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The Last Piece of Meat

 

I’m fairly certain I have blogged about this before, however, today, this particular view on true love has taken on an entirely new meaning. Before I get into why, let’s catch up with what it means…

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Years ago, in 2007, I traveled with the now-defunct Teen Mania Ministries’ Global Expeditions to New Zealand and Australia for two months doing short term missions in various locations of various styles. While I could go on and on about the ministry we took part in and how God worked in so many different ways, I am going to talk about one of the sessions that we have. I don’t remember the exact name of it (it’s been nine years!) however, it was about relationships. I was a Team Leader on the trip, and I served under some great Project Directors, of which Gus Kruse. During this breakout, it was a time where all of the male leadership sat with all the female missionaries while the female leadership sat with the male missionaries, and they would poke us (leadership) with questions. One of the questions was “What is true love?”

There were two responses that really stood out.

  1. “Willing to give birth on the jungle floor.” –X.X. (I have only his initials X’d out here, as he is a missionary in a relatively closed country. And I love this answer because it shows the willingness of a woman to go where ever God may call her and her husband, even if it means birthing and rearing children on the mission field.
  2. “The last piece of meat.” – Gus Kruse. This one stood out because it is a practical bite of advice on what is true, sacrificial love that can be witnessed and practiced in every day life. What does that mean? It means as a man, I am willing to give up the last bit of my food (or all of it) to make sure that our children and family are fed first. It means a mom would be willing to give up her food to make sure her children are taken care of. And, as for the reason I type these words today, it means as a homeless couple, the willingness to not eat at all for days on end to make sure their beautiful daughter has enough food to eat and stay healthy.

 

I serve in a ministry called Safe Families for Children. In this ministry, we help families get back on their feet by providing short-term non-foster-care placement for their children with volunteer host families. The parents still retain full custody, but the placement allows them to take intentional steps towards whatever is needed to be done, and often getting things done is hindered (not purposefully) by young children. The family that I met today is homeless, but happy. They are strong, yet vulnerable. They love their daughter with all their heart. As they ate the McDonalds that was given to them, they made sure their daughter, who had already eaten with the host mom, had whatever she wanted of their food, and they didn’t get upset or mad or have any negative reaction when she threw a chicken nugget on the floor or something.

The Last Piece of Meat

When I had spoken earlier in the week with a colleague who did the intake, she told me that when she met with the family, they were starving, because they hadn’t eaten since the day before when they had met with another one of our colleagues. That all the food they get goes to their daughter, and they only eat when she’s done.

The Last Piece of Meat

I wept that night when I went home, and I had yet to meet the family. I wept because of the sacrificial love that they have for their daughter. It’s not something you see often in this day and age. And it is beautiful to see as I have seen it.

When I met the family today, I saw a family who was loving and caring and strong, stronger that I could be at that moment, having to say goodbye and see you later to their daughter, again (they did so a few nights’ prior when placing their child).

So now, when I think of that phrase which I first heard uttered by Gus in the summer of 2007 in that little Korean Café in the bottom floor of the hostel in Sydney, Australia, “The last piece of meat,” this family is what I see, is what I think about. I praise God for people like them, and they aren’t a Christian family, yet they show sacrificial love. It is my hope and prayer that they do, one day, meat the Savior, Jesus Christ, and Lord willing, respond to His call on their hearts. In the meantime, however, I hope they continue to give their daughter that last piece of meat.

Learning Greek On My Own

It has been a little over 2 weeks since I first posted about Going Deeper With New Testament Greek, and my soon to begin quest for learning, on my own, Greek. There are many reasons I am doing it, with two of them being becoming better at exegesis of texts and the other being to prove to myself that I can do it.

So, now that I am two-ish weeks into this, well, I’m not that far. All I have down is the Greek Alphabet, and I am ever so thankful to the “Greek Alphabet Song” that I picked up from Daily Dose of Greek. They also have a plethora of helpful videos for learning Greek, and links to many other resources.

(Click Here to see original video from source)

Now, why do I only have the Greek Alphabet down? And when I say the Greek Alphabet, just saying it. I haven’t learned the letters and how to recognize them fully yet, but, that’s a work in progress! I’m only this far because of what I like to call “life”. I am a married man with three children and a pregnant wife (due in September). I have a full time job, as well as my commitments to ministry at the church we are members of. So, I sorely miscalculated the idea that I would have a lot of time to do this (which I totally DON’T), and while I am not regretting it, I do know that I need to be more intentional with it.

I have flash cards made for the alphabet. I have a flash-card app for my iPhone that goes along with the book I’m using. And, I am really looking forward to getting on with my studies in Greek. I am also contemplating auditing a class at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (which uses the David Alan Black book as their text book, or so I’ve been told) to help with my studies.

So, from here on out, I hope to have more results to share here!

 

Soli Deo Gloria!

Going Deeper With New Testament Greek

Going Deeper With New Testament Greek, by Kostenberger, Merkle, and Plummer

Kostenberger, Andreas J., Merkle, Benjamin L., Plummer, Robert L.. Going Deeper With New Testament Greek, An Intermediate Study of the Grammar and Syntax of the New Testament. Nashville, TN: B & H Academic, 2016. 550pp. $49.99.

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The book Going Deeper With New Testament Greek is a book described as one to help a person already familiar with NT Greek get better. Thus, enabling them to exposit the Texts of the New Testament better through more solid exegesis and the such when preparing and delivering sermons. Well, honestly, I don’t fit that bill. Not one bit. Why? I don’t know New Testament Greek. I’m familiar with it in that the New Testament was written in Greek, but, that is all.

So, why am I writing a review on an academic text book on Greek?

I recently graduated with my Masters in Theological Studies with an emphasis on Preaching and Pastoral Ministry from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO. I did my coursework all online, with the help of some as Field Supervisors in my local area of Southwest Florida to aid me through some classes, and two of those were my Sermon Prep and Sermon Delivery practicums. My field supervisor, who is now my pastor (that is a story in and of itself), has encouraged me to learn New Testament Greek, and it is something that I am going to do, starting very soon. Now, to this book, Going Deeper.

I have looked through the book and I see many familiar terms and ideas. While I was in my preaching practicum, my field supervisor, Pastor Tim, was very helpful, and often would explain things to me from the original languages, telling me things about tenses and verbs, articles and prepositions, infinitives, and many other things, that, when he explained them to me, really did help me understand portions of the text better. However, being that I was not a student of the original languages, it was information that I unfortunately did not retain (how sometimes I wish I was pursuing my Masters of Divinity, so I would have to take two semesters of both Greek and Hebrews!).

Reading through bits and pieces of Going Deeper With New Testament Greek, I really like the layout in that it is written in the format to be used as a textbook, with 15 chapters, which could be done over the course of one or two semesters, depending on how a teacher would be doing it. However, I am going to be doing this at my own pace, and will probably do it over six months, alongside some other books that my pastor has recommended for me.

Those books are:

Learn To Read New Testament Greek, by David Alan Black (B&H Academic, 3rd Ed., March 1, 2009 )

And the accompanying workbook:

Learn To Read New Testament Greek, Workbook: Supplemental Exercises for Greek Grammar Students, by Ben Guitierrez (B&H Academic, March 1, 2009 )

Along with the “A Readers New Testament”, 3rd Ed. Greek New Testament, by Richard J. Goodrich and Albert Lukaszewski (Zondervan, November 3, 2015).

So, as I have these resources on my desk, within the next week, I am going to start my journey into learning New Testament Greek. I am excited because I have so much to learn and I want to be able to more fully understand the texts I will exposit from the pulpit, in the classrooms as I teach children, and from the couch as I lead my family in worship and the reading of God’s Word.

So, with all of that said, given all that I have done and am going to do, consider this my inaugural post in a long running, unknown number of posts, series on my journey, my adventure of learning New Testament Greek! I will try to post on this once every two weeks or so, starting after I read my first chapters and do my first lessons in my texts and workbook. I am very excited to start this journey!

My reading plan is to do each chapter every other week. I say “every other” instead of “over two weeks” because I am going to do one week’s reading and lessons in my Learn To Read books, then the next week I will read corresponding chapters/readings from Going Deeper, as I want to learn as much as I can as quickly and efficiently as I can. I may, and probably will, modify how I do all of this, and will most certainly take a break in the beginning of September, as my wife is due with our fourth child in the beginning of the month.

If anyone has any suggestions to add to me repertoire of Greek-learning resources, please leave a comment or email me at jon@esvbiblenerd.com and I will sift through everything and use what I can.

 

 

The “irs department”

Today, while at church, my phone began vibrating in my pocket, and the displayed “number” was “No Caller ID”. Being that I work in child welfare, I figured it was a CPI (Child protective investigator) from one of my open cases. They left a voicemail, and I stepped out to check it, because a Sunday morning call is usually the sign of something wrong.

Nope. Not a CPI with DCF. It was some guy who I think called himself “Janice Jackson,” though the first name could have been “Janet.” He claimed he needed to talk to me “now” because of some back taxes that I’m supposed to be taking care of. (Um, I’ve never owed back taxes, ever).

And, to top it all off, there is no way anyone could take this guy as seriously working for the Internal Revenue Service…take a listen for yourselves….

 

Now, though I have no clue who this guy is, I sincerely pray that someone, somewhere, where ever he may be, reaches this man with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He, as we all do, needs it.

Gut Check From The Tech Booth

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A view of today’s services from the tech booth at First Baptist Church Immokalee, FL.

 

Today, as I am for most Sundays at church, I run the tech booth. Mainly, I sit and I click on the slides to change them during worship, and that’s it. Sometimes, I fiddle with the lights, and, I can’t forget, I turn on and off the worship music on the Amazon music streaming app that we have before and after the service. Simple, right?

For me, my heart is in ministry, pastoral ministry, and sometimes, I really do have a difficult time being in the tech booth, or sound booth as some call it, during the times when people respond to the message and go up for prayer or to talk to the pastor, or whatever other reason God may be calling them to go up. I want to pray and minister to them. However, while God gave me the chance to do just that today, He also reminded me that being in the tech booth, running the slides and such, is just as important. Just as the body is made of many parts that work together, so is the Body of Christ working together (1 Corinthians 12:12-31; Romans 12:4-8). He brought those Scriptures forward in my mind so that I might not sin the sin of covetousness, coveting the front line position over the support position that I currently play on Sunday mornings (Psalm 119:11).

Besides, Glory to God, I have the joy of sharing the love of Christ week after week on the front lines with the children of the church every Wednesday. And for that, I am so blessed!

Where did ESV Bible Nerd.com Come From?

While it’s not represented in the URL to my blog, someone might wonder the headline title of my blog, “ESV Bible Nerd.com” and wonder where that came from. Also, they might wonder why it’s not my URL.

The second question is more easily answered: When setting up this site, I was messing around and accidentally used www.jonwbradley.com and didn’t realize it was too late (while I thought I was using www.esvbiblenerd.com). Whoops. I have since contacted my hosting site and have www.esvbiblenerd.com as my domain! 

As for the first question, there is some back story to this. A couple months ago, I was at church looking at the various Bibles my pastor has in his collection, all of which are nice. He is definitely a collector of Bibles. And there was this one Bible he had, nice goatskin leather, English Standard Version (the Bible in question can be viewed online HERE). And, well, my wife shot down any attempt I’ve made when bringing up the Bible (I really haven’t tried in a while and no, if you’re reading this, this is NOT an attempt to get that Bible).

Well, my pastor emailed me or iMessaged me the link to the Bible (that is above) and I had it open on my computer. And my wife, in passing, made a comment that went something like this:

“Don’t tell me your looking at ESVBibleNerd.com again. You’re not getting that Bible.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, someone out there is going to construe this as my wife being mean or something. Ultimately, “ESVBibleNerd.com” is now a running joke between my wife and I, and sometimes our pastor gets involved in the hijinks of it all (he constantly plugs in reasons why I should get the Bible..birthday, graduation, etc. I’m fully expecting him to say something if/when I get ordained about how it would make a fine ordination gift or something).

So, that’s the story behind why I am going to call my blog ESV Bible Nerd.com… And, I might even get that URL someday for it…

 

 

Apologies for formatting issues…

I recently imported my blog over from a blogger site to a wordpress.org site, and I’ve apparently noticed that there are some formatting issues with my previous posts. I am going to begin working on fixing those. However, in the mean time, please excuse the awkwardness….

My Normal Is Not Their Normal

Currently, I work for a para-church ministry called Safe Families for Children. I say para-church because we are not directly affiliated with any specific denomination or convention. One of the main things that we espouse in our ministry is Biblical Hospitality. Why this? Well, first some background on what we do as an organization…

Safe Families for Children, originally founded in 2002, serves to help at risk families and children in such a capacity to keep those that we can out of foster care. Ultimately, we seek to glorify God through sharing the gospel with these families. On the practical side, we find volunteer homes to take in children of needy families so they can get back on their feet. The vast majority of the referrals we receive are due to homelessness, which usually includes unemployment as well. We seek to love on the families we serve, helping them to rise out of their situation and stay together as a family. And, having seen this play out over and over again, Safe Families works more towards the root of the problem before it become a crisis.

Hospitality is a theme, no, one could write a Theology of Hospitality, as it is something that flows throughout the entire narrative of Scripture. Beginning in the Garden of Eden, God is hospitable to Adam and Eve, having provided everything for them (Genesis 1:28-29). And it continues on all the way through to God being hospitable for His elect in Revelation (Revelation 21:1-4). And there are mentions of hospitality all throughout Scripture, such as the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), the mention of entertaining angels in Hebrews 13:2, amongst others.

However, it is the mentions in the Old Testament that really give me pause to think and meditate on biblical hospitality. A greeting (Genesis 18:2), a welcome for a guest to enter (Genesis 24:31), food and drink (Judges 4:19), an invitation to converse (Genesis 24:33), and a provision of security (Genesis 19:8). There are many things which I talk about when training our host families on hospitality, one of them being that Martha Stewart hospitality is not the same thing as biblical hospitality. The Lexham Bible Dictionary defines hospitality, the greek word philoxenia, as, “The generous and gracious treatment of your guests.” And this is so greatly displayed in the New Testament as the Church is first coming together (Acts 2:42-47). Biblical Hospitality truly is a wonderful and remarkable thing, as well as a lost art that is all but gone from the modern day church.

We know that we are commanded to reach people for Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20), as well as to reach out and care for orphans (James 1:27), and Safe Families, along with many churches and other organizations do a wonderful job at this. There are many strong, God-fearing families that do this through foster care. And there are many Christian families who just do it because it’s the right thing to do and do it of their own accord. However, the most difficult thing to learn, in my opinion, is the realization of the following statement:

My normal is not their normal.

Over the past seven or so years, I have been a foster parent, a group home foster parent, a residential advisor for teens and young adults, a foster care case manager, and now a case coach supervisor with Safe Families for Children. And, it has taken me a long time to make, no, understand this reality. While it wasn’t until I began at Safe Families that I heard it put that way, that my normal is not their normal, it is something that I have been taught many times in MAPP class (now called PRIDE) and Child Welfare preservice class, as well as in just general life. But making those snap judgments that we all make when we first meet a couple or walk into a home is entirely wrong. Just because a home is not as clean or as well organized as mine doesn’t mean that their standard of care is any less. Just because the home isn’t as clean doesn’t mean the parents/family love their children any less. Just because clothing is dirty doesn’t mean they aren’t being provided for. Yet we all too often make these judgments and have these very thoughts.

Learning that what we consider normal is not what others consider normal. Anyone and everyone reading this post will have a different version of what normal is. Everyone. And it is something that needs to be recognized and embraced. When helping take care of someone else, we need to remember that how they live is going to differ from how we live.

“My normal is not their normal,” has really taken on a new menial for me and my family over the past week-and-a-half, as we are currently hosting a sibling group of three young children, and their normal is definitely not my normal. Comments they have made about how much food we have at our house makes my heart yearn for them, however, if you look at them, you can tell they are well fed. The way they act, things they do and say, such as one of the girl’s high level of street-smarts, is something that my own children haven’t developed yet. The comparisons between the two families would be more towards the contrasting than anything. However, in our efforts to show hospitality, we constantly remind ourselves, and sometimes our children, that not everyone lives the same way. And it’s a good thing for my family to experience, as it helps prepare my children for the real world and helps prepare me for more ministry.

While there are major ups and downs when your household goes from three children to six, including some major adjustments to routine and schedule, there is one thing that I really am taking away from this: A newfound appreciation for what many of our host families with Safe Families do on a very regular basis to help love, care for, nurture, and help the children and their families get back to where they need to be. And, ultimately, through the action of hospitality, sharing the love of Christ and the good news of what He did on the cross some two-thousand years ago for the sins of those who believe.

 

Church of Broken Dreams

In the book of Acts, Luke records the events of Peter’s sermon on Pentecost (Acts 2:14-41), ending it with the description of the first “megachurch” being formed. “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:41, ESV). Three thousand people came to know the Lord that day and were baptized. Three thousand! That’s a lot of people by today’s standards, and even more so by the standards of some 2,000 years ago when it occurred. I currently serve in a church where, while I don’t know the membership roll numbers, the regular Sunday attendance is just below 100 people in a very culturally diverse town (the diversity is, praise God, well represented in those who worship with us). So, going to a megachurch overnight would be something crazy and we would be taken off guard.

However, here, in this blog post, I am going to be writing about another “megachurch,” one that has millions of attendees (annually). In this particular “church,” one sees regular/repeat attenders, however, there are many “converts,” per se, or those who are visiting for their first time. This church is open seven days a week, and, as far as I know, is open every day of the year. What church is this, might you ask? Is it Joel O’Steen’s church attendance multiplied by every serves they have then by 52 Sundays per year? No. Is it T.D. Jakes’ The Potter’s House? No. This church is….Walt Disney World (WDW).

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are two things that I want to state up front before I go any further:

1.     Walt Disney World is NOT a church, nor do they brand it in any such way, shape, or form.
2.     There is nothing wrong with Walt Disney World (as a tourist attraction/fun place to go), as my family and I are annual pass holders, and we enjoy going regularly. In fact, I am in the midst of a vacation and have spent 3 of the last 3 days going to WDW parks and attractions.

Our local churches are supposed to be places of community, where we gather together to encourage, to edify, to help, to love, and to enjoy each other’s fellowship. Just after the salvation and baptism of 3,000 persons in Luke 2:41, Luke pens these following observations:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42–47, ESV)

Now, why am I combing my title, “The Church of Broken Dreams” with the most magical place on earth, Disney World (DW)? Because too often, we, the consumers (of which often consist of church going, Bible believing, evangelical Christians and their pastors) make it that way, like a church. Too often do people go on a trip to Disney World to try to make things better, to try to replace community of encouragement with a few days of escaping the real world for a fantasy world where they can have fun, create great memories, all the while trying to escape things back home. Or, too often do people go to Disney because they feel that creating those memories and spending that family time is far more important than doing something like going to church.

Main Street USA, Magic Kingdom, May 11, 2016. 

When, in all reality, the best place for Christiansto go is to church. For Community. For encouragement. For edification. For Help. For Love. For fellowship. In reality, the most magical place on earth, the place where “dreams come true” for Christians is church. Sunday school, small groups, your local body of Christ should all be that place for followers of Christ.

Too often, over the past three days (and I’m sure I’ll see it tomorrow at Epcot, too) have I seen people not enjoying themselves, just feigning the excitement, going through the motions because it is what is expected of them in the happiest place on earth. I mean, who wouldn’t be excited going to Disney, right? Well, I can only imagine a lot of people. However, as a Christian, this should not be surprising to anyone, and it is not surprising to me. The “church” that is WDW is faithfully attended by millions (some 17.2 million) each year. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are many faithful Christians who are lumped into that number, but there is no known socioeconomic breakdowns of who visits Disney on a regular basis that include religious preferences. So, when a non-Christian makes a decision to worship the gods of entertainment, tithing via the price of tickets and everything else that goes along with it (hotel room, rental cars, flight costs, etc.), it should be of no surprise.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.” (Psalm 14:1–3, ESV)

Paul so eloquently writes to the church in Rome:

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”” (Romans 3:10–18, ESV)

So, honestly, as a Christian, when we see an unregenerate person committing such wantonly blatant idolatry, we really should not be surprised. Really.

Now, in all fairness, Walt Disney World is not the only megachurch of this type. You have Universal Studios, Six Flags, countless movie theaters and theater chains, and many other types of entertainment around the world that fit the bill. I think I could even through IKEA in there, honestly. I mean, I know people who go there because they think it’s fun and they regularly pay their tithe by buying their products.

The reason I address this is, because while on this vacation, I have seen how remarkably similar the marketing practices of many, many local churches have become more and more like those of Disney (and other places, I’m sure). This morning, when we got to The Magic Kingdom before the park officially opened, as always, there is a short song and dance bit, a little less than 10 minutes long, that went along with the official daily opening of the park. Then, everyone would go in, rushing to the attraction that they wanted to go to first (For me and my family, it was Buzz Lightyear and Space Mountain, later in the day, those lines are LONG!). When we went to Hollywood Studios, we got there early so our two oldest could participate in the Star Wars Jedi Training Academy thing they have, and wow, the dedication of some of the parents to get their kids to this was scary, how they yelled at their kids to hurry up. Disney and the various parks therein have no life-or-death connotations built into them. None. At. All. Trust me, I’ve been to every park at WDW, some which aren’t open any more, multiple times. (Okay, the one river water park did, as someone apparently got a flesh eating bacteria and that’s why it closed, but that’s beside the point). Disney, Universal, Six Flags, and others all have no eternal value.

But going to church does.

Doing the work that God has commanded us to do does.

So, let me pose this question: If WDW and what they do and how they advertise and brand themselves has no direct eternal consequences, why do local churches often do the same, branding themselves along the same lines, with a good song and dance routine, promising a great sermon series that will make them feel better about something that’s going wrong in their lives, or might be, or may in the future? (Sorry, Disney, but you’re at the forefront of my mind because I’m vacationing here as I write this! I really do enjoy your parks and everything).

The answer to that question, for me, is that I really don’t know for sure. We have moved so far away from the Biblical truths and sound doctrines on which our faith is founded upon: The death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus the Christ. I have seen first-hand when churches and ministries start to put their “faith” in numbers and tithes versus placing their faith and trust in the God who CREATED THE WORLD AND EVERYTHING IN IT! I have seen churches stop growing because the congregation is afraid to spend money out of fear (not stewardship). I have seen ministries lose reputation and good people when they began to start to count on the state and the money they received from foster children as the place of their faith and trust instead of the Lord God who created the money that they so badly craved.

“You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:3–6, ESV)

We need to return to the true nature of the church, preaching the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus the Christ, our Lord, to whom every knee shall bow. We need not preach a feel-good sermon, lest we lead people down the wide road to destruction. We need to preach the Gospel, the repentance of sin and the atoning work of Christ on the Cross. And, we need to market it as such: Church is a place where lives are changed, not a country club spa with a cross on the door. Church is a place where disciples are made, multiplied, and more churches are planted, not a place where toes are tickled or backs are scratched (not that they are bad, but they are when that’s all that happens). Church is a place where everyone, regenerate and unregenerate alike, will be made to feel uncomfortable, however, they will be uncomfortable for the sake of the Cross and that Good News that comes with It.

Our God is a jealous God, so much so, that it’s recorded in Exodus as a proper name, (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), (Exodus 34:14, ESV). We need to seek after God, and after Him and His wisdom FIRST (Matthew 6:33-34; James 1:5-6), and we need to reach that sea of people who place their faith and trust in so many wrong things, and, Lord willing, make them a part of the one community, the Church, that truly counts beyond this life, stretching into eternity.

Making Friends Like A Child

Over this past weekend, my family and I made a return to one of our favorite places after a two-year absence. This place is a wondrous place, where it’s magical they say, and is a place where dreams come true! Yes, that place is Walt Disney World, and, on this recent foray, to The Magic Kingdom. My wife and I have been numerous times, Kirby and Zeke have been numerous times, but, it was Evie’s first time going, and Katie’s, too (but, I don’t think Katie’s visit counts, as she’s still in the womb!).

However, while Kirby and I were painstakingly waiting in line to ride the somewhat new ride, the “Seven Dwarfs Mine Train,” for a little over ninety-minutes, something truly magical happened. My daughter made a friend. While this doesn’t sound so amazing, the fact that this young girl, who was four, and her mother were there from somewhere in the far east. I wasn’t sure where they were from (I’m guessing China from hearing the mom speak, and we recently hosted a Chinese foreign exchange student, but, I’m far from being sure). I am sure of one thing: they spoke very little English. At one point, the mom used Google Translator to say something to me.

“Danny” and Kirby playing in line for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
They played together for well over an hour in the line, and then enjoyed sitting in the same “train” car together
on the ride. 
Looking back on this joyous time, which just occurred yesterday, it really made me thing of Jesus and the little children:

   “And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.” (Mark 10:13–16, ESV)
Kirby, me eldest child, embraced with faith that Danny would be her friend. And Danny, from what I could tell, embraced Kirby in just the same way. They received one another as equals, as friends, and had a blast. And they never understood one another, not a single word. Did they care? No. Why? Because of their child like faith that comes in finding friends. 
All too often, do we see parents wanting to keep their children away from other children they don’t already know. What they may not realize, is they are setting them up for major let downs later in life. However, what we must do is embrace this in our children, let them make friends.
As a Christian adult, this strikes me so because we are always so glue to our phones, that we have such a hard time meeting, accepting, and embracing friends in the real, non-digital world, that we have an even harder time with our faith in God. We try to always attach conditions to our faith. We often try to marginalize portions of it that we may not agree with. We have lost that child-like idealism that everything is going to be alright, even in the relationships we build, because there is someone else, someone bigger, watching out for us. 
Just as I was watching out for my daughter, Danny’s mom was watching out for her. In the same way, we need to let God watch out for us with a child-like faith. Why? Because just as I know better for Kirby, and Danny’s mom knows better for her, God, our Heavenly Father, knows infinitely better for us. 

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