Sunday, September 28, 2008

Having the Mind of Christ

The sun emerged from an overcast weekend to make brilliant the beautiful maples and other trees that line our rural roads, especially colorful in our Northland autumns. We had a guest minister this morning, so the initial portion of the service was conducted by Chuck Vanderscheuren who welcomed us warmly and shared announcements.

1. Adventure Club will begin this Wednesday night, 5:30 – 7:00. All kids welcome for fun, food, and fellowship.
2. Building Committee will meet Tuesday evening.
3. Women: be sure to fill out the survey in the back of the church pertaining to women’s Bible study. If you have additional questions, contact Joanne Winship.

Following a brief introit by Darlene, the quartet led us into worship with singing.

Today’s Scripture Readings
Exodus 17:1-7
Philippians 2:1-3

During our praise and prayer time it was apparent that there are some real needs and hurts among us and much to pray for. We are grateful to have a God who hears and is not indifferent to our pain.

Having the Mind of Christ
Our guest speaker this week was the Rev. Ben Larson who began by expressing his being grateful to be here. In 2008 he has held issues that kept him from the pulpit and even this week he was uncertain as to whether he’s be able to join us, noting that for fifty years he has had difficulties caused by a disease called French polio.

He opened his remarks with an anecdote told by T. Boone Pickens this past Monday at the National Press Club. The billionaire oil man was addressing wind power and alternate energy issues, but during the Q & A was asked what he thought about the presidential race. He replied by telling a story about ninety year old man who had recently been honored in his own community. Some one commented to the old man, “You must have seen a lot of changes these past ninety years,” to which the old man abruptly replied, “Yes, and I was against all of them.”

The text for today’s message was taken from Philippians 2, specifically verse 5 where Paul writes, “Let this mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…”

It is interesting to note that God has a mind, and that we, being made in God’s image, have a mind, the mind of the Son of God.

In one place Scripture notes that God searches the minds and hearts of all. In Romans 12 Paul admonished us to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Today’s message, therefore, was an outline of what it means to have the mind of Christ.

A Mind of Love
Rev. Larson shared how there was a black velvet banner with gold letters on it in the church where he grew up. The letters spelled out the verse in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His son…”

“I didn’t always love God,” Rev. Larson noted as he told us the story of how he came to encounter God during a Bible camp. He said it was there that he learned that the many of the stupid things he had done were sin, and when he couldn’t sleep one night he went out and prayed. There were no lightning flashes, but there was a blanket of peace that came over him.

He shared, too, his brother’s testimony, how he came to find salvation while a sailor. God loves us and pursues us.

A Mind of Wisdom
Wisdom comes from having the mind of Christ.

Rev. Larson told an anecdote about an African American minister he once knew names S.M. Lockridge. Rev. Lockridge said to him, “When you get angry, you get red. And when you are scared, you get yellow. When you are cold you turn blue. So how is it that you call us colored?”

Lockridge offered this practical advice regarding wisdom. “Get some learning so people don’t look down on you. Then get more learning so you don’t look down on others.”

God emptied Himself of his deity. He didn’t come to be served, but to serve others.

The Cross is follishness to the Greeks, Paul said, and a stumbling block to the Jews. But it’s central in our faith because it reveals the wisdom of God.

A Mind of Compelling Strength
The letter to the Philippians was written while Paul was imprisoned in Rom. “Have this mind in you…” he wrote. There are actually two meanings for this word in the New Testament. In this instance it encompasses both: intellect and knowledge.

Paul had spent time with the Philippian church (as well as time in the Philippian jail) and had a deep love for this church. He had evidently gotten word that there was trouble there between two women in the church and he appeals to them to work out their differences. Small things can get under our skin and fester, becoming big things.

The Holy Spirit was given to be our comforter and our strength, as well as our coach.

“I’d rather attempt something great and fail than to do nothing and succeed,” Norman Vincent Peale once said.

Jesus said, “I lay down my life…”

The Mind of Glory
It is a mind that understands glory, that understands God and His orientation. It’s a wonderful mind. It is not by imitating Him that we obtain this, but by yielding to Him who dwells within us.

He then told a story about Aunt Selma. Aunt Selma was a dear Christian woman who loved everyone. She was wise, and never condemned. Everyone loved her. She knew what was right and lived it. One day, she asked the pastor to come over, and after visiting a little said she wanted to discuss her funeral arrangements with him. She said when she was in her coffin she wanted a Bible in her left hand and a fork in her right.

The pastor understood the Bible in one hand, but was confused by the request to have a fork in the other. She explained. “At church dinners as they clear the tables after you’ve eaten, they sometimes say keep your fork. When they say ‘keep your fork’ then I always know the best is yet to come.”

So it is that when we have the mind of Christ, we know… the best is yet to come.

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