Book Sale: Zondervan’s Counterpoint series

For a LIMITED time (til the end of February), Zondervan has its Counterpoints in Bible and Theology series on a $3.79-$3.99 sale for Kindle users!! And…  they are all in one way or another well worth the thinking Christian’s time and money.

Here might be some of the more pertinent ones (IMO):

Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?: 4 Views (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Three Views on Creation and Evolution (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Four Views on the Historical Adam (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Four Views on the Book of Revelation (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Three Views on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

Four Views on Moving Beyond the Bible to Theology (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)

I hope you get a couple and read them and learn from them!  -Blessings.

Dave Black on Matt 6:33

Dave Black reflected on his blog about what Jesus might have meant when he said “seek first the kingdom of God.”  I thought it was really good and wanted to share with you here:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

7:15 AM Jesus repeatedly emphasized that following Him meant radically changing our priorities. What did He mean when He said, “Seek first the kingdom of God”? Here are some ideas:

1) Seek first the kingdom of God vocationally. Ask tough questions about your employment. Are you where God wants you to be? If so, are you using your occupation to advance God’s kingdom?

2) Seek first the kingdom of God maritally. Have a Great Commission Marriage. Put the kingdom first in your married and family life.

3) Seek first the kingdom of God geographically. The issue of where we live has everything to do with the kingdom. Let’s be open to God’s guidance. Unlike our secular counterparts, we can no longer select a place to live based merely on comfort, affordability, good schools, etc.

4) Seek first the kingdom of God ecclesiologically. I strongly urge you to find a church home that shares your urgency for the kingdom and global missions. Traditional wisdom dictates that we are to seek a church on the basis of buildings, programs, convenience, and, regrettably, personalities. As a result, church life becomes inwardly-focused, and we fail to become the presence of the kingdom in society. When Becky and I joined our church in Roxboro, NC, we did so largely because of its clear and consistent vision to be a part of the kingdom initiative of God. It seeks to manifest the values of Jesus’ upside-kingdom. It gives high priority to missions. Our goal is to strive as authentically as  possible to incarnate the life and teachings of Jesus in our corporate and individual lives.

5) Seek first the kingdom of God financially. Jesus calls us to avoid the rat race of consumerism and materialism. Let’s reexamine our lifestyles to see how we can free up dollars for the kingdom.

6) Seek first the kingdom of God physically. Obesity and self-indulgence characterize many American evangelicals. It never occurs to us that avoiding overeating is a way to serve the kingdom. As disciples we are called to set aside physical comfort and devote our bodies to God as living sacrifices. I struggle constantly to keep my weight under control. But I must maintain good physical condition if I am to be able to walk long distances in Ethiopia.

7) Seek first the kingdom of God ministerially. Every believer is a fulltime “minister.” Churches can do much more to utilize qualified volunteers who essentially pay themselves to serve. We must change the emphasis in our churches from hiring professional staff to equipping “laypeople” to be the church.

8) Seek first the kingdom of God institutionally. Let’s ask, “How can we use our corporate resources most effectively and sacrificially for the kingdom?” Take our church buildings. Surely we can do a better job in constructing and utilizing church properties so as to channel more resources into missions and service to the needy. I once read of a congregation of 4,000 in Oregon that, instead of building a new sanctuary, established a separate corporation to build a self-supporting convention hall that the church uses free of charge. Another example: Missionary organizations can separate overhead costs from money raised for missionaries. In other words, money contributed to missionary causes would go entirely to these causes, while all overhead costs (including salaries for executives) would be raised separately.

9) Seek first the kingdom of God intellectually. Has Christ’s lordship had any effect on your thought life? What you read? Your attitudes? Sometimes it is easier to read books about the Scriptures than to read the Scriptures themselves. What makes us think that commentaries or websites are more important than the Word of God? We neglect the Bible to our own peril. I often remind my students that 99 percent of what I know about God and the Christian life I learned from reading my Bible rather than books about the Bible. God does not ask us to forego reading books by human authors (goodness, I’ve written my share of them), but His lordship is not visible in our lives until we prioritize His Word.

These are some practical ways by which we can seek first the kingdom of God. I’m sure many others could be mentioned. Seeking first the kingdom of God means that our time, our money, our very selves are available to God, to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to the world. It’s not a matter of simply attending church or participating in endless rounds of programs. It’s about changing the world by becoming what Jesus intended the church to be: a servant to the world. “The church is only the church when it exists for others,” said Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Christ calls us to pour our lives into the needy world that surrounds us. He promises us that as we do this, we will find that His yoke of service is easy and His burden is light. If you live this way, you will find His promise — as Becky and I have — to be true.

I’ll tell ya, I really like how Dave thinks!  To be sure, he is such a blessing to those who know him, are in his classes and or read his blog.

Blessings,

Neufeld thoughts on the Revelation

Henry Neufeld taught recently on the book of Revelation and shared some of his reflections about that experience:

  1. I’m more convinced than ever that we need to read Revelation more for theology and spiritual growth and less for trying to lay out timelines for the end of the world. I find good theology and good principles in many of these passages even if we continue to disagree on the specific referents.

  2. I have a great deal of sympathy for the preterist position, even though that is not precisely what I believe. Symbols generally do find credible referents in the immediate time and place. The problem with the preterist position, in my view, is that it is easy to leave all the book’s other lessons in the past as well. Revelation spoke to its own time, but it also speaks to the future.

  3. Revelation is possibly the most violent book in the New Testament. But it’s not about the violence. It’s about God’s faithfulness.

  4. Revelation is an unfolding of the gospel. It begins with Jesus with his church/people, and it ends with Jesus with his people. The rest assures God’s people that God is paying attention and is with them even when he doesn’t appear to be.

  5. In teaching Revelation we need to emphasize the persecuted church more. When you get to the fifth seal, for example, and the souls under the altar are asking “How long oh Lord?” it helps if we understand what persecution was and is like. I have always discussed persecution as an historical phenomenon. This time I spent more time discussing the present and what some of these passage might mean viewed from the perspective of people suffering persecution right now. Like Hebrews, Revelation speaks to people suffering or soon-to-suffer great hardship. We American Christians, in our ease, are likely to have a hard time hearing the message.

  6. The most important thing a Bible teacher can so, I believe, is teach people how to study for themselves. It’s not about getting across all of my beliefs or particular interpretations. What people need is to find a way to experience God for themselves—to hear God’s voice—through the pages of scripture.

I think these are some good thoughts!  I have never taught on the book of Revelation before, but I really like Henry’s reflections here.  Additionally, I agree with David Alan Black that Henry’s last point is his most important point.  :-)

Two Grids in Church Ministry

Ed Stetzer has a good post up on Christianity today in relation to the two ways pastors and or church planters need to look at church ministry in general (theologically and missiologically).  It’s really good!

These two grids to look at church ministry are theological and missiological grids. The tendency, as is always the case, is to drift to either extreme to the detriment of the other end. There are some who are only concerned about theology, without ever considering how to relate to their community. Others are obsessed with being relevant and will cast aside biblical convictions if they clash with cultural values. I don’t think either of these are healthy ways to lead churches. A balance is needed. Church leaders must think both theologically and missiologically.

In an age of pragmatics – this is a breath of fresh air!  Theology is important, and so is seeing all from a missiological perspective – its another reason I think missiology degrees can be good for pastors, even the PhD in Intercultural Studies.  :-)    These two things are just SO foundational to church life in general.  Why?  Because many churches are theologically anemic and too many think “relevance” has to do with being hip and cool and where “peace, love, harmony” rule.  Its a big misunderstanding for so many.

Well, give it a read and keep it in mind!  Blessings,

QOTD: Carson on Philippians

basicsThe Kindle edition of Don Carson’s book, Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians (Baker Academic), is on a temporary $4 sale.

Here is a good quote from chapter one (worth the price of the $4 Kindle edition alone).

I would like to buy about three dollars worth of gospel, please. Not too much— just enough to make me happy, but not so much that I get addicted. I don’t want so much gospel that I learn to really hate covetousness and lust. I certainly don’t want so much that I start to love my enemies, cherish self-denial, and contemplate missionary service in some alien culture. I want ecstasy, not repentance; I want transcendence, not transformation. I would like to be cherished by some nice, forgiving, broad-minded people, but I myself don’t want to love those from different races— especially if they smell. I would like enough gospel to make my family secure and my children well behaved, but not so much that I find my ambitions redirected or my giving too greatly enlarged. …

Carson, D. A. (1996-04-01). Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians (Kindle Locations 44-50). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I preached through a large part of Philippians when we were at the Grand Canyon and it sure was a challenging book to say the least!  I think its one that every church needs to go through verse by verse.  It so integral to the life and health of the congregation – what can be more important that building one another up in the faith and promoting unity for the sake of the gospel??  But and However, in order to get to that place, most congregations have a lot of work to do – you know – work out their salvation with fear and trembling.  No, silly, not trying to earn one’s salvation but learn to work out personal differences and setting aside personal agendas and following the model of Christ himself, the humble obedient servant, the one who’s attitude we must emulate if the gospel is going to impact not just our communities and the world, but also our own community of faith and our own hearts.  

That bears repeating – the ONLY WAY the gospel will go forth in our own hearts and in our own communities, really and truly, is for each person and for the whole congregation to take on the attitude of Christ, becoming humble obedient servants – to Christ, to one another, and to the gospel – SO THAT the gospel may go forth.  

St Paul was a man of singular passion – Christ and the gospel – that was it, nothing else mattered.  NOTHING.  

I wonder, is it the same for us?  Don’t tell, show me!  :-)  

Blessings.