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Archive for December, 2010

Demolishing the Walls of Your Comfort Zone in Practicing Hospitality

practicing-hospitality2In Practicing Hospitality, Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock offer practical insight for how all believers can practice hospitality from a biblical perspective. In a recent interview, Ennis challenged readers to demolish the walls of their comfort zone and to be counter-cultural even within their own communities to be intentionally hospitable:

  • Demolish the walls of your comfortable social circle. If you are married, include singles in your next gathering; if you are single, invite a family for dessert and game night at your home, apartment, or dorm room. Choose to be counter-cultural in relation to your guest list.practicing-hospitality11
  • Readily accept and extend invitations to those who are different from you. One of the greatest hindrances in our Christian community is that we tend to stratify ourselves. Yet, Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 9:22 that he became all things to all men that he might save some. It may be awkward at first but you will soon learn to adapt—especially when you recall the truth of Philippians 4:13.
  • During the 2010 spring semester I taught a new class for our HE-FCS students entitled “Resource Management for the Aging.” The focus of the class was twofold—to stimulate an awareness of the largest population of individuals in America and to challenge the students to become wise stewards of their resources so they are prepared for their senior years should the Lord not return. The results of the class were incredible. The students, through the distribution of a Senior Saint Survey, learned much about senior saints, their needs, and, potential ministry opportunities to them. The need for inter-generational relationships was clearly revealed throughout the various class assignments. There is no better way to initiate these relationships than through the extension of biblical hospitality.
  • Begin to eradicate the barriers by embracing the truth of Titus 2:1-8. Be willing to be both a younger and older Christian in the lives of believers. Again, biblical hospitality provides a practical venue for implementing the inter-generational relationships outlined in this passage.
  • Clothe yourself with humility (1 Peter 5:5) as you extend biblical hospitality. Walls are built when we think that we have all of the answers or our choices are the best choices for everyone. Learn the difference between biblical mandates and preferences and then expand your borders to include people of differing socioeconomic levels, family size, school choice, and even theological persuasions. Proverbs 27:17 reminds us that as believers we should sharpen one another. There is no better way to abolish cultural differences between families than to purpose to dismantle the unbiblical walls we have constructed. Food is always a good lubricant to assist in the demolition process.

Check out the full interview or learn more about Practicing Hospitality.

December 30, 2010 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Church Ministry,Community,Life / Doctrine | Author: Crossway Staff @ 6:00 am | 1 Comment »

A Great Companion for Your Study Bible…

The ESV Bible Atlas has been out for a few months, but we wanted to draw your attention to it again because it’s such a unique resource and is a great companion for your Study Bible, providing rich detail on the geography and cultures of the Bible.

Wayne Grudem describes it as “a remarkably beautiful and rich resource for historical, geographical, and archaeological background material that will deepen our understanding of each section of the Bible and increase our appreciation of the Bible’s amazing historical accuracy.”

Here’s a 19 page excerpt of the ESV Bible Atlas:

December 29, 2010 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Bible News,News | Author: Andrew Tebbe @ 6:00 am | (3) Comments »

The Incarnation: How Did People Know God Was Coming?

Because God is sovereign over the future, he alone is capable of giving prophetic insight into the future. In great mercy he did this for his people in the Old Testament. He detailed for them who was coming to save them, how he would come, where he would come, when he would come, and why he would come, so that they would anticipate the incarnation and salvation of Jesus Christ.

Around 4000 bc, after Adam and Eve sinned, God prophesied to them that the Messiah would be born of a woman; he makes no reference to a father, which intimates the virgin birth. This prophecy was given by God himself and was the first time the gospel was preached: “I will put enmity between you [the Serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Around 700 bc Isaiah prophesied exactly how Jesus would come into human history: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” The promise that Jesus’ mother would be a virgin who conceived by a miracle did, in fact, come true. Jesus’ mother, Mary, was in fact a godly young woman and chaste virgin who conceived by the miraculous power of God the Holy Spirit. Jesus, a name that means “he saves his people from their sins,” came as “Immanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” God became a man at the incarnation of Jesus.

Matthew 1:22-23 reveals that Isaiah’s prophecy came true: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.’

In roughly 700 bc Micah prophesied that Jesus would be born in the town of Bethlehem, saying, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”

This prophecy was fulfilled in Luke 2:1-7
. Caesar Augustus had called for a census to be taken, which required that every family register in their hometown. Jesus’ adoptive father, Joseph, was thus required to return to Bethlehem because he was a descendant of the family line of David. In God’s providence, this census was required right when Mary was pregnant; she journeyed with her husband from their home in Nazareth to Bethlehem so that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy.

As to the timing of Jesus’ incarnation, in 400 bc Malachi prophesied, “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.” The messenger of whom Malachi spoke was John the Baptizer, who prepared the way for Jesus’ incarnation to bring the new covenant, and the Lord he speaks of is the Lord Jesus Christ. It is important that we are told that Jesus would come to “his temple.” Since the temple was destroyed in ad 70 and has not existed since, this places the incarnation of Jesus Christ prior to ad 70. Practically, this means that our Jewish friends who are still awaiting the coming of their Messiah missed him; they wait in vain because he has already come to his temple and brought the new covenant of salvation.

Isaiah prophesies in 700 bc about why Jesus would become incarnate—he is God’s arm of salvation reaching down to save sinners.34 Isaiah also says that Jesus would come from humble circumstances and suffer great sorrow and grief by men in order to deal with the human sin problem through his death, burial in a rich man’s tomb, and resurrection.

The purpose of Jesus’ incarnation was fulfilled when, just as promised, he suffered and died in the place of sinners though he himself was sinless, was buried in a rich man’s tomb, and rose from death to make righteous the unrighteous.

Modified from Doctrine by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears.

December 25, 2010 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Biblical Studies,Holidays,Jesus Christ,Life / Doctrine,Old Testament,The Christian Life,Theology | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 3:32 pm | 1 Comment »

Jesus of Nazareth vs. Caesar Augustus

Perspectives on Power

Consider Jesus of Nazareth alongside Caesar Augustus.

At the time of Christ’s birth, Caesar had issued a call to the Roman world that everyone be counted and properly taxed. As he enjoyed luxurious accommodations in his Roman palace, he hoped to demonstrate his own greatness before a watching world by publicizing the great number of people under his domain. And yet in an unnoticed corner of Caesar’s kingdom, in a simple stable, sleeping in a feeding trough, the Son of God had come to show the glory of his Father.

The nature of infancy teaches us something about weakness, and it teaches us something about our God. Every Christmas we celebrate not Caesar’s triumphant census, but our Emmanuel: God with us.

The Apostle Paul tells us that Jesus made himself a servant. The infinite God enclosed himself in a woman’s womb for nine months. God the Son was wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger for a bed. God made himself vulnerable.

Picture Jesus, the firstborn above all creation, the one through whom God spoke the creation of the universe, sitting on his mother Mary’s lap, learning to read and write! Such mysteries can never be fully explained. But it is the story of God coming to earth – God’s being with us – that lies at the heart of the Christian worldview.

Imagine Caesar in his palace and Jesus in the manger. Which one looks more like a king?

What would you do if you were in Bethlehem at the time and you had to choose to pledge your allegiance to either a baby boy who excited a few rugged shepherds, or the ruler of the known world with an army of thousands at his command?

Who was more powerful? Caesar or Jesus? Things are not always as they appear.

Christians must have a radically different conception of power. After all, when Jesus was crucified, it appeared that he was dying as a weak man at the hands of the strong. Pilate appeared to have the authority and power. “We have no king but Caesar!” the people shouted.

Caesar ruled by conquering lands and subjugating people. Jesus conquered sin, death, and the grave by suffering and dying – by bearing the full weight of God’s wrath towards the evil of the world and then rising again to new life.

From Holy Subversion by Trevin Wax. Check out Trevin’s blog at trevinwax.com.

December 22, 2010 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Holidays,Jesus Christ,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life,Theology | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 6:00 am | (2) Comments »

Avoiding Not-So-Constructive Criticism

For most of us, the holidays include extensive time with family, sometimes including family that we don’t get to see all that often. Christin Ditchfield offers some practical words of wisdom as we interact with those we love:

For many of us, we make comments and suggestions to our loved ones because we want to encourage them to improve. We drop hints to our daughters about their clothing choices, we remind our husbands to fix the sink (multiple times), or we joke with our 30 year old sister about still being single, hoping to light a dating fire under her.

Our little criticisms are meant to be constructive. But too often, they end up devaluing or demoralizing instead. Our well-meant encouragement turns into unneeded pressure and stress. How can we expect our loved ones to be happy and inspired when all they really feel is inadequate? Our message comes across as disappointment.

So here’s her challenge to you these next couple weeks:

Instead of always finding fault, work instead to find the good. Offer encouragement as inspiration rather than critique. After all, would we ourselves be able to maintain the standards that we hold others to?

From A Way with Words by Christin Ditchfield

December 21, 2010 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Holidays,Life / Doctrine,Marriage / Family,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Staff @ 8:35 am | 1 Comment »