All Saints Day

all saints Today is All Saints Day, which might not mean much if you are not either Catholic or Episcopalian. The November 1st date of All Saints is why Halloween was last night, and the reason Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the door of the church at Wittenberg on October 31st – he knew that practically every person would see it the next day as they attended mass to celebrate All Saints.

Whatever you may have heard about Halloween being the celebration of Satan’s birthday (a created being that was not born) the origins are uniquely Christian, whereas the celebrations of Easter and Christmas are actually pagan but that’s another story. Richard Donohue, vicar of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Birmingham, offers the clearest explanation of Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day I have ever read, including bits on the Book of the Dead and the Latin American tradition of “day of the dead” as well.

“All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are related, but they are two separate celebrations,” Donohoe said. “On All Saints’ Day there’s a call to live as saints, to remind us how we’re supposed to live. On All Souls’ Day, we’re talking about all souls and asking God’s mercy for them. We’re talking about those people who have died before us, and their process of getting to heaven, through Christ.”

This article was written by Greg Garrison for AL.com based on his interview with the Rev. Richard Donohue. I highly recommend clicking the link and reading it in full.

The Temptation of Jesus

Jesus tempted by SatanI have written on this subject before but certainly not recently. This post from 2009 focuses on the nature of sin as the easy way out. Stealing is easier than hard work, one night stands are easier than putting time and effort into a relationship, etc. Just about every example of sin that can be listed involves an easier or quicker way of getting something that would take time, effort, patience or involve suffering to obtain otherwise. Is also involves settling for less than what God has in mind for us were we to to do it his way instead.

I want to focus here on Jesus’ responses to each of Satan’s suggestions. Read the story in Matthew 4:1-11 and notice some things with me. Continue reading

Not What I Expected

bibleFirst, let me put in a good word for Bible Gateway. They rolled out a major site redesign earlier this year and added a ton of interactive features. You will notice the Bible Gateway Verse of the Day on the left-hand side bar and a Bible Gateway Blogger Grid badge on the right. Scripture references in my posts are linked to the Bible Gateway site, in ESV, but there are many other English versions and other languages available. I use the site every day and will continue to, don’t get the wrong idea.

I also get a plethora of email from Bible Gateway and recently decided to participate in a scripture memorization type of Bible Study. Continue reading

The Anger of Man

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak,slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. -James 1:19-20

There is such a thing as righteous indignation but that is reserved for, well, the righteous. Which is not us. I’m offering this as a timely reminder in an age when lots of people, Christians included, are carrying signs and share every waking thought on social media. We to need to be very vocal about the Gospel and keep everything else behind closed doors. Some conversations need to stay within the walls of a family’s living room or take place in the context of a Sunday School class. Some conversations need to not take place at all. What the world needs to see and hear is a group of people conforming to the image of Christ who are meek and humble in their behavior but bold with sharing the Gospel.

Jesus Practiced What He Preached

jesus_teachingJesus practiced what he preached, perhaps the greatest understatement ever made, and of course what he preached was the Gospel. “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” Mark 1:14-15 

Jesus preached the Gospel.

Let’s deconstruct that passage. Jesus said “the time is fulfilled.” His first century Jewish audience would have been familiar with the many messianic prophecies. Jesus didn’t spend a great deal of time trying to convince people he was the Messiah; by contrast he told his disciples to keep to themselves even as they began to figure it out. Without announcing that Messiah (or Christ in the Greek) was present he began his first sermon by declaring in effect “now is the appointed time, today is the day of salvation.” Continue reading

Read & Share File: When the Pastor is Terminated

Screenshot 2014-09-04 at 6.32.35 PMResearch indicates that as many as four in ten pastors will be forced to leave a ministry at least once during their career. Hershael York and Jeff Iorg outline how to prevent terminations that are often unnecessary and offer advice on how to deal with conflicts when they do arise in this article via Baptist Press.

On the list of top 15 reasons pastors are fired/ forced to resign, only two are related to sin on the part of the pastor. Ethical conduct comes in at #8 and sexual misconduct #10. Many times issues relate to personal communication skills or a few disgruntled members that spiral out of control. Sometimes it is simply time for one’s ministry to come to an end in one place and move on to something else. But the old saying is that figures don’t lie; nearly half of all church pastors will deal with these issues sooner or later. The advice in the BP article is sound and it wouldn’t be a bad idea for church members not in the pastorate to give it some consideration.


 

-Hershael York is a preaching professor at Southern Seminary as well as a currently active church pastor. Jeff Iorg is president of Golden Gate Theological Seminary. The image above and original text of the article are copyright 2014 Baptist Press. 

The Opposite of Fighting the Culture War

Sturgis The other day we looked at what happens when Christians choose to fight the culture war. Be careful, the culture may fight back. I saw this story and thought “That’s exactly the opposite of fighting the culture war.” See what you think.

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally takes place each August near the small town (pop. < 7,000) of Sturgis, South Dakota. The very first “Black Hills Classic” held in 1938 featured 9 racers and a small audience. Today it one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the world and provides a significant source of income to the town. I ride a motorcycle but would stop short of calling myself a biker. On the one hand I’d like to go at least once, and of course ride the whole trip up (as opposed to driving a rig with my bike in a trailer, setting up camp somewhere and riding the last few miles). On the other hand, once you get to Sturgis there is really nothing going on but sin and debauchery. It is also known as the Devil’s Playground.

So the way to fight the culture war would be to set up booths, tents and signs on the major routes just outside of town and shout names, wave Bibles, tell bikers they were riding two wheels to Hell, and hope they pull over, find Jesus, then turn around and ride back home. But what if we saw the Devil’s Playground as a mission field? What if we offered the chance to win a new Harley Davidson motorcycle in exchange for listening to a 3 minute testimony? And what if the result was 513 people making professions of faith?

Enter the Dakota Baptist Convention. Please read this full story via Baptist Press. We can fight the culture war or we can share the Gospel and lead people to Jesus. The choice is ours.. the choice is yours to make.