Why You Want an Angry God

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Why You Want an Angry God

God gets angry at the sin of his people Israel. What does this tell us about God?

Transcript: Welcome to the Light of Christ weekly podcast. Light of Christ Anglican Church is located in Georgetown, Texas at MLK and University Avenue. We are a modern expression of the ancient faith. You can learn more about us at lightofchristgeorgetown.org.

Today's sermon soundbite comes from Exodus chapter 32 verses seven through 10. We see here the Lord God becoming angry at the sin of his people. What does it mean for God to be angry? Verse seven, "And the Lord said to Moses, 'Go down for your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, 'These are your gods, Oh Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.' And the Lord said to Moses, 'I have seen this people, and behold it is a stiff necked people. Now, therefore let me alone that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them in order that I may make a great nation of you.'"

So we see God is angry and sin has placed this relational wedge between him and his people. Notice as he's talking about the people, he says, "You go down to ..." He says to Moses, "Go down to your people whom you brought up." There's this distance now. He's like God saying, "I'm not taking responsibility for these people."

Now it's not God who's left them. They have left God. It's not God who has broken the covenant. They have broken the covenant.

Now, I want to make a clarification here. When we talk about God's anger, we need to know that God's anger is not like human anger. Human anger is mostly due to selfishness and lack of control. I'm not getting what I want. I'm not controlling the situation. I get angry and mostly that's because I'm selfish and I can't see that other people can do things other ways. Or maybe they have a voice that needs to be heard. Mostly when I'm angry, it's selfishness.

But God's anger is like our anger by analogy. There's an analogy between God's anger and our anger. There's a way in which they are related, but they're very, very different.

How are they related? Well, anger is God's disposition towards sin. It's God's disposition towards sin. God is perfect, he's pure, he's loving, and sin is incredibly, we don't even understand how incredibly destructive it is. God's disposition towards sin is described as anger.

Now, how was it like human anger? We've talked about how it's unlike human anger. Well, it's like human anger in that it is justified, at times. Sometimes human anger is justified. Have you seen that bumper sticker? It says, "If you aren't angry you haven't been paying attention." Have you seen that one? Well, I would suspect and I don't want to judge the person with this bumper sticker, but I would suspect that some of that anger, as it would with me, comes out of a self-righteous position. Maybe they're paying more attention to what's happening outside of them than what's happening in their own heart. I'm just speaking for myself, I guess.

But there is something true about this. When we see people we love being hurt or we see just the way that people can treat each other, especially the ones we love, anger is the appropriate response. It is. At times human anger is justified. With God it's always justified because who is paying more attention than God? He knows all things.

God's anger, unlike our anger, is always holy, always loving, always self-controlled, and always purposeful. You may say, "Well, I don't want an angry God. I don't like an angry God." Are you sure about that? Would you rather have a God that is just yucking it up in heaven while we languish on earth, who's disconnected from our condition? See, an angry God is a God who cares.

Given that this world is filled with pain and suffering, a God who's connected to it, who cares about it has to be angry. Yet, unlike human anger, I want to say again, God's anger is always a 100% justified.

We might say, "Well, I can't believe in a God like that. I can't believe in a God who would be angry." Well, I really think that that's not the way to go. I mean, it would be like saying, "I can't believe in gravity like that because I don't like what it does," and then try to jump off of a cliff and fly. The question is not what kind of God do I want? As if I'm picking out some sort of ice cream flavor. The question is, “What God is?” What God is? What is he like? That's really the question. That's what the scripture and especially Jesus reveals to us.

Thank you for listening to the Light of Christ podcast. Let us end our time together with a prayer from the book of common prayer. This prayer of penitence can be found on page 549.

Show favor to your people, O Lord, who turn to you in weeping, fasting, and prayer. For you are a merciful God, full of compassion, long-suffering, and abounding in steadfast love. You spare when we deserve punishment, and in your wrath you remember mercy. Spare your people, good Lord, spare us; in the multitude of your mercies, look upon us and forgive us; through the merits and mediation of your blessed Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Will You Hate Your Family?

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Will You Hate Your Family?

Jesus turns to the great crowd that is following him and makes a shocking statement.

Transcript: Welcome to the Light of Christ weekly podcast. Light of Christ Anglican churches located in Georgetown, Texas at MLK and University Avenue. We are a modern expression of the ancient faith. You can learn more about us at lightofchristgeorgetown.org.

Our sermon soundbite today comes from Luke chapter 14 beginning at verse 25. Jesus turns to a great crowd that's following him and makes a startling statement. How should our love for family compare to our love for Jesus Christ?

Starting at verse 25. “Now great crowds accompanied him and he turned and said to them, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you desiring to build a tower does not first sit down and count the cost whether he has enough to complete it. Otherwise when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish all who see it begin to mock him saying, this man began to build and was not able to finish or what King going out to encounter another King in war will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with 10,000 to meet him who comes against him with 20,000 and if not while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”

So therefore any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. This word for renounce means to say goodbye. To say goodbye. It has a continuous sense. He's saying the life of following me is one of continuously saying goodbye to those other loves that are trying to take God from the number one place. It's a life of saying no. Goodbye. I have Jesus as my first love. I love how it's put in The Message, “Simply put, if you're not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people and kiss it goodbye. You can't be my disciple.” That's the cross.

But this way, as difficult as it is, is the path to life. When we renounce trying to find our peace, our joy, and our happiness and all of these created things and instead find it in Christ, who has given himself for us, that's actually when we begin to enjoy the created things that God has made because they're in their proper place now. That's the paradox of it, that this hatred for our family, this renouncing of them as the number one love in our life, actually allows us to truly love them because we're not making them idols anymore. We're not destroying them with our idolatry. We're not throwing them under the bus for our own lusts, but we're loving them because God has loved them.

I think about this during Lent. Isn't it amazing how good chocolate tastes in Lent, right? If you're eating chocolate all the time and you're just fulfilling your lust for chocolate, it loses its taste, doesn't it? You lose the enjoyment of the good creative thing that is chocolate because you've made an idol out of it. So all it does is make you fat. When we put God first, when we say no to chocolate, it's amazing how good chocolate tastes.

That's what it is like with life. When we renounce these other things, God gives us the gift of enjoyment again. This death, this cross paradoxically is the path to life.

So in conclusion, we all are in a great crowd and we're following Jesus and Jesus turns to us and he's asking you, where does your loyalty lie? Where is your heart? Is it with me or is it with your ex? Is it with someone or something else? Will you take up your cross to follow me? Will you say goodbye to those things that are competing with me as your first love? Or will you choose the easy way? Consider the cost I have set before you life and death. Choose life.

Why? Why choose life? Why do this? Because you are following Christ, the one who “said goodbye” and renounced all because of his love for you.

Thank you for listening to the Light of Christ weekly podcast. Let us end our time together with a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer. You can find this prayer, Proper 26, on page 622.

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, as we live among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those things that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Growing Lower

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Growing Lower

How do we grow and progress in the Christian life?

Welcome to the Light of Christ Weekly Podcast. Light of Christ Anglican Church is located in Georgetown, Texas at MLK and University Avenue. We are a modern expression of the ancient faith. You can learn more about us at lightofchristgeorgetown.org.

Our sermon sound bite today is based off of Christ’s teaching in Luke 14 verses, 7 through 11. “Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, when you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person.’ And then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place so that when your host comes, he may say to you, .Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For, everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

God's assessment is that we are sinners. But then, He follows that up with saying, “I love you. You are forgiven.” So He calls us to not say, “Me first!” But He calls us to say, “You first! Others first!” The Christian life, often we think of it as as growing upwards and being more and more Christlike, and that's true. But what's it mean to be more and more Christlike? I love what Saint Benedict says here. He says, “We want to come quickly to the top of that heavenly ascent to which we can only mount by lowliness.” Notice the paradox there. The way that we ascend is by doing what? Descending. Descending. The Christian growth in life is actually a growth downward. There's this paradox here, and it's only in the gospel where we can have a confident humility. Where we can accept what is true about ourselves. That that we do fail. But, at the same time know that we are loved and forgiven by God. And so we have this confidence based upon what God has done for us, yet this humility knowing that we do fail, and fail all the time.

And so, growth in the Christian walk is paradoxically a growth downward. And what of the person that truly confesses what we confess every Sunday? That we've sinned in this way? That we are not better than others? How does that person relate to others? Are they judgemental? Is there pride there? See, humility is fertile ground for love. When we see ourselves as sinners that are saved by the grace of God, by His love, then there is no place for us to say we are better than you. There's no place for us to wrangle to try to get first. There is only space then for love.

And why do we do this? Why do we do this? We do this because Jesus did it. He's our host. He didn't say “Me first.” He said, “You first. Others first.” Who had more right to sit at the best seat at the table than Jesus did? But, he ascended on high by first laying his life down. Although he had all the rights, although unlike us, he was not a sinner, what did he do? He served us all. He served us all on the cross. He took the lowest place. As he was raised up on the cross, he descended into the depth of our sin. He descended into the depth of death itself so that he could invite us into the wedding feast. Because of that, God has exalted him and placed him at the right hand of the Father.

Thank you for listening to the Light of Christ Weekly Podcast. Let us end our time together with a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer. You can find this prayer, The Collect For the Second Sunday of Christmas, on page 601.

Oh God, who wonderfully created and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature, grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity. Your son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit. One God, forever and ever. Amen.

Where Will You Flee for Safety?

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Where Will You Flee for Safety?

In a tumultuous world, where do we find safety?

Transcript: Welcome to the Light of Christ weekly podcast. Light of Christ Anglican Church is located in Georgetown, Texas at MLK and University Avenue. We are a modern expression of the ancient faith. You can learn more about us at lightofchristgeorgetown.org

Our sermon soundbite today comes from Isaiah chapter 28:14-16.

Isaiah confronts the leadership of Jerusalem, who have made a covenant with Egypt, and he strongly exhorts them to instead find their safety on the foundation, the stone that God has laid for them. Starting at verse 14, "Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers, who rule this people in Jerusalem, because you have said, 'We have made a covenant with death and with Sheol, we have an agreement. When the overwhelming whip passes through, it will not come to us. For we have made lies a refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter.' Therefore, thus says the Lord God, 'Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone. A tested stone, a precious cornerstone of a sure foundation. Whoever believes will not be in haste.'"

How does this apply to us? I think we live in tempestuous times. We live in a time where there's a lot that's changing. There's a lot of, I sense, fear and anxiety. Would you agree with me on that? There's just a lot of fear and anxiety.

We need to ask the question, where will we go? Where will we flee for safety? What is it that people are fearing? I talk to people all the time. I know people fear illness. Death. Loss of power. The American empire is beginning to collapse. There seems to be a diminishing of the church in our culture. The family is disintegrating. The Amazon forest is burning and that's only one of many environmental disasters.

There seems more and more, just a pressure for people to forsake the way of Jesus. This can create fear and anxiety. As a church, brothers and sisters, where will flee for safety? Will we ally ourselves with spiritual Egypt? Will we covenant with death? Will we flee to those old patterns of living in order to find safety? What does that look like? What am I talking about?

It could be a sin like alcoholism or drugs or sex addiction. It could be reactionary. Reactionary politics, looking for a political figure to save us. It could look like reactionary religion, even. Tribalism. It could look like giving up Jesus Christ entirely.

These covenants are covenants with death, and they lead to destruction. Isaiah gives us a better way. He asks us, will you flee to Jesus? He is the foundation of the city that God is building. The crucified and risen Christ is the one place in this world of change, where we can find the unchangeable, immovable God. The one that builds his house on the rock will never be moved.

I'd like to end. I'd like to end first with a personal story and then, I'd like to read Psalm 46, that we chanted. In my soul, I've been deeply disturbed this last week, at just various things happening in the world. I felt that anxiety. It's amazing when I go to the scripture a lot of times, that I'm preparing to preach, how often that scripture is perfect for where I'm at in my life. God is in control!

In all of the fear and anxiety, I asked myself, where do I flee for safety in all of this? The Holy Spirit prompted me. He said, "Look, go back. Get in touch again with your first love, Jesus. He is the cornerstone. Forget about all this stuff that's happening for a moment and turn your eyes on Jesus. Read the gospels, read his words, fall in love again with God revealed through Jesus. He is the refuge where you're safe.”

Psalm 46. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

"There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God. The Holy habitation of the most high. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved. God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter. He utters his voice. The earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our fortress."

Thank you for listening to the Light of Christ weekly podcast. Let us end our time together with a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer. You can find the Collect for Peace on page 23.

"O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom. Defend us, your humble servants in all assaults of our enemies, that we, surely trusting in your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Morning Meditation: Actors

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Morning Meditation: Actors

During his ministry, Jesus calls people hypocrites.

Transcript: Welcome to the Light of Christ weekly podcast. Light of Christ Anglican Church is located in Georgetown, Texas, at MLK and University Avenue. We are a modern expression of the ancient faith. You can learn more about us at lightofchristgeorgetown.org.

Our morning meditation comes from the first part of Matthew 7:5, where Jesus says, "You hypocrite." Jesus often refers to people as hypocrites in his teachings. What does the word hypocrite mean? Hypocrite literally means actor. When we think of an actor, what are they good at doing? A good actor is excellent at playing different personas. In other words, he's good at putting on different masks. He's able to act like a sailor navigating the sea in one movie. In the next movie, he's a baseball player, or he's a a politician. An actor is able to be a person that he isn't. He's able to wear a mask, to wear a persona, literally in Latin, “mask.” Hypocrite in Greek means “actor,” so Jesus calls people actors. He calls us actors. What does he mean when he's saying that?

When we think of actors or hypocrites, often when I think of hypocrite, I think of people who are putting on a persona, who are acting for others. They want others to think about them in a certain way. They want to put on a certain front, a certain veneer, and in doing so, they want people to think more highly of them, more highly than is warranted. They want to hide those aspects of themselves that they deem to be less than or weak.

What's more serious than being a hypocrite to our neighbor, is being a hypocrite towards God! You see, we try to wear our mask before God. We try to be an actor in front of God. Now, it's really ironic because God knows all things. He can easily see behind any mask. Yet we do this. Why do we act as we come before God? We come before God, not willing to bare our true selves, not willing to tell God or to show God how broken we really are and how sinful we really are, how scared we really are, but we try to put on this religious persona.

Why do we do that? It's because we're hiding. We're afraid to feel the shame that comes with God's light shining on the dirt and muck in our heart. Think of Adam and Eve in the garden, hiding from God. Shame is one of the most powerful and painful of emotions. When we come into the light, when we confess our sin, when we confess the reality of how we feel and all of the ugliness that it contains, when we feel that shame, it feels like a death. In the light of God, we also experienced his love. We experience the truth of 1 Timothy 1:15, where Paul says, "This is a worthy saying, deserving of full acceptance, that Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst." When we take off the mask, yes we experience the shame of our sins being revealed, but in that same moment, we experience the freedom from shame and guilt that God's love brings because love swallows guilt. The love that Jesus Christ shows us on the cross washes away all of our sin.

Let's not be hypocrites. Let's not be actors putting on a mask when we come to church, putting on a mask, when we come to God in prayer. Let's be our true selves and allow God to cleanse us and make us new.

Thank you for listening to the Light of Christ weekly podcast. Let us end our time together with a prayer from the book of Common Prayer. This prayer for preparation for personal prayer, can be found on page 675.

"Holy spirit, breath of God and fire of love, I cannot pray without your aid: Kindle in me the fire of your love and illumine me with your light; that with a steadfast will and holy thoughts I may approach the Father in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who reigns with you and the father in eternal union. Amen."