This was originally published as “Illustrations Can Come from Anywhere” on March 22, 2018. I don’t do a lot of reruns but hope you enjoy this one.
If you are a preacher, know a preacher, or for that matter have ever listened to a preacher, you may have heard the oft repeated statement illustrations can come from anywhere. It’s a truism that may cause us to smile but seriously; a funny thing a child says, a misunderstanding in the supermarket line, words said in anger that have to be eaten later, literally anything a professional speaker hears about could become an illustration for a point being made. Be careful sharing those funny anecdotes around your clergyman. You may hear them again from the pulpit.
If 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 →
I am not one of those guys that studies biblical prophecy while pointing to current events in the newspaper going “See, this is what God said would happen.” That can set a dangerous precedent and sometimes you end up looking foolish. I remember listening to a preacher back in the 80’s, and I remember his name but won’t use it here, that said that if Michel Gorbachev was not the antichrist then he was certainly paving the way for him. He had a poster made up of the birthmark on his head in the form of a dragon and the smaller marks in the shape of three 6’s. This was before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev later taught an economics course for the University of Georgia and made a tv commercial for Pizza Hut. He is still alive but at 88 has yet to reveal himself as the antichrist, the Beast or any other figure in Revelation. Continue reading →
I don’t know how many tributes have been written, published, posted or tweeted this week about Billy Graham. I am not writing because I think there needs to be another one; sometimes the writing process is how we work through things. But in the process of thinking about it, maybe I can share with you some things to think about as well. Continue reading →
A&E has suspended Phil Robertson from the reality series Duck Dynasty, and the Internet is blowing up. It has nothing to do with anything said or done on the show, but remarks he made in an interview with GQ magazine. Here is part of what Phil said:
“Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
In lieu of yesterday’s post I wish to clarify a couple of issues (before anyone asks).
1. I am Southern Baptist. While I did not grow up in the SBC I have been a member of SBC churches since 2000. I was ordained as a deacon in 2002 and as a minister in 2004. My wife and I served full time on the mission field (stateside) for nine years, 2003 to 2012. I graduated from a Baptist college, attended BSU as a student, taught in a private Baptist school, and led BCM for seven years. The Master’s Table is listed in SBC Voices, a directory of Southern Baptist blogs. This very week my wife and I are teaching 5th and 6th graders during Colossal Coaster World and I’m driving the church bus to VBS. While I may not always agree with everything the organization does as a whole, I am certainly still a part of it. The reason I can say so much about the SBC’s response to the Boy Scouts issue is that’s the denomination I know the most about. Continue reading →
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 →