Monday, December 29, 2008
Ok... Here is the rundown:
* The Lord would not allow me to sleep on Saturday. I was up examining my relationship with Him and my service as under-shepherd of Bethany.
* I had to cancel my Sunday School class due to my having to re-write almost half my sermon.
* The Kid's Christmas Play was amazing!
* It was a little strange preaching without a pulpit, but then again I did have a music stand in front of me.
* I was sweating a lot for two reasons:
1. It was very warm up on that stage.
2. I don't know if anyone else noticed but I was very, very nervous.
* Our music team did an amazing job as usual!
* Wow! Six baptisms. All kids!
* I am so excited about what God is doing.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
The Cedar Mill library is a great place to pick up quality books. I have enjoyed the system. There are many authors of spiritual self-help books on the shelf. One such author is Dr. Wayne Dyer. He has appeared on P.B.S. on several occasions and seems to be a pretty nice guy. I recently borrowed The Power of Intention: Learning to Co-create Your World around You. I read this book for two reasons:
- It is a bestseller, which means that it has been read by many, many people.
- Dr. Dyer is a traveling lecturer which tells me that he is, at least, moderately influential.
I have studied world religions and it is very clear to me that Dr. Dyer has too. And I will state my bias upfront:
It seems to me that all eastern religions / faith systems do not see what is known as THE CREATOR - CREATURE DISTINCTION. This is a basic tenant of Biblical Christianity, and Judaism for what it’s worth. It simply states that God is not, in any way, shape, or form, part of His creation.
I think it is fair to consolidate Dr. Dyer’s book with the following quote:
Be love. Ponder these words thoughtfully: God is love, “and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in me, and I in him.” That is God talking, so to speak. Keeping in mind the central theme of this chapter, and in fact, this entire book, that you must learn to be like the energy that allowed you to be in the first place, then being in a state of love is absolutely necessary for you to reconnect to intention. You were intended out of love, you must be love in order to intend. [pg 50]
Theologically, I have several problems with this book.
- It is built on the faulty premise that one can “reconnect to intention” (intention is synonymous with God in this book) on his or her own terms. This is in clear opposition to the words of Jesus in John 14:6 where He unashamedly declares: I (Jesus) am the way the truth and the life and no man can come unto the Father but by (through) me.
- Dr. Dyer handpicks several teachings from a variety of “spiritual teachers” with a heavy emphasis on the metaphysical.
- There is not a single mention of sin and the eternal consequences of “not connecting to intention.”
Readers, I have no choice but to give this book two thumbs way down.
There is a great danger in studying the works of men and not the Word of God. I will close with an example from Dr. Dyer’s book:
Within you is an infinite passionate soul that wishes to express itself. It’s God within you, urging you to fulfill a deep sense of what you were meant to be. All of our acts are measured by the inspiration from which they originate. When your acts display the faces of intention, they spring from a God residing within you. [pg 125]
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
(On a theological note, think of this the next time you feel guilt and ashamed of past sins. Believers in Jesus have been cleased... whiter than snow.)
I know, I know. Funner is not a real word. But I have to admit that I really had fun today.
- I was actually able to wakeup this morning at 7 am after going to bed around 2 am. Yep… that’s a whopping 5 hours of beauty sleep.
- The Elders met with a missionary couple. We had a sweet and productive time of fellowship.
- I was able to hear a ten year old boy’s testimony.
- A dear brother and I went out and made several visits.
- While he and I were out and about, we dined at a local restaurant where a couple from the church was also dining. So we ate together.
- The server that Bethany is back up and running which means I got the hundred or so emails that had been accumulating.
- The Lord answered a big prayer concern of mine (come on by this Sunday morning to hear more on that)
But do you want to know what really, really made this day more funner than the others? (and yes, I am still aware that funner is not a word.)
Jesus Christ is coming back! As much fun as I have spending time with my family and in ministry and studying the Word, I am looking forward to the time when the Word made flesh makes His second debut.
I had a great day today and I hope to have another just like it tomorrow. Even so Lord Jesus come.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
It is my prayer that the Lord ministers truth to your heart and challenges you to serve Him.
And yes... I am preaching in shorts.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Now let’s take this into the realm of the spiritual. When all is said and done, every believer in Jesus Christ will stand before the Judgment (Bema) seat of Christ.
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. (1 Co 3:10-15)
Are we willing to pay a little extra in terms of service and submission to the Lord now with the promise of great wealth on that Day, or are you content with having a “better quality of life” now, free of persecution and the ridicule of being known as a believer in Jesus Christ, with little to show on that Day?
May the Lord lead us in the way the pleases Him and may we be wise enough to follow.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Wow! From the mouth of an atheist.
May the Lord give us the compassion and passion for the lost.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Don't let the affairs of the day keep you from being a good steward of your time and talent.
Blessings to you!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go.”
This is the opening line and title of a classic Christmas song written in 1951 by Meredith Willson. The rest of the song has nothing to do with Jesus, but it brings the point home: IT SURE LOOKS FESTIVE OUT THERE.
Maybe it is because I am too timid, or maybe it is something else, but I am rather nervous about driving in the white stuff. So the family and I have stayed at the house (with one minor outing to the grocery store) for the past few days. Here are a few things to take away from the whole experience:
- Just when we are getting into a groove, when we think we have it all figured out, God can change our world. Remember that God is in control:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. (James 4:13-17, NKJV)
- Though it may put a damper on your weekly plans and agenda, remember the following verse, this promise, when you look at the snow laden ground:
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (Psalm 51:7, NKJV)
“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1:18, NKJV)
A change in perspective leads to a change in direction.
Monday, December 15, 2008
- My kids saw and played in snow for the first time.
- We were small in number, but GIANT in ministry!
- I felt a great deal of freedom preaching yesterday.
- We unpacked Titus 2:11 - 14… because Jesus is coming back at a time we least expect it:
* Be Encouraged, knowing He is faithful and promised to come back for His church.
* Be Challenged to live a godly life.
* Be Ready, for the Lord can come at any moment.
For the actual sermon audio, click the link below:
Shalom Ya' all
Sunday, December 14, 2008
When I woke up this morning, there was no snow.
When I looked out the window at 8 o'clock this morning, there was no snow.
When I made the long trek across the parking lot at 8:30 this morning, this is what I saw.
When we got home, I finally got a glimpse of why people decorate plastic trees!
It was ripe for mischief.
(Note: below is a video)
MORE COMING SOON...
Just like Jesus.
Friday, December 12, 2008
- Submit to God (James 4:7, NKJV) -- We need to be totally devoted to Christ and have His Word in our hearts and do His work as His hands.
- Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7, NKJV) -- Satan is no match for the power of the Spirit that indwells every believer. Don't let him steal your joy!
- Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. (James 4:11, NKJV) -- What a powerful statement James makes. We aught to seek to build each other up and not destroy on another.
- To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. (James 4:17, NKJV) -- There you have it folks... the sins of commission and omission combined.
Blessings to you as you seek to do the Lord's will.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
So, here is my sermon outline:
Prophecies about Christ’s 1st Coming
Scripture Reading-- Hebrews 1:1 - 3
Last week we answered three questions about the Law, the Ten Commandments:
What did the Law mean to the Lord from eternity past?... to the Israelites when it was issued?
To you and me in the 21st century?
We saw that the Law’s main purpose is to show us our need to be the abiding branch Christ refers to in John 15:1 - 5 .
Next week we will be looking at some of the prophecies concerning the second coming of Christ.
Today we are looking at some of the prophecies concerning His first coming.
It is encouraging to know that the Lord Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophecies
It is useful to know that scoffers deny most of them.
STRAIGHT TALK: HERE IS THE RATIONAL FOR THIS SERMON --
1. (2 TIMOTHY 3:16 - 17)
All Scripture is
1. God breathed (θεόπνευστος) = TRUSTWORTHY AND TRUE
2. profitable for teaching = DOCTRINE / INSTRUCTION
3. rebuking = SPEAKS OF CORRECTING ERROR
4. correcting = SPEAKS TO BEHAVIOR
5. training in righteousness = WHAT RIGHTEOUSNESS LOOKS LIKE
· that we may be “thoroughly equipped” PASSIVE TENSE!!!
PASSIVE = the subject receives the action expressed in the verb
THE WORD IS WHAT CHANGES US….
2. Tis the season.
3. Because of the above (#2), most of us and the people we know are getting ready to celebrate Christmas. In keeping with that idea, we are looking at the prophecies relating to Jesus’ first advent (coming)
4. Every Systematic Theology that I looked at (and I DID NOT LOOK AT EVERY SINGLE ONE) did not include “fulfillment of prophecy” in their lists of reasons for the incarnation. That may seem trivial, but the many, many references we see to “as spoken through the prophet” or “as __prophet’s name___ says”
We deepen our trust in the Lord as we see how faithfully He delivers what He promises.
5. Last week we looked at how the Law (Ten Commandments) separates us from God as Romans 7:7 says:
What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”
Today we are going to see that God was proactive in seeking a relationship with fallen, sinful people. HE LOVES US AND PASSIONATELY SEEKS AFTER US.
Have you ever been woken up in the middle of the night by a child or a loud sound and you don’t know what to do because you are half asleep? THAT IS NOT WHAT PROPFECY IS LIKE.
Have you ever listened to a one year old talk to some one for 10 minutes non-stopped and when they are done you had no idea what they said? THAT IS NOT WHAT PROPFECY IS LIKE.
Have you ever told someone that you would be at an event at such and such a time only to find that circumstances forced you to cancel at the last minute? THAT IS NOT WHAT PROPFECY IS LIKE.
Why does prophecy matter?
a. Because it can be HISTORICALLY VERIFIED, we do not have a BLIND FAITH…
WE HAVE A LIVING HOPE!
b. Because it can be verified… because it can be proven.... God is proven faithful.
THE VIRGIN BIRTH:
Jesus’ virgin birth was promised from ages past
Genesis 3:13 - 15
Notice several things:
1. Who is being cursed here? Adam? Eve? Serpent?
2. Who’s seed? Adam’s or Eve’s???
3. Who wins? The Serpent’s seed or Eve’s?
Does Genesis 3:15 PROVE the Virgin Birth? NO!
Isaiah 7:14 It is narrowed.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you (Hebrew here is PLURAL) a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
A BRIEF WORD ABOUT THE WORD “VIRGIN”
The word used here is “alma” and it occurs 7 times in the O.T.
While it is true that this word CAN mean “young woman”, please note two things:
1. Every usage of this word in the OT is referring to a virgin (un-married woman, Deut makes mention of this as does Matt 1:18-19), regardless of it’s “technical” meaning…. Words are defined by their usage… you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway.
2. “The LXX translator(s) who later translated the Book of Isaiah into Greek sometime between the second and first century b.c., however, rendered the Hebrew term by the more specific Greek word παρθένος (parthenos), which does mean “virgin” in a technical sense. This is the Greek term that also appears in the citation of Isa 7:14 in Matt 1:23. Therefore, regardless of the meaning of the term in the OT context, in the NT Matthew’s usage of the Greek term παρθένος clearly indicates that from his perspective a virgin birth has taken place.” (NET Bible Notes on Isaiah 7:14)
This was fulfilled in Matthew 1:20 - 25 ß GO HERE
HIS NAME AND JOB DISCRIPTION WAS PROPHECIED!!!!
Remember the 3rd commandment? Your name is a representation of your reputation.
In the past God appointed someone for the task
Adam Noah Abraham
Moses Joshua The Prophets
This time He sent His Son.
That brings us to the next prophecy relating to Jesus birth = Isaiah 9:6
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Notice that this Child is:
1. born: NOT LIKE THE PAGAN DEITIES THAT SIMPLY INVADE THE PLANET
2. He is given: God the Father gave His Son (John 3:16)
3. He will (as we will see next week) rule = reference to “government on his shoulders”
4. His names:
a. Wonderful Counselor
b. Mighty God
c. Everlasting Father = Properly translated, “Father / Author of eternity”
d. Prince of peace
We learn even more about this Child as we turn to Micah 5:2
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.
“ancient days” = Yom Olam = LIT = Days of Eternity or eternal days
Even his place of birth was prophesied…
All of that to say this:
WE, IN THE 21st CENTURY CAN TRUST THAT GOD WILL DO, WHAT HE SAYS HE WILL DO.
A few practical things in closing:
1. Malachi writes:
“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty. Mal 3:1
LOOK WITH ME AT THE FIRST 5 VERSES of MARK (Mark 1:1 - 5)
Might I submit to you that just as John was the one who was commissioned before he was born to be the one to declare the coming of the Lord, believers today are the ones who have been commissioned before we were born (Ephesians 1 and elsewhere) to be salt and light… preparing the way (witnessing with word and deed) for His second coming.
2. Jesus’ first coming was promised and God was faithful in fulfilling that promise. He also promised:
Spiritual growth for the committed.
Grace in time of need.
Access to His throne.
Is there anything in your life that you are not trust Him with? WHY?
3. Jesus Christ stepped out of glory, out of heaven to save the church. He humbled Himself and became a servant. Will we step out in faith and serve the world around us?
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself
and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Philippians 2:5 - 8
4. God loved us and He demonstrated that by giving. How are we showing the world that we love them? How are you?
5. The Gospel: How much more practical can I make it. I am your pastor and I love you. And this is the hard truth, Christmas time is a time when the world looks at the babe in a manger, BUT FROM ETERNITY PAST UNTIL ETERNITY FUTURE THE FOCAL POINT WILL BE THE CROSS.
· Today, it is at the cross that we find salvation.
· Today, it is at the cross that we find hope.
· Today, it is at the cross that we find strength.
· Today, it is at the cross that we find Jesus.
If you are here today and you need hope, strength, or salvation… you need Jesus.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
By now both people who follow this blog know that we are experiencing some massive server problems at the church. I have been email-less since last Friday. Yesterday I walked in to the office and found the ladies with a paper calendar and pencils. Just one week prior all they had to do was shoot off an email.
Here are a few things to take away from this whole experience.
- God is still n the throne, even when things are maddening for us.
- God is still saving people, internet or not.
- The first century church did not rely on the knowledge and efficiency of their network server. They relied on the power of God.
- The Gospel of Jesus Christ made it all the way to Portland, OR without the help of the internet.
Praise God through Whom all blessings flow!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
My son and I went to the store yesterday. He is only two and can’t unlatch himself from the car seat… I had to do that for him. He took my index finger in his little hand as we walked across the parking lot. He saw a truck coming our way, not that big… only a Ford Ranger… but big enough to scare him. I know because he squeezed my hand and looked up at me.
Sammy loved spending time with his dad and I love spending time with him. In fact, he is with me right now as I type these words. Here are a few things to think about as you reflect on your relationship to the Father and His relationship to you:
- While you may not understand everything He says, He understands your every word.
- Spending time with Dad is just as important as talking about Him
- Much like my son would have been in grave danger in the parking lot by himself, you and I need to cling to the Father’s hand… knowing that He will lead us to safety.
- Just as the Ford pick-up truck did not faze me but terrified my son, the circumstances of our lives do not frighten the Father. We should cling to Him for dear life.
I trust that these words find you well, and encourage you to:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3:5 - 6, NIV)
Monday, December 8, 2008
1. God is still on the throne. (Don’t ever overlook that!)
2. The Lord is still saving people.
3. It was nice singing some of the old(er) Christmas songs from years gone by.
4. I had a fantastic time preaching on a few prophecies concerning Jesus’ First Advent.
Fantastic! God is so good to us!!!
There are many, many references to wisdom in Proverbs. There proverbs about:
- Wisdom and money (Proverbs 6)
- Wisdom and avoiding promiscuous women (Proverbs 7)
- Wisdom and righteousness (Proverbs 1)
- Wisdom and a virtuous woman (Proverbs 31)
Wisdom is even personified in chapter 8 of Proverbs (and elsewhere). But what is it? What is wisdom? I have been reading this book for years and my first few times through Proverbs I kept asking the same question:
Proverbs never defines wisdom, it just shows examples. What does wisdom look like?
And that IS the answer. Wisdom is the application of knowledge. Wisdom is what righteousness looks like. Here is a way that I sum it up:
Knowing that a tomato is a fruit is knowledge. Not putting it in a fruit salad is wisdom.
Friday, December 5, 2008
This is a picture of the four Johnson kids. This photo was taken a couple of weeks ago in the basement (fireside room) of Bethany Baptist Church.
Our church is trekking through the Old Testament right now and, as many of you know, that particular Testament was written in Hebrew. Hebrew reads from right to left and follows a very interesting grammatical pattern. So, in keeping with the Judeo-Christian heritage, here is the role call from right to left:
- Samuel (a.k.a. "The Sam Sam")
- Dannia (holding Victoria)
- Victoria (a.k.a. "Busy Izzy" and sporting her natural Mohawk.)
- Anabelle (a.k.a. "Ana Banana")
Think of it as social networking in the nether regions of cyberspace. I have put a live update (ok… there’s a three minute delay) on this web page so you can get the idea of it. Really nifty stuff.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
1. The Lord is doing some great things at Bethany and in other Portland churches.
2. We have some ultra creative and innovative folks at this church.
3. We have some strong leaders in leadership positions here.
I am so excited!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I have managed to schedule 12 meetings this week. MOST OF THEM ARE OUT OF THE OFFICE(S).
I am so glad that God is not so booked that He has to “check His schedule” to “pencil in a time” for me.
And I’m thankful that the same goes for you too!
There is a button a buddy of mine gave me in Miami. It says:
SMILE! JESUS LOVES YOU.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25, NIV)
Praise the Lord that He is still answering prayer and ministering to His children. Here’s the rap-up from my perspective:
- I arrived a little late (8:30) and when I got there I found that the A/V guys were hard at work, the musicians were hard at work and Leslie was working hard at getting all the coffee brewed. If only people knew what goes on behind the scenes.
- My Sunday school class is small, but intimate. We had some great discussion and I am looking forward to teaching through the Doctrine of Dispensationalism in the coming weeks.
- I am told that the Thanksgiving weekend is one of the least attended weekends for churches; so I was expecting far fewer members than were present. Praise the Lord that He does not follow “statistics”.
- What can I say about the worship music? I am always blown away by the talent and quality of the work every singer and musician brings to the service. I am also elated that they view themselves as worshipers and not performers.
- The Rulis baby dedication was such a blessing and my wife is now urging me to consider doing the same. She told me that she has been thinking about it for a while but did not know how to bring up the subject. Funny.
- I shared my heart today with the congregation… I WAS TERRIFIED. When Moses came down off Mount Sinai they were terrified:
When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” (Exodus 20:18 - 19)
I felt somewhat the same. How do I handle this Law? How, O Lord, do I present this crucial piece to Israel’s history to your church? From what I heard both first and second hand, the Lord saw fit to bless the teaching of His Word.
- Today ended the Sermon Series in the Book of the Exodus. Next week we will look at Prophecies concerning Christ’s 1st Coming.
- I am always encouraged when I see so many people engaging one another in conversation after the services. I love watching fellowships deepen and new ones begin.
Well… that just about does it. I am sure there is something I missed… sorry.