Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I've worked 24 hours in the past two days. No time to blog right now. I'm looking forward to completing the Romans 14 series by dealing with application. It will likely be a few days before that happens.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Psalm 46

Psalm 46 is one of my favorite Psalms. It is wonderful to know that God is our refuge who takes care of every aspect of our lives. Enjoy these beautiful words:

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire.
10 "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"
11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Romans 14 - What Paul Says...

Romans 14:1-15:13 is a critical passage for helping us understand how to deal appropriately with differences in the church. This passage is sometimes used as a sort of "trump card" for ending discussions about differences. Is this what Paul intended? What does he actually say?

I've already written about both the issue at hand and the broader context. Now I'm going to attempt to tackle what Paul says in this passage.

We must remember that Paul is writing to a church that is likely experiencing some division between Jewish and Gentile Christians over OT food laws. Specifically, they were probably disagreeing about what they could eat and what they could drink. How they viewed days, especially the Sabbath, was also likely a cause of grumbling.

Paul writes to this church in part to correct this problem. I've tried to summarize Paul's thoughts into ten key points:

  • Some Christians are weaker in the faith while others are stronger. Do not pass judgment on each other, but welcome one another.
  • Regarding eating/drinking and days, each must be convinced of what he believes.
  • All that Christians do, whether in life or death, must be to the Lord.
  • Each person will give an account of his life to God.
  • Every Christian should avoid being a stumbling block, and instead strive for peace and mutual upbuilding.
  • Related to food and drink, nothing is unclean in and of itself.
  • Anything not from faith is sin.
  • Jesus Christ did not please himself, but provided us with an example of bearing with others for their edification.
  • Each must welcome the other for the glory of God.
  • Christ is the one and only hope for both Jews and Gentiles.

How might we summarize these points in one paragraph? Here's my attempt:

Some Christians are stronger in their faith while others are weaker. While nothing is unclean in itself, each person must be convinced of what is right (related to specific OT ceremonial laws) and live accordingly. These differences, however, must not divide believers. Rather, Christians ought to avoid passing judgment and instead welcome one another. All this is to be done to the Lord, keeping in mind that everyone will give an account to God. Christ’s followers should avoid being stumbling blocks to one another, and instead strive for peace and mutual upbuilding. Jesus provided us with the ultimate example of this. He did not please himself, but bore with others’ weaknesses for their edification. Keeping in mind that anything not from faith is sin, we ought to welcome one another for the glory of God. The basis of all this is the person and work of Christ, who is the one hope for both Jews and Gentiles.

What would you add?

King Darius Got It Right

Sometimes God even uses those who aren't his followers to speak the truth. I love the following passage from Daniel 6:25-27 where King Darius says the following:

"Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions."

Darius speaks quite a bit of truth in this short passage: All people are to fear the God of Daniel. This God is living and endures forever. His kingdom and rule shall never end. He is the God who rescues. This God is one who works miracles.

What a glorious God we serve! Sometimes even the lost recognize this.

You Write the Caption

I have no idea what this church sign means. If you have any ideas, please write a caption in the comments. Thanks.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Brothers and Sisters for Whom I Feel Sorrow

For much of my life I assumed, without giving it much thought, that all Christians regularly meet with church families on a regular basis. I thought all believers were, to one degree or another, connected to a local body. It was an assumption based in the Christian culture but not in reality. Frankly, it just never crossed my mind that some Christians were not gathering on a regularly with other Christians.

I now realize that many Christians are not part of any sort of local body. They may see other Christians here and there, but they do not regularly gather with anybody. The reasons for this are many; some seem legitimate while others do not. I will say this: most are not being disobedient. Rather, most simply have not found other Christians who meet in an edifying manner.

These are my brothers and sisters in Christ that I feel sorry for. This is not pity, but rather sorrow. Life is difficult enough even with a supportive, loving church family. To venture through life's challenges without this sort of care must be extremely difficult.

Do you know brothers and sisters in this situation? How do they handle it? What has led to it?

As Christians, we can help each other in this. If we know those with no church home, we can help by simply trying to get to know them better and provide loving support. Many of these Christians are extremely lonely. They need Christian friends. We can all provide that.

I don't mean for this post to seem sappy or sentimental. This is a real struggle that many Christians face. Let's help when and where we can.

Friday, November 25, 2011

On the Significance of the Hall of Tyrannus

Acts 19:8-10, "And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks."

This passage records Paul on his third missionary journey in the city of Ephesus. We read that Paul reasoned daily with Ephesian disciples in the hall of Tyrannus. I suppose there could be several significant things about this, but one stands out to me: the Christians met in the hall of Tyrannus. This shows them not meeting in homes.

Of course, it is quite possible, in keeping with the general practice of the day, that some or all Christians in Ephesus normally met in homes. However, in these verses we clearly see that the believers met in a hall that was not a house. This was not a one time occasion either. Rather, they gathered "daily" for "two years." This suggests that they met in the hall of Tyrannus hundreds of times. That's significant. Additionally, these meetings had an impact on the wider region; Luke informs us that, "all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks."

I've read what I might call "house church-only" advocates try to explain away the gatherings in the hall of Tyrannus. However, none of their reasons seem compelling to me. Most attempted to make the case that these were teaching/lecture style meetings that were different from participatory-type gatherings. In my opinion, much has to be read into the biblical passage in order to reach this conclusion.

The reality is that the apostle Paul himself met with other Christ-followers on a daily basis in hall that was not a house.

Why is this significant? It shows us that churches can gather in places other than homes. They have at least some measure of freedom to do so. They are not sinning when they gather in places other than houses.

As one who generally meets in homes, there is a tendency to want to be right. I admit, however, that I have been somewhat too dogmatic about insisting that followers of Jesus gather only in homes. I've tried to explain away the hall of Tyrannus. I can do it no longer.

The difficulty, I suppose, is in figuring out what places beyond homes are acceptable to God. Where does God desire that his followers meet? In one sense, the answer is anywhere and everywhere. However, what does this mean specifically? I think we all agree that a few believers meeting at Starbucks is acceptable. We would all probably (at least readers of this blog) say that God is not pleased by the construction of multi-million dollar church buildings. But what about in between? That's the difficult part. We must look for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to guide in these important decisions.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Romans 14 - The Context

Please click to read Romans 14:1-15:13. At the wise suggestion of my friend Alan Knox, I’ve decided to extend this discussion to include the first part of Romans 15.

In order to understand 14:1-15:13, we need to take a look at the broader context of this epistle. The author was clearly the apostle Paul. He likely wrote to the Roman church from Corinth while on his third missionary journey. Paul desired to travel to Rome to meet these Christians, but first had to return to Jerusalem with the money he had collected for the church there.

We don’t know how or by whom the church in Rome was founded. However, as recorded in Acts 2, there were Jews in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit arrived during the feast of Pentecost. It’s possible that some of those Romans Jews surrendered to Christ at that time and then returned home with the gospel. Regardless, by the time of Paul’s third missionary journey there was a church in Rome.

The Roman church was most likely a mix of Jews and Gentiles. This could have created tension within the church as it relates to what to do with the OT law. We must remember that the only bible the Roman Christians would have had was the OT (probably the Septuagint). This would have undoubtedly informed both their thinking and decision making.

Paul’s letters are usually “occasional” in nature. This simply means that he wrote to deal with specific things that were going on. It is quite possible that Paul wrote to the Roman church in part to help them deal with Jew-Gentile (or even Jew-Jew or Gentile-Gentile) tension over how to best apply the OT law as followers of Jesus Christ.

Paul dealt quite a bit with the law throughout the letter. Generally speaking, he focused on salvation in chapters 1-11 and sanctification/application in chapters 12-16. We learn in 1-11, among other things, that the OT law does not save. Instead, all who have faith in Christ (apart from the law) are declared righteous/just in the sight of God. Paul famously wrote in 3:21-26:

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it - the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

The Roman church in particular seemed to be struggling with OT eating and drinking prescriptions. Some in the church thought they needed to follow OT restrictions. Others in the church ignored the law and ate what they wanted. Another area of possible tension and/or disagreement focused on how to view certain days. Some thought particular days (especially the Sabbath) were to be treated with unique prominence, while others treated every day the same.

Paul knew that the Roman Christians needed a full understanding of the gospel. This would help them better comprehend how to apply the law. His emphasis upon faith and grace apart from the law shows that it no longer held sway over them. In chapter 14 Paul referred to the Christians who followed OT restrictions as “weak.”

Backing up a couple of chapters, Paul begins his great application section in 12:1-2, writing, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

The apostle goes on to instruct the Roman believers that they are all part of one body. They must use their spiritual gifts for the good of both the body and the broader community. The apostle then gets very specific about what the Christian life looks like. By the time we arrive at 14:1, the readers of Romans fully understand the gospel. They also know that Paul expects lives fully devoted to Christ in all areas. Additionally, the church is to be united as one body. Paul then instructs them, in 14:1-15:13, in how to deal with specific issues that have the potential to tear them apart.

What do you think? Is this the context? What should be added, deleted, or altered? 

Context is critical. Without it, we won’t correctly understand what Paul meant.

Not Blogging About Thanksgiving

I suppose it is the pseudo rebel within me, but I'm not blogging about Thanksgiving. I figure that many others are already doing that, and I'd rather not add more to what's already being written. Like many of you, I have much to be thankful for. I'll simply leave it at that.

Now if I can just find the time to blog about Romans 14, we can continue that discussion.  I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Romans 14 - The Issue

Before reading any more of this post, I highly encourage you to read Romans chapter 14.

Romans 14 is a fascinating passage that teaches us many wonderful truths. It also makes us a bit uncomfortable. For example, Paul writes in 14:5, "Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind." On the surface that may sound a little postmodern. Is Paul suggesting that truth is relative? Of course not. However, Paul does appear to be telling the Roman church and the rest of us that some things in life do in fact come down to conscience.

Two issues we must deal with related to Romans 14 are how to correctly understand it and how to accurately apply it. Specifically as it relates to church practices, I've heard Romans 14 used again and again to support various traditions, programs, activities, etc. that have little to no scriptural support. The argument goes something like this, "I'm convinced in my mind that what we are doing (whatever it is) honors God. Romans 14 tells others not to judge us. Therefore, we are going to continue to do it." Romans 14 is often used as a sort of "trump card" to end discussions about church issues. When some Christians are unable to provide biblical evidence for why they do what they do, they pull out Romans 14 to both win and end the discussion.

Is this what Paul intended when he wrote to the Roman church? What is the context of the chapter and the book? Do these matter? What does Paul actually say? What does he not say?

How far can we apply Romans 14, especially as it has to do with how we understand the church? If Romans 14 has extremely broad application, then basically anything is justifiable as long as it is not prohibited by scripture. However, if Paul's intention is much narrower, then the Romans 14 trump card falls apart. The key for us is that we understand as best we can what Paul actually meant.

Because of its significance for church life, I'm going to blog three more times about this chapter: the context, what Paul says and doesn't say, and the application. My hope is that you partake in the discussion as well. 

How we handle Romans 14 has direct impact on our understanding of Christ's church.

Are We Headed in the Right Direction?

"For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured." Hebrews 13:11-13

Sometimes I wonder whether or not I'm headed in the right direction and to the right destination. I'm not referring to salvation, but rather the walk of sanctification. The author of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus suffered outside the gate. Because we are in Him, we are expected to go outside the camp to Him. Although we cannot and do not die for the sins of others, we still must expect that this journey outside to the cross will lead to persecution.

How easy it is to remain inside the camp. Or at least sort of stand at the gate of the camp. The author of Hebrews, however, calls us to "go to him outside." This includes bearing "the reproach he endured."

We cannot and should not seek persecution. If we are living for Christ outside the comfy confines of American values, the persecution (in various forms) we come on its own. I wonder if in this country of relative luxury we have embraced this biblical truth.

A life with Christ is a life outside the gate and outside the camp.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Blog Options

I've finally chosen a more modern looking format for this blog. Since I'm not exactly technologically adroit, this was no easy task.

One fun aspect about this particular blog look is that you, the reader, get to chose the exact format you want to use. Interactive it is. All you have to do is place your mouse on the left side of the page over the word "Classic." This gives a drop-down menu of various choices for how you want to look at the blog. I went with "Classic" as the default because it's the most like a traditional blog. However, my favorite is actually the "Flipcard" function; I just wasn't brave enough to use it as the norm.

Well, there it is. Choose and enjoy.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Still Rated G

Not that it matters, but my blog is still rated G. I guess lots of talk about Christ's church doesn't cause too many problems out in the world.

Just for fun I checked out a few other blogs.  Arthur Sido also received a G.

Alan Knox, Al Mohler, Frank Viola, John Armstrong, and Dave Black were all given ratings of PG-13.

That Reformed Lost Boy Bobby Auner got an R.

If You Have Any Word of Encouragement...

Acts 13:13-16 tells us:

Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem, but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, "Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it." So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, "Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen."

No matter how many times I read it, this passage continues to fascinate me. Paul and company are on what is often called the first missionary journey. When they arrive in Antioch in Pisidia they follow their custom of going to the synagogue on the Sabbath. Although what Paul says in 13:16-43 is of most importance, it is what the rulers of the synagogue say that intrigues me.

They invite Paul and his companions to share a word of encouragement for the people if they have one. Specifically:

1. They were invited to share.
2. They were under no compulsion to share.
3. They were specifically invited to share a word of encouragement.
4. They were invited to share any word of encouragement.
5. They were to share for the benefit of the people.

Clearly, this is not a church gathering. However, we see that even in this situation the people present can benefit from hearing from others. Paul's statements were expected to be grounded in the Law and Prophets, which had just been read, and designed to encourage the other Jews there. Whatever he said was for the purpose or goal of encouragement.

We learn from this passage that when a group gathers, we can all benefit from hearing from one another. What is said must be truthful and based on previously revealed truth (scripture), and designed for the up building of the people. It sounds like an excellent recipe for a church get together.

Although the readers of this blog probably gather with other believers in a variety of ways and manners, my hope is that you have a time when everyone is free to share a word with the body for the benefit of the body.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

We Must Be Precise

Robert Murray M’Cheyne, a Scottish pastor who lived from 1813 to 1843, stated the following, "The greatest need of my people is my personal holiness."

The above is an example of a quote gone wrong. What it is lacking is precision.

Since M'Cheyne was a pastor in the traditional sense, when he says "my people," I can only assume that he is referring to the people of the church where he was employed.

In this relatively famous quote, at least among pastors, M'Cheyne says that his people's greatest need is his own personal holiness.

Really? Is that truly their greatest need? I can easily think of ten things that his people needed more than his holiness:

1. God the Father
2. God the Son
3. God the Holy Spirit
4. Salvation
5. Sanctification
6. An attitude of servanthood
7. Scriptural knowledge
8. A loving church family
9. A holy hatred of their own sin
10. Their own personal holiness

M'Cheyne's quote lacks precision. I'm sure that if asked he would have said that the people of the church needed God far more than him. Since he was a solid Christian, there can be no doubt of this. However, his quote suggests otherwise.

How could the quote have been both better and more accurate? Here's my suggestion: "The greatest need of my people from me is my personal holiness." Simply by adding the two words "from me" we take a seemingly heretical statement and turn it into something that can at least be argued to be accurate.

As we write and speak, let's be careful. Precision is important.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Saul Knew Where to Look

"But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison."  Acts 8:3

In Acts chapter 8, immediately after the stoning of Stephen, a great persecution arose against the church. As this occurred, Saul (later Paul) was taking out his angry zeal and frustration against the brethren. Saul's plan was to detain followers of Christ and take them to prison. The fascinating thing is that Saul knew where to look. We're told by Luke that Saul entered "house after house."

Saul knew that he could find Christians in homes. This was, apparently, the natural place for them to be. Note that this is the only place where we are told that Saul looked. For example, he did not look in the temple.

Luke does not tell us here that church gatherings were going on in homes (we see that in multiple other places in scripture). However, it makes sense that Saul would go where relatively large numbers of Christians were together to imprison as many as possible. The only place he went was homes.

We need to be careful in drawing too many conclusions from a narrative passage that focuses mostly on the persecution itself as opposed to the specific location of the persecution. However, one thing is clear: Saul knew where to look. He could find Christians in homes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Edification Necessarily Leads to Mission

The church comes together for edification. The church goes forth in mission. The two are linked. In fact, edification that does not lead to mission is not biblical edification.

Edification necessarily leads to mission. How do we know this?

The bible instructs us to edify one another within the church. This is to occur whenever we come together, regardless of size or type of gathering. To broaden out our thinking, Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:29, "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Every word spoken by us should be for the building up.

But what happens when we are built up? What change takes place? The answer is that we simultaneously grow closer in relationship to Jesus Christ and become more in our character like Jesus Christ. Mutual edification within the body leads to everyone changing to be more like Jesus and to love him more. We read this beautiful passage in Ephesians 4:11-16:

"And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love."

As we are edified, we become more like Jesus and more devoted to him. This strongly implies becoming more missions-oriented. Why? The reason is that Jesus Christ was the ultimate missionary. He came to earth from heaven to not only share the gospel, but to be the gospel. He came as both high priest and sacrifice. He came to proclaim his substitution on our behalf. If anyone ever cared enough about others to go and tell, it was Jesus Christ.

As we grow in Christ, it should be that we become more concerned for the eternal well-being of others. If we are becoming more like Jesus, this has to be the case. He died for people we live near and who live all over the globe. As we transform through edification to be more like Jesus, our care for these people ought to grow as well.

If edification has its intended outcome, we will all mature in Christ. Part of that maturation is desiring for others to know the Jesus who is transforming us. As Christian maturity goes up, a desire for others to come to Christ ought to naturally rise as well.

The author of Hebrews tells us in 10:24, "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works." Edification leads directly to love and good works. What more loving work can there be than proclaiming the life-giving news of Christ crucified and resurrected?

How we specifically live out a missional life will vary from person to person. Some will go to the far reaches of the earth sharing the good news, while many more will do so near home. Whatever the case, as we grow, a fruit of this growth should and will naturally be a deeper longing for others to experience the person we experience in joy each day - the God-man Jesus Christ.

There ought not be any tension in the church between edification and missions. As we come together as Christ's saints, the purpose is to build one another up in Christ for Christ. As we go forth into the world, having grown because of the building up, our zeal for Christ should show itself in our care for others. This care will take the form of meeting basic needs and sharing the best news in the world - the gospel.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Discussing the Dreaded "Exception Clause" Within the Context of Church Family

When our church family gathers as a large group, one of the things we usually do is study through a section of scripture. We are currently working our way through the book of Matthew. This past Sunday we began discussing Matthew chapter 19.

Studying through Matthew 19 means dealing with the dreaded "exception clause." I'm referring to Matthew 19:9 were Jesus says, "And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery." (exception clause emphasized)

The meaning of the exception clause has been argued by Christians for many years. You've likely had the discussion yourself. Although I personally hold to the betrothal view, my point in this post is not to go down that path. Instead, I simply want to talk about the discussion we had.

As we gathered, we had about twenty people in the room. At least one-half have been directly or indirectly involved in and/or impacted by divorce. Therefore, this was not some sort of theoretical talk. It was real.

The body-life context of the discussion was critical. We all know one another well. We have solid, deep relationships. We trust one another. It's not perfect, but we are a family. Therefore, as we began to talk the entire atmosphere was one of grace and love. At the same time, we desired to seek God's truth and avoid falling into some sort of postmodern interpretive pit "just to make everyone happy."

We talked for quite a while about various aspects of marriage, divorce, God's desire for marriage, God's thoughts on divorce, what Moses meant and did not mean, what the exception clause may mean, what Christians should do now who have been divorced, what Christians should do now who have remarried after divorce, and what Christians should do now who are struggling in their marriages.

This passage could have led to one of two negative outcomes. First, we could have simply glossed it over, avoiding it to "keep the peace." Second, we could have argued over it in a nasty way. I'm happy to say that neither happened.

Instead, in the context of church family, we were able to talk about this hard passage in love, grace, and mercy. There was no judgment from any of us. We desired to see the truth and apply it from here forward.

It was beautiful to watch the body in motion. With various people adding to the conversation, different points of view and concerns came to the surface. Each person who spoke added a little bit to what we were all learning. We all gained in Christ from one another.

One example of this comes to mind. After I talked about why I hold to the betrothal view, a good friend of mine cross-referenced to Matthew 1:18-25. This is the passage where Joseph is betrothed to Mary and finds out that she is pregnant. The beauty was that this brother of mine added to the conversation in a way that I didn't. I hadn't even thought of that passage.

We as a group were also able to help some within the family deal with tough questions related to marriage and divorce. Many Christians struggle with their pasts related to this. Within the context of love and acceptance, we were able to ask hard questions and try to help these folks apply these.

I would not want to discuss this passage in any other setting. I was reminded again how we all need each other. We need one another not just for encouragement, but also to help one another determine the meaning of scripture. Our church family context enabled us to delve into this tough passage, dig for truth, dare to apply it, and lovingly encourage one another in the process.

My hope for you is that you have this sort of opportunity to share body life in a way that everyone is built up in Christ.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Many of you know that my work situation has been somewhat difficult since I left the professional pastorate about one year ago. This past March God granted me an assembly position with JCB here in Savannah. This week I received a small promotion at JCB. Instead of working on the Skid-Steer assembly line, I'm now working as an inspector for completed machines. The work is more interesting, carries more responsibility, and pays a little more. As a bonus, I now get to drive the machines a bit. I share this with you not to pat myself on the back. Rather, I want to thank you for your prayers and support during this occupational odyssey. God truly is gracious and merciful.

I'm reminded of what Paul wrote to the Philippians in 4:19, "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen."