I posted the first part of my message on Genesis 22.
You can find it here.
This is such a monumental passage that I need to get back to it over and over again!
Dr. Alan Cairns has an excellent message on this here.
I am excited about a new book I just bought: Ancient Christian Devotional (Lectionary Cycle C).
This book is from the InterVarsity Press FORMATIO series (Tradition – Experience – Transformation).
FORMATIO books from InterVarsity Press are about “being transformed by Christ and conformed to his image,” and they intend to integrate God’s Word with spiritual practice by prompting its readers “to move from inward change to outward witness.”
“We believe that each of us is made with a deep desire to be in God’s presence. Formatio books are intended to help “fulfill our deepest desires and to become our true selves in light of God’s grace.”
I must say that the goals of the FORMATION series are most worthy, and I am looking forward to ‘swimming’ in this book. After all, St. Chrysostom gives very good advice (quoted on the first page of this book):
Listen carefully to me. Procure books [of the Bible] that will be medicines for the soul….Don’t simply dive into them. Swim in them. Keep them constantly in your mind. (Homilies on Colossians 9)
This is a book for Christians who lack the grounding in the riches of church history…who are rootless and are drifting in a barren secular and ecclesiastical landscape.
If you are one of those – consider this book to get rooted in the WORD!
This morning I was reading 2 Kings 4-7 and something unusual caught my eyes. In chapter 5 the text speaks of a certain Naaman, a commander of the army of the king of Syria. The pagan king of Syria “was leaning” on Naaman’s arm.
Chapter 7, on the other hand, speaks about another commander, the captain on whose hand the king of Israel leaned.
Both of these military figures are faced with difficult situations, and they are also confronted by the Word of God. One is a leper (Naaman), and the other is facing famine and a siege. For both the only hope is Elisha, the man of God who speaks the Word of God.
What makes this juxtaposition of characters somewhat shocking (and really a rebuke to Israel and its people) is that the foreigner, the one on whom the pagan king of Syria leaned, believed the Word, obeyed it, and lived, while the Israelite captain did not believe the Word of God spoken through Elisha and died in unbelief.
A fairly long passage is dedicated in the Bible to the foreigner Naaman who believed and was healed. By contrast, the unbelieving Israelite captain (serving an unbelieving king – Joram son of Ahab) has a sad end, repeated twice in chapter 7 (vv. 17 and 20): … and the people trampled him in the gate, so he died, as the man of God had said…
There are many trials and exceptional situations in a man’s life. Help us LORD to believe you and your Word in a world and culture of unbelief.
Healing and life is only in a life of FAITH!
This Sunday we were visited by Manfred Kohl.
Dr. Manfred W. Kohl – Dr. Kohl was born in Germany during the Second World War, and was educated in Germany, England, and the US. He earned Master’s degrees in Divinity and Theology, and doctorates in Historical Theology and Ministry. After serving as a pastor in Massachusetts, he had various leadership positions at World Vision. Manfred is now VP of Programs & Int’l Development with Overseas Council International (OCI), an organization that partners with more than 100 theological seminaries and Bible colleges in the non-Western world, equipping indigenous Christian leaders. Manfred does extensive traveling, speaking, and writing. His wife, Barbara, is a native of Nova Scotia, where they now live. They have two married sons and four grandchildren, all of whom live in the US. Manfred enjoys watching sports, reading, and carpentry.
You can find the message that he preached at Hallelujah English Ministry here.
The message is titled: Everything Changes in the Presence of Jesus and is based on Luke 24:13-35.
There are some good preaching points floating out there on Youtube. The following by Walter Brueggemann is one of the better ones:
It reminds me of the text in Acts 6, where the apostles made a firm decision to devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the WORD!!!
As pastors and preachers, we certainly need to decide on our priorities. As a rule, I tend to go with the advice of the apostles vs. that of the latest church growing seminar/book. The rabbis provide a fine and sobering example too!
Who is your example?
This year I would like to encourage our English congregation to PLAN well and often (weekly) our quiet time. The planning should be done on Sunday evening or Monday morning. The following three means of grace are recommended: memorization, prayer, and study/meditation.
1) The plan is to memorize one verse per week.
The verse of the week will be posted on this website (to the right), and it will also be printed on the Sunday bulletin. The first verse is from Joshua 1:9.
2) The plan is to pray daily for the Church around the globe. The information for our daily prayer can be found at Global Prayer Digest: http://www.global-prayer-digest.org/.
3) For personal study we are planning to study and meditate on What Jesus Demands from the World.
This can be done in two ways. One can read the gospels and jot down Jesus’ demands, and then meditate on them. Or – one can study and meditate on John Piper’s book: What Jesus Demands from the World. The book can be found in electronic format at the following link: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/OnlineBooks/ByTitle/1822_What_Jesus_Demands_from_the_World.
I strongly encourage the congregation to participate in this quiet time project prayerfully and joyfully. It is for our growth, for God’s glory, and for our JOY.
May God bless our planning and give us the grace to persevere on the path of obedience.
P.S. Let’s not forget that Jesus demands from us to LOVE Him and to love God “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” So help us God.
Please note that I have included on the previous post the clip about LOVE (as mentioned in the last message) from Fiddler on the Roof.
Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ demands to love Him (Matthew 10:37 and John 8:42), and to love God with all our capacities (Mk 12:30).
It is rather common for many to think that love is a verb and a commandment since feelings cannot be commanded. In other words, “love must simply be an act of the will or a deed of the body without involving the emotions or affections.”
According to John Piper, the premise of this argument is false: “Jesus does command the feelings. He demands that our emotions be one way and not another.”
Thus, there are examples where he commands us to rejoice (Mt. 5:12), to fear the right person (Lk 12:5), to forgive from the heart (Mt 18:35), and so on. (more…)