April 13, 2011
The short answer? Whenever I hear pundits talking about Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad negatively they use terms like crazy and insane. To me, he is not crazy. He’s not insane. He is a religious zealot. There is a difference.
Let’s imagine your are a diplomat. You don’t want to deal with someone who is insane. Why? Because they are unpredictable. It’s more scary dealing with a zealot, because they telegraph their moves ahead of time, and they are serious about their intentions. Zealots are idealogues.
This is why it’s dangerous to mislabel people . . . because by mislabelling we tend to ignore risks.
Here is an interesting article that I found that shares my thought that it is dangerous to classify Ahmadinejad as “crazy.” Pay attention to his beliefs. A crazy man might not turn his beliefs into objectives. For a zealot beliefs and objectives are synonymous.
April 12, 2011
This Psalm has been particularly helpful to me recently. In ancient Israel this was a Psalm that would have been used as the people went to Jerusalem for various Feasts. Therefore, it’s appropriate for us to use it in worship this week as we journey toward Passover on Monday evening.
Praise for Rescue from Enemies.
A Song of Ascents, of David
1“Had it not been the LORD who was on our side,”
Let Israel now say,
2“Had it not been the LORD who was on our side
When men rose up against us,
3Then they would have swallowed us alive,
When their anger was kindled against us;
4Then the waters would have engulfed us,
The stream would have swept over our soul;
5Then the raging waters would have swept over our soul.”
6Blessed be the LORD,
Who has not given us to be torn by their teeth.
7Our soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper;
The snare is broken and we have escaped.
8Our help is in the name of the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
April 11, 2011
Last week my regular reader James make this statement: “I honestly don’t see why every church on Earth doesn’t celebrate the Passover.” I agree.
Exactly seven days from now Marion Bible Fellowship will celebrate Passover. We consider it one of the highlights of our calendar year. When you understand that Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the first (there are two) celebration of First Fruits (which is synonymous with our celebration of Jesus’ resurrection) form a continuous week-long theme, you realize this coming week is the apex of Christian celebration for good reason.
Why doesn’t every church celebrate Passover? Why doesn’t every church celebrate Unleavened Bread (as if Christians no longer need to war against sin)? Why doesn’t every church connect Jesus’ resurrection with the first celebration of First Fruits?
The sad reality is the church’s disconnection from the biblical feasts keeps church folks from experiencing a stronger connection with the historicity of their faith and a more complete understanding of God’s revealed salvation history.
April 8, 2011
This post is primarily for the Marion Bible Fellowship congregation.
Tomorrow the sermon is titled “Why Eat Unleavened Bread? Preparing for April 18-25.” You can read the Scripture reference before the service at Leviticus 23:6-8. We will discuss the why, how, and significance of Unleavened Bread. We will also celebrate the Lord’s Supper. As you come to worship tomorrow, come ready to learn.
April 7, 2011
This week I am praying for three friends:
One is a friend from seminary. He is a pastor. He also suffers from MS. This week he traveled from Texas to New York to have surgery to open blood flow in his neck. His body, ravaged by his disease, is useful to God because of his determination to serve Christ.
Another friend is in Puerto Rico working to open up marketplace ministry businesses. This friend is not a pastor, but as a business person he is available to God 24/7. My second friend is a good example of a Christian servant.
My third friend is a long-time buddy who has endured a difficult year. It’s normal to anticipate our “best days are ahead of us.” I trust his darkest days are behind him. This friend is often on my mind.
Who do you pray for on a regular basis. Do you pray for people who are normally outside of your normal range of intimate friendships. In other words, do you pray for people not in your immediate family, church family, or normal acquaintances?
I toggle through my mobile phone address book regularly so I can text message distant friends. I simply ask how I can pray for them.
I consider taking the requests of others before the Lord an important part of friendship. Why? It’s because my relationship with the Master represents my most important “social network.”
April 6, 2011
This morning I preached at the Delaware Christian School Elementary Chapel service. It is always a wonderful experience to share the Scriptures with the children and teachers at DCS. Preaching to children ranging in ages from 6 to 13 is a challenge, because kindergarteners and 6th graders understand lessons at very different levels. However, the kids at DCS impress me with their attentiveness and interest in the Scriptures. Kudos to Joyce Johnson and the teachers at Delaware Christian Elementary School for providing great guidance for the DCS kids’ early religious education.
April 5, 2011
In Matthew 13:1-9 and 13:18-23 Jesus describes four different ways disciples receive the message of the Kingdom of God.
- Sometimes the message falls on a hard surface. This would be compared to the message of the Kingdom being received by someone who does not understand. The enemy comes and snatches it away, because it never took root in the heart.
- Sometimes the message falls upon rocky places without much depth of soil. This makes for quick, yet unsustained growth, because when the Sun heats up the soil there is not enough root to sustain growth. The plant dies. This is compared to the one who hears, adopts, but is not able to abide with the Kingdom message when persecution comes.
- Sometimes the message falls among thorns. The thorns represent the concerns of the world, including the deceitfulness of riches, that make a person’s life unfruitful for the Kingdom.
- Sometimes the message falls upon good soil. This can be compared to one who hears and understands the message of the Kingdom of God. This person bears an amazing amount of fruit.
Tonight I enjoyed a conversation with a friend who wants to serve God in transformation ministry among the poor. He shared his observation that the church often fails to grasp the types of ministry, which resembles the Kingdom message. He said in his local church it is often difficult to find people to teach in the children’s Sunday School. We discussed how unavailable many Christians are to outward focused Kingdom ministry if they do not respond even to a call within the church for service.
Jesus parable here is not really about Evangelism. It’s about the way His people respond to the message that the Kingdom of God is now.
Jesus says in verse 9, “He who has ears, let him hear.” Jesus is talking more than simply auditory hearing. Basically He says, “If you can hear, then obey.”
Obedience is the value Jesus is promoting in this parable. The crop we produce is good works commensurate with Messiah’s Kingdom message.
Which of the four types of soils is emblematic of our generation? Do you have an opinion?
I would guess my friend would #3 is our biggest problem today. It’s not that we fail to understand, and it’s not as if we have little nourishing soil. Some yield much fruit, this is true. But, the church today seems very distracted by the concerns of this world and the deceitfulness of riches.
What do you think? I love Jesus’ closing words to this parable, “He who has ears . . .”