Monday, June 25, 2012

You are on a mission from God! Part 1

All Christians are on a mission whether you know it or not. During this next sermon series we will be exploring what this means, why we should accept this mission, and how we are to be missional people.

For this week, I want us all to begin thinking about the biblical mandate given to all Christians by Jesus. After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples, "... When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Being missional seems like a daunting task because when we think of the word "mission" in the Christian sense of the word and we think we have to go to Africa to follow God's call on our life. For some people, this is their mission, but for most of us it's not. 

Part of learning to be missional is figuring out what God is calling you, personally, to do for Him in this world. 

God will give you mission, but you have to be open to hearing and accepting it.

This week, pray that you will be open to God's voice and direction in your life.

Chesney Szaniszlo


Monday, June 18, 2012

Wired - Abraham, the father of many

Abraham was that famous Biblical figure who was the father of the nation of Israel. Do you remember the song, "Father Abraham had many sons. Many sons had Father Abraham. I am one of them and so are you...." ? Every time I hear the name "Abraham", that song starts up in my head and I have a terrible time getting it out!

Abraham did all sorts of things and had all sorts of adventures with God and his family but is probably most famous for being willing to sacrifice his only son Isaac at God's request. Isaac, was the long awaited child of the promise - the only child born to Abraham and his wife, Sarah. When God tests Abraham's faith by telling him to take his only son to the top of the mountain and sacrifice him as an offering, Abraham does so. At the last minute, the angel of God stays Abraham's hand and God provides a ram in the thicket as an alternate sacrifice.

It is an interesting dilemma - following God faithfully to the point of obeying an order that goes against everything you know about God. Or refusing to follow God because you don't understand where He is taking you. Yet when Abraham followed this horrible command, God was faithful to Abraham, just as Abraham had been faithful to God.

What does it mean to be a "good" Dad? No one is perfect and no one can get it right all the time. Dad's (and Mom's) are going to mess up. But if God is put first in your life, the rest will follow. If you are faithful to God, following His commands and asking for wisdom from Him, God will be faithful to you and your family.The promises of God might take longer than you would like to come to fruition, just as Abraham and Sarah waited years and years for the son God had promised them, but God will always be faithful.

Chesney Szaniszlo


Monday, June 11, 2012

Wired! Are you a David?

Are you the person who loves to have liturgical dance incorporated into worship? Is going to a museum or a concert a spiritual experience for you?

Do you feel God's presence and direction most clearly in your life when you are writing, painting or singing?

If so, you are wired like King David in the Old Testament. We can thank David for the book of Psalms. Poems and songs written to God which cover the gamut of human experience and emotion: joy, sorrow, life, death, shame/confession and thankfulness. David was no stranger to strong emotions and he wrote out his prayers to God in song.

Most people who are wired like David are going to be passionate. They will have very strong emotions and give their actions 110% - no matter what the consequence of those actions might be.

If you are like King David, you might need to recognize that you can be a little dramatic and over-reactive. This is not necessarily bad - it just is. Recognizing these characteristics can, however, help you in dealing with others who are not wired to be as passionate as yourself.

In order to really connect with God, it is important for you to set time aside to be creative. Whatever medium you choose (art, song, dance, writing, etc) it is important for you to have this way to communicate your feelings to God.

Chesney Szaniszlo

 I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.  Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit. -Psalm 30:1-3


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wired - Are you a 'Solomon'?

Solomon was a doer, an Achiever with a capital 'A'. It was his greatest strength and his greatest weakness.

When Solomon was given the opportunity to receive something from God, he asked for wisdom- something that pleased God very much. Solomon used the gift of wisdom to increase his own and Israel's power, wealth, and authority. This was great, until all of his success led him to put the things of this world - power, wealth, and prestige - above the things of God.

Solomon did great earthly things during his life but came to a sad end because he had lost his focus on God. It wasn't until he found himself humbled and broken that he realized his error. If you read through Ecclesiastes or Proverbs (books he wrote with an eye on God) you can see the gift of wisdom that he received from God. You can also see the influence of his own life and the mistakes he made in the advice and wisdom he recorded.

If you are achievement oriented, if you like to 'build' things (whether it be programs, businesses, or actual edifices), then you need to be mindful of not putting your earthly achievements before your relationship the God. People who are achievement oriented often lose sight of the eternal in favor of the immediate gratification of the temporal.

One thing you can do to combat this focus on worldly achievement is to have a person in your life who you are willing to be honest with and receive honest feedback from.  A second thing you can do is to keep your spiritual connection to God. Making time to pray, read scripture, and simply acknowledge yourself that the success in your life belongs to God and not you are crucial.

Our pride often separates us from God with very little action on our part. It is so subtle, we don't necessarily notice it happening. Our world places so much emphasis on success that it very easily replaces God in our lives and becomes its own god that we chase after.

Being an "achiever" or a "builder" is not a negative thing unless you forget who made you that way. If you have this tendency, remaining humble and giving God glory for your success is the best (not easy) way to remain in close connection to God.

Chesney Szaniszlo

"For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright,  he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path.
Thus you will walk in the ways of the just and keep to the paths of the righteous... For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it;
 but the wicked will be cut off from the land, nd the unfaithful will be torn from it."
- Proverbs 2:6-9; 20-22