Archive | April, 2014

We need WISDOM

25 Apr

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5, NKJV)

Wisdom. That’s a word we don’t hear very much today.  It means far, far more than just knowledge.  In fact, the great Bible teacher, Dr. John MacArthur uses this definition of wisdom…

James’ Jewish audience recognized this as the understanding and practical skill that were necessary to live life to God’s glory. It was not a wisdom of philosophical speculation, but the wisdom contained in the pure and peaceable absolutes of God’s will revealed in His Word (cf. 3:13, 17) and lived out. Only such divine wisdom enables believers to be joyous and submissive in the trials of life.

MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Jas 1:5). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Wisdom helps us know how to live for Christ in today’s world. Wisdom helps us make choices. Sadly, we live in the “information age” with the internet and smart phones, yet there is a dearth of wisdom in our world. In fact, each day that goes by seems to show a quickening descent into the unwise. For those of us who seek to live for the glory of God, we need to re-double our seeking of wisdom. It’s been a theme in my life and ministry this week.  I have specifically asked prayer partners to pray that I would have wisdom this week about a couple of issues.  I have also been approached this week by multiple friends who need wisdom to deal with various situations and/or decisions. It takes wisdom to be a faithful Christian.  It takes wisdom to be a spouse or a parent or a sibling. It takes wisdom to be an employee.  It takes wisdom to have a church.  We need wisdom.

So, let’s do what the scripture says. Let’s start asking God for it with all of our hearts and seeking him.  He will give us wisdom if we seek Him.

Easter Sunday and Every Sunday

17 Apr

1 Corinthians 15 is one of the most famous chapters in the Bible. It is commonly referred to as the “Resurrection Chapter” not because it tells the story of Jesus’ resurrection but because it speaks of the necessity of it and how it applies to our lives today. As we approach Easter Sunday 2014, I encourage all of my readers to take some time and read through this great chapter.  I intend to do so with my own family during our family devotional times.  Let’s look at some key points of this chapter…

“Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:12–19, NASB95)

Here we see the absolute necessity of the resurrection to our faith. If He is not victorious then there is no victory for us. However, Christ has risen from the dead, so there is victory for us.  In fact, Paul goes on to explain that Christ’s resurrection restores spiritual life to sinful humanity who had lost their spiritual life through Adam’s fall in the garden of Eden…

“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:20–22, NASB95)

Because Jesus is victorious over sin, death, and the grave we can have that same victory through faith in Him!  Furthermore, Paul explains that Christ’s resurrection ensures our resurrection – comparing Christ’s resurrection as the first one of many to come…

“But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:23–28, NASB95)

I hope that’s enough to get your Bible study juices flowing and encourage you to dig into 1 Corinthians 15 this week as we count down to Easter Sunday – resurrection Sunday!  A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Israel for the first time to visit the Biblical sites. Of course, one of the great highlights of any trip there is a visit to the Garden Tomb…

GardenTombexterior

We do not know for sure exactly where Jesus was buried.  The Garden Tomb is one of two locations that many Christians believe to be the place. The other is found just a short distance away in Jerusalem inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  The Garden Tomb has a number of characteristics that coincide with what we know from the Bible, making it the location that is preferred by most evangelical scholars today, although we cannot be certain.

GardenTombinterior1

This is the burial chamber inside the Garden Tomb.  If Jesus was actually buried here, this is very likely the spot.  Take a moment and think about that. Every group that enters the Garden Tomb grows silent as this awesome thought sinks in. For me, it is a spiritually moving experience to be reminded in such a concrete way that I serve a risen Savior!  You see, the most important issue is not WHERE Jesus was buried, but rather THAT Jesus has risen!  Here is what you see above you as you exit the Garden Tomb…

GardenTombinterior2

Yes! That is what really matters! As the old hymn says, “I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today. I know that He is living whatever men may say…”  That is the message and the hope of Easter.  In fact, Easter Sunday is not the only Sunday that the Christian church celebrates the resurrection. Have you ever wondered why we worship on Sunday?  Because Jesus rose on Sunday.  The early Christians did not gather to worship on the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) but gathered to worship on Sunday because that was the day their Savior rose.  So, every single time we gather for worship on Sunday, we are celebrating the resurrection of Christ.  Yes, Easter Sunday and every Sunday is resurrection Sunday!

Podcasts that teach and encourage me

8 Apr

I will confess, I do enjoy talk radio.  As an avid sports fan, I enjoy sports talk – particularly about college football and basketball.  I also enjoy news talk about politics and current events.  Several months back, I realized that I had fallen into the trap of turning on my radio to talk radio every time I was in my car. I do enjoy great Christian music, but I have never really been a huge listener of music.  It’s live and in person where music blesses me most.  Bottom line:  I realized that was spending a lot of time just mindlessly listening to talk radio about the latest issues of the day. Too much time.  So, I searched for some podcasts to subscribe to that would intentionally teach me, broaden my horizons, and help me be more of the Christian and the leader that I need to be. While I had dabbled in podcasts in the past, it was strictly to listen to sermons from other preachers. Now, I have much greater variety.  Now, I spend my time in the car  listening to podcasts that help me. I listen while I exercise. It’s been a great blessing and encouragement to me that I had to share. Here are some podcasts I have found that are well worth my time (and yours) to listen to…

*****DISCLAIMER*****  My listing of these podcasts does not mean that I endorse every single viewpoint found in each one.  It simply means that I have found them valuable to help me think or to equip me.

The Briefing by Dr. Albert Mohler.   This is a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview hosted by the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  Dr. Mohler is one of the foremost thinkers in the evangelical Christian world.  I never listen to one of these podcasts that I do not learn about a development or issue that I had not heard of.   If you like to think through issues, this is the podcast for you.

The Table by Dallas Theological Seminary. Hosted by Dr. Darrell Bock, this podcast features a lengthy sit down conversation between Dr. Bock and another theologian or ministry leader about church and ministry issues.  I have listened to in-depth discussions of such subjects as the differences between Roman Catholic and evangelical theology,  cultural challenges facing the church today, and interpreting Old Testament narratives. If you have the time, this podcast is well worth your time.

Rainer on Leadership by Thom Rainer. Dr. Rainer is the CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Every week, he churches out a podcast in which he discusses church leadership issues with recognized church ministry leaders.  The topics have ranged from church health to pastoral compensation to training people for ministry.

Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast by Andy Stanley.   Andy Stanley is the well-known Atlanta area pastor best known for his engaging communication style and unique approach to ministry.  Personally, I enjoy his leadership lessons far more than his sermons. He only produces one leadership podcast per month, but I absolutely will not miss it.

This is Your Life by Michael Hyatt.  This podcast is primarily focused on business leadership, but Michael Hyatt is a committed Christian who made his name in the publishing industry.  He covers such topics as “top 10 productivity hacks” and “4 difficult sentences for leaders and why you must say them.”   Michael is transparent and often splices in his personal leadership experiences in the business world.

Dr. Ted Traylor of Olive Baptist Church.  Not only is Ted a personal friend, but he is one of my favorite preachers.  It’s a joy to hear Ted teach expository messages with boldness, clarity, and a great sense of humor.

Dr. Lon Solomon of McLean Bible Church. A converted Jew, Lon Solomon is a tremendously gifted preacher and church leader.  Even though he serves in the Washington D.C. area, he stands firmly on the authority of the Bible, but he does it in a compassionate and engaging way.

 

What other podcasts have you found helpful?