Will Jesus Be the Only One in Heaven With Scars?

Will Jesus Be the Only One in Heaven With Scars?

John 20:19-31 May 19, 2019 One of the most beautiful languages is not spoken. It is the language of the hearing impaired. In addition to its ability to assist the deaf in communication, sign language can be beautiful in its presentation. Some of the signs for words are very logical and easily remembered. For example, the word “fear” is communicated with both hands in front of the chest, one on top of the other, with the fingers spread apart. The hands tremble to indicate fear. “Love” is communicated by crossing the arm over the heart as if you were hugging yourself. The word “friend” is communicated with the right and left hands interlocked at the index fingers. The hands separate, change their relative positions and come together again as before. Would anyone like to guess how you say “Jesus” in sign language? Place the middle finger of each hand is placed into the palm of the other. What do you suppose that symbolizes? It symbolizes the nailed-scarred hands of Jesus. Someone said the scars of Jesus is the only man-made things in heaven. Even after God raised Jesus from the dead, his scars remained. That has always intrigued me. You cannot tell the story of Jesus without mentioning the scars he embodied. The crown of thorns pushed into his forehead left their marks. His hands and his feet were pierced with the nails of the Roman soldiers. Even though he hung lifelessly on the cross, his side was punctured with a spear to ensure that he was dead. Most people have a scar or two. Each scar tells a...
Moving Beyond the Training Wheels

Moving Beyond the Training Wheels

May 12, 2019 Hebrews 5:7-14 Two weeks a group of mothers gathered in the parking lot with their children and teachers from our weekday preschool. The mothers brought their children and their bicycles all equipped with training wheels. There were cones set up in the parking lot forming an obstacle course and the children were happily maneuvering their bikes and around the cones.  It was a good practice. The experience helped the boys and girls build self-esteem and confidence.  It reminded me of one of the cherished videos I have of the day I taught my son Ryan how to ride his bike without any training wheels.I could tell he was both excited and anxious about taking them off. He wanted them off, but he was worried about the experience of trying to ride without them. Ryan was four years old. You can see from the video that at age four that I didn’t pamper him. I don’t remember how many times he fell that morning, a dozen or more at least. But I knew if he didn’t give up, and if he listened to me, he’d be free of those training wheels and enjoying the freedom of riding his bicycle without them. He was a determined boy. Those training wheels were good for him in the beginning, but they were holding him back, and keeping him from experience the maximum joy he could get from that bicycle. Let’s paint a little different picture. Take those same mothers I saw out there in the parking week. Let’s say that all showed up eight years from now with their children and...
Is Going to Church Necessary for Faith?

Is Going to Church Necessary for Faith?

May 5, 2019 Matthew 16:13-20 I was listening to a comedian recently, and he was saying that when he travels, people usually like talking about themselves. Often people include in their conversation what they do for a living.  What he dreads, though, is when they turn the tables on him and say, “So, what do you do?” When he says, “Well, I’m a comic.  I do stand-up comedy,” without fail, 100% of the time, people will say, “Then, tell me a joke.” This comedian made an excellent point.  He said it’s like people want instant verification that he’s not lying about his profession. He said this is unfair. For example, if you were sitting next to a person who claimed to be a physician, you wouldn’t say, “Hey, I’ve got this rash right here on my back. Will you look at it and tell me what it is?” If you were sitting next to an author, you wouldn’t hand that person a pad and paper and say, “Will you write me a short story?” I can feel the comedian’s pain. I usually dread people asking me what I do for a living. When I tell them that I am a pastor they don’t say, “Well preach me a sermon.  I need some help going to sleep, anyway.” I dread that question for lots of other reasons, but one of them is that some people get an instant need to confess why they don’t attend church.   It’s like they suddenly have this burden of guilt and they want me to act as a priest and absolve them of all the times or years...
Maintaining a Healthy Approach to News Consumption

Maintaining a Healthy Approach to News Consumption

When I was a boy, my grandfather worked twelve hours a day pushing dirt with a bulldozer.  When he came home, he was tired to the bone. After he ate his supper, he collapsed in a chair, pulled off his boots, and sat down and watched Walter Cronkite share what had happened in the nation and world that day.  Then he would listen to the local news.  After that, he’d turn to the local paper to fill in the gaps. Before Pop died, cable television was on the scene.  Being confined to his home much of the time, he was watching a steady diet of 6-8 hours of cable news per day.   It seemed that the more he watched, the angrier he became about politics and about living in this country. Rare was the time we got together that he didn’t get off on some political topic that had gotten under his skin from cable news.  If he were still alive today, I’m convinced it would be even worse. I see this often in people I meet, especially those that are retired and find a lot of time to watch television.   However, you don’t have to be retired to be overdosing on the news.  Regardless of which station you choose, if you do not watch the news in moderation, it’s not good for you. Today, more than ever, much of the news is presented with some bias.  Most networks have an agenda.  When news is used to shape the minds of people around a political agenda, good journalism can be compromised to some degree. We cannot get to a point where we are afraid to hear the truth or ask...
Where is Your Identity?

Where is Your Identity?

Where is Your Identity? 2 Samuel 7:18-24 In the hills of Kentucky, in a quiet shop off of a dirt road, an Amish man works alone.  He does not advertise his work on the Internet, nor does he place adds in the newspaper.  He depends on word of mouth to make his sales. He is a painter.  His signature work involves painting beautiful pictures of animals, nature, old barns, practically anything a customer wants on a single turkey feather.  He takes something already beautiful and puts beauty on top of it. While that man is likely to continue his work in obscurity, Norman Rockwell did not. He became most famous for his cover illustrations of everyday life he created for “The Saturday Evening Post” over seventy years ago. Rockwell’s unique style included a touch of humor.  He helped us to see the ordinariness of life as sacred.  We saw ourselves or someone we knew in many of his paintings. In one of Rockwell’s paintings, a child not more than ten years old, dressed only in her slip, is sitting on a footstool looking at herself in a mirror. Her elbows are resting on her knees. Her fingers are beginning to touch her face, and her hair is pulled back in a bun. Resting in her lap is a magazine where she sees a photograph of Jane Russell, a marketed sex symbol of her day. Lying beside the mirror is the little girl’s doll.  The doll is being traded for her mother’s lipstick, brush, and comb, as she contemplates making herself like more like an adult.  She is asking the question we all...