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Obscure Characters: Joanna

Joanna

I am always amazed at the fact that I can read the Bible again and again, and still find something that seems new or something that I had missed. I believe that this is one of the many proofs that the Bible is exactly what it claims to be, given by the inspiration of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17). There are other books that we possess that after reading two or three times we can master. This is simply not true when it comes to studying the Bible. You can spend a lifetime studying the Bible and always find something new. This should not be surprising, since we would not expect our minds to be on the same level with God’s.

This scenario that I am speaking of happened to me last week. I found a character in the Bible that I had not noticed before. This character’s name is Joanna. If you had asked me before last week if the name Joanna was in the Bible I would have probably said, no. However, Joanna is in fact in the Bible. Her name is mentioned in Luke 8:3 and 24:10. I guess the thing that was more amazing to me is the fact that this woman was not tucked away in an Old Testament book that does not get much attention, but she is right there in one of the gospel accounts. How could I have not remembered seeing her name before? The fact remains that I did not. The Bible is truly an amazing book!

I want you to know that just because I have titled this article series “Obscure Characters” that does not mean that Joanna is unimportant. She is listed among a group of women who were healed at the hands of Jesus in Luke 8:2-3. The response of these women was to provide for the needs of Jesus as he traveled through their area. I would say that should raise a person out of obscurity. She was healed by Christ, and then had the opportunity to provide for his needs. Joanna was also a woman of high rank in Herod’s court. She was the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward (Luke 8:3). This would have put her in a position to have a great amount of influence.

The account of Joanna in Luke 8 is not the only mention of her that makes her important. She is mentioned in Luke 24 as being one of the women who witnessed the resurrection of our Lord (Luke 24:1-10). She would have also been in the group of women who took news of his resurrection to the apostles (Luke 24:10). I would say that would make her an important character. Her reputation as the wife of an important official in Herod’s court offers character that would not be easily discredited by those who would deny the resurrection. There are many great treasures like this waiting to be found in God’s word. Most of all the light that leads to eternal life is waiting in those sacred Scriptures (Psalm 119:105; Rom. 1:16; 10:17). Don’t waste the opportunity, get your Bible and dig in!

 

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

What is Valuable?

baseball cardsWhen I was a kid I loved collecting baseball cards. I would check the back of those cards to see what the guy’s stats were depending on whether or not he was a pitcher or a fielder. Then I would check the value of the card in the Baseball Card Price Guide. I imagine I talked about those cards and what they were worth until my parents were sick of hearing about it. My dad would always tell me that the cards were only worth what someone was willing to pay for them. I guess that is true with most things.

This weekend we were talking about toys from the movie Frozen. Apparently, Disney underestimated the popularity of the movie, and now the toys are impossible to find. People are even paying ridiculous prices for them on EBay. My son Logan made the comment that those toys are like diamonds. When he said that I kind of laughed inside, and started to inform him of how much more valuable diamonds really are. However, I stopped myself. I was reminded of what I was told about the value of baseball cards. I begin to try to reason in my mind why a diamond or gold is more valuable than most other things. Yes diamonds are fairly rare, but in reality they are only valuable, because people are willing to pay a high price for them. They look nice, but they do not do anything that adds value. They are simply worth what someone is willing to pay. Therefore, if the Disney toys look nice and people are willing to pay a high price for them, they are really no different than a diamond.

Diamonds, gold, toys, or any other possessions do not really add any value to our lives. They don’t feed us when we are hungry (unless we sell them), take care of us when we are sick, and they do not improve our lives spiritually. No one has ever been able to take one with them. If you think about it from that standpoint it seems silly that much of the world’s financial system is based on things like gold and diamonds.

The interesting thing is that our Lord has been trying to teach us this for hundreds of years. In the Old Testament God allowed Solomon to build him a temple that was made out of all kinds of precious metals and stones, but none of this improved the Israelites relationship with God. In fact that very temple was later looted and destroyed by the Babylonians (2 Chron. 36:18-19). Yet none of this had any effect on God. In the Old Testament physical things were pictures of spiritual things that are of true value in the New Testament (Heb. 8:3-5). They were not the real thing. In fact, Stephen made the point God does not dwell in temples made with hands (Acts 7:48).

So what is valuable? In God’s eyes we must be of the greatest value. After all God was willing to purchase us not with corruptible things like silver and gold, but with the precious blood of his son (1 Pet. 1:18-19). This should move us to take his advice, and lay up treasure in heaven not on earth (Matt. 6:19-20). Silver and gold will not purchase our way into heaven, and we will not take it with us. One day all those things will even disappear from earth (2 Pet. 3:10-11), at that point spiritual things will be the only ones that matter.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Love or Hate?

ducks

(This is my take on the Phil Robertson ordeal. I know I am a bit late, but one of the members where I preach asked for a way to share my article from last week’s bulletin. So, here it is.)

Phil Robertson spoke the words, but the idea was around long before Phil. You have probably heard by now that the Duck Commander himself, Phil Robertson was recently kicked off his own show by Arts and Entertainment Networks (A&E). The occasion was spurred by an interview that Robertson had with GQ Magazine. In Robertson’s interview he listed homosexuality in a class with a list of other sins such as bestiality. The reaction has been that “Phil Robertson” called homosexuals sinners. The point being ignored is that many years ago Paul left us a similar list in 1 Corinthians 6. Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit stated the following, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, not homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10).”

I want to make two observations before getting into the nuts and bolts of this fiasco. First, the Duck Dynasty crew being in partnership with such a liberal group as A&E was probably a mistake in the first place. The second mistake is being involved with Gentleman’s Quarterly. Aside from these things it is curious that comments such as Robertson’s are labeled as hate speech. Consider this, if a person loves his children will he discipline them or allow them to run wild? The answer of course is discipline. Children must be taught right from wrong in order to develop into something descent. It works the same way with Bible teaching. If you love a person, then you are not going to want that person to go to hell. Therefore, if you remain silent you allow the person to continue on untaught in sin. In contrast, if you teach the person the gospel then that person has opportunity to make it to heaven. The late Johnny Ramsey said that he sometimes believed that we want our neighbors to go to hell in a good humor. If we condemn sin we will eventually step on someone’s toes (cf. Rom. 3:23).

Unfortunately, Robertson was a little too brash with his language (you will have to investigate for yourself). Brash language throws open the door for the “hate speech” label. Toe stepping is okay, but there is no sense in stomping. There is no doubt that homosexuality is a sin, but there is a way of going about making that point. We must condemn sin, but let people know we love them just as God does (Rom. 5:8). We must let them know that if they are willing to change, God is willing to forgive (Acts 2:38). Hopefully this fiasco will cause someone to evaluate their lifestyle, and recognize that they are living in violation of the Holy Scriptures. Let us always take Paul’s advice and speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Jump In!

Jump In with Both Feet Take the Plunge

I am not generally a person who would bore you with a story about myself, but I am hoping that this small piece of my life will be of some benefit to you. The story began a few years ago at a small congregation just outside Glasgow, KY. The congregation had two preachers who filled the pulpit on alternating Sundays. If there were a fifth Sunday in the month, someone else would fill in. This is where my story began to change.

It was around this time that I was given the opportunity to preach on one of the open Sundays. I believe that the men of that congregation had a desire to make a preacher out of me. They started asking me to take all of the open Sundays as well as when one of the other preachers was sick or out of town.

I was studying as much as I felt I could, but I felt that I needed to get more education. I expressed my concerns to Steve Higginbotham. He pointed me to www.thebible.net. This is a great site, but I still felt that I needed more. Steve was preparing to move to the Karns congregation and encouraged me to come to the school (SEIBS/ETSPM). I was reluctant because of the money it would take for me to quit my job and move to Knoxville. After much encouragement from Steve, we decided to give it a shot. Steve and Kim gave us a great deal of help and support. We found lots of other generous people in local congregations.

I was surprised how easy it was for us to find the support we needed. Almost two years have past now. We will graduate in June. I hope that someone will read this post and consider going to preaching school, or someone will consider supporting someone else to go to preaching school. I will not tell you that the school is easy, but you will be glad you did it. Whether you are thinking about school or supporting someone, jump in with both feet!

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Serve the Lord!

The recent lectureship at Southeast (SEIBS/ETSPM) was based on the theme of being a servant. The cover of the lectureship book bears the image of one of Southeast’s students washing the feet of an instructor. The lectureship was a great success, and enjoyable for all that were involved. The lectureship was personally uplifting for me, and I was challenged by the wonderful speakers. I was challenged to consider my role as a Christian servant, and in my preaching on the role of a servant.

As I mentioned earlier the cover of our Lectureship book bears the image of foot washing. Keith Parker pointed out in his lecture that we need to be foot washers. That is we need to humble ourselves to the obedience of a lowly servant. Washing feet would be considered a low class job in any culture, but that should not be so among God’s people. There is no room for arrogance or pride in serving God (1 Pet. 5:5). Jesus washed the feet of the disciples in order to leave this very example (John 13:1-17).

I am afraid that the significance of being a servant is often overlooked when we search the scriptures for the means of our salvation. I am also afraid that the importance that our Lord has placed on being a servant and ministering to others has been neglected in our sermons. If we read carefully the words of our Lord in the latter part of Matthew 25 we will see that he puts serving others in the category of a necessity for salvation. In fact he says that those who did not serve will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life (Matt. 25:45-46). When you evaluate your life, and your preaching, don’t forget to be a servant!

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Cause To Cringe!

While searching the top stories this evening on Zite, I noticed at least three that caused me to cringe. These stories were dealing with hate crimes and racism. I grew up in a small town in South Central Kentucky, and this type of thing is not new to me. I guess it is just something that I have tried to push out of my mind in hopes that it was gone.

The story that really caught my attention was related to a recent cover of Businessweek Magazine. “The cover features a cast of black and Hispanic caricatures with exaggerated features reminiscent of early 20th century race cartoons,” writes Ryan Chittum. It is amazing that such a cover could have made it through the editing process. It is a reminder to me that racism is alive and kicking in the 21st century.

These stories reminded me of a question was raised in open forum at the recent Southeast (SEIBS) lectures concerning the segregation of congregations. One speaker pointed out that some people are just not comfortable worshiping in certain environments. I believe he was correct, but I also believe that is unfortunate. I believe we should be questioning why people are not comfortable in certain congregations. I am afraid the answer is obvious. There are people there who make them feel uncomfortable. This is an area in which we need work. I am not saying that we need to pick out a particular group of people and try to be nice to them. I am saying that we need to be like Christ, and those issues will take care of themselves.

Jesus crossed cultural and racial barriers without hesitation (John 4:1-26). James warned us about giving preference to those who enter our congregations (Jas. 2:1-13). There is a valuable soul, created in the likeness of God (Gen. 1:27), carried in each body that comes through our doors.

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Noodles?

LimpNoodle

Tim Tebow has been known for kneeling in prayer (Tebowing) on the football field, and wearing eye black with Bible verses. He had previously pulled in fans from many different evangelical circles with his religious statements. Today people are falling off the Tebow bandwagon quicker than Dagon fell before the Ark of the Covenant (1 Sam. 5:3)!

This morning, via a string of tweets, the backup QB for the New York Jets cancelled an upcoming appearance at the First Baptist Church in Dallas. Tebow’s cancellation is apparently connected to reports that First Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress attacked gay marriage, Islam, and Mormonism in several recorded sermons. Jeffress feels that Tebow’s cancellation was an affront to his church’s values. Jeffress holds that a sexual relationship should be between a man and a woman in the marriage relationship. He is amazed that some consider this hate speech.

I must admit even though I disagree with Tebow’s particular choice of religion, I had a certain respect for him that I have now lost. I respected him, because I know that it can be difficult to stand in front of millions of people with your religion on your sleeve. Unfortunately, all those things have been discredited. I can’t help but wonder if Tebow was using religion to try to build a persona to gain publicity, or if he has just succumbed to the media bandwagon that pushes immorality in this country.

Views such as the ones Jeffress holds on marriage will get you the label “religious fanatic,” or you may be accused of “hate speech.” It is a small price to pay to stand up for truth. Daniel faced a den of lions for his religion (Dan. 6:10ff.). Surely we can stand a little name-calling. The late Johnny Ramsey joked that those lions did not eat Daniel because he was all backbone. It is time that people get some “backbone” and stand up for what they believe!

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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