Saturday, December 22, 2012

X in Christmas is used like the R in R.C. My given name at birth was Robert Charles, although before I was even taken home from the hospital my parents called me by my initials, R.C., and nobody seems to 

be too scandalized by that.

X can mean so many things. For example, when we want to denote an unknown quantity, we use the symbol X. It can refer to an obscene level of films, something that is X-rated. People seem to express chagrin about seeing Christ's name dropped and replaced by this symbol for an unknown quantity X. Every year you see the signs and the bumper stickers saying, "Put Christ back into Christmas" as a response to this substitution of the letter X for the name of Christ.

There's no X in Christmas

First of all, you have to understand that it is not the letter X that is put into Christmas. We see the English letter X there, but actually what it involves is the first letter of the Greek name for Christ. Christos is the New Testament Greek for Christ. The first letter of the Greek word Christos is transliterated into our alphabet as an X. That X has come through church history to be a shorthand symbol for the name of Christ.

We don't see people protesting the use of the Greek letter theta, which is an O with a line across the middle. We use that as a shorthand abbreviation for God because it is the first letter of the word Theos, the Greek word for God.

X has a long and sacred history

The idea of X as an abbreviation for the name of Christ came into use in our culture with no intent to show any disrespect for Jesus. The church has used the symbol of the fish historically because it is an acronym. Fish in Greek (ichthus) involved the use of the first letters for the Greek phrase "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior." So the early Christians would take the first letter of those words and put those letters together to spell the Greek word for fish. That's how the symbol of the fish became the universal symbol of Christendom. There's a long and sacred history of the use of X to symbolize the name of Christ, and from its origin, it has meant no disrespect.

Adapted from Now, That’s a Good Question! ©1996 by R.C. Sproul. Used by permission of Tyndale.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Man and The Birds by Paul Harvey

Paul Harvey and “The Man and the Birds a Christmas Story” Remembered

The man to whom I’m going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn’t believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas Time. It just didn’t make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn’t swallow the Jesus Story, about God coming to Earth as a man.

“I’m truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, “but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas Eve.” He said he’d feel like a hypocrite. That he’d much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service.

Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound…Then another, and then another. Sort of a thump or a thud…At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They’d been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window.

Well, he couldn’t let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it. Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them…He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms…Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.

And then, he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me…That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.

“If only I could be a bird,” he thought to himself, “and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to safe, warm…to the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand.” At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells – Adeste Fidelis – listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Touch of God at Christmas

The Touch of God at Christmas
This is from a 60 Minutes broadcast from a few years ago. It’s an excerpt of what Harry Reasoner said around Christmas time that I want you to hear. Listen carefully – he said:

Eleven years ago I did a little Christmas piece and it seemed like a good idea to repeat it. The basis for this tremendous burst of buying things and gift buying and parties and near hysteria is a quiet event that Christians believe actually happened a long time ago. You can say that in all societies there has always been a midwinter festival and that many of the trappings of our Christmas are almost violently pagan. But you come back to the central fact of the day and the quietness of Christmas morning, the birth of God on earth.

It leaves you only three ways of accepting Christmas. One is cynically, as a time to make money and endorse the making of it. One is graciously, that’s the appropriate attitude for non-Christians who wish their fellow citizens all the joys to which their beliefs entitle them. And the third, of course, is reverently.

If this is the anniversary of the appearance of the Lord of the universe in the form of a helpless babe, it is a very important day. It is a startling idea, of course. The whole story that a virgin was selected by God to bear his son as a way of showing his love and concern for man. It’s my guess that in spite of all the lip service given to it, it’s not an idea that has been popular with theologians. It is somewhat an illogical idea and theologians like logic almost as much as they like God. It’s so revolutionary, a thought that it probably could only come from God that is beyond logic and beyond theology. It is a magnificent appeal. Almost nobody has seen God and almost nobody has any real idea what he is like, and the truth is that among men the idea of seeing God suddenly and standing in a very bright light is not necessarily a completely comforting or appealing idea.

But everyone has seen babies and almost everyone likes them. If God wanted to be loved as well as feared, He moved correctly, for a baby growing up learns all about people. And if God wanted to be intimately a part of man, He moved correctly, for the experience of birth and family-hood is the most intimate and precious experience that any of us will ever have.

So it comes beyond logic. It is either a falsehood or it is the truest thing in the world. It is the story of the great innocence of God the baby. God in the power of man has such a dramatic shock toward the heart that if it is not true to Christians, then nothing is true.

So if a person is touched only once a year, the touching is still worth it. And maybe on some given Christmas some final quiet morning, that touch will take. The touch of God coming into this world as a vulnerable baby.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Christian One-liners

Found these "Christian" One-Liners on Twitter...thought some laughter would be good for a monday.
Hey girl, whenever I read Proverbs 31, I think about you.

I didn't believe in predestination until tonight.

It took God 7 days to change the world, it only takes 7 digits for you to change mine.

Hey, I was reading through the book of Numbers... and I realized, I don't have yours.

If you're looking for your knight in shining armor, I happen to be wearing the full armor of God.

Your beauty alone can make a blind man see.

You and me, we’re like loaves and fishes…we just might be a miracle.

God was just showing off when He made you

The word says 'Give drink to those who are thirsty, and feed the hungry'; how about dinner?

Now I know why Solomon had 700 wives. He never met someone like you.

Maybe God wasn't the only "Crazy Love" Francis Chan was talking about...

Hi. My name is Will. God's Will.

If we were around with Noah then you.. Me... Pair.

Me. You. Song of Songs: the remix.

How many times do I have to march around you before you fall for me?  

I would say "God bless you", but it looks like He already has.

I believe one of my ribs belongs to you.

You are so fearfully and wonderfully made

Don't worry, I'll sit next to you in prayer so that we can hold hands.

Ayeee boy, you put the STUD in bible study

If I marched around you seven times, would you fall for me?

 You make me feel like Samson with his hair cut off: weak in the knees.

"I heard Jesus called you... How about I do the same?"

Sunday, November 11, 2012

If I Were Satan

If I were Satan . . .
I would focus on the churches. I would get members to demand their own preferences. I would urge them to complain about the length of the pastor’s sermons and the color of the carpet. I would set member against member to fight over the right worship style. And I would make the business meeting the time where the most carnal members spoke and fight and destroyed.

If I were Satan . . .
I would encourage church members to avoid high levels of commitment. I would remind them that they are there to get their needs met. I would whisper to them that they shouldn’t be involved in ministry, because that’s why they pay the pastor and staff. And I would urge them to fight one another over tertiary and minor doctrinal issues. I would encourage Christians to identify themselves by their tertiary doctrinal stand and to exclude anyone else who does not match their precise standards.
If I were Satan . . .
 I would let the leaders know that it’s okay to minimize and avoid the truths of God’s Word. I would encourage them to preach less Bible and deal with more relevant issues. I would make certain that small groups barely dealt with Scripture, but instead spent most of their time talking about sports, gossip, and politics. I would suggest that members do not need to spend time in the Bible on their own; a thirty minute sermon each week is sufficient time.
If I were Satan . . .
 I would make certain church members understood that evangelism is not relevant in today’s society. I would tempt leaders to stay away from urging members to be engaged in gospel sharing lest they offend someone. I would dissuade everyone in the church to think about hell. It’s really better to keep it at as an abstract concept rather contemplating the eternal consequences of rejecting Christ. And I would tell church leaders to send their called pastors and missionaries to seminaries where evangelism is an afterthought.
If I were Satan . . .
 I would whisper to Christians in the church not to think about abortion. It is politically incorrect and unpopular to broach the subject. I would tell them not to focus on the reality that over one million babies are killed each year in the United States alone. I would make sure they didn’t know that, in the time of a one-hour worship service in church, more than 130 babies were killed in the United States. I would let them know that it’s okay not to dwell on the greatest slaughter of humanity in the history of our nation.
If I were Satan . . .
 I would keep church members so busy that they wouldn’t have time to pray. I would make certain that the leaders are discouraged from ever mentioning prayer as a priority in their congregations. I would assure the members that a brief time of prayer during a brief worship service is sufficient for the totality of their prayer lives. I would indeed do all I could to keep people from prayer, because it’s such a threat to me and my power.
If I were Satan . . .
 And if I could do all these things, I am sure I would see churches across America void of power. I would see most churches in both spiritual and numerical decline. I would see Christian fighting Christian. I would see apathy, discouragement, dropout, and disillusionment. And I would look over the landscape of American churches, and I would see all of my victories. Then I would roar with pleasure at the new church order I see, and I would declare:
“It is good.”

“Indeed, it is very good.”
(copied from Thom Rainer)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I enjoy reading and laughing at church bulletin bloopers. I came across several new bloopers. At least they are new to me. I hope you enjoy my latest additions to this vital genre of the written language.
  • It's Drug Awareness Week: Get involved in drugs before your children do.
  • The Sunday night men's Bible study will meet on Saturday at the park, unless it rains. In that case they will meet at their regular Tuesday evening time.
  • Illiterate? Write to the church office for help.
  • The class on prophecy has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.
  • (An unfortunate blooper during the pastor's illness) God is good! Dr. Hargreaves is better!
  • A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.
  • The church office will be closed until opening. It will remain closed after opening. It will reopen Monday.
  • Let us join David and Lisa in the celebration of their wedding and bring their happiness to a conclusion.
  • On Sunday a special collection will be taken to defray the expense of a new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the new carpet will please come forward to get a piece of paper.
  • There is a sign-up sheet for anyone wishing to be baptized on the table in the foyer.
  • Janet Smith has volunteered to strip and refinish the communion table in the sanctuary.
  • The concert held in the fellowship hall was a great success. Special thanks are due to the pastor's daughter, who labored the whole evening at the piano, which as usual fell upon her.
  • Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
  • If you are going to be hospitalized for an operation, contact the pastor. Special prayer also for those who are seriously sick by request.
  • Jean will be leading a weight-management series Wednesday nights. She's used the program herself and has been growing like crazy!
  • (After the church maintenance man left a note with the church secretary that read “van battery dead,” these words were in the bulletin the next Sunday) Pray for the family of Van Battery who died this week.
  • When parking on the north side of the church, please remember to park on an angel.
  • Men's prayer breakfast. No charge, but your damnation will be gratefully accepted.

Please feel free to contribute to the list. I love bulletin bloopers!

Monday, October 1, 2012

12 things Pastors WON'T Hear in Heaven


Borrowed Light has a list of 12 things a pastor will not hear in heaven.

I’d really hate to waste my life on things that aren’t significant. Occasionally it is good to step back and wonder about the types of the things you probably will not hear in heaven. So I imagine a scenario where someone that the Lord has called me to shepherd walks up to me in heaven and says, I sure wish that you’d have…
Here are 12 things I doubt would fill in that blank.
  1. I wish you’d have shown me more rapture charts
  2. I wish you’d have told me steps to making more money
  3. I wish you’d have prepared me for what heaven looks like
  4. I wish you’d have settled those theological debates
  5. I wish you’d have done funnier skits in our worship service
  6. I wish you’d have pushed for a bigger building
  7. I wish you’d have talked more about politics
  8. I wish you’d have preached much shorter sermons
  9. I wish you’d have worn ties (or cooler jeans for our postmodern crowd)
  10. I wish you’d have given us better pop-culture references
  11. I wish you’d have made our worship ambiance better and the transitions smoother
  12. I wish you’d have spent the money to fix that pot-hole in the church parking lot
I could probably keep going. Some of these things might be important and they might even be a means to serve and assist people in worship. But they are not ultimate. What I don’t want to fill that blank would be, “I wish you’d have pointed us to Jesus more. I wish you’d have prepared us for heaven better. I wish you’d have preached more to root out sin and unbelief. I wish you’d have encouraged us to lay down our idols more.” Those are the things I don’t want to hear.
What I do want to hear is the sweet and grace filled words of the Chief Shepherd, “well done good and faithful servant”.

Monday, September 17, 2012

7 Common Comments Non-Christian Make About Christian

My blog today is a reprint of a blog that I read recently from Thom Rainer.  In this article, Thom groups the seven most common types of comments in order of frequency that non-Christians make about Christians. He then follows that representative statement with a direct quote from a non-Christian. Read these comments and see if you learn some of the lessons he learned.

  1. Christians are against more things than they are for. “It just seems to me that Christians are mad at the world and mad at each other. They are so negative that they seem unhappy. I have no desire to be like them and stay upset all the time.”
  2. I would like to develop a friendship with a Christian. “I’m really interested in what they believe and how they carry out their beliefs. I wish I could find a Christian that would be willing to spend some time with me.”
  3. I would like to learn about the Bible from a Christian. “The Bible really fascinates me, but I don’t want to go to a stuffy and legalistic church to learn about it. I would be nice if a Christian invited me to study the Bible in his home or at a place like Starbucks.”
  4. I don’t see much difference in the way Christians live compared to others. “I really can’t tell what a Christian believes because he doesn’t seem much different than other people I know. The only exception would be Mormons. They really seem to take their beliefs seriously.”
  5. I wish I could learn to be a better husband, wife, dad, mom, etc., from a Christian. “My wife is threatening to divorce me, and I think she means it this time. My neighbor is a Christian, and he seems to have it together. I am swallowing my pride and asking him to help me.”
  6. Some Christians try to act like they have no problems. “Harriett works in my department. She is one of those Christians who seem to have a mask on. I would respect her more if she didn’t put on such an act. I know better.”
  7. I wish a Christian would take me to his or her church. “I really would like to visit a church, but I’m not particularly comfortable going by myself. What is weird is that I am 32-years old, and I’ve never had a Christian invite me to church in my entire life.”

Do you see the pattern? Non-Christians want to interact with Christians. They want to see Christians’ actions match their beliefs. They want Christians to be real.

In one study that was conducted, Rainer found that only five percent of non-Christians are antagonistic toward Christians. It’s time to stop believing the lies we have been told. Jesus said it clearly: “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (Luke10:2, HCSB).

Satan is the author of excuses. There is no reason to wait to reach those who don’t know Jesus Christ. We must go now. The harvest is waiting. And the Lord of the harvest has prepared the way.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

God's Providence vs Coincidence

Petra Anderson was in the movie theater watching the Batman movie. A shotgun blast hit her with one of the bullets entering her nose and traveling into her brain. Below is the pastor’s recounting of what the surgeon told the family afterward…
As Petra sleeps, [the surgeon] retells the story of the surgery, and we ask questions. The doctor reads the perfect script, as if he is on Hallmark Hall of Fame. He fills us in on the miracle. Honestly, he doesn’t call it that, he just uses words like “happily” and “wonderfully” and “in a very fortunate way” and “luckily” and “we were really surprised by that.” Kim and I know a miracle when we see it.
It seems as if the bullet traveled through Petra’s brain without hitting any significant brain areas. The doctor explains that Petra’s brain has had from birth a small “defect” in it. It is a tiny channel of fluid running through her skull, like a tiny vein through marble, or a small hole in an oak board, winding from front to rear. Only a CAT scan would catch it, and Petra would have never noticed it.
But in Petra’s case, the shotgun buck shot, maybe even the size used for deer hunting, enters her brain from the exact point of this defect. Like a marble through a small tube, the defect channels the bullet from Petra’s nose through her brain. It turns slightly several times, and comes to rest at the rear of her brain. And in the process, the bullet misses all the vital areas of the brain. In many ways, it almost misses the brain itself. Like a giant BB though a straw created in Petra’s brain before she was born, it follows the route of the defect. It is channeled in the least harmful way. A millimeter in any direction and the channel is missed. The brain is destroyed. Evil wins a round.
As he shares, the doctor seems taken aback. It is an odd thing to have a surgeon show a bit of wonder. Professionally, these guys own the universe, it seems, and take everything in stride. He is obviously gifted as a surgeon, and is kind in his manner. “It couldn’t have gone better. If it were my daughter,” he says quietly, glancing around to see if any of his colleagues might be watching him, “I’d be ecstatic. I’d be dancing a jig.” He smiles. I can’t keep my smile back, or the tears of joy. In Christianity we call it prevenient grace: God working ahead of time for a particular event in the future. It’s just like the God I follow to plan the route of a bullet through a brain long before Batman ever rises. Twenty-two years before.

Denny Burk gives this commentary…
What a smiling providence from God. What an absolute wonder. God did plan it this way. God did have that bullet in mind when He was knitting Petra together in the secret place (Ps. 139:13-15). God had all of Petra’s days numbered before she took her first breath, and her death would not come one day before the Lord’s appointed time (Ps. 139:16).

As we grieve the deaths of so many others, we can be grateful for this one little ray of light. And we can acknowledge that this was no accident. I don’t know why Petra lives and why the precious little six year old does not. But I do know that God is sovereign over all (Eph. 1:11). His ways are higher than our ways (Isa. 55:9). His judgments are inscrutable (Isa. 40:28). He dwells in unapproachable light (1 Tim. 6:16). Yet he made a path through the brain of a baby girl, and 22 years later the appointed bullet made its way down the path exactly according to plan and without damaging the girl’s brain.

THAT my friends is God’s Providence!

If I Were the Devil - (BEST VERSION) by PAUL HARVEY audio restored

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My Way, The Highway, or HIS Way

Why is it that many Christians (church members) have a "my way or the highway" mentality? 

Here’s what I don’t understand: How can Christians read the SAME Bible… pray to the SAME God… and be led of the SAME Holy Spirit and not be able to sit down… forgive each other and work things out… FOR GOD’S GLORY?!!!

 It dumbfounds me how we say we are Christians and yet be so prideful and mean to each other by reveling in conflict IN OUR CHURCHES!

What is more important: Being proved right (At any cost) OR God being glorified? Winning the day OR a congregation’s peace being protected? Getting your way OR keeping God’s name from being blasphemed? I can give you the answer to those questions from Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:5-8…
Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, 6 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!
Read the part in red again. It is better to be wronged and/or defrauded than for the name of Christ to be maligned! It is better to take the hit and suffer than the Christian faith to get a black eye! Maybe what we need is some “Old Light.” By that I mean light from an old (Eternal) source. Namely, God’s Word. One of the biggest mistakes Christians make is failing to trust God and His Word.
James 3:17-18 The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
It should never be a "my way or highway" but a "HIS WAY" mentality that governs our actions and attitude as an individual and as a Church.

( I give thanks to a great friend for pointing me in this direction)

Friday, May 4, 2012

God Brings You to Himself

Today's (May 4) devotion from Henry Blackaby it as great read.

God Brings You to Himself

You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself. (Exodus 19:4)

God did not deliver the children of Israel out of Egypt so that they could enjoy the Promised Land. He freed them from their so they could come to know and worship Him. Three months after they left Egypt, God reminded His people why He had delivered them “on eagles’ wings.” It was to bring the people to Himself. That is, God saved them so that they could enjoy intimate fellowship with Him. The Israelites had been slaves with no freedom to worship God. Now, with their own land, they could come to know and serve God freely. God’s call was not to destroy the idolatrous nations in Canaan, not to settle the lands they conquered, and not to establish a new nation, although all of these would be accomplished. Rather, God called them primarily to be a people who loved and worshiped Him. Through God’s act of deliverance they came to know Him as an almighty and compassionate God, and they were now free to respond_to Him.

We are so activity oriented that we assume we were saved for a task we are to perform rather than for a relationship to enjoy. God uses our activities and circumstances to bring us to Himself. When He gives us a God-sized assignment, its sheer impossibility brings us back to Him for His enabling.

When God allows us to go through crises, it brings us closer to Him.
If we are not careful, we can inadvertently bypass the relationship in order to get on with the activity. When you are busy in your activity for God, remember that God leads you to the experiences in order to bring you to Himself.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Our Church

Our Church

I came across this devotional be By Christopher J. Harris and thought I would share it today as my post.

Much of our lives are built around what we want. We drive vehicles because that’s what we wanted. We dress in ways that makes us feel better about ourselves. We eat custom ordered meals catering to our taste buds. We live in houses that are complete with all of our toys and technologies that make us feel successful. We are engaged in social media platforms in which we promote ourselves, share our opinions, and broadcast our lives. Notice the emphasis on ‘our’. It is mainly about us.

The Church (globally) was designed to be the total opposite.

The Church was not established for us or even centered on us. Quite contrary, our push, toil, and sacrifices for The Church should be much larger than our own preferences, tastes, and views.

When The Church was founded we were provided with a clear understanding of Who the focus should be on. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus announces, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (KJV)”

Have you ever noticed that Jesus didn’t say ‘our church’?

The entire structure, approach, and focus of the church would be drastically different if He would have announced, “our church”
We would:
A) Have people attend church for only what they can get out of it versus making personal sacrifices in order to reach up for Christ.
B) Have sermons that are self-seeking and self-serving versus sermons that highlight the character of God, the work of Christ, and the work of Christ in the life of each believer.
C) Have disciples of Christ focus all of their prayers on their own problems and predicaments and force their will on God versus praying in a way that allows God to dictate the conversation and impart His Will into them.
D) Have church attendees only give for tax purposes or to get bigger and better toys versus giving with a heart to see God’s kingdom and kingdom work expanded.
E) Church leaders would push their own agendas and preferences and ignore and demean those without titles versus Church leaders promoting unity and selflessness with a servants’ heart and Christ-mindset.

This would be the outcome if the statement was “our”. But Jesus was the Master Teacher. He knew what the result would be of the miscalculation of one simple word. Instead, He said, “my”. Quite simply, it is “His Church”.

The result then is that:
A) Every service is about Him.
B) Every program is about Him.
C) Every ministry is about Him.
D) Every worship experience is about Him.
E) The finances are about Him.
F) The vision is about Him.
G) The buildings are about Him.
H) The people are about Him.
Anything else is about us.

Scripture of the Day: "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ." - 1 Corinthians 3:11

Monday, April 16, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Would a Christian church call Jesus for its pastor?

Would a Christian church call Jesus for its pastor?
Here is his resume.
While he never murdered, raped, robbed, accosted or otherwise committed a felony crime, he was executed as a common criminal. He never swindled, cheated or got a speeding or parking ticket as far as we know. He did break the Blue Law by working on the Sabbath to feed the hungry. He probably committed a couple of misdemeanors when he turned the tables over in the temple and withered the fig tree, and maybe even more when he drowned 2,000 pigs. But, execution? What did he do to deserve such a fate?
The religious establishment accused him of heresy and the civil authorities accused him of treason or, at least, of being a troublemaker. What did he do to deserve such judgment?
Well, he never married. He was a partygoer, seemingly never missed a good party, often with publicans and sinners. He made wine. He befriended the outcast, related to women on level grounds, helped and extolled the poor, and wanted to free the prisoners and turn the other cheek from war. He gave away his cloak. He made only 12 appointments, one of which was fraught with intrigue and conspiracy. He seemed to say the ends justify the means. His economic values included paying the same wages regardless of hours worked and a return on investments. His fellowship of believers held everything in common. He was a faith healer.
He was pretty critical of the church leaders for not doing the same, telling them they didn't have a chance of making a passing grade. He was also fairly tough on the wealthy; they, too, did not grade well.
He taught in parables so the people would listen but not understand and informed his closest companions in secret. He was very clear in his instructions to not pray in church or in public to be seen but to pray in your room with the door closed. He clearly supported separation of church and state and fidelity to both.
He walked the dusty rural roads and the cobbled city streets and addressed human needs wherever they were and that got him entangled in a host of social, political and economic issues. He was relevant. He ministered at the point where faith meets life. He tried to build a kingdom based on this model.
For doing so, the letters to the editor questioned and criticized him daily. He clearly had church, politics and the poor all jumbled up. His associations and lifestyle were questionable. He was not widely popular.
With this record, would your church call Jesus as pastor? What would happen to attendance? Contributions? Would he make so many members so mad so quickly with his theology, priorities, lifestyle and involvements that the church would be threatened?
Or, maybe, just maybe, there are churches that would call Jesus as pastor -- churches that have called pastors who model Jesus and with members who support that model. Should we seek and find and join that church and follow and support that pastor? 
Or, should we write another letter to the editor questioning the pastor's faith and the church's calling and, thereby, challenging the Jesus model?
Why not crucifixion? Would we, are we, doing it again? Surely, hopefully, not. Even so, he would love and forgive us anyway, knowing we know not what we do. That is the Jesus model.

Reprinted from an article in Sunday’s The Birmingham News . Click Here to read whole article.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Good Friday or Good Wednesday?

Traditionally, people have believed Jesus died on a Friday–it’s been called Good Friday, and that He was buried late Friday afternoon. By Sunday morning, 36 hours later, the tomb was empty. There are several difficulties with this scenario, and with a closer examination of scripture, it appears unlikely that Jesus was crucified on a Friday. Let’s answer the question:

Did Jesus die on Good Friday or Good Wednesday?

Here are several facts to consider:
(1) The Bible never says Jesus was crucified on Friday– only on a day before the Sabbath. Since Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath, an assumption was made that the crucifixion appeared on a Friday. The idea of Holy Week including Good Friday is part of the Roman Catholic Church calendar that has been around for many centuries–it includes the dates for Ash Wednesday and a Lenten season as well. The terms “Ash Wednesday” “Lenten” or “Good Friday” never appear in the Bible. Since Ash Wednesday begins Lent, Fat Tuesday and the Mardi Gras excess is all connected to this church calendar as well.

We often follow tradition without stopping to consider what the Bible really says. You may be wondering, “If Jesus was crucified on a day before the Sabbath, what other option than Friday is there?”

(2) During Passover week there is a “high Sabbath” that occurs on the day of the month (14,15 Nissan–Leviticus 23:4-8) NOT necessarily on Saturday. Saturday was the regular Sabbath, but during Passover there was a special Sabbath. Passover started on a day of the month–14 Nissan–not a day of the week. The first full day of Passover was to be a special Sabbath in which no work was to be done. So during Passover this special “Sabbath” could fall on any day of the week–not just Saturday. Some of our American holidays fall on the same day of the week every year–Labor Day and Thanksgiving are two examples. But many holidays like July 4 and Christmas occur on dates on the calendar so they can fall on any day of the week. Prior to A.D. 325, Easter was celebrated on different days of the week to coincide with the Jewish Passover, therefore there was not a “Good Friday” before that time. In A.D. 325 Constantine the Great, the first Roman emperor to be converted to Christianity convened the Council of Nicaea that issued the Easter Rule, which stated that Easter shall be celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox.
John states Jesus was crucified before this special Sabbath, not the day before the regular weekly Sabbath. “Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.” (John 19:31)

In Matthew 28:1, the Greek text says the women arrived at the tomb “after the Sabbaths.”

But the main reason it is unlikely Jesus was crucified on Friday is because:

(3) Jesus spoke of being in the grave for three days and three nights.
Jesus predicted that after three days, He would be resurrected. Jesus predicted: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:40) Now, either Jesus told a lie, was mistaken, or He was correct in predicting He would be buried for three full days and three nights.

The problem with Good Friday is that it doesn’t allow for this scripture to be fulfilled. You cannot squeeze three days and three nights between a Friday crucifixion and Sunday resurrection. People who defend the Good Friday tradition claim He was in the tomb “parts” of three days. Figure it out for yourself. If He was crucified on Friday afternoon and gone by Sunday morning that’s only 36 hours. Three days and three nights equal 72 hours. No matter how you try to explain it, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t get three days and three nights between a Friday crucifixion and a Sunday resurrection.

The Jews counted days from sunset to sunset: It gets a little confusing to us because our days begin at midnight, but when the sun set, the Jews started a new day. For instance, today in Jerusalem when Friday night rolls around, it’s already the Sabbath. But by sunset on Saturday night, the Sabbath is over and Sunday has already begun. So based on all these factors, it seems likely Jesus was crucified on Wednesday.

Here’s what the time line would be: 
On Wednesday, Jesus was hung on the cross at 9 a.m. and died at about 3 p.m. He was killed at the same day and time as the Old Testament Passover Lamb presented in the book of Exodus. The Jews took the bodies down before the sun set because Thursday (15 Nissan) was the special Passover Sabbath (the Feast of Unleavened Bread (see Lev.23). So Thursday was night one and day one in the tomb; Friday was night two and day two; Saturday (the weekly Sabbath) was night three and day three in the Tomb. When the women arrived before dawn on Sunday, Jesus was already gone. They were informed by the Angel of God, “He is Risen, He is not here!”

What’s the point? Am I going to start an anti-Good Friday society? No. But I believe in being true to the Word of God, especially when we have any tradition that is not based on the Word. It is important to know all scripture is fulfilled to the letter, and Jesus did spend three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

What do you think Good Friday or Good Wednesday?

As you think about it, pause and thank God Jesus suffered and died for us, was buried and rose again for our justification.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Easter Bunny Jokes..... just for fun

Why does the Easter bunny have a shiny nose? His powder puff is on the wrong end.

Is it true that bunnies have good eyesight? Well you never see a bunny wearing glasses, do you?

What is the difference between a crazy bunny and a counterfeit banknote? One is bad money and the other is a mad bunny!

Why did the Easter egg hide? He was a little chicken!

Why did a fellow rabbit say that the Easter Bunny was self-centered? Because he was eggo-centric!

Why is a bunny the luckiest animal in the world? It has four rabbits' feet

What do you get when you cross a bunny with an onion? A bunion

What did the bunny want to do when he grew up? Join the Hare Force.

What do you call a bunny with a large brain? Egghead!

What does a bunny use when it goes swimming? A hare-net.

How do you make a rabbit stew? Make it wait for three hours!

What did the grey rabbit say to the blue rabbit? Cheer up!

What do you get when you pour hot water down a rabbit hole? A hot cross bunny.

How do you post a bunny? Hare mail

How does the Easter Bunny say Happy Easter? Hoppy Easter

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Don’t Give Up

“Here is a call for the endurance of the saints” (Revelation 14:12). We all long for rest and refreshment. That’s a God-given longing that he promises to fulfill: “I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish” (Jeremiah 31:25). And in a very real way Jesus gives rest to “all who labor and are heavy laden” and come to him (Matthew 11:28). But in this age, it is not the complete rest. In this age, Jesus grants us the gospel rest of ceasing the impossible labor of self-atonement for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). But in embracing the gospel we find ourselves also drafted into a war — a war to keep believing the gospel and a war to spread it to others. In this age we “strive to enter that [complete] rest” of the age to come (Hebrews 4:11). And wars are exhausting — especially long ones. That’s why you are often tired. Most soldiers who experience the fierceness of combat want to get out of it. That’s why you feel urges to escape or surrender. That’s why there are times you’re tempted to give up. But don’t give up. No, rather “take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded” (2 Chronicles 15:7). Don’t give up when that familiar sin, still crouching at your door after all these years, pounces again with temptation. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13). Don’t give up when you feel that deep soul weariness from long battles with persistent weaknesses. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:8–9). Don’t give up when your long prayed-for prayers have not yet been answered. And he told them [the parable of the persistent widow] to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1). Don’t give up when the devil’s fiery darts of doubt land and make you reel. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day…in all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one (Ephesians 6:13,16). Do not give up when the fragmenting effect of multiple pressures seems relentless. But as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger . . . (2 Corinthians 6:4–5). Do not give up when the field the Lord has assigned you to is hard and the harvest does not look promising: And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9) Do not give up when you labor in obscurity and you wonder how much it even matters. Your Father who sees in secret will reward you (Matthew 6:4). Do not give up when your reputation is damaged because you are trying to be faithful to Jesus. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account (Matthew 5:11). Do not give up when waiting on God seems endless. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:30–31) Don’t give up when you have failed in sin. Don’t wallow. Repent (again), get your eyes off yourself and back on Jesus, get up and get back in the fight. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9); if we are faithless, he remains faithful — for he cannot deny himself (2 Timothy 2:13). Jesus knows your works (Revelation 2:2) and he understands the war (Hebrews 12:3). “Fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). Finish the race (2 Timothy 4:7). “By your endurance you will gain your lives” (Luke 21:19). Don’t give up. ________ Previous posts from Jon Bloom —

Friday, March 9, 2012

Finish the Devil’s Sermons

Came across this article ...Finish the Devil’s Sermons by Steven Furtick and thought it worthy to repost on my blog. As you navigate the story that is unfolding in your life, you’ll be quick to find that discouragement is everywhere. It seems that the harder you run after God, the harder the devil is going to try to prevent you from getting where you’re going. And all he really has to do to trip us up is drop one little hint of discouragement in our ears. You’re unworthy. You’re a terrible father. You’ll never be any better than this. He’s said it to me and I know that he’s said it to you. The worst part is, the devil doesn’t necessarily speak in complete lies. He gives us half-truths with just enough reality to hit us between the eyes. But here’s an easy way that you can overcome those conniving schemes: Finish the devil’s sermons. It’s simple. The devil is only giving you half of the truth—give him the other half. Yes, I am unworthy. I am absolutely nothing without Christ. But thankfully, He died so that I may become a new creation, void of you and full of the purpose that He has for my life. No, I may not be a perfect father, but I am loved unconditionally by a perfect father who breathed the stars yet knows the number of hairs on my head. And He’s making me more like Him every day. You’re right. on my own accord, I can’t do any better than this. But I am not doing this by myself—I serve the LORD, who is able to do immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine. You don’t have to be Charles Spurgeon to preach the devil out of your life. The name of Jesus alone is enough to send your enemy running for the hills. The devil will always try to show you the downside of your story. Make him pay. Show him who Jesus says you are.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Origin of Right and Left

"Origin of Left and Right" 'I have often wondered why it is that Conservatives are called the "right" and Liberals are called the "left." ' By chance I stumbled upon this verse in the Bible: "The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." Ecclesiastics 10:2 (NIV) Thus sayeth the Lord. Amen. Can't get any simpler than that. Spelling Lesson The last four letters in American..........I Can The last four letters in Republican.......I Can The last four letters in Democrats.........Rats End of lesson. Test to follow in November, 2012 Remember, November is to be set aside as rodent extermination month.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I Am A Church Member

 I repost today's blog by Thom Rainer entitled "I Am A Church Member"

I am a church member.
I will seek to be a source of unity in the church. I know there are no perfect pastors, staff, or other church members. But neither am I. I will not be a source of gossip or dissension. One the greatest contributions I can make is to do all I can in God’s power to help keep the church in unity for the sake of the gospel.

I am a church member.

I will not let my church be about my preferences and desires. That is self-serving. I am in this church to serve others and to serve Christ. My Savior went to a cross for me. I can deal with any inconveniences and matters that are just not my preference or style.

I am a church member.

I will pray for my pastor every day. His work is never-ending. His days are filled with constant demands for his time; with the need to prepare sermons; with those who are rejoicing in births; with those who are traveling through the valley of the shadow of death; with critics; with the hurts and hopes of others; and with the need to be a husband and a father. My pastor cannot serve our church in his own power. I will pray for God’s strength for him and his family every day.

I am a church member.

I like the metaphor of membership. It’s not membership as in a civic organization or a country club. It’s the kind of membership given to us in 1 Corinthians 12: “Now you are the body of Christ and individual members of it” (I Corinthians 12:27). Because I am a member of the body of Christ, I must be a functioning member, whether I am an “eye,” an “ear,” or a “hand.” As a functioning member, I will give. I will serve. I will minister. I will evangelize. I will study. I will seek to be a blessing to others. I will remember that “if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26).

I am a church member.

I will lead my family to be good members of this church as well. We will pray together for our church. We will worship together in our church. We will serve together in our church. And we will ask Christ to help us fall deeper in love with this church, because He gave His life for her.

I am a church member.

This membership is a gift. When I received the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, I became a part of the body of Christ. I soon thereafter identified with a local body and was baptized. And now I am humbled and honored to serve and to love others in our church. I pray that I will never take my membership for granted, but see it as a gift and an opportunity to serve others, and to be a part of something so much greater than any one person or member.

I am a church member.

And I thank God that I am.