Favorite Bible Verses (Part 4)

What is your favorite Bible verse?  Americans have weighed in on this question.  In this episode of the Scripture and Spice Podcast, Micah and Curtis  discuss Paul’s second most popular passage, this one from the book of Romans.

Also in this episode:

  • The legend of the Holy Grail
  • Richard Dawkins concludes that religious faith is a cop-out
  • What not to say at funerals
  • How Paul could defend his explosive statement about God’s purposes.
  • And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  (Romans 8:28)

 

 

Favorite Bible Verses (Part 3)

What is your favorite Bible verse?  Americans have weighed in on this question.  In this episode of the Scripture and Spice Podcast, Micah reflects on the beautiful passage from Isaiah that promises that we shall mount up on wings like eagles.

Also in this episode:

  • What is a Kewpie?
  • America’s national emblem
  • Why we love eagles
  • What is unique about Isaiah 40?
  • Isaiah 40 Why do you say, O Jacob,
        and speak, O Israel,
    “My way is hidden from the Lord,
        and my right is disregarded by my God”?
    28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
    The Lord is the everlasting God,
        the Creator of the ends of the earth.
    He does not faint or grow weary;
        his understanding is unsearchable.
    29 He gives power to the faint,
        and to him who has no might he increases strength.
    30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
        and young men shall fall exhausted;
    31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
        they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
    they shall run and not be weary;
        they shall walk and not faint.

Favorite Bible Verses (Part 2)

What is your favorite Bible verse?  Americans have weighed in on this question.  In this episode of the Scripture and Spice Podcast, Micah and Curtis  address assumptions regarding Philippians 4:13.

Also in this episode:

  • Should UFC Fighters praise God when the knock their opponent out?
  • What kind of headband does Curtis use when he works out?
  • Why context is so important when reading the Bible
  • I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

Favorite Bible Verses (Part 1)

What is your favorite Bible verse?  Americans have weighed in on this question.  In this episode of the Scripture and Spice Podcast, Micah and Curtis  begin a discussion on our favorite Bible verses.

Also in this episode

  • The problems with taking scriptures out of context
  • The worst bible verses to put on church signs
  • Jeremiah 29:11  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

 

Celebrating Christmas

Christmas is the day that we choose to honor the birth of Jesus.   In this special edition of the  Scripture and Spice Podcast, Micah Spicer and Curtis Hannah discuss the purpose of Christmas and contemplate the way we choose to spend it.

The Spirit of Christmas

The Christmas season is designed to be merry and bright.  Christmas lights, trees decorated with ornaments and angels, carolers singing hymns of the Messiahs birth, and figgy pudding make up the ambiance of the season.  Gift exchanges and family gatherings highlight our favorite time of year.  More importantly we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Messiah, on Christmas.  Children’s Christmas plays reveal an adorable portrayal of Jesus’ birth surrounded by angels, shepherds, sheep, and wise men offering gifts to the newborn king.  Nativity scenes also reveal the charming nature of the event that would alter the cosmic course of history.  This Christmas I would remind you that the first Christmas was anything but merry or bright.

Jesus was born an illegitimate child, according to his peers, to Joseph and Mary, a poor couple from an undesirable neighborhood.  In order to prevent their newborn from being slaughtered at the hands of Herod the Great, the migrants smuggled the infant across the Egyptian border until it was safe to return to Israel.  Growing up in Nazareth Jesus would, no doubt, have been relentlessly teased as a child for being poor and having a “scandalous” mother.  This reality brings a whole new meaning to “treat others the way you want to be treated” (Luke 6:31).  This is the harrowing tale of Christmas, the colossal event often referred to as the Incarnation.  In this way God joins the human race to demonstrate His unending love and offer His perfect peace.

The story of Christmas is not as pretty as we present in children’s plays or pose in our nativity scenes.  It is a frightening tragedy.  The Christmas story should even challenge our own preferred holiday traditions.  When we swipe our credit card to purchase that final stocking stuffer, are we sharing the Christmas spirit?  What about when we order that Barbie doll for that special girl in our life, you know the one who already has 14 Barbie dolls?  Is this how Jesus really wants us to celebrate his birthday?  Some say we should make every effort to “put Christ back in Christmas,” but I wonder if we have corrupted Christmas to the point where Jesus would rather sit the holiday out.  “Let Satan have this one,” I can imagine Jesus saying.

Christmas is a vital part of God’s redemptive plan for humanity.  Christmas calls us to worship God, welcome the stranger in our midst, root out prejudices, and love others like God loves us.  Christmas is an invitation to Trust God, Bless Others, and Celebrate Grace.  Only when we do this do we reclaim the theological truth and the spirit of Christmas.  Merry Christmas!

Jesus: our Prince of Peace

For Christians, Jesus is our Prince of Peace.  In this world that celebrates violence, what can we learn from the ways that Jesus handles violence?  During Advent, we celebrate the peace that God gives to the world through Christ.  In this episode Micah and Curtis contemplate ways to achieve peace in our world today.

Also in this episode:

  • We consider Jesus our Prince of Peace, but there was another Prince of Peace in the ancient world.  Who was this hero?
  • What do the disciples think about achieving peace?
  • How do we achieve peace in our world today?
  • Scripture of the Day:  Isaiah 9: 6-7

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[d] his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called[e]
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,

Hope of Christmas

Why is the season of Advent is a special time to recognize the anticipated arrival of the Lord Jesus?   The festivities and family traditions of Christmas serve a purpose, but cannot match the hope God grants us through the coming of Christ.  Micah addresses the underlying message of comfort that arrives on the first Christmas.

Also in this episode:

  • Why is Advent a celebrated season given that Jesus’ birthday is not specified in the Bible?
  • What is God’s message to those who suffer?
  • What lessons did God teach Micah with the passing of his father?
  • How can churches remember the sufferings of their parishioners during Christmas?
  • Scripture of the Day:  Isaiah 40:1-5

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and cry to her
that her warfare[a] is ended,
    that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord‘s hand
    double for all her sins.

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all flesh shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Paul the Decorated

What makes Paul, the Apostle, an authority figure in the early church?  Does he have the right education, credentials, or job experiences that make him an expert?  Questions of authority arise early and often during Paul’s career.  In this Scripture & Spice Podcast episode, we consider church authority in our times and in Paul’s day.

Also in this episode:

  • What’s on your resume?
  • How does society recognize achievements?
  • Paul’s complicated relationship with the Corinthians
  • What gives someone authority in church?
  • Scripture of the Day: 2 Corinthians 11:22-27

23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food,[b] in cold and exposure.

Problems with Paul

The Apostle Paul is considered a hero in the Christian faith.  He preaches the gospel, performs miracles, and suffers immense persecution as a result.  While many admire the man, others characterize him as a sexist and supporter of slavery. In this Scripture & Spice Podcast episode, Micah address these concerns by examining Paul’s theology and his actions.

 

Also in this episode:

 

– How to pronounce Philemon

– Does Paul support slavery?

– Is it fair for us to expect figures from the past to have transcended their times?

– Scripture of the Day: Philemon 1-25

Paul’s Faith is Tested

The Apostle Paul is considered a hero in the Christian faith.  He preaches the gospel, performs miracles, and suffers immense persecution as a result.  How does Paul handle tragedy and suffering? More specifically, what does Paul do when his faith is shaken?  In this Scripture & Spice Podcast episode, Micah suggests that Paul uses tragedy and suffering to shape and grow his faith.

 

Also in this episode:

 

– When our faith gets shaken

– What kind of things challenge our faith?

– How do we respond when our faith is challenged?

– Scripture of the Day: Acts 19:22

Celebrating Unforeseen Success

 The Apostle Paul is considered a hero in the Christian faith.  He preaches the gospel, performs miracles, and suffers immense persecution as a result.  In a time of grief and despair, Paul receives news of unheralded success. The Thessalonian Congregation is standing firm in their convictions to follow Jesus in spite of suffering.   In this Scripture & Spice Podcast episode, Micah and Curtis discuss Paul’s reaction to this good news.

 

– That’s a pleasant surprise!

– Thessalonians as Paul’s crowning achievement

– Pastoral concerns to grieving families

– What happens to those who die before Christ’s return?

–  Scripture of the Day: 1st Thessalonians

1 Thessalonians 4   13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,[d] that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Foolishness of God

The Apostle Paul is considered a hero in the Christian faith.  He preaches the gospel, performs miracles, and suffers immense persecution as a result.  In his day, Paul presented a unique religious perspective; namely, to serve a crucified messiah.  Opponents would have his considered this message foolish. In this Scripture & Spice Podcast episode, Micah & Curtis discuss Paul and his thoughts on the folly of his own beliefs.

 

– Wisdom and Foolishness

– Scandal of the Cross

– Why the message of a crucified messiah is difficult to sell in the 1st Century?

– What does it mean to preach Christ crucified?

– Scripture of the Day: Proverbs 10:14, Proverbs 7:22-23, Proverbs 26:11 & 1st Corinthians 1:18-25

Paul on Trial in Greece

The Apostle Paul is considered a hero in the Christian faith.  He preaches the gospel, performs miracles, and suffers immense persecution as a result. How did Paul handle the possibility of suffering for his faith in Jesus the Messiah?  In this Scripture & Spice Podcast episode, we examine Paul as he stands on trial in Athens.

Also in this episode:
– Ancient Greece gives us Philosophy and Democracy
– The Apostle Paul preaches Jesus in the marketplace and the synagogues
– What is natural theology?
Paul on trial at the Areopagus
– Scripture of the Day: Acts 17:16-33

Christianity as a Lifestyle

In 1966, The Monkees made famous a song entitled “I’m a believer.”  The song is a typical shallow, yet catchy love ballad.

Then I saw her face, now I’m a believer
Not a trace, of doubt in my mind
I’m in love, I’m a believer
I couldn’t leave her if I tried

Christianity, for many Evangelicals, is about being a believer.  Granted, we don’t all claim to believe in love at first sight as this song suggests; instead, we believe in a host of truths.  We believe that the Bible is inspired and authoritative.  We believe that the scriptures speak to the human condition and are relevant today.  Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  We believe that His atoning death and resurrection reconcile us to God and to one another.  These are core beliefs. Moreover, these beliefs are important.  My convictions are important to me, as yours are to you.

Beliefs, however important, are not everything.  I suggest that Christianity is not about the theological correctness of our belief system.  I wholeheartedly doubt that Christ will deny me, or anyone else, access to Eternity because we misinterpreted 1st Thessalonians 4.  It’s a good thing, too.  God knows that misinterpretation is one of my spiritual gifts. Ha!

Instead, Christianity is about the ripe old calling of Jesus who says, “Follow me!”  (Matthew 4:19)  While calling followers, Jesus did not require an A+ on a theology exam to become a disciple.  His challenge was not about believing the right things or understanding deep theological issues.  His challenge has always been about adopting a new way of living.  Christianity is a lifestyle, not merely a system of beliefs.  I hope that you are a believer in Christ, and that you affirm the core tenants of Christianity.  I also hope that you remember to adopt Christianity a part of your lifestyle, and not just a set of thoughts and beliefs.

Paul: On Mission

The Apostle Paul is considered a hero in the Christian faith.  He preaches the gospel, performs miracles, and suffers immense persecution as a result.  How did Paul interpret his purpose in life?  In this Scripture & Spice Podcast episode, Micah explores Paul’s first missionary journey, and how his experiences helped him to grow as a disciple of Christ.

Also in this episode:

  • Calling and Vocation in church
  • What was the Apostle Paul’s purpose and mission?
  • How did the Apostle Paul come to understand his purpose?
  • The missionary Journeys of Paul
  • Which US President did not put “President” on his tombstone?

Paul Faces Conflict

The Apostle Paul is considered a hero in the Christian faith.  He preaches the gospel, performs miracles, and suffers immense persecution as a result.  Paul encountered conflict, not just with opponents of Christianity, but also faced obstacles within the church.  In this Scripture & Spice Podcast episode, Micah acknowledge issues of conflict that plague Paul’s ministry and explores how Paul addresses said conflict.

Also in this episode:

  • Hear Micah talk about the first church he served as pastor.
  • What was the Apostle Paul’s first ministry assignment
  • How should we we address conflict in the church?
  • Challenges in Antioch
  • The role of compromise when there are disagreements
  • Scriptures of the day:  Acts 11:19-30 & Galatians 2:11-21

Paul and his Conversion

The Apostle Paul is considered a hero in the Christian faith.  He preaches the gospel, performs miracles, and suffers immense persecution as a result.  How did Paul interpret his encounter with the risen Christ?  In this Scripture & Spice Podcast episode, Micah offers insights into how Paul could have interpreted the Damascus Road experience that would forever change Paul’s life.

Also in this episode:

  • Bible characters and why it is hard to understand them
  • Why are there so many interpretations to Paul’s letters in the New Testament?
  • When did Saul become Paul?
  • Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus.
  • Scripture of the Day: Acts 9:1-9

Understanding the Empty Tomb

The tomb is empty on Easter morning.  Jesus is not there, for he has risen!  How do we interpret the meaning of the empty tomb?  How did those close to Jesus understand his resurrection?   In this Episode of the Scripture and Spice Podcast, we are going to dive into ways to interpret the resurrection of Jesus and the good news of the empty tomb.

Also in this Episode:

– How do Mary Magdalene, Peter, and the Beloved Disciple react to the empty tomb?
– How does Jesus reveal himself to his followers?
– John 20:1-2

20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

God’s Community

As a child my parents encouraged me to participate in a variety of sports and organizations.  Swimming lessons and t-ball, along with backyard excursions with my neighbor Brett, were some of those childhood summer activities that kept my entire family on their toes.  As I grew I continued to stay involved in a variety of organized activities.  During high school I was a state officer for the Future Business Leaders of America, played basketball for the Graves County Eagles, and even attended a foreign language festival.  Granted, my participation involved dancing the salsa because I wasn’t very good speaking Spanish.  These memorable experiences were fun for me.  However, they weren’t just fun; they were formative.

The Bible teaches that humans are made in the image of God and that we don’t do so well alone.  We are social creatures who thrive in community.  I have found community in teams and organizations during my formative years.  I spent time with people who shared common purposes and goals.  Like most teams and organizations, the church is a created community of people who share common purposes and goals.  Unlike other teams and organizations, we believe that there is something particularly special about the church.  As people of faith, we believe in a meta-narrative –a “big picture.”  We believe that there is a God and that he is working within his creation.  The scriptures give us glimpses into God’s story that include: creation, the fall, Israel, Jesus, and the church.

The church plays a critical role in God’s story.  The church is a family connected through our mutual faith in Jesus and our commitment to following Him.  Being a part of the church makes us a part of God’s redemptive story.  The church isn’t perfect.  She has made mistakes.  She fails in her responsibilities quite often.  In spite of the pain that the church has caused along the way, I maintain that Christ wants us to be active participants in church.  After all, Christ launched this community that we call church.  He gave His life for the church.  He then commissioned the church to be his hands and feet in the world.  What a joy it is to be a participant in God’s redemptive plan in the world!  What joy it brings to be involved in His Church!  I hope you share my enthusiasm, and I hope that you are committed to doing your part to aid in God’s story of redemption through your active commitment to the church.

-Micah

Lessons from the Cross

The Cross has been the symbol of Christianity for centuries.  What do we know about Crucifixion from the ancient world? How might these insights help us to understand Jesus’ death better?  In this episode of the Scripture and Spice Podcast, learn about Jesus’ death on the cross, and the political and religious implications.

Also in this Episode:

  • What typically happened to the bodies of those crucified?
  • What does archaeology teach us about the ancient practice of crucifixion?
  • What makes this specific crucifixion unusual for Pilate?
  • Scripture of the Day: Matthew 27:11-24

15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”

 

Jesus in his Political Context

  • How do we reconcile the belief that Jesus is 100% divine and 100% human?
  • What was religious and political life like during the time of Jesus?
  • Who are the Pharisees, Saducees, and Essenes?
  • Why should we study the humanity of Jesus and consider the context of 1st century Palestine?

 

 

A Seminary President on the Role of Seminaries Today

  • What is the relationship between theological schools and churches?
  • What is the goal of seminaries?
  • How did David Cassady, Christian Publisher and entrepreneur, become a seminary President?
  • What is BSK offering to students, churches, and communities across the country?

Dr. David Cassady, President of Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, joins Micah in this episode of Scripture & Spice. Dr. Cassady shares some thoughts on the role of seminaries and divinity schools in the life of the church and explains what BSK is intentionally doing to engage with churches and communities throughout Kentucky.

Life Lessons from Unexpected Places

The human experience is filled with new challenges at every stage.  One of my parishioners was a caregiver her entire adult life.  Shortly after she married, her husband’s brothers moved in, both with severe physical and developmental handicaps.  She cared for them, bathed, brushed, scrubbed, and fed them.

As a young married woman, homemaker, and caretaker, she took on yet another role.  She became a mother to Stephanie.  Stephanie, like her uncles, was diagnosed with similar physical and developmental handicaps.  Stephanie’s mother, Penny, spent her entire adult life taking care of those unable to take care of themselves.

By the time I met Penny, her husband and his brothers were deceased.  Faithfully she brought her daughter to church Sunday after Sunday.  Stephanie would greet me the same way every morning, “How you getting along?”  She would smirk from her wheelchair.  “I’m well, how are you today?” I would respond.

I watched Penny take care of her daughter those next few years.  Her faithfulness and determination were impressive.  One Sunday afternoon, I received a phone call from Penny that I’ll never forget.  There was panic in her voice.  “We were eating and she just stopped breathing!”  Stephanie was on her way to the hospital, by way of the ambulance, and Penny was following closely behind.  Sadly, Stephanie died that day.  She was a special person who impacted the lives of many people around her, including me.  But I’ll never forget what her mother told me after we returned to her home after the trip to the hospital.  She said with a soft voice and sad eyes, “Brother Micah, I’ve never spent the night alone before.”  I was astonished to hear this confession.  Her life story flashed through my mind.  She left her childhood home to build a life with her husband, Brent.  What dreams she might have once dreamed were quickly squashed by the reality of the needs of her husband’s brothers.  She became a caretaker.  The caretaking role she was nurturing would come in handy as she became a mother to a special needs child.  The role of caretaker consumed her life for the rest of her life, or at least up to this point.  Now she was alone.  She would need to accept this new life and the challenges that would be sure to follow.

The human experience can be summarized as a set of new challenges followed by more new challenges.  Many times, such circumstances we face are completely out of our control.  But it is up to us, no less, to face such challenges with strength and determination.  For that is how we truly measure the success of a life lived.

Micah

Becoming a Pastor in Rural America

  • What are some challenges that rural congregations face today?
  • Tell us about the challenges of moving from a youth ministry role to being a senior pastor.
  • Let’s talk about the stereotypes of pastor’s wives.
  • What is the best way to deal with conflict in the church?
  • What is the most intriguing thing you have discovered as your young time as minister.

Nehemiah: the Scripture, the Man, the Mission.

Nehemiah

  • What is the historical context of Nehemiah?
  • Tell us about the character Nehemiah.
  • What is the relationship between the Biblical books of  Ezra and Nehemiah?
  • What does the book of Nehemiah tell us about how we should live our lives today?

In this special edition of Scripture & Spice, the team travels to a beautiful, warm sanctuary, on a cold, icy day to do a live radio broadcast for church and community members stuck at home on the Lord’s Day due to harsh road conditions.

Church Planting (Introducing Purpose Church)

  • What is the process of planting a church?
  • How does a new church approach theology and core beliefs given that Purpose Church does not affiliate with a specific domination?
  • Hear Dustin’s take on the purpose of the church.
  • What do you preach on your first Sunday in the life of a church?

 

 

Visionary Leadership

I grew up attending church with my family.  I found Jesus in a church.  Moreover, I have encountered some of the nicest people on planet Earth in church.  Over the years I developed a deep love and appreciation for the church, her people, and her mission.  My love for the church led me on a path to become a pastor.  During my pastoral tenure I have become passionate about nurturing and growing the church.    This task is not without difficulty.  Given current social trends it is not surprising that so many churches are struggling to keep their doors open.  Meanwhile, such struggling churches focus almost all of their resources on surviving, thus they lose sight of their mission of service and ministry that had once been such a vital role of the church’s story.  Somewhere along the way, the church has lost its vision.

The arrival of 2019 provides the church a great opportunity to think about her future.  What dreams and goals do we have as a church?  What is it that God wants from us in the years ahead?  And how are we going to get there?  These are the kinds of questions that weren’t answered in seminary.  Being a visionary leader in the church is not a recommendation; it is a requirement!  As the Scripture says, “Where there is no prophetic vision, the people perish.”  (Proverbs 29:18)  We must hone in and commit ourselves to the church’s future.  Pray for your church, her leaders, and that the vision becomes crystal clear.  And get ready for a fun and fruitful 2019.

-Micah Spicer

Messiah in the New Testament

Matthew 1 & 2, Luke 1 & 2

  • What does the term Christ mean?  Is it the last name of Jesus of Nazareth?
  • What is the difference between “Messiah” and “Christ?”
  • Cyrus as Messiah?
  • What does it mean to say that Jesus is the Christ?
  • What do the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke tell us about Jesus?

 

Messiah in the Old Testament

Isaiah 7:14, Micah 5:2, 2 Samuel 7

  • What does the biblical term “messiah” mean?
  • How does the faith community evolve in their understanding of messiah?
  • Does the Old Testament hint at or predict Jesus as Messiah?
  • How does the Old Testament shape our understanding of Christ?

 

 

The Role of Preaching Today

Preaching is a historic method of delivering God’s words to God’s people.  Preachers have conveyed truth to hearers for thousands of years.  Just like all skills, crafting sermons and delivering them takes effort and practice.  In this episode of Scripture and Spice, theologian and preacher, Dwight Moody joins Micah to discuss the role of preaching in society today.

Also in this episode:

  • Dwight Moody shares his approach to preaching.
  • What is the primary role of preaching today?  Is it the same as it was in biblical times?
  • What makes a good sermon?
  • What is the most listened to sermon in the history of the world?
  • Why is preaching important?

Immaculate Conception or Virgin Birth

As we approach Christmas, I am enjoying my time spent preparing for a sermon series on Jesus’ family tree.  Each week, I examine another woman listed in Jesus’ family tree according to the genealogy in Matthew’s Gospel.  Five are mentioned: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Uriah’s wife, and Mary.  As we read the introductory verses in the New Testament, the regular drumming pattern of a list of male names is jarred by mention of these women.  Simply put, they do not belong in a formal genealogy of the royal family.  The author purposefully injects these women into this lineage.  Strikingly, these women share a common thread – sexual promiscuity.  Tamer, a widow desperate for a child, purposely got pregnant by dressing up as a roadside prostitute and enticing her own father-in-law.  Rahab was a prostitute.  Ruth was a Moabite woman who crawled into the bed of Boaz after getting him drunk one night.  Bathsheba had an adulterous affair with King David and ended up pregnant, bringing shame on the Great King of Israel.  Mary is an unmarried teenage girl who becomes pregnant.  Such scandal!

Unlike the women whose stories are told in the Hebrew Bible, Mary becomes a focal figure in Christian theology very early in the life of the church.  The earliest creeds affirm, based on Scripture, that Jesus was “conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.”  A friend told me that he listened to his preacher deliver a sermon on his belief in the “immaculate conception.”  This friend, a biblical scholar, then had the audacity to correct the preacher by saying, “you do not believe in the ‘immaculate conception;” instead, you support the ‘virgin birth” theory.  It is easy to confuse the “immaculate conception” with the “virgin birth.”  I would like to end by sharing the distinctions with you.  The Immaculate Conception, as taught by the Roman Catholic Church, refers to the conception of Mary by her mother, not to the conception of Jesus.  This teaching holds that Mary was born without “original sin.”  Because she was without sin, she was able to give birth to Jesus in a special state of moral purity.  The “virgin birth,” on the other hand, is the belief that Mary, without a man, became pregnant through the agency of the Holy Spirit.  It refers more to the source of pregnancy than to the birth itself.

– Micah Spicer

Jesus, Justice, and the Church

What does justice look like today?  How can Christians be good neighbors?  Chris George, pastor of Smoke Rise Baptist Church, joins Micah Spicer to grapple with these practical questions for churches and people of faith.

Also in this Episode:

  • “Mine” as a naughty word.
  • How can churches address issues of economic justice in our community.
  • Scripture of the Day: The Book of Ruth, Acts 2:42-47

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

 

Jesus & Temple Economics

Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:15-19, Luke 19:45-48, John 2:13-22

  • What economic implications does the temple have in Israel during the lifetime of Jesus?
  • What does Jesus think about taxes and sacrifices associated with the Temple in Jerusalem?
  • Why does Jesus cleanse the temple?
  • Luke’s Gospel as good news for the poor.
  • Was Jesus a Capitalist?

Economics in Israel’s Glory Days

2 Chronicles 9:1-28

  • God establishes justice while his people are in the wilderness.  When they settle the land of Israel, do they continue to practice God’s justice?
  • A unified monarchy is established under Saul, but doesn’t last forever.
  • Solomon is a rich and wise ruler, but he is not perfect.

Economics in Egypt

Genesis 47: 13-31, Exodus, Deuteronomy

  • Joseph helps Pharaoh build an exploitative economy in Egypt
  • Given current economic trends, does Pharaoh’s economy compare to our  context?
  • How does wilderness differ from dwelling in Egypt?
  • What are ways that Christians can seek justice in spite of unfair economic practices?