My Vast Wealth of Knowledge

Yesterday on the playground I found a dead, dried out bug in a spider’s web on the playground at the preschool.  There was a four-year-old girl standing there, so I asked her if she knew what happens to a bug that gets caught in a spider web.  She shook her head, so I told her that the spider eats the bug’s guts.

Her eyes got wide and she looked at me, impressed, and said, “How do grownups know so much?”

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Published in: on September 30, 2009 at 11:38 am  Comments (2)  

The Christ of Daniel

I never thought I would find myself sympathizing at all with the religious leaders of ancient Palestine who opposed Jesus.  But today I read a study note in my Bible that really helped me to see some things from their perspective.

In the Book of Daniel, the Bible teaches that the Babylonian Empire would be succeeded by the Median-Persian Empire, followed by the Greeks and then the Romans.  After Rome, the Christ would come to demolish the kingdoms of the world and establish His own eternal kingdom.

At the time of Jesus’ ministry, Babylon had fallen.  So had Media-Persia.  As had the Greeks.  And now the Roman Empire was at the height of its power.  So the religious Jews expected the Christ to overthrow Rome as Rome had overthrown Greece, Greece had overthrown Media-Persia, and the Medes and Persians had overthrown Babylon. These kingdom had been actual, literal, political kingdoms, so they expected the same from the Striking Stone of Daniel.

Instead, the Romans killed Him.  Of course, the Jews did have something to do with that.

I’m not trying to justify these religious leaders, who after all were the ones who were supposed to recognize and proclaim the Christ.  And, of course, there are plenty of other Messianic passages in the Old Testament, especially those about the suffering Christ in Isaiah, that they apparently disregarded completely.  I’m just saying that for the first time I can understand why they might have been confused about Jesus’ identity as the Christ.

Makes me feel sort of creepy, like a heretic or something.

Published in: on September 29, 2009 at 10:01 am  Comments (2)  

Revealed

Beginning in October at CrossWay Church we’re doing a seven-week series on the Book of Revelation.  It’s called “Revealed” and will use seven powerful images from Revelation to see what this book about the last days can teach us about living in this day.  I’ve been looking forward to this one for months!

Published in: on September 22, 2009 at 12:27 pm  Comments (3)  

Return of the Podcast

Woo hoo!  After being out of commission for several months, the CrossWay Church Sermon Podcast is now back in action.  I’m trying to catch up on uploading the backlog.  Unfortunately some recordings didn’t turn out.  But at least now we can start getting the weekly messages back online.

However, this did present me with a difficult challenge.  A couple weeks ago I preached a message called “Born Again.”  After preaching my heart out for half an hour, I got to the very end of the sermon and committed one of the worst verbal faux pas of my preaching career.  So I was faced with the question: Do I leave it in there for the sake of keeping it real, or edit it out?  I decided to leave it in there for two reasons.  First of all, it would have been tricky to edit it out without there being an obvious gap in the message (I know–I tried).  Second, there is something to be said for the integrity of keeping a message intact, embarrassing blunders and all.  Otherwise it’s kind of like a photograph in a magazine that has been tampered with in PhotoShop.  Anyway, just a warning for any downloaders of that sermon!

You can access the podcast site by clicking here or clicking on one of the podcast links on the right of this screen.

embarrassing

Published in: on September 18, 2009 at 5:01 pm  Comments (1)  

And On the Fifth Day, God Made the Itsy Bitsy Spider

Kids are great.  Yesterday morning at the Training Station, Ms. Grace led the first Bible Story time for the new school year.  A couple highlights:

Ms. Grace: Today I’m going to tell you the story about how God made the world.
Three-year-old boy: ‘Cause He’s magic!

Ms. Grace (near end of Bible Story time): Okay kids, we’re going to do one more song…
Four-year-old boy (doing motions with his hands): “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”?

The kids had fun, but I think the highlight for them was when the trash truck came by and they watched through the window as it emptied our dumpster.  They were pretty excited about that.

Published in: on September 17, 2009 at 5:28 am  Comments (2)  

Community

Last night our church started a new community group.  A community group is where a lot of church really happens.  Rather than a larger, impersonal setting with lots of people, it’s a smaller, more personal setting.  It’s where life-on-life relationships can really happen.  Community groups have played such an enormous role in my own life that I’ll forever be completely sold on their tremendous value.

We started small, but that’s okay.  In fact, that’s kind of the point!  Carolyn and I host the group at our house in Ocean Pines on Tuesday evenings.

One of the things we talked about last night was how the point of this isn’t just to have another routine Bible study and prayer group.  I don’t want us to get in a rut where we all show up and act polite, shoot the breeze, eat brownies at 6:35 and pray at 6:55 and run through a list of prepared questions.  Instead I picture this group really being a community–getting together for dinner, having game nights, going to movies, being honest with each other, sharing our struggles, and being there for each other.  It can’t be just about that once-a-week meeting.

For the Bible study portion of our gatherings, we’re reading little by little through the Gospel of Mark; and instead of me asking all the questions and sharing my thoughts, I’m asking other group members what questions and thoughts they have.  For most of the history of the church, people came together to the Scriptures to discover together how we can learn and live the Word of God.  Nothing like a community group to really be the church, grow together, and practice all the “one anothers” found throughout the Bible.

I’m so excited about the new group!  I’ve really missed being part of a small community over the summer.

Published in: on September 16, 2009 at 10:35 am  Leave a Comment  

The First 100 Days

Laura Marie turned 100 days old yesterday.  She celebrated by rolling over and laughing.

She had kind of done both before, but yesterday was different.  The baby rolled completely over from back to front and then, for good measure, from front to back.  And she kept doing it.

Later she was sitting on her mom’s knees and she just started laughing.  And laughing.  And laughing and laughing and laughing.  She had done little baby laughs before, but nothing like this.  It was a mature laugh.  And cuter than anything I’ve ever heard before.

Happy 100 days, Laura Marie!

Published in: on September 16, 2009 at 9:58 am  Comments (4)  

Coaching…But At What Cost?

The apostle Paul was imprisoned in a dungeon a short time before he was to be executed.  He sat down to write one last letter.  He’d written many letters to many churches and individuals over his long ministry.  This final letter was written to Timothy, a younger man that Paul had coached as Timothy began his own journey in gospel ministry.

In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul instructed his protégé: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”  In other words: Just as I have invested in you and trained you, so you must invest in others and train them–let’s keep this thing going.

How disappointing, then, to see the greedy and carnal route that so many pastor-coaches are taking.  Instead of discipling younger pastors as a ministry, the new trend is for pastors of large churches to mentor younger pastors as a business.  They charge a hefty fee for their services: One website I saw today charges $4,500 for six coaching sessions!  No wonder the church is struggling the way it is today, when pastors are becoming parasites leeching onto other pastors.  It makes me sick.

I’d love to see some of these pastor-customers take what they’ve learned through these mentoring businesses and turn around and coach others for free–in other words, as a ministry.  Now that would be a biblical movement!

If one pastor is going to charge another for coaching him, the price should be a promise that the student will then become the teacher and take someone else under his wing to pass along what he has learned.  Then we can be faithful to the instruction in 2 Timothy 2:2–found in many other places in Scripture, as well–instead of taking advantage of younger pastors of smaller churches.  Then the gospel will spread and God will be glorified… even if no one makes a big buck from it.

Just had to get that off my chest.

Published in: on September 10, 2009 at 12:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

New

Today marks the start of a new year: preschool begins at the Training Station and Carolyn starts her new teaching job.  She’s teaching three-year-olds three afternoons a week.  A new school year also means more time in the office and more interaction with preschool families.  It’s always exciting to enter a new season!

This morning I was hanging out with some of the preschool parents after school started.  One of them has a one-year-old daughter, and she took her first steps while she was there!  It was pretty cool.  It’s exciting to be there for something like that.  She kept walking and walking and walking–she’s enjoying her new skill!

Two other exciting things that mark the coming of a new year: One is that we’ll soon be back into a Bible book sermon series.  The first Sunday in October we’ll begin a seven-week series on Revelation.  I’m looking forward to that one!  The second new thing is a new community group that Carolyn and I are starting at our house.  It’s been a few months since we’ve been in a community group, and it will be so nice to get back into that.

Hopefully another new thing will be the resuscitation of this blog….

I love fall!

Published in: on September 9, 2009 at 10:08 am  Comments (2)