Nov. 9, 2017
Dear Hyde Park Family,
Kermit the Frog: “Hey Fozzie, whatcha got there?”
Fozzie Bear: “This? Well, it’s called a Thermos.”
Kermit: “Cool. What’s a Thermos?”
Fozzie: “Well, a Thermos keeps hot liquids hot and cold liquids cold.”
Kermit: “Interesting. So, what do you have in there now?”
Fozzie: “Right now? I have iced tea and chicken noodle soup.”
I remember first hearing that joke when I was a teenager, and to this day it still makes me chuckle. It also reminds me of God’s words to the church in the ancient city of Laodicea (lay-ODD-uh-SEE-yuh) in Revelation 3:15-16:
“I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
I’m pretty sure that if I ever took a swig of chicken noodle iced tea soup, I’d spit it out of my mouth, too.
Apparently lukewarm Christianity was as much of a problem 2,000 years ago as it is today. It is a life that may have once been “fired up” and wholly devoted to Jesus, but it has since cooled to a tepid, comfortable sense of self-sufficiency. It begs the question of each of us: “Am I on fire for God? Or am I dubious mixture of hot and cold?”
In Rocky III, champion boxer Rocky Balboa had ascended to a luxurious lifestyle of wealth, fame, and self-indulgence. Though he had one last fight before his retirement, his attempts to train were filled with more autograph signings than punching bag hits.
So, when it came time for the fight, the challenger destroyed Rocky in three rounds. Humiliated and dejected, Rocky tried to figure out what went wrong. Apollo Creed, his combatant in the prior two Rocky films, gave him this assessment:
“You used to have the eye of the tiger. You used to be hungry to win. You used to have the want-to. You used to be willing to pay the price to train. You used to fight with abandonment. You used to. But winning led to fame, and fame led to affluence, and affluence led to indulgence, and self-indulgence led to weakness, and weakness led to defeat.”
That is a perfect description of the church in Laodicea. And it may be an accurate diagnosis for our spiritual condition today.
HALFTIME SPEECH: CONVICTION, COURAGE, AND HOPE
This Sunday we turn the final corner in the Christian liturgical year with the start of a new worship series on the book of Revelation. Beneath the wild imagery and cryptic language, there is a vital message for each of us: Don’t give up. Get fired up. Stay true to your convictions, strengthen your commitment to Jesus, and hang in there. Things may look difficult now, but God is in this with you.
The book of Revelation is less like a futuristic prediction of the end of time, and more like a coach giving a fiery pep talk to a team down at half-time. You may feel down and dejected, down by several touchdowns. But imagine yourself in the end zone at the end of the game, scoring the winning touchdown, holding the trophy up high. This can be your future, and I am going to lead you there. Now, all you have to do is take the field. Go out and execute the plan. Do what you know how to do. And don’t give up.
All of us can use that kind of rousing motivation to kick our spiritual lives to the next level and help us not lose hope. That’s what the book of Revelation is all about, and that’s why this new worship series is so important. Join us for these next three weeks, and discover how not to be chicken noodle iced tea soup.
Grace and Peace,