Coming This Summer: LPU

LPU-UltimateThis Summer, you’re invited to participate in LifePoint Ultimate, LPC’s Summer frisbee league. Here are the details:

Dates: Saturday mornings, June 6 – July 4
Time: 10am – Noon
Ages: 15 and up
Location: Pacific Community Park (Nearest Intersection: 18th st & 172nd Ave)

On the morning of the 4th of July, our final Saturday, we’ll have our final games and celebrate with some BBQ.

All are welcome to this league. Whether you’re wanting to learn how to play the sport, or you’ve been in multiple leagues, come out and play! A pick-up game will be held on Saturday May 30th at 10am if you would like to come practice before the season starts.

There’s a minimal cost. For only $10 you’ll be placed on a team for 5 games, receive a t-shirt, and enjoy a great end-of-season BBQ. If you’d like to come out and enjoy the games without playing, you’re welcome too! You can use the registration link to order a t-shirt and sign-up for the BBQ. Simply select, “I’m just going to watch, but I’d like a T-Shirt!”

Are you ready? All that’s left to do is sign-up. You can even request to play on a team with a friend or two. You’ll then be added to LPU’s Facebook page where you’’ll see future updates. That’s also where teams will be posted before the first game so you can see what team you are on.

Spread the word and get ready – It’s going to be a blast.

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What is your Body Worth?

Although spiritual health is the most important, our physical health is also tied into how we live out our spiritual lives, “For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8

Taking care of your body is not just about being fat or fit. Our culture in the United States has a major obsession with looking good and eating junk. Taking good care of your body is not about looking good; rather it is making choices that will fuel yourself for optimum energy in everyday life including relationships, work, and anything else.

Let’s say I bought a brand new car. I am going to do my best to take care of this car as I have paid a premium value for this vehicle. I will wash it regularly. I will take it in for regular oil changes and routine care. I will fuel it with high grade gas. I may even park it near the back of parking lots away from other cars to avoid potential dings from other people parking carelessly. Yet this car may last me ten to fifteen years at most and then it will start to fade out with performance and dependability. As humans made in the image of God, our bodies are the vehicles which God has given us to live in on earth. Our body is so much more valuable than a brand new car, yet how often do we neglect the care of our health?

God has given us the gift of life and health in our physical bodies- how do you stewart your body? Do you exercise? Do you intentionally include physical activity in your week to week schedule? Does your diet include healthy foods? Do you drink enough water? Do you get enough sleep or rest?….or are you too busy getting stuff done for God’s Kingdom? How you take care of your physical body can directly affect the Kingdom work that God has called you to invest in. To the extent you take care of your body will indicate to some degree the longevity of your earthly life. It will also dictate the quality of life- how much energy you have, alertness of the mind, etc..

Our body is the temple of Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19-20) “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

How would you rate your physical health on a scale of 1-10? How does your doctor rate your health? There is always room for improvements, but if you feel you have a lot of room to improve your physical health, what is stopping you from doing so?

Resources to help you stay healthy:

http://www.fitness.gov
http://www.myfitnesspal.com

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Ecclesiastes: Total Life

KaiserLast Friday I recommended an extremely readable but textually faithful overview of Ecclesiastes by Douglas Wilson called Joy at the End of the Tether. If you want a solid, engaging, and at many points hilarious commentary on “the inscrutable wisdom of Ecclesiastes,” Wilson is your guy.

But for those teaching or preaching through Ecclesiastes, you are going to want to supplement your study of the Biblical text with more than just Wilson’s book. The first commentary I read on Ecclesiastes, coincidentally referenced by Wilson in his endnotes, was Walter Kaiser’s Ecclesiastes: Total Life from the “Everyman’s Bible Commentary” series. Originally written in 1979, I would tag Kaiser’s work as a must-read if you are looking to teach through this biblical book. Walt Kaiser is one of the preeminent Old Testament scholars of the last generation, and I would heartily recommend all of his work. I had the privilege of getting to know him personally when I was a student at Gordon-Conwell in the early 2000’s. He was the President of the seminary at the time, and still taught classes on a semi-regular basis. He retired from that post the year I graduated (2006).

Kaiser’s commentary, while a more scholastic work than Wilson’s, is still readable and accessible. It is outlined like a basic commentary, with introductory thoughts followed by passage breakdowns. What I appreciate about Kaiser is that he is theologically conservative, biblically sound, and faithfully applicable. He argues that many scholars miss the boat on Ecclesiastes, calling it a book of pessimism, when in reality “the mood of Ecclesiastes is one of delight, with the prospect of living and enjoying all the goods of life once man has come to fear God and keep His commandments.”[1]

Kaiser holds the traditional opinion that Solomon was the author of Ecclesiastes. Unfortunately, a range of critical scholarship in the last couple centuries has not only questioned this traditional assumption, but sought to denounce it. Kaiser lays out the clear reasons for holding to Solomonic authorship, really empowering those of us who want to stick to the position held by all Jews and Christians alike for over two and a half thousand years (until about the 16th century).

What you’ll get out of this commentary is sound exegesis of the book, clear explanation of any linguistic difficulties (Kaiser is an expert in the Hebrew language), and applicable references to how you can get about the business of preaching Ecclesiastes. Have at it, my friend.

[1] p. 42.

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We Sing Because We Need Words…

Last summer, I had the opportunity to lead music for a youth camp that was on the beach. The campground literally ended where the sand started, and so after our set was over one night, myself and a couple guys on my team removed our shoes and watched the sun fall behind the seemingly endless Pacific Ocean. As the evening sky faded from blue to orange, the water perfectly reflected the setting sun and the handful of stars that were already visible, a hundred miles from the closest city lights. It was amazing.

I remember standing there in the sand, letting the waves crash against my ankles as I took in the beauty of creation. In this moment of worship, I caught a glimpse, even if just for an instant, of how big and beautiful God is, how grand and magnificent his works.

In that moment, the words just fell from my mouth:

You are holy, great and mighty
The moon and the stars declare who you are
I’m so unworthy, but still you love me
Forever my heart will sing of how great you are

In a moment that could have come and gone in seconds, the words of Phil Wickham’s “Cannons” allowed me to reflect on the glory of God. I know that sounds like a scene from a Hallmark movie, but it really happened. There was no melody in my tone. I wasn’t singing. What happened was in that moment of awe, I was able to pull from my vocabulary words that I had sung in so many church gatherings.

I think this is an important role of music in the church, and one that is often overlooked.

When we sing, we are giving people language with which to worship God in their every day lives.

If you’re a church musician, you get to serve your church in this way. When those in your church are experiencing the joys of Christian community, the lyrics that you sing can become the soundtrack that they use to glorify God. And when your people are going through the junk that life is sure to bring them, they can find comfort through the words of the songs you sing. What a beautiful responsibility!

And if you are on the other side of the microphone, sing your heart out, knowing that the words you’re singing will stick with you and become the vocabulary with which you can ascribe ultimate value to Yahweh.

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I Hope So…

What does that mean?

We’ve all said these three little words before, but have you ever paused to unpack them? What is actually being communicated by the phrase, “I hope so”?

I think that most times when people say this, what they really mean is “It’s unlikely, but wouldn’t that be something?!” For example…

“Hey Bob – are the Mariners going to win the World Series this year?”

Bob Says: “I hope so…”

Bob Means: “I don’t think so. That would be nice though…”

This isn’t a joyful, hope-full statement of confidence in the proposed outcome, is it? It’s a concession. It’s a surrender! It’s resigning to the fact that it’s improbable, and I wouldn’t bet money on it. The paradox is that this phrase isn’t full of much hope after all. Rather, it usually indicates the opposite.

Unfortunately this is what most people mean when they say, “I hope so.” But is there anything more substantial, more hopeful, than this hopeless hope?

As a Christian, I say I have hope. I have hope, even in the midst of the death, suffering, and grief all around me. However, by this I do not mean the shallow wishful thinking in statements like “I hope so.” I mean that I truly believe that when I die I will spend eternity with Jesus. I am convinced that my loved ones who have passed away are currently doing what they spent their lives on this earth doing: getting to know Jesus. I am longing for the day that Jesus comes back “with all his saints,” because I know that I will see them again and that “forever we will be with the Lord.”

Death isn’t the end. I have hope.

Gerry Breshears recently preached 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 at LifePoint Church and he gave this definition of hope:

“Hope is the active, confident, expectation of good based on the character of God.”

Our hope is active. I believe that Jesus has conquered death and therefore I have acted on it. I respond to God in hope, in active reliance.

Our hope is confident. I don’t doubt that there is life after death. Our hope is not a wavering “let’s wait and find out – I hope so…” Rather it’s a “let’s prepare for the inevitable!”

Our hope is based on God’s character. I don’t have active confidence because the result is based on my ability to believe well enough. It’s based on the fact that God is faithful. He’s the God who has acted in human history through the person of Jesus. He’s the one who raised from the dead. He’s the one who has yet to default on one of his promises.

This is a bet-my-life-on-it type of confidence. As a matter of fact, I have.

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Solomon v. Jesus

One of the cool threads that connects the Old Testament and the New Testament, and reveals the unity of Scripture, is a little thing we call typology.

Typology, in the most basic sense, is when an Old Testament person or event (the “type”) foreshadows a person or event fulfilled in the New Testament (the antitype). Sometimes I teach this concept using the analogy of a shadow being cast (the type) and the figure that is ultimately revealed as the one casting the shadow (the antitype). One of the clearest examples of this in the New Testament is found in Romans 5:14 where Paul actually says that Adam was a “type” (Greek word tupos) “of Jesus, “the one who was to come.” I also preached on this concept in my message from 1 Peter 3:18-22 last year.

Some major Old Testament figures serve as types of Christ, seen in certain contexts. One of those is Solomon. We find this in Jesus’ own words:

Matthew 12:38-42
The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.

In this statement, Jesus steps fully into the light as the antitype that Solomon’s life foreshadowed. Solomon was a “son of David” who ruled on the “throne of David” (2 Samuel 7), but he did not end up being the “Son of David” who would “rule forever.” This, of course, is Jesus.

Here is the Solomon/Jesus comparison that I am sharing in my message from Ecclesiastes 1:12-2:11 this morning at LPC.

Solomon vs. Jesus

  • Solomon ruled in a time of peace, Jesus came as the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6, Ephesians 2:14)
  • Solomon built a temple where sinners sought God’s presence, Jesus came as God’s presence to seek out sinners. (John 1:14, Luke 19:10)
  • Solomon searched for purpose without God, Jesus revealed God’s eternal purpose. (Ephesians 3:11, 2 Timothy 1:9)
  • Solomon utilized wisdom from God, Jesus is the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:30)
  • Solomon mined the depths of human pleasure, Jesus brought God’s pleasure to humankind. (Luke 12:32, Philippians 2:13)
  • Solomon chased the wind, Jesus calmed the storm. (Mark 4:39)
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Joy at the End of the Tether

WilsonMany people think Ecclesiastes is a conundrum wrapped in an enigma served with a side of oddity. Sadly, this prevailing assumption has deterred many a reader from the treasure found within the pages of this book of wisdom.

Something I have found to be very helpful, when attempting to understand difficult areas of the Bible, is the aid of a good commentary. I enjoy the academic stuff, but I don’t often recommend it to others, because at times (if it’s not easy to comprehend) it only adds another layer of confusion in the search for clarity. Because of this, I try to sift through for more readable treatments of the biblical text, stuff that is more accessible to a wider audience. Unfortunately, this usually leads away from the text itself, to vague paraphrasing works that dumb down (or outright neglect) the thrust of the biblical narrative in an attempt to appeal to a wider readership.

Every once in a while you find a book that both embraces and explains the biblical text in a format and language that can satisfy the scholars while engaging the popular reader. This is rare, particularly when it comes to a book like Ecclesiastes. A great, quick, and engaging read I have just finished which fits faithfully into this category is Joy at the End of the Tether by Douglas Wilson.

The genius of Wilson’s work is that he embraces the text of Ecclesiastes without qualification. Solomon’s little book of wisdom is often filtered through a strainer, sifted down to one-liners and short quips that are more palpable for the modern interpreter. Wilson rebuffs any tendency to neuter the text in this way. He cautions:

The error, common among the devout, is to rush headlong to the pious and edifying conclusions before letting the force of Solomon’s observations and argument work into our souls. We must not hasten to heal this particular wound lightly. The meaninglessness of all things, as Solomon presents it, must work down into our bones. We should let the Word do its work before we hasten to make Ecclesiastes a grab bag of inspirational quotes. If we are not careful, we will fall into the trap of writing pious drivel, saying that Solomon meant to say down is up instead of down is down. It can be a painful experience to read the work of devout commentators working manfully away as they try to sandpaper the rough spots in Ecclesiastes–[thinking] it has to be smooth to be edifying.[1]

The theme of Joy at the End of the Tether is Ecclesiastes, and Wilson argues that the theme of Ecclesiastes is “that enjoyment and pleasure are by grace through faith, not of works, lest any man should boast.”[2] As the text is liberated to speak for itself, Wilson offers blunt-force commentary replete with applicable truisms and examples for modern culture. The only thing I would change would be the version he utilizes for the text, which I believe is the King James. Other than utilizing a more updated word for word Bible translation (like the ESV or NASB), every page of this short overview of Ecclesiastes is gold.

[1] Wilson, p. 16.

[2] p. 59.

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