Little Chief: “Brothers”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SOTM: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 (Hypocrisy)

SOTM I have some questions about this passage —

(Mat 6:1-6 ESV) “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

(Mat 6:16-18 ESV)  “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,  18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Notice that Jesus inserts the Lord’s Prayer in the midst of three examples condemning hypocrisy. Why? Well, that’s for post on the Lord’s Prayer.

“Hypocrite” translates the Greek word for actor — someone who plays a part. And he is accusing some Jews of doing their good works to build their reputation in the community. And in an honor culture, this makes consideration sense. If what’s important to you is how you’re perceived rather than how good you are, announce your good deeds as loudly as possible. And we have plenty examples of the Greeks and Romans acting the same way. But, of course, Jesus expects more from us than pagan standards of morality. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

NeedToBreathe: “Oohs and Ahhs”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SOTM: Matthew 5 (Summary)

SOTMSo, to return to an outline of the SOTM I suggested several posts ago —

When is it?

It’s the dawn of the Kingdom promised by the Law and the Prophets. Therefore, it’s time to turn back toward God (to repent) and to anticipate the coming of the Messiah and the outpouring of the Spirit. And when the Kingdom promises come true, it will be the poor in spirit, the meek, etc. who find themselves blessed. God’s promises are sure.

Who are we?

We are the light of the world, the salt of the earth. We are the people through whom God has chosen to reveal his light to the world in hopes that the entire world will be saved. If the world doesn’t see our light, it’s because we’ve hidden it.

To change metaphors, if God isn’t giving the increase, it’s not God’s fault. We must not be sowing the word. We must be hiding God’s light shining through us under a basket.

YouTube Preview Image
Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

NeedToBreathe: “Brother”

Ramblers in the wilderness
Yeah we can’t find what we need
We get a little restless from the searching
Get a little worn down in between

Like a bull chasing a matador
is man left to his own schemes
But everybody needs someone beside ‘em
Shining like a lighthouse from the sea

Brother let me be your shelter
Never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call when you’re low
Brother let me be your fortress
when the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

Face down in the desert now
There’s a cage locked around my heart
I found a way to drop the keys where my failures were
now my hands can’t reach that far

I ain’t made for a rivalry
I could never take the world alone
I know that in my weakness I am strong
but it’s your love that brings me home

Brother let me be your shelter
Never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call when you’re low
Brother let me be your fortress
when the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

And when you call
And need me near
Say it when you go
Brother I’m right here

And on those days
When the sky begins to fall
You’re the blood of my blood
We can get through it all

Brother let me be your shelter
Never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call when you’re low
Brother let me be your fortress
when the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

SOTM: Matthew 5 (Hermeneutics)

SOTMLet’s talk a little hermeneutics. I’ve disagreed with McKnight’s interpretation of several of these passages because I disagree with his hermeneutics. He sees Jesus as legislating new laws because Jesus disagrees with Moses on various points. I disagree.

After all, the Law of Moses is really God’s law. Jesus cannot disagree with God. And Jesus himself told us how to read the rest of the SOTM:

(Mat 5:19-20 ESV)  19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

What could be crazier than Jesus saying these words and then repealing the Law of Moses to replace it with a better law? Rather, I’m convinced that Jesus is telling us how we should have been reading the Torah all along. He showing us how to do hermeneutics better than the scribes and the Pharisees.  Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Young Oceans

THE GATES (Proverbs 8:17):

Did You say, ‘seek, you will surely find’?
I am searching, Lord turn Your eyes to mine
But I’m weary, pacing at these gates
Jesus come, come now, don’t delay

Like a child, ever faithful may I be
This I ask, God of mercy hear my plea
I have wandered with a soul impure
For this scorn, Father, send a cure

I come to You my one and only
I promise not to turn my eyes again
And yes I know we’re but a breath,
But I wanna taste and see and feel You nonetheless
Yeah the years they keep on turning
And I’m battered but I’m burning for You Lord.

I wanna wake and feel Your glory
I wanna speak in tongues of angels for You Lord
I wanna sing a song eternal
I wanna trample on the curses of the earth
I wanna call upon Your healing
I wanna see the sick and weary be made new
I wanna swim inside the blessings
I wanna swim inside the blessings of the Lord

Have my heart, dry and dusty though it be
And these lungs; tired from calling out to Thee
Will You come now and make Your home
May we drink the cup of life and overflow

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SOTM: Matthew 5:43-48 (Love Your Enemy)

SOTM

(Mat 5:43-48 ESV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

I find myself frequently quoting this passage. In fact, in my decade or so of being an elder, I’ve found the SOTM to repeatedly provide answers to pastoral problems. To me, it’s the central passage on how to lead a church. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

SOTM: Matthew 5:38-42 (Just War)

justwarI’m finding myself in the just war camp. I’m not 100% comfortable here, but it makes better sense to me than anything else I’ve heard.

History

The doctrine defining a just war goes back to Augustine. Augustine was a bishop at a time when the Roman Empire had adopted Christianity as its official religion. Therefore, the Caesar was a Christian, and the question quite naturally arose as to when a Christian emperor could order troops into the battlefield.

This was also a time when northern European tribes (“barbarians”) were invading Rome. Rome had to either wage war or turn the Empire over the barbarians. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

SOTM: Matthew 5:38-42 (Pacifism)

smartbombs

McKnight argues in Sermon on the Mount (The Story of God Bible Commentary) for a strictly pacifist interpretation of Jesus’ words. And I have great sympathy for that position. But I can’t quite make myself totally buy into it.

On the other hand, neither do I believe that the Congress and the President are the final word on what God’s will regarding war — and sometimes they get it wrong. When that happens, it better to obey God rather than man. The government of the United States is not our god and does not save us. Not really.

So the choices aren’t between pacifism and American jingoism. I can reject pacifism and also oppose some of the wars the US fights.

In fact, one of the great blind spots of the American Churches of Christ, as well as most other evangelical and fundamentalist denominations, is confusing patriotism — jingoism, really — with Christianity, so that we feel obliged as good Christians to support every war launched by our leaders. Rather, we should hold the government to God’s standards. But few Christians ever pause to ask whether a given war is consistent with biblical teaching.  Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 20 Comments