Monthly Archives: June 2008

More Than Bread Devotional for 6/30/08

Psalm 118:1-6
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
2 Let Israel say:
“His love endures forever.”
3 Let the house of Aaron say:
“His love endures forever.”
4 Let those who fear the LORD say:
“His love endures forever.”
5 In my anguish I cried to the LORD,
and he answered by setting me free.
6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?

With God there are certain things you can always count on.  One of them is “His love endures forever”.  What a great promise.  No matter what you do or where you go, you cannot escape God’s love.(Romans 8:38-39)  That truth makes the rest of this Psalm flow.  This is the psalm that the disciples and Jesus probably sang after the passover meal that night before His crucifixion by the way.  Which makes the words even more powerful in verses 5 and 6.  Let these words give comfort to you in times of trouble.  The Lord is with you; do not be afraid.  What can man do to you?

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People get ready! Jesus is Coming! Soon we’ll be going Home

Updated information:  I added a couple of sentences to this post and placed today’s date in italics before them at the best place for them to fit.  I also added a link or two as events have popped up to add to the mix.

I am not given to wild and rampant speculation, except on some occasions and then usually for fun and what if’s sake.  That may be the reason that I titled this post with lyrics from an old song sung by Crystal Lewis. I got a real start though this evening.  I was reading an article that caught my eye from Yahoo news about the new supercollider they are building and planning to open later this year.

“Obviously, the world will not end when the LHC switches on,” said project leader Lyn Evans. . .

. . .Critics like Wagner have said the collisions caused by accelerators could be more hazardous than those of cosmic rays.

Both may produce micro black holes, subatomic versions of cosmic black holes — collapsed stars whose gravity fields are so powerful that they can suck in planets and other stars.

But micro black holes produced by cosmic ray collisions would likely be traveling so fast they would pass harmlessly through the earth.

Micro black holes produced by a collider, the skeptics theorize, would move more slowly and might be trapped inside the earth’s gravitational field — and eventually threaten the planet.

What does this have to do with the title of this post?  I will try to explain.  This article set off an interesting train of thought in my head.  Earlier this year, I caught a news story about Pastor Mark Biltz in Washington who had made an interesting discovery about lunar eclipses that occured on the same days as God’s Feasts.  In 2014-2015 there are four lunar eclipses that fall on Passover and Tabernacles.  This is an oddity that doesn’t happen very often.  In fact, the other times it has happened in history are typically tied to some important event in the history of the Jewish people.  You can see more information and find links to the programs with more details about this at their website.  In addition there are two solar eclipses that take place during that time frame.  I don’t want to overstate the importance of this, but you can check out his comments at their website for what he says about it.  Suffice it to say that this astronomical (not astrological) is God’s way of telling those who are paying attention (watching like we are told to do) that something big is happening and soon.  If that is a signal of Christ’s final return, and it could be, then we have some interesting things to ponder.  It is possible, based on this that the 7 year period of tribulation would start this year! Some of you reading this have already written me off with that last statement.  I assure you I am not attempting to set a date of any kind, but I am trying to obey Christ’s command to be watchful and know the seasons.  With all that being said, I want to jump in a little further.  If you are intrigued by now, hit read more and keep reading. Continue reading

Categories: Christianity, End Times, False Teachers, Feasts, Messiah, Persecution, theology, Yeshua | 5 Comments

More Than Bread Devotional for 6/27/08

Matthew 15:1-3
1 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”
3Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?

With three kids around the house, we often get informed of the wrongdoings of one or two kids by a third.  When I saw these verses it sounded a lot like that to me.  The Pharisees were convinced that they had Jesus cornered once again because His disciples didn’t play by their rules.  Jesus stopped them in their tracks by explaining that their rules weren’t in line with God’s instructions at all.  If you read the rest of the chapter you will find the verses I referred to yesterday about what we say revealing what’s in our hearts.  The attitude of their heart was to point out the errors with everyone else, while completely ignoring their own problems.  As Christians, we must be much more diligent about judging ourselves before God than we are about judging others place before God.

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More Than Bread Devotional for 6/26/08

Psalm 19:14
14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

You are what you eat is the old adage.  But Biblically there is a much better one.  You are what you say.  Here in the Psalms is a prayer to the Lord that our words and our thoughts would be pleasing to God.  This is the same idea as what Jesus told His disciples that the words that come out of our mouths show the contents of our hearts(Matthew 15).  So we could even take it a step deeper and say, you are what you think about (meditate on if you will).  It is why the Psalmist says in Psalm 119:37 – Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.

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Was Peter the first Pope?

Update:  As you may notice in the comments, this post was included in a Patristic Carnival at another blog.  To those who have found your way here via that link, welcome.

I had some great comments and discussion on the first post about what the Church should look like.  But one of them spurred some serious thinking.  I was discussing this with GregF in that comment thread and he asked a very good question:

The question then is: After the close of the apostolic age, who did have the authority to speak for God in any given city where the Church existed?

By my reading of the available literature, commonly called the writings of the Early Church Fathers, I think the person with that authority is the senior Christian in that city (the bishop).

I answered with a couple of musings in the comments, but this set off a deeper look.  If Peter was indeed given preference by the rest of the Apostles, there are a couple of things that must be dealt with.  Firstly, why was James the one who stated the final solution in Acts 15?  Shouldn’t this have been Peter?  If Peter was in the room and was the ultimate authority(Papal infallibility and ex cathedra are asserted to have always existed as far as I know); he should have been the one to do this.  I have always been taught that James was the leader of the church in Jerusalem, but that would have made him the leader while Peter was there as well.  I have never thought to ask the question before and haven’t found a ready answer, so I would be willing to hear some other points of view on this one.

The second question comes from Peter’s own attitude of his status.  As you read his epistles, you don’t see any special claim of authority or “primacy” to use the Catholic term.  Quite the contrary.  In 1 Peter 5:1 it says this:

1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed:  2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

This doesn’t have any hint of authority in it.  Phrases like “a fellow elder” and “share in the glory” don’t lend themselves to a view of being “Prince of the Apostles”.  If Peter was seen as this original papal figure, why did he have to defend his own actions in Acts 11?  There are more questions like this, but no answers that satisfy.  It strikes at the heart of the authority question that was raised in the earlier dialog.  I say that Christ is the authority and no man on earth can usurp His place.

Categories: Apologetics, Christianity, church | 13 Comments

What is the Church supposed to be like Part 2

As a follow up to some of the discussion from my earlier post, I wanted to insert this article into the thinking process.  This is about the house churches in China.  They don’t belong to a denomination.  They are trying to associate together according to this article to help gain greater freedom to worship.  I have read a lot about the Church in China from Voice of the Martyrs, and some excellent books especially The Heavenly Man.  There are hundreds of churches in China that worship Christ as Savior and Lord.  I was moved to tears on more than one occasion by Brother Yun’s testimony in The Heavenly Man. When you read about the experiences of the believers there it sounds like something right out of the book of Acts.  God does miraculous things and people are convicted and converted.  The book tells the story of the deliverance of God for Brother Yun from a Chinese maximum security prison that just reminded me vividly of Peter’s story in Acts.  It was so amazing to me to know that God still moves and works the way He always has and will.  My sister had the opportunity to meet Brother Yun last year and I have a picture of her with him.  When she was talking to him he shared that it was a very special day for him.  Turns out that it was the 10th anniversary of the day he walked out of the prison.

I say all of that to say this.  God is bigger that our box, our building or our beliefs.  And His Church is far bigger than our attempts to limit it to any one denomination.  These believers in China are my brothers and sisters in Christ.  They are most certainly part of His Church.  Christ died for them and they follow Him at a much greater cost than I can fathom.  They know what it means to pick up their cross daily and follow Him.  In America we think we have been persecuted when someone doesn’t say “Merry Christmas” or something.  I think we can learn a lot from their example.  Being the Church is much more basic that how we take communion or how we get baptized or what building we worship in on whatever day we worship.  It is about belonging to Christ before it is about belonging to anything else.

Categories: Christianity, church, Persecution | Leave a comment

More Than Bread Devotional for 6/24/08

Isaiah 40:13
13 Who has understood the mind of the LORD,
or instructed him as his counselor?

The most dangerous time in the life of a believer may be the moment we think we have God all figured out.  I wouldn’t say that God deliberately complicates things as much as we do sometimes, but it is plain from Scripture that we just cannot pin Him down if you will.  In another place in Scripture it tells us that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.  There are a lot of truths that we can know in this life.  Let me give you a firm one here.  You will never have God “figured out”.  You can know Him and love Him and serve Him and follow Him.  But understanding Him completely is beyond us.

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Well, we finally got pictures from Jonathan’s game tonight. I was the only coach there for our team and we were missing two players. Amelia was able to come and help keep order in the dugout for me. The other team only had 8 players, but we figured the kids would still have fun anyway. I got hit by a batted ball in the bottom of the second and the girl that was pitching to the other team got hit by one in the top of the third. It is pretty ironic, since I haven’t seen a single pitcher hit by a ball in a game so far and it happened with both teams within an inning tonight. Anyway, here are the pictures of the pitcher with the rubber arm(at least my arm feels like rubber). How do you get one of those big league cold packs anyway? Also a shot of Jonathan at bat and in the field.
This is Jonathan at the plate.

This is Jonathan at second base in the field.

This is that wild pitcher. There were a couple of old guys in the stands tonight offering a ton of advice on how to pitch better. Needless to say the comments didn’t help my arm feel any better. I need to be put on a pitch count or something. 🙂

Categories: baseball, family, summer | Leave a comment

More Than Bread Devotional for 6/23/08

1 Corinthians 8:11-33
11 So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.

I saw this verse on a blog last night and the comments on it just made me shout, Hallelujah! We as Christians need to start learning to live with a lot of grace. Paul speaks at the beginning of this chapter about how knowledge puffs up(remember the leaven thing?) but that love builds up. He says that the man who loves God is known by God. And we know that when we love God, we will also love our brother or sister in Christ. When we take our knowledge (even if we are right) and use it to demean or cause another believer to stumble or hurt, we have sinned!! Paul says that he would go so far as to never eat meat again, but this isn’t just about living vegan. We should all learn to err on the side of grace, even before being right.

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What is the Church supposed to be like?

Update: In my discussion on this post I realized that I mislinked two of my own blog posts in the original post.  I have fixed those links.  Sorry if they caused anyone a headache.

Let me start with a disclaimer. I love my church. I love the people in my church. Of all the churches I have been in, this is one of my all time favorites. We aren’t perfect, but we are a family.

I started reading a post over at Jesus Shaped Spirituality today about the church. I think it was through a link and a link again or two in the comments that led me to a blog by a professor at Southeastern. From there I found my way to a discussion about a book that George Barna has released along with Frank Viola called Pagan Christianity?. Those who have been reading here for very long, or those who know me or have talked to me can understand why I felt the need to dig a little deeper on this one. My studies into the Hebraic roots movement and teaching have led to some questions about some of church practices, and I know Barna’s reputation. I don’t always agree with everything that he has said or done, but he has provided many valuable insights with his surveys in the past. I confess to knowing absolutely nothing about Frank Viola before today, but in my perusal of his site, the interview that is linked above and the chapter or two of the book that I read online, I appreciate his spirit and attitude.

How many of us ask this question at the top of this post? How often do we stop to wonder why we do what we do? As a pastor of a Southern Baptist church in a far flung area of North Dakota, I have often found myself looking at the big debates and discussions of my own denomination at large to be somewhat superfluous. I read some of the blogs of folks who are “movers and shakers” in the convention structure. I read the lengthy discussions over at the Founder’s Blog about the need for accountability in church membership and the doctrinal discussions about people who aren’t strong enough Calvinists, and I have to ask myself what we are doing as a denomination. Let me take on the idea of the regenerate membership discussion for a moment.

The heart of the issue is that the churches of the SBC claim over 16,000,000 members, but can only account for about 6,000,000 people on any given Sunday. While I can appreciate what they are seeking to do, there are some other questions that should be asked. Are we as a denomination guilty of just “making converts” as opposed to making disciples? Should we examine some of what we do in light of Matthew 23:15 – “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.”? Are some of those 10,000,000 unaccounted for people part of what Christ was describing here? False converts who now have a false sense of security because we got them to pray a prayer and walk an aisle and be baptized. I am not trying to be accusatory here; I am in fact a lifelong SBC guy. I was raised in an SBC church in the south and traveled north as an SBC Mission Service Corp Missionary. At this point there may be some well-meaning SBC folks who would love to find out who I am and give me some correction. Finding out where I am shouldn’t be a problem, since I don’t attempt to hide it from anyone who can read and I am more than willing to accept constructive criticism. If I am in error, please feel free to point it out. I do think that it is time we ask ourselves the tough questions about our personal walk with Christ and about our corporate relationship in our churches.

When I realized that we as Baptists had been more than willing to accept and pretty much parrot what the Roman Catholic Church teaches about the “Lord’s Day” without asking what those passages really mean, I found I had a lot more questions to ask. I have not elected to take my church down the road of moving our worship service to Sabbath(that would be the day before Sunday by the way) or anything like that. Frankly the Bible is plain that the early church met all the time, not just on Sunday, so I am not hung up on a specific day for worship. Actually, the Bible leaves us with a lot of room on a lot of things, if we are interested to find out. I am not claiming to be perfect or to know everything. In fact, I am claiming just the opposite. A lot of things I assumed I knew before have been burned up in the fire from God’s Word. And I am pretty sure He isn’t done with me yet.

So, back to the original question. What is the Church supposed to be like? I don’t have all the answers yet. In some ways, I am just learning to ask the right questions. In the meantime, I am happy to meet with the church family here that God has blessed us with let Mercy lead.

Categories: Christianity, church, Messiah, theology | 24 Comments

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