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Showing posts from August, 2015

Sermon Recap for August 30

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Yesterday, we celebrated the 79th Anniversary of East End Baptist Church. I’m grateful for the heritage of faith we have as a part of the body of Christ.Morning Sermon: For the Sake of the Future Joshua 22 (audio)August 30 Homecoming Joshua 22  Text: Joshua 22:10-29 Date & Place: Title: For the Sake of the Future: Joshua 22 Primary Theological Point: What should we learn? It takes deliberate effort to honor the past, live in the present, and equip the future.Primary Practical Point: What should we do? Make the effort.Take Home Action: Write your testimony and share it.Textual Points: Setting: Israel after the conquest. Events: building of an altar, not for sacrifice but for teaching ConnectionsPreach Points: Church: do we honor the past or live in it? Are we equipping the future that we do not even know? Assume the better about your fellow church members and their motives. Salvation: Why an altar as a reminder? Because sacrifice is necessary for salvation.... Mission: Are we t…

Sermon Recap for August 23

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Why, yes, I did preach yesterday. And I am crazy slow getting this uploaded. In fact, I’ll have to update it tomorrow with the audio links! It’s been a day with computers.
Morning Sermon:
Text: John 3:16-21
Date & Place: August 23 AM

Primary Theological Point: What should we learn? We're already judged--v. 18; and already loved; v. 16
Primary Practical Point: What should we do? Proclaim the truth: the world is judged; every last one of us. 
Take Home Action: Pick three people you don't like and pray for God to bless them every day.

Evening Sermon:
Text: Joshua 23
Date & Place: August 23 PM EEBCAR

Primary Theological Point: What should we learn? Ease makes sloppiness.
Primary Practical Point: What should we do? Don't relax your grip. (v. 8)
Take Home Action: Reflect on God's promises and then follow through on yours!












Book: Oswald: The Return of the King

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Some books I read for learning. Some I read because I’m assigned or offered reviews. Some, though, I just happily snag for free because it saves me the money of buying them. These are the fun reads, the ones I would like to spend far more time on than I have the chance to.Oswald: The Return of the King by Edoardo Albert falls into this last category. I first met Albert’s writing in Edwin: High King of Britain and have since greatly enjoyed his non-fiction related works on early Britain. I guess one could say I am a fan.Oswald follows on the heels of Edwin, as Britain remains in the turmoil of the post Roman Era. It’s an imaginative tale, obviously not entirely historically accurate. After all, there aren’t exactly newspapers from the time laying around to be read. Still, Albert spins the tale well. The characters become people you actually care about, even though you recognize the reality of the environment. And that reality? People are going to die. It’s a bloody time, a violent time…

Giving: Deuteronomy 26

In Summary:

Deuteronomy 26 is focused on material giving. It is one of several areas in the Old Testament that take note of the practice of tithing. Others are found in Leviticus 27, Numbers 19, and Deuteronomy 14.

Tithing is also referenced in Malachi 3 but given that Malachi comes some 1,000 years after Deuteronomy, that’s not as useful in helping see what Moses is speaking of. Malachi relies on the Mosaic commands, because otherwise it just makes no sense at all.

The word itself needs this explanation: “tithe” comes from an Old English word for “tenth,” and translates a Hebrew word for “tenth.” A “tithe” is always a tenth of something, and the word occurs in multiple contexts. There is no requirement that a “tithe” be a religious word—see 1 Samuel 8 or J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Return of the King for examples.

Deuteronomy 26 addresses not only tithing, though. It opens with the instruction to take of the “first fruits” of the ground after the conquest and offering them to Lord God. This o…

Book: Brick Walls and Picket Fences

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It’s written by a web friend of mine, but I did actually buy my own copy of today’s book. Although I now expect a significant kickback from Dave for being nice.Brick Walls and Picket Fences by Dave Miller, 226 pages, softcover from Rainer Publishing.Dave Miller’s Brick Walls and Picket Fences was born out of a combination sermon and blog series he presented while pastoring a Southern Baptist church. The book expands on the ideas he developed about applying doctrine to church fellowship and interaction. Miller’s work addresses how deeply we should build the separations between believers. The first level he presents, the Brick Wall, is clearly the most absolute of separation. This is suggested as the response to those whose doctrine makes cooperation simply impossible. Not only would cults, obviously, fall into this group, but so would those who view Scripture as errant or subscribe to extreme views on some issues like family life. These are people who may be believers but that it is im…

We bought a house

Well, yesterday we signed and reviewed over 90 pages worth of loan and title documents and closed on our house. Why does this matter enough to blog about it?Because it’s part of life, normal, ordinary life. It’s the next thing on my list of stuff I was never going to do again that I have now gone and done…again.Why didn’t we want to do it again? Last time we bought a house, the housing market collapsed, we moved, and we couldn’t sell it. In the long run, it took a lot of help and miracle not to go to have it foreclosed on, and I still owe someone for the gift/loan that kept us out of the deep doghouse on it.And because last time it kept us from being open to the direction God was leading us, and then we went a less-than-good direction from there. Then there are all the great questions about home ownership: do I know how to fix stuff? Can I afford to fix stuff?Then, lo and behold, today it looks like a tropical storm is forming. Watch, it will get our house!But we do what we need to do…

Book: Urban Legends in the New Testament

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Note: I received this book in exchange for a review here and at Arkansas Baptist News. So, here it is and then you should subscribe to the paper here. (or, if you are in an Arkansas Baptist Church, urge your finance committee to do the Every Resident Plan and keep your whole church up to date.)Another note: I’m excited by books like this and a few others that you’ll see reviewed here eventually. We Baptists took a firm stand for the certainty of the Bible as inerrant several years ago, but in the process we slowed a bit on doing solid research and study. We are now finding our way back to doing real scholarship while holding to our convictions. Books like this are a product of that effort.Urban Legends of the New Testament by David A. Croteau, 255 pages, softcover from B&H Academic (sample chapter here) Were there 3 Kings of Orient at the manger? Where was the manger, anyway? A cave, a barn, or somewhere else? These questions are among the 40 addressed in David A. Croteau’s Urban…

Solid not Squishy: Hebrews 5

In Summary:

Hebrews continues to extol the perfection of Jesus as high priest over the ordinary line of priests. Chapter 5 starts with the importance of the humanity of all high priests, for only in that humanity does the priest know how to help others with their struggles. After all, the high priest must recognize his own weakness or he will become arrogant and useless. Those who would mediate must be able to approach both sides.

From there, we see the progression. Hebrews 5:3 speaks of the need for ordinary high priests to offer sacrifices for himself, and the following verses refer to the selected nature of high priests: it’s not something one just chose for fun. Jesus was appointed to the role. He was the Son of God from eternity, but it was an act of Divine Will for Him to become the Great High Priest.

The author of Hebrews (Luke, Barnabbas, Apollos?) goes on to bring up Melchizedek from Genesis and then proceeds to back away from discussing him. Why? Because his audience was too i…

Book: Evangelicals Around the World

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Today’s book is more of a textbook than a read-for-fun book.What is an “Evangelical Christian?” Other than “Not a Catholic or an Episcopalian,” that is?Trying to nail that answer down first, and then examining the history of what fits with Evangelical Christianity is the opening challenge of this book. After that, Evangelicals around the World addresses the global spread of this sector of Christianity. In short, there is no small task here, even for 400+ pages of densely spaced writing.Before we talk too much about content, let me make this observation: this book is nicely printed. It’s full-color throughout, enabling the illustrations, maps, and graphs to pop out well. It also features footnotes! Academic-type works are harmed by endnotes, so I love to see footnotes.Now, to content: the work opens with 200 events in history that illustrate the depth and breadth of Evangelicalism. This is followed by an attempt to define “evangelical” in broad enough terms to include many groups while…

Sermon Recap for August 16

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Good morning! Here are yesterday’s sermons. We’re searching for the background noise on the video feed. But it’s not easy to find….Morning Sermon: Born and Reborn: John 3:1-8 (Audio)Primary Theological Point: What should we learn? None are good enough for the KingdomPrimary Practical Point: What should we do? Accept and proclaim grace through the new birth!Take Home Action: Read 1 John this week. 1 Chapter a Day.Preach Points: Church: /What is there in our lives that would cause anyone to say "We know that you are from God, because no one would do ? if not from God." ? Salvation: / Everyone needs it. Including you. Mission: / Everyone. Everywhere. Our mission as a church is to "Walk with Jesus and take as many people with us as possible."  WE WILL NOT BE IN THE BUSINESS OF PRESORTING PEOPLE BY RACE, CULTURE, OR LANGUAGE. Families: / Expect accordingly--even your darling children need the Lord.Evening Sermon: Everything Stops Joshua 10 (audio)Primary Theological…

Measure Once: Deuteronomy 25

In Summary:

Back to the Old Testament. We’re closing in on being done with the Pentateuch. It feels like 40 years wandering in the wilderness to get this far, but we will make it!

Today’s chapter is Deuteronomy 25. It starts off with instructions about judicial punishments, and finishes with a reminder to eliminate the Amalekites. In between we have the law relating to marrying your brother’s widow and laws about fair dealing in business. It’s a busy chapter.

In Focus:

Finding a focal point here was challenging. After all, with such variety of information I could land just about anywhere. And easily miss something useful.

Let’s put our focus on Deuteronomy 25:13-16. This is a section commanding the Israelites to have a single standard of weights and measures. That’s right.

Weights and measures. Just as we now have a standard “pound,” “cup,” or “gallon,” the Israelites were to keep a stable standard. This is quite beneficial for economic growth, but more than that, it’s fair. Just plain fair…

Sermon Recap for August 9

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Another Monday rolls around…we’re trying a new camera angle for recording. You’ll see that for the morning recording. We tried a different file format for the evening and the sound was, well, baaad…I think it was the camera not the sound guy.Morning Sermon: Clean this up! John 2:13-23 (audio)Primary Theological Point: What should we learn? God did not put us here to check boxes of details but to worship Him for His grace and mercy.Primary Practical Point: What should we do? Stop it. All of the focus on the external appearance of Baptistiness and focus on the inward growth of discipleship. Then it will show externally.Take Home Action: Next Sunday, shift 5 minutes from your appearance preparation and put it into prayer. Evening Sermon: Joshua 9 (audio) Primary Theological Point: What should we learn? Critical decisions should be brought before the Lord.Primary Practical Point: What should we do? Start and finish our days with prayer and listening to God's Word (THE BIBLE, PEOPLE!) …

Book: Questions Jesus Asks

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Today's Book is Questions Jesus Asks. This is a follow-up to Israel Wayne's Questions God Asks, published last year. Wayne is a preacher and teacher in the United States.

Now, on to this particular book. Essentially, this is an accessible theology book framed around the Scriptures that record Jesus Himself asking questions. It's a different approach than the standard formula of defining a topic and then going to the text for answers. It strengthens the reader's interest by using this approach.

First, Wayne addresses the big question: Who is Jesus? Why does that matter? From this understanding of the nature of Christ, he goes on to address the other questions.

A moment here to take a brief dip into the idea of all Scripture as the Word of God. Wayne is not presenting that "red-letters" are more important than other letters by focusing on the questions Jesus asked. Instead, he is using these questions as an organizational tool for exploring all of Scripture.

Th…

A brief thought on Psalm 23

For tonight at church, I’ve been working through Psalm 23. Some of you, I’m certain, will have already thought about this. It was a new observation for me.Psalm 23:1 opens with the idea of YHWH as a shepherd. That is, God is personally involved in the well-being and care-taking for His own. In this case, that’s David. A shepherd travels with his sheep, goes wherever they are. It’s a mobile life. Which is great for some people, and for most of us at some time.Psalm 23:6, though, gives us a different angle on YHWH. Here there is a house to dwell in. Catch the pair of items happening?On the one hand, wherever you are, God is personally involved in your continued existence and meeting your needs. On the other hand, there is a stable, lasting place that is His. And for His people, that is where they will head forever.So whether your life is stable or mobile, God is not waiting for you to show up somewhere else. He is right there, ever-present in your life.

Listen and Rest: Hebrews 4

In Summary:

Like any good sermon, Hebrews 4 touches on many topics as the author presses forward to the end. We see reminiscences of the Old Testament, again, as the reader is reminded of the rejection of God’s salvation in the Exodus. This theme recurs throughout the opening chapters of Hebrews: God has brought the people out of bondage. Will they stay out in obedience or willfully go back? The choice parallels the choice of the Israelites of the Exodus. There’s no going all the way back, but there is missing the point overall.

The people, then, must make a decision between following in obedience and retreating. The apparent temptation is that going back is restful, easier. But it’s not. Going back is always just that: going backward. God created us to walk forward in obedience, not to step back in fear. Please note that I am not saying that we should not back out of decisions that are not obedient—redeem your errors! I am saying that when God speaks, we either obey or sin.

In Focus:

Wha…

Book: Diary of a Jackwagon

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Not everything we do has to be deadly serious. One of the main people I rely on to keep me laughing is Tim Hawkins. And, for the first time ever, Tim has written a book! As a fan, I knew what to expect. This a short-chapter paperback that mainly holds Tim’s comedy in written form. The stories and jokes are funny, and considering I’ve got most of them memorized, I can even hear Hawkins as one of the thousand voices in my head as I read this book. (Whether that’s good or bad, my pshrink won’t say!)While this predictability is an asset to the tome, Diary of a Jackwagon contains a few things I had never heard. Much of it is backstory either of Hawkins’ life or the longer version of humor that doesn’t fit in a video presentation. These parts were the better parts of the book, mostly due to their freshness.Honestly, though, what are we expecting? It’s funny, it’s Tim-clean, and it’s worth $10 to have something fun to read from time to time. It takes almost no extra brain power to read, but …

Book: Every Child Welcome

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The first time I heard someone mention special needs children in church, it was accompanied by a long list of “Don’t ever do XXXX again!” The commandments to the church were accompanied by a list of things to instruct parents of other kids to never do at church and to make sure their children never did. In short, it made ministry with special needs children sound like a lugging a burden through a minefield, where “survival” was the only hope. As a pastor, that’s not the approach that seemed best to me at the time. It still seems like a terrible approach. After all, God’s people are not all of one shape, size, and ability group. If we cannot flourish as the church by welcoming all people, then we have something wrong. Then I was offered Every Child Welcome through Kregel Academic and Ministry for review. Given how hard it was to pick one book to start with, I viewed this as a godsend for learning better first steps.I was right. Katie Wetherbee and Jolene Philo, both long-term educators…

Sermon Recap for August 2

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Morning Sermon: “Signs” John 2:1-12 (audio)Evening Sermon: “Directions” Joshua 6 (audio)