The Fourth Friend

Hey Eastgate – We will be continuing to do our online service at 10 AM on Sunday, streaming on Facebook and YouTube. We are exploring possibilities for how we can meet together in person, we’ll keep you posted as the details of that become more clear. In the meantime, we can be patient, the main thing is to do whatever we do in a way that is safe for everyone and in cooperation with our State guidelines as well as the CDC.

This Sunday we’ll still be studying Job – and we’ll be covering a lot of chapters – chapters 29-27 – but don’t panic, we’ll do an abridged version.

Job has a fourth friend who has been silent until chapter 32 – but he says some things that offer a more nuanced look at the dialogue that unfolded through chapters 4-27. It will be interesting to read – and there are some very timely and thought provoking questions that will emerge from that text.

I hope you are all doing well – I know that we all miss being with each other – but don’t forget, we are connected through Christ, and that connection doesn’t depend on a building or a meeting – it just requires that we stay close to Him. Hope you can tune in on Sunday and be refreshed in God’s word!

A Wise Interlude

We’ll be continuing our online services this Sunday – watch at 10 AM on Facebook or YouTube. This Sunday we’ll be reading Job 28 in our study of that book. We’ll also be observing Communion – so be prepared with bread and wine, or juice…or any symbolic form of sustenance. We’ll be sharing that “together” at the end of the teaching.

Job 28 marks a shift in the focus of the book. We stated last time that the case which the Challenger brought against God (that real righteousness doesn’t exist because it comes with a reward, thus making people mercenaries in their pursuit of goodness) was lost when Job confessed a determination to pursue righteousness regardless of reward or cost. 

Chapter 28 comes in like an interlude. It doesn’t appear to be Job, nor any of his friends doing the talking, and we’re left to assume it is the narrator, bridging us to the next section with a poem. What is the subject matter of the poem? What does that tell us about how things will resolve from here?

What was the main concern and point of emphasis for Job and his friends (think of the triangle we showed)? How does that differ from the point of this poem?

I really like this chapter and because of its overall context, the message behind it is profound. Hopefully it will inspire some good discussion in the Q/A at the end of the service. Hope to “see” you on Sunday!

 

Case Dismissed

This Sunday we’ll be resuming our study in Job – we’ll be covering an abridged version of chapters 22-27 – but you can read the chapters in their entirety HERE.

This section finishes the three cycles of dialogue between Job and his friends, and contains the climax of those cycles. The main thrust of this section will center on the idea of righteousness for righteousness’ sake, not for reward or benefit. That’s a compelling concept, one we might mentally assent to, but on further introspection, may find difficult to realize fully in our own motivations.

It will be an interesting and challenging study – hope you can join us online at 10 AM, on Facebook as a live event and on our Youtube channel. Hope you are enduring in His grace during these days – I pray for you always.

Defying the Darkness

We have been experiencing an unprecedented time of global crisis. It feels like we get pressed by bad news on every side, and that begins to take a toll on us mentally and emotionally. If there’s one thing the resurrection of Jesus speaks to us, it is of a profound hope which springs right out of the darkness.

After our live event Sunrise Service, we’ll have our regular 10 AM service online as well – we’ll take a short break from Job, and we’ll reflect on the encouragement we can receive from John’s account of the resurrection. Resurrection challenges us to defy the encroaching darkness, and find the ability to overcome through the Risen Christ.

I hope you can join us, Sunday 10 AM, on Facebook Live as well as YouTube.

Be at peace, you Children of God!

Wrong Answers to Wrong Questions

As you surely know, we will be doing online only services this Sunday – and while I know it’s Palm Sunday, as often happens with us in teaching through a book of the Bible, we won’t be doing a Palm Sunday service but rather we’ll continue our study in Job.  I still think it is quite apropos for our situation.

We’ll be reading from chapters 15-21 – an abridged version, though you can listen to the chapters read in their entirety in the audio file above.

We’ll also be doing a Q&A after the teaching, so please post your questions during the service and we’ll discuss them at the end.

What do you notice about Job’s attitude toward God as this second cycle of dialogue plays out? What is happening to his perception of God? How might our own religious assumptions and attitudes lead us to similar perceptions of God? Those are things to ponder in this section.

Tune in on Facebook or Youtube this Sunday at 10 am. Hope to see you online!

Job Wants a Lawyer

Hey Everyone – I’m trusting that you’re all hunkered down, staying safe and keeping others safe. This Sunday our meeting will be online only – you can watch on Facebook or Youtube. We’ll be continuing our study in Job, reading chapters 8-14. We’ll be reading an abridged version of all those chapters, but again, the audio file is above and you can listen to the text in it’s entirety there.

We’re also going to do a Q&A session about Job right after the teaching – so as you listen, post any questions you have about the text or it’s application and we’ll discuss it. I really enjoyed that last week, hope you did too!

Hope to see you online – pray for one another – pray for our world, nation, state, county and community. Pray for the healthcare workers and those seeking a vaccine, that God will give the wisdom we need to overcome this threat. Pray for our leaders on every level. Pray for peace and comfort for those who are distressed. Pray for the Good News to have opportunity to be shared.

A Dried up Brook of Advice

Another crazy week has passed, a lot of disconcerting things have developed, including the closing of our beaches, which I know has a cascading impact on so many people.  In times of distress, we remember that God is still God and the One we look to in times of trouble. Take heart, in His love, there is hope for you. As always, we will keep our eyes and hearts open for ways we can lighten the burden for one another.

This week, our services will be ONLINE ONLY, but you can watch on our YouTube channel or on our Facebook page or in our Facebook Group –  or just click the link on our website  – tune in at 10 am CST.

We’ll continue our very relevant study in the book of Job – and you may be surprisingly comforted by what we discover as we explore those pages. We’ll be covering a lot of ground, ch 4-7 – which I will only read an abridged version of on Sunday morning, so listen to the audio reading of those chapters in their entirety above.

I’m also hoping to do an extended Q&A about Job after the teaching – so if you have any questions about the book, it’s genre, the characters…anything, leave them in the comment section below and we can discuss them on Sunday.

Keep your eyes fixed on the God who loves you – allow His grace to settle all fear and uncertainty – be still, and know He is God.

Job – an Introduction

This week we will begin a new study in the book of Job. How often have you suffered, or known someone who is suffering and the question that forms most readily is “why?”. Why is this happening? Why God? If there is a common issue that unifies those who can’t believe in God, it’s the issue of cruelty and suffering. How could a good and all powerful God allow so much suffering in the world?

That’s been a question through the ages. It’s really the thematic center of the book of Job.

And yet…Job gives us no real answers. As John Walton puts it in his commentary, Job simply provides us with better questions to ask in the midst of suffering.

This Sunday we’ll be looking at the structure and nature of the book, as well as reading the first two chapters. I’m going to do something different with this study – here on Wonderwhat I’m going to post an audio reading of the chapters we’ll cover – that way, if we don’t end up reading the whole passage on Sundays, you can listen to the whole thing read at your leisure. The audio file is at the top of the post.

Read the first two chapters – or listen to the audio above.

What are your honest thoughts about the set-up to this story? Do you read it as a history, or as a parable? What are some of your experiences with suffering – what questions have you asked during those times? What do you think the significance of the scene in heaven brings to this story?

I hope we’ll have an interesting study on this fascinating book!

Engaging a Secular Culture (Without Being a Jerk)

This Sunday we’ll be continuing our short series which considers practical ways in which we can fulfill what the angel told the women at the empty tomb; “Go and tell” this good news. We’re going to look at another example from the book of Acts, one I’ve taught on before, but which bears repeating. We’ll be reading Acts 17:16-29.

In this famous teaching, Paul is summoned to the Areopagus, or Mars Hill, where the city council would meet. In this setting, Paul related the gospel to a completely uninitiated people. His approach to their culture gives us a fascinating insight as to how far Paul would go with his ideology of being all things to all people (1 Cor 9:22).

Read through Paul’s address. How would you characterize his words? Was he scolding? It says he was grieved by the idolatry he saw – but how did he start his address and what did he point to in his message to use as a platform for the gospel?

In v28 Paul quotes a line from a hymn of praise to Zeus, by the pagan poet Epimenides. He didn’t do that to validate a worship of Zeus, but as a support for his claim about the One, Creator God. How might we learn to do that sort of thing in the culture where we find ourselves?

How can we learn from Paul’s interaction with culture to engage our world without condemning it? Hopefully our consideration of this on Sunday will foster some new ideas for us as we follow Jesus who’s loose in the world! Hope to see you then!

 

Following Jesus Who’s Loose in the World

This Sunday we’ll be starting a short series to follow up on our study of the Gospel of Mark. When Mark finished, we were left with an open-ended command: Go and tell. Simple enough…but not that easy to carry out. We’re in a time and culture that isn’t all that open to historic Christianity; often seeing it as a primitive and phobic worldview. Some of that perception is our own fault, I fear.

No matter if there’s blame to be placed, we are still left with this high calling of following Jesus from that empty tomb into the world where he is now loose and bringing life. How do we join in with his work in a world like ours?

We’re going to look at an example from the early church this Sunday of how one person was going and telling the Good News. We’ll be reading Acts 8:26-39 this Sunday, which is the account of Philip sharing the Good News with the Ethiopian Eunuch.  There is so much that is intentionally unusual in this passage, and I think we need to take a close look at it.

When you read through the text – what is it that causes Philip to head out towards the desert? How easy or hard is it for you to follow those inward nudges of the Holy Spirit to change your immediate course or do something for reasons that aren’t very apparent? How can we be more open to those types of Spirit-inspired events?

The person Philip is directed to is from a gentile, pagan nation. He’s an official which means he’s steeped in the culture’s religion. He’s also a eunuch – someone who no longer functions, in the normative sense, sexually. He seems to be a seeker, or perhaps a proselyte. He’s coming back from Jerusalem, but he wouldn’t have been allowed to worship at the temple because of his condition.

Take some time to think about this man and try to think of what people in our modern world would fit into the categories he represents. How did Philip begin his interaction with this man? What can we learn from that?

What can we learn about advancing the kingdom of God from Philip’s experience? In what ways will we need to look past the outsider status of people in our world to share the hope of Christ with them?

I suspect this will be a challenging study – hope to see you there!