Monday, March 15, 2010

A Community Transformed- Colossians 3:5-17

Audio and Handout for a sermon I preached on March 14, 2010, at Good Shepherd Church in Glendora, CA. This was part 6 in a 9 part study in the book of Colossians done with my brother and our friend Drewbert.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Part of a sermon I recently preached with much mediocrity...

It's nice to get insight from professionals. I know I sure would like it if Kobe helped me with my jump-shot, if Tiger helped me with my golf swing (and nothing more...), or if James Cameron helped me with my science-fiction, graphics-heavy movie-making. Surely, they would reveal secrets, processes, and tips in order for one to greatly improve in their line of work, right?

As Christians, we are all ministers. We are all servants. We are all equally members of the body of Christ. That means that regardless of job or occupation, we each have community responsibilities to minister to one another. My dad works for Boeing, which is, by the way, NOT a church! Yet he is a minister there & everywhere. And so am I. And so are you. Fortunately for me & you in our efforts to be ministers and servants with a biblical foundation, an expert minister divulges some of his vision, his secrets, and his goals in Colossians 1:24-29. The apostle Paul tells us clearly how he ministered, what he ministered and why he ministered. It gives us a clear and simple definition and guideline for our ministry!

1. The Method: A minister practices joyful sacrifice.
Paul says in Colossians 1:24 that he "rejoices in his sufferings for your sake..." Paul suffered- physically, spiritually, and emotionally for the churches that he ministered to. Yet he did not do what I do when I suffer- have self pity as I pout and whine. Rather, he claims that he "rejoiced." This is because simply, he cared more about the good that he was bringing into others' lives by being a conduit of God's grace. Much like the Olympic athletes that we recently watched, Paul sacrificed everything for the reward and crown of helping others come to know Jesus and live like him. For an Olympic athlete, the gold medal justifies the painful workout routines, the strict diet, and the stringent schedule that one must practice.  These athletes rejoice in their sufferings because of the reward. Same with Paul, and hopefully, same with us!

2. The Message: A minister focuses on spiritual realities.
In 1:27, Paul claims that his main message is earth-shattering- "Christ in you, the hope of glory." I could chew on this truth for awhile. The foundation for Paul's ministry was his message that by faith Jesus is personally in each believer, giving a new identity with which to stand for truth, fight the powers of the world, and defeat sin. The spiritual reality that each person now has a completely new nature in Jesus permeated Paul's entire vision and ministry. Sadly, it seems many ministries that we receive and give in our churches don't possess the same vision. We focus on how to become a better parent, sibling, spouse, dog owner, bowler, singer, etc. without focusing on the fact that our holy Savior himself occupies each one of our lives.

Consider a ridiculous example for one minute. Cesar Millan is more commonly known as "the Dog Whisperer" & has a ridiculous ability to train the craziest of, you guessed it, dogs. He takes the most wild, aggressive, and disobedient canines (dogs, for the layperson) and shapes them into an obedient and perfect pup. If I claimed that I had "Cesar Millan in me," what would one expect of me? You would, obviously, expect that I would possess similar abilities and talents as Cesar. You would expect that my dog would be a perfect pooch, obeying my every command. You would expect that I would have the abilities to train your wild dog...

Similarly, the spiritual reality of "Christ in you" that formed the foundation for all of Paul's ministry should have a radical impact in our lives. Frankly, we should possess increasingly similar attributes and characteristics to Jesus himself, right? Knowing that this power resides in me and every believer formed the vision for Paul's ministry.

3. The Mission: A minister’s goal is Christ-like maturity.
Once Paul lays the groundwork of how he does ministry & what he focuses on in ministry, he establishes his mission for ministry- "to present every man mature in Christ" (1:28). What is our goal in relationships? Is it fun? Is it avoiding loneliness? Is it companionship? Not that any of these things are wrong, but our main goal, as Paul's was, should be to make those around us more like Jesus. This type of loving ministry can only be done by relying entirely on the strength, wisdom, and guidance of Jesus Christ (1:29).

Let me finish with one example very close to my heart. This last baseball season, the Angels again played the Red Sox. In the 9th inning with runners on, down by 1 run with 2 outs, Vlad Guerrero came up to bat. He had not played well in pressure situations in the past. At this point, it was his turn and his turn alone. He could have complained that someone else was better for the job...He could have created excuses for why he couldn't get the job done. But, regardless, fate had it that he and he alone was the batter up, and nothing could change that situation. He had no choice but to give it all he had and swing for the fences. (And, yes, he delivered).

Here's what I tell my students often...I tell them that they may be the only "pastor" or the only "Jesus" that some of their friends and family ever taste! We each have a responsibility to be faithful to the call to minister to those in our lives. Oh yeah, we can complain that someone else is better for the job...we can argue that maybe we will get around to it when we have more time. But you and you alone are up to bat. No use in complaining or making excuses. God has given you the job. And he will give you the strength.