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Monday, December 07, 2009

Beginning of More Than Gold 2010

I am going on a mission trip in February. I will be joining 34 other Coloradoans on a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, to minister during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games there. I will be posting more about that as the day gets closer. I will probably have a series of post about my trip. However, I was very excited to get my passport today. That was really the last piece I needed in order to go. So I am ready...really I am not ready at all but at least I have my passport.

So my first post regarding my More Than Gold 2010 Mission Trip is that I received my passport today.

Here is link to More Than Gold 2010 if you are interested in what we will be doing there.

And, yes, my passport picture is terrible. I like my blogger profile picture better.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Who is the Holy Spirit?

My first sermon of the series on the Holy Spirit was about who the Holy Spirit is. This was a general introduction of the Holy Spirit. It was by no means exhaustive but it was the basics of introducing someone to the Holy Spirit. Here is the basic outline I used.
I. The Holy Spirit is a person.
         A. He has a mind (Rom. 8:26-27)
         B. He has a will (1 Cor. 12:11)
         C. He has emotions (Eph. 4:30).
         D. He communicates (Acts 13:2, 16:6-7)
II. The Holy Spirit is Deity (God)
         A. God’s characteristics
                  1. He is omniscient (1 Cor. 2:10-11)
                  2. He is omnipotent (Luke 1:35)
                  3. He is omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-10)
         B. God’s existence
                  1. He is eternal (Heb. 9:14)
                  2. He is part of the Trinity (Matt. 3:16-17)
III. What are the Implications?
         A. We can have a relationship with Him.
         B. We should worship Him.
         C. He is not far off

This provided a nice introduction to the whole series. The main aspects I portrayed through this sermon was first, that the Holy Spirit is a person and not a force nor an idea. Scripture shows He possesses characteristics of personhood which is an important aspect of understanding who the Holy Spirit is. It should be noted that "person" here is used in the classical sense of the word and should be distinguished from "human." Saying the Spirit is a person is NOT saying that He is human but instead it is saying that He is an individual being.

Secondly, while He is a person, He is fully God and possesses the same characteristics as the other two persons of the Trinity. It is important to understand that the Spirit is wholly God and is equal to the Father and Son. While taking a different role, much as the Son took on a different role, the Spirit is still an eternal part of the Trinity and is God.

Finally, I emphasized what different these truths should make in the daily life of every believer. Because the Spirit is a person, we can relate to Him. Because He is God, we should worship Him. Because He is God AND a person, it means that He is not far off but is active in our lives. Again, while not exhaustive, these implications should change how we relate to our God and how we live our lives.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Summary of the Work of the Holy Spirit

OK. So I took a "brief" break from blogging and during that time have preached through a series on the Holy Spirit. I think it was really good for me to preach through that series and I think it was good for our body at Summit as well. In teaching about the Spirit, I truly think He worked in the hearts of many in our congregation. I really enjoyed it and grew through the process.

What spurred my thoughts on doing this series is something with which I challenged my students at Pikes Peak Bible Institute. During our Christian Theology class, we discussed Pneumatology, or the study of the Spirit. I found a nice visual aid on the internet HERE (page 31), which I gave to the students for an overview about the work of the Spirt. I challenged them that this handout would make a great sermon series on a topic which sometimes gets overlooked.

So, I took up the challenge myself. I preached a seven-part series on the Holy Spirit. I will post the sermons but I will note that many of my thoughts came from Systematic Theology books which populate my bookshelf and various sermon outlines morphed into original outlines. In short, I borrowed from everyone to make new outlines which works for my style of preaching.

In the next few days or weeks, I will post my sermon outlines and some thoughts about it. After that, I will go back to my posts on Matthew. I hope these will be helpful and I hope you will leave some feedback.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Matthew Section 8: The Great Commission

In our overview of Matthew, some scholars see a final section of Matthew in 28:11-20. Personally, I believe this should actually be part of the seventh section for several reason. First, I think being a good Jew, Matthew may have made seven sections for his gospel, much like there are seven days to the week. This would be interesting in that the last day of the week was the Sabbath, the rest, and Matthew's seventh section is about the true Sabbath, the rest which comes through Jesus (Heb. 4:8-10).

The second reason I believe this section should be included in the previous section is that every section in his gospel has a major section of Jesus speaking (see the posts regarding the first six sections). However, in the post for section seven, you can see there is no discourse. However, if section 8 was part of section 7, then the Great Commission would be the discourse for the final section of Matthew (I am not sure that all made sense).

The final reason I think this section 8 should be part of section 7 is because if this is a separate section, it seems much too short. It is only 10 verses long. It does not seem like 10 verse constitute a section compared to the other sections Matthew has contructed.

That all being said, I posted this as section 8 just so you all could make your own decision. Here is the visual aide for this section (click picture for large image):

This is either one or two sermons, depending on how much time you want to spend on the Great Commission.

This is the overview of Matthew. I will be posting the individual sermons I am developing for this series. Hopefully, I will be doing so a bit more regularly than I have with the overview. I would love to hear any comments you have on this overview and if the visual aides have been helpful.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Matthew Section 7: The Passion of Christ

The pinnacle of Matthew's gospel his recording the last week of Christ's life on earth. In this section, he does not spend time detailing the whole week as the other evangelists do. Instead, he focuses in on the night before the crucifixion, the crucifixion, and briefly on the resurrection. Therefore, we have a short story about Judas' betrayal and the institution of the ordinance of the Lord's Supper.

An interesting characteristic found in this section is that there is no major discourse found. In all the other sections, Matthew records a major discourse or sermon from Jesus. In the Passion section, Jesus needs no sermon as his sacrifice on the cross says more than any words can capture. And I think Matthew intended to capture this idea. Each section, Jesus preaches, teaches, rebukes, or something. In every section a powerful discourse to remember what Jesus said. But this section records the most powerful, loving, amazing thing Jesus had ever done: sacrificed Himself for us. Therefore, the real discourse of this section, and of the whole gospel, could be considered Matthew 27:32-56.

Here is the visual aide for this section (Click picture for larger image):

I anticipate maybe 20 sermons from this section. However, knowing that this is the purpose for the gospel to be written, and since this part of the gospel is the crux of the Christian faith, I could see possibly moving slower through this section.

While there is a brief section Jesus' resurrection, which is the real hope for believers, Matthew focuses mostly on Jesus sacrifice. This makes some sense. As he was writing to Jews, he paints Jesus as the ultimate Passover Lamb. What an amazing God we serve and how thankful I am that Jesus did pay the price for us!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Matthew Section 6: Conflicts

Matthew strategically places the sixth section of his Gospel. After talking about Jesus' authority and purpose, Matthew draws the reading into the conflicts Jesus had with those who doubted Jesus' claims and the other trouble Jesus experienced near His crucifixion.

Many of the stories in this section start with the religious leaders asking Jesus a question to test him (19:3), 22:15-16, 22:34-35) or the disciples (or their mothers) asking questions of Jesus (19:10, 19:25, 20:20-21, 24:3, for example). While questions are not difficulties or problems, per se, they are showing the trouble Jesus had getting people to truly understand the nature of who He was.

This was really nothing new, as the reader see in the challenge to repent found in Matthew 23:37-39, where Jesus indicates that "Jerusalem" had been rejecting God for quite a long time. Of course, the main section of teaching in this section referred to as the Olivet Discourse and speaks of the coming Kingdom and the end of time.

Here is the visual aide for this section (Click picture for larger image):

I see maybe 25 to 30 sermons in this section. Perhaps more, depending on how slowly one needed to move through the Olivet Discourse. This section is filled with didactic material in that a question is given to Jesus and then He gives an answer. However, because the answers Jesus give can be difficult to understand and even harder to apply, preaching through this section would probably take a while.

Section six is a fascinating part of this Gospel and Matthew uses it well to contrast the previous five sections and to set off the pinnacle of his record found in the upcoming section: the crucifixion and resurrection.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Matthew Section 5: Purpose Revealed

After showing Jesus' authority (Section 3) and explaining why Jesus came (Section 4), Matthew then shows that Jesus began to declare His purpose for coming. This section begins, interestingly, with examples of people misunderstanding Jesus' purpose. First, the people in His home town reject Him simply because they knew Him as he grew up (Matt. 13:55). Then, Matthew tells how Herod misunderstood Jesus as well. Herod saw Jesus as John the Baptist reincarnated and then Matthew gives the background story between John the Baptist and Herod. Next, the crowds misunderstand why Jesus came. Jesus feeds the 5000 and there are leftovers enough for twelve baskets, presumably for the disciples. John's Gospel indicated that the people misunderstood Jesus feeding them (John 6:14-15). Finally, after the feeding of the 5000, the disciples sailed out on the sea of Galilee and were afraid when Jesus came out to them. After Jesus commented on their lack of faith (Matt. 14:31), the disciples began to see that Jesus was in fact God's Son (Matt. 14:33).

After these stories, Matthew portrays Jesus interacting with the crowds directly and talking about Jesus' purpose. For example, Jesus explains why he speaks in parables (Matt 15:15-20), He talks to the disciples about who Jesus is (16:13-20), and He begins to tell them of His suffering and death (17:11-13). Then Jesus launches into an extended sermon about forgiveness.

Here is a visual aide for the fifth section of Matthew (Click picture for larger image):

I would expect about 20 sermons from this section as well. This fifth section, Matthew begins to clearly show Jesus' purpose. While the disciples will not truly understand until Jesus rises from the dead, believers today have the benefit of hindsight and see that Jesus did tell them His purpose as Messiah.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Matthew Section 4: The Parables

After a couple of days of graduation obligations, a holiday, and a couple of days of conferences, I am trying to get back on track with my overview of Matthew. The forth section of Matthew is a little hard to summarize. The title (not original with me) is "The Program of the Messiah Explained." This is not real helpful when reading just the title. However, this section starts with John sending his disciples to ask Jesus if He is the one they had been waiting for or is their someone else coming. Jesus answers them by saying:
Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me. Matthew 11:4-6
After this, Jesus shows through actions and short speeches explaining His purpose. For example, Matthew 11:30, 12:8, 12:50. Then, Jesus gives word pictures (parables) of what His Kingdom is like. All of this helps us see clearer what is was Jesus was accomplishing through His ministry.

The main discourse of this section is the parables, which is really more like several short speeches put together. But again, this shows Matthew "editing" Jesus' parables for a purpose. Matthew 11:28 provides the reader with a challenge to accept Jesus and His purpose and Matthew 13:51 provides the reader with a challenge to understand Jesus' purpose.

Here is the visual aide for this section (click picture for larger image):

I would expect about 20 sermons from this section, although some of the shorter parables will be taught together to get the thrust of overall message conveyed through them.

In the forth section, we get a clearer picture of Matthews purpose of His Gospel. Jesus fulfilled the Messianic predictions, and He taught the principles of the new Kingdom. He showed He had the authority He claimed He had. He now begins to communicate why the Messiah was sent.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Our New Backyard and Neighbors

Here is a picture of our new backyard (click image for larger picture):

My daughter took this picture from our back porch. I kind of miss the mountains found in Colorado Springs, but this view is still really nice.

Here is a picture of our neighbors to the east (click image for larger picture):

The five horses in this field go out every day and graze. They romp around and have a good time. We will go over and talk to them and give them grass sometimes. They are pretty good neighbors.

Just thought I would share my backyard view for a nice change.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Matthew Section 3: Jesus' Authority

As section two closes there is a mention that the people are impressed with Jesus' authority (Matt. 7:28-29). As section 3 opens, Matthew gives story after story which shows that the people were right on track. In each of the narratives found in section three of this gospel, Jesus displays His authority over sickness, the physical world, the spiritual world, and even death. However, the authority is linked to the theme of people placing their faith in his authority. For example, the centurion who wanted his servant healed displayed enough faith in Jesus' authority that Jesus comments on it (8:10). The woman who touched Jesus' garment was told her faith in Jesus' authority to heal was rewarded (9:22). Then, after these stories, Jesus lays his hands on the disciples and transfers His authority to them (10:1).

The major discourse for this section is the commissioning of the disciples found in chapter 10. The challenge Jesus sets forth in this section is the challenge to follow, found in 10:34-42. In short, Jesus says He must be first priority over every aspect of the believer's life or they cannot follow him.

Below is the visual aide for this section

I would anticipate somewhere between 15-18 sermons in this section (at least another four months). With the third section we begin to see some progression with Matthew's thoughts. Jesus fulfilled the Messianic predictions, and Jesus taught the principles of the new kingdom. Now he begins to show the power with which he will rule His Kingdom.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Matthew Section 2: Jesus' Teaching

The second section of Matthew begins with Jesus calling the first of His disciples and beginning actual ministry. The majority of this section is what is known as The Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is essentially setting the religious establishment on its ear with this sermon. Matthew shows that Jesus, being the Messiah, has the authority to preach in such a manner. In fact, that is how the section ends (7:28-29).

The major discourse for this section is obviously the Sermon on the Mount. It is two chapters long is the longest sermon of Jesus we have on record. If we want to know what Jesus was about, we must understand these chapters. In this section we have the first of the challenges we find throughout Matthew. Here we have the challenge to enter into the kingdom. The bible student will remember this passage as the wide gate and the narrow gate. The observations of these challenges are not original with me but, again, I cannot seem to find who enlightened me of them.

Again, I have a visual aide for this section. And, as with all the visual aides I will produce for the overview of Matthew, the title is not mine but I cannot find whose it is. The brief section titles are mine to help me remember the flow of thought throughout Matthew. (Click picture for larger image).

Jesus covers a multitude of topics in this section and it should be fascinating to not only trace Jesus' thoughts throughout this sermon, but also to preach on what Jesus preached on.

I see no more than twenty-three sermons in this section. However, I would anticipate a much smaller number since many of the section are two verse sections. This indicates to me that they are not stand alone thoughts but are related to the previous or following verses. Again, this is one whole sermon and was not meant to be busted up into several weeks of teaching. However, to do a fair job with the text and in the culture we live in today, the pastor must do just that while remaining faithful to the passage. In short, I am not sure how many sermons would be produces from this section but I would anticipate at least four months in the sermon on the mount.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Matthew Section 1: Messianic Fulfillment

The first section of Matthew is the story of Jesus' preparation for ministry. It is Matthew's genealogy, birth narratives, some discussion of John, and Jesus' baptism and temptation. The major discourse of this section is John's preaching, which makes sense because Jesus' ministry had not started yet. But it also helps Matthew show that John is the "voice in the wilderness" (Matt 3:3) which Isaiah wrote about.

In fact, Matthew uses six Old Testament passages to show that Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah. Also, Matthew uses four Old Testament passages during Jesus' temptation (one misused by Satan) to highlight places where the people of God had failed miserably. But where they had failed, Jesus succeeded. In addition to all these, when being baptized by John, Jesus says He needed to do so to "fulfill all righteousness" (3:15). In short, by simply existing, being born, and being baptized and tempted, Jesus fulfills many prophecies on which the Jews were waiting. Matthew makes is clear that Jesus is the one to fulfill all these prophecies.

I have included a graphic of the section. The title is from a commentary but for the life of me I cannot remember which one and as I look through the commentaries I have, I cannot find it. I am sure it is not original with me. The summaries of each section of the chapters are my titles. They are brief but descriptive enough for me to remember the story and perhaps see the theme throughout each section. (click the picture for a larger image)

So to get his audience ready for the message he was going to convey to them, Matthew shows Jesus fulfilling prophecy after prophecy even before He officially begins His ministry.

I would anticipate somewhere between seven and nine sermons out of this section. If I preached one sermon per section it would obviously be nine. However, it could be seven because I could see gathering the wise men, the move to Egypt, and Herod's massacre being one sermon. However, I would think this would mean a skimming over these important events.

Friday, May 15, 2009

New Cool Feature

I found a neat new feature for my blog. I am sure many of you have already found it. It is called RefTagger. By adding a brief bit of HTML in the footer of my blog, I can automatically have verses pop up in a little window when the mouse has rolled over the verse. For example, I type 2 Timothy 2:2 and it should provide a link to the verse so it is easily read.

I can type a whole chapter (Psalm 63), I can type several chapters (Matthew 5-7), or a couple of verses (Eph. 2:8-9).

I will try this to see if it is easier for me then typing the HTML for, which is what I have been doing. Let me know what you think.

Overview of Matthew: Addendum

I wanted to make a brief addition to the introduction discussion on Matthew. Specifically, I mentioned in the previous post that I identified eight sections through the book. I would like to make a few comments on this. First, these eight sections are probably more like seven. As I will show in the upcoming posts, the last section I identified is probably more like the tail end of the seventh section. So it may be more accurate if I said I see seven sections throughout the book. Nevertheless, I am going to post eight.

Also, I have read more than one commentary which identifies only five sections. They make a good argument for these five section. For example, Mounce (NIBC) says about the structure of Matthew,
The clue lies in the formula "when Jesus had finished saying these things," which is repeated with only minor variations at the close of each section (Matt 7:28, 11:1, 13:53, 19:1, 26:1). This fivefold structure is common in ancient Jewish literature (cf. the five books of Moses, the five divisions of the Psalms, the five Megilloth, etc.). Barker, Lane, and Michaels point out that Matthew's five "books" deal with the ethics of the Kingdom (5:1-7:27), mission (10:1-42), redemptive history (13:1-52), church discipline (18:1-35), and eschatology (23:1-25:46). These would be major concerns of an early church desirous of instructing new converts. pg. 3

This is interesting and somewhat convincing. But I wonder about chapters left in the gaps of these five sections. For example, I see chapters 8 and 9 integral to understanding chapter 10. And this all flows from the end of chapter 7, which I see as the previous section. Allow me to explain.

The section section of Matthew (roughly chapters 5-7) ends with the people amazed at Jesus' authority in his teaching. Then chapters 8 and 9 tell story after story of Jesus' authority over sickness, the spiritual world, the natural world, and even death. Then the beginning of chapter 10 begins with Jesus transferring that authority to the twelve disciples and sending them out into the world.

To me, it looks like Mounce has chapter 10 as the second section but does not show how the surrounding chapters related to that section. Therefore, I am sticking with my seven/eight sections and working from that point of view.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Overview of Matthew

As I begin to look at the study of Matthew, I want to take several posts to gain a bird's eye view of the entire book. This post I will give some introductory thought and then the next few posts will reveal the main sections throughout Matthew.

To begin with, I hold to the traditional view which says the disciple Matthew is the author of this Gospel. This disciple was also called Levi and who was the son of Alphaeus (Mark 2:14) It is interesting to me to note that the call of Matthew (found in the previous verse) is the only call of a disciple in which only one person is called. We read of Peter and Andrew's call (Matt 4:18-20) and James and John's call (Matt 4:21-22). Matthew's call is the only recorded call where he is alone. This may go to show how much of an outcast his profession made him to his fellow Jews (Mark 2:14) or it may mean nothing at all. I just find it interesting.

I also believe Matthew was writing to Jews. There are many proofs of Matthew's audience throughout the book but a few of the specific items which I would focus on is first the lineage which Matthew starts his Gospel. The evangelist starts by showing that Jesus was from the line of Abraham and from the line of David. Second, Matthew uses the Old Testament in a very specific manner. That would be to show that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies (more will be said about this in upcoming posts). Finally, the focus on Jesus being the King and that His Kingdom has come is a significant characteristic of his Gospel which shows his audience are Jews.

The last thing I will discuss on the overview of Matthew is that I identify eight distinct sections which make up the whole of his book (these divisions of the book are something of a mix of my thoughts and those from different commentaries). In each of these sections, there is a large narrative section in which the story of Jesus is unfolded. Additionally, there is a section of significant discourse in each of these sections. The only exception to this is the section on the passion of Christ which does not have an extended discourse but is mostly all action. Finally, in each discourse found in each section there is challenge issued to the readers. These will be identified in the upcoming posts.

The next several posts will continue the overview of Matthew but will look a bit more closely at these eight sections.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Buy My House...Please

Buy our house...Please! If you are reading this, you are a potential candidate. Who wouldn't want to live here?

Click Here to see a video of our house.

After watching the movie, click on the "More Photos" to photos.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Beginning of the Beginning of the New Testament

I have been doing some preliminary work for studying through the book of Matthew. The more I study it and the more I talk to others about it, the more I look forward to preaching through the first gospel. I will be posting my thoughts throughout the study on and off. I am not sure my posts will be a complete representation of the entire book. We will have to see. Nevertheless, posting helps me communicate my thoughts and maybe they will be an encouragement to you, too.

This first post I want to address the approach I will take to the book of Matthew. I have been through many studies of the different gospels and usually the study turns into a study of the harmony of the gospels: John said this, Mark said that, and it all takes place between these two verses in Luke. While I think a study of the harmony of the gospels is an important one, and while I think anyone going through one of the gospels needs to understand how they all fit together to tell the story of our Savior, I also think that each gospel writer had a message to tell in their own individual gospels.

Thus, I want to study Matthew and understand his message to his audience. I know studying Matthew will necessitate some reference to the other gospels. But I think Matthew placed the events of Christ's life and ministry in the order he did and mentioned the events he did to contribute to his overall message. And when these events are place in the appropriate chronological order with the other gospels, then Matthew's message becomes muted if not silent.

So, as I post my thoughts regarding my study through Matthew, I expect to only rarely refer to the other gospels unless that will contribute and clarify the story and message Matthew is conveying.

So let me know what you think of my approach. Is it valid? Do you agree? Let me know.

Next, I will post an overview of Matthew.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Quote of the Day - 2.25.09

All originality and no plagiarism makes for dull preaching.

Charles H. Spurgeon

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Personal God - Prime Reality, Part 4

In our discussion of the Prime Reality of life, the first issue one must address is the question of the existence of God. But the discussion does not stop there. If one comes to the understanding that there is indeed a God who exists somewhere outside of our time-space continuum, then the discussion must turn to the question of what that God is like. As a review, Hebrews 11:6 says,
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is rewarder of those who seek Him. (NASB)

To come to God, one must first believe He exists. This is the first question of Prime Reality. The verse continues to say that one must believe "He is the rewarder of those who seek Him," which is the issue of character, or, the question of what God is like.

But where does one start the discussion of what God is like. If I asked you to describe the taste of coffee, without using the word "coffee," to someone who has not tasted it before, how would you describe it? If one really thinks about this for a while, one would probably find that it would be hard to really describe how coffee tastes. If our human language makes it difficult to describe something as pedestrian as coffee, how much more will it be to describe the indescribable God. However, we must attempt to do so in order to understand the God we worship.

I think a good starting point in the discussion of what God is like is to say that God is personal. In some of the classes I have taught, when I ask what I meant by saying "God is personal," many have answers which indicate they think personal means personable. Or they think it means God is their private God. Saying God is personal does not mean He is friendly nor does it mean He is your personal God.

God as personal means that He is a person. God is not an idea, God is not a force, God is not the universe. God is a person and has attributes of a person. God exists (Heb 11:6), God has an intellect (Psalm 104:19-30), God has a will (Acts 13:17), God has emotion (Deut 9:7, Rom 5:8), God relates to others (Exo 3:4-4:17, God is a person.

This idea of God as a person should significantly effect the way one attempts to approach God. As a person, He has set attributes which cannot be made up by the one approaching Him. For example, one may want to make assumptions about me, a person, if they come to introduce themselves to me, but just because they have those assumptions does not make them true. However, once I begin to show others what I am like, then they get to know me better. The longer they know me, the more I show who I am, and the more they get to know me. This is why usually our closest friends are those who have known us the longest or seen a lot of who we are and still like us. This time together is time sensing who each other is, or simply thinking about each other, it is time conversing and relating in intimate ways.

Similarly, as one attempts to approach God, one cannot just make up what they think God is like and then expect God to be like those assumptions. Because God is person, we cannot make God into who we want Him to be but instead must get to know who He is. We look for how He has revealed Himself to us. And, because He is not just some other human person, but instead Almighty God, we must then approach Him on His terms. Additionally, one does not simply sense God or meditate on something to find God. Since God is a person, we talk with him (also known as prayer) and relate to Him in a way we can with no one else.

God as personal is big stepping stone for our discussion of Prime Reality and "What is God like?" This single concept is radically different than many other worldviews and is one of the truths which makes Christian Theism unique. However, the question is not how unique it is, the question is "How true is it?" If our discussion is concerning the Prime Reality, the implications are far reaching in every area of life. If God is a person, then perhaps He did create humans in His image and thus all humans, in every stage of life, has inherent value. If God is person, and can think and emote and chose, then perhaps there is a basis for the things we call "right" and "wrong." If God is person, then perhaps there is a way to commune with Him and have a relationship with Him.

For those out there wondering about this, the answer is "YES! There is a way to relate to God through the person and work of Jesus Christ." Please choose Christ today! If you would like to know more, either click HERE to see how to receive Christ, or respond to this post and we can talk.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Finding Eureka Kansas in Houston Texas

I was in Houston, Texas this last weekend for my brother-in-law's wedding (Congratulations Sean and Sonya). My wife, my daughter, and I were driving around and we got a little lost. However, we found someplace a little familiar. Here is the picture:

You may not be able to see it (it is a poor picture) but it is the corner of Eureka and Kansas. My parents and brother live in Eureka, Kansas so the street signs at this corner gave me a chuckle and I had to get a picture of it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Funniest Thing I Heard Today - 1.23.09


Rhonda, my wife, while running across a major street in Houston, TX.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Intelligence Behind DNA - Prime Reality, Part 3

The discussion of Prime Reality begins with the discussion of whether or not there is a God. As a believer in Jesus Christ as the incarnate God, and a believer in the Bible being the inspire Word of God, it is not hard for me to answer in the affirmative. However, I understand that there are those out there who find the question hard and struggle to find an intellectually satisfying answer. So they would probably ask me, "Why do you believe in God?" and that is a fair question.

I do not believe one can prove the existence of God. I believe one can make the case with a preponderance of evidence, but in the end one must make the choice to believe or not believe. I think the Scripture affirms this in Hebrews 11:6, which says
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is rewarder of those who seek Him. (NASB)

This verse say that, first, faith is paramount in the discussion of the existence of Go in that it says that if one is to come to Him, they must believe that He actually exists. Second, it says that the one who comes to Him must believe certain things about His character, that is, who God is. In short, for one to come to God, you must have faith in His existence and in His character. This is essentially the two questions of Prime Reality. I am not saying that God exists because I have faith He does. Obviously, things do not exist simply because we have faith they exist. I am simply saying that this issue involves faith, no matter the way one decides.

However, there is evidence of a Creator. Without dealing with mountains of material, I would simply point to the issue of DNA. I am not a scientist, but I do know that DNA contains information and in every other aspect of life, when one encounters information, one assumes intelligence behind that information. This should stagger most anyone who comes to this discovery. Even Francis Crick, the Nobel Prize winning scientist who essentially discovered DNA's double-helical structure, saw such an intelligence behind DNA he developed a theory called Directed Panspermia, which says it was possible that intelligent life on other planets seeded our planet with DNA and that we evolved from that DNA (click here for the original article - you have to at least read the abstract).

Take a minute and ponder that idea. This should bring up several questions from the thoughtful reader. First, If the answer to the source of intelligent life on this planet is that it came from intelligent life on another planet, it begs the question "Where did life from that planet come from?" If that answer was, "from intelligent life from yet another planet" then the question would be "Where did life from THAT planet come from?"

Secondly, why is belief in life on another planet easier to believe than a God who creates? Neither can be proven. There has been NO evidence that there is life on any other planet.

The point here is that even the scientist who won the Nobel prize for his work on DNA acknowledges there is an intelligence behind DNA and that chance could not account for its appearance. While this seems to be a discussion regarding the beginnings of humanity, my point is that is more about the existence of God. If the beginnings of humanity cannot be explained by natural means, and the discovery and information explosion of DNA is making that harder for unbiased scientists to do, then the question becomes "What kind of intelligence is responsible for the creation of DNA and genetic information it contains?" Many may have no problem placing their faith in a scientifically superior race of beings on another planet who could create DNA and then ship it to earth, even though this scenario does not really answer the ultimate origin of life. I find it more intellectually satisfying to place my faith in a God who creates and created humans in His own image and gave them inherent value and purpose in this life.

This is not the only evidence of the existence of God. There is so many other things. But I believe this is a crucial "clincher" for many. So the question is, "What is the intelligence behind DNA?" There is no doubt there is intelligence behind DNA. Francis Crick, in his book Life Itself, said,
An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some senses, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.

So, where do you place your faith. Intelligent life from other planets, or a Creator God? In my mind, these are the informed choices.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Giving the Masses What They Want - Prime Reality, Part 2

Over a year ago, I posted on topic which I not only enjoy talking about but I think is critical for everyone to discuss: the topic of Prime Reality (click here to read that post). Since then, there have been many hits to my site accessing that particular post. In fact, of the last 289 keywords which users have entered into search engines to access my blog, 132 specifically referenced "prime reality" in some sense. This means 45.7% of people who have saw my blog (and hopefully have read something on it) have done so because they were looking up information on the topic of prime reality. And this does not include the other posts which were related to the topic in some manner, like my book reviews which deal with the same topic.

So I think I am going to attempt a series about this issue and see if that will interest anyone. To begin with, I want to repeat what was said in the previous post and I will be from that. Previously, I said,

Put simply, the Prime Reality is the question of existence of God. This is based in two questions:

         1. Is there or is there not a God?
         2. If there is a God, what is that God like?

The previous post addressed question number one briefly and provided some links to the help with the discussion. Almost everyone above the age of 16 or so has spent time thinking "Is there really a God?" This is a fundamental question which each person must answer because it directs every other aspect of their life. This is why this issue is called "The PRIME Reality."

I stand firm on the issue by answering "yes, there is a God" and I will spend some time answering why I think this but the majority of these posts will be addressing question 2 from above: If there is a God, what is that God like?

So I hope these future posts will help you, encourage you, and will give you an understanding of this topic.

Let me know what you think!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Ten Moments of 2008

Last year, I posted ten memorable moments of 2007. This year I thought I would do the same. It is just a nice exercise for me to look back over the year and see how God has worked and enjoy the memories my family and I have made.

So without further ado, here are my ten memorable moments of 2008.

1. Summit Baptist Church of Wiggins, Colorado calling me as their pastor (December).
Without a doubt, this is the most defining event of the year. Even though it occurred in the last two weeks of the year, the last five years have been building toward this event. I am sure the repercussions of this event will impact my ten moments list next year (like moving, making new friends, starting a new ministry, etc.) but for now, this is the most memorable thing that happened to me in 2008.

2. Rhonda and my trip to Las Vegas, Nevada (April).
In April, Rhonda and I traveled to Vegas so I could preach at a church which was interested in me as their pastor. They put us up in the Plaza Hotel in the penthouse, and we braved Fremont street at night looking for milk (which is harder than it sounds in Las Vegas). They transported us back and forth from the airport in a limo. And we strolled through the Plaza casino in our Sunday-go-to-meetings and got some interesting looks. It was a great experience. While they obviously did not call me (see #1 above), it shaped most of my year.

3. Learning to turn wood on a lathe (beginning in May).
In May, I ordered and received a wood lathe and began a new hobby. Additionally, I began to blog about that hobby as well (see A Turn of Events). It has been fun and relaxing to start this new hobby and I know it will serve me well in the future. This shaped most of my year because now all I think about is, "If I chopped that tree down in my back yard, I bet I could get some good bowls out it."

4. Jessica and my trip to Kansas (June).
In June, my daughter and I traveled to southeast Kansas to see my family. It was a nice trip because I saw each of my siblings and was able to spend time alone with each of them. I also was able to take mom to the Lawrence, Kansas library where my brother's memorial tree is located (click here to see the post regarding Rob's tree). It was a nice time with my family. And it was a good time with just my daughter and I.

5. Working on my in-laws sprinkler system (throughout the summer).
This may seem like an unusual item to make a list like this but working on my in laws sprinkler system throughout the summer was a nice time for this year. I would go over every other day or two (whenever I recuperated from the previous work day) and fix leaks and sprinkler heads on all their seven zones of their yard. It was good physical labor for me, I would get incredibly sweaty and muddy, and my family and I spend a good amount of time with my in-laws. I did not get completely finished and will need to do more when the ground thaws, but I enjoyed working on this project throughout the summer.

6. Studying and working through the Psalms of Ascents (last half of year).
Beginning in June, I began a study of the Psalm of Ascents and posted the results of those studies on this blog (Click here for the overview of those studies which provides links to each post). The posts look like I was focused only on the outline of the passage, but this is not true. However, I posted the outlines in hope that it will help someone as they preach through these important passages. While I have not preached through these psalms, with my new church (see #1 above, again) I am looking forward to sharing these with others. I spend most of the year reading through these psalms, studying them, and working with the outlines to place where I believe I can preach through them. When I think of 2008, I will think about the time I spent with these fifteen psalms.

7. Our trip to New Mexico (July).
My family and I took a short trip to New Mexico to pick up my niece and nephew from Rhonda's side of the family. Rhonda, Jessica, and I went down to Sante Fe, spent the night at a hotel, picked up our niece and nephew at Glorietta the next day, and brought them to their Grandparents house. It was a nice, short, little trip and a great memory.

8. Rhonda and my ACTUAL anniversary (February).
My wife and I got married on Leap Day in 1992, which means we only have a real anniversary once every four years. In 2008, we celebrated our fourth anniversary (16 years for those mathematically challenged). We did not do anything special, but we did celebrate our 16 years of marriage. I posted about that in February and even posted a picture of Rhonda and me (click here to see that post).

9. Introduced to Settler's of Catan (February).
In February, a friend from church introduced us to a new game called "Settlers of Catan." I explain it as a board game of a computer strategy game. It is hard to explain but it is fun (and a little addictive). Here is the website for the game. You can also play it online for free at this website.

10. Teaching online classes for Oklahoma Baptist University Ministry Training Institute (throughout the year).
I taught my first completely online class in 2008. I had taught classes with online components of the in-seat class, but I had not taught a completely online class. I had students in Colorado, Oklahoma, and Montana. I really enjoyed interacting with the students through email and chat. I anticipate doing more online instruction with OBU. Teaching online did not shape my year, per se, but it did keep me busy while I waited for God to provide a pastorate.

Well, there they are: my 10 most memorable moments of 2008. 2008 proved to be something of wild ride. Up and down and all around, but always flying a break-neck speed. I am looking forward to 2009, although I anticipate much of the same craziness.