The Reformation at 499

Yes, today is All Hallow's Eve, as tomorrow is All Saints Day, but let's not talk about what that's turned into. October 31st is also -- and more importantly -- Reformation Day. On this day in 1517, a German monk named Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg church. That single act changed the course of history. Luther leveled many complaints against the Roman Catholic Church over the following years, primarily focusing on papal bulls (edicts issued by the pope which then had the force of civil law), indulgences (essentially buying your way out of purgatory and into heaven), transubstantiation (the belief the bread and wine of Communion literally becomes the flesh and bl

Christmas in the Halloween Aisle

I've written of it before, but the great time poem of Ecclesiastes 3 continues to be so relevant it bears quoting here in its entirety: There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to

Is It in the Bible?

For something fun today, I was given permission to slightly modify and post a quiz a former youth leader of mine made my youth group take. Read each statement below, and answer yes or no: is it in the Bible? Don’t go to bed mad. A cheerful heart is good medicine. God helps those who help themselves. It is better to live in a desert than with an ill-tempered woman. Rich or poor, God made us all. Eve gave Adam the apple. Money is the root of all evil. Don’t brag about what you will do tomorrow. Cleanliness is next to godliness. An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips. Eat, drink, and be merry. There is nothing new under the sun. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. There is no rest fo

Future Investments

It was a running joke in seminary for my friends to guess which professor would offer to take me out to lunch next. Being the academic overachiever I was (usually at the expense of everything else in life), at least once per term a teacher would want to chat with me. A few just wanted to get to know me better after reading some of my papers; one had books to recommend; and two (one in particular) wanted to urge me on towards doctoral studies. Regardless, they all had one thing in common: a personal desire to invest in the next generation. That's something each of us should share. We can't live forever in this world, after all, and it's up to us to prepare our successors to take the helm. To

Holiday

I won't be blogging on Friday. I won't be here. Not in the "He is not here; he is risen" kind of way, but the "eight months later, he decided to take a day off" sort of way. Yes, my brothers and sisters, I finally told myself to take a couple of vacation days. As a not-so-closeted workaholic, it was hard to make myself do it, but I need to. Everyone needs rest. A constant, uninterrupted pace is simply unsustainable long-term. We weren't designed for continuous labor. God Himself set the standard for this when He rested the seventh day of creation (Genesis 2:2-3). I think we can all agree God doesn't exactly need beauty sleep, and so that day of rest was to establish our own Sabbath, the cess

Meddlers

One of my favorite bumper stickers of all time said, "Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup." Point taken, bumper sticker, point taken. There are just some things best left alone, things it behooves us not to stick our noses into, if you will. When it's really none of our business, it's time to step back. Of course, many things are our business, and there are definite times for meddling (just not like Scooby-Doo). Ours is not a private faith, after all, not something meant to exist only in the shadowy corners of our own homes. We are called to publicly live out our faith, to let our Christianity explicitly guide how we act and how we interact in t

Problems of Permanence

It seems we have a problem with permanence these days. We live in an ever-changing, topsy-turvy world. What was good today will be tomorrow's evil. Morals change faster than gas prices. But it's not just attitudes, emotions, and public opinions which change. People change, too. Churches change. That which once was is no more, and that which is will never be again. Ours is a pencil world. We write things in pencil, knowing we'll just change them later. And to that end, we lay up a stock of excuses to go with our pencils. It lets us live free of commitments. It gives us the ability to abandon fixed points of our lives whenever we get a better offer. Church is having a rough time? Erase it and

One Brotherhood

All of us who attended a vacation Bible school program remember reciting a series of three pledges, one each to the American flag, the Christian flag, and the Bible. The pledge of allegiance to the Christian flag mentions is stands for "one brotherhood uniting all Christians in service and love." And it's true: our family of faith extends to all baptized believers, not just the ones sitting in the pews of our local congregations. This means we should recognize we worship the same God, are saved by the same Christ, and do ministry through the same Spirit. One of the things I love about my job is the number of opportunities I have to work with the other churches around Russell Springs. Over te

Breakfast of Champions

I have a love/hate relationship with breakfast: I love it, and it hates me. There are a few health problems which prevent me from being able to tolerate food soon after waking, so since I prefer to taste my food only once, I typically give breakfast a miss (or at least postpone it a couple of hours). Most of my breakfast food comes at supper time, which also means I don't get around to eating a lot of cereal. Long story short, I'm just not one to eat my Wheaties. There's physical food (like Wheaties), but there's also spiritual food. As Deuteronomy 3:8 (as quoted by Christ) teaches us, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD." Yes, we need b

Room for the Holy Spirit

It's kind of a running joke in Christian school circles especially that every time you dance (or at least when you dance with someone other than your spouse), you're supposed to leave room for Jesus. Some say "room for the Holy Spirit," but it's the same principle: don't hold your dancing partner too close. Ever since our last Men For Christ meeting, I've been wondering about how much room we leave for the Holy Spirit in our day-to-day lives. It's so easy to shut out the Spirit entirely, isn't it? We all stay so busy, it's just easier for us to take full control of our lives, never pausing to ask what God may want us to do about a given situation. Some of us have even developed the ability t

Media Rex

It's no secret to most of us in America that public opinion is decreasingly grounded in fact and increasingly founded on media spin. It would be easy to gripe about the news outlets alone; all of us can list channels, newspapers, and websites and their associated conservative/liberal bias (which is one reason I get most of my news from the BBC, but that's another story). Today, though, I want to deal with the entertainment industry. Television, movies, music, books, and visual art dominate our lives. We all consume these media on a sweeping scale. It only makes sense that something which garners such large amounts of our time would influence how we think. And today's entertainers know it. Fa

A Praying People

October is a Month of Prayer here at RSCC, and we're off to a great start. Many of you will be taking time each week to be prayer ambassadors for our congregation, praying for specific things on specific days on behalf of our church, our community, our country, and our world. A big thank-you to our volunteers, and an even bigger thank-you to Cammie for organizing it all! I think we all understand the importance and the value of prayer. Still, today I want to reflect on one of the most famous passages on prayer in the Bible. 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 says this: "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land, or send a plague among my people, if my peopl

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