Tag Archives: Matthew 16

Investing in a Sure Thing

For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land. Jeremiah 32:15

“I’m not religious…but I’m spiritual.” It is the mantra of an entire young adult generation who has left the church. They would say they have not given up on God, but they have had quite enough of God’s people. To them, the church is seen as a failing institution, no longer worthy of our investment. There’s a story about that in the Bible.

Jeremiah’s cousin, Hanamel, was either such an amazing salesman he could have sold snow cones to Eskimoes, or he was literally filled with the Spirit of God so as to make his sales offer to Jeremiah miraculously irresistible. At a time when Jerusalem was about to finally fall to a Chaldean occupation and life as Israel knew it was about to end, Hanamel says to Jeremiah, “Hey, you wanna buy my field?” If it were not God’s doing, it would have been a laughable moment. Jeremiah made the investment.

old churchWhy in the world would anyone want to invest in Jerusalem at that point? It was ending…going down the toilet. Generations of wrong decisions had finally caught up to it and it was literally crumbling from the inside out. It had ample reason and opportunity to change in order to better fit God’s design, but it would not. The consequences of all those wrong choices were here…it was over. There was, quite literally, nothing left in which to invest.

In all these ways, it sounds remarkably like the church, doesn’t it? At least the church as it is perceived by an awful lot of people. They think of it as an irrelevant, rickety, out of date, embarrassingly stuffy institution whose time has come …

“Scoreboard, Baby!”

Tuesday Re-mix –

I will not come against their cities.
They will follow the LORD;
he will roar like a lion.
When he roars,
his children will come trembling from the west.
They will come from Egypt,
trembling like sparrows,
from Assyria, fluttering like doves.
I will settle them in their homes,”
declares the LORD.  
Hosea 11:9-11

“…and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:18b

scoreboard1It is a scenario which plays itself out in the sports world over and over again.  A frustrated player whose team is hopelessly behind with no chance of winning happens to make a good play or win one small skirmish against his opponent and begins to celebrate wildly.  His opponent simply points to the scoreboard and says, “Scoreboard, baby” (or some other word is sometimes used instead of “baby”).  The point is simple: knowing the outcome of the game ahead of time does change things a bit.

That is why words such as Hosea’s (above) had to be encouraging to Israel.  Though a horrible season was coming, it gave them a sense of what would be on the other side.  It is what God does for His people…He gives them hope of what is to come, even in the midst of judgment.  He still does.  The church today has similar promises to which we can cling.  We may go through horrible seasons ourselves (as a church), but we know how the story ends…we know Christ’s church prevails in the end.  “The gates of Hell will not prevail against it.”  That is an important encouragement.

Often, when I am working with a conflicted congregation, I will encounter leaders in the church who are literally wild-eyed and crazy passionate about “defending” the church, or protecting …

Two Quick Lessons for Your Church…from Our Older Brother

Tuesday Re-mix –

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.  Matthew 16:16-17

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”  Matthew 16:22-23

I was the baby in my family.  That means I got to learn from my older sibling’s mistakes (sorry, Sis)…not that there were THAT MANY mistakes there to learn from…but there were a few.  And I did learn from them.  That, it seems to me, is a huge benefit of being the younger brother.

I think of Peter that way…an older brother from whom we can learn.  For me, Peter’s spiritual pilgrimage has always served as a great illustration of the human frailty of the church.  Just like a local body of believers, there are times when Peter got it so very right, and there are times when he got it so very wrong.  Looking at his pilgrimage in Matthew 16 raises for me a couple of important lessons for the church.

1.  Celebrate when we get it right, but don’t get too cocky…we may just get it wrong tomorrow.  My church happens to be one of the really healthy churches in our community right now.  I like that.  It makes me feel good.  Even though people coming from other, less healthy, churches do not constitute “kingdom growth”, I am not going to lie and act like it doesn’t make me feel good.  My …