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Perfection was Broken – Good Friday

03/30/2016

I know its a little late for Good Friday, but I wanted to share this with everyone.

 

On Good Friday PPC does a joint worship service with a number of other congregations and preachers from around the area. It goes from 12pm-3pm and has about 9 preachers that each take about 20 minutes. There is an intro preacher, 7 people that preach on the 7 last words of Jesus, and a conclusion preacher. I had the honor of preaching one of these sermons. Below is my transcript from the message I shared on the loss of perfection and Jesus’ deep sorrow when he said, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”

Perfection. A word often used to describe things like the weather, your food, the ratio found in nature and art known as phi, and a pitcher that has no hits an entire game. There is a problem that presents itself though when you look at what perfection actually means and describes. Very, very few things can be perfect. Very few things can be the example of perfection and flawlessness. When something is deemed perfect, then there can be no improvement. Nothing can be added to it to make it better. The word perfect comes from the latin word perficio which means finished or complete. Aristotle, the first to actually write a definition of the word, defines perfect as 1 of 3 things: 1. that which is complete — which contains all the requisite parts; 2. that which is so good that nothing of the kind could be better; 3. that which has attained its purpose. The problem with perfection is that there is no where to go but down. Since there can be no improvement, there can only be decline. When something is perfect you only have everything to lose. A perfect grade point average, golf score, or bowling game can be ruined by one mistake, one misplaced moment, one lapse in judgment. After that, its over. Nothing hurts deeper than the loss of perfection.

Perfect is exemplified in few things, people, and events. However, I do feel that we can all agree that Jesus is perfect and the relationship that exists between Father, Son and Spirit is … perfect. There is no relationship that can be better and nothing about their relationship can be better. I have had some good relationships in my life, and I have had my share of bad ones. But never have I, nor anyone alive, ever experienced the perfect relationship that exists within the trinity.

So perfect and intertwined that the Cappadocian Fathers, whose main goal was to bring more of an intellectual mind to the early christian community so they could stand their own with the Greek and Roman philosophers, had to come up with a way to describe this ultimate and intimate relationship. They were trying to define the trinity and God as one being and three separate persons. This perfect relationship between Father, son and spirit. From the beginning and before, they knew other, served each other and loved each other… perfectly.

If any of you have ever been to a Greek wedding, you may have seen their distinctive way of dancing . . . It’s called perichoresis. perichoresis is a 2 part word. A greek word. The first part, Peri, is where we get the word perimeter and periscope. It means circle or round. The second part is Choresis which is where we get words like choreography, meaning dance. Perichoresis, at is root, basically means circle dance. There are not two dancers, but at least three. They start to go in circles, weaving in and out in this very beautiful pattern of motion. They start to go faster and faster and faster, all the while staying in perfect rhythm and in sync with each other. Eventually, they are dancing so quickly (yet so effortlessly) that as you look at them, it just becomes a blur. Their individual identities are part of a larger dance.

The Cappadocian Fathers looked at that dance (perichoresis) and said, “That’s what the Trinity is like.” It’s a harmonious set of relationships in which there is mutual giving and receiving. This relationship is called love, and it’s what the Trinity is all about. Perichoresis is the dance of love.

So we get to the 4th word of Jesus. Mark 15:33-35 –  “At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

Jesus, who has already gone through more than any human should ever go through, more pain, more humiliation, more abandonment than any one should every have to experience finally gets to the last phase of his journey. When darkness descends, all of the sin, past, present, future, all of the sin that has happened and that will happen. Everything bad that I have done, that you have done, that anyone will ever do, descended on Jesus like a flood.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

At that moment, our sin broke the perichoresis. The sin of the world interrupted the dance and for the first and only time ever, from beginning to end, Jesus was separated from God. For the only time in all eternity, the dance stopped. The only time in history, perfection was broken.

Isaiah 53:4-5 says Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

He redeemed us from the curse of the law by taking the curse upon himself. He was made a sin-offering, and He died in our place, on our account, that He might bring us nearer to God. This is what caused the stop to the dance and the intense pain and loss that Jesus was experiencing. Because Jesus had the sin of the world placed on him, God had to turn away. There had to be separation.

Jesus, who was fully human and fully God, experienced the fullness of his humanity as he was torn away from his perfect relationship. His heart was broken because he could no longer be with his father. If you think about it, the Godhead itself was broken. Not only did Jesus experience this loss but so did the father and the spirit. They had part of themselves ripped out and broken. He experienced extreme loneliness and abandonment as he became the sin offering for us. All they had experienced up until that point was perfection, until that moment, when the relationship was broken and the dance stopped and perfection was lost. And nothing hurts deeper than the loss of perfection and Jesus truly had everything to lose.

MY GOD MY GOD! WHY HAVE YOUR FORSAKEN ME!? Hear the sorrow in that. MY GOD MY GOD! WHY HAVE YOUR FORSAKEN ME!? More pain than Jesus had endured up until that point. MY GOD MY GOD! WHY HAVE YOUR FORSAKEN ME!? That moment of excruciating physical pain, emotional pain, and spiritual pain. MY GOD MY GOD! WHY HAVE YOUR FORSAKEN ME!?

I, as many of you have, have experienced loss. I have experienced abandonment. I have lost people very close to me and have gotten that feeling of pain and hurt that pierced to the heart. But we have never known perfection. We have never experienced what it is like to be in a faultless and pristine relationship. The deep and profound emotional pain that Jesus was experiencing will be unlike any of us will ever come close to. But he did it. He went through this suffering, the ultimate suffering. He went through this suffering not for his own gain, but for ours. Not for his own fulfillment, but for ours.

In the garden the night before, Jesus knew this was coming. He was clued in on the plan. He knew it would hurt and be painful. He knew that he would be wrecked and crippled, but I bet it was more than he would have ever expected.

But Why? Hebrews 10:12 & 14 says in the message “As a priest, Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it! … It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people.”

Jesus chose imperfection so that we could be made perfect. Jesus jumped out of the dance so that we could be brought in. In Jesus, because of his sacrifice, we are made perfect. We’ve got a 4.0, a perfect game, and no hitter, a perfect 10/10. Because of Jesus, we have everything to gain and nothing to lose

On Easter we celebrate the victory of the resurrection, the concurring of death, the reunion of the Godhead and the restarting of the dance, but today we remember the intensity of the moments leading up to it. We look back to what Jesus, God, chose to go through for me. For you. For all of creation.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s last book in the Lord of the Rings series, Return of the King, has the tagline, “There can be no triumph without loss. No victory without suffering. No freedom without sacrifice.”

Jesus experienced loss so that you could triumph, He experienced suffering so that we could have victory, and he was the sacrifice so that we could have freedom from death.

During this moment of silence, reflect on the intense emotion that Jesus experienced being separated from God. A sacrifice almost greater than death itself so that death could be conquered and we could once again be in relationship with our Father.

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500 Days of Marriage

01/20/2015

Today marks the 500th day of being married to the woman of my dreams. It has been 500 days since we said our “I do”s. I decided to go back and reread my vows that I made to her over a year ago. Here they are:

I vow to love you from now till forever, no matter how many more fish you catch than me, no matter how much time you spend beading or painting, as long as I’m alive, there will never be someone else that will get the love that I have for you.

I vow to be there when your sick, when your pretending to not feel well so we don’t have to do anything that day, when your happy and excited, when your laughing and crying, and for every other moment in between.

I vow to help you when there are heavy boxes that need to be carried, when you are feeling down and just need to get cheered up, and 50 years from now when you turn 75 and I’m still 74, I will still be here to love you and the family that we will have started.

I vow to put you at the place of highest honor in my life, to put you before myself, and when I don’t have the right words to say, I vow to be there and listen.

I vow to honor you with all that I am and with all that I do, no matter where I am or who I am with, you are first in my heart, and I vow that I will teach our family to have a love for The Lord, and that our love and marriage will be an example and inspiration for them and others as we honor God in all we do.

Just reading back over these brought a tear to my eye.

Kendra – I know that things are not always easy, sometimes they seem downright impossible, but I do know that the two of us together can do anything we set our mind to. You are the love of my life from the moment we met, 709 days later to our wedding and 500 days later to now and 10,000 days into out future. I love you!

Put Some Clothes On – Message at The 505

12/04/2014

This is my first opportunity preaching at Paoli Presbyterian Church during The 505.

Put Some Clothes On from Bryan Jones on Vimeo.

Colossians 3:5-14

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality,impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

God’s Spirit Beckons

02/24/2014

I had the opportunity to preach again on Sunday morning this past weekend at the traditional service at Lenape Valley Church. If you are interested in having a listen I uploaded the audio here as well. I am always open to any comments! Hope you get a little something out of it.

http://s3.amazonaws.com/churchplantmedia-cms/lenape_valley/gods-spirit-beckons---final-cut.m4a

Romans 8:9-21

9-11 But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!

12-14 So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

18-21 That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

Dump-Truck Theology

01/20/2014

Dump-TruckHave you ever been cut off by a big dump-truck, cement mixer or 18-wheeler? You know that feeling. First think that goes through your head is usually not very church or youth group appropriate, and the second is, “I had somewhere to be and all you are going to do is slow me down!” I know the feeling. I was on my way to Panera this morning to meet with a couple of students on their day off from school and had that exact problem. I was running a little later than I wanted to and was driving down the 202 expressway when out of my rear view mirror, I see this dump truck speeding along behind me. I am pulling up to a traffic light with a decent line of cars and the traffic light had just turned green. I thought, awesome, I won’t have to wait for the light and we can just go on through. But there was one small, well rather large problem: the dump-truck.

At most traffic lights on the expressway, one lane of traffic is divided into two so people can turn right without having to wait, but it’s not a turn only lane, it’s one of those lanes that goes all the way through the intersection. At the moment there wasn’t anyone in that lane because no one wants to be ‘that guy’ and use it to pass people just for the sake of being in the lead. The dump-truck however, had a different plan of attack. I guess he didn’t want to slow down, so he quickly merged to the right and blew past the intersection. Most people who see something like that happen will not let that person into traffic once the lane ends though. As I approached the dump-truck, that at this point was at a dead stop, I must have let just a little too much space between myself and the car in front of me because he decided that he was going to take it. As the dump-truck lurched forward, I slammed on my brakes, tried my best not to partake in the first thing you do when you get cut off referenced above, and let him in. Now the speed limit on the expressway is only 40 mph (which makes me question why in the world they would call it an express-way in the first place), but this truck must have thought, “that’s just too fast for me. I’m going to go 20.”

With this extra time I had being stuck behind this massive, pebble spewing, diesel smelling behemoth, I started thinking about what did he have to do that was so much more important that he had to cut me off and drive 20 mph. Couldn’t he tell that I had important things to do? As I asked that question, it made me think, “couldn’t I tell that he had important things to do as well?” Now I have no idea where he was going or what he was planning on doing with that load of debris that was in his truck other than throw it at my car, but it would have been something that could help me in the future that I just can see yet.

I began to think about what we were talking about last night at Ignition, the Sr. High student ministry at Lenape Valley Church. We were talking about God’s plan for our lives and how sometimes we want to run the ship, but all He wants from us is to let go of the reigns. We talked about how God’s idea for our lives usually doesn’t make sense at first and it’s not until later, if ever, that we really get the big picture. Maybe this dump-truck cutting me off was just a jerk with little patience, or maybe he was sent there for a reason, maybe to get me to slow down, or think to write this article. What I do know is we need to let go of control more often and be open to the plans that God has for our everyday lives and not just the big picture stuff. We also need to remember; sometimes it might not be about God’s plan for our lives but God’s plan for someone else’s life.

Next time you get cut off and blindsided by a figurative (or literal) dump-truck take a moment to think about letting go of the reigns, stopping the rush, and letting God be in control of the little things.

Recaptured by the Wonder of God – Sermon at LVC

12/09/2013

I preached yesterday at the morning traditional service at Lenape Valley Church on Isaiah 40:21-31 and being recaptured by God’s wonder. I also talked about exchanging your own strength for the supernatural strength that God Himself offers to each and every one of us.

You can also check it out on the church website here.

Stop Waiting for Step Two

11/26/2013
tags: , , ,

IMG_0841I just go back form a great trip to Nashville for Youth Specialties’ National Youth Workers Convention. It was a great, rejuvenating, and fun-filled trip with some great college friends and some new ones. This is my 4th year going to this convention and it seems like it gets better and better every time. Not only is NYWC very spiritually uplifting, but I always end up leaving with great ideas to take back to the youth that I work with. This year I had one takeaway that really outweighed the rest.

One of the big room speakers, Mark Batterson, said something like, “We are too afraid to take the first step until God reveals to us the second step.” We don’t like taking that first step without know the second because that requires real faith. It honestly reminds me of the movies Field of Dreams. In the movie, Ray Kinsella hears a voice that says, “If you build it, he will come.” so after talking to his wife, he built a baseball field and these famous dead baseball players show up out of the corn field to play. It took Ray a huge amount of faith to do that not knowing what would really happen. It would be easier for Ray if the baseball players showed up first and then he decided to build the field.

Just like Abraham in the Bible was told to pack up all he had and go to a new land that God had promised him. All God told him to do was go. Abraham was not told where. He had faith that God would come through on His promise. He didn’t sit and wait to hear what step two would be, he went only knowing step one.

So the question is, what is God calling you to that you are too nervous to start because you just don’t know what will happen next? God calls us all to be a Christian, but then has a great plan for our lives and most of the time its something big and unexpected. Something like building a huge boat to hold all the earths animals or leave our home land to a land that has been promised, or be the savior of a nation that is in slavery, or toss our nets on the other side.

My first big moment was answering the call to youth ministry by going to college for youth ministry. I left behind the plan of Computer Science, and under great scrutiny from my parents and teachers, I went into ministry. I didn’t know where that would have me end up, but I trusted that God would lead me there.

Recently I’m not sure that I could say I have that amount of trust in most areas of my life. I don’t think my wife and I are being called right now to have kids, but if we were, I don’t think I would have the faith do it while we are financially unstable. It’s difficult to know that God will provide. My heart says He will but so often my head gets in the way.

I trust that God has a plan for every one of us and he will reveal it to us. Sometimes he just waiting for us to listen to the first step before he gives us the second one.  We need faith and we need to show it by doing step one with out needing to wait on step two. James 2:14-17 says:

“14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Show that you have faith and do what God has asked of you. He has your back just like he has mine.

[important]What are you waiting to do until God has shown you step 2?[/important]

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