Saturday, December 24, 2005

"5 Minute Christmas Thought" PLUS A BONUS :)

Since we aren't able to gather tomorrow on Christmas, I've recorded a "5 minute Christmas Thought" (actually 4:52).

Take some time today or tomorrow to get away by yourself and listen to this and really think about what Christmas is all about.

Here's what you'll hear:
  • Two gifts/reminders that God gave us that first Christmas that we still need today more that ever
  • Why if you believe in God you have to belive in the miraculous
  • What Abraham, David, Mary, Elizabeth and the shepherds have in common and why that's good news to you and me

Here is it for you to hear online or download for your Ipod or Mp3 player:

MP3 Stream

P.S. My son Jack, who is 4 and 1/2 years old, saw me editing my "5 minute Christmas Thought" and asked if he could record one for the kids.

So we recorded one! His thought actually ended up being a prayer and only 2:45, but it's pretty funny and cute!

Here's Jack's "3 Minute Christmas Thought" for the kids!

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We won't meet on New Year's day either!

Our next Sunday gathering is January 8th. If you've never come to hang with us on a Sunday, then think about trying it out for 2006!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

"Lessons From Narnia" Series: The Unexpected Visitor

(This is the third/last message in the series spoken on Dec. 18.)

I want to start with a story I found...

Long ago, there was a wise and good king who ruled in Persia. He loved his people. He wanted to know how they lived. He wanted to know about their hardships.

So this is what he did...

He dressed in the clothes of a working man or a beggar, and went to the homes of the poor. No one he visited ever realized that he was their ruler.

Once he visited a very poor man who lived in a cellar. He ate the coarse food the poor man ate and he spoke kind words to him.

Then he left. Later, he visited the poor man again and revealed his identity to him. He said, "I am your king!" The king thought that at that moment the man would definitely ask for some gift or favor, but he didn't.

Instead the poor man said, "You left your palace and your glory to visit me in this dark, dreary place. You ate the course food I ate. You brought gladness to my heart! To others you have given your rich gifts. To me you have given yourself!"

The man was overwhelmed by this unexpected visitor!


In “The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe”, Aslan, the great lion who created Narnia enters into their world. He comes to take back Narnia from the control of the evil White Witch.

I love how C.S. Lewis describes the way Narnia is under the Witch’s control! He says it’s “always winter but never Christmas.” But that all begins to change when Aslan comes!

Aslan is another unexpected visitor.

  • What if God, the author of life, decided to enter his own story and become a character in it?
  • What if he did it, like Aslan, to redeem back his people and to forever guarantee the plot line of His story (history) would be fulfilled as he originally planned?

In a manger, over two thousand years ago, born as a baby to a young teenage couple, the ultimate unexpected visitor came.

The Bible tells us the most amazing miracle happened: God stepped into our world and entered this story.

Today, I want to look at some of the parallels between “The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe” and the Bible.

I also want to remind you today that we live on what Christian author J.B. Phillips called “The Visited Planet”.

We're going to see that God came not only to show us the truth and redeem us, but he came to expose our greatest dreams as laughably too small!

I'll tell you more about what I mean by that later, but, first, listen to how Matthew describes this unexpected visitMatthew 1:18-25 NLT

Hear the message below...

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"Lessons From Narnia" Series: You Are What You Eat

(This is the second message in the series spoken on Dec. 11.)

There’s a billboard on Hwy 101 for Kaiser Hospital and it says this…

“You are what you eat. Who will you be today?”

Your physical health is tied to what you eat today and tomorrow. If you eat healthy foods you will be healthy. If you eat unhealthy foods you will eventually become unhealthy.

This isn’t true just about the food you eat, but also about other things you consume!

The information we consume, the experiences we consume, what we consume with our eyes and our ears, what we consume with our time, our energy and our thoughts WILL affect us emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually.

We are what we eat! Our results in life come from what we feed on!

Now, if we only hungered in all these different ways for good things this wouldn’t be a problem. But, the apostle Paul describes our situation in Romans 7:14-21…(NLT)

14The law is good, then. The trouble is not with the law but with me, because I am sold into slavery, with sin as my master. 15I don't understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate. 16I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience shows that I agree that the law is good. 17But I can't help myself, because it is sin inside me that makes me do these evil things.
18I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can't make myself do right. I want to, but I can't. 19When I want to do good, I don't. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. 20But if I am doing what I don't want to do, I am not really the one doing it; the sin within me is doing it. 21It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.”

Today, we’ll look at the character Edmund from “The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe”.

When we look at this kid and his choices we’ll see a reflection of ourselves!

But, before we start I want to make sure something is clear.

I want to say some thing up front about the book and the movie “The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe”.

It’s not a Christian book or a Christian movie!

Here. Let me tell you what it says about this on…

“Perhaps the single most common question about The Chronicles of Narnia asks whether Lewis wrote the series as an allegory. After all, even if your biblical knowledge is limited to a few Sunday school classes in third grade, you probably notice that Aslan has many similarities to Jesus Christ. If Lewis added that symbolism on purpose, does that mean that everything in Narnia represents something in the Bible?

"C.S. Lewis makes clear that he didn't write the Narnian Chronicles as a biblical allegory. But you may be asking: How can this be true given the obvious symbolism used throughout the series? In order to understand Lewis's side of the story, you need to understand the difference between allegory and something he called supposal."

Then it goes on to say…

“Although Lewis makes it clear that The Chronicles of Narnia isn't an allegory, he doesn't deny that some symbolism was written into the series. But, to understand his approach, you need to recognize that Lewis differentiates allegory from something he calls supposal. In a December 1959 letter to a young girl named Sophia Storr, he explains the difference:

"I don't say. 'Let us represent Christ as Aslan.' I say, 'Supposing there was a world like Narnia, and supposing, like ours, it needed redemption, let us imagine what sort of Incarnation and Passion and Resurrection Christ would have there.'

"Allegory and supposal aren't identical devices, according to Lewis, because they deal with what's real and what's unreal quite differently.

"In an allegory, the ideas, concepts, and even people being expressed are true, but the characters are make-believe. They always behave in a way reflective of the underlying concepts they're representing. A supposal is much different; the fictional character becomes "real" within the imaginary world, taking on a life of its own and adapting to the make-believe world as necessary."

"If, for example, you accept the supposal of Aslan as true, then Lewis says, 'He would really have been a physical object in that world as He was in Palestine, and His death on the Stone Table would have been a physical event no less than his death on Calvary.'"

Remember this is the man that we looked at last week, who was once a dedicated atheist, but whose worldview changed when he chose to believe in and follow Jesus.

Lewis had a lot to say and he believed that fairy tales and myths are sometimes the best way to say what needs to be said.

He wrote this to a girl named Anne a little bit more about this whole supposal idea…

"I think you will probably see that there is a deeper meaning behind it. The whole Narnian story is about Christ. That is to say, I asked myself ‘Supposing that there really was a world like Narnia and supposing it had (like our world) gone wrong and supposing Christ wanted to go into that world and save it (as He did ours) what might have happened?’

"The stories are my answers. Since Narnia is a world of Talking Beasts, I thought He would become a Talking Beast there, as He became a man here. I pictured Him becoming a lion there because (a) the lion is supposed to be the king of beasts; (b) Christ is called ‘The Lion of Judah’ in the Bible; (c) I’d been having strange dreams about lions when I began writing the work. The whole series works out like this.”

So these stories are not Christian. They covered themes and issues that are real, they’re not something where everything that’s true in them is true of Jesus.

That’s the cool thing about these stories is that if you’re a Christ-follower you can like them and if you’re an atheist you can like them!

Because they cover themes that everyone cares about: good vs. evil, temptation, fulfilling our destiny, etc

Plus! What kids would want to find a doorway to a magical world where you are the hero they’ve been waiting for?

Alright, now that we have that out of the way, let’s look our twin brother Edmund.

Hear the message below...

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"Lessons From Narnia" Series: Your Worldview Changes Your World

(This is the first message in the series spoken on Dec. 4.)

I have two pairs of sunglasses here. Imagine something with me for a second…

Each of these sunglasses affects the way you see the world. If you put on this pair it will tint your view of the world in one way. If you put this pair on it will tint your view of the world in another way.

You need to be careful, because once you choose a pair to put on they will affect everything you see, hear, and experience. The way you see and feel about things will be different based on which pair of glasses you choose.

You might think what I just described is far-fetched, but these sunglasses represent something real!

These sunglasses represent two worldviewstwo ways of looking at life.

Secular worldview: The only thing that is real is what I can see, taste, touch, smell, and feel. Reality is only what I can measure, test, and reproduce in a lab. The only reality is this physical world and what I experience while I am alive. This view has no room for God in it.

Spiritualistic worldview: There is a reality beyond my 5 senses. There is reality beyond what I can understand or explain. Reality exits beyond this physical world and there will be an existence beyond this life. This view believes in the existence of God.

These two worldviews basically come down to one question and how we answer it. The question of “Is there a god is?”

Paul Little in his book, “Know WHY You Believe” says this “There is in human existence no more profound question demanding an answer.”

Your answer to this one question really does affect the way you see, hear and experience everything in life.

There’s really not a neutral choice.

You either believe there is a spiritual world and a God or you don’t. Claiming you don’t know if there is a God will by default cause you to see life from the secular worldview.

Once you choose your point of view it will affect how you perceive and respond to this world and your life.

I found a perfect example of how these two worldviews totally change you and the outcome of your life in a book called, “The Question Of God”. It’s written by a man named Dr. Armand M. Nicholi Jr.

In the book, he contrasts the life of C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud. He shows how they both started as atheists and shared many of the same views, but C.S. Lewis turned off that path towards God.

Nicholi sets up the book in a way where it presents a fictional debate between these two great men on topics like: the problem of pain and suffering, love, sex, and the ultimate meaning of life and death.

You might wonder well know is this guy? What gives him authority to write on this subject or these two men?

Dr. Nicholi is an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital. He has served on the Harvard Medical School faculty for the past 25 years, where he teaches a popular course which this book is based on. He also teaches an undergraduate course at Harvard College.

Dr. Nicholi is editor and co-author of one of the leading textbooks on psychiatry used in universities and medical schools throughout the world.

When he says something he know what he’s talking about!

C.S. Lewis has been called one of the greatest writers of the 20th Century. He’s also known as one of the greatest apologists (or defenders) of the Christian faith…

But many people don’t know, is that for about 18 years of his life he was an atheist. He had a secular view of the world. During that time he had many of the same opinions that Freud did about life.

Some people also don’t know that Freud started out his life in a religious family and that when he was young he had believed and knew the Bible really well.

Here’s what I want to do…

I want to let you see a quick look at both of their stories so you can sit on the sidelines and watch as they choose which worldview they’re going to wear.

Let’s look at Freud first.

Hear the message below...

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

On The Periphery Of Greatness

Glen Davis spoke from 2 Samuel 23:20.

He told the story about Benaiah who killed two sons of Ariel of Moab and went down and killed a lion in the middle of a pit on a snowy day.

Glen said that we might be surprised when we get to heaven to see that some people who got a lot of attention and honor here, won’t receive much in heaven. There will also be people who got little attention and honor on earth who will receive much in heaven!

You never know God's opinion of your story, so focus on his opinion and not on other people’s opinion!

Hear the message below...

MP3 Stream