Archive for May, 2009

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God’s Faithfulness

May 30, 2009

godWhen God established His covenant with Abram, (later Abraham), to seal His promise He “cut covenant” with Abram. The custom went something like this. An animal was cut in half and each half was placed on either side of a pathway. The two parties making the covenant would then pass together through the bloody half’s of the animal. This covenant carried with it a two fold promise. First, they promised to both walk in accord with the covenant they were making. Second, to break this covenant would mean that the person doing so would suffer the same fate as the animal they were walking between.

But this covenant between Abram and God was different. Everything was in order; the halves of the carcass had been laid out on the edges of the pathway. But God had put Abram to sleep. Gen. 15:12-21. As Abram slept, God walked the path alone.

Here is how the writer of Hebrews describes the scene, “For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” Heb. 6:13, 14.

There would be no chance for human failure no room for weakness or uncertainty. God would see to it that His promise was fulfilled.

In there book “Furious Pursuit” Why God Will Never Let You Go, Tim King and Frank Martin describe what this means to the security of those who follow Christ.

“When God walked between the severed animal pieces, he was saying to us, “This has never been about your faithfulness; it’s about my faithfulness. It’s not about your strength, your ability to remain in covenant with me. It’s about my strength, my ability, my love, my resolve to save you. I pledge to fight for you, to stay in relationship with you, to walk with you no matter what, from now until eternity.”

Because of the sacrifice of Christ we are heirs of this covenant and the faithfulness of God as well. Paul said this about His faithfulness, “Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” II Tim. 2:11f. The only way to break our relationship with Christ is to walk away from it. We can disown Him and He will disown us. But if we are unfaithful, make mistake, struggle, and more…He is faithful.

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Experiencing Scripture

May 29, 2009

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“We sit in the same padded pew, week in and week out, listening to stories about Jesus calming the wind and the waves. The disciples had a totally different experience. They were in the boat on the lake when the skies grew dark and hurricane winds started to blow. They walked beaches, climbed mountains, and trekked across the wilderness with Jesus. Their experience was four-dimensional, while ours is one-dimensional. So when we read the Bible, we tend to focus on theology, overlooking the Meteorology, the psychology, and even the geology that shaped the stories we read.” “Wild Goose Chase” by Mark Batterson.

 When I first began my ministry I spent a lot of time studying proof texts for what I believed. I wanted to be prepared to take on all comers and be able to wow them with my rapid fire quoting of scripture. I love to read those of our fellowship who seem to have all questions answered and knew exactly the right way to present their case for their cause. For a while I missed the real power of Scripture. I missed the experience of Scripture.

 Today my study is very different. I have such a hunger to taste, feel and experience the world in which this powerful book was written.  I want to try to see what they saw and feel what they felt. I know this has it limitations, but there is a wealth of information out there for anyone who wants to add new dimensions to their study.

 Ray Vander Laan has done a wonderful job putting together study helps that bring the scripture alive. There are wonderful videos where he takes you to the places the scripture speaks about and brings them alive. If you are not aware of his site you need to go there and spend some time looking around. It is called “Follow the Rabbi”.

 I am presently teaching the Gospel of John on Wednesday nights. One of the helps I am using in class is the movie, The Gospel of John. This movie is word for word based on the Good News Bible translation of the American Bible Society. The acting is filled with reality and very well done. While obviously not perfect (I didn’t direct it (-:), it is a great help to add another dimension to your teaching. Many in the class have bought their own personal copy. (I bought one for $5.00 at a local Family Christian Book Store.) We are becoming more and more a visual society. People learn more and more quickly when you can allow them to experience the scripture and not just see it as words on paper.

 I still remember my early days growing up in church. The teacher gave us a booklet with a story for each week. We were to read the story and then fill in the blanks at the end. More often than not, I would give the story a quick read on Sunday morning as I was getting dressed and then filled in the blanks as quickly as I could. When class time came I was ready. The teacher then proceeded to ask each question and if discussions arose they were often not about the story at all, but some rabbit someone wanted to chase.

 We live at a great time in history with so much at our disposal. Let me encourage you to take advantage of it. It will truly add new dimensions to your study and understanding of the Scripture.

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PHIL IS NOW A BLOGGER! ABOUT TIME (-:

May 28, 2009

Phil Barnes

Phil Barnes came to Madison to fill the Senior Minister position late in 2004. Madison has been blessed by his teaching and leadership in faith. In the estimation of this shepherd one of Phil’s greatest qualities is his transparency, but that is only one of the qualities that have endured him to the Madison family. Phil has now entered the blogging world. I can assure you that you will be blessed by his writing. His blog is called Madison Church of Christ, were we Worship God – Connect People – Reach the World.

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Your World Is About To Change – You Must See This Video!

May 13, 2009

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