- You listen to sermons primarily as a critic and not to be changed through application.
- You hear sermons and study the Bible for the sake of others. (They really need to hear this.)
- You are more irritated by the sins of others than broken for them.
- You are more prone to doubt signs of repentance and obedience in the lives of others rather than rejoice with them.
- You focus on secondary finer points of theology eventually making them the standard for maturity and fellowship in the body.
- You zero in on specific Christians disciplines (those you like and/or have down) making them the standard of maturity and fellowship in the body.
- You are drained when you leave church because you are overwhelmed by the ignorance and immaturity of others.
- You begin to isolate from others Christians because of their ignorance and immaturity believing no one will ever get the truth you understand so well.
- You study God’s word merely for theological debate and sloganeering.
- You care more about other Christians agreeing with your theology than unbelievers actually believing the gospel.
- You go to small group studies ready to pounce on anyone who doesn’t clearly articulate every nuance of biblical knowledge the way you do.
- You go to small group studies ready to argue instead of encourage and to take notice God’s grace in the life of others.
- You talk more about what you are reading than the ways in which God is changing your through the power of Spirit and the word.
- Sermons on grace frustrate you for fear others might misunderstand and become disobedient Christians.
I heard this quote early on in my ministry and it’s haunted me since.
Fling him into his office, then tear the “Office” sign from the door, and replace it with a sign that says, “Study.”
Take him off the mailing list. Lock him up with his books and his typewriter and his Bible. Slam him down on his knees before texts and broken hearts and the flick of lives of a superficial flock and a holy God.
Force him to be the one man in the community who knows about God. Throw him into the ring to box with God until he learns how short his arms are. Engage him to wrestle with God all the night through, and let him come out only when he’s bruised and beaten into being a blessing.
Shut his mouth from forever spouting remarks and stop his tongue from forever tripping lightly over every non-essential. Require him to have something to say before he breaks the silence. Burn his eyes with weary study. Wreck his emotional poise with worry for the things of God. Make him exchange his pious stance for a humble walk with God and man. Make him spend and be spent for the glory of God.
Rip out his telephone. Burn up his success sheets. Put water in his gas tank. Give him a Bible and tie him to the pulpit. Test him, quiz him, examine him. Humiliate him for his ignorance of things divine. Shame him for his good comprehension of finance, batting averages and political party issues. Laugh at his frustrated effort to play psychiatrist. Form a choir, raise a chant and haunt him night and day with, “Sir, we would know God.”
When at long last he does assay the pulpit, ask him if he has a word from God. If he doesn’t, then dismiss him. Tell him you can read the paper. You can digest the television commentary. You can think through the day’s superficial problems and manage the weary drives of the community and bless the assorted baked potatoes and green beans better than he can.
And when he does speak God’s Word, listen. And when he’s burned out finally by the flaming Word, consumed by the fiery grace blazing through him, and when he’s privileged to translate the truth of God to man and finally is himself transferred from earth to heaven, bear him away gently. Blow a muted trumpet. Lay him down softly and place a two-edged sword on his coffin and raise the tune triumphant, for ere he died he had become a Man of God.
- John MacArthur
This was a section of an article Tom Ascol wrote. You can find the entire article here.
I’ve been having lots of conversations with young adults, college students, and younger married couples about church membership. Here’s an article by Matt Chandlers that is very helpful about the necessity of church membership
Jesus Changes Suffering Mark 15:21-39
Leviticus is probably the first book you begin to skim through as you work on your annual daily bible reading plan. It’s probably not the book you go to when you are thinking about scripture memory or selecting a life verse. If you are sharing the gospel with a friend, you probably hope they don’t ask any questions about some of the weird laws God gave Israel in Leviticus.
You probably won’t find too many churches following the liturgy in Leviticus. From a distance, it reads like a manual for some cult secretly meeting in a cave out in the woods somewhere. There’s lots of blood, guts, and animal skin. And yet, we cannot read this book from a distance. It has everything to do with life in your computer cubicle this morning and your bed time prayers for your children tonight.
This week our Equipped Wednesday Community Bible Study starts back up with the book of Leviticus. I’ll be posting the audio of our study here with some thoughts and reflections from time to time.
Here are some initial thoughts about the importance of studying Leviticus.
- Leviticus is in the Bible.
Leviticus is included in God’s Word that 2 Timothy 3:16-17 declares is, “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ” If it’s in the Bible, at some point, we have to deal with what God is trying to teach us about Himself and our lives from Leviticus.
- Leviticus is about Holiness.
Too often, we hear the word holiness and only think about the way we dress or the movies we watch. Some of us begin to think about all the Bible studies we have completed. All of this is involved in being holy, but it’s not all that’s involved.
Holiness is much more about God than us. The message of holiness in Leviticus is all about the authority of God to set us apart to Himself. The command rings throughout the book, “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy” And yet, the command is mixed with promise for the believer in Christ. For the One with the authority to demand it also has the authority to make it happen.
Dr. Allen Ross says this about Holiness in Leviticus:
“Holiness is its goal. Holiness is its character: the Lord is holy; His sanctuary is holy; its vessels are holy; the garments of the priests are holy; the sacrifices are most holy to the Lord; and all who approach him whose name is “Holy” – whether the priests who minister or the people who worship must themselves be holy. It is as if throughout Israel’s holy place was the earthly echo of that seraphic song in the courts above that never ceases to proclaim “holy, holy, holy.”
- Leviticus is about Jesus.
We read the book of Hebrews or Romans and realize very quickly that the scenery in Leviticus laid the theological foundation for what Jesus’ death on the cross provided for us before God. Jesus Himself taught His disciples about Leviticus and the rest of the Old Testament that, “everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:44) We cannot read Leviticus without hearing His Galilean accent leading us to His cross and resurrection.
We must also realize for us to be totally set apart to God the way in which He intends there has be the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. We are only holy when we are found in Him. Ultimately, this holiness is accomplished by the authority of Jesus to set us apart to Himself by calling us away from our own kingdom to follow Him and join His eternal kingdom.
Yesterday I read this post by my friend Michael Kelly about integrating your person devotion time with the ministry of your local church. Michael gave the following reasons for doing so in 2012
- It is anchored by the belief that there is something vitally unique and important about the preaching of the Word in the context of God’s people. This will hopefully lift up that time of preaching in my mind and heart to the place it should be.
- It will allow me to meditate more fully on a single text each week and ask the Holy Spirit to deeply affect me with those truths.
- It will focus my mind and my heart in a single direction for a sustained period of time.
- It will aid my Scripture memory, allowing me to choose a single key verse from the weekly passage to continue to practice each day.
For anyone attending Ashland who may want to use this plan in 2012, I wanted to post the next sermon series that will take us through Easter. As you can see, it moves through the book of Mark. You may want to read a chapter in Mark each day or narrow it down to the specific passage that we will be preaching.
Jesus Changes Everything Expository Sermons from the Gospel of Mark
Jesus Changes . . .
- Our Direction Mark 1:14-20 (January 8)
- Eternity Mark 2:1-12 (January 15)
- Relationships Mark 2:13-17 (January 22)
- Religion Mark 3:1-6 (January 29)
- Our Family Mark 3:20-35 (February 5)
- Perception Mark 4:35-41 (February 12)
- Success Mark 6:14-29 (February 19)
- Hearts Mark 6:14-29 (February 26)
- Power Mark 8:31-38 (March 4)
- Hope Mark 9:14-29 (March 11)
- Greatness Mark 10:35-45 (March 18)
- Our Fears Mark 14:66-72 (March 25)
- Suffering Mark 15:21-39 (April 1)
- Death Mark 16:1-8 8 (Easter)
I’m glad Tim Tebow is having success winning these days. But it’s really is hard for me to watch. Not because I am a Tennessee fan who had to endure his ‘just winning’ antics while he was in Gainesville for four years. I just really don’t think ‘Tebow Time’ will last very long in the NFL.
Explaining to my sons that I don’t believe Tim Tebow will be a long-term NFL quarterback has been quite humorous. For one, in their minds it sounds like a joke. They watch the games, see the highlights, and look at me as if I have lost my mind. Like everyone else seems to be doing they respond, “But Dad! He’s Tim Tebow!”
It’s also difficult because I love the way this guy talks and plays. And he does both! He’s a Christian who always talks about Jesus. But even more, he is a Christian who always plays like Jesus.
You see I don’t think Jesus would win the ‘Christ-like award’ that we often hand out in our christianized sports world. We usually think to give those type of awards to the kids who are meek, quite, and who couldn’t get one of the more athletic awards.
Jesus would be a tenacious athlete. I’m sure He would often finish games bloodied and bruised (along with his opponents), leaving every ounce on the field. I speculate that He would play football much like Tim Tebow (except with a better throwing motion and more accuracy).
Tebow’s response to former Denver QB Jake Plummer, who basically confessed he was tired of hearing about Tebow’s Christianity, has made it difficult to think about a future NFL without him under a center.
“Tebow, regardless of whether I wish he’d just shut up after a game and go hug his teammates, I think he’s a winner and I respect that about him,” said Plummer. “I think that when he accepts the fact that we know that he loves Jesus Christ, then I think I’ll like him a little better. I don’t hate him because of that, I just would rather not have to hear that every single time he takes a good snap or makes a good handoff.
“Like you know, I understand dude where you’re coming from … but he is a baller. He knows how to win and when your teammates believe in you that you can do good things and that’s what they are doing. They are winning. That’s fun to see.”
“If you’re married, and you have a wife, and you really love your wife, is it good enough to only say to your wife ‘I love her’ the day you get married? Or should you tell her every single day when you wake up and every opportunity?
“And that’s how I feel about my relationship with Jesus Christ is that it is the most important thing in my life. So any time I get an opportunity to tell him that I love him or given an opportunity to shout him out on national TV, I’m gonna take that opportunity. And so I look at it as a relationship that I have with him that I want to give him the honor and glory anytime I have the opportunity. And then right after I give him the honor and glory, I always try to give my teammates the honor and glory.
“And that’s how it works because Christ comes first in my life, and then my family, and then my teammates. I respect Jake’s opinion, and I really appreciate his compliment of calling me a winner. But I feel like anytime I get the opportunity to give the Lord some praise, he is due for it.”
Just because I critique his throwing motion and point out how long he holds the ball (which seems to be years compared to an Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady) doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate this man.
I really hope I am wrong about his longevity in the NFL. I hope we get to hear more of this kinda of stuff for a really long time. I also hope we get to see him ‘just win like Jesus’ for many more years.
So for now, like it or not, as a skeptic about his quarterback skills, I will gladly take my seat on the Tebow bandwagon. Loving the way he talks and plays. And yet, hating the fact I don’t think ‘Tebow Time’ will last long.
I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Sunday night at our Access service in Madison County on the Campus of EKU we began a sermon series through the book of Proverbs. Here are some videos pastor David and I did in preview to the series.