Monday Monologue, Sermon, April 2, 2018 (Podcast)

Stephen W. Hiemstra, www.StephenWHiemstra.net
Stephen W. Hiemstra, 2017

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

In today’s podcast, I share a sermon, Slave of Christ given originally in Spanish.

To listen, click on the link below.

After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

Monday Monologue, Sermon, April 2, 2018 (Podcast)

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Holy_Week_2018

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Mark 16: Easter 2

Empty Tomb on EasterBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

“And he said to them, Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.

He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him” (Mark 16:6 ESV).

One of the most vivid memories I have as a young person was the experience of an Easter sunrise.  Easter is mysterious, earth-shattering news.  How could I sleep through it?

Funeral

At my grandfather’s funeral, I was given a head of wheat which hangs now in my kitchen.  The wheat reminds me of Jesus’ saying:  “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24 ESV).

Resurrection Reminders

The mystery of resurrection is everywhere in nature.  Sunrise is the resurrection of the day.  Springtime is the resurrection of the seasons.  The metamorphosis from caterpillar to cocoon to adult butterfly is a beautiful, dramatic resurrection.  The Apostle Paul writes:  “all of creation groans in anticipation of our redemption” (Romans 8:19-23).

Messianic Prophecies

Prophesies of Jesus’ resurrection start early in scripture.  Systematic theologians see salvation history as creation, fall, and redemption.  Because sin is the cause of death, eternal life requires forgiveness of sin which is brought about in Christ’s resurrection.  This transition is prophesied in Genesis:  “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen 3:15 ESV).

Other theologians see resurrection arising out of righteous suffering.  The prophet Job writes not only of Christ, but his own resurrection:  “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another” (Job 19:25-27 ESV).  At the birth of the church on Pentecost (Acts 2:27), the Apostle Peter sees resurrection prophesied by King David:  “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption” (Psalm 16:10).

When asked to produce a sign Jesus himself spoke of the sign of Jonah (Luke 11:29-32).  In the belly of the whale Jonah prayed:  “I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice” (Jonah 2:2 ESV).  And the whale spit him out on dry land, another resurrection story.

Old Testament Resurrections Accounts

Resurrection did not start with Jesus.  Some see the story of the binding of Isaac as a resurrection account [1] and a prophecy of the cross (Genesis 22:1-18).  The prophet Elisha raises the Shunammite’s son from the dead (2 Kings 4:32-37).  In the valley of bones, Ezekiel prophesied about resurrection of the Nation of Israel (Ezekiel 37:3-6).  The exodus of the nation of Israel from Egypt and the return of the exiles from Babylon are both resurrection accounts where a dead nation rises to new life.

New Testament Resurrection Accounts

In the gospels, Jesus himself performed several resurrections.  He raised Jairus’s daughter from the dead (Mark 5:22-43).  He raised the widow’s son (Luke 7:12-17).  Most remarkably, after lying four days in the tomb he raised Lazarus from death (John 11:1-45).  Like other resurrections, Jesus’ healings and exorcisms brought hope where there was none.

Some scholars believe that John Mark’s gospel recorded Apostle Peter’s testimony while he was in Rome during AD 41-54.  Mark later traveled with Paul.  Mark’s role was to teach about the life of Jesus.  Later, Luke may have assumed this role in Paul’s missionary team.

Mark’s Unusual Ending

Interestingly, Mark did no see the gospel ending with Jesus.  Neither did Luke whose gospel was followed by the Book of Acts.  Mark’s gospel starts with:  “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1 ESV).  Scholars believe that Mark’s gospel ends with the woman going out from the tomb to relay the angel’s message:  “But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee” (Mark 16:7 ESV).  Likewise, our part in salvation history is to pass on the story.  As the hymnist Katherine Hankey (1834-1911) writes:  “I love to tell the story, of unseen things above, of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love…” [2]

Christian Hope

Christian hope starts with the resurrection: we know that death is not the end of life’s story.  And because we know the rest of the story, we can invest in life and live each day with boldness and joy.

[1] Did Abraham believe God would raise Isaac from the dead?  Why did the angel have to tell Abraham twice?

[2] www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh156.sht

Mark 16: Easter 2

Also see:

A Roadmap of Simple Faith

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Holy_Week_2018

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Mark 15: Holy Saturday 2

Frank and Gertrude Hiemstra, GraveBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

“And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud

and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock.

And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.” (Mark 15:46 ESV)

Jesus is buried on the Day of Preparation which ends at sundown when the Jewish Sabbath begins. This detail in Mark’s Gospel is important because burial was forbidden on the Sabbath[1] and executed criminals could not hang overnight (Deut 21:23). The Gospels mention nothing taking place on the Sabbath while Jesus lay in the tomb and the narrative resumes on the following day. In other words, Jesus rested in the tomb over the Sabbath. Holy Saturday was a day of mourning and grief.

A Grieving Holiday

Grief is more than crying. In Jesus’ Beatitudes, Matthew records: “Honored are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matt 5:4) Luke records: “Honored are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” (Luke 6:21) Both accounts of this Beatitude are written in the form of a lament which has two parts.  In the first part, one empties the heart of all grief and pain and anxiety in prayer to God; in the second part, having been emptied the heart turns to God in praise. In the lament, when we grieve, we make room in our hearts for God.

The Theology of Lament

The most famous lament in the Bible is cited by the Gospel of Mark as Jesus’ last words: “My god, my god, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)[2] These words come from Psalm 22 verse one which turns to God in verse 19: “But You, O LORD, be not far off; O You my help, hasten to my assistance.” At a time when much of scripture was memorized, rabbis would cite the first part of a passage knowing that the audience would fill in the missing part. Knowing this tradition[3], Jesus could cite the first verse in Psalm 22 knowing that people hearing him would know the Psalm and how it ended.

Jesus gave us a template for dealing with grief the night before during his prayer in Gethsemane. Mark records that Jesus’ prayed three times:  “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” (Mark 14:36). Jesus is aware that he stands before the cross and does not want to die; still, he yields to God’s will. Each time we face pain and grief we are faced with a decision: do we turn to God or do we turn into our grief? Our identity is crafted from a lifetime of such decisions.

Joseph of Arimathea

The story of Joseph of Arimathea is instructive. Mark records: “Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.” (Mark 15:43) Asking for the body of a man just crucified for sedition took guts. Yet, with no expectation of resurrection, on a day when Jesus’ inner circle was in hiding and in fear, Joseph “took courage” and asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Then, he buried him in his own grave [4].

Holy Saturday Reveals our Theology

Holy Saturday is a time to reflect on Christ’s crucifixion. Are we among those happy to see Jesus in the tomb or are we looking forward to the kingdom of God like Joseph of Arimathea?

[1] Burial is work, hence forbidden on the Sabbath (e.g. Deut 5:12-15).

[2] Also: Matthew 27:46. The direct citation of an Aramaic expression—“Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?” in both the Mark and Matthew accounts makes it more likely that these are the actual words of Jesus. This is because the most important expressions in the Bible are cited directly rather than translated or, in this case, the actual words are both cited and translated.

[3] Jesus does exactly that in Matthew 21:16 citing Psalm 8:2.

[4] What a picture of substitutionary atonement—Jesus was buried in my grave so that I do not have to be.

Mark 15: Holy Saturday 2

Also see:

A Roadmap of Simple Faith

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Holy_Week_2018

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Mark 15: Good Friday 2

Paining of the crucifixion
The Crucifixion

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

“And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said,

Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39 ESV)

Second Trial

Pontius Pilate gets right to the point:  “Are you the King of the Jews?”  Jesus answers with two words–σὺ λέγεις—which means:  you say (Mark 15:2). The chief priests accuse him of many things.  Pilate asks Jesus a second question:  “Have you no answer to make?” (Mark 15:4)  Jesus does not respond (Isaiah 53:7).  Pilate is amazed.

First Trial

The night before, the high priest asked Jesus if he is the Messiah (Christ).  Jesus responded using the words God from Exodus 3:14 saying:  “I am”.  Then, in case anyone misunderstood him, he paraphrased the messianic prophecy in Daniel 7:13:  “you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62 ESV).  The high priest accordingly accused Jesus of blasphemy which is punishable by stoning under Jewish law (Leviticus 24:16).  But since Rome reserved the right to decide all cases of capital punishment, the chief priests accused Jesus of the political crime of sedition—treason against Rome.  This is why Pilate asked Jesus:  “Are you the King of the Jews?” (Mark 15:2)

What Kind of Messiah?

Realizing that Jesus is innocent of the charge of sedition, like a good politician Pilate begins working the crowd.  In offering to release a prisoner named Barabbas, who was guilty of both sedition and murder (Mark 15:7), Pilate is effectively asking the crowd what kind of Messiah they prefer.  The crowd asked for Barabbas who was known to be a Jewish nationalist—in other words, the crowd prefers a kingly Messiah.

Messiah means anointed one in Hebrew which translates as Christ in Greek.  Three types of roles are anointed:  prophets, priests, and kings.  In his earthly ministry, Jesus embodied the first two roles (prophet and priest), but the crowd wanted a king—someone to drive the Romans out—as we saw earlier in Mark 11:10.

So Pilate gave them what they wanted (Romans 1:24-25), washed his hands of the decision, and sent Jesus to the cross.

Mark 15: Good Friday 2

Also see:

A Roadmap of Simple Faith

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Holy_Week_2018

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Mark 14: Maundy Thursday 2

Foot washing

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

“Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread (הַמַּצּ֛וֹת), at the Feast of Weeks (הַשָּׁבֻע֖וֹת), and at the Feast of Booths (הַסֻּכּ֑וֹת; Deuteronomy 16:16 ESV).

Holy Week as we know it is often celebrated at the same time as the Jewish Feast of Unleavened Bread (Festival of Matzos) often called Passover.  Dates differ because of differences in the calendar rules.  In Jesus’ time, Passover was one of three festivals that required the faithful to travel to Jerusalem.  The other festival familiar to Christians is the Feast of Weeks commonly known as Pentecost.  The Feast of Booths is a harvest festival in the fall.

Passover Backstory

Passover commemorates the release of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt.  God instructed Moses to tell the Israelite to sacrifice a lamb and place the blood of the lamb over their door-posts so that the angel of death would pass them by.  On the night of the Passover, the angel of death struck down the first born of Egypt and passed over the Israelite households.  Pharaoh reacted immediately by expelling the Israelite slaves.  They left so quickly that there was not time to bake bread for the journey.  Instead, they prepared bread without letting the dough rise—unleavened bread (Exodus 12).  Mark 14:12-26 describes how Jesus and his disciples celebrated the Passover meal in Jerusalem now remembered as the Last Super.

Covered by the Blood

The Last Super is important to Christians because it introduces the new covenant in Christ.  The word, covenant, found in v. 24 appears nowhere else in Mark’s Gospel and alludes to the covenant meal that Moses and the Elders of Israel shared with God on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:9-11).  The grim symbolism of the wine as the blood of Christ is an allusion to the blood of the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:7) which alerted the angel of death to pass over households displaying the blood.  In this sense, as Christians we are (like the door posts) covered by the blood of Christ.  By Jesus’ blood our sins are forgiven and we are passed over (Hebrews 9:11-28).

Where Does Maundy Thursday Come From?

Where does the name, Maundy Thursday, come from?  One theory is that it is Middle English for the Latin word, Mandatum, which means command.  According to some traditions, Maundy Thursday focuses on Jesus’ lesson on servant leadership:  “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14 ESV).

Mark 14: Maundy Thursday

Also see:

A Roadmap of Simple Faith

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Holy_Week_2018

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Heifetz and Linsky Lead from Technical to Adaptive Change

Heifetz and Linsky, Leadership on the Line
Art by Stephen W. Hiemstra

Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky.  2002.  Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading.  Boston:  Harvard Business School Press.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

The March for Life in Washington on March 24 is a call for action to prevent gun violence. While this march represents a felt need, it has not proceeded to the next step in defining the problem. There are, of course, calls for new legislation to reduce gun availability, but past efforts at legislation have failed to alleviate the problem. What then should be done?

Introduction

In their book, Leadership on the Line:  Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading, Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky assert:

we believe you can “walk the line,” [citing Johnny Cash] step forward, make a difference, take the heat, and survive to delight in the fruits of your labor.

In fact, they see leadership providing meaning to life itself in spite of obvious dangers and discouragements (3, 11-12).

Technical versus Adaptive Change

A key insight in Heifetz and Linsky’s work is to distinguish technical from adaptive challenges.  In a technical change, authorities apply current know-how to solve a problem while in an adaptive change people with the problem must learn new ways to solve the problem (14).  A technical change typically requires nothing more than additional budget (or a change in legislation, a kind of symbolic action) while an adaptive change requires an entirely new approach—we must change how we define ourselves, not some budget or any other easy fix (18).

Technical Change

Heifetz and Linsky cite the example of a car that breaks down.  If your car breaks down, then you can take it to a mechanic and get it fixed.  However, if your car breaks down because of how the family drives it, then the problem is likely to come up over and over until the family changes how the car is driven.  The mechanic can fix the first problem (car breaks down), but only the family itself can fix the second problem (repeated break downs; 19). The rub arises because:  Habits, values, and attitudes, even dysfunctional ones, are part of one’s identity.  To change the way people see and do things is to challenge how they define themselves (27). As a consequence, adaptive problems are inherently more difficult and costly to deal with.

Importance of Adaptive Change

Because current leaders were promoted to bring organizations to the point they find themselves in today, part of the challenge of adaptive change arises in dealing with dealing with those with a vested interest in the way things are.  Heifetz and Linsky observe that resistance to change often comes from unexpected places and people.  They see the 4 principal dangers to leaders being marginalization, diversion, attack, and seduction (31).  Marginalization can take the form of tokenism, neglect, or professional pigeon-holing (32-37).  Diversion results in a loss of focus—taking on too many issues or being promoted off-line (38-40).  Attacks may focus on your ideas, character, competence, family, or physical existence (42) [2]. Seduction arises as constituents for change insist on taking the issue too far and the leader then fails chasing the dream rather than accomplishing real, doable change (45-48).

Fog of War

Emotions rage and helpful information is often absent during periods of change.  In the military, this is called the fog of war.  Heifetz and Linsky accordingly observe the need to maintain the capacity for reflection—to observe more clearly what is really going on (52).  During movies of the 1930s and 1940s, during dance or dinner party scenes characters frequently retreated to a balcony to talk (or have a smoke) where they figured out their strategies. On the balcony, Heifetz and Linsky see 4 useful activities:

  1. Distinguish technical from adaptive changes;
  2. Find out where people are at;
  3. Listen to the song beneath the words (do not accept things at face value); and/or
  4. Read the behavior of authority figures for clues (55).

A Christian might substitute the expression—Sabbath rest—for balcony here as we lead our families through the stresses and struggles of life.

Organization

Heifetz and Linsky’s Leadership on the Line is written in 11 chapters divided into 3 parts:  The Challenge, the Response, and Body and Soul.  The chapters are:

  1. The Heart of Danger;
  2. The Faces of Danger;
  3. Get on the Balcony;
  4. Think Politically;
  5. Orchestrate the Conflict;
  6. Give the Work Back;
  7. Hold Steady;
  8. Manage Your Hungers;
  9. Anchor Yourself;
  10. What’s On the Line? And
  11. Sacred Heart (vii).

These chapters include an introduction and notes, an index, and write-up about the authors in the pages that follow.

Example of Adaptive Change Challenge

Heifetz and Linsky’s distinction between technical and adaptive changes is most useful.  I cannot tell you how many meetings that I attended in the government where a focus on “low hanging fruit”—technical changes which really did not address the issue but gave managers an opportunity to pretend to do something—pushed aside attempts at adaptive change.

Conversion as Adaptive Change

Conversion to Christ is an adaptive change; it is not the low hanging fruit that people want to grab which leaves them feeling “in control” of their lives. Christians become leaders the moment they respond to God’s call on their lives because they reject technical change for the transformational change which Christ offers. The Apostle Paul writes:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2 ESV)

Gun Violence Prevention

So what does this imply about the effort to reduce gun violence?

The distinction between technical and adaptive chance is critical to solving the problem of gun violence. A technical solution, like banning all assault weapons, may feel like progress is being made, but it neglects the underlying causes of the violence. Angry people can articulate their anger with other instruments.

The adaptive solution to gun violence focuses on the anger, not the instruments. Possible solutions might include things like reducing violence in video games, banning media attention for murderers, and programs that target hopeless young men and offer them hope for a better life. Coming to the realization that the problem goes beyond the guns is a first step in any adaptive solution. The fact that this problem has built up over years of inattention to underlying social problems suggests that years of effort will be required in any real solution.

Assessment

Heifetz and Linsky offer a style of leadership which is an allegory for the Christian life [3].  Christianity is a holistic approach to life—all of life’s challenges and adventures are taken into account, from birth to death. Leadership on the Line highlights the adaptive changes that are required to live life to its fullest, as God intended.

Footnotes

[1] My paraphrase of Heifetz and Linsky’s challenges of leadership on pages 1-5.

[2] In the recent Veteran’s Administration scandal, for example, no one questioned the administrator’s competence, but media attention forced him to resign. In effect, the appetite to solving the problem remains weak—it was easier to personalize the problem and make it go away by assigning blame—a villain story.

[3] www.youtube.com/user/FaithandLeadership.

Heifetz and Linsky Lead from Technical to Adaptive Change

Also see:

Plueddemann Demystified Leadership Across Culture 

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Holy_Week_2018

 

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Monday Monologue, An Audio Commentary, March 26, 2018 (Podcast)

Stephen W. Hiemstra, www.StephenWHiemstra.net
Stephen W. Hiemstra, 2017

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

In today’s podcast, I talk about myself and podcasting, pray for healing, and reflect on the question: Why Think About Faith?

To listen, click on the link below.

After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

Monday Monologue, An Audio Commentary, March 26, 2018 (Podcast)

Also see:

A Roadmap of Simple Faith

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Lent-2018

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Mark 11:1-11—Palm Sunday 2

Palm Sunday Donkey

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

I beg you Lord, deliver us!  I beseech you Lord, prosper us! (Psalm 118:25 SWH)[1]

Hosanna (הוֹשִׁ֨יעָ֥ה נָּ֑א):  What is in a word?

Mark’s Palm Sunday

Mark’s account of Palm Sunday is amazingly simple:  The disciples hunt around for a donkey;  they have a small parade; some people start shouting;  they scope out the temple and go home.  No palms!  No Pharisees hanging around.  No prophecy.

Parade

Still, this is no ordinary parade.  France notes that nowhere else in the gospels do we read of Jesus riding [2].  The parade fulfills the prophecy:  Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9 ESV).

Hosanna

The whole story builds up to v. 9 and the shouting:  Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the lord (Mark 11:9).  Hosanna is a transliteration of a Hebrew phrase appearing only in Psalm 118:25 cited above.  The rest of the phrase is cited from the next verse (Psalm 118:26).  Beale and Carson [3] describe Psalm 118 as a “royal song of thanksgiving for military victory” regularly sung at Passover.  The truncation of Psalm 118:25 to exclude the second half of the sentence (I beseech you Lord, prosper us), underscores the military intentions of the Palm Sunday crowd.  The next verse makes this point very plain:  “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David”(Mark 11:10).

Who is really being blessed here?

The Greek in v. 9 admits a second translation:  “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa once described herself as Christ’s donkey.  When we come humbly in the name of the Lord, in some sense we too become Christ’s donkey.  And we too are blessed.

[1] אָנָּ֣א יְ֭הוָה הוֹשִׁ֨יעָ֥ה נָּ֑א אָֽנָּ֥א יְ֜הוָ֗ה הַצְלִ֨יחָ֥ה נָּֽא (Psalm 118:25 WTT).

[2] R.T. France.  The New International Greek Testament Commentary:  The Gospel of Mark.  Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans.  P. 428.

[3] G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson [Editors].  2007.  Commentary on the NT Use of the OT.  Grand Rapids:  Baker Academic.   Pp. 206-207.

Mark 11:1-11—Palm Sunday

Also see:

A Roadmap of Simple Faith

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Lent-2018

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Slave of Christ

Stephen W. Hiemstra, www.StephenWHiemstra.net
Stephen W. Hiemstra, 2017

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Sermon delivered in Spanish at El Shadai, Manassas, Virginia, March 22, 2018.

Prelude

Good evening. For those who do not know me, my name is Stephen W. Hiemstra. I am a volunteer pastor and Christian author. My wife, Maryam, and I live in Centreville, VA and we have three grown children.

Today we continue our study of collaborators of the Gospel. I will be discussing the question: In what sense are we slaves of Christ. (2X)

Prayer

Let’s pray.

Almighty Father,

We give praise that you created us in your image and love us as your children. We especially present in this time and this place. In the power of your Holy Spirit, bless our praise and work here in Georgetown South. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Scripture

Today’s scripture less comes from the Book of Genesis 1:26-27. Here the word of the Lord:

Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen 1:26-27 ESV)

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Introduction

Allow me to begin with a bit of history from my own walk with the Lord.

My son, Reza, was born in August 1992 while I worked as a bank examiner with the Farm Credit Administration in McLean, Virginia. I normally traveled with the examination team four nights a week. For this reason and to facilitate breast feeding, my wife moved Reza’s crib into our bedroom

One Saturday night in October at 2 in the morning, Reza went into convulsions. As a ten-week old baby, it was not very obvious or very loud, but Maryam knew immediately that somethings was not right and we called 9-11 for emergency assistance. Reza was taken to Fair Oaks Hospital and then transferred to Fairfax Hospital. For the entire day, we did not know what had happened, but by Sunday evening they discovered that he had been born with only one kidney and that kidney’s duct had folded over on itself. He needed emergency surgery to correct the problem and was moved again to Georgetown University Hospital.

Alone with my son before terrifying surgery, I was stressed out and emotional. For the first time in my life, I began to negotiate with God for the life of my son. I prayed to God: do not take my son; take me. (2X)

Ten years later, my son was healthy and God reminded me of the promise in my prayer. At that point, I began to seek a seminary. When I say that I am a slave of Christ, I have both personal and biblical reasons. As someone bought and paid for with acts of grace and mercy, I am a slave of Christ. (2X)

Today’s Scripture

In the ancient world there were two types of kings. A local king, who ruled a small kingdom, and a king of kings who possessed a much larger kingdom. In effect, a king of kings had many kingdoms each established through conquest and delegated to his subordinates, who had local kingdoms.

In today’s text we see this same model of kings. Returning to the Garden of Eden, we see God creating us in his image and giving us dominion—

over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen 1:26-27 ESV)

In this passage, God was described as a King of kings, who established a new kingdom in creation for his subordinates, Adam and Eve.

So why do we care? (2X)

We care because since the beginning we were created as servants of God and as slaves totally dependent on our creator and king of kings, God. Since the beginning, we were slaves of God. (2X)

Servants and Slaves

From the beginning, we were not content to be servants or slaves of God. Immediately after creation, Adam and Eve want a promotion and following the suggestion of Satan eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 2:17 ESV). This act was directly against the will of God, constituted an alliance with Satan, and was an act of rebellion against the kingdom of God.

The title, slave of God, appears the first time in the Book of Joshua 1:1-2:

After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel.  (Jos. 1:1-2 ESV)

In these two verses, it reads in the Hebrew “slave of the Lord”, but most of the time it is translated in English and Spanish as servant of the Lord.

This same interpretative tension exists in the translation of Paul when he uses this same title in Romans 1:1:

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God” (Rom 1:1 ESV)

In this case as well, the original Greek reads slave of Christ, but in English and Spanish the translation reads servant of Christ. This translation is politically correct. But because we are bought and paid for with the blood of Christ, the better translation is slave of Christ, as the Greek says. We are slaves of Christ. (2X)

Servant or Slave?

The older folks here probably remember a hymn:[1] Nothing but the Blood of Jesus, which makes the point found in Hebrews 9:13-14:

“For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (Heb 9:13-14 ESV)

We were bought and paid for with the death of Christ on the cross. Thus, we are slaves of Christ. (2X)

Application

In summary, we are slaves of Christ. But why is this important?

When our identities are in Christ before other things we have new priorities. First, life is much easier. We are not slaves of our spouses, families, work, or any other things that a hard life can take from us. Neither are we slaves of fear, emotional pain, addictions, unmentionable sins, or any other chain of Satan. We have liberty in Christ to live within God’s will and are not slaves of any other person.

For example, our marriages are still important, just not ultimately important. In fact, it is much easier to respect our spouses when they are our love and not our masters. The same is true of our kids, parents, and other people. We are equal under Christ and are responsible to love one another as we love ourselves, as the Apostle Paul taught (Eph 6:1-9). Love is more precious because it can never be obligatory.

There are at least three other reasons why we want to accept this title of slave of Christ.

First, the first commandment says:You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exod 20:3 ESV) Note that it does not say no other gods, except for your love, your work, your favorite sports team, and other things.

Second, if we have something other than God as our first priority, bad things can happen. A workaholic without work, for example, is a good candidate for suicide, as we witness every day in this rich society.

Third, God loves us more than anyone else. It would be foolish to disrespect this love. We are slaves of Christ by the grace of God.

Prayer

Let’s pray.

Heavenly father,

Thank you for the forgiveness that Easter brought with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thank you that in Christ we are slaves of your love and kings in your creation. In the power of your Holy Spirit, give us the strength to live in your truth this day and every day. In the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aGJwAENQuk.

Slave of Christ

Also see:

Blackaby Expects Answers to Prayer 

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Lent-2018

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Esclavo de Cristo

Stephen W. Hiemstra, www.StephenWHiemstra.net
Stephen W. Hiemstra, 2017

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

Sermón compartó a la iglesia El Shadai, Manassas, Virginia, 22 de marzo, 2018.

Preludio

Buenos tardes. Para aquellos que no me conocen, me llama Stephen W. Hiemstra. Soy pastor voluntario y autor cristiano. Mi esposa, Maryam, y yo vivimos in Centreville, Virginia y tenemos tres hijos crecidos.

Hoy día continuamos nuestro estudio sobre colaboradores en el evangelio. Voy a discutir la pregunta: ¿En cual sentido somos esclavos de Cristo? (2X)

Oración

Vamos a orar.

Padre Todopoderoso,

Alabamos que creaste nos en tu imagen y ama nos como tus niños. Sea especialmente presente con nosotros en este tiempo y este lugar. En el poder de tu Espíritu Santo, bendice nuestra alabanza y trabajo aquí en tu pueblo Georgetown South. En el precioso nombre de Jesucristo, Amen.

Escritura

El texto de hoy viene del libro de Génesis 1:26-27. Escucha a la palabra de Dios

y dijo: «Hagamos al ser humano a nuestra imagen y semejanza. Que tenga dominio sobre los peces del mar, y sobre las aves del cielo; sobre los animales domésticos, sobre los animales salvajes, y sobre todos los reptiles que se arrastran por el suelo.» Y Dios creó al ser humano a su imagen; lo creó a imagen de Dios. Hombre y mujer los creó (Gen 1:26-27 NVI)

La palabra del Señor. Gracias a Dios.

Introducción

Permítanme a empezar con una historia importante en me propio camino con el señor.

Mi hijo, Reza, fue nacido en agosto de 1992 cuando yo trabajaba como examinar de bancos con la Administración de Crédito Agrícola en McLean, Virginia. Normalmente viajaba con el equipo de examinación por cuarto noches cada semana. Por esta razón y para facilitar la lactancia, mi esposa muevo la cuna de Reza en nuestra sala por la noche.

Una noche de sábado en octubre a las dos de la mañana, Reza entró en convulsiones. Como bebé de diez semanas, no fue muy obvio o muy ruidoso, pero Maryam supo inmediatamente que algo andaba mal y llamamos al 911 para servicios de emergencia. Reza fue al hospital de Fair Oaks y fue movido al hospital de Fairfax. Por un día completo, no supimos que paso, pero por la tarde de domingo aprendimos que él fue nacido con solamente un riñón y el conducto de este riñón fue bloqueado. Él necesitaría una operación de emergencia y fue movido otra vez, este tiempo al hospital del Universario de Georgetown.

A solas con mi hijo antes de cirugía aterradora, fui muy estresado y emocional. Para la prima vez en mi vida, empecé de negociar con Dios para la vida de mi hijo. Pide al senior: no toma mi hijo; tómame. (2X)

Diez años después, mi hijo fue saludable y Dios recuérdeme de la promesa en mi oración y empecé a buscar un seminario. Cuando yo digo que soy un esclavo de Cristo, tengo razones tanto personales como bíblico. Como alguien compró y pagó por las acciones de gracias y misericordia de Dios, soy esclavo de Cristo. (2X)

Escritura de Hoy

n el mundo primitivo hubo dos tipos de reyes. Un rey locale, quien tuvo un reino pequeño y un rey de reyes quien tenia un reino más grande. En efecto, un rey de reyes tenia muchos reinos todos establecido por conquista y delegado para sus subordinantes, quienes fueron reyes locales.
En nuestro texto de hoy vemos lo mismo modelo de reyes. Retórnanos al Jardín de Edén donde Dios nos creó en su imagen y darnos dominio—
«… sobre los peces del mar, y sobre las aves del cielo; sobre los animales domésticos, sobre los animales salvajes, y sobre todos los reptiles que se arrastran por el suelo.» (Gen 1:26-27)

En este pasaje, Dios fue describió como un rey de reyes, quien estableció un nuevo reino en la creación para sus subordinantes, Adán y Eva.

¿Por qué nos importa? (2X)

Porque desde hace el principio fuimos creado como sirvientes de Dios y como esclavos dependiente totalmente a nuestro creador y rey de reyes, Dios.

Desde hace el principio, fuimos esclavos de Dios. (2X)

Sirviente y Esclavo

Desde el principio, no fuimos contento a ser sirvientes o esclavos de Dios. Inmediatamente después la creación Adán y Eva querían
una promoción y siguiente la sugestión de Satán comieron la fruta del “árbol del conocimiento del bien y del mal” (Gen 2:17 NVI). Este acto fue directamente contra de la voluntad de Dios, constituyó una alianza con Satán, y fue un acto de rebelión contra el reino de Dios.

Este titulo, esclavo de Dios, aparece la primera vez en el libro de Joshua 1:1-2:

Después de la muerte de Moisés, siervo del SEÑOR, Dios le dijo a Josué hijo de Nun, asistente de Moisés: «Mi siervo Moisés ha muerto. Por eso tú y todo este pueblo deberán prepararse para cruzar el río Jordán y entrar a la tierra que les daré a ustedes los israelitas. (Jos 1:1-2 NVI)

En estos dos versículos, se dice en el hebreo “esclavo del Señor”, pero se traduce en español y ingles también como siervo del Senior.

La misma tensión existe en la traducción de Pablo cuando use de este titulo en Romanos 1:1:

Pablo, siervo de Cristo Jesús, llamado a ser apóstol, apartado para anunciar el evangelio de Dios, (Rom 1:1 NVI)

En este caso también, el griego original dice esclavo de Cristo, pero en español como en ingles la traducción dice sirviente de Cristo. Esta traducción es políticamente correcta. Pero por razón de fuimos compró y pagó por la sangre de Cristo, la traducción mejor es esclavo de Cristo como el griego dice. Somos esclavos de Cristo. (2X)

¿Sirviente o Esclavos?

Ancianos entre nosotros recuerdan un himno,[1] Solo de Jesús, La Sangre, que hace la punta de Hebreos 9:13-14:

La sangre de machos cabríos y de toros, y las cenizas de una novilla rociadas sobre personas impuras, las santifican de modo que quedan limpias por fuera. Si esto es así, ¡cuánto más la sangre de Cristo, quien por medio del Espíritu eterno se ofreció sin mancha a Dios, purificará nuestra conciencia de las obras que conducen a la muerte, a fin de que sirvamos al Dios viviente! (Heb 9:13-14 NVI)

Fuimos compró y pagó por la muerte de Cristo por la cruz. Entonces, somos esclavos de Cristo. (2X)

Aplicación

En fin, somos esclavos de Cristo. Pero ¿que significa es?

Cuando nuestra identidad es en Cristo ante otras cosas tenemos nuevas prioridades. Primero, la vida es más fácil. No somos esclavos de nuestras cónyuges, familias, trabajos, o cualquiera otra cosa que una dura vida pueda tomar de nosotros. Tenemos libertad en Cristo a vivir dentro la voluntad de Dios y no ser esclavos de cualquiera otra persona.

Por ejemplo, nuestro matrimonio es todavía importante, pero ni últimamente importante. De hecho, eso es mas fácil a respeto tu cónyuge, cuando ella es tu amor y no es “la Señora”. Lo mismo con tus hijos, padres, y otras personas. Somos igual bajo Cristo y responsables a amar el uno del otro como nos amamos a nosotros mismos, como el Apóstalo Pablo ensenó (Eph 6:1-9). El amor es precioso por razón que nunca es obligatorio.

Hay al menos de tres otras razones para que queremos aceptar este titulo de esclavos de Cristo.

Primero, el primer mandamiento lo dice: “No tengas otros dioses además de mí” (Exod 20:3 NVI). Notan que no dice no dioses, excusando tu amor, tu trabajo, tu deporte favorito, y otras cosas.

Segundo, si tenemos una cosa otra al Dios como nuestra primera prioridad, males cosas pueden pasar. Un trabajador obsesivo sin trabajo, por ejemplo, es un candidato numero uno para suicidio, como vemos cada día en esta rica sociedad.

Tercero, Dios ámanos más que cualquiera otra persona. (2X) Es una tontería no respetar este amor.

Somos esclavos de Cristo, gracias a Dios.

Oración

Oramos.

Padre nuestro en el cielo,

Gracias por tu perdón que viene por Pascua en la muerte y resurrección de Cristo. Gracias que en Cristo somos esclavos de tu amor y reyes en tu creación. En el poder de tu Espíritu Santo, danos el esfuerzo para vivir en tu realidad este día y cada día. En el preciso nombre de Jesucristo. Amen.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLU_u0Ss4Vc. http://www.himnos-cristianos.com/pdf/que-me-puede-dar-perdon.pdf.

Esclavo de Cristo

Also see:

Blackaby Expects Answers to Prayer 

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Lent-2018

Continue Reading