Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Myth vs. Reality of Jesus: Part 7

What if there was a time where Jesus was doing what Jesus did, and He attracted a crowd, but that crowd turned on Him and asked Him to leave?

Such a thing happened.

Performing miracles such as healing the sick, raising the dead, and releasing people from demon possession can earn you quite a following. Turning water into wine and feeding thousands of people from just five loaves of bread and two fish can make you popular. Calming the wind and waves can leave you wondering "Who is this?"

Our idea might be to copy what someone else is doing and get similar success to what they're getting. This philosophy has been at the heart of the "Church growth" movement, which might create programs in order to attract people.

One way to combat that might be to simply say "Do what Jesus did!" Maybe that doesn't mean the miracles as much as it does to do things out of the ordinary, splashy things, to attract people.

In one such case though Jesus didn't meet with success, at least in terms we would think of. He healed a man of many demons, and in the process of doing so wrecked a local economy. Those who witnessed what happened reported to their city, and the inhabitants of the area asked Jesus to leave.

The whole story is in the sermon audio in the link below.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Myth vs. Reality of Jesus: Part 6

In some ways this is going to be the sermon version of this previous post. Much of the material is the same.

In dealing with myth vs. reality though, this is a prevalent myth that has been part of Church tradition and history for hundreds of years. I believe that as many great things the gospel message has done though, when it comes to how we view women in leadership roles in the Church, we may even be behind the times of the apostles, and certainly Jesus.

A retired Presbyterian minister who attends the church spoke up in the congregation after the sermon was preached (audio for that was cut) defending the traditional view. The irony to me was what the Apostle Paul was really speaking about in 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 14 was Church order, which this retired minister broke.

As you listen to this though, and perhaps as you read the previous post I linked to, be open to what the Holy Spirit is saying to you. Tradition and history can be wonderful things which help keep us grounded, but they can also be very wrong.

So with that said, the sermon audio is in the link below. Take a listen and be blessed.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Myth vs. Reality of Jesus: Part 5 (audio)

Well, the sermon from this past Sunday (October 2, 2016) is now online.

I believe many of don't really know what to do when doubt creeps in. We may think any expression of doubt must mean a lack of faith. If you pay attention to televangelists, doubt means you don't get the car, the house, the money, or the job that you prayed for, and sent a portion of your paycheck to their ministry to ensure you get what you prayed for.

Or if we do express doubt, maybe we tend to think that Jesus answers those doubts directly.

What about John the Baptist though, as he was sitting in prison?

In the audio link below, I talk about how Jesus dealt with the one who paved the way for His ministry, and what that might mean for us. So please take a listen.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Myth Vs. Reality of Jesus: Part 4 (audio)

Just because there was no sermon audio uploaded last week doesn't mean there was no sermon audio to be uploaded. But when you leave for vacation right after church, and the computer you use to transfer the audio to the editing software and eventually to the website to be put in a format that you can listen to is left at home, there isn't anything you can really do about that.

All that to say here is the sermon audio from September 25, 2016.

We're looking a little bit deeper into the types of people Jesus surrounded Himself with. I have to think if I were going to call people to help build the Kingdom of God, my natural inclination would be to get the best of the best. That's not what Jesus did.

I believe that we think God can only use a certain type of person. As we'll come to understand though, Jesus called all kinds to follow Him, including a tax collector, and a thief who would eventually betray Him.

So take a listen, be challenged, and be blessed.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

And God rested

There will be sermon audio from this past Sunday.

It will not be added today.

It's not due to any kind of laziness on my part. It's because of all the things I wanted to accomplish on the vacation I'm currently on, uploading audio from the sermon was not one of them. One, because I use my other computer for that, which has my mini audio mixer and interface and makes everything sound almost professional (despite being recorded on a $30 digital recorder). Two, because taking a break from the normal routine and resting is extremely important.

It may seem like a disconnected concept from the myth we have about idle hands being the devil's playground, but rest is something God did. If God did it, why don't we give ourselves a break and rest?

I think we tend to see work as somehow being holy and righteous. If we're not working, we're being lazy, and we're not doing what God commanded us to do. In the first couple years of marriage, my wife would pick up as much overtime as she could. While she was growing up, she had to help support her grandparents while she also attended high school. In college she had at least two jobs while being a full-time student. For her, stopping to smell the roses and removing herself from busy-ness was wrong. She didn't know how to rest or relax. Every time she would try, she'd go back to thinking about everything she had to do.

But God rested from all the work He did. I would try to tell her that if He could rest, she could too. It's been in the last few years that she's learned how to rest. Our relationship has grown stronger because of it.

I also think of the time when Jesus was in the boat with His disciples, and a storm began to toss them about. The disciples were scared, and they woke Jesus, because He was asleep. It wasn't that He was unconcerned about their circumstances, but it was that they were so focused on the problem at hand (the storm) that they didn't take the time to see that Jesus, the One who created all there is, was at rest. If He was with them, and at rest, why did they need to be concerned?

Sadly though, we keep ourselves busy to the point where we don't see the storm that's brewing. Once it hits, we panic and we see that Jesus is there, calling for us to just rest, and He'll take care of everything. To rest doesn't mean we become disconnected from the world, or even our responsibilities necessarily. God didn't quit being God when He rested. Jesus wasn't any less Jesus while He was in the boat with the disciples. To rest doesn't mean we walk away. It means we take a break. It means we take the opportunity to refocus and be renewed, that it is out of the ordinary routine.

While I'm in Myrtle Beach I will be doing my due diligence to prepare for Sunday, but I will take the opportunity to step out of the ordinary and make it a priority to spend time with my wife and my parents while we're together. We only have so much time to spend with those who matter the most, and I don't take a lot of vacation that's actually vacation. Sunday will come soon enough. I'll be ready, but I am going to adequately rest before it comes.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Does Scripture Really Say That?

As Molly Hatchet sang, "I'm flirting with disaster", especially with a title for a post such as the one I went with. But it must have worked because you're reading this, aren't you?

You may have noticed the last two sermon audio posts (found here and here) my voice wasn't heard. In fact, the voices you heard were of a softer tone, or perhaps a slightly higher pitch. They were of course from my great aunt Grace Baughman, an ordained Church of the Nazarene minister, and my wife Buffy, who is in the ordination process for the Free Methodist Church. They preached to a congregation, on a Sunday morning, giving to us the message the Holy Spirit gave to them.

WHAT?!?!?!?! The Bible says that women can't be preachers! Paul is very clear on this point! By having them speak in church, let alone preach, that must mean you don't take the Bible literally or follow what it says!

I've heard that. My wife has heard that. Other female pastors I've known heard that. It's one of those things that gets tossed around with the label "well the Bible says...", and is about a true to scripture as "Cleanliness is next to Godliness", "God helps those who help themselves", and "Jesus is my co-pilot."

But to be fair, there is that one passage in 1 Timothy, but is a face value reading of that passage really conveying what is meant?

Timothy was a relatively young minister appointed by the Apostle Paul to the Church in Ephesus. The city itself was a major port city of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). It had power and influence, both economically and religiously, as it was also the home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. But as an important religious center and port city, many ideas about religion would have been promoted and openly discussed in the markets and other public places.

Generally speaking, women were not as well educated as men were, but in Roman Ephesus that seems to have not been the case. Women were not only educated along with the men, but also held important civic and religious offices as well. Women were a powerful force to be reckoned with in Ephesus (and other places throughout Asia Minor).

But what is interesting is that in the passage from 1 Timothy (read it again), Paul moves between the singular and the plural. He wants women to adorn themselves modestly (as a protest to Artemis worship?), but then says a woman must quietly receive instruction and learn in submissiveness. He also does not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man. It is then at this point Paul switches back to the plural.

What makes this interesting is that Paul initially came to Ephesus with Aquilla and Priscilla, a husband and wife pastoral team. It was in Ephesus they instructed Apollos more completely, and helped to establish the Church there initially. So right from the start Ephesus has had a female pastor. If Paul is saying that women are prohibited from being pastors, then why would he work alongside one in establishing the Church that he is writing to Timothy about? On top of that, there are several places where Paul commends the work that women have done to spread the gospel. In the case of the Philippian Church, Lydia and a group of women met by the river to pray. Paul met with them, and they helped to establish the Church.

This whole issue though is most fascinating how Paul switches between the plural, then the singular, and then back to the plural. If this were a prohibition on women being pastors, why not stick with the plural? And if it God's rule, why say "I do not allow" or "I do not permit"? And is to not allow or permit something carry with it a sense of permanence? Or is it only for a time?

Let's consider in Joel 2:28 that "daughters will prophesy" means God intended women to proclaim His message. That's what a prophet did, proclaim the message God gave them. Peter saw the Day of Pentecost as the fulfillment of this prophecy, and said so as much in Acts 2.

In Luke 8:1-3, women were counted among the 12 disciples, and actively supported their ministry. I think then the question becomes would Paul, who was supportive of women ministers and worked alongside them, come out with an extra-biblical teaching that the prophet Joel, Peter, and Jesus Himself would not have supported? Given that Paul combated extra biblical teaching, I highly doubt this would be the case.

I do believe however that it was bad theology he was actually speaking against. Christianity was a threat to Artemis worship, and it may not have been uncommon for one of the priestesses of the Artemis cult to disrupt the worship service in Ephesus and begin teaching something contrary to the gospel. Considering everything, this interpretation would be the most in line with scripture and with who Paul was.

There is one last thing to be considered though. We read in the first two chapters of Genesis that God has created everything good. And He formed man out of the dust of creation and breathed into him His own breath, and placed His image on the man. Yet this is the first time we see something is "not good", because the man is all alone. There is nothing else that is like him. So, when God brings him the animals to name, he is exercising dominion over them, and he is realizing that none of them is his equal. In order to give something a name and have that name be recognized as that thing's name, the one doing the naming must have some authority above that which is being named.

As the man has recognized that he has named the animals, he understood for himself that he needed someone like himself. So God formed out of man "woman." What should be noted here is that adam or "Adam" is the Hebrew word for humanity, and not necessarily a proper name. The adam was an ish, or male. But that's not what we know him as. It is however a description of adam. God caused him to fall into a deep sleep, by which isha, or woman was formed. Woman likewise is not a proper name. In fact, call a woman "woman" as though that's her name, she'll slap you! The man recognized the woman as being like him, just as ish and isha are similar, but different. Isha was not named "Eve" until after the fall of creation.

If we believe that Jesus came to redeem and restore creation, not just give us personal salvation, then we must recognize that God fully intends on restoring the equality that He made us to have. To say women are not allowed to be pastors in the church is to perpetuate the brokeness that sin introduced into the world, the very sin that has itself been broken by the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Whole Armor of God (guest audio)

This weekend my great aunt Grace Baughman joined us, and delivered some sermons intended to revive and renew us. They couldn't have come at a better time.

Sadly, I didn't have the previous two messages recorded, but I asked her if it would be alright if we recorded this sermon and she agreed to it.

Through story, song, and scripture she shared some very timely messages with those who gathered at the Dansville Free Methodist Church. Her humor, gentleness, and deep love for the Lord and her willingness to serve Him as long as she has breath is evident. She has contributed greatly to what I believe is a legacy of faith and service in the proclamation of the gospel. And though this is a bit longer message, I hope you will listen intently and get a sense of what we experienced over this past weekend.