Swine flu even affects those we love and hold dear.
Swine flu even affects those we love and hold dear.
Psalm 136:1-4, 23-26 (New Living Translation)
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. 2 Give thanks to the God of gods. His faithful love endures forever. 3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His faithful love endures forever. 4 Give thanks to him who alone does mighty miracles. His faithful love endures forever.
23 He remembered us in our weakness. His faithful love endures forever. 24 He saved us from our enemies. His faithful love endures forever. 25 He gives food to every living thing. His faithful love endures forever. 26 Give thanks to the God of heaven. His faithful love endures forever.
I don’t think I will be proposing this idea any time soon for my church in Ballard.
Something tells me it wouldn’t be well received. That and the fact that I’m not ready to lead by example on this one.
“We live by faith or we do not live at all. Either we venture or we vegetate. We risk or we rust.”
quoted in Moses: A man of selfless dedication, by Charles R. Swindoll
I recently read Bruce Wilkinson’s latest book, You were born for this: 7 keys to a life of predictable miracles. Quite frankly, I was disappointed. Based on all the glowing reviews on the Amazon page, it appears I’m also in the minority. Which doesn’t make me feel any better, especially since I have benefited greatly from Bruce’s ministry and consider him to be one of my mentors. Despite that, I did not care for the book.
On the one hand, I found parts of the book to be very practical and helpful. On the other hand, I had the feeling as I was reading that the book was slightly off of center.
My reservations started on page 26 where Bruce misquoted the Great Commission. He summarizes Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:4-8 as, “Go into all the world for Me . . . and do the impossible.” After giving his disciples that instruction, Jesus then told them to go back to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit to come as he would bring power. When that occurs, miracles started happening.
Bruce then states his thesis on page 28.
Let me pull the threads together.
Jesus commissioned every one of His followers–from the original disciples down to you and me–to do for others what we cannot do alone. It is too much for us. But Heaven has released God’s dynamis to work in us and through us. Whatever our human limitations, when we know how to partner with Heaven, we will see that we were born to accomplish by supernatural means what God wants done.
Now, I always thought, and heard Bruce teach directly, that the Great Commission teaches that we are to be witnesses and share the message of the gospel. Granted, it is an impossible task and we need the power of God to accomplish it. But the focus is on sharing the message, not performing miracles.
I think Bruce has built his system of thought on a misquoted verse. From there on, I felt the book was slightly off of center. If the space shuttle is one degree off its course from the launch platform, it will miss the space station and hurtle into the distant beyond. I think this book has done the same.
In addition to a shaky foundation, I think the book is based too much on personal experience and not enough on Scripture. His stories are encouraging and inspirational, but you cannot build a doctrine on a person’s experience.
Some of the book talks about what a normal Christian life should involve–a ministry of service to others. But he has used too many “cutesy” terms and made it far too formulaic for my tastes. It came across as too much pop culture and not enough biblical principles.
The parts of the book I found helpful were parts 3 & 4 where he explains the practical steps of how to “deliver a miracle.” This section reminded me of Henry Blackaby’s study, Experiencing God. Blackaby’s main idea is to find out where God is at work and then join him there. Bruce’s principles could be adapted to help a person identify where God is at work and how to join him in what he wants accomplished.
While I was reading, I was reminded of a saying by one of my mentors that the difference a word and the right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug. The same can be said of books.
I neither bought the book nor received it for free from the publisher. Instead, I got it the old-fashioned way by checking it out from my local public library. Be that as it may, the opinions I shared are strictly my own.
Yesterday at United Evangelical Free Church in Seattle, we held a funeral. Rather than merely preach on the death of Moses in Deuteronomy 34, we held a memorial service in his honor. Here are some pictures from the event.
One of the members of the church took some videos of the parts of the service. Click on the links below to watch.
According to Deuteronomy 34:1-5, the last thing Moses did on earth was climb a mountain.
1 Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, 2 all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, 3 the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the Valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. 4 And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” 5 So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, (ESV)
The summit of Mt. Pisgah reaches a height of 4,500 feet above the Dead Sea. That’s almost a mile. Not too many 120 year old men can climb a mountain almost a mile high and live to tell the story. I’m not even half Moses’ age, and I was huffing and puffing trying to negotiate a step ladder today.
Yet here was Moses, 120 years old, scaling the heights. I don’t know for sure, but perhaps climbing Mt. Pisgah was part of Moses’ bucket list.
What I do know is that verse one is a fitting metaphor for Moses’ life. He wasn’t satisfied with status quo. He wanted to change things for the better. He wasn’t content with his people being slaves in Egypt. He wanted to deliver them from bondage and bring them back to the Promised Land. It took longer than he wanted, but in God’s time, Moses accomplished that goal.
Moses wasn’t satisfied with having a nice, average Bible study and prayer time each day. He wasn’t content with spending seven minutes with God. He wanted more of God. He begged God, “Show me your glory.” Moses wanted a better, deeper, stronger relationship with God. He wouldn’t settle for just OK.
Moses wanted that same depth of relationship for his people. He was frustrated when they refused to believe God’s promises and when they quickly went back to idol worship.
It’s fitting that his last act was to climb a mountain. Moses died the way he lived, climbing ever higher.
That’s the kind of model I want to pattern my life after. That’s the kind of man I’d like to be.
“Instead of planning a typical worship service, what if we ‘staged’ a funeral? I wonder if we could borrow or rent a casket and have it on stage? No way! Those ideas are absurd. What would people think? I’d never get away with it. I could never do that!”
Ever have an argument with yourself? Ever witness a debate between the creative side of your brain and the logical side? Which side wins? Ever talk yourself out of a risky venture because you were afraid of the perceptions and opinions of others?
For the past several weeks, I have been preaching on The life of Moses. This Sunday November 15, I was scheduled to preach on the death of Moses in Deuteronomy 34. As I delved into the passage, I wondered how to teach the passage so that people would remember the message long enough for it to impact their lives.
I recently read the book, Made to stick: Why some ideas survive and others die, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. The authors state that “sticky” ideas have six common characteristics: They are Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, and use Storytelling. At the same time, I started reading The power of multi-sensory preaching and teaching: Increase attention, comprehension, and retention, by Rick Blackwood. Blackwood’s premise is that the more of an audience’s senses you can touch, the more memorable and effective your sermons will be.
As I studied Deuteronomy 34, I thought, “A casket would be a powerful visual aid. It would certainly be unexpected. Staging a funeral for Moses would tug at people’s emotions. Maybe we could write some ‘remember when’ stories like at a regular funeral. That would employ storytelling as well as make it more interactive. By structuring the entire service around the topic, it would be simple and concrete. This could be a powerful, moving experience.”
I was almost convinced to do it . . . until my inhibitions started screaming, “What will people think? You can’t change the order of worship. That’s, like, sacrilegious!”
I was almost convinced not to do it . . . until I realized that if didn’t plan a creative service, I would know that I chickened out and gave in to fear. I needed to slay that giant.
Fortunately, as I shared my idea with others in the church and enlisted their help in pulling it off, they all thought it was a great idea. Or, as one person expressed it, “That is ridiculously cool. I can hardly wait.”
Hopefully, this will be more than JUST a creative exercise. Hopefully, it will be a service that captures people’s attention and speaks truth to their hearts. My prayer is that the death of Moses will challenge us how to live today.