Do they even make those things anymore?

That is what people said about records, then 8-tracks, then tapes.  Now it is what people are starting to say about CDs.  Just today Atlantic Records reported that digital sales surpassed the sale of CDs.  Quite frankly, when I read this I wasn’t surprised in the least.  I havn’t purchased a CD in quite some time.

Just recently I got a free CD at a concert, and when I got It I realized that I was going to have upload it to my computer and then download it to my ipod.  I was, however, thankful for the CD.  Revive, one of the opening acts for Third Day, made the CD available to all the youth pastors in attendance. It is a good album, and it reminds me of Audio Adrenaline when they used to be good.  Maybe it is just b/c they gave me a free CD, but I really enjoyed the show they put on.  They even have a pretty funny video of their stop here in Brandon that you can watch HERE.  If you watch it all the way to the end you will see a shot of the crowd, and 2/3 of the way back right in the middle of the shot you can see me and my wife.

A Glimpse of Glory

ws-game-1-005-320x200Earlier this year I had the opportunity to attend a World Series game.  This was a childhood dream of mine, and left many lasting impression on my mind.  I wrote out a few of those impressions for an article at BP Sports.

Here is a sampling:

This had been a childhood dream of mine, and in the days leading up to the game I felt like an excited little kid again. Once I arrived at the game I was not disappointed. The atmosphere at the stadium was electric. There were over 40,000 fans united together and focused on one thing – baseball.

You can read the full story HERE.

Mark 2:23ff: The Lord of the Sabbath (pt. 1)

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Introduction:

Throughout Mark chapter 2 Mark has used several conflict stories to teach on important topics.  In 2:1-12 used the conflict over the healing of the paralytic to reveal Jesus’ authority to forgive sins.  In 2:13-17 the conflict between Jesus and the scribes of the Pharisees revealed Jesus’ love for sinners.  Finally, in 2:18-22 the conflict concerning fasting made the priority of Jesus’ new message clear.  Now, as we prepare to look at Mark 2:23-28, we will continue to following Jesus around and we will see another conflict story.  This time the conflict focuses on the subject of religious practice.

Sometimes we don’t think much about our own religious practice, but we all make everyday choices based on what we believe. That is what religious practice is.  It is simply how we live out our theological beliefs in both formal religious activity and everyday life.  The truth of the matter is that most of us really don’t like to be told how to live out these beliefs.  We want to worship the way that we want, with the music that we like, and the kind of preaching that we enjoy.  If we don’t like what the church has to offer in these area we simply pack up and leave.  This kind of thinking is really a reflection of our individualistic culture.  In the areas where we have freedom to work out how we are going to practice our beliefs we often crown our personal preferences as the king.  The classic example of this is that old Baptist church-which probably only exists in sermon illustrations-that split over the color of the carpet.

The problem with this kind of attitude, as we will see in Mark 2:23-28, is that it ignores a very important truth.  It ignores the fact that Jesus, as God, has authority over our religious practices.  In other words, our focus is not to be on our own preferences as we seek to live out the Christian life.  Our focus is always to be centered upon Christ, and the demands that He makes upon our lives.  As Christians we do have a great deal of freedom in many areas of religious practice.  The Bible, unlike many religious books, does not tell us exactly how to live out the details of our lives.  Instead, the Bible provides for us a grid through which we are able to make the proper decisions.  This means that we must not only understand the details of Scripture, but we must also understand how to practically apply those truths in our everyday lives.  It was on this point that the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees arose.  The Pharisees misunderstood what the bible said, and they made their own preferences the final authority for religious practice.  When they confronted Jesus with their wrong thinking Jesus not only properly explained what the bible really said, He also established His own authority over religious practice.

I. The religious practice in question – the Sabbath (v. 23)

The religious practice in question here is the observance of the Sabbath.  Mark makes this very clear from the beginning when the first thing that he says is that the events he is reporting on happened on “one Sabbath.”   This means that sometime between Friday evening and Saturday evening Jesus “was going through the grainfields” with his disciples.  In Matthew’s account we learn that Jesus’ disciple got hungry during this journey.  Since they couldn’t stop at a McDonald’s, they began to pluck heads of grain to eat.  Luke describes this process in a little more detail in Luke 6:1.  In order to get to the edible part of the wheat they had to rub off the chaff with their hands.  Because the chaff was lighter than the grain they could then blow the chaff out of their hand and eat what was left.

This may seem pretty strange to us; you might even think that what Jesus’ disciples were doing was stealing.  However, this was a very normal practice and it was totally legal in ancient Israel.  Deuteronomy 23:25 explains what the law said about this practice:

If you go into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the ears with your hand, but you shall not put a sickle to your neighbor’s standing grain.

This law was intended to be a help to travels who had run out of food, and individuals struggling to provide for themselves.  A great example of this kind of practice is the way that Boaz provided for Ruth and Naomi in Ruth 2.

Clearly, what the disciples were doing was perfectly legal.  But was it legal for them to do this on the Sabbath?  Since the creation of the world God has intended for man to set aside specific time for rest and spiritual rejuvenation (Genesis 2:3).  Additionally, when God formed the nation of Israel He formalized this period of rest by giving the people a law.  In Exodus 20:9-10 it says,

Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.

This period of rest was now the Sabbath, which literally means to “cease” or “stop.”  During this period of Sabbath the people were commanded to rest from the normal activity and focus on God.  However, as France notes:

While the principle of sabbath observance was agreed upon by all Jews, problems arose over what this meant in practice. The OT offered the positive principles that the day was to be holy (with special prescribed sacrifices), and that it was to be a time of rest, together with the negative corollary that no work should be done on it. It was on this negative aspect that debate centred. What was ‘work’? While the OT contains several illustrations of sabbath prohibitions (Ex. 16:22-30; 34:21; 35:2-3; Nu. 15:32-36; Ne. 10:31; 13:15-22; Je. 17:21-22), these did not add up to a comprehensive definition of ‘work’, and the need for a fuller definition was soon felt….”[1]

In other words, everyone believed in the same Sabbath but not everyone agreed on how that Sabbath was to be observed.  This is where the conflict arises in this passage and this is where we will resume our study of Mark next week.


[1] R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark : A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, Mich.; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2002), 143.

An Interesting Weekend

pulpit1923The Lord had a much different plan for my weekend than I did.  My plan was to work on a 30 pg paper that I need to have done by the end of the semester, but through a series of events that didn’t happen.  Instead, I ended up going to a Third Day concert (I will post on the concert later this week), and preaching on Sunday morning.  The former was not a surprise, but the latter was.

Let’s put it this way, when your Sr. Pastor calls you on Saturday and starts the conversation by telling you that you need to be ready “in season and out of season” you know that you are in trouble.   That’s where I was on Sat.  Our Sr. Pastor had to have a tooth pulled, and so I got the call up to the big leagues.

All kidding aside, it was a great privelege to be able to fill the pulpit this Sunday.  I was honored that Chris called op me to fill in for him.  I don’t get to do it all that often, and it was nice to be able to serve the church by filling in.  Everyone was very gracious, but I am also sure that they are looking forward to having Chris back next Sunday.

If you interested here is the sermon:

You can download it HERE.

The Answer is No One…

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…the question is πρὸς ταῦτα τίς ἱκανός; Or, in English, “Who is sufficient for these things?”  This was Paul’s question in 2 Corinthians 2:16 as he contemplated our part in God’s plan of redemption. After church plants, missionary work, persecution, prolific writing, and countless other accomplishments this was still Paul’s attitude.  He was amazed that God was using him in the great plan of Salvation.

Last night I had the opportunity to hear from a missionary who referenced this verse, and it reminded me of some important things.

First, any gifts or capabilities that I have come from the Lord.  He has given them to me so that I can bring him more glory.  I do not deserve credit (glory) for those gifts; GOD DOES!  This means that I must work hard to use those gifts for His glory by developing my gifts, using my gifts, and always giving God the credit for my gifts.

Second, any ministry involvement that I have is from the Lord.  He has allowed me to participate in His Church in various ways.  This means that I am nothing more than His servant (and I don’t’ deserve to be that).  I don’t have the right to manipulate people or circumstances to accomplish my goals in ministry.  To use the words of one of my professors, “I must do God’s business God’s way.”

Third, I need to remind myself of these things a lot more than I am right now.  Most of the time I do not have the same mentality that Paul did in 2 Cor 2:16. For me the answer to the question is usually not “no one,” but rather “I am.”

May God change my heart (and maybe your’s) so that I (we) can see things from His perspective.

New Look

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As you can see, Today I decided to go with a new look for the blog.  This may be temporary (I am going to see if I can fix some issues that I had with the last “look”), but this new look may grow on me.  For now this is a functional, clean, and useful template.  As always, I am interested in your feedback.  Like it, hate it, don’t care…

…leave a comment, or e-mail me and let me know.