Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Tonight is the dry run of our new WOW program (“Worship on Wednesday”) that begins for real on March 7. We were calling it “Wednesday Night Live,” but then Roger came up with WOW, so we thought we’d better use that moniker. You know how sensitive Roger is about stuff like that! This is a new focus for our children where we are putting on a mini-VBS every Wednesday night—high-energy praise and worship, large group teaching and drama, small group activities and crafts, and prayer time. Bill and Melissa Foster are heading this effort, but it will take a lot of volunteers. Contact them to find out how you can help. For the adults, we will have a time focusing on marriage and relationships through the Jerry and Lynn Jones DVD series "Marriage Matters." That will start March 7 as well.
My scripture reading this morning included this little jewel from Proverbs, “If you talk a lot, you are sure to sin; if you are wise, you will keep quiet” (Prov. 10:19, NCV). The NLT rendering is less diplomatic, “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.” I wonder if this applies to blog posts?
Our little blog community at TucksDenbighBlog is not large enough to worry about formal rules of response. Trivia quote from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, “Rules? There ain’t no rules in a knife fight!” What’s my point? No point, I just like that quote! Our only informal rule for the blog is the Golden Rule. Sometimes one may need to blow off steam, and firing off a post can be therapeutic. But then that might not be such good therapy for those of us reading. After all, something under 10,000 people read this blog each day! Let’s have more responses, more discussion, more great posts. But let's keep them golden.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
The “proof” in this much-hyped film seems much more like debatable conjecture and supposition. The case largely revolves around the only uncommon name found on the bone boxes, that of Mariamene. It is suggested that some later Christians may have used that name for Mary Magdalene, and this links the more other common names. Cameron says, "If you found a John, a Paul and a George, you're not going to leap to any conclusions... unless you found a Ringo." Of course, there is no evidence that anyone called Mary Magdalene Mariamene at the time of her death. And there is no evidence that connects Mary Magdalene to the family of Jesus… unless you count The Da Vinci Code. DNA tests have supposedly confirmed that the remains in the “Jesus” and “Mariamene” ossuaries were not related on their mother's sides. Therefore, if this was a family tomb, and if the two aren’t related on their Father’s side, then the two "would most likely have been husband and wife."
The whole thing is made of smoke-and-mirror suppositions big enough to sink the Titanic. One scholar put it, “There were too many assumptions being claimed as discoveries, and that they were trying to connect dots that didn't belong together.” Amos Kloner was the first archeologist to examine the site, and he dismisses the whole proposition, "They just want to get money for it. It's a joke. It was an ordinary middleclass Jerusalem burial cave. The names on the caskets are the most common names found among Jews at the time." But Cameron will do this with such movie magic that there will be many people who may be convinced.... especially those who want to be convinced.
If you want more information on the historical reliability of the sources on the life of Jesus, then let me invite to be with us on May 18-20 as Dr. Tommy South, Professor of New Testament at Virginia Commonwealth University, is with us to discuses the topic “What Can we Know About Jesus?” Make plans now to be here for this Friday-Sunday Seminar.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Jesus lived his entire life in the glare of what amounted to first century paparazzi. From the very beginning of his ministry, Jesus was followed by large crowds intent on his every move. And many onlookers were there waiting for Him to mess up. Notice the following texts--
- Mark 3:2- Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath.
- Luke 6:7- The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath.
- Luke 14:1- One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched.
- Luke 20:20- Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor.
Jesus’ enemies were there with notepads at the ready waiting to catch Him in something that they could use to discredit or accuse Him. Of course, that never happened. In the end, they had resort to false witnesses and twisted testimony (Matt 26:59-60).I wonder how many of us have secret paparatzzi watching us-- co-workers, friends, neighbors, family members. They have heard our Christian profession, and they watch us waiting to see how we are going to live our faith. It may not be fair, but they will see any flaw and failure as proof that our faith doesn’t work. I had a neighbor come over to watch me re-roofing my storage shed. I finally asked him why he was there, and he said, “Oh nothing really; I’m just waiting to hear what you will say when you hit your thumb!” He was being funny; some people are deadly seriously.
None of us can ever be perfect, but we can be consistent. Perhaps the greatest witness we can give to the truthfulness of our faith is now consistently we live it out before the paparazzi of the world. Peter says, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:12).
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Another name for today is “Shrove Tuesday.” Shrove is the past tense of “shrive,” which means confessing and doing penance for past sins. Lent was the time to reflect on sin and the price Jesus paid, and Shrove Tuesday began that holy period. Once again, the tradition was largely maintained by folks who remember the party and forgot to focus on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Face it, having a big party is much more fun that a period of fasting and self-deprivation.
Do we live like we expect Fat Tuesday without Ash Wednesday? Not that any of us would think about doing Mardi Gras. But do we live like we want the forgiveness of Christ without the self-sacrifice of discipleship? At the center of Christianity is a cross, and the call of discipleship is to make the cross of Jesus our cross. “And he said to them all, “Anyone who wants to come with me must forget self, take up their cross every day, and follow me” (Luke 9:23, NLT). It’s one thing to enjoy the pancakes; it’s another thing to follow Jesus in the way of the cross!
Friday, February 16, 2007
So I'm feeling a little queasy this morning. Of course, what really makes me queasy is to think that we’ve been paying for Peter Pan all these years when it comes from the same place as Wal-Mart’s house brand!
I really do feel a little sich this morning. Of course, I just did some research salmonella, a group of bacteria that cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps lasting from 4-7 days and beginning 12 to 72 hours after infection. People infected usually recover without seeking treatment, although sometimes hospitalization for dehydration and extreme diarrhea. The elderly and infants are particularly at risk for the more extreme complications. People sometimes die from this bug, but there have been no deaths linked to this latest outbreak. But I am feeling a little bit queasy.
But I think this is just the power of suggestion. We do tend to find what it is that for which we are looking. When we look at our day, and all that we see are the endless appointments, the tasks that need to be done, co-workers who are really pulling their weight, and a boss making with unreasonable demands—then that may be all we see. But if we are looking for God breaking into our day with little graces and unexpected blessings, then that is just what we might see. We tend to find what we are looking for, don’t we? The point is to train ourselves to look for God and His mercies in the ordinary rush of ordinary life.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Sometimes we don't appreciate the difference, either. Sometimes we think that we know some things, and we think that our knowledge this makes us wise. But sometimes that so-called "knowledge" just makes us a wise guy (or gal). Nothings tends to make us more arrogant than thinking that we get it. Everyone else doesn’t get it, but we get it. To the Corinthians who were entrenched on opposite sides of the old foods-offered-to-idols debate, Paul gives this warning about what they think they know (1 Corinthians 8:1-3)--
1 Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. 2 Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But the man who loves God is known by God.Knowledge (either real or imagined) has a tendency to puff us up and make us proud. Paul in effect says, "It's not WHAT you know but WHO you know-- or rather, who knows you!” Paul knows that knowledge is important, but he also knows that it is love that truly builds us up.
My daily bible reading from Proverbs reminds me of something that is easy to forget. No matter now much we think we know, we should be a wise guy--
12 “I am wisdom, and I have good judgment. I also have knowledge and good sense.The warning here is that when we really possess knowledge and wisdom, then will will hate pride and arrogance. We will especially hate them in ourselves. True knowledge never leads us to arrogantly think we know all there is to know. No, true knowledge leads us to know God... and that knowledge always drives us to our knees in humility.
13 If you respect the Lord, you will also hate evil. I hate pride and bragging, evil ways and lies. (Proverbs 8:12-13, NCV)
So… don't we a wise guy!
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Or sometimes the words are spoken by the sufferer. We hear them saying things like, "Where was God when this was happening?" Or maybe, "Why would he allow such a thing to happen?" Or sometimes even "Why did God turn against me like this?" We are made uncomfortable when we hear words like these from the lips of the faithful. And we try to shush the sufferer, "You don't really mean that." Yes they do; they mean precisely that!
And it is OK. These aren't intellectual questions seeking factual answers; they are the desperate cries of a heart that is breaking. This is precisely the cry of David in Psalm 22:1-2.
1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?In his struggle and suffering, David feels that God has turned against him. He groans and God ignores him; he cries out, and God remains silent. Why has God forsaken him? Well the answer is, "God hasn't." God will act to revive and restore him. David is confident of that fact, and he gives God a “praise in prospect” in Psalm 22:22-23
2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.
22 I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
He knows that he will again praise God, but right now David FEELS forsaken. And he expresses his true feelings to God without veneer or varnish. And he will not be shushed. God knows His heart, so there is no need for him to pretty up his words. He simply shares his feelings with God, and cries our for God to help.
The ability to be honest to God despite frustration and pain is called "faith." We like David's calm and serene faith expressed in Psalm 23, "Though I walk through valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." Now that is real faith! Is it an accident that Psalm 23 follows Psalm 22. The faith of Psalm 22 is much more messy, but it is real faith as well. The heart that cries out to God in despair is a heart that cries out to God! Maybe the reason David was so faithful in expressing his praise is because he was also so honest in expressing his pain. We don't cry out to one who is not there; we don't ask for help from one who is impotent to give help.
The ultimate affirmation of David's desperate faith is that his words become the words of Jesus from the cross as he embraced our suffering and identified with us as sufferers. There will be times when our faith will turn desperate. God will seem silent; the pain and frustrations of life will seem as the arrows of the Almighty. When that happens, the only thing to do is to cry out our lament to the God. He hears and he cares... even when it feels as if He does not!
Thursday, February 08, 2007
I thought that was funny... because I remember having the same idea when I was a kid. Why not just jump up at the last minute? Why wouldn’t that work? Well, it wouldn’t work because you are moving at the same speed as the crashing plane. You can’t jump up fast enough or far enough, and even if you could... you would still land in the middle of a plane crash! No, its best to stay in your seat with your seatbelt securing fastened leaning over in crash position. That at least makes it easier for them to find you later!
What brought that up? My reading this morning was in Matthew 24, Matthew’s version of the text in Mark 13 we slogged through in Bible class last night. Jesus ends the chapter with a parable of a wealthy landowner who goes on a trip and leaves his servant in charge. Jesus asks what would happen if the servant goofs off the whole time the master is gone, thinking he has plenty of time to get ready? Matthew 24:48-51 (NCV) reads—
48 But suppose that evil servant thinks to himself, ‘My master will not come back soon,’ 49 and he begins to beat the other servants and eat and get drunk with others like him? 50 The master will come when that servant is not ready and is not expecting him. 51 Then the master will cut him in pieces and send him away to be with the hypocrites, where people will cry and grind their teeth with pain.What the servant was trying to do was waiting until the last minute and jumping up. Unfortunately, the master came home unexpectedly. And by that time, the servant was already falling at crash speed, and nothing can prevent him from crashing and burning.
If we are to be ready when Jesus returns, then we must stay ready all the time. We can’t live our lives as we please and wait until the last minute to get ready. We don’t know when the last minute will be. And by that time, we may already be in such a nose dive that we can’t pull out. You can’t wait until right before the crash and just jump up.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Well, according to David in Psalm 19, there is a universal language. And all we have to do to see it is to look up--
1 The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.
2 Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.
3 They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard.
4 Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. (Psalm 19:1-4a, NLT)
For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.Listen today for the voice of God in your life. That voice will be all around you, reminding You of God's presence. And let God's voice in creation drive you to listen to his voice in revelation. Only there does tell of His ultimate voice in the world of men and women-- Jesus Christ.
Monday, February 05, 2007
There was another victory as well. Earlier in the week, the NFL notified several large churches that they were in violation of the NFL’s copyright protection by advertising showing the Super Bowl in their church building. It may have been coincidental that the churches were in Indianapolis and Chicago, the two Super Bowl cities. The prohibition was murky enough that some cancelled their parties and there was evidently an outcry... and the NFL back-pedaled faster than a Chicago corner trying to cover Marvin Harrison. They announced that it is perfectly OK for churches to show the Super Bowl as long as they keep moneychangers out of the temple—the church can’t charge admission. Click here for details.
One of the reasons originally given by the league for preventing churches from showing the game is that they did not want the NFL connected with religious messages. They feared that churches would use the Super Bowl as a platform for sharing their faith. (Where would they get an idea like that?) They did not want the reputation of the Super Bowl sullied by talking about Jesus at half-time when we should be watching something wholesome, like Prince prancing around in the rain!
Well, if they really wanted to ban God from the Super Bowl last night, they really let the wrong two teams to play in the game. Both Indianapolis’ Tony Dungy and Chicago’s Lovie Smith are dedicated Christians. When accepting the Lombardi trophy after the game, Dungy said this--
I'm proud to be the first African-American coach to win this. But again, more than anything, Lovie Smith and I are not only African-American but also Christian coaches, showing you can do it the Lord's way. We're more proud of that.
You know, nice guys aren’t supposed to finish first. But one did last night. And it looks like we can go ahead and plan next year’s Super Bowl party. And I think I’ll hold onto my Colts jersey too!
Thursday, February 01, 2007
I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I'm a disciple of His. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I'm finished with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.
My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won't give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes,
give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problems recognizing me… My banner will be clear!