Good Reads 07.20.17 (on: the Bible, health, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On the Bible and inerrancy: The Bible Is Better than Google by Margaret Bronson

The beautiful truth in all of this is that GOD WANTS US TO KNOW HIM. Learning about God isn’t googling “God” and reading millions of opinions on God. Instead, we open His Word, and we hear His very words breathed out. All other doctrines hinge on a sure source of evidence, a witness that we can trust. Without inerrancy, we cannot know anything about God with any certainty, and the “study of God” would be a guessing game, just like trying to figure out why my kid’s hair smells. Instead, with inerrancy, we can approach God and His Word with certainty, eager to learn of His ways and discern how to live faithfully in the world.  (click here to read more)

On godliness and health: Guard Your Health by Tim Challies (note: Challies is writing this “Run to Win” series for young men, especially, but it has truths which all can learn from)

You need to steward your body. As you surrender your body, you acknowledge that it does not belong to you but to God. Just as you are responsible to faithfully steward your time and money, you are responsible before God to faithfully steward the body he has assigned to you. You are to use your body wisely, to put your body to use in ways that bring glory to God. After all, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). (click here to read more)

On Jesus as the “way, the truth, and the life”: The Most Controversial Claim Jesus Made by David Mathis

Jesus gets the glory of being “the way,” (not “a way”), “the truth” (not just true), and “the life” (not just life), and as he does, we get the joy and peace and stability of having such a Lord and Savior and Treasure. “The way” is not centrally belief in certain principles and execution of particular actions, but trusting and treasuring a living person. At the heart of Christianity is not pillars to follow, but a person to know and enjoy. (click here to read more)

On the pastor and his character: A Pastor’s Character Over His Competence by Chris Thomas

Character over competence is a biblical idea. Note that I’m not saying that competence doesn’t matter—we’ll soon see that it doe. But that the vast weight of Scripture leads me to believe that God is primarily concerned with the type of man who shepherds, rather than the skills that man brings to the role.

There are two ‘go-to’ passages that deal with the qualification of a shepherd, both are found in letters written by Paul to emerging leaders of the first century church… (click here to read more)

Everyday Missionaries

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged him earnestly that he might remain with him. Jesus did not let him but told him, “Go home to your own people and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.” So he went out and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and they were all amazed. – Mark 5:18-20 (CSB)

While coming into the region of the Gerasenes, Jesus encountered a man possessed by a legion of demons. After casting them out into a herd of pigs that then jumped off a cliff, the people of the land asked Jesus to leave. He did, and as he was departing, the man who had been possessed begged to go with him.

But Jesus had different plans for the man. He told him to return to his own people and tell them how much God had done for him.

Sometimes Jesus calls us on an epic journey of faith that takes us well beyond our comfort zones to proclaim the gospel far and wide. Other times, Jesus tells us to go home—but even then it is with the same task: Tell others about what Jesus has done for you.

Some of us have stories, like this man, where we were radically saved from a situation or lifestyle that brought great harm. Others of us lived generally as “good people” according to the world’s standards, but came to realize that didn’t keep us from being desperate sinners against God who chased our own heart idols instead of worshiping him.

Whatever our background, our salvation is a great act of God where he does infinitely more for us than what we deserve. Saved by grace, we each have a story to share with others. We each are called to be everyday missionaries.

Maybe that means that Jesus will lead you to get into the boat with him and go to some region far from home. Maybe that means that Jesus will tell you to stay and share with your friends, family, and neighbors. Either way, tell others the story of the great things that God has done for you.

Mark 5_19

Picture taken and modified from pixabay.com

Faith Conquers Fear

A great windstorm arose and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher! Don’t you care that we’re going to die?” He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Silence! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was a great calm. Then he said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” – Mark 4:37-40 (CSB)

People have many things to fear. Do a google search for the number of phobias and you will run into seemingly unending lists. Whatever our own individual fears might be, we find this truth in the gospel: Faith conquers fear.

One evening, Jesus wanted to cross the sea with his apostles and so they left the crowds behind and set sail in a boat. While on their way, a great windstorm arose that frightened even the seasoned fishermen. And where was Jesus? Asleep.

The disciples had been with Jesus long enough to know that he was someone special, though they hadn’t yet fully come to realize his nature as the God-Man, our Savior-King. So, they woke him and asked if he even cared that they were going to die?

Jesus responded first by rebuking the winds and second by rebuking their lack of faith. The first act reminded them that he was the Son of God, and therefore the Sovereign over the universe. Every molecule in the rushing air and crashing seas obeyed his voice. The second act reminded them that they were his followers and instead of fear they needed to trust.

Faith trusts that God is in charge and he will take care of his people. He will keep us safe on earth as he wills to keep us safe, and even when he wills that death should overtake us, he will keep us safe by bringing us home to him.

This is why, especially after Jesus’ death and resurrection, when they were filled with the Holy Spirit, the apostles learned to stare down danger and remain faithful to God’s leading on their life. In prison, knowing he was going to die at the hands of Roman officials, Paul said, “The Lord has kept me safe and he will keep me safe” (2 Timothy 4).

The world might give you many reasons to fear. Your own proclivities might lead you to fear. Your Father in heaven, however, says, “Have no fear, I will take care of you regardless of what you see happening.” So, entrust your life and your fears to him and let his word and Spirit strengthen you.

Faith conquers fear.

Mark 4_39

Image taken and modified from pixabay.com

Sunday 07.16.17 (be wise)

This week we’ll take a look at Ecclesiastes 9:11-11:6 and the call on our lives to be wise. Then on Sunday evening we’ll consider God’s goodness in our Attributes of God study. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Attributes of God Study in church library

Sermon Notes
Be Wise ~ Ecclesiastes 9:11-11:6

  • žBe wise (9:11-10:3)
  • žBe wise in living under authority (10:4-7, 16-17)
  • žBe wise in preparation (10:8-11)
  • žBe wise in speech (10:12-14, 20)
  • žBe wise in work (10:15, 18-19; 11:1-6)
  • žBe wise in humility (11:5)

Sunday 07.09.17 (a life well lived)

This Sunday we’ll look at Ecclesiastes 8:14-9:10 and see what it means to have a life that is well lived. Then on Sunday evening, we’ll consider God’s holiness in our attributes of God study. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Attributes of God Study
@7pm Business Meeting

Sermon Notes
A Life Well Lived ~ Ecclesiastes 8:14-9:10

  • The realities of death (8:14, 9:1-6)
    • Death isn’t always fair (8:14)
    • Death comes, no matter who you are (9:1-3)
    • Death seals our fate (9:4-6)
    • Despite these realities, we entrust ourselves to God (9:1)
  • The call to a well-lived life (8:15-17, 9:7-10)
    • Seek joy through Jesus (8:15)
    • Be in constant awe of God (8:16-17)
    • Live happily in God’s approval (9:7-10)

Good Reads 07.05.17 (on: parenting, boredom, hope, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On parenting: A Letter to My Children by Adam McClendon

I pray that you will be a light for Jesus, that you will live for him, and tell others about him. Hope is only found in Jesus. Remember that. Also, remember that we have an enemy in Satan and he wants to destroy you. He will use your friends to tempt you to do wrong. People will make fun of you and try to pressure you into doing wrong. Don’t let them. Stand your ground. I promise, in the long run, they will respect you and want to be like you. (click here to read more)

On persevering in hope during the struggles of darkness: Saying Goodbye to Narnia by Chris Thomas

Peter lifts our downcast eyes to focus not on the joys of yesterday, but instead on the glorious realities of tomorrow. Yes, we may sit in dreary days of cold stinging rain, but once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of Narnia. Tribulation is real—we should not be surprised by it—but it is not our defining reality. We have a living hope, an imperishable inheritance, and a secure salvation.

Dark days will come, but these are just ‘a little while’; days not to simply endure, but to rejoice in—days to abide in as we wait for tomorrow. Our waiting in the darkness isn’t simply a sufferance, but is essential in the preparation for brighter days, days filled with the praise and glory and honour of the revealed Saviour. (click here to read more)

On the value of boredom: Make Time to Be Bored by Tim Challies

When we were children and teenagers, boredom seemed like a bad thing, because idle hands are the devil’s workshop, right? But boredom should not be confused with idleness. Idleness is laziness and indolence. It is refusing to do what needs to be done. But boredom is simple inactivity, a break from the hustle and bustle and busyness of life. Boredom is the pause between activities or the deliberate escape from activity altogether. (click here to read more)

On facing death: Mourning Has Broken by Stephen McAlpine

Death did as it should to me. As it should do to all of us before we die.  It made me reflect on my own death; the need to be prepared; the brevity of life; the ageing process; the fact that the dementia time-bomb in Dad’s head may also have been smuggled into my own by some genetic terrorist bent on biomass destruction.

It found me simultaneously praising God for delivering us from the sting of death, which is sin, and grieving over death’s certainty for us all.  Death is not the sting, a common misunderstanding and misreading of 1Corinthians 15:56.  Sin is.  Somewhere in God’s plan a transition from this age to the age to come was planned for untainted humanity, a well-done-good-and-faithful-servant-reward. (click here to read more)

The Seed and the Soils

Jesus said, “Listen! Consider the sower who went out to sow. As he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and their birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn’t have much soil and it grew up quickly, since the soil wasn’t deep. When the sun came up, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it didn’t produce fruit. Still other seed fell on good ground and it grew up, producing fruit that increased thirty, sixty, and a hundred times.” ~ Mark 4:3-8 (CSB)

In Mark 4, Jesus tells the crowds a series of parables, or illustrative stories Jesus used to make a spiritual point. The first was about a sower with seed and the different types of soils he encountered. When his apostles asked for an explanation, Jesus gave it in 4:13-20.

The seed is scripture, or God’s word. The sower is a person sharing God’s word with others. The soil is the condition of the listener’s heart. The path is where no soil exists and the seed of the word produces no fruit. The rocky soil is the person who hears and initially has great joy in the gospel but hard times cause them to walk away. The thorny and weedy soil is the person who also initially hears with joy but worries or desire for riches or other distractions draw them away. The good soil is the person who hears, responds in true faith, and has a life that is forever transformed by Jesus.

This parable tells us several things:

First, we should have no prejudice in spreading the gospel. We are tempted to think that certain people or certain types of people would surely never respond to God’s word, and we think others should hear it and believe in Jesus with no problem. The reality is, we don’t know the condition of a person’s heart-soil. We can’t see that deep. Jesus didn’t tell us to try to figure out the soils; he told us to sow the seed. Any person anywhere who will give us an ear is a person with whom we are called to share the gospel.

Second, we should be prepared when people walk away. As followers of Jesus, we often aren’t surprised by people who flat out reject the gospel. That’s the natural way of the human heart in its sin until our will is turned to Christ. We also aren’t often surprised by people who receive the gospel. That’s the whole point of evangelism, after all, to see people come to know and follow Jesus.

But we do get caught off guard by those who seem to be in love with Jesus and then they walk away. Yet, these represent half the responses in Jesus’ parable. Everybody dreams of a better life with more joy and purpose. Sometimes, the message of Jesus will pique a person’s interest due to the offer of an eternally joy-filled life. Yet, when they realize that doesn’t mean freedom from hardships now, or when the next big thing in their minds comes along, then they walk away.

They lacked a faith that truly sees heart-transformation. It should sadden us. We should pray that they would come to see the light of Christ clearly and truly follow him. But it shouldn’t surprise us. After all, Jesus told us to expect.

Third, a true Jesus-follower will experience life transformation. Good seed (which the gospel is always good seed) that falls on good soil produces fruit. Most often in the New Testament such symbolism of fruit represents a changed character—such as the fruit of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

Not everyone will grow and change at the same rate—Jesus spoke of different amounts of fruit: thirty, sixty, and a hundred-fold. But a person who has truly committed their life to Jesus will experience spiritual growth. The good fruit of good character will become more and more evident in their lives.

Let us share the gospel with everyone who will listen. Then as that seed sprouts to growth, let us keep watering and fertilizing it with prayer, Christian fellowship, and more of God’s word to see it grow and produce more and more.

New posts in this series will appear most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

Mark 4_8

Image taken and modified from pixabay.com