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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Certainty?

For the last couple of days I have been reading in John 11, today the “assignment” was 17 – 27.  I read further at least through 39.  Note that Mary and Martha make identical statement to Christ in verses 21 and 32, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”  They were certain that Jesus could have made a difference; they were also certain He should have…
There are a lot of time I am certain that God should act or should have acted on my behalf...  When I think like that I am placing my agenda above His...
It is not possible for me to count the number of times I have approached the Lord with that same argument.  Lord, if You only __________, __________ would not have happened.  When I do what Mary and Martha did, I, like them, have placed my needs, and desires ahead of His.  I am demanding the Lord to engage on my terms and on my schedule for my purposes.  That does not seem to be His MO.  Note that the reason Jesus did not come when Mary and Martha wanted Him to come is explicitly stated in verse 42.  He had His reasons.  There was a purpose.

The thing I have to remember is that when He does not __________, and __________ happens, there is a reason.  A reason that aligns with His agenda.  My agenda is not the determining factor.  This is not my story.

It is His.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Doubt?

Thomas, who is called Didymus, gets a fairly bad rap from most of us.  We hung him with the “doubting” moniker after all.  We do not have a lot of data on him; we have less on others of the twelve.  John records three things that Thomas said in his gospel.  The one most of us know is John 20:25, thus the “doubting” label.  But there are two more.  John 11:16 and John 14:5.
Most of us think of Thomas as a doubter, but there is much more there under the hood...
Focus for a minute on John 11:16.  When I read this again just now, I was challenged out of my socks.  Look at the context.  Jesus has just told the twelve that Lazarus has died and that He is heading to Judea to deal with Lazarus’ “sleep.”  The twelve remind Him, unnecessarily, that those folks are not real fans.  Jesus is not deterred.  Going there is walking into a maelstrom of hate, with probable death as an outcome; this is not a casual trip.  All of them knew the danger.  It is into this reality that Thomas speaks, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”  Doubt?  I am ashamed that I rarely have that attitude.  Most of the time I am more concerned with how an action is going to affect my reputation, or my bank account, much less my life.  The commitment to go with Christ wherever He is leading without regard for my well being but rather living out a passion to be with Him is not my default response.

I would do really well to be more like Thomas.

PS. It looks to me as if Thomas is “all in.”  The thing that is intriguing to me is the journey that took him from here to what he says in 14:5 and finally to the scene in 20:24 – 29.  It is interesting that his questions were setups for some highly significant statements by the Savior.  The other thing that is causing me to expend brain time is how Thomas’ statements contribute to John’s purpose in the gospel.  How does Thomas reflect both the undercurrent of love and reveal that Christ is the Son of God?

Food for thought.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Looking for... 4

Intermittently we have been looking at some things that will help us observe more in our Bible study.  We have said that repetition is and important clue to what is important to the writer.  Further, we stated that we need to look beyond the repetition to see how the word or phase is used or modified as it is repeated.  Let me illustrate...
When a writer changes the way they repeat a term or concept we need to pay attention...
Look at John 15:1-16 again.  Look at how many times the word "fruit" occurs.  In the NASB I count eight occurrences.  But look at the words that modify or describe fruit in the text:
Verse Description
2 does not bear fruit
bears fruit
bear more fruit
4 bear fruit
5 much fruit
8 much fruit
16 bear fruit
would remain fruit

John's repetition and description of fruit in this passage is a rich source both of observation and of questions we can ask the text.  Questions like:
"What is said about abiding and fruit that is similar?  Different?
"What is the relationship between abiding and fruit?"
"What is the fruit to which Jesus is referring here?  What are the options?"

To give you one more taste of this, look at 2 Peter 1:1-10.  Note the word "knowledge."  In the NASB it occurs five times.  Look at how it is modified:
VerseDescription
2 knowledge
3 true knowledge
5 knowledge
6 knowledge
8 true knowledge

The way Peter changes the way he modifies "knowledge" here raises at least one question, "Is there a difference between 'knowledge' and 'true knowledge?'"  Here another skill can come into play.  Even if you do not know Greek, you can check it and increase your observations...  But this is getting long, we will explore how to check Greek easily in the next "Looking for..." post.

Other posts in this series:
  1. Looking for…What?
  2. Looking for… 2
  3. Looking for... 3

Monday, February 25, 2013

Good Book?

What makes a good book?  The answer for me is it makes me think.  I read a lot.  I read fast at the peak about 200 pages per hour.  Good books slow me down, a lot.

The first was Peters and Waterman, In Search of Excellence.  The second was Senge's, The Fifth Discipline.  The one now is Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become?  Going through those books I would read a sentence or two and would have to put the book down and think through how to use what I was reading.  All of those books are business books.  My application was being more effective in ministry.
What makes a good book, other than the Bible that is...
I thought it was weird that I was getting so much direction in ministry thinking from business books until I took Dr. Hendrick’s leadership course in seminary.  He stated that the best research on leadership was being done in the business literature.  He encouraged us to read broadly in that genre.  He validated what I had seen and I have not looked back.

So what is a good book?  One that challenges your thinking, one that suggests action that you see you can take immediately.  I have a stable of authors that do that for me now, Kotter, Gladwell, Godin, to name a few.  All these are filtered through the hours of Bible study I do each week.  But as I have written before, truth shows up where it does, Matthew 5:45.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Warriors

I was in a church a while back that appears to be dying.  Looking around the meeting room the place was about 70% empty.  I have some familiarity with this place having visited on a number of occasions.  I have heard at least 5 speakers there; 2 or 3, were fill ins after the group had either fired or run off the leader.  The last time I was there, another “guest” speaker was to lead the group.
Where is the battle that we are supposed to fight, and how are we supposed to fight it?
I have been in enough of those situations to have a fairly good handle on what is going on behind the scenes.  There is a group of people usually those who are supporting the group financially, who are more interested in keeping things the way they are, the way that is comfortable for them, familiar to them, than they are the purpose of the group.  As I looked around at the faces of the people that were there, I was pondering the questions, “Is this the best this group can do?  Is this all that Christianity has to offer?”  I wanted to stand on my chair and scream, “NO!”
The guest speaker then opened his Bible and essentially told those people what I was thinking.  He did it in much gentler terms than I would have.  He exhorted the group to raise Christ and to get out of the way of people trying to find Christ.  Great message.  He was fighting the status quo.  He was a warrior to bring them back to what was important, what was needed to move forward.  It reminded me of William Wallace’s exhortation in Braveheart.  It was a great example of a warrior charging the field.  Apparently not all warriors paint their faces blue... 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Subtle Trap

For those of us that lead others in the Bible, and that should be all of us, Hebrews 5:11 - 14, there is a subtle trap.  Studying for others.
Those who preach and teach to others, have to make sure that we meet with God as we study to teach others.
We work hard at lessons and messages.  We work to make sure that we communicate what we have found in the Word.  That is important.  But it is not as important as being transformed by our study.

We are exhorted to be ready to preach the Word, 2 Timothy 4:1 - 2.  But we are also told that we are to be transformed, Romans 12:2; and we are expected to apply the Word to our lives, James 1:22.

It is really easy to focus on prep to teach and speak and forget that the real assignment is to meet with Christ through His Word, and thus be transformed by the experience.

Don't forget.

Friday, February 22, 2013

I have to Understand?

Tuesday morning a few of us were talking about – well the specifics do not matter.  During the conversation one of the guys was struggling with synthesizing several passages of Scripture.  In doing so he stated tentative conclusions that would have at a core level redefined the relationship between Christ and God.  We talked that through bringing other passages of Scripture to bear.  We did not resolve the tension he felt, in fact we probably heightened it, because we determined that his answer did not align with passages of Scripture we clearly understood.
What do I do with things in the Bible I do not understand?
It occurred to me that my friend’s struggle is a common one.  Common, especially for those of us who are committed to following the Word of God practically in our lives, we really want to understand, we are passionate about it.  That passion sometimes overwhelms truth.

In our passionate demand to understand sometimes we will either force connections between concepts in Scripture, or in the extreme judge passages of scripture as not worthy of study, or that they are really not part of the Bible.  Passages that do not line up with current cultural “norms” are explained away as applying to older unenlightened cultures and no longer relevant (if you need examples of this ask).  I know of one leader who has taught that all one needs for the Christian life is the gospels largely because the rest of the New Testament is difficult for those whom he leads to understand.  So rather than encouraging them to engage at a different level, he discards most of the New Testament.  He is not the first.  Martin Luther struggled with James, calling it a right strawy epistle; wondering if it should be in the canon.

If it is the case that the Bible is the Word of God, every stroke of the pen inspired by the Holy Spirit as it says it is, then we do well not to force our understanding, our cultural norms, our concept of God on it.  Rather if there are passages we cannot reconcile, we would be better served by living with that tension knowing that our understanding of an infinite God is finite.  Not to do so, has been the breeding ground for all heresy.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Looking for... 3

You have probably heard the adage, “If you see a “therefore” in the Bible you have to look and see what it is there for.”  (Note: I wrote about this earlier here and here.)  “Therefore” typically indicates that what follows is the result of what came before.  It is a literary sign post, a marker that an author uses to construct his argument.
What else can we look for in Bible study?  Repeated signposts - what's that?
“Therefore” is not the only word like that.  “If” is another; most times but not always it is accompanied by a following “then.”  Sometimes the “then” is implied.  That combination indicates condition and the result of a condition.  Here is a list of words that are also signposts.

A few days ago we talked about repetition.  The emphasis there was on words or terms.  When you combine repetition with signposts it gives you a lot to observe and ask questions.  Take a look at 1 John 1.  One of the sign posts above is repeated five times.  What questions does that raise for you?

Other posts in this series:
  1. Looking for…What?
  2. Looking for… 2

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dr. Howard Hendricks, Prof

What will be the impact of your life?  This man leaves a legacy that spans 6 decades impacting 100s of thousands of lives.  This morning he heard, Well done...
One of my mentors, Dr. Howard Hendricks, for most of us known as Prof, went home this morning.  I would be criminally remiss not to honor his Lord for him today.  Most of what you read here is either directly or indirectly a result of his ministry in my life; first through cassette tapes, then tracking down his class notes from one of his former students, reading his books, then taking every course he taught at Dallas, grading his leadership course for three years, getting the opportunity to travel with he and his wife, meeting with him at New Life Ranch at a critical transition time in our lives, finally his continual impact on my family as my son listens to the same messages on mp3 that I listened to on cassette tape in the 70’s.

I am deeply honored to have had the privilege to have known and worked for him.  I am forever changed by his passion for God’s Word and the building up of men in women in that Book.  To say that he will be missed is a horrendous understatement.

Thank you Lord for your choice servant.  Thank you for his life and ministry.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Transforming...?

Starting to write this I am pulled in about four directions.  There is much that has happened in the past day or so on which I am currently chewing.  But an e-mail and facebook post sealed the deal…

The e-mail was to a group of men with which I meet on a semi regular basis.  We have similar ministry interests, some common experiences, and common friends.  We touch base from time to time to encourage one another on our various journeys.  In the past we have read and discussed a book or two that related to our interests.  The e-mail this morning was suggesting a book that we might read and discuss.  By the way it appears to be a good book.  I had suggested that we do a Bible study together on a topic that relates to our common goals.  It looks like that may be voted down for this book.  That is OK, but…
Reading about the Bible will not transform our lives.  It is only as we are in the Word ourselves that the living Word will change us...
At the end of January I wrote about the power of the Word of God in bringing people to Christ.  That brings me to the facebook post.  It was from John Piper’s ministry Desiring God.  It tells the story of a lesbian who comes to Christ by reading the Bible.  I was personally blown away by the story.  I highly recommend that whatever your current views on the origins of homosexuality you take a moment to read this post.  But her story is not the real one here.

Transformation of our lives into conformity to Christ is not possible apart from the Word of God.  As good as some of (strong emphasis on some, just because something is printed does not mean it is true – stark example of that this morning in a discussion during a Bible study this morning, I digress) the available Christian literature, books about the Bible or by Christians on a topic in the Bible are, they do not transform our lives.  They can only point readers to the source.  It is only as one spends time in the source the Word, that their lives will be transformed.

I like books.  My wife would probably suggest I am obsessed with them.  there are about 30 around by desk right now in various stages of being read and I am working through two on my iPad.  But those books will only change me as I compare and contrast them to the Word of God.  It is in that crucible that I am transformed.  I fear that too many of us are settling for the leavings of others and not engaging in the Word ourselves.

That being said I will join with the group in whatever they decide.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Looking for... 2

Three days ago I started an intermittent series on what to look for in Bible study.  The best Bible students are best because they are looking for the right things.  The second thing one should look for is repetition.  Repeated words, phrases, structural elements (more on structure in a later post), literary devices (again, more on this later), concepts, or themes.  Repetition is like the teacher pounding their foot on the ground at the front of the class to let you know something is going to be on the test…  It is a primary means of emphasis.
Repetition in a passage of Scripture is a clue to what is important in that passage.
We will start with a word.  For this example we will stay in John.  Remember from the last post John 13 – 17 is an emphasis for John.  The middle of a section is sometimes the key of the section, not always but it is worth looking at.  In this case John 15 is in the middle of this section.  For most believers this is a very familiar section of scripture.  Read through it and look for repeated words.

If you have the NASB like the picture above you counted 10 times the word abide in verses 1 – 16.  In verse 16 you see I highlighted the word “remain.”  That is because it is the same root word in Greek, meno (μένω).  So 11 times in these 16 verses the Holy Spirit, through John, repeated the idea of "abide."  That is a lot.  It suggests that the concept may be important in John 15.

What else do you see repeated in this chapter?  Also look for differences in the way words are repeated, that is are they modified differently as the passage progresses?  Looking for repetition will unlock some major themes for you as you study your Bible.

More of what to look for coming.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Fire your Pastor!

Do not allow him to tell you what to believe anymore!  Really.  Why?  It is your responsibility.  When you stand before God he is not going to ask you what your pastor thinks or believes, he is going to ask you what you think and believe.  God isn't interested on how close your pastor walks with Him – He is interested in how close you walk with Him.
Your pastor's job is not to walk with God for you - FIRE HIM!
It does not matter how deeply your pastor studies the Word of God, it matters how deeply you do.  It does not matter how much the pastor shares his faith, it matters how much you do.

Our pastors are not intended to be surrogates for our walk with God, or our service for God.  It is our responsibility.

If you do not know how to study the Bible, pray, share your faith, find someone who can show you how.  Your pastor leaps to mind, that is what Ephesians 4:11 – 13 says he is supposed to be doing.  But if he is doing it for you – FIRE HIM.  Do it yourself.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sorcerers, Witches, Astrologers, and Us

You may, as a believer, not think that there are those who are practicing the list in the title of this post.  Or you may think that those that claim to practice these things are deluded.  According to Isaiah 47 you would be wrong.
There may be a connection between those who practice sorcery and the attitude of some believers...
These are alternatives to the worship of God that the Holy Spirit documents in Isaiah 47.  In verse 9 the great power of the spells are acknowledged.  If you read through the chapter you will note that the end of these folks is not something that one would choose, but during their time on earth there is some power and success they enjoy.

It is interesting to me that one of the phrases repeated by the Holy Spirit through Isaiah in 47:8 and 10 is, “I am, and there is no one besides me.”  That is the statement of those whom Isaiah is describing, those who practice sorcery, witchcraft, astrology, it is the statement of one who is terminally self-absorbed.  The world revolves around them and them alone.  I know people like this, who do not claim to be any of these things.  In fact they claim to be followers of Christ.

Philippians 2:1 – 18 is pretty clear.  Self centeredness and following Christ are incompatible.  With Isaiah placing that attitude on a par with sorcery, witchcraft, and astrology, I am challenged to take stock…

Friday, February 15, 2013

Looking for... What?

Driving down to see my dad last weekend I listened to 12 messages on Bible study by Prof Hendricks – I know.  One of the things he said in a couple of the messages is that the only difference between a good Bible student and one who is struggling is that the good student sees more than the one struggling.  One reason, the good student knows the thing for which he supposed to be looking.  He’s right.
The amount of space given to a topic in a book of a Bible is a clue to its importance.
So I thought sprinkled in the next few weeks I will give you some things for which you might look in your Bible study.  The first is proportion…

That means the amount of space given to a topic or an event.  The more space in relation to the total work, the more important that which is being shared by the author is.  For example the 21 chapters of the gospel of John cover about 3.5 years of Jesus’ life.  Chapters 13 – 17 cover about 6 hours.  That is about .096% of Jesus’ life yet John devotes 23.8% of his gospel to that six hours.  That might suggest it is important.  You would need to validate that importance during your study, but the sheer weight of the proportion calls attention to that section of the gospel.

More to look for in later posts.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sovereign Love

“The cancer is stage IV, if not treated, six months.”
When your loved ones face challenges, terminal ones, where is God in that?
Three weeks earlier we celebrated his 90th birthday with 76 of dad’s friends.  Now my dad was telling me that the piece of chicken that got stuck during the meal revealed this news.  Untreated he said, prognosis was six months.  Treated, well there are too many variables.

He is a strong 90.  Still plays golf.  Other than this stage IV cancer he is strong as an ox.

Yesterday I shared that Word, specifically, studies on the sovereignty and love of God got me through some pretty tough challenges that started in the early 80’s – let me be clear, those studies were the bed rock but we were continually in the Word of God in study since then…

The thing I am learning through this – thus far is that it is much easier for me to deal with my challenges with the knowledge of God’s love an sovereignty than it is to watch my dad go through this.  Nevertheless, his challenge, like mine, is under those umbrellas.  For me it is learning to trust and accept at an entirely different level.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Survival Essential

There was two of him.  A second before there wasn’t.  As I was watching him ski down the slope the student I was skiing with split into two identical people.  I was pretty sure he wasn't a twin.  Being the astute observer that I am, I said to myself, “Something’s wrong.”  The rest of the day skiing and the drive home from Ashville to Knoxville was interesting.
You think Bible study is a good thing to do?  Wrong.  It is survival.
The next morning everything was back together again – well at least until halfway through the 10:00 AM service, at which point I was suddenly looking at two preachers.  Hmm, to which one of these guys should I listen?

Four years, seven operations, and multiple weeks in hospitals later – we still did not know what caused it or what it was.  The next to last operation was four days after our third child was born.  I will not go into details but suffice it to say I do not remember much of that year from July to December.

Twice the docs told my wife I had cancer.  I did not.  The night before the first surgery my wife and my new born first son were at home, I knew the next morning when they asked me to count backward I would wake up either in heaven or recovery… praying through that it was ok.  The next to last time I was 4 hours away from my wife my 4 year old son, my 2 year old daughter, and my new born son… knowing that when I counted backwards… I was less ok.

Just before this started I was studying the Sovereignty of God with a close friend and ministry partner in Knoxville.  We had already studied the Love of God together.  Until this started the study was intriguing, challenging, and at some level academic.  Those studies sustained me through this journey.

We sometimes approach Bible study as something good to do, sort of like getting a spiritual merit badge.  It is intriguing, it is interesting, probably should look into it… good idea for those who are really committed, I will get to that after…

Trust me.  In this life, if you claim to be a follower of Christ, it is critically essential.  It is the only thing that got me through 1981 – now.  The seven operations were a cake walk to some of the things that followed.  Certainly easier than what we are facing now.

Do not put it off another day.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Power Revisited

Yesterday we asked if the power with which Paul shared the gospel in 1 Thessalonians was in manifestations of the Spirit that is signs and wonders, or something more pedestrian.  I suggested that the context suggested that it was the way Paul conducted himself as he engaged with the Thessalonians.
The power of a life totally given to others cannot be over stated.
There seems to be evidence of this in 1 Thessalonians 2:8.  Spend some time thinking through the import of that verse.  Look particularly at the heart attitude of Paul toward those with whom he is engaged.  He is not only all in, but he is all in with all of his heart, his life.

This is not something that Paul does as a component of his life to balance out his existence.  No, this is his focus.  Intense focus.  No wonder it was powerful.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Power


1 Thessalonians 1:5 is an intriguing verse.  I have, up to this point read it to mean what most of my signs and wonders friends have suggested, that when Paul says that his gospel came with "power" he was referring to exceptional demonstrations of the Holy Spirit, miracles.  Reading through that this morning, and certainly interested in receiving a miracle, I am not so sure that is what Paul is saying.
Is the power of the gospel miracles or is it the changed lives of men?
Look at the last portion of the verse, "...just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake."  Then if you read through 1 Thessalonians 2, Paul expands the kind of men they were.  It seems like the power may have been in the character and conduct of Paul and his companions.

John 14:35 seems to support this.  What do you think?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Demands of Fellowship

In the Church we talk a lot about fellowship.  In most of the buildings in which we meet there is a fellowship hall.  In that space we spill coffee on each other, listen to each other eat, swap stories about our kids, jobs, wives, husbands, etc.  There are not many events in our churches that we do not label as fellowship.  We are present, we are all believers, we be in fellowship…
Is fellowship just showing up or is there more to it than that?
Not so fast.

I wonder if there is more to this notion of fellowship than just showing up and chatting.  Read through Galatians 6:1 – 10.  Think through how this portion of Galatians fits into the overall purpose of what Paul is telling this group of believers (yeah, you will probably need to read the book a few times to get the sense of that).

It seems to me that there is more to this notion of fellowship than just showing up.  The sense I am getting from Galatians 6:1 – 10.  Is that I need to bring something, something good.  I bear a responsibility to bring the depth of my relationship with Christ and the work that He has done in my life into that time.

What do you see?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Truth about the Tension between Science and the Bible

There is none.
What is the tension between science and the Bible?
The Bible directs scientific inquiry and scientific method has its root in theological method.  As a starting place on this take a look at Psalm 19.  Verses 1 – 6 suggest that the study of the heavens reveals the work of God, tacitly encouraging this line of study.  Verses 7 – 14 follow telling us that the study of the Word of God also reveals the handiwork of God.  Both lines of inquiry lead to the same place a better understanding of who God is and what He has done.

Tension occurs when scientific method is not followed.  Specifically when inquiry starts with refusal both acknowledge and hold one’s presuppositions tentatively.  Proper application of both theological and scientific method requires the acknowledgement and testing of one’s prejudice.  The only tension between the science and the Bible occurs when that base tenet is ignored.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Timely

Have you ever been really down?  I mean down at the level of despair.  Not totally fossilized but close.  Motivated to do nothing much more that practice being a lump.  I was pretty much there this morning.  I have a habit of reading the Bible each day.  I have mentioned before that I have been using the morning and evening readings from the Book of Common Prayer for the past several years.  This morning the first verse the BCP directed me to was Psalm 75:1.  As I read the passage I literally laughed out loud.
I have found that the Bible pierces darkness in my life in a timely manner...  That assumes I am in it...
Why?

I have lost count of the number of times I have come to this time in my day struggling with some burden or other and the passage I read lifted that burden or shed light in very dark places.  It happened again this morning.  The timeliness of the way God’s Word engages in my pain is stunning.  Have you experienced that?  In order to, you pretty much have to be in it regularly, even when you do not feel like it.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Spiritual Malpractice Applied


Yesterday I mentioned that I met the result of spiritual malpractice as I defined it.  The reason I think the individual has been the victim of spiritual malpractice is that I am familiar with his background and know some of the core teachings of the “Christian” college he attended.
Bending the Scripture to one's preconceived ideas is spiritual malpractices and can have dire consequences in those who are being taught.
This individual is very intelligent and a driven individual.  He thinks well.  So when someone shares the scripture and his remarks do not align with the plain meaning of the text, it is at best confusing to one who can read, and at worse irrational.  The individual I met the other night fell into the latter category.  He viewed the Bible as a magic book that we as an educated people have grown beyond.

His position is not entirely due to the mishandling of the Word by his teachers, but their approach to the Word, declaring what is plainly said is not what is plainly said, communicates that the Bible is some sort of mystic tome for which one has to have a secret decoder ring.  So this intelligent, rational, being can only come to the conclusion that in order to believe he has to suspend rational thought.  He is not going to do that.  He should not.

His teachers should have done better.  His teachers will give an account, James 3:1 – 2.

Guns, Bibles, and Zip Lines

One of the things that we need to do as men is teach our boys how to be men.  Women cannot do that.  But for the most part, through Sunday school, elementary school, and high school, most of our son's teachers will be women.  A gal cannot teach a boy how to be a guy.
Only a man can teach a boy to be a man...
In order to help you with that Entrusting Truth is presenting its first Fathers and Sons retreat, "Maneuvers: Guns, Bibles, and Zip Lines."  The details are on the event tab above.  Please join us and tell others who have sons about this event.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Spiritual Malpractice

The Sunday school was on – well it was a topic that is central to the Christian life – the teacher was a professor at a local Christian college.  The class was filled with young couples who were the future leaders of the church.  In the four weeks of the class the Bible was not opened.
It is malpractice to teach Christian topics without referencing the Bible or handling the Scripture without care.
The president of a seminary was teaching the Sunday school class.  He was dead on for 3/4ths of the class.  Then at the end of the hour he spun out.  He used faulty logic, including using his authority as president, to explain away the clear statement of the Bible on an issue that he found politically, culturally incorrect.

The conference workshop was on the need for Biblical community.  Great topic.  The workshop leader handed out a sheet that listed the characteristics of a Biblical community.  There was not a Bible verse on the page.

I could go on.

This type of teaching is tantamount to abuse.  In a Christian setting leaders who approach topics in this manner are telling their audience that what they think about the subject is more important than what God has to say about it.  Further, in the case of the seminary president, he is ripping the Bible out of the hands of his class telling them that they need special knowledge to be able to understand and that his take, whether it can be supported by the language of the text or not, is authoritative.  A rational listener to that type of presentation, relegates that type of teaching to the realm of the irrational.

Isaiah 8:20 tells us that those who purport to teach spiritual things apart from the Word of God have no dawn, no light.  I met the result of that type of teaching last night.  I will explain tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Walking into Buzzsaws

There have been a few times in my life, probably more than I like to remember, when I entered into situations that I knew were going to be different and that the outcome would be less than pleasant for me.  A couple involved confronting issues with leadership in various organizations where the rational expectation was that the leadership was not that open to input, and that proved to be the case.  In another situation I was called to deliver difficult, life changing, news to a group of people, I shut down their office.  In all of these situations I found myself spending a great deal of time praying and asking the Lord for wisdom.
Just because we can does not mean we are to take on every issue that comes up...
In some of us there is seems to be predisposition to voluntarily walk into these types of buzzsaws; a compulsion to throw ourselves on the nearest grenade in the name of service to the Lord or our community.  Sometimes, that is what the Lord requires; but perhaps not as often as we are inclined.  John 7:1 challenged me on my inclination to charge into the breach.  Jesus avoided Judea to avoid those who were seeking to kill Him.  As we know later He voluntarily went to Jerusalem to face crucifixion.  What was the difference?  John 5:19 gives us a clue.  Jesus only did what the Father told Him to do.

That seems to be a guide for me as well.  Just because there is a wrong that needs to be addressed does not mean that I am to address it.  Christ did not heal everyone in His path.  He did not raise everyone who died from the grave, He did not grant everyone’s requests.  I need to ask before I volunteer.

Sometimes I don’t.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Who Is Christ? Does It Matter?

The major cults, Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses deny that Christ is God.  The Mormons will concede that He is a God but not equal and one with God the Father.  Both of these groups claim to use the Bible as at least an important basis of their belief system.  That is interesting because to claim that and still hold that Christ was not the same as God the Father requires ignoring large portions of Scripture and the claims of Christ Himself in the Gospels.
In John 5:1 – 18 we have the story of Christ healing at the pool of Bethesda.  The climax to the story is in verse 18.  There the Jews understood that Christ’s actions and words were unmistakable.  He was “making Himself equal with God.”

Why is this important?  Christ’s identity is central to the gospel.  If Christ is not God, Christianity is a sham.  Further, there is no hope to be reconciled to God.  Yeah it is that important.  Your friends, who have bought into other means of reconciliation to God than Christ, are in trouble.  This is not about intolerance or coexistence this is about caring for people.  If you see a stranger about to step off the curb in front of an oncoming bus, you do not engage them in a debate on the merits of the action, you pull them back.  Jude 23 exhorts us to do the same with those who have chosen a wrong path.

Central to that wrong path, is their view of Christ.

By the way those who do not believe Christ is God are not limited to the cults.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

I Will

One of the things that is interesting to chase through Scripture is the phrase, “I will,” specifically in the old testament.  It is usually the preface to one of God’s promises.
Spend some time looking at what God says He will do, note the conditions if any...
To get a sense of this take a look at Ezekiel 34:11 – 16, note all of the things God says He will do.  Note also what conditions if any God puts on those “I will” statements.

I wrote the list in my journal, it may serve you as a prayer or worship starter.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

God's Voice

If you want to have some fun in the Word, take a few minutes and read through Psalm 29, Genesis 1, John 10:27, and Isaiah 30:21.
What can we learn from the Bible about God's voice?
In Psalm 29 write down what is said about the voice of God.

In Genesis 1 write down what God said, that is finish the statement, “then God said…”

Read John 10:27 and Isaiah 30:21 in light of this exercise and record your thoughts.

I will be really interested in what you find.  Please comment below with what you see…

Friday, February 1, 2013

Earthquakes

How do you react when you receive news that radically alters your world?  When the tectonic plates of your life shift, how do you respond?
  • Your company no longer desires your presence
  • A close family member or friend is killed in an accident
  • You or someone close to you is given a life altering diagnosis
How do you respond when your world shifts?
What do we do when our world shifts off its foundation?
Many years ago an aunt gave me a book, The Still Pont in the Turning Universe.  That title of a book gifted to me before I knew the Lord, one of those books I never read, but kept, has stuck with me.  I looked at the book enough to discover that the still point is Christ.  When my world shifts, He is the only refuge.  He is the shelter.  The still point.  In times when my world shifts, Psalm 46:10 draws me to the still point.

2/9/2013 PS. I got the title of the book wrong. It is He Is the Still Point of the Turning World.