Sunday, May 20, 2018

Loss Of A Loved One

Losing A Loved One

Well, one thing is for sure.  Brother Scott, spirit filled, water baptized, is with his God! For us, it is tragic, it is hard, it is tough.  A father to many, a husband, co-worker, brother and friend to others has passed away. To God though, Brother Scott (His son) has been promoted. Listen, he has been released from the burdens of this place. I know, I wish he was here right now with us – with his strong, laughing, encouraging, ever-giving -his- last- dime- self. But he has been relocated to heaven. He is with his God. He is “absent from this world and present with the Lord”.

Bereavement & Grief Texts

Bereavement Texts & Prayers

“In such a time of great sorrow and distress, we can trust God with our loved one. The question is “Have we accepted Christ as the Lord of our life so that we can join our loved one in heaven?”[4]. I encourage you to make that commitment today as this moment is ripe for the opportunity of a lifetime.

Prayer:   “Lord, help us to know what is most important in this life and to live for you alone. Comfort our grieving hearts, and bless the memories of our dear loved one.”[1]

Benediction:    “Fear not, for I am with you; be not discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).                                                                                           
Prayer: “Father, we gather here to remember the life and mourn the death of our loved one.
                We do not sorrow as those who have no hope, for our hope is in Jesus Christ. We ask
               that You would comfort each family member and friend.  May they turn to Your Word
               for comfort, be encouraged through happy memories, be sustained by the hope of the
               resurrection for all who place their faith in you, and may the purpose in their heart to
              seek you while You may be found. Amen”[2]  
Benediction:    “The Lord bless and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace”
                            (Numbers 6:24,26)

Monday, May 14, 2018

An Historical View of Church Discipline and Restoration

The Council of Carthage (251 A.D.)
A key figure to the early development of the language used for organization and implementation of Church Discipline is Cyprian of Carthage (210-258 A.D.). He “developed a system based on Roman civil government that became normative for the Church for the next 1200 years until the Reformation in the 16th century”  . He did not create a new episcopal system; rather laid a better operating foundation.  During the time of Emperor Decius of Rome (201 -251 A.D.) there was widespread persecution of Christians. Christianity was still an illegal religion. The Romans believed that the gods were angry at them because they were not receiving proper honor, especially from the Christians. “In January 250, the Emperor ordered everyone throughout the empire to sacrifice to the pagan gods of Rome and to get an official written certificate from a locally established commission confirming that they had complied with the edict” . These certificates were called “Libelli”. According to Balfour , there had not been widespread persecutions of Christians in Carthage for decades – the result was a move for so-called Christians to comply with the edict (as many as three quarters of some congregations), sacrifice to the Roman gods, and bribe magistrates to falsify Libellis. These “compromising Christians were called the “Lapsed”. Many refused and were tortured, and imprisoned. The persecution lasted for 14 months. Those who kept the faith under duress were called “Confessors”. Emperor Decius’ successor Trebonianus Gallus, discontinued the policy of persecuting the Christians. The question became – What about the “lapsed”? How would the Church deal with this issue? There was much at stake here. There were those who “asked for readmission due to impending death from persecution and wished to die in the fellowship of the Church” .
There were many voices at the table. The Confessors believed their obedience to the faith “earned the right to decide the faith of the lapsed” . After-all, they took the easy path. They did not receive torture, imprisonment, deprivation of food, water, fresh air and light. They got off easy by recanting. It was the Confessors who should decide the fate of these traitors, not the Bishops. Another issue on the table was “When (if ever) should they be re-admitted?” 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Failing God - Peter

Scenes From Passion Week
Is Failure Final? 
Matthew 26: 31-33
Luke 22:31 – 33
Mark 14:30 – 31

Peter’s Denial   
I find that even though Jesus was managing related activities regarding resurrection, He still found time for “one person”, namely Peter (Matthew 28:7 “He is not here…Go tell His disciples and Peter…) So now comes time to restore Peter and give commission to His disciples.

Model for Restoration of a Believer:
Step 1 -  Peter failed and was sorrowful. He later found comfort with his friends. Sometimes a believer loses faith and either never returns (like Judas), stays on the fringes and never gets back into the mix or finds themselves in the support of fellow believers (as Peter did). Peter was disappointed with himself, but he did not lose faith (Of course, Jesus already prayed for him and all believers).

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Literary Style of the Action Packed Gospel of Mark

The Gospel of Mark


Immediately, coming up from the water…
Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness…
Immediately, while He was speaking, Judas, … with a great multitude with swords and clubs…

If you were looking for dynamic reading, then look no further than the Gospel according to Mark. Of all the four Gospels, Mark emphasized action.  His writing is a paratactic style, “stringing together short, loosely connected episodes, like pearls on a string” (Just). Mark’s Gospel is the shortest of the four, filled with a sense of immediacy as noted above (1: 10, 12; ,14:43). In fact, his sense of immediacy rings clear in the use of the word “immediately” (Gk. “euthys”) thirty-nine (39) times, along with the word “and” (Gk. “kai”) five hundred and nine (509) times according to the New American Standard translation.

It was during the early years of the church – first century. It was commonplace for Christians to “pass on the story of Jesus orally as isolated stories, short sayings collections and some longer narrative, such as the passion” (Hollman, logos). According to Hollman, most scholars believe that Mark “wrote with the needs of the church in mind, addressing the typical concerns pertinent to his generation”. We know that he was a disciple of the Apostle Peter (1 Peter 5:13; Acts 12:12,25;15:37,39). Church fathers Justin Martyr called Mark’s Gospel the “memoirs of Peter” around AD 150, and Irenaeus called him “the disciple and interpreter of Peter (AD 185) as well (MacArthur). The Gospel of Mark was written to Roman Christians, about AD 55-65, when Rome was under the rule of Emperor Tiberius Caesar. It is said to have been written after the Apostle Peter’s martyrdom in order to “address the crisis in the church around the intense persecution they were experiencing” (Theopedia).

In this fast-paced Gospel, the writer aims to prove that Jesus is the Messiah, by emphasizing “what Jesus does, rather than what He says” (Mappes, D.). 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Church History - The Big Split of 1054

There is much we can learn from the Great Schism of 1054. “The church was split along doctrinal, theological, linguistic, political and geographical lines” ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­(Lumen). The Roman empire was in decline; there were invasions by the barbarians, from Islam and from the Scandinavians. By 410, Rome was conquered, and its emperor deposed. The period resulting was characterized by Tony Lane (88) as “a period of turmoil and anarchy, with the near collapse of civilization”. By 800, Charlemagne (King of the Franks) was declared the new Roman emperor. This move was strategic for the Christian church. As with all events, there are opportunities and challenges, depending on if you see the glass as half empty or half full.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Fasting - About Food?

Don’t Think “Food”, Think “Discipline”

There’s more to fasting than just abstaining from food. It is so easy to associate this spiritual discipline to the obvious. But I want to encourage you to think bigger – Fasting is more than just giving up a breakfast, a lunch or dinner; it is an opportunity to train oneself to become more like Christ. Last night, I told my sister I’d join her in a period of fasting today. It’s 6:30 am and already, my brain is thinking “Do you really want to do this?”  Why am I thinking about all the things I can eat today? Why am I thinking about the goodies I am missing if I skip breakfast, not to mention lunch? I have some finger licking KFC in the fridge...will it spoil if I don't eat it today? What if a co-worker offers me something to eat today?  I have a long day today...must start the day right (with food)!

Coupled with praying and study of the scriptures, fasting is an opportunity for spiritual transformation. The question is “Do I want to achieve real spiritual transformation?” Every time I fast, it is one more training moment that propels me closer to the goal of transformation/spiritual maturity.