Sunday scripture day (1 Corinthians 15:29)

"Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?" - 1 Corinthians 15:29

Thanksgiving - (Matthew 11:12)

It's thanksgiving. We have guests. I've been busier than dirt (not that I anticipate dirt being particularly dirty or anything). Hence the hiatus.

So I'm just writing to let you know:

A) In the words of one governor "I'll be back"

B) I'm so stinkin' thankful for what I get to do for a living.

"From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it." - (Matthew 11:12 - NIV)

I get to work with such men and it is an unbelievable privilege. I pray you have a wonderful thanksgiving and somehow find joy like I've found. I thank the Lord for his unbelievable grace in my life.

Happy thanksgiving - We American's have some pretty cool holidays (okay this is the only one I can think of that's really cool besides the 4th of July).

Rejoice, pray, give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. " - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

After months of preparation I am done with a very big test. I'm happy as can be, although I feel pretty terrible about how I did. The nice thing is I wont find out my grade until around Christmas, so I have nearly a month to just enjoy being done and not have to worry about how I did.

Right now rejoicing and giving thanks are pretty easy to do. Life is good knowing I can relax about the test. But, to be honest, praying is quite a bit easier when life is harder.

I just think its interesting that we're called to rejoice, give thanks, AND pray in the same breath. Our lives typically exemplify praying a whole bunch when we're in need and then forgetting about how blessed we are when we are blessed. I've worked hard over they years to get better about giving thanks in all situations, but I don't find myself praying much other than a generic "Thank you God."

Lately I've been working on praying for my friends. I've been better about it but still have a long ways to go. Just because life is hunky dory for me doesn't mean life is great for everyone. Keeping our fellow believers in our prayers is far more important than we remember.

Our friends are lost and unsaved, imprisoned for sharing the gospel (yes - even today), sick, dying, lonely, broken, disheartened, and separated from friends and family. And this is just a start. Our lives may be great, but there are always those out there in need of prayer.

Rejoice - whether your lot is good or bad. Give thanks - for you have much to give thanks for even if life seems miserable. And pray without ceasing - no matter how much you think there is nothing to pray about.

Rejoicing is prayer. Thankfulness is prayer. And prayer is about rejoicing, thanking, adoring, confessing, and asking for things. None of these things alone.

This is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Sunday Scripture Day (1 Thessalonians 5:16)

"Rejoice always." - 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Do not forbid speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:39)

"So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues." - 1 Corinthians 14:39

As a person who accepts a modern view on tongues (albeit limited to being done in private or when there is interpretation - what I see as the Biblical model) I have no trouble making sense of this verse.

If however, you have a problem with tongues or prophesy, what do you do with this verse?

Big Test

If ya'll think of it. I'm taking a fluency test in about 24 hours which will determine a lot (mostly where I go for a graduate program) over the course of the next 3 years and then beyond.

I've been studying my tail off but on the practice exams continually get right along the line. That is, sometimes I do as well as I need and frequently I don't. I'll take all the prayer you can offer.

Orderly worship (1 Corinthians 14:40)

"But all things should be done decently and in order." - 1 Corinthians 14:40

Here is a nice clear instruction for the church. So many of the problems I've seen happen in the church have come from pastors being unwilling to set and then keep order.

I can think of one specific time when I was younger. There was a lady in the church who would stand up after worship and ask the children to come forward and then share something she was learning. It was always something harmless but the leaders of the church just let her do it even though it wasn't in the schedule and she wasn't running any of this by anyone before she did it.

My father was telling the leadership they needed to shut this down or this lady would eventually say something stupid or just plain wrong. Eventually thats exactly what happened. She stood up, out of order, and began to share about the how the Bible cant be trusted.

Next all the leaders were having to corral her out of the building.

This verse is written in context of spiritual gifts, but it gives a great principal for all aspects of running the church. Let us keep things decent and in order that we may honor the Lord with our gatherings.

The Lord has commanded it (Lamentations 3:37)

"Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?" - Lamentations 3:37

This is a verse about the sovereignty of God.

Think about just how cool it is that the Lord knows everything that will come to pass and has a plan for it. Whatever pain may come today, God has a plan for tomorrow.

I just finished watching the newest Batman (The Dark Knight) and I was shocked at just how depressing of a movie it is. I feel like it's supposed to be a movie about the hope a hero provides but instead is a movie about a city so evil it's depressing (not to mention the sun never shines).

This may be closer to the truth than we realize, we're surrounded by a shocking amount of evil with a pretty face. However our God is the king of this earth now. He is in control and powerful enough to keep things in check.

The evil which exists today will not be around forever. The Lord wins in the end. And what comes to pass between now and then will fulfill His plan.

He has commanded it.

Declare, exhort, and rebuke with all authority (Titus 2:15)

"Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you." - Titus 2:15

This starts out nice and easy. A command to exhort and rebuke on the Lord's authority. To declare truth and the gospel.

But I don't know what to do with "Let no one disregard you." I know a lot people who have disregarded what I've taught about the Lord time and time again. I can think of one friend right now who has been hassling me about my faith. He knows what I believe and he even knows why I believe it. He just thinks its ridiculous.

How does, "Let no one disregard you," fit with the gospel being "folly to Gentiles" (1 Corinthians 1:23)? That is, if the gospel is foolishness to the non-believer how can we expect them to not disregard us?

If you have ideas please do let me know.

I guess I just want to dwell on what it means to declare, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. To not be ashamed of what we're preaching because it is eternal life or eternal damnation. I want to speak as someone not ashamed, given authority by the Lord to build His church and His kingdom.

Now if I could just figure out how to keep others from disregarding me.

(The only thing I can think is this referring to people disregarding Titus because of who he was rather than the message he was preaching)

When we do it for our good it's lame. Do it for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7)

"To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." - 1 Corinthians 12:7

Whatever your view is on gifts, (be it a belief in a modern manifestation of tongues and prophecy etc... or not) remember it is for the common good. That is, those of us who teach, or preach do so for the good of the Kingdom. Not to have famous names and big churches.

The ministry I do is very small. It is large is scope but ends up being small in practice. The larger circle of influence I have is over about 25 people and the smaller is between 5 and 7. The funny thing is how easy it is for me to get caught up in numbers - less for my ministry's sake and more for the sake of my ego.

Quickly I begin to get wrapped up in whether or not my superiors are impressed. Will people want me to continue doing what I'm doing next year? Will they let me stay in a role of leadership? Will they offer me higher roles of leadership? Ones I can turn down and act like I'm too good for?

Why the stink are these thoughts in my head? Why is it so easy for me to forget any gift I have, any strength at all is a GIFT. By it's nature something given. Given to me by God and for the good of His Kingdom. Not my own.

When we build each other up we forcefully take ahold of the Kingdom and advance it. When we are seeking our own good instead of the common good we become - for lack of a better word - lame.

Oh Lord help us to lay down our pride and give back to you the gifts you've given us.

Sunday scripture day (1 Corinthians 8:8-9)

Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak." - 1 Corinthians 8:8-9

Do what it takes to learn to rightly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." - 2 Timothy 2:15

I'm working with a friend whom I have several times nearly given up on. I keep thinking this guy just really don't care a whole lot about the Lord. Then as soon as I get to that point he goes and tells me something like he did this last week when he said, "I don't think I've learned to dedicate myself to the Lord." Cool.

Not cool that he hasn't learned (though few of us have), but cool that he knows he needs to. I've been challenging him to do what it takes over the next few years to be a leader in his church. This is an idea he is excited about but also freaked out about. He is embarrassed that if you ask him to look up a piece of scripture he will turn to the table of contents at the front of his Bible and then ask if its a New Testament or Old Testament book.

He's been a believer for 8 years but has never really pursued his faith until recently. In fact he only began attending church a few months ago.

When looking at the Bible he is intimidated. "How can I possibly ever grasp this?" he seems to think.

Now I've been a believer for years. I grew up in a christian home and probably have even read my Bible nearly every day for 12 years. But I still have a difficult time. I may know if a book is New Testament or Old Testament. But I simply don't have the brain type which can tell you where a verse is. Part of why I blog is to help me remember the things I learn. Even then, I can tell you what I blogged about in the last few days, but certainly not the scripture reference, or possibly even the book.

But I take this verse as a challenge. For me to step up and do what it takes to really grasp this book of truth we have. I don't want to open to a random scripture, take it out of context and begin to live a heresy. I want to know the heart of God, His passion for me, and use scripture to build up and encourage others. I just wish I didn't have to work so stinkin' hard at it.

I want to challenge you to what I've challenged my friend to. Do what it takes to learn, and REALLY learn the word of God so that you can rightly handle it. Do what it takes in your learning so that you can lead in some capacity in your church if called upon in the next year or two.

That's a tall order. But this is the very word of God. Let's not forget to treat it as such.

p.s. I believe Nick uses the KJV to get the words "rightly dividing the word of truth."

On sexual immorality and 23,000 deaths (1 Corinthians 10:8)

"We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day." - 1 Corinthians 10:8

I imagine there would be something nice about being a woman. Not that no women struggle with sexual immorality, just that it's much more of a problem amongst men (at least this is my understanding - we seem to have a hormone problem).

Imagine the Lord being so angry with His people He sets in place a plague to punish them. This is a reference to Numbers 25, where the people of Israel, "began to whore with the daughters of Moab"(v 1). Reading that verse sort of rubs me wrong. What awful language. But I suppose the point is more about the awfulness of the sin. The Bible, and the Lord don't seem to go lightly on the significance of sin.

Here is a verse in 1 Corinthians calling us to a higher standard. I'm shocked at just how acceptable it is in our churches to go watch rated R movies (nudity etc...) - pastors and all. We've allowed ourselves to become numb to our sin and the things it leads us to. But this is a reminder. The Lord despises sexual sin. So much 23,000 died in one day. That's as many people as I went to college with.

Don't take your sin lightly. Flea from sexual immorality. It's truly not worth it.

As a side note, here is how the story in Numbers ends... interesting stuff:
"When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation and took a spear in his hand and went after the man of Israel into the chamber and pierced both of them, the man of Israel and the woman through her belly. Thus the plague on the people of Israel was stopped." - Numbers 25:7-8

Sin against your brother (1 Corinthians 8:12)

"Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ." - 1 Corinthians 8:12

I just think its interesting how much we're responsible for the success and failure of our brothers. It's so counter culture.

But we are a community, God intended for us to support and love one another. To keep each other from falling. We have an immense amount of freedom in the Lord but the one time we are called to bridle our freedom is in a situation where it may cause another to stumble.

We have an awesome God. And an amazing call from Him to live different than the world around us. Life isn't about number one (ourselves). Life is about God and His kingdom. His kingdom is everything He effectually rules. All of His followers are a part of His kingdom and it is our job to love, encourage, and build up those followers so as to strengthen and grow His kingdom.

Don't sin against Christ - don't sin against your brother. Enjoy your freedom, but first build the kingdom.

Freedom, rights in Christ. And beer (1 Corinthians 8:9)

"But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak." - 1 Corinthians 8:9

Today I'm thinking again about vices. I have frequently thought that if a person has no vices then he probably has one big vice you would rather not know about. This is definitely not true across the board (at least not that I know of), because I certainly THINK I know some people who lack basically any visible vices and who aren't indulging in some ridiculous sin.

I've said before (perhaps months ago) by vice I don't mean sin. Rather, I mean something like smoking a cigar occasionally, or drinking with the guys once and a while (I'm certainly not saying getting drunk). It seems people with the ability to live their freedom in Christ last longer in ministry. This is my opinion and not at all biblically based.

Here Paul is reminding us however, just because we are free to -insert vice here (food sacrificed to idols, beer, cigar) - doesn't mean we are free to cause others around us to stumble. I am a big fan of beer. But if you struggle with alcoholism please don't take this as encouragement to go out and buy beer. And I certainly should not allow myself to drink in your presence as it would cause you to stumble.

I don't want to drive home the point about stumbling. This is important. But in my opinion it should be obvious.

The point I want to make is about our right to food sacrificed to idols. Or whatever it is in our lives. We all need to build up blocks around the things which cause us to sin and be careful in those areas.

But if a beer doesn't lead you to sin then by all means enjoy one with thanksgiving to the father once in a while.

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. - Benjamin Franklin

Tubas, gongs, cymbals and love (1 Corinthians 13:1)

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal." - 1 Corinthians 13:1

As a High School tuba player, I tend to think, "What's wrong with that?" But I suppose the point is, a gong or a cymbal don't do much by the way of making music.

They add a beat and sound great when blended into the background but a man walking around banging a gong belongs in a, "Beef, it's what's for dinner" commercial. We can communicate amazingly well. We can know many different languages and even pray in tongues. But without love it's worthless. Mere noise.

I think as believers we're called to do more than communicate. We're called to communicate love. And communicating love cannot be done without the 'love.'

I spent a year overseas about 4 years ago and one of my roommates and good friends at the time shared with me about a friend of his. We frequented this restaurant where we became friends with the guy who made the food. He worked all day long from 6:30AM till 9:00PM seven days a week. We would talk to him while he was making the food (I'd say cooking, but that's really not what was happening).

My friend would stand behind him and rub his shoulders as he worked. I know it sounds a little weird in our culture, but it definitely wasn't there. This guy would cheer up every time he saw us because he knew someone was there to ask him how he was doing and to love on him. He became one of our best friends over the course of the year.

I remember this roommate telling me, "I can't speak his language yet, but I've learned to communicate love. I can tell that speaks to him."

There is reason to be more than a cymbal or gong. The reason is, we're are called to love.

Sunday Scripture Day (Isaiah 30:29)

"You shall have a song as in the night when a holy feast is kept, and gladness of heart, as when one sets out to the sound of the flute to go to the mountain of the LORD, to the Rock of Israel." - Isaiah 30:29

Not to shame, but to admonish (1 Corinthians 4:14)

"I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children." - 1 Corinthians 4:14

And how often are we ashamed when we're admonished? When those who are close to us speak into our lives to build us up and instead we're torn down. Sometimes its their fault, but often it is our own. We see shame where we should see positive constructive criticism.

Life for me as a believer has been hard because I have frequently had to step it up and be the bigger man in situations where I don't want to be. The worst is when someone you have no respect for (even just dislike) speaks truth into your life. By accepting what they say as truth and changing for the better you're openly agreeing with them. And that's hard to do when you dislike them.

I hate how often I've had to do this. But I love that my authority, and my friends frequently speak into my life, not to shame me, but to admonish me. So I may walk closer with the Lord and better build His kingdom.

Logos Bible Software coming to the Mac SOON.

A few months ago I had to purchase Logos Bible Software for my Hebrew 1 class. At that time I also heard Logos was coming to the Mac, so I downloaded and began testing the Alpha versions of the Mac software with hopes to complete my class on the mac side.

At the time many features were not yet implemented and so most of my work had to be done via virtualization on my mac. It was a bummer to have to install Windows XP for only one program as I really don't need windows for anything else.

Well according to my email Logos is just about to be out of Beta and be running at full speed. This is great news to any Windows Logos users (as now you can switch) and even better news to Mac users.

The best Bible software available has arrived for Mac. Don't miss out.

Also, if I understand the website right, you won't have to pay a whole lot to change from the Windows version to the Mac version if you have already purchased the Windows version.

Don't think, just do. It's Bible software, on your Mac.

The secret and hidden wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:7)

"But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory." - 1 Corinthians 1:7

I'm told one of the draws to other religions, particularly in the first century was the claim to secret knowledge. Paul plays this card in a couple of places (see Ephesians 1:9 for another example) and I find it interesting given the age we live in.

For one thing it is now the age of the internet. If you want to know the secrets of the masons - which while weird may still be fascinating - you're only a well worded google search away. That is, there is very little I want to know which I don't immediately go and look up. If I'm curious about the ratio of oatmeal to water for breakfast it takes me less than a few seconds to find out. I can do the same to find a list of every move an actor has been in etc...

There is little mystery left in this world but secrets are still fascinating. Mystery is fascinating. We know it's true because of the success of movies like "The Skulls" and "National Treasure." I get a kick out of Paul explaining the faith as a secret and hidden wisdom of God. But the truth is - it IS only be His grace we have any hope of knowing the truth.

When I was in college I found out my library had thousands of books published in the 1800's and before which could be ordered from the archives and delivered. I checked out every book written on the holy spirit from that time and the one I found most fascinating was titled "The Secret Power." Dwight L Moody wrote a book by the same name but this one wasn't by him and I cant remember who it was by. I just know it was published in 1804. The writing was weird and awkward but I was fascinated to read what someone had written on the topic literally 200 years before me.

There is a secret and hidden wisdom which comes from God as a gift to us. It is more fascinating than Chinese medicine, the history or the practices of the masons, and anything else you can imagine because it is truth. Our God has gifted us with something which precludes time. And the coolest part?

We get to personally have a relationship with Him who has seen it all and understands it all.

The Bible, the election, you, and abortion (Genesis 49:13)

"“Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea; he shall become a haven for ships, and his border shall be at Sidon." - Genesis 49:13

According to this site George Washington was sworn in as president with this Bible verse. Apparently it was opened at random due to haste.

Whether you live in America or not, the events that will take place today will have an affect on you. While the president really is limited in his power in this day in age, the figurehead of America has a dramatic affect on a number of things.

Who will we blame for our future mistakes and gas prices?

On a more serious note, while I don't know exactly what I think about the two candidates I'm afraid that no matter what I could never support a man who is in favor of abortion. There are other matters, but murder is still murder and in my opinion this is a disqualifying factor.

A friend of mine sent me a link here which asks the question, "As a Christian, should we vote for who we think should lead our country solely based on their stance on abortion?"

If you have the time consider it.

Either way be praying for our leaders. The Lord puts them there for a reason, albeit we frequently do not understand.

We can comprehend (a little bit) the thoughts of God because His Spirit dwells within us - cool (1 Corinthians 2:11)

"For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God." - 1 Corinthians 2:11

Thankfully God gave us His spirit so that we could have hope of understanding Him (v. 12) even if only a little bit.

I read this passage this morning and I was just spending some time dwelling on the idea of man's wisdom still being more foolish than God's foolishness. I first wonder how God has foolishness, although I'm sure Paul says this more to make a point than for us to dwell on the Lord's wisdom or foolishness.

Next I wonder if in God's foolishness He he ever dreamed up an iPhone or not. Finally, I wonder about the wisdom I feel from like I hear from above, and I wonder how this can still be more foolish than God's foolishness.

The Lord lets His spirit dwell within us. And He seems to use this spirit to teach us things through His word through others (among other things). So that we might comprehend the thoughts of God. By the spirit of God.

I feel like I'm all over the place with this one. We may barely know ourselves. But God knows Himself pretty good (I think it's probably safe to say). And then He dwells within us and helps us to understand Himself.

All this to say. We may be pretty foolish even in our wisdom. But as believers we have a unique ability to be taught by THE master. The only one who truly understands God Himself dwells within us. And that person is God Himself.

Pretty cool. "Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God." (v. 12).

Preach the word, exhort, etc... (2 Timothy 4:2)

"Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching." - 2 Timothy 4:2

I attended a wedding today of one of my best buddies. It was a little long for my taste as it was about 2 hours long. In contrast my own lasted only about 20 minutes.

A few weeks ago when talking to him he we talked about how long the wedding would be. I mentioned I have a preference for short weddings. His answer was, "Maybe where you are from most people who attend the wedding will have already heard the name of Jesus. Not so here. We have to take this opportunity to preach the gospel as it will be the only time many people who attend will ever hear the truth." It's hard to argue with that response.

Today I watched a man and a woman walk down the isle and use their special day to preach the word. This man has challenged me in my own walk with the Lord so many times it's embarrassing. From the beginning I was expected to be discipling him, but all along he was asking me how he could pray for me and how he could love me. He challenged me, rebuked me, exhorted me, and loved me like a friend and a man of God is called to do here in 2 Timothy.

I want to preach the word. I need to learn what it is to reprove, rebuke, and exhort with patience. I want to be able to do so when its obvious and when it's not.

Lord this is my prayer.