Preparing for the Season of Lent

Maundy Thursday Chalkboard Prayer Vigil

A few weeks ago at my church we had what we call a Celebration Dinner, beginning a process of visioning for the future called Dream 2020. As we move through this visioning experience in 2013, we are asking people to begin this season with 40 days of prayer (and fasting), beginning with Ash Wednesday.

Prayer During Lent

Prayer, by its very nature, causes us to slow down and reveals our priorities. As a church, prayer is our declaration of dependence on God instead of ourselves. It is our response to grace, a corporate collective cry for God to move in the midst of our sin. Prayer is something that challenges our mind, which, by its very nature, is prone to wonder and daydream as we try to bring our hearts to the Lord. We lose focus in our 24/7-connected world and struggle to find consistency in prayer, but so did the disciples when Jesus took them into the garden to pray before His trial (Matthew 26:40).[1]

As with most things in life that challenge us, the results are also beyond our own imagination. As the disciples discovered, more could be accomplished through prayer than they had ever dreamed, and Jesus said we, through prayer, would do even greater things than He Himself had done (John 14:12-14).

Fasting During Lent

Fasting is another spiritual discipline discussed during lent, often in the context of giving up candy, television, or some other “extra” thing in our life. My experience with fasting generally didn’t even go that far, until one night I began to pray about fasting. Only through prayer was I led to a traditional fast, a weekly one that lasted an entire year. In that year God prepared and changed my heart for things I could never foresee happening in my life, and he can do the same for our church body. Some cannot participate in a traditional fast from food, and I know God understands that situation. But for those of us who can, I would challenge you to begin by praying about fasting.

Prayer and fasting together make a powerful bond, one stronger than prayer alone or fasting alone. When the disciples asked Jesus why they could not do what they expected could be done, Jesus’ response was this could only be done through prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21). As you are challenged in this area I would encourage you to ask practical questions if you have any. Please feel free to contact me, I would be more than happy to discuss the specific practicalities of fasting with you.

Here are Some Practical Suggestions and Next Steps

First, over each of the next 40 days of Lent we will be posting a new prayer for Cornerstone’s future, which you can read here. We will be prayerfully asking how we can impact our community, our schools, lives in Uganda, and many other areas where Cornerstone can lead people to know and serve Jesus. We invite you to participate with Cornerstone in prayer each day, putting on the whole armor of God around Ephesians 6:18 twice a day, at 6:18am and 6:18pm.

Second, begin to prayerfully seek God’s guidance as it pertains to fasting in your life. If you have questions, please ask. If you are led to fast during Lent some practical things to ask yourself are why, when, and how. In the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us the most practical advice on fasting in Matthew 6:16-18. You can start by reading this passage, and the whole sermon if possible from Matthew 5:2 to 7:27, then answer the why.

The why is often seen as an emptying of self and the filling of God, generally by means of abstaining from food and/or water. The when could be giving up lunch on Tuesdays during Lent, or food for 24 hours on Wednesdays. The how is different for each person, but is an important practical step to think about. How do you not eat and not call attention to yourself? Look at your schedule; it’s different for everyone.

As we prepare ourselves for this time of reflection through prayer and fasting let us remember our brokenness, and our need for a redeemer, which is Christ crucified for us.

[1] Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson and Eric Geiger, Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2012), 219-222. Concepts were developed on prayer using this section called “The Primacy of Prayer” from Creature of the Word. The authors’ dedication to their text is greatly appreciated and achknowledged here as originating from this section of their text. A good review of the book can be found in the interview The Church as Creature of the Word: A Conversation with Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson, and Eric Geiger.

My Late Top 10 Look Ahead for 2013

At the Crossroads

At the Crossroads

I purposely tried to take a break with my blog over Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, but now I’m also having a hard time getting back in the groove of writing again. Habits are like that, you get into a routine, then drop it for a time and boom, it’s gone. I sat at my favorite crossroad recently (above) thinking back at 2012 and ahead to 2013, hoping for sun and warms from the winter sky.

New Year’s resolutions to me always seemed like the impulse buy at the checkout line, so I don’t set resolutions for myself, I try to look at goals for the year. Some small and easy, some near impossible. I started off 2013 by reading and finishing Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World by Bob Geoff. This ended up being an incredible way to start off the new year, and is really now my word or phrase I want to live in for 2013, Does.

For years (maybe decades now) I have had a constant internal battle between faith and works, legalism and action, intellectualism and doing. Eventually, a while back actually, I came to the ultimate conclusion that it isn’t a battle for one or the other, but for one AND the other. It’s pretty hard to read the book of James and come to any other conclusion, but being a “doer” sometimes takes some work and effort. Sometimes, doing is “not doing.” For 2013 my goals have as many DO NOT do as it does TO DO.

My Top Ten List for 2013

1. Spend Less Time on Social Networking Sites
My goal really is to try to ditch Facebook in 2013. I’m about as sick of Facebook and all it has to offer but there are still a few people that only operate on Facebook, and they are the reason I haven’t left yet. I have some great relationships developed through social sites, but they are largely time suckers.

2. To Not Take Any Seminary Classes in 2013
Late in 2012 I conferred my first seminary master degree, a Master of Arts in Theology. This was to be the first in a line of “continuing education” in the formal faith setting. But it also comes with a price, and that price has overtaken my extremely strong desire to want to actively be in seminary classes. Mostly it has to do with time. Time it takes to read books I’m actively reading for church compared to books for classes. Time away from Deborah and things we want to do together this year, and my ability to be 100% fully engaged in my ministry work each day. As much as I love seminary work, it’s very hard to be fully engaged in people’s lives while having to spend every spare second studying when it’s a personal choice not a career choice.

Scott Fillmer's Master of Arts in Theology

Scott Fillmer’s Master of Arts in Theology

3. Write Shorter Blogs Posts More Frequently (this one doesn’t count)
This has been a goal of mine since I started my blog. The key to this for most bloggers is to give up on the perfectionist in you and just post. I use to think if it couldn’t be perfect I really don’t want to do it, now I’m more in the mindset of how much doesn’t ever get done that could be done because it can’t be perfect. Doing, not thinking about doing.

4. To Not Wear Socks
This one sounds easy, but is really going to be the hardest one, near impossible, for me after 40+ years of tradition. There are a lot of metaphorical and spiritual reasons for this one but I’ll let those hang for now.

5. Be a Doer of the Word Not Just a Theology Debater
This is my word of the year, so I kind of already theorized on this one (see what I did there), but this is also going to be one of my biggest challenges of 2013. The challenge being how to find those places to engage where I can be the most effective. One of those areas being my staff position at the church. For me, can I make my position as a “business administrator” one that engages others in love and discipleship.

Cornerstone and East Alabama Food Bank Food Drop 2013

Cornerstone and East Alabama Food Bank Food Drop 2013

6. Not To Read the Entire Bible Cover to Cover
I love this one, and it is going to be very freeing. I am going to finish my current canonical reading I started in June, then I’ll focus on a few specific books. I have probably read cover to cover now about 10 times over the last 15-20 years, but I won’t in 2013. Being a very systematic thinker I am still going to read the greatest set of books ever written, but instead of cover to cover, I’m going deep with a few specific books.

The ESV Bible, a Moleskine Journal, and a Diet Coke

The ESV Bible, a Moleskine Journal, and a Diet Coke

7. Read, Read, Read
I lost track of how many books I read in 2012, it was something like 30 or so. The last book I read in 2012 was Sacrilege: Finding Life in the Unorthodox Ways of Jesus, and the first book I read in 2013 was Love Does (above). Both excellent books. In 2013 I’m going to continue to refine my reading process by reading those specific books that take my faith deeper. Books like Creature of the Word, When Helping Hurts, Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books, Jesus A Theography, and a classic here and there like Leaves of Grass or The Hobbit.

8. To Not Forsake Spending High Quality Time With Deborah
This has always been a high priority for both of us, but that’s only because we make it a priority. The hardest thing about this is my ability to say no to good things, good people, and yes to Deb.

Deborah at IHOP for Breakfast

Deborah at IHOP for Breakfast

9. Take an Entire Week of Vacation All At Once
I (we) have never done this ever. For most of our married life Deb and I have owned our own business and when you own your own business you don’t get to take “vacation.” This year is our 20th wedding anniversary and celebrating 20 years of marriage deserves at least a week at the beach.

Sun Setting Over the Gulf of Mexico

Sun Setting Over the Gulf of Mexico

10. Love People for Who They Are and Right Where They Are
This is not a new one for me but also not an easy one. This is an ongoing, continuous, and gradually adjusted ability given to me by grace, only provided by Christ. And it is also how he loves me. To do this you have to drop every judgmental fiber in your being, and just love.

Project 365 [Day 291] Words for Love

Project 365 [Day 291] Words for Love

I have plenty more in my mind but those are the randomly chosen ten for this post.

A Christian Vacuum and My Prayerful Vote for America

Lines at My Local Auburn Polling Place

Lines at My Local Auburn Polling Place

I have been voting since 1988, and I really can’t remember ever waiting in line, ever. There is just something a little different about the election this time around. It seems like each candidate is already resolved to their fate, but seeing this kind of turnout is awesome. If you are an eligible voter in our country today, and you didn’t vote, shame on you, go vote. Regardless of party affiliation or particular ideology, people in our country have given their life so that all of us can freely vote our conscience on this day, and it’s our responsibility to do so. My polling station was busy. As you can see from the photo above, there were a lot of people in line, but it didn’t take long, and wasn’t too long a wait for the freedom to vote.

Over the past several months I have been trying to finish one of the greatest books ever written on discipleship, The Cost of Discipleship, by Bonhoeffer and he had some really incredible things to say about our process today. If you have access to this book, go read chapters 12 and 13 and read it in context of today’s world with the understanding that he wrote that during one of the reigns of the most evil leaders the world has ever know. His other epic book, Ethics, starts off with this explanation, which I find so pertinent to our world today.

The Christian does not live in a vacuum, but in a world of government, politics, labor, and marriage. Hence, Christian ethics cannot exist in a vacuum. The reality is not manifest in the Church as distinct from the secular world; such a juxtaposition of two separate spheres is a denial of God’s having reconciled the whole world to himself in Christ. On the contrary, God’s commandment is to be found and known in the Church, the family, labor, and government, with a responsibility for the institutions of the world.

Meaning… neither candidate we see today may be our perfect choice as Christians, but we don’t live in a perfect world, and we only have one perfect candidate, Christ himself. We have to live in the world we are placed, not stick our head in the sand. This article published by Religion Today says it very well, Evangelicals Want Moral Government But are Ignorant of the Bible, and the point is we need to become as knowledgeable about God’s word as we are about Obama or Romney.

This was my prayer for our election this morning: “Lord I pray for this election, that you will make your choice clear today, that your will be done, even if that means letting this country go deeper into the depths of hell before it finds its way out, and finds its way back to you.” For some reason David’s words when we prayed for deliverance in 2 Samuel 22 seem relevant to the state of our country at this point in history. We should do as he did and earnestly “call upon the Lord.”

I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised… for the waves of death encompassed me, the torrents of destruction assailed me, the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me… in my distress i called upon the Lord; to my God I called. 2 Samuel 22.

People Waiting to Pick Up a Ballet in Auburn

People Waiting to Pick Up a Ballet in Auburn

A Man Takes His Ballet From a Poll Worker in Auburn

A Man Takes His Ballet From a Poll Worker in Auburn

The Alabama Ballet for Election 2012

The Alabama Ballet for Election 2012

I hope you voted today, or are planning on voting today. This vote has historic consequences, as all elections do, but the world seems poised, seems to be on the cusp, of a time where we are still not too far gone, but can very easily fall over the edge. That edge, or cliff, is a combination of all kinds of things from war in the middle east to an economic crisis like we have seen in Greece.

For me, the edge or cliff is the erosion of faith in our country. A country that now receives more missionaries than it sends, where we continue to move into complete pluralism, where Christians themselves no longer stand for Gospel truths, and are no longer convicted to call sin, sin.

So regardless of who you vote for, have a reason for choosing a particular candidate, and go vote. This is not something to take lightly, nor something to brush off as unimportant. As Christians we have a call to be involved in the world we live in, to be a part of the process, not just as an armchair quarterback.

On Apple’s Tribute to Steve Jobs One Year Later

Pulling into the Gate in Amsterdam Airport

Pulling into the Gate in Amsterdam Airport

I remember landing in Amsterdam on October 5, 2011 after being in the air for almost 10 hours. I turned on my iPhone and AP news alerts started pinging my phone as happens when a “world event” takes place. I read through the Fox News, CNN, Sky News alerts and articles, and read through my Twitter and Facebook feeds. As we pulled up to the gate I had already received the text below from Deborah (yes I have all my text messages from years ago), a message received in my hand sitting on a runway in the Netherlands thousands of miles away from Auburn, Alabama.

Text Message From DeborahAs we pulled up to the gate I took the photo above of the Delta flight parked next to our gate, pulled it into my Camera+ app, put a boarder around it and posted it to Instagram. At this point I had already checked my email, responded to a few emails, and looked up our connecting flight information. All from a small piece of metal, glass, and plastic that didn’t exist a few years earlier.

This may sounds like a lot of poetic musings for a phone, but for some reason my mind wasn’t ready for this particular piece of news that morning, and it confused me. I was on my way to Africa, and the only reason I was going to have any personal connection with my wife halfway around the world was because Steve Jobs had decided he was going to invent and create what I was holding in my hand.

Here was a man who shared no convictions with my faith, a brilliant man who had no understanding beyond the pluralistic view of Christianity known for centuries mixed with his version of Buddhism. He just couldn’t go beyond his own understanding and even made this statement to Isaacson:

“The juice goes out of Christianity when it becomes too based on faith rather than on living like Jesus or seeing the world as Jesus saw it,” he told me. “I think different religions are different doors to the same house. Sometimes I think the house exists, and sometimes I don’t.”

Yet I still felt some connection, even if a minor one, with Jobs, sitting on a runway in Europe, as if the plane full of people melted away leaving me and my connection with Jobs sitting in my hand. He shared none of my beliefs, yet he changed the world, my world, and still does on a daily basis. After I got home from Africa I read, back to back, the biography on Steve Jobs and the biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Metaxas. What an amazing contrast of times and cultures, beliefs, and both had the ability to change the world. Ultimately in death, as we all will do some day, either looking to what lies ahead, one perhaps clinging to life here on earth, so did these two great men.

I boarded the plane to Africa, still thinking about Jobs’ fate and wrote this as we took off.

The biggest surprise to me so far [on this trip], was upon landing, finding out that Steve Jobs died. I was truly saddened to hear this. I know we are all temporary to this world, but this man, who for all accounts wasn’t a believer, changed the world. He forever changed the way the world communicates, how we are connected with each other, and the reason I can talk to Deborah from this plane in Europe while she is in Auburn.

He affected so many people through his innovations. How are we to greave his death? I’m saddened over his death as if he was someone I knew personally, and at the same time I really don’t know why either. Death seems so imminent for all of us, especially when you hear about Jobs dying at 59. I know why we die, the fall created this and Christ had to die for us, but it’s still so hard to understand. I didn’t even know Jobs, but I will miss him. The new iPhone announcement yesterday had people wanting to see Jobs at the event, people who never knew, other than God, that he would die the very next day. I pray for his soul.

I’m not even really sure why I write this today other than to acknowledge the gravity this one person had on our world. A person I vastly disagree with on almost all aspects of life, yet he was someone who had a positive impact on so many people.

Jobs once said “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” which really became his whole life philosophy, and was carried on today by Tim Cook and Apple with the video on their front page and the letter below. What other for-profit company would take down their entire front page just to show a 2 minute tribute video. Simplicity and sophistication.

Apple's Tribute to Steve Jobs

Apple’s Tribute to Steve Jobs

Learning Discipleship Through the Eyes of Jesus

Cornerstone Church Staff Discussing Discipleship at 3DM

Cornerstone Church Staff Discussing Discipleship at 3DM

I spent this week with some of our staff at a conference in Atlanta. The past few days for me added to or confirmed with me part of an ongoing study I have about “what is the church?” I last posted about it here: What is the Church? 10 Things the Bible Says About the Church, but this week was focused on discipleship.

This group (3DM) we started to explore months ago doesn’t have a new program, or some new secret way to make disciples, they walked through how Jesus did this. That means this was really more like a workshop than a conference, and there wasn’t a step-by-step process by those Type-A’s can take away and say “this is how you do it.” That’s what made this different than the host of Christian conferences we all love to attend.

I’m not actually sure how to completely process everything presented to us over the last three days. It was a great starting point to learning how to create disciples, not how to create the church. If there was a quote for church staff and leaders that stuck with me, it was this.

Make disciples and it will build and create the church. Build a church and you aren’t necessarily creating disciples.

This is completely backwards from what our American church is. Our consumerist church of the 21st century is certainly a place where we can go on Sunday’s to consume a church product, but is it a place we create disciples as Jesus commanded us to do in Matthew 28? It turns church on its head because it is a scary place for church staff, and a freeing place for followers of Christ. I have heard it said countless times that church is not a building it is the people, but that’s a hard thing to live out when we place so much emphasis on doing church in that traditional church building.

That’s the raw unfiltered understanding of the last few days, it’s not anything ground breaking, but creating disciples is what we are called to do, building the church building is a place where we believers gather to worship on Sunday, not the place where we evangelize the unchurched.

Celebrating the New Life of Believers Baptism

Cornerstone Church at Lee Scott Baptism Celebration Event

We had our second large outdoor baptism celebration last Sunday, and it was an amazing time to see new life rise up. Scripture has a lot to say about believers baptism, the most common probably being Matthew 28:29-30, but this isn’t our only call to baptism, and it isn’t our only example of people stepping out in faith to be baptized. One of my favorite baptism stories in Scripture comes from Acts 8:26-40 when Phillip is explaining a passage from Isaiah 53:7-8 to the eunuch. Phillip “told him the good news about Jesus” and the eunuch’s response was an exclamation point, one where you can almost see him jumping up and down with joy saying:

See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized? (Acts 8.26)

This shows the joy of following the commands of Jesus in baptism, not as a salvation sacrament, but as a step of public faith in the death and resurrection of Christ that we now share (Romans 6:3-6). That is the joy to participate in the baptism of Christ, and it shows when you look at these faces from our celebration below. I love the expressions on their faces, the joy of Christ radiates through their experience. Each time I watch people raised up into a new life in Christ I recall my own baptism with Deborah in Birmingham, it was one of those events in my life I will not forget, and I’m guessing these folks won’t either.

The full set of images from the day will be posted on our Flickr page soon and I am going to upload several more to my Facebook gallery soon.

One Picture of Living Out Faith Beyond Sunday Morning

Cornerstone Church Lee Scott

Cornerstone Church at Lee Scott Staff and Volunteers

Anyone who has confessed to following the teachings of the Christ knows Sunday is just the day we come together to meet with other believers. Sunday isn’t the day the work of the church body takes place, that’s what happens when we engage people in our daily routine of life. Sometimes I think it’s easy to forget the work of the church body takes place during the rest of the week, especially when we have been so conditioned to the importance of Sunday being there for that one hour Sunday morning.

I am so privileged to get to work with staff and volunteers (group shot) that make their faith the work of everyday life. This photo above was just one of the countless meetings and conversations that takes place for the purpose of reaching others in our community and beyond. As I look at this photo from today, and recall the conversations that took place today to encourage and uplift each other, Hebrews 10:22-25 sort of jumps out at me.

let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

These verses, which is normally used by the church to remind us we should be IN “church” on Sunday morning. This section of Hebrews is actually three exhortations in the “full assurance of faith,” or a call to believers to (1) come together, (2) be strong, and (3) to challenge each other, considering how to challenge each other to love and good works (v.24-35). The purpose of this is to strengthen each other’s faith in preparation for Christ’s return.

I’m a visual kind of guy and in my mind, this photo is just one small modern day example of Hebrews 10:22-25, and it didn’t even take place on Sunday morning, but instead on a Monday afternoon.

5 Reasons Why We Should Still Read The Book of Leviticus Today

Studying the Book of Leviticus

Studying the Book of Leviticus

I just finished reading the Book of Leviticus this morning for the second time this year on my quest to finish two canonical readings for 2012. In honor of that reading, I have finally published my next list page (see my list of lists), called the 613 Mitzvot Laws or Commandments of the Old Testament, many of which are found in the book of Leviticus.

Leviticus is one of those books that Christians tend to want to ignore, while those in the opposite camp tear it apart Hebrew letter by Hebrew letter. About a year ago I actually debated with another Christian about the worth of even reading this book, and he was convinced there was nothing of importance or worthy in Leviticus for us to read today. This was no uninformed, unintelligent Christian, he has a PhD, is a leading scientist in his field, and has a heart for important social justice issues, but Leviticus was not for him (nor really any of the Pentateuch). At that time I did a lousy job at explaining why this book, and every one of the 66 books of the canon, are all still very important and relevant to read in the 21st century. Since that conversation I’ve never really been able to rectify my lack of knowledge in Leviticus and reasons why it is important to read.

This second go-round I started reading Leviticus back on August 14th and finished up today, August 21st, so reading the entire book does not take that long if you read a little bit each day. I will say, Leviticus is not a very difficult book to read, but it is a difficult book to understand, especially in light of our culture today. We are so far removed from the customs of the sacrificial systems and just overall life during the 13th-15th century B.C., it’s very hard for us to understand, within the proper context, how to apply Leviticus to our life today without reading, study, contemplation, and meditation on these 24 chapters.

So here are a few reasons why all Christians should still read this book today. I’m going to skip the obvious reason of because it is part of the canonical Bible, and go on to others, but this is first and foremost. We should read it, because it is part of the writings given to us by God himself through Moses.

Reasons We Should Still Read Leviticus Today

1. It’s the Enemy’s Favorite Book to Tear Apart (Think Shellfish, Polyester, Tattoos, and Homosexuality)
They, the enemies of Truth, call it a book full of contradictions and hypocritical living. This is generally because they don’t understand the book in context any more than we do, but they can read the obvious to make stupid arguments like Christians still eat pork and wear polyester, therefore homosexuality is not a sin (see Homosexuality, Polyester, and Shellfish for reasoning behind this tired debate).

Apologetically speaking, we should know what this book says, because it is used as an excuse for everything under the sun in the 21st century. The book has a great narrative that is often overlooked by the fact that it is a list of laws. These “laws” range from capital punishment for adultery, to not cutting your hair, to laws on homosexuality, to not getting a tattoo because it follows the evil Canaanite tribal practices. Why is it acceptable for Christians to get a tattoo, or eat pork, but not put adulterers to death? Understanding this book in proper context shows exactly why some laws are historically customary for their culture and time, and why some are moral obligations that transcend time.

2. The Theological Holiness Code Developed in Leviticus is Still Used Today
In 1 Peter 1.15-16 the Apostle Peter says, “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” That is a direct quote from Leviticus 11.44, which is then repeated several times such as in Leviticus 19.2. In seminary circles this is called the “Levitical Holiness Code” from chapters 17-27. It mainly deals with the idea of sanctification, the idea of holiness affecting how one lives in the covenant community.

For Christians today living in the 21st Century, the New Testament applies to Christians using the same principles of life stated in 11:44, and many of the “holiness codes” still show us what is displeasing to God (cf., 19:11-18, 35-36). On the other hand, as noted above, there are also symbolic aspects of the holiness code we no longer follow such as prohibiting garments of two different kinds etc.

3. To Understand How the Work of Christ Saves the Soul
Studying Leviticus today gives us an extremely important understanding of the sacrifice that Jesus made as the Christ when he died on the cross. The animal sacrificial system may be totally foreign to us now, but this enables the 21st century reader to understand why Christ’s sacrifice is one of salvation.

4. The Festal Calendar of Israel in Leviticus Shaped the Christian Calendar We Still Use
The three main festivals, or sometimes called the national pilgrim feasts of Israel, are the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Harvest, and the Feast of Booths. Most of our modern day church denominations from Baptist to Catholic still follow these festivals. These celebrations today find their climax in the corresponding days known as Good Friday, Easter, and Pentecost.

5. Because Without Leviticus the Other 65 Books Don’t Make Any Sense
Every book is intertwined with every other book. This is a huge reason to me. If you are reading Kings or Nehemiah, or one of those other “important” books, you are reading part 11 or part 16, but you never read part 3. Knowing and understanding Leviticus is crucial to understanding any of the other books, just the same as reading and studying Kings is important to reading Matthew.

What sense does Christ being crucified on the cross make without knowing how the sacrificial system works? I understand you can watch the Lord of the Rings or the Star Wars movies out of order and you can still understand them individually, but don’t they make a whole lot more sense as a whole?

So there you have it. Five reasons why Leviticus is important for us to read today. I know these points aren’t developed very extensively, but it that wasn’t really the point.[1]

[1] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).

The Future of Cornerstone Church is in Your Hands, No Pressure

Cornerstone Church Kids Staff

Cornerstone Church Kids Staff

Any of you who know me well know I don’t post too often about kids stuff, but today was a banner day for the future of our kids at Cornerstone Church. I have been to a lot of churches over the last 40 years, and I have visited churches who have very little evidence of kids in the building. While I’m not a “kids person” per se, this is a sure sign of a church with a hard future ahead of it, and the Church body itself needs it’s kids.

Over the last 3-4 weeks our kids staff, shown above, along with a host of other people, implemented a plan they had worked on tirelessly over the summer months. Meeting after meeting to go over every painstaking detail transformed the hallways, classrooms, and worship space for every little soul from new borns to our youth, and for kids who haven’t even been born yet. Think about the transformation in terms of a franchise. We love franchises all over the country because they are consistent, stable, and we know what we are going to get when we go into the building. We want our kids at every site to have the same worship experience no matter where they are, to have a consistent, stable, feeding on the word of God, while being surrounded by a community of believers.

In a very fragile time in history for the Church in our culture, this makes me excited for the future of the Church body. Investing in our kids is investing in the future of God’s Church. I’m thankful for these five ladies, and all the other people who worked so hard to make today happen, especially for the kids who have never walked into one of our children’s areas at Cornerstone Church. The future of Cornerstone Church, and the Church body as a whole, is in the hands of these woman above, but it’s also in the hands of every single individual who follows the teachings of Jesus. When you give to a child, you have given it to Christ himself.

New Walls and Floors in the Kids Area

New Walls and Floors in the Kids Area

Thanks Mayor Rahm Emanuel It’s Now Our Moral Obligation to Eat @Chick-Fil-A

Chick-Fil-A Gay Marriage Prayer

Thankfully it is now our moral obligation to eat at Chick-Fil-A, not just a place you go when you want good chicken. This of course is due, in part, to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino who apparently want to lead the way in being the two most stupid mayors in the country, and thus pushing both sides to action. Ever since word got out Chick-Fil-A was a Christian company a few days ago, (oh wait, haven’t they always been?) these mayors have insisted on displaying their lack of knowledge on how our country was founded. Like a mob boss from the 1960’s the mayor of Chicago greatly discourages Chick-Fil-A from coming to Chicago where they are not welcome, and the Boston mayor Vows To Block Chick-Fil-A From Opening Restaurant After Anti-Gay Remarks. I hope the ACLU sues both of them seeing how the ACLU actually agrees with Chickfila’s right to move into any city they choose.

This is an amazing time we live in when the words of a person who owns a private, family run business, can cause a fire storm by say, “guilty as charged.” He didn’t say, “I want to kill gay people,” or “I’m going to bomb a gay politician,” he didn’t even go as far as those stupid people in Topeka, KS led by Fred Phelps at Westboro, and he didn’t actually DO anything. From those three words though, eating a Chick-fil-a sandwich has now become a political statement, and a moral obligation to those who support traditional marriage.

I’ve got news for these mayors. You know why most of us, even those who oppose gay marriage, eat at a restaurant? Because they have GOOD FOOD! Deborah loves eating at Hooters because she thinks they have the greatest wings, and trust me, she’s not going there because she wants to see anything besides the wings. I don’t particularly care for Hooters wings, so I generally prefer the local chicken finger place down the road.

But now, you mayors Emanuel and Menino have awoken the dead and sleeping, and have made it a necessity to support Chick-Fil-A even more by your idiotic statements (I’m not quite sure how I can personally do that though since I already eat there several times a week). Now, thanks to your careless disregard for the constitution, you have even awoken and united those toughest of baby boomers who would sooner give up part of their 401(K) than to hold a protest sign, and lowered them to “Eat Mor Chikin.” Even Billy Graham Defends Chick-fil-A, Traditional Marriage Amid Uproar, and he is a far more powerful individual in history than either mayor.

This is the defining social agenda of our day. Amazing. It is not what a terrible economic situation our country is facing. It is now how to best celebrate the sin of homosexuality and make sure everyone agrees that gay marriage is acceptable by all. As it was written recently, Gay Is Not the New Black, and this redefining of marriage is not something orthodox Christians are going to ever give up. This is core to Scripture’s teaching, and not because homosexuality is a sin, which it is, but because Scripture presents us, the Church, as the bride of Christ. Those churches who have given in to the pressures of homosexuality have violated the marriage between Christ and their church, they have become an adulterous church.

Society and culture may keep trying to waste away the beliefs of some when it comes to homosexuality, just as they did with abortion convincing millions this horrific act is not the actual killing and murder of another person, but they will never be able to change the Word of God. There are few things in Scripture that are more clearly defined than the sin of homosexuality, and there just isn’t thing one any mayor can do about that. As society tries to convince the faithful that homosexuality and gay marriage is acceptable in God’s eyes, they show their understanding of the issues to be one like Homosexuality, Polyester, and Shellfish. The more they protest, the more they show a total and complete misunderstanding of basic hermeneutical principles of the Bible.

Did you know there is actually something that orthodox Muslims, Jews, and Christians all agree on? That homosexuality is a sin. Now there is something the ACLU and Chick-Fil-A both agree on, the Freedom of Speech that clearly allows Dan Cathy to say what he wants, without the threat from thugs in Chicago.

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