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Today we are continuing our walk through the second missionary journey of the Apostle Paul. Before we study God’s Words, a prayer: O Lord, strengthen us by the truth, your Word is truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see, our ears to hear what you want us to hear and our hearts to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. About Athens
Last we left Paul, he had been in Thessalonica sharing the Gospel and he was run out of the city by a mob of people that had a volatile reaction to the message of Jesus. From there he went to Berea, where the people were of noble character and examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:1-11)
But after Paul was in Berea for a while, Acts 17:13 says: When the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the Word of God at Berea, they went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. They found out where Paul would be preaching. They marched around shouting “Down with Paul.” They held signs that had a picture of Paul’s face with a mustache drawn on it.
In response, the mission team split up. Since the believers and church in Berea were still young in faith, Silas, Timothy, and Luke stayed behind to teach them, meanwhile, Paul, the main guy the crowds were protesting, went to the next city by himself. The next city was called Athens.
A bit about Athens:
Athens had been a key city state in that Greek empire. It was a place for thinkers and movers. It was the birthplace of democracy. It was the home of Plato, Aristotle and many other philosophers. It had been important to Alexander the Great and it was still important under the Roman empire. It was artsy. It was academic. It was scholarly.
It was filled with idols.
While Paul was waiting…in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. (v.16)
Idols in the temples.
Idols on the street corners.
Idols at work.
Idols at home.
Idols at lunch.
Idols at breakfast.
Idols at dinner.
Idols at the local restaurant.
Idols at the museum.
Idols at the sports arena, the fishing harbor and the laundromat.
It almost sounds like Dr. Seuss:
Idols, idols in a box.
Idols, idols with a fox.
Idols, idols here and there.
Idols, idols everywhere!
For Paul, this was strange. Athens was supposed to be a place of wisdom. Yet, here were all these wise people bowing down to worship tiny, stone statues.
So, Paul spoke: He reasoned in the synagogue and in the marketplace. (v.17) He told them about Jesus. He told them about the Savior.
While Paul was there two different groups of people heard him speak:
One group was Epicurean. The Epicureans followed the philosophy of Epicurus who lived from 341-270 B.C. His philosophy was that there was no afterlife. The gods existed but didn’t really care what humans did. They were too busy with the own affairs to care. Their slogan: “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!”
The other group was Stoic. The Stoics followed the philosophy of Zero who lived from 340-265 B.C. He had the perspective that you had to do more than waste your life away. The gods put people here for a reason and that reason was to work. It was the highest form of pleasure to work (and to do so every day). Their slogan was a bit different: “Eat, Drink, and do work, for tomorrow…we do more work.”
These two philosophies were common opponents.
It was blue-collar worker versus free thinking hippie.
It was the constant busyness of Wall Street versus the laid-back jazz of Bourbon Street.
It was “Whatever man” versus “Get to work, man.”
They were common opponents.
But when Paul came to town, these common opponents had a common enemy:
What do you mean there’s more to life than pleasure?
What do you mean there’s more to life than work?
They asked: “What is this babbler trying to say?”…And they took Paul to the Areopagus. (v.19)
The Areopagus was the place for new ideas. It was named after the god of war: “Ares.” His name literally meant: “Hill of the war god.” It was an appropriate name for the place where people would go to battle for their new ideas against some of the brightest minds of the ancient world.
That is the reason that they brought Paul to the Areopagus.
They wanted him to battle for his new idea.
They wanted him to go to war for Jesus.
And Paul did.
II. About the Unknown God
Paul began his sermon:
Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. (v.22)
You have gods for everything.
A god of the sun.
A god for the moon.
A god for the sea; a god for the land.
A god for love; a god for war.
You even have a god for beer!
In fact, as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I…found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. (v.23)
You covered your bases.
Just in case you missed some god, you made him an altar.
Here’s the thing:
What you worship as unknown…
…I am going to proclaim to you… (v.23)
For starters, the Unknown God is not in HUMAN BUILT DWELLINGS.
He doesn’t reside in some epic stone arena.
He doesn’t kick up his feet in some tiny, jewel studded mausoleum.
You won’t find him down on 71st and Elm at a corner apartment with a jacuzzi and a view of the city.
He isn’t like Athena. The goddess for whom you built your city and for whom you built that gigantic Parthenon.
With its impressive columns.
And marble grandeur.
The Unknown God?
He doesn’t need that.
The Unknown God…
He made the world and everything in it does not live in temples built by hands. (v.24)
And he isn’t IN NEED OF SERVICE.
I’ve seen how ya’ll run about.
If things don’t go well for you. Maybe you lost your job.
Here’s what you do:
You go to the marketplace, buy a couple of apples, you run to the temple of Athena and place them on a silver bowl.
Maybe you lost your job because Athena was hungry.
The Unknown God isn’t like that.
He is not some pet that you need to feed.
He doesn’t need to be taken for a walk.
He doesn’t need you to scratch him behind the ears so that he’ll be pleased with you.
The Unknown God is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all people life and breath and everything else. (v.25)
He’s all powerful.
But he isn’t ALOOF.
He’s not like Zeus, King of the gods. He isn’t up on Mount Olympus having a banquet with fine wines and beautiful goddesses, throwing grapes down his throat and afterwards gathering with Ares and Poseidon for a couple of rounds of Wii Bowling.
He doesn’t say: “Eat, drink…I don’t care if you’re passed out in a ditch tomorrow morning.”
Nor does he say: “Work; work…I don’t care if you’re stressed out all week long.”
The Unknown God is not aloof.
Because listen to this:
He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. (v.26)
Did you hear that?
He made you.
He cared about you.
He placed you here.
He placed you now.
He determined your steps to take you to this exact moment.
Because he is not WANTING TO REMAIN UNKNOWN.
That’s why he did this.
That’s why you’re all gathered here in the Areopagus.
God brought you here.
God brought you now.
That you might seek him and perhaps reach out to him and find him, though he is not far from each of us. (v.27)
Finding God is what you want, isn’t it?
You’re here to find God.
It’s why you discuss the latest ideas.
It’s why you reason out the latest thoughts.
It’s why you talk about the latest meditations and popular trends for fasting.
It’s why you have been doing this day after day after day…
All in hopes that you will find God.
That desire to find God? It comes from God.
That mind for finding God? It comes from God.
Do you know what else comes from God?
And pay attention.
Because this message is important.
The Unknown God is NOT PATIENT FOREVER.
For a long time, God has been.
Think about it:
You’ve been worshiping rocks.
You’ve been bowing down to stone.
You’ve been shouting the praises of pieces of paper covered in glitter.
All the while the Lord is the one who created you, made you, sustains you, and nourishes you.
You’re giving thanks to a pet rock?
God has been patient.
He’s hasn’t struck you down yet.
In the past, God has overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. (v.30-31a)
You won’t be judged by some stone.
You won’t be judged by some rock.
You won’t be judged by some imperfect Mount Olympian with questionable morals who’s in a romantic relationship with some half-man, half-horse.
You will be judged by the Universe Creating, Almighty, Eternal, invested in your life, knowing everything about your life, God himself.
He will judge you.
All your sins.
God will judge you.
And he’s got Holy Fire in his eyes.
How do you think you’ll be judged if you’ve been worshiping rocks?
And you want proof?
This is not UNPROVEN.
Because that man that will judge the world for God?
He’s his Son.
He’s a guy named Jesus.
And God has given proof that Jesus will judge.
What kind of proof?
He did the one thing that Zeus couldn’t do.
He did the one thing that Aphrodite couldn’t do.
He did the one thing that your dear Athena couldn’t do.
He did the one thing that you and all your wisdom could never figure out how to do.
He raised Jesus from the dead. (v.31b)
III. WHAT NOW?
And it was right about that time, that the people stopped Paul from speaking. They said, “We’ll have to see more about this some other time.”
They let him go.
They didn’t throw him in prison.
They “tolerated” his message.
But…they didn’t believe it.
Don’t just tolerate the message of Jesus.
(1) Stop Searching
The other day I was down near the capitol building and I hear some music. On the north side near the street was a group of people. They were dressed in full religious garb. They had on jewels and bangles. They were playing tambourines and acoustic guitars. And as they were dancing, they were chanting a phrase: “Hare Krishna.”
Have you heard of it?
It’s a stranger type of religion made popular by John Lennon. The tenet is that the best way to connect with God is through music. Specifically – through playing the music to and chanting the words “Hare Krishna.” Through singing and chanting, you become centered in God. You become one with God. You find God…. (And the Beatles make some money as you buy their album).
Whether it’s musical chant.
Doing good work after good work after good work.
People are in search of God.
And maybe you are, too.
But you know what?
You can stop searching.
God’s right here.
God is Jesus.
That’s one of the reasons the resurrection happened!
It’s like one of those nighttime cyclists who is wearing neon green with flashing lights on his vest. He’s bright. He’s colored. He’s put his outfit together in such a way so that you don’t miss him!
The resurrection is like that.
It’s the Unknown God’s way of saying to you:
Here I am!
Don’t miss me.
I have made myself known.
I am Jesus.
I am your Savior.
I am your Redeemer.
And my message is this:
Repent means “to turn.”
To turn from sin.
To turn to God.
Whether you are a first-time hearer of this message or a long-time listener.
We are sinners who need to hear this message from God.
Turn from that sin.
You know the one I’m talking about.
Turn from that sin.
God knows the one I’m talking about.
Turn from that sin.
God isn’t stone who couldn’t possibly know…
Turn from that sin.
God is the Unknown God who knows you so deeply.
Turn from sin.
And turn to God to be saved.
Because when you turn to the Unknown God…
When you turn to Jesus…
Something else becomes unknown…
God, who KNOWS all of your sins, says your sins are now UNKNOWN, because he KNEW the cross and you KNOW his resurrection from the grave that the God who was formerly UNKNOWN is now KNOWN by you and who says:
I KNOW you.
Last week we investigated the very first church meeting in the history of the church. The main outcome of that meeting was that grace means grace. Jewish believers couldn’t make a theological case for requiring non-Jewish believers to follow Jewish customs. Similarly, we shouldn’t make grace difficult for ourselves or others.
Grace means grace.
When the decision was finalized by all of the leadership, the next step was to make that decision known. Since this is the 1st century A.D., they couldn’t just tweet out their decision.
They needed to hand deliver the decision to the churches.
Paul and Barnabas volunteer to deliver the message. They figure while they’re doing that, they can also visit new places and do some more mission work (Acts 15:35)
So… they head home.
They pack up extra pairs of sandals.
They put on their fanny packs.
And meetup at the church to see if there’s any leftover outreach material that they can take with them.
Unfortunately, that’s where things go wrong.
Barnabas wants to bring along a young man named Mark. Mark had joined them in their first missionary journey, but halfway through, he deserted them.
As a result, Paul doesn’t trust Mark. He doesn’t want any wishy-washy folk on his mission trip. He figures that Mark will just do the same thing and won’t be a valuable partner.
Barnabas is more forgiving.
They part ways.
Which - it isn’t necessarily wrong to disagree.
It’s wrong to be jerks about disagreements.
And I’m sure that’s what the devil wanted to happen so that the message of the Savior never made it out of Antioch again!
But…you can see God’s hand in the midst of the disagreement because now there’s no longer one mission trip, but two.
Barnabas and Mark head to the island of Cyprus.
Paul and a believer named Silas head to the northern countries of Galatia.
The devil loses.
The kingdom is multiplied.
The Gospel is above all else.
The book of Acts focuses in on Paul’s journey. As it does, it introduces us to a young man named Timothy. He is the focus of our sermon today. Before we dive into his story, let us pray: O Lord, strengthen us by the truth; your Word is truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see, our ears to hear what you want us to hear and our hearts to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. Timothy’s Story
Acts 16 says this, “Paul came to…Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek.” (Acts 16:1)
Lystra was one of the cities that Paul visited on his first missionary journey. (Acts 14) If you remember, that’s the place where God worked a miracle through Paul and Barnabas in order to heal a man who had been lame from birth. As a result, many of the people started to worship…Paul and Barnabas. When Paul told them to stop, they tried to murder them by tossing stones at their heads.
Timothy was probably not a part of that.
He was one of the few that believed what Paul said about Jesus being the promised Savior.
In fact, Timothy had a mother who was a believer. He had been raised by his mother to know the promise of the Messiah.
His mother took him to their version of Sunday School.
His mother read him stories about Creation, Noah’s Ark, and the parting of the Red Sea.
He probably did some finger paint art of David defeating the giant goliath.
As he got older, he got involved: ushering, saying hi, making the coffee!
And when Paul came to town teaching that Jesus was the Messiah…
He examined the Old Testament prophecies.
He examined Paul’s teaching about Jesus’ life.
He listened to Paul’s eyewitness account of the Resurrection.
And he changed his faith in the coming Messiah into faith in the Messiah who had just come.
And quickly he became a well-liked leader in the church, even as a young person…
The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. (16:2)
Notice those aren’t just the people in Lystra, but the people in the neighboring church of Iconium as well.
Maybe he attended worship in Iconium when he was on vacation.
Maybe he helped the people of Iconium run a Vacation Bible School.
Maybe he ran a young person’s small group somewhere between the two cities.
Maybe he played church softball where he crushed a few home runs but was Christ-filled and polite while he did so.
Timothy’s faith was evident in all that he did.
Such that Paul wanted to take him along on his journey…(16:3) But the issue was that Timothy wasn’t circumcised.
Now, you might be thinking: Why is this a big deal? Wasn’t the whole point of the Jerusalem meeting that we talked about last week – that Jewish traditions were not a requirement for grace?
Remember – the meeting in Jerusalem had a lot of discussion.
It had a lot of disagreement.
It was challenging for the leaders of the church to accept that their longstanding Jewish traditions weren’t needed.
If the leadership had a hard time with it, what about the average laymen?
It might be similar to you having a bunch of tattoos up and down your arms. One with a big old heart that says “Mom.” You believe in Jesus, but you know that if you head to the local retirement home people might not want to listen to anything you have to say if they see tattoos on your arms.
Rather than have them miss the Gospel of Jesus…you wear a turtleneck.
That’s the same thing Paul is thinking. Rather than have groups of dissenters following and jeering them as “uncircumcised heathen,” Paul said: “Maybe…it’d be wise if…you were circumcised.”
And you know what? Timothy didn’t hesitate.
Even though he didn’t have to, Timothy was willing to be circumcised in order to remove any obstacles to sharing the Gospel.
That’s amazing faith!
That’s a mature faith.
That’s putting the Gospel above all else.
Paul takes Timothy along. As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reach by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers. (16:4-5) Timothy proves himself so mature that he works with Paul throughout the 2nd and 3rd missionary journeys. Paul even trusts him enough to go to Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 3:2), to go Macedonia (Acts 19:22), and to Corinth (1 Corinthians 4:17). Ultimately, it culminates in Timothy being the pastor assigned to the church in Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3)
Talk about impressive.
Timothy is the kind of guy living a faith that any Christian parent would want for their children.
That any believer would want for themselves.
II. Lessons from Timothy
How did Timothy do it?
How did he get to such a strong faith?
Maybe you’re wondering:
What does Timothy have that I don’t have?
There’s no Heirloom Greater than Jesus
Take a look at what Paul wrote to Timothy, many years later when he was that pastor in Ephesus:
I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. (2 Tim. 1:5)
Have you ever seen Antiques Roadshow? It’s probably the best show to come out of PBS since Mister Rogers. It’s a reality show in which people bring their antiques, heirlooms, and collectables to a panel of experts who examine their piece and give them an estimated value of what their item would bring in an auction. Sometimes it’s more than they expect. Sometimes…a lot less.
There was a woman on their recently named Rose. She brought along a painting that had been in her grandmother’s toy room for years. She had always played by it. She had conversed right under it. She had seen that painting in her grandmother’s room for her decades.
When her grandmother died, the family was rummaging through some of her things and came across the painting. Rose said that she would take it because it gave her fond memories of grandma.
She put it up in her attic. She didn’t even hang it up.
But one day as she was cleaning in the attic, she noticed a mosquito on the painting. She swatted at it and as her hand hit the painting she noticed that she could feel the texture of the paint. It wasn’t a copy, but an original. She took it to Antiques roadshow to get it appraised.
How much? Close to $300,000.
Friends: There is no greater heirloom than Jesus.
That’s the heirloom that was passed down in Timothy’s family
From his Grandma Lois
To his mother Eunice.
Friends, you have been given the same heirloom.
Maybe it isn’t from a Grandma Lois or a mother Eunice…
Maybe it’s from an aunt, an uncle, a friend, or a coworker.
Regardless, understand this:
(1) There is no greater heirloom than Jesus.
Because no other heirloom brings peace with God.
No other heirloom brings forgiveness of sins.
No other heirloom wipes out guilt.
No other heirloom defeats evil.
No other heirloom conquers death.
No other heirloom gives eternal life.
Only Jesus can and does.
(2) Fan into Flame
This is a priceless heirloom.
One that needs to be cared for.
That’s the whole point of the next verse: Fan into flame the gift given to you by the laying on of hands. (2 Timothy 1:6)
Do you understand that reference? Air is necessary for a flame to grow. It’s why when you’ve got a pile of charcoal and it appears to be going out, you open up the lid of the grill, blow on the embers and they come back to life. In the past, they even had this big accordion-like thing that would blow air on the fire when you pushed it together. It was a safer option than get your face right next to the glowing hot rocks.
Paul reminds Timothy to keep fanning into flame the gift he’s been given.
And what gift was that? Two scholarly options and both are theologically sound.
First of all, the gift of faith. That’s the gift that we share with Timothy. When you come to faith in Jesus, it’s as if a single flame has been lit in the fireplace of your heart.
But if you don’t feed that flame, if you don’t tend to it.…eventually it goes out.
And, dear brother and sisters, if you don’t fan your faith into flame with the truth of God’s Word, it will fade away.
If you stay away from worship…faith grows dimmer.
If you stop reading your Bible…the flame starts to flicker.
If you drop out of your group study…the flame becomes a lone ember.
If you remove yourself from Jesus…the flame may go out.
When the gentle message of God’s Word comes to your heart again…
When you study God’s Word…
When you get into a Bible group…
When you hear God’s promises of his love.
When you meditate on the truth of his sacrifice.
When you worship and contemplate the words of praise.
That single flame?
Becomes a roaring fire.
A Timothy-like fire.
Stoked and ready to serve in His kingdom.
Want to be like Timothy? Fan that faith flame with God’s Word.
But the gift may also be a reference to the gift of talent. In fact, Paul reference the “Laying on of hands,” which literally means, “laying on hands.” It’s something that the early Apostles did as a way to confer special gifts on members of the church.
Timothy had special gifts! He was a pastor. He was outgoing. He was smart. He was patient. He was gifted with the skills to be a pastor.
You might not have pastor gifts.
But you have some kind of gifts.
Kid care skills.
Flower planting skills.
Whatever skill you have been given…
Recognize it’s a gift from God;
Put it to work in God’s kingdom.
And fan it into flame.
There’s a woman at the retirement home that I serve who loves coloring. Every day I make it there for Bible study; she’s working on coloring pictures. I asked her if she enjoyed doing it and she said that she did. She said that she colors because it’s a way that she can give thanks to God – even if it’s more difficult for her to do much else. And then…she said that she was practicing because she wanted to get better at color choices and shading so that she might give glory to God through her artwork.
Friends, that’s fanning the flame…
For God’s glory.
(3) Be Bold
Because it could be easy to be intimidated by all of this Jesus stuff.
It would easy for Timothy to feel unqualified or inadequate.
To feel uneducated.
To feel nervous, anxious and frightened.
He might be tempted to be timid.
And you might be, too.
But look at what Paul reminds Timothy that is also a reminder to you:
“The Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power…” (2 Timothy 1:7)
The Spirit of God is not timid.
He made flames appear on the heads of his disciples.
The Spirit of God is not timid.
He roared like a tornado without an actual tornado.
The Spirit of God is not timid.
He gave the disciples the ability to speak in languages they have never learned.
The Spirit of God is not timid.
He worked through fishermen, accountants, political activists…and even a young boy like Timothy to spread the message of the Gospel.
And that same Spirit will work through you.
Will be with you.
Will guide you as you serve in his kingdom.
(4) Be Loving
Because if the Spirit were only powerful…well…
Suddenly evangelism isn’t about winning souls.
Suddenly evangelism is about winning…
Maybe you’ve seen this in action.
Christians head to online forums, find a blog, and spending all day trying to give them spiritual complexes with God’s Word in order to prove that I am godlier than they are!
It’s as if we view God’s Word like a chair that we’re slamming onto someone’s head in order to stand over them in superiority.
But God didn’t just give us a spirit of power. He gave us a spirit of love. (2 Timothy 1:7)
He didn’t crush us with God’s law, but crushed sin with the Gospel.
He didn’t dominate sinners, but saved sinners from domination.
He didn’t destroy us for our sins, he destroyed our sins for us.
We do the same.
Empowered by God.
Loved by God.
We speak boldly.
But we speak lovingly.
We remember the goal isn’t “to win,” but “to save souls from eternal hellfire.”
(5) Be Disciplined
That was Paul’s whole point to Timothy. It was his main reason for writing to him.
Even though he was no longer a rookie…
Even though he was now a long-time pastor…
Even though he was a veteran of faith…
Paul’s main directive to Timothy was to be disciplined.
Because God didn’t give us a spirit of timidity…but a spirit…of self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Part of preparation for youth confirmation is memory work.
Memorizing truths about God’s Word.
It may not have always been easy.
It may not have always been fun.
It may not have always been something you looked forward to.
But that’s being disciplined.
That’s taking the truth that God loves you.
And taking it from the page.
Planting it into your brain.
Guiding it into your heart.
When you kids bully you and you feel unloved, you remember: “God so loved the world (me) that he gave his one and only Son (for me) that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
When you feel confused about what path to take in the future, you remember: “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
When you are tempted by friends to do things that you’ll regret for the rest of your life, you remember: “You are light in the Lord. Walk as children of the Light.” (Ephesians 5:8)
When you are in college, alone, as if no one will be there for you: Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus…(2 Timothy 1:8-10)
Do you remember at the beginning we talked about the heirloom of eternity that has been given to you.
We said it goes back to your parents.
Even to your grandparents.
But here…we’re reminded it goes farther.
It goes back to the beginning.
It goes back to before the beginning.
The heirloom of eternity comes from before eternity.
Brothers and sisters…
Cherish that heirloom.
Fan your faith into flame.
Until God confirms your faith eternally and takes you home to heaven. Amen.
Are you significant?
One of the things I like about CNN.com is that as soon as you get to their webpage you are able to see what the most important stories of the day are. They have a "Buzzworthy" bar up in the corner that keeps track of which stories have had the most views.
About three weeks ago is when the chemical warfare attack in Syria happened. I signed on to that site thinking that the talks that ensued and the investigation that followed were significant.
And, to a certain extent, it was. I found it ranked the number two most trending story.
But it wasn't number one. There was lots more web traffic devoted to an entirely different topic.
If you don't know what that is, it's ok. Don't Google it. You're better off not knowing. Just know that a young Miley Cyrus did something that wasn’t so appropriate at an awards show.
It's amazing how our culture defines significance. We have become convinced that significance comes when you have millions of views on your YouTube video, thousands of Facebook friends, and hundreds of Twitter followers.
This is why people film their children biting one another's fingers and dress their cats up like Yankee Doodle! Because they think that these stunts will make them significant?
This is the same reason that reality stars act over the top. For rating and invites back to the All Star version (As if they didn't know that they'd be on an island fending for food when they signed up for Survivor.) It's why pop stars come to music awards shows in dresses made entirely of meat. These are all ways for people to say: "Hey World, I'm significant!"
In this world of self-made stardom, I wonder if we aren't affected. Maybe, you have the idea that unless you develop some sort of talent and get past the first round of America's Got Talent you cannot truly say that you're significant. And maybe, that's a dream of your. Maybe, you long to have your name in 14 point bold print at the bottom of the CNN website highlighting how "You did something significant."
And since you haven't made it yet, then, maybe, you've begun to think of yourself as insignificant. Pathetic. Never going to do anything worthwhile.
If that's the case, may I suggest that we look beyond B -rate daytime TV to discover what really makes someone significant. Let's look to Jesus, a man whose words and work are only growing in significance thousands of years later.
We’re looking at John 13:34-35. And it sure is significant. Jesus calls their attention to what he's about to tell them by saying, "A new command I have for you..."
Perhaps the disciples’ ears perked up. They had devoted years of their life to Jesus and now, maybe, it was going to pay off. Maybe, this was finally the time that he would tell them how they were going to make a difference. How they would overtake the Roman empire. How they would become significant and be Jesus’ secretary of state and treasury in his earthly kingdom.
But Jesus had something entirely different in mind.
He said, "A new command I have for you: love one another as I have loved you."
Do you think the disciples were just a little bit disappointed? No glorious battle. No fanfare. No revelation. Just love one another.
Maybe you're disappointed too. "Is that all there is to being significant? It doesn't take much to impress this Jesus does it? Because if all Jesus wants me to do is to love one another, then, I've done that. Most of the time. So, I guess, I've earned my significance, right?”
There are two letters you aren’t paying attention to. Jesus didn't simply say, "love one another." He also included a little word that changes the scope of what we're talking about. "as" Two letters in English. Two letters in the original Greek. Same concept. "Similar to, the same as, in the same way." It changes the entire scope of what Jesus is asking us to do.
Look at the passage again: "Love one another, as I have loved you."
Do you love your friends and family like Jesus? Consider the following:
1. First off, Jesus' love was never too busy for anyone! He always helped whenever people needed it, even if he was supposed to be doing something else. It's why he stopped to help the bleeding woman as he was heading to help a sick girl—a matter of life and death! It's why, when he went up to a mountain to catch a quick break, he heard a crowd, turned around, and gave his attention to thousands of people who were looking for his help!
Compare Jesus to you. Do you always take the time to show love to others? Do you drop the TV remote to go help your spouse with the groceries? After a long, hard day at work, are you super willing and ready to listen to your friends day at work on the phone? When you are supposed to be at the Day Spa appointment, do you respond to your kids request to "play a game?"
If you have ever been too busy to show love, then you haven't loved like Jesus.
2. One of the reasons Jesus was always ready to help, was that Jesus always thought of other people first! His actions were backed up by his thought process. He thought of helping others before his own safety. He was hungry and he fed others. He was tired and he got up to deal with everyone else's fears.
What about you? When you are filling out your schedule, is it more important for you to block out "HELPING OTHERS" time or "ME" time? When it comes to spending money, do you insist it go towards something for someone else in the family? Or do you think it would be better spent on your hobby? Do you ever help some one out because it's helpful to them? Or because it makes you feel good? Or maybe they'll owe you a favor later?
If you have ever been thinking about yourself, instead of thinking of others, then you haven't loved like Jesus.
3. Finally, consider this: Jesus put others first, that included: his enemies! He healed the daughter of one who was his enemy's friend. He reached out and healed the ear of a soldier who had come to arrest him. Goodness, even when his enemies were nailing him hand and foot to a crosss, Jesus cried out, "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they are doing!"
What about you and your enemies? Are you always nice to them? Maybe, a better question is are you ever nice to them? Do you say nice things about them to your other coworkers? Do you always send them nice emails? Do you always send nice Facebook messages about them? Do you love calling up your estranged brother to see how he's doing?
Not so much? Then, again, you haven't loved like Jesus.
So, show of hands. Who here has loved like Jesus? Who here qualifies as "Significant"?
This is a big deal! Because if we don't qualify as significant in God's eyes. Then, we are insignificant. Worthless.
Why? Because “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) And anything that isn't loving, is worthless to him! Evil. Selfish. Sin. These are the things that are worthless to God. 1 John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
It makes sense too. It's like a dentist being given a tube of toothpaste made entirely out of Hershey’s chocolate syrup. Not only is it worthless for what he has in mind, but it actually works against him!
So it is with God. He hates evil. He hates evil doers. They are worthless to his good plans.
And what do you do with worthless things?
Well, garbage men takes worthless things to the incinerator. They have it burned.
God threatens the same burning destruction to all evildoers.
Do you see the horror of our situation? We are the evil ones. We are the one's whose love is worthless in God's sight. And we are the ones who deserve to be treated as the worthless, insignificant creatures that we are.
We have not loved like Jesus, but thank God Jesus still loved like Jesus.
When you think about Jesus' last days, they don't seem very significant. He was arrested in a garden. He was quickly put on trial without any audience. He was beaten and bloodied till he looked like any other criminal who had been in a brawl. Then, he went to the hill where they killed every other criminal. There, he was nailed to a big piece of wood like every other criminal. There he was spat on. Ridiculed. Mocked. Despised.
Thought of as worthless.
And when he died, I'm sure everyone was convinced that Jesus was exactly that: worthless.
That is, until Sunday morning. Until the soldiers on guard fainted at the sight of an angel. Until a few women discovered an empty tomb. Until one woman--then a man---then a few more--than a large group--- saw Jesus...alive!
Now in my book that doesn''t happen too often. In fact, it never happens. There aren't any resurrections on YouTube. Nor will you find any "I will rise from the dead." Tweets from beyond the grave.
But Jesus did rise from the dead! And it's absolutely significant!
But it's not remotely significant on the CNN radar compared with what happened behind the curtain.
Picture a courtroom. There sits the judge. It’s God Almighty. Eyes of blazing red. His gavel, a lightning bolt. HE hates sin and he hates injustice.
Before him stands the one on trial. Sad. Nervous. Scared before the All Powerful judge.
The Prosecution steps forward. It’s the devil. He smirks, "This person is a sinner! He sold his soul to me. I offered him a chance to be significant in his earthly life and he fell for it! He chose significance. The temporal. The day to day in exchange for spending eternity with me. Now it's time to finish our agreement. God, send this person to hell!”
There's silence. The angels in the courtroom look toward the ground with sadness. The devil smirks, because he thinks he's won. God Almighty in all his wrath lifts his gavel. Soon it will come thundering down with a verdict of "guilty!"
Everyone looks across the courtroom. It's Jesus. Hand raised.
He says, "Don't punish him/her. I'll take the punishment. I'll do it God. I'll suffer hell as long as they don't have to."
And the devil gets incredulous! "Why? This is ludicrous! Why? Why would you do that?" It's what they deserve.”
"Because," Jesus says, "because I love that one."
Think about that. Jesus thought (and still thinks) you are most significant.
Want proof? Jesus came to earth and he suffered for you. He died for you. He rose from the dead for you! You were worth his blood. You were worth his soul. You were worth every awful, terrible moment on that awful, terrible cross.
And now, think about this, even if your name is never in big Hollywood light or on the front page of the CNN website or running around the bottom scroller of WRAL news, your name is written in heaven! It's reserving a spot for you. A spot that's your through faith in Jesus!
Jesus says, “I find you significant. Now, do significant things!? Love one another. Jesus says "because this is how they will know that you are my disciples when you love one another."
Think about that: Jesus wants you to show love, not to gain a better name for yourself, but to share his name with others.
Think about what we've already talked about in this series. : Jesus wants others to share the peace of sins forgiven that you already know. He wants others to share the joy of salvation that you have in your heart. He wants others to hold to the hope of eternal riches that get us through the struggles of the day to day. He wants others to feel love, perfect love. The love of a God who gave his life for you and for me.
So...love one another! It's so significant!
You can almost read the heavenly headlines now: "Mother, gets three children dressed and brings them all to church on Sunday--people are impressed" "Dad, reads a devotion to his family at the dinner table, even though the game was on." "Wife forgives husband." "Husband forgives wife." "Grandma offers to take child to Sunday School." "Man overcomes fear and invites neighbor to Back to Church Sunday!"
Brothers and sisters, these are the things of significance. The day to day. The love. The sharing of Jesus' love for the sake of Jesus' love.
May our prayer be that God guide us to live lives of love for him, because that's significant. Amen.
What do you hope for your kids?
Maybe your hope is that they'll be academically successful. If this is you, then school has become life! Year round school. Summer school. After school school. Weekend school. If this is you, then you even have the unique ability to make fun into school! This is why parents get upset if their three year old isn't reading sentences half way through Preschool. They have already started to look into the best university for your 4th grader. You may have gotten your kids a French tutor at the age of six! I tr
Another common hope for parents is that their kids will be financially stable. That means a lot in this unstable economy. So you work long hard hours. You forget to eat. You forget to drink. All to make sure that you can save up so your kid doesn't have any ridiculous students loans from college. You may even let them stay at home to save on rent.
Maybe, you hope is that they'll take care of finances on their own., Maybe, you hope that your kid will be athletically successful! This is where things get crazy right? Parents say, “My kid needs to have chosen the one sport that he will excel at by the end of 2nd grade. Then, I can sign him up for every sports camp that comes my way! I'll buy him all the latest Nike gear, because then he'll be able to jump higher and move quicker. I'll even get him a personal trainer so that he from a professional. I know costs a lot of money and it's 1 in every 10 million kids that actually make it to the NBA, but my kid's different. He'll be the one to make it."
Jesus' hope for your kids.
They are much different. Jesus had entirely different hopes. In his high priestly prayer, a prayer that he prayer to his Father, a prayer that he prayed out loud for all his disciples to hear, Jesus explained his hope for all people. For us. For your children. In John 17:2-3 he said, “Father the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people,” Why? “That he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.”
Think about how incredible this is! Jesus was about to die. That very night he'd be arrested. The next day he'd be on the cross. And he knew all of this would happen. Yet, the main thing he hopes for in his prayer is not that the pain would be over quickly or that it wouldn't be so intense orthat it wouldn't happen at all.
It was that all people... you...your child might have eternal life.
So...Which hope is better?
Did you know that, according to a recent Deloitte Center for Finances study, only .54 percent of the world's population will become millionaires? And that includes people who save and strive for that until the end of their life!
Did you know that this past year only 7.2% of the 30,000 that applied to Harvard were accepted into the prestigious university!?! That's only those people who applied.
Did you know that out of every 10 million high school, varsity basketball players only 40 will make it to the NBA? Again. Those are only the kids who make the varsity basketball team!
What are the chances of going to heaven? With faith in Jesus, it is 1 in 1. 100% certain. There is no doubt!
This is the first key difference between earthly hopes and heavenly hopes. Hope of eternity in Jesus is certain! Victory is certain. Success over sin is certain. Even a home of heavenly riches is completely and absolutely certain!
And considering who the promises is from, this makes sense! After all, in his prayer Jesus calls God, “the only true God.” That means, this isn't a promise made by Zeus, the made up God of Greek myth. It isn't a promise made by scientists, in an attempt to explain future origins of the universe.
It's a promise made by God. The God as real as the blood stained cross he hung on. The God as real as the graveyard tomb he left behind.
Jesus' hope for our kids is way more certain than our own earthly hopes for our kids.
And think about something else:
JaMarcus Russel and Ryan Leaf were both drafted number one over all in their respective NFL drafts. They both made over $40,000,000.
Neither of them still play. One of them went to jail. The other is bankrupt.
But then again, it doesn't matter if it is money, athleticism, or even smarts. None of these things last forever!
Money can be spent. Athleticism goes away with age. Memory and the mind can be attacked by Alzheimer's and other diseases.
But the hope of eternal life?
That lasts forever.
Think of what it's called after all: eternal life. That means life without end. Life that is outside of time. Life that lasts forever.
And it comes from an eternal God! Another reason why this truth can be trusted. It's not like some out of work gentleman promising to pay you back $1000 that he doesn't have.
This is God. Promising to pay you eternity. Which he invented and controls!
Jesus' hope for our kids is longer lasting than our hopes for our kids.
So...Why do we Focus our Kids on temporary, uncertain Hopes?
Think back to our opening examples: “Yes, I spend all my money and time to make sure my child is academically successful. That way I can get one of those “my child is an honor student” bumper stickers and put it on the back of my vehicle! People will be impressed!"
“Yes, I am doing everything possible to make sure that My kid doesn't have the big money problems that I had growing up. In fact, my hope is that one day he'll make it big and then he can lend old dad some money to take care of himself.”
“Yes, I my life revolves around my child's fledgling sporting career, but I look at it as an investment! One day he'll be famous and I'll be on an ESPN special...interviewed on my commitment to athletics!”
Do you see why our hopes for our children are the way they are? Because our hopes are focused on temporal, uncertain things as well.
It's like a pair of binoculars. If you find a rare bird off in a tree, you keep your eyes on him as you bring your child over. You have to be focused in order to focus them in the right direction. If not, who knows where you are pointing him.
If our focus is on temporary, uncertain earthly hopes for our children, it's because that's where our hopes are focused as well.
And the sad thing is that if we focus our thoughts and hopes on earthly things then we will completely miss out on the only hope that lasts and is completely certain. Instead, we'll be completely uncertain of our eternal future.
But God is certain. He is certain that apart from him there is only eternal pain and misery in hell.
But if your hope is the same as that of Jesus, change your focus.
Jesus explains how eternal life comes about verse 3: “This is how people have eternal life...they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
It's what Jesus said in our Gospel for today from John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.”
Do you see the urgency?
This is why teaching your kids about Jesus is of the utmost importance. Because by teaching them about their Savior, you will be giving them hope. Real hope. Certain hope.
The only Hope that lasts forever.
Take advantage of opportunities for your child to grow in their knowledge about Jesus. Let them experience Jesus as they learn about him in Sunday School. I know that's early. But get up. Bring them to Sunday School. And church! Teach them about the cross up front. Explain what the songs we sing mean. Tell them that Jesus loves them in your family devotions. At your bedtime prayers.
You will be giving them real hope. Hope that lasts forever.
There is no better gift!
When I was in my final year at the Seminary, I made hospital visits to a lady in a mental care facility. One day, as I rode up the secure elevator to the Alzheimer's wing, I heard shouting and screaming. I looked around and warily approached the front desk. I told them whom I was there to see.
“HA!” she replied. “Good luck. She's the one that's screaming. She's locked herself in that room and won't come out.”
I said a prayer.
Then approached anyways. I introduced myself as the intern pastor. I asked if I could read from the Gospel of John. She nodded. I began to read about the Good Shepherd. She quieted down. She listened. I said, “Remember: Jesus is the Good shepherd and you are his sheep. He loves you.”
“He loves me,” she repeated.
We sang “Jesus Loves Me” together.
Brothers and sisters, Jesus offers real hope! Hope that is certain. Hope that lasts. From a child when you first learn about his love all the way to death when you need his love more than ever!
May this certain hope of our certain Savior be with you always. Amen.
The beginning of a new school year isn't a very peaceful time.
For kids, it means new teachers. New friends. A new class schedule. New classes. New people who like them. New people who don't like them.
They think, “Will I know everything I need to know? Will I remember everything I need to remember? If I don't will the kids make fun of me? Will they refuse to be my friend? Will the teachers like me? Will I like my teachers?”
After the first day, they come home, slouch in an easy chair and sigh, “I wish it was still summer vacation.”
But it's not so easy for parents either. “Do I have all the school supplies I need? Do I have enough money for all the school supplies I need? Will I like my child's teacher? Will kids be nice to my child? Will he do well in school? Will I need to help him with homework? Will I remember everything I need to know for my homework? UGH!” With a sigh, the parent slouches into the easy chair next to her child, “I wish it was still summer vacation.”
Whether you are embarking on a new school year or you are in the midst of one, school can be hectic! How will you combat this? How will you defeat the 'busy'-ness of your day to day schedule? How will you find peace amidst the fears that school brings?
Today Jesus says, “Peace be with you.”
Why We Need Peace.
I bet it was supposed to be a pretty peaceful night.
The Passover meal was a time for celebration. A time to eat good food. A time to reflect on God’s love. A time to share with family and friends.
The disciples were prepared for just that. The food was ready. All their friends were their. Their Lord, Jesus Christ was there.
The night was supposed to be peaceful!
But then, Jesus spoke.
He accused Judas of a plot to betray him, causing their friend to leave in a huff. (Jn. 13:26-28) He predicted they would all abandon him. (Mk. 14:27) He told Peter that he would deny even knowing him. (Jn. 13:38) He said that he himself would leave them in only a little while. (Jn. 13::33) He would be killed by their enemies!
Talk about a change in the atmosphere of the night. The tension was palpable. I imagine hearts were beating fast. Sweat was forming on lips. Insides were clenching.
This night wasn’t remotely peaceful!
That’s when Jesus spoke again.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’ (Jn. 14:27)
How is your peace level? Do you ever feel just like those disciples? You want peace. You yearn for peace, but in today’s world, it just seems hard to find.
It’s easy to see why.
When I was growing up I was frightened of the monster under my bed. In my imagination, he had three bigs eyes, two horns, and extra sharp teeth. It’s why I couldn’t go under my bed. My mom figured it was because I didn’t want to clean under it.
Made up imaginary monsters are the least of our children’s worries! Our world is filled with terrors! People shoot one another. People bomb one another. People poison one another. People hate one another. And…it’s real In the airport, you need to have your shoes checked just in case someone is trying to explode the plane with your shoes. You must pass through the metal detector at school. You better be paying attention to your surroundings…whether you are at the mall, a movie theater, or a marathon!
Not to mention how scary our own personal lives can be! The fear of losing a job. The fear of losing a loved one. The fear of a relationship falling to pieces. The fear of no one loving you!
I haven’t even begun to mention the host of scary things that we never even think of! Like the Black Widow under your pillow. Or the copper head out on the playground. Or the devil. That no good rotten scoundrel whose only desire is to muck up your life with sin. Make things a mess. And, in his own disgusting, devious mind, treat you to an eternal life with him in the bowels of hell.
To be frank, this world is not a peaceful place!
Where then, do you turn to find peace?
To be fair there are alot of different places to turn for peace. God has given us a host of blessings. Friends. Chocolate cake. A good book. Peaceful gardens.
But how long does this kind of peace really last?
Consider our options.
First, we might turn to what I’ll call “abstractions.” That is things that aren’t so much real, but possibilities. Phrases like “I’ll be alright.” “It’s for the best” or “I’ll work it out.” These are nothing more than empty platitudes. Is cancer really going to be alright? Try telling that to the person who has gone through 3 years of chemotherapy? Are the angry words of hatred that your boss screamed at you really for the best? Will the terrorist battles really work themselves out?
The truth is: You don’t know that any of these things will happen. You don’t know that life will get better. It may not! If these words are all you have, they are empty!
That kind of peace isn’t real peace at all. It’s as phony as the monster under my bed!
Next, we may turn to neutral distractions. Things that keep us busy so that we don’t dwell on the scary things of this world. Being endlessly busy at work. Picking up a new hobby of wood working. Watching marathons of Iron Chef on the food channel.
But do these things solve the problem? Not at all. Because when work is done. When you’re tired of fishing. When you’ve reached the latest episode of Iron Chef, the scary things in life are still there.
So we turn to even more powerful distractions. Ones that literally alter the chemicals in our brains. The highs produced by drugs. The mind numbing ability of drunkenness. The thrill of “no strings attached” sex. The escape of internet pornography, internet gambling, and internet romances.
These things don’t make life more peaceful either. When the drug wears off. When your immoral partner leaves. When the internet connection goes out, your problems are still there!
Brothers and sisters, we’ve got it all wrong. The world is what is causing our fears in the first place! Why then would we turn to the world to heal our fears!?!
That's like trying to heal a snake bite by injecting a syringe full of venom!
Doesn't make much sense does it? Why turn to what has left us without peace to get peace?
Because the world cannot give us real peace. Not lasting peace. Whether it's sinful or not, it will not give us the peace of a purpose in life, sins forgiven, and the devil defeated!
We need to turn outside of this world.
III. The Right Place to Turn.
It was a dark night. A group of shepherd sat on a hill. Looking up at the stars, perhaps they were filled with wonder. Where is God? Who is God? What does he wants with me? Does he know all the wrong I have done? Does he care about how awful this world is getting? Does he want us to sit around in fear?
Who would’ve known that God would answer any of those questions that night!
From heavens, a supernatural being. An angel glowing with joy. “Do not be afraid. For I bring you good new of great joy that will be for all the people. Today, in the town of David, a savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord!”
Then, this majestic being was joined by a host of other beings. A divine chorus rang out: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth PEACE to men on whom his favor rests.”
Did you hear that? Peace. Peace came to the world that night.
And peace didn’t come in theform of a victorious warrior. He wasn't a witty physician. He wasn't even an exotic dietician.
Peace was a baby.
This is Jesus. He is the Prince of Peace himself. He alone brings peace to a terror filled world. A world where nothing makes sense. Where terror fills of waking moment. He comes. He whispers. “I love you. I am there for you. I went to the cross for you and will never leave you.”
Certainly, he accomplishes this. For he was the one who brought us peace with the Almighty God of holiness. The Lord who hates our sin. Jesus appease him. He died on the cross and appeased God’s holy wrath. Literally, because Jesus died you have peace with God! He solved your problem of sin.
And talk about peace? This means we have peace in knowing that the devil cannot harm us. We have peace in knowing that Jesus is more powerful. We have peace in knowing that our sins will not be counted against us. We have peace in knowing that we will not enter the eternal fires of hell that we deserve, but into the peace filled courts of the prince of peace himself!
Brothers and sisters, think about that peace! There is no terrorist. No bad guy. No monster under the bed. No amount of awful thing on earth that can change this truth: Jesus loves you! He died for you! You are his! He will bring you home to heaven!
Think again about what Jesus said to his disciples, “Peace I leave with you ; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.”
Because Jesus’ peace lasts forever. It does not end at the commercial break. It doesn’t wear off when the substance fades. It is always true.
What Jesus did for you cannot change!
And it deals with things that worldly peace cannot. He gives peace to the guilty conscience by actually, physically, erally suffering and dying on the cross as payment for our sins! He doesn’t just distract us or numb us. He literally takes care of the problem.
And he really, completely defeats that devil! He is of no threat to us now! Turn to him and shout your peace of mind! “I am saved through faith in Jesus!”
Where to Find Peace.
Brothers and sisters, crave this peace for yourselves. Give it to your children.
But where will I find him?
In the verse right before this, Jeuss explains where His peace comes from. He says, “When the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everyting I have said to you.”
In other words. He’ll remind you of the peace you have in me.
He reminded the disciples. The disciples wrote it down. Now through the disciples’ words, the Holy Spirit reminds us. He gives us peace as we learn God’s Word!
So give that gift to your children!
It’s a new school year. There are big changes for them. New teachers. New classes. New classmates. When you combine it with all the other troubles of this world, it can be a scary place.
Give them the gift of peace. Teach them about Jesus. Tell them a Bible story. Read them a devotion.
Need help? Bring your kid to Sunday School. We are starting Sunday School for PreK-Kindergarten, 1st-4th, and 5th-8th grade on September 8th at 9:30am. Don't miss it!
Then, come to Adult Sunday School. We're studying the same lessons so that you will be ready to answer questions your kids might have. We'll also learn practical suggestions for teaching them the lesson and incorporating it into your daily routine for the week.
And...you'll get some peace for yourself!
Sometimes, therapists will talk about your happy place. When the world gets scary, they say find a happy place. You might think about sitting on a beach, sipping a margarita and listening to the Beach Boys. Or maybe you'd think of sitting by your garden in a hammock while reading the latest Debbie MacComber book.
Would you ever consider your happy place to be a dark hill with a blood encrusted wooden cross upon it?
Brothers and sisters, this is our happy place! It is the place where Jesus died. It is the place where our sin was defeated. It was the place where we were guaranteed peace in this life and the next!
Peace not of this world. Otherworldly peace.
Prince of peace --- peace.