Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sexual Sin Doesn’t Really Hurt You?


We just finished a Sunday morning study of Proverbs, which challenges us to trust God’s way over the empty promises of the world.  One of the warnings comes in Proverbs chapters 5-7, where the voice of a father tells his son that if he gives in to the temptations of sexual sin, the end of that choice will feel “bitter” and “sharp as a two-edged sword” (Prov. 5:4). 

One of Satan’s lies to our modern culture is that sexual sin is not really a big deal.  In fact, culture claims, sexual activity is just ‘having fun’ and an expected part of growing up and maturing.  Waiting for marriage and being faithful, we are told, is just old-fashioned.  (In fact, several years ago I heard a popular talk-show host say that as a culture she feels “we are past” the need for marriage.)  The world claims that sexual sin really doesn’t result in hurt, like the pain of bitterness or a sword as described in the Proverbs.

So is God right or not? 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A God Who’s Not Big Enough to Do Miracles?

We have been studying the Gospel of Mark in our Bible classes, and we’ve repeatedly seen Jesus do things we’ve never seen before.  He calms a fierce storm at sea with only a word (Mark 4:35-41).  He takes a few loaves and fish and feeds thousands by multiplying it, more than once (Mark 6:33-44, 8:1-10).  He walks on top of water (Mark 6:45-52)!  The “miracle list” could go on and on.  The writers of the Bible clearly claimed and believed that Jesus did many miracles while on earth, not the mention the many other miracles recorded in other parts of the Bible. 

Whenever we study those miraculous events, I can sense our culture in the background making a face.  “You don’t really believe Jesus walked on water do you?”  “You don’t really believe God parted the Red Sea and Jordan River for the Israelites?”  “You don’t really believe God raised Lazarus from the dead?”  And so on.  Our culture – and strangely enough, sometimes even some of our fellow Christians – are tempted to dismiss the Bible’s miracles, perhaps thinking that we are too smart to believe such things today.  OK, so let’s dig into the assumptions behind that thinking.

Why might someone doubt that the miracles of the Bible actually occurred?

Has Science Disproved Miracles?

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Second Chances for the Poor


I’m taking a graduate course called Urban Ministry this semester, and we’re reading several books about poverty.  What causes poverty.  What helps poverty.  What doesn’t help poverty.  It’s been interesting and challenging already, and I’m still in the midst of the reading, brainstorming in many directions. 

There are several reasons this study is so intriguing to me.  First, trying to decide what truly helps the needy is by far my biggest frustration in ministry so far.  People ask churches for help all the time, and we all struggle with wanting to help people, but at the same time not wanting to build ‘dependence’ in people or help someone who is simply scamming churches to make a living.  We’re all looking for a better way forward, and we’ve been asking those difficult “how best to help” questions for awhile at Great Oaks, hopefully with some slow progress. 

Second, this is an issue we must get better at here at Great Oaks, because we are in Memphis, the most impoverished large city in America.  Like all churches in big cities, we don’t have to travel to a third-world country to find people who need help – we can find many of them in just a short drive. 

Third, following Jesus demands that we show God’s love through helping those around us.  Galatians 6:10 says, “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”  So as Christians, our first responsibility is helping our fellow Christians in need, but we should also strive to do good to everyone we can. 


What Is My Attitude?


Well, I’ll keep wrestling with the “how best to do it” question, both in our ministry at Great Oaks and probably on this blog as well.  But one good starting point comes from simply examining our attitude toward the poor.