A Biblical Perspective

bibleIf you are a follower of The Master’s Table, or a former student, or have ever listened to me preach, teach Sunday School or lead a small group of any kind, you know by now that I do not pick up a recent newspaper and use the headlines for talking points about Bible prophesy. During Advent I talk about prophecies of the Messiah being fulfilled by Jesus’s birth and the events surrounding it. During Easter and Pentecost I talk about prophesies Jesus fulfilled during his earthly ministry, his death, burial and resurrection, and the promise we have of his future return. What I have never done is point to earthquakes, volcanoes, war in the Middle East or any other current event while quoting snippets of scripture and saying “See, the Bible says so.” I’ve seen preachers and other church leaders look foolish when Mikhail Gorbachev did not turn out to be the antichrist, Saddam Hussein was not the Beast described in Revelation and the world did not end in 1988 despite the list of 88 reasons that it was going to. Continue reading

Pentecost Sunday

Here is a sermon I wrote a few years ago for Pentecost. I found full text of this message, originally title The Holy Spirit Bears Witness, courtesy of cloud storage and decided it was worth sharing. 

Our celebration of Easter corresponds with the Jewish festival of Passover. It’s no mere coincidence if we think about the Passover lamb as symbolic prophecy for the atoning sacrifice of the Lamb of God. Pentecost, fifty days later, corresponds to the Jewish Festival of Weeks. Jews still celebrate Shavuot (Pentecost is the Greek word for Shavuot).

Before the crucifixion, Jesus told his followers that he must go in order for the Comforter to come. Before his ascension in Acts 1 to told the Apostles to stay in Jerusalem and “wait for the promise.” John the Baptist had prophesied that one coming after him that would baptize with fire. Jesus said in Acts 1 they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. I’m going to take for granted you either have read or will read Acts chapter 2.  On the day of Pentecost Peter preached the first “Christian sermon” and the New Testament Church Age began. Continue reading

A Seed Must Fall

And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. –John 12:23-26

Wednesday April 8th was the first day of Passover for observant Jews. The event we know as the Triumphal Entry occurred when Jesus came into Jerusalem to celebrate Passover for the last time. Ethnic Jews and those practicing Judaism gathered at Jerusalem from all around the Mediterranean world. John 12 records that “some Greeks” came looking for Jesus. The very well known statement “Sir, we wish to see Jesus” is found in verse 21. Philip told Andrew, Andrew and Philip went together and told Jesus. His response is shown above. He talks about bearing fruit, eternal life, following him and being honored by the father. He also talks about, as he had many times before, sowing seeds but in this instance uses what happens to seeds to allude to his crucifixion and burial. The grain of wheat must fall into the earth and die in order to bear fruit. Continue reading

The Gospel Changes Things

A few years ago we tried something new that just didn’t work out. I have decided to spare you the details but we made a few slideshow presentation videos and since I never throw anything away the ones we produced still exist on YouTube.

As we begin Holy Week here is a sermon titled “The Gospel Changes Things” with scripture texts and images. To share the Gospel is why Jesus came into the world. The Church has the potential to do a lot of good in the world but above all else sharing this message is what we are called to.

We Need Something to Push Against

Whether you believe in a literal six day creation week 6,000 years ago or evolutionary processes that took eons, conservative Christians and anthropologists agree that before societies developed humans were hunter-gatherers. During times of plenty the human body stores extra in fat cells, using those reserves in times that are lean. Evolution at work or God’s providence? Since you’re reading a religious blog, and I’m a Baptist preacher, we’re probably on the same page. We probably agree on what happened next. Technology improved, life got easier, and since none of us have to spend the majority of time making sure we have enough to eat we have to go jogging or walk a treadmill to stave off morbid obesity. We are designed for the struggle. When we are provided an abundance, with no hard labor required, we get fat. Continue reading

Messiah in Isaiah: Part 3

Be sure to read Parts 1 and 2. 

Details of the coming Messiah are given in Isaiah, including the family he would be from and unmistakable signs that could not be duplicated. The nature of his character and aspects of his ministry were written down, 800 years before he was born. Today we will look into the passages of Isaiah that describe the crucifixion and even consider if the resurrection was foretold. Continue reading

Messiah in Isaiah: Part 2

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
    and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
    the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and might,
    the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
    or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
    and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
    and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
    and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
-Isaiah 11:1-5

Chapter 11 begins with another prophecy that Messiah will come and another identifier, that he will be a descendant of Jesse (David’s father, making him heir to the throne of David). The next several verses tell us about his reign. Continue reading

Messiah in Isaiah: Part 1

bible-pagesEvery year during Advent we look at a few of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. I try to make sure to vary the scriptures each year, from Genesis, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Hosea, Jeremiah and others, not just revist the well-known, often quoted ones found in Isaiah. There is more detail and description of the Messiah than the fact that he will be born but let’s start at the beginning. Continue reading

My Path Here: Part 2

Screenshot 2020-02-19 at 5.38.38 AMHere is a link to Part 1, if you haven’t read that yet.

In 1990 I finished the 8th grade, started high school and got my learner’s permit. That’s my yearbook photo, just before I turned 15. I had the physical stature of an adult and with a suit and tie looked like a proper grown up, albeit a very young one. I was very solidly grounded in the truth of scripture; I wasn’t searching for God, purpose, meaning or anything else. The King James Bible was the Word of God and any other “version” was written by men in an attempt to change the Bible. Boys were not supposed to wear earrings, only prisoners and sailors wore tattoos, ladies wore long dresses and long hair. Seminary was for men who chose to pastor churches and no real man of God “chose” to become a pastor, you had to be called. It was wrong to want to pastor; you had to be called, not want to do it, and then surrender to God’s will. Unless you were called to be a missionary which I was hoping didn’t happen because that meant leaving the United States and only coming back every few years to show slides. I took two years of Spanish in high school just in case because in my childhood experience missionaries spoke Spanish. Yes, I’m serious about that. That was the world I knew existed and was preparing to enter. Continue reading

My Path Here: Part 1

Screenshot 2020-02-18 at 11.37.10 AMWhy do you believe what you believe? Are you Baptist, Methodist or Presbyterian and more importantly why or why not? Are these things you thought through systematically or do you still go to the same church as your parents? Within your denomination, are you conservative, liberal or moderate? What are your thoughts on election (Romans 8 not Sanders vs. Biden)? These questions are rhetorical, something to think about, but the one I really want to address today is this: Are your answers to these questions today the same as they would have been 10 or 20 years ago? How many iterations of systematic theology did you go through to get where you are today?

I would like to put my thoughts into words about how I got here on the journey. I suspect that if you’re somewhere around middle age, like myself, then 40 or 50 something you is at least somewhat removed from early adult, fresh out of college, ready to start a family/career you. Continue reading