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Posts from March 2010

"Be The Church" - Beginning Next Week

In an effort to move our church from the old model of internal ministry to a more kingdom oriented missional effort, we are beginning with a theme called "Be the Church."  As you know, the church is not the building, but the people.  We, therefore, are called not to just come and sit, but to go and "be the church" in our community and around the world.

It begins here, but as I shared last year during our Acts 1:8 focus, the idea of being God's witnesses here and globally must take place simultaneously.  We have a team going to the Far East next week to serve and one of our pastors is actually in Honduras this week looking over a site that has been secured for a new church plant.  This global effort is not optional, but it must not be all we do.

Beginning in May you will hear more about the "Be the Church" movement and I pray that you all get caught up in it.  To be caught up in a movement, something bigger than ourselves is exciting.

However, with Spring Break upon us beginning Friday, we have an opportunity to "be the church" beginning next Monday, April 5.  Here's the info regarding this opportunity:

Over spring break we have been given the opportunity to help a lady in our community who has a very aggressive form of cancer. No one can tell her if this cancer will take her life or not, but Melissa Wheeler is full of life and hope.


Our goal is to love, encourage, and make her living conditions as safe and healthy as we possibly can.


Here is what we are doing: On April 5 we are going to be painting the interior of her house. We are estimating that this will take about 3 days. On Thursday and Friday we are going to be getting things back in order and giving the house a deep "good ole fashioned" spring cleaning.


Though over Spring Break, this is not a student ministry project.  We are looking for "the church" to step up and be the people God has called us to be. The church is about movement and action not sitting and listening, so let's get our hands dirty and "be the church" in our community.


DETAILS:  Meet in the church parking lot on Monday morning at 9am.  We will travel together to Melissa Wheeler's home.  We will work each day from 9am to 4pm.  If you cannot work each day or cannot meet at the church parking lot at 9am, just meet us at her home.


Here's her address:

2467 Lakeview Drive

Orange Park, FL 32073


Click here for map.

This is just the beginning.  I envision our two campuses going throughout our respective communities and discovering where we can serve.  It may be a neighbor's home, a public park, a community center. The opportunities are endless, but we must have the vision to see it.  You, your family and/or your small group can do this.  More info to come, but in the meantime, join us next week as we serve and continue praying as this movement grows.

Be the church copy

So, Was Jesus Crucified on Friday or Wednesday?

I brought this up in the first two services this morning and received some confused looks.  The third service this morning was going long, so I tried not to chase this rabbit, but thought that this would be a good place to address this.

First, what is "Holy Week" or "Passion Week?"  This is the time from Palm Sunday (today) through Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday).  Passion Week is so named because of the passion with which Jesus willingly went to the cross in order to pay the debt of our sins.  It's described in all four gospels and begins with the triumphal entry of Christ on a colt, as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9.

Maundy Thursday is also known as "Holy Thursday" and comes before Good Friday.  This is the name given to the day on which Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples, known now as the Last Supper.  The word "Maundy" comes from the Latin for "command."  This refers to the command Jesus gave his disciples at the Last Supper that they should love and serve one another.  


Many liturgical churches hold services and special events on Maundy Thursday.  Some Baptist churches do as well.  Should all churches do this?  The Bible neither commands nor forbids it.  It is a good thing to remember the events of the Last Supper (as we did this morning in worship) and especially the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  As long as people who choose to gather together on this day do so for the purpose of remembering the command of Christ and focus on the personal relationship one can have with Him, it can be a special occasion.  I, however, do not believe the church must be mandated to hold services on this day.  Those that choose to, more power to them.  It's a very special day.

Then, there's Good Friday.  This is the Friday immediately preceding Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday) and is celebrated as the traditional day on which Jesus was crucified.  The Bible does not instruct Christians to remember Christ's death by honoring a certain day.  The Bible gives us freedom in these matters - see Romans 14:4.  However, we are to remember the sacrifice Christ made for us, daily.  Whether or not Christians or churches choose to "celebrate" Good Friday, the events of the day should be ever in our minds.  Jesus' death on the cross is the paramount event in Christianity, except for the resurrection, which must have the crucifixion to occur.

OK, so we have those specially named days "Maundy Thursday" and "Good Friday" and it seems everything is in place on the calendar, until you look through the gospel accounts of the crucifixion and the prophecies Jesus made himself about his death and realize we have a number problem.  Now, this is nothing to die over, split a church over or fight about.  I just find it interesting.  This first came to my attention in Israel as I discussed with my friend and guide Yoni about the time issues.  He gave me some things to think about.

We all know that Jesus was to be dead three days and three nights.  I've heard explanations about how Friday to Sunday can be three days, but the more I look at it, the more that doesn't make sense.  So, here's some information from about this issue:

Question: "On what day was Jesus crucified?"

Answer: The Bible does not explicitly state on which day of the week Jesus was crucified. The two most widely held views are Friday and Wednesday. Some, however, using a synthesis of both the Friday and Wednesday arguments, argue for Thursday as the day.

Jesus said in Matthew 12:40, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Those who argue for a Friday crucifixion say that there is still a valid way in which He could have been considered in the grave for three days. In the Jewish mind of the first century, a part of day was considered as a full day. Since Jesus was in the grave for part of Friday, all of Saturday, and part of Sunday—He could be considered to have been in the grave for three days. One of the principal arguments for Friday is found in Mark 15:42, which notes that Jesus was crucified “the day before the Sabbath.” If that was the weekly Sabbath, i.e. Saturday, then that fact leads to a Friday crucifixion. Another argument for Friday says that verses such as Matthew 16:21 and Luke 9:22 teach that Jesus would rise on the third day; therefore, He would not need to be in the grave a full three days and nights. But while some translations use “on the third day” for these verses, not all do, and not everyone agrees that “on the third day” is the best way to translate these verses. Furthermore, Mark 8:31says that Jesus will be raised “after” three days.

The Thursday argument expands on the Friday view and argues mainly that there are too many events (some count as many as twenty) happening between Christ's burial and Sunday morning to occur from Friday evening to Sunday morning. Proponents of the Thursday view point out that this is especially a problem when the only full day between Friday and Sunday was Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. An extra day or two eliminates that problem. The Thursday advocates could reason thus: suppose you haven't seen a friend since Monday evening. The next time you see him it is Thursday morning and you say, “I haven’t seen you in three days” even though it had technically only been 60 hours (2.5 days). If Jesus was crucified on Thursday, this example shows how it could be considered three days.

The Wednesday opinion states that there were two Sabbaths that week. After the first one (the one that occurred on the evening of the crucifixion [Mark 15:42Luke 23:52-54]), the women purchased spices—note that they made their purchase after the Sabbath (Mark 16:1). The Wednesday view holds that this “Sabbath” was the Passover (see Leviticus 16:29-3123:24-3239, where high holy days that are not necessarily the seventh day of the week are referred to as the Sabbath). The second Sabbath that week was the normal weekly Sabbath. Note that in Luke 23:56, the women who had purchased spices after the first Sabbath returned and prepared the spices, then “rested on the Sabbath” (Luke 23:56). The argument states that they could not purchase the spices after the Sabbath, yet prepare those spices before the Sabbath—unless there were two Sabbaths. With the two-Sabbath view, if Christ was crucified on Thursday, then the high holy Sabbath (the Passover) would have begun Thursday at sundown and ended at Friday sundown—at the beginning of the weekly Sabbath or Saturday. Purchasing the spices after the first Sabbath (Passover) would have meant they purchased them on Saturday and were breaking the Sabbath.

Therefore, according to the Wednesday viewpoint, the only explanation that does not violate the biblical account of the women and the spices and holds to a literal understanding of Matthew 12:40, is that Christ was crucified on Wednesday. The Sabbath that was a high holy day (Passover) occurred on Thursday, the women purchased spices (after that) on Friday and returned and prepared the spices on the same day, they rested on Saturday which was the weekly Sabbath, then brought the spices to the tomb early Sunday. Jesus was buried near sundown on Wednesday, which began Thursday in the Jewish calendar. Using a Jewish calendar, you have Thursday night (night one), Thursday day (day one), Friday night (night two), Friday day (day two), Saturday night (night three), Saturday day (day three). We do not know exactly when He rose, but we do know that it was before sunrise on Sunday (John 20:1, Mary Magdalene came “while it was still dark”), so He could have risen as early as just after sunset Saturday evening, which began the first day of the week to the Jews.

A possible problem with the Wednesday view is that the disciples who walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus did so on “the same day” of His resurrection (Luke 24:13). The disciples, who do not recognize Jesus, tell Him of Jesus' crucifixion (24:21) and say that “today is the third day since these things happened” (24:22). Wednesday to Sunday is four days. A possible explanation is that they may have been counting since Wednesday evening at Christ's burial, which begins the Jewish Thursday, and Thursday to Sunday could be counted as three days.

In the grand scheme of things, it is not all that important to know what day of the week Christ was crucified. If it were very important, then God's Word would have clearly communicated the day and timeframe. What is important is that He did die and that He physically, bodily rose from the dead. What is equally important is the reason He died—to take the punishment that all sinners deserve.John 3:16 and 3:36 both proclaim that putting your trust in Him results in eternal life! This is equally true whether He was crucified on a Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.

Recommended Resource: The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary Habermas.

One thing this does is mess up the schedule for Holy Week.  Therefore, don't get too caught up in it if you celebrate Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  You could have Maundy Tuesday and Good Wednesday but that would be too confusing and just set you up for unnecessary arguments.  Remember the events of Holy Week.  The days aren't the big deal.  The important thing is we know Jesus died on the cross for us and in so doing, glorified the Father.  Three days later He arose from the dead and is alive today. . .so you and I can have life.  


Press Conference at Church Today

In our journey with the community and the Thompson family we find ourselves hosting a huge press conference today in relation to the murder of little Somer Thompson.

Some have asked why we would host such an event.  When asked by the Clay County Sheriff's Office, we knew it was the right thing to do.  Since the disappearance of Somer was announced, many in our church and community began searching the area for her.  The entire community came together for this effort and since the announcement of her body being found there has been a continued unity among the people of this community to find the killer.

We have been ministering to and praying for the Thompson family and have tried to be proactive in our community regarding the safety of children.  

So, we continue to be asked "Why are you so involved?"

I was asked that by reporters from television stations and radio stations and the answer is simple.

We know that God has placed us here as a church with a mandate to love and serve Him and to love the people in our world. . .and that starts with our own families and neighborhoods.  We are more concerned about kingdom growth than church growth, with people development than program development, with honoring God than pleasing people.  What we have discovered is that we must be involved.

We pray for all involved with this case and all affected. . .and that list is long.  Today, especially, we pray for our friend Diena Thompson and her family that God will bring continued healing.  Today's press conference is not the end.  We know that.

We just desire to be used by God for His glory.  As we told Deina and others months ago. . .when the story isn't the front page news any longer and others seem to get back to normal, we, the church, will still be here ready to help, minister, pray and support you and our community.  

Love God.  Love people.  

March Madness - Tips On Filling Out Your Bracket

March Madness is here. This is the best sports event of the year.  Yeah, I hear all you college football fans who think the BCS Championship is the biggest event - sorry, not without a playoff.  What about the Super Bowl - fun, but too much hype and rarely lives up to it.  As for the other sporting events that folks think are the biggest around:  Daytona 500, WrestleMania (do they even have that anymore?), the NBA Finals, World Series. . .they just don't compare.

There's something about having all these college basketball teams - many we hear about all the time, but some who find a way to win their conference tournament and end up dancing, that make it such a great event.

Just think about it, without the NCAA Tournament, unless you have a child attending one of these schools or lived near the campus, how many of us would even know about these schools from this year's tournament and tournaments past. . .

  • Gonzaga
  • Winthrop (shout out to Andy Crissinger)
  • Butler (The Gators still grimace when thinking of this team)
  • Murray State (The Racers - near where my parents live)
  • Siena
  • Arkansas Pine Bluff
  • Morgan State
  • Wofford
  • Richmond
  • Lehigh
  • North Texas Mean Green (of course if you go to church here, you know about the Mean Green)

These schools are legit and yet, some are small and others just don't have the publicity of an ACC, SEC or Big 12 school, so this is the only chance to see them.

So, get your brackets ready and remember, you can do more than one.  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Pick one bracket with your brain, not your heart, based on who you think will win each game. This is for the serious pickers who look at odds and matchups and waste way too much time studying the players' stats.
  2. Pick one bracket with your heart, not your brain, based on who you'd love to see win.  It's good to watch "Hoosiers" before picking this bracket.  Underdogs are always exciting.  In this bracket, North Texas wins it all.
  3. Pick one bracket as a mixture of both your brain and heart.  This is what I have done.  Though, I did not pick North Texas to win it's first game, I did pick Tennessee to win it all.  I know, I know, it probably won't happen - but they did knock off Kansas earlier this year when the Jayhawks were No. 1.  I just want to see Pearl sweat all over that orange jacket on national television.  I have UT playing Kentucky in the finals, but I couldn't pick Kentucky.  Do you know why?  Because I've never liked Kentucky.  Simple.
  4. Pick one bracket based on team colors.  The best uniforms win.  In this one, Minnesota will never win a game.
  5. Finally, pick one bracket based on the mascots.  Ask yourself this question, if these two mascots were to battle in real life, which would win.  In this scenario, you have to remember that the North Texas Mean Green mascot is actually an eagle.  Still, they're playing the Kansas State Wildcats, so it's hard to pick who would win.  I go with the eagle.  Other teams aren't so intimidating:  The Wofford Terriers (their mascot is the bug eyed black and white Boston Terrier), Sienna's mascot is a Saint Bernard (another dog that doesn't seem deadly, but can bring you a flask of brandy if you're trapped in the snow), Murray State's Racers (race horses) can out run the Vanderbilt Commodores so they win, UC Santa Barbara Gauchos could defeat Ohio State in this bracket since OSU is simply a nut.  However, who would win between Clemson and Missour? They're both Tigers.  You see how this works?  In this scenario, the championship game would probably have the Oakland Grizzlies playing the Montana Grizzlies.  Grizzly Bears are mean.

Well, hope you enjoy the games.  You can watch them on CBS Sports website and they even have a "Boss Button" (not that I'm recommending it) that you can click when watching at work.  When the boss comes around, click this button and a fake spreadsheet and PowerPoint screen comes up to hide the game. Funny. I wonder how much work is not done during this month because of these games?

Not that I would ever stop from working to watch basketball, but just so you know the North Texas - Kansas State game comes on at 2:40pm today. Good thing I have multiple screens on my computer and can multi-task.

Here's my bracket.  It's the heart/brain combination. 


Who Was St. Patrick and How Did He Get a Holiday?

Today is the day that shamrocks abound, people talk with fake Irish accents and in some places drink a lot of green beer (which even if I drank beer, green beer wouldn't sound very appealing.)  While the only leprechaun most of us have ever seen is Lucky (the guy who's always trying to protect his Lucky Charms, which by the way are "magically delicious" from kids wanting the red hearts, green clovers, purple horseshoes, etc.)


Saint-patrick-st-patrickHere you have this holiday - St. Patrick's Day - that seems just to be for fun.  I don't think anyone gets the day off work.  The biggest concern as a kid was to ensure you had something green on so no one pinched you.  At least that was what was going on 30 years ago.  Not too sure if pinching is allowed anymore.  It's probably classified as sexual harassment.


So, who is this Saint Patrick fellow? 


He is the patron saint of Ireland and one of Christianity's most widely known figures (thanks to the holiday.)  For all the celebrity surrounding Saint Patrick, his life remains pretty mysterious.  Most of the stories traditionally told of him, including the account of his banishing all snakes from Ireland, are false.  They are the products of hundreds of years of exaggerated storytelling.


His real name was Maewyn Succat.


In the fifth century, at age sixteen, he was captured from what is now Britain by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland.  From what we know Patrick's background was probably a mix of Roman and Welsh (or other closely related British Celtic language group.) He lived for six years on the isle before escaping and returning to his family.  He claimed a vision from God led him to escape, and later back home with his family another vision came to him calling him back to Ireland to help the Irish people.


He then took his vows as a priest, changed his name to Patrick and in 432 AD returned to Ireland on a mission.  He wrote in his autobiography about converting the Irish people to Christianity while building schools and churches along Ireland's coastline.


So where does the myth of Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland come?  The truth is there were never any snakes on the island.  The reality is that this story was more than likely a metaphor for Patrick's driving paganism off the island as he led people to Christ.


Another story has Patrick using the shamrock, the three-leafed version, in teaching the people about the Trinity.  This may be true, but there's no proof of it in Patrick's writings.


Why is St. Patrick's Day on March 17?  Supposedly, it's the day that Patrick died.  The Irish people so revered him that they began celebrating this special day.


So, there's a little history on St. Patrick.  There is a common prayer and song called "Saint Patrick's Breastplate." Now, as Baptists we don't have a book of prayers, but read through this.  It's powerful and there is much truth here.


I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spiced tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;

I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet 'well done' in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun's life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart's idolatry,
Against the wizard's evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

2 - Evil - "The Atheist's Greatest Excuse"

DISCLAIMER:  This sermon was presented on the Sunday that Daylight Savings Time began.  Therefore, like everyone else I received one less hour of sleep.  So, at the end of the message when I say "God hates marriage" ignore it.  I meant to say "Satan hates marriage."  I blame it on that lost hour of sleep.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  Now, I'll go take a nap.

 2-01 2 - Evil - The Atheist's Greate