I was asked to do a sermon for the Christmas series at our church this month. Here is what I delivered.
I was given the opportunity to speak again at Harbor Chapel on July 31, 2016. I titled it “The Highest Calling”. It’s about how, as Christians, we’re called to live outstanding lives and I wanted to encourage others to aim for that goal. I also believe that we should hold each other accountable for our behavior, uncomfortable as that may be. Here is the audio:
And here is a meager powerpoint presentation I made to go along with it:
When Christians worship, it’s common to see eyes closed, hands raised high, as if reaching towards unseen God himself. But why does this ritual occur? Is it a modern religious practice, a tradition, or is it from genuine, spiritual inspiration?
33 Then Moses left Pharaoh and went out of the city. He spread out his hands toward the Lord; the thunder and hail stopped, and the rain no longer poured down on the land. [Source]
Sometimes, when hands are lifted, storms cease.
10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. [Source]
Sometimes, when hands are lifted, battles are won.
I was raised a pescetarian, which is a fancy way of saying I was a vegetarian who ate seafood. I understood at a very young age the difference between vegan and vegetarian, and I never passed judgment on those with different dietary practices than mine. As an adult, I get to choose what I want to eat, and my vegetarian upbringing has a lot to do with the foods I eat today. At times, depending on the dish, I prefer a veggie-dog to a hot dog, and I love a Veggie Gourmet pizza from Round Table, or a vegetarian burrito from a local Mexican restaurant. But I also happen to enjoy bacon, fried chicken, ribs, calamari, salmon, hamburger, squid, and many other prepared meats both common and obscure. The diet does not make the man, so I have no judgment or resentment for another person based on their eating habits, that would be immature, in both the social sense and the spiritual sense. The apostle Paul has gone on record and given us his thoughts on judging others based on dietary practices in Colossians chapter 2 and verses 16 and 17:
Therefore no one is to [n]act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath [o]day— 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the [p]substance [q]belongs to Christ. [Source]
These verses apply to new covenant Christians who live without the requirements of the law regarding dietary restrictions, ceremonial washings, religious festivals and many (possibly hundreds) of other physical acts that all represent Christ and his holiness. But they also apply, in a more general sense, to our attitudes in general about one another’s personal lifestyle preferences, especially those in which there is no apparent sinfulness. Continue reading