T-ball is over and PeeWee is going to be done this week. Jeremiah is so proud of his medal that he has worn it to bed. Jonathan’s team has put on quite a show this week. They have won all three of their tournament games so far with two of them being come from behind wins. Monday night they started the final inning down two runs. They scored five to take the lead and then took the field. Since all the players on each team bat in every inning, it is nearly impossible to prevent a team from scoring. I haven’t seen it happen at all this summer. But of course, in the bottom of the last inning our kids are getting outs all over the field: at second, third (at least three in a row came there), they got a force out at home on the next to last batter and caught the final ball put in play. End result was a three run lead that held up. The kids were jumping up and down and yelling. In reality the league doesn’t care about keeping score, but believe me the kids know the score. They lost to this team early in the season, but the improvement that our kids have shown is amazing. Last night they were able to bat last in both games (it’s determined by coin toss) and in the first game they built up such a lead that we didn’t need to bat in the bottom of the last inning(time was a factor too since we had another game to play). In the second game it was another come from behind win. We started the bottom of that inning down three runs. The kids had another good inning at the plate. They had scored three runs and had runners on second and third when the last batter came to the plate. He had been having a rough night without a hit to this point in the second game. I don’t even remember him getting a hit in the first game. Normally, he is one of our best hitters so he was due. I told him he just needed to make contact and not worry about getting another home run(he has four inside the park home runs already). He made good contact and the two runners scored. He was tagged out at the plate on a close play. The kids were going crazy. As coaches we are so happy for them. I can’t believe how much they have learned and improved this summer. I wish we had a video to compare it with. It is fun to watch. We have stumbled onto a lineup that works really well for the kids. Jonathan is hitting in the middle and the extra runners ahead of him on base frequently gives him a chance to get on with a hit, even in the infield. Last night he had a couple of hits that would have been good even without the extra runners. He is really getting better and I think he has a lot of fun as well.
Monthly Archives: July 2008
Baseball is winding down
Whose Kingdom Come?
As American Christians we are very familiar with the “culture war”. We have been told that we have to confront evil in our culture and change our culture back to a “godly” one. We need to work to make America honor God and make American culture honor God. If someone would kindly point out the Biblical mandate for this call, I would appreciate it. Many outspoken Christians in the public square have spent much time and effort in attempting to reshape America into the grand vision of an earthly kingdom that God would be proud to call His own. I hate to tell them this, but God isn’t interested in making America into His new chosen people or His new chosen land. It isn’t a new Washington D.C. that will be coming down in Revelation 21. We don’t expand God’s Kingdom by making a Christian culture or nation. We expand God’s Kingdom by telling more people His Gospel and thereby finding more people who choose to acknowledge Him as Lord and King. Continue reading
Acts 15 is not a Church council!
After seeing the umpteeth debate about church authority in general and Roman Catholic authority in particular, I got hit with a lightning bolt out of the Word. And no, it wasn’t for blasphemy. Who says that the account of Acts 15 is a church council? I have involved myself in long discussions on the implications of the Jerusalem “Council” and its view of church authority, but if this isn’t a council then all of those arguments are fruitless(of course many of them may have been fruitless anyway). I know that the Bibles I look in show that heading over the text in some cases, and everywhere I search online there is a mention of this as the “first church council”. But stay with me for a minute while we take an inventory. What starts the situation? Some people come up from Judea, where Jerusalem is located and go to Antioch and start some trouble in the area. They start insisting that Gentile believers become Jews, ect. The church at Antioch gets upset about this, and rightfully so, and they send representatives to Jerusalem(the source of the offenders) to discuss the matter. Did every church get involved in this dispute? Not that we can see from the Bible text. Did every church get affected by the decision? It doesn’t appear that is the case either since the letter from the “council” is only directed to the churches in the affected area of the original trouble (Acts 15:23). Let’s take an in depth look at this passage with fresh eyes. Continue reading
What am I? The Rich Man?
Years ago, as a younger believer, I was drawn to this crazy music group named Raspberry Jam. Tonight they came roaring back into my head. They did a song that I think was called “Everything We Need”. It was a perfect indictment of our consumer culture. At one point in the song the guy is asking if he is supposed to sell everything he has to give it to the poor and asks, “What am I?!? the rich man???” Well, the short answer(the same one he is getting at in the song) is YES!! At least, if you are reading this I would assume that it is true of you as much as it is of me. We are rich beyond compare. We have no idea how rich we truly are. I was reading Luke 12 tonight and used part of it for the devotional that I write.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Lately there is an abundance of stories in the media highlighting potential and real financial disasters. The media is looking to get people all worked up and panicked that their treasures are going down the drain. So it is refreshing to see a story that shows that some believers have got their perspective straight. I am a regular reader at Internet Monk and he has started a new site called Jesus Shaped Spirituality. He has a challenging post up right now that strikes at one of the hearts of our discipleship. Can we put our money where our beliefs are? He linked up to a story about a church that is committing to give away 60% of their budget to missions. That isn’t a typo and they aren’t crazy. This is a group of people committed to taking what Jesus said and living it in their lives. I not only applaud them for it; it makes me want to stand up and say God use my church like this.
The idea of giving has always been a struggle for me. I always thought the idea that it was more blessed to give than to receive was weird. When I took those spiritual gifts inventories that you take in some churches, I would generally score worst on giving(including one time that I got a zero). I am not proud of that fact. It has been one of the things that God has been gracious to deal with me and help me to grow. I have gotten better. I have a wife who gives without thinking twice and is so generous it was bound to rub off (great blessing from God). I have also been greatly encouraged by books like The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn, which helped me to make huge strides in my attitude toward giving. Hopefully, you can start to understand that looking at the idea of Element Church in Nashville and wondering if my church can pull that off is a big deal to me. It is an even bigger testament to God’s transformational power in a life. I am praying for Element as they step out boldly in a way that few churches would dare. I am praying that God would give me the courage to follow Him at all costs. The passage from Luke is clear. I can’t try and twist it around and say it doesn’t apply me because I am not rich. The words of Yeshua ring through the centuries. Where is your treasure?
Does Todd Bentley have Angels in the Outfield?
And if he does, what kind of angels are they? I have already written one post critical of his antics and violence, but then I saw a couple of posts about his ministry and some of his questionable teaching, so I thought I would take another few minutes to highlight another troubling aspect of this ministry, his exaltation of angels. By the way, if you want a firsthand account of the revival from a believer who went to check it out, look here.
I found a “teaching” or sermon or something by Todd Bentley about angels. I was able to read most of it with some disagreements here and there, that is until I ran into this whopper.
Recently, I had an angel come to me in Kansas City. He said, “Todd, my name is Promise, and I’ve come to bring the fulfillment of God’s promises. I’ve come to bring the fulfillment of the prophetic words spoken to intercessors. I have come for those who have been like Hannah-they have prayed, waited and carried a promise in their hearts. There will come a time when God has heard and I will release the Samuel,” Be encouraged-there is an angel called promise that is involved in bringing your intercessory breakthrough. When this angel comes into my meetings people get breakthrough and answered prayers.
What in the world does this mean? This is in direct contradiction to God’s Word. Look at what Paul says in 2 Corinthians1:18-22
18But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” 19For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” 20For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Why is there an “angel” named Promise doing Christ’s job. What does Paul say here? Through Christ, the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. If God has made a promise to you, He doesn’t need an angel to make it happen. Christ has already done it. I suppose you could say, “It is finished”!
But it gets worse. Continue reading
Is it wrong to change God’s calendar?
I have made several posts about the Feasts of the Lord and their significance. The church has wondered around for centuries now with a calendar that obscures God’s times and appointments. Judging from the search terms that people have used to find me lately, there is a growing group of people who are waking up to God’s “clock”. I have continued to do studying on these topics and ran across some interesting information. I was reading some commentaries by Isaac Newton, believe it or not. Newton devoted much of his life to studying and trying to understand God’s Word and particularly prophecy. I am not endorsing everything he wrote by any means, as I think he certainly had some issues in his theology. However, in skimming one of the commentaries I noticed an unusual passage in Daniel that had never caught my attention before I began to study the Feasts. Daniel 7:24-27 says this:
24 ‘As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings. 25 ‘He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. 26 ‘But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever. 27 ‘Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.’ 28 “At this point the revelation ended. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts were greatly alarming me and my face grew pale, but I kept the matter to myself.”
In verse 25 it indicates that this “ruler” will attempt to alter times and laws. If you can’t tell from the passage, this “ruler” does bad things. Verse 26 makes it plain that this won’t last forever and that the “power” that has tried to obscure God’s times and laws will be judged and overthrown. If you want further confirmation of this, look at passages in the Bible that speak of the end of time. Zechariah 14 plainly says that all people will celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles(v. 18-19). Isaiah makes it plain that we will celebrate together in the news heavens and the new earth. What will we celebrate? Rosh Hodesh and Shabbat are listed here(66:23). So, if we are going to be on God’s calendar at the end of time, why aren’t we on it now? If the church is grafted on to the people of God(Israel), why did it need a different calendar? Ironically, the church has helped to plant the poppy field that she is now laying in fast asleep. We need to wake up and stop smelling the flowers.
1Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-6)
“Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.” – Revelation 16:15
There are great resources out there for people who want to wake up to God’s calendar and His times. I highly recommend this video at El Shaddai ministries to ground you in the Scriptural basis for knowing God’s time. I have a much longer post entitled People Get Ready! Jesus is Coming! Soon We’ll be Going Home, on some of the things that caught my attention recently that you can see by following that link. But let me answer the question that was asked by the title. Yes, it is wrong to change God’s calendar. It is wrong to change God’s anything to suit ourselves. It is a violation of His commandments. And you may remember that Yeshua specifially said, “If you love Me, keep my commandments.”
What’s a perfect God to do?
I have been having another interesting discussion in the comments of my post asking if Peter considered himself the first pope. It raised some interesting comments and questions and after reading a post over a Jesus Shaped Spirituality this evening, I wanted to put a few more thoughts down. Part of it started with a question from Tim Troutman who had linked to that post at his blog:
If Christianity is a religion of the book as Protestants insist, why did God let Christianity go on for so long (most of her existence) without actually having the canon correct?
From the Bible it is apparent that God is far more gracious and forgiving than we(humans) ever give Him credit for. He is committed to working through imperfect people in imperfect ways at every turn it seems. He chooses for Himself a man to make a nation. That man has a problem telling the truth about his wife whenever he gets in a tight spot and he also tries to make his own fulfillment for one of God’s promises. God uses a lying, thieving, scoundrel as the father of the twelve tribes of His chosen people. He uses a stuttering, cowardly guy who wouldn’t take the job until God said his brother could help him to liberate His people from Egypt. In fact, He even used that guy’s stick. He used a donkey to rebuke a prophet who should have known better. He used another coward hiding in a winepress to defeat an army with a handful of men. He used a swaggering womanizer, who never met a vow he couldn’t break. He used a king with a horrendous temper and zero patience. He followed that up with a king who, while being a man after His heart, still managed to commit adultery and murder with no initial remorse until he was called out by God’s prophet. And that is the guy that He gave the honor of an everlasting kingdom in his line, the one He would have His own Son forever identified with. Don’t forget the prophet who not only disobeyed God’s command initially, but furthermore ran in the other direction. Only after being swallowed whole and left to sit in a great fish for three days did he even begrudgingly follow God’s direction. And then he didn’t do so very enthusiastically. These guys are the exception really, they are more like the normative flow. The list goes on. When we come to the New Testament it is the same story. He picks some of the loudest and most obnoxious guys as disciples. (Here I have to give a nod to iMonk’s excellent imagining of Peter’s first words to the disciples after he repented for disowning Jesus). Heck, two of them were nicknamed “Sons of Thunder”. He even picks one who He knows will betray Him, because that’s how He said it had to be. He essentially let the apostles “throw dice” to pick the replacement apostle. And he picked up a murderer to act as His apostle to the Gentiles. You know the guy who referred to himself as the “chief of sinners” (Which raises an interesting question, did the apostles jump the gun on God when they picked a replacement this way? ). And at this point I have only mentioned people from Scripture that have been used by God. As we look through the history of the church we can find even more examples of people who weren’t just imperfect, they were scoundrels and slavetraders and believe it or not, He’s even used me in His service a time or two. Even if someone is using 73 books instead of 66 or the other way around God is still able to speak to them. It isn’t as though we are talking about two completely different Scriptures that don’t say the same thing. My point in all of this is simply to say that God has always been able to accomplish His plan with “ordinary” men no matter what they do or understand. They have never been perfect or infallible and frankly God is big enough to handle that and make it work.
More Than Bread Devotional for 7/1/08
1 Peter 1:13-16
13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
The Biblical concept of the holiness of God in Leviticus refers in part to His being very different from anything else. He is so totally other, so set apart from anything else. If we take that idea to ourselves as Peter has mentioned here(since he was quoting from Leviticus), we can see better what this means in our lives. By following God and His pattern for our lives as lived by Jesus Christ, we will end up looking totally different from anything else. We become conformed to the image of God and His way of living, thinking, acting and so on. So think of verse sixteen like this, “Be different, because He is different.”
Heat Wave and Fun Stuff
Well, it looks like we will have back to back days with temps in the 80s so I think that qualifies as a heat wave. I will tell you all one thing though. The sun up here is brutal. I was out today to watch Jeremiah’s t-ball game and managed to really sunburn the tops of my knees pretty badly. I had gotten a light burn on them a week or so ago that didn’t really do much, but this one is bright pink and angry looking. I put the blue stuff on it and that helped, but it is still giving off some heat. I have some pictures of Jeremiah at t-ball and the kids entertaining me a couple of days ago with some VeggieTales puppet action.
Here is Jeremiah standing at first after a hit.
This is Jeremiah running the bases.
This is Jeremiah playing at second base.
This was my own showing of the Dance of the Cucumber.
This is the part where Junior comes in to get his picture taken with the cucumber in authentic Argentinian garb. I have videos of this as well that are just priceless. I am not sure how to explain the presence of Laura the carrot other that AllieRose simply couldn’t be left out of this much fun.