Mar. 2, 2018

Pastor’s Page, by Timothy C. Turley

 

37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus,

40 but Paul chose Silas and departed…

 

This Mark is the author of the “Gospel of Mark,” but at one time he was considered a quitter by the Apostle Paul. Mark had gone with Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary trip, but he had returned home shortly after it began (Acts 13:13-14). When they planned to return to those new churches, Barnabas wanted to give Mark another chance, but Paul said, “No way!” There was such a “sharp disagreement” between them that they no longer served together: Barnabas took Mark, and Paul was joined by Silas.

        For Barnabas, this is very much who he was as a Christian: His real name was Joseph, but the apostles gave him the title “Barnabas,” which means “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4:36). We see this encouragement when he helped Paul be accepted by the Christians in Jerusalem (Acts 9:27), and we see it with Mark.

He sought to give him a second chance.

        How did it work out? Later Mark would be a close associate of Peter (1 Peter 5:13) and would write the gospel (many think he tells Peter’s memories of Jesus). The second chance offered by Barnabas was very successful!

More importantly, note the words of 2 Timothy 4:11: “Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.” This is Paul’s last letter, written shortly before his death in Rome. Two gospel writers are mentioned, Luke and Mark, and note Paul’s words for Mark: He is “very useful.” In Colossians 4, Paul also mentioned that Mark was a “fellow worker” with him while he was imprisoned. Whatever his earlier opinion, Paul forgives and appreciates Mark, and we see the love and grace that we are called to exhibit as servants of the Lord! Too often we form opinions on others and are slow to forgive or forget: That is not the way of God’s grace! 

 -Pastor Tim

 

 

 

 

 

Feb. 7, 2018

Pastor’s Page: Timothy C. Turley

 

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.                     1 Peter 2:9

 

        I can still remember when I first heard the term “Manifest Destiny” in high school history class. As a Christian and as an American citizen, I knew that first moment that it was wrong.

        What is Manifest Destiny? In American history it was the idea that God had given the American continent to the Europeans, and they were free to treat the Native Americans as the Israelites had treated the Canaanites. Manifest Destiny was a lie: At no time did God change His definition of “Chosen People” to the people of America, and we were never called to be a new Israel (and Christ died for the Native Americans too)!

        Note the words of Simon Peter in 1 Peter 2:9. There he uses the terms of Israel’s call and applies them to Christians: Not American Christians, but ALL Christians! Everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ are members of “a chosen race…a holy nation.” This race is determined by the Holy Spirit, and the nation is spiritual, without geographical boundaries.

        Today some people still labor under the misunderstanding that America is God’s chosen nation. Is this country blessed? Yes, because of the influence of Christians throughout the centuries. Is the USA God’s chosen nation? No, because His “nation” includes Christians from every race, nation and language! Some even think that American politics will somehow bring in the End Times. That is just another sign of our ethno-centricity. We should never forget: The Kingdom of God is far greater than the USA, and our true citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20-21)!                     -Pastor Tim

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.                                           Galatians 3:28

 

This past Friday was the most famous of holidays, Groundhog Day. This was obviously a Hallmark Card creation, to get people to buy Groundhog Day cards and huge boxes of candy. Wait, that might actually refer to another February holiday…

When I was growing up as a pastor’s kid in Jefferson County, there was a Southern Baptist holiday called “Race Relations Sunday.” It was in late February, and it invited mostly white Southern Baptist churches to reach out to Christians of other races. When I was in seminary I discovered that black pastors referred to that Sunday as “Groundhog Day:” That was the one day they were allowed to participate in our churches, while the rest of the year they were to remain hidden, just like Punxsutawney Phil!

In March of 1971 our congregation had invited a retired black pastor to speak on Race Relation Sunday. The Friday before someone knocked on our door, and I opened to see 12-15 hooded members of the Ku Klux Klan on our front porch (I was 12). They wanted to speak to my father and demanded that our church withdraw the invitation (or there would be some funerals!). I did not fully understand what was going on, but their evil intent was simple: Race Relations Sunday needed to be canceled…or else.

Almost 47 years later I still have trouble believing that any Christian could be racist. The Lord made us all from one man (Adam), and in one man (Jesus) all believers are adopted into the same spiritual family (see Galatians 3:28 above). The inability to recognize this (racism) is sin, and an insult to the spiritual unity the Lord seeks among His people (John 17:21). For the best picture of the church of Jesus Christ, see Revelation 7:9-12!                                -Pastor Tim                                                             

 

Jan. 21, 2018

Pastor’s Page: Timothy C. Turley

 

Zechariah 5:5-11

5 Then the angel…said to me, "Lift your eyes and see what this is that is going out." 6 And I said, "What is it?" He said, "This is the basket that is going out." And he said, "This is their iniquity in all the land." 7 And behold, the leaden cover was lifted, and there was a woman sitting in the basket! 8 And he said, "This is Wickedness." And he thrust her back into the basket, and thrust down the leaden weight on its opening.

9 Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, two women coming forward! The wind was in their wings. They had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and heaven. 10 Then I said to the angel who talked with me, "Where are they taking the basket?" 11 He said to me, "To the land of Shinar, to build a house for it. And when this is prepared, they will set the basket down there on its base."

 

In Zechariah 5:5-11, the Lord gave the prophet a vision about a basket of wickedness being taken away to Shinar. This text is one of those that links Babylon to wickedness, an image we see fully developed in Revelation 17-18. This passage is also where the modern image of angels is derived.

Almost all artwork of angels pictures a woman with blonde hair and wings from her back. Zechariah saw two of these women, taking the basket from the Holy Land to Shinar (Babylon). This passage, though, is not about what angels look like, but is the vision Zechariah was given. Descriptions of angels in Scripture always look like men, but sometimes with greater glory:

1.   Genesis 18:1-2, 22 & 19:1-22;

2.   Joshua 5:13-15; Judges 13:1-21;

3.   Daniel 3:24-25; 8:15-17; 9:20-23; 12:5ff;

4.   Zechariah 1:7ff; 4:1ff; 5:5;

5.   Matthew 28:1-8; Luke 24:1-8;

6.   Acts 10:1-8, 30-33; 12:6-11.

This list isn’t exhaustive, but includes texts from throughout the Bible. Angels (not the Seraphim & Cherubim; see Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1, Revelation 4) always look like men, but sometimes with glory. Some of those who see them assume they’re just men, while others know they’re special because of their “glow” (there are no wings or haloes!). Why does artwork use the women with wings? This is typical of many of the things people say about the Bible: They haven’t actually read it, or spent the time to see what Scripture really says!!