Always Reforming

Tomorrow is the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. On October 31, 1517, a certain German monk named Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church, igniting a powder keg. For the better part of the next century, others would share his concerns and voice their own by joining the Protest against the Roman Catholic Church. As a result, 500 years later, billions of Christians have reclaimed biblical truths about salvation, the nature of the Church, and the place and role of Scripture. Luther's actions weren't the first schism in the Church, however. Every five hundred years or so, Christianity fragments. The first major split occur

Models

As part of my scholarship program at the seminary, I was by and large at the disposal of the admissions office. My least favorite part of that gig was allowing them to follow my friends and I around to take pictures for brochures and such. My church history professor wasn't a big fan of it, either, as he didn't particularly enjoy having one of his lectures turn into a photo shoot. I remember seeing about two of those pictures in actual use for promotional materials for the school. Thus was the beginning and end of my modeling career. Most of you are more photogenic than I am, so you'd make better models -- yet each and every one of us is called to the modeling profession. We're not displayin

Revival

Tonight I begin preaching a revival at my home church, to run through Friday night. (My class won't meet tonight since the teacher won't be there.) I've been looking forward to this since they asked me to preach. It'll be good to be home for a while, to be back where I accepted Christ and where God called me to preach. Please pray for me and for the church over the next few days! Not many churches have revivals anymore. I myself have been told they don't go over all that well anymore, even around here, and so I've only suggested we have one at RSCC one time. But I do think they're important for several reasons, particularly for those in the Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ.

Haman's Gallows

Without a doubt, Haman is one of the most evil people in the entire Bible. Because one Jew -- Mordecai -- refused to bow down to him, he convinces the king to order the genocide of every Jew in the Persian Empire. If he had succeeded, a single bruised ego would have caused countless deaths. As for Mordecai himself, Haman built a huge gallows to hang him publicly for his perceived insolence. As the story unfolds, however, Esther saves the Jews, Mordecai is honored above all men, and Haman is hanged on his own gallows. How many times do our own plans work out that way? I'm not just talking about those situations when you cut off your nose to spite your face, as the saying goes. I mean all thos

Free Lunch

It happened again this week. I got chewed out on the phone by someone asking for money. Every church gets those calls, and every so often, they turn nasty. No one wants to hear church policy about aid (in our case, we require people to attend a service and then meet with the benevolence team), and they certainly don't want to abide by those rules. (Hear the gospel before getting assistance from a church? Never!) They expect us, as churches, to simply give them whatever they want, no questions asked, because that's just what churches do. So when I (and other people in other churches) tell them the procedures instead of signing a check immediately, things can get ugly. Of course, as the saying

Elective Classes Begin Tonight!

Public Service Announcement: Tonight at 6:30 we re-open the doors to RSCCU and offer three elective classes in place of our usual Wednesday evening Bible study. First is a class in American Sign Language covering basic conversational skills. Next is a ladies-only Bible study discussing the women of the Bible. Last is a study highlighting the major events, history, and themes of Scripture. No matter your age or your interests, there's a class for you! Join us on Wednesday evenings from now through Thanksgiving at RSCCU!

Roller Coaster

Ministry is a roller coaster. Since Thursday, I have stood by the hospital bed of a man on his last day on earth; I have preached at a nursing home where only a few people in the crowd can understand why I'm there and what I'm saying; I've celebrated with friends at their wedding; I've baptized a new member of our church; and I've attended the funeral of a friend and church member. Highs and lows like that are just part of the job, and I get to see people at their happiest and during their darkest hours. Life is a roller coaster. No one has a perfectly stable life. We all have wonderful, brilliant, glorious days that fill us with hope and joy. And we all have days when it seems everything go

Take the Time

In a family-favorite version of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, a puppet lamb can be heard to say, "No, no, no. I just want to sit here . . . sigh . . . and rest." Each of us can sympathize with that particular sentiment. The hustle and bustle of life carries us hither and yon, and it seems like there's just no time to be still. Such has been my week, which I really should have seen coming after preaching Sunday night on being too busy. (Life is nothing if not ironic.) As a wise person once said, though, when you're absolutely too busy to take a break, to be still for a moment, that's absolutely when you need to do it the most. Things which can't seem to wait often can; most deadlines seem t

Life in the Season of Death

We've hit the point in fall where things are beginning to actually look like the season. Leaves are changing colors, and some are already dropping off; I've even seen a few bare trees. Soon the temperature will drop and stay cool. Fall is a beautiful season, to be sure, but its beauty is born of death. Indeed, it's always struck me as odd that the season with the most natural beauty is the season of death and dying. For the next few months, we will be surrounded by death and even celebrate it -- and decry it. We love the colors of all, but even when the leaves are green and healthy, the rest of the world is not, and it's that side of things which wounds our hearts. We see sickness and death

Feed the Flock

One of the most impactful stories in the Bible to me is the Restoration of Peter (John 21:15-19). Three times Peter had denied Jesus; three times Jesus asks if he loves him. With every "Yes, Lord, you know I love you," comes a command: take care of the flock. Each time the command is phrased slightly differently: "feed my lambs" (v. 15), "take care of [literally "shepherd"] my sheep" (v. 16), and "feed my sheep" (v. 17). For every betrayal comes a restoration and a show of trust, and the forgiveness of Christ in this moment is not something Peter will ever forget. Aside from being a good name for a soup kitchen (my sister's idea), "feed my sheep" is a command for us all, I feel. Each of us s

True Reality

If you're ever in my home and wander into my study (or the junk room, which is overflow shelving), you'll notice I have a lot of books. Of those books, I have a few particular favorite genres (never ask for a [specific] favorite book; it's how I imagine it feels when you ask a parent his or her favorite child). In the world of fiction, for example, I have a sizable collection of science fiction and fantasy novels. I guess I like reading things about realities other than our own; things just seem more fun when the world is full of robots or wizards. I had an interesting conversation last week that touched a bit on miracles. From one perspective, miracles are when God suspends the natural orde

Halloween & Harvest

Today was the first official planning meeting for the Community Harvest Walk. The churches are excited to once again be able to reach our community (especially our kids) with a safe place to spend Halloween. As always, bring in your candy! I know there's a discussion to be had about how much (if anything) a church should do for Halloween. I understand both sides of the conversation: one the one end, I've been to Halloween parties; in the middle, I've dressed as Martin Luther at my church; and on the other end, my father temporarily banned anything to do with Halloween at the Peters house. (He also bought the first Harry Potter book specifically so I could read it and tell him how evil it was

Our Prayers Are with Las Vegas

The first news I received after waking up this morning was that there had been another shooting, this time at a country music festival in Las Vegas. The latest numbers have over fifty people dead and 406 wounded, making it the worst such shooting in American history. The gunman seems to have killed himself as police approached his hotel room. It would be easy at this time to say this was an anti-something act of terrorism, but the current information about the shooter doesn't seem to support that. Stephen Paddock was sixty-four, white, and a citizen of Nevada. No evidence has been uncovered so far of any ties to an extremist group, nor is there any indication of what his particular ideologie

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