November 2010


Posted by Dean Paulson

This past week in the NFL Andre Johnson of the Houston Texans and Cortland Finnegan of the Tennessee Titans got into an altercation on the field.  In the end Andre Johnson threw a couple of punches and both were ejected from the game.  Both were fined $25,000.  Here is what is interesting to me.  Johnson is known to be one of the classier players in the league and Finnegan one of the dirtiest.  The over 600 players in the NFL voted on the dirtiest players in the league and Finnegan was chosen number 6 and then commented that he wanted to be known as the dirtiest.  As an old football player who has been on the receiving end of cheap shots I know they can be dangerous.  The play that instigated this was a cheap shot to the face by Finnegan.  One report even said that Finnegan looked towards the Texans bench (the play was on that side) before the play and said “watch this” and proceeds to smack Johnson in the face up under his facemask.  Then Johnson responded by throwing punches.

I am not condoning what Johnson did but it should be noted that he was very contrite and apologized for his actions Finnegan believed that he had done nothing wrong (he also ripped off Johnson helmet and Johnson ripped of his). 

The question I really want to wrestle with is as a follower of Jesus Christ how do we respond to bullies.  The world is full of them.  Not all are violent.  You can be a bully and not violent.  You can bully with slander and gossip, and with control and power.  You can bully with time, money, words and attitude.  You can even cyber bully. Bullies can be loud or quite, young or old, male or female, right or wrong, liberal or conservative.  And yes, you can even bully with a smile on your face and what seems like a positive attitude.   You find bullies at work, in school, in neighborhoods, in politics and places of business.  I even encountered a bully one time hunting in the woods.  It is little more intense when you are both standing there with riffles. Fortunately I have an ability to de-escalate situations.:)  Sadly, though we find bullies even in the church and among God’s people.

Jesus dealt all the time with religious leaders who were bullies.  The difference is that we tend to let the bullies have their way because we don’t want to stand up to them and deal with uncomfortable confrontation.  We do this because we feel by appeasing them we will keep the peace.

Jesus would have none of that.  He calls the religious bullies white washed tombs and a brood of vipers. Remember they were present when he said these things.  In fact he said it right to them; he called them these things to their face.

In John chapter 8 the religious bullies brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery.  Jesus stood up to the religious bullies.  And as bullies often do when someone stands up to them they quietly went on their way, tails between their legs.  Why did Jesus stand up to bullies?  Bullies hurt people.  They hurt their families, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and actually anyone they come in contact with.  And they hurt the church and the children of God. 

I am not saying the Andre Johnson responded correctly.  He even felt that it was not the right way to stand up to a bully.  Yet in a world, and dare I even say a church (universal church) with bullies, those who are followers of Christ need to resist and confront those who bully others to do their will.  Why?  Bullies hurt people and that ought not to be accepted among the people of God.

I like the standard definitions of grace.

The AWANA definition:  God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense

The textbook definition: unmerited favor

Both are good.  But they are lacking.  They lack in take home practicality.  Here is a definition I heard and have now officially stolen.

Grace is being fully known by God, yet still fully loved by God.

Think about it.  God fully knows everyone.  He knows our murderous, slanderous, adulterous, etc. thoughts and actions.  For those of us who have put our trust in Christ, we are still fully loved by God!  That is real grace.  It is not cheap because it sent Jesus to the cross.  It is not empty because he knows of our real sin and sins.  It is grace because we don’t deserve his love, yet he gives it fully and completely. 

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin!

 

Posted by Ken Schmidt

How can Jesus be an idol?  I mean, Jesus is God.  Therefore, he cannot be an idol.  Right?

The Jesus of the Bible is God.  He is not and cannot be an idol.

The Jesus who is an idol is the idol that loves what you love and hates and what you hate, regardless of what the Bible says…and you call him Jesus.  Too often we put Jesus in our idol box.  Jesus becomes a miniature Ken or Scott or Dean.  Let me illustrate this.

  • I love the local church in America.  Therefore it is very easy for me to put forth the local church in America as the most important thing to Jesus.  I have to remember that Jesus is the God of all the churches of all the nations.  He ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation…(Rev 5:9).  Jesus, my idol, is only concerned with my local community.  Jesus, the Lamb of God, died for people of every tongue, tribe and nation.
  • I love family.  Therefore it is very easy for me to think and speak of the gospel in terms of family: marriage, fatherhood, children, adoption, etc.  I have remember that Jesus is the God of the broken-hearted families as well.  Jesus, my idol, is only concerned with making healthy and whole families.  Jesus, the bride-groom, loves his bride, individual and corporate.
  • I hate abortion.  Therefore it is easy for me to focus on the sin actions of those who support and are involved with abortion.  I have to remember that Jesus is full of grace and truth.  He loves sinners in a way that I don’t.  Jesus, my idol, is only concerned with eradicating abortion.  Jesus, the way the truth and the life, graciously forgives and gives life to the most vile of sinners (me!).
  • Jesus, my idol, has limited knowledge.  I do not have special concern for people groups in the remote regions of China.  Jesus, the Creator of all things, LOVES  his human-beings, whom he creation.
  • Radical environmentalism drives me nuts.  Jesus, my idol, thinks they are nuts.  Jesus, the Creator of all things,loves his creation and commands us to be good stewards of that which he created good and is redeeming. 

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding , so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ.  He is the true God and eternal life.  Little children, keep yourself from idols.

1 John 5:20f