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Archive for January 2012

the blessing of a missions-focused denomination

As we go about our life and ministry here at CCC we must never forget that we are part of something bigger – something started way back in the 1880’s by a guy named A.B. Simpson – a denomination called the Christian & Missionary Alliance (C&MA).

Last week I was blessed to gather together with about 45 other mission leaders and Pastors from all over the country that are part of the C&MA. We get together annually to share ideas, success, and failures. Its encouraging because we all share the same value – “Lost people matter to God and he wants them found.”

Yet what is really encouraging is that we are not a denomination that happens to do missions – we are a denomination that is first and foremost focused on missions. This was illustrated recently in a report by Christianity Today magazine that indicated that for every $1 given in a C&MA church, 11 cents goes to missions. That doesn’t seem like a lot until you realize that was more than double the denomination in second place.

In America most evangelical churches see it as great success if even 5% of their giving goes to missions, yet in 2010 at CCC our missions giving was over 30% and I suspect in 2011 the results were similar. That passion for giving to missions comes from being a part of a denomination that passionately cares about reaching people all over the world with the hope of Jesus Christ. That passion comes from the many years of leadership at CCC that have given energy and focus to missions. That passion comes from serving a God who desperately wants people all over the world to trust in his son Jesus.

We are blessed to be a part of what God started through A.B. Simpson about 125 years ago. May our denomination and our church never lose their passion for missions.

In the Toy Aisle…

I asked Jesus into my heart in the toy aisle of the Four Star Drug in Waverly, Nebraska when I was 4 years old.

My older brother and I and our mom were driving home one night from Lincoln and I was in the backseat. My mom and brother were in the front seat talking about what it meant to ask Jesus into your heart. I was listening as they talked. My mom explained to my brother that when you ask Jesus into your heart, you believe that He is your personal Savior and that he died to forgive your sins. Then you become a Christian and Jesus lives in your heart forever.

We stopped at the drug store to pick up some things, and when we went inside, I stole away to the toy aisle and looked to make sure no one was around. Then I prayed and asked Jesus into my heart. This was the beginning of a wonderful journey that I am still on today as a follower of Jesus Christ. Amen!

-Michael

Loved the Stained Glass Windows

I always went to church.  As a child,  I loved the stained glass windows, sitting next to my grandmother  and listening to the choir.     As I grew up in church,    I thought I was a Christian and life was wonderful and perfect.    Until it suddenly  wasn’t anymore.   It was then that I realized that I didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus and I didn’t know where my faith was.     But, I did know that I should pray and I did so –  night, after lonely night.   And, one day, a friend came by and helped me to have a personal relationship with Jesus.  I have never been alone again.

– Deborah

Date of Exodus

John Holmes, Academic Dean at Grace University gives us these great pieces of scholarly insight as we approach the study of Exodus.  Thanks, John!

What is the Date of the Exodus:

*Early Date: 1446

*Late Date: 1275 or 1290

A. The early date emphasizes the literal interpretation of the biblical numbers in Exodus 12:40, Judges 11:26, and 1 Kings 6:1. Hill and Walton offer the following arguments for an early date. (A Survey of the Old Testament, 108).

1. First Kings 6:1 indicates the Exodus occurred 480 years prior to the 4th year of Solomon’s reign. His 4th year is dated at 966 B.C., placing the Exodus at __________ 1446.2. According to Judg. 11:26, Israel had occupied Canaan for 300 years before the judgeship of Jephthah, which is dated around 1100. Adding Jephthah’s 300 years, plus Israel’s 40 years in the desert puts the Exodus around _________ 1440.

3. Moses lived in exile in Midian 40 years (Acts 7:3; cf. Exod. 2:23) while the pharaoh of the oppression was still alive. Upon the pharaoh’s death, the Lord told Moses it was safe to return to Egypt (Ex. 2:25; 4:19) The only pharaohs who ruled 40 years or more were Thutmose III (1504‑ 1450) and Rameses II (1290‑1224). But it is impossible for Rameses II to be the Pharaoh of the exodus, since he did not follow a Pharaoh who ruled for 40 years. Rameses II’s predecessor was Seti I (r. 1318-1304), before Seti I was Rameses I (r. 1320-1318).

4. The early date allows for the length of time assigned to the period of the judges (at least 350 years). The late date allows only 180 years.

5. The Dream Stela of Thutmose IV indicates he was not the legal heir to the throne (i.e., the legal heir would have died in the tenth plague).

One of those days it happened that the King’s Son Thut‑mose came on an excursion at noon time. Then he rested in the shadow of this great god. Sleep took hold of him, slumbering at the time when the sun was at its peak. He found the majesty of this August god speaking with his own mouth, as a father speaks to his son, saying,

“See me, look at me, my son, Thut‑mose! I am thy father, Harmakhis‑Khepri‑Re‑Atum. I shall give thee my kingdom upon earth at the head of the living. Thou shalt wear the southern crown and the northern crown on the throne of Geb, the crown prince (of the gods).Thine is the land in its length and its breadth, that which the Eye of the All‑Lord illumines.” ( Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts, p. 449. )

6. The “430 years” of Exod. 12:40 dates the entrance of Jacob into Egypt during the reign of Sesostris/Senusert III (1878‑ 43) rather than during the Hyksos period (1674‑1567).

B. The Late Date – emphasizes Israel’s role in the building of Pithom and Rameses (Ex. 1:11). They typically approach the text with a figurative hermeneutic, which means things don’t mean what they say.

What about the Habiru (apiru)?

All Hebrews are  Habiru but not all Habiru are Hebrews

Sixteen of the 400 Amarna Tablets, discovered in 1887 at Tell el Amarna (180 miles South of Cairo) mention a group of people referred to as Habiru. The tablets tell of chaotic conditions and trouble resulting from these people around 1400 B.C. – and so it has often been postulated that this could be a reference to Joshua’s invading forces. However, it has been discovered that the habiru designation has been found far from Canaan, reducing the chance that it means “Hebrew.” The term appears to be a socially derogatory term: a name for someone w/o citizenship, a migrant, or even a bandit or raider. Perhaps Joshua’s fighting forces were called Habiru because they were unwelcomed invaders who lacked local citizenship. Thus, the term Habiru does refer to the Hebrews – but it also refers to many other peoples. It is not an ethnic term, but a descriptive one.

Who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus?

A. LATE Date = 1275__ Rameses II

1. Scholars who hold to a late date of the Exodus (c. 1290‑1225 BC) identify Rameses II (c. 1304‑1237) as the Pharaoh of the Exodus.

2. They argue that the city of Rameses (Ex. 1:11) which it was built by the enslaved Israelites, was named after the Pharaoh Rameses. (It is also possible that Pharaoh Rameses was named after the area of Rameses)

Genesis 47:11 states that Jacob and his family settled in the land of Rameses when they entered Egypt in the nineteenth century; unless we postulate an anachronism, for which there is not the slightest proof, we must conclude that there was an area by that name before there was ever a Pharaoh Rameses” (Eugene H. Merrill, An Historical Survey of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1966). p. 107.)

B. EARLY Date = 1446__  Amenhotep II (r. 1450‑1424)

1. Hatshepsut (r. 1504‑1482 d.) may have been the princess who reared Moses. If this is so, she most likely reared him to be the next Pharaoh, since her only child (Nefrure) had died in childhood.

2. Thutmose III (c. 1514‑1450 d.) ruled as co‑regent with his stepmother Hatshepsut for 22 years until her death in 1482, then he ruled independently until 1450. This allows for the time when Moses was in exile in Midian (cf. Acts 7:3; Exodus 2:23). Upon his death in 1450, Moses returned to Egypt.

3. Amenhotep II (r. 1450-1424 d.) may have been the Pharaoh of the Exodus. Note that the Bible does not say that he drowned but that he led a battle to the water’s edge.

4. The dream inscription of Tutmose IV (c. 1410‑1402?) may indicate that he was not originally intended to be Pharaoh. His older brother (Pharaoh’s first born) would have died in the tenth plague.

The capital of 18th dynasty Egypt was in Thebes – sometimes a criticism because it is argued that Moses would not have contact with Pharaoh if he was so far south. However Pharaoh’s had several homes/palaces and moved around.

 

Slightly Panicked!

I’ve been doing another blast of Intersctions training.  Just finished lesson 4 – Tell the Stories.  People send me their 100 Word Essays about how their relationship with God got started.  Here’s another story from Terri.  As more of my class sends me their stories I’ll pass them on!  I never get tired of reading these.  Thanks for sharing, Terri!  You can see all the 100 Word Stories I’ve been collecting by hitting this link!

Terri’s story…

I grew up learning about God: sitting in Sunday school class, learning hymns in worship service, reading the Bible, feeling drawn toward God and desiring to be a good person.  One evening, my mother explained my need to receive Jesus personally. Slightly panicked, I replied, “I’m not ready yet.”  I sensed that this would be a life-changing choice that demanded much of me. In time, I opened myself to Jesus and have discovered that the only step toward readiness was recognizing my need. It’s a daily “following” that focuses my life and grounds me in love and purpose.

Liam’s Lessons: Project 4:4/Noah & Abraham

A few days ago, I sat down with my 5-year old son Liam to get a kid’s perspective about Project 4:4 so far. Completely unscripted, obviously. Yes, I’m quite aware that everything may not be theologically accurate, but hopefully the core of what Liam is saying is understood.

In this video, Liam and I talk about Noah, Abraham and the concept of covenants. Once again, Liam sings a song at the end of the video, so be sure to stay around for that.

Project 4:4 So Far (Guest Post by Anna Wastell)

While I became a Christian at a young age and was raised going to church, I’ve never been very good at reading my Bible on a regular basis.  When I wrote my Personal Growth Plan for 2012, I knew Project 4:4 was something I wanted to keep up with.   Luckily, my new husband had the same idea.  The start of the new year provided a turning point for developing habits as a newlywed couple.  We started getting up early and incorporating Project 4:4 into our morning routine.  Chad listens to the daily readings at the gym, and I sit down with my Chronological Bible or pull up the verses on my iPad while he gets ready for work.  Pastor Mark keeps us company at breakfast, as Chad watches the Daily Accelerators over a bowl of cereal.  I put lunches together in the kitchen and listen in.

Incorporating both the daily reading and the accelerators into our routine has been key for our success so far.  There’s always something we catch in the readings that we’d never noticed before, and Mark brings a unique angle to the content, keeping things interesting for us.

It’s only been two weeks, but I feel good about the patterns we’ve developed and we’re trusting God to help us make it through the year.

Smart Alecks

Did Lead Pastor Mark Ashton really say smart alecks or did he call his off-springs intelligent donkeys?  Turn your volume up.  This video will resolve it all.

How Compatible are Christianity and Islam?

 

Great comments on the Tough Questions video about The Bible or the Qur’an.  The excitement that seems to be out there about the Tri-Faith initiative here in Omaha makes for an interesting context to consider the religious pluralism of our day.  Dialogue, mutual understanding and respect are all values the Christian Bible upholds and so as Christians we must reflect the person of Christ as we encounter non-Christian religions.  But what can get lost in today’s environment is an appreciation for the clear differences between us.

There is a role for respectful critical realism.  On the issue of whether Christianity can ever be claimed by Islam as a foundation for it’s message, practices and world view – it’s the Christian Bible that raises the most penetrating challenge.  Islam just doesn’t contribute anything essential to the message of the Christian Bible.  Jesus is the clear fulfillment of what the Old Testament scriptures point to.  He is the key.  Reject the Christian Bible’s view of Jesus and you simply sever the connection between Judaism and Christianity and the connection between Islam and Christianity.  It’s more honest to simply say  – these are three radically different faith systems that cannot be theologically or historically integrated.

Check out this sermon from Pastor Mark from 2009 comparing Christianity and Islam.  Includes an interview with a Muslim convert to Christianity.

If you want to read further about the vivid contrasts between Christianity and Islam, this title by Timothy George is excellent!  It’s respectfully done and clearly presented (brief too- 145 pages).  It simply asks the right question about Christianity and Islam.  If you give it a read, let me know what you think.

Project 4:4 Week 3 Readings

Here are the Week 3 readings for Project 4:4.

January 15 – Genesis 34-35

January 16 – Genesis 36

January 17 – Genesis 37-38

January 18 – Genesis 39-42:5

January 19 – Genesis 42:6-45:15

January 20 – Genesis 45:16-47:28

January 21 – Genesis 47:29-50:26