Monday, July 23, 2012

Back in Brazil

Finally here in Brazil. I thought I'd write a few reports as I get the chance. Travel went pretty well (minus a delayed flight from Knoxville to Atlanta which caused Jesse, John, and I to have to run like maniacs OJ style through a couple of concourses. We almost didn't catch the flight to Brazil! We were sweating and wheezing when we sat down on the plane!). My first surprise was the way the church has grown! They have made use of every inch of the property that they bought and have bought more. The auditorium that had low ceilings and held about 200 people has been expanded to a capacity of 800 people with a high ceiling. They have 3 services each Sunday averaging 2400 per week! Wow!
Josue is still the humble and godly man that he was. I am almost brought to tears as I see how much God has used them.
More later. Gotta go to sleep.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Give Peace a Chance...Seriously

World Peace

It’s almost a joke. It seems only Hollywood types or beauty pageant contestants speak seriously of “world peace” anymore. And I'm not sure they're serious! At the very least, it’s become a cliché.

I was born a generation after the baby-boomers. I grew up watching the counter-culture, give-peace-a-chance, flower children of the 60s and thought they were almost insane! The popular culture of the 1980s was, in many ways, a reaction against that generation’s excesses and silliness. From bell-bottoms and long hair to straight-legs and short hair, and from war protests to patriotism. My generation saw the maturation of postmodern pessimism. Aristotelian realism regained ground after a splash of Platonic idealism. Communism was a real and present danger and needed to be stopped. The answer, as Reagan put it, was “peace through strength.” But we all knew that meant the real possibility of war. We just wanted to make sure we were the ones who won. The obvious evil of humankind and corruption of human institutions is one of the few “absolute truths” accepted by postmoderns today. We all know the world has major problems, too messy for trite political answers. There will always be some warlord or radical that wants to have his 15 minutes of fame and be taken seriously. There will always be megalomaniacs and paranoid pariahs who disregard human life. We’ve all watched the History Channel. The very idea of world peace is laughable.

Or is it?

We’ve read over half of the Bible chronologically and it looks like God’s plan to bless the whole earth through Abraham’s seed is unraveling as Israel and Judah are self-destructing. When suddenly from the prophets we get glimpses of a glorious future: perfect global peace under a coming King.

What is this?

World peace is no joke. It is a very real thing. Tomorrow morning we will explore it together.

(If you haven't yet, read Micah 4, and Isaiah 9 & 11. It's just a taste.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Modern Prophet

What would a prophet look like today?

As I’m reading Jonah, Amos, and Isaiah I’ve been pondering this question. These guys were bold, many times unpopular, and believed what they said—because they believed in the God who said it first. They weren’t (contrary to popular belief) just crazed preachers who flew-off-the-handle every chance they got. They were neither gluttons for punishment nor did they have some kind of martyr-complex. And they certainly weren’t out for personal gain. They were lovers of God in a world that was running away from God as fast as it could. They were lone voices proclaiming hard truth when all other voices were spewing lies. They were people who loved their nation and loved people enough to warn and admonish—sometimes through tears.

A few months ago, Ron Brown, an assistant football coach for the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers, found himself in the news for being, well, a modern-day prophet. I know Ron. He and I were the speakers for a Fellowship of Christian Athletes leadership camp in Shreveport, LA a few years ago. Quite frankly, he may be one of the godliest men I know and perhaps the best speaker I have ever heard. Yep. You read that right. He’s not hateful—quite the contrary. He is a compassionate and loving man. I saw this in the way he treated his wife with honor and how he spent many hours with high school and college students that week that he didn’t even know. He was vulnerable and humble. He genuinely wants people to know the Christ that saves sinners. He’s also passionate and uncompromising about God’s word. Of course that means he's a lightning rod for controversy. That’s what makes him, in my estimation, about as close as we can get today to a prophet.

He proved it when he weighed in on a hot issue this April—perhaps the hottest of our time: homosexuality. It’s the same issue about which I get pushback almost every time I mention it in light of God’s word.
Of course, the popular media frame his words and edit his comments to make him seem like an unloving, extreme fundamentalist. He’s not. He’s a prophet. And like those of old, after the names of all the “kings” that “rule” today are relegated to obscure lists that no one knows except to note their collective complaisant (read: cowardly) attempts to be considered tolerant and hip, Ron Brown will be remembered for much more. He is FAR from hateful. He is faithful to be a lone voice of grace, love, and truth to sinners like me whose salvation is found in no other name but Jesus. He could just enjoy his own redemption and wait around for heaven. But he chooses to put his reputation on the line to invite others to find new life in Christ.

We need prophets today.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Resources from Today

This morning I gave this chart to help us understand the timeline and relationship of the kings and prophets of the divided kingdoms of Judah and Israel. I think you might find this helpful as you read 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. It is easy to get lost in the many names, especially as the writer switches back and forth between Judah and Israel.

Here is one I didn't share that has a little more detail.
If you want these in a .pdf, just email me!