Carved Hands and Etched Stones

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Synopsis of Carved Hands and Etched Stones

Good and joyful morning this morning to all Christian brothers and sisters on this the day the Lord has made pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee, or tea, or milk, or whatever is your favorite; we’re about to slice a piece of the bread of life, the word of God. And today’s slice comes from….

1 Corinthians 1 : 18-25 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 for it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 for after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 for the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

Ever heard the expression, It’s a “Brand” New World ? I’ll bet every one of you can fill in the best-known product that goes with each of the following brand names. Let’s try it. Wrigley • Singer • Gillette • Nabisco • Kellogg’s • Kodak • Levi •Coca-Cola These are the brands that built America. Each one of them was established with its basic product before 1925. Each one is still totally recognizable more than eighty- five years later.

The term “brand” originally derived from the stamping or marking of cattle or sheep for identification purposes. Outside of that use, branding usually had a negative connotation. Slaves, criminals, and adulterers were branded or tattooed to indelibly mark their disgraces. Today brands get just as strong a reaction from us, but generally on a far more benign level. Is there any manufacturer who doesn’t want their product to have a strong brand with an unclouded image? Let me show you how deep this branding goes, and how every one of you associates a certain brand.

Did your dad always buy a Ford, never a Chevy? (or vicea-versa?)

• Does anyone ever trade in a John Deere?     • What child doesn’t beg for a happy meal?

We live in a world of “brand-scapes” … and our kids know how to read this world of branscapes even better than we do. Now it’s true, brands are more than fad flags. Brands make it easier for people overdosing on choices to make decisions with less research and less mental energy.

10 top brands in the world today? No surprises in brand land:

1) Coca-Cola 2) Microsoft 3) Ibm 4) General Electric 5) Ford

6) Disney 7) Intel 8) McDonald’s 9) AT&Tt 10) Marlboro

As successful brand is ultimately a statement of authenticity.

So what unshakable image, what instant message, pops into most people’s head when they hear the brand ……Christianity? What are the top three things the secular public think of when they think of Christians? According to one recent poll the results were :                        1. Hypocritical, 2. Boring, and 3. Judgmental.

And we wonder why people aren’t flocking to churches? We wonder why people don’t jump up and down when we invite them to church? Paul saw the church brand just a tad differently. In fact, Paul described his brand so differently that he shocked and embarrassed some of the congregants of the Corinthian church.

From today’s slice of bread of life we learn that some of the Corinthian Christians envisioned themselves as spiritually advanced. They esteemed themselves well-versed in matters of divine wisdom and intention. Paul blasted their self-satisfied spirituality and self-importance by declaring blatantly and repeatedly that all their puny attempts at wisdom were idiocy. Instead Paul chose a wholly different, radical, and seemingly irrational image as the true brand of a Christian. Christ Crucified. That’s it. Christ Crucified. That’s Paul’s brand name for a Christian.

The cross – what a brand image, or logo. The cross was actually an atrocity. The cross was an image of execution. Crucifixion was a heinous, hideous, demeaning death. A symbol of criminality and execution is to be our great, attractive, loyalty-inspiring brand? Paul chose the first-century equivalent of the electric chair as the brand symbol of this new church! Christ Crucified is the brand for all Christians. Contained in this brand is all anyone needs to know in order to see the true, God-designed image of the church, for the church’s touchstone is, and must always be, Christ crucified. Our brand isn’t a set of rules or regulations. The touchstone isn’t an ordered set of principles. Our brand is the person of Jesus Christ.

Today body piercings come in a variety of shapes and forms. Isaiah 49:16 says: “see, I have branded you on the palm of my hands,” the bible says God carved your name in the palm of Jesus’ hand.….are you wearing the Jesus brand? The title of today’s message is…. “Carved Hands and Etched Stones.” I’ve spoken of the carved hands of Christ, now let’s look at the etched stones.

One of the more interesting controversies that engages our land from time to time is whether the ten commandments (etched in stone) should be displayed in public places, particularly government buildings. This controversy continues in spite of the fact that, according to one survey, Bernice Kanner, titled “Are you Normal?”, “Just one of every 10 Americans believes in all of the ten commandments. According to this particular study, 40 percent of Americans subscribe to five or fewer commandments.” That’s very American, isn’t it? Pick and choose the commandments you like and ignore those that are a little inconvenient?

Kinda sounds like….“Join with us Sunday at the Church of Maximum Convenience. We meet each week at the Judeo-Christian buffet. Choose the commandments you prefer. I believe I’ll take ‘Thou shalt not kill’ and ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery,’ but my schedule’s too full for ‘Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.’” We honor the ten commandments, but that’s not the same as keeping them.

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