Some of Jesus’ teachings were meant for multitudes of followers, while at other times he taught only his disciples. There are some occasions we cannot be sure who he was talking to, nor if he meant the present time or prophesied of future events. Did you know that sometimes the Apostles wondered about the same things?
Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Luke 12:41-43 Continue reading →
Harvey Turner at The Resurgence writes You Are Not Jesus. He claims that the gospel is good news, and news must be proclaimed. You cannot, therefore, live the gospel or be the gospel, a premise which troubles me greatly.
Yes, the gospel is good news. But when we are transformed by his redeeming power old things pass away and we become new creatures in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). It is no longer we that live but he lives in us (Gal 2:20). Our goal is to conform to the image of Christ, who himself was the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15). We are filled with the indwelling Holy Spirit, and are commissioned to carry the gospel to a lost and dying world. I am not Jesus, but if I give a cup of water to the least of his children Jesus says it’s as if I gave water to him. We, the church, are the body of Christ and he becomes the head of the body. Jesus says his believers become one with him just as he and the Father are one. We are grafted into the family of God through a glorious adoption. Continue reading →
I grew up in the 80′s. Before David Blaine and Chris Angel there was David Copperfield. Over the course of several prime time specials he made the Statue of Liberty disappear, walked through the Great Wall of China and escaped from Alcatraz. Part of his appeal came from his sense of humor and showmanship on stage, but people tuned in to see the “magic.” The magic of course was really illusion; he wasn’t really sawed in half on stage. But you know what they say – Seeing is believing.
It is so easy to believe what we see. Illusion, special effects and camouflage all depend on it. That very fact can also get us into trouble at times. We had to see bacteria with a microscope before germ theory really caught on, and there’s an ever-present warning in your side mirror not to believe exactly what you see (objects are closer than they appear). We all know there is more going on than can be seen. Wind, gravity, magnetism, microbes, radiation, DNA and so on cannot be seen, but we either perceive their effects through other senses or else detect them with scientific devices. The earth appears flat, and the sun seems to move across the sky from east to west. Our understanding is no longer limited to what we can see with our eyes; but the tendency to do so will always be there. Continue reading →
How many times have you bitten into a delicious slice of cheesecake (insert favorite dessert here) and made the statement “I’m in Heaven?” Listening to beautiful music, attending a wedding reception, or perhaps sitting at home in a rare moment of peace and quiet can move us to feel that way at times; this is what heaven must be like. Do you ever feel that way at church?
My dad wrote a song about the church titled The Nearest Thing to Heaven. Like old country music, even Dad’s gospel songs were made of two things: 3 chords and the truth. The point of the song is simple; the Church (universal) should be the nearest thing to heaven you can find on earth. While he acknowledges there are problems and that no person nor congregation is perfect, the Church is (or should be) filled with God’s people. The Church is made up of disciples of Jesus, who are continuously learning to be more Christ-like. In short, the Church should be populated with God’s people, led by and filled with the Holy Spirit, and working for the Kingdom. With Christ as its head, the Church should be the body. That should be manifest in our worship and in our service. Worship takes place in the church building, while our service takes place Monday through Saturday outside of the church building.
The goal of Christians is to be conformed to the image of Christ. The reason we ask “What would Jesus do?” is to put ourselves in the right frame of mind to be Christ-like in our decision making (Philippians 2). We know from reading the Gospels and the letters of Paul that we are to think like Christ, to have the heart and mind of a servant, to be humble, to love as Christ loved, and so forth. Like John the Baptist we must make less of ourselves and more of Christ. Realizing that we can never become perfectly like Christ, the goal is to continuously work at it. As we get closer and closer, others should be able to see Christ in us. They were called Christians first at Antioch why? Because the followers of Christ at Antioch sounded and acted like the one they were following.
Ephesians 3 mentions one way to be Christ-like, which I had never noticed before. Read Colossians 1, noting verse 19 that says “For in him [Christ] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell…” Jesus was incarnate deity, the person of God robed in a body of flesh. One aspect of Jesus Christ is that he was full of God. Now look at Ephesians 3, a short chapter in which Paul reveals the mystery of the Gospel. In particular:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. -Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV
There are many things we can choose to fill ourselves with; Paul says we should be full of God.
We’ve all seen the same news stories, right? A pastor in North Carolina (Charles Worley) suggests we put all the “gays” inside an electric fence, provide food and water, and wait for them to die out. Another pastor in Kansas sites Old Testament scripture that homosexuals should be stoned to death. And then there’s the kid with the questionable song lyrics, but let’s leave him to his parents. In the first place he is a minor; secondly, and more importantly, he is probably a reflection of his parents’ world view and has not yet developed his own.
The internet can give a national or even global voice to writers, preachers, etc. that are in otherwise obscure places (such as myself). What I think we’re really dealing with in the North Carolina story is culture shock. Fundamentalist preachers in the Carolina’s, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and so forth probably say a hundred things every week that would shock people, including Christians, from other backgrounds. I can only imagine what would happen if journalists in New York started listening to every fundamentalist, Pentecostal, charismatic or even Southern Baptist sermon from below the Mason-Dixon line each week. Continue reading →
The Bible tells one story; the Old Testament and the New are both part of that story. The message of scripture from beginning to end is how a holy God, perfect in righteousness, deals with humanity, which is fallen, broken and unrighteous. At the center of that story is Jesus.
There is a definite relationship between the old covenant and the new. I often describe Judaism as a analogy for Christianity. The Hebrews in the Old Testament are analogous in many ways to Christians of the New Testament. There are many similarities but we must be clear: the two are not the same. The Hebrews came out of Egypt on a mission; as Christians we should be on mission. But our mission is very different from their mission. Continue reading →
What if revival broke out in your town… at the church down the street? What if you were out of town for a few months on a mission trip, and revival started under the guest preacher?9Marks suggests that we Pray for Revival – at the other guy’s church.
NEWS – Abortion, birth control and gay marriage ranked lowest on issues of importance to registered voters, according to a new Pew Research Center poll. What issues ranked highest? The economy, jobs and the deficit, in that order. No surprise there; if you want to hurt Americans, hit them in the pocket book. More of this story at Christian Post.
The Desiring God blog shares 15 Tips on Blogging from John Newton. Perhaps you recognize John Newton as the writer of Amazing Grace. Did he really offer tips on blogging, 400 years ago? In a manner of speaking.