Sunday, August 12, 2012

What Does Your Religion Taste Like?

We all have things that we don't like the taste of. Some of them are things that conjure up memories from the past that we'd rather leave behind. Some are things we've tried before and really don't like. But some are things that somebody else has told us we don't like. We haven't actually tried them, but we've become convinced that we don't like the taste. Often this means that we miss out on something good.

I think we do the same thing in other areas of our life as well. Why don't people attend church? Why don't people accept Jesus as Savior? Could it be that they have heard that Christians are a hypocritical, judgmental group of weak-minded fools? They just know that religion tastes bad and they're sure they won't like it.

The author of Psalm 34 is challenging his readers to "taste and see that the Lord is good." This is good advice for us today as well. The taste of our faith will be shaped by a personal experience with Jesus. If our experience is based on a superficial, every-so-often effort on our part, then we will have a tasteless, flat faith. If we are to taste the full, rich life that God has for us, we will need to invest more in the "tasting" effort!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Good News: God's Mercy (1 Timothy 1:15-17)

The best-known prayer 20 years ago was the Lord's prayer, but the best-known prayer today is the Serenity Prayer. It speaks to letting go of the things we can't control because so many find themselves in a situation they can't handle. It is the prayer adopted by many of the 12-step programs.

Paul understood God's mercy. He knew that the things he had done made him the worst of sinners, and yet God saved him. This is the chief characteristic of mercy - giving kindness and help to someone who doesn't deserve it.

Mercy is not something that God possesses, it's something that He is. His personal response to the worst sinner is mercy. Our first reaction is to desire punishment and revenge on those who wrong us. God's desire is to forgive and save us, He has unlimited patience...this is good news for us! Of this Paul says, "Here is a trustworthy saying..."

Mercy is God's redemptive patience in action. He is not willing that any of us should perish, but that we would each be redeemed. Mercy triumphs over judgement.

God's mercy changes how we live our lives. We can have hope for the future in spite of the past, and we can have hope for others in spite of the past. We can forgive and be forgiven.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Good News: God's Grace (Acts 20:22-24)

We are assaulted every day in the media we consume with the bad news from our world. It's easy to conclude that "bad" is how things really are for us. If we accept this view, we will not make good decisions about how we should live...not simply because negative thinking is harmful, but because this view does not match reality. In fact, things are "good" for us.

That was Paul's mission... 'testifying to the gospel of God's grace.'

'Gospel' means 'good news' and 'grace' is a special gift, something we did not earn and do not deserve. This good news makes all the difference in the world. We do not face a future filled with the bad things we deserve, but have been given all the good things we could never have earned.

Surely this should change everything about how we live our lives. Carpe diem... life is good for us!