In Defense of Paul

I was accused a few years ago of being in a cult of Paul. The assertion was that myself and others made too much of the Apostle Paul, his writings and his particular brand of New Testament theology. We needed to be less Paul-focused and more Christ-focused. I argued that Paul was Christ focused and studying Paul should bring Christ into focus. Paul pushed back on some of those same accusations during his ministry stating the Christ is not divided and there are not Paul Christians, Apollos Christians, etc. Here is a link to my first Defense of the Apostle Paul from eight years ago. The comment thread was very involved, and might be longer than the actual post.

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Let’s Talk About Eternity

The Heritage Singers once said “Forever is a long, long time.” That’s the way many of us probably think about eternity; a very, very long time. A verse of Amazing Grace starts out “When we’ve been there 10,000 years…” The truth is that eternity takes place outside of time. It’s not made up all time but is rather the exact opposite of time.

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There is Risk Involved

I’ve worked a couple of stints helping my brother do commercial HVAC. Building automation has been a growth industry for at least 10 or 12 years now. The average homeowner can lock and unlock doors, turn lights on and off and adjust the thermostat from a mobile app. I knew about text and email alerts to warn about dangerous or undesirable conditions, but it never occurred to me to consider the usefulness of these things in terms of insurance. Church Mutual Insurance Company sent us a box full of sensors a year or two ago with installation instructions. There was an incentive, in terms of our premiums, to install them. We now have space temp sensors and wet floor sensors in our church building, connected through a wireless router to a monitoring service. If the temperature inside the church drops to near freezing, or water is detected by the water heater or under the kitchen sin, I will get text alerts and a phone call. It’s cheaper for the insurance company to give away the sensors than to fix major damage that can occur if problems go unnoticed. Insurance is all about calculating risk. It’s the same thing with companies that offer auto insurance rates based on your driving habits, which they will monitor when you install their device to track those driving habits.

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Steve Brown

For the past several months we’ve been going through the Internet Monk Radio archives and re-sharing those episodes. Each time Michael Spencer mentions another blog or podcast I try to find that and see if it still exists. Many times they do not. I often find websites that have not been updated in years. When he shares a resource that is still operating I try to point those out and include a link in my post.

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The Revelation

I have preached a couple of sermons lately from Revelation. One of things I stressed is that some people wrongly avoid the book entirely. They were given bad advice to avoid reading and studying it, and some believers go through life afraid of it. That’s ridiculous.

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

-Revelation 3:1
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Christmas is Not Stuck on a Container Ship

I saw a headline just two days ago that said supply chain problems could mean bah humbug. At ports on both coasts are dozens and dozens of container ships with goods waiting to be unloaded. The backlog could mean that by the time the regular Christmas shopping season starts, traditionally the day after Thanksgiving, there will be no toys, clothing and electronics left on store shelves. By the American way of thinking no stuff means no Christmas.

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Pastor’s Notes: Leadership

I came across a question about leadership this week in a Facebook group. What does good leadership look like? Several options were suggested ranging from control to chaos. It was a Christian group so I assume that Christian leadership was the topic. My response went something like this.

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I Will Pray for You

How often do we say that? Maybe you run into a friend at the grocery store. You talk about recent events, ball games, what grades the kids are in and your friend mentions a relative in the hospital, some big life event or whatever and ends with “pray for us” and begins moving away. “I will” you say as you check your list and keep shopping. Sometimes we get real requests for prayer from people that are seriously hurting. Do we say “I will pray for you” just to make them feel a little better or do we really mean we are going to spend time in prayer with God interceding on their behalf?

“Hey, how are you?” is a casual greeting that doesn’t mean much anymore. We don’t really want to know, and might get annoyed if they set in explaining how they have been. “I will pray for you” needs to be more than that. It would be better left unsaid than casually dismissed in passing. Sometimes we say it in all earnestness but life happens and that person, and the need, slips away. The next time you say “I will pray for you” if at all possible stop and do it right then. It might have to be a 10 or 20 second sound bite if you’re at work or holding up a line somewhere. Saying you will pray is one thing; making it so is something else. It will ensure that you do not forget altogether and maybe you could pray again later as well.

Let’s Talk About Eve

I spend a lot of time online. I do all of my Bible study and sermon prep online. I blog and update the church website. I also spend time watching YouTube videos and scrolling through Facebook and Twitter. I’ve seen a lot of memes lately, like the one shown here, about giving Eve the stink eye when meeting her in heaven. Sometimes people want to have a long theological discussion or engage in debate in a comment thread. Someone else’s comment thread is not the place for that kind of thing. This is the place for that kind of thing. Without being critical of anyone for having a sense or humor let’s be serious for a moment.

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What Christians Really Believe

I recently saw a question online asking if Christians really believe Jesus came back from the dead. It was obvious that the question comes from the point of view that people don’t do that; come back to life that is. Jesus was a man, he died, and it seems unreasonable to think that he came back to life three days later. Maybe he was a wise teacher with many followers, maybe it is not crazy that we study his sermons and emulate his behavior but do we really believe he rose from the dead and appeared again alive to his disciples and others? Fasten your seatbelts.

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