5 When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 6 “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” 7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant,  ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel  have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.
A Roman Centurion is praised for his great faith. He knew what it was like to be in authority, having his orders followed unquestioned. I imagine he routinely gave orders and never even bothered to confirm they were carried out because he just knew they would be.
And he translates that life experience to his spiritual life. He knows the authority he has, recognizes that Jesus has even more authority, and insists that Jesus need not trouble Himself with traveling to the Centurion’s house.
I suppose praying is only part of the answer to our problems. The other half—perhaps the greater piece, actually—is believing that Jesus not only has the authority to answer our prayers, but that He will.
Today at Sunday School, we started our new series on Encountering God. The series focuses on spiritual disciplines, part of an annual emphasis on the topic of habits for spiritual growth. This year we are spending one week on each of the following:
Time in God’s Word
Mark Driscoll has a great post that summarizes this discipline. In an effort to make the study more “hands on” this year, we’ve issued a challenge to the kids to spend 30 days with Jesus. There are 30 days between today and Easter, not counting Sundays. So each day, students will be reading a story about Jesus. You can follow along if you’d like. (This chart [and others] comes from Zondervan; our version just adds the dates we’re reading it.)
Each Sunday, we’ll check in with the youth to see how its going and what they’re learning. You may also be interested in a series I wrote a while back about reading the Bible.
Neil Diamond’s song “Pretty Amazing Grace” on idol last night was interesting. I assume he is a Christian as there were definite overtones of such in the lyrics. The fact that the title and several lyrics are re-workings of the famous hymn by almost the same name point that way as well. But do I only think he’s Christian because I am Christian? Does a non-Christian hear those lyrics and think the song is about what God has done for us? The song could be talking about any god, not necessarily our God, couldn’t it?
1 Corinthians 1:22-24 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Paul shows us how we’re different from all the other religions of the world. We don’t just worship “God”, but rather the Triune God: Father, Son, Spirit. We preach Christ crucified because He is the only way to know the true God. We find common ground with lots of religions when we talk about “God.” Lots of people believe in “God.” But do they know the Triune God? Do they know Christ? We bear His name, are we being little Christs to our neighbors? Is it clear we preach Christ crucified, or are we preaching the same message every other religion preaches?
Google just released their Zeitgeist 2007 statistics. Basically, it’s a snapshot of what people are looking up online through Google. One interesting piece is the “Who is …” search ranking. Here’s the list:
who is god
who is who
who is lookup
who is jesus
who is it
who is buckethead
who is calling
who is keppler
who is this
who is satan
People are searching for God and we have an opportunity to share Him with them this Christmas season. Considering inviting a friend to Christmas Eve services this year!
Also interesting to note are the top entries from the “What” and “How” categories. They are: “What is love” and “How to kiss.” I guess that means our “Best Sex Ever” Crossroads series that kicks off in January should be a hit. I’m excited about looking at what the Bible has to say about this topic with our youth. Should be a blast!
Ever since my first Call, I’ve been encouraged to serve the greater church in some way. This fits well with my personal philosophy for ministry: that churches who can afford to hire multiple staff have a responsibility to help those who can’t. It’s the greater body working together, not competing with one another. One of the areas where this is happening is in the 30 Hour Famine planning process. The event was happening before I came to First Trinity. I was hesitant to get involved at first, but I love how God has used it for the greater good in Buffalo. Some of the things I like about it:
It’s planned by a core group of 3-4 churches each year.
The core planners work really well together and it’s led to relationships continuing beyond the planning process.
It’s leading to cross-church relationships amog the youth. We saw this most recently at the Lost and Found concert when our Famine youth recognized youth from other churches because of their involvement in the Famine.
It’s growing in numbers of participants and churches so even more people will get to benefit from it this year.
It helps fight hunger around the world.
In addition, we’ve also used the Famine as an opportunity to bring in a special event geared at youth and their families. Last year was the Jami Smith concert. This year, we’re bringing in Mike Lewis, AKA The Jesus Painter. Mike was at the National Youth Gathering in Orlando this summer, where our youth were first introduced to him. We sent information to other churches that participated in the gathering from our area and already sold 21 tickets to the youth group at St. Michael’s in Akron, NY.
Tickets are now on sale to the general public, so get ’em before they’re gone! Artist’s Circle (front few rows) is $10, General Admission is $6 in advance and $8 at the door. Call 716.835.2220 to order or leave a comment here.