Internet Hits of the Week – 02-23-19

You Don’t Have to Have a Well-Formed Opinion on Everything – The way of wisdom means recognizing our limitations—both the limits on our knowledge and also the limits on our ability to affect change in the world. The way of wisdom frees us from having to have a well-formed opinion on every hot-button issue of the day. We can always say, no matter how surprising or unpopular, “I don’t know what I think about that.” – Trevin Wax

Is Boasting on Social Media a Sin? – Ask yourself if what you’re about to share will please God. If it will, then ask yourself other questions: Is this showing love toward my neighbor? Will it encourage them, challenge them, provide something of value, or deepen a relationship? The big idea is that for Christians, our focus should be external: toward God and toward our neighbor. – Nathan W. Bingham

5 Myths about Atheism – We should admit up front that there are some decent reasons a person might have for being an atheist, and we should be careful not to casually dismiss these reasons. To be sure, not every atheist actually has these reasons in mind, but such reasons exist and we should take them seriously. – Mitch Stokes

Never Harmless, Never Private, Never Safe – Pornography is not a simple guilty pleasure. If we continue pleasing ourselves with it, it will take everything from us. Pornography may cost us Christ and everything he died to give us: forgiveness, freedom, life, hope, peace, and joy. Pornography quietly kidnaps millions and leads them to conscious, never-ending agony, away from God and the glory of being found with him. It enslaves men and women, starving them day after day and never feeding them a full meal, until they’re lost and hungry forever. – Marshall Segal

 

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Free E-Book Alert – Philippians for You by Steven Lawson

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The fine folks at thegoodbook.com has made Steven Lawson’s Philippians for You commentary as a free e-book download.  All you have to do is sign up for their mailing list.  I have really been blessed by this series and Steve Lawson in particular is one of the best expositors I’ve ever heard.  You will want to get this while it is still available!

Here’s the amazon book description:

The book of Philippians is about how to live with great joy and firm faith even when circumstances are hard. Written by Paul from his prison cell, it calls us to rejoice together as we shine gospel hope in a generation that does not know Christ. Dr Steven Lawson brings his trademark faithfulness, precision and passion to this wonderful letter.

Download the book and sign up here.

Episode 076 – Community Strong Family Conference

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This week I’m joined by my boss, Tim Befus, who serves as the administrator of Rock County Christian School in Beloit, WI. Tim talks a little bit about his background and the years he served at RCCS but we spend most of our time chatting about the upcoming Community Strong Family Conference. This year Lee Strobel (The Case for Christ) joins us live and in person as our keynote speaker. The conference is free and open to all who will come. Listen in to hear more! To sign up for your FREE tickets, log on to www.rccsfamilyconference.com.

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Recommended Resources:

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
The Case for Miracles by Lee Strobel

Book Review – The 10 Commandments by Kevin DeYoung

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Title:   The 10 Commandments: What They Mean, Why They Matter, and Why We Should Obey Them
Author: Kevin DeYoung
Publisher: Crossway
Publishing Year: 2018
Pages: 203
My Rating: 5 out of 5 (1 meaning I hated the book, 5 meaning I loved the book)

Often when you hear about the Ten Commandments today it is part of an urgent plea to hang up a picture or erect a statue of them in a public place, courthouse or classroom.  After all, they are part of our Judeo-Christian tradition here in America. But, when was the last time we really studied them or thought about how they apply to our everyday lives?  In this book released last year, Kevin DeYoung urges us to recall what we may have memorized years ago from a Sunday School flannelgraph and reconsider them light of how we live and serve today.

DeYoung begins with a introduction reminding us that just because these are found way back in the Old Testament, they are still vital in these New Testament times.  In fact, these commands remind us about who God really is and how He is to be served. These are timeless principles. Yet, they are not steps to gain salvation or favor with God.  Ultimately it is Jesus who obeys and fulfills each one perfectly and on our behalf. Then through the rest of the book, the author walks through each commandment using personal anecdotes, parallel passages and New Testament principles that help us in ultimate applying them in practical ways.

This is book is not a difficult read, but certainly challenges us with difficult and convicting reminders of what the Lord expects from us.  This book serves as a reminder of some basic principles that often get neglected of forgotten.

You can purchase the book here.

Episode 75 – Angels

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Here on our 75th episode we are joined by Biblical scholar Dr. Michael Heiser as we chat about his latest book, Angels: What the Bible Really Says About God’s Heavenly Host. It is a fascinating book and a fascinating conversation you won’t want to miss! You can also listen to Dr. Heiser on his podcast, the Naked Bible Podcast and at his website.

Listen ButtonRecommended Resources

Angels: What the Bible Really Says About God’s Heavenly Host by Dr. Michael Heiser
The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible by Dr. Michael Heiser
Supernatural: What the Bible Teaches about the Unseen World And Why It Matters by Dr. Michael Heiser
The Bible Unfiltered: Approaching Scripture on Its Own Terms by Dr. Michael Heiser
I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible by Dr. Michael Heiser

The Weight of Preaching

By Kevin Thompson

I am writing this post shortly after having preached a chapel message.  Let me tell you, I am exhausted. But this is not a mere physical exhaustion.  Truthfully, preaching does not tire me physically. While I am on my feet for some time, and occasionally get animated as I preach, it is not very taxing on my physical frame.  

The exhaustion I face I experience is more emotional, mental and spiritual.  Preaching is not like giving a presentation or speech. While those can be difficult, preaching takes that one step further.  Preaching is not an academic presentation that seeks to explain a portion of an ancient text. Preaching is not a down-home chat about difficult subjects.  Preaching is an investment of my whole self into the lives and fate of people I love. Preaching has eternal consequences the weight of which constantly rests upon my shoulders.  

As preachers begin to prepare, the commentaries and other books begin to pile up and the academic study portion of the message begins to take shape.  Outlines are made, sentences are diagrammed and textual observations are scribbled down on various scraps of paper. While that can be taxing, any high school student working on a school project can learn to handle this portion of preaching.  The difficulty comes as surely but slowly the message of the text leaps off the mage and begins to strike the heart. You begin to be convicted as the Holy Spirit begins to point out area of your life that need to change. Your sin is exposed and you suddenly come face-to-face with God wrapped in your failings and insecurities.  As you wrestle through the text and your personal life, the grace and mercy of God break through. You are now humbled by your sin but feel the warm embrace of God’s forgiveness. It’s been a roller coaster of emotion. But now, as you pen the rest of this message, it becomes much more than a dry theological treatise. You realize others need what God has just taught you.  You see the importance of the Word for God’s people. Perhaps specific names come to mind of people you know need to see this in their lives. Your people need Jesus and the come to you in order to hear from Him. That’s pressure.

By the time you finally come to the pulpit, you come with a weight upon your shoulders.  You love the people to whom you about to deliver this message. You know the Word of God has the power to change lives, transform families and literally raise the dead to life.  You want them to hear this. They need to hear this. Souls hang in the balance. And while you have invested your life into this message, you don’t want to get in the way of the message.  You don’t want your delivery to be a distraction. Even more, the book I am opening is the Holy Word of God. this isn’t a book report on Shakespeare. I am handling something spoken by God Himself.  How dare I treat this without fear and trembling. That’s even more pressure.

After the sermon has been delivered, I know for me, I experience a few minutes of doubt.  Did I get the message across? Did I say what really needed to be said? Did I stress that point enough?  Was that opening illustration too long or too distracting? Was that joke really appropriate? Did I spend enough time developing point two?  And it goes on and on and on…

Eventually I finally come to the point where I leave it in God’s hands.  At that point, a burden has been lifted. The Lord will use His Word, I am confident of that.  The Lord will do His work despite of my shortcomings. The power is in the message not the messenger.  I can now sit back and realize the job is done and I left it all on the field. Humility is not just a needed character trait, but can be a source of great relief as well.  The Lord did everything He set out to accomplish today. It’s not about me.

Kevin Thompson is the host of the Basic Bible Podcast and the high school Bible teacher at Rock County Christian School in Beloit, WI.  Previous to this Kevin has served as an assistant pastor, youth pastor and elder at several different churches in the Midwest and New England.

Episode 74 – The Sanctity of Human Life in Light of Current Events

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In response to legislation in the states of New York and Virginia that would seek to radically expand abortion rights, Ray Jewell and I discuss the sanctity of every human life both in and out of the womb. Rather than a technical lecture, we speak from the heart and turn to the Word of God as we consider this very complex issue.

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Recommended Resources:

Abortion: A Rational Look at An Emotional Issue by R. C. Sproul
The The Gospel & Abortion (Gospel For Life) by Russell Moore and  Andrew T. Walker
Adopted for Life by Russell Moore
Won by Love by Norma McCorvey
Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line by Abby Johnson

Episode 73 – The Attributes of God – The Contemplation of God

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This is our final episode of our journey through the attributes of God. Join us as Pastor Phil Allen (Daystar Christian Fellowship in South Beloit, WI) helps us wrap things up with a discussion about how to even think about God.

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Recommended Resources:

The Attributes of God by AW Pink
Knowing God by J.I. Packer
Knowledge Of The Holy by A.W. Tozer
Desiring God by John Piper
Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation by Robert Morgan

Internet Hits of the Week 01-26-19

We Know They Are Killing Children — All of Us Know – One biblical principle of justice is that the more knowledge we have that our action is wrong, the more guilty we are, and the more deserving of punishment (Luke 12:47–48). The point of this article is that, when it comes to abortion, we know what we are doing — all America knows. We are killing children. Pro-choice and pro-life people both know this. – John Piper

About Those Catholic School Boys – In any case, I was just thinking that it is probably a good time for all of us who use social media to remember how toxic and destructive a rush to judgment can be. People can be targeted and doxed with swift effect. Lives and livelihood’s can be overturned in a moment by an unthinking social media mob. For that reason, all of us should be careful that we not get carried away by the passion of a mob and forget basic biblical justice:  “The first to plead his case seems just, Until another comes and examines him.” –Prov. 18:17 – Denny Burk

5 Stupid Things Preachers Say – 3. “I’D RATHER BURN OUT THAN RUST OUT.”  Okay, let’s all own this one, friends. This tired old line probably originated in a Die Hard movie and needs to be enshrined in the Preacher Hall of Shame. – Mark Dance

If You Follow Me

By Ray Jewell

Jesus strictly commanded them to tell no one of this, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”

Then He said to them all, “If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever will save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His own glory and in the glory of His Father and of the holy angels.

“But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:21-27

It has always amazed me that Jesus begins to teach about His death and resurrection soon after the Great Confession. It seems that He waited until the disciples were able to grasp who He was before He revealed to them the full extent of His mission. Of course, as we will see from here on out in Luke, they don’t fully grasp the need for Him to die. They don’t hear the part about rising because they are so astounded that He will die.

The climatic point in human history is what He is foretelling here. The cross and the resurrection changes everything. Yet, in a very real sense, Luke 9:23 is the climax for someone who would follow Jesus. Three steps are given by Jesus here.

First, deny yourself. Now that’s not easy, is it. In many ways we cannot deny ourselves, because if we deny ourselves sleep, food, shelter, clothing; the bare necessities of life, we cease to exist. But Jesus is talking about putting others first here.

Second, take up your cross daily. I don’t think I have to repeat this but the cross was and is an instrument of death, and not a pleasant death either. It may be Jesus is calling us to give up our pet habits or habitual sins. It may be He is calling us to sacrifice our desires to bring them in line with His desires for us.

Third, come, follow Me. This passage is one of many that cries out against an easy-believism or a cheap grace. This reminds me of the C. S. Lewis classic, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The character Eustace was a selfish prig throughout the story, so much so that he becomes a dragon. He tried and tried to rid himself of the dragon skin, but to no avail. It is only through Aslan’s ripping the skin off with His claws that Eustace is freed.

Each and every day should be a day of recommitting our lives to live for this King. It is only through our death that we have real life in Him.

Ray Jewell is a frequent guest on the Basic Bible Podcast, the director of the Janesville Community Center, teacher at Rock County Christian School and the author of the Ray’s Rambling Blog.