Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Less than a Week

In less than a week, I’ll be on my way to Peru. In a week, I’ll be there. What am I going to be doing?

  1. Preaching
  2. Working with the medical clinic.
  3. Working with the children’s events.

Who with? Local church folks and a team from around the country.

Where? Huánuco, Peru.

To what end? Whatever purpose it is that God has for us to be there. Hopefully, to find local churches our church can partner with and work to reach the world for Jesus. Hopefully, to share the love of Jesus with people and see them respond to Him.

What else do I want you to know before I go on this trip?

First, that God is in control. There are not any specific issues with Peru. I don’t know of any recent issues in our waypoints of San Salvador or Bogota, either, so it’s not a scary trip that Syria or North Korea would be.

Then again, I don’t do well without adult supervision, so being away from Ann for 12 days is a bit intimidating. Plus, I don’t speak Spanish.

In all, I’d appreciate your prayers. It’s going to be a couple of long days of short(ish) flights.

Sermon Recap for July 17

Good Morning! Here are the sermons from this past Sunday.

Morning Sermon: Revelation 2:1-7 (audio)




Evening Sermon: Jonah (audio)


Friday, July 15, 2016

Book: The Beautiful Pretender

No, I have not taken a liking to medieval romantic fiction. Not even from authors my wife likes, like Melanie Dickerson. Today's review is written by Olivia, our teenager daughter.

I enjoy Melanie Dickerson's young adult fiction greatly, so when my dad gave me the option to review her newest book, The Beautiful Pretender, I jumped at the chance. I was not disappointed. The Beautiful Pretender, in a pattern set by Dickerson's previous books, is based after a fairy tale, the story of the princess and the pea. However, even though it is grounded in a traditional fairy tale, it does not stay traditional for long.

Reinhart, the young and newly established margrave of Thornbeck, has just been ordered by the king to marry, soon. The king even provides him with a list of suitable young women to choose from. Reinhart is not pleased, but with prodding from his new chancellor, Jorgen Hartman and his young new wife, Odette, he sets up a series of tests for the young ladies to pass through.

Avelina is just a servant girl, maid to Lady Dorothea of Plimmald. But when her mistress runs away, Avelina is ordered by the Duke of Plimmald to go to Thornbeck to gain the margrave's favor in hope that he will help defend Plimmald from imminent attack. She only has two orders, don't get caught, and don't get married. To her, the harder of the two is to not get caught. Or so she thinks.

But as hard as she tries, she cannot make herself stoop below the attention of the handsome young margrave. The result is a plot so intricately woven that each twist will leave you hanging on, reading just one more chapter. Adding additional flair is Avelina's strong personality, born from her peasant life, making her highly intelligent even without special pampering.

One thing I miss in the reading of this was the use of Odette's skills. Odette is alluded to being a skilled archer, but there is never a time when Avelina gets to see her using her skills. But even being a background character alongside her husband, Jorgen, she still has an immense amount of character.
I enjoyed Melanie Dickerson's exhilarating take on the traditional princess and the pea story a great deal and will enjoy reading over and over again in the future.


Dad note: I skimmed it quickly, saw nothing bad for a teenager. Yes, the world isn't as perfect. We don't read to see normal worlds. We read for ideal worlds.

Free book received in exchange for the review.

Out of Bounds: Matthew 15

In Summary:

Matthew 15 sees the continued efforts of the Pharisees to trap Jesus with questions. There is, perhaps, something to be learned from His unwillingness to engage their assaults directly. Rather than play the exact same game or give them clear answers, He asserts His own authority. The opening question for this chapter is one He meets head-on. Not with an answer, but with a challenge.

He then has to explain what He was talking about to the Apostles. They are, as we are, sometimes a bit behind. They were probably quicker to pick up on some things while we’re quicker with others, so there’s no room for pride here. They at least knew this: if you don’t understand, ask Jesus. When we don’t understand, we ask “experts.” Score one for the motley crew of fishermen, tax collectors, and others...

We then see Jesus in a trip outside of Israel, where He heals the daughter of a Canaanite woman. He commends her faith, though there are some tough details about the interaction. Jesus comments that His purpose is the lost sheep of Israel, not Canaanites. He even calls her a “dog” in 15:26. I think we see Jesus responding to events not recorded in Scripture. He is, after all, out of Israel and in Tyre and Sidon—out in “Canaanite” lands. One might expect that both Jesus’ opponents and supporters criticized this decision.

And this is Jesus’ response: “See her? This is the ‘dog’ you referred to. A real, live human being who has a daughter in need.” That may not be what is really happening here, but that’s how I see it. Sometimes we need to see the “enemy” with skin on and realize the truth.

The chapter wraps up with healings of crowds and another miracle of feeding a large group. The strange thing about looking at the Gospels: healing crowds and feeding 4,000 with seven loaves is hardly worth making mention of. That’s a dangerous way to be about the amazing works of God.

In Focus:

Let’s put our focus back on the Canaanite woman. Mark calls her a “Syro-Phoenician Woman” in Mark 7, though the story unfolds in the same manner. What does that tell us?

Matthew is emphasizing Jesus’ move beyond national and ethnic Israel. By highlighting the Canaanite heritage of this woman, Matthew makes clear that even those who were once under judgment are now welcome in the Kingdom of Heaven.

In Practice:

Practically speaking, the application should be obvious. However, I like to restate the obvious, so here it is: the blessing of God is not restricted to any one nationality or ethnicity. Not at all.

Beyond that, we need to remember that our own obedience to God should not depend on how someone else values us. We are to call our Lord, “Lord,” no matter what others are calling us. That includes those who should be encouraging us and drawing us closer to Jesus, but aren’t.

In Nerdiness:

  1. V. 31 speaks of “glorifying the God of Israel,” an indication that these are people who are out of the nation of Israel. It’s another way this chapter emphasizes God’s blessing on the nations.
  2. The feeding of the 4,000 is a separate event from the feeding of the 5,000. Yet it’s not met with the same response—note that the crowds in John want to make Jesus king by force. That doesn’t happen here. Is this because this is out of Israel? In a space without a messianic tradition?
  3. The first portion of this chapter deals with the dietary laws of Israel. If Jesus is God, which He is, then He knows the original purpose of the Levitical dietary laws. And so when Jesus poinst out that eating does not make one unclean, it’s not a change in God’s intention. It is a continuation of what God intended from the beginning.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Sermon Recap for July 10

Good afternoon! Here is the Sunday Morning Sermon. Sunday night, we spent chasing the rabbit of how to explain the Trinity. Which is a long rabbit to chase, and it doesn’t video well.


Morning Sermon was from Revelation 2:1-7. We’re looking, at length, to the Word of God and what happened in the church at Ephesus. We are starting at the end: Revelation 2:1-7 is directed to that church, then we’ll go back and see how that church started.

For now, though, here’s the audio and video


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

That's all Folks: Deuternomy 34

In Summary:

Moses dies. That’s the basic summary of Deuteronomy 34. God sends Moses up Mount Nebo, which is in present-day Jordan, and has him look over the whole of the land of Israel. The chapter closes with the official hand-off to Joshua and a closing praise of Moses, that no one has arisen in Israel that is his equal.

This chapter marks the close of the Pentateuch, and is likely the work of a later writer than Moses. It is not necessary for Moses to have prophetic knowledge of his death so that he can write it just to preserve the idea of Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. Others wrote Scripture, it is not problematic for someone other than Moses to record this information.

As the concluding chapter of the Pentateuch, we find the story seemingly at its conclusion. The Pentateuch opens with the creation of the world and the placing of God’s people in a fertile land. Then Adam and Eve are exiled from that land due to sin. The story carries forward to this point, where the people of God stand on the edge of a fertile land with the power of God that blocked a return to Eden opening the Promised Land.

What we see now is that this was not the end of God’s work in the world. It was not His plan to place one nation in one place only, but to use that nation for the sake of the whole of humanity. Israel is a portion of God’s plan, but Jesus is the fulfillment of it.

In Focus:

Let us take Deuteronomy 34:4-5 and place them in focus. Here we see the death of Moses, described as a “servant of YHWH.” He dies, not from old age or battle, but from the judgment of God. (See 34:7). Moses had disobeyed God and this judgment had been pronounced in Numbers 20.

Moses had begun his calling on one mountain, Mt. Sinai, and now his work concludes on Mt. Nebo. His death reflects that no matter how great one is, disobedience still has consequences in the sight of the Lord God.

In Practice:

Practically speaking, here are some thoughts from this chapter:

  1. There are consequences to disobeying God. Even for the greatest of people, like Moses, direct disobedience is destructive. Those who lead should know better, and are held accountable to knowing better.
  2. It is worth remembering people who are inspirations to us. However, we must be careful not to make them into objects of worship. This is part of the lesson of the loss of Moses’ body. His remains are somewhere, but it is his legacy that the people were to learn from. They were not to enshrine or elevate his body to a relic.
  3. We can know that many who are the equal of Moses have come by now. Peter, James, John, Thaddeus, Saul…all spoke to the Lord God face-to-face. This is the glory of the Incarnation. God did not keep Himself separate from His people as in the time of Moses. Instead, through Jesus many spoke with Him face-to-face. We should not disdain the opportunity!

In all, we can celebrate that the God who opened the Red Sea and delivered Israel is still God today.

In Nerdiness:

A couple of nerd points here: Deuteronomy 34:7 should be taken to understand there was no reason for Moses to die yet, at least not naturally. Apparently, God did not put Moses through the issues of declining health—perhaps to allow him to lead the people right up to the last minute. It is also worth noting: sometimes, it takes the passing of one person to allow another to rise in their place to handle the next step.

Moses’ eyes are apparently quite good, if you think he saw details of the land. I think he did. I think God enabled him, in 34:1ff to see the land better than the vantage point was.

Overall, the judgment on Moses reflects that God holds holiness as mandatory. Even the greatest of the human prophets had to deal with the consequences of sin.

Finally, note the connection between Deuteronomy 34 and Jude 9. There is something in this, although some theologians argue about what it means. (Bede, for example, suggests the “body of Moses” in Jude is actually the people of Israel that remained, and Michael is the angel who defended them. Others, whose links I cannot find, suggest a symbolic response to Jude 9 as relating to the Law itself.)

Monday, July 4, 2016

Independence Day 2016

It’s that day again…time to celebrate all that is right with America even as we recognize that not everything is. Just like people birthdays or wedding anniversaries, we take some days and highlight the good and gloss over the bad. (Seriously: some people suggest not celebrating America on July 4th because we’ve done bad things as a nation. Okay---would you mind if we don’t celebrate your birthday because you’ve done bad things? Or if we ignore [fill-in-the-blank-activist/celebrity]’s birthday because they did bad things, too? Nonsense. Get over yourself.)

This year, I present two things. One stolen from the Internet and someone’s rightly due credit. It’s a pretty America-first response to the recent “Brexit” vote. Which is a situation that I am not going to comment too much on now, save this question: how many of the doomsday effects are necessary for a vote that does not do anything for (possibly) years, and how many are intentionally instigated by governments, bureaucrats, and businesses who stand to lose from the vote? It’s as if the SEC withdrew from the NCAA, and then the NCAA made ESPN stop carrying SEC games if they wanted to carry any NCAA info. Is that the SEC’s fault? Or is it the NCAA being vindictive? Washington-Brexit-Meme

And then there’s George Washington. It’s a trite handling of a complex subject. And it’s funny.

 

On to today: back when we wrote things out longhand, this was how the United Colonies moved to being United States. Our Founding Fathers wrote a Declaration of Independence. Which, I fear, someone will shorten to DecInd soon and try to reduce it to Twitter length. Instead, here’s the whole thing.

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776.


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,


When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.—Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

  He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

  He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

  He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

  He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

  He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

  He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

  He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

  He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

  He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

  He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

  He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

  He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

  He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

  For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

  For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

  For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

  For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

  For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

  For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

  For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

  For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

  For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

  He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

  He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

  He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

  He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

  He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


The Declaration of Independence

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Sermon Recap for July 3

Good evening! Here is the sermon from this morning!

July 3 AM: Revelation 2:4 (audio)

 

 

Rev 2:4

  1. The loves of the church
  2. The loves of the nation
  3. The loves of the people
  4. The loves of us

First love? Cars and Sports!

First love? Camp and romance...

First love?

What does it feel like?

What do you do?

I remember my first loves. What I would have done, what I did do…the chaos of how it felt. How nothing but that love mattered


First love of a nation? Liberty…justice…life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness?


And now? Some first loves are good to forget. Others are good to replace.


Because greater loves come along.


And when that greater love comes along, we should move toward it.


Yet some loves are never going to be eclipsed.


The love of the Savior is the pinnacle of this (Greater love has no man than this….John 15:13) His love drives our love (1 John 4:9)



What do we do?


Remember our first loves. Whether the first loves left behind or the ones we still embrace.


And hold to them. Why did we love them? Was there no reason? If so, then move on. If it was because of their intrinsic value, then we should hold on to that idea. What was it? Why was it?

Friday, July 1, 2016

Book: Lessons from the East

Of late, I’ve read several good books. Fortunately, they are only in competition with each other for time rather than content. Otherwise, it would seem disingenuous that I am a fan of all of them. It’s been a better run for books these past few months. As is usual, I’ve been sent a copy of the book in exchange for the review.

Lessons from the East, by Bob Roberts, Jr., and from David C Cook Publishers, is a packed paperback pushing perspectives previously pondered….okay, that’s all I can alliterate. The key thought is found on the back cover of the book: “What if our western view of church isn’t God’s view of church?”

That is the question which drives Pastor Roberts’ writing. At first blush, this looks like another “everything we’re doing is wrong” book, like many have already written. That’s a tired genre.

Note: for simplicity’s sake, I’ll be using “Western Church” for the overall mix of culture and Christianity we find in Western Europe and the USA as well as those places heavily influenced by our ways. There are “Western Church” habits on nearly every continent because of missiological methods. “Eastern Church” would refer, generically, to the mix of culture and Christianity that has developed differently and connects to the different cultural emphases found in more of the Asian/African world. These terms are gross oversimplifications, but necessary unless you want this to be a dissertation.

Roberts’ approach is different. First, he acknowledges the pre-existing good in the Western Church. This feature is encouraging for those of us who serve in normalized western churches: we’re not all bad. We do need, though, to stop living like we are the inventors of church or the perfectors thereof. That is reserved to God who works through His Spirit in all of His people.

Roberts’ continues by explaining how he is involved in churches beyond the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas. He walks the reader through how people, who still take the Bible seriously, have seen “church” develop in the Eastern World and what that means for its impact there.

He then goes back to connect what lessons we need to learn from these churches. His arguments are sound, though a few places I find questionable in his use of the text. Some of this is my conservative, slow-to-change tendency. Some is simply discussions that can go both ways.

In all, though, Roberts presents several cogent arguments about the need for Christian believers to be more hospitable to others, to be more engaged in listening to others is worthwhile. He encourages dialogue with other faiths, but firm dialogue that focuses on the truth.

I can recommend this as a church leadership read, especially with the included discussion guide.

(Below is a brief video from the author.)

Sermon and Service Recap for November 8

Looks like I forgot to post this! Thank you!