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Showing posts from February, 2013

Book: Devote Yourself to the Public Reading of Scripture

Today’s Book is brought to you by Kregel Publishing’s Academic & Ministry Division. They sent me a coffee cup once, but I’m not drinking out of it while I do this review to make sure there is no bias in the process. As is frequent: free book in exchange for writing an unbiased review.When I first start writing book reviews, I treated them like we were graded on the Customer Service Survey at Chick-fil-A: anything less than 5-stars was a failure. Since then, I have shifted my grading scale: 3-stars means the book accomplished what it set out to do, but was not spectacular, 4-stars stands out a little, and 5-stars is an outstanding work. 3-star meets the need, 4-star exceeds the need, and 5-star meets all relevant needs and most relevant wants. So, now, a 5-star book coming across my desk is rare. It has to be a book that either greatly exceeds all other books I know on the matter or one that finally addresses a need. And it has to be a real need. Someday I will write my Theology of…

Down with the Ship, Up with the Courage: Acts 27

Apologies for last week. Sometimes you master the calendar; sometimes the calendar masters you. And then the Alexandrian/Koine Greek comes along and kicks you while you’re down.Paul has been back-and-forth with the Roman authorities on the eastern fringe of the Empire. He appealed to Caesar, which our understanding of Roman History gives us as Nero Claudius Caesar, last of the Julian-Claudian Roman Emperors—yep, his family finalized the transition from Republic to Empire, and then he ended their dominance of that country. Nero is not exactly remembered as being a very good judge for anyone, but Paul knew certainly being turned loose, without any protection, in Judea would be a disaster for him.So, off to Rome he goes. This chapter of Acts, Acts 27, is mostly the travel record of Paul moving from Caesarea on his way to Rome. A good commentary or Bible Atlas/History book will help you fill in details about the ship, its passageway, and where the various cities and islands mentioned in t…

Sermon Wrap-Up February 24

Good morning! Here are the sermons from yesterday at Almyra First Baptist:Morning Audio is hereEvening Audio is hereMorning Outline and Video: The Giver and the Gifts: James 1:16-18Central Theme: God's Gracious Gifts I. Do not be deceived--there is plenty to camp out on here: being Christian does not mean being an idiot      A. By being deceived in world issues      B. By being deceived in spiritual matters           1. Not everyone who thinks they have had a God-driven encounter really has           2. discernment is critical: and that is not just knowing right from wrong, but right from almost right--and WHY! II. God is the giver of good gifts      A. Every good thing      B. Every perfect gift      C. All minor things: life, breath, food, III. Immutability of God      A. No changes: always reliable      B. No shifting: always in the right direction IV. The greatest Gift      A.  God's exercise of His will to bring forth...believers      B. He accomplishes this through His Wo…

Book: Good Mood, Bad Mood

As frequently is the case around here, this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for the review. Cross Focused Media is the gracious partner for this one.In the opening scenes of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Spock is on his home planet of Vulcan. He is being tested on his knowledge and logic, like any good Vulcan will excel in. He freezes up when the computer asks him a simple question:“How do you feel?”Failing to understand the question, Spock asks his mother about it. She reminds him of his half-human heritage, and he realizes that he must interact with humans to understand emotions, including his own. Otherwise, he will never grasp that portion of himself: the human side that feels.For good or for ill, we are not Vulcan. And part of the human experience is emotion. Sometimes good, sometimes not-so-good, and sometimes downright awful. Into this experience comes Dr. Charles D. Hodges’ book Good Mood, Bad Mood. It looks like this:Good Mood, Bad Mood started out as a book a…

Leaders of the People: Leviticus 22

There’s not really a better time to put this out there, so I’ll connect it all with Leviticus 22. First, remember what Leviticus is about: if a holy God is going to dwell among unrighteous people, then certain issues need to be dealt with. Sin must be avoided as much as possible and atoned for when it cannot be avoided. Otherwise, the overwhelming holiness of God will destroy the people.Throughout these explanations, the Law has referred to a group of people who are supposed to aide the people with their obedience. These people are responsible for offering sacrifices, teaching the people, and verifying infectious diseases. They are the priests. When we get into Leviticus 22, we see some important information about the qualifications of those priests. It was clear then that a priest must live a life focused on holiness, even at the cost of being a part of some of the normal life and behavior of the people of Israel. It was also clear that, at times, priests fell short and needed to off…

Sermon Wrap-Up for February 17

Morning Audio Link is hereEvening Audio Link is hereMorning Outline & VideoJames 1:9-15Introduction:I met a traveller from an antique landWho said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stoneStand in the desert. Near them on the sand,Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frownAnd wrinkled lip and sneer of cold commandTell that its sculptor well those passions readWhich yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed;And on the pedestal these words appear:‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’Nothing beside remains. Round the decayOf that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,The lone and level sands stretch far away: (remember Ozymandias=Ramses II)Percy Bysshe ShelleyI. The Situation     A. Some are poor     B. Some are wealthy     C. All are frailII. All will fade away     A. Through the passage of time     B. Through the impact of trialIII. Trials will come     A. What do we have to lose when they…

Book: Renee of France

Today’s Book Review sponsored by Cross-Focused Media, who provided an e-copy of this book for review.Renee of France by Simonetta Carr is in the series “Bitesize Biographies,” a group of, you guessed it, short biographies on various individuals across Christian history. They are published by Evangelical Press, so one can assume each will feature individuals more in line with Evangelical theology than any other.Renee of France is one of those. Her story is one I was not familiar with before reading this book. It was fascinating to learn of her life and her interactions with both the Catholic authorities during the 16th century and the Reformation leaders in the same time frame. Here is a fascinating woman: questioning kings, corresponding with theologians, and even challenging the words of Popes.This is a story that I would have heard without needing to write this review. Renee of France is a victim of the Great Man method of history study: we learn certain few men who influenced the t…

You’re a Looney! Acts 26

Paul remains on trial. It is fascinating that we think of Paul as a great missionary and church planter, but he spends almost as much time in the New Testament as a criminal defendant as he does anything else. You cannot quite claim to be copying Paul if you’re not spending as much time in prison as you are preaching.Paul comes to his trial before Festus and Agrippa and presents his own testimony and his experience. This is not unlike his prior defenses: he explains how he is no threat to any legitimate Roman (or any other) government on this earth. He then goes on to express the Gospel.He then gets the two responses that I think we can expect as Christians in this world:1. The Festus Response: Festus looks at Paul and states that his “great learning is driving you mad.” (Acts 26:24) This is a response we should all expect. First of all, we should, as Christian people, have great learning. Ignorance does not glorify God, except, perhaps ignorance of experiencing evil. We should honor …

February 2013: Proverbs 13

Proverbs 13:11 is worth a look today. We read here that Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, but the one who gathers by labor increases it.Let’s take a few translation issues to start with:1. “Wealth” means just that: material prosperity. Nothing inherently odd or any hidden meanings on this word.2. “Obtained by fraud” is a little troublesome from a translation perspective. The word “obtained” is added for clarity in English. To be picky, the underlying Hebrew here is just “by fraud,” so you’ve got “Wealth by fraud.” See how “obtained” helps in the English?3. “Fraud” is an interesting word, however. It is the word that is translated “vanity” or “meaningless” in Ecclesiastes. The other senses of this word include the idea of passing or fleeting, like a vapor. Some translators take this as “hasty” or “quickly” because of this. They give something akin to “hasty wealth” or even “get-rich quick schemes.” 4. The phrase “by labor” could also be taken as “by hand” but the overall idea remains …

Quasimodo Need Not Apply: Leviticus 21

I have really struggled with this chapter of Leviticus. Leviticus 21 provides the regulations regarding the priesthood in Israel, and there are some logical aspects in these rules. Then there are some that just boggle my mind.First, let’s look at the logical ones. The chapter opens with regulations on the behavior of priests. Who they can marry, who they can defile themselves for, and how they can shave. Take the middle one first: being in the presence of death brought ceremonial uncleanness. The priests were to only be present for immediate family, not for just anyone who died. This likely was not meant to address being in the place of someone who just suddenly dropped dead.This is meant to help prevent any of the priests spending all their time at funerals or hauling body parts around and instituting creepy behavior. Or even instituting an inappropriate level of ancestor veneration. Both were to be avoided. The other two are more about public demonstration of righteousness, to the p…

Sermon Recap: February 10

Here’s the sermon recap from February 10:The AM sermon is here. We had a guest preacher, so I do not have his outline to post, and I don’t think my notes are quite organized enough to post.The message was from John 9:1-11. I enjoyed the opportunity to listen instead of do.The evening sermon? I captured it on video and audio. It’s rambling. Really rambling. Also, I was interrupted by a cat.I will thus use one of my “Not going to post it excuses” on my sermon for that night. Take a look at Romans 8:1-4 and consider how God has set us free from death through Jesus. That’s a good thing.

Arkansas Law Change: The Church Protection Act

I am the pastor of a small church in Arkansas. I am not a lawyer, so check with a legal professional before you make any adjustments based on what you see in this blog post. And, just for the record, if you make major legal decisions based on blog posts, you really, really should not. This past week a bill passed both houses of the Arkansas Legislature, and at the time of this writing, it sits on Governor Beebe’s desk to sign into law. Given the large majorities it carried in the Chambers, even if Governor Beebe changes his mind and vetoes the bill, it will become the law in Arkansas.That law is Senate Bill 71, dubbed the Church Protection Act. There are a couple of facets to address about this law. I’ll take the easy one first: the bill “declares an emergency” so that the law goes into effect as soon as it is signed. I think it could have gone into effect with a 30-day delay or on a set date like most state laws. The haste attached is going to make for wrong interpretations being put…

Slipping on Appeal: Acts 25

Paul is on trial. He has been kept in prison, or at least detention, for over two years because he will not bribe the Roman Governor. His passion for truth and righteous behavior exceeds his passion for personal freedom—though doubtless given the opportunity for both, he would have taken them.Now, Paul is standing trial again for the same things he didn’t do the first time. Think on that reality next time you are answering the same old worn-out attacks on the Faith: if you’re American, you are walking freedom between defenses. Paul has spent the time between Acts 24 and Acts 25 in prison. Simply for the convenience of corrupt governing authorities. That is surely far worse than spending two years fighting stupid IRS paperwork for a year.(not that I am endorsing just laying down and surrendering to the IRS—just don’t make persecution out of inconvenience.)As he goes through his trial, he presents why he is on trial. Clearly, he states, his trial is about his adherence to the Gospel. He…

Book: Parenting on Your Knees

Today’s Book Review is brought to you by Cross Focused Media. They provided the book reviewed in exchange for this review.Want to know more about the author? Click here for an interview or go to her website at http://www.vickitiede.comLook! A Christian Parenting Book! Quick, everyone turn to Proverbs 22:6! Here we go….Wait, Vicki Tiede’s new book Parenting on Your Knees (Pix-n-Pens, 2013) does not come close to using the oft-misapplied Proverb about child-rearing. (I recommend the appendix in God’s Wisdom in Proverbs on this verse. I recommend the whole book, too.) Instead, she has looked throughout Scripture to find other verses that relate to parenting, most of which are not quite so overly clichéd.Now, let’s take a quick look through Parenting on Your Knees. The subtitle is Prayers and Practical Guidance for the Preschool Years. You’re looking at 160 pages of content in softcover binding and an additional 1o pages of recommended resources for both you and your children. After all, …

The Bible: Inigo’s Conundrum Leviticus 20

We have been fighting through Leviticus for quite some time now, and the end is a few weeks away. I want to take a minor break from picking and choosing various laws and attempting to explain them and apply them in a New Covenant context. As we look in Leviticus 20 (link) today, I want to point you to an important reality of Bible interpretation.Take a look at the last verse of the chapter, Leviticus 20:27. The commandment here regards putting to death mediums and spiritists. Without getting into the overall question of whether or not one should put to death anyone over religious beliefs in this day, which we’ll hit at the end of the post, look at the first group to be put to death in Ancient Israel: Mediums.Mediums. Not smalls, not larges, but mediums. Right? Oh, wait, not mediums. Mediums.We have to be cautious when we look at words in Scripture and be certain that these words mean what we think they mean. If the word is medium how do we know if we are talking about size or spiritua…

Sermon Wrap-Up February 3

Morning Audio Here
Evening Audio Here
Morning Outline: James 1:5-8
Wisdom is Found by Seeking God

Opening illustration: Tsunami Debris
I. We all still lack wisdom
II. Trust the character of God
     A. Do not doubt He will give
     B. Do not doubt what He gives is good
Elton Trueblood: Faith is not belief without proof but trust without reservations.

III. Grow through application
     A. Do with what you know
     B. Grow in what you know
Closing Applications:
1. Read for wisdom: Proverbs; 
2: listen for wisdom: the wise; 
3: pay attention;
4: be practical; 
5: write it down

Questions for Listening
1: Should we all be wise?
2: Where does wisdom come from?
3: Is wisdom easy to get?
4: Do doubts keep us from receiving anything from God?
5: Is God stingy?
6: Is God picky about who gets what He gives?
7: Does God get angry when we ask for what we do not have?
Morning Video Embed:
Evening Outline: Matthew 4:1-11
February 3 PM Matthew 4:1-11 Spiritual Warfare

Proverbs 4: February 2013

In my younger years, I watched a movie called The Matrix. In the course of that film, two of the protagonists find themselves in need of various skills. Due to the universe they live in, gaining those skills is as easy as someone else punching in a computer code. Martial arts, fighting, weapons, even helicopter piloting are gained in the blink of an eye, and all just in the nick of time.While I would not desire to live in the rest of that world, that is one part of the science-fantasy reality that I would not mind to gather. After all, who wouldn’t like to instantly know how to fix a car or do brain surgery in a pinch? Proverbs 4:1, however, points us to the reality in which we live. Proverbs is addressed as from father to son, and here we see the father admonish his son of this: hear the instructions, be attentive to gain insight. In other words: do not wait to gain wisdom until you need it.Look for the help that is available now, gain the understanding now, rather than wait until it…

Cheap Christian Preachers! Acts 24

Today, let’s put a little compare and contrast together, shall we?Let’s take the Apostle Paul and the semi-anonymous embarrassment to Christian ministry currently in the news here for writing on a receipt that since God gets 10%, the server was getting nothing. Now, a quick note: if you have not noticed, there are times when someone wants to make a point and will fake an event to get attention. That may be what happened here. Or the individual may be a self-proclaimed “pastor” of a not real church. We’ll take this one at face value for starters.Now, back to going completely through the Bible: Acts 24 (link). Paul, still on trial. Honestly, from this point forward Acts is a mash-up between the Gospel Channel, CourTV, and Extreme Shipwrecks. Paul is on trial here, on trial there, and shipwrecked over yonder—and in the middle of it, he’s preaching the truth of Jesus Christ. Right now, he’s on trial in Caesarea Maritima (most likely that one. There’s lots of Caesareas back in the day.) Hi…