Archive for July 2009

Clement of Rome (Church History Vignette 6)

Clement of Rome ranks among the most influential and important very early church fathers. Clement is so important because, from all that we can tell, he was an immediate disciple of both the Apostles Peter and Paul. This close tie to apostolic authority and teaching is very important and vindicates apostolic teaching against later charges of anachronism and redactionism. Clement's identification with Paul, especially, is so exciting because he was very likely the same Clement mentioned in Philippians 4:3 (although there are multiple theories to the contrary of which some hold weight). Eusebius and others place Clement as the direct successor to Peter as head of the church of Rome, but he was more likely the third successor to Peter in this position. He was, however, definitely the head of the church at Rome at the end of the first century. 
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Published on July 1, 2009 at 2:48 am |

Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is an excellent adaptation of C.S. Lewis' original story by the same name.  Many avid Narnia fans (like me) were worried that Andrew Adamson and his staff of writers would not do justice to C.S. Lewis' timeless classic, but that is not the case.  While there are some deviations from the book, the movie remains relatively faithful to the original and captures the heart of Lewis' original tale.Read more ...

Published on July 2, 2009 at 11:29 pm |

Passion vs. Self-Control

Passion and self-control are often seen as mutually-exclusive.  One of my best friends from my early life is a phenomenally passionate and talented artist, but she lacks (or at least used to lack) any sort of ability to work on a schedule. It was a regular occurence for her to turn in an art project which was noticeably the best in her class only to receive a C because it was two weeks late. In our world passion is often seen as the antithesis of self-control. If someone is passionate, they are wild, unconventional, spontaneous, and exciting. If someone is self-controlled, they are disciplined, efficient, steady, and serious. In our American culture we definitely gravitate towards the first more than the second.Read more ...

Published on July 6, 2009 at 4:05 pm |

Hungry for God: A Biblical Perspective on Fasting

Fasting is an age-old tradition that finds its roots among the earliest forms of religion that are recorded in written history.  And yet a simple google search reveals that it is a current fad among the health community.  Offers of a juice fast diet and a toxin purging fast are among the many that are presented as current benefits of fasting.  The health dangers and benefits are widely documented by the health community, but what are the spiritual benefits of fasting?  Is fasting something that Christians should practice today?  What does the Bible say about fasting?  Let's take a look at these and other questions concerning fasting.Read more ...

Published on July 10, 2009 at 3:49 am |

I Corinthians 1:4-9

by Drew Sutherland
2009-06-14 I Corinthians 1:4-9
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Published on July 10, 2009 at 5:53 pm |

Acts 1:6-11

by Chris White
2009-06-14 Acts 1:6-11
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Published on July 10, 2009 at 5:53 pm |

Discretion Over Restriction

Many well-meaning Christian parents mistake stringent rule-making for good parenting. Being strict does not mean you are a good parent. There is a corollary to this in the sports world. If you are an athlete or a fan, you have probably experienced a coach who was very strict but did not actually teach the game very well. I once played for a coach who made his players work very hard, and he gave us lots of rules. We were very disciplined, and many guys on the team thought that they were good ballplayers because they did everything the coach told them to do. However, they never actually developed the skills they needed to play the game well. When a game situation got tight, all the discipline in the world didn't help because those players lacked basic skill.Read more ...

Published on July 12, 2009 at 3:26 am |

The Jesus Storybook Bible

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name
by Sally Lloyd Jones
Published 2007 by Zondervan 

The Jesus Storybook Bible"Some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn't do....Other people think the bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy..." begins Sally Lloyd Jones, in The Jesus Storybook Bible; "but the Bible isn't mainly about you and what you should be doing.  It's about God and what he has done."  This God-centered focus continues throughout the book.  So much of what passes for Bible-based children's literature is merely rehashed, moralistic principles that could be just as easily found in Aesop's Fables.  This is excitedly not the case in Sally Lloyd Jones' book.  While it does contain moral lessons and principles, that is not the focus of the book.  The book focuses on a Hero who forsakes everything to come and rescue the people He loves.  Each of the stories in this book serves to point to the great Rescuer, Jesus.  As the subtitle of the book so aptly states it, "every story whispers his name."Read more ...

Published on July 17, 2009 at 12:45 am |

Priesthood of the Believers

The priesthood of the believers is an important concept for Christians to understand. In the Old Testament followers of Yahweh had to follow an elaborate worship ritual. The culmination of worship was the bringing of offerings to the priests at the Temple. Offerings ranged from gold, silver, and other valuables, to grain, fruit, and spices, and perhaps most importantly blood sacrifices (as a foreshadowing of the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus Christ). Ultimately, however, the sacrifices were offered through the agency of a priest.Read more ...

Published on July 19, 2009 at 11:57 pm |

O For That Day

Enfield, Connecticut, is the town made famous by the preaching of Jonathan Edwards' sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." The band is so named because it was formed to play at the "Resolved Conference" (a ministry of Grace Community Church). The "Resolved" Conference derives its name from Jonathan Edwards' "Resolutions." These "Resolutions" were a series of commitments Edwards made to God when he realized his own sinfulness in view of God's holiness. Each resolution begins "Resolved, ________".

The theme of the 2009 conference (and the album produced for it) was sin and the rescue from sin that is and will be Heaven. I have never been more excited and about (and grateful because of) my rescue from sin to an eventual home in Heaven than I have been these past few weeks after falling in love with this album. I urge you to give the album the half-hearted listen with 30% of your attention that you likely typically give to an album. Then, I implore you to set aside 45 minutes to do nothing other than to listen to the album and to focus on its thrilling message!Read more ...

Published on July 23, 2009 at 4:57 pm |

A Four-Point Outline from Jude

A Four-Point Outline from Jude

As I was doing some personal Bible-reading recently I came across these two verses in Jude. I am sure that I have read them before, but I was struck by the simplicity and straight-forward nature of the teaching they contained.

Jude 1:20-21  But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

Were I going somewhere to preach one sermon, I just might preach these four points.

Beloved, do these four things:

1.      Build yourself up in your most holy faith.

Every believer needs the constant reminder to continue in the faith. One of the most helpful illustrations I have ever heard about the Christian's daily walk is the image of a man walking the wrong way up a down escalator. You can definitely make headway, but you must stay in motion. If you are standing still (on an escalator or in your Christian walk) you will drift backwards. Paul sets a great example when he says, Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14). Jude here is calling us to a constant ongoing commitment to our faith.

2.      Pray in the Holy Spirit.

It is amazing that we need the Holy Spirit to empower us even as we pray. Most of us are not great in the realm of prayer. Even in our most basic interaction with God, we struggle. The great news for us is that the Holy Spirit is our ally in prayer. Romans 8:26 says-Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Jude reminds us that the Spirit can help us, intercede for us, and empower us in prayer.

3.      Keep yourselves in the love of God

There is beautiful ambiguity in the phrase "the love of God." This can refer to the love that God has for us, and it can refer to the love we have for God. John tells us that there is a cause/effect relationship between these two concepts-we love God because He loved us (1 John 4:9). It is difficult to determine to which Jude is referring. Jesus told Jewish leaders on several occasions that they did not demonstrate the love of God though they claimed to live for Him (Luke 11:42; John 5:42). These references seem to be the love people have for God. In Romans 5:5 and 8:39, however, Paul uses this phrase and clearly seems to be talking about the love God has for His children. Because Jude says for his readers to keep themselves in the love of God, it would seem to be that he wants them to keep loving God. The reasoning for this is that in the aforementioned Romans 8:38-39 Paul says, For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. If nothing can separate us from the love that God has for us, than perhaps Jude is not telling us to keep ourselves in that love but rather to reciprocate that love to Him.

4.      Waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

This verb "waiting" in the Greek is like a present progressive in English. In English we limit our present progressives or they imply endlessness. For instance if I say "I am walking," your brain would automatically start searching for a limiter. Without one it seems like I may walk forever. Most times I would say "I am walking to my brother's house," or "I am walking for an hour." Those statements are limited and so we do not feel uncomfortable as though a thought were left hanging. Jude here uses such an ongoing statement and his limiter is implied-as long as it takes. How long will we wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life? We will wait as long as it takes. Our God is a merciful God. He will have mercy on those to whom He chooses to show mercy (Romans 9:15). It is not our responsibility to decide for God; it is our duty to be faithful and wait for Him to work. The awesome payout is that the verses following our passage describe how God will use us to bring others to Him.

These four points are very basic, but they are a great reminder as to what we are supposed to be doing to advance God's Kingdom on earth-mind our walk with God, be faithful in prayer, love God, and wait for Him as He works in others through us.






Published on July 26, 2009 at 3:43 am |

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