Thursday, October 30, 2008

Live The Echo

This Sunday I get to preach "Living the Echo" for our youth service. I even got bracelets made to give out to the students. I have spent the last couple of weeks trying to narrow down the thoughts and points of the message. I was really having a hard time trying to find the right words or thoughts to represent each letter of the word "echo". I finally figured it out by looking through my old journals & notebooks from the past 8 years (who would have thought a journal would be that useful?! - note sarcasm). When I finally had it all written down and I stepped back to look at them, I realized something interesting. The four thoughts that I had settled on - the ones that really expressed what echo means - were things that I have been preaching/saying for the past 10ish years. I didn't try to make it work out that way, it just did.

I can see that I'm really not preaching anything new, I just finally have it in a package that makes it clear. I really feel like I have waited my whole life to preach this message - not because it's so great and amazing, but because I have finally brought clarity to the message of my life. I now have a really clear idea of what Mark Sparks is all about. It's not perfect, and it's not complete, but it's a start. It still needs focus, and it still needs tuning, but at least I know what the picture kind of looks like.

This whole process is kind of cool. I started out just trying to fine tune a concept, a message about living a life that inspires a reproducing change in others. I began talking about making an echo that others can follow - and I ended up discovering what my echo is. How cool is God?!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

TV Lessons: Knight Rider

There's one thing that I really like about the 80's - all of the cool TV shows from that era keep being remade or ocntinued. It's probably got a lot to do with the fact that my generation has penetrated the "adult working world" enough, that if we miss something from our childhood, we can just bring it back again. Whether you actually watch the new Knight Rider series or just think it's a waste of time - it's still kinda cool, at least from a nostalgia point of view.

I was watching an episode the other day, and there were things about the main character's (Michael's) past that was causing problems for the missions that he was on. Anytime he was on a mission, trying to be under cover, someone from his past would always show up and interfere with what was going on. This became enough of a problem, that the guys in charge of Knight Industries had to take drastic action to deal with the problems. They decided that they best way to deal with Michael's past was to simply kill him...or at least make it look like they killed him.

They figured the best way to keep his past from causing problems, was to convince the world that Michael had died. Afterall, nobody can hunt you down and interfere with your life if you are technically dead. Near the end of the episode, one of the other characters was talking to Michael and said something to extent of, "How does it feel to be free? Now that your dead, your past can't follow you anymore." (or something close to that).

As I watched this strategy unfold on the TV screen, I realized that God did the same thing with us. Our past kept getting in the way of what God wanted us to be; our debt of sin wouldn't quit following us around and interfering with the life we were trying to live for God. So He came up with a solution, He sent Jesus to die in our place and counted his death to equal our death. Romans 6:6 says, "Our old sinful selves were crucifed with Christ so that sin might lose it's power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin." And Romans 7:6 says, "But now we have been released from the law, for we died with Christ, and we are no longer captive to its power. Now we can really serve God, not in the old way by obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way, by the Spirit." So when Jesus died on the cross, from God's perspective, we died also. That is why Paul can say in Philippians 2:20, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

So the next time that your past, or Satan, or anyone else tries to remind you of all the things you have done wrong - just remember that you are a dead man (or woman) and your past doesn't matter to God anymore. You can live free now.