Thursday, March 24, 2011

Openly friendly

Titus 3:15 stood out to me this morning. It's the last verse in Titus, and, in Doug-translation, reads like this:

"Everyone here says hi. Say hi to everyone there for me."

Really. Oh, you want a real translation? Don't trust the RefTagger hover point above? Ok…

Titus 3:15 All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.  (ESV)

See? Unlike most of Paul's letters, Titus doesn't end with a list of names to greet or that send greetings. It's a generic "all of us" to "all of you" finish. Why does this matter? Especially, why does this matter to us?

Paul had left Titus at Crete. I may be missing it, but I don't see a time in Acts where Paul went to Crete, so it was apparently a quick drop-off that fits into the free time of the Apostle Paul. My assumption is a lack of time to build relationships with the church folks there.

So we get this: whoever is there that loves the Lord, we're glad to send a greeting to. Who's glad? All of us that love the Lord.

It's an openness that I'm afraid we don't have these days. Before we'll greet a church or a fellow believer, we want to parse out their doctrines. We want to nail down their positions on social issues. We want to make sure they're "our kind of people."

As a result, white churches and black churches exist. Not "can't get along." Exist. As a result, we have divisions between American Christians and Christians in other places---we don't know for sure that those "Chinese Christians" we hear about being persecuted are really Christians, after all, because we haven't heard their stance on……(fill in the blank).

Can we learn to get over this? I'm not saying we should neglect sound doctrine, for the "unity of the Spirit" of Ephesians 4 is based on the "Spirit of Truth" of John 14: unity cannot cost us truth. Certain things are absolutely true.

However, we need to learn to involve ourselves with others, to open up and trust, and then, if necessary, take the hard step of correction later. If we don't, we will continue to miss the blessing of good relationships and true effectiveness for the Gospel.

 

Doug

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

BookTuesday: Creating your Personal Life Plan

Yep, it's a long title.

No, it's not a sponsored book review. From time to time, when I'm caught up on book reviews that I get free books for, I'm going to review other books that I've found useful. While I won't do a lot of the books I read, I'll do a few of the more practical or impactful books.

Why won't I do all of them? Do you really want to read a review of The Venerable Bede, The World of Bede, Parochial Vision: The Future of the English Parish, Roman Britain and Early England: 55 B.C. –A.D. 871? I didn't think so.

Today I want to point you to an e-book that I got, well, yesterday. It's from Michael Hyatt, the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. He titled this book Creating Your Personal Life Plan. I'd like to tell you about it, then tell you how to get it.

First of all, this is not a big book. The overall e-document (in PDF format) is 93 pages. That means, if you are so inclined, you can print it out front and back and use 47 pages. You can print a 2-on-1 page with some printers and cut that in half again. Printing it out will give you the opportunity to make a lot of notes.

Which you'll probably need. This book spends a few pages explaining the need for a "Life plan" and then tells you how to make one. Without stealing Hyatt's thunder, most of us need one. The rest of you who don't need one, will eventually.

The purpose is to have a target that you're aiming at with life, not just day by day, but week by week and month by month. After all, as the great philosopher Yogi Berra is quoted "If you don't know where you're going, you'll wind up someplace else."

So, the first parts help establish the need of a Life Plan. The rest? They're a walk, step-by-step, through how Hyatt created his and how he maintains it. The first temptation will be "I can do this myself without help." Take a look anyway. I can cook from random ingredients, but I learned by cooking with someone who taught me how.

The book started off as a blog post or two, and then the thoughts and ideas were expanded into this book. Some of this book consists of the more well-known motivational quotes. Due to their familiarity, they lack the punch of the newer material. All in all, this book is worth the effort to get it and work through it.

I'd highly recommend you click over to Michael Hyatt's blog at this link. There's information on that post about getting the book for free. What will you have to do? Sign up to receive his blog via email. If you're involved in leadership or management, it won't hurt you anyway.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sermons 3-20

Morning Audio Link Here

Evening Audio Link Here

Matthew 22:1-14 March 20 2011 AM

I. The parable itself:

a. A parable of the Kingdom of God

b. Allegorical: this is a description to make a point, not an exact definition

II. The presentation of the parable:

a. This is one of many

b. It is also recorded in Luke 22(possibly—a repetition)

III. The points of the parable:

a. Initially invited guests:

i. Those who knew about the banquet

ii. They were previously aware

b. Refusals:

i. Some were simply disinterested

ii. Some were hostile

c. New guests:

i. Found from wherever

ii. Compelled

IV. The purpose of the parable:

a. Initially invited guests:

i. Humanity

ii. (Remember that Adam and Eve pair?)

iii. (And remember that Noah and family bunch?)

iv. Those who knew of God—but rejected his invitation

b. Slaves:

i. Those of his household

ii. Those He has bought

iii. _____(Us, got it?)

c. Second invitation:

i. All who can be found

ii. All who will respond

iii. All who come

V. The poorly dressed guest

a. Not sincere

b. Not explained

c. Not accepted

VI. The proper response:

a. Accept the invitation ->salvation

b. Be wearing the right clothes ->sanctification

c. Collect further guests –>Mission

 

March 20 PM Matthew c22v15t22

I. Characters:

a. Pharisees & Herodians: not allies

b. Opposition to the Lord Jesus Christ is the unifier of all sorts of folks

II. Trick questions:

a. Flattering opening

b. Sneaky questions

III. Perceptive answer:

a. Don’t fall into the trap

b. Don’t ignore the questions

IV. What matters most?

a. Whose likeness?

i. The coin is made in the likeness, with the image, of Caesar

ii. So give him his own: the tax money is rightfully his:

b. Whose likeness?

i. You are made in the image and likeness of God

ii. You are remade, redeemed, into the likeness of Christ: 2 Cor 3:18

V. So what are we doing?

a. We are so often allowing the people around us to drive our image

b. We end up rendering all sorts of things all sorts of places

c. We owe to Caesar what’s his----symbolic of earthly loyalties and responsibilities

d. We owe to God what’s His---our very selves.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mundane Blessing

I had a conversation with one of the men in my church that struck me yesterday. His wife had brought us a few pieces of cake earlier this week, and Ann had returned their piece of Tupperware with a  loaf of homemade bread in it.

He told me that he'd been really enjoying the homemade bread, that it was a welcome blessing. He's been savoring each piece. It kind of stopped me for a moment.

You see, I've been eating that homemade bread for a couple of years now. I think in the past 2 years, we've bought maybe 3 loaves of bread at the store, just because we were in a bind. The rest of the time? Ann makes the bread we eat. Not too be snobby or anything, but it's a little more economical, a little healthier, and not unreasonably inconvenient.

Now, though, I see a good loaf of home-baked bread as, well, just bread. It's normal. It's a wonderfully tasty normal, but it's normal.

What was received as a tremendous blessing by one person is just assumed by another.

That put me to thinking about the rest of the blessings we have. Considering whether or not I am being careful to recognize the blessings I am receiving.

Just as a good loaf of bread should not be a neglected blessing, even when it's available everyday, those other blessings should not be underappreciated.

After all, Scripture tells us that "Man does not live by bread alone but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Deut. 8:3 or Mt. 4:4). And I have those words. Printed, and nicely leather-bound. Digitally available through both Logos Bible Software and on my Amazon Kindle. I have an app for that on my Blackberry. I have pages printed out.

Do I treat that blessing as mundane? Here is life: the Word of God. There are people that starve for lack of it. Yet here in America we drown in an excess and still we ignore the Word. We sit astounded at the stories of people that are enthusiastic for the Bible, but we don't adjust our life back towards appreciation. Many of us might even remember when we were more passionate about hearing from God through His word than we are now.

What should we do about it?

Two suggestions:

1. Never be too far separated from people that are passionately grateful for the Word. After a 5 minute conversation, I came home thinking how good a piece of toast sounded (back to the bread story). A few minutes with people that are genuinely hungry for the Word of God will remind us how precious it is. Find those people: they are in your church, they are in your community, they are in this world. Pack up and go if you have to do so to find them.

2. Compare what you've got to what you could have. I saw a blog-post this week about "choosing the freshest bread" or something like that. It was tips to make sure that smashed homogenized plastic-bagged thing you got at Wal-mart was the best you could get. Then it clicked: I don't have that problem. Ann makes 3 loaves at a time. The first is always "super-fresh" the second "quite fresh" and the third is "fresh." There's no shipping or excess handling.

When you find yourself treating the Word of God as too  mundane of a blessing, take a look at the "Self-help" section of a bookstore. There's a huge number of titles, and many of them are self-contradictory! There are competing philosophies to consider, various religions, and muddle of confusion. With the Word of God, you have a stable, consistent source to return to, time and time again.

The Word of God is just one of several daily blessings God grants us: life, emotion, communion with Him. Let's not let their consistent presence dull us to the greatness of them!

Doug

Friday, March 18, 2011

Go to SBCVoices.com

And read the rest of this post by Dr. Wm. Dwight McKissic Sr., regarding racial division in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Seriously. This has been a long-running discussion among various people and various bloggers about where we are as a denomination with our behavior. Most of us don't think about it on a regular basis on Sunday mornings, but we are still in that place where 11 AM Sunday morning remains one of the most segregated places in America.

This ought not be. If we're going to survive as Christians and accomplish the purposes that God has for us, we cannot afford to indulge ourselves in petty divisions over non-Biblical issues.

So, again, I encourage you to click through and read. And if you disagree, say so. Point out counter-examples. Help be part of the discussion that leads to a solution.

Doug

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Things we left behind

For those of you that didn’t realize it, today is St. Patrick’s Day. What does that mean?

Well, if you grew up in the Southern US, it means you wear green and maybe pretend you’re Irish. Other places, though, it means other things. For some, it’s a much more important day. Why?

Because they know who St. Patrick is.

Unfortunately for a lot of us Baptists, we’re not so aware. You see, once upon a time, Christians all fell into one of two groups: Eastern and Western. Really. It was that simple. And that division really only solidified about 1000 years ago, which is 1000 years into the existence of the church. So, anyone from the first 1000 years was a portion of a strong and shared heritage.

Then, things within Christianity got a little more complicated. Not everyone who was in charge was worth putting charge, and divisions came into place. First, the East-West split. Then, Western Christianity broke down into a spectrum of groups. One of those groups led to what we call Baptists, and then onto Southern Baptists, which I am.

In the process, we discarded a lot of the additions that had grown onto Christianity. The Reformation and its call for sola Scriptura (allowing Scripture alone to be the guide of our faith) was a great thing. However, we may have lost a few things along the way. Not things that will cost us our salvation but things that will make our walk a little tougher.

One of those things would be labeled the lives of the saints. Now, I know that we Baptists get a little tense about labeling someone a “saint.” Really, I get that. Scripture acknowledges that all of God’s people are “saints” and we’re not really in a position to exalt another person too high. I also know the process by which someone is labeled a '”saint” is one that makes us uncomfortable. Fine.

So let’s take the case of Maewyn Succat (or whatever name you want to attach) then. Here’s a young man, as best that tradition records, that was captured, held as a slave, escaped, and then went back to the people who had enslaved him---and spent his life making disciples in that land.

What have we left behind?

We’ve left the rich heritage of our faith behind. And then end result is missing something. We’re missing out on heroes and examples that we can look toward. We’re tending to build such a separation between ourselves and the people that lived out there faith in Scripture that we don’t think it’s even possible for us to live the same way.

So, a challenge for us all: let’s not let it go. We need to discard the bad but hold on to the good.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Deliver it or die trying

“Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior, To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. ” (Titus 1:1–4, NAS)

I'd like you to take a read at the above passage. Needless to say, though I'll say it anyway, Paul did not record the highlighting on the highlighted portion. To be honest, I'm not sure the blog shows it yet, but the proclamation with which I was entrusted should be highlighted in the passage.

This struck me as I read Titus this morning: I need to remember that the Gospel is, really, not mine. In fact, preaching the Gospel is not even my activity. It is, rather, something entrusted to me.

Why does this matter?

Well, in management/leadership training in the recent decades, much has been made of getting people to take 'ownership' of ideas. The thought is that people will put forth much more effort for something that they 'own' rather than for what is someone else's. This was also the foundational argument for the push to home ownership over renting.

We've borrowed that into church as well, where we've begun to treat things as 'mine': 'my church' 'my preaching' 'my class.' Now, the ways this is good can be discussed in a further post. In fact, if I remember, we'll come back to it.

Something that we should remember, though, is this: ultimately, it's not mine. My preaching? Yes, but my preaching is my action of stewardship of someone else's message. It has been entrusted to me.

The important thing I was seeing to remember is this: we are entrusted with God's message. We should value that trust. We should care for the message more than as if it were our own. Looking back into Paul's time, messengers that were entrusted with the messages of Caesar were committed to faithful delivery or death.

Am I that trustworthy? The message that I have---will I deliver it faithfully or at the least die trying? Will I at least have the courage of Pheidippides? To deliver faithfully and die from the doing?

This is our call as preachers of the Gospel. This is, truly, our call as followers of Christ---to deliver the message or die trying. To cast our lives aside that others may save theirs. This, and nothing less, is the work of the disciple.

Doug

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

BookTuesday: The Chasm

The Chasm: A Journey to the Edge of Life

Today, BookTuesday presents: The Chasm: A Journey to the Edge of Life. This is book is by Randy Alcorn, and is published by Multnomah, a company so gracious they sent me a free book, just for doing this review. My gratitude is strong, but not strong enough to be swayed in my opinions….

Several years ago, I read a book by Randy Alcorn titled Edge of Eternity. It was the first book of his I had read, and I didn't quite know what to expect. It was, generally, a good read, though getting into the symbolism was a roadblock for me at the time.

Since then, I've read some of Alcorn's non-fiction writing as well as a novel that is more of an anonymized biography of persecuted Christians in China than it is a novel. I've grown more comfortable with his style since then.

Now, we come to Randy Alcorn's The Chasm. This is not a long book. While I'm not an expert in literary identification, I'd say it was more of a novella than a full-book. It's adapted from his earlier book, Edge of Eternity. Both of these books speak of the journey of Nick Seagrave. Not a material journey, but a spiritual one. The Chasm specifically covers the imagery of a great gulf fixed between the two lands that this journey takes place in.

I'll leave you the rest of the plot to find on your own. The writing is well-crafted and engaging. It's also fairly simple to follow: I was able to consume this book in about a 2-hour sitting. There's plenty of depth to consider that's drawn out by the included study-guide, so don't think it's a boring trip.

Neither is it a shallow one. Nick's story could very well be anyone's. It's a story of seeking, misunderstanding, and finding. A story of the cost of life, and the value of it as well.

Punctuating this story are about a dozen well-drawn illustrations. They convey a depth and character that is stronger for the black-and-white nature than I would have imagined.

In all, this is a good little book for anyone who likes allegory. I'll probably pass this copy around to several folks, including my older daughter, who I think will grasp both the literal and allegorical parts of the story.

And before I forget---yes, free book for the review. No other connections exist.

 

Doug

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sermons 3-13

 

Morning Audio Link Here

Evening Audio Link Here

Morning

“For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” ” (Galatians 2:19–21, NAS)

We must understand some truths here:

I. We do not have a life any longer

a. Our life was, by law, forfeit for our sins

b. We deserved death

c. When Christ went to the cross, we are supposed to count ourselves as having gone as well

II. The life we have now is not our own

a. Christ lives in us

b. We live in the flesh

c. Yet that life in the flesh is to belong to Christ

III. Why?

a. Because He loved us

b. He gave Himself up for us---

i. (Can give without loving, but not love without giving—Amy Carmichael, missionary)

IV. What does our love return to Him?

a. The life we have now

b. Not merely a life of Law

c. But a life of righteousness, given by Christ

V. Attempting to live in obedience does not undo the Gospel of the Cross

a. Righteousness does not come through the Law

b. Righteousness comes from being crucified with Christ

VI. Christ did not die needlessly

a. Yet you might live needlessly

b. Surrender to Him

c. Live in Obedience

Evening:

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews? “We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. “But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! “For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. ” (Galatians 2:11–18, NAS)

Two separate points to grasp here:

I. Rebuking leaders

a. Basics:

i. Recognize, first of all, that even great lights of the faith can make mistakes

ii. Recognize that there are none who have overcome sin perfectly (except Christ)

iii. Recognize that Peter was capable of making a mistake

b. For those who lead

i. If Peter can falter, so can you

ii. If Peter can take correction, so can you

iii. If Barnabas could be led aside, you can lead others aside

iv. If Barnabas could be led aside, you could be led aside too

c. For those who notice the sin

i. Public sin that leads people astray requires public repentance

ii. Public sin that threatens the Gospel must be addressed

iii. Public sin may require the uncomfortable role of public rebuke

iv. This is not being judgmental if it’s obvious

d. What to do?

i. Be clear on the Gospel

ii. Stand clearly for the Gospel

iii. Speak clearly the truth

iv. Address---actions, attitudes, appearances

v. Not---motivations or the unseen

vi. Passionately but under control

II. Racism/Culturalism

a. This cannot be overstated from this passage:

b. No one culture or race is preferred by God

c. The Law condemns all

d. Grace extends to all

e. Separating over preferred culture and ethnicity is sinful

f. We dare not treat anyone as if Christ did not die for them because of their ethnic background

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Learned and Convinced

“You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. ” (2 Timothy 3:14–15, NAS)

Reading 2 Timothy this morning, this jumped out at me. Especially "the things you have learned and become convinced of…." When Paul writes this to Timothy, he speaks of the two facets of discipleship and faith.

What are those two facets, you ask? Well, maybe you did…

They are both related to knowledge. We need to clear something up about knowledge and Biblical Christianity. The New Testament knows of no Christians that do not act on what they know. Discipleship is the process of learning what is required and acting on what is learned. Christian Discipleship, therefore, is learning what is required by Christ and acting on it.

Two facets: intellectual knowledge and experiential knowledge. We have a tendency out here in Western Christianity to prefer one to the other, but let's take a moment and realize what these words mean and why both are important.

Intellectual knowledge is, well, facts and details. It is composed of the things that you know (or I know) that we learn from reading and teaching. This is a crucial part of our life as disciples of Christ. Why? How do I know Jesus was born? How do I know of the lives of those who have gone before in the faith? All of this is, in truth, intellectual knowledge. I can claim that my life shows that I know Jesus lives because He lives within my heart, but I really know this because I have read it and been taught it.

Experiential knowledge is the things that I have experienced. It's the things I know because I have seen and experienced them in my own life. Whether it be the ability of God to mend a broken heart or His power to heal where doctors are at a loss, the work of the Spirit to bring peace to relationships or to change a sinner's heart and life, these are things that I not only know from intellect, but from experience.

We have a tendency to pick one of these and prefer it, as I said above. Some would hold that only what is written and passed on by those before us is valid, that there is no place for "I have seen…." Others, meanwhile, would discard all teaching from others and only acknowledge what they, themselves, have experienced.

Yet Paul commends to Timothy to remember what he has learned. He highlights the sacred writings and reminds Timothy of them. These are not things Timothy experienced or ever would. After all, Timothy would learn of the parting of the Red Sea, but not experience it. We cannot downplay the importance of learning intellectually.

Neither can we deny learning experientially. Paul has this in mind when he highlights have become convinced of. This speaks of things that Timothy knows not just from intellect but from seeing them in action. By his own experience, Timothy has seen God at work, has seen God's power, and proven God's trustworthiness.

As we grow to follow Christ, we have to start with what we've learned from others. In the course of life, we'll see some aspects of our faith proven to be true. From those experiences, we learn to trust the intellectual that connects to them.

We cannot live without both. We dare not become bookworms that do nothing nor busy bees that know nothing.

 

Doug

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Organization and Chaos

I think I've said this before, but it bears repeating:

It take a lot of effort to get life organized. More than just a little, a lot. For me, I've had to sit down, take a look at what I do with my time, and figure out how much time it should all take.

Then, I have to find a way to schedule it. This is difficult, because my weeks range from wide-open to having a lot of outside pressures on them. So, I have to be flexible with when I do, but don't have a great deal of flexibility about what I do.

So, for the past several months, I've been living with chaos. I haven't gotten done things that needed to get done, much less made any progress on my 'spare time' projects. This has been a bad thing.

So, I've taken the last 3 days of my time, and of Ann's time, and we've worked out the details. Well, at least most of them. She's offered to help me by looking back at the schedule every week. This is going to help.

I'm also going to borrow from a few of the greater lights of the Web, like Michael Hyatt at Thomas Nelson, and put daily and weekly reviews of my to-do list and effectiveness. In all, I hope this helps.

What to learn from this? Sometimes, you have to back to go forward. You have to spend time to have time. While that may seem counter-intuitive, it's still true. So if you have to stop and back up, do it. It's good for you.

 

Doug

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

BookTuesday: Game Plan for Life

Today's book review is Joe Gibbs' Game Plan for Life. Here's the cover:

Game Plan for Life: Your Personal Playbook for Success

And indeed, it's a free book review book from Tyndale Publishers. So don't think there's no relationship---although no one at Tyndale could pick me out of a police lineup, they do send me books every now and then!

Game Plan for Life is Joe Gibbs' entrance into the world of turning success into publishing. It's become a well-trod path, though a few of the trips down this path have gone off a cliff.

Game Plan, though, doesn't go off the cliff. Rather, this book surprised me. I expected references to Gibbs' football experiences and his NASCAR team ownership, and of course those were present. However, this book is more than just an extended sports metaphor.

Gibbs has attacked the idea of writing a book to guide you to personal success the same way a head coach builds a winning team: find experts in specific areas and put them to work. For Gibbs, that means putting authors like Ravi Zacharias, Charles Colson, and Randy Alcorn to work in his book.

Ultimately, though, just like a head coach, Gibbs is responsible for the final outcome of the book. He's done well with it. Woven through the various topics in the book are stories from Gibbs personal and professional life. He follows up each chapter with a short summary section. Since he's primarily known as a football man, it's no surprise to find these labeled as "Two-minute drills."

I mentioned that this book surprised me. Here's why: the front cover features the phrase "3-Time Super Bowl Champion and 3-Time NASCAR Champion" in front Joe Gibbs' name as if it were a title like "Dr." or even a military rank.

Then, into the book, I think there's maybe one or two references to any of those championships. His victories are on the cover, but the heart of the book is illustrated by his failures and shortcomings. It's not phrased as a "oh, I had trouble, too" type of thing, either. It's worded as "there's more to learn from the failures than the successes."

As it stands, I'd highly recommend this book for a men's class or a Bible study, also for anyone wanting to think through some basic implications of how the Christian faith looks when lived out.

Again, a great read and well worth your time. With this, Joe Gibbs jumps to being my second favorite coach (even though he's not coaching). Now, if he'd quit having his team drive Toyotas…..

Doug

 

To be clear: Tyndale sent me a copy of this book in exchange for the review.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sermons—March 6

 

First of all, I apologize for the lesser audio quality. My digital voice recorder disappeared off of my desk this week, so I had to use my cell phone voice-notes app to record this. So, it's an open microphone on the whole church instead of a clip-on mic. There's a good bit of background that you'd need a professional to filter. Let me know if this qualifies as "better than nothing" or as "don't bother" so I know how to proceed until my voice recorder comes back.

Sunday AM Audio Link

Sunday PM Audio Link

But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. But from those who were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me. But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles), and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. ” (Galatians 2:4–9, NAS)

I. No place for secret agendas

a. There should be no secrecy in the body of Christ

i. There are times for confidentiality:

1. Counseling

2. Personal problems

ii. However—secrecy:

1. Secret business actions

2. Secret plans by the preacher

b. We should be willing to allow our intentions and desires to be known

i. Even if we think they are silly

ii. It is better to deal with open truth

II. No time to yield the truth

a. While we must take the time to determine the truth

b. The Truth is found in the Word of God

c. When someone undermines the truth it must not go un-addressed

III. No regard for reputations

a. Truth is truth—

i. It does not matter who moves away from it-

1. Notable apostates

2. Descendants

ii. It also does not matter who actually supports it

b. The most important issue is what the Lord Jesus Christ has said

IV. How does this matter to us?

a. We are not the only followers of Christ in this world

i. We need to:

1. Fellowship for our own sake

2. Work together to accomplish God’s commands

3. We need to determine who we can work with and not work with

ii. We must:

1. Filter our own influences

2. Be wary of bad influences

a. Date-setters

b. Prosperity gospel

b. We must look to our church and the decisions we make as a church

c. Where do we stand?

i. If truth isn’t important, what is?

ii. We have one thing to hold on tightly: the Truth of Christ

d. If you have no truth, what do you have?

 

Sunday Evening:

They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I also was eager to do. ” (Galatians 2:10, NAS)

I. This is not a command of works to be done:

a. How do we know?

b. Asked---not commanded

c. Paul is also eager, not hesitant, to do this.

II. Who are “The Poor”?

a. Those without money (duh.)

b. Effectively, those without the means to provide for their needs

c. Why are they in this situation?

i. Willful religious poverty (but see 2 Thessa 3:10)

ii. Persecution (See John 9)

d. Most likely: these poor are in that situation because of being ostracized for their choice to follow Christ.

III. Paul is eager to do this:

a. He’s already thought of this—note the also

b. The presence of agreement: they asked the very thing he’d already thought of doing

IV. How about us?

a. Are there poor for us?

i. Certainly there are the financially poor---

ii. There are those who have given themselves and hope of wealth for the service of the Gospel

1. Your pastor is NOT one of them

2. Missionaries

3. Pastors in diverse situations:

a. Many foreign nations

b. Some frontier parts of the US

iii. How can we remember them?

1. PRAYER

2. Financial support

3. Personal effort

b. Support for the persecuted

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Choices

Every act of will is an act of self-limitation. To desire action is to desire limitation. In that sense, every act is an act of self-sacrifice. When you choose anything, you reject everything else. —G.K. CHESTERTON, Orthodoxy

This is one of several things I've read lately that has challenged me about my limitations. Specifically, challenged me to acknowledge that I have limitations.

First, I read this from Randy Alcorn, about saying no to good things to be able to do other good things. (Yes, it's an older post. Someone must have linked it and I read it recently.)

Then there have been various other things I have read, and today the above quote from Chesterton. So I'm contemplating self-limitation.

I really and truly can only do a few things with my time. Some things will require more effort than others, and some things just require more time.

The hard part is to make the choice to let go of something. For example, I have 3 graduate courses I'm taking, pastor a church, and write for this blog. I also want to work on a couple of ideas that will take more than a blog to write. Plus there's the detail of 3 kids and my wife.

If I choose to spend 8 hours on a book, then I'm choosing not spend those hours on family, work, or school. If I choose to spend those hours on family, then work and school don't get them.

And so on.

Yet if we don't make those choices, then everything suffers.

So, I must learn to limit myself. Realize that if I think my expertise has to be applied to every situation, then my expertise will suffer and be useless in all situations. How does that flesh out?

The difficulty comes from not wanting to be responsible for what I let go of, for what I limit myself from as much as what I commit myself to. After all, who's going to run the country if I don't? Who's going to fix that or correct that? If I don't fix the Southern Baptist Convention, who will?

So I struggle with my choices, I struggle with self-limitation, because I think I have to be everywhere. I don't.

It's a challenge worth developing. How about you? Do you find yourself having to do everything? What do you have trouble letting go?

 

Inc Merriam-Webster, The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of Quotations. (Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 1992), 58.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

BookTuesday: The Jesus Inquest

Next on the docket (and I use that word advisedly) is The Jesus Inquest by Charles Foster. Why docket? Because Foster, while now primarily a writer, started his career as a barrister. For my fellow Americans, barrister is the British word for lawyer who argues in court. They have two kinds of lawyers: solicitors and barristers. Foster is also a part-time judge, an author, and Oxford professor. Enough about him. He's got his own webspace for self-promotion. You're here for my opinion of his book

His book? It's entitled The Jesus Inquest and it's published by Thomas Nelson Publishers. So, I got one free from Booksneeze in exchange for the review you are about to receive. That's it, though. Free book for a review—no money and no influence.

To pick up The Jesus Inquest is to commit yourself to being a little over your head, if you're an average reader. This book is quite detailed, and you may find yourself in need of a legal pad to keep up with it. Why?

Foster wrote this in the style of a debate. He created two characters, X and Y, to argue against and for the fact of the physical resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Apart from the uncreative names, this is a good setup for his presentation. Actually, the uncreative names are fine: there is not much prejudice to come from using algebraic variables in place of names.

X will present arguments that show the historical unlikelihood of Jesus rising from the dead. Y will refute those arguments. Y will present affirmative arguments that X then gets the opportunity to present.

While I can't say for certain that it's perfectly balanced, I think Foster balanced the two views fairly well. X's arguments have the weakness of presenting from the spectrum of anti-Resurrection theories. By this, rather than pursuing one particular theory of those who deny the Resurrection, Foster has X using many of the modern arguments. It results in X being very wide in presentation, but not as deep as some would argue. However, Y is faced with the variety to answer, so Y is not helped by this. I only bring this up because there will be some readers who question why X didn't bring up sub point 5 of argument 3. It's because X is not just using one argument but many.

Also, Foster seemed to do a good job keeping his own opinion to himself. While I share his opinion that the Resurrection really happened (I'm pretty sure that's his opinion), I think he was fair and clear for both sides. I'll admit that I might miss pro-Resurrection bias, though.

Is this a light and fluffy read? No. There are some weighty arguments. There are some ambiguities: if you think the Resurrection is an open-and-shut case in history outside of the Bible, you'll be surprised.

If, however, you are settled that the Resurrection is quite the shut-and-then-opened (and empty) case, you'll learn a good deal about both your own faith and some of the questions people are wrestling with about your faith.

You'll do well to read this one. Just keep a notepad handy.

Doug

Oh: here's what it looks like:

The Jesus Inquest: The Case For and Against the Resurrection of the Christ
Read the Disclosures! for this blog. Free book. Amazon affiliate link. I might could be bought, but paperback's aren't enough. I'm going to need at least a hardcover to sway me.

July 5 Service Recap

Good morning! Here are the service recaps from last week. First we’ll see the morning services, both the 9 AM and the 11 AM, then there will...