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Photo Credit: powelli via Compfight cc

It’s been a while, but a new episode of the podcast is finally ready.

The subject this week is “The blessedness of the un-offended,” or “How to be hurt without being offended.” It is a brief and engaging look at the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist.

Here are the scriptures referenced in this episode: Continue Reading…

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Photo Credit: royalflusher via Compfight cc

For years I have dreamed of a new New Testament, one that immerses the reader in the first-century story more than any other Study Bible or commentary has yet to do. I’m pleased to see the recent move toward more Chronological study Bibles and “Story” versions of Scripture void of chapter and verse, but I still feel like the best is yet to come.

A few people are moving in this direction. Frank Viola has written his Untold Story of the New Testament Church (I even hear there is a new version in the works). Gene Edwards did some work along similar lines before him. Bill Heroman is working like a dog between deliveries (he’s an amateur historian/truck driver) to delve into first century history, memory chronology, narrative theory, ect. Then of course there is a plethora of scholarly material one can use to piece together various strands of early Christian tradition. But again, I still feel like the best is yet to come.  Continue Reading…

Here is another article from my foray at House2House magazine on the practice of giving among Christians in simple church settings.

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Photo Credit: Lubori via Compfight cc

It goes without saying that the practice of giving is good. “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” the Lord is attributed by Paul as having said (Acts 20:35). Certainly we can all agree on that.

It is tempting, however, once you have discarded the obligatory “ten percent” mindset of institutional Christianity, to “throw out the baby with the bathwater” and forgo all intentional giving. But this tendency is mostly reactionary and is not characteristic of the Spirit of Christ.

Sure, “tithing” (as commonly taught and practiced) is not a New Testament concept. In fact, there is not a shred of evidence that the first century churches practiced a ritual weekly offering of ten percent of their income. Continue Reading…

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Photo Credit: quinn.anya via Compfight cc

You are probably familiar with Jesus’ teaching on the vine. Here is the passage from John’s gospel:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. (John 15:1-6)

Last week, as I was pruning a peach tree in my backyard, this passage came to mind. I always enjoy pruning a tree or shrub, and I find that meditating on Jesus’ words while doing so provides deeper insight into their meaning. Continue Reading…

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Photo Credit: CDReilly via Compfight cc

“Blessed are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God.” — Jesus

It’s been a while since my last podcast, but a new episode is fresh off the press and ready to go.

In this message I explore the two types of people to whom Jesus said the Kingdom of God belongs, and what that means for us today. I also talk about the two ways Scripture says that a person can “see” and “enter” into the Kingdom of God.

This episode is shorter than previous ones. I hope you enjoy it. Continue Reading…

The Day I Met Jesus by Frank Viola & Mary Demuth

The Day I Met Jesus by Frank Viola & Mary Demuth

Frank Viola and Mary DeMuth have co-written a new book called The Day I Met Jesus which tells the tale of five women from the gospels: Mary of Bethany, the Samaritan woman, the woman with an issue of blood, Mary Magdalene, and the adulterous woman.

As you probably surmise from the title, the stories revolve around each woman’s encounter(s) with Jesus Christ. The narratives, while being true to Scripture, are rich with additional historical and cultural detail not included by the Gospel writers. Continue Reading…

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Photo Credit: emotional-stuntman via Compfight cc

It was God, through Amos, who said this to the people of Israel:

I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream! (Amos 5:21-24)

Hundreds of years later, when His Kingdom broke into the earth through Jesus Christ, and then through the Church, this gospel was proclaimed as “good news for the poor” (Luke 4:18). It amazes me to read accounts of the love and generosity of early Christians. Continue Reading…

I’ve been out of town and busy with new responsibilities for the past few weeks, so my blogging and podcast pace has slackened. Instead of recording a new episode this week I’ve dug up an old message I delivered among a small group of friends back in 2009.

The theme of this message is the mystery of Christ and the Church as revealed by Paul in Ephesians and foreshadowed by Adam and Eve in Genesis 1-3. You’ve heard it before, but I hope this will serve as a fresh reminder of the love God has for you in Christ. To lose (and find) yourself in the Bridegroom-Bride relationship with Him never gets old.


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Photo Credit: maxcady808 via Compfight cc

As the order of this age gives way to the Kingdom of God, your allegiance must pass to one side or the other.

Hebrews 12:18-29 is the starting point for this week’s podcast about the peril of divided loyalty. It speaks of the great transition between the old and new covenants that took place following the death and resurrection of Jesus. As a parallel I also talk about the story of Jonathan, son of King Saul, and his relationship to David when the kingship of Israel was passing hands (that story is found in the second half of 1 Samuel). Continue Reading…

 

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Photo Credit: C.Horvath via Compfight cc

When I first began to study the history of the Church outside Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism, I found this quote from Martin Luther:

The right kind of evangelical order cannot be exhibited among all sorts of people, but those who are seriously determined to be Christians and confess the gospel with hand and mouth, must enroll themselves by name and meet apart, in one house, for prayer, for reading, to baptize, to take the Sacrament, and exercise other Christian works. With such order it would be possible for those who did not behave in a Christian manner to be known, reproved, restored, or excluded, according to the rule of Christ. Here also they could, in common, subscribe alms, which would be willingly given and distributed among the poor, according to the example of Paul. Here it would not be necessary to have much or fine singing. Here a short and simple way of baptism and the Sacrament could be practiced, and all would be according to the Word and in love. But I cannot yet order and establish such an assembly, for I have not yet the right people for it. If, however, it should come about that I must do it, and am driven to it, I will willingly do my part. In the meantime, I will call, excite, preach, help forward it, until the Christians take the Word so in earnest that they will themselves find how to do it and continue in it.

Continue Reading…