A friend in-real-life was listening to one of my sermons recently and had a question. He wanted to make it clear that I was not going over his head but wondered if everyone in my congregation was always able to follow. I told him that some of points in the case I was making were repeated from things we had either studied or I had preached before. I kind of figured they would remember some of it. The other thing I pointed out was that my particular audience had a lifetime of experience; some of those church members had been at that church since before I was born. I would tailor my presentation for a youth group or a congregation with many new believers. You gotta know your audience.
That conversation got me thinking. A speaker should know their audience but at the same time a church congregation, men’s meeting, conference organizers or Sunday School class should know what to expect from a speaker. Here is what to expect from me personally. Continue reading →
Is the Bible a book that can be studied like any other or is it something more than that? Is the Bible the Word of God or just the words of God? Let me suggest that a simple answer is not always possible and sometimes “both/and” is the best option.
The Bible is a collection of ancient texts. While the Bible is primarily a religious text much of it’s bulk, particularly the Old Testament, is made up of history, poetry and wisdom sayings. It presents chronicles of the kings of Israel and long lists of genealogy. The sacred texts of the Old Testament form the basis of Judaism, the monotheistic religion of ethnic Jews. Continue reading →
Earlier this week I revealed a book in the works that should roll off the press in the next 10 -12 weeks. This has been a long time coming. In January 2011 I posted Where is God? I actually thought about deleting this post before the book came out; a good poker player doesn’t show his hand. But we’re not talking about poker, we’re talking about sharing the Gospel. Continue reading →
Don’t you love it when non-Christians, atheists, gay-rights activists, etc. reference the Bible and tell you that you’re reading it wrong? “Most of the Old Testament was negated and set straight by Jesus” and “You go out and stone a bunch of people, I’ll be living to please Jesus in the meantime” are on the list of things I’ve been told. I was told “the Old Testament pretty much doesn’t matter anymore” and the evidence for this claim was Jesus responding to the question about the greatest commandment. Kudos for knowing Jesus’ answer to that question; Love the Lord you God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. A second is just like it, love your neighbor as yourself. This was an example of Jesus setting things straight.
The advent of anything refers to its first appearing. The season of Advent is a time of preparation, waiting for the arrival of Christmas. We celebrate the waiting (perhaps honor is a better word) by examining the Old Testament prophesies, and considering the lessons the shepherds and wise men and teach us still. Lighting the candles of the Advent wreath is a far more time honored tradition than waiting in line for Black Friday deals on Sony’s PS4. Continue reading →
I’m still watching the Bible on History. My simple prayer before it began was that it not be stupid. It certainly isn’t stupid; the film is well made, filmed on location and for the most part tells the Bible story. I understand that some things must be left out and others abbreviated. I understand dramatic license when adapting a story into a screenplay. And yet with each installment I find myself wondering why deviate from scripture when there is no need? Some details we might wish for are simply not found in the text, but why change those that are? For those of us that know the biblical account the film recreates, the differences are at times pretty bold. Continue reading →
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 →
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the Gospels in that they tell the story of the life of Jesus. Jesus preaches in Mark 1 “repent and believe in the gospel.” More than those four books, gospel means good news. Jesus died for our sins; he is the way, the truth and the life; he brings the New Covenant, and we are no longer under the Law; all things things are part of the gospel message. Paul says the Law is bad news; it cannot make us righteous, only more guilty. But there is more to the Old Testament than the Law, and it’s not all bad news.
The Bible has many stories and characters, but only one message. (Have you read this?) The Old Covenant was about keeping the Law and bearing the mark of circumcision. Paul has many analogies about the difference between the Law and the Gospel; the Gospel brings life, the Law only brings death. But my point is that there is plenty of good news in the Old Testament as well. It is part of God’s message. Continue reading →
If you’re a follower, online or in real life, you know how I feel about the Old Testament: everything is a metaphor. The nation of Israel, sacrificial system, temple, alter, high priest, exodus from Egypt, brass serpent, passover, circumcision, etc. are all symbolic of what Christ does in the New Testament. You’ve probably heard me say (or at least read) that Moses leading the Hebrews through the wilderness is a portrait of Jesus leading us through this present wilderness. They were marching toward the “promised land” and so are we. Abraham was willing to offer his son Isaac… you get the point. Is there an analogy left that I could possibly make? Why yes, yes there is.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. –1 Peter 2:9