This blog has been moved to www.dankimball.com
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They Like Jesus but Not the Church: Responding to Culture's Objections to Christianity
This is a DVD small group or classroom curriculum based on the They Like Jesus book.
Dan Kimball: They Like Jesus but Not the Church Participant's Guide: Six Sessions Responding to Culture's Objections to Christianity
Participants study booklet for the DVD.
Dan Kimball: They Like Jesus but Not the Church Curriculum Kit: Responding to Culture's Objections to Christianity
A kit that has a copy of the DVD, the study booklet and a copy of the book They Like Jesus but not the Church.
Sacred Space: A Hands-On Guide to Creating Multisensory Worship Experiences for Youth Ministry (Soul Shaper)
This is written for youth workers and youth ministries and is more of an ideas workbook of prayer stations and other creative expressions of worship and teaching.
Multiple authors (Sean McDowell editor): Apologetics for a New Generation: A Biblical and Culturally Relevant Approach to Talking About God (ConversantLife.com®)
Wrote the first chapter of this book on the importance and critical need for apologists and apologetics in today's culture.
Mark Dever, Dan Kimball, Ligon Duncan, Dan Wilt, Timothy Quill: Perspectives on Christian Worship: Five Views
A "perspectives" book showing different viewpoints. Wrote my chapter back in 2005 for this, although not released until 2008.
This blog has been moved to www.dankimball.com
This one is no longer active, so please go to the new one. Thank you!!
On August 15 the new book I have written "Adventures in Churchland: Finding Jesus In The Mess Of Organized Religion" will be launching with a web site, new blog and various resources available for the book.
If you are coming to this blog, on August 15 it will be totally redesigned with videos about the book, downloadable discussion guides, church leader teaching outlines and some other things on it. I will also begin regularly blogging again at that time here.
You can read a sample chapter and see the Table of Contents and foreword that Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Queen of Rockabilly - Wanda Jackson wrote for the book there by clicking the title of the book here which takes you to Amazon and you can then look at the "look inside" feature for the book: Adventures in Churchland: Finding Jesus in the Mess of Organized Religion
Why I wrote this book....
I wrote Adventures in Churchland: Finding Jesus In The Mess of Organized Religion because there are many Christians who feel that we are often misrepresented by the most vocal and negative examples among us. We see this showing in opinion polls like this one which made national news last week. We desire to see this changed and instead to be known as being the kind of Christians and churches that Jesus desired us to be. I wrote this book to help us all respond to some of the most often raised criticisms, such as:
I also wrote this book to give hope to those who may feel like a misfit in the church and Christian sub-culture. This book is a little more vulnerable and personal for me than my other books, as I share some of my story in this book from the time when I wasn’t a Christian and not interested in church while I was playing drums in a punk and rockabilly band. In a somewhat ironic twist, my life’s trajectory began to change when our band was living in London, England and I met an elderly group of Christians in a tiny church there. As a result, I ended up becoming a Christian and eventually became a pastor. But it wasn’t an easy transition. My entry into the evangelical church world was full of strange and even quite unpleasant experiences which I write about, some of which you may also relate to.
July 31 is the launch of my next book "Adventures in Churchland: Finding Jesus In The Mess Of Organized Religion" and new web site for the book which will be here along with a re-designed blog.
Due to the current sabbatical I am on, my involvement for the book launch and web site will happen on August 15 after I am back from this extended break. The Adventures in Churchland book will have small group discussion guide download and church leader info. that will be available here on August 15 when this web site re-launches.
One of my musical heroes Wanda Jackson wrote the foreword for the book which was very cool and kind of her. This book is the first book I have written that isn't just for church leaders but for everyone. It is a book that is somewhat memoirish and somewhat teaching and apologetics about the confusing questions about the church being known as "organized religion" and that Christians are often known as being judgmental. I also address the increasingly heard comment that we don't need organized "church" just Jesus (which is true in terms of salvation and a relationship with Jesus) but I don't believe that followers of Jesus experience the life we are supposed to unless part of a local church (whether house church or megachurch). I make a case why we do need the church and the church needs us, despite the messiness of it.
I am still on sabbatical and after my sabbatical ends, I will then be moderately back on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/DanKimball and begin checking emails again which I haven't during this personally needed time of getting refreshed, rested and doing some research and study.
But this blog, new web site and new book will launch on August 15 after I am resettled and back in my role at Vintage Faith Church and I will be back regularly blogging at that time. For those who read this - have a wonderful June and July and may you be enjoying the summer months which for me, are the most wonderful, magical months of the year. More about the Adventures in Churchland book when the new web site goes up.
This is my last blog post for a while - as I am taking what is somewhat of a sabbatical. This is the first time I have ever done anything like this in the 21 years I have served on a church staff. I wrote "somewhat of a sabbatical", as sabbatical is supposed to happen every 7 years and is a time of total rest. This sabbatical is taking place once every 21 years and is partial rest. But this is a time period where I will be taking a 100% break from my role at Vintage Faith Church until June 24th. I posted what is happening on Sundays for the teaching in the worship gatherings while I am gone here.
For those who want to know what I will doing while on this break - during the first half I will be 100% disconnecting from blogs (reading or writing them), no Facebook, Twitter or email. This will be a time to reflect on life, God and this past season of ministry. I will be going to Hawaii and stay at my friends condo for 5 weeks and this is a time of just rest, praying, thinking, reading and being with family. The photo above is Becky and the girls at the beach by my friends condo from last time we were there. So that will be the same scene we shall be experiencing for the first several weeks of this break. I won't be bringing any church leadership books with me, but will be reading some books ranging from C.S. Lewis's ScrewTape Letters (thanks Andrew for the recommendation) to Ace Frehley's biography (the original guitar player for KISS) and some theology books I have been wanting to read, but haven't had time to. When we return back home from Hawaii, I will then have a week with Katie and Claire on my own while Becky goes off with her sister on a trip. So that is a father/daughter time which should be fun.
Then for the second half of this break from my role at Vintage Faith Church I will heading up to Portland for part of it. I have for some meetings with George Fox University about the Origins Project that is launching in September and doing some interviews with leaders there. And hanging out with Ricky McKinley, and my brother and some other friends while there. And seeing Roger Water's "The Wall" with Ricky and others while in Portland. Then we will be heading to Santa Barbara and visiting with my friend Britt Merrick (Reality Church) and his family (our wives got to meet at a retreat we were both on, so that should be fun getting the families together). Britt has a very excellent book that I just read the manuscript of called Godspeed: Making Christ's Mission Your Own. On that trip I will be meeting and interviewing church leaders and seeing my friend Dave Kinnaman while there also. So the second half is a somewhat of a working break, but I won't be back yet in my role with Vintage Faith Church. I will be visiting other churches during this time and look forward to being at other Santa Cruz churches. I rarely get to worship and be at other local churches, so we will be doing that during this second half of the break.
It should be an interesting time period for me, as I have never taken this long of a break from the ongoing role of local church leadership. I am not burned-out by any means, so this is not a burn-out-I-need-a-break time. Almost the opposite, as it has been a pretty sweet and fun time in our church and we have so many things in the planning with adding on two more worship gatherings, bringing on some new key staff and we have had an amazing surge of healthy growth this past season. So it is sort of a proactive time of getting away for both rest and relfection on how I am really doing which seems to only be able to get that from stopping for a while from all the activity of life. I see this break as a learning, visiting other churches, working on some outside of Vintage Faith Church projects and minsitres I am involved with - so both a rest but also learning time period and emotional refreshment from backing out of the normal weight of ongoing resposibility to gain some emotional refreshment and perspective.
(I am writing this out and linking to this from an email I will be sending our church this week. So a lot of this post is for Vintage Faith Church with the upcoming teaching schedule).
We finished our 4 week teaching series Everyday Missionary on Sunday. I did a wrap up about the how the dream of our church is to be a missionary-community-training-center-base here in Santa Cruz. It was stressing that church buildings are good and can be used for mission, and that Sunday teaching is good and important and that we can have good music and bands and lighting etc. but that those things aren't the primary goals, but only part of the whole missional strategy to see healthy and new disciples made.
I have seen some who tend to go to an extreme and say we don't need buildings, or that we shouldn't have preachers or bands on Sundays or anything "attractional". I don't agree with that philosophy, as many do have preaching, bands and buildings and can still be very missional provided that Sundays is not seen as the spectacular "attraction" for people to be at for the goal. But instead, it is the followers of Jesus who live their lives during the week as missionaries who are the "attraction" by Jesus in them. And then Sunday meetings come into play as most people will then desire to come to a Sunday meeting and Sundays are important (at least in our strategy as a church). I showed this video on Sunday to emphasize this:
Everyone also got coat hangers as they left this past Sunday with a image of Jesus on them (which would take too long to explain) but it was emphasing the reminder that every day we are missionaries in our lives whatever we do.
This Sunday was also my last Sunday teaching at Vintage Faith Church until July 8th. I am taking a sabbatical, my first ever in 21 years like this of vocatonal on a church staff ministry. I will post more on that and what I will be doing before I leave for sabbatical on Monday. But wanted to post the Sunday teaching while I am gone which I will be linking to from an all-church email I will send out this week.
While I am gone, what is happening on Sundays teaching-wise is:
March - April: Smart Love: life together in the way of 1st Corinthians 13 - my friend Jon Talbert from Westgate Church in San Jose will be teaching a 3 week series going through 1 Corinthians chapter 13. Jon leads an amazing ministry called Beautiful Day and has been a good friend for many years.
April and May: The Hole In Our Gospel: we will be going through a 6 week series somewhat based out of the book, The Hole In Our Gospel which was written by the president of World Vision. We have had some planning meetings for this series and will doing a bunch of very interactive things for truly trying to grasp the depth of the needs of the world and the suffering, hunger and injustice out there. Nathan George, who is part of our church and the leader of Trade As One will be kicking off the series and ending it. We also will be having one Sunday where we show the film Journey To Jamaa. I wish I was here for this series as it is an important one.
In June: Kristin Jensen and Joe Bishop will be teaching a 4 week series (they are determing what it is right now).
July 1 - Margaret Feinberg will be with us. I am so thrilled to finally have Margaret at Vintage Faith Church. She is a really good friend and has been to The Abbey before at our church, but not here on a Sunday. So Margaret will finally be with us and so glad our church will get to meet her.
July - The book of Titus: I will be back and teaching through the New Testament book Titus. I look forward to this as Titus isn't a book that normally seems to get taught a lot. So I will be going through the 3 chapters in 4 weeks.
August: Proverbs - will be a month teaching through various Proverbs from the Old Testament.
September through December: The Sermon on the Mount - we will be teaching through the entire Sermon on the Mount from the book of Matthew. We don't want to rush through this, so will be spending almost 4 months on this incredible section of Jesus' teaching.
My next post will be my last for a while and I will be disconnecting for 6 weeks entirely from Facebook, blogging, checking emails etc. Then back but doing research and visiting other churches for anotehr 6 weeks before returning to my role at Vintage Faith Church. I have not scheduled any speaking engagments either for 12 weeks while the sabbatical is happening. So will be interesting doing this as it is definetly a break from my normal patterns of life. I'll post this weekend with more on sabbatical thinking and plans.
The day we put faith in Jesus we become missionaries, whether we realize it or not. We are starting a new teaching series this Sunday called "Everyday Missionary". We will address myths about what evangelism is or isn't and teach how every day of our lives we are on mission as missionaries.
I think we need to reframe how we define "missionary" though, as well as reframe what "evangelism" looks like. So that will be this what this series is about. Charles Spurgeon has a blunt quote about this saying “Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor”. Here's the full context of that quote from 1873:
“If Jesus is precious to you, you will not be able to keep your good news to yourself. You will be whispering it into your child’s ear. You will be telling it to your husband. You will be earnestly imparting it to your friend. Without the charms of eloquence you will be more than eloquent: your heart will speak, and your eyes will flash as you talk of His sweet love.
I will be on sabbatical and will miss Catalyst West Coast this year, but been to it a couple of times and spoke two times at it, and it was always, always a wonderful event. Not just the speakers but the whole experience and meeting people and vibe of it. My friends Rick McKinley and Britt Merrick are speaking and Erwin McManus and so many others - so wanted to post a quick post as there is a discount of earlier registration happening if you call 888.334.6569 to speak to a Catalyst Concierge, or register online at www.catalystwestcoast.com. You can use Rate Code FOB for an additional discount off your ticket price.
Wish I was there, but I shall be in Hawaii at that time not on Facebook, email, Twitter or anything for the first half of my sabatical. I have never taken a sabbatical in 21 years of ministry like this. So looking forward to sabbtical although will miss Catalyst West Coast and will have to watch the DVD's later on. And Rick McKinley likes being called "Ricky" so you can call him that when you see him.
"Ehud then approached him...and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat, Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly. Even the handle sank in after the blade, and his bowels discharged. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it."
- Judges 3:20-22
There are a lot of deaths and murders in the Bible (which are all horribly sad when they happen) but the peculiar details revealed for this one is fascinating. Ehud is a judge of Israel and he is left-handed (we read about that in Judges 3:15). It was because of this, is what caused Eglon to be caught off-guard.
Since Ehud was left-handed, it would be natural for him to strap his dagger on his right thigh. Since most people are right-handed, Eglon’s guards would be less careful about checking what to them would be an awkward placement for a weapon. So it wasn't expected to be coming from where it did.
Then to have the blade sink so far into the belly-fat it didn't come out and then as his bowels discharged due to the stabbing is quite descriptive. The story continues with more interesting description of how after the stabbing and Ehud escaped, that Eglon's guards were waiting outside and didn't come in because they thought Eglon was going to the bathroom likely because of the odors released from the bowels discharging from the stabbing.
It reads in Judges 3:24 that the guards said:
“He must be relieving himself in the inner room of the palace.” They waited to the point of embarrassment, but when he did not open the doors of the room, they took a key and unlocked them. There they saw their lord fallen to the floor, dead."
This story stands out to me as I had a test in seminary where the question was "Who was the left-handed judge?" as there is only one place in the BIble which mentions someone was left-handed and this is the story. Ehud, the left-handed judge who stabbed Eglon and his belly-fat closed over the blade and his bodyguards thought he was going to the bathroom. The Bible is filled with odd little things like this.
*For those wanting to know the origin of why I began these Wednesday-Weird-Bible-Verses started read here
for those going on Google+ and want to connect there
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"Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church."
1 Corinthians 14:34-35
* image from The Brick Testament
I remember reading 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 for the first time and not knowing what to think of it as it seemed such an extreme verse in the New Testament. It seems to be clearly stating that females should not talk in church. If they have questions, then wait till they get home to ask their husbands. It even says it is "disgraceful" if a female talks in a church meeting.
This was a rather confusing and disturbing verse to read when I was reading my Bible through for the first time right after I graduated from college. I knew enough to know that in my limited experiences in churches up to that point, that females certainly did talk in churches. You didn't see as many teaching or preaching, but they didn't just sit there silently like this Bible passage says to do. So I kind of pushed it aside and didn't think about it too much until several years later when I realized I had to look at why this weird sounding verse is in there. How do you make sense of what sounds like an incredibly bizarre and chauvinistic practice?
Deuteronomy 7:2 - "and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy."
* Two great book that address this very uncomfortable passage are "God Behaving Badly" by David Lamb and "Is God A Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God" by Paul Copan.
I write for Outreach Magazine and in the new issue the theme is "Becoming Tomorrow's Church". For the feature story, I interviewed several college students at George Fox University in Portland, OR about what they would hope the future church to be like. You can read a large section from the article here.
I know that when speaking about the what our hopes and dreams are for the church are that we need to be looking to Scripture first. But Scripture gives us a lot of freedom and dreaming that can be done in imagining what church could be, so it was quite fun listening to these students share.
I have taken a new role as Professor of Missional Leadership at George Fox University (you can read the announcement George Fox University made about that here). This interview was one of many studies I will be doing with students there about various topics on church, theology and culture. George Fox University is a Christian liberal arts university so that means you will have a diverse breadth of students and backgrounds and points of where they are at in their faith journeys which is reflected in the group I met with.
It was a very refreshing time with them and what was most interesting to me was that when I asked them to describe what their ideal church of the future would be - they didn't respond with what type of music they would want. Or whether the preaching style would be verse-by-verse or topical. They all responded with their dreams of how people would be impacted and changed. Yes, those other things will naturally happen, but there wasn't a sense of consumerism about church being all about them, but about others to experience Jesus.
I love listening to college students and will be back in Portland in February for some further interviews as well as some meetings at George Fox University about Origins. Origins is a collaborative group of evangelical leaders, theologians, writers and artists who are passionate about mission and seeing future generations understand their vocation as mission, sharing ideas and learning together. Origins is an open community for those sharing this passion. We started Origins 2 years ago and it got off to such a great start that had so many interested and we had a big event in LA and was part of Catalyst West Coast. But we didn't have the time and energy to put into it since all of us were so consumed with our churches and what we already were doing. But the latest is that as part of my role at George Fox University we will be relaunching Origins in February 2012. But we now have staffing, video and media people and am very much looking forward to what will happen. Robin Baker the president of George Fox University shares the same passion and Origins will now be based out of the university, although there are several other universities involved. This is a Kingdom project as Robin has called it, so it is multi-university and multi-seminaries involved.
I might be overly sensitive to this topic, as I remember being surprised reading the Bible for the first time as a college student and realizing the nativity scene I had learned all my life up to then wasn't accurate to the biblical account with some parts of it. But here's some thoughts that have been stirred from this morning listening to my daughters talk.
This morning I was quite happy hearing our daughters talking to each other as they were drafting up a play portraying the wise men and Jesus they are going to be doing with their friends. The reason I was happy was that they were talking through the real story vs. what Christmas cards have created as the story and basing it from the Bible and discussing the differences. I hadn't talked to them directly about it for their play. They were writing it on their own and began talking about making sure they wrote the play the way the Bible taught it on their own which was why I was happy listening in to their discussion.
We had recently talked as a family about a friend of ours who sets up a nativity scene in their home, but they place the wise men in another part of the room not at the manger. They do that indicating that in the Bible story, you don't see the Magi there on Christmas Day but they would likely have been back in Persia somewhere at the time of the birth of Jesus. So that is likely what Katie and Claire were remembering we talked about when they were drafting up their Christmas story play. But I was glad hearing them discuss the importance of looking into Scripture for what the actual story is vs. Christmas cards and medieval artwork.
As we know, the Christmas story often shown in most church musicals as well as Christmas cards and nativity scenes is not quite accurate when looking in the BIble itself. Such as:
1) Jesus was likely born in the Spring or Fall not December:The December 25 date was based on the winter equinox and celebration of that which was happening in the days of the early church. December 25th is the date pagan religions of that time period celebrated the alleged birth of various gods like Mithras etc. So after Christianity began the legal religion of Rome several hundred years after the birth of Jesus, the early church then desginated the 25th to say Jesus was also born on that day to counteract the wide spread celebration of the birthday of other alleged gods that were celebrated that day. See here for more info on the December 25th date and here if you want to know more.
2) There is no indication the star was there on Christmas Eve - When you read the biblical account, there is no mention of the star appearing in Christmas Eve or shining above the manger. That was added in artwork, not based on the Bible. The star comes later when the Magi (Wise Men) visited Jesus in a "home" when he was anywhere in age up to two years old. In fact, there is some interesting thinking about the whole "no room in the Inn" understanding of the story, may not have been an "Inn" at all, but a home that they went to. And underneath homes at that time, was the place they kept animals. But the typical sort of Christmas Eve barn-like structure we see the Nativity scene in, it wouldn't have been that. See here for more info on that. There are various theories on this, but there is no star mentioned in what happened on Christmas Day on the day of the birth. That came next when the Magi (the Wise Men) visited Jesus at a later time than the day of His birth.
3) The Wise Men weren't at the manger scene and Jesus was likely up to 2 years old when they visited Him - The wise men went to a "house" the Bible says (Matthew 2:11) when they visited Jesus, not a stable or barn or cave. This could be explained by the time the Wise Men arrived, Joseph and Mary had settled for time in a home somewhere in Bethelehem. Some speculate it was the same home that Jesus wasa born in, but now it was in the main quarters and not in the cellar where the animals were. We don't know for sure. But it was a house that is what we know.
Jesus was likely not a baby at the time of the Magi visit, but could have been up to two years old. It explicitely uses the word "child" in this verse which is translated from the Greek word “paidion”. There is a different Greek word for a “newborn” (brephos) that was used in Luke when describing the infant Jesus. The word paidion can mean infant also, but it does mean “young child” (paidion) which fits the scene of some time having gone by after Jesus' birth. Some scholar believe Jesus could even been up to two years old as we see that as the age Herod went and ordered the killing of children in Bethlehem of those 2 years and younger. From everything I have read in commentaries, most scholars suggest 6 months to 18 months is the age Jesus was when He was visited by the Magi. But again... we don't know for sure. But in all likelihood, he was older and the Magi did not appear like we see in Nativity scenes.
The Wise Men weren't "Kings" either. That idea of them being actual Kings came from a Christmas carol written in 1863 ("We Three Kings Of Orient Are"). That was written without biblical backing as well as the idea that there were 3 of them. We don't know for sure how many there were, but early tradition even says there were 12 of them. And they likely were not from the Orient but somewhere in Persia, which is what is modern day Iraq. And they were likely astrologers not kings.
In the play Katie and Claire are writing, the scene of the Wise Men coming has Jesus as a 2 year old in it. So they have selected a friend who is around that age to portray Jesus when the Wise Men visit as they tell the story.
I have always found it fascinating that even in the church, we keep portraying some of the story based more on Christmas cards, medieval art and Christmas carols written in the 1800's vs. the biblical account. Now, I know it is just artistic license and the point is celebrating the birth of Jesus and the incarnation which is what we truly celebrate as the focus. So whether the Wise Men were there or not Christmas Day, or if there was no star that was shining above the baby Jesus etc. isn't important as we focus on the incarnation with joy. So I am not overly bothered when I see the wise men at the manger and a star on Christmas Eve as we show in most Christmas graphics and portrayals of the birth of Jesus. The birth of Jesus is something to be amazed at, in wonder at and celebrate whether we know the date or the Wise Men and the star were at the manger as we show in nativity scenes. So in many ways this is a very petty thing to even raise up.
BUT.... my nagging question is if we aren't noticing (or at least having some discussion to be correcting things as we portray and tell tell the story as we teach it) which has some some significant fact errors in of who was there, the star etc. .... then is there any concern that we set an example for not being good teachers of Scripture? Do we set an example of being poor Bible teachers inaccuratly telling the story? Let me play this out with some examples.
I blogged about why I am going to be posting weird sounding verses from the Bible here. As often as I can on Wednesdays, I will post about an unusual sounding verse and try to offer some explanation of it. In the first one I wrote about the verse from 2 Kings 2:23-25 where Elisha gets made fun of by some youth for being bald. Elisha then calls a curse on them and two bears kill all 42 boys. So there are plenty of very weird passages from the Bible to be looking at. As I said in the first Wednesday-Weird-Bible-Verse entry that I am interested in these strange sounding verses:
So there are multiple reasons for looking at these types of verses and posting most Wednesdays on one. *I'll be interacting with any comments here, but mainly posting further comments on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DanKimball
The weird verse for this week, is the story of David being asked to get 100 foreskins as a wedding price for a bride, and that is crazy enough sounding. But he didn't just get 100, he went and got 200 of them and killed the men he cut the foreskins off of. I can't comprehend this whatsoever.
The verse is 1 Samuel 18:27:
"David took his men with him and went out and killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their foreskins. They counted out the full number to the king so that David might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage"
In reading this story straight from the Bible, it even states how after David brought the forsekins back to Saul that they counted them to show how many there were. What an incredibly weird image of David standing there counting out 200 foreskins. I have beeen fascinated with the life of David lately having studied through the his story in the Hebrew Bible/First Testament (I try not to say "Old Testament" as that can subtly indicate it isn't valid or important. So I use the term "First Testament" or "Hebrew Bible" instead). But what is fascinating to me is that David was truly a man after God's heart - Acts 13:22. We hear sermons about his life and of his great faith. We do hear sermons about David's sin with Bathsheba and that he murdered her husband. The story does tell how he did grieve and repent afterwards (2 Samuel 11-12) and he wrote one of the most beautiful songs of sorrow and repentence in Psalm 51. But at least in my experience we don't hear in sermons some of the other strange things he did as a man seeking after God's heart in his time period. Killing 200 men to give their foreskins to his future father-in-law, polygamy with over 10 wives at once, having multiple concubines and the violence he participated in is so incredibly over the top as recorded in the Scriptures.
In our 14 week Sunday teaching series on core doctrines of the historical Christian church, I taught on the doctrine of the afterlife today. The sermon was about what we the Bible reveals regarding what happens when we die and about heaven and hell. Not very easy subjects to teach on, and it was one of the few times I have actually texted some friends in the morning to please pray for me as I taught.
As part of the teaching, I once again walked through a biblical narrative storyline and drew it on the white board. Everything we have taught in this series, we are framing within the biblical narrative. I believe a weakness of straight forward systematic theology is the often not teaching how the doctrines historically developed or fit in the grand biblical narrative. So each week we have sketched out a biblical narrative from eternity past/creation/Fall/Israel etc. to the new heavens and new earth and eternity continuing. This way doctrines don't sit in isolation but fit within the narrative.
The teaching today was on the afterlife so I went into scholars persectves on the soul/spirit and physical body composition of human beings and then taught primarily on heaven, the future resurrection of our bodies that the Scripture reveals and about the new heavens and new earth. In addition to the several systeamtic theology books I am using for study I also had N.T. Wright's "Surprised by Hope" and some others I had read in prep of this as part of the afterlife study.
As I was teaching on heaven, Celeste Young was to my left and painting colors on a canvas. Basically she painted what colors she felt would represent the joy of heaven. Which is this photo below. After I taught on heaven, I then made the shift to teach on hell. I have taught on hell in our church several times in the past (I have put summaries of previous hell sermons here and here and here) so I focused more of a shorter but blunt look at its reality. There are many unknowns and mysteries about the specifics of hell, but most scholars do believe it is eternal and I emphasized that as my personal belief as well. Although I did share how some like John Stott who are very credible evangelicals believe in annihilation (that people who aren't followers of Jesus will basically cease to exist in the afterlife). I would be a wishful annihilationist but from scholars I trust, the great majority believe in the eternal nature of it. I'd be a wishful universal reconciliationist but I don't believe there is a solid basis for Scriptural support for that view if one holds to a full inspiration of the Bible. So I mentioned some various beliefs out there and I recommended Francis Chan's "Erasing Hell" book for further reading on the topic of hell.
After the heaven teaching, I transition to teaching on hell and as I did Celeste began painting with black paint over the beautiful colors she had put on the canvas which represented heaven. So by the time I was done, the canvas then looked like this below. It was a graphical representation of seeing the beauty of "heaven" being painted over and become darkness and void of light.
I taught then about Jesus, the cross, atonement and the eternal life offered through faith in Jesus and to wrap it up I then scraped away some of the paint (as cliche as it sounds did it in the shape of a cross) of how Jesus breaks through the darkness and removed the sting of death and how faith in Him gives us the gift of eternal life. I ended the message with an old school walk through a prayer for those wanting to put faith in Jesus and trust in Him.
After the 3rd worship gathering, we had our 4th theology Open Forum and had Professor Gary Tuck with us from Western Seminary in San Jose. We have been holding these theology forums and they have been quite fun with any question goes or disagreement and sharing of opinions. Gary has been part of 3 of them and tonight's primary focus was heaven and hell for the questions that came up.
Mark Oestreicher: Understanding Your Young Teen: Practical Wisdom for Parents
as a parent of 9 year olds, this is becoming personal not just of interest in youth ministry. Marko has some very good insight in this book.