Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bethany Bullet - January 11, 2011

Do you remember the old Saturday Night Live sketch entitled, “Land Shark?” It went a little like this, someone was reading on the couch when the door bell rang. “Who is it?” Then, a muffled response from the outside the door was heard “Candy-gram.” “Do they send those anymore?” “Ahh…” you would hear the muffled voice offer followed by, “Pizza-man.” “I didn’t order a pizza.” “Special delivery” the voice would then reply. “You’re the Land Shark” the resident would assert. “No, I’m a harmless dolphin.” the muffled voice would assure the nervous resident. “Oh, I love dolphins!” Of course, we all knew what was coming; the door would fling open wide and the “Land Shark” would devour its prey.

You didn’t need to see what was on the other side of the door to know it was a danger. How often have we opened the door to that which we know intends us harm because we have allowed ourselves to be fooled into thinking it is ok? Rage shows up asking for admission and we give him a space on the couch then let him spew, vent, and rant. Get Even wants to mull things over and we pull up a chair; consider his words and allow his plans and plots to unfold in our minds. Pity wants to have a party so we show her the kitchen, show her the liquor cabinet, and join her lament.

Immediately following their victory in this year’s Rose Bowl the TCU quarterback had “I told you so!” ringing on the bell of his heart.

Please view this video…Click on the YOUTUBE video link (or copy/paste it to your browser):


The reporter mentioned how they had not been given much respect as a non-AQ (automatic qualifier). Of course, many thought they didn’t belong in a BCS game at all and just as many thought that Wisconsin would wipe them out. Do you hear what is ringing the bell of his heart? Listen again. Is it “I told you so?” Here it was his chance to cast aspersions. They just went undefeated; his chance to rub it in BCS faces, “Who says non-AQ teams aren’t as good as major conference ones?” It was his chance to elevate himself, “Well, I played great. I really took charge. I made all the difference.” Know what I heard instead? I heard a young man who was practicing the art of managing the heart.

Jesus was a man whose perpetual practice was to manage His heart whether on the big stage or in private, before thousands or just one: ALL the time - EVERY time.

Matthew is the reporter, but John the Baptist does the interview.

Please view this video…Click on the YOUTUBE video link (or copy/paste it to your browser):


Did you hear it, it was knocking quite clear: Power, Pride, & Position – the ‘trifecta’ of temptation if you will, attempted to enter Jesus’ heart.

“Lord,” John the Baptist said, “I need to be baptized by you. Why are you coming to me?” What do you suppose the response of the unmanaged heart would be? “Bingo! At least you recognize what’s going on, who I am, what I deserve, why isn’t everyone else lining up and bowing before me?” Yet, Jesus responded with a purity of purpose that flowed from a purity of heart, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”

Jesus managed His heart. Over and over again we hear knocking on the door of Jesus’ heart that which would detour Him from His calling. Rightful Recognition and Rule in the crowd wanting to make Him King; Loop Hole and Easy Way Out in the voice of Peter; It’s About Time in the offer of the crowd before the cross. Each and every time Jesus managed His heart.

Our hearts, unlike Jesus’ are by nature impure. Cholesterol is not the greatest threat that fills our hearts. Sin is! Our hearts are loaded with it, sinful guilt that is! So, Jesus managed His heart in purity that He might redeem your heart and mine.

Your heart is PURE because Christ is PURE! When you were Baptized, Jesus made your heart His home and He moved in with purity! Greed, lust, arrogance, and pride each was drowned in the waters of Baptism and each was given its eviction notice. Now you are pure as He is pure. The problem is that those very things which were drowned keep rising to the surface don’t they? And like the Land Shark in the Saturday Night Live sketch, those very things evicted keep ringing the door bell trying to gain admission to our hearts once more, don’t they?

The solution is found in Baptism. In Baptism comes an eternity of forgiveness and grace. Through it we have been declared to be the children of God with whom He is well pleased, those who are pure in heart, even Christ pure. Baptism also comes with a daily dose of equipping power to be who God has declared you to be.

Make no mistake, we will never be ‘actively’ pure this side of eternity – sin will always be a part of us and temptation will always be just that to us – tempting. Yet, eternity sees us already as those that are pure. We’ve been declared so, through faith in Christ and the gift of Baptism – so in response to that gift – we will be who we are. How ought we to start? We should start by managing our hearts through the gift of Baptism, by seeking the daily dose of the Spirit’s guidance and power that came therein.

What might that look like? Perhaps like this: We just finished Christmas and church was packed service after service. Should Apathy knock on the door of your heart calling itself Common Sense saying things like, “Obviously, there is no need to share the Good News of Jesus? Apparently everyone knows it because over Christmas you couldn’t find a good place to park and there were strangers in your pew. So why go through the trouble of inviting someone to church?” If such comes knocking on the door of your heart, shut the door! Manage your heart and don’t let Christmastime familiarity of our community detour your witness to Christ; SHARE INTENTIONALLY.

Sunday night we burned our congregational mortgage. Now if Greed, comes in the name of You’ve Done Your Share, or Eat, Sleep, & Be Merry, or Your Stuff Is Your Stuff comes ringing the bell of your heart saying, “The church doesn’t need as much of your stuff as it use to. Slow down on the giving thing and re-allocate to your fund, to a fun account.” Manage your heart. Don’t let need determine your offering, rather GIVE PROPORTIONATELY. After all “first fruits” means first fruits whether the collective bushel is at the bottom or to the brim.
When a “Land Shark” comes ringing on the door of your heart, how might the Bethany Blueprint be a daily dose of Baptismal power that helps you manage your heart?

Our Bethany Blueprint:

Worshiping Faithfully
Regularly Gathering Around Word and Sacrament
Acts 2:42 & 46, Hebrews 10:25

Forming Spiritually
Continually Developing in Discipleship
Colossians 1:10-14, 2 Peter 3:18

Serving Passionately
Using God-given Gifts in Church & Community
Ephesians 2:10, Romans 12:1 & 6-8

Giving Proportionately
Returning a First Fruit Portion of Material Wealth
Luke 21:1-4, Genesis 14:18-21

Sharing Intentionally
Letting Others Know Their Story and the LORD’s
Matthew 28:19-20, 1 Peter 3:15

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer


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