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Showing posts from April, 2010

Has Noah's ark been found?

At last, the article I've been waiting all week to read. Life and Land blog responds to this week's reports that Noah's Ark has been discovered on Mount Ararat. Once again, Bill Crouse and Gordon Franz offer a good dose of common sense and caution.

Their conclusion: "At this point we are skeptical of the claims but would rejoice in the end if they proved to be true...For the person in the pew, we caution you to not get too excited about something that is at best, unsubstantiated; and at worst, a fraud perpetrated by the Kurdish guide."

Related posts:
Tabloid archaeology

Free album from Page CXVI

This week, you can download for free the entire Hymns I album by the band Page CXVI ('one-sixteen'). Songs include:
Come Thou FountIn Christ AloneMy Jesus I Love TheeWhen I Survey The Wonderful CrossNothing But the BloodSolid RockJoy
Their brand new Hymns II album is also on sale now through their website. The first album was good, but I think I like the second album even better. "How Great Thou Art" has long been one of my favorite songs, and their arrangement beautifully complements the lyrics. Other songs on the second album include:
Praise to the LordJesus I Am Resting, RestingRock of AgesAbide With MeBattle Hymn of the RepublicDoxology
We're very privileged to have this band playing at our Spring Concert in just a couple weeks, on May 14! If you're in the Yucca Valley or Palm Springs area, we invite you to join us for a great night of music and worship.

Stunning eruption photos

Check out these photos of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption against a backdrop of the Northern Lights. Breathtaking. What an amazing world God has created.

The riches of God's grace

After a wonderful time of music and testimony last Sunday morning by Robert Barley, our church continued our study in the book of 1 Corinthians. In chapter 1:4-9, Paul continues his greeting to the church with a prayer of thanksgiving.
This may seem odd for a church with so many problems, yet Paul sees great reason to give praise to God.

Not one to dish out cheap compliments, Paul is genuinely thankful for this church. Why? Because in spite of their many faults, God's grace is shining through them. His grace manifested itself in three ways:
Past Grace (1 Cor. 1:4, 6). Paul's testimony of the death and resurrection of Jesus were confirmed by the impact and change that occurred in their lives. We have been privileged to see this recently in the life of some of our church attenders as well.Present Grace (1 Cor. 1:5, 7). At the very moment of salvation, they were endowed and enriched with spiritual gifts. But sometimes those strengths can turn into weaknesses. The church had a ten…

Sermon prep in Logos 4

Marty McCullah just brought this great post to my attention. It gives a one-hour video tutorial on how to use Logos Bible Software in your Bible Study or sermon prep. Very helpful!

Page CXVI new hymn album

Here's an exciting update from the Page CXVI band. (We'll be hosting them at our Spring Concert on May 14, 2010. Hope you can join us!)
We are 1 week away from the release of the new Hymns Album!

This will be the 1st of 4 new Page CXVI hymn albums released over the next 2 years. We are already well into the recording process for the rest of the albums and can’t wait to spread the hymns to churches around the world.

You will be able to purchase the new album on April 27th and pre-order physical copies that will be sent out May 4th. Wholesale orders for your churches bookstore will also be available at a discounted rate through the website as well. All downloads will include the official chord charts with correct CCLI numbers for each song.

If you have friends who have not heard of Page CXVI they will have a chance to download the first hymns album for one week starting April 27th.

Drum roll please. And now for the song list for the new album...

1. How Great Thou Art
2. Praise T…

Our dove family

We've enjoyed an up-close and personal view of a dove family outside our kitchen window this spring... 

Wed., March 24. Daddy and Mama doves have built a nest in the planter outside our kitchen window.

Fri., March 26. Mama settles in to her new home.

Tue., April 13. Look closely, and you can see a baby dove in the nest with eyes still closed.

Mon., April 19. A proud mama with one of her chicks.

Mon., April 19. Mama feeds her babies.

Final notes for E for E class

About 90 of us last Saturday at the Equipped for Excellence Conference got a crash course in How to Study and Interpret the Bible. It was a lot of fun! There's just no way to do justice to the whole field of  hermeneutics in four hours, but I do hope my seminar and the 'tools' we learned were helpful. I could not have asked for a more attentive, encouraging, and thoughtful class. These people were eager to learn!

We didn't get through the last few pages of our handout, so I have included the material with answers below. At the bottom of this post, you'll also see how I outlined and preached 1 Corinthians 1:1-9. This will  give you an example of how the Teaching tool was applied in my own ministry in the very passage that we studied together.

Thanks again for all who attended!

The ‘So What?’ tool

• Once we have ascertained the meaning of a passage within its historical, grammatical, and literary context, and have used all the appropriate tools of i…

The Bible -- a book like no other book

The 2010 Equipped for Excellence conference is only one day away! As mentioned in my previous post, I will be teaching one of the seminars on "How to Study & Interpret the Bible."

The Bible is a book like no other book. It is both human and divine.

Because it is a human book, we should expect to use common sense and all our mental faculties to understand it. It should be read and studied within its literary, historical-grammatical context, like any other piece of literature. It was written for the average Joe to understand. We do not need some mystical experience or computer logorith to discover hidden meanings. The truth is written plainly on the pages, if only we will exert the effort to find it.

The U.S. statesman Daniel Webster was right when he said,
"I believe that the Bible is understood and received in the plain obvious meaning of its passages, since I cannot persuade myself that a book that is intended for the instruction and conversion of the whole world …

Saints in sin city

Last Sunday, our church began a new journey through the Book of 1 Corinthians. And in a way, the Apostle Paul picks up right where the Apostle John left off in his Gospel. The recurring theme of John was "Believe in Christ!" (John 20:31), and in 1 Corinthians, we see what the fruit of that belief should look like.

In fact, the struggle of the Corinthians could be summed up by Jesus' own prayer in John 17:15-18, "I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world." Paul writes 1 Corinthians to a church struggling to be in the world, yet not of the world. To carry out Christ's mission in the world without becoming totally corrupted by it.
The church of Corinth (1 Cor. 1:1-2). We began with some historical background on the city of Corinth. This was a wealth…

Quick survey: how long do you prepare?

If you are a Sunday School teacher or small group leader, could you take this quick survey for me? On average, how much time do you spend each week preparing for your lesson?

I will be teaching a seminar at Equipped for Excellence this Saturday, April 17, called "How to Study and Interpret the Bible." I would like to know how much time teachers spend on average, so I can recommend how to split that time up into the different stages of lesson prep.

After you take the survey, you can see the results of what others have said.

Spring concert - May 14

On Friday, May 14, First Southern Baptist will host a spring concert featuring the band Page CXVI ("one-sixteen"). The night will include free food, music, prizes, chalk art, and a bounce house. It's an outdoor event for the whole family.

Page CXVI is a project to make the great hymns of the faith more accessible and known again. You can listen and download their first Hymns album here. A second album is just about to be released, and I expect some of their new songs will be played at our concert.

Help us spread the word by sharing this post with others, or forwarding it to a friend. We also have a big stack of postcard invitations at the church that you are welcome to take from. Help us reach as many people in our community as possible, and then join us Friday, May 14 for a night to remember.

You can now RSVP on our Facebook event page.

Here's one sample song by Page CXVI:

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Book review: Dig Deeper

Dig Deeper is truly a gem. It's one of the best introductions to biblical interpretation I've ever read. Written in a fresh, readable style, the authors cover an amazing amount of territory in a very short book.

In the introduction, the authors write, "We want to help you to dig deeper to find hidden riches in the Bible...Pastors and scholars are a gift from God, and we should be grateful for their help. But we shouldn't be content to leave it entirely to the experts...This book is based on the idea of a toolkit...a set of practical tools to help you get to the bottom of any Bible passage." They then proceed with 16 different tools, from the Author's Purpose tool (most important), to the Vocabulary tool; from the Structure tool, to the "So What?" tool.

I've heard many people say, "I try to read the Bible, but it's so hard to understand!" This book could radically improve your Bible study and devotional life. It moves at a rapid pac…

Raised for our justification

According to a 2007 poll by George Barna, 75% of Americans believe in the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ. What amazes me is not that 1/4 of Americans deny the resurrection (we would expect there to be skeptics today, just as there were in the time of Christ), but that 3/4 of Americans say they believe in the resurrection, and yet it makes no difference in most of their lives! For example, I noticed far more media hype about the iPad last week than the empty tomb of Jesus.

But if the tomb really was empty, it should radically alter our lives. Why does Easter matter? Because in Romans 4:25, Paul says that Christ was "raised for our justification." Without Easter, there is no justification. With Easter, we have the opportunity to be justified of sin. Last Sunday, I posed three questions about justification:
What is it? 'Justification' is an idea completely unique to Christianity. It is a legal term that means to acquit or pardon. It speaks not only of absolving gui…

Rick Warren and the Desiring God Conference

Last week, it was announced that Rick Warren will be one of the speakers at the 2010 Desiring God Conference. Tim Challies has an excellent post today on the concerns over this decision. His conclusion:
I believe [Piper] has shown a lapse of discernment in inviting Rick Warren to his conference and onto his platform. And that's the thing about platforms--once built, they need to be nurtured, preserved and protected. John Piper must know that he is massively influential; this endorsement of Rick Warren ultimately strengthens Warren's platform and weakens his own.

...Warren's critics have not always been fair to him and yet neither have they been without justifiable and significant concerns. His ministry is in so many ways antithetical to Piper's. It surprises me and maybe disappoints me a little bit that he has been invited to share that platform.
I recommend Challies' whole article to understand how he arrives at his conclusion. You may also want to read hi…

A lamb led forth

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.  (Isaiah 53:7)

Every year at Passover time, a thousand remaining Samaritans gather on Mount Gerizim for the Samaritan Passover. Their custom looks much like it would have two thousand years ago, when the Jews brought their sacrificial animals to the altar in Jerusalem to atone for sin.

I had the privilege of witnessing the Samaritan Passover ten years ago, during my study time in Israel. With my own eyes and ears, I witnessed the lambs being led in, the spilling of blood, and the loss of life. It was an unforgettable experience. 
Why did God command such a gory practice in the Old Testament? Because of this timeless principle: the price for sin is death. And as the author of Hebrews says, "Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness" (Heb. 9:22). Ultimately, the Son of God Him…

Equipped for Excellence 2010

On Saturday, April 17, the Inland Empire Southern Baptist Association will be hosting their annual Equipped for Excellence conference. This is one of the best discipleship conferences in the country for Sunday School and Small Group training.

This year, I have the privilege of teaching a seminar entitled, "How to Study and Interpret the Bible." In four and a half hours, you'll get a crash course in biblical interpretation (hermeneutics) and even get to practice in class what you are learning. The class is designed to help people of all levels, whether you are just doing personal devotional reading or preparing an in-depth Bible Study.

This is just one of many other options. Full conference details are below. Be sure to register by next Monday, April 5, to get your early bird discount!

When: April 17, 2010 – 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Where: Magnolia Avenue Baptist Church and California Baptist University in Riverside , California (map). (Carpooling will be available from Fir…