Monthly Archives: June 2009

The Real Deal

I have had some more discussions with some atheists and skeptics around the net and one of the issues that I have tried to hammer home is the fact that Jesus was a real human being.  He really lived and died and rose again.  The funny thing is that some people who consider themselves intelligent and may actually be smart about a great many things can be so foolish when it comes to the historicity of Jesus Christ.  For that reason, I wanted to offer a great article I came across a week or two ago regarding the historical Jesus.  I can’t remember how I first linked to it, but the article is great.  Here is a snippet of it, but you can read the whole thing by following the above link:

Even though this article is about the theory that Jesus never existed, I have begun with this digression on Shakespeare to illustrate that there is nothing unique about any conspiracy theory. They are all made up of similar elements and thrive in the same environments. All three of the reasons Jonathan Bate suggested in his book for the popularity of conspiracies about Shakespeare are present in the Christ Myth. For instance, there is no direct contemporary evidence for Jesus and we do not possess the original manuscripts of any of the Gospels. Christ Myth theorists are amateurs to whom professional scholars pay little attention. And finally, Jesus is worshipped as God. But the problem is the same as with Shakespeare – how could a religion be started by a Galilean peasant whose message spread around the world. There must, say the conspiracy theorists, be another explanation.

The similarities do not end there. The nature of the evidence brought forward by conspiracy theories is much the same whatever the subject. There is a false belief that we have relatively little contemporary evidence for the life of Shakespeare or Jesus. In fact, we know far more about both of them than almost any other personage of their times, barring military heroes and royalty. Likewise, the theorists tend to present contrived readings of the relevant texts, claiming they provide clues that simply do not stack up to careful analysis. Furthermore, the perfectly good testimony we do have for the orthodox view is rejected by the conspiracy theorist for bogus reasons. For Shakespeare we are told that all his fellow actors were in on the deception. While with Jesus, we are told we cannot trust any Christian text. In other words, the people most interested in both Jesus and Shakespeare, their followers and colleagues respectively, should be debarred from giving evidence.

I don’t think many athiests realize how silly it is for them to call the existence of Christ into question, but I offer this humble submission for their benefit and knowledge.  The other reason for offering this is because it is on Jesus that the knowledge of God rests.  People want to know how they can know which religion is true or what is true; Jesus said that He is the way the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).  It starts with knowing about Jesus and understanding that He is who He claimed to be: God’s Son.  Being able to understand the evidence supporting Christ’s resurrection, starts with acknowledging that He actually walked the earth.  Jesus is the Real Deal.

Categories: Agnostics, Apologetics, Atheists, Christianity, Gospel, Messiah, Truth | 3 Comments

Sunday Morning 6/28/09

We had a great service today.  I actually preached this sermon twice as I was asked to fill the pulpit at another area church early this morning.  This is the second go at preaching, so hopefully it was better with a little practice.  The notes are available below and you can either hit the play button to listen to it here or click this link for the podcast version that you can download and take with you.

Treasuring Faith

Sermon Notes for 6/28/09 (Matthew 6:19-34)

  1. X marks the spot

    1. Jesus speaks about treasure after talking about rewards

    2. Laying up treasures in heaven

    3. Your heart will always follow the X that marks your treasure.

      1. Where you spend your time, shows what you treasure

      2. Heavenly treasures are people – not things

  2. Night and Day

    1. We are people of the light – 1 John 1:5-10

    2. Everyone will serve someone or something

      1. Who is your master – Joshua 24

  3. Worry will shrink your faith (v. 25-34)

    1. Jesus knows what everyone worries about: health, life, food and drink and clothes

    2. What can worry actually accomplish? v. 27

    3. God knows our needs

    4. When we put our whole heart into God’s kingdom, he will take care of us

Categories: Matthew, Podcasts, Sermon, Worry | Leave a comment

A Fun Nugget from the Bible

Who says that the genealogies are boring?  OK, I will admit that I have said it a time or two, but I love seeing this kind of thing.  I haven’t had the time to track down these Hebrew words in my lexicon as a doublecheck, but I have found this guy to be pretty reliable with these kind of things and I couldn’t resist passing it on.  Check out the message that God has given in the genealogy from Adam to Terah.  I am pasting it below in the form I got it from El Shaddai Ministries pastor Mark Biltz.


If you take the first letter of every name in the begats from Adam to Terah, (Abraham’s father), it forms an acrostic that becomes an exciting revelation of God’s redemptive plan!

Categories: Apologetics, Bible Thoughts, Christianity, devotional, Gospel, Hebrew | 2 Comments

Sunday Morning 6/21/09

Here is the sermon audio from Sunday morning.  It cuts off somewhat abruptly since the music came in a little louder this week and I had to cut it out completely.  The notes are below and you can listen by clicking on the play button or by following this link to get the message as a downloadable podcast.

Showy Faith or a Faithful Showing

Sermon Notes for 6/21/09 (Matthew 6:1-18)

  1. Giving to grow

    1. Faithful living isn’t intended to impress others

    2. Two stories of giving from Acts 4:32-5:11

    3. How is giving rewarded?

  2. Praying to know God

    1. Public prayer is not evil

    2. Jesus models simple prayer

    3. Understanding the Lord’s Prayer

      1. Protocol

      2. Priority

      3. Petitions

      4. Praise

    4. A word about forgiveness

  3. Fasting without show

    1. Jesus assumes His followers will fast

    2. What is fasting?

    3. How to fast properly

Categories: Matthew, Podcasts, Sermon | Leave a comment

A Very Busy Month

I think I may start to sound like a broken record, but this month is absolutely crazy.  I had a feeling it would be tough to squeeze everything in and I guess I was right.  We started the month with a great Bible study conference at the church and I thoroughly enjoyed the time with Bro. Mike both in study and in fellowship as well.  After he left, I had a week to recover and focus some on my classwork for a book study in Isaiah before my parents and sister and her boyfriend came to visit us for a week.  They arrived a week ago Saturday and Sunday night we did a concert at the church right off the bat.  Monday we went to see friends who have just moved to Devils’ Lake and Tuesday we took the kids for a special treat to Grand Forks.  Plus we squeezed in the usual ball games and other activities and made a full week out of it.

Now, I have the realization that I have a paper to complete for my class on Isaiah that has very little work completed so far and I also have two other classes that start this week as well.  I have two weeks of overlap that contain three classes, so I don’t imagine I will catch up on the blog posts that I am really itching to do and have saved links and stories for so far in the last few weeks.  If I get ahead on the paper, I will try and post some comments in the discussion on the Rapture paper from my last class and you can also look for a post on the latest blow to evolutionary “science” and perhaps some musings on the historicity of Jesus Christ as well.

I just wanted to say thank you to all of those who come by and read regularly at the blog and apologize for the lack of content and interaction the last few weeks.  God bless.

Categories: family, friends, personal, School | 1 Comment

Sunday Morning 6/14/09

We had a great service Sunday morning as we worshiped with both flesh and blood and spiritual family together.  I have family visiting and we also baptized our youngest daughter this Sunday.  The message is from Matthew 5 and covers verse 17 to the end of the chapter.  We also had a concert Sunday night, but the music is mostly covered by copyrights and such so I can’t post that audio here.

May God richly bless you this week.  The sermon audio is available by clicking the play button below or you can click this link for a downloadable podcast version.

The Law of the Lord

Sermon Notes for 6/14/09 (Matthew 5:17-48)

  1. Christ fulfills the Law – He did not abolish or end it

    1. The Law is still active today

    2. The Law provided guidelines for living as a child of God

  2. Magnifying the Law

    1. Handling anger – Romans 12:14-21

    2. Handling lust is serious business

    3. Handling divorce and marriage – Matthew 19:1-12

    4. Swearing (not the 4-letter kind)

    5. Fighting back – understanding meekness from verse 5

  3. The heart of it all – Love

    1. Love is the sum of God’s law – Matthew 22:34-40

    2. What it means to be perfect as God is perfect – v. 48

Categories: Matthew, Podcasts, Sermon | Leave a comment

Ministry: Calling or Career?

I know where I stand on this issue, but I would like to throw some thoughts out there for everyone else who wanders by here to read from time to time and get some feedback.  The impetous for this post comes from a story on FoxNews online: Harsh Job Market Has Students Flocking to Religious Education Graduate Programs.  I saw the headline and it troubled me a little bit, but reading the story proved to be more disturbing yet:

The explanation resonates strongly with Stephen Blackmer, who will begin studying for a master of divinity at YDS this fall. Blackmer, 53, had worked in conservation and sustainable development for nearly 30 years before answering a call to join the ministry.

 

This sounds good so far, but then he explains his “calling” and I started to wonder:

Blackmer said his experience has taught him that the main obstacle to slowing climate change is not technological or economic, but spiritual.

“Climate change is in effect a spiritual problem, because we’ve developed the technologies to protect the world from climate change, but not the wisdom to use them,” he said.

Blackmer, who said he hopes to join an “environmental ministry” after graduating, said the slumping economy made his decision to attend divinity school easier.

“If things were going gangbusters and there were opportunities all over the place, I might not have looked to the ministry at this time,” Blackmer said.

What in the world is an “environmental ministry” anyway?  Have we gotten so off the tracks here in America that we are ministering to things instead of people?  Even more bothersome is the direct admission that this guy is going to school for “ministry” because he couldn’t find anything else to do.  Somehow, I don’t think that is exactly what was meant by the quote, “if you can’t do anything else, preach.”  The drumbeat continues however:

But for other students, the impact of the economy has been more direct. Smoot Carter, 23, will enroll at YDS right out of college after rejections from business schools stymied his career plans. He hopes that after his two-year program, he’ll be able to pursue a career in public service.

“The reason I applied to divinity school was because the market wasn’t providing the opportunities to enter into the business field, while at the same time the business schools were pursuing students with more experience,” Carter said. “I was kind of stuck in the middle.”

Like Blackmer, Carter said the economy ripened a desire he had to pursue a religious education, which had been an interest of his for some time but had not been considered a serious option.

 

If this is the attitude of even a quarter of seminary students who are heading into ministry in a local church or a mission field somewhere, the body of Christ is in serious jeopardy of losing its heart and soul for real Great Commission work.  I understand that the economy may cause more people to look for answers, but I didn’t expect that it would get people to try “being a minister” to see if it might be a good career fit for them.

Listen.  I am a minister of the Gospel and not by my own choosing.  God chose me for this and has made me what I am.  Honestly, I would do what I do with or without a paycheck and I have proved that time and time again.  I am privileged to be able to minister full time to a small church and community here in the northland of the country and support my family at the same time.  I didn’t go into ministry because of the “job opportunities”; I was drawn into ministry by the one who saved me and gave me life.  Frankly, this cavalier attitude toward ministry as a career path makes me sick.  Paul cautioned against it in his writings and I can understand why.  What do you think?

Categories: Christianity, church, Culture, Discipleship, False Teachers, ministry, Signs of the Times | 11 Comments

Sunday Morning 6/7/09

We are starting a new series of messages covering Jesus’ instructions to those who would follow him as disciples.  The next few weeks will handle the text of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5-7.  Today’s message is from Matthew 5:1-16 and the notes are below.  As always, you can click on the play button and listen to it here or follow this link to get it as a downloadable podcast.  May God richly bless you this week.

Living What Jesus Taught Us

Sermon Notes for 6/7/09 (Matthew 5:1-16)

  1. What does it mean to be blessed?

    1. It indicates a rightness with God in a complete sense

    2. This doesn’t just mean happiness of personal satisfaction

  2. Who is blessed?

    1. The poor in spirit – Isaiah 61:1; 66:2

    2. Those who mourn – Isaiah 61:2-3; Psalm 51:17

    3. The meek – Psalm 37:11

    4. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness – Psalm 42:1-2; Isaiah 55:1-2

    5. The merciful – Hosea 6:6; Zechariah 7:9

    6. The pure in heart – Psalm 24:4; 51:10

    7. The peacemakers – Isaiah 52:7; 1 Samuel 25

    8. Those persecuted for righteousness’ sake – Jeremiah 17:14-18

  3. Live out loud

    1. A salty life

    2. Lighting the world

    3. Giving glory to God

Categories: Beatitudes, Matthew, Podcasts, Sermon | Leave a comment

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