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Showing posts from January, 2017

Sermon Recap for January 29

Morning: Blind Tradition: Matthew 15 (audio)
Blind Tradition: Matthew 15Matthew 15:1–14New Testament Ib: Matthew 14–28 They Do Not Wash Their Hands
Therefore this tradition of the elders is practically useless, for it does not benefit a person’s health.
Sometimes, preachers and teachers get things wrong....Traditions, Laws, and Hearts
Traditions:  Good for some things  Bad for others They make good  servants  but horrible  masters Laws:  1. Requirements of  God's People   2. Requirements of  ALL People   3. A mirror that shows us our need for  GRACE! Hearts:  1. Laws  push in , but hearts are  what we are   2. Cleaning the outside  does nothing   3. Replacing the  INSIDE matters Exported from Logos Bible Software, 11:29 AM January 30, 2017.Evening: John 3:16; Romans 6:23 (audio)

Risen and Ruling: Matthew 28

In Summary: Getting to Matthew 28 marks the closing words of the Gospel of Matthew. Whatever else Matthew may have written, we do not have any of it. There may be other writings from the first century that should be attributed to him, but we do not find them in the canon of Scripture. He finishes with two major components: the Resurrection and the Great Commission.

As is often the case in the telling of history, crucial events can be told with a minimum of words. Much more is said of Mary’s interactions at the tomb of Jesus than is said of His resurrection. Matthew’s presentation of the Resurrection is not structured to persuade the reader of its occurrence. He writes to show the effect of its reality.

An important part of the Resurrection narrative are the witnesses. First, the news is given to the women who came to the tomb. In an era when women’s testimony was not worth much (based on what I’ve heard repeated in many New Testament classes), that Jesus entrusted this knowledge to w…

The King: Matthew 27

In Summary: In truth, Matthew 27 deserves about a half-dozen thoughts to deal with. This chapter gives us Judas and his recognition of failure. From Matthew 27:1-4, some have inferred that Judas had hoped his betrayal of Jesus would turn out differently. That is an entirely different discussion than we’ll have here—the text does not supply any greater motive than financial. That turns out to not be enough, for Judas recognizes that he has a hand in condemning an innocent man for profit.

Yes, there’s a principle there about profiting off the death of the innocent. What exactly expanded your 401(k)?

Then we have the Roman trials of Jesus. The Jewish trials were held in the nighttime and are recorded in Matthew 26. It is worth noting that the Jewish leadership did not wake up the Romans with their demands but waited until an opportune moment to involve Pilate. Also worth noticing here is that Matthew does not record the Pilate shipping Jesus over to Herod and then Herod shipping Him bac…

Sermon Recap for January 22

Sunday morning’s passage was Matthew 13:1-9. Sunday night was business meeting. My kids weren’t there, but we had a motion to adjourn just the same :)Good Soil! Matthew 13:1-9 (audio)
Good soil!What is Jesus talking about?The basic understanding of this parable:The four types of  soil Matthew 13:18-25 How do we make sure the seed falls on good soil?What can we do?We cannot make seeds grow.We ABSOLUTELY DO NOT HYBRIDIZE THE SEED WITH OTHER NONSENSE TO MAKE IT GROW BETTER!We move  rocks The falsehoods that keep people from taking root in ChristWe clear  thorns The cares of this worldThe blatant sinfulness of those who call themselves ChristiansWe prepare  soil Encouragement, nutrientsWe spread  seed God grants the  increase   in His time And then we repeat, every season. Next week’s passage:Matthew 15:1-14

Treasure Hunters

Ever watched one of those “treasure hunter” shows on television? Where you watch as some nut chases after hidden clues and makes some dubious logical leaps in order to find a treasure that may not exist?The one thing that makes the star not a “nut” is when he actually finds a treasure. Then, it pays off. Then it makes it all worthwhile. And everyone sits back and apologizes for doubting him and wants him to buy the next round.It all hinges on the treasure. If it’s real and truly valuable, then it’s worth anything. If not, well, then you’re just another nut with a theory, a fake bird, and a series of murders for Sam Spade to solve. (Ok, so that’s fiction. But still…)Matthew 13:44 speaks to treasure hunting. Actually, it speaks of treasure-finding. Jesus tells of a man who found a treasure in a field, kept it hidden, then acquired the field and held on tight. We praise the man, because the story is told in just a few sentences.But what if we had known him? How crazy would we have though…

January 19 2017

A few things I’ve noticed around the Internet this week:First, if the poster had his facts right, the end of President Obama’s term tomorrow will mark only the second time in American history that we’ve had 3 successive two-term presidents. Clinton, Bush, Obama all served their full 8 years. The closest we’ve come to violence in the power transition has been here at the transition from President Obama to (will-be) President Trump.But even that pales in comparison to the violence some nations see in any transition. And it sure beats civil wars and military coups every time something goes wrong.Second, by this time tomorrow someone else will be responsible for executing the laws passed by the Congress. For the past few decades, we’ve kind of stunk at making sure the President did that and the Congress did their job. The back half of President Bush’s terms, much of President Obama’s terms, we’ve mainly let Congress skate and then fussed because the President either did too much of what w…

Rock Forever!: Joshua 4

In Summary: Joshua 4 picks up the story right where Joshua 3 left off. The people are in the middle of the Jordan River, the priests are holding the Ark, and the waters have parted. There’s not much else to tell. The text recaps that the people crossed, including that the warriors for Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over with the rest of the nation, honoring their commitment.

There is also the statement that through this, God exalted Joshua just as He had done with Moses. He does this by echoing the miracle at the Red Sea from Exodus 15 with the parting of the Jordan River. Joshua is the legitimate successor of Moses as the leader of the people.
In Focus: Rather than one verse or phrase from Joshua 4, focus your attention on event in this chapter of the gathering of rocks from within the Jordan River. As the bulk of the people are crossing, two things go on. First, twelve men are tasked (one from each tribe) with taking a stone from the river bed where the priests…

Sermon Recap for January 15

Good morning! Here are the sermons from Sunday, January 15. (Click the titles for audio)Morning Sermon: Matthew 7:7-14 Ask, Seek, Knock, Treat, and EnterEvening Sermon: Joel

Worked all my life

Well, it’s not really a secret that I had a birthday this past weekend. I turned 40. Now, on the one hand, you have people who say that ‘age is just a number.’ So, turning 40 is not really a big deal. And besides, ’40 is the new 30,’ if the magazines are to be believed. Except the number means something. At 40, I’m past the midpoint of the average life expectancy of an American man (76). Also, every part I’ve got has been in use for 40 years. 40 years of wear and tear, including the abuses of youthful stupidity on joints and such, coupled with the metabolism slowdown that puts more weight on the knees than they should have.Age is more than just a number, it’s also a marker of how long I’ve been around. And while some people were trying to poke fun at the age, it dawned on me (in true Captain Obvious fashion) that my age is an accomplishment.I have worked all my life, after all, to reach this age. It’s taken me 40 years to get this old. That’s an accomplishment. What else have I ever w…

Peace, Beaver

I’m reading C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Well, to be honest, I’m re-reading it at night before bed. I like good stories. It’s a good story. As with all good stories, different parts stand out every time I read it.

This time, as I worked through The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, something new stood out to me. (If you’ve never read the book, go get it and read it. Come back later.) (No, not the movie. Read the book. Yes, Liam Neeson made for a great Aslan. Better than I expected. Read the book.)

If you’ve read the book, you know what’s going on. The White Witch holds the land of Narnia under an evil spell. It’s always winter…but never Christmas. That’s a terrible thing. She rules the land in an oppressive manner, though Lewis is not too specific in her oppressions. The main thing is, speaking against the Witch is punishable by being turned into stone—and fear of her has many Narnians helping her out.

Meanwhile, four children get into Narnia through a wardrobe and meet up with …

A Long Night: Matthew 26

In Summary:

Matthew 26 is the longest chapter in the book of Matthew. As such, fitting it into a single blog post will require overlooking a few parts. Even the summary will be a bit more summary than we normally get to. Matthew 26 opens with the news of a clear plot to kill Jesus by the chief priests and elders of Israel. Worth noting is this: their plan is to wait until after the festival, in this case, Passover.

Prior to the Passover, Jesus is in Bethany and is anointed for burial beforehand. The other Gospel accounts tell us that this is Mary, the sister of Martha. There is a rebuke of the expense, but Jesus highlights that her devotion is laudable. His response is that the poor will always be around—but He, incarnate, will not. That should not be taken as instruction that we should ignore the poor to build buildings.

After the anointing, Jesus and the Apostles prepare and celebrate the Passover, instituting the Lord’s Supper. From there, they go to the Garden for prayer. At this …

Book: Preaching Old Testament Narratives

What happens when I decide that the bulk of a year’s preaching will be coming from the New Testament? I get a book called Preaching Old Testament Narratives for review. And I like it. So I’m already plotting 2018 sermons.Benjamin H. Walton runs a service called “PreachingWorks.” That he didn’t try to be trendy and use an “x” for the “ks” raises my opinion of him in the first place. But, the reason you’re reading this is to find out about his book, Preaching Old Testament Narratives. Let us, then, get down to business.The first thing I would note about this book is that it depends on the reader’s admission that the genre of a Biblical text is a key aspect for understanding it. That is, one cannot treat “Old Testament Narrative” in the same manner as one treats “New Testament Prophecy.” If you have no idea what those categories of literary type are, you probably need to start with something like Duvall and Hays’ Grasping God’s Word before you come to this text. If you do know what those…

Sermon Recap for January 8

Well, Elvis got a mention but that was it…Gifts and Kings: Matthew 2:1-12 (audio here)Who are the Magi?Persian Philosopher/Scholar/Astrologers
Where did they come?  House, because the King had left the buildingWhat are their Gifts?  1.    Gold: royalty and wealth; purity and deity
    a.    18,811.20 a pound (Monex, avg)
  2.    Frankincense: Priesthood
    a.    11.50 a pound (
  3.    Myrrh: senses and sacrifice
    a.    15.99 a pound (
Who is the True King?
What do we do about it?Hosea Introduction (audio here)

2016 in the Rearview Mirror

We’re a week into 2017. I thought I’d take a look back at what went well. And what didn’t.First, health: Last year, I started off losing weight. Not to worry, I found it all by the end of the year. What went wrong? I didn’t make a real change in lifestyle—exercise never became a habit. Eating right sized portions didn’t become a habit. Backing away from the cookies, well, it wasn’t something I made a true part of my life.What will I do differently? Ann and I have a definite plan, and it’s a plan that takes into account the strange things that crop up from time to time. And, I’m realizing that I can’t negotiate with the snack drive. It’s not “I won’t eat this (twinkie, etc…), so instead, I’ll eat (some of this and some of that).” If it’s not a true need to eat, then don’t eat. And definitely stop the stress and boredom eating. Food doesn’t meet psychological/emotional needs.Anything go right? I managed my asthma well, even with a trip out of the country. I think I pick up a small Peruv…

Talents and Virgins: Matthew 25

In Summary:Matthew 25 continues the teachings of Jesus about His return. His focus is on the unknown nature of the timetable. First, He uses parable about the arrival of a bridegroom. Revelation 21 and Ephesians 5 both highlight that Jesus is the Bridegroom and the Church is His bride, and this parable suggests that the Bridegroom will come after a delay.The next parable is the Parable of the Talents, showing a man on a journey who entrusted his servants with a portion of his wealth. They were to take care of his property while he was gone. Some did. At least one did not. The master returned and rebuked the one who did nothing. After these parables, Jesus comes straight out and talks about what will happen when He returns. This is the judgment where the ‘sheep and goats’ are separated (Matthew 25:32). The deciding factor is not appearance or opinion, but action. In Focus:Take a look at Matthew 25:21 and 23. Notice the statement of reward has two aspects. The first is that the faithful…

Book: True Faith and Allegiance

Today’s book is that most challenging type of book: it’s a political memoir. I’ve read a few of these, and am always troubled by them. I have yet to read one where the author admits that most of what they did was bad, wrong, ineffectual, or pointless. Maybe I haven’t read enough, but there’s always an aspect of self-defense in the political memoir. At the very least, they are a “my side of the story” book.With that in mind, I was skeptical of True Faith and Allegiance by Alberto R. Gonzales, former Attorney General of the United States. Gonzales was the Attorney General for a little over two years during President Bush’s second term. During that time, the United States found ourselves deeper and deeper in the mud of fighting terrorists according to their rules. It was a time of soul-searching and head-scratching. How do we deal with this?Meanwhile, the political atmosphere of the nation became more and more toxic. Into that, Alberto Gonzales comes as the chief legal mind for the Execu…

Heaped Obstacles: Joshua 3

In Summary:For starters, remember where the people of Israel are in the story in Joshua 3. They have come up to the edge of the Promised Land, but have not gone in yet. Joshua sent spies to check out the situation in Jericho (see Joshua 2). The spies have returned, brought Joshua an encouraging report, and now the Israelites must go into the land.

If you have a Bible handy, take a look at the book of Maps in the back. If your Bible doesn’t have a book of Maps, then you need to get one that does! Or, perhaps, a good Bible atlas or handbook. (I like The Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook, available here. Or you can go here for an online map: You will see something important. The people sit on the east side of the Jordan River. Jericho and the other areas that need to be conquered sit on the west side of the Jordan.

These days, we would expect Joshua to call in the bridging engineers and make his own path. 3500 years ago (roughly,) things were not so eas…

Sermon Recap for January 1 2017

Can you believe it’s already 2017? Seems like just yesterday we were all expecting the world to end with the Y2K bug. Or something else like that.We just had one service today. We’ll be back up to full speed this week!For quick reference, here is a link to the church’s Bible reading plan for this year:Morning Sermon: Ecclesiastes 12:11-14 Audio Link HereVideo Link Here
Ending and BeginningEcclesiastes 12:9-14Ending One Year
Beginning Another
I. The Text:
  Ecclesiastes as the pursuit of wisdom
  Ecclesiastes as the  frustrated  pursuit of wisdom
II. The Wise One Recognizes the  Wisdom of Others
    a.    Prior Generations
    b.    Devotional Books
      My Utmost for His Highest, For the Love of God (vols 1 &2), New Morning Mercies (trying this one this year), Robert J. Morgan's Hymn books or On this Day/From this Verse, Morning/Evening with Spurgeon (
    c.    Learning Books
      Mere Christianity, Cost of Discipleship, The Rest of God, God in My Everything