Archives For Biblical Insights

A look into vast number of ideas brought about through Scripture

WHITE SMOKE IN ROME

Dr. Jay Strack —  March 7, 2013

An open letter to the College of Cardinals from a Protestant who believes that what happens in Rome still matters,

In this fourth quarter of civilization, we are faced with increased secularism, division between nations, and corruption among the trusted and true. It is because of this atmosphere that the College of Cardinals must appoint a transformational leader. As President of Student Leadership University, I have listened to the concerns and questions of emerging young leaders who report disillusionment on a global scale, and I believe emphatically that the church needs the ancient wisdom of the ages from Solomon to Peter Drucker in order to regain its effectiveness for this generation.

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small enough…BIG ENOUGH

Brent Crowe —  December 13, 2011

In an effort to guard my own heart from the ‘white noise of what doesn’t matter’ I have started meditate and journal some thoughts centered on the birth of Jesus.

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The Platinum Rule

Dr. Jay Strack —  December 6, 2011

The Power of the Platinum Rule

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A Red Letter Brand part 4

Brent Crowe —  November 21, 2011

The final part of the Red Letter Brand series. What is a generous heart birthed out of?

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A Red Letter Brand part 3

Brent Crowe —  November 15, 2011

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you…Matthew 6:14-15

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A Red Letter Brand part 2

Brent Crowe —  November 7, 2011

Give, and it will be given to you. Read Luke 6:37-38

The above verse comes at the tale end of a section of one of Jesus’ most important sermons focused on Christian love and charity (6:27-38). It is interesting that Jesus’ standard regarding our disposition and actions towards our enemies, and others, is like is His own towards all of us sinners: love your enemies… we were enemies of God and He sent Jesus into the world; turn the other cheek… Jesus allowed himself to be beaten repeatedly so that by His stripes we may be healed. The previous verse offers an imperative along with the one in the present verse: forgive (37) and give (38). These are to be continuous actions that should characterize the overall brand of the Christian. What makes this passage particularly fascinating is that it comes with a principle of return: your actions (not judging, not condemning, forgiving, and giving) will be returned to you in the same manner:

  • good measure – a measurement that is in accordance with God’s generosity
  • pressed down – like grain in a measuring container that is pressed down so that the fullest amount possible fills the container
  • shaken together – the container is then shaken together to further make room for more grain
  • running over – the container is filled to the fullest extent so that there is a rounded heap at the top where grain is overflowing the container
  • will be poured out into your lap – picture someone in bible days wearing a robe or long outer garment. They would often times fold the outer garment from their sandals to their waste-line making it like a big pocket (in which they could carry something as large as a lamb or a child).

Dr. Luke concludes by describing how the Christian’s behavior towards others directly impacts God’s behavior towards them. How is all this to be understood? God wants to pour out his blessing, good measure that is pressed, shaken and running over, right into our laps and the only thing that can prevent that is the face staring back at me every morning in the mirror.

 

Prayer of Commitment: Lord Jesus, thank you that you desire to bless my life. I recognize your blessing is generous and overflowing. Therefore, I commit to not be judgmental and condemning and to forgive and give generously. I ask you to help my motivation be a desire to imitate you first, understanding that only then will I be a life worthy of your blessing.

 

By Brent Crowe (Follow Brent on Twitter)

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A Red Letter Brand part 1

Brent Crowe —  November 1, 2011

It is more blessed to give than to receive.  Acts 20:35

I heard a wise man once say, “You show me someone wrapped up in themselves and I will show you a pretty small package.” In Acts 20:35 Paul is concluding his message to the Ephesian elders, after which he will depart for Jerusalem and never see them again. His final message, or rather the final point in his message, is taken straight from the mouth of the Master. He wanted them to know that the road of blessing is paved with generosity. In one sense he wanted them to guard their hearts against a selfish ‘me-centered’ approach to life. While these words of Jesus are not recorded in the Gospels and Paul probably received it by oral tradition, the substance of his testimony screams down through the ages that He came to give himself so that you by his poverty might become rich (2 Cor. 8:9). We give because we have been made rich in Christ Jesus. If grace cannot be tangibly seen then the act of giving must be recognized as the irrefutable fruit of a life that has experienced grace. The opposite must therefore also be true, if one doesn’t give, has that person really been saved? Additionally Paul is not saying that those who receive are not also blessed. Rather the emphasis is on giving, which makes perfect sense considering his audience is church leaders.

It is impossible to have an over-emphasized focus on your own needs when you are focused on the needs of others. I hesitate to even say, “give to be blessed” because such a statement seems to reduce grace to something cheap that can be manipulated…give God works and He will give you a prize. Instead let the application of the words of Jesus be understood this way: give because you have been blessed and in so doing you experience the joy and satisfaction of honoring Jesus…which is itself an immeasurable blessing.

 

By Brent Crowe (Follow Brent on Twitter)

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I try to run several miles three to four times a week and once a year my wife and I have committed to run a marathon. I do this not because I enjoy running like so many I pass on the trail or see at the races. You know the ones who think Steve Prefontaine is the fourth person of the trinity and carry tasty granola snacks in their fanny packs. No, I am the guy running the race wearing a t-shirt that reads, “I run so I can eat pizza and drink coke and have a doughnut every once in a while.” Okay maybe I don’t wear the shirt but that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking it. Please don’t be too disappointed in my shallow motivations because I have another, more spiritual, reason for pounding pavement each week. You see for that one-hour or so I am completely alone to ponder and pray. I reflect on quiet times, sermons in preparation, biblical themes, and projects. I also pray about any of the aforementioned I have been thinking about along with some personal requests such as my being a godly husband and parent. I have found this discipline to be both physically and spiritually edifying and I would like to offer you four thoughts that captured my imagination for the better part of an hour during a night run this week.

 

The vastness of it all reminds me of my finiteness

Pounding pavement along my usual path I found myself captivated by the vastness of God’s creation. There is a certain part of my routine where for two miles I have a four lane busy road on one side and dense woods on the other. Above me is a seemingly infinite row of power lines coupled with streetlights that seem to go on and off for no apparent reason. Yet surrounded by the noise of traffic, the impeding view of power lines, and distortion of it all by pollution, I can’t help but stare into the vastness of the cosmos and recall, “God’s glory is on tour in the skies” (Ps. 19:1). And the enormity of what He has created reminds me of His infiniteness, which in turn reminds me of my finiteness. This brings me to another thought…

 

My finiteness reminds me of my self-worth

I matter to God. He has put eternity, a desire for something infinite, in my heart (Eccl. 3:11) and as such I experience a longing that can only be satisfied in Jesus. It may sound a bit weird but though I am so finite here on earth I have heavenly and infinite value to God. So I jog and sweat my way down the sidewalk a speck in the corner of the universe and yet He knows every hair on my head (Matt. 10:30). And this brings me to another thought…

 

My self-worth reminds me of God’s sufficiency

The value of this self-worth can only be understood and actualized in depending on God’s sufficiency. My dependency upon Him should result in a holy desperation that keeps me at the feet of Jesus. The greatest example of this is God’s love for us, “we love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Interpretation: I am only enabled to love God because He has taken the initiative to love me; His love for me enables me to love Him. And this brings about a final thought…

 

God’s sufficiency reminds me of His glory

That night as the first stars began to punch holes in the darkness I found myself back where I had started: God’s glory. God—you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts. So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory. (Ps. 63: 1-2) So yes, there is a part of me that runs so I can eat pizza and cookies every once in a while, but this is not what captivates me.  Above the craziness and chaos of speeding cars, endless power lines and moody streetlights God still captures the imagination of a speck on a dot in a solar system of dots in the corner of the universe.

 

Written by Brent Crowe (Follow Brent on Twitter)

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Video: Fighting the Dip

Dr. Jay Strack —  October 20, 2011

We all face them, they are often dry periods of ministry, difficult trials or low points in life. Dr. Jay Strack unpacks what it often takes to get through these moments and effectively navigating the ‘dips’ of life.

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Mission is not just one of a list of things that the Bible happens to talk about, only a bit more urgently than some. Mission is, in that much-abused phrase, “what it’s all about.” Our mission (if it is biblically informed and validated) means our committed participation as God’s people, at God’s invitation and command, in God’s own mission within the history of God’s world for the redemption of God’s creation. 

                                                                        ‘The Mission of God’ Christopher Wright

 

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.

Romans 12:4-6

 

One of the more amazing aspects of the Christian journey is that we are allowed to take part in the divine mission of God. Think about it, God is all about His mission, as He has demonstrated throughout human history. In fact God is the first and ultimate missionary with his two greatest missionary acts being that he sent Jesus and provided for us the Bible. Therefore our mission flows from His mission. Now take that mega-idea and couple it with another: each person has been uniquely created positioning them to uniquely participate in God’s mission. Thus the talents or abilities that have been given to us are to be used to facilitate and further our involvement and influence in the mission of God. This means that whether you are athletically, artistically, or academically gifted then use those abilities to make Jesus famous. One of the greatest sources of encouragement we receive at Student Leadership University is to hear from alumni who have discovered their abilities and determined to use them as part of God’s mission. Recently an alumni named Taylor Morton who is a redshirt freshman playing football at the University of Alabama shared with me part of his story:

When I was eight years old, I became a Christian. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, but life went on as usual.  I just played the Christian life.   When I reached the eighth grade my life would change forever.  My 12-year-old brother, Trent, was killed in a four-wheeler accident. Through that experience, God humbled me and brought me closer to Him.  When he died, they found a card in his pocket that said “Never, Never, Quit.”  The card challenged me, to never quit on life, God or anything else that came my way.

Today, I am a freshman at The University of Alabama; where the leadership I learned at SLU helped provide an opportunity to walk-on the football team. God blessed me with the opportunity to play for the University of Alabama.  The impact SLU had on me as I learned tons of leadership skills are helping me make a huge impact on my campus and team.

One lesson that is constantly in my mind is the fact eagles always fly toward the storm.  Here at Alabama there is a storm, a storm of non-believers who need Jesus Christ.  God giving me the opportunity to play football has opened many doors for me to speak at churches and ministries around Tuscaloosa, AL.  My goal is not to gain glory for being a football player, but to give God all glory and honor and praise from anything good that comes.  Also, my heart is to see this storm of non-believers, have an experience with the one true and living God. I will not quit on my faith, football, or this campus. Thank you SLU for the leadership skills you taught me. I am using them to IMPACT this campus for Jesus Christ!

Most would refer to Taylor as a football player, I would not, instead I think of Taylor in these terms: a young leader using football (i.e. his God-given abilities) to participate in the mission of God. My prayer for Taylor is that he continues to use football, among other things, to make Jesus famous. And my prayer for all the students who go on the SLU journey is that they would discover those “certain things” they do well, and then use them to participate in the greatest movement in the history of the universe…Christianity.

 

Written by Brent Crowe (follow on Twitter)

 

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