Friday, March 29, 2013

Appeasing the gods

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45 (NIV)

Outside of Mexico City is one of the world’s most accurately restored and largest pyramid structures in the world. Teotihuacan is actually an ancient city with two pyramids at its heart, one to the sun and one to the moon, and probably constructed by the Mayan people. At its pinnacle, this great city was inhabited by over one-hundred thousand people and contained such modern amenities as running water, sewage treatment, and civil government.

Sadly, human sacrifice was also part of the culture, and at the base of the Pyramid of the Moon is a large table that was used for human sacrifices. When I visited this site, I took a moment to lie across the table. I imagined what it must have been like to be offered as a sacrifice. An eerie feeling swept over me as I thought about the false beliefs that deluded these people.

Many people throughout history were only aware of gods whose anger needed to be appeased. The idea was made fun of in the popular movie Joe versus the Volcano, where the local god was soothed by throwing a human victim into a smoldering volcano. In reality, the idea of human sacrifice is not laughable; it’s horrific. Too many people throughout history were sadly misled into believing in the lies of false religion.

What a contrast to Jesus, the Author of our faith. He did just the opposite, the unexpected: He sacrificed Himself for the world so we could live with Him forever in paradise. What a great thing to celebrate – our redemption paid for by the blood of God’s Son, our Redeemer! What a great motivation to serve our Savior!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Moody’s Gang

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10 (NIV)

Cross references:
D.L. Moody lived in the later part of the 1800s and was well known for his influence as an evangelist. History books say he led more than a million people to Christ during his lifetime.

One of the most interesting facets of his life was his work with children. Moody was gifted at reaching out in love to gangs of young boys who had grown up on the streets and back alleys of Chicago. Occasionally, Moody would have to break up fights between boys before he could begin his classes. Among them were boys known as Red Eye, Smikes, Billy Bucktooth, and Butcher Kilroy. All these young men accepted Christ as Savior and became known as “Moody’s Gang.” As these ruffians matured under his tutelage, they became his biggest allies, organizing and providing crowd control for some 1,500 children who came to his Sunday School classes and evangelistic meetings.

It is said that Moody would travel the streets searching for children and call them to come to his Mission Bible Class. Often Moody would knock on doors or march right into a saloon or brothel looking for parents so he could secure permission for their child to attend his Bible classes. He would teach these youngsters of Jesus’ love and tell them of the offer of eternal life – if they would only turn to Jesus and repent of their sinful ways.

Thousands of them did, and the city of Chicago was forever impacted by the great evangelist’s work among children and adults. In fact, many of those would-be delinquents later become successful business men and Christian leaders.

Isn’t that just what Jesus does? He seeks and saves those who were otherwise lost and without hope. He redeems them by giving them new life.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Roly Polies in a Jar

In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:14 (NIV)

Spring is right around the corner, and with it comes an event I like to call The Freeing of the Roly Polies. It goes like this: My kids and their neighborhood friends scrounge in the dirt around the yard looking for Roly Polies and other bugs and creatures. Then they place their finds in jars and containers. Usually these jars get left behind as the children get distracted and move on to other things.

That’s when I step in. In an effort to save these poor critters from certain death by heat stroke or starvation, I gather up the kids and give my best explanation of the problems associated with leaving bugs in jars. The kids never seem interested with my warnings about impending doom for creatures left to bake in jars without food or water. However, I usually prevail, and the helpless critters are set free. Still, some bugs are forgotten or misplaced, and these less fortunate creepy-crawlies are found days later—dried up and dead.

I was thinking the other day about our own plight as humans. We're kind of like those Roly Polies in the jar. We were trapped by our sin and unable to escape our trouble—until Jesus set us free when we placed our trust in Him. Scripture tells us that Jesus came to set the captives free.

It is only Jesus, God’s Son, who can redeem us from our situation and free us from the trap our sin had put us in. Today I’m thankful that Jesus redeems and sets the captives free.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” Luke 4:18 (NIV)

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Hip-Hop Dude

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)

While running errands around town, my family and I regularly pass several businesses that have employees standing by the side of the road in an effort to lure new customers. There are the young guys holding brightly-colored placards in front of the oil change place. There’s a lady dressed as the Statue of Liberty advertising for a tax preparation business. (She never looks happy to be at the roadside.) And there’s one young man we pass by weekly who always lights up our day.

This guy holds a guitar-shaped pizza advertisement. My kids have affectionately named him the Hip-Hop Dude. He wears headphones and is usually showing off his latest dance moves. Sometimes we honk the horn and wave just to encourage him. Once he realizes someone is watching him, he goes into hyper mode and really cuts loose! Sometimes I want to go in and buy a pizza just to show my appreciation for the entertainment.

One day while waiting at the light we were enjoying his performance and my daughter asked, “Dad, do you think his boss makes him dance like that?” I said that while his moves might add to his job security, I didn’t think the specifics were in the job description. I explained that this guy was just living out his passion and putting his whole heart into his job.

Scripture tells us that whatever we do we should put our whole heart into it. Maybe you don’t have the world’s best moves, but you can still be enthusiastic about your work. When you give a job your all, you can lay your head on the pillow at night with no regrets, knowing it is ultimately Jesus whom you serve.