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Showing posts from January, 2015

Leadership lessons from...The Princess Bride!

I’ll be honest, some of the ideas that I put up here are half-baked thoughts, driven by a moment of insanity. It’s not always the best writing you can imagine. This may even be similar to something else out there—but I’m not copying it, because I haven’t seen it. It’s a blog, after all, and worth every penny I pay for it. (Which is approximately 1000 pennies a year for the domain name.)
Today’s leadership post features…
Leadership Lessons from The Princess Bride(yes, the movie) (with apologies to the writers, actors, directors, and sensible people who find this silly)
I. Identity leads to clarity: “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
The secondary story in The Princess Bride is the pursuit of justice by Inigo, seeking retribution for his father’s murder. Inigo is relentless, often to the point of danger. Yet there is a time in the film when he has lost his way. When that happens, what brings him back? Being reminded of his quest.
From this, we take the …

In Misery: Luke 17

In Summary:

As Jesus is headed to Jerusalem in Luke 17, he continues teaching the disciples. (It’s worth noting that Luke, like Mark, uses the “on the way to Jerusalem” for heading to the Cross. Neither have a casual trip to Jerusalem for Jesus.) First, he issues a warning against those who cause others to stumble. This is coupled with commanding the disciples to be forgiving toward one another—and this isn’t just between the Twelve, but for all the followers of Christ. Is it possible that our unforgiving attitude causes others to stumble? We need to consider this.

Further, Jesus speaks of the need for faith. I find it telling that Jesus responds to the request to “increase” the disciples’ faith with a statement of “if you had faith.” The implication is not that they have too little faith. It’s that they have none at all. They lack trusting obedience in Jesus, based on the following statements about what their lives should look like in response to God’s commands.

The ending section of Lu…

Sermon Recap for January 25

Good Morning! Here are the sermons from yesterday:Morning Sermon: Stop Waiting! Mark 1:14-20 (audio) "Stop Waiting" Fixed mark: Stop waiting and obey the call of God On Background:Mark rapidly shifts from John the Baptist to Jesus—rather than dwelling on the conditions of John’s imprisonment, the ministry of Jesus is picked up immediately.Notice what happens:First, Jesus is preaching the Gospel. Nothing positive happens spiritually that God does not initiate!1. Jesus began ______ the gospel of God (preaching)God takes the initiative in our salvation—He is the God who seeks and saves.What is the Gospel?We all need to be able to make this definition: What is the Gospel? That Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, lived a sinless life, fulfilled the Law of God, died for sinners, rose up from the dead under His own power, and ascended to Heaven. Because of His substitution, our debt from sin is paid for and God judges us not by our works but by Jesus’ works. This is what is neces…

Tools and Links January 2015

I had some random thoughts I thought about sharing, but I’ve been sick this week and just could not get them together as a coherent thought. Instead, I want to point you to a few tools and links that I like and tend to use.First, some general reading:I pastor and I write, and while the two tend to overlap there are some differences. Additionally, there are leadership development resources that I like to read. All that to say this: not every link on this list is from Bible believing Christians. I am firmly convinced that Christianity is the only path to God and that the Bible is God’s perfect revelation of Himself through words.I also know God puts wisdom in the mouths of many, sometimes in the mouths of those who I would love to sit down with and bring to the faith.On writing and creativity: Steven Pressfield’s blog/website here: http://www.stevenpressfield.com/ He has multiple contributors and I haven’t seen a bad post yet. I read Pressfield to both challenge and encourage me.Jeff Go…

Consider Victory: Deuteronomy 20

In Summary:

Deuteronomy 20 is a chapter that is very tempting to skip over. It’s a summary of the laws of war for the people of Israel. They break down into the laws governing who should fight, how you should fight, and what to do in victory.

One of the major questions that arises from a chapter like this stems from the commands found in 20:13 and 20:16-17. In these passages, God commands that the Israelites kill either all the men of the city, or all the inhabitants of a city.

This bothers us. And it should. Human life is precious. All human life, even the lives of our enemies in war, should be valued and killing should be seen as the last resort, not the first response. To get to the bottom of this, we have to answer a question: Why do we think all human life is precious?

The answer might not be clear to you, but it’s this: all life is precious because God said so. (Genesis 9:5-6, Exodus 20, the Gospel all come to mind). Our cultural values are founded in God’s Word, but like the founda…

Book: A Commentary on Exodus

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Today’s Book is brought to you by Kregel Academic and Ministry.

Let’s take a look today at Duane A. Garrett’s A Commentary on Exodus, from the Kregel Exegetical Library. I have additional volumes in this series, including the Judges-Ruth volume and 2 out of 3 volumes on Psalms. I’ll be upfront: I’m a fan of this series.
Moving from generic ideas to specific: this is a solid, hardcover book. It cries out to be carefully read and marked up with 722 thick, no-bleed through type pages.
AND IT HAS FOOTNOTES!!! This is good, for one is not forced to flip around to find what that little number refers to!
On to the specific content: Garrett clearly holds the text of Exodus as representing actual events. That may bother some, but it holds no bother for me, because I accept that as well. For me, there’s no value in a mythological Exodus, so I wouldn’t bother reading 722 page books about it. Neither would I understand writing a book of that length about it.
Garrett’s introductory material deal…

In the Money: Luke 16

In Summary:

Luke 16 recalls two stories, and they both deal with material possessions. First is the unjust manager (Luke 16:1-12) and second is the story of Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). In both cases, Jesus is addressing people’s use of material wealth and the overall destruction that it wreaked on their lives.

The first story gives us a man charged with watching over someone else’s wealth. He is called to account for his use of that man’s wealth, because he had not been diligent with his stewardship. Knowing that his well-being was on the line, he rapidly rewrote a few of the debts that were owed his master. He used this leverage to improve his relationships with the debtors.

His master praises him for it. There are hard parables because obeying them is hard. Then there are hard parables because we just don’t quite get the point. That is what this is. Augustine suggests that the praise here is in planning ahead, being prudent. I think the praise here could be taken differently: Jesus is h…

Sermon Recap for January 18 2015

Good morning! Here are the sermon replays for yesterday. We had a power outage that ended in the middle of church. No, we did not offer a prayer or any kind words regarding the squirrel who gave his life so that we could have church in the dark.Morning Sermon: John 1:43-51 (audio)Title: Finding Life1. The first response to recognizing Jesus is to______________ (find others)2. Other people are not _____________ (excited about faith)3. Life is found ___________4. If we _____________ (value life) we will ____________ (proclaim Jesus)5. Only the ___________ (living) can respond to the GospelThus, it is grace as living word, word of God, which God speaks as God pleases. It comes to us as a gracious call to follow Jesus; it comes as a forgiving word to the fearful spirit and the broken heart.  (Bonheoffer, Discipleship) Evening Sermon John 1:1 (audio)I. The Eternality of JesusII. The Fellowship of the TrinityIII. The Equality of Jesus Concluding Notes:1. I will post the “What it Means to be a…

Book: The NASB Note-taking Bible

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Look! It’s a hardcover Bible!Today’s book is The NASB Note-Taking Bible, published by Zondervan. I asked for one, and they sent me one. That means this review is a review of a free book. Okey-dokey? Good.First, let me say this up front: I like the New American Standard Bible. That is my go-to translation for just about everything. Yes, there are places where the English is a little stuffy in the NASB. There are some strange phrasings. I find it, though, to be the best Bible in English for study. I am not going to attempt a review of the NASB here. My thoughts are simply on this printing of the NASB. What are the features of this Bible, and why you might want this Bible and why you might not want this Bible. Whatever printing of Bible you want, I’ll recommend you look at the NASB. If it’s not available in NASB, then pick a different printing so you can get one in NASB.Now, let’s look at this printing. Mine is a hardcover, though this is available in imitation leather as well. The print…

A Place of Refuge: Deuteronomy 19

In Summary:

Establishing the nation of Israel is no picnic. Deuteronomy 19 lays down principles for the judicial system. Both of the major concepts in this chapter related to slowing down the wheels of justice to ensure they don’t turn too fast and run over the innocent.

Two concepts are in view here. The first is the cities of refuge. This idea went hand-in-hand with the principle of personal retribution in the justice system. It was the right and responsibility of the near relatives of a murder victim to bring the murderer to justice. They were to bring him before the city elders and be the first hand to strike in execution—and if he would not be brought, then they could utilize appropriate force to bring him. This might lead to his death, but that was the nature of the situation.

Note that the above paragraph is a synthesis of my understanding of Deuteronomy and what I have read regarding social customs of the time. There is not specific chapter and verse for that exact sentiment.

Un…

I got a little older

Written retrospectively, one day later…
Today was my birthday. I have experienced 38 of those now, and don’t remember half of them. Why not? Most of them have been fairly innocuous. Reasonable, even, with simple celebrations with close friends and family. In fact, I have often been perceived as being “anti-birthday,” as I strive to not make a big deal about the day. I generally try to defer attention and sometimes ignore it altogether. Why? It’s just a day. Besides, my mother did more of the work that day than I did. I’m not anti-birthday for others, I just don’t like getting worked up about my own. I am no great person nor have there been great accomplishments to celebrate for the last year. All I did was get a day older. My attitude, though, is wrong. Why? First, we take one day a year to celebrate the 365.25 that came before it. Not everyone is blessed with a full year. A birthday gives us the chance to be grateful for those days. Second, we need to mark our humanity. There was a time whe…

In the Finding: Luke 15

In Summary: Luke 15 has three of the better-known stories told by Jesus in his ministry. We see the story of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. Better, perhaps, is to view these as the stories of the found sheep, the found coin, and the found son.

After all, that is the focus of the message here. Jesus does not detail how to handle lost items, nor does he spend the time lamenting their lostness. Instead, the focus rests on how people respond to finding their precious possessions.

The three parables run in parallel to one another. Keeping in mind that parables tend to use simple images to explain more complex ideas, so we want to understand the simple images. The key, generally, is there.

In Focus: The simple images from the three parables are these:

1. The lost item.
A. The lost sheep: a sheep tends to just wander off, it’s an animal. It needs guided and cared for, and if it wanders it needs found.
B. The lost coin: gravity and physics, and a dropped coin becomes a lost one…

Sermon Recap for January 11

Good Morning! We began our new series yesterday as we work through Mark. Morning Sermon: Mark 1:4-11 (audio) One Sentence Application:
Obedience to God's word is publicly demonstrated.
Outline:
I. John baptized in  II. John said Jesus would _______ and be _________ III. Jesus baptized with ___________ IV. The Baptism of Jesus shows all ______________ of the ____________ V. We learn from this that Obedience to __________ is _________ demonstratedSunday Evening: Genesis 1:1 Sunday nights we will be looking at two different things: 1. What does it mean to be a Baptist?2. The Bible Memory passage. We’ll do these most Sunday nights, but it’s a flexible time. Stay tuned. Due to some changes in my recording, there’s a video but nothing else.

Say something worth saying

I’ve been over the latest news stories about the events in France. I’ve said a little about the need to defend freedom of speech here, but I would like to say a little more here.
First, a disturbing observation: the world now knows the names of all three of the butchers that entered Charlie Hebdo. The world knows the names of the two murderers involved in taking hostages in a supermarket. And it’s very important that we know the name and face of the one still on the run. We know the names of some of the magazine victims.
Quick, though, name some of the ordinary folks killed in supermarket.
Oh, and let’s be clear: “kosher supermarket”? Clarify that: Supermarket primarily handling a Jewish customer base. There was a deliberate targeting of two groups here: Western free speakers and Jews. Yet we don’t know much about the supermarket targets. Most likely, they were not people who ever thought “I’ll print this cartoon, write this blog post, and if they kill me, SO BE IT!”
That’s the challenge …

Book: Literary Forms in the Bible

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It’s a book. And one that I have in Kindle format, and I will say straight up: I would recommend that you get this in print. It’s more of a reference type work, and I just prefer that type of resource in print. I don’t find Kindles as “search friendly” as some people. It may just be me. What book is it? A Complete Handbook of Literary Forms in the Bible by Leland Ryken. Dr. Ryken is an English Professor and served (and I assume, serves in an ongoing fashion) as literary consultant to English Standard Version translation of the Bible. He should know literary forms. First, let us consider the format. The format is why I would recommend a print version, because you have an alphabetical dictionary layout. It makes things easy to find, assuming one knows the alphabet, and makes for easy reading for those of with short attention spans. SQUIRREL!! However, I don’t find this a text that makes for a read “cover-to-cover.” I’m not convinced that was intended, so that’s not a shot at the work…

Prophets or not? Deuteronomy 18

In Summary: When you set up a national religion, you have to give thought to the succeeding generations. After all, there is always the hope and intention that your religion will carry on. This is the case whether you are dealing with true religion, mistaken religion, or cruising out with deliberately false religion.

When that religion is started up with miraculous events, it increases your troubles. After all, not everyone was a witness to those moments. What happens when someone else claims to have seen a burning bush or turned a staff into a snake and back? All they might have would be…a stick. The same signs that Moses said sent him out in the first place could easily be picked up by someone else.

You need a filter, a test that ensures your next generation leader is not pulling you away from the truths of yesterday. Keep in mind, we are dealing with the truths that we held yesterday. Truth is unchanging—opinions may shift but truth endures. For example, it is a truth that there is a…

Shaping up

As we were doing Latin this morning in school, I started wondering about something. No, nothing about the 2nd declension or such—we’re very early on in Visual Latin, which is a great course—but just a passing thought.
The lesson we’re on deals with counting in Latin. If you are as clueless about Latin as I was until today, here are some facts: the Latin words for seven, eight, nine, and ten are: septem, octo, novem, decem. These words come into our month labels: September, October, November, December. Because those are the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth months. Right?
Right…or not. In some parts of Roman history, the names lined up with those months. They started the new year in March, when all the stuff started sprouting and growing. When the animals started multiplying and delivering, when the days are noticeably longer and warmer. You know, when things seem…”New.”
Rather than spend all of this post chasing the history of why we now celebrate “New Year’s Day” on January 1, just a we…

In the Counting: Luke 14

In Summary: We come back to Luke 14. Jesus continues to teach His disciples, but He also takes the time to go to dinner. After all, the Incarnation involves taking on flesh, even with its weaknesses. Jesus got hungry, too, and had to eat.

I think we would do well to learn from His habits, though, as we often see Him use the fellowship and interactions brought about by meals to interact with others. None of His actions were needless or pointless. We see the opening of this chapter that Jesus entered the house of one of the Pharisees for dinner.

On the Sabbath. This is referred to as “eating bread,” probably because the Pharisee is being meticulous to avoid work on the Sabbath by only serving bread that had been pre-prepared. I do not have that in a definite source, but that seems a logical reason. There is a problem. There always seemed to be, and this time it was that a man in need of healing was present at the meal. Given the overall impression that the Pharisees are watching to see if…