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The Farm was closed, amen.

I am a note taker. During preaching I usually have my Bible open and my pen pressed to my Moleskine scribbling frantically to capture all the main points (and most of the sub-points) of the sermon. Yesterday however, instead of pen and paper, I had coloring books and crayons in my lap. Yesterday the Farm was closed due to weather damage, so this meant all the children were in main service, including my three boys who are all under the age of 6.

So yesterday my goal was simple, SURVIVE.

About 10 minutes into the sermon I heard an echo to my left. It was Crider (6) who was mumbling under his breath, “Amen” as he was trying to draw a panda bear with his colors. A few moments later, I said, “Amen” in agreement with Bro. Ricky’s (or dad’s, Papaw’s, etc.) point from the word, and immediately I heard Crider say again, “Amen”. It didn’t take long until his younger brother Finn (4) joined in the chorus of amens coming from the third row.

And at that moment I was grateful the Farm had been closed for the day. I love the Farm and I am glad my kids get age appropriate lessons while mom and dad sit in worship and actually listen and take notes (I’m a note taker remember), but today I was reminded of the importance of my children experiencing “adult” worship as well. For it is there, and only there, that my kids see the whole body, both young and old, praying, singing, and shouting “amen” to the preached word of God.

Christmas and a Funeral

These words were spoken at James “Bud” Crider’s memorial service 12/26/2014

Yesterday was Christmas and today, we are gathered for a funeral. It seems the contrast of those two could not be farther apart. Yesterday we gathered with family to eat, open presents, and celebrate the birth of Jesus. Today, we lay our friend, or daddy, or husband or granddad, or great granddad in the ground.

But today, I want to remind us that Christmas and funerals are not far apart because the first Christmas anticipated a funeral, not of James “Bud” Crider, but of the Lord Jesus Himself.

And His funeral, burial, and then resurrection, changes everything about this funeral today. For today we do not mourn over Papaw Bud as those who have no hope, but we mourn as those who do.

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#TME Day 25 – Christmas in the Curse

“This will be a year of firsts.” I’ve heard that a lot since my grandmother passed away this past October. And so it has been. Thanksgiving was hard, but tonight will be even harder because our family will gather at Mammie’s house, but Mammie will not be there.

I was thinking through my sermon outline Sunday when my phone vibrated as I pulled into the Church parking lot. The text said a family in our church had just lost their newborn baby, who had been born premature a few weeks earlier. Tomorrow before opening presents at my in-laws house, I will preach a funeral, my wife’s grandad’s funeral.

And today is the day everyone says “Merry Christmas” and sings “Joy to the World”. And today I will join those voices and sing those choruses. Because today is a merry day, not just because a baby laid in a manger, but because that same God/man doesn’t lay in a grave.

“But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.” (Matthew 28:5-6)

So today I will rejoice. Because though my heart aches in the absence of my own grandmother, my wife’s grandad, and the parents who have no baby to hold this Christmas; I have hope.

I have hope because Christmas turned into Easter that first Sunday morning when Jesus rose from the dead, which was the first fruits of the resurrection to come. And in that resurrection, I will rejoice again, with Mammie, Papaw Bud, and two parents reunited with their son.

#TME Day 24 – Separated No More

“And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.” Matthew 27:51

For centuries God’s people were kept out of His present by a curtain. A curtain that hung between the Holy of Holies and the people in the temple. The curtain was a constant reminder that God was not approachable by sinful man. Man on one side, God on the other.

But at the resurrection of Jesus something happen inside the temple. That curtain that stood between God and man was torn in two, from top to bottom. Meaning this was not man’s doing, but God’s. And this curtain now laying in pieces on the temple floor shouted for all to hear, the presence of God is now open to man, through the death of Jesus. Because Jesus died for our sins, so we could be made clean, and walk back into the presence of God. Never to be separated again.

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#TME day 23 – The King’s Death

“When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples,
“You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” (Matthew 26:1-2)

And here’s how the next two chapters went down (26-27).

The priests plotted against Jesus. Judas sold him out. Jesus revealed he was God’s true Passover lamb during supper, the bread his body and the wine his blood. Jesus prayed in the garden for another way, but not his will, but Thine. Judas betrayed with a kiss. The priest arrested him though he had an army of angels waiting his command.

The priests conducted a false trial and called for false witnesses. They asked Jesus if he was God’s Son and he confirmed it and told them he would return in glory. They beat him. Pilate questioned him. The crowd chose a criminal over him. Simon carried his cross to Golgotha, though in reality Jesus carried his.

They crucified him. The crowd mocked him as he died in their place for their sins. The Father forsook him because on the cross he became our sin. Then Jesus gave up his spirit and the king died.

And at his death the temple vail was torn from top to bottom and dead bodies burst from graves in resurrection. For the death of the king opened up our way back to God, and his death made it possible for us to escape ours, and have a resurrection to life forevermore.

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#TME Day 22 – The already, not yet kingdom.

Matthew proclaims Jesus as the long awaited Messiah, who is the sovereign King over God’s kingdom, that is defeating the current kingdom of darkness, beginning in Bethlehem and culminating in a future New Jerusalem. So if the King has come and the Kingdom is here, then why isn’t the world at peace?

First, its important to understand what theologians call the “already, not yet” aspect of Kingdom, meaning the Kingdom has come, but it is also still coming. When the Word became flesh in the virgins womb, the Kingdom began on planet earth and has been growing ever since through the spreading of the gospel to all nations.

In chapter 24-25, Jesus talks about his second coming, where the Kingdom will be fully realized and Jesus will stand as the sovereign King of the universe. It’s at this second coming that justice will be served, all wrongs will be made right, and only peace and righteousness will reign forevermore.

Here’s what Jesus says, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats (Matt. 25:31-32)” And then Jesus will say to the goats, “‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (25:41).”

So the reasons we still have wars, slaughtering of children, computer hacking, school shootings, cancer, child abuse, spouse abuse, sex trafficking, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, antibiotics, children hospitals, prisons, and funeral homes; is because the Kingdom of Christ has invaded the kingdom of this world, but not yet defeated it. But when the King comes back, this will no longer be true, because the kingdom of this world will be destroyed. And those who follow Christ will shine forevermore in His glorious new Kingdom, while those who reject the King will face rejection from him, forevermore.

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#TME Day 21 – Who’s in the Kingdom?

One of the most shocking developments in the Kingdom, is about who is in the kingdom and who is not. In a few short parables in Jerusalem, Jesus reveals that those who assumed they were in, were actually out, and those who assume they were out, found themselves welcomed in. Jesus says it like this, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.” (Matt. 21:31)

Jesus spoke these words to the Pharisees, the “good guys”, the ones who had always obeyed God and followed His commands. And with three parables Jesus proved his point, the third parable detailing a wedding feast. In this wedding feast the invited quests were to busy to come to the banquet the king had thrown for his son. So in anger the king tells his servants to go through the streets and invite people who were not invited, and of course they gladly came to what would have been the greatest event of their lives!

Here is the point. Israel had been invited long ago to the wedding feast of the son, but now the son was standing in front of them and they could care less about him or his banquet. So the invitation was extended to those who would come, to those who would care, to those who found Jesus and his banquet to be the best news in the whole world!

The Pharisees were offended and shocked at the thought that they were excluded from the kingdom, while sinners were let in. But if only the Pharisees could have seen that they too were invited to come, but they had to come the same way the prostitutes and tax collectors did, as sinners in deep need of a Savior. For the feast of the Kingdom is only for ex-sinners who have been made spotless brides through the blood of the King, who is also the groom.