Posts

Showing posts from October, 2012

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

Image
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 …

Fire IT UP! Leviticus 9

“Then Aaron lifted his hand toward the people, and he blessed them, and he came down after sacrificing the sin offering and the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings. Then Moses and Aaron entered the tent of assembly. When they came out, they blessed the people, and Yahweh’s glory appeared to all the people. Then a fire went out from before Yahweh, and it consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And all the people saw it, so they shouted for joy, and they fell on their faces.” (Leviticus 9:22–24, LEB)I have a plan for Sunday. It rolls like this: I’ll get to the church somewhere around 8 in the morning, come into my office, and start collecting my thoughts for the day. I’ll check throughout the church for anything that seems out of place and then I’ll make some coffee. Around 0930, people will start getting here, then we’ll have Sunday School. When 11 rolls around, we will gather in one batch and sing, have some announcements, sing some more, take an offerin…

These aren’t the gods you’re looking for: Acts 14

There are times to beat around the bush, give fluffy intros, or tell a quick illustrative humor. Then there are times to come straight to the point.Today is a straight to the point day. Acts 14 (link) is our next passage going through the whole Bible. We pick up Paul and Barnabas on their missionary endeavors, and find them in Lystra. Through Paul, God heals a man there who had been lame since birth. The witnesses determine that Paul and Barnabas must be “the gods” come down in human form to visit humanity.Paul and Barnabas then have to put a stop to the people’s attempt to worship the two of them as gods. They are aghast that the people would ascribe to them any of the worship and honor due to God alone.Without further ado, here are the critical points for us:1. Worship belongs to God alone. There is no one, nor any being, that deserves any fragment of the worship that God receives.2. If you are in leadership, there is a consistent pull for people to ascribe to you a respect that goe…

Sermon Wrap-Up from October 21

Sermon wrap-up:Morning Sermon Podcast is up: http://bit.ly/RbZjjuor http://bit.ly/RbZlblSubscribe: http://bit.ly/dhitsubiTunes: http://bit.ly/dhpodsubLuke 15:11-32
Subject: A Parable about what God is not like      (What is this about?) Central Theme:  The FatherObjective Statement:       Every Christian Must Stay with the Father Rationale:     1. The standard look at the story: Father, Older Son, Younger Son      2. Do not forget to look at the "citizens of the far country"           A. They welcome the younger son who is for their economy           B. But when judgment comes, the economy does not help, does it?      3. When he returns: he has nothing. All of the family's wealth belongs to the older son      4. When the Father dies, the older son could give his baby brother the boot      5. Fortunately, the Older Son is not like this one. The Older Son is One with the Father (John 10:30)      6. The Older Son came to the far country to find us      7. Still,…

Long, boring post: Podcasting How-To

Podcasting: I’m putting this on my blog as a reference post. Most of you aren’t going to be interested in the info, but this is the process I use to do my sermon podcasts on a weekly basis. It is, so far, the lowest cost method I have found. If you have suggestions, put them in the comment section. I will delete/spam any that are pure “sales” comments for your profit. NOTE: This reads longer than it takes. My average podcasting time is 12 minutes, not counting waiting on files to compile/upload. I typically start it doing a hands-off process and then go do whatever else needs done. I. EquipmentThis is the first step to deal with. The only piece of equipment that you technically need to podcast is a digital voice recorder. All the rest of the process can, technically, be handled through the web on a computer at the library. If your library allows you to attach an external storage device, that is. I personally use an Olympus VN-8100PC voice recorder. Attached to it is an Olympus ME-15 …

It just got real: Leviticus 8

You start with a plan. It’s a good plan. It’s a big plan. It’s an amazing plan. People will be wowed, the world will be astonished. Through it all, God will be glorified in what you have planned, and the whole thing will go down in history.Except that a plan is not really anything. It’s just a plan. There is nothing of value in a plan if you cannot get anyone to get their hands dirty and do it. All you have is a lovely spreadsheet and some nice PowerPoint slides. That and a dollar will get you a pseudo-burger from the golden arches.This is where the narrative of the Old Testament sits as we start Leviticus 8 (link). Moses has been given the plan. The materials (Tabernacle, et. al.) have been assembled. The instructions have been given.Now the question comes to it: Will Aaron and his sons take up the task? Will the priests undertake their duties? Will the people participate?If you have never tried to get a group of people to do something, you may not see this as a stress point. It is o…

Book Review: Churches, Revolutions, and Empires 1789-1914

Image
Are you looking for some light reading? Want a nice, fluffy easy book that won’t tax your brain too much?Look elsewhere.Want to dig into the interactions of churches, revolutions, and empires? Do you think that type of material would interesting? Then welcome to my world—and you’re on to the right book for that: Churches, Revolutions, and Empires: 1789-1914 by Ian Shaw. Cover-> (Cover links to Amazon.com book page.)A few of quick notes before we go any farther: 1. I have the Kindle Edition of the book; 2. I got it free from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for the review; 3. I am not a galactic expert in all forms of history and as such, may have missed errors amongst some of Shaw’s details.On to the review: history is tough, I think, to write. There is a great deal of detail and it is not uncommon to see authors who have so buried themselves in the historical period that they have lost the ability to connect to a modern reader. Fortunately, Shaw has not fallen into that abyss. Wh…

This Magic Moment: Acts 13

When we get going, the opposition is more than just a little ordinary.The fundamental nature of Christianity is that it is a seeking religion. While we see God as holy, righteous, loving, merciful, and just; mankind as fallen and needing a Saviour; the Earth as our stewardship; and all fellow believers as equal before God Almighty, the right view of our religious behavior is to be seeking.Seeking what? First of all, seeking God. Why? Not because He hasn’t already found us but because He has. That sounds odd, but it’s an accurate depiction of much of Biblical religion: man seeks more about God after God has sought out man. Start with Eden—God comes looking for Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 and then Cain and Abel seek God through sacrifice in Genesis 4. John puts it more bluntly: “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). We act in response to God’s actions.Second, we seek our fellow believers. My own denomination has an emphasis on starting churches, but it’s one I find slightly m…

CBA Meeting Sermon: Mark 9:33-37

The Audio link is here (or here)Chrysostom Story: Hesitant to become preacher, had to be forced to become archbishop-- 386 Antioch to 397 Constantinople Did not want the promotion to archbishop. Did not relish the power or hold it. At first, things went smoothly in Constantinople. The people were impressed with his preaching. The Empress Eudoxia responded to his spiritual prescriptions. Chrysostom, however, was not one to let diplomacy stand in the way of calling people to repentance. He found that many of the clergy in Constantinople were undisciplined and unspiritual, and so he instigated reforms which made many unhappy. Chrysostom also discovered that much money was being wasted by church officials. He put himself on a limited budget and diverted funds formerly spent on luxuries to the poor, to building hospitals, and to establishing new churches. If a preacher be indifferent to praise, and yet cannot produce the doctrine “which is grace seasoned with salt,” he becomes despised…

Sermon Wrap-Up October 14

Sermon Wrap-UpMorning Audio is Here (Alternate Here)Luke 15:8-10 I. Lost things need found II. Found things need celebrating III. The Table is the place where both happen: we remember how we were found and we celebrate that fact IV. Go into: invitation to repentance; invitation to the Table.

Book Review: You’re Stronger than You Think

On the front end: this is a book by a clinical psychologist. I have a general discomfort with psychologists/psychiatrists, with the exceptions of Dr. Sidney Freedman and Dr. Gordon Wyatt, so I did not dig into this with the expectation that it would be a great book.However, Tyndale Publishers was offering You’re Stronger than You Think through their blog give-away program and I wanted a free book. Even if it was one I thought I would dislike. Hey, free book in exchange in for the review, right?Instead of finding just some unnecessary shrinky-stuff, though, this book was more encouraging than I expected. While it is focused on psychological issues, it is a worthwhile read. Here are a few of the keys to the book:1. Dr. Parrott focuses on parts of the human experience that are shared: mind, heart, and soul. This makes a strength for the book: I have seen some “self-help” that over-focus on the impact of physical exercise on your well-being. While everyone should exercise to their physica…

By your own hand: Leviticus 7

We live in an age of substitutes and surrogates. A quick look at our TV Guides and browser histories tell us that: we live our dreams through surrogates—otherwise why do we watch so much “reality TV?” It may be your dream to dance like that, but you don’t do it. You just watch someone else do it. You might dream about your survival skills or your singing skills or your cooking skills….but you don’t practice them or develop them or test them. You watch others do that.And these are the lighter, fluffier issues of our problem with substitutes. We need relationships but we sub out Facebook. We need intimacy but we sub in pornography, whether visual or textual. We see a world in need of justice but we can’t bring it, so we watch shows where the perfect crime meets the better-than-perfect crime solvers. We want substitutes.We want to learn, but we don’t want the trouble so we hit the wikis. We want spirituality but without difficulty, so we stack up on podcasts of gurus or preachers or teac…

A Few Thoughts on “Pulpit Freedom Sunday”

Notice: I did NOT say brief thoughts. I wanted to hit all of this in one sitting, so it’s long. Very, very long.Some of you may have seen on the news leading up to this past Sunday, or in the news this week, about what is called Pulpit Freedom Sunday. I thought I would give you a little information about what that refers to and how it impacts us.A little history is necessary to understand what is going on with all of this. First point is the First Amendment to the United States Constitution:Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.Based on the First Amendment and stinging from the ways in which the British Monarchy of the time had used both force and taxation to control religious speech, the heritage in the United States became that churches and other religious…

Sermon Recap: October 7

Morning Sermon Audio Here (Alternate Here)Luke 15:1-7
Subject: Rejoice that what was lost has been found!
Central Theme:     We have all been lost; some of us still are
Objective Statement:Everyone of us should seek what we have lost--our relationship with Christ Our relationships with each other. Our purpose in living. Key:
Find this at the Cross. Everything you have lost is found there.

Book: Mondays with My Old Pastor

Image
Jose Luis Navajo’s Mondays with My Old Pastor from Thomas Nelson Publishers is a book with a  good intention, decent execution, but a somewhat fatal flaw. Let’s take a look: <---There’s the cover.Mondays with My Old Pastor is the story of a young, burned-out pastor prescribed “mandatory rest” by his doctor. He takes part of that time and visits with his old pastor, old being “former and experienced” not “bad old.” The pastor imparts the distilled pearls of wisdom gathered along the path of many years of ministry. The happy ending is, of course, that the young pastor leaves the book committed afresh to his work and committed to strengthening the younger ones behind him.Overall, the intention of the book is excellent. Navajo writes to share some basic wisdom points that are helpful and encouraging to new pastors and tired pastors. The basic premise is the strongest wisdom principle in the book: do not be a young pastor without seeking the wisdom of those who have gone before. After y…

Restoration: Leviticus 6

There is no moving forward with God until we have done all that we can to not only mend, but truly restore, how we have harmed our fellow man.Continuing on completely through the Bible, Leviticus 6 (link) comes up next. Leviticus gets a bad rap as a boring plod, for the record, as there is more here than we often give credit for. You just have to actually read it and consider what you find.First, remember that Leviticus is about living life in light of God’s holiness. At the core of it, that is what you are dealing with here: How do we live in the presence of a holy God?Leviticus gives us the first part of the answer. The fullness of the answer is found in the righteousness of Christ and His death on the Cross. However, while the Incarnation remains the most important interaction between God and humanity, we have the remainder of Scripture to consider and to help flesh out how we live in light of that.That is where we come to in this chapter. The headers in the NASB do not do justice …

Worm FOOD! Acts 12

There is much to tell in Acts 12 (link), but I will leave you to read of Peter’s arrest and deliverance on your own. Do not overlook that you have to slow down and notice your prayers being answered: we often are so emotionally overwrought, swinging from the one side to another, that we miss the very practical and obvious working of God.Instead, today we shall focus on King WormFood. He is actually called Herod Agrippa I, and he had been granted the rule of most of the region we call the Holy Land. His territory included Judea, Samaria, Galilee, the Transjordan, and the Decapolis—more than Herod the Great, his grandfather, had ruled. Herod Agrippa I owed this good fortune to being friends with Caligula, the Roman Emperor.Caligula was not a popular Emperor and holds the distinction of being the first Roman Emperor assassinated while in office. Technically, Julius Caesar does not count---he was assassinated primarily to prevent him from consolidating all power in the Republic into the E…

Book: Serpent of Moses by Don Hoesel

Image
Today’s book review is brought to you by Bethany House Publishers, who provided a free copy of the book in exchange for the review.Serpent of Moses by Don Hoesel is the second novel in the Jack Hawthorne Series. If you can picture a semi-Indiana Jones-adventure series but with no Nazis, at least not in this one, you’ve got a basic idea what you are dealing with. I would make this first observation: you would probably do well to snag Elisha’s Bones, the first in the series, because there are enough references to Hawthorne’s past that it would be helpful. Given that you can snag both for under ten bucks suggests it’s not a bad idea.On, though, to Serpent of Moses. In this case, our intrepid hero has departed the archaeological field after the trauma of being featured in the first novel. After all, I have read books about non-traumatic archaeology. They’re called textbooks/sedatives. The basic plot line is a search for the Nehushtan, the bronze serpent from Numbers 21. As with any archae…

Sermon Recap from September 30

Luke 14:25-35Audio Link here (alternate here)
Subject:
     Following Christ has a greater cost going forward than we often imagine Central Theme:You cannot stay close to Jesus and remain anonymous: Scott Duvall
     The grace of God is unilateral. The life of a disciple is not.
Objective Statement:
     Every person that follows Christ must  pay a cost.Rationale:     1. That cost does not buy us grace: grace is gifted by God and CANNOT BE BOUGHT      2. That cost is rather charged by the world to us. Responses:
     It will cost those who crave the approval of family and friends over the approval of Christ      It will cost those who crave the trappings of this world      It will cost those who crave the security of their lives      It will cost those who crave to call things their own      It will cost those who crave to pass through life without stinging a few and unchanged Implementation:
1. Prayer cards:     A. One thing that you want to see happen in yourself in the coming 40 days   …