why is it?

 

Now this is odd.

Or is it?

In 35 years of preaching I’ve never once had anyone complain to me saying …

“In your sermon Sunday I noticed you didn’t mention _______. I don’t like that. You need to mention _______ every time without fail. And I’m listening to see if you do.”

Fill in the preceding blanks with any of the following:

  • attitude
  • brotherly love
  • church
  • civility
  • communion
  • community
  • compassion
  • confession
  • contentment
  • contrition
  • courage
  • courtesy
  • covenant
  • cross
  • devotion
  • discernment
  • discipleship
  • empowerment
  • encouragement
  • endurance
  • enlightenment
  • eternal life
  • faith
  • faithfulness
  • fellowship
  • forbearance
  • forgiveness
  • gentleness
  • generosity
  • God the Father
  • goodness
  • grace
  • holiness
  • honesty
  • hope
  • hospitable
  • humility
  • idolatry
  • intercession
  • Jesus
  • joy
  • justice
  • kindness
  • kingdom
  • Lordship
  • love
  • mercy
  • morality
  • ministry
  • mortification
  • non-violence
  • obedience
  • peace
  • peaceable
  • praise
  • prayer
  • purity
  • reconciliation
  • reflection
  • repentance
  • reputation
  • respect
  • resurrection
  • righteousness
  • sacrifice
  • salvation
  • sanctity
  • self-control
  • service
  • sin
  • submission
  • temperate
  • thankfulness
  • the Holy Spirit
  • transformation
  • unity
  • wisdom
  • worship

But, I guar-an-tee you, if I don’t specifically mention the word “baptism” in one Sunday’s sermon, and likely repeatedly, despite the fact ….

  • I have been immersed myself …
  • have assisted with many dozens (hundreds) across the years …
  • and I mention it 90+% of the time …

will hear about it.

And I know I’m anything but alone in this experience.

So … what’s up with that?

Just let me ask you to think about it.

And then … don’t stop thinking about it.

links: this went thru my mind

 

Anger, communication & relationships: What to Do When You’ve Made Someone Angry

“… this battle — intention vs. consequences — was the root cause of so much interpersonal discord. … it’s not the thought that counts or even the action that counts. That’s because the other person doesn’t experience your thought or your action. They experience the consequences of your action.”

Arrogance, learning, listening, tribes & understanding: Pastoral Traps: Tribal Arrogance

“The deeper and more entrenched I became in the tribe, the less time and desire I had learn from other tribes. … One of the great blunders of having tribal arrogance is missing out on the wisdom and skills of others. … I do not want to display tribal arrogance. I am grateful for my tribe. I am grateful for how much I have grown in my love for God because of my tribe. But I need to have the ears to hear from the voice of others.”

Baptism: Water of Division

“By the way, the best book ever, ever on baptism is by Everett Ferguson, Baptism in the Early Church.”

Ministers & ministry: Eleven Things You Might Not Understand About Your Minister

“… here’s what your minister wishes you understood.”

Parenting, school & teaching: What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents

“Today, new teachers remain in our profession an average of just 4.5 years, and many of them list “issues with parents” as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel. Word is spreading, and the more negativity teachers receive from parents, the harder it becomes to recruit the best and the brightest out of colleges. So, what can we do to stem the tide? What do teachers really need parents to understand?”

LIFE group guide: the amputated verse

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow night (April 28). This guide will enable your follow-up in our LIFE groups of my sermon tomorrow morning from Acts 2 (specifically vs. 38). This sermon’s title is The Amputated Verse” and is the last sermon in the I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means series. Look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous discussion guides. All Scripture texts reproduced below, unless otherwise noted,  are from the CEB.

I’ll be on a partial “technology fast” during the month of May, there will be no LIFE group discussion guides posted here again until Sat., June 1. Until then …

Aim

To examine familiar Scripture closely, so as to correct common misunderstandings.

Word

“Therefore, let all Israel know beyond question that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away—as many as the Lord our God invites.” (Acts 2.36-39)

Open

Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. What’s something you “missed” for a long time in life, but which now stands out rather clear and obvious to you?

2. Tell us of a time when oversimplifying something got you confused or off track.

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1. What exactly is it that caused the crowd to become “deeply troubled” (vs. 37)?

2. How many words for “God” are used in vs. 36-39? How many times do they appear?

3. To what, specifically, does the phrase “this promise” in vs. 39 refer?

4. Who does the Lord “invite” and how do you know if/when he’s invited them (vs. 39)?

5. What does this passage say about who does the baptizing or where it’s done?

6. According to this text, what does God the Father do? Jesus? The Holy Spirit?

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.

1. In your experience with the proclamation of vs. 38, what aspect of it has been most strongly and frequently stressed? What has received the least emphasis? Why?

2. What does it mean to be “baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” (vs. 38)?

3. What tends to happen to God when we make some of vs. 38-39 speak strictly about what he does and other parts of it to be strictly about what people do?

4. Can a person know Christ as Lord and not know that their baptism and their forgiveness had/has connections? That is, must a person specifically know that “forgiveness” is connected to baptism in order for their baptism to “count” with God?

5. How might the various ways a person could construe the meaning of the phrase “the gift of the Holy Spirit” (vs. 38) affect the way they view, and live, their life in Christ?

6. What does it do for you to know that as a Christian, you have received God’s Spirit?

this went thru my mind

 

Apologies, civility, & humility: The Sorry State of the Apology by Dorothy Greco

“The apology seems to be at an all-time high, and simultaneously, an all-time low.”

Attitude, church, expectations, ministry & vision: 10 Dangerous Church Paradigms by Ron Edmonson

“I’ve been in church all my life. Along the way I’ve seen and learned a lot. Almost all the insight I have into church has come by experience. I have observed, for example, that paradigms can often shape a church’s culture. A paradigm in simple terms, is a mindset; a way of thinking. In this case, a collective mindset of the church, often programmed into the church’s culture. If the church is unhealthy part of the reason could be because it has some wrong paradigms. In that case, it will almost always need a paradigm shift in order to be a healthier church again.”

Bible interpretation, hermeneutics, & humility: CENI – Having a Humble Hermeneutic by Matt Dabbs

“My goal in this post is to … to remind us that we must be humble in how we interpret scripture and what we bind or don’t bind on other people.”

Cell phones & privacy: Create a Temporary Number

“Burner gives you a free number that lasts for one day, five voice calls or 15 texts. If you need more, you can buy a new number or extend your current number for a few dollars. Calls and texts don’t count against your monthly limit. The app allows you to permanently delete – ‘burn’ – any number at any time. This takes it out of the service and permanently deletes it from your phone.”

Climate change, ecology, environment, global warming, & preachers: New Research on Protestant Pastors’ Views of the Environment

“When asked to respond to the statement ‘I believe global warming is real and man made’ …”

Culture, history, immigration, prejudice, & the United States: Why I’ve Stopped Saying ‘We are a Nation of Immigrantsby Kevin Miller

“As innocuous as it sounds, the ‘nation of immigrants’ line is an abbreviated version of the prevailing narrative of national origins that makes white people like me the norm while making others, well, ‘others.’ Without appearing to do so, it subtly shapes my thinking about
who is and isn’t a true or real American.”

Evolution & science: Biological Evolution: What Makes it Good Science? (parts 1 & 2)

“Is the contemporary theory of evolution an example of good science? The answer to this question completely depends on how you define ‘science,’ and what you think makes science ‘good.’ … In conclusion, when measured against the standards of a good scientific theory, modern evolutionary biology clearly qualifies as good science.  Ongoing debates within evolutionary biology exist about mechanism, rates, and causes, but not over whether evolution occurred.  Such a question has been largely settled by the last 150 years’ worth of research.”

Grandparenting: A Letter to the Grandkids On Baptism by Mark Woodward

“Grandad would just like to write this letter to all of you, those baptized already and those who will be.  These are just a few things I really want you to know about your baptism that I’ve been thinking about.”

Leadership: Leading From Psychological Brokenness

“The High Calling talked to four experts about how psychological pathologies impact leaders and their organizations. In a series of four articles, we’ll examine the topic. First, let’s explore what we mean by psychological pathology.”

Marriage: So What IS Marriage by Patrick Mead

“… if you think THIS is complicated, wait until you study a bit and see how complicated sexual identity is.”

this went thru my mind

 

Baptism: N.T. Wright on the Meaning of Baptism [5 min. video; required viewing]

“… Wright lays out a narrative of baptism starting in Exodus and weaving it into Romans. He explains how the act of baptism is rooted in Exodus, which creates a depth in understanding.”

Bible study: 7 Ways to Do a Bad Word Study

“Here are some bad ways to do a word study, courtesy of Dr. Jennings of Gordon Conwell and Dr. Grant Osborne of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.”

Church: “I’m Not Getting Anything Out of Church” by Terry Rush

“A person who gets nothing out of church is also a person who has drawn nothing from God and puts nothing into people.”

Excellence, fear, failure & success: Good Enough by Richard Beck

“You are a failure. And that means you are good enough.”

Weariness: Moving Past Weariness by Jim Martin

“The following are a few realities I try to keep in mind during such times: (1) I have absolutely no control over so much of what happens in life. … (2) I need to trust in God. … (3) I need to be proactive instead of passive.”

Women: First Timothy 2.8-15 & the Silencing of Women in Worship by Bobby Valentine

“A text that is used, or misused, most frequently is 1 Timothy 2.8-15.”

this went thru my mind

 

Baby boomers: Last Chances for Churches to Reach 50 Million Americans

“Here are a few (hopefully) helpful facts about the Baby Boomers and churches. Of course, our findings depict the majority of Boomers, not all of them at any one time.”

Baptism & rebaptism: Benjamin Franklin on Rebaptism

“In the years prior to the Firm Foundation (begun in 1884) there was practical unanimity on the question of whether one who had been previously immersed to obey God but without the knowledge of its saving import should be rebaptized. The answer was an unequivocal ‘No.’ … Anyone immersed upon a confession of faith in Jesus as the Christ, thought Campbell, was legitimately baptized and needed no further “re-do″ when they later learned that baptism was for the remission of sins.”

Children, manhood, movies & the learning of gender roles: How Movies Teach Our Kids about Gender [watch the 12 min. TED talk video; required viewing]

“What are movies teaching our kids about gender, about what it means to be men and women? That’s the question Colin Stokes asks in this recent TED Talks video.”

Colors: A Designers Guide to the Psychology of Color [infographic]

“Color is far more powerful than we give it credit for.”

Computing, privacy & security: How to Sacrifice Your Online Privacy for Fun and Profit [required reading]

“You have value—and not just as a good friend, loving family member, and upstanding member of society. You’re also a valuable commodity that companies buy and sell. Your age, browsing habits, and friends lists are all hot properties. And yes, all this data is recorded, packaged, and sold to the highest bidder by your favorite websites.”

Culture & sin: Americans Reveal Their 3 Favorite Sins

“‘Temptations and America’s Favorite Sins,’ a survey conducted by the Barna Group, a Christian research firm, concludes that the moral struggles that vex most Americans aren’t the salacious acts that drive the plotlines of reality television shows. Most Americans are too worn down or distracted to get snared by those vices, the survey concludes. The top three sins seducing most Americans: procrastination, overeating and spending too much time on media.”

Drugs & prison sentences: The Drug Laws That Changed How We Punish

“Half a century ago, relatively few people were locked up, and those inmates generally served short sentences. But 40 years ago, New York passed strict sentencing guidelines known as the ‘Rockefeller drug laws’ — after their champion, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller — that put even low-level criminals behind bars for decades. Those tough-on-crime policies became the new normal across the country.”

Loving your enemies: Love Your Enemies … Sort Of?

“‘Love Your Enemies … It Pisses Them Off’ or ‘… It Makes Then So Damn Mad’ or ‘… Nothing Annoys Them So Much.’ No doubt these lines are supposed to be funny. But in fact they diminish the love Jesus called for by delighting in the negative response some people might have when they are greeted with unexpected love. Such statements infer that the very aim of loving those at odds with us is to strike a blow against them, albeit of an unconventional sort. Yet the love that Jesus advocated was not some sort of unconventional blow but a blessing.”

this went thru my mind

 

Baptism, discipleship, evangelism & salvation: Saving Souls is More Than Counting Baptisms by Terry Rush

“Be about soul winning this week.  If any should be at the waters of baptism, praise God.  But, too, if any happen to be over a cup of coffee or in a waiting room and you seek to inspire someone back to greatness….this too would be winning of the soul.”

Bible interpretation: My Take: The Danger of Calling Behavior ‘Biblical’ by Rachel Held Evans

“… the Bible is not a position paper. The Bible is an ancient collection of letters, laws, poetry, proverbs, histories, prophecies, philosophy and stories spanning multiple genres and assembled over thousands of years in cultures very different from our own. When we turn the Bible into an adjective and stick it in front of another loaded word, we tend to ignore or downplay the parts of the Bible that don’t quite fit our preferences and presuppositions. In an attempt to simplify, we force the Bible’s cacophony of voices into a single tone and turn a complicated, beautiful, and diverse holy text into a list of bullet points we can put in a manifesto or creed. More often than not, we end up more committed to what we want the Bible to say than what it actually says.”

Military service, pacifism & the early church: What Can We Learn From the Early Church? – Living Like the First Christians

“There can be no question but that Christians of the earliest period were overwhelmingly pacifist. I would say, until the year 200 pacifism was the norm for Christians. That began to change slightly from 200 to the Constantinian Edict in 313. Tertullian (160-225) was very strong in arguing that Christians could not participate in war, and he went so far as to say that those who were already soldiers must quit the military when they became followers of Jesus.  There are cases during this early period where Christians chose to be martyred rather than to serve in the military.”

Movies & politics: Why We Love Politics by David Brooks

“… ‘Lincoln,’ directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Tony Kushner. … portrays the nobility of politics in exactly the right way.”

Reading: Four Reasons Men Don’t Read Books (with a Practical Suggestion) by Tony Reinke

“… many Christian men do struggle with reading. Here are four reasons why: Men don’t read books because they don’t know where to begin. … Men don’t read books because visual allurements are more appealing. … Men don’t read books because they think it’s a waste of time. … Men don’t read because they lack literary discipline.”

Special needs: 4 Ways the Church Can Support Families with Special Needs Children by Chad Nall

“A parent of a special-needs child shared with several of us in a seminar four things the church can do to support families. They include …”