Thursday, December 22, 2011

THE CHRISTMAS STORY

OVER THE PAST WEEKS I HAVE BEEN PRESENTING THE ADVENT EVENTS by giving us the opportunity to see that event  "Through New Eyes." Through the eyes of the Angel Gabriel, Joseph, the Inn-Keeper, and on Christmas morning through the eyes of the Shepherd.


Today I came across this re-telling of the Advent event is a new and fresh way...that is through new eyes.  I hope you'll take the time to watch it, and to take time, once again, to imagine the wonder of the Gift of God. Emmanuel, God with us!



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Friday, December 16, 2011

ACTING OUT! GOD'S DESIGN FOR THE CHURCH

STARTING JANUARY 1, 2012 WE WILL BE STARTING A NEW SERIES OF MESSAGES. Pastor Ron will be leading off the first three weeks with some critically important messages about being the church taken from such texts as 1 Peter 3 and Ephesians 3 and 4. I hope you will sent your heart, mind and spirit to join me in the opening weeks of the new year.
     Starting on January 22, I will continue in looking at God's design for the church in a series I am calling, "ACTING OUT! God's Design for His Church."  In will be a study through the Book of the Acts. 
     I know our lives are busy, and that the pressures of the world push down around us, but the mandate from our Lord and Savior is strong and clear, "Go and make disciples..." (Matthew 28:19-20). 
     Therefore, I am placing before you right now the invitation to join me and Pastor Ron and the Ministry Team as we are seeking God's heart for His plan worked out in and through us.  It might not be too early to make that New Year's Resolution. One that states, in 2012 I am going to keep Sunday's sacred and be part of Christ's Body the church, joining our hearts and hands together as we seek to be God's people in God's world, doing God's work.
     Come and join us! Let's work to help fulfill God's Great Commission (Matthew 28:19:20) through carrying out God's Great Command (Matthew 22:37-40).

This is Discipling from The Foursquare Church on Vimeo.


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Saturday, December 03, 2011

WONDER!


WHAT MAKES YOU STAND IN WONDER? A beautiful sunset? The powerful cascades of a waterfall? The birth of a child? A relationship you have with someone who knows all your faults and still chooses to love you?

Wonder comes in all shapes and sizes. Wonder can overwhelm us, when we are least expecting it. Wonder has the power to move us from the place of being saturated with self doubt to the place where we are filled to overflowing with with heart-felt gratitude.

Wonder comes when we discover that the payment for our sins (Romans 3:23) has been completely paid for by God Himself (Romans 6:23). Wonder comes when we realize that God visited us in the flesh, as a baby, in order to accomplish His grace-filled love of forgiveness 30 years later upon the cross. (Philippians 2:5-11) 

This is the wonder of the Advent Season.  This is the wonder that the angels proclaimed to simple shepherds the night that Jesus, the Messiah, was born. (Luke 2:8-20) 

How's your wonder-quotient this Advent Season? Are you so caught up in the rush of life that you have lost the ability to wonder? If you feel that is true, then I invite you to attend a church service this weekend. Hear again the Christmas story and join in the wonder of wonders, God, born as a baby to bring salvation to those who will believe.

Oh, the wonder of it all! 
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

IN MEMORY OF DR. JOHN STOTT

I encourage you to take a break and listen to Tim Keller's memorial message to honor John Stott. As a young evangelical I know that Dr. Stott has touched my life and ministry more than I realize.  We have much to learn from our brother and one of the saints.


Here are the main points of Tim Keller's message:
  1. We need to be convicted by his kingdom vision.
  2. We should be cautioned by his cultural learning curve.
  3. We should be chastened by his leadership controversies.
  4. We need to be instructed by his great innovations: 1) expository preaching; 2) invented the modern center-city church; 3) willing to organize and use institutions and organizations to put Evangelical Anglicans on the map; 4) forced Evangelicals to deal with social ethics social justice issues; 5) created Evangelicalism, the great center between fundamentalism and liberalism, he was prophetic from the center.
  5. We should be empowered by the knowledge of his present glory.
 Related articles
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Monday, November 07, 2011

THE ORIGINAL HALLELUJAH CHORUS!

Forty-fifth season. The Handel and Haydn Socie...Image via Wikipedia
LAST ADVENT SEASON Linda and I had the privilege of joining a couple from our church for dinner in San Fransisco and then to attend the San Fransisco Symphony's Christmas production of Handle's Messiah.  It was a grand evening.  We were blessed!
Tradition has it that when you get to the Hallelujah Chorus the audience is supposed stand, and stand we did. Truthfully, I don't know how one could sit through that inspiring selection.  It certainly moves the heart.

This coming Sunday's message is on Revelation 19:1-21. Some might say herein lies the basis for Handle's Hallelujah. It is here that we read, "Hallelujah! For the LORD God Almighty reigns!" (Revelation 19:6) And later we read that written upon the Messiah's robe and thigh is the declaration of His name, "King of Kings and Lord of Lords!" (Revelation 19:16) John records of his vision that a great multitude stood and declared these truths, and the sound of their proclamation was like that of the rushing of many waters and loud peals of thunder (Revelation 19:1 & Revelation 19:6) Is it any wonder that even today, in an auditorium in the center of San Fransisco, a place I am sure was filled with people from a multiplicity of belief systems, we all stood in honor, respect, and for some even declaration of the truth being sung about  the One who is the Truth. 

This Sunday's message will focus upon that truth, that the Lord Almighty reigns. Sometimes we fail to live under that truth. We are overcome by the hard times in which we find ourselves. We even find ourselves believing that the "other side" is winning.

Well, if chapter 19 has anything to remind us, it's that we are not only going to see victory, but the victory is already ours!

Here's a question for you to ponder, or even respond to if you so desire, "What gives you reason to stand with the multitudes and declare, 'Hallelujah, the LORD Almighty reigns!'?" As Advent season again approaches, ushered in by this month when we focus upon thanks-giving, what better time to stop and "ponder anew what the Almighty can do" (Praise to the Lord, the Almighty).

Hallelujah!  What a Savior!  I am looking forward to what God will have to say to me this week as I prepare for this message?  I wonder what He will have for all of us?
 
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

CHRIST CHANGES THINGS


WHILE SPENDING SOME EARLY MORNING READING TIME with author Richard Foster (Sanctuary of the Soul: Journey into Meditative Prayer) I was moved by Foster's statement, "We are enabled to give up our need to watch out for number one because we have One who is watching out for us." (p. 63)

It got me thinking just how much the One, that is Jesus Christ, changes lives. Consider my tiny list and feel free to add your own ways in which you see Christ changing things.  My list is pretty much just what Jesus did while He was with His disciples 2000 years ago, I know I could add even more personal encounters, but this is at least a starting place.

So here's the list, thus far:
Water to Wine
Sightless to Seeing
Broken to Bound up
Storms to Stillness
Lame to Leaping
Fearful to Faithful
Sorrow to Security
Forsaken to Forgiven
Hurting to Healed
Longing to Loving
Floundering to Found
Life-less to Life-filled
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A LESSON FOR ME...FOR ALL OF US

I BELIEVE THAT SETH GODIN IS ON TO SOMETHING. Too often, within the context of the church, we don't rise up to meet the need. We say "we can't" because we are not called or gifted or as Godin points out in his blog, we think we are too stupid. But is it stupidity or is it laziness?  As I think over my own life I must admit that many of the times I did not "rise to the occasion," was not because I lacked skill, rather I just did not want to make the effort.  In other words, I was lazy.

 So, when we are called to serve in God's Kingdom, let's not use the excuse that I just don't have the gifts, or that there is somebody better than me, let's just get up and answer the call. Remembering in all things we are weak, even the things we do best compared to God are weak. So, let's not give the excuse, but rather let us give the energy that God provides.

Let us remember the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, 
"'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty." (Zechariah 4:6)

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

THE POWERFUL WORD OF GOD!

IT IS THE WORD OF GOD THAT CHANGES LIVES. Here is a sermon, no more than that, here is the Word of God recited as it was meant to be heard.
Get yourself in a comfortable place. Quiet your heart. Set aside the next 46 minutes and let the Word of God dwell in you richly. For it is powerful. And it will change your life.

Hebrews Recited from Covenant Fellowship Church on Vimeo.


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Sunday, October 02, 2011

A CAUSE TO STOP AND CONTEMPLATE


TODAY, AS I WAS OUT FOR A LATE AFTERNOON RUN, I was listening to Scriptural prayers on my iPod. One of the prayers came from 1 Kings 8:27 where Solomon prays concerning the temple for God He has built, he prays,
“But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!

Solomon knew that God was too eternal, too omnipresent, to glorious to dwell in anything made by human hands, no matter how large or glorious it might be. True enough!

As I was dwelling upon this portion of Scripture I was caught up with the reality, stated by the Lord Himself, that He now dwells within by the Holy Spirit. (John 14:26; Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 6:19)


Now consider this: if Solomon's glorious temple, covered with gold so that it almost glowed in the noonday sun could not contain God, then how can I?  Little me. Marred, imperfect, and small, how can I be the dwelling place of the Most High God?


God! Get it? God, dwells within the life of the believer. How amazing is that?!  Why don't I just explode?! 


I encourage you to dwell upon that reality this week with me.  God the Holy Spirit dwells within me, little ol' me. That must make an impact in and upon my life and upon those I encounter. Contemplate that reality of God in you, and ask yourself, how will it change my life today? This week? From now on?
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Friday, September 30, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

NOW THINGS GET REALLY INTERESTING

REVELATION CHAPTERS 12 AND FOLLOWING REALLY start to get things interesting.  You can hear my comments on Revelation 12:1-17 by listening to the sermon by the same title: "Now things get REALLY Interesting" and this week's text will surely not disappoint the theme as well.

In Revelation 13:1-18 we once again the Big Red Dragon, but this time he is joined by two cohorts in crime, Beast 1 and Beast 2 (Nothing like Thing 1 and Thing 2, thank you Dr. Suess.)

As I was continuing in my study of the passage this morning, not having a commentary in front of me to peruse (I was at my local Scotts Valley Starbucks) I was draw to the mockery and mimicry of Satan. He doesn't seem to have an original thought in his lowly bag of tricks.

Two things grabbed my attention this morning. First, we, like Adam and Eve, have a longing for a relationship with the Divine.  Satan played into that God-created longing, by convincing those two "innocent" souls that the longing for the divine could be best met by "becoming divine" themselves, all they need do is to take that which they were specifically commanded not to take. (Genesis 3:1-19) In that longing which all of us have, we seek to meet that longing often with the very things that destroy our relationship with the One who is the Divine.

The second reality that struck me was that chapter 13 of Revelation establishes a mock kingdom.  Satan once again gives a dark shadow of the real Kingdom which draws may astray. People still long for the divine, and Satan is more than willing to give the people what they want. Here, in Satan mimicry we see a king/ruler/political system (Beast 1) and we see the prophet/priest/religious system (Beast 2), all under the control of the "god" behind the scenes, Satan, that Big Red Dragon. The one hell-bent to deceive and destroy that which the true God, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, originally designed for our good.

When will this mock kingdom be established? Is it here now? Is it still to come? I would answer "yes" and "yes."  Which begs the question, "What are we to do?" My answer would be to make sure you carry the correct mark upon your head (Revelation 3:12; Revelation 14:1) and that you seek diligently for that which truly satisfies the need which we all have. (Isaiah 55:1-5; Revelation 21:6-8; Revelation 22:17) 

Maranatha!
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Friday, September 23, 2011

WHY YOU DON'T NEED PRAYER

NOW THAT I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION. Here's a video clip that reminds us WHY we NEED prayer.  Why our lives should be about breathing prayer, moment by moment. And if we don't think we need to be praying without ceasing (Ephesians 6:18-20), then maybe we're really not living the life we are called to live.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

A PRAYER FOR TODAY


ONCE AGAIN, MY FRIEND, ABIGAIL, HAS PENNED A PRAYER THAT SPOKE TO MY HEART AND OF MY HEART.  MAY HER PRAYER FOR US SO BE YOUR PRAYER AS WELL.


Abba...I praise You and thank You for Your amazing love and grace and mercy towards us. There is none like You.

You are awesome and magnificent...yet approachable like an Abba/Father.

You are mighty...yet gentle like a Shepherd.

You are firm...yet loving like a beneficent Ruler.

You are beyond really comprehending...yet we have the opportunity to know You intimately.

You are so far above us. Your thoughts are not our thoughts. Your ways are not our ways. Yet, You want what is good for us. Help our thoughts to be in line with Yours. Help us to walk in Your ways. Change our hearts to love You completely...with all of our hearts, souls, minds and strengths.

Abba, help us to show our love for You by loving our neighbors as ourselves. We want good things for ourselves. Help us to truly want good things for our neighbors. We want to be loved. Help us to truly love our neighbors. We want to be accepted. Help us to truly accept our neighbors.

Who are our neighbors? Abba, I believe it is anyone with which we come in contact, but most especially physical contact. It is not just the person next door...it is also the person in our community, the person in our congregation, the person we know online, the clerk at the store. May we show all people the kindness...the hesed...that we want shown to us by others and that You have shown to us!

Lead us all, please, Abba. Guide us and show us the ancient paths upon which You would have us walk. Show us Your hand in every area of our lives. Open our eyes to see You, our ears to hear You, our hearts to be changed by You. Dwell within us as You desire us to dwell within You.

Give us a hunger and thirst for You, for Your presence, for Your Word. May we never be satisfied with anything but You.

B'shem Yeshua

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Friday, September 09, 2011

SO HERE GOES...

Ten years ago, September 11, 2001, forever changed how we, as Americans, viewed the world. We knew that life would never be the same. And it hasn’t. The events of that tragic day have changed our lives in so many ways; how we travel, how we look at others different than ourselves, and especially our sense of peace and well-being.

On this 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks I am calling our church family to join Pastor Ron and me in a time of prayer. This time of concerted prayer, though motivated by the anniversary of 9/11, is not about the events of that terrible day, but rather about joining our hearts together to see the Lord for our church and our community. It is my desire that our time of prayer will forever change the way we view our church and the community in which God has placed it.

Here is the Call:

As the Senior Pastor of the Felton Bible Church, I am calling our church family, far and wide, to join together in a time of united prayer this Sunday, September 11th at 9:11am just prior to the start of our regular morning worship service. 

We will gather in the side-room adjacent to the sanctuary. This concert of prayer will begin promptly at 9:11 end just prior to the beginning of our morning worship (or as the Holy Spirit leads), so please come a little early.

I realize some will say this is too early on a Sunday morning to get there on time. My answer to you reminds me of King David’s response when he was offered “free of charge” a place for an altar of sacrifice, he said, “I will not offer to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” (2 Samuel 24:24) This time of prayer may cost you something, but such is the nature of sacrifice.

Some of you may no longer live close to Felton Bible Church; still invite you to join us before the throne of God in praying for His divine leading in the days which are before us.  Some of you may even attend other places of worship; to you I would say, pray for your church family.

I do not know what the outcome of this time of united prayer will be, but I do pray, even now, that the LORD would be honored and that we would see His world with new eyes.

May 9/11/2011 be day that forever changes how we, as a local body of Christ-followers, see God’s world and our participation in the proclamation of the Gospel and the furtherance of God’s Kingdom.

To God be the glory!
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PRAYER: IT'S WHAT'S FOR LIFE

LOTS OF RELIGIONS OFFER SOME SORT OF ACTIVITY THAT MAY BE REFERRED TO AS PRAYER. But for those who are followers of Christ, our prayer is not be be just an activity we do from time to time as the needs arise, but we are called to live the life of prayer.  The Apostle Paul calls the church to "pray without ceasing." (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

But even more, our prayer is to be tied to action.  So Shane Claiborne reminds us in this clip.  I will also be putting out soon a special call to prayer, so "stay tuned" as they say!


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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

THERE IS SOMETHING...THAT TIES US TOGETHER

THERE IS SOMETHING...DARE I SAY SOME ONE...WHO TIES US TOGETHER. May this clip encourage you today, and if nothing else, put a smile on your face and a song in your heart.

Friday, September 02, 2011

A PRAYER FOR YOU, THOSE LOVED BY GOD


I HAVE A FRIEND, who loves to pray for the church throughout the world. Each week she sends out a prayer, and always there is a portion of that prayer which speaks to my specific need.  I would like to share that prayer with you, may the LORD bless you as you read and listen to the Holy Spirit speak.

Abba...we love You. Help us love You more. Help us love You with all our hearts, souls, minds and strengths. Help us love our neighbors as ourselves. Help us love our brothers and sisters in Yeshua. Please show us, Abba, how to love. I know I am so imperfect and my humanness affects others. Teach us!

Abba, I lift up to You all my brothers and sisters in Yeshua. I especially lift up to You those who are under attack for any reason. I know that hasatan and his cohorts have targeted some of them. Please protect them. Place a hedge around them that cannot be penetrated.

Strengthen them, please, Abba. Give them Your wisdom and discernment so that they will know how to handle the attacks against them. Fill them with Your love and Your healing Shalom. Give them Your rest as they continue to stand upon the Rock of Yeshua. Vindicate them, O Lord! Bring out the truth so that all will know that they are Your children and they are innocent.

Please bring Your healing to those who are sick. Strengthen feeble muscles and organs and cause to relax those that are unnaturally tight. Ease the physical pain that many are in. Bring coolness against fevers and warmth against chills. Normalize hormones and all the chemicals our bodies need to work properly. Mend broken bones. Remove cancers. Bring sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf. I especially pray for deaf and blind hearts. Open them, Abba, to see and hear You.

Please give Your rest to those who are weary. Many have been fighting the good fight for a very long time and they really need some rest and time away from the battle. Help them to hold strong if it is not their time for a break. Show Yourself to be mighty on their behalf. Open doors and close doors as needed. Make a way for them even when there seems to be no way...for You are the One who can do all things.

Abba, I know that some are struggling with deceptions. Open their minds and hearts to know the truth...for You ARE Truth! Expose false teachers. Help Your children to know Your words so that they can know how to tell if someone is true or false. Set minds and hearts free, please, Abba; so that they can worship You in spirit and in truth.

Abba, I know that some are struggling financially. Please open Your floodgates on their behalf. Please send some of those cattle on a thousand hills their way. Give them any wisdom they might need regarding things they can do to ease their situation.

Restore and strengthen marriages and friendships and parent/child relationships. Bring Your healing, Your wisdom and Your love to bear through each one. May forgiveness abound.

Abba, in all these things, please bring the body of Yeshua together. Teach us how to minister to one another as You teach us in Your word. Help us to lay aside the traditions of men and only walk in that which is in accordance with Your will and Your mitzvot/commands. 


Bless each and every one, Abba. Please hold them so close to Your heart that they can feel You hugging them in the spirit. May they sense Your presence with them and within them ever so strongly.

B'shem Yeshua

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Friday, August 26, 2011

The Seven-Minute-Sabbath Challenge Update

Well, the week is almost through, and I know a number of you have taken the Seven-Minute-Sabbath Challenge, I pray that your prayer times have been meaningful. Today I came across this video with Anthony Campolo and the topic of prayer and presence. I found it fitting in light of this week's Challenge.



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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

THE SEVEN-MINUTE-SABBATH CHALLENGE


THIS PAST SUNDAY I CHALLENGED our Sunday morning service to join me in a Seven-Minute-Sabbath-Challenge.

The Challenge was to take 7 minutes everyday of silence before the LORD. To help facilitate this time I suggested that they take a portion of the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) as a guide to their thoughts.  This Seven-Minute-Sabbath was not to be a time of asking or giving thanks, or even of praising God, rather it was to be a time of silent listening for the Voice of God.

I broke up the week in the following manner:
Monday: Matthew 6:9
Tuesday: Matthew 6:10
Wednesday: Matthew 6:11
Thursday: Matthew 6:12
Friday: Matthew 6:13
Saturday: For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory, Forever
I then added to the Challenge by encouraging each person to find someone this week, who is not a follower of Jesus Christ, and simply ask them, "What comes to your mind when you hear the name Jesus Christ?" Their purpose, here again, is not to try to "save" the person or have an opportunity to share the Four Spiritual Laws, but rather just to listen and learn.

I don't know this will go this week, but I know this, I am praying that God, our Abba, will speak to each one in a way that is very clear, so that they can give witness to the reality of a God who speaks.

I challenge you, readers of this blog, to join the family at Felton Bible Church as together we seek to learn the blessed discipline of taking Sabbath, a gift that God as given to us. (Mark 2:23-28)  I would love to hear how it went with you.
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

AMAZING GRACE, HOW SWEET THE SOUND

THE WORLD AROUND US SEEMS TO BE FALLING apart at a record place. Add to that our Scripture passage for this coming week, Revelation 8:1-13, and we must wonder if we will ever see any good in the near future. Looking at our nation's economic woes, the wars and rumors of war in places like Syria (see the renewed US sanctions) and in some of our newest countries like South Sudan, and add to that the drought that has been affecting the American Southwest, and one has to wonder if this is truly the beginning of the birth pangs of the End Days. (Matthew 24:1-8)

And yet, a closer look at the Scripture in question and we can see the grace of God still at work. I don't wish to "give-away" too much of the message I am working on for this Sunday's installment of "Hope During the Hard Times," but I would like to have us consider the grace of God even in the midst of the blowing of the trumpets of judgment (Revelation 8:6-13.) Once again the Lord seems to leave a remnant of His creation to stand. Even in the hardest of times God provides places of hope. Even as the eagle cries out, "Woe! Woe! Woe!" (Revelation 8:13) there is the reality that God is at work, His grace is still abounding, and there is hope, even in the darkest of times.

So, let us not give up hope, rather let us look for the measures of grace with which God lavishes each and every day, and let us give thanks for His amazing grace!
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

THE OPENING OF THE HOLY TEXT


IN MY PRESENT SERIES OUT OF THE BOOK OF REVELATION, one of the most difficult aspects is being true to the text.  As never before I have prayed, "Lord God, help me know and preach the truth regarding Thy truth.  To put it another way, after reading a number of commentaries on the passages in question, all I truly desire to do is to speak the truth. I want to get it right. It means serious, prayerful study, and that the Holy Spirit will not only illumine my heart and mind, but also the hearts and minds of those who listen.


Today I came across and interview with the late John Stott. The interview was conducted by Albert Mohler for Preaching magazine in 1987. I very much appreciated Dr. Stott's explanation of the importance of the study and proclamation of the Word of God. In defining Biblical preaching Stott said,
I believe that to preach or to expound the scripture is to open up the inspired text with such faithfulness and sensitivity that God’s voice is heard and His people obey Him. I gave that definition at the Congress on Biblical Exposition and I stand by it, but let me expand a moment.
My definition deliberately includes several implications concerning the scripture. First, it is a uniquely inspired text. Second, the scripture must be opened up. It comes to us partially closed, with problems which must be opened up.

Beyond this, we must expound it with faithfulness and sensitivity. Faithfulness relates to the scripture itself. Sensitivity relates to the modern world. The preacher must give careful attention to both.

We must always be faithful to the text, and yet ever sensitive to the modern world and its concerns and needs. When this happens the preacher can come with two expectations. First, that God’s voice is heard because He speaks through what He has spoken. Second, that His people will obey Him — that they will respond to His Word as it is preached.
As I continue to study God's Word, I can only pray to handle it with such seriousness of resolve. To rightly handle the word of truth as the Apostle Paul admonished Pastor Timothy. (2 Timothy 2:15)
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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

DO THE MATH


REVELATION CHAPTER SEVEN IS ALL ABOUT THE NUMBERS. Or at least it's about people wanting to know about the numbers contained in the passage, specifically the 144 thousand who are to be "sealed . . . from all the tribes of Israel." (Revelation 7:4)

It's not so much adding the 12,000 from the 12 tribes...that's pretty easy math, it's the BIGGER question of why?  It reminds me of that kid in elementary school who wants to know "why" 2+2=4, they are never simply satisfied with the simple answer of "because that's the way it is."

But, I think, like my friend in elementary school, we can get so caught up in the 144,000 that we miss the more beautiful equation set before us in the passage. It should also be noted that of the 460 some words in this chapter only about 200 deal with the 144,000. That means that what follows verse eight might in fact be the more important part of the equation.

Pay attention to what the Apostle John records in verse nine, "After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb." (Revelation 7:9) Talk about higher math!

Herein, I believe, is where the focus is to lie, not that the 144,000 are not important, but the really amazing number is that there will be an uncountable multitude from those who are not Israel, and in this number I would be included. Yes, Israel has been God's chosen people, and in some ways they still are, but God heart is too big to be limited to one people, one nation, one language.  God's love is for all people. Even you and me!


So, this coming Sunday, when I am to be preaching from Revelation 7:1-17, where do you suppose my focus will be, on the 144,000 or on the multitude, or on the One to whom the 144,000 and the multitude will bow? Yep! You got that right.  And yes, we will have to deal with some of the "other" interesting events within the chapter, too.

Whether or not we get all the "math" correct on this one I do not know, but this one thing I DO know, I am sure glad I can be numbered with the redeemed. That makes it all add up nicely.
 

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BACK TO SCHOOL! ALREADY?!?


BACK IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS, when I was attending elementary school, we never started school until after Labor Day. Of course we also had no “teacher in service days” to take off, but we did get Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays off, but on the actual day. And yes, it was called, “Christmas Vacation” and “Easter Vacation.” My how things have changed!
     My children have already told me that school starts on August 23rd! Summer is quickly drawing to a close. Pretty soon it’s no more late nights and lazing around, it will be back to the serious endeavors of education. Time for backpacks filled with books and homework every night. Yep, school will be here before you know it! Kind of like the return of Jesus Christ…here before you know it!
     When summer began the beginning of school seemed oh so far away.  We needn’t dwell on it or get ready for the new learning experiences that would await us. It was summer time! Time for swimming, camping, sleeping in, BBQ’s and getting a tan. School was light-years away…or so it seemed. Now it is knocking on the door. Kind of like the return of Jesus Christ…here before you know it!
     In our present sermon series on the Book of Revelation, “Hope During the Hard Times” we are discovering that the return of Jesus is much closer than we may think. It’s been so long since He left (Acts 1:1-10) that we have got to the point of wondering if He has forgotten about returning. Yet we see in Scripture that He has not forgotten, but rather He is patiently waiting, giving the opportunity for people to respond to His grace and love, and be brought into His Father’s family. (1 Peter 3:9-10) It is during this “waiting time” that you and I are called to study His Word (2 Timothy 2:15) and seek to always be ready to give a reason for the hope that lies within us. (1 Peter 3:15) Now is not the time for lazing in a holy hammock waiting for the Lord to appear like someone bringing you a tall glass of ice-cold lemonade, no, now is the time to be ready.  It is time to sharpen ourselves up, like one preparing to enter back into studies, now is not the time for weak minds and sloppy thinking, now is the time to prepare and share.  It’s time to “bone-up” on what we believe, and live lives that prove what we believe matters.
     This must be true for all of us, myself included. In fact, one of the things I appreciate most about being affiliated with the Evangelical Free Church of America is the importance they place upon their pastors being the “resident pastor-theologian” for each local church. They realize, and firmly communicate to us who are members of the Evangelical Free Church Ministerial that we are not primarily called to our churches to serve as CEO’s or counselors or program directors, but our call is to serve the Lord well by serving His Word well. We are called to be men and women of the Word.
    Recently, this has been driven home to me as I have been asked to chair the local licensing and ordination counsels.  These councils are opportunities for us to “test” the orthodoxy of those who wish to be licensed and/or ordained in the EFCA.  I went through my ordination process 18 years ago, and now having to chair these councils means I also need to hone-up on what I believe. You see, none of us are to simply let things slip by; rather we must heed the warning that the Apostle Paul gave to Pastor Timothy, “Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.” (2 Timothy 2:14-16)
     So, with that admonition I say to all of us, “It’s back to school time,” for we never know when the Teacher will return, therefore let us always be awake and ready.
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Friday, July 29, 2011

SOME THOUGHTS ON PRAYER

Love, Prayer, Leadership.Image by † Jimmy MacDonald † via Flickr
I FOUND ANOTHER LITTLE BOOK ON PRAYER...I was intrigued by its introduction.
"These meditations and studies on prayer are most timely.Never have there been such extensive and such convincing evidences of the poverty and inadequacy of human means and agencies for furthering the welfare of humanity; never has there been such a widespread sense of need of super-human help; never have there been such challenges to Christians to undertake deeds requiring Divine cooperation; never has there been such a manifest desire to discover the secret of the hiding and of the releasing of God's power. Interest in prayer is world-wide. This is shown in the prominence of this subject in addresses and sermons . . . as well as in the growing volume of books . . . The multiplication of Calls to Prayer . . . and of the formation of Prayer Bands and Leagues of Intercessors. . . . Among Christians everywhere, and even among many who would not call themselves believing Christians, there is being manifested an earnest desire to understand what prayer is and to engage more fully in its exercise."
That is just the first paragraph of the introduction of this powerful little book on prayer. But what is truly timely about this book entitled "The Meaning of Prayer" is that it was written in 1915 by Harry Emerson Fosdick. I feel very privileged to hold in my possession a copy of the first edition. which I discovered while "digging through" some books one of our senior saints left for the church library here at Felton Bible Church.  Oh, the treasures that await those who dig, and I am sure that will be even more true as I contemplate the truths written within this book.

Of course, all this will be for not, if one does not pray. So, may we all answer the call to prayer...not because there is power in prayer, but because the Father God to whom we pray to in the Name of Jesus and under the direction of the Holy Spirit, is the God who is the Almighty!

So, therefore, let us pray!
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Thursday, July 28, 2011

In Memory of a True Saint: John Stott

Truly, John Stott was the real thing. The true example of the Pastor/Theologian.  So many of his books have taught me, and encouraged me as a pastor, from the days of my high school ramblings (Basic Christianity) until today (The Living Church:Convictions of a Lifelong Pastor). Thank you, Lord for this brother, teacher, pastor.


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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

did you see THAT?!?

I CAN REALLY FEEL FOR THE APOSTLE JOHN. I mean, think about it...

He get swooped up into heaven, to the very throne room of God, filled with weird creatures (4), lots of elders (24), bunches of angels (10k x 10k), not to mention a Lamb who looked as if he had been slain. And of course there are candles, and scrolls...well you get the picture.

Here's were I feel for the guy, every time some new takes place before him I can seeing him ripping around and saying, "Hey!  Did you see THAT?!?"  Then realizing there is really nobody with whom he can share what he is witnessing.

Sure, there are the angels and some elders,  but this is nothing new to them. I'm sure you have been in that position before.  Seeing a gorgeous sunset, or the light hitting the trees in just the right way, or that perfect ocean wave crashing upon the rocks, and you turn to say to someone, "Hey, did you see THAT?!?" only to realize there is no one there to share it with.
The Falls on Clark ForkImage by outdoorPDK via Flickr 
The truth of the matter is, even for an introvert like me (yes, I am!) I like to be able to share special moments with someone else.  It's just better that way.

This week I am taking a little hiatus from preaching through Revelation because I am headed up to the Clark Fork of the Stanislaus River with my son and about 18 other guys from our church, but I wanted to encourage you to take the time and go back and read through the first five chapters of Revelation and try to put yourself in John's sandals. (You can check out past sermons here) Try to imagine seeing all that he sees and having no one to share it with. And then remember why we are told not to travel this journey alone.  God has saved us to His family, to the Body of Christ, so that we will always have someone to turn to and say, "Hey, did you see THAT?!?"
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Friday, July 15, 2011

REVELATION: WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT

THE TITLE OF THIS BLOG POST may be a little misleading. There are truly a number of things that the book of Revelation is all about, but yesterday I had one of those moments of epiphany that comes when I am out running. I guess when your heart is thumping so loud that those you pass along the way can hear it, and the sweat is massaging your eyes with a saline-laden concoction, one tends to be more open to the voice of God...it has to do with being close to death, I suppose. Anyway...

I was out running at Henry Cowell State Park on a 3.5 mile run I call the "Ox Trail Loop." There are a couple a steep sections that can really knock you down, and thus far, after returning to running from a long period of not running, I have been beaten down by this run.  Always finding myself needing to stop and walk up the steeper portions. Anyway...

Cover of Cover of RockyAs I was running, feeling better than I have lately, I was thinking about my study in the book of Revelation and how one of the recurring themes is that of "endurance" and of "overcoming." (Revelation 2:7, Revelation 2:11, Revelation 2:17, Revelation 3:21, Revelation 21:7, etc.) The Lord tells the readers of the Revelation that those who overcome will gain the victor's crown (amongst other things). But the overcoming and the enduring will truly take effort. One will have to dig deep, to seek the help of the Lord and to in no uncertain terms, "gut it out." When one does then they will enjoy the fruits of victory.  Anyway...

With those thoughts ringing in my ears I pushed through, and I truly believe, only by the Lord's help did I run the whole loop without stopping.  There was great rejoicing reaching the top of the Ox Trail incline! (Think Rocky on the top steps in Philadelphia.) I made it...OK, we made it, but I was able to enjoy the fruit of overcoming. And this I believe is one of the key lessons to the readers of the letter of Revelation. There were coming some seemingly insurmountable hills, but to the one who overcomes the victory crown awaits.

Here's another anecdote. This past week I fought long and hard with the Lord over having to do a certain "ministry."  It got down-right ugly. Let's just say God would have had an easier time with Balaam's donkey than with me (Numbers 22:1-35) Fortunately, I did not give in to my whims, but served anyway, and God, as he is known to do, showed up and people were blessed through the donkey...and so was the donkey.  I could had run the other way, but I chose to endure, even if it wasn't with the purest of heart and motive, and I was able to share once again the victor's crown.  Anyway...

I don't know what you're facing today. But I believe if you choose to endure and to be an overcomer, you too shall gain the crown. If you're down and out today, pick up the book of Revelation and gain hope, for those who remain steadfast shall gain the victory that is sure, even if your heart is ready to melt and your eyes are drowning in tears. Endure! Overcome!  In the strength of the LORD!
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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

GLIMPSES OF GLORY -- Revelation 4


THIS PAST WEEK WE CELEBRATED OUR NATION'S BIRTHDAY, and while my family (extended and otherwise) and I were watching the fireworks explode over Skypark in Scotts Valley I heard playing in the background the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."
  
My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
He is trampling out the vintage 
where the grapes of wrath are store
He has loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword
His truth is marching on!
Glory, glory, Hallelujah
Glory, glory, Hallelujah
Glory, glory, Hallelujah
His truth is marching on!

I honestly never really thought of that song tied to the book of the Revelation, but ti surely is. And I supposed both sides of the battles which forced the penning of this song surely thought that the coming of the Lord was near, and this is was to be the battle to usher in the Kingdom of God.


The sermon for Sunday July 10th is dealing with the visions of glory that the Apostle John saw as he was invited into the very throne room of God. (Revelation 4:1-11) (Part of the series, Hope During the Hard Times) A sight that he was hard-pressed to put into words.  It was a sight not unlike the prophet Isaiah saw, when he too was invited in the presence of the LORD. (Isaiah 6:1-10)


In fact, I would encourage you to take a look at those two passages and make note of how for the Eternal One things don't really change that much.  What Isaiah saw, so too did John.


As I contemplated what these two men witnessed I thought how might I explain the "glory of the Lord?" Not an easy reality to put into words. A sunset? The roaring of Yosemite Falls? The pounding of the surf? A baby's soft breath? The list could go on and on, much as the glory of God does.


I invite you to join me on that meditative journey. How would you describe, explain, the glory of the Lord? How would you describe the throne room of the Holy One?  Not an easy task for sure, but one that causes us to stop and consider once again the greatness of our God and King.


Glory! 
Glory! 
Hallelujah!
Holy! 
Holy! 
Holy!