Many people throughout history have attempted to label Jesus as simply a great teacher who should be viewed in a similar way that we might view the great philosophers of antiquity. Others want to label Jesus as a great moral example that we should follow or a great leader of a religious movement like Mohammed or Gandhi. And then there are even some of us within the church who sometimes only view Jesus as the one who can make my life better or the super-human who came to save us so that we can leave this world and go to heaven when we die. However, the story of the Bible boldly declares that Jesus is so much more than all of these categories that we try to place him in!
One of the biggest questions that Christians have been confronted with since the beginning of the Jesus movement is, how are we supposed to view the Torah today and what is our responsibility to all the laws of Moses given by God at Mt. Sinai?
Most of the time when people say, “God has blessed me,” they are referring to the fact that God has given them something for which they are happy and thankful. And even some Bible translations have attempted to interpret the word blessed to mean happy. However, this word blessed should not be reduced down to physical gifts from God or internal feelings of happiness.
As I’ve spent time thinking over the new series that we are doing for players this Spring Training, I find myself trying to take the time to examine my own life so I can figure out different ways that I need to better practice what I’m teaching in each study. It’s the inevitable conflict of those who teach others the truths of God — I can discover and deliver those truths, and yet if I’m not disciplined and discerning, I can easily find myself not fully responding to them in my own life.
Well, it’s been four months since the last episode of the Things Above podcast, but a new series is starting and a new episode has finally been uploaded. Since we wrapped up our series on Genesis in October, my time has been occupied with mission trips, conferences, retreats, the holidays and officiating a few weddings in between. These winter months will probably just have to be the offseason for the podcast each year.
Imagine the experience: You've been freed from Egypt, guided by the cloud of God's glory, walked through the parted Red Sea and now stand before a sea of Egyptian corpses swept away in the wave of God's wrath. It’s safe to say that your perception of God has just reached a new level of fear and awe.
There’s no question about it; Moses was a leader. Not only did he lead the deliverance of God's people from their bondage in Egypt, he also acted as the lawgiver, judge and mediator for God's people. This leadership position that God had given him was one that he took seriously, and so he was sincere in all of his efforts to concern himself with the cares and conflicts of his people no matter how great or small the case. However, this became a full-time commitment that would take up the entirety of the day, and so one day his father-in-law foresaw the exhaustion and lack of efficiency this would bring upon Moses and the people and offered some wise advice
Throughout the Old Testament, God makes covenants with his people by entering into an agreement with one man who serves as the acting representative of all humanity. In Genesis 9, God enters into one of these agreements with a man named Noah where he promises that he will never again allow utter chaos to destroy his creation. The story of the great flood and God's covenant with Noah gives us an early glimpse into the eternal plan of God that unfolds throughout the rest of the Bible.
Tomorrow marks the beginning of a brand new year, and many of us have new hopes and new habits that we are ready to enjoy and set in motion starting tomorrow. Personally, I’m making a commitment to eat less sugar, own less stuff, use less screen-time, get more sleep and embrace more silence in my life — I’m going to try and devote the first hour of every day to silence, psalm reading and prayer. We all know that there are things in our lives that we need to alter or do better, and the New Year often gives us the spark of motivation that we need to actually implement these things.
This past Monday, I returned home from my first trip to what has been one of the most controversial countries in the Western Hemisphere. For most Americans, the island of Cuba is mostly known for its cigars, classic cars and communist revolutionaries. But beyond this perception are people. Real people with real lives that tend to get overlooked when we only see a country through the lens of political jargon and propaganda.
The week after Thanksgiving has become the most refreshing week of the year for Tanner and I. That is because every year for the last seven years, we have attended PAO’s Increase Conference during this time. This event provides a place for professional athletes to gather together and to learn from gifted speakers and teachers concerning how our Christian faith should be impacting our relationships, finances and careers.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! As we get ready to celebrate tomorrow and spend time with family and friends over the next few days, I thought I’d send a few resources for you to check out. I’ve provided one quiz, one blog post and one article with links to each within the titles below. Hope you enjoy!
This week in the Scripture Reading Plan, we are reading through Paul’s letters to the Colossians and the Thessalonians. If you’ve been reading with us, I would like to encourage you to set aside some time this week to read each of these letters all the way through — after all, that’s how letters are intended to be read anyway.
If our Lord was simply an almighty King sitting on his sovereign throne commanding us as his subjects to serve and to suffer for his sake then that sort of call would certainly feel like a burdensome mandate that we were forced and obligated to carry out. That is why the apostle Paul takes time to point out the proper motivation for Christian suffering by providing the beautiful portrait of Christ’s own sacrifice for our salvation.
As those who have been freely forgiven by the grace of God through the work of Christ, and as those who have put on the new self that is empowered by the Holy Spirit, we ought to be seen by the world around us as a new kind of humanity that is created after the likeness of Christ himself.
Although completely overlooked in our daily rush through life and drastically underestimated in comparison to our modern capabilities, the greatest thing that we will ever do in our lifetime is to pray. That is not simply a Christian overstatement in order to please God or to sound super-spiritual. If we stopped for just a moment and seriously considered what prayer actually is then we would shutter in humility at how often we take this great privilege for granted.
True love for our brothers and sisters in Christ will sometimes require confrontation. In addressing certain patterns of sinful behavior evident among the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul decided to make a “painful visit” to Corinth in order show tough love and speak hard truth that might wake up the Corinthians to an understanding of what was wrong with their actions.
Perhaps there is nothing in this world more unique and unexpected than someone who chooses to love the people that mistreat them and who chooses to pray for those who hurt them the most. The world can hardly comprehend such love because it seems so irrational and unreasonable. It goes completely against our natural instincts and our natural inclinations.
It’s apparent that some of the Corinthian Christians were dividing the church over disagreements concerning spiritual gifts (God-given abilities meant for the edifying of God’s people). There was so much emphasis and esteem being placed on certain gifts that those who seemed to be lacking these certain gifts were beginning to feel as if they were missing a vital aspect of what it means to be a Christian.
An identifying marker of the church ought to be the way in which we stand firm as one united group of people no matter our nationality, race, age, gender or social status. We ought to be a people of one spirit with a shared mind striving side by side to build one another up and to bring more of God’s rule here on earth.