Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book: The Conviction to Lead

Today’s Book was provided by Bethany House Publishers. A free book was provided in exchange for the review.

I have been putting off this review of Dr. R. Albert Mohler’s The Conviction to Lead. Really, it should have been done a month or more ago, but I have been struggling with how to present it to you. I’ll get to why near the end.

On the front side of the situation, The Conviction to Lead is a good exploration of what it means to lead an organization and what it takes to lead against an organizational inertia that runs in a different direction. Part of this is illustrated in Dr. Mohler’s years at the helm of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, one the oldest institution in the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the older theological training schools in the Americas. (At least for Protestant Christians, that is.)

Working through The Conviction to Lead, the principles presented are sound. Some of them, such as “leaders are readers” have almost attained cliché status, but are here explored and reminded. This is valuable. Mohler claims to have written a comprehensive book, and phrases such as “leaders are readers” are cliché because they have long been part of comprehensive leadership.

As with many books on leadership, The Conviction to Lead strings together quotes from other authors and speakers regarding leadership. CFOs and CEOs and various other Os are quoted, though there are no UFOs mentioned. Further, while Mohler does not cite a Bible passage for every point in his work, his effort is obviously to set forth a Biblical foundation for his principles.

Where I stumble with this book is not so much in the material. It is in the author. The material is fine—it's not exceptional but it does the job. If you need a one-book leadership book to require in a college/seminary course for Christian leadership, this will fit the bill.

There are some questionable leaps by the author in this text. Leaving aside the questionable positive endorsement of a troubled religious leader in the acknowledgements, there are statements like “A leader who does not know how the work is done cannot possibly lead with effectiveness.” This rings a little hollow coming from someone who went from newspaper editor to seminary president with little academic experience and seeks to instruct future pastors (and critique the methods of current ones) with very little pastoral experience. In short: Mohler advocates knowing how the work is done when his leadership experience comes from leading in work he never did.

Further, while I support the overall effort to retrack the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary back to its confessional roots (all of them, mind you), I have seen and heard the results to people from the leadership methods to get there. It has not been rosy, and the collateral damage to individuals has been greater than The Conviction to Lead acknowledges. The reality is, based on the author’s own actions, if you put the principles in action from this book as the author does, people will get hurt in the process. Some of this is because of their opposition to your leadership—some is because bulldozing is never subtle.

In all, I would double my esteem of The Conviction to Lead had it been written by someone whose track record I did not know both rails of. The material is good, the writing is clear and on-point, but the personal history behind it bothers me.

Free book from Bethany House in exchange for the review.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

No Leftovers for You! Leviticus 19

Leviticus continues to be an interesting hodge-podge of laws and regulations. If you could imagine mixing Federal and State laws, the Tax Codes of the Several States, and the Baptist Faith and Message, you can picture what Leviticus is. Of course, life was perhaps a bit simpler 3500 years ago, allowing for a shorter collection of items.

Leviticus 19 (link) is a good example. First, we have a combination food safety/religious worship law. Then we have welfare/unemployment regulations, followed by interpersonal relationship guidelines, immigration law, judicial regulations, and child welfare regulations. If that does not give you some weirdness, I do not know what will!

Taking the first one: food safety/religious worship. Have you ever considered these two things together? Many people have not. I actually have. Honestly, ever considered the church potluck and whether you would eat a restaurant that set up like that? Anyway…

The opening verses of the chapter are actually straightforward. These are nearly restatements of the Ten Commandments: reverence mother and father, keep the sabbath, no idols.

It’s what you get starting in verse 5 that I find interesting. That section has a reference to the peace offerings that are prescribed earlier in the book (Leviticus 3) and those offerings included the fire-cooking of a meal. This chapter commands that any portion of that meal not eaten the first day could be eaten the second, but none could be eaten the third.

In short: you can have leftovers the next day, but not the day after that. Why would God give a command like that?

It fits, as many of God’s commands do, with a two-fold purpose.

First it is immensely practical: we are talking about grilled meat here. Grilled meat that will not be refrigerated between meals and that is breaking down as it sits there, gathering bacteria and other issues. So, should it be eaten on the third day? Not bloomin’ likely. Really.

Gather this: God cares about your health and well-being. None of His commands support a pointless destruction of your life: He may command that you stand firm and face the anger of the world, and surrender your life. He may command that in spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth, you eat questionable foods. But not pointlessly, not in a manner that does not draw people forward to Him.

Second, though, the law is illustrative of the ways of God. This takes a stretch, but consider this: how many days does today’s listening to God hold you for? If tomorrow is really crazy, it might carry you through tomorrow, but by the next day you need to take at least a half-second and reconnect. (probably more, honestly) Why? Because the stale leftovers of last Sunday’s religion will not feed your soul or nourish your spirit. Instead, they begin to get dangerous: dangerous if they are not well-preserved; dangerous if they are not well-reheated. And boring, if there is nothing to add with them.

Consider this: God speaks clearly through the Word every day. Why take the old reruns when you can have the fresh Word each time?

Now, skipping ahead a bit: we have the law governing gleaning. Essentially, it is a command of God to the wealthy to not be so stingy they leave nothing for others. It is a command of God to those in need that they take an active hand in providing for their own needs. We have no idea how well it was actually obeyed by the people. What we can know is this: we cannot ignore the needs of others, nor can we force one to work so another does not have to.

Examine this: God is clear that we should joyfully help those in need, yet the text never connects willful idleness with “need.” What, then, is our best response?

The remainder of the chapter, coupled with these three little highlights comes back to the second verse:

You shall be holy, for I Yahweh your God am holy.

Holiness encompasses every aspect of life.

Today’s Nerd note: Don’t overlook the end of the chapter: Leviticus 19:31-34 have four great commands in a row: stay away from false spiritualists, honor the old, be nice to immigrants, and and really, be nice to immigrants.

Scripture makes a hard distinction between invaders and those who want to come in and learn the ways of God’s people.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sermon Wrap-Up for January 27

Good Monday to you!

Morning Audio Link is here

Morning Outline:

January 27 AM James 1:1-4: Joy is Coming

We need to see that rising oppression of Christians means that joy is coming back to the Church in America


I. James: brother of Jesus and eventual leader of the church @ Jerusalem

II. Dispersion: scattered throughout: not the Jews, but God's people: this is for Christians

III. Joy in Trial

IV. Strength through prayer

V. Diverse Trials

VI. Test our faith: our trust in God. 

     1. Which builds our endurance

     2. We lack endurance

     3. Without endurance, we do not grow and we do not become complete

VII. Action:

     1. Prayer for others

     2. Prayer on a planned basis

Morning focus shifted to variety of trials and focused a little harder on the need for prayer than on the inevitability of persecution. That seemed appropriate: one we can do something about. The other is the result of living like Jesus.

Morning Video Embed:

Finally! A video where the opening stillshot has me behind the pulpit!

Evening Audio Link is here

Evening Outline:

January 27 PM Genesis 3:1-7: Know Your Enemy

We need to see that our struggle is not just against ourselves but there is an intelligent effort against us.


I. The World is Not as it Was Created to Be

II. Who is responsible for that reality?

     1. Satan

     2. Humanity

     3. Just Adam and Eve

     4. God

III. What do we do about it?

     1. Do not underestimate the reality of our enemy

     2. Do not overcredit our enemy

     3. Focus: go to your strength:

          A. Christ is your strength

          B. going forward in the Word

On the evening sermons: a great resource for developing a grounding in Christian theology is J. Scott Duvall, Ph.D.’s work Experiencing God’s Story of Life and Hope. In fact, it’s so good that I’m basically adapting the themes from his book into the sermons for Sunday Night. Check out the workbook here.

Evening Video Embed:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Books in Brief: January Edition

I know that you see plenty of book review posts from me, but this is a little different. While a few famous bloggers do this with books they get sent free, just to keep the free books rolling, I want to point you to some that I have either received as gifts, won in giveaways, or flat-out bought. Yes, I still buy books. Real books. And Kindle books.

Note: all links are to Amazon for convenience. I do not profit, as the Amazon Affiliate program was blocked in Arkansas because of all the things Wal-Mart owns, the State Legislature is one of them.

First up: On the Shoulders of Hobbits by Louis Markos.

On the Shoulders of Hobbits: The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and Lewis

This book runs 240 pages and takes a look at some of the classic virtues and how they can be seen in the characters of both J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Rather than attempting to massage the characters or even the author’s intent in these stories, Markos has presented the virtues and used situations from the book to illustrate.

Further, Markos demonstrates the power of story to transform how we see things. The bare idea of pity or friendship comes to life in Frodo, Sam, Lucy, Caspian, and more. Additionally, grab a notepad while you read this one and take note of the other literary works mentioned. It will serve as a great reading list for you.

 

Second: Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien

Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible

Most of us who are Christians acknowledge the understanding gap between ourselves and Biblical times. At the least, we know of its existence. Misreading gives a look at a few of the ways that our basic cultural assumptions affect our understanding of the Bible. These light areas for improvement in our study and also provide an “aha” moment or two for why someone would have said what they said.

Richards and O’Brien have also put the effort into not condemning the blind spots of our cultural situation. Or, perhaps better said, not condemning us for having them. They highlight how this affects every culture, but the emphasis is on how white, Bible-belt, Americans hit the same spots. Why? That’s what the authors are. Still, the book highlights enough variety to help anyone interested in a deeper study of the Bible.

Finally today, Devotions on the Greek New Testament, edited by J. Scott Duvall and Verlyn D.Verbrugge.

Devotions on the Greek New Testament: 52 Reflections to Inspire and Instruct

Perhaps, once upon a time, you learned a little Greek. Perhaps, once upon a time, you used that Greek. Perhaps, once upon a time, you let it rust up on you.

This text won’t bring it all back, but it will help you see why you want to work on that Greek. There are 52 devotional readings based in the Greek New Testament. Some of these are clearly highlighting points you will not get in English. Others just show how it looks in the Greek. Either way, it’s worth your time.

So, how about you? Read any good books lately?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Injustice: Acts 23

Paul has been detained by the Romans and is currently being tried by the Sanhedrin. That is where we are in Acts 23 (link). What’s a Sanhedrin? If you took and mixed Congress and the Supreme Court, a little bit, and then added a twist of state religion, you would have something like the Sanhedrin. They were the primary deliberative body through which the Jews self-governed. The Romans did not have to accept the Sanhedrin---or even allow it, but giving the people a sense of self-determination kept the revolts at bay. Some of the time.

Odd how people will settle for the illusion of freedom.

Back to Paul: he stands, unjustly accused, before a group of people who do not have the proper authority to try him. Why? Because he’s a Roman citizen and they cannot execute any form of sentence upon him. Further, he has accepted the Christian faith, placing himself under the authority of Jesus as Lord and Messiah. Add to that the reality that he has done nothing wrong.

Yet he stands before them to make his defense. He opens with a line that should challenge us: “I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.” (Acts 23:1).

Oh, the sermon material this is: a good conscience but not one informed by man, rather one before God! A man who has done all that he can, in every way he can, to honor God by his doings and not doings throughout all of his days. How would that change our lives if we would need that statement? Is that a statement you can make? That your conscience is good before God?

Leaving that aside, Paul speaks that sentence and the High Priest, Ananias, orders him struck on the mouth. Probably intended as an immediate punishment for what Ananias thought was untruth, it was nonetheless an injustice: whatever the law may allow, striking a prisoner without considering guilt is wrong.

And Paul speaks out about it. He calls it like it is, that God will strike Ananias and alludes to the preaching of Ezekiel and of Jesus Himself when he calls Ananias a white-washed wall. Paul is then informed that Ananias is the High Priest and Paul shifts from confronting Ananias’ behavior to stirring up the whole Council.

What do we make of the situation here?

1. Religious leaders need to watch their behavior. Consider that Paul states he “was not aware that (Ananias) was high priest.” Really? Not aware? It is one thing for someone to be unaware that you are a great and mighty whatever-you-are religious leader because you do not mention it. It is another matter for one to find your behavior completely unbecoming of who you claim to be.

If you are going to claim the title, behave the title. Do not let someone be surprised to find out you were supposed to be God-honoring.

2. Sometimes, we do not respond like Jesus did. Compare the trial of Paul to the trial of Jesus and you see that Jesus said nothing, even when struck for not speaking. Paul, on the the other hand, opens his mouth and fires back. What should be normative for us?

Well, let’s consider this: Jesus came to live, preach, teach, heal, die for our sins and be resurrected. He knew the outcome of His trial because He willed the outcome. His death was necessary for our salvation. Paul? His death puts him into the presence of God but beyond that, it’s not necessary for anything. It stops his preaching and cancels his plans to go to Rome, Spain, and points beyond.

So Paul speaks up for himself. In doing so, he also speaks up for any others who are tried by the Sanhedrin. He speaks clearly that what they are doing is wrong. That is valuable for us: we need to take that same tack when we have the opportunity. Speak up and act out against injustice when we are aware of it. Admittedly, that’s often only when it comes calling at our door, but any starting point is better than never starting.

Why take Paul’s response and not Jesus’? Are we not to be like Christ and not like any man? Certainly, except for one detail:

Jesus already died for your sins. You are not dying to save anyone.

So use your voice and speak out.

Today’s Nerd Note: It is worth noting that Ananias is killed by the Jews who start the First Jewish Revolt against Rome in 66. He was, apparently, not exactly beloved by his own people and was actually pro-Rome.

Also of note is the ease in which Paul dodges this trial by stirring up the dissension between Pharisee and Sadducee. You could picture the same thing today: “I am on trial for being a Republican (or Democrat)” and you immediately divide the room. Enemies are not dealt with; problems are not solved; failures are not fixed. Why?

Because all we can think about are our own interests and those who wish to stir us up can do just that. Play to the dividing issue. We can keep this up as a nation or we can have a future. But within a decade of this event in Acts 23, the Jews were in open revolt and the Temple and much of the country was destroyed by the Roman Army in response. The deep factionalizing destroyed their nation.

What will it do to ours?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Book: The Tainted Coin

Today’s book is a change of pace for me: The Tainted Coin: The Fifth Chronicle of Hugh de Singleton by Mel Starr. This is a fiction book, set in fourteenth century. It is the fifth book in a series featuring the character Hugh de Singleton, who is a surgeon and a bailiff on a manor in England. Having never heard of this series, I first thought the “fifth chronicle” part was rhetorical, but that turns out to be accurate: this is the fifth in the series.

Here is what it looks like:

The Tainted Coin is historical fiction. The protagonist, one Hugh de Singleton, is a surgeon in the fourteenth century. This means that, contrary to Hawkeye Pierce, he does not often wash his hands nor wear gloves and a mask. Instead, he worries about both what herb to use and the astronomical setting of the surgery. Admittedly, de Singleton does not worry much about the stars, but it is a factor.

As to the writing style, The Tainted Coin worked well. Was this the perfection of Arthur Conan Doyle’s genre? Not quite. But the imagery and the language did evoke a different time. I did not feel like I was reading the same-old crime drama with just the names changed. Starr did evoke the feel of a different time and place. Given that he’s a history professor, he should be able to do that.

The plot of The Tainted Coin is fairly straightforward. There are a few twists and turns, and the who-dunnit is not immediately obvious. However, the ending is more of a “wait, no!” than a “wait, who?” Along the way, the reader also gets a glimpse into the life of both the upper and lower classes in medieval England. These glimpses are informative and frustrating…

Starr has also presented the frustration of justice in those days. This leads to some of the reviewers who have expressed frustration at the unfinished feel of the ending, but I think the point in The Tainted Coin is made through the writing.

I enjoyed reading this, and will pick up the preceding works in the series at a point in the future.

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for the review.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Out of bounds: Leviticus 18

One thing that cannot be said of Scripture, especially the book of Leviticus, is that it leaves things unsaid. Take our chapter for today: Leviticus 18 (link) as an example. Here we see a long list of people you can and cannot have sex with. Let’s cut this to the chase: this is about sexual behavior, both that which is acceptable and that which is not.

Getting into this chapter is a journey, partially, into disgusting territory. For most of us, the idea of “approaching a blood relative to uncover nakedness” is something that we not only would not consider, it’s a little bit of an appetite suppressant to think about. Then there are the other aspects discussed: people who are related not by blood but by “law:” cousins, step-siblings, father’s new wives, etc…

Suffice it to say that a strict adherence to Leviticus 18 would spoil every soap opera you have ever known.

Yet there are items not prohibited in Leviticus that many of us would argue should be. Polygamy is not out-of-bounds here, though there are limitations on who you can and cannot pluralize your marriage with. There are no proscriptions on behavior, at least here, between unmarried and unrelated people. Both of these, though, a typical Judeo-Christian ethic speak to.

Why is that? Because Leviticus 18 is not the only place where God speaks to our relationships. That topic echoes through Scripture—polygamy is right out based in original Creation and in the New Testament picture of Christ and the Church. Other Scripture keeps the passions of love contained in marriage. Is this because God is a out to suck the fun out of life? Too often, church people have acted as if this is the case.

Instead, though, I would suggest that we view this a little differently. The passions of sex and romance are powerful. There is an interaction there that builds a bond that is not easily broken.

As an aside: this is a place where atheistic evolutionists, theistic evolutionists, young earth creationists, and that alien-dude from the History Channel all agree. For different reasons, but you find a general agreement that human sexuality bonds relationships. More than the humans partaking intend to. One odd thing to me: our national morality flies in the face of reality in this. We act, morally, as if this does not happen. And practically every worldview, even those in major conflict with each other, agrees that it does. i

In this, sexual behavior bonds relationships like locomotives move heavy things. If you run it on the track, you get where you are going and it’s good. Run it off the track? Well, there’s derailments that need minor adjustments, derailments that cause major damage, and derailments that require miles of evacuations and lots of hazmat cleanup. Need me to walk you through the whole metaphor?

The larger issue of this chapter is found in the opening verses. Leviticus 18:2-5 address the reason behind these laws. The purpose behind God declaring that certain relationships are out-of-bounds. Why, at the end of the chapter, one was not to sacrifice children and call it religion.

Why?

Because God’s people are supposed to behave differently from the people around them. They were not to act like the nature-focused worshippers of Egypt nor the man-centered worshippers of Canaan. They were to be different. They were to worship God as God commanded, not as they wanted to.

And that worship extended to their every day lives. It extended to the foods they ate and the way they cooked them. It extended even to who they slept with and who they did not sleep with. Everything about life was part of their worship.

So what about us?

Do we, living as we do under a different covenant and in a different time, true, come anywhere near that exhaustive of a worship? I think it is worth considering: we want to make people comfortable around us, which is valuable, but we cannot do so by contradicting God’s law.

Another portion that we must consider is this: God’s people dwelt amidst people whose morality was shaped and driven by other deities. It is truly no different now: God’s people dwell among people of different moralities, shaped by different deities. We choose between options here: should we force others to come to our morality or live out our morality and let it stand in contrast? (of course, the latter assumes being extended the right to live as we please being defended by others who live as they pleased, which is actually pretty unlikely. Few deities brook competition, and modern ones no less so than ancient ones.)

We must steel our nerves to live as God commands. This was the call on the Israelites then. It was the call on the Early Church of Acts. It is the call on the Church of the Free now: prepare yourselves to live as strangers in the midst. Live that way. Let others join by the draw of the Holy, not by the smack of the saved.

Today’s Nerd Note: Maybe just a one-more step application: there is a simple line here about the land not tolerating the sin of the people. Ever looked at history and seen that many major empires collapsed at the height of their decadence? That’s fairly true. It’s also true that many of these collapses were accelerated by natural disaster: famine, earthquake, volcano, and so forth.

Draw your own conclusions.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sermon Wrap-Up for January 20

I apologize for the lack of video for the AM Sermon. Apparently, the battery that I thought was good was not good, and we did not know it until I started preaching. If you’ve ever tried to do something for free that should be expensive, you understand. We do have audio for the morning and audio and video for the evening.

Why both? Because we are kind of belt-and-suspenders on this: I try to video and audio. If one goes down, we have the other. If both go, then I guess you had to be there :)

Morning Audio Link is here

Morning Outline is here:

Galatians 3:23-29 All Lives Matter

I. The tutorial of the Law

II. The Justification by Faith

III. Universal Adoption as Sons

IV. All heirs to the Promise

Evening Audio Link is here

Evening Outline is….somewhere in the Ethernet. Probably with the Ether Bunny.

Evening Video:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Book: American Patriots by Rick Santorum

Continuing on a Book Binge: this week is a catch-up week for me on book reviews. I don’t get unsolicited books for book reviews, I ask for all of them. (Well, once I had a person contact me. I was less-than-enthusiastic about the book, and haven’t gotten an unsolicited since.) However, life tends to back up the shelf.
Senator Rick Santorum ran for President. He lost. After that, he released a book of short biographies of people from the Revolutionary War era of United States History. Let us hit the long and short of it straight up:
Some people do not agree with Santorum’s politics. That predisposition will cause an automatic distaste for American Patriots. Others are wholesale in favor of Santorum’s politics, and they will universally adore American Patriots. If you’re inclined to love it without paying attention, then go buy it. If you’re inclined to hate it without paying attention, then move on and grow up a touch.
There are two major parts to this book. First: there are short biographies of individuals involved in the Revolutionary Cause in the 1700s. These are good, but honestly too short. It is obvious this book was meant to be a quick-read/gift-book style and not heavy reading.
These bios have this in their favor: many of the names will be either unknown or, at best, vaguely remembered from an old required course in high school or college. One should use these as a springboard to make deeper investigation into their lives. Personally, I liked the snippet about Charles Carroll. It’s nice to know a little about the real man, though I think he may have still known where that treasure was…
The other part of American Patriots is Santorum’s own reflections on the Declaration of Independence and the lives of these individuals. This is less even-handed than the treatment of the biographies. It is clear where Santorum’s political leanings lie, and he is obviously going to over-emphasize his own views.
Of special note is this concern: America at the founding had the right start in terms of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and that “all men are created equal.” Unfortunately, there was too small a definition of “all men” in those days, when it should have been seen as we might express “all humanity” today. Santorum emphasizes those few in American Patriots that took the minority view of the time and opposed slavery, but I think he could have made a stronger point on that issue.
In all, though, the examples of people who stood for freedom’s first fight are worth having. Santorum’s writing is not the best, but it’s better than the average blogger book-reviewer.
Free book in exchange for the review from Tyndale.

Watch Your Language! Acts 22

There are two divergent points in Acts 22 (link) that I think are worth your time. Here they are:

1. The first point is in Acts 22:2. Paul is standing in front of a hostile crowd. They are convinced he has violated their holiest places and mocked God as they understand God. It’s not a safe place to stand. Angry mob on one side, Roman soldiers on the other, and here is Paul in the middle.

Now, before we go forward, we need to go back a few verses to Acts 21:37-38. Paul asks the Roman commander permission to speak to the crowd. He speaks to the Roman in….Greek. Which surprises the Roman and gains Paul that permission. Paul then speaks to the crowd in….

The Hebrew dialect of Aramaic. The local, home language of the area. He speaks to them in the language they know and understand. In the language that no one would have bothered to learn just for fun.

That gets their attention. This shows that either: he is one of them or, at the least, he has cared enough to learn the language. We know he is one of them: traditionally brought-up Jew who has come to accept Jesus as Lord.

Either way, this matters: do not underestimate how being in your home culture empowers you to communicate. People know you, people understand you, and you understand them. This does not guarantee acceptance, but it’s a good start.

Learn the languages and customs where you are, and learn as many as you can for where you may be. You never know what you might need to know.

2. The second point is deep in the chapter: Acts 22:25-26. In the Roman Empire, the judicial system had certain methods. One was to flog you before you were interrogated. Why? Because pain brings truth, apparently, at least in the eyes of Roman Justice.

Aside: This concept did not go away with Rome. It persisted through the Medieval Era straightways into the Industrial Age. It is this type of nonsense that the US Constitution addresses when speaking of “Cruel and unusual punishment.” Not failing to allow sexual predators access to sexually explicit movies, as some allege. Nor even capital punishment. However, re-interpreting texts that have a plain, obvious, historic meaning to mean something entirely different is all the rage these days. Otherwise, why would anyone think the 2nd Amendment had to do with hunting?

Back on track: while you could whip some people before questioning them, you could not do this to a Roman Citizen. Roman Citizens were exempt from such things. Perhaps the assumption was that citizens were more honorable and therefore more prone to truth-telling. Perhaps, since the laws were written by the citizens, the laws were just more citizen-friendly. After all, the ones who make the laws tend to protect themselves more than others.

Either way, Paul was a Roman Citizen. He could not be flogged just for being arrested. Yet his captors, apparently, did not realize he was a citizen. He’s chained up and about to flogged when he asks the centurion: “Is this legal?”

A few things happen, and one thing doesn’t. The flogging doesn’t happen. Paul is treated differently by his captors, and is in fact protected in a situation that most likely would have led to his death otherwise.

Why? Because he stood up for his legal rights, as ensconced in the law of the land that was above the rulers or their designated representatives. He insists on his right to not be flogged, insists on his rights as a citizen.

Paul. The same Paul that has taken many a beating. Even took a stoning. Here, not one lash hits his back.

There is a time and place when Christian believers have to take floggings and beatings, imprisonment and death, for the sake of their witness to the Gospel. Yet that is not always true: one can rightly stand firmly on their legal rights. Even insist on them.

That’s important: being a Christian does not mean one must be the doormat of everyone around you. There is a line between loving your enemies and being a doormat that you do not need to allow to be crossed. There is value in standing for your rights. In fact, Scripture speaks of surrendering our rights for the sake of Christian unity, not for the sake of peace with government.

Passivity is not always the mark of a person of God.

Nerd Note: Studying Scripture means studying history to understand the world in which the events occurred. Applying Scripture means studying current events to understand the world in which we must live.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Book: Tender Warrior

As forewarned, it’s time for another book look.

Today, I want to point you to a book that I read what seems like two lifetimes ago: Tender Warrior by Stu Weber. It looks like this:

Tender Warrior

You can buy Tender Warrior from various websites, including the one named after a large rain forest that no longer has an affiliate program in Arkansas because the Legislature thought punishing me was going to increase tax revenues. You can also buy a copy from the publisher, Multnomah, here.

Or you can hunt down one of the 375,000 people who have bought it and borrow theirs. Which is what happened to my hardcover copy years ago when I first read this book.

Why would I read it again just for a review after several years?

Here is the hinge of Stu Weber’s book: it is not only possible but appropriate that Christian men be both compassionate and strong. The possibility of doing so is based in the power of God. The appropriateness is found in following the example of Christ, because we see both attitudes in fullness in Him.

Weber’s work is peppered with anecdotes and explanations, and has aged fairly well since I read it in the mid-90s. A few of the life illustrations will be lost on college students that read it now, because we are that much further from the Cold War and even the Vietnam War. Yet this is not a deal-breaker here.

Tender Warrior still challenges men to toughen up and soften up, and uses Scripture to issue that challenge. It is one of the few legacies that I see of the Promise Keepers-era, but it’s one that’s worth holding on to. If more of the “Man UP” preachers I read about would recommend this book instead of pushing their own hyper-machismo, the church would be better off.

Free book in exchange for the review. Which was good, because whoever I lent mine to back in 1999 never gave it back. Which is ok, if they read it.

Aliens Included: Leviticus 17

Aliens? Yes, aliens. Read Leviticus 17 (link) in the New American Standard Bible, and you’ll see it. Of course, the clearer, less giggle-inducing, translation is “foreigner” as you see in the New Living Translation and a few others, but for me, I like aliens. The connotation works better than a mere foreigners for us.

Why? Here is a spot that we Americans, especially, have difficulties with is understanding just how deep national divisions run. Imagine the cultural divisions, language divisions, and more that separate Arkansas from New York. Now amplify that by at least an order of magnitude. Add in a mix of general hostility that is tempered only with times of apathy. As in: when a disaster strikes, you hope the neighboring nation sends no one rather than sending an invading, plundering horde.

Now, that is the normal state of affairs for those times. And do not forget that we’re not dealing with aliens with a universal translator or a TARDIS. You can’t understand each other. I’ve heard it said, though I have no clear evidence, that the words for “stranger” and “enemy” often have the same root words. May not be true, but it’s unsurprising if it is.

One of the critical dividing lines between countries and cultures at the time was religion. Not only were they lightly different, like Southern Baptists and Missionary Baptists, but they were majorly different. Think more of the difference between Islam and Christianity, or Hinduism and Judaism. The distance was not one of minor squabbles. Rather it was woven into the warp and woof of life: foods, manners, everything was different.

Alien seems to put the right force behind that difference. We’re talking about Klingons, Vulcans, and Humans, not Russians, Mexicans, and Americans.

Two responses existed for this situation. The first excluded any foreigners from participation in the local religion. It was only for the indigenous people, no matter the desires of others. The other response ran the other way: mandated participation for everyone, no matter what.

Old Testament religion was a mix of both: there are texts that exclude foreigners from certain practices, and then this one that mandates participation in these rituals. It’s a hard mix.

Yet if we dig into it, one thing we find is this: the Israelite religion of Leviticus allowed, even demanded, that all people—including the aliens—participate in the sacrifices for the atonement of sin. A passing alien could not join into the fellowship of worship, but could call out to God for forgiveness of sin.

This became the entry-point for joining in that fellowship of worship. One could participate in those sacrifices, participate in the celebration of redemption and in due time become part of the covenant people of God. Joyfully, the time is drastically shortened this side of the Cross of Christ:

It is instant when one comes to faith in Christ. How so? How can those previously banned be so readily admitted?

Because we can be adopted as the children of the Father. (1 John 3:1)

And that’s a good thing.

Nerdiness: There is so much to the theology and covenantal significance of this passage that you really ought to read an expert.

Let us, instead, address a foolishness that is often based on this passage: “The blood is the life.”

#1: Yes, we should understand that to mean blood is important to life and that human life is impossible without blood. We know that, don’t we?

#2: No, we should NOT understand that to mean that we cannot share blood when medically necessary and properly done. That’s not the point here. Except for this: giving blood gives life at times. So reconsider that, ok?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Book: Grace by Max Lucado

Blog note: I’m going to be trying to double-post this week. Real thoughts in the morning, book in the evening. Why? Because I looked at the shelf that was “Books to Review” and “Other stuff to be done” and realized: yikes, that’s a lot of books.

Today’s book is Grace by Max Lucado. It’s published, as many of his are, by Thomas Nelson Publishers and available all over the place, except in places where it isn’t but ought to be. It looks a lot like this:

The picture links to the Thomas Nelson webpage, but you’d be wise to check prices. Jungles often provide cheaper books.

The pictures show what the book looks like, but we all know that there is a difference. A real book is multi-dimensional. It has heft, takes up space that isn’t measured in megabytes, and even has its own smell. Real books are a full-sensory experience. Pictures, while helpful, are never quite like the real thing.

Now, amplify that problem by an order of magnitude and you are approaching the  problem Max Lucado tackles in Grace. Lucado is attempting to use the ever-confusing English language to describe the matchless grace of an infinite God.

There are at least two ways to tackle that challenge. The first is to use deep theological explanations and go for several hundred pages. Grace chooses the second: short stories, heart-wrenching illustrations, and a split-feeling: it’s just enough but not quite. The former gets tough to read and certainly is not the best of encouragements in times of trouble. The latter is easy to read but sometimes easy to take too lightly.

Is Grace a challenging read? Certainly not and certainly so. The words are fairly easy, the Scripture plainly stated. The concept, though, that none of us deserve the love of God yet it overflows to all is always a challenge. Lucado makes the point, then makes the point again.

It reads, though, like Grace is a final message from Lucado. Having been around preachers for many years, and being one, there is that sense of a valedictory address that you get at times. Where someone is sharing the boiled-down core of what matters most to them. Where someone gives you the last guidance they can give you, as clearly as they can, even if it’s not all you want to know.

That is what I see in Grace: Max Lucado may be moving towards complete retirement, after all. His last book, Max On Life, read as one tying up any loose ends, and this one reads like his “If I had one chance to say something, I’d say this: Grace. You need it, but you don’t deserve it. And it is available through Jesus.”

Not a bad final chapter, if that’s what it is.

As with most of Lucado’s books, this one has a discussion guide in the back which adds value to the text.

Note: Free book from Booksneeze in exchange for the review.

Sermon Wrap-Up for Sunday, January 13

Here are: 1. the audio for Sunday Morning’s sermon on Exodus 12; 2. the audio for Sunday Evening’s sermon on Genesis 1:26-28; 3. the video-embed link for Sunday Morning’s sermon.

Why no video Sunday Night? I can video 30 minutes and 20 seconds at a time. I preached 38 minutes. It was not a sermon that the last 7 minutes 40 seconds can really just disappear off of, so the truncated video is not going onto the Internet. Apart from practice, practice, practice, I’m working on a system to keep myself under that video cutoff. We’ll see.

Morning Audio Link is Here

Exodus 12

Concept: How the Passover Speaks to Us Today

1. The spotless lamb's blood saves the person: Salvation

2. The spotless lamb is for the family: Fellowship

3. The family is not alone: Interdependence

4. The gathering is for preparation: Readiness

5. The preparation awaits the act of God: Submission

6. The act of God frees the people from bondage: Deliverance

7. The people remember their salvation: Celebration

8. Their salvation is shared: Mission

See Also:http://www.doughibbard.com/2012/04/long-dark-night-exodus-12.html

Evening Audio Link is Here

January 13, 2013 PM: Human Nature: Genesis 1:26-28

Again, apologies to the Rev. Dr. J. Scott Duvall for borrowing from his book, Experiencing God's Story of Life and Hope for the sake of this sermon series.

I. Created in God's image: imago Dei

     A. Not physical appearance

     B. Will

     C. Emotions

     D. Intellect

II. Intrinsic Value

     A. All life

     B. Young life

     C. Old life

     D. Inconvenient Life

III. Marred image

     A. Not everything about your nature is perfect anymore

     B. Nor mine.

     C. Not evidenced in ethno-racial-linguistic differences.

IV. Shared need for redemption

V. Actions:

     1. Act to protect life

          A. Unborn life

          B. Struggling life

          C. Ending life

     2. That means:

          A. Individual actions

          B. Corporate actions

          C. Political/national actions

          D. International actions

Morning Sermon Video:

Thursday, January 10, 2013

You’re in Trouble Now: Acts 21

What can we say about Paul? If you are a believer but have never read Acts, you do not realize what kind of trouble Paul was capable of getting into. You should read the whole text and then come back to this point.

If you have read the whole book, though, let’s get into this from here: Acts 21 (link). Paul is making his way back to Jerusalem, and stops off at Miletus to meet with the elders of the Ephesian church. Then he travels on to Caesarea and meets with Phillip the Evangelist (Acts 8, see here) and Phillip’s four daughters who prophesied. While Paul is there, he also encounters a chap named Agabus comes in, picks up Paul’s belt, ties himself up with it, and says that the owner of the belt will be bound up just like that.

Now, go back through all the rough moments Paul has been through. He’s been stoned, flogged, locked up, threatened….but we have no textual moments that tell us he was ever warned that bad things were going to happen. Usually, he just went one place to the next.

Here he gets a warning that, if he goes to Jerusalem, he’s done. He’ll be imprisoned by the Jews and handed over to the Gentiles—which should be read as “Angry Romans.” Being handed over to Angry Romans works out about the same every time—not well for the handed-over one.

The question that bothers me here is: WHY?

Why get the warning? Why does God send Agabus to Paul? What is the purpose? The people around him start panicking, calling on him not to go to Jerusalem. It becomes a test point for Paul.

What will he do? Will he go on to Jerusalem? Will he decide to preach elsewhere?

Then he gets to Jerusalem. Immediately, is he arrested? No. Instead, he’s faced with a different challenge. One that was likely harder to swallow: he, Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles, is asked to help a few Jewish Believers go the Temple and fulfill their ceremonial vows. He is asked to do this because other believers are questioning Paul. Rather than defend himself, Paul is asked to do something he hasn’t done much of: Jewish ceremonial ritual.

That probably challenged him as much as the threats of oppression from the outside. Yet he persevered. The end-result? Arrest, hand over to the Romans, and the rest of the story of Acts.

We know the ultimate fate of Paul: he is beheaded with the sword by Rome sometime during the reign of Caesar Nero. We’re not entirely sure everywhere he goes between now and then, but we know that much. And there is not anything we can do about it for Paul, anyway.

What do we do about it for us?

First, we need to consider this: the warning signs echo for two millennia: the world and Christianity are incompatible. We will either follow Jesus or seek approval from other sources. At times, following Jesus will be approved culturally and will be to our benefit, but those times are separated widely by the divergence of the options.

Christian living by nature creates a separation from culture that does not honor God. It happens. How the competing culture responds varies based on how much of a threat the Christian view is held to be.

Second, then, we must consider how we shall respond. We have the warnings. We have Scripture that places before us the reality that some people will interfere with us religiously and some will use the power of the government against us for our beliefs.

What will you do when that comes to your door?

Now, on to the nerdish note:

Phillip has four virgin daughters who prophesy. Many modern Christian groups practice neither prophesy as it happened then nor women taking on the main teaching role in the churches. What should we do with this clear example of women as prophets?

1. Discard it as fable.

2. Punt it by saying that prophesy as then does not exist now, so there’s no point worrying what they did.

3. Argue semantics about these four only doing what their father allowed or did not do such things outside of them. Or that they did—given that there is only one mention, it’s hard to tell and not worth arguing.

4. Acknowledge that narrative moments must also be connected to plainly spoken propositional statements, and work to form a clear theology based on the testimony of all Scripture rather than excising one liners.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Book: Tolkien: The Making of a Legend

When four of one’s books are made into six movies that will gross more money than some small countries, one must expect a biography or two to come out.

Of course, J.R.R. Tolkien doesn’t actually expect anything, having passed away in 1973, not surviving his beloved wife, Edith, more than a couple of years. Now I have spoiled the ending of Colin Duriez’s J.R.R. Tolkien: The Making of a Legend for you. That should not keep you from considering this biography of the man who presented us with hobbits, Middle-Earth, and the only part of the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony that made sense. (At least, I saw the Shire in it, and the rise of Mordor. Maybe I was wrong.)

Image

<----The book looks like this from the front. The link takes you to Amazon, but you can buy this book several places. It is from Lion Publishers, who provided me with the copy for this review.

I am not an expert on the life of Tolkien, nor on his writings. I do know that he was born, orphaned, lived, married, and died. I know that he fought in World War One and lost too many friends in that war. Truthfully, everyone did so—in that war and in any others. I digress.

Biographies of literary figures must navigate two hazards. The first hazard is to attempt to explain the lives of those artists without delving into their work. For example, to give The Hobbit a mention as being written, but to try and explain Tolkien without it. The other danger is the overcompensation that explains everything through the author’s works, trying to make all of the writings self-disclosure and autobiography.

Tolkien: The Making of a Legend has cleared both Scylla and Charybdis here, though Duriez drifted a shade closer to overdone literary analysis. The work does not fall into that pit, however.

Instead we receive a portrait of the life of Tolkien. We see how early tragedy gave way to more tragedy, but along the way brought the inspiration for the future. Tolkien’s successes are more addressed than any failures, his strengths more than his shortcomings, but this is not uncommon. Especially considering the subtitle of “The Making of a Legend.”

The writing style of Duriez is accessible. One does not get lost in deep literary analysis, and even the larger world setting of World War One’s events are explained enough that the reader does need fetch the encyclopedia to learn what battle occurred July-November 1916. This is helpful.

The horrors of war are addressed, as are the horrors of peace and tranquility, but there is nothing here to scare away the parent of a middle-schooler who wishes to preserve a measure of innocence in their student. Further, there is enough in-depth to be a good launching point for deeper study of Tolkien.

As always, I would have preferred footnotes to endnotes, but until I take over a publishing company I do not expect to see this fulfilled.

For a basic, popular introduction to the life of J.R.R. Tolkien, I can recommend Tolkien: The Making of a Legend without hesitation.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Scapegoats: Leviticus 16

Leviticus. The summary of this book is this: if the One True Holy God is going to dwell among people, then those people must be holy, and holy is not something we get to make up as we go. Instead, there are guidelines to follow.

The secondary line of Leviticus is this reality: people never can live up to any form of rules or guidelines. This is the secondary theme of the whole of the Pentateuch, really: mankind cannot hold to one law and so ends up needing more and more. If the heart is not changed, then no increasing laws will fix the problem. Genesis starts with one law, then it expands. By the time you get through Deuteronomy, you have hundreds of laws for life.

Still, those laws are not well followed by anyone. There is sin. There are intentional sins and unintentional sins. There are times of spiritual nearness and spiritual weakness. It is good and bad out there, and more than that, it’s good and bad inside our hearts.

Leviticus 16 (link) provides an image of the solution to the problem. It is not actually the solution to the problem. Let’s take a look at this, shall we?

First, why do I call it an image? Because the solution is the work of God, and as a Christian, I see the ultimate solution in the finished work of Christ at Calvary. However, we see in the Law and the Prophets an image of what is to come.

Second, what is this image? It is a two-part image:

A. The image is first of the cost of sin. Everywhere in the Law and Prophets we see sin and death connected, and no more so than we do here: the death of the lamb for atonement. Death is the cost of sin. There is no other option.

B. The second image is of the scapegoat or of the “Goat for Azazel.” Now, there is a great deal of extended discussion about just what the words mean here. We’ll cover that in a few minutes. The basic idea is that death covers the prior sins, but the propensity to sin must be sent away.

Yes, this is also the origin of our term scapegoat. In this usage, the goat is sent out into the wilderness as a picture of sending sin out away from the people, while now our term means the one who is blamed, though without fault of their own.

The image? Sin is always among us, and we must actively try and chase it away. It matters not whether we imagine that sin being sent  into the wilderness or being handed over to an evil demigod.

The point is downplayed if we focus on where the sin was going—the point is that sin has to be sent away. Our effort must go into getting it out.

Now, what do we do with these images? How do they impact us?

First, our understanding begins with seeing that Jesus made the perfect atonement for our sins. His death means no more sheep deaths. It also means no more do we have to bear the death penalty ourselves.

We should borrow the idea of sending sin away, though. Isolate ourselves from sinful habits, sinful behavior in ourselves, and sinful attitudes. We should cut them loose and never look back.

Now, on to the whole Scapegoat/Goat for Azazel discussion: this hinges around a word in Hebrew that exists in the Old Testament only in this chapter. That makes it somewhat difficult to translate, as there is no additional context for the word.

It is either a proper name or an abstract concept. Does it make a difference? Probably not. It is an issue for discussion and that strengthens our understanding, but not one that should impact our faith destructively.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sermon Recap: January 6

Sunday AM Audio Link is here

January 6, 2013 AM: Our Plans for the Year: Acts 2:41-47

 

Application points:

 

1. Teaching

 

2. Fellowship

 

3. Worship

 

4. Prayer

 

 

Evening service did not go as planned—so, there is no audio/video for that night.

Thanks!

 

Doug

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Book: The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek

Face it: if you are not using your Koine Greek skills every day and twice on Sunday, they are getting rusty and you need help. The help you need is not a larger print NASB or ESV, either. It’s to get the Greek back. Or to learn it in the first place, especially if you are a Christian leader. After all, if one wants to know America’s Founding Documents, one still reads it in the swooped script of the Declaration of Independence and not just in text message-speak.

So, how do you get it back? How do you get it in the first place? If you are pounding through acquiring the Greek in the first place, you know that sometimes a textbook is just not as clear as you’d like. Or that one text explains material in one order, and another is different. Or just that Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics is so big that you cannot find what you need quickly.

Well, help is at hand, and it is in the form of The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek by Douglas S. Huffman. In 106 pages, Huffman runs through all of the basic principles of Koine Greek, from basic declensions through phrase diagramming. This work is short, to the point, and clear.

(picture links to the excerpt!)

How does Huffman accomplish this in so few pages? Simple: there is no vocabulary and little of the historical explanations found in a full-fledged textbook.  The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek is just that: a guide book. If you want in-depth knowledge, this is not for you. It is the Field Guide to Stars that goes in your pocket after reading Astrophysics, Constellations, and Quantum Mechanics.

Huffman provides concise definitions (2 lines) for terms that Wallace spends pages on, and boils all of the material down to its barebones. The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek is extremely helpful for quick reference, and will probably be easier to have tattooed on my arms before any upcoming exams.

Brevity is the soul of wit, however, and not the crux of learning. In the interest of covering everything briefly, Huffman is forced to cover everything briefly. That is, there are scant examples and few extended explanations. The text makes the point quickly and then moves on to the next point.

In all, The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek accomplishes Huffman’s purpose: he did not intend to be your only textbook, and his work should not be that. For those of us wrapping up formal study and working our Greek into day-to-day ministry, this text is quite handy. It is now my first grab when I hit a question. If it’s not here, I grab the booster-seat edition of Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, but generally, Huffman has it here.

I recommend The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek to any person with a beginning knowledge of Koine Greek who needs a little help with using that knowledge.

Disclosure: Ok, this is probably the most glowing book review I’ve done in a while, and it’s for a book I got free for the review. So, yes, it looks like I’m shilling for Kregel Academic who sent me the book. What you need to know is this: I had a pre-order in on Amazon for this text, and then got offered the review. What loon pays for a book he’s offered free? Only one who does not have other books to buy. So, free book for the review, but no demand that I like it. I just do like it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Clear the Old

I want to encourage you to take a look at 1 Samuel 12 for a moment. If you need the story so far, Samuel has been leading the people. He has anointed Saul as the first king, and is now fading away into semi-retirement. Well, he’ll pop up and anoint David in a few chapters, but at this point he’s backing away.

Samuel stands in front of the assembled people of Israel and asks few basic questions. They summarize in this manner: “Anybody got any issues with me? Bring it up now.”

Really. Read 1 Samuel 12:3 and think about it. His questions are about whether or not he has personally misused his position for his own gain or to the discredit of the office itself.

Historically, this is the transition from the period of the Judges of Israel into the United Monarchy. Imagine America shifting from the government of the Articles of Confederation into the Constitutional Era or Rome becoming the Republic through the Twelve Tables of the Law from despotism. It’s a critical juncture for the people

But Samuel has a personal concern at this point. He wants to know if he has done what he should. A few things of note for this personally:

1. Samuel knows whether or not he has been right before God. That is a personal matter and one that he should have sought out before God first and foremost. He was the instrument of announcing God’s judgment on the previous priest, Eli, and so he would have expected a rebuke from God had he been wrong before God.

2. Samuel knows whether or not he thinks he has done right before the people. He does not stand before them hoping they won’t remember what he has done wrong or hoping they will give him a pass for the wrongs he knows he committed. He stands there in full belief that he has done what was right in all cases.

These two ideas are crucial foundations. We cannot blunder through life knowing that God does not approve of our actions, nor that our own conscience does not approve, and ask others to validate us. Validation of that sort is disastrous—it is akin to the passengers of the Titanic thinking a hurried pace through the North Atlantic was a great idea. They neither knew the danger nor were in a position to fix any problems that arose. Yet right up until the iceberg, the information shows the crowd was fully in favor of the pace and cared not a whit for the lack of binoculars.

However, knowing his conscience is clear before God and himself, Samuel does not rest on this. He knows that he could just be blinded to errors or ignorant of sins.

So he submits himself to the people.

The same people who have told him that his sons were lousy. The same people who rejected his advice not to ask God for a king. The same people that he has rebuked, corrected, taught, and judged for years.

He asks these people if he has done any of them wrong, and then waits for the answer. He wants to know, before he departs, whether or not anyone holds a marker against him.

Is there a lesson here? I should say so.

First is this: It is not weakness to seek feedback from the people you lead. Seriously, those who lead but are afraid to ask “Have I done any wrong?” harm themselves and those they lead. Samuel is not weak for asking.

Second is this: I see an overall value in making sure all the old baggage is clear before something new starts. It’s the beginning of a year, a time for new beginnings. So consider what needs to clear out from last year. What wrongs need to be made right?

Mind you, stay focused on what you can do. You may have been the one wronged, but you will get no traction on the year waiting on someone else to come make it right. Try and determine if you can move forward—do what must be done for healing. Seek justice as appropriately guided by the Word of God, but do not be paralyzed by victimhood.

However, if you were the one who did the wronging—which is more often more of us, anyway, see what you can do about making it right. Perhaps you can restore those whom you have harmed. Perhaps you cannot, but you can work to right similar wrongs.

Whatever it may be, let the new year be one of clearing out old wrongs. Most of us are not Samuel: were we to stand before the people among whom we live our life and ask “Anybody got a problem?” we would have plenty of responses. Try to clear those out this year.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Sermon Recap: December 30, 2012

Well, this should have been up yesterday, but I didn’t get it done. So, here are the sermons from the last Sunday of the year:

Morning Sermon

Morning Audio: (link)

The End and the Beginning: Revelation 22:1-9 & Genesis 2:8-9

Our hope as all things end

Central Theme:

    The perfection of God's Purposes

Objective Statement:

If we trust in Christ, there is nothing to fear in the end of all things     

Rationale:

     1. Creation was originally good

     2. Eternity will see the restoration of that good

     3. This means the elimination of the curse

     4. To eliminate the curse means eliminating the source of it

     5. Sin will have no place there, as it had no place in the beginning

Responses:

1. Consider your standing before Almighty God: only perfection will be allowed. Are you perfect?

2. If you are not perfect, how do you plan to enter in? Only with perfection does one enter eternity.

3. If you know that eternity is settled, how do you handle today? Do you work as unto the Lord God?

4. What will we do? Evil will not be there and to make life as like unto eternity as possible, we must fight evil.


Implementation:

1. Surrender to Christ

2. Consider your own holiness: if you find obeying Christ dull or foolish now, what will eternity be like?

3. Consider your relationships: you will walk into eternity with others. If you cannot bear them now, how will you bear eternity?

4. Consider your relationships: will you let someone go into that time without striving to draw them to Christ?

Youtube link. Keep in mind, I don’t control the “Related Videos” listed.

Evening Sermon: Audio Link

Wise Men and Legos: December 30 PM

December 30 PM

Wise Men and Legos

Matthew 2 & Daniel 2:44-45

I. Old information

II. Misshapen and plain

III. Coming into focus and clarity.

Video:

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...