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Showing posts from June, 2013

Sermon Recap: June 30

Sunday Evening, we joined the Almyra Methodists for a picnic, so there is no sermon to post.Morning Audio is hereMorning Video is here: Outline:Text: James 4:7 Date: June 30, 2013 Location: Almyra FBC Central Idea: RESISTANCE IS NOT FUTILE!! (repeat!) Theological Idea: How do we resist the devil? By submitting to God 1. Submission leads to resistance 2. Draw near--active submission 3. Cleanse--take it seriously 4. Be weak--he brings strength

Book: Prepared by Grace, For Grace

Some books are for everyone. Some books are not for everyone.Prepared by Grace, For Grace, by Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley, is a book I would argue is *not* for everyone. That being said, I am not against this book, and I have been challenged through reading it. What is Prepared by Grace, for Grace? It is an examination of the classical Puritan doctrine of “preparatory grace.” This doctrine is examined as presented in the seventeenth century Puritan writers, and discussed among modern Reformed theology. It is well done. Prepared by Grace, for Grace runs through a clear analysis of primary source materials as well as the secondary sources. Further, there are answers to many of the critical objections to the doctrinal idea. Finally, in an appendix, the reader is treated to an English translation of one of the primary sources considered. In all, for a theological concept that is not widely discussed (at least in my circles), this was a helpful introduction.However, I would caution t…

Link Wednesday

Note: I renamed the blog “Learning, Teaching, Laughing,” but I haven’t added much in the way of Laughing. I’m working on it.This past week, here are some links that I found either fun or informative. Hopefully you’ll at least find one of them intriguing!1. Swiss Watch in Chinese Tomb? At first glance, it appears that a one-hundred year-old watch was found in tomb that is four-hundred years-old. That’s not quite right…2. Lego Vault with all the Lego sets ever made! Now that I know this exists, I am very tempted to try my hand at robbing said vault. And the space set picture? I had that one!3. Buried treasure? Quick, box it up at the hands of “top men!”4. More Lego? Yes. I’m a Lego maniac. I think that was actually one of their campaigns…Here are pictures showing the development of the Lego Person (Minifig) across the years.5. Historical mysteries are one of my “fun” pursuits. What happened to Amelia Earhart? Who built the Newport Tower? Where’s Waldo? This one is related to Amelia Earh…

Gifts of Transformers: Romans 12

There are certain realities at work in the world in which we live. One of those is the lingering impact of sin on humanity. We are not, any one of us, near the kind of person that we ought to be. When you assemble us together, we are much more like the Avengers in the first part of the movie, when they are more interested in fighting each other than they are in dealing with the enemy.If you then take that tendency and put us in large groups, we form societies, and those rarely turn out perfectly either. The end result being that we cannot simply assume that every thing that is publicly acceptable is also acceptable for Christians to do. How do we shake out the difference?Romans 12 gives us some insight into how we as Christians ought to live amid societies that are not driven by Christian teaching. (Which, by the way, is every society ever…some closer than others, but none perfect.)First, we see this: our minds are not automatically what they ought to be. Otherwise, Paul would not hav…

Sermon Wrap-Up for June 23

Preacher’s note: Well, last night I intended to be brief and more like a devotional, so I didn’t bother recording. I think I preached probably the best sermon I’ve preached in months. (Steady, in the back, I’m only comparing to me, not to great preachers.) Morning Audio is hereMorning Video:

Books in Brief: June 21

I haven’t done this lately, and all the cool bloggers do it frequently, so I’m going to hit that mid-point between being a wannabe cool blogger and not really caring if I’m a cool blogger. That is, since I need a post for today and am a little short on ideas, I’m going to give you some short book suggestions.I have read or am reading all of these, and will stop short of all-out endorsing them, but so far I like what I see.#1: Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. This is an historical novel addressing the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. Obviously, being an adult-oriented work, this one contains much in the way of language and gruesome depictions of ancient warfare. So, it’s not a read-aloud for kindergarten. Still, the vividness of the descriptions and manner in which Pressfield both humanizes the Spartans and addresses their flaws engaged me. First book in a while that I have started on and not wanted to quit. Pressfield does not leave us just with “and everybody died at Thermopylae,…

Time to Quit: Numbers 8

I have a retirement fund. At my current rate of saving, I can expect to draw approximately 1/3 of my current income when I turn 67. For those of you who are good with math, you know what that means: I will not likely ever retire. Which is fine in my opinion: while there are times that the work I do can be strenuous, if I keep doing it another thirty years I’ll likely be able to ask for help for those parts.Being a Levite was another matter. Levites are given their term of service in Numbers 8:23-26. This passage gives a hard number:  a Levite starts service at the worship center at 25, and rotates out at 50. End of story. What facts need to go with this reality?1. Consider the “age of responsibility” in the culture of the time. The reality is that before a Levite undertook duties at the sanctuary, he had a good decade of being responsible for various adult activities, like work. Or relationships—depending on what source you pick, he likely had been married for some time, or was approa…

Failing for You: Romans 11

I wish I could say I understood every last nuance of Romans 11 (link). I don’t. Paul is at his most Baptist self here, as he connects rhetorical questions with Old Testament quotes and covers history from Abraham to his present day, including his own heritage. He has a point, but he also has a half-dozen sub-points.I think we need to note something about those sub-points. I believe the Bible to be completely correct, truth without any mixture of error, God’s Word. However, I do not accept that we can cut out a phrase and claim that, absent its context and authorial intent, it means something odd or obscure. We need to be careful: Paul is not attempting to clear up every question the Romans hold on any theological issue that comes to mind. He is focused on a single big question here: “God has not rejected His people, has He?” (Romans 11:1)That is the point under consideration here. Now, we may accurately draw from this passage other ideas, but we need to not put words in Paul’s mouth h…

Can we cut Ms. Utah USA a little slack?

The news has been aghast at the bobble a beauty pageant contest made this past weekend while trying to answer a question. Now, I have not attended a beauty pageant in years, and am highly unlikely to ever attend one again, so I do not know how the Miss USA pageant works. I don’t know if the contestants know what the questions will be ahead of time, but I’ve had to answer questions in front of people before.It’s not easy. Even knowing the questions ahead of time does not make it much easier.Now, typically I would use this opportunity to point out my personal dislike for beauty pageants, but rather than beat that drum here, I will simply share how I have spent the day. I was asked to answer a few questions. Theology/church history questions.Now, especially when you get into that church history part, you are in my wheelhouse (a nice album from Brad Paisley, by the way). I may not be an expert in that area of knowledge, but it’s not for lack of trying.However, knowing my answer is headed …

Sermon Recap: June 16

Well, we have another Sunday with no normal Sunday night service. So, there is only one video and audio to post.Morning Audio Link is hereVideo: Central Idea: Want what your Father wantsTheological Idea: Abandonment of IdolatryWord for the Sermon: DADIntroduction:It's Father's Day, and so we are going to couple our look at Scripture with a look at some of the wisdom that dear old Dad frequently attempted to impart. Of course, you've all heard it said that the older one gets, frequently the smarter their parents become--and I do not hold myself an exception to that view.There are certain things I know about my father, certain things that I am well aware of...Things Dad Used to Say:1. You're old enough that your wants won't hurt you. (vv 1-3)A. We often hurt ourselves or others in pursuit of our wantsB. We ought to be mature enough to let it goC. What is our motivation? The cause of Christ or the causes of the world?2. If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would yo…

Book: Interpreting the Pauline Epistles

Nerd Alert: This is a deep water book. You are going to need a basic knowledge of Koine Greek to really dig into the meat of this book.Today’s book is part of Kregel’s Handbooks for New Testament Exegesis series. It is Interpreting the Pauline Letters and is by John D. Harvey. Harvey, at the time of writing, is Professor of New Testament at Columbia International University.Harvey’s Interpreting the Pauline Letters is set as “an exegetical handbook,” although it could be seen as a supplemental textbook instead. Harvey approaches the academic issues that envelop all of the traditional Pauline Epistles of the New Testament. While some of the authorship debates are visited, Harvey precedes to treat all of the epistles as Pauline rather than cut and paste from the text.It is important to note that Interpreting the Pauline Letters does not attempt a thorough treatment of Paul’s biography. Rather, Harvey leans on the traditional understanding of Paul and his life. The focus here is on inter…

Wait, read how much? Numbers 7

Have you ever read all of Numbers 7? Honestly? Read through every one of the 89 verses? This is one of the longest non-poetry chapters in the Bible. And it’s repetitive.Very.Repetitive.We are presented here with the records of 12 tribal leaders on successive days. Each of the offerings is identical, at least as far as I can tell, comprising the following materials:   one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for a burnt offering; one male goat for a sin offering; and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old (several repetitions throughout Numbers 7, NASU)Now, I will be honest. My view of the inspiration and practicality of Scripture keeps me from suggesting that t…

Get Your Feet Moving: Romans 10

If you want to know where I come to Scripture and feel the most inadequate, I don’t know that I will tell you my biggest struggle. Usually that fluxes between loving the Lord my God with all my heart, loving my wife as Christ loved the church, and not exasperating my children to wrath.But consistently in the second spot of Scripture passages that motivate, convict, inspire, and flat-out smack me in the face is Romans 10. Specifically, Romans 10:14-15. Allow me the liberty, if you will, to express why.To get there, we need to clear the verses around the ground in question. The section in question really starts with Romans 10:8 and runs through 10:17, so we will start there.Romans 10:8-11 addresses the issue of how a person receives salvation in Christ Jesus. It is not a matter of making a pilgrimage or giving an offering; it is not a matter of personal self-denial or wanton indulgence. It is the combination of a true belief in the heart and the public confession of Christ. This is not …

Long-haired Freaky People: Numbers 6

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign….(by Les Emmerson, as recorded by Five Man Electrical Band).I will not pretend to really understand all that went into the hippy song that is the oft-covered “Sign” song. I know this: there were long-haired freaky people long before there were hippies. And there were reasons to be long-haired more than just to be against everything.In fact, the goal was to be for something in particular. What for? Well, the Nazarite vow section of Numbers 6 actually does not say specifically why people took the Nazarite vows. There is simply the statement that “when a man or woman makes a special vow…” (Numbers 6:2).Then we have the instructions on how to fulfill that vow. Let’s take this apart and see what happens with it, shall we? Starting with Numbers 6:1:Numbers 6:1 reflects that this passage is instruction from God, the covenant God of Israel, revealed in name as YHWH (see the Nerd Note here). This is not Moses’ idea of fun things to demand of someone who wants to t…

Book: Pocket Your Dollars

Pocket Your Dollars by Carrie Rocha is a book about finances, but more than that, this is a book about the attitudes that underlie our financial behaviors. Apart from this book, I have no exposure to the Pocket Your Dollars website or to any of Rocha’s financial advice. So, while some liked her prior to snagging this title, I’d never even heard of her.Of the bat, Pocket Your Dollars addresses Rocha’s qualifications to write a book on finance. Some people write on finance who have never been in debt or set a foot wrong, others who got into trouble and bankruptcied out of trouble, and these folks want to tell the reader how to manage money with advice the author has never used. Rocha is not in that situation, as she and her family did get into debt and then worked out of it.The bulk of Pocket Your Dollars is broken into three sections. The first addresses attitudes that need changed, the second how to change them, and the third speaks to what comes next: an actual budget.Rocha’s approac…

Sermon Recap from June 9

Before we get to the sermon recap, we as a church at Almyra Baptist were saddened to hear of the passing of Mrs. Sherry Diane Lovett this weekend. Our prayers are with her family, especially her husband, Hal Lovett.Morning Sermon: Audio Link HereVideo Embed: Outline:Text: James 3:13-18 Date: June 9 AM Location: Almyra FBC Title: Be a Wise Guy! Central Idea: Develop Righteous Wisdom Theological Idea: Wisdom  Word for the Sermon: WISDOM Introduction: Wisdom: living in fear of God Investigating  Show your wisdom in deeds Demonic substitutes: selfish ambition, bitterness Orderly or disorderly? Marks of wisdom:  Pure Peaceable Gentle Reasonable Full of Mercy and Good Actions Unwavering Straightforward Application Action: Find a source to grow in wisdom: read a book, discuss wisdom, grow, pass it on... Evening: we recapped VBS and focused on Romans 5:8-11 about the reconciliation of man to God by Jesus at the Cross. There was too much chaos to video :) so it’s just that short statement…

Book: A Season of Mysteries

A Season of Mysteries is the second novel from Rusty Whitener, someone who I apparently should have heard of for his book and screenplay work, but I had not. You can learn more about him by clicking his name above. Coming back to A Season of Mysteries, it is the sequel to A Season of Miracles. I have nothing to support the idea that his goal is to be A Man for All Seasons, but time will tell. This book focuses on a group of young men moving through their teenage years as part of a Boy Scout troop, after having been part of a winning Little League baseball team.A Season of Mysteries is a novel that speaks to the realities of the spiritual world as they exist alongside the visible, known world. Whitener portrays the heavy subject matter well, although his writing style is a little dialogue-heavy for my taste. The plotline developed well. I think the character development leaned a little more heavily on the first book, which I have not read, so I had some difficulty, but that may not be …

Of Trees and Golf Clubs

Tonight, we went out to take the trash to the curb. That way, it sits there all day until the garbage truck actually comes on Saturday. Anyway. Wandered over to check on the grape vines, including the monster vine that is shading the blueberry bush, and I looked up at the oak tree that’s shading the whole kit and kaboodle. There’s a dead branch, about 20 feet up.Now, that part of the yard is where the kids tend to play, and with the immeasurable mess that is emergency medical care around here (and the billing thereof), I do not need one of the kids having that branch fall out and konk them on the head.So, what did I do?Went into the garage to find something to take out the dead branch.What did I come out with?A 9-iron. The only golf club I own, to be honest, and my primary snake-removal tool. Steven does use it to golf with a racquetball around the yard, but I use it for, well, other purposes.Can I reach the branch with the 9? No. I need a 3-wood. Actually, I need about 15 more feet.S…

Never forget home: Romans 9

I am an American. I was born in Texas and have grown up either in the United States or attached to a US military base overseas. This country is my home. More than that, I have a certain region of the country that draws my heart more than any other, and that’s the region that I have spent the most time, here in the South where we say “coke” then ask if you want Coke for that coke or something else.That’s who I am. Religiously, I’ve been a Southern Baptist since nine months before I took my first breath. Along the way, I have become a Christian and followed that up with becoming a Baptist preacher. A Southern Baptist preacher. And I continue to live in the South.In short, I’m as Southern Baptist as Paul was Jewish. And when I look at his words in Romans 9, about his compassion for his people to know the truth. About his willingness to suffer for the sake of his home, I am put to shame. Paul does not pull back, prop up, and lament how bad off things are and how they would be better if pe…

A test for what? Numbers 5

This being a blog and not an academic paper, I will give you this statement with no real evidence: a large percentage of violence in this country is visited upon one lover by another in a fit of rage. I saw the numbers in part of the ongoing gun-control debate—statistics that can be shaded to both sides, honestly, and cannot now find them. So, I will not assert a specific amount, but I will assert this: there is substantial statistical evidence that being in a romantic relationship that goes bad increases the risk of violence in one’s life.Why is that?Because our hearts, and our sexual passions, are not particularly fond of rational behavior or reasonable choices. These are frequently the drivers of our romantic entanglements rather than our logical, reasonable sides. So, when there is damage in the relationship, it does not always end well. The most typical, I think, is self-harm but the close second is to lash out at the other in the relationship.This amplifies when one feels like b…

Labor Pains: Romans 8

The Apostle Paul and I share something in common. Neither of us have ever experienced labor pains, but that does not mean we will abstain from speaking of them as an illustration. Now, depending on your view of Paul’s biography, I may have a minor leg up in that I have been with someone through three sets of labor pains and he likely was not, but being there and being the one laboring are quite different.Romans 8, though, uses the metaphor of childbirth to make a very clear point about the reality of the world we live in. Starting in Romans 8:18 and running through Romans 8:224, Paul underlines the contrast between the present suffering of creation and the future glory of eternity. Amidst that, he highlights the prominence of Christian believers in both of those aspects.The comparison to childbirth makes the point well. There is the anticipation of something great, something that is partially known but not completely, yet it awaits on the other side of much pain and trouble. I can wel…

Sermon Recap for June 2

We start VBS tonight, so there’s no sermon from tonight. And I will not be filming my teaching children this week, so don’t look for that either!!Sermon on James 3:1-12Audio Link is here.Video Embed is here: Outline:Introduction: At 1208 on April 23 of this year, the US stock markets began a rapid plunge, losing about 1% of its value in the span of about 2 minutes. Commodities prices fluctuated, gold jumped, and panic set in... Why? Because a tweet from the Associated Press indicated a terrorist attack had hit the White House and injured President Obama.
Now, for some of you, a tweet means the sound of a bird, but in today's technology world it's a short internet statement consisting of no more than 140 characters. A character is a space, a letter, or a punctuation mark 140 characters was enough to push the US economy in a bad direction--and just 2 minutes later, push it back right as the announcement came through that this was a false statement, not officially issued, and the e…

Book: Seven Men and the Secret of Their Greatness

Note: A few years ago, I did a review of Eric Metaxas’ biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (find it here). He has not put out a major book since then, though he has been busy essaying and speaking and preparing for his next book. That next book is today’s review book, provided by Booksneeze, Thomas Nelson Publishing’s Book Review Blog Program.Biographies. The idea of reading them often intimidates me. After all, while there is much to learn in the lives of others, do I really want to wade through the minutiae of an individual life? There is a gap between the usefulness of reading biographies and the challenge of wading through them.There are a couple of solutions to the dilemma of wanting to read biographies but not wanting long ones. The first is simple in this house: we’ve got kid-level biographies stacked to the ceiling. (Literally, on organize the bookshelves day.) Those, though, often miss the deeper ideas that challenge the mind and heart.The second solution is a book like Eric Met…