Saturday, October 15, 2016
Monday, October 10, 2016
"There is a dearth of Christian preaching in our country. Now don't get me wrong: there's a lot of 'biblical' preaching in our country. I say 'Biblical' because while it comes from the Bible and seems to accurately interpret the text, it doesn't have anything specifically Christian about it. The Bible points to Jesus. 'But wait,' you may yell, 'there's lots of preaching about Jesus in our country!' And I'll admit that His name gets thrown around in a lot of sermons, but that doesn't mean the sermon is accomplishing the text's primary goal: if a preacher fails to take a text from its original context to the cross, bury it in the grave, and then spring it out victorious in resurrection, proclaiming life because of His life to all who will believe, the sermon, not to mention the preacher, has failed."
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
I still remember the first time I was introduced to the Stephen Speilberg classic, Back to the Future. I had been sick to my stomach all day, and I just wanted to watch a movie since I didn’t feel like doing anything else. And as a (let’s just say) thirteen year old who had fallen in love with Star Wars and everything involved therein, that was my natural choice for a movie to watch. I remember my dad trying to change my mind by offering Back to the Future as an alternative. I don’t remember exactly how he described it, though he said something about a young guy and a car, but I remember my response: “Why would I want to watch a movie about a guy who lives life with his back to the future?” So I watched a Star Wars movie that day, and only later ended up watching Back to the Future.
I watched the whole trilogy again this week, and one of the last lines in the movie comes from Doctor Emmett Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd. He says, “Your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.” That line reminded me clearly of my first impression of the movie—relayed above—and challenged me in my day-to-day living. Then, meditating on Leviticus 26:12-13 this morning further engrained it in my head: “I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. 'I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you would not be their slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect” (emphasis added).
It’s that final, italicized line that I want to focus on. Too often, I find myself—and maybe you do too—living scared of the future, living with my back to the future, staring at the past, saying, “based on that, how can anything ever get any better?” If anything, I have lived much of the last six years of my life—post-salvation—with my shoulders hunched over, as if a ball and chain were attached to my neck. Fortunately, the Gospel is better news than that. The gospel screams that the opening words of verse 12 are true even now for the believer in Jesus: “I will also walk among you and be your God.” If there is anything in this world that brightens your day more than that fact right there, you should repent of your idolatry. And because Jesus walks among His people even today, October 5, 2016, we can walk with heads held high.
In all actuality, it probably is our idols that keep our shoulders hunched over. We look to them for joy and happiness in this world, and when they let us down, we lose our hope and joy and our ability to walk well in this life. The Lord wants us to walk well in this life. He doesn’t want our past to dominate us. He wants us to look to the future with hope. He doesn’t want us to stare at the past with our backs to the future; He wants us to walk into what He has for us tomorrow with our backs to the past. The sins that we have struggled with for x number of years don’t have to bother us again, because, as Doc Brown said, “Your future hasn’t been written yet.”
And lest I upset some people who view life (and God’s sovereignty) as making Doc Brown’s statement a lie, I would clarify that as far as we are concerned our future hasn’t been written yet. God has sovereignly orchestrated all of world history—past, present, and future—for His perfect end, and He knows every detail about your life story—past, present, and future—and mine, but no one on this planet knows anything about their life story except what has already taken place.
For this reason, when we sin, let’s not believe the lies Satan speaks into our ears. The lies that say, “You’ll never be free of this.” Instead, let’s believe the gospel. The Gospel that screams, “Walk upright! Look to Me! I’ve set you free! Don’t return to your old idols!”
So, in closing, I ask: Are you going to live with your back to the future, and obey Satan, or are you going to walk with your face to the future, and trust Jesus? It’s your choice!
Grace and peace