Eat the Word, Not Spit It At Others (Revelation 10:8-11)

This is my typed recollection of a part of what I preached extemporaneously yesterday. This post could be titled "Take the Word. Eat It. It is Sweet and Bitter."

Yesterday (9/29/13), I preached on the Seven Trumpets (Rev 8:1-11:19) with the title of The Two Kingdoms, and the theme of "The Kingdom of This World Becomes The Kingdom of Christ." In a vision John was told to take and eat a scroll that was in the hand of the angel (Rev 10:8-9), which he did (Rev 10:10), and then he was told to prophesy (Rev 10:11). This is similar to what Ezekial was told to do (Eze 2:8-3:3, 10). Though the scroll Ezekial ate tasted as sweet as honey in his mouth (Eze 3:3), it caused him to be deeply distressed (Eze 3:15).

In my sermon I explained four aspects of how to prophesy, i.e., how to communicate Christ well through Scripture.


C.S. Lewis on How To Write

C. S. Lewis on Writing (#4 is most explanatory):

1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn't mean anything else.

2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don't implement promises, but keep them.

3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean "More people died" don't say "Mortality rose."

4. In writing. Don't use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was "terrible," describe it so that we'll be terrified. Don't say it was "delightful"; make us say "delightful" when we've read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, "Please will you do my job for me."


What Sad Words Before One's Death

Before his death, philosopher and agnostic Bertrand Russell said, "There is darkness without, and when I die there will be darkness within. There is no splendor, no vastness anywhere, only triviality for a moment, and then nothing."

I love quotes because words reveal what is in a man. Russell's words about death reveal plainly in eloquent words what his view of death is: It is darkness and nothingness.

Contrast Russell's sad words with Dietrich Bonhoeffer who is considered a martyr for his faith. When facing his untimely execution at age 39, he said, "This is the end --- for me the beginning of life."

Russell was a brilliant man. Here are a few of his quotes:

"No one gossips about other people's secret virtues."


B.L.E.S.S. Others

  1. Begin with prayer.
  2. Listen (James 1:19).
  3. Eat together.
  4. Serve them (according to their needs*).
  5. Share your Story.
*Consider these needs:
  1. Body needs.
  2. Labor needs.
  3. Emotional needs.
  4. Social needs.
  5. Spiritual needs.



Being incessant simply just works for some people!

Half Faith is No Faith (Judges 17-18)

"Judges For You" (by Tim Keller) has helped me share gospel lessons from the book:
  • Faithful But Flawed (Judg 1:1-2:5),
  • Gideon (Judg 6:1-8:35), who starts well and ends badly, and
  • Samson (Judg 13:1-16:31), the womanizer and sex addict whom God choose from birth.
They teach us:

  • how compromise always devastates us,
  • how success often leads to pride and makes us worse, and
  • how God bears with our fallen humanity and depravity---only by his grace.
The last 5 chapters are particularly graphically brutal, violent and bleak---so much so that they are hardly ever taught in church or preached on. It shows the reality of a life without God, even though the people act and behave religiously, and even call on God's name. But it is everyone doing "as they saw fit" (Judg 17:6; 21:25).

God's Love May Be To Keep You Weak

Does God want to weaken you? Paul, the great apostle, was given a "thorn in the flesh," a messenger of Satan, to torment him and to keep him from becoming conceited because of surpassingly great revelations that he received from God (2 Cor 12:7). Despite endless speculation, this thorn is not specifically known. God's specific intended purpose was to keep Paul humble and weak, so weak that his only recourse is to rely entirely on God's sufficient grace (2 Cor 12:9).

Generic thorns and a particular thorn. Every Christian who has any degree of self-awareness is surely conscious of some unbearable thorn in their own flesh, which feels like torture and which thus weakens and frustrates them. Common thorns might be laziness, lukewarmness, lust, licentiousness, liberalism, legalism and loneliness, from which all people/Christians experience to varying degrees. My particular thorn might be anger, exasperation, impatience and the incessant desire to retaliate against others--like Dirty Harry. I know that apart from marveling and grasping at the glory of the gospel of God's grace (Ac 20:24), I am completely helpless and powerless to restrain myself. Thank God for such a thorn that is surely nothing but his magnificent, magnanimous, mysterious and marvelous grace to me.


A Manipulative Christian Leader

No one likes to be manipulated or to feel manipulated. Sadly, every person's sinful default is to control and manipulate others to do what we believe others should do. Church leaders are not exempt in being manipulators. They might even be the worst possible manipulators because they know how to skillfully use the Bible to justify their manipulation of others in the church. This post, how-to-spot-a-manipulative-church-leader, helps you to identify manipulative Christian leaders.

A Christian leader who is manipulative will:

Is There More to Life Than This?

How would you start an Alpha Course?

I attended one in downtown Chicago. It is from noon to 1 pm with lunch thrown in (which I think is a small incentive to attend!). Consider doing the following:


Painful Percentages; Encouraging Conclusions

THE BAD NEWS (August 2013)
  • 18 percent of today's young adults (age 18-29) say they were raised in a religion but are now unaffiliated with any particular faith. Nearly all come from homes with lukewarm or nominal faith.
  • It's the Mainline Protestant churches that have seen marked declines in participation/membership in both real numbers and percent of population.
  • The nones have increased from 15% to 20% of the adult population in the last 5 years.
4 Key Conclusions for Ministry
  1. Bible-teaching churches continue to see healthy growth. Be faithful to teaching and honoring God’s Word in a clear and vibrant way.Young adults desire to receive uncompromising truth that calls them to something beyond themselves.


Faithful But Flawed (Judges 1:1-2:5)

"Judges For You" by Tim Keller is a small, short (217 pages), succinct and well written Bible study guide. I have blogged briefly on Gideon, Samson and the six key themes of Judges. This is an overview of chapter 1 of the book: Half-Hearted Discipleship (Judg 1:1-2:5). It shows how the people were faithful yet flawed; they were committed (to God), yet given to compromise, convenience, and common sense.

Radical risk-taking discipleship requires faith and obedience. Judges begins after the death of Joshua (Judg 1:1)--Moses' God-chosen successor to lead the people of Israel (Num 27:12-23). As recorded in the book of Joshua, God kept his promises to them, brought them into the promised land, defeated their enemies and began to give them blessing and rest. The gist of the book of Joshua is that since God always keeps his promise, God's people can bravely obey and worship him. Briefly, God's people are to 1) believe God's promise (Josh 1:3-4) and obey God's word (Josh 1:7-8; 23:5-6), which they should continue to do. God's call to his people (then and now) is to combine spirituality with bravery. True discipleship is radical and risk-taking. Judges records how they fared.


I Can't Hug Every Cat

Is this an amazing eHarmony Video Bio or what? 27 million viewers think so! (I wonder how many were guys?)

If that’s not enough, check out this Songify version of Can't Hug Every Cat.

It reminded me of this memorable quote (that validates my love of cats!): "There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats." Albert Schweitzer.

Check out more cute cat quotes HERE.


Why Are Leaders Leaving Your Church

This is an excellent post sent to me by my friend David: Why The "Leadership Movement" is Leaving Your Church Leaderless. It answers a question I had asked: Does your church raise Christ-centered leaders of Church-centered followers?

There are two kinds of leaders:
  1. Those who raise leaders.
  2. Those who raise followers.
What type of leader are you?

All Christian leaders say #1. But sadly, in actual practical reality many are doing #2. Why??


Samson: How God Used A Womanizer (Judges 13-16)

Samson's story has many Hollywood themes: illicit sex, graphic violence, revenge, death and a Rambo style hero. But his story is perplexing. He was conceived miraculously, chosen by God, set apart to serve him from birth, blessed by God and empowered by his Spirit. Yet, he may be the most flawed character in Judges. He is violent, impulsive, sexually addicted, emotionally immature and selfish. Most troubling of all, the "Spirit of God" seems to anoint him and use his worst sins for God's purpose--especially his sexual addiction and violent temper. How can such a person ever be called and chosen by God to fulfill his purpose of redemption?


What Is Your Worship Status?

Facebook enables us to share updates on our status and our relationship status, should it change or when it changes. Similarly, don't you think it would be good for us as Christ followers to share our "worship status"? What do I mean?

My sermon yesterday was entitled Heaven? Worship? That's It?? I emphasized that the sole predominant activity of heaven is to worship the One on the throne (Rev 4:2, 8-11) and the Lamb who was slain (Rev 5:6, 9-14) as the only One worthy of our worship. Isn't this excessive? What does it mean to me during my life's journey this side of heaven? How is my "worship status"? Are there any major distracting or competing objects of worship?

Notably, when tempted by Satan, Jesus said, "Worship the Lord your God and serve him only" (Mt 4:10; Lk 4:8). The word "worship" occurs 65 times in the NT.

In light of what the Bible says about worshiping God, what is your worship status?


10 Things To Do To Loose Weight/Burn Calories

Like the boy Jesus, I seek to always grow "in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man" (Lk 2:52), which is to grow:

  • spiritually (in favor with God)
  • socially (in favor with man)
  • intellectually (grow in wisdom)
  • physically--maintaining good health (grow in stature)
Regarding my health/weight, I have gained 15 lbs in the last 30 years.

Tips for Overseeing Small Groups

Tips for Small Group Leaders

Tips include:
  1. Active Listening
  2. Being Attentive
  3. Telling Your Story (Without Going On and On)
  4. Group Check-In #1
  5. Asking Good Questions
  6. Calling Out the Best in Others

Why It's NOT The Nail

Since posting "It's Not About The Nail," a question was asked, "Can you give an example?" My sermon on Cain and Abel (Gen 4:1-16) explains how our "deeper" sins hide beneath our conscious awareness, causing all of us to have "blind spots."

Can you identify with any of these cute statements?
  • "I'm not a Pharisee. I can just see and feel how sinful other people are."
  • "I'm not bitter. I'm just expressing moral righteous outrage."
  • "I'm not flirtatious. I'm just friendly."


Bad to Worse; Grace to Retribution (Judges 6-8)

Judges is downright disturbing and depressing to read and reflect. It is about despicable people doing deplorable things. Even the "heroes" (judges) are flawed increasingly throughout Judges, doing many appalling things. It is a dismal story...that points to and finds resolution only in the Gospel. In "Judges For You," Tim Keller identifies 6 main themes.

This post addresses elements--both good (initially) and bad (eventually and progressively)--in the story of Gideon (Judg 6:1-8:35), a "hero"/judge who starts out extremely well with the grace of God, but who then gets worse and ends horribly by displaying the overweening pride and arrogance of spectacular success.