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Monday, February 22, 2010


Each faculty member at the Seminary takes a turn leading fellow professors. This is my week and I chose to do devotions that corresponded with one of the Bible passages on the "Read Through the Bible in a Year" journey that the NOBTS family is sharing this year. The four passages listed are the daily reading, and the devotion features one of them. I hope they minister to you.

Faculty Prayer Meeting 2010
February 23-26, 2010

Scripture this week from The Message

Tuesday, 2/23 – On Pride and Perspective
□ 1 Kings 22:24-2 Kings 1:18
□ Acts 2:22-47
□ Psalm 76:1-6
□ Proverbs 16:18-19

1. Introduction. Don’t travel if you want to be in control. O the ground, traffic keeps you humble and dependent. In the air, almost everything keeps you humble and dependent. The pilot sounds so smug when he tells you why you won’t make your connection or why your luggage probably won’t join you in this journey. It did my heart good to read about a couple of exchanges where the pilots understood their dependency on air traffic controllers:

The air traffic controller working a busy pattern told the 727 on downwind to make a 360 (do a complete circle, usually done to provide spacing between aircraft). The pilot of the 727 complained, "Do you know it costs us two thousand dollars to make a 360 in this airplane?" Without missing a beat the controller replied, "Roger, give me four thousand dollars worth."

> -----------------------------------------------

A DC-10 had an exceedingly long landing rollout after landing with his approach speed just a little too high...San Jose Tower: "American 751 Heavy, turn right at the end if able. If not able, take the Guadeloupe exit off of Highway 101 back to the airport."

2. Scripture (actually just through v. 6, but let’s read the whole thing)

Ps 76 (An Asaph psalm)

God is well-known in Judah; in Israel, he's a household name. 2 He keeps a house in Salem, his own suite of rooms in Zion. 3 That's where, using arrows for kindling, he made a bonfire of weapons of war. 4 Oh, how bright you shine! Outshining their huge piles of loot! 5 The warriors were plundered and left there impotent. And now there's nothing to them, nothing to show for their swagger and threats. 6 Your sudden roar, God of Jacob, knocked the wind out of horse and rider. 7 Fierce you are, and fearsome! Who can stand up to your rising anger? 8 From heaven you thunder judgment; earth falls to her knees and holds her breath. 9 God stands tall and makes things right,he saves all the wretched on earth. 10 Instead of smoldering rage — God-praise! All that sputtering rage — now a garland for God! 11 Do for God what you said you'd do — he is, after all, your God. Let everyone in town bring offerings to the One Who Watches our every move. 12 Nobody gets by with anything, no one plays fast and loose with him.

3. Takeaway: let us who love to be in control be reminded that our dependence on God is total.

Wednesday, 2/24 -- On Mentoring
□ 2 Kings 2:1-3:27
□ Acts 3:1-26
□ Psalm 76:7-12
□ Proverbs 16:20

1. Intro–the Appalachian Trail
I have shared many times of my experience as a youth minister who took a group of high school students on a hike on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but as I was getting off the bus, I realized that I hadn’t the first clue how to lead a youth group on a hike on a wilderness trail. One of my Eagle Scout teenagers came alongside of me and said, “Allen, you don’t have a clue, do you?” Of course he was right. I was not a hiker. He told me that all I had to do was follow the marks on the trees–blazes which led you down the trail from tree to tree.

It was comforting to know that someone else had gone before me and marked the way.

2. Scripture Reading for the Day

2 Kings 2:1-6
2:1 Just before God took Elijah to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on a walk out of Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here. God has sent me on an errand to Bethel." Elisha said, "Not on your life! I'm not letting you out of my sight!" So they both went to Bethel. 3 The guild of prophets at Bethel met Elisha and said, "Did you know that God is going to take your master away from you today?" "Yes," he said, "I know it. But keep it quiet." 4 Then Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here. God has sent me on an errand to Jericho." Elisha said, "Not on your life! I'm not letting you out of my sight!" So they both went to Jericho. 5 The guild of prophets at Jericho came to Elisha and said, "Did you know that God is going to take your master away from you today?" "Yes," he said, "I know it. But keep it quiet." 6 Then Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here. God has sent me on an errand to the Jordan." Elisha said, "Not on your life! I'm not letting you out of my sight!" And so the two of them went their way together.

3. Takeaway: Thank your mentors and give some thought to calling one or more students alongside of you.

Thursday, 2/25 On Boldness and Personal Testimony
□ 2 Kings 4:1-5:14
□ Acts 4:1-20
□ Psalm 77:1-6
□ Proverbs 16:21-22

1. Introduction. Generally, newspapers rely on eyewitnesses in order to formulate stories. Sometimes, however, the headlines reveal that the writer either didn’t actually interview anybody or that they just didn’t have enough caffeine.

a. Plot to kill officer had vicious side (The Chicago Tribune)
b. Some phone psychics provide useless, erroneous information (Staten Island Sunday Advance)
c. Infertility unlikely to be passed on (Montgomery Advertiser)
d. Study Finds Sex, Pregnancy Link (Cornell Daily Sun)
e. Whatever Their motives, Moms Who Kill Kids still Shock Us (Holland Sentinal)
f. Survey Finds Dirtier Subways After Cleaning Jobs Were Cut (The New York Times)
g. Larger Kangaroos Leap Farther, Researchers Find (The Los Angeles Times)
h. `Light' meals are lower in fat, calories (Huntington Herald-Dispatch)
i. Alcohol ads promote drinking (The Hartford Courant)
j. Malls try to attract shoppers (The Baltimore Sun)
k. Official: Only rain will cure drought (The Herald-News, Westpost, Massachusetts)

2. Scripture for the day

(Peter and John on trial in Jerusalem)...While Peter and John were addressing the people, the priests, the chief of the Temple police, and some Sadducees came up, 2 indignant that these upstart apostles were instructing the people and proclaiming that the resurrection from the dead had taken place in Jesus. 3 They arrested them and threw them in jail until morning, for by now it was late in the evening. 4 But many of those who listened had already believed the Message — in round numbers about five thousand!
5 The next day a meeting was called in Jerusalem. The rulers, religious leaders, religion scholars, 6 Annas the Chief Priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander — everybody who was anybody was there. 7 They stood Peter and John in the middle of the room and grilled them: "Who put you in charge here? What business do you have doing this?"
8 With that, Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, let loose: "Rulers and leaders of the people, 9 if we have been brought to trial today for helping a sick man, put under investigation regarding this healing, 10 I'll be completely frank with you — we have nothing to hide. By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the One you killed on a cross, the One God raised from the dead, by means of his name this man stands before you healthy and whole. 11 Jesus is 'the stone you masons threw out, which is now the cornerstone.' 12 Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one."

13 They couldn't take their eyes off them — Peter and John standing there so confident, so sure of themselves! Their fascination deepened when they realized these two were laymen with no training in Scripture or formal education. They recognized them as companions of Jesus, 14 but with the man right before them, seeing him standing there so upright — so healed! — what could they say against that? 15 They sent them out of the room so they could work out a plan. They talked it over: 16 "What can we do with these men? By now it's known all over town that a miracle has occurred, and that they are behind it. There is no way we can refute that. 17 But so that it doesn't go any further, let's silence them with threats so they won't dare to use Jesus' name ever again with anyone." 18 They called them back and warned them that they were on no account ever again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John spoke right back, "Whether it's right in God's eyes to listen to you rather than to God, you decide. 20 As for us, there's no question — we can't keep quiet about what we've seen and heard."

3. Takeaway: Let your words tell of your relationship with Jesus. Let your life echo your words. You will be recognized as having been with Him.

Friday, 2/26 On Gracious Speech and Good Leadership
□ 2 Kings 5:15-7:9
□ Acts 4:23-5:11
□ Psalm 77:7-12
□ Proverbs 16:23-24

1. Introduction: I love books of quotes. They seem so wise. Especially when they give perspective to leadership–and in this case, governance:

a. Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong. ~Richard Armour
b. Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly and for the same reason. ~Author Unknown
c. We live in a world in which politics has replaced philosophy. ~Martin L. Gross, A Call for Revolution, 1993
d. We'd all like to vote for the best man, but he's never a candidate. ~Frank McKinney "Kin" Hubbard
e. Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right. ~H.L. Mencken, 1956
f. In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant. ~Charles de Gaulle
g. Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where they is no river. ~Nikita Khrushchev
h. When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it. ~Clarence Darrow
i. George Washington is the only president who didn't blame the previous administration for his troubles. ~Author Unknown

2. Proverbs kind of reminds me of quote books. We haven’t been talking much about Proverbs this week, so maybe the wise words from the author can help us out. The daily readings this week contain wisdom about leadership

Prov 16:10-24

10b A good leader motivates, doesn't mislead, doesn't exploit.
11. God cares about honesty in the workplace; your business is his business.
12. Good leaders abhor wrongdoing of all kinds; sound leadership has a moral foundation.
13. Good leaders cultivate honest speech;they love advisors who tell them the truth.
14. An intemperate leader wreaks havoc in lives;you're smart to stay clear of someone like that.
15. Good-tempered leaders invigorate lives;they're like spring rain and sunshine.
16. Get wisdom — it's worth more than money;choose insight over income every time.
17. The road of right living bypasses evil;watch your step and save your life.
18. First pride, then the crash — the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.
19. It's better to live humbly among the poorthan to live it up among the rich and famous.
20. It pays to take life seriously;things work out when you trust in God.
21. A wise person gets known for insight;gracious words add to one's reputation.
22. True intelligence is a spring of fresh water,while fools sweat it out the hard way.
23. They make a lot of sense, these wise folks; whenever they speak, their reputation increases.
24. Gracious speech is like clover honey — good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body.

Takeaway – All of us are leaders. Politics and politicians are taking a lot of heat these days, but so are members of the clergy and academy. Consistent Godly lifestyle plus careful words make good leadership.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

On Solomon's Exception

In the seminary's daily Bible reading plan (yes, it is Saturday morning, and yes, I am catching up yet again), I was arrested by a verse in 2 Kings 3

3Now Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David, except he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.

Except that he...

I was privileged to have an amazing morning of worship with Youth Ministry friends at a meeting in Alabama. Billy Beecham led us in a devotion that pointed us to a renewed heart connection with God. My friend Jane expressed what all of us felt as we heard the stories of God "showing up" -- WE WANT THAT! We want to be present when God's glory falls, we want to see the un-seeable, think the unthinkable, imagine the unimaginable.

On the way back to the Atlanta airport in the rental car, I was surfing the satellite radio and I scanned through some station options that had language that I don't use or hear in daily conversations. I had to ponder the movie choices, the television options, the e-mail forwards--all the little stuff that invades my world.

I had to ask myself if my life contains "Solomon's exception clause. "I love and desire God to move, "except" I won't let go of the earthly distractions.

I don't have a formula here. I am not one who believes in a God who punishes me for my sins--He has forgiven me through His gift of Jesus. I do believe that like Solomon, the choices I make have consequences.

It reminded me to evaluate my exceptions.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

An Open Letter to My Children

Sarah and Aaron

In my time with God today, I feel like I have to say something to you. I love you more than life, but I don't love you enough if I don't share what God is teaching me today. I have been going through the motions spiritually, and I need to ask your forgiveness for that.

I am convinced again today that Jesus has to be at the center of my world or I have nothing. I am convinced that God wants me to count for something. If I lose all of my money, possessions, position and even my life, if I can serve God, it is enough. My life verse is Philippians 3:10, but I need to reaffirm the truth of the words there. In the Amplified Bible, it reads like this.

10[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [[b]which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]

11That if possible I may attain to the [[c]spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].

12Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own.

I just had to write. I love you.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

On Jesus and the Neutral Ground

It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway that this has been a remarkable week in New Orleans. The world champion, Super Bowl winning, proud warriors of the Who Dat Nation, New Orleans Saints came home to a crowd of 30,000 simply to greet their flight from Miami and an estimated 800,000 Who Dats gathered for the victory parade.

Over and over common folks and talking heads alike used the phrase, "this has brought us all together." It is about time.

New Orleans has medians in the middle of the beautiful boulevards throughout the city which we call "the neutral ground" a label that goes back to a time when the neighborhoods and sub-sections of the city were divided by these wide streets. The division went way deeper than the streets--the parts of the city (the French Quarter, the Irish Channel, Carrollton, the Bywater) were home to a particular ethnic group and people who weren't residents of each neighborhood simply didn't go in the area at all.

The leaders would meet on the "neutral ground" to discuss matters of importance to both communities. As the years went by and the neighborhoods became ethnically mixed (to a point), the neutral ground was no longer a place of negotiation and dialog.

I think I need to seek to focus on the neutral ground again instead of the boulevard. Maybe we can look for a place of negotiation and dialog rather than a boundary around our community. The Saints have showed me that once we identify some common ground, we can move on to other ideas and beliefs in a spirit of love and trust--community--rather than to be separated by the things that traditionally and wrongly convince us that we can't get along.

I spend way too much time in my relationships, both close and casual identifying things that irritate me because they aren't the way I would say it, do it, or avoid it. I think Jesus would hang out on the neutral ground.

I need to hang out there too. I think that Jesus can bring folks together.

Who Dat.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

On Who Dats in Exile

I am in the Atlanta airport on the way back from Macon, Ga. and Ray City Ca. In Macon, the privilege of watching over 400 students seeking clarity on a call from God on their lives. Amazing.

Then I got to worship with the folks at FBC Ray City Ga. I was honored to preach the morning service and hang out with some former students and dear friends.

Now I am watching my beloved Saints in the Atlanta airport. It is a good exercise in patience and perspective for me. Nice people to watch the game with. Mostly, though a reminder that I can stress about not getting on the earlier flight so I could watch the game or I can just remember the incredible experience of watching God at work in young and old lives over the weekend.

I choose to do the latter.