It's not a judgment but an invitation!  Receive this invitation and come to know Jesus through the Scriptures and through his Body in a believing church.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Apostles' Creed: Maker of Heaven and Earth

I finished going through each of the ten commandments to examine my sin.  I plan to start going through the Apostles' Creed to examine the glorious solution: our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I started doing this because I had been attending Celebrate Recovery: a place to deal with your Hurts, Habits, and Hangups.  I call those the 3 Hs.

During CR, people either recite the 8 steps to recovery based on the Beatitudes or the 12 steps to recovery based on AA's twelve steps, and then we say the Serenity Prayer attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr.

Although there is a lot to glean from this, I want to explore real time-tested creeds and Biblical lists.  So, we just finished the Ten Commandments; here is the Apostles' Creed.

Did you know that the church historically has divided the Creed into 12 sections?  This could go along with the Twelve steps.

The first section: I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

The first thing to know is that God created all the heavens and earth.  He also created me and sovereignly decided where I would be born, when I would live, and how long I would live.

He also wants me to be faithful to him and obey his commandments.  If there is sin in my life, then I cannot stand before a holy God or I will be consumed.  I have a real problem, but I also have hope because I know God always knew that I would sin and planned a way to fellowship with him in a way where I would not suffer His Wrath for all eternity, something I very much deserve.

Read through Genesis 1-3 to know the story of his creation, his love, and his betrayal by his own creatures, the humans, a betrayal that lives in all of Adam and Eve's children, you and me.

Romans 3:9-20
What then? Are we Jews[a] any better off?[b] No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being[c] will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

October Flood lesson

Once a month, I teach Sunday School at CBC.  I teach 1st and 2nd grade girls, and Erica and Amy, the children's ministers, determine the lessons.  Right now, they are not in any certain order.  In September, I taught on Abraham, October I taught on the Flood, and November I taught on the parable of the Good Samaritan.

I'm really satisfied with how my October lesson went.  I taught on Noah and the Flood. 

Before I started the lesson, I had them color the "sides of the ark" which was really just giant paper on the desks.  This kept them occupied before I started the lesson.

I am reading through Long Story Short by Marty Machowski.  It is a family devotional book that I hope to do with my kids whenever they come into existence.  This book has weekly 5-day devos that go through the Old Testament.  He also has a sequel called Old Story New about the New Testament.

I had just finished reading the section about Noah, so I incorporated those into my Sunday School lesson.  I started the session by opening an umbrella in the classroom.  I asked the girls what they would think if I told them it was going to rain in the classroom.  They agreed that would be very unusual and unbelievable.  This is how the world felt when Noah started building his ark.

I taught the first part of the lesson about the wicked world of Noah's time and how big the ark actually was.  Then, I had placed different pictures animals around the room, and I handed each girl the copy of the animals.  They had to look around the room to find the match of that animal like an Easter egg hunt.  The animals came on the ark in pairs.

Then I taught about the animals coming and the rains starting.  I also moved to the computer because there were Bible picture Power Point slides provided by Erica and Amy.  I used those to recap the lesson and also bring them to the end of the flood.  I also taught that just as the ark was the only way to be safe from the Flood, Jesus is the only way to be safe from God's eternal wrath that we deserve for our sins.

In this lesson, even the more talkative kids paid attention, and I feel like the girls understood what I was teaching.

3H: Commandment 10 and all the things I covet

Do not covet.  I think this may be the number one source of any co-dependency.  We want something.  We want to trust God to bring it to us in his time.  We still feel like we need to help God.

This is why Sarah and Abraham decided to have Ishmael through another woman.  God promised Abe a son, and Sarah and Abe wanted to trust God, but they were old, still childless, and Sarah thought she should help God by giving Abraham a concubine.  We still suffer from this mistake 4000 years later as Islam is still a bane to us.

But now that I'm done examining my sins and I'm about to move on to the Apostles' Creed which talks about the solution, I think of all the things I want but am having trouble trusting God for it.  And he's taking a long time with it from my perspective.

Let's see: Tim graduates college and will be on a job search.  He has been applying for everything he can, but you know how that goes.

I will be the one with the job but I just had major surgery and am recovering so I can't work right now.  But the good news is I am taking my pain meds less.  I pray for less wooziness and more strength.

My current job is low paying.

The ACA prevents us from moving forward with anything.  Insurance will cost $500 a month and we don't make that much in a month.  Getting a break is nearly impossible without being on hold for hours and then talking to someone who doesn't understand.

But the thing is: I do have a very loving and supportive church.  Despite me not living near it they have done what they could to care for me in this time.  And I feel more optimistic today.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

3H: Ninth Commandment

You shall not bear false witness.

This includes lying.

I think for codependents this could include trying to look good toward the world but not being genuine.

Christmas is a perfect time to do this.  In many minds we have to make the perfect Christmas card, host the perfect party, make all the food, play music and sing for every church production, but all at the same time you are not properly worshiping Jesus or remembering his birth.  Like Martha, you forgot the most important thing and that is to sit at Jesus's feet and listen.

The next perfect time to do this is simply every Sunday at church.  You can be so busy with music, Sunday school, socializing, cooking, etc., that you forget that you simply need to worship the Lord.

So, is business bearing false witness?  No, but it can be included when you try to have it all together but you don't.  And nobody is fooled.  We all know we need to rest and not overcommit.  We need to remember that God takes first priority, then family, and then job.  If you are distracted from God or not spending time with your family, then your priorities are out of order and you need to learn to say "no."

And with all these commandments, it still just boils down to us not worshiping the Lord properly, making them all the first commandment.