“This is the story of Star Wars”

I remember as a kid I would hear that line every time I pulled out the Star Wars Book and Record set. This calm voice would begin reading the main plot points while I slavishly turned the pages. To this day, I still remember dialogue from that book before I think of the actual dialogue from the movie (of which I now own several editions). I still have that book and record, somewhere, but the story of Star Wars has been fully revealed with the latest chapter, Episode 3, Revenge of the Sith.

You might know, unless you live under a rock somewhere, that George Lucas has finished his six-part epic. Viewers of Episode 3 usually come away with one of two reactions: either they loved it, or they come away feeling dirty. What I mean is, watching Star Wars III is like watching the Passion of the Christ, or Titanic. You know how it’s going to end, and it won’t be good for the hero. It is the story of Anakin Skywalker’s “temptation and fall [, which should be] of special interest to Christians,”1 because there are many parallels between Anakin and ourselves, that we have more in common with Darth Vader than Luke Skywalker.

This is what the story of Star Wars truly is. It is a story about the Fall and Redemption. It is a story that says, regardless of how evil you have become, or how lost you believe you are, or if you think that you’ve done too much to deserve grace and forgiveness, remember this, “There is still good in you.” There is still that spark of divinity from our Creator that offers hope. In Star Wars, it is the son that brings the father from the dark side, and back to the light side. For us, it is the Son, and obedience to Him, that will bring us to the light and into eternity.

The Bible describes this in simple terms: “Whoever has the Son has life.” (1 John 5:12) Does it sound too easy? Well, it actually is. Christ went to great lengths (the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection) to make it easy for you to come to Him. He doesn’t demand great sacrifices or powerful deeds, or even a life cleaned up. All he asks for is you. He wants you just as you are. Let Him worry about cleaning up the mess. “The Spirit and the Bride [His Church] say come. … Even so, come Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:17, 20)

But note one more lesson we learn from Star Wars. Darth Vader could not merely believe he was changed, and let that be enough. His belief required action. You cannot change your heart and ignore the rest of your life. Vader took the source of his evil, the Emperor, and cast him into the depths of the Death Star, eliminating the source of evil and deception in his life. Then he embraced his son, honestly and truthfully. “Let me look on you with my own eyes.”

Belief in Jesus also requires action. Though it costs nothing to believe, it costs everything to follow that belief with life-changing attitude. Though we come to Christ dirty, He makes us clean. No more can we wallow in the mud. But He helps us make those changes that make us disciples. He helps us grow. Like Vader, our change is made evident, not merely by our mental agreement, but by working to eliminate the evil in our lives, and casting them in God’s sea of forgiveness.

The Bible describes it this way: “Repent [that is, cast off your sins and your desires to do them] and be immersed, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit [who will help you learn how to live according to Jesus, and resist temptation].” (Acts 2:38)

The Story of Star Wars is my story, and it is your story. It is the story about sin, grace, and redemption. This forgiveness is freely available to you. Just let Him in. Please call or stop in today to speak with one of our ministers or myself, and we’ll be glad to tell you about God’s love for you.

1Gene Edward Veith, “The Fall of the Jedi” World Magazine (May 18th, 2005, Vol. 20, No. 21),12.

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Fearful No More!

IMG20053We consider our homes, our castles, inviolable. Sometimes, with a false sense of security, we leave our homes unlocked, if only for a short time, so that we can run errands. We live in a “safe” community, don’t we? It is while we are away that the enemy creeps in and steals. This particular enemy favors cash and drugs. No one knows his name, or, if they do, they are unwilling to share it. They say, “I’m glad it wasn’t me.” Thus, home after home, church after church are victimized, and ransacked for valuables. It is he, the enemy that seems to be invulnerable, not our homes and families.

We church-folk are fond of saying, “Jesus is the answer!” But how does Jesus become the answer in a community plagued with crime and criminals?

First – Christ enables us to call this behavior what it is: Wrong! This is an evil committed in our community, not someone’s poor upbringing, not a result of poverty, using drugs, sickness, or mental instability. Very clearly the Bible states: “You shall not steal!” There is no cause to make excuses for theft.

Second – Christ will exact justice. “Vengeance is mine saith the Lord” and of the established government;“if you do that which is evil, be afraid; because he does not bear the sword in vain.” (Romans 13) Jesus, whether through an agent like the government, or personally through disease or sudden death, will exact a penalty for the crimes committed in our community. No one escapes God.

Third – Christ reminds us in our suffering that He alone should be our Rock and our Fortress. (Psalm 46) “Cast all your anxious care on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter) We put our trust in Him, for He cares for us. He may not hinder the free-will of the burglar, but He will enable us to bear the loss. Jesus also says “love your enemies; bless them who curse you; do good to them who hate you; and pray for them who arraign and persecute you; that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5)

Our chief objective as people of God is to pray for those who are our enemies. Therefore:

“Our heavenly Father, you have seen fit in this community to allow an individual, or group of people to raid our homes, our churches, or lives. Lord if we have committed sin to warrant such discipline, we pray Father for Your forgiveness. We repent of our sins, and pray for the grace, which you pour upon all men liberally, to be felt and filled within our hearts.

Our Father, we pray for these who so casually enter homes and steal without thought to consequence, either to themselves, or to the others whose medication may be vital to their lives. We pray for these few who victimize the many, and bring a similitude of fear upon our community. We know dear Lord that perfect love casts out all fear. Therefore we pray Father that we face these criminals fearlessly. That Father these robbers will be brought to repentance, if not to justice this side of Heaven. We pray that they will be influenced by godly and Christian neighbors, so that they give up this thoughtless and hopeless life, and give themselves to Christ Jesus, for Your glory. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

Let’s pray this prayer, and mean it.

Free, Free at Last!

Hey, It’s Independence Day again. Another year, another birthday for our wonderful country. But when we look around us, we might wonder, freedom from what? In a land where our income is taxed, our property is taxed, our sales are taxed, and even our death is taxed, we might ask, “Where was the freedom promised to us on “Independence Day”? What are we free from? We can’t do anything that we want to. We live in a society that governs our behavior, from the kind of toothpaste we use in the morning (approved by the FDA) to the kinds of television we watch (approved by the FCC) to the roads we drive on (managed and patrolled by State Troopers). Almost everything we do has had a government hand in it at one time or another. But we have freedom at the expense of security, and security at the expense of freedom.

As Christians, we celebrate freedom of a different kind, the freedom from sin. You may not be aware of it, but if you have not made a confession of Christ, you are in slavery, to sin. What is sin? Sin is disobedience to God. You may say at this point, but I don’t sin, I haven’t killed anyone, or stolen anything big. I might remind you that God’s standard is far stricter than one or two major sins. James (2:10) tells us that any sin, from a white lie, to looking too long at a pretty woman, can convict us in God’s court. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” In God’s court there is only one sentence, life, in the worst prison ever devised, Hell. The Bible calls this the second death. It is eternal life in torment and suffering. Does that sound like freedom to you? It doesn’t to me either.

You see, true freedom doesn’t come from a bottle, a pill, a checkbook, or even a TV. It doesn’t come from being able to do whatever you want. It comes from doing what He wants. He wants you, all of you, to live with Him, for eternity, in paradise. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it? But this is no bait and switch tactic. The hours will be long, suffering will be part of the territory, and all the things you wanted to do before will have to be checked against a ever-loving yet just God. The freedom here is within you. You have the choice between slavery to sin and death, or servant hood to a loving, graceful Father. You might be asking, how do I sign up? It’s easy. Just tell Him you want to serve Him. The Bible says that if you are not willing to confess His name before men, so will He be unwilling to confess your name before His Father. (Matthew 10:32) It’s not tough. Be free, at last!