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Showing posts from June, 2015

Reveling in Falsehood: 2 Peter 2

In Summary:

Peter continues his letter with warnings of false prophets. These false prophets have come and will keep coming, just they had throughout Israel’s history. The first few verses speak of the motivation and attraction of these false teachers: sensuality, greed, and arrogance.

In discussing these false prophets, Peter mentions Balaam (from Numbers 22-24, see here, here, and here,) the talking donkey, the Flood, Noah, angels, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. We are forced to select one of two options: either Peter’s citations are accurate, and so is the Old Testament, or Peter was wrong. If he’s wrong on the Old Testament, then that throws his credibility in doubt for all things.

The chapter as a whole resounds with condemnation of those who push evil. Peter recognizes that a new religion is easily corrupted. And he knows that corruption usually arises from within—whether by deceptive entrance or being deceived down the line. The trick? It starts as simple teaching that…

Sermon Recap from June 28

We had the Vacation Bible School recap in the evening, so there’s just the morning sermon. But I did have a voice all day!Morning Sermon: John 1:14-18 “In the Middle of People” (Audio)Title: "In the Middle of People" Primary Theological Point: Jesus is fully God in the fleshPrimary Practical Point: Be in the middle of life, seeking those who need GodTextual Points: Setting: Still in the Prologue but addressing "prehistoric" matters Events: Incarnation Connections: theophanies of the OT/explanation of God in Christ's person. Law/Grace and Truth: difference between given and realized/became. Idea is that both existed, one was shown and the other was done.Preach Points: Church: the church does not exist to be clean and pristine, but to be filled inside with those needing Christ and going outside to those needing Him Salvation: Jesus came in the flesh to save those of us who live in the flesh--including you. He took all of our sin because He could, as fully God…

Reflections on the Move Part 2

I was going to drop this series, thinking the move is “old news.” Except that the move is far from old…we’ve been here right at 3 weeks. It has been a true whirlwind since the decision to move was made the first weekend in May. Next week’s reflections will delve into the serious business of that process.For now, though, a funny. One that I wish I had video for, but I was driving.On move day, after the trucks were all loaded up and headed out on the road, Ann and I fired up our two vehicles and headed out. Well, Ann got a head start with Steven and Angie. Olivia and I were about 10 minutes behind her. We had stayed and done the final locking up and one last sweep of the garage.As we were driving up Park Avenue in Stuttgart, I noticed a semi-truck being towed ahead of us. This was just the cab, and it was pointed backwards. Picture this: the tow truck had elevated the rear wheels of the cab, so the front wheels were on the ground. And the hood was pointed the opposite direction of its t…

Beating the Trees: Deuteronomy 24

In Summary:

We’re still dealing with the various laws necessary for running a nation in Deuteronomy 24. This chapter gives us another look at family law, some finance law, criminal law, and health law. It’s a great mixture of items from everyday life in Israel.

First we have the instructions regarding divorce including the prohibition that a woman divorced by her first husband who then marries another cannot go back to the first husband. I’ll not pretend to know exactly how these laws fleshed out in reality, or even how often it was necessary to enforce them! But I know this: God took, and takes, marriage seriously. Even 3,500 years ago He put restrictions on divorce and the general idea of just trading partners for a time. We ought to remember that.

Then we see one of my favorite verses in Deuteronomy 24:5 where a newlywed is released from duty, both military and non-military, for the first year of marriage. Why? To give happiness to his wife. It’s worth remembering that the initial inv…

Book: The Printer and the Preacher

Today’s book delves into Colonial America and looks at two figures that are not typically portrayed together: George Whitefield and Benjamin Franklin. While I am not quite certain that I’ll grant Randy Petersen’s subtitle of “The Surprising Friendship that Invented America,” I still find The Printer and the Preacher a great read. Here’s why:First, Petersen opens with some of Franklin and Whitefield’s interactions rather than burying those into chronological order. This leaps the reader ahead a few decades and sets up why one would want to read the rest of the book.Second, while there is some prior knowledge of American Colonial History is helpful, it’s not critical. Petersen provides many of the background events needed to understand what was going on in the world of Whitefield and Franklin. We should know what happened in those times, but keeping it all straight is easier with the reminders.Third, I greatly appreciated the admission of things not known throughout this book. While the…

Stirring Reminders: 2 Peter 1

In Summary:

This second of Peter’s letters opens slightly differently than his first. The first calls him simply “Peter, an apostle…” while this one names him as “Simon Peter, bondservant and apostle.” The difference is more than just window dressing or epistolary frippery. Peter’s use of his full name may only be about clarifying his identity to the audience, but it may also indicate his embrace of the swings back and forth in his past.

Identifying himself as a bondservant as well as an apostle reminds the reader that even Peter’s importance did not elevate him beyond serving the Lord Jesus Christ. From that point, his first chapter establishes that this letter addresses practical matters from the spectrum of life that all believers can benefit from.

For example, Peter speaks to his readers about applying diligence, moral excellence, and kindness—all because of the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Further, he goes on to talk about the eyewitness nature of the faith of Christians. Th…

Sermon Recap for June 21

Well, I seem to have fairly severe laryngitis. I didn’t stop for that though. In ten years of pastoring, I’ve never been too sick to preach. I may have been too sick to preach well, but that’s another story.Morning Sermon: “Witnesses to the Light” John 1:6-8 (audio)Evening Sermon: “Gather Reminders” Joshua 4 (audio)Morning Outline:Witness to the LightJohn 1:6-8I. Text and setting     A. John was a witness to the Light     B. He was not the light     C. People hoped so much for a savior that they were willing to settle for John     D. It fell on John to be clear about his limitationsII. Conceptually     A. We are the Light of the World because of Jesus (Matthew 5:14)     B. Witnesses describe what they know     C. But are judged on credibility by their character     D. There is only one lightIII. Practically     A. Know the Light: be one of Christ's     B. Be credible: let your character match your Savior.     C. Then it's time for the trials.After all, that's where witness…

Book: Brain Savvy Leaders

Leadership books are everywhere and have been for some time. They range from seriously deep to the farcical. It appears that everyone has a leadership theory, and so everyone has a book to write. The question for Charles Stone (D.Min, TEDS) is whether or not Brain Savvy Leaders rises above the clutter of the market. First, let us examine his basic premise. Stone, who blogs extensively about the connection between neuroscience and ministry, tells the reader that the way the brain works is critical to understanding leadership. His premise is that ministry leadership should consider not only how their mind works but also the impact neuroscience has on their communication and their followers. I would note, positively, that Stone sticks with neuroscience as his term and not neurology—he is not a “neurologist” which is a medical specialty. Along this path, Stone presents that we, as Bible believers, need not fear the science of the brain. After all, if the brain is part of how we are create…

Reflections on the Move Part 1

For those of you who don’t know it, our family recently moved. As in, 2 weeks ago today the big trucks rolled up and took everything away. We had lived among some of the best people we’ve known in Almyra for nearly five years. We left there owing many things to many people, from emotional debt to encouragement debt to the fact that I know (and still intend to repay) I still owe someone money. No, it’s not a gambling debt either.We’re now in East End, Arkansas. Actually, we live in Landmark, Arkansas, though I’m fairly certain that doesn’t make us Landmark Baptists. The church we serve is in East End, creatively named East End Baptist. It’s from the time before groovy church plants like “The Verge” or the “Connexxion” or anything else.The first reflection I want to make on the move, though, is this: it never gets easier. Ann and I have both moved a good bit in our lives. We’ve gone through relationship changes from it, and it doesn’t get easier.In fact, that was one of the harder parts…

Shepherds and Flocks: 1 Peter 5

In Summary:

Peter concludes his letter with some personal greetings (5:12-14), but not before giving final critical instructions. These open with a “therefore” in verse 1 as Peter charges the elders to shepherd well. In this section, we see the elders commanded to shepherd, and so is one place where we get the idea of “elders” as equivalent to “shepherds” in the church. “Shepherd” being a term that can also come into English as “pastor,” and we see this as addressing (partly) the responsibilities of pastors.

We’ll come back to that, though, in a moment. The next part of the chapter gives instruction to the younger men, which lends itself to understanding “elder men” in the earlier verses as those who are simply that, elder and more mature. The younger men are addressed as needing to move beyond their arrogance and worry, instructions that clearly should be followed by all of us.

Finally, Peter gives the general instruction to be of sober spirit with a warning about the adversary of God’s…

Sermon Recap for June 14

Look! I’m on time this week! Bear with me while I straighten out a few last recording details. Quality should improve at points along the way.Morning Sermon: Unconquerable Light: John 1:1-5 (direct audio)Evening Sermon: Joshua 3 (direct audio)Notes:1. Next week I should have outlines back in place.2. Still working on camera options. We are using the built-in mic on the camera, so it picks up some noise.3. Once I figure out how, I’ll see about putting these directly on the East End Baptist website, but that’s down the road a bit.

Sermon Recap from June 7

Yes, I’m running behind! Moving will do that to you.Morning sermon: John 1:1 (direct audio)Evening Sermon: Joshua 1:1-8 (direct audio)I’m having some issues with the evening video—it should come up here soon:

Multi-site churches interview

This past weekend, I was featured on a radio show talking about multi-site churches. First, here’s the link: Up for Debate Radio.Why did I end up on a program with a guy from 9Marks, given that they’re famous and, well, I’m not? It came from this blog post that I wrote on about 6 years ago. I’ll reprint my part below.What was interesting about this was that I wrote the blog post to help spur the debate, not really thinking positively about multi-site churches. I still think the better way, and the more Bible-driven way, is individual, interconnected local churches. That is, there ought to be a real, live person preaching/teaching in front of real, live people. Otherwise, the temptation to celebrity or unaccountable pastors is too great.That does not mean, though, that I don’t think there is a value in a multi-campus ministry. here are two thoughts on that, both stemming from the ministry in Almyra that I have just moved from. First, pastors don’t always stay in one place…

Sermon Recap for May 31

Good morning! Here are yesterday's sermons;

Morning sermon: 1 Kings 18 (audio)

1 Kings 18: Five People
I. Ahab      1. Does not recognize his faults      2. Does not recognize the truth--returns to eating and drinking! II. Elijah      1. Knows the problem      2. Does not know the breadth of God's people III. Obadiah      1. Serves the people and the king and the Lord God      2. Who is his master? He greets Elijah as such, but Elijah refers to Ahab as his master IV. The Prophets of Ba'al      1. Fools. Damned fools, in the literal sense      2. Mistake passion for truth V. The people of Israel      1. Floating, wavering
     2. Time to stop.

Evening Sermon: Jude (audio)

Thank you, Almyra Baptist, for allowing me the privilege to be your pastor.