Thursday, March 28, 2013

My Lord and My God

This Easter Sunday, I will conclude my series on the names Jesus was called in the New Testament with a look at something one of His disciples called Him after Easter.  The disciple was Thomas.  We know him as "doubting Thomas," although the Bible never calls him that, and I don't think the nickname is entirely fair.  We'll talk about how Thomas learned who Jesus truly was, and what happened in his life once he made that realization.  But in the meantime, I wanted to share this story with you, just to give you something to ponder:

Tim Keller, who pastors Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City and is a popular Christian author,  was a young man in Sunday School over 40 years ago when he heard something that changed his life forever.  The teacher said, "Let's assume the distance between the earth and the sun (92 million miles) was reduced to the thickness of this sheet of paper. If that is the case, then the distance between the earth and the nearest star would be a stack of papers 70 feet high. And the diameter of the galaxy would be a stack of papers 310 miles high."  Then Keller's teacher added, "The galaxy is just a speck of dust in the universe, yet Jesus holds the universe together by the word of his power." Finally, the teacher asked her students, "Now, is this the kind of person you ask into your life to be your assistant?"

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Lamb of God

A new Supermanmovie is coming out this year.  Over 80 years ago, two teenagers came up with this idea of a man from another planet who can fly, has x-ray vision and super strength, is virtually indestructible, and is so virtuous, he wants only to help people in trouble.  It took them six years to find a publisher.  When they finally found one who was willing to publish their story, they had to sign over the rights to the character for $130.  In 1938, that probably sounded like a lot of money, but the Superman character has made DC Comics millions of dollars since then.  It’s amazing to think that, in a cynical age like ours, one of our most enduring and beloved heroes is a guy who wears blue underwear and a red cape.  But it tells us something about ourselves: We long for someone to show up and fix things; stop the bad guys, rescue the people who are in danger.  People often wonder why God doesn’t function like that.    We watch the news and see school shootings, natural disasters and evil dictators running rampant, and we wonder, “When is God going to show up and do something about this?”   

A long time ago, there was a man who lived in the desert.  He spoke so powerfully, people would come from miles around to hear him.  When they listened, really listened, a change started to take place in their hearts.  They started wanting a new kind of life.  To symbolize this desire for a new life, they would get into the river that ran through the desert and this man would baptize them.  They came from all sectors of society.  These people didn’t believe in Superman, but they believed God would send them someone, someday who would make things right.  They started to think maybe this strange guy in the desert, who wore camel’s hair and ate bugs, might be the one they’d been looking for.  But when they finally came out and asked him, this man, whose name was John, said, “I’m not the answer.  But He’ll be here soon.  I’m getting things ready for Him.”  Then the very next day, he said, “There He is…"
More precisely, he said:
Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. 
Why would John use such unusual language to describe Jesus?  That's hardly the only time the Lord was referred to in those terms.  But what does it mean for us today?  That's what we'll be talking about this Sunday at Westbury Baptist Church.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Westbury 20/20

In our February business meeting, the church agreed to elect a group of church members to evaluate our current programs and ministries and propose a strategy for a healthy and effective future for WBC.  I’m thrilled to be able to work alongside this group, which I’m calling “Westbury 20/20.”  The number represents a date in the future (as in, “Where would we like to see our church in the year 2020?”), but it also signifies accurate vision.  We want to see our church and its future as accurately as possible, and I’m asking you to help us do that.  

               Right now, we’re in the process of examining our church and evaluating everything we do, as well as learning all we can about the mission field of Southwest Houston and especially about the upcoming generations.  We are seeking to answer four important questions:

·        Who are we?  In other words, what does WBC do well, and where do we need to improve?

·        Who are they?  Who are the people God has called us to reach?

·        What would it take?  If we were planting a church today right here, with our current resources, what kind of church would best reach our mission field?

·        What should we do?  How can we best close the gap between who we are and what we need to be?
I’m asking for your prayers over this process.  Sometime in the near future, I look forward to standing with the Westbury 20/20 team as we present some proposals to the church.  In the meantime, get excited about this: WBC is in its fiftieth year as a church…and I think her best years are yet to come.