Posted in Christian Living

Is Summer a Time for Spiritual Slacking?

Sure, there are church camps and Vacation Bible Schools and even tent meetings, but summer is the season for slackening one spiritual strengthening exercise: regular church attendance.

Or maybe that’s only at St. Helens Baptist Church. Maybe families don’t go on vacation for weeks at a time where you live and worship. Maybe there are summer baseball and softball tournaments over the weekends. If that’s the case, members at your church don’t have the usual distractions.

So does church attendance drop where you worship?

And is this truly a sign of a slack in the spiritual lives of these people?

I wish I had the answers, but I don’t. As you can see, there are more questions here than facts.

Spiritual strength comes from three things:

  1. Time reading, studying and meditating on the Word of God
  2. Prayer, supplication and quiet reflection at the feet of Jesus
  3. Facing the hard times without giving up on God

So, none of these have anything to do with church attendance. Or do they?

Church is the place where Jesus put His name. He built it for humans so they could meet together and study scripture, pray, fellowship and be encouraged to fight the fight. Because while Jesus went to Heaven, his enemy stayed right here on Earth.

Yes, the Old Serpent is the prince and power of the air in the physical realm. Eventually, King Jesus will take that title back. But for now, Satan prowls around looking for spiritually weak people to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

If Jesus paid for the church with His precious blood (Acts 20:28), then it must be an important part of his Kingdom plan.

Church strengthens in the spirit of a believer (if they attend with a receptive heart). Here are five things that you might need strengthened that church will help with:

  1. Humility (if worshiping the Almighty doesn’t humble you, nothing will)
  2. Knowledge (plenty of scripture presented and expounded)
  3. Love (Hebrews 10:24)
  4. Resolve to work for Christ (Hebrews 10:24)
  5. Family ties (with our brothers and sisters in Christ at church)

What are your thoughts? Do you think spirituality slips in the summer? Or is the fall of church attendance an indicator of something else?

Up next week:  The Freedom of Summer

Posted in Christian Living

Summer of Psalms

Summer brings longer days and  warmer temperatures that inspire us to laze and lounge. Why not invest some of that “down” time to reading the Bible?

This summer, St. Helens Baptist Church encourages everyone to commit to reading through the Psalms during the summer months.

Sure, it’s the longest book in the Bible. But it contains the shortest chapter. (And the longest, but that won’t sell the program.)

During our Summer of Psalms, we’ve divided the book into day-sized readings. Some days it means reading a single song. Other days you might read two or three.

150 psalms in 92 days. (Well, 86 now because I didn’t post this on the first day of June.)

This is a manageable feat. Continue reading “Summer of Psalms”

Posted in Christian Living

The timeline of Jesus’ life proves the Bible is true…

So many prophecies of the Old Testament prophets of Israel were fulfilled during the life of Jesus that multi-volume books have been written to describe them.  This blog will not be one of them.  But here’s a look at how Daniel and the gospels prove the incredible historicity and homogeny of scripture.

Daniel was instructed that “70 weeks” had been determined upon the Israelites for judgment totaling 490 years.  Daniel said that these years would commence with the command to rebuild Jerusalem including the wall.  He also showed that it would be 483 years into the 490 years of judgement when the Messiah would be “cut off” for the people.  So, there it is.  483 years after the command to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Jesus was to be “cut off” in Jerusalem.  How can we tell if that happened or not?

When did the command to rebuild the walls happen?  Nehemiah chapter two tells us that it was in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes that Nehemiah was appointed Governor of Judea and commissioned to rebuild the walls of the ancient capital of David.  Artaxerxes the King became co-regent with his father in 474 B.C..  So the twentieth year of his reign was in 454 B.C. In April.

Since the Gregorian Calendar does not have a year 0, and the calendar year First Year B.C. Is followed by One A.D. We must add one year back to get to the year that Jesus died.  So, 454 minus 483 equals 29 plus one gets us to 30 A.D..  Could Jesus have been the right age to have died in 30 A.D.?

Yes, Jesus was born during the reign of Caesar Augustus who reigned for forty years from 27 B.C. To 14 A.D..  Luke 3 tells us that the beginning of John the Baptist’ ministry and then of Jesus began in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius.  It’s easy to assume that this then was the year 29 B.C. since Augustus had died in the year 14.  But Tiberius had already been reigning as “Princeps” since the death of Agrippa in the year 12.  Which means that the fifteenth year of his “reign” was actually A.D. 26.  (Not that he had been reigning for fifteen years and was in the sixteenth year, but rather that he was in the fifteenth year and had therefore ruled for a total of 14 full years.)

Luke chapter three also tells us that in that year when John Baptized Jesus that Jesus began to be about thirty years old in A.D. 26 when John Baptized him.  26 A.D. Minus “about thirty years” takes us back to late 5 B.C. To early 4 B.C. For the birth of Christ.  Which is a topic for another day.  If Jesus began his ministry in 26 B.C. And John records three, possibly four passovers total including the one on which he died, then Jesus died in 30 A.D. at 33 years old.

Passover was on Wednesday, in 30 A.D.  Which means it was also the Preparation Day for the High Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread on Thursday.  Which is why the Gospels all say Jesus died on the day of “the preparation” of the Sabbath.  Jesus was laid in the tomb before Sundown.  He prophesied that he would spend three days and three nights in the Tomb.  The tomb was found already empty very early in the morning “before the breaking of day” according to the gospels.  Ergo, Jesus did not spend all of Saturday night in the tomb.  Wednesday night, Thursday Day, Thursday Night, Friday Day, Friday Night, Saturday Day.  In Israel the new day begins at Sundown.  On Saturday evening when the sun set, the First Day of the Week began.  

Somewhere between Sundown and Sunrise on the First Day of the Week, Jesus rose from the Dead and he had already been in the tomb for three full days and three full nights, just as he had foretold.  Daniel’s prophecy that he would die 483 years after the command to rebuild the walls was fulfilled down to the very month.  God is always right on Time!!  

Posted in Christian Living

Will You Miss the Risen Lord this Easter?

Standing in celebration next Sunday morning, we will sing of Jesus and His real – and our ultimate – resurrection from this life to the next.

But what about after Sunday? In the days and weeks that follow, will we see our risen Lord as he continues walking among us?

Or will we, like so many in the New Testament account, miss the risen Jesus?

  • In the garden: Grief, disorientation and fear closed the eyes of Mary Magdalene who took the risen Jesus to be a gardener. (John 20:1)
  • On the road: Grief and incomplete theology closed the eyes of two followers who concluded he was but a fellow traveler taking up conversation to pass the journey. (Luke 24:15)
  • In the Upper Room: Doubt, fear and nonsensical thinking closed the eyes of the disciples who concluded Jesus was a ghost. (Luke 24:37)
  • On the beach: Distance and dismay blinded the disciples to the presence of their Lord. (John 21: 4)

In each situation, followers of Jesus were blinded by unexpectedness. They saw him dying and decided he was dead and would stay dead. When he appeared, in a garden, on the road, in the Upper Room, on the beach, they didn’t expect him to be where he was. So they missed him.

In each post-resurrection circumstance – in God’s sovereign timing – eyes were opened and Jesus was revealed (Luke 24:31). And while admittedly, we can only “see” God when he enlightens the eyes of our souls to see him, when God makes a surprise appearance in our everyday, don’t we often miss him too?

As we undertake our Easter journey, both this week and next and in the seasons that follow, can we cooperate with God in his eye-opening work? Can we watch for him to reveal what he wants to reveal to us when he wants to reveal it?

Let’s not miss Jesus …

Watch. Jesus is risen! Here he comes!

**This post is from Elisa Morgan and was copied from her website. View the entire post here.

In some circles, this is Passion Week. It’s easy to see Jesus in the vivid details on the final road to His ultimate obedience.

But are we expecting him to show up at work with us on Wednesday? Do we invite him into the midst of our gatherings of friends on Friday night?

Every Sunday should remind us of the power and promise of the resurrection. And every day we should be looking for the one who loved us so much to walk beside us in the mundane.

Where have you seen Jesus this week?

Posted in Christian Living

The Sword in the Pen

“Holy men of God spake as they were moved…”  (2 Peter 2:21)

Once upon a time, long ago, in a land where evil giants did the bidding of petty tyrants and false prophets stole the hearts of men with frightening tales of angry gods who must be appeased with bloody battles and bloodier rituals, there lived a young musician who played in the court of the King.

The lad was a once and future shepherd who understood the power of words. His name is David.  He is now famous the world over because he felled a giant, united a Kingdom, and lifted up his people out of tyranny.  But his most enduring legacy, long after the castles and fortresses have turned to dust, that still lives on are the songs that he wrote.  He was a warrior and a poet.  He knew how to wield both the pen and the sword.

Because the words that he wrote are the very words of God in the sacred psalms there is a sword in his pen.  “The word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword.”  Hebrews 4:12  As a Captain and a King, David had to learn how and when to wield the sword in Battle.  What battles are worth fighting?  Not just in terms of whether or not they can be won, but also in terms of at what cost.  

As Christians in a world that is filled with so much anger, hatred, feuding, and brokenness, one of the hardest things to know is when to wield the Word of God as a sword of battle, or when to carry it as “balm of Gilead” to heal the wounded hearts from the battles raging all around us.  It is so easy to take the sword into the meanstreets of the Social Media melee, and start swinging.  Or pick a fight with a class-mate or co-worker and call it “taking a stand”.

But, in the final analysis, does that kind of Battle, won or lost, help us win the war?  Truth is a powerful weapon.  But light doesn’t have to beat back darkness.  Darkness flees from it.  “The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God”.  (James 1:20) The Good Samaritan, didn’t draw his sword and run after the robbers.  He pulled out his first aid kit and tended the wounded.

There is a time to stand and fight against an evil giant.  There are hills worth fighting for and even dying on.  But there are also issues that come up that we have more important things to worry about than winning those particular arguments.  The only thing more important than knowing how to wield a sword, is knowing when.