Monday, December 6, 2010

First New Springs Church Baptism Service (as well as mine)

Sunday night New Springs Church celebrated it's first baptism service as we baptized four people who had trusted in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. As a new church we are really at ground zero when it comes to things like having a baptistery, which is fine in the spring, summer, and fall because we can use a lake or a pond; but when it's 30 degrees outside we need a place inside, preferably with heated water. So, in order for us to proclaim the gospel with baptism and for the recent believers to follow the command of our Lord to be baptized we needed to ask another local church if we could use their dunking pool. So, I guess it's only fitting that Duncan Baptist Church allowed us to use their baptistery so we could dunk some people! Thanks Duncan Baptist!!

Speaking on a theological note, we believe that baptism is expected of followers of Jesus; it is an outward mark of the believer wherein they go public with their faith; it is symbolic primarily of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus; it is a proclamation of the Gospel; and it is, in my opinion, an initiation rite into the community of believers wherein the recent followers of Jesus can be encouraged in their Christian walk.

On a more personal and sentimental note, this was the first time I've ever baptized anyone as their pastor. The mock-baptism that you go through in college where you learn how not to drop the candidates don't really count. It was special for me to baptize those making public professions, but it was also sort of nostalgic because I was baptizing them in the baptistery where I was baptized nearly 23 years ago, which was built by my grandpa nearly 40 years ago. But with all of the sentimentalism and nostalgia that have accompanied this particular baptism celebration, I can't help but think of the fact that what we are proclaiming in baptism is so much bigger than any of us.

My grandpa died on the Thursday before good Friday in 2006; I was born on good Friday in April of 1981. Between those two moments of an individuals life we should find contentment in living our lives so as to assist others, from generation to generation, proclaim the glorious name of the One who gave himself for us. Though we will leave this world to go to the next, the Gospel will always be. May our lives be the public proclamation of the Good News that Jesus came to save sinner and give us restoration and may we never forget that it is Jesus who truly matters regardless of the circumstances that we may find ourselves in.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Baseball

The other night I met Tony Gwynn, one of baseball's greats, and had him sign a baseball that has been in my possession for nearly 20 years. In 1991 my parents and grandparents took me to see my first MLB baseball game in Atlanta. I don’t remember much about the game that day, but I remember waiting in line to get signatures from the Braves pitching staff on a Rawlings Little League leather cover baseball. Guys like Kent Mercher, Steve Avery, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Mark Wohlers.

Around that time my grandparents had season tickets to the Bulls right behind home plate where Javy would catch. We even had the privilege of watching Chipper move through the ranks. On special nights guest athletes would come into town and I would wait in line, much like we did with Tony, to get that same baseball signed by aging Hall of Famers, such as Brooks Robinson and Bob Feller. There were others who would come through like the late Enos Slaughter and Willie Stargell, but for some reason I didn’t think there was enough room on the baseball to have anybody else sign it. If it wasn’t for my wife I probably would’ve continued to think that way. I actually gave the baseball to her when we got engaged so she would know how serious I was about marrying her. I gave it to her, but technically since what’s mine is her’s and what’s her’s is mine the baseball is still mine.

When we got to the ballpark this past Monday night my nostalgic mind took me back to my childhood and I didn’t mind waiting in line, even if it meant missing the start of the game and possibly not getting the baseball signed even after waiting in line for an hour and a half. We were told that Gwynn had stopped signing autographs and was only doing picture, and we decided to stay in line anyway. I mean, hey it’s still cool to say you met the guy and after being in line for an hour it’d be pointless to leave. As we got closer to the room where he was the security guards cut off everyone else from entering, so we were like the 2nd to last people to go in. As we walked up I heard Tony say to the people in front of us that if they had anything they wanted him to sign they could leave it on the table and he might get to it, but he couldn’t promise it would be there when they came back to pick it up; to which I said, “I’d love to do that Mr. Gwynn, but this baseball has Bob Feller’s and Brooks Robinson’s signature on it, so I doubt I’ll be leaving it.” He replied, “I don’t blame you. I was in the same room with those guys yesterday [at the Hall of Fame ceremony]. How cool is that?” We took a picture, he took my baseball and signed it, we shook hands, and Cat and I made it to our seats to watch the Bulls beat Syracuse 15-4 I think.

The significance behind this story is that it’s kind of a closure to that baseball. Since the early 90’s that Rawlings Little League baseball has had one spot that hadn’t been signed on it. Well as of Monday, that spot was filled and I will retire the baseball, like the men who have signed their names on it. Maybe one day it'll be something I can pass down to my kids and I'll be able to say I met some of the greatest to play the game.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Second Advent is Still Future and is Still as Sure as the First

So I had to answer a question for my sister and it was a rather lengthy response on preterism and its hermeneutics in regards to Jesus' return and, even more specifically, his judgment on the works that each person has done. I hope this helps.

My understanding of Preterism is that it teaches that all of biblical prophesy has already been fulfilled. To put it another way, all of the events predicted in scripture were fulfilled in the 1st and 2nd century. The idea behind this view is that the prophetic message of the authors of scripture was never meant to be understood as something which would take place hundreds or thousands of years later.

The hermeneutics of a preterist will not allow them to accept that a futuristic prediction in the NT could have direct implications to future generations. Since they believe the futuristic message is for the generation of the author/ prophet, all of what the NT writers said would take place has already taken place, much of which took place during the reign of Nero.

In my opinion, it's not a good idea to lump all of Biblical Prophecy into one category and say that it's already taken place because there are somethings which we're told to look for that haven't taken place yet, such as the second coming of the Lord, the everlasting reign of the son of David, the judgment of the wicked, the restoration of creation, etc.

When you get into more specific forth-tellings, like the temple being destroyed and the stones being turned over, you can read about the destruction of the temple in 70 AD and make a connection between the text and the event. The question we have to ask is, "Is that the event the text was speaking of, or just something that matches up with what was being spoken of in the text."

I would suggest looking at what is spoken of in each specific text and try to make sense of it textually. It’s very easy to misinterpret the scripture when we take historical events and try to impose them on the text. When the text is silent on an issue, it is better to leave it as such, so that the intended meaning is not clouded by historical matters that may or may not be connected with what is spoken of in the Scriptures

Let’s look at Matthew 16-20 and see what the text at large is saying, so that we can see how v24-28 contribute to what the author is trying to say.

Chapters 16:13-20:34 is talking about the church. In 16:13-20 we see Jesus bringing the church and its foundation into view and access “the keys” into the kingdom of heaven will come through the church.16:21-23 Jesus foretells about how He will build his church: it will be through his death and resurrection. 17 connects Jesus to the Prophets and it places priority on his message rather than Moses or Elijah’s and give direction for the life of the Church (speaking about those who make up the Church). 18 continues that thought but it also speaks about Church Discipline.

The way 16:24-28 fits into the picture is by illustrating what a follower of Jesus’ lifestyle will look like. “The son of Man coming with his angles to judge each person for what they have done”, may simply be referring to a specific time when Jesus will comes back to repay each person according to what they have done. No time period is given, but it doesn’t seem like Nero of the Romans are the ones to perform this judgment, for they would be one of the recipients of the Judgment. Nor is there anything in this text that would allude to the destruction of the Temple. For reference, the next time the “son of Man” is discussed in Matt is in 25:31, wherein it appears to be talking about the “final judgment” not the judgment of the Jews in the destruction of the Temple. It seems to be something that has not yet happened.

The part about some not tasting death before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom, could be referring to all of the things you mentioned, but it could also be an allusion to martyrs like Steven who saw Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father (Acts 7)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Be Perfect as Your Heavenly Father is Perfect

Jesus taught His disciples during the Sermon on the Mount that they were to be perfect as God is perfect. That seems like an unrealistic expectation doesn't it? I mean, He's God, we're human; He's righteous and holy, we're selfish and wicked! So what does it mean? (Matt 5:43-48)

The preceding verses record Jesus' words to the people as they related to loving their enemies and those who were not like them. So in that light it's clear to see how we are to be perfect like our heavenly Father. Humans are not like God and they are His enemies, yet He still loved us and sacrificed His son for us. But how is Perfection equated with Loving our enemies?

My only reasoning behind this is that Love is the essential part of Perfection. The flow must go something like this: God is Love, He gives us Love upon our salvation, when we choose to allow God to love through us, the perfection of God is being poured out through us, and we become, like Christ, the embodiment of the Father's Love. Since there is a command to "be perfect," loving our enemies is a decision we have to make in order for the perfection of God to manifested in our lives. It is only when we love others that our light shines for all to see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven (v16). This is also essential for the Church, in that how we love one another is the tale tell sign that we are Jesus' disciples (John 13:35).

The command to "be perfect" implies that it is a choice we make. When we choose not to love we are being more like the enemy than our Heavenly Father. This also goes along with the greatest commandment to love God and love others. So, Let us be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect and love.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Have a Psalm 1:1-2 Merry Christmas

"Blessed is the who walks not in the counsel of the Wicked, nor stands in the way of the sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scoffers; but his delight is in the Law of the Lord, and on His law He meditates day and night."

Christmas is truly the happiest time of the year. Well, except for those who spend too much money on presents and wish they had enough money to pay their monthly expenses, and those angry Christians who get upset when people forget to tell them "Merry Christmas." Johnnie Mathis calls it the Marshmallow World in the winter. For the most part, we have a deeper appreciation of God, people, and our own lives during this part of the season, but we often forget about the Blessed Man who resisted the counsel of the Wicked in His life, stood in the way of the sinners (you and me) in his death, while being hung in the sight of the scoffers.

Jesus is this Blessed Man. So, while we enjoy this peaceful holiday season let us remember that the babe lying in swaddling clothes was born to die. He was born to die, that we might have the opportunity to have life and have life abundantly, which in turn allows us to delight in the law of the Lord and to meditate on God's instructions day and night.

Monday, July 14, 2008

NASCAR goes to China

hey guys! After a 30 hour trek across the world we are here and well. very tired, but well. We had our first class today which went very well for the most part. The people here are very hospitable and appreciative that we have come. I kind of feel like a celebrity because people stare at us all the time. I guess we do kind of stand out. there are chinese people everywhere. Today we will probably learn a little chinese. The living conditions arem much different from back home but they have done a great job making our stay as comfortable as possible. We'll teach for the next 9 days then we'll make our trip back. I did teach my class today what NASCAR was and who Dale Earnhardt Jr. is. I also showed them a picture of his car and me and my dad standing beside Dale's #3 : ) Redneck as it may be at least they thought it was cool. I told them that i saw Yao Ming at the Coca Cola 600, so that got me some brownie points with them. LOve y'all and i look forward to seeing you when we get back.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Blogging in the Far East

Ok, I am going to China. That's kind of crazy if you ask me, but God has led me to do it, so it's worth the risk to fly over the Pacific. The Psalmist says "teach me to number my days that I might walk in wisdom." The way I figure it, you risk your life doing meaningless things every day, why not risk it in order that someone might hear the Good News of Jesus and recieve eternal life. We walk in wisdom when we realize our life is a vapor and understand that the life worth living is one dedicated to the Sovereign Lord who sustains all things.

I am going to blog for you guys throughout the next two weeks as I get the opportunity, if the Lord wills. I'm not sure how much access to the internet I will have, so I'l not sure how much i will be able to blog, or even if I will be able to blog at all. I love you guys and look forward to seeing you later.