Monday, December 27, 2010

From Advent To Atonement

It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying, "I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you." And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again, "Here am I and the children whom God has given me." Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989
The cradle of Bethlehem often gets in the way of us seeing the cross on a skull-shaped hill. Throughout Advent we explore the expectation and birth of our Savior. Sometimes, despite our most disciplined efforts to remain balanced during all this concentration on the sweet babe in a picturesque manger, the cross of Golgotha almost disappears.
It happens innocently enough; the cross becomes camouflaged in the wrapping paper, lights and tinsel. Unwittingly we rush through the malls and online gift-getting, all the while not suspecting the insidious capture of our focus; we are turned away from the violence of the sacrifice to the sweet caresses of Away in a Manger and Little Drummer Boy. Turned to the dark side, Skywalker!
For some of us in the “Grinch category” (and I can be that way without provocation), our trip away from Christmas’ true meaning means becoming worn-out and testy, grumping our way through the buffet lines of cookies and fruitcake.
But, for all of us, sentimentalists and grumps alike, Advent and Christmas can become a test of endurance – almost an Iron Man Triathlon event; we may wobble a bit, but if we’re still standing, physically, emotionally and financially on December 26th, we claim victory and vow it will be different next year! Sure it will!
We can be like the small boy whose family had just come home from another endless gift-hunt; it was way-past dinner time The little guy was instructed to say the grace over a micro-waved plate of leftovers; he prayed, thank you, God, for this...stuff, and forgive us our Christmases as we forgive those who Christmas against us.
Personally, I am more likely to wind-up frazzled than enamored with the crush of holiday activities. But, either way…whether you’re partied and pumped, or over-amped and pooped, this time of year calls for a course correction.
The writer of Hebrews uses a word (v.17) that calls us back to the genuine focus of Christmas – hilaskomai is translated as “atonement” (ἱλάσκομαι - to conciliate, that is, (transitively) to atone for (sin), or (intransitively) be propitious:—be merciful, make reconciliation for.[1]). With that word we move from the Christmas tree to the cross. Atonement is what happened to our sin problem on the cross; it is what blotted-out the stain of original sin. God was merciful towards all human beings in doing something which was impossible for us to do – forgive our sin. To be forgiven is not something anyone can do for himself; it has to come from the outside.
The “simple” definition (if there is to be anything simple with so complex an issue) is that we are all guilty of sin – God knows it and, because of His righteousness, must judge it – but God chooses to forgive us by grace. The “debt” of sin is still a reality – someone must “atone” or pay the price; God decided to do just that by coming to us and dying for us.
That’s what the manger was about; that’s the reason for the cross! God came in grace and mercy to do something about our sin. He didn’t come so we could sing about the sweet little baby, born in a stable – he came to die a violent sacrificial atoning death…so we could live!
The Difference
Two true stories illustrate the difference between life with or without the forgiveness Jesus came to bring with his Advent and Atonement:
Life without Forgiveness
In Bristol, England nearly 20 years ago… 10 ten year-old boys led a little toddler down a railway embankment and smashed his head in, leaving his body on the railway line. The story of the killing of Jamie Bulger was one of those events which made everyone look again at what it means to be human. These were just children, yet they were capable of this. Neither were they psychotic. Nor were they any more disturbed than many other children. The anger and desire for vengeance that came up against them was almost tangible…. Now there is a chance that they may be released. They were children at the time of the murder. They have spent the rest of their childhood away from their families in an institution, locked away from the rest of society. Jamie Bulger’s mother wants them to be locked up for the rest of their lives — arguing that her child cannot walk free back into her arms. They took her son’s life, they should not have their lives. Even if they are released, there is a strong risk that they might get killed by vigilantes, so in one respect they will never be truly free.[2]
Our sin is just as “first-degree” as that group of boys who snuffed out the life of a toddler. And, we are just as captive by the penalty of our sin as they are of their prison made with iron bars. Without forgiveness, we are slaves to sin and death; no chance of parole from eternal death! Forgiveness requires atonement.
The Forgiven Life
The second true story is from Dr. Maxwell Maltz, a famous plastic surgeon:
One day, a woman came to see Dr. Maltz about her husband. She told the doctor that her husband had been injured while attempting to save his parents from a burning house. He couldn't get to them. They both were killed, and his face was burned and disfigured. He had given up on life and gone into hiding. He wouldn't let anyone see him - not even his wife. Dr. Maltz told the woman not to worry. With the great advances we've made in plastic surgery in recent years, he said, I can restore his face.
She explained that he wouldn't let anyone help him because he believed God disfigured his face to punish him for not saving his parents. Then she made a shocking request: I want you to disfigure my face so I can be like him! If I can share in his pain, then maybe he will let me back into his life. I love him so much; I want to be with him. And if that is what it takes; then that is what I want to do.
Of course, Dr. Maltz would not agree, but he was moved deeply by that wife's determined and total love. He got her permission to try to talk to her husband. He went to the man's room and knocked, but there was no answer. He called loudly through the door, I know you are in there, and I know you can hear me, so I've come to tell you that my name is Dr. Maxwell Maltz. I'm a plastic surgeon, and I want you to know that I can restore your face.
There was no response. Again, he called loudly, Please come out and let me help restore your face. But again, there was no answer. Still speaking through the door, Dr. Maltz told the man what his wife was asking him to do. She wants me to disfigure her face, to make her face like yours in the hope that you will let her back into your life. That's how much she loves you. That's how much she wants to help you!
There was a brief moment of silence, and then ever so slowly, the doorknob began to turn. The disfigured man came out to make a new beginning and to find a new life. He was set free, brought out of hiding, given a new start by his wife's love. It's a dramatic expression of human love that gives us a picture, however faint, of the saving love of Jesus Christ, what we call the Atonement.[3]
That’s what this table is for…atonement, because of the great love Jesus has for you; it brings forgiveness and freedom…for you! So, come and dine…In the name of the Father, because of the Son, cooperating with the Spirit. Amen.
[1] Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries ©2003, QuickVerse
[2] quoting Paul Roberts, “Sacrifice of blood and lives,” November 19, 2000, Cothan Parish Church Web Site, Reprinted with permission.
[3], quoting Maxie Dunnam, This Is Christianity (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994), 60-61.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Asking the Hard Question

Matthew 11:2-3
2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, "Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?"
James 5:7-8a
7 Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also must be patient.
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989

Have you ever wondered at some point in your life, Am I doing the right thing, making the right choice? How do you know if you’re doing right or choosing well when it comes to that job or a major decision that affects your family? How do people make the right choices when the doctor says there’s no hope? We wonder, don’t we?
John the Baptist wondered too. He had just gotten done preaching how Messiah would come in power and judgment, harvest-sickle flashing and slashing. Now Jesus has come; John has declared Him the Son of God – and, instead of cleaning house Jesus is preaching love your enemies and turn the other cheek. It is little wonder John had doubts!
Where was this Messiah who was going to set everything right and punish sinners? Marc Axelrod wrote:
But instead of preaching brimstone, Jesus preached grace. Instead of punishing sinners, He reached out to sinners. Instead of ushering in a political kingdom, Jesus preached about a heavenly kingdom.
And John was confused. “Why is Jesus letting the Herods of this world get away with murder? Why is he letting an innocent man like me sit here in this prison? Why is He letting my life come to an end like this? Are you the One who was to come? Or should we expect someone else?”
We do have those kinds of questions, don’t we?
Questions reveal what’s inside; like running to the water fountain reveals your need to quench a deep thirst after playing basketball for four hours straight. Honest searching questions about (or to) God – do not reveal a lack of faith; they reveal a longing for faith to be strong.
I believe God had Matthew write this account of John the Baptist’s struggling faith because the main focus of the Gospel is faith in Jesus. We begin life in the Spirit by faith, and the Bible tells us in at least three of Paul’s writings[2] that we continue that life by faith.
The Bible’s message on following Jesus is all about faith! So, let’s focus on the faith that drove John’s question, and the answer Jesus gave him.
I. John’s Question is Like Our Questions
When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Matthew 11:2-3 (NRSV)
One commentary posed an interesting question about John’s question: Isn't it fascinating to realize that if John was going to believe Jesus was the Messiah, he would have to do so the exact same way we do: by believing what OTHER people report about Jesus and his ministry! John himself was not able to hear Jesus' words directly nor could he witness a single miracle in person. John would just have to believe the testimony of the disciples, which is all we have to go on, too. We have to believe that what the disciples claim they saw and heard is the truth.[3] So our questions are exactly like John’s.
The real issue is – what drives such questions? In our Wednesday Conversation this week we focused on John’s reasons for questioning Jesus. John asked, “Are you the one?” John was expecting a political ruler as well as God’s spiritual Messiah; he was looking for someone who would literally sit on David’s throne. Jesus just didn’t fit that mold and it probably confused the Baptist no end.
Perhaps John’s question was designed to help Jesus get back on track, or even force his hand. John may have imagined that a little shove in the right political direction was all his cousin may have needed to pick up God’s ball and carry it.
A man was driving the winding mountainous road home late one night. He swerved on one hazardous turn and the car crashed through the guard rail and went sailing off into the night over the cliff. The man was thrown from the car and he managed to grab onto a small branch growing out of the mountainside. When he caught his breath and realized he wasn’t dead he began to check out the surroundings.
Holding tight to the branch he looked down at a straight drop of 300 feet; he looked up at a 20-foot climb with nothing to hold onto. There he dangled between heaven and the hard earth.
The man figured he was done-for, so he began crying out to God: “Hello, God. Are you up there somewhere? If you can hear me, I’m sorry I ever doubted you. If you’ll get me out of this mess I’ll be good. I’ll go to church and serve on committees; man, I’ll even tithe!” Suddenly a voice from above said,
“I hear you, my son – and I will help you…let go of the branch”.
“Uh, Lord, it’s a 300-foot drop.”
“I know – trust me and I’ll help you…let go of the branch.”
--- a 10 second pause followed, and the man then said:
“Is there anyone else up there?”
“Are you really the one?” John asked. “Or is there anyone else up there? If I stake my life and eternity on you, can I count on you, or am I hollering down a dry well?”
What drove John’s question was the same thing that drives ours – fear. Trusting someone else is hard enough when it’s something little like repairing your car or fixing the garbage disposal. But having confidence in the decision of all decisions – what do I do with my soul? – now that makes us fearful…or it should.
So…it comes down to this about your soul – you can ask “is there anyone else up there” – or you can decide to trust what Jesus has done for you and trust your eternity to Him.
It’s a leap of faith…because it comes down to either believing and being saved…or back-pedaling away from faith, and being lost forever! Salvation through faith is available to anyone who asks, but it is most certainly everyone’s individual decision to make.
John’s question was asked so he could get off the roller coaster of doubt. His was the kind of question a man asks when he doubts; but it is a kind of holy question that wants to haul that doubt onto the examination table to deal openly with what causes him to doubt. Jesus gave John an answer that spoke to John’s faith.
If we will listen, it will speak to us too, because…
II. Jesus’ Answer is Still His Answer
Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. Matthew 11:4-5
John is in prison and has one simple question for Jesus – Just answer this one thing and I can die a happy man; Are YOU the Messiah? And what does Jesus say…He tells the condemned man to figure it out for himself! Really great, eh?
I used to wonder why Jesus just couldn’t give his poor imprisoned cousin John a straight answer; just tell him “yes” or “no” Jesus! But we serve a God who never wastes an opportunity to increase our faith. Had Jesus just given a simple “yes” John would have been in the same spot, and still wondering to this day! But, by pointing to the evidence, Jesus kept the issue of faith and personal decision in the forefront. John had to exercise his faith in Jesus, or be content with his unbelief.
Jesus’ indirect answer to John helps us understand the very same answer today because Jesus asks us the same question he asked the disciples….Who do YOU say that I am?
In other words, Jesus tells us mortals, prisoners of our own sinful nature and this lost world, that our task here on earth is to consider the evidence…which is:
Jesus has done it all – healed the deaf, blind, disabled and even raised the dead…and by Easter morning his sacrifice would be the final proof that a dead man really would live again. The sacrifice would make it possible for us to know God, and to be saved from our sins.
Our task is to come close to God and experience his love just as certainly as the blind, deaf and dead felt the compassionate touch of Jesus two thousand years ago. The Psalmist gave us the same advice:
O taste and see that the LORD is good; Psalm 34:8a
Jesus isn’t hiding, but if you want to find out how good he really is, you’ve got to taste that goodness personally…nobody else can use your taste buds!
John’s Question is Our Question
John was waiting, along with all the other Israelites, for a Messiah that would come and take over – politically. He wanted Jesus to come and clean up the mess that is our world. How is that any different twenty centuries later?
Nothing much has really changed in that department. Every four years we elect a president, hoping that this one will be different, but they’re not. We hope against hope – but even the most politically-adept of men fall short. We are disappointed again! And so we look upward; and we hope that Jesus will come back and clean up the mess. We’re the same as John. John’s question is also our question; and so…
IS He the ONE? I mean, is He the ONE for YOU?
But John wasn’t the only one who asked questions on that day. Jesus had a question for the people …he asked, what did you think you were going to see when you went out to see John? He asks us the same question about why we’re here today; what would you tell him?
· Did you come here today because there is an emptiness in you that drove you here?
· Do you experience tiredness with the things of this world; does it leave you ragged and hopeless? All that Christmas hustle and rush?
· Are you wondering if it’s all true – the cross and empty tomb?
· Have you tried everything else and now there’s nowhere else to turn?
Answer to the Hard Question in a Silent Movie
Charlie Chaplin was the great silent film star. In one movie he plays a prisoner being transported to jail, but the boat shipwrecks. At the film’s beginning he is sitting on a beach looking at the clasp around his leg attaching him to a ball and chain. The whole film is about his relationship to that ball and chain, and his attempts to escape from its grasp.
First he tries telling jokes to distract his captor leg irons; then, when its guard is down he tries to run away, but at the end of the length of chain, he falls face-down in the sand.
Then he tries to outsmart it, nonchalantly walking away…again he falls down in the sand. Then he tries to reason with the ball and chain – he talks to it! Down again!
Finally, at the end of his patience, he pretends the ball and chain are not there. He kicks sand over it, and for a while it looks as if his problem has vanished. Thinking he has solved his dilemma, he strides to the end of the chain. Down he goes!
At this point the insight finally dawns. Like a light turning on in Chaplin’s head he realizes that he cannot solve the problem alone. If he is going to be helped, it has to come from the outside. The movie closes with him looking upward for rescue.[4]
If you’re struggling, go ahead, look upward, and ask the question –
Are you the one…or is there someone, something, some experience that’s better?
Let me assure you, you’ll get the same answer John got – God’s big enough to handle your questions, so go ahead, judge for yourself…
You judge; whatever you CAME here to see, our prayer is that you will not LEAVE here before having chosen to believe in Jesus Christ; Look upward, and take a leap of faith.
In the name of the Father, because of the Son, cooperating with the Spirit.
[1] Mark Axelrod, Second Thoughts About Jesus, on
[2] Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Hebrews 10:38
[3] This Week in Preaching at The Center for Excellence in Preaching

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December 5, 2010

1 In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." 3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.' " 4 Now John wore clothing of camel's hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit worthy of repentance. 9 Do not presume to say to yourselves, "We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10 Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 "I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989
Parades are inevitable; they are part of our culture. When it comes time to celebrate it is mandatory that we form a line and everybody gets to see the show as it marches by. I’ve watched a lot of parades, and been in a few. Parades are fun; the floats are elaborate, sometimes tacky. The uniforms and marching bands are entertaining. Best of all are the balloon characters!
There is, however, one character you will never see in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade or the Christmas Rose Bowl parade - You will never see a John the Baptist balloon figure!
He probably doesn’t show up at many holiday parties either.
One author characterized John as the kind of Advent guest that forces you to wonder either what in the world is wrong with HIM or what in the world is wrong with YOU.[1]
John the Baptist was many things –
· Exciting – the crowds followed
· Entertaining – people love a good show
· Eccentric – loved the camel-hair suit (but, John, eating locusts?)
· Enigmatic – hard to figure out his style why he lambasted both the spiritual and political leaders of his day…but most of all John was just plain…
If there’s one thing that is certain about John’s message, it’s that to whomever he speaks, John is requiring change, metanoia. Metanoia is the Greek word translated “repentance” in our text. It’s much more than just feeling sorry for what you’ve done in the past – it is a turning away from that past. Everything is affected…all you think, all you love, all you want and don’t want – everything! [2]
Everything about John’s preaching was about “repentance”. His was an unsettling message; he was an unsettling man. He is the epitome of (supposedly) what a preacher must be – he brought comfort to the afflicted, and affliction to the “comfortable”!
Now, the Pharisees were the comfortable – the “fat cats” of society. And this begs the question before the house…and I so move it…
Why Were They There?
Of course the “they” includes two different groups…the general populace as well as the religious rulers. Why did people go to John? In our Wednesday conversation this week our group explored three possibilities:
1. There were those who were Curious – many people understood their need of being forgiven, and this would have been the main reason common folk followed after John. It was typical for an Israelite to be looking for the Messiah. John’s preaching was announcing the coming of Messiah’s kingdom. People believed!
2. There were those who were Critical – of course this would include unbelievers of the common class, but mostly here we see the Pharisees who rejected John’s message outright.
They were educated in the Scriptures enough to understand that John was quoting Isaiah and other prophets, but John’s message of repentance had “Pharisees” written all over it, and it ruffled their feathers!
Some of them got it, and eventually changed (Nicodemus, and Joseph of Arimathea to name a few). But the more critical were those who were looking for an opportunity to discredit John (the same thing they later tried to do to Jesus). One preacher offered a graphic word picture of the response of John to the Pharisees who approached him:
Of course, like all preachers, John didn't get through to everybody. Some who came to the Jordan with no intention of getting taken in by this man stuck to that determination pretty fiercely. The religious leaders provided John the opportunity to cut loose with his strongest language. "Sneaky snakes!" John fairly howled! "Somebody set the field on fire and out slithered you all! Well, I'm here to tell you that the days of resting on your laurels are over. Don't whip out your Members Only temple gold card – your theological credentials cut no ice with me! Don't tell me about your spiritual lineage or that you are Abraham's children because if God wanted more children of Abraham, he'd turn the stones into a whole bunch of them. But that's just the problem, isn't it? Your hearts are as dead as stone already. God wants living trees producing juicy spiritual fruit. If I were you, I'd get serious about that because I'm here to lay the groundwork and clear a path for Somebody big and strong who is coming any minute now. He's coming with a very sharp axe in his hand and he will chop down and burn to ashes dead trees like you all!"[3]
The religious professionals got dressed down like a ten year old boy whose father just caught him smoking behind the barn. John pulled no punches. As a 21st century “religious professional” I make it my business to read this passage often enough to keep a good perspective on what God thinks about religious professionals!
Some were curious, some critical, and…
3. Everybody was Cautious – This group would include both of the two previous groups…everybody. In fact, it includes us. The ones who submitted to John’s call to repent were obviously cautious for their souls; they wanted to be right with God.
But, those who outright rejected John’s call to repent…they also knew that they stood in need of God’s forgiveness. We are born, as St. Augustine wrote, with a God-shaped hole on the inside; we cannot be at rest until that is filled – and it cannot be filled with anything but a right relationship with God.
So that is the main reason why they were there…they were cautious, worried about their souls…and that spawns a larger question which the truth begs:

If That’s Why They Were There…Why Are We Here?
And an even more important corollary…
How Will We Go Away From Here? What Decisions Will We Make Today?
The answers are pretty much the same for this century as for twenty centuries ago….some will resist God and some will submit. We came here today curious and nervous, or critical and negative…but deep-down inside we all showed-up cautious, knowing that inner, eternal part of us (that part which defines who we are, and how we will spend eternity), needs attention – needs to have a right relationship with God to fill the void inside….that emptiness, without God, hurts – and we know that only God can heal that emptiness!
John told all who would listen what to do – metanoia (repent). That’s an inside job…has nothing to do with outward appearances, what people think of you, or even whether you’re a Methodist, Baptist or Episcopalian. It has to do with whether you will submit to God as God; will you take yourself off the throne and give Him glory? Repentance is knowing – and acknowledging with your life – who is God….and who is NOT God. Here are the only two choices before you…
Choice #1: Resist like a Pharisee
The chief resistance is a refusal to change – or more accurately, to let God change you. The Pharisees had no intention of humbling themselves to change things so that the poor would not be so poor, or the powerless would not be so helpless; they liked the status quo. They resisted the Spirit of God, and thereby distorted God’s mission to serve their institution. To them, their institution, the temple and all that power, was more important than God. That was the main reason John told them their “status” as Abraham’s descendants meant nothing.
Bottom line…if you won’t humble yourself to God, if He doesn’t come first in everything….no matter how uncomfortable it may be to make the changes He requires…you’re not worshiping God, you’re worshiping yourself.
Choice #2: Submit to His Baptism
If metanoia is an inside job, this is the outside – this is what people will see. This baptism – of becoming part of the visible church – is humbling. When you join the church you are asked if you repent – metanoia; if you will turn your back on your previous life like it is a corpse to be buried and left that way.
You are asked to promise to give financially, give your service, pray, worship faithfully and be God’s witness in this world by the way you live and in your relationships with others.
Now, God, and every human being with the common sense of a turnip know you cannot keep every one of those promises perfectly – some you can, but you will mess up, and there will be more “metanoia” in your future. But the point is that it is a beginning point. Baptism is a dip in the cold water of reality; living-out that baptism is a daily journey that stretches out into eternity, day-by-day!
That means there will be changes along the way; the churchy word is transformation. And that is different than reformation. To have re-formation is to rearrange some things, like dusting the furniture….you stop smoking, drinking, and all the other bad habits (except the ones you really enjoy, and can get away with if nobody’s looking). Trans-formation is when God changes you.
John Wesley had mega doses of reformation – he worked so hard to be right with God. He studied languages, theology….served as a missionary and preacher. He did all he could; yet it took a humbling moment at Aldersgate one winter night to teach him that it was God who did the transforming, not Wesley. It warmed his heart – a strange experience for a methodical, hard-working zealot of reformation!
You and I are here today because we care for our souls. The transformation of God is available…we must simply submit….inside-out. And that’s how he changes you…from the inside-out…you will feel it, and others will see it.
C.S. Lewis once said, Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.[4]
That’s why they were there – and that’s why you’re here, to make an infinite, eternally-important choice
In the name of the Father, Because of the Son, Cooperating with the Spirit
[1] Scott Hoezee, The Center for Excellence in Preaching,
[2] See Ben Witherington, Asbury Theological SeminaryWilmore, Kentucky on
[3] Scott Hoezee, The Center for Excellence in Preaching,