stevengworld

Why The Storyline Matters

May 23, 2014
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Creation. Fall. Redemption. New Creation.

These are not just words that you hear and might use to describe the Bible. They describe the storyline of the Bible. They define how we read, study, and understand the Bible. They detail how we view all people in the world. Everybody born dies. Everybody deserves to hear the great news about Jesus solely because everybody sins.

What if we began to see ourselves, our parents, our children, our relatives, our friends, our coworkers, and our local church members through these 4 words? Would that alter the way you view mankind, marriage, parents, parenting, friendships, and fellowship in general and specific ways?

This is simply a challenge to all of my Christian readers to consider maybe for the first time. For all of my non-Christian readers, allow me to explain these 4 words briefly.

Creation is when God chose to create this world with beauty abounding. He made plants, animals, and people. The first people He made were Adam and Eve. God himself said it was very good.

Fall is when the first people were talking conversing with a talking serpent and believed that God, after saying things were very good, had kept something back from them and their dominion, so they chose to disobey God and sin entered into the world and has attached itself to every human being born since. That includes you and me.

Redemption is when God chose to send God the Son into the world to take on flesh before a world that either didn’t know him, love him, or want him. Jesus, or God with us, lived a life pleasing God and preparing men for that great day when He would die for the sins of the world, and all those who repent and believe would be saved.

New Creation is when God will rid this world of the sin that entered in and make things whole again. Sin will no longer be an issue, neither will death, hatred, racism, or any other ugly, wicked thing this world suffers from. God will be praised by the ones who believed in Jesus and they will live eternally.

Now that we have a synoptic basis for these words, I ask that you consider how this storyline impacts you daily. For this is why the storyline matters.


The Special-ness of the Lord’s Supper

May 17, 2014
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Several Sunday nights ago I had the pleasure of leading my local church through communion, or Lord’s Supper. The lead pastor called me that afternoon after worship service and asked if I’d be willing to lead though it was a short notice. I obliged with a smile, not just because I love that man and he’s got a lot on his plate, but I also had a vision (sorry my cessationists brethren) the night before that I’d be leading the Lord’s Supper. What’s funny is I never told anybody beforehand because I felt as if I’d be bragging about the vision instead of telling the possible awe of God.

But I digress.

My pastor asks and he receives. I get off the phone and begin to think just what I was saying in the vision I had. No luck there. I just envisioned me leading it and encouraging faces hearing me. Then I began to think of just how to encourage them in such a way that communion brings smile and light-bulb moments to the faces of my brothers and sisters listening to me. I had a quasi-counseling phone call with a good buddy of mine living on the East Coast, and before I got off the call with him I asked him if he had a verse or passage in mind, he had nothing.

Then as I began to think about what it was that I wanted to encourage them, I gravitated towards Romans 8:1. But that verse has absolutely nothing to do with the Lord’s Supper I thought immediately. I mean in the context of chapters 6 where the mind and the Spirit are engaging in war, and in chapter 7 Paul’s laying out for us how that plays out practically where the things you don’t want to do you end up doing from a believer’s point in view, in my opinion. Then comes the best news we can read – “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!” And then I had my light-bulb moment.

When we come to the Lord’s Supper, some come with heavy hearts, some with wondering minds, some without a care in the world, and some without a prepared posture for the biblical rite they’re about to partake in. So there’s a lot to speak to when leading. In my church context, we have a meal first. Conversations are being had all over the spectrum, and praise God for it. Then if there are announcements or some business to bring up, we try to transition to those from the meal. (I do wonder at times if we’re preparing the hearts of the people present for a celebration before jumping right into communion.)

So I stood up ready to encourage the believers present, and it dawned on me just how to do it. Before you partake of the bread and drink, Paul (and hopefully the person leading it) calls believers to examine their hearts and reflect upon their past several days to seek forgiveness through repentance. And for the longest time I always divorced that from what the bread and drink represented along with its implications. Let me explain. I’m standing up telling blood-washed believers that upon reflecting on your sins and sinful hearts and motives, keep in mind that there’s no condemnation for you. Sounds risky to say because of the possibility that somebody may in fact not be saved there, but it’s so hard to tell at that instance unless the Lord makes it abundantly clear. So I’m trying to convey to the family of God that we think about our sin in light of what we’re about to celebrate, namely the death of Christ and the defeat of Satan, sin, and the grave. To say it another way, we come together to celebrate through remembrance how Christ took upon himself all of our sins on that cross while also defeating Satan, sin, and the grave, so therefore reflect upon your past sins and be encouraged by Christ because his actions on the cross means there’s never condemnation for those whom Christ died.

I then shared with them a quick story of a brother from another church in another state that upon reflecting on his sins refused to take communion. I quickly explained to them that this brother hadn’t realized what he was celebrating. He was so hung up on his sins and unwillingness to forgive that he saw the Lord’s Supper as no longer obligatory but optional. May we never see the Lord’s Supper that way. Realizing that Jesus forgave us, we forgive others. We eat the bread and drink encouraged because Jesus paid it all. Why? As believers we are in Christ Jesus, and based on what Paul says in Romans 8:1, there’s NO condemnation for us since Jesus took our condemnation upon himself.

We celebrate the work of Jesus and his defeat of Satan, sin, and the grave as we eat and drink encouraged in Christ alone. We can all say amen Lord, let it be so.