Archive for category Jesus

EFC Nursery Christmas Video

Here is a short message from the EFC nursery kiddos, including The Libster who is holding the “Savior” sign.

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The Feasts of the Lord Redux

I recently taught a discipleship training class at our church entitled The Feasts of the Lord: Jesus Fulfills the Feasts. It was a three week (1x wk.) course.

I know I was blessed by and learned more from the study, preparation and teaching than anyone listening. Even so, I have an opportunity for an encore at the Sweetwater Aglow November meeting. It will be November 13, 10am-3pm at the Holiday Inn Express in Sweetwater. Lunch will be provided free of charge, and everyone is invited to attend. I hope to see you there.

One of these days, I will get around to posting about this.

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Giving Away Tickets to Seventh Day Slumber Concert

I’m giving away two tickets to the Take Everything Tour, which includes Seventh Day Slumber, The Letter Black and KJ52.

The concert is October 17, 2010 @ 7pm in Sweetwater, Texas at the Sweetwater High School Auditorium. It is probably the biggest concert in recent memory in Sweetwater.

Tickets are $5 in advance or $10 at the door, or, if you’re lucky, you can win them by clicking “Like” on my campaign facebook page, “Share” the link, and let me know you did so in the comment section on the campaign facebook page.

Anyone is eligible, but if you’re not going to be in the Sweetwater, TX area on that date, pass this info along to someone who might be.

You can also purchase tickets through Emmanuel Fellowship Church.

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The Feasts of the Lord

This is one I have been looking forward to for a while, but now that it’s here, I’m a little nervous.

For the next three (3) Sunday nights I will be teaching a series at our church entitled The Feasts of the Lord: Jesus Fulfills the Feasts. It’s a topic that is absolutely fascinating, and I hope I am able to do it a little justice.

I believe the series will be recorded, and, if so, I will try to post the audio here. At the very least, I will try to post summaries each week.

I hope it goes well. Pray for me.

And if any of you happen to be in the Sweetwater, TX area any of the next three (3) Sundays, feel free to drop in.

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Dissecting the James Dilemma-Part 1

I have spent enough time both in and out of the flock to know which Bible verses give believers fits, and James 2:14-26 probably tops the list:

14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:14-26 (KJV)

I must confess, I’m not entirely sure I’ve heard a truly satisfactory reconciliation of this passage in James and Paul, specifically,  “Therefore we conclude that man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:28. I think the reason is because there is an attempted reconciliation where none is necessary.

Explanations usually begin with an acknowledgment of an apparent contradiction then employ circularity to explain why the two are not contradictory (e.g. the Bible cannot contradict itself, therefore there is no contradiction). Other explanations suggest James really means something other than what he is saying. These are equally problematic.

Part of the problem, in my opinion, is that all such explanations are necessarily aimed at an opposing logical fallacy, the straw man that the two are contradictory.

Paul clearly maintains that one is justified by faith, regardless of works. James clearly maintains that one is justified by faith and works. The assertion that these positions contradict each other is only valid if justification is a one-time event, and only a one-time event. If justification is both an event and a process, there is no contradiction.

Was Abraham justified by faith apart from works? Yes. Was Abraham also justified by his subsequent works? Yes.

To say that “faith without works is dead” means “faith alone is insufficient for justification” is simply a misunderstanding of the faith/works relationship. In James 2:22 he writes, “and by works was faith made perfect.” What came first? Faith, by which Abraham was initially made righteous. Then, works which worked to perfect that faith. Thus, Abraham was made righteous by his faith and continued to be made righteous by the perfection of his faith through works.

In Part 2, I will discuss the nature of works and whether any ol’ good works will do.

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Rethinking the Sermon on the Mount

Jesus’ first sermon, The Sermon on the Mount, is probably the most famous sermon in history. We are all familiar with the first few lines:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. Matthew 5 (NASB)

Toward the end of the sermon, Jesus says:

1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.
2 “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
4 “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?
5 “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Matthew 7 (NASB)

Do the consequences sound familiar? Jesus also uses similar language in his last recorded teaching:

20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near.
21 “Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city;
22 because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled.
23 “Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people;
24 and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Luke 21 (NASB), and compare Matthew 24.

I have heard countless sermons on the various portions of the Sermon on the Mount. In fact,  I heard another brilliant one yesterday (I will link to it when it becomes active). And I was stirred to reread the entire Sermon on the Mount.

What struck me was something I had never seen before. The opening of Jesus’ ministry is a prophetic plea. Jesus is imploring his Jewish brethren to “get it,” and warning them of the consequences of not “getting it”: being trampled.

The Sermon on the Mount is indeed full of spiritual truths, sound advice for living, and a whole host of really cool things. It is also much, much more.

When I teach my public speaking class, one of the things I try and instill is that the audience needs to hear what’s being said three times: (1) tell them what you’re going to tell them, (2) tell them, and (3) tell them what you told them. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus begins His public ministry by telling his audience what He’s going to tell them. Then he spends three years telling them. Finally, He is forced to conclude with a heart-breaking “I told them so.”

This is hardly a completed project, more of an infant idea. I just wanted to write it down for future reference (and if I had written it on paper or in a journal, I don’t know if I would ever find it).

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Complete Prayer System

Our pastor is away at a pastor’s conference, and he asked me to write his Monday Morning Review (his weekly blog) this week. I consider it an honor and a privilege when I’m permitted to do so.

In the past, I’ve taken a few liberties, but I’ve always been invited for a return engagement. This one, however, may get me fired from my substitute blogger job: Pastor Eric’s Complete Prayer System.

I may have had a little too much fun at his (and other pastors who employ acronyms as sermon tools) expense.

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