Thursday, January 22, 2015

Covenant Class - Wednesday PM

We are having a great time in the Wednesday evening adult studies New Covenant Class.

The big questions we want to answer are:
1) What happened?
2) When did it happen?

Last week (Jan 14th), we began with a large overview of dispensational theology (study of ages).

Last night we jumped right in the middle with the events unfolding around Christ's death.  Here are links to a couple of the forms I created to help you in class.  I hope they help!

Chart detailing events immediately surrounding Christ's death.
List of 20 prophecies fulfilled on the day of Christ's death.

 Click to view the Tabernacle of Moses.

Click to view the Temple at Jesus' time. 

Homework:  For next week, study up on Jesus' baptism and the beginning of His ministry.   To follow up on our class last night, you might want to read the prophecies in Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.  They are amazing! 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Our Treatment of Trials

Letter Lessons: Our Treatment of Trials
By: Christopher Wiles
This morning I sat at Benjy's, a local family style eatery, and meditated on Bonhoeffer's letters.  I was served by willing waitresses, who attentively and graciously served my culinary needs.  I've met many waitresses in my dining experiences who have struggled with the trials life as single moms in low paying careers.  Yet they endeavor daily to serve me with a smile in spite of life's struggles.  For all you waitresses, thank you for your treatment of us during your trials. The following is what I penned while being served at Benjy's.
 I would like to switch for a time from my normal light style of writing from my experience in daily life (Living Lessons) and share with you thoughts that inspire me from a collection of letters from another's extraordinary life.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German protestant minister  who wrote from prison before his 1945 execution at the hands of Hitler's Nazis.  May the following thoughts encourage and empower you through God's Holy Spirit.

Here are some of the excerpts from Dietrich's first letter to his parents after his unjust April 4th arrest. 
"Dear parents … The only thing that bothers me or would bother me is the thought that you are being tormented by anxiety about me … Forgive me for causing you so much worry… I'm most particularly anxious about my fiancĂ©e … besides that, I have my Bible… One is grateful for little things... I'm thinking of you and the rest of the family and my friends with gratitude and love, your Dietrich. " - April 14th, 1943

For ten days prior to this letter, Dietrich lived in solitude with bread to eat, no change of clothes, and a hard (likely concrete) bed.   Yet the first letter he was able to write to his parents was filled not with complaints of his poor conditions nor railings about his unjust imprisonment for speaking to the care and humane treatment of Jews.  His letter contained care and concern for others.  The thoughts contained in his first letter spoke of blessings such as a Bible and a thrush singing in the mornings.  His letter models well another prisoner's example contained in a letter to the Philippian church.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves."- Philippians 2:3

"I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content." - Philippians 4:11

Were you to be imprisoned for your faith, what would you first letter contain?  Would it contain honor for your parents, care for your friends, and contentedness for God's provisions?   Answer those questions by considering how you respond to trials of life today.  Do you respond to them now with honor, care, and contentedness?  If your answer to the previous question is "no" then let's begin changing our responses.  Begin as Paul does with prayer. 

"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God." - Philippians 1:9-11

May your prayers be fruitful and your treatment of trials honor our Holy Father.
If you would like to read more of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's letters, you can do so by ordering this book in paper format or for the Kindle:  Letters and Papers from Prison (1997)

Monday, January 12, 2015

10 Things I'm Ready For

A friend asked me for 10 things I'm ready for.  Here are my ten off the top of my head.
10.  I'm ready for the cold to be done.
9.  I'm ready for some good snow for sledding (if the cold isn't going to be done).
8.  I'm ready for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or just a jar of peanut butter, whichever is easier. Oh, and a spoon, or a knife.  Never mind, just peanut butter will do nicely.
7.  I'm ready to go backpacking with Ashley, Gabriel, Ethan, Micah, and church family this year!  Wahoo!  (Micah has learned to walk, don't you think it's time he learned to backpack too?)
6.  I'm ready to preach on Sunday morning. (I know it's only Monday, but I feel good that God blessed me with a strong and funny message from the book of Micah!)
5.  I'm ready to take a "NightScape" photography class.  Anyone want to stay up late with me and photograph the stars?
4.  I'm ready to take my wife for another dinner and a movie type of night.
3.  I'm ready to play some football with friends instead of just hearing about the NFL playoffs.
2.  I'm ready to go to the doctor for something cool, like a football related injury with friends.
and the thing I'm most ready for?
1.  I'm ready, like John in Rev 22:20, for the Lord to come!  Man, heaven's gonna be a great place to be!

What are you ready for?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My Angry Eyes

To my ministry friends, they don't train you for this in seminary do they? Seriously, how do we train for moments like these?
Have you ever seen my angry eyes? It's a rare sight. I have to confess, I struggled to keep composure moments ago. It was 4:05am when someone was feverishly knocking and ringing the doorbell. Someone I helped with a ride 4 months ago was now waking my family asking for $20 to buy chips and a coke as they take their kid to the hospital. When I refused, they persisted in requesting just $10. It was at that point I struggled to express my disdain for this current situation.
Standing in the cold, with my adrenaline still pumping for fear of emergency, sporting a monstrous headache, and with irritation flooding over me as the realization that this person had to be strung out one some kind of drug to make this absurd request, I struggled to keep my composure.
While my wife can attest that my voice stayed calm even while refusing their audacious request to come in my home, I admit that I struggled. I don't doubt that my eyes gave away the flames of anger rising inside as this bold pan handler turned tail to run back to the minivan that had dropped them off.
I struggle to wrap my brain around it. Oh, and as I write this, I just saw their minivan traveling by in the opposite direction, away from the hospital.
And how did they figure out where I live anyway?
No, they don't train you for these moments in seminary.
So now I'm thinking of the "Friend at Midnight" passage in Luke 11:5-8.
Maybe this person thought they were on "friend status" with me. Maybe they thought that Jesus just meant "be persistent and you'll get what you want." Maybe I would have been more forthcoming if it was midnight and not 4am.
Read this scripture friends and see what you think. "5 Then He said to them, “[d]Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children [e]and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his [f]persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs."
Friends, if you have a legitimate need for more than chips and a coke at 4am in 20 degree cold weather, call first. I'll be a little happier to help.
Ministry friends, my heart goes out to you when this happens to you too. Thanks for all your service and patience.
P.S. I can attest, it is snowing and cold outside. Be careful driving to work this morning.