so I am very sorry, I really need to post more and I promise that I will get on that!
For the time being, here is a quote from Martin Lurher.
“I don’t know of any other profession [pastoring] in the world that is quite as easy to fake as ours. For a long time, I have been convinced that I could take a person with a high school education, give him or her a six-month trade school training, and provide a pastor who would be satisfactory to any discriminating American congregation. The curriculum would consist of four courses.
Course I: Creative Plagiarism. I would put you in touch with a wide range of excellent and inspirational talks, show you how to alter them just enough to obscure their origins, and get you a reputation for wit and wisdom.
Course II: Voice Control for Prayer and Counseling. We would develop your own distinct style of Holy Joe intonation, acquiring the skill in resonance and modulation that conveys and unmistakable aura of sanctity.
Course III: Efficient Office Management. There is nothing that parishioners admire more in their pastors than the capacity to run a tight ship administratively. If we return all phone calls within twenty-four hours, answer all the letters within a week, distributing enough carbons to key people so that they know we are on top of things, and have just the right amount of clutter on our desk—not too much, or we appear inefficient, not too little or we appear underemployed—we quickly get the reputation for efficiency that is far more important than anything that we actually do.
Course IV: Image Projection. Here we would master the half-dozen well-known and easily implemented devices that that create the impression that we are terrifically busy and widely sought after for counsel by influential people in the community. A one-week refresher course each year would introduce new phrases that would convince our parishioners that we are bold innovators on the cutting edge of the megatrends and at the same time solidly rooted in all the traditional values of our sainted ancestors.
I have been laughing for several years over this trade school training with which I plan to make my fortune. Recently, though, the joke has backfired on me. I keep seeing advertisements for institutes and workshops all over the country that invite pastors to sign up for this exact curriculum. The advertised course offerings are not quite as honestly labeled as mine, but the content appears to be identical—a curriculum that trains pastors to satisfy the current consumer tastes in religion. I’m not laughing anymore.” — Eugene Peterson
The book of James is unique among the books of the New Testament. While it is an epistle (a letter written to early Christians), it is also considered to be equivalent to the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament. Its contents are filled with instructions on how to live the Christian life.
While the author does identify himself as James, (1:1), there is a little debate over which James it could have been. It is mostly acknowledged that James the Apostle, sometimes called James the Greater, died to early for him to be the author (in A.D. 44). Although there were a few other James’, non of them were prominent enough to have written such a letter. The only other James that could be the author is the brother of Jesus and leader of the church in Jerusalem. There is certainly no doubt that James the brother of Jesus became a prominent member of the church:
Outside of the Bible, we know a few other things. James was referred to as “James the Just”, “bishop of bishops”, “James the Righteous,” and “James of Jerusalem”. We also know that James was martyred sometime around A.D. 62.
Why is this important? James was never mentioned before the crucifixion as believing in his half-brother as the messiah, but later Jesus appeared to him specifically (1st Cor. 15:7). James saw his brother not only be crucified, but he saw the resurrected Jesus. So James identifies himself in the opening verse of his epistle by declaring himself to be the brother and slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. This experience radically changed James world view, to the point where he calls himself the slave of Jesus and is eventually martyred for his belief.
I have a sister. I love my sister. As things stand right now, there is no way that I would begin to worship her as God. However if she was publicly beaten, tortured, and executed, if she was buried in a dark, dank cave and three days later is walking around fresh as a daisy, I might just change my opinion. Just like James.
James changed his mind about Jesus. To the point where he was killed for his belief. One of the final recorded things that James said was, “Father forgive them…” echoing the words of Christ Himself on the cross of Calvary. James gives us a perfect example of a person who was wrapped up in their own idea of identity, but who changed that identity when presented with the resurrected Jesus.
Originally posted on Declare His glory Among the Nations:
A major shift occurred in my life when I learned the true definition of idolatry. The day I realized idols weren’t merely objects carved out of wood or stone was a monumental day. This epiphany changed the way I read the Old Testament. It opened my eyes to the idols in my own life. It allowed the Holy Spirit to begin to work graciously and relentlessly inside of me to replace my worship of idols with worship of Yahweh.
Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones gives a helpful definition: “An idol is anything in my life that occupies a place that should be occupied by God alone. An idol is something that holds such a controlling position in my life that it moves and rouses and attracts me so easily that I give my time, attention, and money to it effortlessly.”
An idol is whatever or whoever you and I give central value…
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So recently, the Twitter account for Amazon declared, “Today is Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day” and unfortunately, they are right. The average amount of people that will actually stick to their New Year’s Resolution is 10%. 90 people out of 100 will not follow through on their New Year’s resolution. For Christians, a lot of the time our resolution have to do with our faith. “I am going to attend Church more”, “I am going to pray more.” or maybe, “I am actually going to read my Bible this year.”
There are three problems with making resolutions that I see as the major stumbling blocks to achieving faith related goals. The first is that the majority of resolutions are about the person and not about God. Let me explain:
Throughout this article, I will be using the resolution of reading the Bible more. The idea of reading the Bible more is should not be that you get to brag, “I read the Bible in a year”, but rather, “I got to know the nature and character of God better this year.” Many resolutions fail because we make them about ourselves, rather than make them about God. The Bible is the story of God, not the story of us, and as Christians who have given our lives over to God, everything, including our resolutions, should be about that.
The second reason that resolutions fail, is because often there is no accountability. We tell no one that we have made that goal, and if we do tell people, we are usually boasting about it rather than asking someone to help keep us accountable. We need people to hold us accountable to the goals that we set in our lives, people who are not afraid to ask us questions that are uncomfortable.
The third reason that we often fail our New Year’s Resolution is that we choose obscure goals that are simply not manageable. Take our example of reading the bible more. That in itself is not a manageable, measurable goal. Instead we should choose, “read the bible in a year”, or “read a chapter per day”. We need to make our goals something that can be measured and managed, rather than obscure and easily brushed aside. After you have made your goal more specific, you should endeavor to make it manageable. What does it take to ready the Bible in a year? Don’t just sit down and read, instead find a reading plan that has set, daily goals.
Resolutions are a good thing. But if they are not handled in the right way, they can themselves become a stumbling block in our lives. They can quickly become an area of failure as opposed to an area of growth. To help us achieve our New Year’s Resolution, we need to have God at the center of them, be accountable for our goals to someone, and ensure that they are measurable and manageable goals.
As they say, “Tis the Season!”
The Christmas Trees are up with their twinkling lights, the baubles are hanging reflecting the moments that pass beneath them, and the dreaded Christmas carols are playing in Malls, stores and on the radio.
This is the season where many denominations of the Christian church, including The Salvation Army, celebrate Advent.
Advent is the English version of the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”. This is the season where we celebrate the first coming of Jesus Christ. The Christmas story almost needs no reminder: 2000 years ago, in a little, sleepy town in Bethlehem, an unwed girl (probably in her teens) named Mary gave birth to a baby boy whom she named Jesus. His birth was foretold hundreds of years throughout what we now call the Old Testament (the first part of the Bible). Shepherds where watching their flocks during the night, when angels announced to them that the waited for Messiah would be shortly born. They traveled to Bethlehem where they found the baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
That was the “coming” or the advent of Jesus Christ. A story that is so familiar that we can perhaps overlook some really interesting details.
In this short little story, the birth of Jesus fulfilled several prophecies from the Old Testament. The most important two, were, ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ found in Micah 5:2. In addition there is also this prophecy, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” found in Isaiah 7:14.
The Jewish people had been waiting for the Messiah to come for hundreds of years. They had not had a prophet from God for four hundred years alone, the anticipation is amazing. The Messiah would come, from the line of David and become the warrior king that Israel needed to get out from under the thumb of the Roman occupation.
But they had missed the point.
They were enslaved, enslaved to sin and death. Instead of being freed from sin through the ritual of Temple sacrifice, they had instead become slaves to sin by relying on a process rather than the God that had provided that process. The advent of the Messiah, was so that there would be one sacrifice for all time. No longer would there be an endless ritual of killing animals, but instead the Son of God would die on the Cross of Calvary so that all people could be free from sin and live in a relationship with God (John 3:16).
2000 years later, that same freedom is still offered through the grace of God. Any person, anywhere in the world can have access to God through the Cross of Christ.
That is why we celebrate Christmas. Because Jesus Christ, the Son of God was true to His Word and came into this world, not with the fanfare or glory that He deserved, but instead, came into this world humbly, through an unwed mother, born in a dirty, dank stable. Instead of the kings and nobles of His people, he was instead greeted by lowly shepherds, sharing His birthplace with animals. Thirty three years later, He died on a cross so that He could save the world. His name, Jesus, means “God will save His people.”
Praise God, that He keeps His promises! Praise God for the advent or coming of His Son Jesus Christ.
Hold up a minute, I know that I have neglected this blog, but I am thinking that I may get more post done. The first year of being an Officer has been challenging, not necessarily difficult, just challenging. Now that I am in our second year of Officership, things are a little easier.
I intend to begin developing more content for the blog, and figuring out how to deliver it in the most easiest, economic, and user friendly way possible. Stay tuned!