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May 6, 2012

From the Pastor,

In 2 Samuel 10, the passage we’ll be covering this morning, we’ll see some ambassadors treated terribly. It reminded me of Operation Auca, when some other “ambassadors” were treated terribly. Five Christian missionaries from the United States wanted to “show kindness” to the Waodoni people of the rainforest of Ecuador by bringing them the Gospel.

The Waodani, also known by the pejorative Aucas (a modification of awqa, the word for “enemies”), were an isolated tribe known for their violence, against both their own people and outsiders who entered their territory. Up to 60% of all Waodani died from being murdered by another member of their tribe, making them one of the most violent cultures ever documented.

With the intention of being the first Christians to evangelize the previously uncontacted Waodoni, the missionaries began dropping gifts while flying over their settlements in September 1955. After several months of exchanging gifts, on January 3, 1956, the missionaries established a camp at a sandbar along the Curaray River a few kilometers from their settlements.

The missionaries’ efforts came to an end on January 8, 1956, when all five of them (Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian) were murdered by a group of Waodani warriors. The news of their deaths was broadcast around the world and Life magazine covered the event with a photo essay.

In 2002, the documentary Beyond the Gates of Splendor was released and in 2006 a theatrical movie, End of the Spear, was released based on the story of the pilot, Nate Saint, and the return trip of Nate’s son Steve to reach the Waodani. I’ve seen and would recommend both movies, but found the documentary to be the best of the two. Steve ends up befriending the man who murdered his father, and brings him to the United States with him.

The entire tragedy stemmed from a misunderstanding within the Waodani tribe, which is exactly what we’re going to be reading about today with the Ammonites. When the same misunderstandings take place in the church there are “casualties” of a different sort.

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Apr 29, 2012

From the Pastor,

This past week, from Thursday to Saturday, we attended the Christian Heritage Family Discipleship and Homeschooling Conference. From beginning to end, with the exception of one seminar, we found the event to be really wonderful. With so many great speakers it’s hard to narrow down what I’d like to share to this bulletin letter. Still, the class I found to be the most interesting was called Rough and Rugged: The Quintessential Man. How could you be a guy and not want to listen to a class with that title? I think just attending allowed me to gain a few pounds of muscle. Below are three of the points I found to be the most interesting:

  1. Our world is pushing for androgyny between the genders (basically this means no distinctions between men and women/husbands and wives). We see this most strongly in the acceptance of homosexual marriage. If you’ve been attending our Sunday School class on marriage, you know God created men and women completely equal, but with vastly different roles.
  2. According to the Mosaic Law, in Israel’s day there were no professional sheriffs, deputies, policemen, etc. As a result the apprehension of criminals rested on the shoulders of the average man. In our world, the responsibility to flip the switch leading to capital punishment rests on the shoulders of one individual. Sure a number of men might have made decisions up to that point, but ultimately it fell to one man to perform the final action. With God’s Law all men were held responsible for the execution of wicked men.
  3. While most of you might know that in the Old Testament young men were counted for military service at age twenty (this is why many Christians consider twenty to be the age boys should be considered men), I’d never heard anyone stress how much that would impact fathers in the training of their sons. While most of our children aren’t being prepared for a physical battle, we’re definitely raising our children for battle, but of the spiritual sort. When they leave our homes, they’re entering a battle where their eternal destinies are at stake. So us fathers need to make sure we’re preparing our sons for battle!
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Apr 22, 2012

From the Pastor,

We didn’t look at the end of chapter 8 last week (verses 15-18), listing the officials under David’s rule. 15 So David reigned over all Israel; and David administered judgment and justice to all his people. 16 Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder (he kept the state records); 17 Zadok the son of Ahitub and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar were the priests; Seraiah was the scribe (David’s secretary); 18 Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over both the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David’s sons were chief ministers.

I think there’s at least one important lesson we can take away from these verses. If you remember the entire chapter had been about David’s victories, and it’s not coincidental that the end of the chapter lists those serving with David. Much of his success came from the great men around him. David was so successful because he wisely used other men in his life. Proverbs is a book filled with practical wisdom for life and one of its most common themes is men shouldn’t be one-man shows:

  • Pro 11:14 Where there is no counsel, the people fall;
    But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.
  • Pro 15:22 Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established.
  • Pro 24:6 For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, And in a multitude of counselors there is safety.

There’s an almost identical list for David’s son Solomon, but we never saw any such list for Saul. The reason is probably that Saul viewed everyone as a threat. When he saw great leaders instead of wanting to use them, he became afraid of them. We saw that most clearly in his dealings with David.

Part of David’s success came from his ability to work with, train, empower and maintain such a team. Real leaders like David don’t see other leaders as a threat. They see them as valuable assets that should be used for God. As a church we want to be looking for the way God has gifted people and try to put them in places to use those gifts.

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Apr 15, 2012

From the Pastor,

Verse 2 of today’s passage reads, “Then [David] defeated Moab. Forcing them down to the ground, he measured them off with a line. With two lines he measured off those to be put to death, and with one full line those to be kept alive. So the Moabites became David’s servants, and brought tribute.

I definitely spent more time studying this verse than any other portion of the passage. There are numerous views on what exactly this is saying:

  1. Some scholars believe David randomly killed 2 out of every 3 people to weaken the Moabites and prevent them from being a threat in the future. Even among scholars taking this view, they disagree about whether David was executing:
    1. Everyone
    2. Only males
    3. Only male soldiers
  2. Others believe David was only executing adults in that those whose heights were approximately a line were children and they were spared, and those whose heights were approximately two lines (adults) were not spared.
  3. The third view is that it’s not talking about executing people at all, but about destroying the cities of the Moabites. For example Adam Clarke says, “Death seems here to be referring to the cities by way of metaphor; and, from this view of the subject we may conclude that two-thirds of the cities, that is the strong places of Moab, were erased; and not having strong places to trust to, the text adds, ‘So the Moabites became David’s servants, and brought tribute.’ The word line may mean the same here as our rod, i.e., the instrument by which land is measured.” So strong cities were destroyed and weaker cities were spared.

This is what I like to call a nonessential area of Scripture. Whatever you think about this verse isn’t that big of a deal. Now you might be wondering what I believe, and as your pastor I do feel obligated to let you know! Personally, I believe that if you look closely at the…Grrr…I’m out of room. Sorry!

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Mar 4, 2012

From the Pastor,

Have you ever wondered why Jesus healed people, but told them not to tell anyone? The end of Mark 1 shows this happening and also provides part of the answer: “43 And He strictly warned him (the man Jesus just healed of leprosy) and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

45 However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction.

Jesus wanted to be able to teach people about the Kingdom, which required being able to move freely from town-to-town, but being flocked by multitudes prevented Him from doing so; instead He was forced out to deserted places.

Secondly, Jesus wanted to help people spiritually more than He wanted to help them physically. If Jesus healed people, and the news spread, people would be coming to Him for physical reasons instead of spiritual ones. Think about John 6. After Jesus fed the 5,000, thousands followed Him, but it wasn’t to hear Him teach. It was because they were hungry again…and I don’t mean hungry spiritually. After Jesus tried to talk to them spiritually and tell them He was the true bread/manna/food from heaven they should be hungering for, they walked off in frustration.

This is why we see a sort of reluctance in Jesus at times to perform miracles, like for example when Mary wanted Him to turn water into wine.

So this begs the question: why did Jesus still perform miracles if He knew they’d make His ministry more difficult? One reason is the miracles testified of His Messiahship, but the other reason is contained in Mark 1:41: He was “moved with compassion.” Matthew 9:35 and 36 say Jesus went through all the towns and villages and when He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them. Jesus wants to meet our spiritual needs, but He still feels compassion for our physical needs.

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Embarrassing coffee ignorance

Embarrassing coffee ignorance

Recently my coffee ignorance led to a pretty embarrassing situation. On Tuesday Katie and I found ourselves in Tacoma for the day. We had the afternoon off before meeting Katie’s high school best friend and her husband for dinner. While waiting we decided to look for a coffee shop that would allow us to spend time together. One of the requirements: free refills on coffee. I found a place gave them a call. Let’s jump to the interesting part of the conversation:

  • Me: Yes, do you guys have free refills?
  • Coffee shop: Yes on drip coffee.
  • Me (wondering if “drip coffee” is different than…I don’t know…regular coffee): What’s drip coffee?
  • Coffee shop: (pauses and then in obnoxious, arrogant, annoying, high-pitched, squeaky voice): Uhhhh coffee you make by dripping. It’s coffee that drips. The way you make coffee by dripping it. The coffee drips into a pot. Drip coffee. Coffee that’s made by a drip system. Coffee that’s made by dripping coffee into a pot. Hence “DRIP” coffee.
  • Me (feeling stupid): Oh…okay…sorry…I didn’t know if it was different than regular coffee.
  • Coffee shop: Dial tone.

It gets worse. We get to the coffee shop and Katie goes to order. She overhears the guy behind the counter telling another employee:

“You’re not going to believe what happened. Some guy called and I told him we had free refills on drip coffee, and he was like, ‘What’s drip coffee?’”

Then they both laughed hysterically.

What happened when I met the guy familiar with my coffee ignorance?

Katie came back with a huge smile on her face and said, “You’re not going to believe what just happened.” She tells me, so I walk up to the counter, grab the skinny-little man by his long sideburns, pull him over the counter close to my face and say, “Tell me the story about the guy who asked about drip coffee!”

Actually, that’s not true. My flesh wanted to do that, and it’s more exciting than what actually happened. Katie later went up to the counter and told the little man she was the wife of the “drip coffee” guy. He said, “Well, you should tell your husband not to waste people’s time with such silly questions.”

Katie came back and told me what he said, and by that point I had had enough. I walked up to the counter. He saw me coming, and he knew I was mad, so he quickly threw a pot of hot “drip coffee” at me. My cat-like reflexes allowed me to move just in time for the pot to shatter against the wall. The other employees and people in the café ran over to see what was happening. It was about to look like West Side Story…actually, this isn’t true either.

Katie told the guy she was my wife. He stared at her life, “Uhh…I’m going to lose my job.” He brought our coffee over to us, and I tried to start a conversation with him by joking with him about him being friendly. He didn’t really say anything and walked off. See, the other versions are more exciting!

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English phrases from Scripture

English phrases from Scripture

There are a number of English phrases from Scripture that we use regularly. Most people don’t even know these phrases come from the Bible! Here are a few:

  • “A drop in the bucket” comes from Isaiah 40:15—“Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket…”
  • “At their wits’ end” comes from Psalm 107:27—“They reel to and fro… And are at their wits’ end.”
  • “The blind leading the blind” comes from Matthew 15:14—“they are blind leaders of the blind…”
  • “Seeing the handwriting on the wall” comes from Daniel 5 when Belshazzar saw the hand write on the wall.
  • “Nimrod” means, “idiot, jerk.” This insulting title comes from the evil man in Genesis 10.
  • “Jezebel” means, “an impudent, shameless, or morally unrestrained woman.” Nobody gives their daughter this name, because Jezebel was the evil wife of Ahab.

Of the phrases from Scripture my favorite is…

We talk about people “cutting corners.” This means doing something in the easiest, quickest, cheapest way possible. Often this affects the quality of the finished product.

David cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. If David killed Saul it would have been “cutting a corner” that greatly affected the king David could have been. Trials have a refining work in our lives and David had the opportunity to remove a terrible trial from his life. That trial was Saul, but removing Saul would’ve been removing the work God wanted to do through Saul. This would’ve greatly hindered David’s refinement.

Discuss: Can you thin of any other English phrases from Scripture?

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Presbyterian Church (USA) embraces homosexuality and rejects Scripture

Presbyterian Church (USA) embraces homosexuality and rejects Scripture

There are two primary institutions God created to provide the world with stability—the church and the family/marriage. We shouldn’t be surprised when the world rejects God’s standards for these institution. But we should be surprised when churches, or worse denominations, do. This is exactly what the Presbyterian Church (USA) has done. They changed their ordination standards removing the constitutional requirement that all church leaders (pastors, elders, deacons, etc) live in “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness” (G-6.0106b in the church’s Book of Order). This plainly means:

  1. Sexual activity outside of marriage is acceptable
  2. Homosexuals may occupy positions of church leadership within the denomination

Presbyterian Church (USA) has abandoned God’s Word

An article from the denomination’s website, entitled, Presbyterian Church (USA) Relaxes Constitutional Prohibition of Gay and Lesbian Ordination reads:

A majority of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s 173 presbyteries have ratified an amendment to the church’s constitution that removes a provision flatly prohibiting the ordination of sexually active unmarried Presbyterians as church officers.

A similar article on the denomination’s website says:

The effect of the new language also opens up the possibility that persons in same-gender relationships can be considered for ordination.

General Assembly Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons said:

Clearly what has changed is that persons in a same-gender relationship can be considered for ordination. The gist of our ordination standards is that officers submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and ordaining bodies have the responsibility to examine each candidate individually to ensure that all candidates do so with no blanket judgments.

The denomination describes this change as a way to “have more flexibility in determining individual candidates’ fitness for ordained office in the denomination.” God’s Word is clear on the qualifications or “fitness” of church leaders. Church leaders should maintain the highest levels of morality and biblical conduct. Not only do these changes conflict with God’s standards for church leaders they conflict with God’s standards for believers in general.

In 1 Corinthians 5:1-2, Paul expressed his amazement that a man could attend church with sexual sin in his life. This man wasn’t even a leader in the church. Interestingly, Paul’s rebuke wasn’t even for the man in sin. His rebuke was for those in the church where the sin was taking place. Their allowance brought them under the same condemnation (Romans 1:32). I can’t imagine what the letter would say that Paul would write to the people in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

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Harold Camping’s False Prophecies

Harold Camping's False Prophecies

Harold Camping, the 90 year-old president of Family Radio, a non-commercial, 24-hour, listener supported, Christian broadcasting network predicted the rapture would take place yesterday on May 21, 2011.[1] If you’re reading this, then there are only two possibilities:

  1. You are not part of the approximately 200 million people (3% of the world’s population) who were raptured yesterday according to Mr. Camping’s prediction.[2]
  2. Mr. Camping was wrong.

He also predicted the end of the world will take place five months later on October 21, 2011.[3] He made a similar prediction in 1994.[4]

Now, I’m as excited about going to camp tomorrow as the next person, but if I had the choice between camp or the rapture I would choose the rapture. Those of you not going to camp with us are going to be Left Behind (get it? :)). Hahaha…anyway…even though I’m making light of this situation, for many this is anything but comical. People’s lives are ruined and Christianity is made to look like a joke to the rest of the world when the words of our Savior are neglected: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Mat 24:36). We should all be praying for those affected by this man’s false prophecy.

[1] “May 21, 2011: Judgment Day believers descend on Joburg”. The Daily Maverick. Retrieved 2010-11-29.

[2] “Judgment Day”. Retrieved 2010-11-29. Update: 5/27/16 the message has been removed.

[3] “May 21, 2011 – Judgment Day!; October 21, 2011 – The End of the World”. 1988-05-21. Retrieved 2010-11-29.

[4] Nelson, Chris (18 June 2002). “A Brief History of the Apocalypse; 1971 – 1997: Millennial Madness”. Retrieved 23 June 2007.

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Should we rejoice over Osama Bin Laden being killed?

Should we rejoice over Osama Bin Laden being killed?

Earlier this week Osama Bin Laden had been killed. Considering the wickedness he’d orchestrated in his lifetime, it’s not hard to see why strong emotions were evoked from so many people. An interesting question I saw discussed frequently on Facebook related to how Christians should feel about this man’s passing; in particular, should they rejoice over it? Let’s see what the Word says:

  • Mat 5:44 Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (also Luke 6:27, 28)
  • Pro 24:17, 18 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him.
  • Ezek 33:11 “As I live” says the Lord GOD, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” (also 18:23, 32)

If God doesn’t rejoice over the death of the wicked, and we’re to be like God, then how can we rejoice over Osama Bin Laden being killed?

In Rev 18:20 an angel exhorts Christians to rejoice over the destruction of evil Babylon. This almost looks like Christians are being encouraged to rejoice over the deaths of the wicked, but John MacArthur says they’re “to rejoice not over the deaths of those doomed to eternal hell, but because God’s righteousness and justice will have prevailed.”

The horrors and torments of hell are so unimaginable we shouldn’t even rejoice over our greatest enemy experiencing it. To be like God is to not take pleasure or joy from the suffering of others, even those we feel deserve it. We can rejoice over the manifestation of God’s justice and judgment though, and in seeing His righteousness prevail; for my part I am thankful to have seen those revealed from the Lord this week.