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Showing posts from 2012

Christmas Eve Service

Well, this is embarrassing. I was supposed to post the Christmas Eve Service. I recorded a few of the observations, but the audio just does not add in well. So, here it is in text. Fill in your favorite versions of the songs, and Merry Christmas. Or at least Joyous Epiphany.Christmas Eve 12/24/2012Scripture Reading  1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV) Congregational Singing  O Little Town of Bethlehem -196 
Scripture Reading  Scripture: Romans 8:22-25    “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” …

Sermon Wrap-Up December 23

It’s the Sunday before Christmas! Whatever the exact date should be, this has long been the time when the churches of the Living God have celebrated the birth of the Savior. Perhaps because it aligns well with the longing for light in the darker parts of the year—though the latitudes of the early church would have been less attracted to that than many of us are. Still, more important than the timing is this: God is with us, Immanuel. So, here you go:Sermon Audio is Here (Click the link, which takes you to a post with the audio player.) John 1:14-18 //Love:  Open with Scrooge...."I wish to be left alone....." Love. Love does not leave us alone: 1. Does not leave us alone in the face of world crises 2. Does not leave us alone in the face of personal crises 3. Does not leave us alone in the face of spiritual need 4. Does not leave us alone in the face of personal action 5. Does not leave us alone in the face of church action Here’s the Video:

Merry Christmas!

I had grand intentions of getting lots of writing done this week, but it’s not happening. Honestly, it’s not happening next week either. So, over the next few days you can expect:The Christmas Eve Service outline from church, Sunday’s sermon from church, and possibly a book review that has to be done. Coming back in January, I will be back to my more frequent but still not-predictable schedule. Look for: Monday sermon postsTuesday and Thursday posts from the Through the Whole Bible Series.Wednesday or Friday will see books, including: The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek; Devotions on the Greek New Testament; Conviction to Lead; Grace by Max Lucado; Tender Warrior; a biography of J.R.R. Tolkien; and a novel that is fifth in a series but that I now want the whole series of: The Tainted Coin. That’s a medieval mystery is quite good. So, until then, Happy Christmas!

Book: Ruth: From Bitter to Sweet

Again we see a book post supported by Cross Focused Reviews and their willingness to swap a free book for a book review. Today, we take a look at John Currid’s contribution to the Welwyn Commentary Series. Ruth: From Bitter to Sweet is published by EP Books and is one of 38 books available in that series. I must admit to having no prior experience with the Welwyn Series before this book, so there is no comparing it to other volumes.From Bitter to Sweet reads easily. I would count it as a commentary for anyone willing to invest more than a cursory reading of the text. The text is broken into 13 pericopes, grouped into five thematic parts. Obviously, Ruth is not the longest book of the Bible, so one would not expect a book about Ruth to be long. From Bitter to Sweet hits just under 140 pages. Certainly part of the typical “commentary” weight is shaved off by not including the full text of the Scripture under consideration. Which is actually a reasonable idea: most people are using comme…

The Royal We: Acts 20

Moving forward into Acts 20 (link), I want to comment on something we haven’t seen since Acts 16, but is integral to the story. More than that, it’s integral to our understanding of the growth of Christianity.What is it? The use of “we” in the narration. Our tradition and scholarship points to Luke as the author of Acts, and so we gather this: when Acts refers to the events occurring with “We” that tells us that Luke is present in the situation. Some of Acts is simply history, recorded under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and likely based in eyewitness account and personal recollection. Those segments are as valuable as the others, because that “inspiration of the Holy Spirit” phrase means something: there is no one part of the Bible that is better than another part. Some might be easier to apply, but none are superior to others.Some of Acts, though, is the recollections of a person who was right there, in the midst of the action. Luke is in the middle of things. He was there when…

Monday Thoughts

Yesterday, our choir did their presentation. Since we don’t have rebroadcast rights, there’s nothing to post here. So, I’ll post you a few quick thoughts:Isaiah, speaking of Christmas. Well, specifically of Christ, but several hundred years in advance:“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: They that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined…For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: And the government shall be upon his shoulder: And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, Upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, To order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice From henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:2, 6–7, KJV) No matter the darkness, the Child is born, and for us He is all these. John, speaking after Christmas, b…

Book Review: Show Me How to Share Christ in the Workplace

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Today’s Book Review is presented by Kregel Publishers. They sent me a book. I read it. You decide if it’s worth more of your time.I have previously looked at R. Larry Moyer’s Show Me How to Preach Evangelistic Sermons and companion Show Me How to Illustrate Evangelistic Sermons (here). Today, we’re taking a look at another in the Show Me How…Series. It’s titled Show Me How to Share Christ in the Workplace. The book looks like this: and it’s published by Kregel Publications. (Who are fast becoming one of my favorite publishers, even if they do too short a run on a few books I liked…) It’s late on a Friday, so I will cut to the chase for you on this book: If you need an easy-to-follow guide to help you and your fellow Christians at work see more clearly how to openly spread the Gospel, pick up Share Christ in the Workplace, read it, and talk about it.Why? I. Moyer is far from condescending. Too many times I read books about evangelism from passionate preachers that could be summarize…

ICK! Leviticus 15

Note: due to author squeamishness, today’s Through the Whole Bible post will be somewhat vague and unclear. Why? It’s Leviticus 15 (link). Read through it. If the subject headers of “Instructions about Bodily Discharges” are not evidence enough, read the whole chapter. There’s plenty of icky here, not for the squeamish types.These are the passages that you need to either ask your own pastor about or pick up a good commentary on Leviticus. I will not be going into details here, except to highlight that one possible interpretation of the first half of the chapter relates the situation to venereal diseases (STDs) and would have quarantined a person from interaction in the community and stopped disease spread. That’s uncertain, but possible. The second half addresses the impurity that comes monthly for women. The major note here is that it is seen as separate from impurity that comes from sin. Those impurities are addressed elsewhere: here is simply the fact that a lady who is discharging…

Calling Your Bluff in the Buff: Acts 19

Paul and company have traveled onward. (What, you thought that if I didn’t blog it, it didn’t happen? Right…words can hurt, but reality is whatever it is, whether you say it or not.)They have traveled, whilst Apollos is in Corinth doing some teaching, over to Ephesus. Paul preaches and people come to faith in Christ. It’s a truly beautiful situation. For the first time, it seems that Paul is going to preach without the Judaizers causing problems or even without causing too much controversy with the Jews themselves. (Remember, the Judaizers were the ones who thought that being a good Christian required one to first live according to Jewish law.) He does end up leaving the synagogue and teaching in a Gentile school room, but that was going to happen: eventually, the Jews that did not want the Gospel would not want the Gentiles. Side note: a drive for “racial purity” is completely inconsistent with the Gospel: if you have the Gospel, you want all people that God has created to hear it an…

Overdue: Christmas Gifting Ideas

I have been an inconsistent blogger over the years that I have had this habit, but apparently the last three Christmas seasons I have done the same thing, and I probably shouldn’t stop now. After all, I’m a Baptist, and this is how we work: the first time we do something, it’s a novelty and very, very scary. The second time it’s a repeat and underwhelming. The third time? It’s a tradition and must therefore be done forever and ever, even past the Millennial Kingdom.After this, it will be something I have to do, even if they shut down the Internet.What is this habit? A blog post giving some suggestions on where to do some Christmas gift-giving. No, this does not have the links to my Amazon Wish Lists. Or to my Gander Mountain Wishlist, for that matter…Ann and I have, over the years, chosen to give to certain ministries, missions, or projects in lieu of some of the “giving of obligation” that happens this time of year. You know the gifts: one little trinket for this person or that perso…

Sermon Wrap-up December 9

Here are the sermon wrap-up links for December 9:Audio Link is here. (By the way, I just realized that the podcast service has not been feeding the whole sermon into iTunes. So, if you listen through iTunes and thought the conclusions were lacking….they were. Checking on that this week.)Here, again, is the video: Daniel 2:44-45: The hidden hope of faithOverall Sales Results for the Entire Holiday Shopping Season 2011:Between November 1, 2011 and December 26, 2011, Consumers spent $35.3 billion online, according to market research organization ComScore. This is 15% more than consumers spent online in the same time period in 2010. There were nine days in 2011 in which online sales were more than $1 billion, according to ComScore. Clothing chain discounts were an average of 7% higher than they were during the 2010 Christmas shopping season, according to an analyst at BMO Capital Markets. According to an ICSC-Goldman Sachs survey, 18% of gift purchases were gift cards, which is 3.4% hig…

Book: I AM…by Iain D. Campbell

Ever read a book that should have been longer? Except, then you wonder if, had it been longer, it would have been as good?That’s how I feel about I AM…Exploring the “I am” saying of John’s Gospel by Iain D. Campbell. Weighing in at only 120 pages, this volume does not belabor any of the points within. Instead, Campbell comes right to the point on the seven usages of “I AM” by Jesus as reported in the Gospel of John.In a short introduction, Campbell explains the purpose of the book. He expresses why the “I am” statements of Jesus stand out, citing the Old Testament usage of the phrase in God’s revelation at the Burning Bush. The introduction to I AM… then explains that the Gospel of John uses a specific word pattern in Greek to say those words. This discussion lacks two things that would add value: first, it lacks the actual Greek terminology. While simplifying the explanation to “what could be said with one word is said with two” may provide clarity, to extend and show the actual Gree…

Sermon Wrap-Up December 2

Here is the audio link for the sermonOutline:2 Samuel 7 The Promise of a King Hope: Knowing that the unknown will be worth living for I.  Uneasiness at Christmas Time II. Our efforts to do for God III. God's promise to do for us IV. Faith to trust that promise Questions: 1. Who wanted to build a Temple? Who will?  2. Why couldn't David build the Temple? 3. Should we build a Temple? Why not? 4. What is hope? And one last thing: the experiment in current technology:

Book: Organic Outreach for Families

Today brings another book review from Cross Focused Reviews. The book is by Kevin G & Sherry Harney and is titled Organic Outreach for Families. Published by Zondervan Publishers, it is third in the Organic Outreach Series. The first two are Organic Outreach for Ordinary People and Organic Outreach for Churches.The fundamental principle of Organic Outreach for Families is to provide guidance for households on spreading the Gospel from home. This aim is addressed in three sections: Reaching Your Own Family; Raising Children of Light in a Dark World; Turning Your Home into a Lighthouse.These sections build nicely on one another. The first goes into defining the Gospel and providing guidance on seeing the Gospel understood among your own family. This flows well. After all, one will have a great deal of difficulty turning a home into a lighthouse if the darkness holds the home.Included in this section is a helpful chapter on sharing the Gospel with extended family. Extended family is …

Clean this place up! Leviticus 14

Leviticus has baffled for years, and I think it will continue to baffle for years to come. One benefit of its inclusion in the Christian Bible, though, is that it serves as evidence that the Word was not simply made up by people looking for an easy religion. What nut would spend two chapters going on about infectious skin diseases? Especially in a world where the habit already existed to banish lepers and leave them banished?However, that just reinforces my own personal presuppositions. I personally hold that Leviticus was written down in the time of Moses, was intended as part of the theocratic rule of Israel, and should be interpreted based on that assumption. In other words, what did a group of Late Bronze Age nomads take Leviticus 14 (link) to mean? Here are a few highlights:1. They would have understood that disease would be a lasting problem for them, no matter where they lived. Perhaps leprosy and other infectious skin diseases were actually not that prevalent for them in their…

None of My Business: Acts 18

Christianity keeps spreading throughout the Roman Empire. In the process, it begins to separate from the Judaism that it originated from. This leads to a great deal of tension between the two groups of people, especially as people leave one for the other.Meanwhile, life in Rome goes on. The Empire goes about its business, the usual business of Empires: conquest, trade, taxation, commerce, and circuses. Empires are about those items and seldom are truly concerned with religious matters. Historically speaking, religion has been co-opted by governments for their own ends, but rarely has that been good for any religious group.Paul, meanwhile, is not focused on imperial matters. He is focused, instead, on the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the pursuit of the passion, he’s gone from place to place, and now he finds himself in Corinth. Starting off, he splits time between making tents and preaching, but once his team of Silas and Timothy arrive, he focuses his whole effort on the p…

Sermon Wrap-Up November 26

Sunday, November 25 Morning Sermon (Audio Link)Luke 17:22-37 I. Thankful for the promise of the future II. Thankful for the sustaining grace of God III. Thankful for the future life IV. Thankful for deliverance in chaos Questions for kids: 1. How many people got on the ark?  2. Will Jesus come back secretly or obviously? How will we know He came back? 3. Lot's wife was turned into what? 4. Was that because she just looked or is there more? Thanksgiving Service (Audio Link) “Do I not fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:24) I. What to be thankful for? The Omnipresence of God
II. What in the world is that? Let us consult with John Wesley To shew how we are to understand this glorious truth, God is in this, and every place. The psalmist, you may remember, speaks strongly and beautifully upon it, in Psalm 139...In a word, there is no point of space, whether within or without the bounds of creation, where God is not.III. Why?       A. Connection of Omnipresence with Omnip…

You get under my skin: Leviticus 13

When you are starting a society from scratch, everything has to be dealt with. Not only must property laws and morality laws be presented, but personal protection must be addressed. Additionally, laws and practices for public health have to be put in place. After all, you are taking a diverse lot of people that have lived semi-isolated lives and now they have to live together.This is an important part of the context of Leviticus 13 (link). The people of Israel have been living in Egypt, and the truth is we do not know for certain the conditions they have lived with. We know that the conditions of their slavery were less than pleasant, but that does not clue us in for their life situation. It is also likely that the Egyptians handled enforcement of public health in their kingdom: sometimes by exile, sometimes by execution.Coming back to the text, what is present here are the instructions of how to deal with infectious skin disease in the community. While some people will find a great m…

Do you remember what happened? Me neither. Acts 17

Paul and Silas continue on their missionary journey. Acts 17 (link) has some of the most oft-preached portions of the missionary journeys:1. That Paul had a “custom” of going to the synagogue is used to encourage customary church attendance.2. The Bereans “diligent search” of the Scriptures to check on Paul’s message is a valued reminder not to trust the messenger alone, but to use the text to evaluate the message.3. The time in Athens is used to justify the study of pagan literature and as an example of preaching the Gospel in completely untouched situations.All of these are well and good. There may be some scrutiny that should be brought to bear on our interpretations of those passages, whether or not we are really seeing what is intended there. However, in general, there’s a lot of material out there about these, so we’re not going to spend much time here.Instead, let’s go just one sentence in: “Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia.” Quick, name all that you …

Book: Christmas Uncut

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This book review is brought to you by Cross Focused Media. They send me a book. I read the book. I write a review. The folks at CFM do not know if I will like the book or not, and do not insist that I speak highly of the book. So, book exchanged for review and that’s it. Most of us have our own understanding of the Christmas story. Usually it is an amalgamation of both the Biblical story and various storybooks, movies, and Christmas plays. Admittedly, some of our information is warped. There are things that we honestly cannot know and other fragments of the story get filled in by guesses and historical estimation.Into this milieu is where the book Christmas Uncut by Carl Laferton comes. Here’s a look at the cover and a link for more sales info:What do we find here?1. This is a short book. 62 pages. Which is good, given the price. Also, the length makes it easy to include this book in a tight reading schedule. Obviously, brevity cuts the other direction: the detail-hungry among us will…

Oh boy. Leviticus 12

Apologies for the long silence. There are just times when the words don’t flow. And times when the words don’t flow and the next writing task is a big challenge.Working through the whole Bible, we come to one of those odd passages. Actually, one of the oddest passages outside of prophetic visions in the Old Testament. It’s Leviticus 12 (link), where the rules of purification after childbirth are given.This is an odd situation. There are a few things to hold to as we look at this:1. Do not confuse the need for “purification” with the need for “forgiveness.” While there are overlaps in the vocabulary, not everything in the Old Testament that needed purified meant that sin had occurred. This passage should not be taken to indicate that childbirth is sinful. 2. Then we get to the real touchy part of the chapter. Why in the world are the purification rites different for a son than for a daughter? Let’s break this down:A. The first option is the view that sons are more valuable than daughte…

Sermon Wrap-Up Nov 18

Audio Link HereNote: I am going to be moving to a single server for audio at the end of the month. I’ve used up my free trial year for Amazon Web Services and cannot quite make heads or tails of their billing structures. So, I’ll be using a flat-rate service instead. In preparation, I’m going to go ahead and stop posting dual links now.Luke 17:11-21United in miseryUnited in rejectionUnited in healingWill we be united in rejoicing?Application points:1. National--and our shortcomings are evident2. Church--how do we do with it?3. Personal--among our friends and family?4. Will we be right, even when all others are wrong?Questions:1. Where was Jesus traveling through in the story? Where was Jesus going to in the story?2. Was the thankful man from Galilee?3. How can you show that you are thankful?

Sermon Wrap-Up November 11 2012

Morning Audio Link Here (Alternate Here)Subject: The Reality of Life
     There is more to life than the human experience between birth and death Central Theme:     Focus point: the immediacy of choosing to believe what God has told us
Objective Statement: Every person canknow God by believing what God has said.
Rationale:     1. This not sheerly about wealth      2. This is about our attitude regarding wealth      3. This is about how we handle what God has said
     4. This is about our response to the reality of eternity

Mission Minded Munching: Leviticus 11

Just as an observation: taking a quick read at “The Gospel for Shrimp” would not hurt you going in to this chapter. Why? We’re coming strongly into the parts of Leviticus that must be considered in the context of the fullness of Scripture and not just line-by-line.That is one of the major issues facing the modern reader of Scripture: we do not read enough. Actually, it’s more that we do not comprehend in long enough blocks. Either because we learned to read so that we could answer nit-pick quiz questions or to hit page requirements, our reading abilities tend to fail us on comprehension of large blocks of text. You can see it away from Scripture in the bumper stickers that quote J.R.R. Tolkien as saying “Not all who wander are lost.” It’s an accurate quote. Usually, though, it is applied as a “Do your own thing” anthem. The whole context of Lord of the Rings? The quote applies to Aragorn, son of Arathorn. It’s attached to him when he is protecting the wide lands of the North as a Rang…

Shush! No speaking here! Acts 16

The Word of God is rarely as complex as we make it, but there remain times where it is also not exactly as simple as we might like. Acts 16 (link) is one of those passages that makes it not quite as simple.Why?Well, being a Baptist, we see spreading the Gospel by telling people about Jesus as a foundational activity. We believe that there is one Name under heaven whereby people are saved, and that is the Name above all names. That through Jesus living in perfection, dying on the cross, and rising from the grave to live forevermore, the debt of sin has been paid. That He has taken the death that Adam bought and passed on to his progeny and redeemed it, giving life in its place to all who believe.That’s a big deal. These days, the central organizing principle of many Baptist organizations is to spread this good news that we call the Gospel everywhere. We see it commanded and commended in Scripture as an important activity of our lives as believers.Then we encounter this chapter in Acts.…

Strangers in the Fire: Leviticus 10

The hardest time to make a decision is when things are going very badly. The hardest time to make a good decision is when things are going well. Woe be unto the one who makes a decision while things are going well shortly after things have been going badly…The people of Israel have been through a stretch in the recent months—in fact, one thing that is critical to remember when looking at the Old Testament narrative is that a lot of chapters in the Pentateuch (Genesis-Deuteronomy) cover a short period of time. Well, to be more specific: the second half of Exodus, all of Leviticus, and a decent chunk of Number really fit in under a year. Contrast that with Genesis which covers all of prehistoric times or 1-2 Kings which covers about five centuries, you have a lot of text for a small number of calendar pages.This is important to remember as we look at Leviticus 10 (link). Here we start with the story of Nadab and Abihu who are struck dead by God Almighty for offering what is called, cryp…

Sermon Wrap-Up October 28

I headed out to the Arkansas Baptist State Convention and Pastor’s Conference on Sunday afternoon, and left someone to teach in the evening service. I haven’t heard from him, but his wife is still alive and commenting on Facebook, so I trust he survived.Meanwhile, I looked back at the text from my recent sermon to the Centennial Baptist Association and found a few points of application for the church, so I adjusted it and preached it for the church this week. Morning Audio Link (Alternate Here)Mark 9:33-37
Subject: Moving Forward
    How do we go forward as a church? Central Theme:     Our focus as disciples determines God's reception of us
Objective Statement:     Every disciple of Jesus must serve without consideration of return Rationale:     1. Our time is often spent in arguments about who is the greatest or most important.      2. Yet do we want to have to answer the question: "What were you arguing about on the road?" when finish our journey?      3. Our goal, our p…

The Yoke’s On You: Acts 15

Back in the dark ages, I was a Boy Scout. I spent a few summers at beautiful, spacious, illustrious Camp Nile Montgomery, and did my fair share of hiking through the woods and hills of Arkansas carrying everything I needed for the trip in my backpack. It was heavy.What was worse, though, were the weekends that some of us went out to backpack, which involved carrying everything we needed, while others were just there to camp. One group of us would be dropped off at a trailhead with our packs and the rest? They’d stay in the truck and drive on in. If you’re wondering, we did for practice, as there were some trips that you had to have a certain number of backpacking miles/nights to take part in.When we had those weekends, there were always a few guys who should have been prepping alongside us but were not. They were part of the same program but had whatever reason for not participating in the full activities. And they would heckle those of us who came hiking in some three hours after the…

Book: Understanding Theology in 15 Minutes a Day

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Note: I think I was supposed to do this as a blog tour last week, but I have lost all my record of it. So, I am going to go ahead and do it now. Perhaps BethanyHouse Publishers will never again send me a book. Perhaps they will. Either way, easy come, easy go.Understanding Theology in 15 Minutes a Day is one of three (currently) books in the "Understanding Fill-in-the-Blank in 15 Minutes a Day” series from BethanyHouse Publishers. The first one I have not read, the second one, Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day, is reviewed here. Note this before continuing: BethanyHouse Publishers sent me a copy of this book so that I would review it. That is the only connection between myself and the company, and the only influence is the insistence that I actually do the review.The essence of this book is realizing that theology, like any other truly complex subject, is going to take more than 15 minutes a day to really dig into. However, you have to start somewhere. And having …