The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect

It was in this moment, I witnessed something everyone could not see. I had passed by this way in the same frantic pace like the others and missed it.

The crack in my windshield forced me to slow down. What began as a garden snake had grown into an anaconda stretching in both directions, obstructing my field of vision. This slow-growing serpent started months back from a surprise encounter with a rock (or some form of road debris.) I was reluctant to admit it needed to be fixed. (Actually, I was unwilling to take the time to have it repaired.)

Dropping my Silverado off at the glass shop, I planned to walk back home. The shop is about three and a half to four-mile walk depending on the route taken. With school being out, I left my wife and kids sleeping and delivered my truck. I grabbed my bag out of the backseat and began my journey back.

I do my best thinking and praying when I walk. I love walking because you encounter the world from a different perspective. It forces you to move at a slower pace and breathe in your surroundings.  I was looking forward to the trek across town because I could get a bit of exercise as I experience God’s creation afresh.

But something was hindering my mind as I walked. I couldn’t get into my sacred place (or pace). A nagging fear of how I looked to the passerby kept me unfocused. Usually, I walk the less crowded thoroughfares, but on this trip, I traveled through the congested streets. Cars and trucks zoomed by leaving me in the wake of their exhaust. I felt uncomfortable and awkward as I walked because everyone else was in a hurry. Was I wasting my time? Shouldn’t  I be doing something more productive? These thoughts swirled in my brain leaving me unsettled.

Then I witnessed something everyone else could not see. I had passed by this way in the same frantic pace like the others and missed it. As I hiked over the Hero’s Bridge Overpass, I noticed the wildflowers blanketing the roadside. Floating on the torrents of traffic-disturbed air a butterfly glided from flower to flower. Carrying out his duty to the Father’s decree. Immediately, I realized this was a gift from my Father and I was ushered into a moment of glory.

God is present in the minutia of life. Often, I think the fear of being seen as odd or different keeps us from experiencing these types of moments. We whizz by on the road of life never thinking of what God is doing around us. As productivity drives us to be human “doings” instead of human beings we miss the wonder of it all.

Don’t believe me? When is the last time you spent time lying on your backside watching the various objects, animals, and characters drift by in the clouds? Or staring in the wonder of a starlit night? You may object that you’re too old to do this kind of stuff anymore. Who says? Or is it that you are worried about being the weirdo? The fear of people’s perception of us robs our childlike wonder. We weigh ourselves down with personal expectations of productivity. We must be doing something not simply being. We often fail to embrace the gloriousness of the creation around us.

By posting this I may have confirmed your suspicion of me. Yes, I may dance to a different beat than you but I am okay with that. It’s okay to slow down and go against the grain of our frantic culture. Taking the time to drink the world in one refreshing sip at a time. Taking time to enjoy the Father’s handiwork and just be human. I never want to be so occupied that I miss another butterfly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Praying for the Victims of Michael

Praying for the Victims of Michael

After opening my front door, I surveyed my property. Pine limbs littered my lawn. Fortunately, our lights flickered but never went out for any significant amount of time.  Realizing I would spend a few hours cleaning up minor debris, I thanked God for our safety.

Returning inside, I turned the television to the Weather Channel. Only to see images of complete devastation. One reporter stood in front of a long line of overturned train cars blasted by the storm. Another asked the camera to pan to see buildings that appeared as a pile of broken matchsticks. The panhandle of Florida lies in ruin. People’s lives and livelihood lay in shambles. My heart aches.

Honestly, I planned to introduce a new type of post today, but I was prompted to write this instead. We need to pray. So, what should we pray for?

  • Thank God for those who escaped harm’s way.
  • Pray for those who are waking to a season of bereavement.
  • Pray for those whose homes and businesses are destroyed.
  • Pray for those who do not have power or utilities.
  • Pray for those who are in need of rescue.
  • Pray for rescuers, first-responders,  and linemen.
  • Pray for government agencies and non-profit agencies to quickly assess and administer aid.

Again, please take a minute out of your day to pray for the victims of Hurricane Michael. Go volunteer in some capacity or give to a charitable organization. We must come together in moments of crisis! Here are some organizations you can donate to:

 

eye of the storm image from outer space

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Chained by Expectations

A SERMON FROM LUKE 7:18-35



By Kevin W. Bounds

Introduction

            Expectations can be misleading. I recall when in the parts business as a counter salesman, I would speak with customers all over the southeastern United States. While conversing on the telephone, I would form a mental image of how I thought the person on the other end of the line might look. Later on, in my career, I became an outside salesman, which allowed me to see the people I once only could visualize. They never looked the way I expected them to look. I learned a valuable lesson. Expectations can be misleading.

In Luke 7:18-35, the characters in this narrative deal with their expectations. This sermon will look at: 1) John’s expectations of Jesus (18-23) 2) The people’s expectation of a prophet (24-30) and finally; 3) What Jesus says about misleading expectations. By examining each aspect of the passage, we will see that if we are not careful, we too can be chained by expectations.

 

John’s Expectations of Jesus (18-23)

  1. First, it is important to look at John’s question concerning Jesus. He asks, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” (19) [Emphasis added].
  2. The Hebrew people had long anticipated the Messiah (or Anointed One). Messiah is the Hebrew title for this person, and Christ is derived from the Greek title of Christus.
  3. Of course, many different opinions were formed on how this coming Deliverer would look and behave.
  4. Per the Prophet Daniel, the timing was ripe for the Expected One to arrive on the scene. Four hundred and eighty-three years had passed since Artaxerxes issued the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. (See Daniel 9).
  5. Earlier, John the Baptist dealt with the people’s expectations (see 3:15) by point to Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. However, Herod would have John arrested and John at the time of this passage was in prison.
  6. Why would John the Baptist now be questioning Jesus whether He is the One? It is possible, the answer can lie in John’s expectations.
  7. Turn to Luke 3:15-17.
  8. In verse 17, the imagery that John the Baptist uses is one of judgment. It was a common perception in the day of Roman occupation that the Expected One would thrust out all enemy forces from Israel. However, John was imprisoned and this probably made him start to question.
  9. Having a larger view of God’s purpose of Christ’s first Advent, we know that His Second Coming will fulfill John’s expectations. Remember, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him (NASB Jn 3:16-17).
  10. Look back a Luke 7:23 for this is a key verse to understanding this passage. John was borderline offended because he was chained by his expectations.

 

The People’s Expectations of a Prophet (24-30)

  1. In this section, there are two groups of people; the common people and tax collectors and the Pharisees and lawyers.
  2. Jesus addresses misguided expectation by asking a series of questions.
    1. “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? (24).
    2. “But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who are splendidly clothed and live in luxury are found in royal palaces!” (25)
    3. “But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and one who is more than a prophet.” (26)
  3. John the Baptist didn’t fit many of the people’s expectations.
  4. The Apostle Paul explains the principle further. He writes,

(26)  For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; (27)  but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, (28)  and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, (29)  so that no man may boast before God. (NASB 1 Cor 1:26-29).

  1. The next two verses are pivotal!
  2. In verse 29, the “unacceptable of the day” acknowledged God’s justice. This Greek word is It means to show to be righteous, declare righteous.[1] The same word is translated “vindicated” in verse 35.
  3. In verse 30, the religious folks did not acknowledge God’s justice, but “rather rejected God’s purpose for themselves, having not been baptized of John.” The Greek word (boule) translated “purpose” means counsel.[2]
  4. The religious people were chained by their expectations!

 

What Jesus Say About Misleading Expectations (31-35)

  1. Since the religious people’s expectations misled them to reject John the Baptist as a prophet, they ultimately rejected Christ.
  2. John came in one fashion and your rejected him. The Son of Man came in another fashion, but you rejected Him too.
  3. The Apostle Paul captures many of the Jews’ perception of Christ. He writes, “For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,” (NASB 1 Cor 1:22-23).
  4. Remember, “Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”(NASB Luk 7:23) and  “Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” (NASB Luk 7:35).

 

Conclusion

  1. Often, we allow our expectations to chain our perception of God. If Jesus was really the Son of God, He ____________ (fill in the blank).
    1. I once was acquainted with a man that said he decided to be an atheist because God didn’t answer his prayers as he expected.
  2. Often, we allow our expectations to color our awareness of God’s love for us. If God really loved me, He would ___________ (fill in the blank).
  3. In John 11, Martha’s expectations of Jesus were that he should have come and healed her brother, Lazarus.
  4. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. (NASB Isa 55:9-11).
  5. Trust God not your understanding!
  6. Don’t be chained by your expectations! To mix metaphors, don’t think you can place God in a box.

 

[1]New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, (Anaheim, CA: Foundation Publications, 1998), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “1344”.

[2]New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, (Anaheim, CA: Foundation Publications, 1998), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “1012”.

 

The Lord of the Sabbath – Luke 6:1-16

THE LORD OF THE SABBATH:

A CASE FOR COMPASSIONATE CONFRONTATION FROM LUKE 6:1-16

By Kevin W. Bounds



 

Introduction

  1. In a world immersed in social media and a twenty-four-hour news cycle, everyone has an opinion. Now people can rant online without the consequence. Now people take to the street with picket signs protesting anything. Don’t believe me? Then you have not had social media, watched television, or read the newspapers lately.
  2. In this volatile mix of opinions, how are Christians to behave? Many think disciples of Jesus are to remain dormant and docile. We are assumed to follow a plastic Jesus. A false representation of the Founder of Christianity as a pussyfooting politically correct prophet (if there is such a thing). HOWEVER, this is not the Jesus of the Gospels. Yes, He was compassionate, but He was also confrontational.
  3. Often, the idioms like “judge not” or “cast the first stone” are quoted out of context and passages of making a whip of cords to remove people from the Temple are never mentioned.
  4. Yes, we are to be non-violent. However, Christians are called to like Christ. Who was compassionately confrontational.
  5. In Luke 6:1-16, we witness Jesus displaying a compassionate, yet challenging approach in His ministry. This sermon will look at the actions of Jesus and attempt to convey how we should apply the principles drawn from those actions in our daily lives. In the sermon, we will look at three different scenes: 1) the confrontation in the fields (vv. 1-5) 2) the dispute in the synagogue (vv. 6-11) 3) the ordination of the Twelve (vv. 12-16).
  1. Concerning this passage, Warren Wiersbe writes, “For over a year, Jesus ministered as a popular itinerant Teacher and Healer, and multitudes followed Him. But now the time had come for Him to “organize” His followers and declare just what His kingdom was all about.”[1]
  1. It is noteworthy at the end of the previous chapter, Jesus gives a parable concerning new wine in new wineskins (Matt 5:36-39).

Confrontation in the Fields (vv. 1-5)

  1. Jesus was unafraid to share a controversial truth with those whom He disagreed (v. 5). However, it was loving compassion which drove Him to confront the misinformed.
  2. In these five verses, we witness the disciples of Jesus walking through the “cornfields” – other translations render it grain fields – harvesting by hand and eating the corn/wheat.
  3. The Pharisees were not accusing of stealing because in the Law there was provision made for people gleaning from others’ fields. Moses writes,

 When thou comest into thy neighbour’s vineyard, then thou mayest eat grapes thy fill at thine own pleasure; but thou shalt not put any in thy vessel. When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour’s standing corn (KJV Deut 23:24-25).

  1. The scribes and Pharisees were disturbed by doing this practice on the Sabbath. The interpretation of the Sabbath was the source of contention here. Jesus is not negating the Sabbath because the Sabbath is good. However, Jesus was confronting the neglect of human need by the scribes and Pharisees.
  2. For Jesus, the key to the Sabbath was that God made it for man and not the other way around (see Mark 2:27).
  3. In verses 3-4, Jesus explains interpretation to the Law was to be done with loving compassion, especially when a human need was involved. (See 1 Sam 21:1-6). The scribes and Pharisees had missed it by a mile!
  4. In verse 5, Jesus makes a remarkable statement about being “Lord of the Sabbath.” Rest assured his audience did not miss the claim to deity. Who can say such a thing but God?
  5. Jesus moved by loving compassion boldly spoke the truth!
  6. You will inevitably encounter people who will not accept the truth of Gospel. You should not shy away from conflicting views but lovingly stand for righteousness.

 Dispute in the Synagogue (vv. 6-11)

  1. It is important to notice that Jesus picked this fight in the synagogue. He was moved by loving compassion to help those that could not help themselves.
  2. The scribes and Pharisees were more concerned with the working hands that were meeting human needs in verses 1-5 than they were of the human need to have working hands! This man was handicapped by his infirmity.
  3. A “religious spirit” is more concerned about what others are doing wrong instead of helping others.
  4. Jesus called them out by pointing to the heart of the issue in verse 9.
  5. Jesus backed up his claim and interpretation with action. He miraculously healed the man’s withered hand.
  6. Does anyone like being called out? The scribes and Pharisees were not different. However, they were driven to the kind of madness that desires to kill!
  7. YOU WILL, in a world that is counter-gospel, will experience hatred. However, you must be willing to stand for truth. Jesus did!

 Ordination of the Twelve (vv. 12-16)

  1. It is no coincidence that Jesus ordained the Twelve, after this rejection by the scribes and Pharisees. Yes, I do believe this ordination was symbolic of a “new nation,” since there were Twelve Apostles; one for each tribe.
  2. However, I believe it was also for practical purposes. Jesus knew that eventually He would lay His life down and His message needed to continue. To perpetuate the message, He made disciples.
  3. Confrontation can lead to casualties, but we must reproduce through discipleship. Spurgeon/Whitefield comments about John Wesley’s ministry.
  4. I know it may be a horrible illustration but to control lice, you must stop the reproduction. The same goes for weeds too!

 Conclusion

           In a world filled with opinions, you will face conflicting views (i.e. Bible, social issues, politics). However, we must not resist violently with rage, but loving confront the falsehoods with truth. Much like the men down through the ages: Martin Luther stood against a corrupt church, William Wilberforce strove to end the English slave trade, and Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his life for the sake of civil rights. But more importantly, Jesus bleed so we could know the truth and be set free. We must be unafraid to share controversial truth because HE is with us (Mt 28:18-20; Heb. 13:5) We speak for the ones without a voice or the ability to rectify the injustice done to them, even if it cost our lives! In case we pay the ultimate price, the message of truth must be passed to the next generation of Jesus followers!

[1] Warren Wiersbe The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: New Testament, 2nd Ed., (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2007), 153.

Second Sunday of Advent

Second Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 11:1-10 Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19 Romans 15:4-13 Matthew 3:1-12

Isaiah 11:1-10

Isaiah prophesies of a shoot springing forth from the stem of Jesse. If one remembers, Jesse was King David’s father. This is the messianic promise which will fulfill God’s covenant with David concerning his household reigning on the throne. Jesus Christ of Nazareth was from the lineage of David. He is now reigning at the right hand of God.

In this passage, Isaiah states, “…He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear” ( Isa 11:3). Jesus fulfilled this in His first advent. When one looks at the Gospels, Christ repeatedly referred to doing the Father’s will. He truly did make righteous judgments.

Isaiah also writes, “…and He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth…” (Isa 11:4). Christ’s teaching revealed the way of the kingdom of heaven. The commandments of Christ are often viewed as revolutionary. Kingdom principles are many times reverse than our earthly notions.

Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

There are many observations which could be made about this beautiful Psalm. However,  I will only comment on verse  18. It states, ”  Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, Who alone works wonders (Psalm 72:18). Our God is an awesome wonder working God! Although you may be facing great trials, know that God is able to deliver you from them all! What a blessing to know that our God can do the impossible!

Romans 15:4-13

I found it interesting the link in Pauline thought between Scripture and God. In Paul’s mind, both are sources of “perseverance and encouragement” (see verse 4-5) which produce hope.

Matthew 3:1-12

It is weird to see the adult John the Baptist introducing the grownup Jesus, as we prepare our hearts to reflect on the birth of Christ. It doesn’t fit narratively. However, the spiritual principles applied to Christ first advent should be applied to His second coming. We should await His second appearing with repentant hearts.


Image Attribution:

Stumme, Absolon. Tree of Jesse, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55823 [retrieved December 1, 2016]. Original source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:O%C5%82tarz_Hamburski_02.jpg.

New Levels

God has been doing some awesome things! My first trip to Paramaribo is scheduled for May 24-28, 2013. Jehovah Jireh has provided and all my expenses are paid in full!!!!!! Hallelujah! Also, I have been invited to come the first Caribbean Assembly in November in Barbados. Praise the Lord!

Recently, I have been contacted by people who are interested in finding out more about the ministry. The easiest way to stay informed is to sign up for our monthly newsletter at www.kevinwbounds.com (Sign up link is on the right hand side).

 

Consumed by the Call,

Kevin W.Bounds

Project # 065-0888