What IS the church?
The last two months have seen churches empty on Sundays, and significant shifts to the programs of the local church. We've now seen by experience what many have always known to be true: The church is not the sum total of its programs. Nor is the church simply the building that many visit on Sunday mornings.
But this realization simply invites another great question - the one that starts this post: What, then, IS the church?
This question isn't abstract. The way we answer this question has massive practical implications for how we continue to navigate the ever-changing landscape and move into what everyone is calling "the new normal."
So let's dig into this question and briefly look at three biblical and theological truths about what the church IS. The church is a transformed people living with a God-given purpose who are shaped by 6 key priorities.
To get us started today, let me take you back to Middle School science class. One of the great discoveries in the history of science was learning that the sun is at the center of the solar system. Before the 16th century, the prevailing view was that the earth was at the center of everything, and the sun and all other planets revolved around the earth. But then a Polish genius named Nicolaus Copernicus took another look at things. He noticed that there were some big issues with the math behind the dominant view. Things didn’t add up.
So Copernicus went to work and proposed a different model - where the sun didn’t orbit the earth, but the earth orbited the sun. Suddenly everything fell into place. This discovery set the table for future astronomers to refine Copernicus’s work and help us better understand the wonder of the created universe.
And the “aha moment” in the science was fixing the right thing at the center. Without that right thing in the center, everything else was a little out of whack. But with the right object at the center, everything else fell into place.
I recently preached on Ephesians 2:1-10 at Brookside Church - a passage which I would say "pound for pound" is the best ten-verse spotlight on God's amazing grace that we find in the New Testament.
Here's a quick outline of the passage at a glance:
Not too long ago I ran across a 10 min video that Justin Taylor posted on The Gospel Coalition, capturing how a tribe in Indonesia responded when they received copies of the New Testament in their own language. Because I wanted to keep this video easily accessible for myself, and because of how this video reinforces the value of biblical literacy (something the Brookside Institute is all about), I wanted to post it here as well.
In John 5:39 Jesus teaches that the Scriptures testify about Him. Isaiah 55:10-11 tells us that God's Word accomplishes His purposes as it goes out. Since that's the case, we should celebrate and support every example of God's Word being made accessible to more and more people.
As the Kimyal Tribe continues to engage God's Word, may it point them more and more to the greatness of Jesus, and may God accomplish mighty things through His Word among them!
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Temptation can take us to a place we never wanted to go. Talk with anyone who’s responded poorly to temptation and they’ll agree with this. (This is every one of us who are reading this, by the way.) We’ve seen the hurt on the face of someone we’ve sinned against. We’ve felt the shame of personal defeat and regret, when we’ve given into the same sin again and again. What looks so good when we’re on the front end of temptation can be so destructive if we give in to it.
In light of all this, the perspective James gives us on sin is so important. Here's what James 1:13-15 says:
Did you miss some of the most frequented posts at the Brookside Institute recently? It's not too late!
Based on the number of "hits" each month, here's our highlight reel of the top 5 posts here on the Brookside Institute blog for the last six months - July 2018 through December 2018.
Take a minute to scroll through the list below, and either catch up on things you may have missed or revisit things that were especially helpful.
Looking for some of the best biblical and theological books to read in 2019? Below I've collected and listed five "sources" that are worth listening to for some worthwhile reads.
My hope is that as you scan these lists, you'll find at least 2-3 books that strike your interest enough for you to pick up the book and dig in.
Click on either the image or the title below and you'll be taken directly to a page where you can see which books are on that particular list.
My Top 5 Reading Lists of 2018
Interested in more?
Below you'll find a few other links to related posts. Happy reading!
It's no exaggeration to say that Christianity stands or falls on Jesus' resurrection. If Jesus wasn't raised bodily from the dead, our faith is "useless" and "futile" (see 1 Corinthians 15:14 and 15:17-19). But if Jesus HAS been raised bodily from the dead...well, we'd better pay attention to Him. The Christian faith has meaning, our future has hope, and our mission matters.
So why is it credible to believe in Jesus' resurrection? Or even beyond that, why does it make the best sense of the evidence we have to believe that Jesus rose from the dead? Here are four lines of evidence that - when put together - build a strong case for the reliability of Jesus' resurrection.
Christmas is less than three weeks away (!!), and that means many of us are thinking through what to buy for others in our lives. If you're looking for ideas for the "reader" you know, here are six accessible suggestions based on books I've read and recommend, or books that are very much on my radar screen to read soon.
Most of these suggestions have been recently published (in the last 2-3 years) and will be linked to an Amazon page where you can learn more. You'll see they're listed under 6 categories that I try and stay loosely tethered to:
What other books (in any of these categories listed above) would you suggest people consider? List 'em here!
This posted in adapted from an earlier post on this site, first composed on October 31, 2014.
Tonight is Halloween. A couple of my kids will likely be going door-to-door getting candy, and we'll probably be handing out candy to neighborhood kids from our door as well. But October 31 is significant for more reasons than just this. October 31 is also "Reformation Day" - the day in 1517 when a monk named Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to a church door in Germany and sparked what we now call the Protestant Reformation. (For a recommended introduction to Luther's 95 Theses, check out this book.)
Here's what Philip Schaff, a noted church historian, says about the significance of the Reformation:
“The Reformation of the sixteenth century is, next to the introduction of Christianity, the greatest event in history. It marks the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of modern times. Starting from religion, it gave, directly or indirectly, a mighty impulse to every forward movement, and made Protestantism the chief propelling force in the history of modern civilization.”
If your'e looking to brush up a bit on Reformation history, check out this post from Ligonier Ministries. This post shares a bit more about the history of the Reformation and key players in it. I encourage you to take a few minutes on this Reformation Day of 2018 and check it out.
Here's the post: "The Reformation and the Men Behind It" by Stephen Lawson
Please note the usual disclaimer, that my recommendation of this article is not necessarily an endorsement of everything else on the site where this was posted. As always, read both discerningly and graciously, and with the Bible as your final authority.
Christian. Husband. Father. Pastor. Learner. Contributor. Reader.