Continuing the work…

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The eleven men following Jesus came abruptly to a defining moment in their lives.  One day Jesus just stopped near Jerusalem and told these men not to leave the city again, but to wait for what God the Father had promised, which He had already told them about.  What promise?  When did Jesus tell them about it?  These men were still caught up in “old” thinking, so naturally they assumed He was about to establish an earthly kingdom.

This thought process led them to ask, “Is it time?  Are you about to restore Israel?”  In some ways I think this may have saddened Jesus a little.  Even after three years, after the crucifixion and the resurrection, they still didn’t “get it.”  So, one more time, Jesus explained it…

“It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” ~ Acts 1:7-8

Jesus left them standing there, wide-eyed, with their mouths open, while they watched until He disappeared from their sight – ascending back to His rightful place of Lordship and Ruler of the universe.

In just a few days from now, January 13th to be exact, I will be teaching a new bible study class titled, “Acts: The unfinished Works of Jesus.”  This will be an in-depth study, which will be foundation-ally supported by looking into the  history, culture, language, and identity issues of these first century Christ-followers who established the Church.

And when I say “church,” I’m not talking about the Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, or Church of Christ… denominational church.  I’m not talking about the Roman Catholic Church.  I’m talking about the Bride of Christ which Jesus called “His Church.”  Where did He make this statement?

Jesus was asking the twelve, (including Judas Iscariot), who the people at large were saying He was.  Everybody had a different answer until Peter proclaimed,

“You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” ~ Matthew 16:16

If you stop reading there you’ll miss the point entirely.  Jesus responded to this grand confession this way:

“Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” ~17-18

The Church established by Jesus in Acts, is His church.  It’s not my church, it’s not your church, nobody owns it but Jesus.

The study of the book of Acts will be exciting as we understand how everything which happens is but a fulfillment of what Jesus promised these eleven men that day of Peter’s confession.  Hence the title of the study, the “Unfinished Works of Jesus.”

Should you like to follow along on this journey, I will be recording these lessons to post on this blog.  You’ll be able to download a Word document outline to each lesson, and take your own notes for discussion with your friends and family.  Who knows… some of you might take the outline with your own notes, and go teach these discoveries to someone  else.  And in this way, Jesus will still be working… to build His church!

Cart Partner

Daily Post: Partner

cart buddies

Tuesday mornings are always filled with dread and anticipation in equal proportions. Partly because of the unknown, but mostly because of what I’ve learned about the Senior Men’s Golf Association at Lake Park Golf Course in Lewisville, Texas.  Most of the 80 or so men who drag themselves out of bed at 6:00am to play golf together are older than me.  I’m the kid in the group at age 63.  I’m reasonably fit, and could walk this course faster than the average round of golf played by any given foursome on Tuesday mornings riding in golf carts.  And that’s where this story begins, with “cart partners.”

Since I’ve only been a part of the group for about six months, not only am I one of the youngest, I’m also one of the newest members of the association.  Not knowing who I will be partnered with is why I show up with both “dread and anticipation.”  Many of the guys will take a cart to the driving range and hit balls before their round, so they have already established their “driver” position in the golf cart.  I realized quickly that I could get to know someone easier if I were the “rider” not the “driver,” so I just keep my clubs up by the clubhouse while I chip and putt a little, until we’re all paired up.   I’ve ridden with the “Mario Andretti” of the group, the “slow poke,” the “Evel Knievel,” each of these men have a “style” of maneuvering the cart around the course which usually defines their personality, to say nothing of their golf swing.

Let’s be clear, the two people riding around for four hours on Tuesday mornings are more than likely cart “partners” not golf “buddies.”  Even though they all know each other, and have played together for years, the competition factor, keeps Tuesday mornings sharp and edgy.  Some can’t see farther than 100 yards down the fairway, some can’t hear when you say “it’s your shot.”  Some are totally unaware of what the other three golfers in their foursome are doing, while others have no clue regarding the term “golf etiquette.” However, generally speaking, they all get along, and we have a lot of fun… mostly.

Some of these men now know that I retired from being a pastor.  Word is getting around.  Last week, when one man, who helps run the computer, asked me if this was true, I said yes and his response was classic: “I wished I’d known before I spoke like that a few holes back.”   On the golf course, like in many other sports, men seem to feel that coarse language helps them fit in.  A couple of days ago, this past Tuesday, I was paired up again with three guys who spoke the language of “sailors” and “locker rooms.”  Then one of them asked “what did you retire from?”  Here we go again, right?  So, there on the 6th tee box, I gave a 1 minute synopsis of my pastoral background.  Same response, “well, sorry about the tirade back there…”

Here was my response then, and today, as I write these words…

I am a man, not divine.  I have my own issues which may resemble bad language to some, even if they aren’t evident to others.  I’m not your judge.  So how about we play golf knowing I won’t judge you, and you don’t judge me, for being a retired pastor.

The least verbally abusive of these three men spoke up and said, “You’re not the judge and jury, just the witness, huh?”

To which I replied, “exactly.”

I have a golf buddy who goes with me every single time to play golf.  And to the supermarket to buy food.  And to the convenience store to buy gas.  In fact, everywhere I go, He goes.  My life needs to be a witness to Him.  And while I know Jesus didn’t say these words to me personally, in my mind He did.

Acts 1:7-8
He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.

As a cart partner, or a golf buddy, go be the witness.

 

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WWW = Glocal

Daily Post:  Local

Glocal

Globes have always fascinated me.  Intellectually I understand our earth is round (sort of), but every map we see is flat.  Which lends to a perspective issue for those without three-dimensional imaginations.  A good school project for your child this fall might be to “show and tell” how the internet was formed, or the impact it has had on our lives.  If you have no children, but this interests you personally, here is a link to a page titled, “40 maps that explain the internet.” Beginning with ARPANET (1969) this page demonstrates with maps the development, growth, and impact of the World Wide Web globally.

Most of us tend to think about things “locally.”  The thing I love most about where I live is that I’m 5 minutes max to: church, groceries, gas, movies, parks, golf, and no less than 50+ restaurants serving foods originating from all over the world.  Every morning I grab my java and sit at my desk, typing these little ditties into a text editor, on a site hosted by WordPress.  The second I hit “publish,” my article leaves my local connection like the speed of light, establishing a link for folks to click, then read, from virtually any place on earth.  As of today, June 26th, 2017, my articles have been read in 67 of the 196 countries around this globe.  From my local connection, I have a global voice = Glocal.

This excites me.  This motivates me.  This brings me great joy.  Every day, every time I receive a ping on my phone or desk alerting me that I have a notification of a person who has “liked” an article, I know without doubt, my voice has been heard.  In this small way, I know, that even though I may not have a weekly congregation which listens to a sermon, or a weekly audience for teaching a Bible Study, I do have folks all over the earth who follow and share my blog with others.  Who would have thought that an article written by a retired pastor in Texas would be of any interest to a Station Manager in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Barmenda, from Douala, Cameroon? Yet, we touched base on Facebook through the World Wide Web (internet), and I’m blessed because of it.  I couldn’t believe it actually, when someone from Mauritius (a small island nation in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa) read and liked my article.  How amazing!

Maybe I shouldn’t be so amazed.  After all what I’ve just described for you is the essence of what Jesus told His disciples to do and be.  They all wanted to know if it was time for Jesus to establish the earthly kingdom of God.  His answer demanded they (and we) get their thoughts in a better priority.

Acts 1:7-8
“It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

My challenge for you today is to think: Glocally.  First be aware that God has called us to be witnesses right where we are.  We are to live our lives in such a way as to experience God’s grace every single day, in personal relationship with Him.  Energized and equipped through God’s grace we are to reach out and have a voice, glorifying God, while exalting Jesus Christ as Savior, Lord, and Master of our life.  You never really know where your voice might reach.  It may even take the words of Jesus … to the remotest part of the earth!

Think:  Glocal.

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