Free Audio Book Alert – Competing Spectacles by Tony Reinke

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Christianaudio’s free download of the month is Competing Spectacles by Tony Reinke.  You might remember Ray and I discussed this book in episode 85 of the podcast.  Here’s the summary:

We live in a world full of shiny distractions, faced with an onslaught of viral media constantly competing for our attention and demanding our affections. These ever-present visual ‘spectacles’ can quickly erode our hearts, making it more difficult than ever to walk through life actively treasuring that which is most important and yet invisible: Jesus Christ. In a journalistic style, Tony Reinke shows us just how distracting these spectacles in our lives have become and calls us to ask critical questions about what we’re focusing on. The book offers us practical steps to redirect our gaze away from the addictive eye candy of the world and onto the Ultimate Spectacle-leading to the joy and rest our souls crave.

Download the book here.

This and That – 10-25-19

12 Things Pastors Should Not Do – Don’t build your church into one man… Share the preaching load. A senior pastor may preach a lot of the time or most of the time, but let others preach. Let others teach classes. Make it your goal that if you were to suddenly die the church would go on without a hitch. Try to develop a team of pastors. Have an advisory board. Everyone in the church has different gifts. Encourage your people to use their gifts. – Mark Altrogge

Five-Fold Trust While In Transition – The truth of the matter is that it is good, necessary and wise to plan but we need to make sure that our plans line up with the plan that God has for us and if our plans do not line up then we need to do away with our plans. – Deryk Hayes

The Scandal of Gospel Inclusivity – Like every other religious claim, Christianity is exclusive. But it’s the most inclusive exclusivism there ever was. – JD Greer

What can happen when a transgender child transitions – How have we come to the place as a society that the recommended medical treatment for a gender dysphoric child means destroying a healthy body to conform it to a gender-confused mind? Why not conform the gender-confused mind to the healthy body? The transgender propagandists have no good answers to those questions. And the reason is that there are no good answers to those questions. – Denny Burk

Misused Scriptures – All Things Work Together for Good

By Jay Jewell

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,”

Another oft misapplied verse in the Bible is Romans 8:28a. It is misapplied, first of all, because people often stop reading it with the phrase “for the good of those who love Him.” If people would take the time to look at the whole verse, they would find that it actually says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Many people use the first part of this verse to say that God will always do what is best for me because I love Him. But looking at the whole verse shows the good things come when we are called and fulfilling the purpose God has called us to.

And the verse needs to be looked at in the context in which Paul places it. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (8:26-28)

Notice that the words “according to/accordance with” is used twice here. According to God’s will and God’s purpose. Not what we think God should give us, but God will do for us for our own good. Paul admits that we are weak, yet God uses that weakness to fulfill His purpose. Which isn’t necessarily to make me happy, but to make me into the person He wants me to be. Paul suffered many things in his life (as Jesus told Ananias about Paul in Acts 9). Not the kind of things we would desire for ourselves; shipwreck, stoning which resulted in his being left for dead, persecution from people inside and outside the church, snake bites, a thorn in his flesh. God is concerned about us becoming the people He wants us to be in order to fulfill His will and purpose in the world He has created.

Now it may be that God wants us to be prosperous, but only if we will use it for His purpose. He may want us to be popular, but only if we will use that for His glory. He might give us power, but not to gratify our selfish desires. This verse is not about what I think is good for me, but what God thinks is good for me. And always, always in His will and for His purpose.

Ray Jewell is a frequent co-host on the Basic Bible Podcast, the director of the Janesville Community Center, teacher at Rock County Christian Schooland the author of the Ray’s Rambling Blog.

Misapplied Scriptures – “Judge Not”

By Ray Jewell

“Judge not.” (Matthew 7:1a KJV)

This little phrase from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is probably the most often misapplied part of the Bible, especially by those who claim that Christians are judgmental. Don’t get me wrong, many Christians do judge people who are not like them. It would be a good idea for everyone, whether a believer or not, to take the time to look at this phrase in its immediate context, the larger context of this sermon, and in the context of the rest of the New Testament.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” 

(Matthew 7:1-5, NIV).

Jesus is getting at something we are all guilty of from time to time. Judging others in order to make ourselves look better or to justify our actions. “Hey, don’t judge me. I can do whatever I want with my body or my actions or my thoughts. I can hurt anyone I please, but don’t judge me.

That way of thinking is certainly flawed. First, why do we have laws? Let’s say, for instance, that we didn’t have those red, octagonal signs that say STOP. Life would become much more dangerous for everyone. That’s why we have things like stop signs and stop lights. And when those laws are violated there is a judge waiting to administer justice. Clearly that is the case in so much of life.

There are also laws of nature that carry consequences with them. Let’s say I eat nothing but junk food, obesity and other health issues are in the offing. And, in a sense, punishment is levied.

But it seems this passage is talking about prejudicial judgment that happens in relationships. The Jews, Jesus’ audience here, had many external laws that were abused and led to prejudice. People were pointing there finger at others, again in a way to make themselves look more righteous.

But Jesus would have none of that. His admonition, the one that we so often want to forget, is to take the plank out of our own eye before we try to take the speck out of our neighbor’s eye. In some respects, Jesus IS saying “mind your own business.” But in another way He is asking us to make sure we are not guilty of the same offense of the person we want to judge. By taking the plank out of our own eye, we can see clearer how to help our neighbor with her or his problem.

I think part of His point is that we don’t lump people stereotypically like “this guy’s black, so he must be a criminal.” Or this guy is white so he must be all about white privilege.”

The bigger context of the Sermon on the Mount, which those who say “Judge not,” is disregarded by so many. In this sermon, Jesus actually takes the law, (you shall not kill, you shall not commit adultery) to mean something even further than the action of murder and adultery, (calling a person a fool or lust). And He judges the thought life. Of course, He is the One who can. He is the Perfect One.

Yet in the wider context of the New Testament, the apostle Paul tells the church to judge.

“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13 NIV).

This is what it comes down to, God is the Judge. Jesus calls us to test ourselves before we try to judge others. Then, if an accusation is valid, the church must act upon it, not in a cruel, destructive way, but as discipline to bring someone into the kingdom or restore them into the church.

Ray Jewell is a frequent co-host on the Basic Bible Podcast, the director of the Janesville Community Center, teacher at Rock County Christian Schooland the author of the Ray’s Rambling Blog.

 

Misapplied Scriptures – Matthew 18:20

By Ray Jewell

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)

There are a couple of problems with how this verse is used. First, it comes across often that, somehow, a quorum is needed for Jesus to show up. As if he isn’t with every believer when they are having their own devotional time or doing ministry or working. Jesus goes with us as individuals as well as in groups.

But the biggest problem, again, is ripping this verse out of its context.

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:15-20)

Matthew 18 is Jesus’ prescription for dealing with a believer going astray or sinning against another follower. The context points back to the Jewish legal code. In a court of law there always needed to be two or three witnesses to establish the facts of a case. Here is no different. If the offending party doesn’t respond to a one on one episode, to or three others go along. Not to gang up on the one, but to serve as discerners of the whole evidence. Maybe the guy bringing the charge is at fault too.

Anyway, it is in this context that verse 20 comes into play. Jesus is saying He will help the process come to fruition, preferably with the wayward one repenting and being restored. By the way, here is one of those instances where judging is warranted by Jesus, the very one who said “Judge not.”

Oddly enough, church discipline has gone by the wayside in part because we live in such a litigious society. I think what Jesus is getting at here is to make sure of your facts before accusing people of anything. But also that great care be taken to keep the people of God accountable and pure.

Ray Jewell is a frequent co-host on the Basic Bible Podcast, the director of the Janesville Community Center, teacher at Rock County Christian Schooland the author of the Ray’s Rambling Blog.

Misapplied Scriptures – I Chronicles 7:14

By Ray Jewell

This phrase from 1 Chronicles 7:14 is, once again, taken out of its scriptural context. The scene is the dedication of the temple that Solomon built. These words are a part of God’s response, not primarily about the people of Israel receiving God’s blessing, but about the repentance necessary in order for that blessing to happen.

I have heard this verse used in a way that makes the United States the Promised Land, God’s chosen people. But the expectation is that God will bless without the part about repentance. Irving Berlin’s patriotic hymn, God Bless America, captures the essence of the American view of God. God should continually bless America, not because America has repented of sin and turned from their wicked ways, but because America is great.
Well, God has blessed America over and over again. Yet repentance is not seen often let alone turning away from their wicked ways. Look at the whole context of this passage.
“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there. (1 Chronicles 7:12-16)

The way many use this phrase lends itself to provincialism, prosperity, patriotism, and pride. Unless we as a nation collectively and individually fall on our knees in repentance and denounce sin, I’m afraid the demise of the United States Empire is at hand.
The church in America needs to be at front of a movement to repent and transform. God promises blessings, but not without change. Let us be about a metamorphosis that comes about when we totally turn ourselves over to God the Holy Spirit. It is by His power in us that this change will take place.

Ray Jewell is a frequent co-host on the Basic Bible Podcast, the director of the Janesville Community Center, teacher at Rock County Christian Schooland the author of the Ray’s Rambling Blog.

Free E-Book Alert – Spurgeon on the Christian Life

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The fine folks at Crossway are making Spurgeon on the Christian Life by Michael Reeves available as a free download.  All you have to do is fill out a really small survey.  Here’s a quick word about the book:

Organized around the main beliefs that undergirded Charles Spurgeon’s ministry—the centrality of Christ, the importance of the new birth, the indwelling of the Spirit, and the necessity of the Bible—this introduction to Spurgeon’s life and thought will challenge readers to live their lives for the glory of God.

You don’t want to miss out on anything related to Spurgeon, trust me.  So don’t wait because this offer won’t last forever.

Download the book here.