Bulletin - Chris Gannon

Encounters with Jesus

Today is the last day of our four-week study on Encounters with Jesus. I hope you have enjoyed this series as much as I have. As I’ve mentioned, it is impossible to cover in four weeks every encounter Jesus had in the gospels, and there is a good chance that we didn’t talk about one that is your favorite. What is your favorite encounter that Jesus had during his life? Is it oe of the ones we have discussed, or might it be another one?

The shepherds at his birth, Simeon, the teachers in the temple, the demon-possessed man, any of the Apostles, the paralyzed man, the Roman centurion, Jairus (and his daughter), the Pharisees, the crippled woman, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, the crowds. So many to choose. Just writing these down, I’m beginning to wonder if I even included MY favorite encounter! We are so blessed to have these written accounts of Jesus’ life.

The good news is you don’t have to wait on me to preach a sermon about any of the encounters of Jesus. You have the opportunity to open the word of God and study for yourself the amazing, life-changing, world redeeming, ministry of Jesus pretty much any time you want. My encouragement to you is to study some of these and more the encounters of Jesus.

While studying for this series, I have read stories that I have known for years, only to dig a little deeper into them and see all sorts fo deeper realities. I encourage you as well, to go to the gospels with new eyes and ears and see what God shows you in His word. One of the things I try to do as I begin in God’s word is to pray, read the story multiple times, and just let it sit for a day or so. I then start writing everything that stands out to me. Repeat this process. Then find a good commentary or article about that text and see how you might benefit from the collective knowledge of years of study. Then pray again that God would lead you to what you need to see and hear in that text. It’s incredible what you will begin to see and notice, and it’s incredible the way you will start to see God’s story unfolding before your very eyes, and how you have a role to play n the story that is continuing to be written.

“I Love You to the Moon and Back”

I read an article in the New York Times the other day about Neil Armstrong. It was a very interesting article, and it focused a lot on his two boys. The two boys, Mark who was six at the time and Rick who was 12 recalled the evening that Neil Armstrong became the first man to step on the moon. Mark had to go to bed at nine, and his mom woke him up just before his dad stepped on the moon. Rick, being older was able to stay up the entire time and watch it. When Neil returned to earth, he and other astronauts were treated like celebrities. There was a period when they first returned that they had to stay in quarantine for several weeks, to make sure they didn’t catch any sicknesses from the moon. It was during this time that Neil’s boys were able to first talk to him. They said that he didn’t talk too much about the moon. “It was more ‘What had we been doing? Are you helping your mom? Are you mowing the grass?’ All that kind of stuff.” Here is this man who has just made history and helped to change the trajectory of what is humanly possible and when he gets the chance to talk to the people who are the closest to him, he is more interested in being their father than he is about being someone famous.


I loved this story, and parts of it reminded me about our Father God. God comes to us from his place on high and when you indeed consider all that he has done, our day to day issues and concerns might seem inconsequential, or silly. God, being the perfect father, has a love and care for us that surpasses all things. With all that God is doing and all that he has done and will continue to do, his primary concern is for his people. His children.

Chris Gannon


Decisions

My Lipscomb pride has been on a high this past week as the Bisons finally get their first bid into the NCAA Tournament. I remember being at the first game in Allen Arena when we won at the buzzer after a shot from the opposite free throw line. I remember countless Battle of the Boule- vard’s, one being mine and Bekah’s first date. I also remember years of watching us come up short and not make the tournament. So, this year, even though we will probably draw a tough team today, I’m pumped for the Bisons!

All this got me thinking about my decision to go to Lipscomb about 17 years ago. When I was in high school, I only took the ACT one time and only applied to one school. That wasn’t really because of great confidence - it was more a result of me not wanting to spend another Saturday taking a test, and...ok, I was pretty confident I’d get into Lipscomb. Luckily, they did let me in.

I talk to teens now a lot during their senior year about what their plans will be post high school. They typically fall between two extremes. Some stress about this decision endlessly, constantly weighing all the options and trying to decide where will be the right place to go, fearful that if they don’t pick the right one, they will be miserable and the rest of their lives they will live in regret. Others, you might wish, thought a little more about it than they seem to. Talking to them a few months into summer and their response to what they plan to do next is something like, “ahh, I don’t know. Some- thing probably.”

What I try to remind students this time of the year is that this is an important decision and it’s something you should be prayerfully consider- ing. But the most important thing isn’t where you go or what exactly you do. The most important thing is that wherever you go and whatever you do, to be faithful to God.

I was talking with a friend the other night. We were at Lipscomb together at the same time, and we were just talking about the ways that God works. My first year and a half at Lipscomb I nearly transferred. I didn’t have any friends at school and thought about going to a different school that several my friends from high school were at. In the end, I decided to stay and stick it out. The next semester I met a lot of good friends and then this other girl who was way out of my league named Bekah Kinzer. So, it all worked out, and I’m glad I stayed. My friend (really my only friend my first year or so at Lipscomb) left after two years, and we were talking the other night about how if it weren’t for him leaving he never would have met his wife.

It was a reminder that God can make anything work for our good as long as we are faithful to Him with our lives and our decisions. We both ended up doing different things, but God blessed both of us beyond what we ever thought imaginable. So, the biggest question for those contemplat- ing big decisions is not, “Where should I go? What should I do?” etc. It’s instead, “How will I be faithful to God wherever I go?"

 

The Greatest Showman

One of the things you can’t miss when you read through the gospels, especially Luke, is the way that Jesus cared for the disadvantaged and the outcasts. Jesus' message of good news was for all people. In scripture we see Jesus reaching out to, hanging out with and loving those who were sick, the Samari-tans, tax collectors, etc. These, among others, were the outcasts of Jesus’ day, and while most people saw only their sickness, or their title, or their race, Jesus was always able to see beyond that to what was most important. 

I always like a good movie, which means it’s been a bad couple years for me as I just haven’t seen anything lately that was worth seeing. Recently, however, I heard a lot of talk about this movie called, “The Greatest Showman” and how I just HAD to see it. So I did, and wow! What a great movie! Some of you won’t like it - it’s a musical. But there are some elements to that movie that I think people can resonate with and appreciate. The reason I think people have latched on to this movie is that there are parts of it that really echo the greatest story ever told. Without giving too much away, I’ll briefly just say that it tells the story of P.T. Barnum, the man who went from nothing to a worldwide sensation by starting the Circus. The circus features a cast of people who are looked at as freaks and outcasts by the majority of society, however within the circus family they not only belong, they are the stars of the show. 

Jesus offered salvation to all people. Sometimes it came in the form of healing, sometimes in the form of the forgiveness of sins, sometimes in the release from the bondage of money. May we always strive to be just like Jesus in the way that we welcome the outcasts, the sick and the disadvantaged. The good news of Jesus offers us all - regardless of how we come to him - the greatest life imaginable. We get to enjoy this new status together with other brothers and sisters who also know what this joyful life in the kingdom looks like! We don’t call it a circus - we call it church, even though admittedly one can seem like the other at times.