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Showing posts from July, 2012

Insert Lame Title Here: Acts 3

Apologies for the title. I kept trying to find a good idea, and just could not escape the 80s/90s slang of “That’s just lame, dude!” So, all I was finding were lame titles. Ergo, I inserted a lame title. You want super-professional? Buy a book. Bloggers have days they’re a little strange :)The departure of a leader changes the dynamic of any group. Whether it is as trivial as football or as crucial as a military change-of-command, leadership transitions are moments of great potential. Potential, though, goes either direction. It can be fulfilled with good or with bad.Acts 3 (link) shows the church in its beginning, going through the opening phases of the leadership transition. Acts 2 was the impressive opening of this new era as the Holy Spirit came in fullness on the believers, the Word was preached and thousands came to the faith. That was a tremendous moment.Yet what follows that moment? After all, we’ve seen the coach win the first game big and then implode. We’ve had a new preach…

Dress for Success: Exodus 39

If you’ve got a fully mobile worship center with all of the implements of sacrifice, what else do you need? You need people to staff it. You need security, maintenance, helpers, teachers, fire-builders, and someone to be in charge of this whole thing. You need, if you’re in Ancient Israel, priests. And one High Priest who is in charge of the whole lot.The High Priest, though, is not chosen simply for his looks. In fact, he’s going to come from the same family as most of the other priests. He’s not going to stand out based on looks alone. He needs something to identify him.So, God commanded in Exodus 28 that the High Priest be clothed in a specific way, and I touched on this issue when we looked at that chapter (link to that post). Here in Exodus 39 (link) we see that those instructions were followed.I do not, personally, have the artistic ability to render a drawing of what this completed outfit would have looked like, but I can tell you this from the description: the High Priest woul…

Watch your language! Acts 2

All of Scripture is God-breathed and correct, and it is all useful for the purposes God has given it to us for (2 Timothy 3:16). This calls us to reject the idea that, for example, the “red-letter” portions of the Bible are more right than other sections. One can see, though, how certain chapters/sections provide critical highlights of the story. If you needed to pick only ten chapters of the Bible to know, to base the start of Christian discipleship on, Acts 2 (link) would need to be on that list. Why would I count this chapter so important?This chapter recounts the origin of the church. True, Matthew 16:18 contains Jesus declaration that He will build His church, but that’s where we find the building plans. Here’s where we see Him do the ground breaking.In the groundbreaking, in the birth of the church here at Pentecost, we see:1. The church starts off with unified followers of Christ. You do not have a church by yourself. It starts with a gathering of people who are committed to th…

Sermon Wrap Up for July 22

I honestly thought about not posting yesterday’s sermons, because yesterday morning just did not come off as the sermon I thought I should be preaching. Such is life, though, and rather than hide a dud, I’ll admit that some days are not so good.Morning audio link (alternate here)Evening audio link (alternate here)Morning outline:(The first story is the healing of the Centurion's Servant. I preached the parallel passage in Matthew back in January. ) (Alternate Audio here) July 22 AM Luke 7:1-17 Worthy or not--who deserves the healing and provision of Jesus? The miracles: I. The Centurion: the healing of his slave at from a distance II. The Widow of Nain: the healing of her son up close The crowds I. The Centurion:  II. The Widow of Nain Evening Outline: Note: Much of the general idea of this series is drawn from J. Scott Duvall's Experiencing God's Story of Life and Hope. I would recommend you grab a copy.Ephesians 4:20-25 Ephesians 4:17-27
I. Came to Christ not through sens…

Book: The Jesus Scandals

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First and foremost: the title of this book is The Jesus Scandals. Not Sandals. Every time I have looked at the title, I have misread the title of this book. It has nothing to do with the shoes of the Lord. Now that we have that cleared up, let’s look at the real book.The real book, The Jesus Scandals,  is written by David Instone-Brewer. It’s published by Monarch Books and distributed in the United States through Kregel Publishers. Kregel provided the review copy of this book. If you think a free paperback will keep me from giving you an honest opinion, skip the review and move on.Let’s break this down, short and sweet:1. The author. David Instone-Brewer is Senior Research Fellow in Rabbinics and the New Testament for the Tyndale House Residential Centre for Biblical Research. That’s a fancy title, but it shows that he is specifically involved in continuing research regarding New Testament issues. Essentially, he has substantial training and exposure to the material. The link above wi…

Scratch that off the list: Exodus 38

After what has seemed like a long, long time we are finally finished with the Tabernacle. That may not be the biggest theological lesson in Exodus 38 (link) but it is still one worth contemplating. If you go back to the start of the Tabernacle narratives in Exodus 25 and read back through the whole process, you will see that there is a great deal of detail and precision. Many of those details are technical and would be easy to get bogged down in the midst of. This is not unlike many of the challenges put in front of us as followers of Christ today. The path of obedience is often more complex than we would like it to be. For example, someone determines that the goal of their life is to serve God as a pilot for missionaries. While the obedience goal is quite simple: be a missionary pilot; the path there takes a detailed process to achieve. After all, simply reading the Bible does not qualify one to operate a multi-engine aircraft on instruments at night. You have to learn all of the ass…

Pick A Lot: Acts 1

Last week, we finished going through Mark as we work completely through the Bible. Now, I’d like to skip Luke and John and go straight to Luke’s second volume, Acts. The longform name is often given as The Acts of the Apostles, but most of us know this book as simply the book of Acts.Another title I’ve seen a few others and heard a few preachers attach to this book is The Acts of the Holy Spirit. While I can see the point they want to make, that this book is about what happens in the time after the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2) and how God works through people in His church, it is still about the people through whom God worked. We’re all about saving the pixels, though, so Acts will be the name I use. What happens in the first chapter (link)? Initially, you get what reads like a Twitter recap of the Gospel of Luke:“All that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles He had chosen.”  That’…

Sermon Recap from July 15

The summer oddness continues, with us not having a fully structured evening service again this week. So, I’ve got the morning sermon and a brief recap on the evening devotional.Morning Audio is here (Alternate Here)Outline:July 15 AM Luke 6:46-49 Foundations! More than 3/4 of Americans (approximately 78%, Gallup Poll reported here) claim to be Christians. That's a huge number: it would mean that 225 million Americans were Christians.
Yet when we look at American society, do we see a country that is actually acting like 225 million of its residents are Christians?

I. Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is a Christian.      How can this be?  II. Far too many people think that their words alone will be enough to count themselves believers      Words alone are not enough: Confession and belief are in Romans 10:9 and we must consider the situation of those confessing in that day. Their confession would cost them something III. Action must follow belief:      The houses Jesus speaks…

A Much Better Day: Mark 16

Today is Friday the 13th, which many people take as a bad omen. For me, while there is some measure of historical significance to why we tend to think Friday the 13ths are a bad day, the day itself? Not scary. Most superstition falls under the category of self-fulfilling prophecy. You expect bad things to happen, then bad things happen. I’d need to find and cite a sociologist or psychologist to prove that to you as a fact, but that’s not my point here. My point is this: whatever you think of today, whether you expect it to be good or not good, there has been a much better day. It was better both objectively and subjectively.Put yourself in the sandals of those who had followed the earthly ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. They have followed and then watched Him be executed at the hands of the Roman government. That Friday was one of the worst days that they could have experienced. Many had left everything and suffered rejection by their culture to follow Jesus, and He was now dead.That’s…

Load it up: Exodus37

The construction narrative continues in Exodus 37 (link) as we see Bezalel and Oholiab working through the Tabernacle instructions. They construct in this passage: the Ark of the Covenant; the table for showbread; utensils for it; a lampstand; the altar; the anointing oil and the incense. While the text only names Bezalel in the passage, it is likely that he made these items in the same sense that a general contractor builds a house: who is in charge? Bezalel is the general contractor on this project, it appears. These passages are ripe, as I have said before, for “over-allegorization” where we try and make the number of loops or the number of inches in a cubit relevant to our life or emblematic for Christ. At the risk of getting too far down that path, I want to highlight the key repeating features of all of these items:1. Gold. There is no way to read this passage without seeing that a large amount of gold goes into this construction project. Gold is one of the most well-known preci…

Not so good to be the King: Mark 15

We are one chapter short of finishing the Gospel of Mark. Since each one of the gospels gives an account of the whole earthly life of Christ, that means we’re in a pretty dark place. Mark 15 (link) gives us the narrative account of Jesus’ trial at the hands of Roman authorities and His crucifixion and burial.This chapter is ripe for the picking when we consider injustice in this world. Here are a few examples:1. Mark 15:7 tells us that Barabbas had been imprisoned with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in an insurrection. Not that he’s specifically guilty, but the round up of the usual suspects had gotten him a spot due for execution. The other Gospel accounts do find the Barabbas was likely guilty of something, but Mark’s account makes one wonder: Why is he in prison, really? Prison is a place for the proven guilty—not a storehouse for the unwanted.2. Mark 15:6 give a hint why Pilate may have been okay with rounding up more than the necessarily guilty: every year he relea…

When you’ve got enough, STOP! Exodus 36

Continuing through the whole Bible, albeit slowly through the whole Bible, we come to Exodus 36 (link). This chapter begins the actual process of building and furnishing the Tabernacle. Prior to this point, we’ve just had instructions given by God and received by Moses. The idea was shared in Exodus 35 and the people began to give freely to fund and furnish, and here at the beginning of Exodus 36 the instructions are given to Bezalel and Oholiab.The chapter concludes with a recounting of how the craftsmen, both named and unnamed, are following the directions God had given for the Tabernacle. Before we get there we see something else. We see in Exodus 36:5-7 that the people have brought, even before the start, more than enough material to complete the whole project. There was enough provision for the project, with some excess, and the people had to be restrained, held back, from giving any more.Now, I could latch on to this, wrench it from its context, and point out how it would be muc…

Sermon Wrap Up

Since we started Rec Camp, our church’s version of Vacation Bible School, Sunday night, there is no Sunday night sermon. Here is the Sunday Morning Sermon:Audio Link (Alternate Audio Link)Outline:Genesis 1:27 (NLT) So God created human beings in His own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God created man ain His own image, in the image of God He created him; bmale and female He created them. 1------------------------- John 3:16 (NIV) For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God so aloved the world, that He bgave His 1conly begotten Son, that whoever dbelieves in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.1Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice--the kind He will find acceptable. This truly the way to worship Him. There…

Book: Legacy Road

Today, I’d like to take a look at a novel from Graham Garrison titled Legacy Road. It’s published by Kregel Publishers, and the company provided the book free for this review. If you’d reather not read on since it’s a freebie review, then you’ve been warned.The novel Legacy Road is a story of redemption and regret, of love and loss, and it’s based down in Georgia. Slightly more than a decade ago, I lived in Georgia, and I still live in the rural South, just in Arkansas now. This novel reads much like the stories that are told around here and that I heard in my Georgia days.What do I mean by that? Garrison, the author, presents the reader with people that you don’t quite know at the beginning, and then across the pages you get most of their backstory as you also get the story the book intends to tell. As a person used to hearing people presents stories like this, as it takes nearly a year to get a whole story told around here, that is not too disturbing for a book.Personally, I do pref…

A Message for Today

This may have been the last unanimous act of Congress, but it was a good one if it was:IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, i…

What are you talking about? Mark 14

Mark 14 (link) is another of those really extended chapters in Mark. It runs to 72 verses, and would likely take me about 10 sermons to scratch the surface of it. Instead, though, we’re going to have to cover this quickly.Overviewing the chapter, we move through the whole of the events at the Last Supper. Jesus celebrates the Passover meal with His disciples, which includes the shocking moment where He washes their feet and the announcement of His impending betrayal. Moving ahead, we see the time in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prays, asking the cup to pass from Him but accepts God’s will in the issue.We have His arrest and the beginning of His trials. Much ink has gone into discussing how many forms of injustice, even by first century standards, are involved in these events. To read through the mockery that these trials contain and consider that the Roman scourging and crucifixion will be worse strains, or should strain, our conscience. Here is the one innocent man to ever wa…

Sermon Wrap-up for July 1

Morning Sermon Audio Here (Alternate Link)Evening Sermon Audio Here (Alternate Link)Morning Outline: Luke 6:37-45The importance of Scripture in Context:We must remember that Jesus did not speak in Bible verses. He spoke in whole sermons. To understand this verse, one that gets applied to any and every situation today, we need to put it alongside the rest of the Scripture:1: This is part of His overall message2: Nowhere does Jesus ever minimize sin. Keep in mind that He wrote the Book on it.3: You must consider the whole situation:     A. The role of judges: not just to bring fairness but to determine guilt and mete out punishment     B. The application of standards is not the same as judgment: if you are striving to hold yourself to a Biblical standard, it is not hypocrisy to express that standard4: This is also focused on within the community of the committed. Jesus is pointing out that within the faith, there is to be no sense of superiority5: Why?Because we are all sinners in need …