Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Homeschool tidbit

Something to keep in mind for those with little ones approaching first grade. Hopefully it'll be me in a few years. :) HT Ellen, via Tony Woodlief!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Angels: part 1

As many of my school friends know, for this week and the next two, a professor is leading a Bible study on angels at my soon-to-be-new-home church. Some tidbits:

  • Angels do certainly exist (Genesis 3:24, Genesis 32:1-2, Luke 2:13-14); when were they created? Many hypotheses, but sometime within Creation week
  • "Angel" = Gk. άγγελος = messenger ("evangelist")
  • Why is "the Angel of the LORD" the preincarnate Christ?
  • Always identified as the Angel
  • In Judges 13, answers "I am" to Menoah/wife
  • "My name is wonderful"
  • Menoah/wife realize that "we have seen God"!
  • The Angel ascended in the flame - part of the sacrifice?
  • Nature - spirits (i.e. without bodies; Hebrews 1:14),
  • appearing to humans in various forms (Genesis 18:2 and 19:1) as frightening
  • "personal" beings (2 Samuel 14:20, Mark 13:32, 2 Peter 2:11, Matthew 22:30)
  • Great number (Daniel 7:10, Luke 2:13)
  • Ranks and orders - some scholars have gone into much detail, but for sure:
  • Colossians 1:16 - created under and by God
  • Ephesians 6:12 - these may be sequential
  • Ezekiel 10 - frightening and just plain WEIRD appearance of cherubim!
  • Isaiah 6:1-6 - seraphim have six wings and form heavenly choirs!
  • Daniel 10:13 etc. - Michael is the chief prince of God's people (N. B. Jude 9)
  • Revelation 12:7-12 - Michael led angel armies to cast Satan out of heaven
Good stuff? I think so! More next week. :)

Pentecost 18 (Proper 21)

Today's readings were Psalm 146, 1 Timothy 6:6-19, and Luke 16:19-31; the sermon text was Mark 10:43-45.

Christianity is filled with paradoxes, seeming opposites. To be great, be a servant? That's our basis. It's rooted in Ephesians 2:8-10 - God gives us faith, therefore we do His works. Thus, what a privilege it is to serve and to give! This is against our first nature, for our tendency when given a basin is to use it as Pilate did, not as Christ did.

James 2:14ff says that faith's nature is to be expressed. Prove faith by deeds. Will our gravestones say "She loved to serve the Lord"? In Philippians 2:19-21 we are given an example to follow - Timothy looked out not for his own interests, but Christ's. Can we say the same? Weave the response to Christ into life - we serve because we love, and we love because He loved first. Service leads to joy, not a burden. The fruits we produce are word, labor, and endurance.

What can you do? How does God want you to serve? It is tiring - but it is also an attitude of the heart. "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty."

Soli Deo gloria.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pentecost 17 (Proper 20)

Today's theme was week two of the sermon series on following Jesus. The theme: "Follow the One Who Worships." The readings: Exodus 20:8-11; Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12 (sermon text); and Luke 16:1-15.

Worship attendance spikes after disasters (9/11, anyone?) but resumes its decline soon thereafter, for several reasons. After all, those who worship are fighting the world and their own sinful nature.
  • We are selfish. This causes many problems (divorce because we want something for ourselves; thievery because we want what our neighbor has). But worship is not about us; it is ALL about God.
  • We want quick fixes. But worship isn't only for perceived needs - it takes a lifetime to work.
  • We are short-sighted, wanting God to fix all our problems NOW. But His will, the best, runs on a different timetable; in worship He is by our side through our problems.
  • Worship feels like too much work. Surely all good things must come easily, no? No! Good things take time, effort, and discipline. The world is our playing field; our job on earth is to work for God; worship is a key part of that. Guaranteed by God, it pays off.
Worship isn't entertainment; it's nourishment. As with food and eating, so it is with life and worshiping. It's not a choice for a Christian! But take heart - besides the precious investment in eternity, there are temporal benefits as well: cementing families, cementing marriages, mental stability, and fellowship. Don't forget to worship!

Soli Deo gloria.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pentecost 16 (Proper 19)

Another sermon, in a hopefully-long series, on following Jesus, was entitled "Following the One Who Shares." The texts were Ezekiel 34:11-24 (sermon text), 1 Timothy 1:5-17, and Luke 15:1-10.

God gives us attention, grace, and forgiveness to enable us to follow Him. If we follow Him, we share as He shares. By nature we hog things, so sharing must be learned. If one shares, it's something the other does not have - in the case of us and the world, life, truth, and forgiveness. We're here only because He shared life with us! We can show mercy only because He is merciful to us! In Him, and through our voices, the worst of sinners are forgiven.

Pastors should care for their flock as Christ taught and lived. Jesus goes deliberately into the midst of sinners and outcasts, not staying in the "safe" zone. Our footsteps must follow. Sharing isn't "safe," but "safety" is selfish and counterproductive. Do not close off your Christianity to protect yourself - who will feed those hungry for the Gospel? Ask Jesus to turn your fear to His purposes - follow His footsteps. Share the Gospel. Like the firefighters nine years ago, be a hook in Christ the Shepherd's hand. Wade in to pull others back.

Soli Deo gloria.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Personal effects

What did 9/11 do to me? What did it do to you?

It increased my awareness and interest in Islam. This led to a research paper on interfaith dialogue, sensitivity toward Muslim friends, a heightened desire to evangelize, and a realization of the utter emptiness of a world not believing in the true Jesus Christ.

The scars of the attack are still there, but make good use of them. Don't waste today.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pentecost 15 (Proper 18)

Today's readings were Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Philemon 8-21, and Luke 14:25-35 (sermon text).

Christianity is not peaches and cream. Discipleship has its consequences and risks - but these are entirely worth it! Learning about Christianity can strike fear in the heart, but so do life's uncertainties. Spiritual risks include humiliation, embarrassment (being naked before God), appearing weak (before men). But Christ has promised to be with, listen to, and protect us always. We give up self and get God's goodness! We are changed for the better, known by the Spirit's fruits shown in our lives.

Unique hassles of Christianity are complexities, suffering for Christ, being at odds with the world, and being rejected. But we keep fighting for the prize, not giving up or in. Could we be in the wrong? Many would say so. We reply: so what? If Jesus exists as He claims, all the better for us! If not, our lives are still changed for the better as a consequence of believing in Him. There are eternal ramifications; Christ is worth losing all else. For He is our all, He in us, and we in Him.

Soli Deo gloria.