Sunday, April 24, 2011

"He Is Not Here, For He Has Risen"

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

(Matthew 28 ESV)

The tomb is empty! Praise God, the tomb is EMPTY!

I pray that your worship today will be filled with joy, because the tomb is empty!

post signature

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Squirrel's Nut Cache - 4/23/2011

A Saturday Nut Special!

The Nut Cache - a collection of recent things I found interesting, or amusing, or nutworthy.

I don't know about you, but I find the combination of pride and ignorance amusing. Especially when the combination is found in a governing body. You may be familiar with famous examples, like the Indiana General Assembly's attempt in 1897 to legislate the value of π. Or the 1998 motion by an Australian MP to impose a global ban on Dihydrogen Monoxide. Now, it seems, in 2011, the government of the African nation of Malawi bids to join the ranks of legislative bodies that make you go "Huh?" by making flatulence a criminal act.

Every area of the planet has it's own dangers to be watched out for. As I endure the winters in Montana, I often think that it would be nice to live someplace warm, and I imagine pastoring a church is some tropical paradise where I can wear sandals on Christmas day instead of snow boots... And then I read a story like this...

Ever since it was erected in 1886, the Statue of Liberty has stood in New York harbor as an enduring symbol of freedom. Many Americans are decedents from immigrants who's first sight of America was the view of the Statue of Liberty from the deck of a ship. And there are many of America's sons who were welcomed home from war by that same sight of Lady Liberty's upraised torch. The Statue of Liberty is such an iconic figure that it is no surprise that she has appeared on many US postage stamps. But, if you were going to issue a new postage stamp featuring a photograph of the Statue of Liberty, wouldn't it be a good idea to actually use a picture of the real Statue of Liberty? Oops!

I remember, back during the Cold War, whenever the Soviet Union bothered to publicly deny something, it was usually true. And, while the Soviet Union has been, as Ronald Reagan predicted, consigned to the "dust-bin of history" for about the last 20 years, that attitude of doubting official pronouncements by the government of Russia has stayed with me. Therefore, I really have no idea what, exactly, to make of this...

Russian Cosmonauts may not be having sex in space, and Canadian dentists don't seem to be, either. At least if their spouse is also their patient. Canadian regulations regarding physical relations between health professionals and their patients are, it seems, without exception.

And the Nuttiness goes on and on...

post signature

Friday, April 22, 2011

Johnny Mac Throws Down on Rob Bell!

"Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them." - Ephesians 5:11
Shepherds of the flock of God need to feed the flock that is entrusted to them with the Word of God, both accurately and completely. But that is not all. A Pastor also needs to warn the flock of danger. John MacArthur has done both of these tasks faithfully for years.

Now, for the past few days, at the Grace to You blog, MacArthur has been critiquing Rob Bell's theology. It is some of the most hard-hitting and theologically sound criticism I've read to date.

If you've not read MacArthur's comments, I would encourage you to do so.

Here they are, in order of publication:

Rob Bell: a Brother to Embrace, or a Wolf to Avoid?

Rob Bell: “Evangelical and orthodox to the bone?” Hardly.

Bell’s Inferno

Rob Bell’s Unbelief in His own Words

Yesterday, my friend (and closet Squirrel Fan who, for some strange reason, has taught his daughter to call me "Mouse") Fred Butler made some great observations about the mindset exhibited by Bell's supporters and defenders in his post Hip and Thigh: Hell’s Bells.

(Programing Note: Stay tuned for a Saturday Nut Special tomorrow!

post signature

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Power of the Cross

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

If you listened to my message from last Sunday, you know that I hold to Thursday as the day of the Lord's crucifixion. I'm not blogging today to defend that view. If you want to know my reasoning, you can give it a listen.

I'm going to take some time today and contemplate the Cross of Christ. It still amazes me and fills me with awe that the Creator would not only enter His creation, but would pay the terrible penalty of sin to purchase for Himself a people.

We can never repay such a debt. We can only worship Him forever.

I will be listening to this song several times today...

The Power of the Cross

by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Ev'ry bitter thought,
Ev'ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
"Finished!" the vict'ry cry.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Son of God—slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.

© 2005 Thankyou Music, administered by songs
excl. UK and Europe, administered by Kingsway Music, Used by permission.

post signature

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Should I Just Call It The "Parkside SquirrelCast"?

A few sharp-eyed readers may have already spotted the "Parkside Baptist Church" stuff in the sidebar, and might be thinking, "Wait... I thought the Squirrel was an elder at Superior Baptist Church? What's going on here?"

Well, let me let you in on a little secret - we're right in the middle of changing the name of our church. While the church is in the town of Superior, Montana, I've always felt that the name "Superior Baptist" seemed a bit... pretentious, shall we say? Others in the church shared my sentiments. For the last couple of months, we've been kicking around some different possible names. After some deliberation, we settled on "Parkside Baptist Church." The church is right across the street from Eva Horning Park, so it seemed quite fitting. (And Squirrels are sort of fond of parks...)

The signs and everything at the church building will be changing on Sunday, June 5th. But, with other changes being made, the name change, while not Official until June, is already being made behind the scenes.

One of those changes is a new Pulpit Podcast. We recently received a donation (Thank You!) that was designated for the purpose of purchasing a digital recorder so that the church could start recording and podcasting sermons. Podcast links will always be available in my sidebar here, and at the church's website, when we get it up and running.

It has been a really long time since I've recorded myself. And I was, I must say, very aware, hyper-aware, of the microphone last Sunday. If you listen to my sermon, you'll no doubt note that I started off very stiff. But after a while, I settled down, and relaxed, and things went much more smoothly after that.

Sometime real soon - in the next two weeks or so - the church website will go live. You'll be able to keep up with the happenings at the church there. And I'll be sure to let you know when it's up!

So, lots of things going on! (And lots of things keeping me busy!!) Please be in prayer for our church, as we make these changes!

post signature

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Squirrel's Nut Cache - 4/14/2011

The Nut Cache - a collection of recent things I found interesting, or amusing, or nutworthy.

I always kinda wonder about people who pretend to be police officers. I have to ask if it is an ego thing? Or if it is some bid for money? Is it part of some bigger conspiracy? Or is it just the free back rubs?

Most criminals are cowards. Actually, I think a good case could be made that all criminals are cowards. If not cowards, they're certainly lazy. They are, after all, trying to get something for nothing. I wonder how this punk is going to do in jail when he explains that his robbery got foiled by, and he himself was captured by, a one-legged man...

There are a lot of weird headlines every day. I usually have my pick for the half-dozen or so articles I pick for the Nut Cache each week. There are robberies gone bad, strange occurances, all sorts of things. But it is very rare, indeed, when you come upon a headline like "Naked Man Shoots Police Robot". Yup, that's just plain odd...

April 2 is a big day in Hamilton, Ohio. It is the day of the Mid-American Soccer Classic. More than 5000 visitors attend the event each year. In an effort to move some many people in and out of the area, local police cover some stop signs and turn some streets, that are not normally, into through streets. Unfortunately, it seems that someone forgot to tell the traffic cameras... which issued $86,000 in fines that day - fines which had to be waved. Oops.

I really don't know who the bigger victim of this prank is. Is it General Electric or the Associated Press? It seems that a group, who call themselves the "Yes Men", released a phony General Electric press release that said that General Electric would be donating the $3.2 billion tax refund they received this year back to the United States Government. The Associated Press then ran with the story without fact-checking it. News organizations used to always check their sources. Legend has it that there was once a sign in the newsroom at the New York Times that said, "If your mother says she loves you, check it out!" Those days are long gone, it seems. I think the joke is on the AP.

You know, if more legeslative bodies spent more time doing things like this instead of thinking up new ways to control our lives and impinge upon our freedoms, life would be a whole lot better.

Because this took place at a nominally Roman Catholic educational institution, it caused quite a stink. If it had happened at your average secular college or university, there would be no outcry about it. In fact, it'd likely be the most popular class on campus...

It seems that I'm not alone in finding a soporific effect in President Obama's speeches...

Okay, Kids! Keep those Nuts and letters coming!

post signature

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Squirrel's Nut Cache - 4/7/2010

The Nut Cache - a collection of recent things I found interesting, or amusing, or nutworthy.

As, I'm sure, did many of you, I grew up using a typewriter for school. There was nothing so frustrating as making mistakes in your computation of space needed for footnotes, or coming to the end of a page only to realize that you skipped a line and have to re-type the whole page. And don't even get me started on white out! I, for one, welcomed the word processor with open arms. But, it seems, what was once a bothersome but necessary part of school and office life is now a trendy "must have" for the hip set. Betcha they don't give up their MacBooks... (ht: La Shawn Barber)

Christmas is a long way off, yet, but it seems that the elf wars have already begun. The elf beer wars, to be specific. It seems that Troegs Brewing Co., makers of Mad Elf Ale are taking Bethlehem Brew Works to court. Troegs is asking the government to cancel Bethlehem's trademark registration of Rude Elf's Reserve because Troegs thinks the similarity in names will confuse the beer-buying public. Guess there's no Christmas spirit in the Christmas spirits business... Oh, why can't we all just have a beer and get along?

Here in Montana, guns are pretty much ubiquitous. Most pick-up trucks have gun racks in the back window. A high percentage of the population hunts. The state legislature debates the question of whether or not students should be allowed to have hunting rifles in their vehicles on school grounds. It's just a well-armed kinda place. Well, Steve Strand, owner of the Radio Shack in Hamilton thought he'd come up with a great promotion to boost his sales of satellite television service - a free gun with every new contract! Well, turns out Radio Shack doesn't like that idea. Well, Steve thinks that's just tough. He is still offering the free gun. You go, Steve!

From corporate bullies to union thug bullies... Union Grove, Wisconsin, businesses don't really like the tactics of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Seems they're threatening to boycott any business that refuses to display pro-union signs in the storefronts. The sign that the union "requested" the businesses to display had the union's logo and the caption "This Business Supports Worker's Rights". The two-page letter sent by AFSCME officials, after starting out, "It is unfortunate that you have chosen 'not' to support public workers rights in Wisconsin," ends with, "... we'd ask that you reconsider taking a sign and stance to support public employees in this community. Failure to do so will leave us no choice but do (sic) a public boycott of your business. And sorry, neutral means 'no' to those who... are union members." The union's tactics seem to be backfiring, as the businesses that were threatened with the boycott have reported receiving a lot of support from the community. If I lived in Union Grove, I know where I'd shop!

Quite some time ago, I remember hearing about a guy who was selling blue jeans that he took out and shot full of holes with a shotgun. Seems like he was kept pretty busy shooting blue jeans to keep up with the demand. Well, I wonder if gator-bit blue jeans will be the next hot fashion trend?

The school board wants to change the name. Parents don't want the name changed. And, really, why would anybody want to change the name of Witchcraft Heights Elementary School?

Don't bark at police dogs. The dogs don't like it. And, in Cincinnati, Ohio, it is against the law. Saying, "The dog started it," will not help you. Just FYI...

And the Nuttiness goes on and on...

post signature

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

With Friends Like These...

So, it was Day One at the Shepherds' Conference, and I was settling into my seat in the Grace Community Church Worship Center for Tom Pennington's session, when I felt my phone vibrating in my pocket...

I pulled it out, and read this:

Phil Johnson
Glad @Shinar_Squirrel made it to the conference. #ShepConf

I chuckled, amused at Phil's tweet, and happy that my picture with John MacArthur was entertaining folks so much.

I had just started to return my phone to my pocket, when I felt it vibrating in my hand. (Yes, it was on "vibrate." I was in church, after all.) I flipped it open again, and read this:

James White
@Phil_Johnson_ I warned him about the charismatic stuff. He doesn't listen well. Throw him some @Chick-fil-A

Okay, this was getting funny. Before I'd even started to put my phone away, it vibrated again...

Phil Johnson
@DrOakley1689 He'll get an In'n'Out burger for lunch tomorrow. That'll help, too, I'm sure.

Now I didn't even try to put my phone away, at this point. I knew there was going to be more to come. Sure enough...

James White
@Phil_Johnson_ I just feed him nuts, after all. Maybe that's why he's with you, not me? :-)

Phil Johnson
@DrOakley1689 Are you in SoCal yet? You should come over on Friday. Lunch or dinner; your choice.

James White
@Phil_Johnson_ No, not there till Friday afternoon. I'm speaking Friday evening, too.

Phil Johnson
@DrOakley1689 Bummer

Okay, even I didn't see what was coming next...

James White
@Phil_Johnson_ Hey, if you offered me a real delicacy, like, I don't know, deep fried Squirrel? Might try to make that! :-)

At this point, I have no choice but to reply...

Gene Clyatt
@Phil_Johnson_ @DrOakley1689 I feel kinda picked on :-)

And, now, everybody had to get in on the act...

Ralph Provance
@DrOakley1689 I eat squirrel. You need six for a pot-pie!
@Phil_Johnson_ @Shinar_Squirrel

James White
@ralphprovance Six? Well, that would depend on the SIZE of the @Shinar_Squirrel. I've seen one really big sample of that species!

Ralph Provance
@DrOakley1689 Pennsylvania squirrels are smaller than the ones they grow in Montana! :-) @Shinar_Squirrel

Gladly, it ended there. I was trying to prepare my heart to worship, y'know...

The next day I got to meet Phil in person. He said he had been prepared to continue tweeting and tell James about some barbaric place where they eat squirrel brains, but he didn't want to offend me. Well, at least
someone tried to take my feelings into account...

post signature

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Shepherds' Conference - The Accounting

Since so many of you so graciously donated to my travel fund, which made my trip to the Shepherds’ Conference possible, I believe that it is only right and fitting that I give you an accounting of my expenses.

In some areas I went over budget, but in others I was under budget. Fuel prices were higher than I expected, but my car got a lot better mileage than I had anticipated, so that worked out well. I had the good fortune of having my friend, Tony Bartolucci, a pastor from New York, as a roommate & split the hotel costs with me. He also bought some of my fuel, as we were using my car for running around in.

Here’s how it all worked out:


As you can see, I spent $149.60 on books, which I had not budgeted for. I hadn’t figured on the incredible bookstore that Grace Community Church provided for the pastors who attend the conference. I had heard about the free books that are provided to conference attendees, but nobody warned me about the bookstore… where all the pastors received credits and huge discounts… and I’m afraid I gave into temptation, buying commentaries and other books for my study, including the complete 4-volume MacArthur Pastor’s Library. My church family has graciously allowed me to submit this expense for reimbursement also.

Through your donations, I raised $1208.00 towards these expenses. With actual expenses of $1290.16, my church has only had to cover $82.16. This is a wonderful blessing for such a small church! There is no way the church could have sent me without your help!

Being able to go to the Shepherds' Conference was a fantastic! A dream come true! I cannot thank you all enough for making it possible for me to attend!

post signature