Being a Man of Steel

I have recently discovered that we find Superman in Psalm 45! Take a look at this:

In your majesty, ride out to victory, defending truth, humility, and justice. Go forth to perform awe-inspiring deeds! (Psalm 45:4)

When I was younger, I remember watching the Adventures of Superman on our black-and-white Motorola television set. I wanted to be just like that “strange visitor from another planet” who fought a “never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way.”

Superman, ironically enough, has much in common with the king who is praised in Psalm 45. This psalm is unusual in that it is addressed, not to God or to the people of Israel, but to the king on the occasion of his wedding (Psalm 45:13-15). In Psalm 45:4, the psalmist urges the king to “ride out to victory, defending truth, humility, and justice.” That’s not exactly “truth, justice, and the American way,” but two out of three ain’t half bad.

When we pray for our leaders, as Scripture urges us to do (1 Timothy 2:2), we should ask God to lead them in the ways of truth, humility, and justice. Yet Psalm 45:4 also provides a model for our behavior in this world. We are also to be people of truth, humility, and justice.

  1. As people of truth, we will speak and live in a way that reflects God and his revelation. In a world of falsehood, in which truth itself is under attack, we will seek the truth in all things, stand for the truth in what we say and do.
  2. As people of humility, we will never speak the truth in a way that is prideful, as if the truth belongs to us. We will always see ourselves as subjects of the King of kings, and offer our lives to him, and to others as servants. We will imitate the humble servanthood of Jesus.
  3. As people of justice, we will treat all people fairly and will work for a world that offers justice for all. We will be especially committed to doing justice for the poor and powerless. Where we have been given authority, in our work, our families, our churches, or our community, we will strive for just systems that reflect the character of God.

When you “ride out” today into the world, defend truth, humility, and justice as God’s servant. How can you express your commitment to truth today? How can you live with humility? How can you seek God’s justice in your part of the world?

[print_link] [email_link]

Related Images:

The Superhero Within You

Couple of weeks ago Skip talked about transformation, metamorphosis, and mentioned the Incredible Hulk. It got me thinking about the awesome power that God has placed inside of every believer. So, I’ll just come right out and ask you point blank…if you could have any superpower, what would it be?

You know you’ve thought about it, because science has proven that everybody has thought about it. I think. And this just might reveal what is really going on in that head of yours! The superpower you choose will probably be an extension of your deepest fears or feelings of insecurity. But then again, mind reading is not my superpower, so what answers come to your mind?

For me? I’ve gone through a whole series of potential choices, starting with the less impressive, to the “whoa, that would be so cool!” Sort of like the X-men world. You know, like, a guy who can actually fly a paper airplane at will, to a girl who might shred the known universe because she’s having a bad hair day.

You’ve see the X-men movies? Cyclops has laser beam vision. Storm could bring on about any sort of weather. Jean Gray could move things with her mind. Rouge could take the life out of you with just a touch. Wolverine had these three metal blades that came out of his hands and could heal his wounds… Magneto could use the power of magnets and steel to bring about the downfall of the known world. That’s right; there are a few X-men that could use their power for evil rather than good.

Anyway, for me, I started with something very simple – Perhaps it was only the power of cheese, but I thought through the usual choices like flying, freezing time, invisibility, flying through frozen time while invisible, but finally ended up with the best choice for me:

My superpower would be the ability to get more superpowers. I thought this was a unique gift until I noticed that the TV program Heroes had a guy who could do just that… and he turned out to be the villain. I think it’s sort of like Aladdin wishing for more wishes in the Genie scenario, only this time it’s allowed. That way I’d never run out of choices!

But we all know, this conversation is sort of like Nacho Libre’s habit of wearing stretchy pants in his room – it’s for fun. In the real world we don’t have superpowers…or do we?

According to the Bible, you don’t have a superpower – but you do have a supernatural ability. It’s not what you think – you won’t be able to see through walls or shoot spider webs from your palms, but you will be able to do things that are beyond your natural abilities that effect things beyond this natural world.

Sound interesting? It should, because it’s one of the coolest parts of being a Christian. When you trusted Christ as your personal Savior, God sent His Holy Spirit to live inside you – and when He ‘moved in’, He brought a unique ability that’s custom designed to be used in great and powerful ways.

Here’s the way the Bible describes what I’m talking about:

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen. (I Peter 4:10-11)

Wow! That’s a lot of amazing information in a short time – so let’s take a closer look.

  1. First, notice that God has given each of us a spiritual gift – not just pastors and ‘super-spiritual’ saints. Every Christian on the planet is sitting on a powder keg of spiritual power just waiting to blow apart the gates of hell.
  2. Second, Peter tells us that when we use our spiritual gifts or abilities, God’s power flows through us to do amazing things. Peter wants you and every Christian to discover that we all have a supernatural ability that can literally change the world for an eternity. When Spirit filled Christians use their Spirit given gifts to the glory of God, lives are changed, souls are saved, and the world is a better place because of your willingness.

We’ve just gone through an evaluation process involving our mission and vision here at King’s Grant. The only way for God to move through this congregation is for all of His children to use the gift He’s given to them, to serve and reach out to others.

We are called to be the stewards of the lives God has given to us. The Bible has a lot to say about stewardship. We are to be good stewards of everything the Owner has given us. If we are truly His hands and feet, then the task of “Bringing all the peoples of the earth to saving faith in Jesus Christ” is to be taken literally, and personally. That is what the Great Commission is all about. God has called many to be obedient goers (missionaries), but He calls all of us to be faithful witnesses, servants and stewards.

Luke records a marvelous story about stewardship, although that’s not what this story is known for. I believe every person here will focus upon one person in this story, a person in whom you can identify. The story is the Good Samaritan, and the story begins with an ordinary guy.

I. The Certain Man – What’s mine is mine, if I can keep it.

Most people might fit into this category, especially in America, as compared to the rest of the world.

  1. People’s possessions – their stuff, upgrades
  2. People’s plans – life goals and dreams, your future, career plans, college (missionary, ministry)
  3. People’s possibilities – their giftedness, talents

II. The Corrupt Men – What’s yours is mine, if I can take it.

Many of us know people with this attitude, maybe not criminals and muggers personally, but with other things like selfish ambition and jealousy. Many people don’t want to work for their own successes, but would rather take things from others, to build themselves up, and their careers.

  1. How often are people out to get something from you?
  2. Your time or money, (people want to use your time and money, rather than their own).
  3. Your homework, information on a test (cheating, stealing, plagiarism)
  4. Your support, commitment, or endorsement…
  5. A lot of things can easily keep you from doing the important things of life.

There is a story that I read many years ago, a short booklet called, “The Tyranny of the Urgent.”

There are a lot of urgent things (perhaps even worthwhile things) that come into our lives each and every day, and then the important things can sometimes get put to the side. Think of all the important things in your live that if you do not do them, they literally will not get done:

  1. Supporting my family and raising my children
  2. Sustaining my quiet time with God.
  3. Setting up my Sunday school lesson
  4. Securing my financial future.

Now think about your giftedness and the work to be done here. Could it be that if you don’t join God in what He is doing, it will not get done? We are the hands and feet of God in this world. God has given us the ministry of reconciliation. If we don’t do it, who will? Is our service to God something that is urgent or is it something that is important?

III. The Clergy Men – What’s yours is yours, and you can keep it.

Many people don’t like getting involved in the lives of other people. At the very least, we feel that we can throw some money at the problem, but not get personally involved. The trick is learning how to discern between the “robbers” and the “religious men.” Perhaps it is not an easy task in these days of scandal. People say, “I just don’t have time to get involved, so I don’t, and expect someone else to do it.”

  1. Perhaps I won’t go work in that downtown mission, with those kinds of people.
  2. Perhaps I won’t befriend that girl in my class because she’s just not cool like me and my friends.
  3. Perhaps I won’t stand up for or help the boy that is bullied by the rest of the guys on my team.
  4. Perhaps I won’t invite my classmate or co-worker to my church because they might think I’m some Bible toting Jesus freak.

But there are some people who want to do more, to get personally involved. They schedule their time for the important things, and can’t wait to see how God can use them for the work of His kingdom.

IV. The Committed Man – What’s mine is yours, if you’ll have it.

Christians all over this city and county desire God’s name to be lifted up, lives touched, families changed forever, men praying openly without fear and leading their families toward commit to Christ and obedience to His Word.

You are here at church. You are the faithful who come to church to learn how to be a better minister of the gospel, to learn something new. I remember hearing Rick Warren of the Saddleback Community Church tell about a time when he was at this conference several years ago, with the pastors of the top 25 largest churches in America. The pastors were all together, and he was invited to speak about the miracle growth at Saddleback. As he spoke, he saw W.A. Criswell, the then pastor of First Dallas, taking notes. It really spoke to him that someone as influential as Criswell would was still interested in learning something new and taking notes! He said it was a humbling experience.

So, it will be an insult to your faith and the God we serve if after hearing a message like this, that we do not ask ourselves the question, “What can I do?”

Look for the superhero deep within you. Find your superhero ability and use it for the service of others. What does your Spidey sense tell you? What can you do for the kingdom of God? Sort of beats shooting spider webs – ya think?

Speaking of Spidey – God is challenging us to be good stewards of the gift he has given to us. At the end of the first Spider-Man movie that should be one of the first things you think about each day: ” Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words: ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ ”

By the time Peter Parker is in the second movie, something changed. He is more interested in a relationship with MJ, and he knows being Spider-Man will forever put her in danger. He figures that if he was no longer Spider-Man, he could follow his personal dream. Let’s look at this brief video that is a perfect picture of God calling us to be good stewards of what He has given to us.

The great part is that discovering and using the superhero inside you, it’s not difficult.

  1. Start with reading what the Bible says about spiritual gifts and praying.
  2. Ask Him to give you a passion for your gift and to open doors where you can use it.
  3. Also, ask your Christian friends, family, pastor, youth leader, etc. what they think your spiritual gift is and how they see you using it.

Your spiritual gifts represent great power – and you have a great responsibility to find out what they are and use them. God is sitting with you right now, with his hand extended, “Take my hand Peter” and those haunting words of Peter Parker fill our thought, and we say to the God of the universe, “No, I’m Spider-Man no more.” How can we casually walk away, and break our Father’s heart and dash His plans for our lives?

So I’ll come right out and ask you point blank again…you definitely have a spiritual gift, so how are you going to use it? The Bible says… “Many gifts, One Spirit.”

Related Images:

We Are Iron Men

People love superheroes, and this season brings back a long awaited sequel, Iron Man 2. This is easily one of the most anticipated sequels of all time, and Tony Stark is back and badder than ever.

Before becoming Iron Man, millionaire playboy/inventor Tony Stark simply cruised casinos, consumed alcohol and amassed sexual conquests as wildly as James Bond. Unlike 007, however, he didn’t stop warlords; he armed them. That is until a missile demonstration ended with Stark’s capture by a murderous Middle Eastern dissident who ordered him to build a weapon of mass destruction. He escaped by using the materials to make tricked-out battle armor. In the process, Stark had the Marvel Comics equivalent of a Damascus Road experience. He repented of his past and pledged to help the very people he’d been hurting, aided by a novel power source and high-tech exoskeleton that conforms to his body Transformers-style.

Something else about Iron Man’s unique origin story makes it special: No radioactive spider bite. No exposure to gamma rays. Stark wasn’t accidentally endowed with new skills. Rather, his heroic journey mirrors an arrogant sinner coming to grips with his own depravity, choosing to change and battle the forces of darkness.

The movie is full of cool gadgets, sarcastic humor, mega-explosions and special effects everywhere. I would just about give my right arm to suit up and dominate evil dudes in Iron Man fashion.

Obviously that is not going to happen, but there is an armored suit available to Christians that in many ways provides the same protection and weaponry, one that lights up the spiritual world like Stark in a village full of terrorists. Here is the description of the conflict we face:

    1. Put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11)
    2. Defending against the powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:11)
    3. The real struggle is spiritual (Ephesians 6:12)

      The war that Paul describes here is not against earthly terrorists, communists, or anything that is flesh and blood. This conflict is in the spiritual realm – and it is not for the weak or the wimpy. Every day the unseen forces of Satan and his army are arrayed against you. They are firing off the missiles of deception, discouragement, temptation, and opposition, so you’ll give up the battle and your calling.

      We need to make sure that we are properly fitted with this suit from the closet of your soul, so let me walk through the steps that Paul gave us:

      1. First, put on the belt of truth – which means speaking/ living truthfully and with integrity (Ephesians 6:12).
      2. Next, position the breastplate of righteousness – which is living in obedience to God’s will and his Word because He has completely forgiven you (Ephesians 6:14).
      3. Don’t forget the boots of readiness – which is a willingness to share the gospel message with anyone, anywhere, anytime (Ephesians 6:15).
      4. Raise up the shield of faith – which is hiding behind the promises of God when Satan sends a onslaught of lies and temptations your way (Ephesians 6:16).
      5. Protect your mind with the helmet of salvation – which is a constant remembrance that the penalty and power of sin is broken in your life, so don’t believe the negative messages from the devil that you are guilty and worthless (Ephesians 6:17).
      6. Finally, be sure and draw the sword of the Spirit – which is God’s Word (Ephesians 6:17).
      7. Along with prayer (Ephesians 6:18), this is your offensive weapon to strike the heart of the enemy with incredible force. So powerful in fact, that this is the result:

      We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5).

      Picture an army of believers who are protected with the very armor of God and armed with His living Word. God uses this mighty force to stop spiritual terrorism and start a revolution for His cause – making disciples who make disciples!

      We are Men of Steel, and we can choose to be Iron Men, choosing to leave the old life behind, and make ourselves battle-ready for the sake of God’s kingdom. Suit up and make a difference.

      [print_link] [email_link]

      Related Images:

      A Model for Christianity

      The other Sunday I was able to give a message on unleashing the superhero inside you, and the main text was from Luke 10:30-37, the parable of the Good Samaritan. I mentioned that each person in the room would identify with one character in the story, perhaps a couple of characters at different points in life. We are to be good stewards of the life that we have been given, so what are these four attitudes that we can have?

      The certain man – “What’s mine is mine if I can keep it.”

      The corrupt men – “What’s yours is mine if I can take it.”

      The clergy men – “What’s your is yours and you can keep it.”

      The committed man – “What’s mine is yours if your have it.”

      Rather than go into the details of these four, I believe that the parable of the Good Samaritan is a great model for living as a Christian, so let’s take a look at him for a moment. It’s a familiar story. Jesus tells this story in response to the question “who is my neighbor?” Here’s the summary of the story. A man is robbed and left by the side of the road. Two people pass him by without helping. Finally the Good Samaritan walks by and is the example to follow in Jesus’ story.

      What if Christians followed this model for being a neighbor to the world around them? What do we need to make such a positive impact on our community?

      Alert eyes (Luke 10:33) – As this man traveled, he saw him. This certain man is going about his daily routine, not on a mission trip or a service project or a church event. His eyes are scanning his surroundings looking for where God is at work and desires to join God in what He is doing. The Samaritan doesn’t have his iPod on tuning out the world and thinking only of himself.

      Compassionate heart (Luke 10:33) – After he saw the man in need, he felt compassion for him. His heart was filled with concern, empathy, and kindness. He was selfless. God was at work before this moment of crisis to prepare the Samaritan’s heart to not be cold and distant, but to be warm and open.

      Quick feet (Luke 10:34) – The Samaritan went to him; his feet took him closer to where there was a need. He didn’t just care from a distance, or send money to help the injured man; he was willing to get close, to take a risk, to interrupt his busy schedule, to go out of his way. He didn’t just say, “I’ll pray for you brother.” His encounter was an up close and personal.

      Active hands (Luke 10:34) – Wounds were bandaged, the injured was brought along with him, and the Samaritan cared for hi. This Samaritan guy was willing to get his hands dirty as he bandaged the wounded man. Can you imagine tending to the wounds of a stranger?

      Focused on others (Luke 10:34) – He put the injured man on his own beast, giving up his contented seat for the sake of the man in need. The Samaritan left his comfort zone. Paul tells us to consider the needs of others more than ourselves (Philippians 2:3-4).

      Giving time (Luke 10:35) – The Bible says “The next day…” This was not simply a brief encounter at one point in time; the Samaritan followed up to make sure the injured man was cared for. He would even follow up on the return trip.

      Generosity (Luke 10:35) – To top it all off, he was generous with his money by paying for the man to stay at the inn, and even for the innkeeper to take care of the injured man.

      That’s Jesus’ definition of a neighbor. What if Christians lived each day with alert eyes, compassionate hearts, quick feet, active hands, focusing on others, giving time with a generous attitude?

      Related Images: