"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Alpha & Omega

Timeline: a linear representation of important events in the order in which they occurred. A schedule; timetable.

7 On this mountain he will destroy
   the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
 8 he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears
   from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
   from all the earth.
            The LORD has spoken.
 9 In that day they will say,
   “Surely this is our God;
   we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the LORD, we trusted in him;
   let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.” 
-Isaiah 25:7-9

The Cross: Power & Peace

Genesis 1:1, the first book and verse of the bible, states; "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Revelation 22:21, the last book and verse of the bible, states; "The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all." In between those two verses there are 31,171 verses, 1187 chapters and roughly 807,340 words. 

And in between those first and last verses in the bible there are words of encouragement, chapters full of forgiveness and hope, and verses that communicate faith and love.

As Pastor Ken wrapped up his sermon series entitled "Story: from cover to cover" this Easter Sunday we realize that God truly is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, and the creator of all.  From cover to cover the story, the good news if you will is shaped around one principal: God is the way. 

The only way.

John 4:6 states; “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

God also had one principal in relation to man: fellowship.

God created man so as to have a relationship with him. What was a perfect relationship in the beginning with Adam & Eve was short lived. The relationship became broken.

With Adam & Eve sin was introduced.

The undeniable fact is that we are all full of sin and it is only by the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on the cross that we have any true hope and forgiveness at all.

The good news is that God had a plan for the sin that would separate man from God. Over 2000 years ago God decided that He would send His only son to die a horrible death so as to provide us with eternal salvation if we would only believe and put our faith in Him.

There was no other way the brokenness of man was to be restored except through the cross.

That still holds true today. 

Many of us are living miserable lives and are broken, leaving us with only one true solution and answer; the cross.

Because of our sin and brokenness the cross represents restoration, power and peace. It also represents mercy and grace. 

I once heard it said that Mercy is not getting what we deserve and Grace is getting what we don't deserve.

I agree.

Finally, everything we observe or experience in life has a timeline. Whether it is college, a job, athletic event or the Easter dinner we will eat later there is always a beginning and an end. Our life is no different. Life is fragile and tomorrow is never promised, and because of this none of us have any real idea where we are on the timeline called life.

Only God knows.

And because of this God so wants to fellowship with us. We were created by God for God and it is truly impossible to rest and have peace unless we invite Him into our hearts and lives.

Without Him we will be defeated, with Him we can overcome.

We can overcome past failures, drug and alcohol addiction, broken relations and failed marriages, the loss of a child or a loved one, anger, depression and bitterness just to name a few. In the end we might experience all of these things and more, but with God we can overcome all of these things. With Him we can overcome anything and everything.

You can truly overcome all things with Jesus Christ.

With Jesus Christ we can, and will, win. The victory is ours... all we have to do is invite Him into our heart and lives

The middle verse in the bible is Psalm 118:8. There are 594 verses before it and 594 verses after it. The Psalm simply states; "It is better to trust the Lord than to put confidence in people."

In the heart and center of God's word He directs us to trust Him over everything else.

The only perfect and true relationship man can have is with Jesus Christ.

In the beginning there was God, in the end there is His grace and mercy, and in the middle there is our need to trust something bigger than ourselves. In the end that need only can be filled by Jesus Christ.

Be filled today... accept and acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Alpha & Omega; the only true Savior. 

Your only true savior.

Make Him you personal savior today. 

Happy Easter.

sbb  24.4.11

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Get Ready

Preparation: a proceeding, measure, or provision by which one prepares for something: preparations for a journey.

1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?
-John 14:1-2

The last song Smokey Robinson wrote and produced for the Temptations was the 1966 hit entitled "Get Ready". The song sung by Eddie Kendricks and Melvin Franklin would be a another in a long list of hits for the Temptations eventually reaching #24 on the US charts. At the heart of the song was the plea of Eddie Kendrick notifying his lover to get ready because he was bringin' a love that's true.

Ultimately the tune was about preparation.

Preparation of the heart.

This morning Pastor Ken spoke to us about another type of preparation of the heart as he continued his sermon series entitled "Story" where he shared with us the value of preparation. Anyone who has been successful in the field of athletics, in the office buildings and board rooms in corporate America and in the living rooms of family life they will all share with you that they first prepared themselves to be successful before they ultimately became successful.

Preparation always pays off.

As we celebrated Palm Sunday this morning and began to prepare for the Passover we discovered that both are about preparation. 

Palm Sunday is widely recognized by Christian's as a movable feast that always falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The Passover commemorates the story from the book of Exodus that shares the account of the Israelites being freed as slaves in Egypt. Exodus 12:11 shares with us God's word concerning the Passover meal: "Wear your traveling clothes as you eat this meal, as though prepared for a long journey. Wear your sandals and carry your walking sticks in your hands. Eat the food quickly, for this is the Lord's Passover."

The principle of the Passover and Palm Sunday is to get ready.

Get ready, get prepared for what God wants to do in your life.

Every great biblical conquest and story is preceded by a season of preparation.

Palm Sunday and the Passover are no different.

As we observe Palm Sunday and the Passover this week the importance lies in our ability to prepare our heart, mind and soul for the greatness that God is willing to display to and in us if we invite Him into our hearts. 

Before God can do great things in us we must first recognize Him for who He is and honestly acknowledge who we are.

He is the Savior; we are the sinner. 

We can't fully prepare ourselves for God's crucifixion and death, and His burial and resurrection on this Easter Sunday until we make peace with this reality.

As we prepare for Easter this week we would all do well to prepare ourselves and prepare the way for others to hear the Good News. The good news of the gospel spells out for all those who has ears to hear and eyes to read that God sent His only son to die on the cross for our sins and if we accept Him into our hearts and confess with our tongue that He is Lord and Savior we will have everlasting life.

In preparing ourselves for Easter this week identify and acknowledge areas in your life where you are not prepared. The areas can range from our marriage to our finances; from our health to our friendships. Ask God to reveal and begin to resolve any categories of your life where you are failing. Finally, one of the best ways we can better prepare ourselves for Easter Sunday is to read John 12-20. Spending time reading those 12 chapters will help us better understand the story that begins with Palm Sunday and ends with Jesus' resurrection. 

Lastly, it is important that we prepare the way for others. One of the ways we can prepare the path for others is to invite them to Easter service this Sunday.

Let's do our part to share the Good News.

Finally, a tendency in life is to notice the big event, but neglect or undervalue the importance of preparation.

This was no more true than in the sport of boxing in 1973.

1973: Clay vs. Norton in San Diego, Calif.

On March 31, 1973 Ken Norton fought Muhammad Ali. Ali had only lost one fight in his career up to this fight and was a 7-1 favorite to win the contest vs. Norton. On that night Norton broke Ali's jaw in the early rounds and was the victor as he had his way with an out of shape Ali. Six months later on September 10, 1973 Ali beat Norton in a split decision. After the fight Ali was asked what the difference was in this fight, he said determination and preparation.

The Fight II on Sept. 10, 1973: Ali vs. Norton 
(Ali wins in a split decision)

Determination and Preparation.

What are you determined to get prepared for this Easter Season?

Believe me when I say the stakes couldn't be any higher.

Let's all get ready... ready for something special, something wonderful.

Let's all become determined to be prepared so as to experience what God has prepared for us here on earth and in eternity. 

Get Ready... be ready.

sbb  17.4.11