Redemption of Culture and Modern-Day Pharisees

I still have the sunburn as a trophy to remind me of the awesome Easter service we participated in this year. While my wife played a pivotal role in the sanctuary with the volunteers’ kids, I spent the entire morning and afternoon on the hill with 1,000 other volunteers. Easter on the Hill at Celebration Church was from start to finish a God-anointed event. From the moment Celebration Church got the call from Tim Tebow‘s representatives that he would be interested in speaking, the plans for Easter changed. No longer would they be deciding how to approach the upcoming celebration of Christ’s victory over death in their sanctuary, but reconsidered preparations by dropping to their knees in humble prayer. Perhaps this call was the response Celebration Church received after saturating their spirits in fasting and prayer at the beginning of the year. In January members of the church all had the same conviction–God was going to bring His power and transform the church in a new and mighty way–though the staff and pastors had yet to make specific plans.

Easter Sunday of 2012 has been the most unique and unorthodox service I have ever been a part of, or even attended. Various people dressed in costumes and had interacted with the people awaiting the service in a Woodstock-like fashion (of course, without the clouds of smoke). Recognizable characters such as Elmo (who “Tebowed” with some kids), Woody and Jesse (Toy Story), Football players, Snow White, Mr. Incredible (The Incredibles), and a few others all made the people feel comfortable and at home. Although they primarily served to bring a smile to everyone’s faces, what made them indirectly part of the ministry was the simple message that said, “Come as you are!” This was the entire thrust of Jesus’ ministry. He never established a building and “invited people to church”, but brought the Kingdom to them! Continue reading

John 14:6 – Part 1 – “I Am The Way”

5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

John 14:5-6

Perhaps John 14 has grown affectionately recently, but the profundity of Jesus’ claim motivates one to contemplate and write.  Thomas, often known as “Doubting Thomas”, is someone I can relate to well.  He’s the one who says, “Wait a minute, let me get this straight!”  People have often put him down for not having enough faith, and maybe he sometimes wasn’t paying attention, but I think Thomas was a bit of a rational thinker.  The incident for which he is most remembered is in John 20 when he missed Jesus’ appearance after His resurrection when he says, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (Jn. 20:25).  He didn’t necessarily doubt that Jesus was risen, but that they truly saw Him.  Thomas struggled with the same thing I myself do–he always wanted to know for sure because he needed certainty.  That’s why his faith was lacking, as does perhaps my own–he needed to know.

sneak peak at the Sri Lanka 2k11 trip

Yet Jesus said, “I am the way”, thus answering Thomas’ question.  In this statement Jesus equated Himself with the Father, who with Moses in Exodus 3 says, “I AM who I AM”.  Essentially, Jesus is saying, “I am the way to life”.  He changes our expectations on how the question should be answered.   Continue reading