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Showing posts from September, 2013

Sermon Wrap-up for September 29

Good morning!Here are the sermons from yesterday. We spent our time on Deborah and Jael, so here’s the links and information:Morning Sermon Audio LinkMorning Video Morning OutlineSeptember 29, 2013  AM Judges 4 Go with Me Who do you need? Who needs you? Who do you answer to? Who will you support? Presentation Outline: I. Historical Situation--Relationship with the Canaanites, oppression, chariots!      A. Note: after Ehud--as if Shamgar just wasn't much to discuss      B. Generational shifts: one underlying message of Judges is the crucial, crucial task of transmitting a living faith to the next generation II. Personalities on the ground:      A. Deborah  (She gets a tree!) //Nerd Excursus: reflects, most likely, the use of a fairly contemporary source for Judges, because the Tree is still remembered or known           Non-sermonic excursus: Identity of "Lappidoth," especially in light of potential translation of "woman" in place of "wife" and "to…

Book: Apostate

There are times that, as a book reviewer, I get a book that I am obligated to review but really just don’t want to. I understand the work the author has put in, I know negativity isn’t really needed, and I would rather let those who praise a work speak on their own. However, each book comes with an obligation to review it, good or bad. Today’s book is Apostate: The Men who Destroyed the Christian West. Kevin Swanson is the author, and the book is published by Generations with Vision. It represents a hardcover presentation of the basis of the overall ministry work Swanson does through Generations with Vision. I have a divided response to this book. First, let me give you the positives:Swanson is refreshingly direct in his writing style. It is certainly easy to take this directness as harshness, but I recognize the approach. Apostate is not addressing the potential for disaster. Apostate is responding to imminent, happening disaster. If I were in your home recommending smoke detectors, …

Sacred Cow: Numbers 19

Sacred cow. A sacred cow is something that has become holy, untouchable with no valid reason. There is a place for sacred cows.The grill.So, what do we do with the ordinance of the red heifer in Numbers 19? Is it a sacred cow to be grilled or something valuable to study?The red heifer instructions are one of those weird spots in Old Testament Law. These specifications for an animal that you are going to burn and mix the ashes with purification water are very intense. They also leave a lot of questions that are not easily answered. One question that I have is this: is the ordinance of the red heifer something that was done once or occasionally? Did this happen once and then they just passed on what was left, mixing in new oil/water/spices and claim connection to the heifer, or did they keep a herd specifically for this purpose? The Jewish traditions record it as a rare event, occurring fewer than ten times.These details could consume us or drive us to ignore the text. I think another d…

Wednesday Wanderings: Joshua 8

What was a classic pick-up line in Israel? “So, you’re from Ai? How do spell that?”This worked as well as modern pick-up lines do.Moving on…Joshua 8 addresses the conquest of Ai after the failure at Ai. The contrast here is mainly seen as God at work in the obedient after seeing God’s refusal to bless the people due to Achan’s sin.That’s a valid lesson. God honors obedience and judges sin. I think it’s a little simplistic to then apply this over and claim that the obedient always have things go right. That is not supported in the rest of Scripture.There is also this: the original attempt to capture Ai involved a certain disinterest from the people. Just a few were needed, the spies said, so just a few went. God’s work by His people is never a matter for just a few.Also worth noting is the use of the strategy of ambush at Ai. Not because Ambush is a new concept. Because God uses the situation to turn what the people of Ai thought was the weakness of His people into the Israelite’s vict…

Disunited for Jesus: John 7

Unity. This one word sums up what many people think should be the goal of humanity in general and church-people in particular. If you want to expand the term, it would be unity without judgment. There is a pressure to develop a unity that is founded in just getting along with everyone everywhere every time.To advance this as Christian ideal, though, is to skip John 7. First, we need to get there. Jesus has been teaching in Jerusalem in the days surrounding the Feast of Tabernacles. This was a time to remember the Exodus and the time when the people of Israel, on their way out of Egypt, dwelt in tents. This specific chapter occurs after Jesus has fed the 5,000 and done many miracles. John’s Gospel records specific signs of Jesus’ status as Messiah, and those are half-done at this point. During this time, there is an argument among the people and the religious leadership about who Jesus is.Not about whether or not his name is Jesus or whether he grew up in Nazareth, but whether his iden…

September 23 2013

I like the NASB’s chapter heading: On Life and Conduct. This is, however, a tad generic. After all, most of Scripture is on life and conduct. Still, as a summation of this chapter, it’s a good one.Focal verses:Proverbs 23:9 is interesting to contemplate in today’s culture. It certainly befits us all to avoid sharing secrets in the presence of the fool, but there is more here than that. It’s the idea of teaching or trying to enlighten others with fools present. The challenge for today is that we often try to teach through blogs or social media, where any idiot can see it and respond as they choose. It is important to recognize fool-responses and try to just ignore them.That is not to support ignoring legitimate questions or contrary views. Take politics: someone that wants to discuss healthcare by working through the benefits of bigger regulation should be willing to talk the merits of less regulation. Those who only want to demand either socialized, single-payer or who want to insist …

Sermon Wrap-Up for September 22

Good Monday to you all. Here are the sermon wrap-ups from yesterday:Morning Sermon Audio is linked hereSeptember 22 AM Judges 3: No Useless Servants I. Situation II. People involved A. Lesser relativesB. Social rejectsC.  Obscure workersIII. You IV.  Do what is available to you V. Stop waiting for someone else more able. Evening Sermon Audio is linked hereSeptember 22 PM John 6:10 "Have a Seat" 1. Location 2. Event 3. Specific point 4. How do you need to sit down?

Book: The NIV Integrated Study Bible

The NIV Integrated Study Bible(NIVISB) is, in all honesty, not what I expected from the title. Taking in the tagline of “A new chronological approach for exploring Scripture” helps a bit with the expectations, so do not judge a book by its title. Not if you can get the full description from a website, that is.First of all, living in the 21st century southern United States, the word “integrated” is freighted with meaning regarding race relations. I know that “integrated” can refer to mixing anything that has been separate, but the connotation around here would lead one to believe this Bible attempts to draw together scholarly viewpoints on Scripture from multiple ethnic traditions. That is unfortunately not the case—not because this one is bad, but because that would be a great idea.Instead, the word “integrated” here refers to harmonizing the various portions of Scripture into their chronological order. Which is fine, and and it needed a new title because there are already “Chronologi…

Obligation before Privilege: Numbers 18

As we continue through the whole Bible, we return to the Old Testament. Carrying on in the book of Numbers and reaching Numbers 18, we find Aaron, the Levites, and the priests addressed in this chapter. It is important to note that there is a distinction between Aaron and the Levites, and between the Levites and the priests. Though all of these served at the sanctuary, they are not entirely interchangeable. The chapter opens with a summation of the responsibilities shared by all three of these groups: Aaron and his sons; the Levites; the priests. Fundamentally, the obligations expressed here about protecting the worship space of Israel. The religious leadership in these people was responsible to make sure the Tabernacle was taken care of, the rules were followed, and the guilt of Israel atoned for through sacrifices.This was a heavy responsibility. It was one that could not be handed off: Numbers 18:7 speaks of the hereditary nature of being a leading priest. Outsiders could not come …

Wednesday Wonderings: Joshua 7

I take seminary classes with people that talk about having dozens of people in church with nothing to do, or having people that want to teach/lead/help but no opportunities. We don’t really have that problem in Almyra. Most of the folks willing to work are working as much as they are able, though there are always exceptions.The end-result of this is that I am now teaching kids on Wednesday nights as part of our Stampede. I teach them for about 15 minutes, at which point their attention spans, my patience, and a large roll of duck tape (or a case, as here) are about to meet. The kids then move on to more active-learning segments and also do music and worship arts classes.I go back to the kitchen where I belong.However, about an hour later, I turn around and teach adults. And I have reached a conclusion: I’m going to teach the grown-ups what the kids are learning. Why? Because it won’t hurt them to be reminded. And I need a blog-filler for Wednesdays, and I bet that not more than one of…

Proverbs 18: September 2013

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Proverbs 18 mentions the speech of an individual a great deal. Keep in mind as you encounter this that the words which come out reflect what is inside. That is why the words matter: Solomon is not saying to get the words right. He is saying be right so that the words follow.Proverbs 18:9 would be a great one to post at work. The one who is a slacker, who does not do what should be done? They are related to the one who just goes about destroying. That course you just kind of punted, that work day you did nothing and coasted on someone else? That’s right beside destruction. Probably shouldn’t do that, should we?Proverbs 18:19 falls on the list of “Proverbs for Blogging” that we Christians ought to be well aware of. Arguments among brothers, sisters, close companions can be deadly to a relationship, and when that hits, it is hard to restore. How hard?It’ll take a miracle.

Fourth-Telling is Important: John 6

We come back to the Gospel of John as we work through the whole Bible. John 6 gives us the feeding of the 5,000, the walking on water, and several discourse passages where Jesus teaches the people.If I were writing a commentary, I would spend many thousands of words here. Instead, though, it’s a blog. So, you get a little bit and then will have to dig the rest out for yourself. I will highlight one major sweep of the passage:There are at least 5,000 adult men with Jesus at the beginning of the passage. This is quite the crowd. They are watching the signs and hearing His Word, not as we do from the page but directly from His mouth. Yet by the end of the passage, Jesus looks at the Twelve and asks if they are going to go away also. Peter’s response is hardly enthusiastic to my ears: “To whom shall we go?” It sounds almost like they would leave, but they know Jesus is the Messiah. They may not like the hard things about following Him, but there is no other option.In that, I think many of…

Sermon Wrap-Up for September 15

Here are the audio and video links from Sunday Morning’s sermon. There’s no recording of Sunday Night.Audio is hereOr, alternately, here:Video: Outline:September 15 AM Judges 2 Judges 2:6-13 I. Remembering the Lord God II. Serving the Lord God III. Forgetting the Lord God IV. Forsaking the Lord God V. Repenting and Returning to the Lord God Actions: 1. Do it. 2. Teach it. 3. Fund it.

Book: Finally Free

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Today’s Book was provided by Cross-Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review. If Shaun thinks my review is dishonest, he comes to my house and smacks me with the book before he takes it away. If I ever review a hardcover, that review will be so honest that Abe Lincoln will marvel.
Pornography is major issue among Christians today. I will admit to knowing quite a few people that have struggled with this, and also point to this reality: porn exists because people support it. We can fume about the ‘industry’ all day long, the ready availability on the Internet all we want, but consumers stopped paying to see people participate in sexual activity, then it wouldn’t be there.And the reality is, there are far too many of us who claim to walk with God that support pornography. At the core of this is our addiction to evil. Some people cannot see the attraction to pornography, and then return to another sin that they cannot shake. It’s not about the porn, really, it is truly about being …

Proverbs 13: September 2013

Look! It’s 9:13 on 9/13/13. That means…absolutely nothing.Proverbs 13:9 should be read seeing the contrast between a natural “light” for the righteous and an artificial “lamp” for the wicked. One is lasting—Let there be light!—while the other requires fuel and eventually will give out.Proverbs 13:19 feels disjointed, but one thing to contemplate: the righteous have their desire realized, but the wicked just keep doing evil. The righteous follow God and settle in, while the wicked do no such thing.

Buds! Numbers 17

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I have to admit, much of the current section of Numbers relates to leadership and rebellion in the time of the Exodus. Numbers 17 is no different on that front: there is a rebellion, this time against Aaron. God nips it, in the bud, with a bud.The story is simple: after the previous rebellions and to address the undercurrent of rebelliousness, God commands that each tribe furnish a staff. (Or a rod, basically a piece of dead wood, shaped and smoothed.) They are to engrave names on each rod for each tribe, and then place these in front of the Ark of the Covenant. The next day, the dead wood that is Aaron’s rod has bloomed, demonstrating God’s choice of Aaron to head the Levites and the Levites to lead Israel.We end with the fear of the other tribes to come too near the Tabernacle, because they fear death. The problem, however, is not their proximity. It is, in fact, their rebellion. God commands Aaron to leave his staff at the Tabernacle to be a constant reminder of God’s choice.At thi…

Proverbs 12: September 2013

Proverbs 12:9 is a little muddled to me. I do find a couple of commentaries in my Logos Bible Software that agree that it’s a bit muddled. The main view appears to be this: better to have a small reputation and be independent than to be famous and starve. It’s not about being wrongly esteemed, but about being less than famous. There is the possibility of a vowel redistribution, as in a few other Hebrew places, which would make this Proverb reflect that it is better to work for yourself, to be your own servant.Either way, I think we can apply this to the idea of not trying to live large and get famous. It’s better to do what you do, and let fame happen if it does.Proverbs 12:19 comes again to honesty and integrity. By now, and we’re not even halfway through Proverbs, we should all know that honesty is better. Lies do not last. End of story.

Book: The One Year Holy Land Moments Devotional

Yikes, but that’s a long title.
The One Year Holy Land Moments Devotional from Tyndale Momentum is a compilation from Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s Holy Land Moments radio program. These devotional moments are then commented on by Tremper Longman III, a Biblical Studies professor. It is an intriguing collaboration between a teacher of the Jewish faith and a teacher of the Christian faith.
I came to this with a measure of doubt. There is a pretty big gulf in belief between modern Judaism and modern Christianity. While there is much we as Christians should learn, there is just an undercurrent of divergence in our understanding. The shared heritage of the Pentateuch, Prophets, and Writings is valuable, but how well will this work?
An additional concern was whether or not Longman’s contributions would integrate well with Rabbi Eckstein’s. Would the Christian insight flow well with the Rabbinical statements?
The results overall are good. Rabbi Eckstein’s focus is on the Jewish concepts and rabbi…

Proverbs 11: September 2013

It is hard to post on September 11 without making note of the day. This is not a happy day in memory for most Americans. Do not forget.Proverbs 11:9 has two seemingly disconnected statements, but both reflect on the use of words. Further, there is a connection up to 11:6 and down to 11:12. There is power in words: power to destroy our neighbor and power to spread knowledge that helps. Pick one.Proverbs 11:19 is fulfilled on an eternal scale rather than one we can measure. There are frequent anecdotes that illustrate this in the near-term, but then there are exceptions. Certainly the Christian view sees that the only righteousness which will truly attain life is the righteousness of Jesus, imputed to believers. That does not excuse us from some actions of righteousness, though.Proverbs 11:29 raises a point that I cannot reconcile. Why in the world would a person deliberately trouble their own home? Yet Solomon is not concerned with the why here. Only with the result: trouble, long-term…

Remembering

September 11. This day brings so much to mind for any American who was mentally awake in 2001. There was such an odd combination of fear and anger, it was like nothing I hope to ever experience again.And now, it’s twelve years later. Twelve years in which we have have seen thousands lose their lives in an effort to find, engage, and destroy people who want to be like the hijackers before those folks get to civilian populations. Twelve years in which tens of thousands of people have seen their lives greatly changed by that conflict, for bodies can be intact while minds are shaken.It was a moment we all swore we would never forget. A change we promised we would make in our nation as a whole. To love one another. To focus on what matters. To serve each other and seek the benefit of our neighbors.Since then, I fear we have have chosen to have a Day of Remembrance rather than lives of remembering. Take a look across the last twelve years. We pause every year on this day and take moments of…
Dear Olivia,
I feel like this is a good year to write you this letter. You’re twelve now. You’re starting to learn a lot more about how the world works, and there are some things that I think you need to know.

I want to start off, though, with an apology that I think I owe you. I don’t feel compelled to offer the same apology to your younger siblings, but I owe it to you. You see, you are not growing up in the world that your Mom and I brought you into. Some things changed between your birth day and your first birthday. Those changes showed me that you are growing up in the wrong book.

You know your Dad has always loved to read. My favorite books are history books, of course, the odder the better. I have favorite fiction books, too, though. They fall into two groups. The first are futuristic science fiction. Books that feel like Star Trek, where people travel through space just like crop dusters buzz our house these days. Books that point toward a future where things have gotten bette…

Proverbs 10: September 2013

I’ve been inconsistent, and I feel it. Not just in the posting, but the reading and the growing. I was out of town, which excuses the posting—it was intentionally put off. The personal discipline is the bad part.Proverbs 10 reinforces the overall Solomonic construction of the book. Again, you need a good nerd-book to chase whether or not Solomon personally sat around and wrote all of these or if he was mainly the compiler. I think there’s room for him to have compiled wisdom from many locations and improved it, then kept it.Proverbs 10:10 is about those who are deceptive and sneaky. Those who communicate one thing with their words and another with their actions are not wise. They are going to come to no good end.Proverbs 10:9 should have been first, but that’s the way my brain has been rolling today. Walking in integrity is crucial. It’s not an option, and those who try and shift from honesty will be found out. In an honorable society, that being found out will bring negative conseque…

Witnesses Abound: John 5

Again in this chapter, we see the arbitrary nature of the chapter divisions of the New Testament. In all honesty, I’d argue that the chapter divisions, except for the Psalms, are useful only for locating material. They have no actual meaning—and sometimes are filled with disparate ideas.With this, we turn to John 5. Where do we go in this chapter? Should we take a look at the healing at Bethesda? Perhaps dip into how we once even called the National Naval Hospital here in the United States the Bethesda Naval Hospital, but politics consolidated it into the Walter Reed Army Hospital and thus we froze out the name?Should we take a look at our old friends the Pharisees and other religious zealots, who are more concerned with a man carrying a mat than with him having not walked for 38 years? How they have not given two hoots for him as he lay, near healing and near exhaustion, just around the corner, but now worry about his “sin” of carrying a mat?There are a great many ways to consider th…

Sermon Wrap-Up for September 8

These are the sermons from this past Sunday. We had a presentation from the Gideon’s International, so the morning sermon was shorter than normal.Morning AudioMorning Outline:September 8 AM Almyra FBC Joshua 1:8Central Idea: the centrality of the WordI. In times of transition: focus on the WordII. In times of need: focus on the WordIII. In times of ease: focus on the WordIV. In times of plenty: share the Word Evening Sermon AudioEvening Video:

Die, Rebels! Numbers 16

Here we go: rebellion against authority brings death. This is the clear message of the narrative in Numbers 16 as we continue through the whole Bible. God has anointed His workers, and one dare not get in the way of that!Except that is not the whole of the passage. It is true that there are several rebellions against the Moses and, by extension, God, in this chapter. Yes, indeed, we find people struck down for these rebellions. Or, in the case of Korah, we see the ground open up and swallow the rebels. The key part of this passage, though, is none of those. We can already count the Israelites in this portion of the narrative as folks not to be like. They have accepted the negative report of the spies and turned their back on the Promised Land. Why would we think any of this is recorded to tell us to not be like the Israelites?Instead, this passage serves an even greater example for us to learn from. It’s found in Numbers 16:46-48. At this point in the passage, there is a plague upon t…

Proverbs 5: September 2013

Proverbs 5: the warning to avoid immorality. We have a song in our home, called “Children, Don’t Touch the Hot Pan.” It’s part of my forthcoming album of titled Melodies for Kitchen Safety, and it goes something like this:Children, don’t touch the hot panIt will burn youAnd you’ll cryOh, ohChildren,don’t touch the hot panIt will burn youAnd you’ll cry.That’s the chorus. The verses need work. It’s a common refrain around here, and we’re adding a few other songs. Like “Don’t use your sister’s arm to test the sharpness of the knives.” But those need a good chord progression.Back to the Proverbs: you would think a warning like those above would be so self-evident to be unnecessary. But it is necessary. So is Proverbs 5. You might think it unnecessary, but it’s critical. Avoid immorality. It destroys.Proverbs 5:9 speaks of one portion of the price of immorality. Your efforts go to something that you cannot hold, someone that you cannot tame. Destruction follows this: how many years are was…

Updating the GPS

We’re taking a little trip, and leaving a half-trained monkey with an assault weapon in the house, this weekend. It’s a trip to my parents’ house, so we know where we’re going, but I’m updating the GPS just because we like to use it for trips like this. It’s fun to play “Race the Tom-Tom” and see if it really does take 4 hours to make the trip. (It doesn’t.)While I don’t have to do much to get the GPS up-to-date other than plug it in and click “Yes” to the fourteen times the computer asks if I really want to update, it’s still a long process. I’m about 45 minutes in at this point and still waiting. Why does it take so long?Because every three months, Tom-Tom updates the whole map. It doesn’t correct the map. It deletes the whole thing and starts over. Now, deep in the recesses of Tom-Tom Central, I’m sure they do not actually delete the whole thing. That’s just how it works for my personal GPS unit. I’m warned that if I don’t keep my maps updated, even though it’s a long process, I ma…

Proverbs 4: September 2013

Proverbs 4 should show you, if you haven’t gotten it yet, the value of the Proverbs and Wisdom overall. Why? Take a look at the imperatives: GET WISDOM! ACQUIRE WISDOM! These are not fluffy thoughts, but clear instructions.Focal passages:Proverbs 4:9 reminds us that wisdom is evident, and should be treasured like jewelry. One who is adorned in wisdom needs not fancy baubles and or trinkets. Without drawing the parallel too far, take a look at The Hunger Games and see that the people with wisdom are the simpler dressed folks—even Capitol resident Cinna is marked by his eschewing of over-the-top fashion fads. The fools need the trinkets and finery. Even the wicked who are intelligent have a restraint in their apparel—note President Snow.Proverbs 4:19 explains most politicians, news media personalities, and entertainment stars. Life falls apart, and they have no idea why. How about you? Are you stumbling but cannot figure out why? Take a look at whether you are even trying to walk in rig…

Proverbs 3: September 2013

Proverbs 3 addresses, again, the general value of wisdom. Further, this chapter promotes not only the acquisition of wisdom but the application of wisdom.Proverbs 3:9 speaks to the importance of putting God first in our material and materiel wealth. It’s not enough to pay lip service to the One who saved us, but we must acknowledge Him in our actions. The Hebrew concept of “first” incorporates both chronology and quality—an early crop that was low-quality would be passed over to give the on-time that is better. That would not, however, excuse the need to give before keeping. How we do that now is another discussion.Proverbs 3:19 points out that ‘wisdom’ underlies the whole of creation. From this, I would gather that we can grow in our understanding of wisdom through studying all parts of creation. Science helps us—but we start into science acknowledging that we are seeking God’s wisdom. This has long been part of the two sources of understanding: the Special Revelation of God in Scrip…

Jesus Needs Something? John 4

John 4:4, in most modern translations, runs something like “Jesus had to go through Samaria.” It is one of the rare verses that I actually like better in the King James: “And he (Jesus) must needs go through Samaria.” Nowhere else that I can find in Scripture do we see the Word of God express a need, even for Jesus. We see descriptions of Jesus sharing our weakness, we see a few times where Jesus demonstrates physical needs like hunger. Yet we do not see Jesus really needing anything at a deeper level.Except for here. Here, we see Jesus must needs do something. He must needs go through Samaria. Why?We need a little history to get that information clear for us. First, the reality on the ground was that the Roman Empire controlled everything in the region that we now call Israel, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and most of their neighbors. It was all one Empire, though the various administrative districts were different from one place to another. National borders, however, are not everything…

Book: God in Slow Motion

Note: Today’s Book is from Booksneeze.Mike Nappa. The name means…well, not a whole lot to me. This man is not the flavor-of-the-month Christian author. Neither is he the latest-greatest-most-spectactularest preacher. Instead, he’s a man who has written books and finds other ways to fill his time and buy his groceries. His latest book is titled God in Slow Motion. It’s published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, and runs 206 pages in the paperback.Let’s dispense with a preliminary complaint about God in Slow Motion: endnotes. I know, it’s not his fault, and I know it’s because of e-books and page formatting for the publisher. So, while I severely dislike endnotes and long for footnotes, I’ll cope. Moving on…Nappa’s work in God in Slow Motion is inspired by the idea of trying to look behind the normal speed of life and see what God is doing underneath it all. His inspiration, based on the introduction, is the work of Eadweard Muybridge to capture the view of a racehorse in motion. Muybridge’…

Proverbs 2: September 2013

Proverbs 2 establishes the reasons one should seek wisdom. I think we should recognize that there are three choices, but two lead the same place: the first choice is to choose folly. The second is to choose wisdom. The third is to make no choice and just drift. Only actively choosing wisdom furthers one’s cause. The other two choices go the same direction, though active choice of folly is more rapidly destructive.Proverbs 2:9 illustrates exactly what’s wrong right now. People without the fear of YHWH are trying to establish justice, and you cannot establish justice without wisdom. And wisdom? It’s skill for living in fear of YHWH. So, where does that put you?Proverbs 2:19 warns us that there is a point of no return. This is a reality in practically every school of philosophy and religion known to man: you reach a point of irretrievability. For the Christian, we believe that there is no point beyond redemption, other than death. However, that does not mean a life cannot be wasted beyon…

Monday Thoughts

Well, typically Mondays are the sermon wrap-up, but I got that done yesterday. So, what about today? How about a few random thoughts:1. I think that a dictator who uses chemical weapons is a major, major problem. I thought so in 2003, I think so in 2013. Ten years in, though, we know just how difficult it would be to actually remove that dictator and replace him with a viable democracy. We know clearly from Egypt and Libya the past two years that the first group arising out of the revolt are not going to be friendly to the United States nor to dissident and divergent viewpoints. With that in mind, I think jumping into Syria is a waste of time and effort. We will not commit the resources to actually getting everything done, and anything less will not actually impact the situation. Unless the goal is to replace the current dictator with the Muslim Brotherhood so that they have the chemical weapons. And get another ambassador killed. No, all in all, there’s no upside here. We should see,…

Proverbs 1: September 2013

We return to the first chapter of Proverbs. The opening chapter establishes Solomon’s authorship and commends wisdom to the reader. I do not exactly where I come down with Solomon’s authorship: did he write all of the proverbs in Proverbs or are some proverbs in Proverbs proverbs that he knew from others and therefore recorded in Proverbs? My belief in the Divine Inspiration of Scripture makes this a secondary question: all that is present is intended by, and protected by, the Sovereign God of all. One can take Proverbs 1:1’s “Of Solomon” legitimately either way. Some of the book, one is hard-pressed to think Solomon wrote it himself. Either that, or he forgot it later. Especially the parts about women. Proverbs 1:9 reminds us the value of wisdom. It is not merely a private value, but is visible just like fine jewelry. What should we pursue? The wisdom. Let that decorate our whole life. Proverbs 1:19 points out that violence is not a smart way to achieve gain in this world. One may ha…

Sermon Wrap-Up for September 1

No evening sermon this week. It’s our annual Hibbard Cookout at church, marking another year in Almyra.Also, if you note any audio or video problems, please let me know.Morning Audio Link is HereVideo: The Only Barrier for the Holy Spirit 1: The need for God to work I. World II. Church III. Personal / Family 2. Acts 8 I. Prior religious dispute is no barrier (Samaritans) II. Ethnic differences are no barrier (Ethiopians) III. Persecution is no barrier (Antioch) IV. Prior paganism is no barrier (Samaritans again!) V. Personal profit? That's a barrier: God shares His glory with no one! (Simon Magus) A. It is the nearest form of idolatry B. This is a space where the Spirit God is not unableto work C. Instead, He is unwillingto work 3. What do we do? I. World II. Church III. Personal / family