Friday, July 17, 2009

The Gospel Advanced Through Suffering

I had the privilege of preaching last Sunday night and spoke on Philippians 1:12-18. I plan on preaching through Philippians, but since I don't have a regular rotation, this could be a long process. I will get to preach a couple of times in Brasil next month so I may do the next section. Anyways, the message is on the church website. The link has been added to the title, so you can go there to download and listen.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Ezekiel 6 - God Cleans House

Have you ever been someplace or seen something that looked and smelled so bad you wanted to throw up? I grew up in Indiana and worked on farms when I was a kid. I had to help someone clean a chicken coop. Now, I had mucked stalls and dealt with pigs, but I had never shoveled chicken droppings before. It is the most disgusting smell I have ever known! I had to wear a mask so that I would not breathe in any particles (disgusting thought!). It was horrible!

In Ezekiel 6, the words that God gave Ezekiel concerning the idols that Israel were worshiping to were very graphic words that translators soften for readers. The term for idols is translated literally as sheep s**t. God wanted Israel to realize that anything they worship other than Yahweh was sheep dung. They might as well have a pile of sheep manure and bow down to that! God, in no way, was going to allow this to happen and told them He was going to level and obliterate every idol, alter and pole that they put up to worship. And he was going to wipe out most of them.

You should read chapter 6, then look at what Daniel Block has to say about this chapter. Here are 5 good ideas that Block has that applies to the modern church:
  1. This oracle shows the impassioned side of God's character. He is heartbroken of the infidelity of His people and His fury and anger arises due to their covenantal treachery. He will not idly stand by and watch His people follow other gods.
  2. It is possible to be sincere in one's religious commitment, but to be sincerely in error. Israel invested a lot of time and resources to their cultic practices and locations. This is where the references to sheep poo come in to play.
  3. The Lord is faithful to His covenant. He had already warned them of what would happen and He will not betray His character. He is Yahweh; he has spoken; he acts accordingly.
  4. The Lord's wrath is never so hot that it cancels out his grace. He swept the mountain tops and the valleys with his sword, but he promised he would leave a remnant.
  5. We are reminded to look at ourselves as God sees us. There is nothing about us that warrants God's love. We are created in His image, but everything about us smells of sheep droppings. It is only through the blood of Christ that a pile of manure can have a sweet aroma to God.
Any thoughts?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Making Disciples

This is an excerpt of a letter from the CrossWorld president, Dale Losch, to the CrossWorld family. I have had a desire for discipleship and disciple-making to be stronger in the short-term trips I have been involved with over the last 2-3 years. When Dale was sharing this with us at the Candidate Orientation, I was ready to jump for joy myself!

This past week at our candidate orientation I again had the urge to leap for joy, although I contained myself. But my heart was bursting nonetheless. I had the opportunity this year for the first time to do the teaching on CrossWorld's third value - "We Go". In keeping with my growing conviction that we must recover the primacy of disciple-making at all levels of CrossWorld, I decided to focus the three hours of teaching on this one theme. Leading up to the day, I was really sweating it because I had just not had adequate time to prepare, and I am not the kind to fly by the seat of my pants. But that morning as the teaching time began I felt such a joy and freedom and sense of God's pleasure that it is difficult to describe. Perhaps you remember the scene from Chariots of Fire where Eric Liddell says to his sister "When I run I feel God's pleasure". It was kind of like that. To proclaim God's truth and see it strike a chord in the hearts of the listeners as it did that day with our appointees was a marvelous experience. Please pray that God would help me and all of us in CrossWorld to make disciple-making a powerful reality that is truly at the core of everything we do.

This should be a priority of all our churches and mission agencies. Please join us in this prayer of making disciples.