James: Introduction

Jody is in Tucson, so Dan kicks off the series on the book of James.

What was it like to be the brother of Jesus? How did Jesus’ true identity impact His family. How did it impact James? Dan talks about the family dynamics that may have shaped this most Jewish of the New Testament books.

For those interested in a humorous look at those questions, here’s a link to a sketch done by comedian, Michael Jr.

Celebrate Life in a Culture of Death

Choose for yourselves whom you will serve…As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15.

Joshua laid it out plainly. You have to make a choice. Serve the gods of the land, or reject those gods and serve the God of Israel. Choose in or choose out. If you choose in, you’re rejecting the ways of the nations and embracing the unique character of the people of YAHWEH.

Recently, the abortion issue has found its way back into the news. Alabama and Missouri are leading the charge back to the Supreme Court. The target? Roe v. Wade. Turn the ship around. Reverse the course set in 1973 when the slaughter of millions of us began. Whole generations exterminated at the stroke of a pen. The pro-life movement intends to stop it.

That is the world’s answer: change the law. That was the answer in ’73 when the champions of abortion rights planted the flag on SCOTUS’ front lawn. It would appear that is still the answer as the pro-life forces sound the warison in Alabama, Missouri, and elsewhere. These are the first battles in a much longer war to change the law.

The question is, in 45 years since Roe v. Wade, what is the condition of the heart of this nation? Has Western culture grown more inclined to value life? The answer seems obvious. Given the choice between rights and restraint, individual rights are the clear winner. How troubling that this culture regards the freedom to end life as a cherished right  while regarding the creation of life as, at best, a happy result of a loving union, but not infrequently, a regrettable hazard of sex.

As for we and our house…we shall reverence, honor and celebrate life.

We followers of Jesus, cultural outsiders, must devote ourselves to living consistently with the faith of our earliest fathers who selflessly cared for discarded children.

An early observation of the community of the Christ followers reads:

…there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through . . . Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not [abandon them to die]

Let’s begin here:

  • Life is holy.
  • Life is a gift from God.
  • The creation of life is a responsibility and an honor to be entered into in the context of a covenant.
  • The termination of life is a fearful responsibility that belongs to God alone.
  • We must respect the freedom God has given all men and women to choose, even if we are confident those choices are wrong in the eyes of God.

This means that our community ought to be a refuge for the helpless. We should be committed to protect children and provide shelter for those who need it. We should be ready to provide assistance to men and women who are unprepared to nurture the life that has been entrusted by circumstance to their care. Among us, we should be determined that the creation of life belongs in the context of an abiding union that reflects the relationship between God and His creation.

The priorities of the church should include adoption, prenatal care, childcare, training for parents, foster care, family counseling — in short, anything that nourishes and celebrates life. Imagine a community in which the announcement of a pregnancy is a call for celebration; the anticipation of birth a joyous season, and the bringing forth of new life a call to community. Not just an announcement in the bulletin, but an intentional party.

As the world looks on, may the community of the saints reflect the joy and holiness of life. May we be a stark contrast to the culture that values as a right the destruction of it.

Romans Summary & Review

At long last, our study through Romans is at an end. Today, Jody summarizes the journey through this challenging and impacting letter.

See you next fall!

Romans Chapter 16

And so, at last, we come to the last chapter of this inspiring and challenging book. This week, the apostle gives us a glimpse of the relationships that enriched his life. As he does, he invites us all to consider the people that we carry in our hearts as we strive to love one another in the way that Jesus loves us.

Next week, Jody will bring an overview of this year’s study in Romans.

Dan’s Been Thinking Again

Dan has returned to posting on his video blog called I’ve Been Thinking. Most recently, he is tackling the issue of homelessness. If you’re interested, his YouTube channel is a click away.

Romans 15 (Pt. 2)

For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me . . . by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God . . . and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.” (Vs. 18-20)

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