Recently we recorded a video based on a question Jesus asked after telling the parable of the Tennants. He asked his enemies if they had ever read the Scriptures. This would have been an insult to them. His purpose was not to insult them, but to challenge them to think more deeply. He quoted Psalm 118:22. “The stone the builder’s rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes.” The message was clear. Jesus was saying, “I am that cornerstone and you are rejecting me.” Take some time and think of all the songs we sing that contain the message of that cornerstone. “Jesus is the Cornerstone. Came for sinners to atone. Though rejected by his own. He became the cornerstone. Rock of Ages, On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand. When I led youth camps, a popular song was contained the line “Jesus is the Rock and He rolls my Blues Away.”
Yes, I like “rock” music. Why don’t you pick up a hymnal or type “hymns about cornerstone” into a search engine. When you are done consider that amazing moment recorded in Matthew 16 when Jesus said “Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” It should be clear that Jesus was talking about himself and the truth that he was the Christ. “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.” For those who are determined to say that the passage means the church was built on Peter check out 1 Peter 2:7-8. Another passage to consider is Ephesians 2:20. Why don’t you do some research and see how often this truth from Psalm 118:22 comes up in Scripture. Then ask yourself “Is Jesus my rock?” All other ground is sinking sand.
Soon Crestview Baptist Church in Georgetown will be stepping out on faith and easing back into services at our building. I have greatly missed seeing our people. I especially miss watching our congregation grow and flourish as it has been doing through the years. However, I have a question. Do I have to go back to business as usual? Could I please take back a deeper appreciation for the purpose and mission of the church? Could I please go back with a greater passion and compassion for the urgency of every opportunity to touch the lives of others? Could I hold on to the discoveries of new ways of doing ministry? Could I carve out of a renewed schedule the kind of time for study and devotions that these days have afforded? These questions just keep rolling out of my mind.
These days have been hard days in which many have lost loved ones. Adding to their grief was the inability to have the kind of funerals and memorials that they desired to have. Fear has changed the way people in general relate with one another. It has caused an awkwardness in our encounters with others that we would love to shake hands with or embrace, but do not want to risk sharing infections unknown. I am more than ready to leave these things and others behind. Somehow I am not sure anything will ever be the same again with all of us. Thankfully Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever. He has to come back. He promised that he would.
The followers of Jesus must have seen his crucifixion as a terrible defeat and the end of their fondest hopes and dreams for the future. Even though Jesus had told them again and again what was coming, their eyes seemed to be so full of the joy and blessing that Jesus was bringing to the world around them that they could not take His message in. At times they even opposed his forecast of suffering. In spite of all this, look at the world changing good that has come from what Jesus did on the cross. From man’s side the cross was an evil act, but from God’s side it was a life changing and world changing victory.
Fast forward to 2020. Most of the people now living have never seen anything like this plague that is causing so much pain and death around the world. The various wars were certainly horrific, but life for many was relatively normal even in those times. It is hard to realize how few people now living even remember World War II as a conscious memory during their lifetime.
This morning I was in a virtual meeting in which I had a dialogue with pastors and Christian leaders. Every one of us said that our people are watching broadcasts on the internet at greater numbers than we typically have in attendance on a given Sunday. I have heard many testimonies of people searching for hope and purpose during these days. Could it be that God is shaking the things that may be shaken in order to push His people toward the unshakable things of our fatih? (Hebrews 12:27) If God grants the revival that many of us have prayed for over the past decades because of this pandemic, then good will come out of evil once again. From the human side, all suffering comes from sin. From God’s side suffering can bring about redemption. One thing is certain. God is in ultimate control.
Throughout my years in ministry I have always said that every Sunday is Resurrection Sunday. Some people fail to realize that even orthodox Jews who chose to follow Jesus in the early years of Christianity changed their day of worship from the Sabbath (Saturday) to Sunday (the first day of the week). Why does this matter? It looks like we will not be allowed to gather on Easter in Georgetown unless something changes dramatically in the Austin area. I would encourage anyone faced with that prospect to realize that the next time we worship together in one place is Resurrection Sunday. It should be met with all of the enthusiasm, joy, and celebration that any Easter might bring. I would also hope that people will flock back to churches and do so with a new sense of the glory of being together in the name and in the presence of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We need a heaven sent revival in our nation. We need that revival more than anything else. While so many are focused on the containment of this virus, I pray they will realize that there is a spiritual plague that has been ravaging our country for a long time. This spiritual infection is pervasive and unavoidable, but there is a glorious cure through the blood of Jesus.
Join me in looking forward to our next opportunity to worship together. Whenever that is, it will be Easter Sunday for me.
You can never be sure who reads these posts, but for those who do I will be back at my desk today. I took a brief break this week. (Though I found myself speaking on Wednesday on line and writing countless emails.) Today I am available by phone and email to anyone who needs the contact. I will be proactive in getting in touch with people. I hope you will join me in a special time of prayer each day focused on the end of this crisis. I hope you will also pray that God will use this time in people’s lives to draw them close to himself.
May I recommend a Scripture reading today from Jeremiah 29: 1-23. This is the prophet Jeremiah’s God given instructions to Israel while in exile in Babylon. Do not fail to notice the faith and hope promoted in the letter. It is a timely word to us as we adjust to strange circumstances. For many of us it is the strangest time of our lives. It makes me think of what it may have been like to be in England when the Nazis were dropping bombs on the United Kingdom during World War II. I know the war was worse, but the forced adjustments are the part that may slightly compare. I personally have never been through a time like this, and I imagine that is true of many who read this. During the war, many people sent their children to rural areas of England to shelter them from the bombings. I have heard similar stories of people scattering to rural areas of Texas and the United States where there are no registered cases of the virus. I surely hope they are not carrying the virus with them as they go. Enough of this. Read the passage in Jeremiah and trust the Lord. Our God is greater than anything that can come against us.