Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Is there hope for God's people?

The Ezra Project

As part of my studies at the Moody Theological Seminary, I have been doing an in depth literary study through the book of Ezra.  I’ve learned a lot and been convicted by God’s Word through this study.  As a result of that work, I’d like to share what I’ve gleaned with you.  Would you join me over the next five Tuesdays on this study?   You’ll be able to choose the depth of your involvement, but the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it.  I’ll give you reading assignments, study questions, and homework that will help you apply the book of Ezra to your life.  Its up to you how deep you want to go.  If you choose to study along with me, please let me know in the comment section of the blog and please share what you are learning and any questions you have.  I look forward to doing this study with you!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rest to the Glory of God

Do you remember the stories of the mighty prophet Elijah?  He's the man who prayed that God would hold back the rain and God withheld rain for three and a half years.  Then he prayed again and it rained.  He's the guy who outran a chariot drawn by horses.  He's the one who didn't just die like the rest of us, but was taken into heaven in a fiery chariot!  He's also most often remembered for standing up all alone against the many prophets of Baal and defeating them in a worship contest.

But do you know the story of his depression?  Elijah had been serving God hard.  All day, every day, he was going all out for God.  He preached to a people who didn't want to listen.  He rebuked a people who grew angry instead of repenting.  Every day he lived among a people confused by idols.  After his victory against the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, the evil queen Jezebel ordered him hunted down.  As if Elijah didn't have enough problems, he is now running for his life.  He is burned out, exhausted, hopeless, and afraid.  The prophet was depressed.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Lesson of the Seat Hogger

Normally, I put up Feature Friday blogs about a recent movie, song, or news article.  But since the big talk of the town is the new Twilight movie and I can't stand them enough to write about them in length, I'll be sharing something I saw in real life this week. 

So I was riding on the train this Wednesday when I saw this.  Notice anything wrong here?  There were a lot of people standing who had no seat, including an older woman not shown in the picture.  The seat in front of me, as you can see, was occupied by two plastic bags.  A few people who got on the train would actually look right at the seat, then at the guy next to them, and back at the seat.  But the guy sitting there looked the other way every time.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Theology Thursday: Darwin, Evolution, and the Bible

What is evolution?  Does the Bible disagree with evolution?  Has evolution been proven a fact?  These are some questions I intend to answer.  Answering these questions could take up volumes, so I will not be able to address every little detail.  I will try to summarize but this is going to be a lot of info.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Good Dose of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is coming up pretty quickly.  We all have a lot of things to be thankful for.  Our family, friends, jobs, homes, full refrigerators, cars, church, toys, and so much more.  A lot of times, we say we are thankful for these things because it is the right thing to say, even when we don't necessarily feel very thankful.  But think about some times that you really, truly have felt thankful.  Maybe it was when you were younger and your parents bought you a video game system for Christmas that you had been dying to get all year.  Maybe it was when your spouse surprised you with an incredible day all about you.  Maybe it was when someone stood up for you or defended you in front of others.  Can you remember a time you were truly thankful?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Slow to Speak and Tweet

You probably know this guy.  You may have seen him on commercials, follow him on Twitter, remember him from That Seventies Show, know him as Demi Moore’s husband, or watch him now on Two and a Half Men.  You may not have heard about the recent trouble he got himself into on Twitter.  

Penn State recently fired football coach Joe Paterno.  Ashton Kutcher read a headline about it and, without knowing the full story, he put his opinion up on Twitter.  Kutcher said, “How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste.”  If you’ve been following the news or are really into college football, you know what a mistake this was.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Theology Thursday: Can Women Lead in the Church?

Most of us have never seen a female pastor or priest.  How come?  Is the church sexist?  Why can't women be leaders in the church?  What is the deal?

Well, not all Christians agree on this issue.  In fact, there are now several denominations of Christianity that are allowing women to be pastors.  So what is your opinion Pastor Mark? 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Do I have to go to church on Sunday?

Do I really have to go to church on Sundays?  As a youth pastor, I get this question a lot.  Teens in particular struggle with waking up early on Sundays, sitting through a sermon that is primarily geared toward adults, and being deprived from their video games for hours on end.

But, if we adults are honest, we struggle with those things too.  Sometimes its just been a long week and it would be so much simpler and easier to just stay home on Sunday morning.  There are Sundays when we attend church and for whatever reason just don't feel like we got much out of the sermon.  And that's not even mentioning the fact that going to church causes us to miss the first half of the game on TV.  These things are normal.  So... do I really have to go to church on Sundays?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Feature Friday: Terranova

Have you been watching Steven Spielberg's new masterpiece?  If you catch Terra Nova on Fox, you're in for breathtaking nature scenes, futuristic technology, and, best of all, dinosaur-packed action!

In the not so distant future, mankind's use of industry, cars, factories, and more has left the world extremely polluted.  Combined with over-population, the human race doesn't have long before its too late.  Laws limit a household to two children and purifying devices called re-breathers are needed to breathe outside air.  But there is hope. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Theology Thursday: Proving God Exists - Part 4

What makes something good and other things evil?  Why are some actions right and other actions wrong?  Why do almost all of us agree that stabbing someone out of jealousy is wrong but shooting someone in self defense and in defense of others is not?  Who decided how we ought and ought not act?  Are certain things right or wrong just based on our opinion?  Is it based on a certain set of laws?  Where does morality come from?

The Moral Argument

In our fourth attempt to prove the existence of God, we will be looking at another age old argument known as the moral argument.  This argument bases itself around the question, "Where does morality come from?"  There are several possible answers to this question, but only one answer makes sense.  The only logical answer to this question is that morality comes from a personal, absolute, transcendent being (God).  To read about this in depth, I highly recommend C.S. Lewis' book Mere Christianity.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Study, Do, Teach

I've been reading through Ezra for a class I'm taking and wanted to share some thoughts with you.  Ezra was a spiritual leader among God's people after they had returned from exile.  They had returned to a pretty ruined land and were in the process of rebuilding the city, the walls, the economy, the temple, and their relationship with God.  Ezra was used by God to lead the people in some of these areas, most important of which was their relationship with God.  Here is the verse that the whole book of Ezra is famous for and my thoughts on it.

 For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel. -- Ezra 7:10