Here's another one from our friends at Thomas Nelson
Friday, June 25, 2010
A pretty cool little tool from out friends at Thomas Nelson.
Flee and Pursue
2Tim 2:22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
So how does our fanning, guarding, entrusting, and preaching play out in real life? In one practice of ministry that has two commands: flee and pursue. We see in 2 Tim 2:22 one of the other commands that Paul has given to Timothy. “Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.” This is a brilliant statement because we are always doing one or the other. We are always fleeing something while we pursue something else. In your education, you are fleeing from Kindergarten as you move close to the next goal. In a race, the runner is fleeing from the starting line as he pursues the finish. And for the Christian, he is to flee from the world and pursue Christ Jesus. Yet you cannot flee the world and pursue the world at the same time. You cannot flee Christ and pursue Christ at the same time. As I stand in this room I am about half-way in between these two side walls. If I take two steps to the left I have decided to pursue the left and flee from the right. On the other hand, if I decide to turn around and go the other way, I am now fleeing from the left and pursuing to the right. The same thing is true between the cross and the world. As I take one step towards the cross I am fleeing the world. But if I choose to flee the cross I am then pursuing the world. Let us flee the world! Let us flee the wisdom that it attempts to offer! Instead, let us pursue Christ! Let us pursue all that he has for us! Let us pursue not the gifts but the Gifter himself! This is how Paul can say in Philippians 3 that he has forgotten what lies behind and is pressing forward toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. He is fleeing what lies behind and pursuing what lies ahead – Christ Jesus himself. Let us pursue him.
But notice one tiny but important clause that Paul tacks on to this. He does so, I think, because he knows how Lone Ranger prone we are, how individualistic we can become, how “my ministry” we can get. He says that we are to flee and pursue “along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” The Christian’s ministry is not one that is to be conducted in isolation. We need people. We need each other. We need each other to help us flee these youthful passions and to flee the things of the world. We need others to hold us accountable so that we are continually pursuing our Lord Jesus. We are to encourage each other as we collectively pursue the Lord Jesus Christ. “Two are better than one,” says the Preacher in Ecclesiastes, “for if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who falls and has not another to lift him up! (Eccl 4:9-10).
There are many of you here today who may not necessarily be called to a full-time vocational ministry. You may have other gifts that God has chosen to employ for his kingdom in the business world or in the health sector. Praise God for those who have been obedient to do precisely what God has called you to do. However, be warned that these verses that address the Christian minister specifically also apply to the Christian generally. You are a part of the “along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” It takes the entire body of Christ functioning together to cultivate a healthy Christian community. The eye cannot say to the hand I have no need of you (1 Cor 12:21). Instead, we all need one another: preachers, deacons, accountants, stay-at-home moms, elementary school teachers, doctors, nurses, sanitation workers, contractors, elected officials, police officers, and the list goes on and on. Wherever you find yourself employed (or unemployed) today, know that you are a vital part of the Christian ministry. Christian ministry is not just for those who get to bear the title “minister” it is for all of those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. And if you are in Christ today, then he has given you a pure heart by which you may call upon him.
According to the Jordan Times, the oil spill began last week, and "was caused by a leak from an offshore oil platform in Jabal Al Zayt, north of Hurghada, and has polluted about 160 kilometres [about 100 miles] of coastline including tourist beach resorts, according to news agencies."
According to Bloomberg, the oil spill was caused by a passing oil tanker. However, the AP is reporting that "Oil company officials in the port city of Suez said the spill was caused by a leak from an offshore oil platform in Jebel al-Zayt north of Hurghada and has polluted about 100 miles (160 kilometers) of coastline including tourist beach resorts. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media."
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Some initial impressions of my arrival to Amman:
I am amazed at how westernized this city is (at least the few parts that I have seen). I knew from reading that Amman has progressed greatly beyond much of the two-thirds world, but I did not expect it to be like a walk through The Summit or Brookwood Mall. Across the street from our Guest House is the California based Safeway store. They operate mainly in the West, Rocky Mountain, and Mid-Atlantic states but have over 1700 locations in the US alone. They operate the Randall and Tom Thumb brands in Texas if you might be familiar with them. For those not, Safeway is like a supped up Wal-Mart. You thought that was Target? Keep supping. This has a full blown grocery store on one level and electronics, appliances, furniture, clothing, etc. below. Like Wal-Mart and Target – just bigger and better. It also has a fine restaurant with coffee and juice bar. This is not what I was expecting in a two-thirds world country.
Just down the road and around the corner is an outdoor lifestyle center mall. This is the Summit on steroids. High end retailers galore and many open-air restaurants line this shopper’s paradise and provide yet another surprise for this westerner in the Middle East. No one is dressed shabbily in this area but decked out in designer jeans and chic footwear. Many of the women are dressed in head coverings, but they are the type that would make a derby wearer in Kentucky jealous. Gleaming with color and varying in texture from the head up many of these women are Muslim, from the shoulders down they have just stepped out of Vogue magazine. It’s an interesting compilation. Many women do not wear the headdress at all and I have yet to ascertain if this says anything of their status or relationship with Islam.
The people seem very warm and friendly and forgiving of the language barrier. Many speak English but many do not which would lead me to believe that it may be an optional course of study in school. Given the generally negative opinion of the West by many in the region, it has been comforting to know that (at least in our presence) we have not openly rejected. I may have a different perspective after we visit the Al Hussani Mosque tomorrow (aka King Hussein Mosque).
This is the desert. It is 95 degrees in the daytime. At night, I am cold. I made the conscious decision not to bring a jacket to the Hashemite Kingdom. Wrong decision!! On our walk home from dinner this evening I was shivering and inundated with goose bumps. During the day there has been a slight breeze that makes 95 degrees (with no humidity) feel like 75. It is wonderful to say the least. It is only supposed to be in the mid-80s the rest of this week...I might need to buy a jacket! There is a 0 percent chance of rain until August which is part of the reason that this is a “water poor” country.
See Amman Weather Here.
During chapel this morning, the gentleman who was leading the devotion preached (in Arabic with a translator for us) from Mat 4:23-5:12. It was a wonderful sound to hear the local believers read The Beatitudes together in Arabic. But the preacher focused on the earlier parts of this section of Scripture. First, there was a clear emphasis to these believers that they could identify with Mat 4:25: “And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.” Here we were, “beyond the Jordan,” surrounded by a group of followers who together form a crowd that mirrors the description Matthew gives us.
The speaker then moved on to discuss the blessedness of the one who knows of his own poverty. He made a clear distinction between economic poverty and spiritual poverty. He noted that Jesus’ concern was for those who knew they were morally and spiritually bankrupt knowing that they had nothing to come to him to offer that could considered an equal exchange for their salvation. Jesus then and now desires that we maintain our poverty. When we come to the point that we believe we have enough to do without Jesus, we no longer hold to the poverty of the blessed ones. The speaker pointed out that when we think we have had enough Scripture teaching, theological training, or moral disciplining and we surmise that we can now “move on from Jesus” we are sorely mistaken. It is at this point that we find ourselves further from the cross and nearer to our own security which is really of no security or substance whatsoever. This was a passionate and personal plea offered by the preacher “to continue the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel” (Col 1:23).
He then (brilliantly I might add), connected the blessedness of the one knowing his own poverty before the Lord with the blessedness of the one who is “persecuted for righteousness' sake” (Mat 5:10). This one who is persecuted for righteousness’ sake will be the one who knows his own poverty for the one who knows not his own poverty may suffer for wrongdoing (as discussed in 1 Pet 2:19-25) but this is not suffering for righteousness’’ sake. This is suffering for his own sinfulness which he is unaware of, because in his mind he is rich and does not need to recognize his poverty before the Lord. As I sat and listened, I looked around to the men and women who have forsaken all others because of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These have acknowledged their poverty before the Lord and called upon his riches for an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, unfading, and kept in heaven for them (1 Pet 1:4). These also have suffered persecutions for righteousness’ sake. This persecution has come at the hands of family members, the state, and the society.
This is how I would describe my first impressions of biblical Christianity being practiced by our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. Yet they have embraced this life with joy because he is the Joy that is set before them (Heb 12:2), in fact, their “exceeding joy” (Psa 43:3-4) by whom many have found themselves surprised. It is only in the economy of the gospel that one can become rich by becoming poor, and by becoming poor one can become rich.
SDG from Amman
كل المجد إلى حسن مستقل
An interesting spattering of a few quips overheard (or underheard) from my herd.
“If its yellow, let it mellow” – regarding water preservation at the Guest House
In an attempt to describe a Birmingham suburb to someone unfamiliar with the area: “Well, a lot of people drive a truck…”
“I think I’ll go back in now…since I was just called a little girl.” Statement from a 30-something male who was just told by an Australian Sharkologist that his intense fear of sharks based on the movie “Jaws” and a traumatic childhood beach trip was “stupid and silly.”
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
4 cities, 3 countries, 3 continents, 2 bad meals, and 26 hours later I am in Amman, Jordan. The trip has been relatively uneventful and all arrived safely with luggage in tow. I experienced by first taste of "Turkish Coffee" this evening around 11:00pm Amman time (+8 hours from Birmingham) and I am hoping that this will not keep me up through the night. Unfortunately it is only 4:00pm at home so my clock is far from being adjusted.
Our schedule begins at 8:00am tomorrow as we begin to explore Christianity in the Middle East.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Paul charges Timothy to not only fan, guard, and entrust but now to preach. And what is he to preach? The word – Jesus Christ himself who became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We are to preach Christ and him crucified (1 Cor 1:23). We are to preach the foolishness of the cross in the face of the wisdom of the world (1 Cor 1:18). This gospel does not make sense to those whom God does not grant the repentance that leads to eternal life (2 Tim 2:25) but our duty is to preach the word. But how are we to preach the word if we do not know the word?
Sunday, June 20, 2010
The following is Part 4 of a series prepared for an ordination service in the life of the church based on selected texts from 2 Timothy. You can access the other parts here:
VI. Flee and Pursue
Jesus, the author of our faith, modeled this for us first hand. Jesus called out twelve individuals who would spend three years with him in intense teaching and discipleship. Yes, one of them was the son of perdition and did not endure to the end. But the other eleven, after deserting Jesus in his hour of need were called back together after his resurrection. He said, “Go get my brothers!” Jesus committed these disciples to remain in Jerusalem until the coming of the Holy Spirit who would descend on them in power so that they would be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth. And what happened? The Holy Spirit came in power and they became witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth. And as the gospel message spread, individuals entrusted the message to individuals, who eventually entrusted the message to us as we have gathered here today at this very moment. We did not come here out of the blue. We have come here because the gospel was entrusted to faithful men and women who entrusted it to others and we are now called to continue the ministry of multiplication and entrust it to others as well.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The following is Part 3 of a series prepared for an ordination service in the life of the church based on selected texts from 2 Timothy. You can access the other parts here:
VI. Flee and Pursue
2Tim 1:14 “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”
Paul then tells Timothy that he is to “guard the good deposit” that has been entrusted to him. What is this “good deposit?” Most simply put: the gospel. Timothy is the recipient of the gospel truth which he must guard against false teaching and perversions. The gospel was not given to make people rich, get them a better job, or even to make them happy. The gospel was given to reveal the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, and the pathway to reconciliation that has been made available through Jesus Christ. And as ministers of this gospel, we are called to be gatekeepers of truth and guardians of gospel fidelity. Nothing must encroach upon these magnificent truths. Nothing should be used for one’s own personal gain, but the true gospel begins and ends with Jesus Christ. Anything that falls short of this is a false gospel. And a false gospel is a non-gospel and a non-gospel will send people to hell.
The mission of BiblicalTraining is to provide world-class educational resources for making new and fully-formed disciples within the context of the local church.They have just unleashed their new site and it is incredibly user friendly and navigable (I think that is a word). Check out their new website today and you can even hear several of my professors that I have the privilege to study under.
We hope to accomplish this through providing a free online seminary for advanced students and discipleship resources for new believers. We also provide a certificate program that allows a mentor to monitor the progress of an individual or group as they take courses in spiritual foundations, biblical foundations, or leadership development.
Our desire is to help develop the whole person with the goal of forming believers into the likeness of Christ. We offer courses that will develop the head (believing like Christ), heart (becoming like Christ), and hands (behaving like Christ). "Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ" (Col. 1:28).
The following is Part 2 of a series prepared for an ordination service in the life of the church based on selected texts from 2 Timothy. You can access the other parts here:
VI. Flee and Pursue
2Tim 1:6 "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands"
Paul tells Timothy that he must “fan into flame” the gift of God that has been given to him. It is not good enough for Timothy to simply rely upon the gifting that he has received and never work at it at all. If he does this, Paul warns that he will lose his effectiveness. Rather, he says to Timothy: “What is your gift? What is your passion? Fan these into flame.” Paul does not tell Timothy that he needs to take one hundred different spiritual gifts surveys, the Meyer-Briggs or Keirsey-Bates temperament indicator. (These things are not bad in themselves, but let us not dismiss the Holy Spirit’s placement of passions within our life in order to drive us in pursuit of gospel ministry.)
What is your gift? Is it teaching? Preaching? Mercy ministry? Hospitality? Whatever it is, fan it into flame. Firefighters know that if they can remove an oxygen source from a fire it will quickly dwindle out. Every year we hear of forest fires in California consuming thousands of acres of land. And the worst report we can hear is that there is no rain in sight but there are strong gusts of Santa Ana winds coming from the Pacific Ocean. These winds, fan the fire into flames. These flames are what once began as a tiny campfire can become an all-encompassing, all-engulfing, massive swath of power and uncontrolled fire. Is it not interesting that our God is referred to as a “consuming fire” (Dt 4:24; Heb 12:29). Identify the gift that God has given you, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, fan it into flame.
Monday, June 14, 2010
The following is a series prepared for an ordination service in the life of the church based on selected texts from 2 Timothy. In an effort to reduce the size of these posts, these will be broken up into five separate posts. Each post will have links to the others as they are developed.
What's in a name anyway? Many parents will ponder long and hard over the potential names for their young children and there are even "books of names" that are devoted to the subject. "This one means 'warrior'" or this one means "beautiful. Oh, I like that one." My name is KC which stands` for Kenneth Chase. My name has somewhat of a story that is not very interesting, but a little long. To give you the Reader's Digest version: I am the youngest of three children. When the first child was born my parents agreed that if it was a girl my mother would name her and if it was a boy my father got the honor. Well, mom named the first child. The second child came along and they decided that since mom got to name the first one then dad could do this one. And then the third child came along and they decided they would do this one together. Bad idea.
In truth, my parents were separated when my mother was six months pregnant with me so to think that they were in total agreement on anything is utter foolishness. So what happened? Well, I was without a name for the first two weeks of my life and was only known as the "Armstrong Baby." At one point I was going to be "Brandon Kenley" and at another I was going to be Kenneth Leroy, Jr (after my father of course). A name that made the short list was "Winston Salem" because my father smoked Winstons and my mother smoked Salems. Sad but true. It finally came time for me to come home from the hospital and I had to have a name to put on my birth certificate. So I became known as Kenneth Chase; "Kenneth" after my father and "Chase" after the Chase Manhattan Bank.
Companies understand the importance of a name. Coca-Cola is the most recognized brand in the world yet the still spend a billion dollars a year in advertising. If I were to ask you to search for something on the internet you would "Google" it. Regardless of whether you used Bing, MSN, or Yahoo! you would still "Google" it because they have associated their name with internet searches. Or what if I wanted for you to send me something overnight? I would ask you to FedEx it, regardless of whether or not you used UPS, DHL, or even the US Postal Service. But the name "FedEx" has come to represent an overnight, next-day delivery shipment. But what's in a name anyway?
Did you know that when your name comes up in conversation there is something that comes to mind of those speaking. Your name has come to symbolize your character and your reputation so that at the sound of it you are instantly identified. Paul. Timothy. Paul is a Roman name given to Saul after his conversion because he was called to preach to the Gentiles. Timothy. A Greek name that means timid or fearful. But when you hear these names there are images conjured up in your minds that may or may not agree with what they literally mean.
Paul is writing from a Roman prison different than the house arrest arrangement of Acts 28-31. This time he is in a dungeon-like facility literally chained to a Roman guard. This is Paul's last written communication as he sees that the end of his life is drawing near. He hopes to remind Timothy, the next-generation minister, of a few things prior to his departure. Throughout Second Timothy there are at least twenty-eight direct imperatives given by Paul. Over twenty-eight times Timothy is told to do this, don't do that, focus on these things, ignore these. But today as we think of ordination for the gospel ministry we will focus only on four of those commands which can be summed up as fan, guard, entrust, and preach. If we are to be faithful ministers of the gospel we must at the very least fan, guard, entrust, and preach. If we don't we will neglect the true gospel to which we have been called and we will attempt to rely upon our own strength void of the power of the Holy Spirit.
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Once again the folks at Christian Audio have offered another great resource for FREE. Through the end of June, you may download Francis Chan's Forgotten God for free. This is his sophmore effort following the enormously received Crazy Love .
Enter coupon code JUN2010 to start your download.