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Posts from December 2010

Presence #5 - Micah Chapter 6 & 7 - "What Does God Require?"

01 Presence #5 - Micah 6 & 7 - What


The children of Israel had drifted from the presence of God as a result of their sinful behavior.  God called prophets to speak His truth to the people over the years – and Micah was one of these prophets.

His prophecies focused on the discipline God would use upon his people for their disobedience and at first glance the writings seem bent on punishment, but with further reading it becomes evident that God’s great love for His people is what was behind all the prophecies.  The Father desires righteousness and obedience from his children.  Yet, he’s not some cosmic killjoy.  It’s about honoring the father and experiencing Him personally.

On Christmas Eve, we read in Micah 5 how God’s plan for his people would unfold with the birth of His Son in a small town called Bethlehem.  God’s great love resulted in the sending of Jesus Christ.  Through Jesus, we gain so much – the opportunity to know God intimately.  The privilege of heaven.  The joy of life.

Yet, I fear that often we are more like the Old Testament Israelites than we wish to admit.  We, too run the risk of finding ourselves wondering why we don’t “feel” saved or “feel” the presence of God as in the past.

I talk to people all the time who struggle in their faith.  They remember what it felt like then they first became believers and yet, they feel so distant now.  They wonder how it ever happened that way.

This shouldn’t surprise us.  Any relationship has requirements.  Left alone, drift occurs.  It’s just in this case, the only ones drifting away are us.  God never moves.

God recognizes that often his people drift.

So, what do we do next?  What does God require from his people?

He says so in Micah 6

Micah 6 

6    “With what shall I come before the Lord, 

    and bow myself before God on high? 

    Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, 

    with calves a year old? 

7    Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,

    with ten thousands of rivers of oil?

    Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,

    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

Micah begins with a question.  What do I need to bring before the Lord?  What is God looking for?

Does God desire burnt offerings, with one year old calves?

We need to remember that a system of sacrifices had been set up by God through the Levitical priesthood.  Micah was not downplaying this system, nor saying it was insignificant or wrong.  The Levitical system had been set up by God to provide, among other things, atonement for the sins of the people.  Micah was a righteous man in this Israelite community.  Therefore, he had no doubt participated in many sacrifices.

Yet, even in the midst of the ceremony, in the midst of the system that required blood sacrifices, Micah knew that these sacrifices done as routine, just for the sake of religiosity were useless.  These sacrifices were to be outward expressions of inner trust and dependence on God for His grace and mercy.

Micah went on to ask if sacrifices of thousands of rams or offering 10,000 rivers of oil or even his firstborn would suffice.

This hyperbole was stated in such a way as to get everyone’s attention.  It would be obvious that God would not desire any sacrifices that appeared as those offered to neighboring nation’s false gods.  The people should get that.  We should get that.  Even in these statements, Micah was using illustrations of things that could be offered to God as good and holy and yet. . .God didn’t want those.

This would be confusing to the people.  If at this point they were listening and desiring to regain intimacy with the Father, they would naturally think these offerings would be good enough.  But, they would not be.

With the attitude and actions the people of Israel were displaying, God was using Micah to tell the people that simple religious actions would never suffice.  Just deciding to go back to church – to volunteer more, to give more in the offering plate – none of this alone would amount to much.  In fact, none of this alone would bring the people back into the intimate presence of God.

So, it leads to the obvious question “God!  What do you want?” 

Couples who have communication difficulties often find themselves asking this question of each other.  Husbands will say “If she’ll just tell me what she wants, I’ll do it.”  Wives say the same thing “Jus tell me what you want.”  However, so often relationships still suffer because we move ahead with the “fix its” that we think will work, those things we think will heal a relationship only to find that the distance remains.

It happens spiritually.  We desire to experience God in a more intimate way.  We have become aware of our sin and God is convicting us and rather than respond as God would desire, we work our plan.  Sometimes it looks good and feels religious. . .but, even so, it brings us no closer to the Father.

So, God. . .what do you want?

Micah reiterated God’s desires. . .

8    He has told you, O man, what is good;

    and what does the Lord require of you

    but to do justice, and to love kindness,

    and to walk humbly with your God?

The good relationship is one that is beneficial and intimate.  The presence of God is experienced.

Do justice – be fair in how you deal with others.  This is love in action.  It relates to the Great Commandment – love God and love others.  In a culture that rewards the cheater and overlooks injustice, God reminds us that we are to go against the flow.  We’re told that cheaters never win and yet, it seems at times that they do.  Even so, God’s children are different.  We’re to do right and live rightly.  We are to do justice to others.  We do not get a pass. We justify and excuse injustice.  We must stop.

Love mercy – the Hebrew word here is literally translated as “loyal love” i.e. carrying through on one’s commitments to others.  You see, God’s Word is good as gold.  He can be trusted.  His word is His bond.  As his children, carrying His spiritual DNA, we are to love mercy as well.

Walk humbly with God – The word translated as humbly here (sena) is only used here in Scripture.  It means to fellowship with God in such an intimate way but with no arrogance.

This is where I need to warn you.  If you’re not careful, if you take this portion of scripture out of context, you run the great risk of creating a theology and life philosophy based on works. In other words, by seeing what Micah states God requires, we tend to think well, if you do this, this and this, then God will like me.  He will love me and I’ll be OK.

That mentality leads to a life of sin management which slides into legalism and results in more distance from God.  There’s no intimacy in legalism.  There’s no life in this type of theology.

So what are you to do?  Recognize that what leads to these actions is a change of heart.  It can begin with a change of mind, but must be more than intellectual.

We can experience the presence of God again.  We can be closer to him than ever before.

What would keep us from experiencing Him fully?

The same things that were keeping the people of Micah’s day from experiencing Him fully.

The same things that were keeping people in the day of Christ’s birth from experiencing him fully.

When we seek self more than seek Him.  When we design our own way rather than following His way.

Yet, because of His steadfast love, and righteous discipline, he calls us back to him.

For some of you here today, you have drifted so far, you fear that you don’t even know him.

Don’t let the Enemy steal your life.  Grab it back.

Some of you here never entered into that relationship.  God is calling you to himself today.

We are not promised tomorrow.  Today is the day of salvation.  Today is the day to renew your walk with the Lord.

God offers forgiveness and a new start today for all of us. . .

Micah 7

18    Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity

    and passing over transgression

    for the remnant of his inheritance?

    He does not retain his anger forever,

    because he delights in steadfast love.


Presence #4 - Micah Chapter 5 - Arriving at Bethlehem

01 Presence #4 - Micah 5 - Arriving


While Christmas traditions vary from nation to nation, region to region and family to family – the common thing that seems to run across the board is the great opportunity to share this holiday with others.

We desire to be in the presence of those we care about and while, for some, this can be a bittersweet occasion if those we previously would spend the Christmas season with are not around or no longer with us, I pray the memories are sweet.  If memories for your Christmases don’t bring joy, then perhaps this will be the beginning of a new set of memories.  You are here.  I pray you don’t feel alone in a crowd.  I pray that you feel welcome.  For those who are Christians, we are family.  For those who have not yet received this gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, you are our honored guests tonight. . .and we invite you to receive this gift.

I’ve been leading our church through a series of studies this month.  It’s Christmas and the Christmas story has not changed – it’s still about the birth of Jesus and all the scenes that come to mind when discussing that.

It’s just this month, we have taken a route to the Christmas story that you probably have never taken.  We have been looking at the writings and prophecies of the Old Testament prophet Micah.  This man, from a small town southwest of Jerusalem, lived 700 years before the birth of Christ.

He was given a message by God to take to the people.  The message was one of warning and impending judgment.  You see, the people of God had drifted from His presence.  They had begun to live their lives according to their own desires, rather than the instructions and loving guidelines given by God centuries earlier.  Like many, they had written them off as “old fashioned” rules – the Ten Commandments.  To make matters worse, there were other prophets in the region.  These others, who were false prophets, were sharing stories about God and His judgment that just weren’t true.  Things like “God is a loving God.  He’d never punish his people,” or “Surely, you don’t believe that God would keep you from living the life you desire?”

These false messages resonated with “good feelings” and “live as you want” thoughts.  They led to a false security of universalism that is even popular today.

For some reason many have difficulty seeing God, who truly is love and loving, as one who would discipline his children.  Yet, as I have shared before, love from a father without discipline is not love at all.

God sent Micah to share a warning to the people – repent, turn from the evil ways you are living and return to me.

However, many ignored these prophecies and therefore found themselves listening to “feel good” messages and would end up facing the terrible judgments to come.

Micah continued sharing what would come.  He shared of God’s great love and the desire to bless His people.  He shared what would happen during the last days – there would be hope.  God was not turning His back on humanity.  In truth, he was going to provide an answer – an answer for all the issues that life offers, an answer for the difficulties of life, an answer for the sin problem all are infected with, an answer who would be Messiah.

So, 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, God spoke through the prophet Micah and others to prepare His people for the greatest gift of all.

Micah then wrote these words down. . .

Micah 5 

  But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, 

    who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, 

    from you shall come forth for me

    one who is to be ruler in Israel,

    whose origin is from of old,

    from ancient days.

Bethlehem – a small town south of Jerusalem.  A town that marks the place where the greatest king in Israel’s history was born – David.  Ephrathah is a term that references the area around Bethlehem.  Yet, even with such a long name – Bethlehem-Ephrathah – this area was rural, small, seemingly insignificant.

From the lineage of David and the tribe of Judah, God would bring the Messiah.  God’s Son would be born without earthly fanfare, in a place that no one would choose to give birth.

We think of the nativity and picture a stable, with cows and sheep all around.  Even in our imagery, this stable is cleaner and more pristine that reality.  The young pregnant girl, Mary had been traveling with her husband Joseph to Bethlehem, not by their choice, but because the Roman government had mandated that all subjects must travel to the city of their ancestry to be counted in the census.  In fact, this was so the government would know how many subjects were in the land and would be able to accurately tax them.  So, all in all, this was not a fun trip.  This was no vacation.  In fact, since Mary and Joseph had lived in Nazareth for most if not all their lives, they weren’t visiting the “old home place.”  They were doing what everyone else in the land was being forced to do – register for the census.

A stable?  Well, probably not.  At least not in the imagery that we know.  No room in the inn?  The word for inn is the same for guest house.  So, more than likely – it wasn’t the Holiday Inn that had the NO VACANCY sign up.

What was really going on here?

Joseph and his nine-month pregnant wife have just arrived in Bethlehem.  They have to find a place to stay, but since everyone is traveling to their ancestral homes, all the extra rooms and guest houses are full.  Yet, there is one place – the only place Joseph can find.  If you travel to Bethlehem, you will see this place, or a place much like where the family likely stayed – it’s a cave.  Those who kept flocks in the Bethlehem region would stay in caves overlooking the fields.  These were intricately cut places where the sheep and livestock would be brought in at times.  There would be room for the animals in the back while the families or shepherds could stay in the front area, near the fire and ovens.  Oh, and there were troughs for feeding the animals.  Rather than a wooden manger, these troughs were most often carved from stone.

While the images I’ve just painted may differ from what you pictured as that first Christmas night, make no mistake, the key to the story is right.

God brought this family to Bethlehem for the birth of His Son, Jesus. 

The story of the birth of Christ was told for centuries before that night in Bethlehem.  For years, the Jewish religious leaders knew that Messiah was prophesied to be born in Bethlehem.  They had read Micah’s words.  They had taught it in the synagogues regularly.  They were awaiting the coming of Messiah – a political leader, in their minds, that would set up Israel as the greatest kingdom on the earth.  So, they waited.

Yet, when the birth of this Messiah, this deliverer occurred, somehow, they missed it.

So, that stressful night in Bethlehem, after traveling all day from Nazareth, Mary gave birth to the baby conceived within her by the Holy Spirit.  The baby was named Jesus and was placed in a feeding trough.  Angels from heaven appeared to nearby shepherds, the low men on the economic totem pole, to declare his birth and these men came to see the baby.  The Messiah had been born.  The omnipotent, all powerful God had wrapped himself in human flesh and come down to earth – to provide a way for all people.

It was a couple of years later, Mary, Joseph and the child were still in Bethlehem.  They had purchased a house and were staying there awaiting God’s next instructions.

Matthew records the story this way:

Matthew 2

1Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men£ from the east came to Jerusalem, 2saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose£ and have come to worship him.” 3When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

6    " ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

    for from you shall come a ruler

    who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ”

These wise men came following a star showing where the child of God had been born.  Their journey took years and they have finally arrived.  They go first to the king, Herod, who becomes fearful for his throne thinking “the king of the Jews” has been born and he knew nothing about it.  He was the king of the Jews, wasn’t he?

He gathers his chief priests and scribes and we see that 700 years after it was first written by the prophet Micah, they knew the writings, they remembered the teachings.  However, they missed the birth.

The story in Matthew continues as the wise men find the child and deliever three significant gifts to him:

  • Gold – representing His deity and royal position
  • Frankincense – representing His priestly role
  • Myrrh – representing his sacrifice to come – the death (used for embalming)

These gifts – from Gentiles – were most likely used by Joseph to fund the family’s escape to Egypt.  The gifts were timely.  They were also held multiple meanings for the life of Christ.

As I read over this Christmas story again, I recognize the small group that was invited to the birth – the shepherds.  They small group that arrived with gifts for the shower (a little late) – the wise men.  I am also amazed, and more so, that an entire nation of people had been waiting for this birth for 700 plus years.  Over time, I guess their anxiousness for the birth of Messiah had waned.  Perhaps, they had come to the point of not believing anymore?  Perhaps, they never believed to begin with?

Nevertheless, the one who would come to save the world, arrived with anything but great fanfare (from an earthly sense.)  The sad part is that more people missed the message than received it.

How I wish it were different today.  I fear that in our culture, even with Christmas Eve services and special events and carols and decorations and lights and all that comes with the Christmas season, that more (even those who show up for religious gatherings) miss the message. 

We have a Father who loves us so.  So much, that he sent His Son to earth. . .for a very important reason (foreshadowed by the gifts of the wise men) . . . to die.  To disconnect the birth of Christ (Christmas) from the death and resurrection (Easter) is a terrible thing.

John 3

16“For God so loved the world,£ that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

This Christmas – don’t miss the message.  Don’t be blinded like so many throughout history have been.  Don’t become so enamored with the idea of Jesus or the image of  “Baby Jesus” that you miss the purpose of his birth.  Jesus Christ – born to die.

This Christmas season, in the midst of tradition and gift giving – this year, don’t be like the many who were near Christ, but missed him.

Don’t miss Him.  Believe in Him, but not just with mental assent, but in the way the verse speaks to – by totally surrendering your life to His.

This Christmas, if you have never received this gift of life, do so tonight.


Presence #3 - Micah Chapters 3 & 4

01 Presence #3 - Micah 3 & 4

Once again we are working our way up to the Christmas story that we all know.  Yet, this month we are taking a route that few have taken.  This route, when completed will help us understand why the birth of Christ was so vital.

Micah’s prophecies in the Old Testament can be broken up into multiple messages to the people.  While the first message, which we have looked at in previous weeks emphasized the sins of God’s people and their failure to take God seriously and His demands for righteous living, this second message emphasizes the coming blessings of God following His judgment.

As is true throughout all of God’s Scripture and prophecies shared, God’s plans for the future are given not simply to inform people of what will occur, but to motivate His children to change their lives on the basis of His plans for them.

These are the warnings and messages of a loving Father.

Micah’s message begins with a focus toward the leaders of the people of Israel.

Micah 3

 

1    And I said: Hear, you heads of Jacob 

    and rulers of the house of Israel! 

    Is it not for you to know justice?—

2    you who hate the good and love the evil,

    who tear the skin from off my people£

    and their flesh from off their bones,

3    who eat the flesh of my people,

    and flay their skin from off them,

    and break their bones in pieces

    and chop them up like meat in a pot,

    like flesh in a cauldron.

Micah was pretty harsh in his statements here – likening unjust leaders to hunters who killed and ate (or took advantage of) the people of God.  His imagery is pretty grotesque – but was designed to grab the attention of the listener.

This portion was a warning to those in charge.  There is an understanding here that is relevant to us today – those who have influence over others will be judged accordingly.  We do not live in a world where “what I do only affects me.”  Of course, this states the obvious that those who have responsibility over a nation or people group will be held accountable for the type of rule they offer. 

This applies to world leaders, kings and presidents, of course, but it also applies to any who have influence over others – whether that be a pastor, teacher, coach, parent, older brother or sister or even good friend.

There is great responsibility placed upon all of us especially regarding our influence over others.

Micah accuses the leaders of God’s people of perverting justice, or altogether ignoring it.

Faithless leaders take advantage of others with no care for their well being or growth while faithful leaders are concerned deeply with the well being of those under their influence.

Sometimes, I believe, those who are considered faithless leaders slide into this mentality.  How many leaders have begun with great intentions only to be corrupted by power and influence?

These warnings of old are relevant today, but not just when we reference political leaders – though they definitely apply there.  They also echo true within the church.

It troubles me greatly when I hear of ministries or churches that struggle with internal politics or power struggles.  There are many unique reasons why these issues occur.  Sometimes it’s a leadership issue.  Sometimes it’s a followship issue. In every case, it’s a spiritual issue.

If you’ll remember, the people that Micah was speaking to were proud.  They were the “Children of God” and they wore that badge proudly.  Yet, over time, they had so drifted from the presence of God as shown in their attitudes, actions and lifestyles. 

The sad reality is that we are not immune to this happening today.

I was reading some reports on trends in the American Church this past week and see some very troubling things revealed.

  1. The Christian church is becoming less theologically literate.  I have been talking with our pastoral staff about this for the past few months.  At first, I thought maybe it was just me.  Perhaps I was seeing something that wasn’t there, but then this report comes out and it’s the number one issue in the American church.  It troubles me that more and more church members and attendees do not have a solid basis of theology and understanding of God, His nature and His Word.  There is a lack of understanding even the basics of Christian doctrine and biblical teaching.  This is why, as some of you have been notified already, that beginning in January we are going to work even harder to ensure our small groups are all on the same page biblically.  Sunday is important – and yet, for many, it’s become an afterthought.  We desire to have the very best, biblically sound small group leaders possible.  The expectations for our leaders are deepening across the board as we seek to provide our leaders all the resources necessary, including intense biblical training, in order to ensure that we who have been given the role as leaders understand the great responsibility God has given us and therefore, provide the most solid teaching across the board possible.
  2. Christians are becoming more ingrown and less outreach oriented.  This is true across the board and yet, we are striving to ensure that we don’t become a “holy huddle” or “country club church.”  This is a constant challenge.  It’s the battle between the “take care of our own kind” Christians to being Great Commission minded.  You’ll recognize this trend when you hear folks complain about so much money and resources going out of the church for mission related ministries throughout the world.  They’ll say things like “We have too much going out and not enough staying here.” 
  3. Community service and justice ministry with no biblical footing.  We knew this was coming as God began to rebirth a calling to missional ministries throughout churches.  Missional is a new term, but not a new concept.  The simple understanding is of being the church in the community through actions and service.  We have been placed in this mode for the past few years at an increasing rate.  The danger is this – it does no good to offer services, work on projects, provide benevolent aid to others if we do so in order to feel better about ourselves and miss that the reason we do so is to share the love of God and the hope that is offered through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  It’s not about getting people to join our church – but it is about growing the kingdom of God by introducing more to Him.

 

There are many good trends as well, but we must guard against drifting from the presence of God in the name of ministry.  Other churches and denominations throughout history have done this and today are nothing but shells of what they used to be and should be and therefore, do not have the hand of God upon them.

When leaders fail to seek the face of God and slide into selfishness and focus on personal gain, the people suffer.  As has been said often “As the shepherd goes, so goes the flock.” 

Micah addresses this throughout the remainder of chapter 3, but expresses hope when describing how God had sent him to share the truth – and to warn the people of their ways.  The following chapter takes an upswing at the blessings that will come for God’s people following judgment.

Micah 4

1    It shall come to pass in the latter days

    that the mountain of the house of the Lord

    shall be established as the highest of the mountains,

    and it shall be lifted up above the hills;

    and peoples shall flow to it,

2    and many nations shall come, and say:

    “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,

    to the house of the God of Jacob,

    that he may teach us his ways

    and that we may walk in his paths.”

    For out of Zion shall go forth the law,

    and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

3    He shall judge between many peoples,

    and shall decide for strong nations afar off;

    and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,

    and their spears into pruning hooks;

    nation shall not lift up sword against nation,

    neither shall they learn war anymore;

4    but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,

    and no one shall make them afraid,

    for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

5    For all the peoples walk

    each in the name of its god,

    but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God

    forever and ever.

This latter day prophecy speaks of a time when God will bring to consummation all the events in history.  The time of these “last days” are not given.  This is because Israel was supposed to be looking all the time for the consummation of the ages – as is the church.  We are to live with our bags packed, ready to go.

These end times prophecies have been dissected over and over.  The millennial temple to be built will be in Jerusalem on the Mountain of the Lord.  This Mount Zion will become chief among the mountains, in other words, it will be the center of the millennial government, the place where Christ will rule. Jerusalem will be the place of instruction for the entire world and God’s revelation will come from this city.  Peace will come.  Israel will be regathered. 

All these things and more will occur when Christ returns. . .and yet when this was written, the concept of the Second Coming was not clear.  The coming of Messiah was yet to come. 

Just one chapter prior, a desolate Jerusalem is pictured.  Now a beautiful city will rise.

This picture of restoration is prophetic to the end times but also a picture of the heart of man – transformed by the hand of God.

When we think of the Christmas story – we think of a birth- of new life.  That’s what God offers you today.  Just as the illustrations from Micah’s prophecies show a renewed city, so is God’s plan for your life.  Do you need a new start?  Do you need renewal?  That’s God’s offering today.

Christmas is about a birth, but this Christmas may be about your new birth.  You have the opportunity today to respond.

Now, as believers, we wait for the prophecies of Micah and other true prophets to come true.  We wait for the clouds to open up and the children of God to be raptured and for Christ to come again. 

We wait, and yet we cannot wait idly.  Peter speaks of speeding Christ’s return in his second letter.  In the Gospel of Matthew, we are told what is keeping Christ from returning today.

Matthew 24:14

14And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

This day that Micah and other prophets speak of is coming and though we don’t know the day or time, we play a role in speeding its coming.  For the first time in history, we can see the end.  How?  This passage in Matthew reminds us that when the gospel is proclaimed to all nations (people groups of the world) the end will come.  For the first time, we can identify all the people groups – these aren’t limited to political borders.  As our International Mission Board is asking this year “Are we there yet?”  No, but we’re close.

The warnings from Micah to stay true to the teachings of the Word, to ensure our lives match our teachings, to take the responsibility as God’s children speak to us today.

Oh God, fill this place with your presence.  Fill our hearts with your presence so that we may be used by you in this great story.


Presence #2 - Micah Chapter 2

This is the second message in our series on Micah. . .taking the scenic route to Bethlehem and the Christmas Story.

01 Presence #2 - Micah Chapter 2

I shared last week a little about my Christmas memories with my grandparents and the great desire I had to spend time with them. 

This time of year offers a wide spectrum of emotions for people.  Some happy, some sad.  Some exciting and others tragic. 

I fear we often find ourselves in the Christmas season and, even as Christians, forget the reason that Christ truly came.  There is so much more to the story than Nativity scenes, heavenly host in the sky and wise men from the East – yet all those are key.  They just point toward the real meaning of the story.

Last week we began this series called “Presence” focusing on the great desire we have built within us to experience the presence of God – and yet, those things in life that often keep us from experiencing that.

We’re taking a little different route to the Christmas story by starting in the Old Testament book of Micah.  This book was written by the prophet Micah, from the small town of Moresheth about 700 years before the birth of Christ.  It may seem strange to take this route to that small cave in Bethlehem, but if you’ll stay with me this month, you’ll enjoy a scenic route to the familiar Christmas story.

Today I want to focus on the prophecies found in Micah chapter 2.

Micah’s message to the people of God was one of warning and repentance.  As we discussed last week, the people of God had so removed themselves from His presence that they were drifting away from the protection, teaching and righteousness of the Father.

A loving Father will not allow an “anything goes” attitude to propagate. Therefore, Micah speaking for God, gave prophetic words that were not readily accepted nor appreciated.

The prophet begins with a “woe” to the people.  It’s a cry of lament and warning and was used by many prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, and others to announce the guilt and coming judgment of God upon sinful people..

Micah 2

1    Woe to those who devise wickedness

    and work evil on their beds!

    When the morning dawns, they perform it,

    because it is in the power of their hand.

2    They covet fields and seize them,

    and houses, and take them away;

    they oppress a man and his house,

    a man and his inheritance.

3    Therefore thus says the Lord:

    behold, against this family I am devising disaster,

    from which you cannot remove your necks,

    and you shall not walk haughtily,

    for it will be a time of disaster.

4    In that day they shall take up a taunt song against you

    and moan bitterly,

    and say, “We are utterly ruined;

    he changes the portion of my people;

    how he removes it from me!

    To an apostate he allots our fields.” 

5    Therefore you will have none to cast the line by lot

    in the assembly of the Lord.

By moving themselves so far from the law and teachings of God (i.e. not spending time in the Word and therefore forsaking the presence of God) the attitude and actions of the people of God were looking more like those who had never known Him.

Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds!  Woe to you who go to bed angry, planning ways to gather more riches for yourselves by taking from others.  The law of God states that to covet and steal are sins, and these sins remove you from the strong presence of God, and yet, you devise new and creative ways to do such things.  You have made your god the material possessions of this world.  You have bought the lie of materialism and the accumulation of earthly wealth – even if it as the expense of others.

We wonder how an Old Testament prophet can connect with our modern interpretations and celebrations of Christmas and, yet, I read here of the rampant materialism that was evident in the world of Micah.  That, my friends speaks to us today.

We seek to find the greatest deals of the season.  The hottest toy of the year is always newsworthy.  The news still shows clips of the 1980s as adults ran over one another in local stores to grab the last Cabbage Patch Kid on the shelves.

It’s not reserved for toys and children.  Lexus runs an annual campaign where their cars are seen on television with giant red bows upon them. 

We even see the “hottest gifts of the year” categorized each year.  I wonder what happens to all those hot gifts in the months to come.  Somewhere there’s a box full of Furby’s, Millenium Barbies, Tickle Me Elmos and Cabbage Patch Kids and other old “gotta have it gifts.”

While seeing what gifts become the hottest of the season, the danger is when receiving these (or even giving them) become all consuming.  It’s amazing how easily we’re manipulated into “needing” certain things.  It feeds our naturally selfish nature.

We talked about this last month as we discussed the actions of believers through the teachings of James.  Apart from the Spirit of God, we all drift naturally toward a “me first” mentality of life that is played out in selfishness. . .even among religious matters.

Micah claims a “woe” and then shares what will happen to the people of God if they do not change their ways.

As we see what is going on among the people of God in Micah’s day, we run the risk of being more like them than we’d like.  The God-given desire for His presence and the longing for oneness with God is often minimized or even seemingly gone when we turn inward and think only of self.

The people Micah was speaking to were the descendants of the Israelites who had spent most of their lives as slaves in Egypt. They had been rescued and now were living free in the land promised to them by God. . . only to become slaves once again – not to the Egyptians, but to the selfish whims and desires of their hearts.

Micah continues and shares about the reaction of some other prophets of the day.

6    “Do not preach”—thus they preach—

    “one should not preach of such things;

    disgrace will not overtake us.”

7    Should this be said, O house of Jacob?

    Has the Lord grown impatient?

    Are these his deeds?

    Do not my words do good

    to him who walks uprightly?

8    But lately my people have risen up as an enemy;

    you strip the rich robe from those who pass by trustingly

    with no thought of war.

9    The women of my people you drive out

    from their delightful houses;

    from their young children you take away

    my splendor forever.

10    Arise and go,

    for this is no place to rest,

    because of uncleanness that destroys

    with a grievous destruction.

11    If a man should go about and utter wind and lies,

    saying, “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,”

    he would be the preacher for this people!

In this age, 700 years before the birth of Christ, there were prophets in the land.  These prophets were said to speak for God.  They could be categorized in two ways – false or bad prophets and true or good prophets.

We often think of this categorization and with bad prophets believe they were telling the people terrible and nasty things regarding the Lord.

In truth, the bad or false prophets were sharing with the people, not that bad things would happen or tying times were on the horizon, but that God would never punish or cause harm to come to His children.  They would share that God brought only good times and prosperity, for that was his desire for his people.

So, what makes these prophets “bad.”  They are bad or false prophets because that which that shared with the people, though sounding good, were lies.

The false prophets that Micah was facing were not helping the people at all.  The people’s value system had so degraded over time (sound familiar) that they would readily follow the teachings of false prophets who only told them what they wanted to hear and would preach of wine and strong drink and good times.

There were many false prophets in the day of Micah and they were not friends of Micah.  In fact, they were pretty indignant regarding Micah’s prophecies of coming disaster upon God’s people.  They encouraged him to stop his prophecies regarding judgment.

They even questioned whether a loving God would ever really be angry with his people.  Surely God would never do such things as Micah spoke of.

This false teaching of the “manageable God” is not just something from 700 years before Christ.  It is prevalent among modern-day Christianity, or pseudo-Christianity.  Universalists love this type of teaching – that everyone will make it to heaven because God loves everyone.

Even some who claim to be Christians build theologies on feel-good, positive-thinking, best-life offerings that amazingly never go toward the teaching of righteousness, sin, judgment, repentance and new life.

Micah addresses this here.  His message is a clarion call to the people of God to listen to his teachings, repent of their sins and change their evil ways.

He responds to the false prophets admonition to stop the “negative prophecies” by stating that God’s words do good to him whose ways are upright.  In other words – our God, who truly is a loving a patient God is also a God of judgment.  He accurately judges human behavior.  He blesses the righteous – therefore, he must judge the unrighteous.

Micah reminds those chastising him that by prophesying peace rather than destruction and judgment, they were actually treating God’s people as if they were the enemies of the true prophets and therefore of God.

There is a truth here that spans the ages.  It is true that God is love and forgiving and holy, but that holiness also requires a righteousness that includes justice.

The false prophets of Micah’s day were setting people up, not for victory and life, but for defeat and death.

We think about Christmas and celebrate the birth of Christ, but in the midst of setting up our Nativity sets and getting the tree trimmed and singing our carols, it is very easy and often common to forget the true meaning of what we celebrate.

Oh, and I’m not even talking about Keeping Christ in Christmas.  There are many who still say "Merry Christmas," have the baby Jesus front and center in their Nativity sets and all yet still, even as Christians forget the purpose of the story.

Just as the people of Micah’s day, the people of Mary and Joseph’s day and the people of our day have a great need.

This need is in all of humanity.  It’s a void.  It’s an emptiness.

The false prophets of Micah’s day dared not speak of it.  Why?  Because it did not feel good.

Some churches in our culture today gather regularly but never speak of it.

And they become apostate churches – a waste of time and property.

The birth of Christ is essential for you.

You need an advocate, a intermediary, a sacrifice, a Savior.

The joy of the birth of Christ – which occurred under great duress and difficult circumstances – is that it was designed to lead to death.

Jesus – born to die. . . for you, to bring glory to the Father.

The prophet Micah came to tell the people that this just God who seems so terrible and powerful and will hand horrible judgment upon His people is truly loving and that through repentance of sin and a return to His righteousness, they would be saved.

You get the same offer today – despite the fact you don’t deserve it, you are being offered the greatest gift of all today.  You can experience the presence of God in a way that words cannot explain.  You don’t have to be a slave to the world, to materialism, to selfish desires, to anger and pain.

You have a hope and that hope is found in Christ.

We must remember that the road to the Christmas story is a painful one at times.

It requires hard decisions and battles must be waged.

The false prophets of Micah’s day wanted people to just put their heads in the sand and pretend everything was OK. . .but it wasn’t.

We must not be fooled here.

God’s calling for his people is toward righteousness and righteous living.

We read Micah’s warnings and think “Wow, God was pretty harsh.”  Really?  If God were unloving and harsh, he wouldn’t have bothered having Micah show up to warn the people. 

God always offers warning, instruction and opportunity.

We face that today.

Are you one who has put off surrendering to Christ?

Are you one who has a hard time believing that hard times will come to Christians?

Is your understanding of God more of a “manageable, controllable, sweet, easy going God?”

Like Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia – He is not safe, but He’s good.

We must grasp this.

There is hope for those in Christ. . .

12    I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob;

    I will gather the remnant of Israel;

    I will set them together

    like sheep in a fold,

    like a flock in its pasture,

    a noisy multitude of men.

13    He who opens the breach goes up before them;

    they break through and pass the gate,

    going out by it.

    Their king passes on before them,

    the Lord at their head.

Warning – punishment

Opportunity – a new assembly, home and the King will lead the way.


"The Butterfly Circus" - 20 Minutes of Inspiration

I saw this film about a week ago with a group from Lakeside Junior High.  I wanted others to see it and purchased the DVD.  Our family watched it tonight.  This film has so many messages at so many levels - grace, acceptance, the power of "us", transformation, life, etc.

I know it's 20 minutes long, but you would be wise to take the time and watch.  Perhaps, if we can get the licensing, we'll show it during one of our church gatherings.

 

I watched the special features on the DVD.  I always enjoy seeing the behind the scenes info and outtakes.

I knew some of the actors looked familiar.

  • Mendez is played by Eduardo Vera'stegui - Remember him as the star of Bella?
  • Will the "Limbless Man" is played by Nick Vujicic.  He's been featured on YouTube for years and you probably have had clips of his story emailed to you.
  • Otto is played by Doug Jones.  I've never seen Pan's Labyrinth, but I've seen stills from it.  he plays the character with eyes on his hands.
  • Poppy is played by Bob Yerkes - a stunt man who doubled for Doc Brown at the end of Back to the Future when the lightning struck the clock tower as well as the stunt double for Boba Fett in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.  He said that he was typecast in this film as an old trapeze artist.  He's great as Poppy.

Apparently, they are making it into a feature film.  Can't wait to see the story unfold even more.

To order your own copy of the DVD, go to www.thebutterflycircus.com

 

 


Presence #1 - Micah Chapter 1

Taking the "scenic route" to the Christmas story by starting in the Old Testament book of Micah.  This timeless prophecy speaks to us today.

Presence #1 - Micah Chapter 1

In this season of holidays, beginning with Thanksgiving and culminating with Christmas, a wide variety of emotions are experienced. 

In many families, children see this time as an opportunity to visit with grandparents and uncles, aunts and cousins.  In my experience these annual get-togethers were the norm growing up.

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Oh how as a little boy I’d look forward to that last day of school before Christmas Day as we would load up in the old Buick and head up to Tennessee.  I remember my dad telling me the names of the little towns we’d go through once we made it to that state highway south of Paris.  I’d watch the signs and count down the towns until we finally passed the giant catfish on the sign that said “Paris, TN – Home of the World’s Largest Fish Fry.”  That sign is still there. 

The anticipation was incredible, until we finally pulled up that gravel driveway to my grandparents’ homes. 

It’s kind of funny as I think back now.  My dad was an only child (well he had a sister who died as a child) and my mom’s only sibling was about ten years older than her so her kids were older than me.  It wasn’t like I was arriving at the old homestead to play with tons of cousins and other kids.  It was basically just sitting around and spending time with my grandparents, literally. . .there was a lot of sitting around.  I wonder why I so looked forward to that time with such high anticipation?  Yet, those were precious times. 

I’m sure your varied stories are much different than mine.  Now, some may relate to some aspects, but that’s what so amazing about us – we all have unique stories.  Everyone here has a unique story.  Our stories are identified with traditions and special events.  Many exciting or  incredible.  Some funny.  Some special.  Others painful, maybe dangerous or even forgetful.  I’m sorry if your story has more chapters of pain and sorrow than joy.  The thing you need to know today is that you’re story is not complete.  Joy comes in the morning – remember this.

You know what, though, as I reminisce here with you this morning, I realize what it was that made me anticipate arrival at my grandparents’ homes so strongly.  It wasn’t the toys that awaited (there weren’t many.)  It wasn’t the food (though thinking back, that was pretty incredible.)  It wasn’t getting to drive the tractor or going hunting for rabbits (which I did with my grandfather.)  It was the great desire to just be with these folks. To be in their presence.

So, now when these holidays come around, I can’t help by think of those days.  I think of them fondly and though both sets of grandparents are no longer here, I smile when I think of the reunion that will occur one day – knowing they are in heaven now.  Our church family has experienced three funerals this past week and we have one scheduled for the upcoming week and as I meet with families and prepare funeral sermons, I can’t help but imagine how our grief will be turned to joy at that day of reunion.

The great desires we have to be in the presence of loved ones, whether those who have passed away and are no longer here, or those who live in other parts of the country, or family who are serving in the military and are stationed elsewhere, maybe even on the other side of the world are desires that are God-given.

Relationship is key and runs deep.  While in our age of social media and digital connectivity, there is still something deeper and more real through proximity.  Nearness, closeness, being in the presence of loved ones is vital.  It’s how we’re wired – even the most hardened “loner” needs relationship to be healthy.

While it is difficult to be away from loved ones, it is tragic to feel distant from God – to long for his presence, but to find it lacking.

Normally during this time, we’ll open the New Testament and look at the stories of the nativity and the Christmas story characters.  However, this year, we’re going to take a little different approach.  I struggled with where to go this month in these studies and literally spent all of the past couple of weeks trying to discover where God was leading.  The logical route would be to open the Gospel of Luke and just begin with the story of Christ’s birth once again, but the more I tried to do this, the more I felt God leading to, not a New Testament passage, but an Old Testament one.  So, for fear of missing His lead, I invite you to open your Bibles to the book of Micah.

Micah is located in a section of books we call the minor prophets.  His writings are in the second half of the Old Testament.  It’s not a long book, so you can easily miss it.

Little is known about the author Micah.  We do know his name is a nickname for the Hebrew name Micaiah – which means “Who is like Yahweh?”

Micah was from Moresheth, a small Judean town about 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem near a Philistine city called Gath.

He was a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah and spoke warnings to the people of God about the coming destruction of the Northern Kingdom by the Assyrians and of the Southern Kingdom by the Babylonians.  Therefore – kings didn’t really like to hear his prophecies.  Yet, he spoke truth.

His messages began with the command to “hear” or “listen” to what the Lord was saying.

Though Micah mentioned the defeat of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, his primary audience were those in the Southern Kingdom of Judah.  This was a book about discipline by a loving Father.

Micah 1

1The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.

2    Hear, you peoples, all of you; pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it, and let the Lord God be a witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.

 3    For behold, the Lord is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth.

 4    And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open,

    like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place.

 

5    All this is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel.

    What is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And what is the high place of Judah?

    Is it not Jerusalem?

6    Therefore I will make Samaria a heap in the open country, a place for planting vineyards,

    and I will pour down her stones into the valley and uncover her foundations.

7    All her carved images shall be beaten to pieces, all her wages shall be burned with fire,

    and all her idols I will lay waste, for from the fee of a prostitute she gathered them,

    and to the fee of a prostitute they shall return.

Sounds like the Christmas story, right?

What is Micah talking about?  What’s going on here?

How does this correlate with the concept of “presence of God?”

It’s like the memories of a lost or estranged loved one – you don’t appreciate the relationship or the presence of that other individual sometimes until it’s gone.

In this case, the children of Israel – the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah had been carrying this relationship as God’s chosen in a prideful way and in truth had begun to take it for granted.  The closeness of God had evaporated.

God will not be taken for granted.  He is not just another deity in a pantheon of created “greater beings.”  The relationship God created with His people – through the covenants made with Abraham and Moses and even David is sacred – holy, not to be taken lightly.

When you begin to take things for granted, you minimize their importance.

The people of God had slid into the mode.  The sad truth is that while we often chastise these Old Testament Israelites for their roller coaster of faith, we often replicate it.

Culturally we are guilty of this.  As churches, we do this when we forget the reason we exist.  As individuals – and I’m talking about Christians here, we can fall into the same mode.  Then we wonder why we don’t feel God’s presence at times.

So, Micah the prophet speaks to us.

“Hear, you peoples, all of you; pay attention”  Micah makes it clear that the message is not just designed to be a historical footnote, but as God leads, the message is inspired and the principles are timeless.

Today, we talk of an assault on Christmas.  Oh it’s true.  It’s an assault on Christianity and, by the way, it’s been going on for about. . .oh, since the Garden of Eden.  Regardless, we lament that Christmas is being secularized and abbreviated X-mas, forgetting that the X when first used represented the cross of Christ and was not designed to erase Christ from the holiday.  However, today that is why it’s often used.  Regardless, we wage wars to “Keep Christ in Christmas” and I’m with you – the phrase “Happy Holidays” is so watered down and in truth meaningless.  But, as we’re getting all worked up over “Happy Holidays” cards and X-mas signs and Holiday Trees and the like, what do we do in February or May or August? 

We live in a culture of anger and one where believers go to bed mad about stuff that won’t matter in eternity, Christ is often forgotten more in our lives as believers than in the propaganda of the unsaved Mad Men promoting sales and holidays and what not.

So, from the pages of history, God speaks to us through the words of his prophet Micah.

Micah says that judgment will come and that “the Lord will come from His holy temple.”  Now, we know (and they knew) that no building, no earthly temple could hold God.  In 1 Kings 8:27 we’re reminded that not even all of creation could contain the Creator of it all.  This dwelling place – this temple – is in heaven.  God, however, has chosen to relate with His people – to connect with them – to allow his presence to be in the same locality as His people.  He localized His presence in the tabernacle and later in the earthly temple above the mercy seat located on the lid of the ark of the covenant (you remember the ark?  The gold box that Moses was instructed to create to house the stones of the Ten Commandments and other items – you know, the one Indiana Jones was searching for?)

The people of God were responsible for living according to His plans – His commands – His guidelines.  The illustration is incredible.  His law is in the box, under the mercy seat – under His presence.  To fulfill the law places you, us, in such close proximity to the Father – for he is seated upon it.

Yet, the people of God had been disobedient.  God had, as at other times, been very patient, but the time was coming for judgment.  There would be no more waiting.  There would be no more opportunities to rectify the situation on our own.  The people of God were so far away from the holy presence of God, that the only recourse would be discipline through judgment.  What would the people be judged against?  The Word of God – that which was placed under the presence of God.

So, when Micah states that God is coming from His holy temple, he is speaking of the witness against the nation meaning He would judge them on the basis of the Mosaic covenant (the law).  In other words, the excuse of “We didn’t know any better.” regarding how to live was empty.

Micah’s illustrations are pretty overwhelming.  God, pictured walking as a gigantic person stepping on mountains, from one peak to another.  No natural boundary or barrier would stop him.  God’s majesty is made clear.  He is capable of doing whatever He desires.

It sounds very threatening as Micah describes the coming judgment:  mountains melting, water rushing, valleys split, cities destroyed, peoples dispersed.

Micah then tells us why this is coming:  “All this for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel.”  In other words – this is the result of sin.  The people who had the great privilege of experiencing a closeness to God unlike any other group on the planet had fallen into one of the greatest sins of all – the sin of forgetfulness and unbelief.  For some reason God wasn’t viewed as the sovereign Creator, Father, Provider, Healer that He is.  While it’s a historical story and focused on God’s relationship with the Jewish people, we must remember as believers are grafted branches in the same tree and, as you know, we often repeat history.

Judgment was coming not because God ceased to be love.  Judgment was to come wholly because God is love.  The people of God had moved from the presence of God. 

God’s law – the fence he has placed around His children – exists to bring glory to the Father because He is holy and in so doing, shows His great love for people in that people are protected, close to the Father, experiencing His presence and have their blind eyes opened.

For these people God had become nothing more than a ritual, a routine.  He was no longer personal – and yet, He had NOT changed at all. 

The people of God had begun worshipping idols, falling in love with money and earthly riches.  They had prostituted themselves with false gods.  They were religious, but shallow. 

Micah stated what his response would be as God’s prophet to get the attention of the people

8    For this I will lament and wail; I will go stripped and naked; I will make lamentation like the jackals, and mourning like the ostriches.

9    For her wound is incurable, and it has come to Judah; it has reached to the gate of my people,

    to Jerusalem.

That would get my attention – a naked prophet running through the nation crying, wailing, and screaming.  Micah was saying that even though the people are excusing their sin, the greatness of their sin was reaching throughout the region and consequently bringing shame to the people of God and ultimately to God. 

In the remaining verses of chapter one, there is a repeat of a statement made by David many years earlier- “Tell it not in Gath” meaning that the enemies of God will love to hear how his people are acting.  Kind of like today when a Christian, church or pastor falls publicly and the world says “See, I told you they were all hypocrites.”

As a teenager did your parents ever tell you before you went out with friends to behave and “remember who you are” or “remember your name?”  It’s a loving reminder from a parent for the child – remember who you are.  Remember you are greatly loved and you carry our name with you wherever you go. Don’t do anything to harm the good name.

The same is true of our Heavenly Father – as Christians we are to “remember our name” as we live in this foreign land.  Don’t forget who you are and most importantly, whose you are.

All illustrations fall apart at some point, yet they are valuable in helping our little brains attempt to grasp difficult concepts.

I shared of my Christmas trips to my grandparents homes.  I loved those days, but I always knew they were leading to a very difficult day.  That moment when we’d load back up in that Buick and pull out of the gravel driveway heading back to our home.  I can still see my granddaddy and grandma standing on the porch with tears running down their eyes.  The car was very silent.  It was always difficult.  As I grew older I tried to be tough, but I still felt it – that pang of separation was coming.

As we read the prophecies of Micah we might fall into the belief that God really loves punishing His people.  Oh, that’s not the case at all.  Hang with us through this month and you’ll discover that more clearly. 

I know this may not be the most accurate picture, but I can imaging God’s eyes tearing up as He watches His children slowly move away from His presence. . .not to go back home to get back to work or school, but in a move away from His protection, His power and His presence out of rebellion.

Be honest today.  Where are you with God at this very moment?  Are you in His presence?  Do you long to be with Him?  Do you seek Him?  Are you experiencing Him personally and powerfully now?

If not, then as the old pastor once said “Someone’s moved and it wasn’t God.”

You can come to Him today.  You don’t have to count the small town signs to see how close you are.  You’re close right now.  Just are you willing to step out and come to Him?  He’s waiting for you to come home today.


WAY Radio 50th Anniversary featuring Alistair Begg (Part 3)

Here is part three of the recording.  This portion features the message by our guest speaker, Alistair Begg.

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During this message, Pastor Begg references a painting by Paul Gauguin titled "D'ou venons-nous? Que sommes-nous? Ou allons-nous?"  Below is an image of the famous painting that asks the questions Begg addresses.

Gauguin painting


WAY Radio 50th Anniversary featuring Alistair Begg (Part 2)

Apparently, iTunes is only pulling the first part of the WAY Radio Celebration, so I have to make three separate postings of the recordings.  You can listen here or download as a podcast in iTunes, just click "Subscribe to my Podcast" in the left side menu or search "David Tarkington" in the iTunes Store.

Here's Part 2. . .

 

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WAY Radio 50th Anniversary featuring Alistair Begg (Part 1)

Alistair Begg
On Thursday, December 2, our church was proud to host the 50th Anniversary Celebration of AM 550 WAY Radio.  WAY Radio broadcasts solid biblical teaching from some incredible speakers daily.  Featured at this event were special guests Dave Spiker, the intro voice for such radio broadcasts at Insight for Living with Charles Swindoll and The Urban Alternative with Tony Evans, and Alistair Begg, pastor and speaker for Truth for Life Ministries.  He shared some great "behind the scenes" stories of radio ministry.

WAY Radio and Alistair Begg have graciously allowed us to offer the messages from last night's event free on this blog and on my podcast.  The message is in three parts.  The first two parts feature history of WAY Radio, Dave Spiker's memories and some inspiring testimonies.  The third part features the message by Pastor Alistair Begg.

 

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Are We There Yet?

I've been looking over some resources for this year's Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.  This year's theme is "Are We There Yet?"  I'm moved whenever I hear stories of missionaries serving throughout the world.  This year, it's no different and yet, the message is so clear and timely.

I've asked each of our small groups to adopt an unreached people group.  Some groups have.  I fear that many still may not understand the urgency of praying for these people.  Watch this clip and I believe you will begin to see why this is so important for the cause of Christ.