Jesus moved – part 1 of 3

Today (Feb 12, 2012) I had the privilege of preaching at St. Stephen’s C of E Church in Shepherd’s Bush.  The gospel reading for today was John 1:1-14  on which I based the message.  This is the first of three posts taken from that message.

I have a friend who is a graphic designer and years ago, he made a Christmas card with buildings across the front. On the inside he wrote, “The Word became flesh and moved into our neighborhood” which is a modified version of John 1:14.

Jesus made a move from heaven to earth. But why did Jesus move? Why did he move to our neighborhood?

Theologians call this the incarnation – God becoming human. The apostle John affirms the full divinity of Jesus right here in the beginning of his book. In the first verse, John says Jesus, whom he calls “the Word”, was God, then John says he was always God and finally in verse three he lets us know that Jesus is the creator of everything.

Some people have this notion that God is up there in the sky. Distant and not really involved in what’s going on here on earth. Maybe he just created the world but now he’s got better things to do then get involved with insignificant human beings. But the incarnation screams out to us – NO!  God does love this world that he has made. The fact that Jesus has moved into our neighborhood means that God knows us and cares for us.

This world that we live in has problems. You don’t have to look too far to see that there is trouble in the world. War in Afghanistan, fighting right now in on the streets of Syria or even the homeless problem we have in London.  We know personally, as well, that we live in a problematic world. We struggle in our relationships with our loved ones. We have a hard time keeping our commitments. We get angry and depressed and fearful.

This is the world Jesus moved into.

God took action to show the world that He was not going to let it go. God did not stay at a distance, far from the pain of this world. No – he moved right into the middle of it. Jesus was born to an poor teenage mother, and his adopted father was a regular working class guy – a builder.  After his birth in a stinky barn, they became refugees in Egypt. Even in our world, those are difficult circumstances to be born into.

The incarnation lets us know that God, the Creator of the universe, knows our circumstances as well. Jesus doesn’t just know them intellectually – Jesus knows personally what it’s like to have troubles, to experience rejection and to face the difficulties of life on planet earth. Let the fact that God entered into this world bring you comfort in the situations you are now facing.

Jesus moved – part 2 tomorrow.

Work will make you rich. Really?

No doubt that the book of Proverbs encourages us to work hard. Chapter 10 verse 4 says “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.

But does hard work always make us rich?

Tell that to the people in rural India or in Somalia right now. Just work hard and you’ll be rich! No – the world doesn’t always work this way.  Truth here? Yes but not in a blind mechanical way.

There is wisdom in working hard and generally it is true that if you are lazy, then you will be poor. But also I know some lazy guys who don’t seem to work hard but their Daddy was great at business.

If you are going to take the Bible seriously then you must must know what type of literature you are reading.  The book of Proverbs should not be read like Paul’s letter to the Romans or John’s prophetical book of Revelation.  Proverbs offers practical guidance for life, not a mechanical list of promises.

There are no rules to follow which will answer all of life’s questions.  Should I wake up at 6am or 7am?  Should I buy a bike?  Should I take this new job?  Should I marry this person?  We need wisdom for these questions.

Read the Proverbs. Think about them in regards to the questions of your daily life.  But pray that God would grant you wisdom as you do this for as the book of Proverbs itself says,

Like a lame man’s legs, which hang useless, is a proverb in the mouth of fools.(Prov 26:7)

Top 10 Books from ’10

For several years now I’ve been keeping a list of the books I’ve finished reading.  After picking the Best 11 from ’11, I thought it would be good to dig out the list from 2010 to see which books have stuck with me.

As I think about what makes a good book, there are obvious answers such as the quality of the writing, the uniqueness of the ideas and the test of time.  I think these books past those tests (at least some of them), but these books are also ones that I’m still thinking and, more importantly, talking about over a year after I have read them.   When I looked over my list, these were the 10 books which continue to be on my mind and tongue.

1. The Problem of Pain by C.S.Lewis

2. Making the Metropolis: Creators of Victoria’s London by Stephen Halliday

3. You Can Change by Tim Chester

4. Deep Church by Jim Belcher

5. The Mission of God by Christopher Wright

6. Surprised by Grace by Tullian Tchividjian

7. A Certain Justice by P.D. James

8. How Soccer Explains the World by Franklin Foer

9. Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky

10 Justification by N.T. Wright

My Best 11 Books from ’11

Looking over the list of books I finished in 2011, here are the ones that stand out in my mind.  They are listed in the order that I finished them and don’t include the ESV Bible nor the Porterbrook Network material (both of which I highly recommend).

1. 1776 by David McCullough
Removed my romantic notion of the American revolution. War is brutal.

2. Learning Evangelism from Jesus by Jerram Barrs
A very helpful book by one of my favorite Covenant Seminary professors looking at the way Jesus interacted with a variety of people.

3. The Black Book by Rakin
  Enjoyed the Scottish cop show, Rebus; I tried the book and enjoyed it as well.

4. Surprised by Hope by Tom Wright
Brilliant look at where God is taking this world.

5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This is the classic American book that I’m embarrassed to say that I’d never read before 2011.

6. Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe by Mark Driscoll
One seminary professor said in his review, “I wish I had written this book.”  So do I.

7. Generous Justice by Tim Keller
Seems like I’m reading a new book each year from Keller these days.

8. Good News We Almost Forgot by Kevin DeYoung
Comments on The Heidelburg Catechism.  I’ve visited the city, figured I should study the catechism.

9. A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks
Any novel which mentions Shepherd’s Bush on the first page has to make this list.

10. Free of Charge by Miroslav Volf
How do we live with grace when no one else in the society does?

11. John by DA Carson
Classic commentary on John’s gospel.  

 

 

 

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