Redesigning your faith

Pastoral Messages | January 22, 2015

Green-and-yellow fan you are or not, the Green Bay Packers lost a tough one last weekend. By any reckoning, they had the game in the bag. Complete domination in the first 30-minutes pushed the salty air from Puget Sound right out of the stadium. Fans started coughing over the smell of cheese. But the Pack was sacked. The final eight minutes turned team exuberance to mud. The “National Conference Champion” caps never left the box behind the bench.

While the Packers are still scratching their heads as to exactly what happened, the Seattle Seahawks are not. At least their quarterback is not. Russell Wilson knows what took place. God arranged the four interceptions he threw in the game – more than half of the seven he threw all season. That’s right. God designed the quarterback’s floundering first half performance so that the Seahawks’ could enjoy the thrill of a fantastic comeback win.

“That’s God setting it up, to make it so dramatic, so rewarding, so special,” Wilson said in the team locker room.

Wilson’s suggestion reminds me of the Bob Mankoff cartoon where an angel with a task list stands in the clouds beside God. The bearded Almighty is seated in a throne with eyes glued to a television, not wanting to be bothered. “I can’t deal with any famines, epidemics, or massacres right now,” God mutters. “I’ve got to help some guy sink a free throw shot.” Plug in “throw four interceptions” for that free throw shot and you have Wilson’s version of faith.

The Seahawks’ victory is causing me to rethink my own faith. I’m wondering if it doesn’t need a new twist. For years now, I have thought my blundering, my insensitivity, and my stupidity in trying to fit too many tasks into too little time were the cause of my showing up five minutes late for too many meetings. Come to find out that God has been arranging my tardiness all along. It’s all about divine favor, you know. In arranging my circumstances, God has allowed my colleagues to enjoy the ecstasy of those occasions when I DO arrive on time.

In other words, God has a plan for all the tardiness in my life. You didn’t know that; but now you do.

Russell Wilson was crying in the locker room after the game. We don’t know if those were tears of joy for surprising himself with incredible turnaround play, or if they were tears of sadness for having thrown God under the bus of his own pride in playing a memorable game.

 

 

Peter W. Marty, senior pastor

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Isaiah 53:4-12

4Surely our griefs He Himself bore,

And our sorrows He carried;

Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,

Smitten of God, and afflicted.

5But He was pierced through for our transgressions,

He was crushed for our iniquities;

The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,

And by His scourging we are healed.

6All of us like sheep have gone astray,

Each of us has turned to his own way;

But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all

To fall on Him.

7He was oppressed and He was afflicted,

Yet He did not open His mouth;

Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,

And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,

So He did not open His mouth.

8By oppression and judgment He was taken away;

And as for His generation, who considered

That He was cut off out of the land of the living

For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

9His grave was assigned with wicked men,

Yet He was with a rich man in His death,

Because He had done no violence,

Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10But the LORD was pleased

To crush Him, putting Him to grief;

If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,

He will see His offspring,

He will prolong His days,

And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

11As a result of the anguish of His soul,

He will see it and be satisfied;

By His knowledge the Righteous One,

My Servant, will justify the many,

As He will bear their iniquities.

12Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,

And He will divide the booty with the strong;

Because He poured out Himself to death,

And was numbered with the transgressors;

Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,

And interceded for the transgressors.

Psalm 91:9-16

9For you have made the LORD, my refuge,

Even the Most High, your dwelling place.

10No evil will befall you,

Nor will any plague come near your tent.

11For He will give His angels charge concerning you,

To guard you in all your ways.

12They will bear you up in their hands,

That you do not strike your foot against a stone.

13You will tread upon the lion and cobra,

The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

14“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;

I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.

15“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and honor him.

16“With a long life I will satisfy him

And let him see My salvation.”

Hebrews 5:1-10

The Perfect High Priest

1For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins;2he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness;3and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself.4And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.

5So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him,

“YOU ARE MY SON,

TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”;

6just as He says also in another passage,

“YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER

ACCORDING TOTHE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.”

7In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.8Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.9And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,10being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Mark 10:35-45

35James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, *came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.”36And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”37They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.”38But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”39They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.40“But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

41Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John.42Calling them to Himself, Jesus *said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.43“But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;44and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.45“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Bartimaeus Receives His Sight