Weekly Podcast- Five To Focus

Take 5 minutes every week to focus on your faith and life. Think of it as a mini biblical counseling session. Each episode will explain a concept from Scripture to help you find freedom in Christ and dig your roots deeper into His purposes for you.

You Might Be A Legalist If… (Part 2)

You might be a legalist if you add your rules above God’s as absolute authority.

Note: This post is part of a series.

Some must feel that God’s words are not clearly sufficient or explained well enough because they feel the need to “define them more clearly.” Doing this is dangerous, however, because it puts one in danger of adding to God’s words (Rev. 22:18-19).

 

We see it in John 7:21-23. Jesus referred to healing people on the Sabbath, of which he is condemned by the Pharisees. The gospels contain six records of Jesus healing on the sabbath, all which were contested by the Jewish leaders. Even though the leaders were upset with Jesus’ actions, everything he did on the Sabbath was only unlawful according to the Mishnah, not the actual Law of God. The Mishnah was a “series of interpretations of the meaning of the law” that were eventually compiled around AD 200.1  It existed in Jesus’ time and basically defined God’s Law more clearly.

 

It’s ironic really. Sinful people are judging a sinless God by their finite definition of God’s perfect law.

 

It is easy to put your rules or interpretations of God’s Law above what He actually said.

  • Denominations might do this by creating policies and rules that further define the Scriptures;
  • Churches might create bylaws that go beyond the intended meaning of Scripture;
  • People might trust the words of a Christian author more than the words of God;

 

An easy way to test your heart for legalism is to beware of this attitude: If it’s right for me, it must be right for you. You can fill in the blank with examples. Those examples might be accompanied by good intentions, but enforcing them is putting man’s word above God’s Word.

 

We must study Scripture faithfully and be brave enough to live by what we learn.

 

1Walter A. Elwell and Philip Wesley Comfort, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, Tyndale Reference Library (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 903.

 

Five To Focus 14. St. Nicholas Slaps Arius

St. Nicholas was a real man with a real God. Listen to this story of defending sound doctrine.

 

Sources consulted:

 

Hill, Jonathan. Zondervan Handbook to the History of Christianity (Grand Rapids, MI:

Zondervan), 2006.

 

http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/bishop-nicholas-loses-his-cool

 

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You Might Be A Legalist If… (Part 1)

The Zondervan dictionary of Bible themes defines legalism as “the belief that salvation demands or depends upon total obedience to the letter of the law. Examples of legalism include an excessive concern for minute details of the will coupled with a neglect of its fundamental concerns, and a preoccupation with human legal traditions.

 

The danger of this sinful attitude: one who is committed to it could spend an eternity in hell and can be responsible for sending others there too.  We see this in Matthew 23:13 & 15:  ““But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.”   “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”

 

Legalism is more worried about rules than the heart.

You might be a legalist if you condemn someone’s sin while ignoring and denying your own.

 

In John 7:19, Jesus asked the Jewish people why they were seeking to kill him. They thought Jesus was guilty enough of something that he should be put to death, but there was no justification since he was sinless.  

 

So they were condemning a sinless man to death at the same time they were guilty of not keeping the law of Moses.

 

They ignored their own sin while falsely condemning Jesus. While we know that Jesus did not sin, his purity here is actually irrelevant to the Jewish peoples’ argument because they should have looked at themselves first before accusing him.

 

Not only did they ignore their sin but they also denied it. In verse 20, they blast, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?”  They wouldn’t even admit their own guilt of wanting to kill him! But Jesus, in his infinite knowledge as God, knew their hearts, their intentions, and their guilt.

 

It is so easy to do the exact same thing – quickly condemn other people for their sin, while ignoring and denying our own. This is legalism– holding other people up to the laws of God while somehow exempting yourself from them.

Five To Focus 13. Don’t Worry; Be Joyful

Anxiety can kill joy. Listen to Paul’s instruction for finding joy through all circumstances. Scripture reference: Phil. 4:4-9.

 

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Using AirTable To Plan A Yearly Worship Calendar

I’ve written about using AirTable for recording shepherding tasks, and now I want to show you how to use it for planning your church’s worship calendar for the year. By worship calendar, I’m talking about sermon info, service notes, and files that a pastor and worship team should be communicating on as they plan worship services.

 

Other programs exist that might do this and more, but I like AirTable because it is free and easy!

We set up a table with these column headings

  • Date.  
  • Sermon Title.
  • Text Reference. Our whole service theme is built around the sermon text, so this is important to us.
  • Suggested New title. I’m not the best at creating sermon titles, so this column is for my ministry assistant to suggest something better. If I like it, then I change the Sermon Title box. Of the 5 suggestions this year, all 5 were better!
  • Preacher. Our worship coordinator knows who to work with to get a feel for the direction of the sermon, etc.
  • Scripture Reading. If a Scripture will be read in the service that is not the Scripture text of the sermon, then it is listed here.
  • Main Point/Helpful Notes For Worship Planning.  I do most of the preaching, so when I plan out the year’s sermons, I can put little notes to remind myself of some details. Also, this gives our worship coordinator a better idea of how the sermon Scripture will be applied. We might put a note here for the tech team (i.e., video will be played here…).
  • Sermon Series. Just for easy sorting if we’d like to view everything from the same series.
  • Series Graphic. It’s kept here because our tech team can grab it quickly to upload as our sermon podcast cover image.
  • Special Notes. Used for things like “Mother’s Day,” “The Lord’s Supper,” etc.
  • Website Description. I put a final description of the sermon here for our tech team to paste into the podcast description.

 

Organizing our material this way helps everybody know in advance what to plan for. It helps everything flow smoothly. There is a tab for each year so that we can quickly look back on any details. And you can share the table with whoever needs access; so everyone can access it easily on their computers or devices (the app is helpful).

 

Can you think of other ways to use AirTable or other programs for worship planning?

Five To Focus 12. Remove Obstacles and Go To Jesus

Bartimaeus appears again in this episode, this time to teach us three lessons on pursuing Jesus. Scripture reference: Mark 10:46-52.

 

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If you have a suggested topic for an episode of Five To Focus, simply fill out this form. If you would like to discuss this episode, you may comment on this post or interact with @rstro on Twitter.

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