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    ThuThursdaySepSeptember14th2017 Work Heartily
    byMikel Berger Tagged Sermons Work 0 comments Add comment

    I think we are blessed to sit under good preaching every week at Kossuth and have been for decades. If I’m honest though, most sermons don’t stick with me much beyond 7 days when I hear the next one. This isn’t all bad. I’ve heard the analogy used that I can’t remember what I had for dinner on a Tuesday six months ago and no one is upset about that. The dinner sustained me for a time until I had breakfast the next morning. But we do have those special meals that we remember for a lifetime. Maybe the meal is at a fancy restaurant or you had the opportunity at the dinner to catch-up with a long lost friend. Those sorts of meals stick with you.

    A few weeks ago I was “fed” in a spiritual way that has stuck with me. Drew’s sermons from James 4 and 5, for some fairly clear reasons, were relatable to me. When introducing James 4:13, Drew made it clear that you don’t have to have explicitly made plans to go into a new town to make a profit for these verses to apply to you. But I have pretty much done that before. These verses are speaking directly and clearly to me!

    The remainder of James 4 that week was a great reminder of who ultimately knows the outcomes of any of our plans. James 5 in the following sermon was a convicting warning about conducting our plans in honorable and righteous ways.

    The Holy Spirit has reminded me of those sermons and those sermons, even more importantly, have reminded me of those verses on an almost daily basis since then (enough that when I realized I was up to write for the blog this week it was the first topic to come to mind).

    I know Drew well enough to know he labors diligently in the preparation of each and every sermon. Some stick with me, but many, in my limited view, sustain me for a week or less. Should he only labor diligently on the ones that will benefit me for a long time?

    Of course the answer is, no! I’m not the only one to benefit from the preaching of the Word on Sunday mornings at Kossuth. You might be reading this article wondering what I’m talking about. You were in church the same mornings I was, but those particular sermons didn’t stick out to you. You’re wondering why I’m not writing the same thing, but about a sermon two months ago that you’re still pondering.

    But even more than there being lots of people in the congregation, there’s a better reason for Drew to labor diligently each and every week. He’s not working to just benefit our souls. He’s working ultimately for the Lord and not for us, the men and women in the pews.

    Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, (Colossians 3:23 ESV)

    That verse is true not just for the preaching pastor of a church but for each and every Christian. If your job is writing code, washing windows, teaching children, or selling houses, you do that work for God. In doing the work you reflect our creator God. But the work itself is also part of God’s redeeming work when done in service to him.

    Don’t lose sight of that fact when it seems, yet again, that your work is having no impact here on earth. The real impact you are to have is much greater than that.

    ThuThursdayJulJuly13th2017 The Wrong Question
    byMikel Berger Tagged Love Service 0 comments Add comment

    The parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the more commonly known passages of the Bible. You can search the Internet and pretty easily come up with dozens of recent news stories that reference a “Good Samaritan” that in some way helped out a neighbor.

    Jesus told the parable in Luke 10:25-37 in response to a series of questions asked to him by a lawyer. The lawyer answered the first question himself: "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He knew exactly what the law required of him. He needed to love God and love his neighbor. But Jesus told the lawyer it wasn’t enough for him just to know what to do; he had to actually do it. The lawyer’s response was to ask Jesus who he thinks qualified as the lawyer’s neighbor.

    As Jesus frequently did, he didn’t answer directly but with a story. But even the story doesn’t directly answer the question. Read the passage. Jesus is saying much more than just those not like you are your neighbor, or whoever you come across is your neighbor, or everyone is your neighbor. The parable says all those things, but even more than that it states the lawyer’s question and the attitude that drive it are pointed in the wrong direction.

    The lawyer wants to know about himself. What must he do so that he won’t die? Who is a neighbor as defined in relation to himself? Jesus shows that the Samaritan wasn’t concerned with his own status, his own safety, or his own future comfort. The Samaritan was concerned only with the injured man. He had compassion. Compassion is focused on others. You can’t have compassion for yourself.

    The lawyer could have asked Jesus how to be a better neighbor. How he could be aware of more opportunities to care for others. Maybe even to show him areas in his life that were inhibiting his ability to act on all the knowledge he had.

    It’s fine to question our God. The parable of the Good Samaritan has taught me to ask myself if I’m asking the wrong question though.

    ThuThursdayMayMay18th2017 A Really Bad Meeting Request
    byMikel Berger Tagged Priorities Time 1 comments Add comment

    I think I might have found the worst meeting request ever.

    A few weeks ago I taught in the Connection Hour from Nehemiah 6 as part of our series on the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. 

    Up to this point, Nehemiah has followed in the footsteps of Ezra to rebuild and repopulate Jerusalem for the people of God. But Nehemiah wasn’t a priest like Ezra; he was a servant of the king who was right at the heart of everything (Neh. 1:11). Nehemiah heard about the struggle of his people -- God’s people -- in Jerusalem. He wept, he mourned, he fasted, and he prayed in response. And after hearing from God, he set out to Jerusalem on his rebuilding mission.

    Nehemiah had the blessing of the King but that didn’t mean that everyone agreed with what he was doing. There were numerous attempts to get Nehemiah to stop the work. After more direct attempts couldn’t convince Nehemiah to stop rebuilding the wall, the opposition decided to take a more indirect route. That’s what we read about in the beginning of chapter 6. Some guys, Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem the Arab, decided that time was running out for them to stop Nehemiah. So they decided to trick him.

    Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” (Neh. 6:2-3)

    The plain of Ono would have been a pretty far off place. I think Nehemiah knows there's no good reason for these guys to invite him to a meeting. But these guys aren’t just any random guys in town. In the hierarchy of the day they're at least his peers or colleagues in the king’s service, but more likely they serve in a governor role over Nehemiah and the whole region. So while it is a strange request, it carries weight. After all, if the Governor of Indiana asks you to a meeting, you’d most likely go, regardless of if you understood the direct reason for the meeting.

    But Nehemiah does understand why he was being asked to come to a far off place. He knows they want to do him harm. He knows the work he is doing is more important. He calls it a great work.But would everyone have seen it that way?

    From our vantage point, we can see what God did through Nehemiah’s work. But look at it from the people of the day: Jerusalem is a small, run-down town on the outskirts of the Persian empire. Nehemiah used to have frequent access to the king; now he’s managing a construction project. He’s building something to be a defense for a relatively small group of people, many of whom will have to be convinced to move there by casting lots.

    But Nehemiah knows his wall-building isn’t really about building a wall. He knows it isn’t really for these small group of reluctant city dwellers. The work of Ezra and Nehemiah isn’t really a construction project or an economic development effort, as good as those things are. It’s an act of restoring worship to the one, true God. It’s a work done for God himself. That’s what makes it a great work. It’s not the work being done but the one for whom it's being done that makes it great.

    The next time you get a meeting request, don’t think I’m giving you permission to blow it off. But the next time anyone makes a request on your time, I am saying you should think about your priorities. Don’t look first at the calendar to see if you’re free or if you’d rather do this thing or that thing more. Look at who you’re really serving. My guess is you have some pretty great works to do.

    ThuThursdayMarMarch9th2017 4 Things I Dislike About My Drive to Church
    byMikel Berger Tagged Church Neighbors Outreach 0 comments Add comment

    There might not be anything I consider more mundane in my life than driving to church on a Sunday morning. I do it the vast majority of weeks out of the year. Traffic is pretty light in the Greater Lafayette area on a Sunday morning. So it almost always takes 17 minutes. I can pretty much do it in my sleep. But this last Sunday was different. I have traveled a lot lately. So this last Sunday was the first time I made that drive in almost a month. Maybe it was the break from the routine but it caused me to notice a few things I don’t like.

    1. Not noticing my family. The difference in my attitude at 8:40 am versus 9:40am or 10:40am is pretty amazing. At 8:40am, I’m likely sitting in our car in the garage growing increasingly angry at my wife and kids because we’re 10 minutes past the time agreed upon time for the car to roll out, and I’m the only one in the vehicle. At 9:40am, I’m diving into God’s word with my Connection Hour class. At 10:40am, I’m singing to God with you all. All this praise to God and I’m just an hour removed from some pretty uncharitable thoughts from those on earth dearest to me. I wonder how my own heart can be so fickle.

    2. Not noticing the students. I live just west of the city limits of West Lafayette. I can take about three different routes to church and they all take roughly the same amount of time. I can go near campus and the over 40,000 students it houses from countries and religions as varied as you’ll find in any major city. I wonder what they think of this town in the middle of some corn fields.

    3. Not noticing the longtime residents. I can go through the older parts of Lafayette near downtown. There are the World War II era homes (and earlier) housing people who by the constant rental signs don’t plan to stick around very long. But there are the same homes who, as evidenced by the ongoing meticulous care, are likely inhabited by someone who has lived there for decades. I wonder what they think about this town that I now call home that they’ve called home for much longer.

    4. Not noticing the growth.I can drive on the new 231 past new office buildings and expanding subdivisions. They house young professionals seeking to make their mark in the world. Regardless of if they see this area as a stepping stone to something bigger and better or the home base for their professional goals, I wonder how the gospel is impacting their goals.

    Looking over this list, the common theme is that I get in my own routine, get focused on myself, and miss out on what God is doing in that very routine. I like to travel. It’s exciting to learn about what God is doing in other places. But not when it is at the expense of what he is doing right here. Travel often breaks me out of my routines so that I can see more clearly what opportunities God has put me in the middle of, even if to me they seem boring and routine.

    An even better reminder of those opportunities than some travel is the command from Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20:

    And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

    However exotic or boring you consider your “go” doesn't matter. The excitement comes from doing something commanded by and along with Jesus. Go therefore.

    ThuThursdayJanJanuary12th2017 Rogue Hope
    byMikel Berger Tagged Gospel Hope 0 comments Add comment


    Have you ever bought a new car, and then it seems like you see the same model everywhere you look when you never noticed it before? My family hasn’t bought a new car recently, but a similar thing has happened to me with the word “hope”.

    Drew kicked off the new year by preaching from Ephesians 1:17-21. He talked about the hope, inheritance, and power given to us by God. The middle of verse 18 is:


    ...that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you...


    I thought the passage and Drew’s preaching of it showed not only the hope that individual Christians have, but more importantly the hope that we as the unified body of Christ have. We don’t just possess that hope. That hope spurs us to love one another as we have been loved by God in giving us hope. It allows us to sacrifice much time, talent, and treasure in this life because we know that none of these earthly good things will ever be as good as the treasures and oneness with our Creator that we hope for.


    But Drew’s sermon wasn’t the only place I bumped into hope recently.


    I’m one of the teachers in the Connection Hour class that is studying from Romans 12-16, and in a few weeks I’ll be teaching from Romans 15. One big theme of the passage is the hope that Christians have in Jesus. Paul explains how Christ is the hope not only of the Jew but also of the Gentile. God is ever increasing the ways in which he provides us hope. Just from this chapter we are told how we are given the Scriptures to encourage our hope. Paul quotes Isaiah to remind us of how Israel had the hope of the coming Messiah to carry them through difficult times. Then with the coming of the Messiah that hope has been extended to the Gentiles. And after Christ’s resurrection, God gave the early church and continues to give us today the Holy Spirit so that we will have an abundance of hope.


    Consider this just a trailer or preview of the Romans lessons on January 29 and February 5. Speaking of trailers, the last place that hope showed up for me was at the movie theaters.


    I like the Star Wars movies. I’ve seen Rogue One twice already. For those that haven’t seen it yet I don’t think there are any spoilers ahead. (But seriously, if you haven’t seen it, yet stop reading, go to the theater, and then come back. I’ll be here.) One of the key lines in the movie is “We have hope. Rebellions are built on hope.” It even made it into the trailer.

     

    I am pretty sure the writers of the movie have no idea both how true and theologically sound those statements are. Rebellions are built on hope. The key though is not the hope itself, but the object of the hope. Hope in hope is no hope at all. In Star Wars they hope in fighter pilots and Jedi knights and in The Force that is somehow both their hope and the cause of all they hope against (don’t ask, I’m not that big of a fan that I can explain it).


    We of course, hope in the Creator of the universe. The Creator who became part of the creation. And in doing so for all those who believe in him, completely removed the curse and its effects that we hope against. That is a hope that really changes things. That is a hope that causes me and all of us to join the “rebellion.”


    Just like you’re mostly likely to see a car in your garage that looks like yours (because it is), you’re most likely to find theological truth by reading the Bible and attending Kossuth on Sunday mornings. But if you keep your eyes open, you might just catch some truth in a place like the movie theater.

     

    FriFridayJunJune3rd2016 Orphans and Widows
    byMikel Berger Tagged Justice Love 0 comments Add comment


    A.T. is a 7th grader. He was born in South Africa. He enjoys reading and studying math in school.

    K.B. is in her 70s. She was born in northern Indiana. She enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, traveling, and baking.

    A.T. and K.B. don’t appear to have a lot in common. But they share at least one thing. They are both referred to in James 1:27

    Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27 ESV)

    You see, A.T. is an orphan and K.B. is a widow.

    Why would James combine orphans and widows together like this? I’ve studied and reflected on this verse and some related ones recently (Deu. 10:18, Isa. 1:17, and Jer. 7:5-7). Orphans and widows certainly aren’t the only ones in affliction. Why are followers of Christ told to visit them specifically?

    Some interpret this passage by explaining that orphans and widows are simply examples of anyone that is vulnerable and in trouble. Christians certainly can put the word of God that they hear into practice by showing mercy to anyone that is in need that comes across their path (Luke 10:37).

    However, there seems to be an extra level of effort that is worth making for widows and orphans. We’re supposed to make a visit to the orphan and the widow, not just help them out if they happen to be along the road we’re already traveling. But why?

    I believe it is because God has revealed himself as the one that made a special effort to visit those most in need. Jesus made a special visit to come for those that were most vulnerable. The most vulnerable are us, sinners actively in rebellion against him. He emptied himself. He humbled himself to the most humiliating of deaths (Phil. 2:7-8).

    Jesus did that so we might fully be in relationship with God as our father. When were without a heavenly father and passing our days as spiritual orphans, God adopted us into his family as beloved children.

    Jesus came to be our groom. He will care for and protect us. He did it when we were a whoring bride (Ex. 34:15). We weren’t selected to be his bride because we were so beautiful. He made the effort to love the unlovable when we most needed him.

    Privacy laws prevent me from sharing much more about A.T. But I can share a bit more about, K.B. She’s my mother, Karen. I don’t write this post so that you’ll make special visits to care for her. As her son, myself and my family have a special privilege to care for her (1 Tim. 5:3-8). I write this post to share an example of how much higher God’s ways are than our ways (Isa. 55:9).

    Mom, a widow, is making a visit to see many orphans for three months later this year at Bethesda Children’s Village. She’ll be tutoring A.T. and his classmates in math and other subjects. She’ll also just generally get to be grandma to children without regular grandparent figures in their lives.

    I wouldn’t have ever thought that God would use a widow from Indiana to care for orphans in South Africa. But that seems to be what he is doing.

    You might not be called to go tutor at Bethesda for three months. But I challenge you to read the many scriptural commands to care for the fatherless and find some way in which you can.

    Maybe the first step could be to learn a little more about the ministry of Bethesda as a widow makes her visit to some orphans in their affliction. You can do that at their website.

    ThuThursdayAprApril14th2016 Redeeming Entrepreneurship

    People keep calling me an entrepreneur. Honestly, sometimes it annoys me.

    Sometimes when I think of an entrepreneur, I think of people like Martin Shkreli. His wikipedia page calls him an entrepreneur and wikipedia is never wrong! One of Martin’s entrepreneurial endeavors was buying a drug company and raising the price of a drug for AIDS patients by 5,000% overnight. I get the impression Martin would do anything to make a dollar at the expense of just about anyone. I sure hope that I’m not an entrepreneur like Martin.

    Other times when I think of an entrepreneur, I think of someone like Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. A college kid in his dorm room creating a company worth billions of dollars out of nothing is what they make movies about. If the bar to be a successful entrepreneur is a billion dollars and a movie, then I’ve fallen far, far short. They don’t make movies about guys like me. (That’s not totally accurate, I guess. In high school I was basically Ollie the equipment manager and part-time basketball player from the movie Hoosiers.)

    I gave a talk last weekend where I tried to convince the audience that their view of entrepreneurship needs to change. So why am I sharing that same message with you here on the Kossuth Elder Blog? Because I believe entrepreneurship can be redeemed if entrepreneurs think more like redeemers.

    Redeem is a word that in our church culture has a lot of connotations. Let me go back to the dictionary definition of redeem to make my point:

    re·deem [rəˈdēm] - VERB -  compensate for the faults or bad aspects of (something)

    Jesus is the one and only Redeemer of souls. Because we are all made in the image of God and are being conformed into his likeness, all believers, even entrepreneurs, are called to be redeemers in our world.

    It doesn’t take much effort to see that there are faults in many things in our world. The easy response is to complain about those faults and resign yourself that this is just how things are in a fallen world. The hard response, but the response I believe God is calling us to, is to not only recognize the bad aspects in something but to also see the good aspects in something. Then we can get to work on compensating for the bad aspects so that the good aspects can be fully known.

    One of my favorite individuals in the Bible is Boaz from the book of Ruth. Boaz was a business owner, family man, and community leader. He was presented a difficult situation. Ruth was a widow, an ethnic outsider, had family burdens, and no financial resources. Boaz could have looked away. He could have done the minimum required by the law and society. But Boaz chose to do the most that he could to make right a difficult situation. That is why Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, described Boaz as “...one of our redeemers.” (Ruth 2:20b).

    Boaz’s work was a foreshadow of the redeeming work of Christ. All believers, entrepreneurial or not, have been given gifts they are being called to use to redeem a small piece of God’s creation and in doing so point a watching world back to their Creator.

    What will you redeem in your world today?

    ThuThursdayFebFebruary11th2016 Hopelessness and Faithfulness


    Have you ever had a situation in your life where it seemed that God would never answer your prayers? A situation that looked like it would never work out in the way that would seem best?

    Some marriage relationships crumble and head for divorce. Some families suffer under a mountain of debt that will take decades to repay. Some individuals grieve through years of loneliness after a failed relationship or the death of loved ones. Some people are afflicted by chronic illnesses that even the most modern medical advances seem unable to help. 

    Many of you are asking, what did I sign up for? What did God get me into?

    But my question for you is, will you be faithful to God even when your situation seems hopeless?

    Lately I’ve been reading a lot about Moses -- and learning a lot from Moses. 

    In Numbers 20:12 God told Moses and his brother Aaron that because they did not believe in God and did not uphold him to his people, they would not be allowed into the promised land. There was literally no hope for Moses to see the rewards of his years of suffering and service to God in the wilderness.

    So what did Moses do? Did he quit it all? Did he curse God?

    No. Moses remained faithful to God and to God’s people. In Deuteronomy 1:8 we see Moses telling Israel that they are to take the land that God has promised them. Moses was being a faithful mouthpiece and servant of God, even in the face of what certainly had to be deep personal disappointment and longing. In Deuteronomy 33:1 we see Moses at the very end of his life blessing the people of Israel by reminding them of the goodness and faithfulness of God.

    Will you do the same? Will you be faithful to God even when your situation seems hopeless?

    It will be hard but I believe that we can. Not because we can somehow muster the strength internally. But because the very God that is not removing the difficult situation is the same God who loves, sustains, and provides for us amidst those difficult situations. 

    Moses’ hope was not in the promised land. Moses’ hope was in the God who made the promise. So when the promised land was no longer an option for him, Moses could still remain faithful to God. Will you do the same? In the midst of those hopeless situations, remember there’s a God who loves you and can use those hopeless situations to make you more like his Son. That’s where our hope lies!

    ThuThursdayAugAugust27th2015 Who Is Your Gospel Partner?

    Dan Dillon and I are out to change the world. History is full of partnerships of two people that changed the world. Don’t believe me?

    Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple Computer, Inc. There’s a decent chance you’re reading this right now on a device created by their company.

    OK, so you want a more spiritual example? Anglican clergyman John Newton and his poet friend, William Cowper, published Olney Hymns in 1779. It contained a song, "Amazing Grace," that is still popular and impactful today.

    I guess we might not be the next Jobs and Woz. But there’s another partnership I’ve been thinking about because of my preparation with Dan to teach in the new Connections class through the Gospel of Mark.

    Mark is writing an account of the good news of Jesus. However, Mark was not an apostle. He did not live and travel with Jesus to directly witness this good news. Mark was an attendant and writer for Peter. Peter, of course, was an apostle. As we’ve seen from our sermon series through Acts, Peter traveled preaching and sharing the gospel. God saw fit to work through Mark to capture many of the gospel experiences of Peter to benefit those beyond the range of Peter’s voice.

    So while Dan and I might not be the next Peter and Mark, I think the pattern is clear. A couple of guys seeking to serve God and tell the world about Jesus will have a real impact. And two are better than one.

    Do you have a gospel partner? Part of being a member of Kossuth is that we’ve agreed to be gospel partners. Join Dan and myself in the Ministry Center at 9:15 am on Sunday, September 6 as we partner together to seek God through the work of a couple of other gospel partners.

    And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

    ThuThursdayMayMay28th2015 A Letter of Thanks
    byMikel Berger Tagged Church Family Parenting 0 comments Add comment

    To all the singles, empty-nesters, and others without little kids:

    As a parent of two younger children I just want to say, “Thanks!"

    Thanks for the times when, as newborns, my kids would cry out during the service and you would keep your gaze straight ahead to give me at least the illusion that not everyone had been distracted. Or if you did turn to look, thanks for the slight smile or the wink that indicated you’d been there before, too.

    Thanks for the times you served in the nursery when you didn’t yet have kids or when your kids were a decade or more past being in the nursery. Your sacrifice when I couldn't reciprocate the gesture meant even more. You reassured my red-faced, crying toddler that Mom and Dad really weren’t leaving them forever. You deftly pointed them towards the balls or trucks or dolls  while we quickly walked out the door and down the hallway. Just so you know, we prayed a little prayer for your sanity (and ours too) that the screaming would end soon.

    Thanks for the times you sat in the pew in front of us, and when the roll-away crayon went past your feet, you reached down, picked it up, and politely handed it back to its owner. Thanks for your patience when we needed to (ironically) talk to our kids in a slightly-too-loud of a voice, because we were trying to get them to be quiet. 

    Through you and because of you, our kids see that people of all ages are welcome in the corporate body to worship our God. My kids are able to see that Mom and Dad take this worship of God thing pretty seriously, and as they watch you, they see that you take it pretty seriously, too. They see that you not only take it seriously but also find real joy in it and that there’s no conflict between those two things. That speaks volumes to them without us having to say a word.

    You’re helping all of us to raise up our kids in the way they should go. You’re helping us to speak of God and his commands as we walk by the way (Duet. 6:7). My wife and I thank you. We also thank you on behalf of our friends who also have little kids.

    In Christ’s Love,

    Gunnar and Clella’s Dad (a.k.a Mikel) 

    ThuThursdayFebFebruary26th2015 Leviticus in February
    byMikel Berger Tagged Scripture Worship 0 comments Add comment

    How many New Year’s resolutions to read through the Bible in a year have died in February while reading Leviticus? One reason might be the cold drudgery of life this time of year when holidays seem so far away and the warmth of spring seems equally distant. Another reason might be that we overlook Leviticus as something boring and irrelevant. My daily Bible reading plan has had me in Leviticus the past few days and I thought I’d take a few minutes to share what God has been teaching me.

    My big take away from Leviticus is that God gets to decide how he wants to be worshiped. He decides how he will be approached. He decides what is unclean and should not be near him or his people. And he decides what is clean and can be brought near him and will benefit his people. God’s people don’t decide any of these things.

    Consider Leviticus 1:3: “If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD.” In this verse God, decides the quality of the offering. He will receive nothing but the best from their primary food supply.

    And then there’s Leviticus 5:7: “But if he cannot afford a lamb, then he shall bring to the LORD as his compensation for the sin that he has committed two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering.” God decides the punishment for sin and when grace will be extended because of the circumstances for the sinner.

    Yet again, in Leviticus 11:2: “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, These are the living things that you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth.” God sets out dietary restrictions that serve as a reminder of his rule and reign over even their most basic needs and allow them to physically remind themselves and others of their devotion to him.

    So it was certainly true in the Old Testament that God decided how he wanted to be approached. That lesson is no less true today. God has decided we can only approach him through his son, Jesus Christ. While Christ has fulfilled the law, he has not abolished it. So when you read Old Testament law, be reminded that the requirement to meet the demands of the law has been fulfilled completely for you. We don’t get to decide how to approach God. Accept that gift and then serve him in joy. That thought will keep you warm even on the coldest February morning while reading Leviticus.

    "For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near" (Hebrews 10:1).

    ThuThursdayAugAugust21st2014 5 Dangers of Technology

    [Guest post by current elder candidate Mikel Berger]

    Last week I shared 5 Opportunities for Technology that I’ve found in my life. But we need to remember that there’s not a good thing in this fallen world that can’t somehow be corrupted. So while there are many blessings that can come from technology, there are also potential dangers.

    1. Exodus 20:17 says that we shouldn't covet our neighbor’s stuff. While Facebook can allow us insight into how to love and care for our neighbors, we can also be tempted to think everyone has a life that is way better than ours. Their kids are way cuter in their first day of school pictures. Or maybe they got more likes on their Ice Bucket challenge video. There are no new sins, but be on the lookout for new areas where old sins can creep up.
    2. Speaking of Facebook. How do you define a friend? Do you really have 734 true friends like Facebook says you do? The Scriptures have a lot to say about friends and how we treat one another. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 is one example. Don’t settle for a huge number of shallow relationships at the expense of the deep kind of friendship that Christ enables.
    3. Distractions. You made it to item #3. So you are at least somewhat capable of staying focused for a few minutes. Technology gives us a constant stream of things vying for our attention, be it an email notification, a text message alert, or our calendar begging us to move onto the next thing. Don’t be so quick to move onto the next “urgent” thing that you can’t focus on the important thing that needs time to develop like extended times of prayer and Bible study.
    4. It seems that there are always three phones I’m thinking about. There’s the one I have that I tolerate. There’s the one I used to have that is junk. Then there’s the phone I love. That’s whatever one is coming out next week. The cost of always having to own the next best thing is not only dangerous for our hearts and souls but also for our bank account. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21).
    5. Many celebrities are on Twitter and the constant access to their daily actions and thoughts can lead to a sort of idol worship. Even if you aren’t tempted to tweet your undying love to Justin Bieber, you're probably not exempt. For you, maybe it’s more of a “celebrity pastor” that you regard higher than your pastors, or even God. You’ll spend more time reading their latest blog post than the very words of God.

    Those have been some of the challenges I’ve faced in my life. Pray for me. I’ll pray for you too.

    WedWednesdayAugAugust13th2014 5 Opportunities for Technology
    byMikel Berger Tagged Sanctification Technology 0 comments Add comment

    [Guest post by current elder candidate Mikel Berger]

    We live in a time and place when technology has an increasing influence on our daily lives. These technologies present opportunities to benefit our understanding of who God is and how to love and care for his people and creation. The technologies can also present challenges that Christians need to think through with discernment.

    Here are just a few of the ways I’ve found modern technology to benefit my Christian life.

    1. Paul received numerous letters from his brothers and sisters in Christ and many of his letters in response are preserved in the Scriptures. Today we can keep up with many overseas missionaries by reading their blogs, receiving an email newsletter, friending them on Facebook, or video chatting with them on Skype. Learn more about Kossuth missionaries and find out how you can reach out to encourage them.
    2. Speaking of Paul’s letters, they often end with some very personal and practical requests. I’m friends with many of you on Facebook and have found it is a great way to keep up on the everyday parts of our lives so I know how to pray for you individually and specifically. It has also been awesome to see someone post that they need help with a task around their house or someone to cover a shift in the church nursery, and within minutes multiple people jump in to serve. Use Facebook to guide your prayers and serving.
    3. Many believers in the past never held a copy of the Scriptures in their hands, and if they had they would have been unable to read it. Apps and websites like YouVersion allow us to have access to the Bible in multiple different translations for free on our phones, which are always with us. We can quickly search and study God’s word in the spare moments between meetings or while waiting to pick up the kids. I also really enjoy the ESV Daily Podcast to be able to listen to the Scriptures.
    4. Electronic books on the Kindle or a Kindle app allow us to access the wisdom of pastors and other teachers. Not only are new books and commentaries available, but many older, historical works are available for free.
    5. We can use technology not only to connect to God, the Scriptures, and our brothers and sisters in Christ but also to our local community. I’ve enjoyed following the hashtag #greaterlala on Twitter to find out about what people in the Greater Lafayette area have on their minds. It’s one instance of a modern day marketplace with an open discussion of ideas similar to what Paul visited in Acts 17:17.

    Those are just a few of the ways I’ve found technologies to be a blessing from God. What other benefits have you had? Let me know. You know where to find me online.

    And check back next week when we’ll look at some potential dangers to our theology.

    Elders' BlogConnecting. Informing. Shepherding. Teaching.by