A regular (daily, weekly, monthly) specialty serving of significant
or insignificant musings from the mind of an Italian Pastor.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Blogging Through the Bible - Final Entry Part #1

The B-90 is finally done. I made it. I was successful in reading the entire Bible in just 90 days. I needed every last day to do it. But, I did it! What I was less successful in doing was to be consistent in blogging about my journey through the Word. I mean, I suppose I could have just spewed out a few thoughts here and there. But, I usually have to give it a little more thought than that. So, since I missed almost the entire New Testament, here are some of my highlights from these amazing books:

The Book of Acts:
It really is amazing to see the difference that the Holy Spirit makes in the lives of the apostles. They were running from opposition at the end of the Gospels and now are risking life and limb to spread the message. Jesus isn't present. And yet, they are filled with an incredible boldness. Where did this boldness come from? Where did the influence they wielded come from? Acts 2 gives us the answer. The Holy Spirit came on these men and changed them from the inside out. The amazing thing is this: WE HAVE THE SAME SPIRIT INSIDE OF US!!! The challenge to each of us is to live like it!

The Epistle to the Romans:
Rom. 8:31-39, "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised-who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Wow - need I say more?

The First Epistle to the Corinthians:
1 Cor. 1:10-15, "I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, "I follow Paul," or "I follow Apollos," or "I follow Cephas," or "I follow Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name."

I hear so often of who people like or don't like in the realm of Christian books and videos. "I like John MacArthur," or "I like John Piper" or "I like Timothy Keller," or "I like Francis Chan," or "I like Andy Stanley," or "I like Mark Driscoll," etc. What is funny is there are an equal amount of people who say the exact opposite. I don't like...you get the picture. Are we in our own way falling into the trap of the Corinthian church? Are we just listening to the person we agree with or like? Look, we all need to be looking out for heresy. But, just because you don't like a guy, or just because he doesn't hold to as many points of Calvinism as you do, doesn't mean he is a heretic. Neither does it mean that you can't learn from him. I have even heard preferences within our own church about our own pastors. Can we have preferences? Absolutely! However, let us not divide ourselves over it or cut ourselves off from sound Bible teaching just because they are not our preference. Maybe, God wants to use something or someone who is out of our comfort zone or preferences to speak into our lives. As long as they are sound Biblically on the main things, we should be positive about their ministry and see what we can learn from them. I guarantee, whether you like them or not, they probably know a heck of a lot more about the Bible than we give them credit for when we are critical.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Vitamix Blender!

Check out this amazing giveaway for a great smoothie maker! http://www.thethriftymama.com/2011/05/vitamix-giveaway.html#comment-71401

Blogging through the Bible...from Old to New

An Apology:
Well, here we are, day 74 of the Bible in 90 Days. We are almost done folks! I know I haven't done the best job keeping up with my posts. I am sorry about that. But today, my goal is to catch up! Since the last time I posted, we have read all the Prophets and most of the Synoptic Gospels. What amazing stories and theology are found in these book. Let's be honest here. how much time do we really spend reading in the minor prophets? Not very much. At least I didn't before now. If you have, more power to you! In this blog, my goal is to give you my highlights from this section of Scripture.

Isaiah 6:
Holy, holy, holy. Clearly a passage that proclaims how holy our God is. Holy: "set apart one." Set apart from what though? The most common answer is set apart from sin. While it is true that God cannot sin, does God have to be completely set apart from sin? Isaiah 6 is an amazing story of the holy God coming to a sinful man, cleansing his sin and calling him to be on mission for Him! Has God come to you, cleansed you of sin and called you to be on mission for Him? What was your response? Were you excited about being with God and experiencing forgiveness? Most are stoked about these aspects of salvation. However, were you exctied to be on mission for Him? Many are initially excited, but does it last? For most Christians the answer is a resounding no! We must make a point of restoring the excitement of our mission. We weren't just saved from sin we were saved for a mission!

Ezekiel 4:
What would you do if you were told you must lay on your side for over a year, lay on your other side for over a month, and cook your food with dung. The point of this ridiculous exercise? To show the people how they will suffer at the hands of their enemies. The kicker? The people will not listen to you! All of this, and the people will not listen. I think it is hard to serve God when you can see a tangible result. Ezekiel not only did not have a promise of success but it was a promise of failure! Serving God can be an amazing calling, it can also hurt like heck and leave you burned out and broken. And yet, God will ultimately be glorified! We do win in the end...we just may not see it in our lifetime!

Amos 5:
21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!

I wonder sometimes what God would think of our worship services today. We in the Americanized Evangelical church have convinced ourselves that we are doing it right. "We are Biblical" we say. "We are relevant" we say. "We are making a difference" we say. But, I have to admit. The more I read Scripture the more I am uneasy with where we are at. Is there a chance that God looks at our church and says what He said above to the nation of Israel. Are we "Biblical" and "relevant" and "making a difference" and still missing the boat? Is that possible?

Let's take my last section and move it into a New Testament context? After reading so much about Jesus, what do you think Jesus think about Evangelicalism today? Would Jesus have hung out in our church services? Would Jesus have liked what He would see going on in our buildings? Would Jesus have had time to "go to church"? Would Jesus approve of our worship? Would He appreciate our sermons? What would He think of what we place in the offering plate (or have taken out of our checking account with our online giving option)? Would He like what we do with kids? What we do with teens? What would He think? Often, we don't think about what Jesus would think. I have a feeling that we would be shocked by what Jesus would say.

In Conclusion:
I want to close this post by a quote from the last book of the Old Testament. This comes from Micah 6:6-8.

6 With what shall I come before the LORD
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.