Thinking Out Loud

November 19, 2017

Emotional Inventory: A Sunday Confessional

A few years ago at church service we attended, a well known couple in the church — the pastor called them a “power couple” — shared a little of their journey through marriage counseling earlier in the year. It sounds like they were facing some rough challenges, and it would be easy for someone to be smug and say, “Boy, I’m glad our marriage never got to that.”

But then I got thinking about the whole idea of counseling. Some very high profile pastors go to counselors on a regular basis and are very public about it. I’ve never been mostly because I can’t afford it; it would be an expensive luxury given our budget.

What would a counselor find?

As I thought about this I realized that my emotional life is characterized by a number of negative things. I mentally listed seven yesterday, but can only recall five today. I’m going to be very honest with this confession, and this on a blog that tends not to get personal. For simplicity, these are alphabetical:

  • anxiety, apprehension, fear, worry — about health, finances, the children, the health of extended family members, business, etc. (This one concerns me the most, as worry and trusting God are spiritually incompatible.)
  • indecision — not that I can’t make decisions, but I feel like I don’t have a good track record, and therefore I don’t trust myself to make good ones (This one makes it hard to move forward; I tend not to plan things.)
  • isolation — for most of my life I’ve been flying solo in business and ministry projects; it would be nice to play on a large team sometime (This one flares up at the oddest times.)
  • regret — not that I spend a lot of time looking back, but as the song says, “Regrets, I have a few…” (This one probably brings out the greatest sadness, reminding me of another song, “If I Could Turn Back Time.”)
  • rejection — with a common thread to the isolation mentioned above, a lot of projects I’ve tried to start just haven’t clicked with the Christian community (This one just makes me angry, I feel like it’s other peoples’ loss.)

I could flesh these out in greater detail, but basically, these are some things I have been dealing with over the years, and it’s not a very happy list.

But I think it’s a very accurate picture of what lurks beyond the superficial, and while I don’t expect to resolve all these today, by sharing them here, you just saved me a few of the initial counseling sessions! I should also add that my days are not spent focusing inward; I don’t see myself as a candidate for depression, rather, these are themes that are lurking in the background. 

Furthermore, I am a great believer in transparency. I would never want my readers to think that I am something more than I am, or that I have everything together spiritually. James 3:2a notes that “Indeed, we all make many mistakes.” Proverbs 24:16a reminds us that “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.” The conceit of appearing spiritually superior is much more dangerous than confessing one’s inadequacies. I’d much rather write a blog post which says, “These are my spiritual weaknesses;” than write one boasting that “These are my spiritual strengths.”

So now that I’ve left myself emotionally naked and vulnerable today — can’t wait to see what the search engines do with that phrase — does this resonate with any of you? You guys don’t leave a lot of comments, but this would be a good day…

Scripture quotations NLT at BibleHub.com

Advertisements

November 18, 2017

The Relational Quality of a Personal Relationship

Often I think that those of us who comprise “the Church” suffer greatly because language is often inadequate to describe some of the most elementary principles of faith. Much ink (or in the case of the internet, electrons) is used up trying to describe atonement, salvation, the indwelling presence of Christ, or even the subject which returns on a regular cycle much like certain comets: “What is the Gospel?”

Entering into “a personal relationship with Jesus Christ” or “asking Jesus into your heart” or “accepting Jesus as your personal savior” probably means something to most readers here, but we forget how quickly we’re losing our audience if we’re speaking to seekers, skeptics, atheists or agnostics. The quality of “relationship” probably reminds them more of something likely to be encountered on a dating website. (“If you think Jesus would be a good match, swipe right.”)

I believe the idea of relationship serves us better if we think about it visually. Since we can only share with others what we’ve experienced ourselves, let’s aside evangelistic efforts and make this personal. For example…
Relationship between us and God

I am at the front of the room speaking and I invite my wife to come and stand about six feet from me. “What does it mean,” I ask everyone, “to say I am in relationship to Ruth?”

Some of the answers are:

  • “You love each other.”
  • “You have shared history and experiences, that the rest of us don’t know about.”
  • “You are intimate with each other.”

But then I ask her to sit down and invite Mike to come up to the front. Mike and I are not close, I had to ask his permission before this point because we only know each other superficially. I position him in the same spot.

“So again,” I ask, “Where am I in relationship to Mike?”

After a bit of laughter, some dare to come up with something:

  • “You are standing to his right and he is on your left.”

“Let’s go with that,” I respond, “What does that entail?”

  • “He can see you and hear you and knows what you’re doing.”

I start to deliberately creep back from him. “What about now?”

  • “The distance between you can change.”

The first set of answers all have to do with what we normally think of with the word relationship.

The second set of answers could easily involve other words or phrases: Where I am with respect to Mike; Where I am according to Mike.

When we think about our relationship with God, we might want to consider it in terms of love, intimacy and shared history. “And he walks with me and he talks with me, and he tells me I am His own…

Today I’m proposing we look for ways to expand that and consider the possibilities that:

  • We need to be aware of God’s position in our lives; that he does stand next to us, and our posture should be that of standing next to him. One counselor I know would say we need to visualize this. The example of me standing next to Ruth or Mike can provide the imagery we need to do this.
  • He sees us; he is watching us (“the eyes of the Lord run to and fro”) and this is also true for everyone on earth; whether they acknowledge him as Lord or not, he sees them. But this works both ways; I think we could also include in this an awareness of seeing Him in the everyday routine.
  • We ought to keep close to him; not let ourselves drift away from the awareness of His presence, either on a momentary basis or over a period of time. (For example, I could continue speaking and forget that Mike is still standing there until he asks if he can sit down now!)

In other words, asking the question “Where I am in relationship to God?” is only partly about the nature or quality of the relationship itself, but also about where God is in my life, and where I stand with respect to Him. The focus shifts from the tie that bind us to how I act and live my life according to Him.

The issue is one of proximity or closeness.

God is omnipresent but that sterile piece theological information means, by definition, that He is also present… 

…Only when have this relationship solidly mapped out in our own understanding can we begin to share the dynamics of it with others. If we think in terms of it in terms of physical proximity (as with the example of Mike) we’re on the right track. But hopefully we move on to something that involves more intimacy (as with the example of Ruth.)  

Out of the overflow of that type of relationship is something we will be excited to share with others.

November 17, 2017

An Embarrassment of Spiritual Riches

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:23 am

Each week, because of my job I speak with parents of twenty-something or thirty-something children who are no longer attending church and/or no longer serving or following God. I can’t begin to imagine the frustration. A few are in full-time ministry and deal with the added complexity of a daughter or son who is “in a far off country” spiritually.

We are fortunate that both of our boys are actively involved in local churches. I’d like to say I set a good example for them, but honestly, for certain the one thing I did right was persisting in our evening Bible study time well into their college years.

So no problems, right?

Historically, I’ve seen it happen where the next generation takes on a somewhat diluted version of faith. Even among those who follow a parent’s footsteps into ministry we find second generation pastors whose preaching isn’t quite as deep; second generation missionaries who try to adopt a fast-track approach to getting converts; I’ve even seen second generation people in Christian publishing who simply don’t breathe books in the manner of their respective parents.

But in my case, I really feel our kids expression of their faith exceeds anything I can offer. While what follows does not apply equally to both, I see greater generosity, more disciplined prayer and Bible reading, and a more healthy and balanced approach to living a life separated from the world. (Other things, also; but they might see this and I don’t want spiritual pride to factor into their lives.)

In any type of mentoring, you want to see tangible results and if “the student becomes the master” then you did well, right.

I hope so. Sometimes it leaves me humbled, and other times it leaves me feeling I could have done much better.

November 16, 2017

What These 31 Guys Had in Common

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:16 am

 

Godly men have been growing facial foliage since the beginning of time and church history is filled with Christians who glorified in male-pattern magnificence.1

Jared Brock and Aaron Alford’s book Bearded Gospel Men is about… well I think you’ve got it figured out. Every book needs a premise, right?

Your humble authors have experienced a vast array of diverse Judeo-Christian traditions and have discovered one powerful thing that unites the Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox worlds: Follicle faithfulness.2

At first glance, the book is a collection of 31 extremely short biographies of 31 men — oddly not one single woman3 — who belong to the brotherhood of the bearded. Each is followed by a contemporary article with subjects ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Billy Graham…preached the gospel to millions, famously ending every stadium-filled gospel crusade with the old hymn “Just as I am.” We love you, Billy, just as you are. But a Billy beard! What a sight to behold such a thing would be. Perhaps, however it was better this way. Thousands would have come forward at your meetings just get a closer look at the beard and may have caused confusion with the numbers of those getting saved.4

These short pieces are written mostly, but not entirely by the two authors. You may have seen the title before this as a web address.

The book’s history began with a Tumblr blog and Facebook page by Pastor Joe Thorn. It was a joke, really. Mainly memes about beards and good-natured barbs about the superiority of the unshaven.5

There are also a number of pictures with captions that I can only surmise either were are could have been the website’s memes, though the text font is different (see below).

Those biographed — hey, if I say that’s a word — include D.L. Moody, William Booth, Saint Patrick, Charles Sheldon (the original WWJD guy), G.K. Chesterton and Keith Green. There’s no time in those brief accounts to comment on the beards themselves. There’s even a chapter for Zacchaeus, but then didn’t all the males in the gospels have beards? The short synopses are followed by 3 questions for contemplation and a short prayer. In the case of Zacchaeus:

  1. Have you ever wronged anyone, even unintentionally? How might you make that right today?
  2. Is there anything in your life that me obstructing your view of Jesus? How might you see past these things to catch a glimpse of Jesus?
  3. Is there anything Jesus may be asking you to give up, specifically in regard to material possessions or money? 6

So with 31 biographies, 31 additional articles, various memes, etc. this reads more like a magazine than a book. Which is perfect. Because as of late, guys don’t read books. They will read this however, and Christmas is coming. (Hint!)

…The publicist who sent this book suggested it might be timely for No-Shave November.7 Perhaps, although the 11th month only has 30 days and the book has 31 sections. I still see this as a better Christmas gift, though the subtitle, The Epic Quest for Manliness and Godliness is a bit over the top! Consider this one; the guys will thank you for it.

W Publishing, 276 pages, paperback; 9780718099305; page at Thomas Nelson Publishing


1Back cover blurb
2Introduction, p. xiii
3Unless you count the mysterious inclusion of Agnes Bojaxhiu in chapter 20, which apparently we didn’t
4p. 41
5Intro, p. xix
6p. 123
7I guess I’m a couple of weeks late. Sorry!

November 15, 2017

Wednesday Link List

Honest, we tried to get secondary corroboration of this story, but the link in the original story was a bit sketchy and there was nothing else online. All we know is it took place at Enhance Church. Click the image for more.

It’s that time of the week!

  • A Canadian journalist is among the many invited to a VIP preview of Washington, DC’s Museum of the Bible, opening Friday.
  • Unqualified: Perry Noble — whose pending divorce was announced on November 1st — goes phrase-by-phrase through I Timothy 3 to show why he completely misses the mark on each and every qualification for ‘an overseer,’ but then in the final paragraphs appeals to the idea of being given a second chance. The further details and confessions fall into the ‘too much information’ category however, and would seem to undermine his point.
  • This was the local news coverage of the first service at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX, one week after 26 lives were lost
  • …Meanwhile, the pews have been taken out, the carpeting has been removed, and the inside of the building has been painted white from floor to ceiling as a memorial to those who died that day. CNN sent a reporter into the church building
  • …but the consensus is that the church will eventually be torn down.
  • What Americans can learn from the Trinity Western University Law School case, which goes before the Canadian Supreme Court on November 30th
  • Essay of the Week: “Ken Ham and his followers may think they’re defending Christianity and ensuring that our faith will be passed along to future generations, but the reality is they’re putting our children and grandchildren at risk of rejecting the faith entirely.” The risks of forcing one Genesis interpretation on the next generation.
  • Here’s a story that needs rewriting on several fronts. It’s about GracePointe church in Nashville and the header uses the term “megachurch” but paragraphs later recants that saying peak attendance was 700-800. But just when we’ve got that sorted out, another paragraph says the church had a 2,200 membership. Since many attendees are adherents and not members, that casts more confusion. The point of the piece is that because of their LGBT support, attendance dipped to 240 and the church was forced to sell their building and property
  • Something completely different: Samoan firefighters march down a mountain singing a hymn.
  • Former Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale pastor Bob Coy — who the article says today helps manage Boca Raton’s Funky Biscuit club — is now accused of molesting a 4-year-old. Futhermore, “Coy certainly paid a heavy price for his infidelity: His family has broken to pieces, and his chapels packed with thousands of adoring fans have been replaced with a half-full nightclub in Boca. [Blogger Michael] Newnham says the pastor still has more to answer for — especially because his sources say Coy has been trying to mobilize investors to start a new church.” An overview of the Coy and the Church in Miami New Times.
  • Is God “di-polar?” Was there ever a time of Logos asarkos where God was but the second person of the trinity was not? That and other deep questions about the immutability of God versus the idea that our history has become part of God’s history. The key question is, “Does God Change?”
  • When the staff at the Catholic hospital pray for patients, there’s a difference. “His mother, he said, had taught him to pray this prayer to Mary… He was certain that the prayer would be answered because as any good son would do, Jesus listens to his mother. He used Mary’s words at the Wedding of Cana as proof that Jesus will even reluctantly obey his mother.”   
  • Bible and Science:  Dietrich Bonhoeffer had reconciled Genesis and his Christian faith decades before our current debates. You may or may not agree with his conclusions.
  • Legal Matters: “Last week, in American Humanist Association v. Maryland, the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling of the federal district court of Maryland and held that a cross on state-owned land violated the Constitution.”
  • Tempis Fugit: “In Biblical studies it is generally understood that a generation is 40 years. In modern times it is 20 years or so.” …
  • …This article on Children’s ministry suggests the change is every 15 years, and that at any given time, KidMin volunteers may be speaking to two different generations of kids
  • The world of Christian publishing: Greg Boyd has signed a deal with Fortress Press for academic books to be released in 2021 and 2022, while Zondervan has secured a biography of Dolly Parton for 2018.
  • At last! Calvinism, Arminianism and everything in between summed up in a 2 minute video. The muddy walled pit analogy.
  • Looking for a new church you can really plug into? Here are seven signs you’re on the right track.  
  • Worship songwriter Keith Getty (In Christ Alone) was the guest on this week’s Phil Vischer Podcast, so of course, the first question was about sexual harassment. (And then they kept him on the line for another five minutes discussing women elevator operators and women’s public restroom habits.) 
  • Finally: What to expect when you’re expecting? How about your Christian friends suggesting some great Biblical baby names?

You can show support and encouragement to us by downloading my wife’s Christmas album for only $7 or for just a buck ($1) download the title song.


Because sometimes you just have to rant:

November 14, 2017

Thoughts After Sutherland Springs


Stephen and Brooksyne Weber posted this as a footnote to their Daily Encouragement site last Monday morning.1 I want to bring these “eleven theses” to the forefront here. The introduction suggests some of these things may now be politically incorrect to say. I’ll leave that to you to decide.2

To read the full article click this link. Also click “next message” for some additional thoughts on the church massacre in Texas that were posted the next day.

  • We believe the growing culture of death is a factor in the further corruption of the world. When pre-born life is disregarded it has a permeating effect in ways we don’t realize. Yesterday afternoon we passed the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Reading, PA and practically sensed the hellish, demonic spirit around the place. Yet our government funds this!
  • Graphic violence in movies, TV, video games and elsewhere cheapens life and has a desensitizing impact.
  • We wonder to what extent there is now among the sinfully disturbed a sense of competition and claim to fame for these acts of sheer evil.
  • Social media provides platform to spread this.
  • Previous generations were aware of the horrors of hell which had a restraining impact on evil. Now the notion of hell and judgment is so politically incorrect and offensive to many, and scoffed by others.
  • In the meantime spiritual and Scripture teaching is diminishing and organized groups like the ACLU, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and others are working overtime to further diminish Judeo/Christian influence in America.
  • Mental illness and more funding for treatment is being bandied about, as it often is following these heinous acts. Of course something is wrong in someone’s head to do something like this but we feel it is incrimination against scores of people who have some mental illness issues but still have a restraint against an evil act like this.
  • We wonder to what extent drugs, both prescribed and illicit are a factor in these matters and the Biblical prohibitions against intoxication.
  • It’s sad how events like this are quickly politicized with various factions providing simplistic answers to attack the other side.
  • Both official law enforcement and the concerned citizens who got involved (being called heroes) remind us that there are many decent people who have a role in restraining evil.
  • Today we listened to a news conference in which they concluded with with a soul-touching prayer. genuine faith overcome even in the midst of the hardest situations.

~Stephen & Brooksyne Weber


Update from Sutherland Springs: The following item is scheduled to appear in tomorrow’s link list. Here is a preview:

  • The pews have been taken out, the carpeting has been removed, and the inside of the building has been painted white from floor to ceiling as a memorial to those who died that day. CNN sent a reporter into the church building.

1Although I edit a daily devotional page, that tends to have a work focus at least partially. Daily Encouragement is the one I try to read each day just for my own time with God.

2Although we’ve repeated it here many times, I have to once again remind us all that this problem is unique to the United States and is not beyond its power to change. Such a “beating of swords into plowshares” would be a tremendous feat, greater than anything else the U.S. has ever accomplished.


Photo: New York Daily News (click to link to story)

November 13, 2017

Sermons that Communicate

Filed under: Christianity, Church, ministry — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:13 am

I had the privilege of working as a Worship Director under four different pastors, but only one of these let me in on his sermon crafting process. It began with a mostly blank form with a line for the date and space in the top 1/6th of the page to answer the question, “Where do you want to take them today?”

It thereby highly focused his attention on what it was that would fill the rest of the page. More detailed notes followed later on other pieces of paper.

Much of public speaking is modeled for us. The job of preacher is similar to the job of school teacher. These occupations are self-perpetuating. That’s why it’s easy for kids to “play school” in the summertime, and Christian kids can equally “play church.” We’ve seen the job played out for us on a regular basis and can  emulate the key moves.

The problem is that just because you are a good speaker, doesn’t mean you are a good communicator. Furthermore, I would argue that being highly skilled or highly polished at the former can actually work against the latter; it can stand in the way of being an effective communicator.

Another of the pastors I worked with and still get to hear on a regular basis is a very gifted in the art of sermon crafting. But at several junctures in the sermon, he will allow himself to deviate from his notes, or what I call going “off road.” Whether or not you call it Holy Spirit inspired — and I would contend that most definitely is the case — he either thinks of something that could still be added to the notes, or you could phrase it that he is still crafting the sermon to perfection even as he stands in the pulpit. There are no PowerPoint graphics that align with what he’s saying, but these are often the sermon highlights.

I also am a fan of conversational delivery; where the pastor is working from very rough, point-form outlines and then delivers the message in a style that suggests he’s talking to me, not simply reading his notes.

Don’t get me wrong. I want there to be sermon preparation. I want to know context; I want to hear related texts mentioned; I want to know he or she did the necessary word study.

But what do I do with it all? How does it impact the week I’m facing? How do leave the building changed and inspired?

To repeat, so much of what we call good preaching is too smooth; it’s too slick; it’s too polished. It’s so rhetorical minded that it’s no relational good.  It’s possible to be a great speaker but actually be a terrible communicator.

 


If you didn’t catch it last week, be sure to read Thursday’s article on the related art of concision, the gift of being able to keep things short.

November 12, 2017

5 Ways We are A Living Sacrifice

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
– Romans 12:1 (NIV)

“The problem with a living sacrifice is that it tends to crawl off the altar.” (source unknown)

Today we are joining with Christianity 201 as part of its weekly Sunday Worship series. To read the entire series, click this link. Our key verse reminds us that worship is something we do, but rather worship is something we are. Years ago, Christian musician Chris Christian wrote,

We lift our voices
We lift our hands
We lift our lives up to You
We are an offering1

I really try to eschew pithy illustrations and stories here at C201, but I find this one most appropriate:

A chicken and a pig were discussing how they could do something for the farmer. Finally the chicken said, “He loves a good breakfast; why don’t we give him bacon and eggs?”

To this the pig replied, “That’s easy for you. All it demands of you is an offering, but for me it demands total sacrifice.” 2

Here are some things I think will help us remember what it means to live our lives as a living sacrifice. Each starts with the letter ‘s’ followed by a different vowel.

Sacrifice

If we are to judge it, the measure of a sacrifice is not the size of what is given, but the size of what is left over.

A sacrifice will cost us and it will be consumed. There is no taking back the investment of our energies, gifts or material possessions given up in the service and pleasing of God. The last distinction is important. In service we see tangible results. But God is sometimes pleased by our giving up of things. Ask yourself: How much cash would you put on the offering plate if, as it was in Old Testament times, what was giving was then burned? That’s what our Old Testament predecessors did with the best of their grain and animals.

Set-Apartness

If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

In a world that values conformity, no one wants to be the odd duck. Yet the book of Leviticus is essentially God wanting to insure that his people could maintain a distinct identity. It was all about showing yourself to be different.3

Sinlessness

Jerry Bridges has written,

Jesus said, “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). We must honestly face the question, “Am I willing to give up a certain practice or habit that is keeping me from holiness?” It is at this point of commitment that most of us fail. We prefer to dally with sin, to try to play with it a little without getting too deeply involved. 4

Sovereignty

“There is a God. You are not Him,”

Jesus himself deferred to his Father on many occasions; providing us a reminder of who is in charge. We choose to forget this because we are driven to be in control.

Surrender

When Abraham is asked to sacrifice is only son, we have the advantage that Abraham and Sarah didn’t; we know how the story ends. They did not, and yet Abraham is willing to do whatever it takes to obey God.5

Although we speak very different languages, two symbols are universal throughout the worldwide church. One is the word “Hallelujah” which I’m told is rendered the same in most languages. The other is lifted hands as a sign of surrender.

A writer at Charisma points out that our fingers, hands and arms are also most associated with human strength, power, creativity; both in a human sense and if we examine the Biblical record of God’s actions presented in a way we can best understand them. 6

 


1 Full video at YouTube.

2 This story is often used by leadership coaches as well. Here’s a longer version with the punchline contrasting contribution and commitment.

3 We looked at maintaining a distinct identity in this March, 2017 article.

4 We included more quotes from Jerry Bridges on this topic in this article.

5 This is excerpted from a fuller look at Abraham’s trip up the mountain with Isaac at this link.

6 See the full article about lifting hands at this link.

November 11, 2017

Veteran’s Day (US) / Remembrance Day (UK, Canada)

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:11 am

Apparently only once in ten years have I ever posted anything on the blog recognizing November 11th, which is Remembrance Day in the British Commonwealth and Veteran’s Day in the United States. That article appeared in 2010 and tied in with a sermon I did in a Toronto church that week. Only twice in my life have I ever been called upon to do back-to-back sermons on successive weeks. It gives me a greater respect for those in vocational ministry. But I digress…

The point I wanted to make that day was that for Christians, every Communion Sunday is a service of remembrance, and if we truly have communion with God, every week is Communion Sunday, even if the silver or brass trays of bread (or matzo) and wine (or grape juice) are not visible in the sanctuary (or auditorium).

This morning was the second of two sermons I got to do back to back. This one had a lot of scripture in it, so taking my cue from Ed Dobson’s sermons at Mars Hill, I got Ruth to read all the scripture.

I wanted to tie in with Communion Sunday, and it was also the Sunday closest to Veteran’s Day / Remembrance Day. So the message was called People Tend to Forget.

We began by asking the question, “Why do we always read those same words from I Cor. before the communion starts?1One answer we came up with is that the account in Luke 22 makes the disciples look really, really bad! One minute Jesus is talking about giving His life for them, and the next minute they’re arguing among themselves which one is the greatest. (v. 24)

That led to a discussion about how some of the Bible’s spiritual high points seem end with a crash a few verses or a chapter later.

Exodus 14 has the Israelites crossing the Red Sea safely while Pharoah’s army is drowned. Exodus 15 is their worship and celebration service. Think Pentecostal worship on steroids.

And chapter 16? They’re complaining about the food and wishing they were back in Egypt. Yeah. Back in Egypt. For real.

Then we looked at Elijah’s defeating the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel. (Well, actually it was God, but you know what I mean…) Both of these O. T. stories were things we’d looked at briefly last week, but this time we pressed further.

Now remember, this guy just played a major role in one of the most dramatic spiritual warfare encounters of all time. Where is he at a chapter later in I Kings 39?

Scared silly over a threat from King Ahab’s wife. Running off into the desert. Moping. Wishing he was dead. No, really, he says that, ‘I wish I was dead.’ This is either ironic or pathetic, depending on your view.

And then there’s Jonah.

Jonah is sent to tell Nineveh to repent. They do. That’s good news, right? Well, not for Jonah. His message was framed as “Nineveh is about to be destroyed,” and their world doesn’t look too kindly on prophets who get it wrong. So when God changes his mind on the destruction of the city, Jonah’s all out of sorts. Check out Jonah 3: 6-10.

The hero of “Jonah and the Whale” in chapter 1 – sorry, great fish – who is also the hero of “Jonah’s Preaching Converts and Entire City” in chapter 3 becomes the less impressive story of Jonah and the Plant in chapter 4. God can’t help but tell him that he’s put more passion and energy into mourning the death of a worm-eaten shade tree than anything concerning the salvation of the Ninevites.

And that was only the first half of the sermon.

Here’s a key scripture:

Judges 2: 8(NIV) Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.

10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the LORD, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the LORD’s anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the LORD gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist.

People really do tend to forget…

Here’s another key scripture:

Isaiah 46: 9(NIV) Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
10a I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come…

11b …What I have said, that I will bring about;
what I have planned, that I will do.

The message ended up talking about Communion again.2  Some major points:

Our fellowship, our communion is with God through Jesus Christ.

We don’t celebrate communion to remember what was, but we celebrate communion to remember what is.

We celebrate communion because Christ is in us, and because of who we are in Christ.


1The “words of institution” which often begin the Lord’s Supper portion of the service in Evangelical Churches is from I Cor 11:

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment.

2 I realize that in tying these things together, I haven’t said much in this blog post about our war veterans, and for that I apologize. If this will help, I posted this on Twitter earlier in the week and it applies in similar fashion to U.S. war veterans:

A guy in my church posted this on his Facebook this morning.

A veteran is someone, who at one point in their life, wrote a blank cheque payable to Canada for an amount up to, and including, their life.

 

 

 

November 10, 2017

Feel Like a Misfit at Church? You’re Not the Only One.

At the start of the year, I reviewed Brant Hansen’s first book with Thomas Nelson, Unoffendable, which deals with the subject of anger, and is ideally suited to anyone who has ever ‘lost it’ over a particular person or circumstance. You can read that review at this link.

Brant Hansen‘s second book with Nelson is important enough that I’m eventually going to devote another column to it here, but wanted to make you aware of it prior to the November 28th release in case you’re making a Christmas list. The title is Blessed Are the Misfits: Great News for Believers who are Introverts, Spiritual Strugglers, or Just Feel Like They’re Missing Something.

This book is for people

  • who are introverts
  • who deal with social anxiety; mental health issues
  • who are diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (or something similar)
  • who feel they are just different; they don’t see the world like everyone else does

and the people who love them because they’re a family member, close friend, co-worker, fellow-student, etc. It’s one of those books where the target readership is somewhat select — not to mention that it also deals with how such people can function in the body of Christ — so mention on blogs and social media and word-of-mouth will do much to help this book find its audience.

I’m about 65% in at this point — thoroughly enjoying it — and will post a full review here when it’s closer to the release date as well as reasons why this book is important to our family.

Older Posts »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.