Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Bailout Game!

In addition to the Rush-Obama media feud, do you need a little entertainment during these hard economic times?

Go to The Bailout Game.

It's hilarious. I got 1,667 points.

HT: Kruse Kronicle

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Obama's Mexico City Policy

Scot McKnight, Professor of New Testament at North Park University is right on:
The rescinding of the Mexico City Policy is not about reducing unwanted pregnancies, it's about reducing unwanted infants.
Read the entry with the above conclusion and the introductory piece.

Faces of Amazing Grace

This is such a neat application of a classic hymn, brought to us by the Salvation Army.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New U2 Song

I've been a fan from near the beginning, more than 20 years ago. They're still good!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

People Get Ready

With the presidential inauguration of Barak Obama imminent, I wouldn't be surprised to hear this classic Curtis Mayfield song in the next day or two-- "People Get Ready"

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Congregational Church Roots

Lately I've been researching Congregational church history. This past November, I did sermon around our Little River church's founding pastor, Rev. J.B. Schlichter. And right now, I'm delighting in correspondence with family members of Rev. J.E. Crane, who ministered in our church from 1913-15.

Today, I ran across a couple other names that I didn't know had Congregational roots-- J.I. Scofield and Dwight L. Moody. These are two people I greatly admire-- for their faith and impact.

Scofield was an influential early leader in the dispensational movement. He also pastored a Congregational church in Dallas and grew it to hundreds of people.

Dwight Moody was one of the great evangelists of the 1800s. Moody had a Congregational background and later attended a Congregational church in Chicago.

It's a privilege for me to participate in the rich history of Congregationalism.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My Sign Got Revealed

One of my pastoral responsibilities is to change the message of the outdoor sign at the church.

Right now it says: "Shine in '09 for Jesus"

Yes, it's hokey, but I don't have space to say much.

Today, my saying got exposed for what it really is.

My 11 year old daughter said to me:

"What's your next sign going to say Dad? 'Call your friend Ben in '10?'"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Was Jesus Thinking of Alexander the Great?

This Spring semester at Sterling College I'm teaching New Testament Introduction. Today's lecture included a brief discussion of what happened during the 400 years of silence between the end of the Old Testament and the start of the New Testament.

One of the important political events was Alexander the Great's incredible world conquest, which included the land of Palestine. But not long after Alexander gained political control of the world, he died prematurely at age 33 in 323 B.C.

Which made me wonder aloud: When Jesus said, "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul" (Matthew 16:26, Mark 8:36, Luke 9:25), did Jesus have in mind Alexander the Great?

Any thoughts?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Common Sense

This year in Sunday School I'm teaching the junior high confirmation class. It's a lot of fun, as this exchange illustrates:

Mason: "Why do they call it common sense when so few people have it?"

Tyler: "Common sense? What's that?"

Thursday, January 08, 2009

What Grace Looks Like

A most unusual story of a football game from Rick Reilly at ESPN:
They played the oddest game in high school football history last month down in Grapevine, Texas.

It was Grapevine Faith vs. Gainesville State School and everything about it was upside down. For instance, when Gainesville came out to take the field, the Faith fans made a 40-yard spirit line for them to run through.

Did you hear that? The other team's fans?

They even made a banner for players to crash through at the end. It said, "Go Tornadoes!" Which is also weird, because Faith is the Lions.

It was rivers running uphill and cats petting dogs. More than 200 Faith fans sat on the Gainesville side and kept cheering the Gainesville players on—by name.
You have to read the entire story. This is what grace looks like!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Monday, January 05, 2009

At the Cross At the Crossroads

In a world filled with war between nations, nationalities, religions--and, oh yes, our own interpersonal conflicts, the topic of loving our enemies is a continuous front burner issue. And yet, the study of such from a biblical perspective has been grossly neglected. Until now.

Craig A. Smith has assembled an outstanding group of writers who probe what it means to love our enemies. First, you'll find biblical essays that are exegetically grounded, like John Nolland's "The Mandate to Love Our Enemies: Matthew 5:43-48" and I. Howard Marshall's "The Religious Enemy: The Early Church in Acts."

Then, the topic is explored from a number of different angles: case studies in civil disobedience, 2 views about the military, loving our spiritual enemies, dealing with enemies within the church, Muslim neighbors, the psychology of loving enemies, and what the experience of persecution teaches.

This book is not a spiritually laced liberal knee-jerk reaction to the topic of loving one's enemies, but a biblically sound and deeply probing work. You likely won't agree with all its conclusions, but you'll come away challenged and enriched.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

10 Questions for the New Year

Sunday in worship our church family celebrated Epiphany, the time on the church's liturgical calendar that celebrates the Magi finding Jesus and presenting their gifts.

During the message, I focused on the moment the Magi finally saw the Savior--bowing down to worship Him. After a long journey, these wise men finally found the light and responded to the light. They had an initial encounter with Jesus and I trust it reverberated into the future.

For those who profess faith in Jesus, our testimony is to be Magi like-- we have found Jesus and we are continuing to find Jesus. That is, we have a past with Jesus, but we are also seeking a present and future with Jesus. To this end, consider these ten questions from Don Whitney that will prod you to a deeper relationship with Jesus in 2009:
1. What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

3. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year different from last year?

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?
Whitney's link also provides a question a day for the month.