Turning Point Movie Night happens Saturday, December 9 at 6:30 PM and we’ll be watching the movie Altar Egos. The cost is just $5.00 per person and the funds we raise will help our teens go to summer camp. Bring your beanbag chairs, your blankets or even your recliner and join us in the multipurpose room for this great event. Oh and by the way, kids under three are free.
Ever tried to read the book of Revelation?
Many people shy away from it because it’s strange and scary…
So over the next several weeks we’re going to walk through this incredible book called the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Who Wrote It?
It is written by a man named John. This could be John the beloved disciple who wrote the gospel and letters of John or it could be another early Christian named John who was a messianic prophet traveling the world with a message for the churches. There is evidence to support both, but I lean toward John who was one of the original twelve disciples of Jesus.
So what kind of document has John left us and how do we understand it? John gives us three important clues right in the text to answer these questions.
In the very first paragraph John tells us what he has written. He calls it first of all a “revelation” or apocalypse. The Greek word is apocalupsis which simply means to uncover something.
It also refers to a type of literature very familiar to John’s readers from earlier Hebrew writings in books like Daniel, Ezekiel and intertestamental books (literature written between the time of the Old and New Testaments) like 4 Ezra and 1 Enoch. Apocalyptic literature recounted a prophet’s symbolic dreams and visions revealing or uncovering God’s heavenly perspective on history and current events so the present can be viewed in light of history’s final outcome.
John says this apocalypse is a prophecy. Which means it’s a word from God spoken through a prophet to God’s people. Prophetic literature is found throughout the Old Testament and its purpose is to warn or comfort God’s people in a time of crisis. By calling this book a prophecy John is saying it stands in a long tradition that includes the biblical prophets and that it brings their message to its intended fulfillment.
Now this apocalyptic prophecy was sent to real people, in real places facing very real circumstances. The book opens and closes as a letter that was sent to and circulated among seven churches in the ancient Roman province of Asia. Seven is an important number in the letter of Revelation. It’s a symbol of completeness based on the al- important seven day sabbath cycle in the Old Testament. As we’ll see, John has woven the number seven into every part of this book.
How do we understand this book?
In this opening John has given his readers clear instructions about how he wants them to understand this book. Jewish apocalypse is communicated through symbolic images and numbers.
Many people want this to be a secret predictive code about the timing of the end of the world, but John is using symbols drawn from the Old Testament and he wants his readers to go there to discover what the symbols mean by looking up the texts he is referencing.
Also, since it’s a letter it means that John is actually addressing the situation of these first century churches, and while this book has much to say to Christians of our generation, the books meaning must first be anchored in the historical context of John’s time, place and audience.
So Instead of looking for secret codes to the end of the world we need to realize his actual message is far more practical.
As we walk through this book we will see that John warns his readers that all human kingdoms serve their own selfish interests. He does this using an image these early Christians would have understood well, the image of Babylon. The only real choice the followers of Jesus have is to resist these kingdoms, but when they do they will pay a heavy price. This is History’s Pattern Failed.
However, the good news is that Jesus will return again in the fullness of the kingdom of God to remove evil from this world. This is God’s Promise Fulfilled.
Instead of a worrisome book for some day, what we find in the Revelation of Jesus is a powerful message for every generation of the church. I hope you’re looking forward to this series, The Revelation of Jesus - History’s Pattern and God’s Promise.
Steve Longley is the pastor of Turning Point and an adjunct professor of biblical literature and pastoral ministry.
If you like fun, prizes, candy and good food then you don’t want to miss the Turning Point Trunk or Treat Saturday, October 29 from 5:00 – 7:30 pm. We'll be in the Turning Point Parking Lot at 5211 Frederick Avenue, St Joseph, MO 64506. Here’s some of what we have going that night:
This is a fun and safe event for kids of all ages.
Let’s admit something up front; talking about Halloween in worship is odd, but have you noticed how fascinated people are with this day? In terms of income from retail sales Halloween is second only to Christmas among all other holidays. Then add to that the sheer number of popular shows like Ghost Hunters, the popularity of horror movies and novels involving magic and witchcraft and you can see why many scholars are saying interest in the paranormal is an expanding cultural phenomenon.
Usually the only conversation churches have about Halloween is a “should we or shouldn’t we” debate. Should Christians dress up, trick or treat, and carve pumpkins? We’re not going down that trail.
During the presentation of Things That Go Bump In the Night we’ll be asking, “Why, when a purely scientific view of reality has been increasing in dominance, is there at the same time a growing fascination in our culture with the paranormal and supernatural?”
It might shock you to see the answer to all of this is connected to something in the gospel message that is surprisingly encouraging. So, if you or someone you know is fascinated by Halloween then neither you nor they will want to miss Things That Go Bump In the Night, Sunday October 30, at 10:30 am.
I can’t change someone’s heart…God Can!
I can’t do the impossible…God Can!
I can’t turn a bad situation into something amazing…God Can!
I can’t bring dead things back to life…God Can!
I can’t guarantee how things will turn out…God Can!
I can’t heal your hurts…God Can!
I can’t see the big picture all at once…God Can!
I can’t take something broken and turn it into something beautiful…God Can!
I can’t fill your heart with joy…God Can!
I can’t tell you what your purpose is on this planet…God Can!
I’m so thankful that GOD CAN trumps I CAN’T in anything that comes my way!
People can be big and God can be small.
The sun is big. It’s 109 times the diameter of the earth. Yet, if you hold a quarter close enough to one opened eye you can block out the sun. At that moment the quarter is all you see.
God is big. He’s the creator of all that exists yet can’t be contained by it. Even so, if you care about people in all the wrong ways, if you fear their opinions or if you convince yourself that you need something from them in order to be “happy” – it’s a lot like that quarter. God’s glory is eclipsed and all we can see is people.
When people are big and God is small life itself becomes a death loop of people pleasing behaviors. As Psalm 29:25 says:
Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.
Here are ten signs you might be functionally allowing people to eclipse God in your life:
Step by step we're working to fulfill our vision of expanding our influence through starting new congregations in St Joseph. Some weeks ago we had the privilege of hearing the testimony of Edson and Krista Palacios and heard of God’s stirring in their hearts to start a Spanish speaking congregation in our city.
Here are two huge next steps in the process:
We’ll be sharing more as answers to these questions begin to emerge.
Walking with Jesus is the picture of discipleship. It’s what Eugene Peterson calls a long obedience in the same direction,
So, here’s a question I want to ask you, “Are you where you want to be in your walk with Jesus?”
Right now, if you translated what you think about your walk to a scale of 1-10, how close would you say you are walking with Him? (1 being “not at all,” 10 being “We walked on water together this morning!”)
Walking closely with Christ over time, makes you more and more like Him, and becoming more like Him will uniquely influence the people around you. So, how do we get off track?
In 25 years of pastoral ministry there are three MAJOR things that I see over and over again which keep people from experiencing the abundant life that Jesus promises in John 10:10.
#1 – Unforgiveness
There are people who have experienced real suffering at the hands of others. Maybe you were molested, falsely accused, or cheated on—these offenses carry significant and lasting emotional pain and you won’t simply “get over it.” How do we deal with these things as followers of Jesus who are called to forgive?
There is nothing about forgiveness that is easy, but it is one of the most freeing and powerful things you can do. It is also the basis of our new life. If we don’t live forgiveness we are denying the very basis of our own new existence in Christ.
As Jesus was being mocked, beaten and tortured in public prayed for the forgiveness of His tormentors in Luke 23:34.
And then there’s that thing He said in Matthew 6:14-15
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
To put it simply – “Forgiven people forgive people.”
Forgiveness is not a feeling. It’s not something we offer to people when we think they “deserve it!” It’s a decision followed by a series of other decisions every time we have a negative thought or emotion towards someone that hurt us. We decide, “in this moment, right now, in spite of how I feel, I choose to forgive.”
#2 – Sexual Sin
All sin is destructive, but sexual sin seems to carry extra power to erode our faith in Christ. The Apostle Paul highlights the effects of sexual sin in I Corinthians 6:18 when he says…
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.
Paul uses strong words when talking about sexual temptation. Don’t flirt with it - RUN from it. Then he uses the phrase, “…all other sins.” Yes, sexual sin is in the overall pile of things that separate us from God, but sexual sin can create scars of guilt we carry with us in ways other sins do not.
When Jesus saves us, He forgives us from ALL OUR SIN (see Colossians 2:13) In its place he gives us permission to live a life free from sexual sin and the guilt associated with it (see John 8:1-11.)
#3 – Money
Jesus clearly says in Matthew 6:21 that a person’s heart is where their treasure is.
He also said in Matthew 6:24 money can easily become the master of your heart in ways that should only be reserved for Jesus.
Early in life my parents taught me the importance of allowing God to lead my financial decisions. I learned quickly that when I put all I have in the hands of the ONE who is more capable than me, He can do way more than all I ever asked for or imagined.
Sunday, May 22 we will be celebrating people who are graduating from High School and any other post high school degree program. If you know a student we should celebrate help us out by letting giving us their information including their name, and email address and the school and level at which they are graduating so we can prepare for them.
We are deep in the heart of the political silly season and I have to admit something. I love it!
Yes, that admission puts me on the “People That Are Strange” list for many of you, but I’m just being honest.
Yet, as much as I love the political plot twists and partisan banter, I also see what many of you see - Political discussion in our current culture is divisive. I call this election infection. Nothing can harm a relationship faster than a heated political disagreement. If you take serious the call of Jesus to be the salt and light of influence in our world when it comes to eternal matters then you’ll need to be careful with political conversation.
I do my best to keep the flames of my political opinions away from any bridge of influence I may have with someone. After all, when we die we all spend eternity somewhere, but that somewhere is not in a political party.
How do we keep politically involved yet maintain influence with others?
So, I want to lay down a challenge for all of us. Between now and November 8 I challenge us to put our faith before your politics. That means I call us to be a Jesus followers first and a Democrats/Republicans/Libertarians second.
After all - Republican, Democrat, left or right we are precious in his sight. Jesus loves all the little children of the world.
At Turning Point we take the command of Jesus seriously. If you come to our church we will love you as we love ourselves, whatever your politics. We use the way we treat others as a gauge for how much we love our God.