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NEW COVENANT BAPTIST CHURCH | 912 EAST MAIN STREET, ALBERTVILLE, AL 35951 | 256-849-2454

December 1-7, 2017

"We Three Kings"?

I love the Christmas carol "We Three Kings of Orient Are" not only because it has a great chorus but also because of its great theology...well, mostly.


Like me, you've probably heard a dozen theories about who the magi were in the Matthew 2 account. Of course you know the story, so I need not repeat it. Matthew's record of the event is so terse it's as if he is assuming his readers to know the background of what he's talking about. In fact, many of the authors in the New Testament assume readers have a background in the Old Testament Scriptures, but especially Matthew. He quotes OT passages as if he's proof-texting until you read the quote in its context and realize he's citing the whole context with a single quote, like we would do in modern books with the use of footnotes. Sometimes he doesn't even quote, he just uses key words found elsewhere in the Scriptures which carry theological weight. Such as the word "East" in Matthew 2:1-2. Remember, the East is the place of exile--Babylon; Persia--where God's people had been scattered because they had forsaken Him. Therefore, God forsook them for a time, "Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns. The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory...You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate..."--Isaiah 62:1-5.


Returning to the question of who the magi were, no one really knows for sure their exact identity. I won't take up space here writing a full article about them, but just a few comments. Some of the early church fathers, like Tertullian did understand them to be nobility or royalty of some kind. To the contrary, John Calvin felt strongly about anyone who would label them “three kings.” He declares, “Beyond all doubt, they have been stupefied by a righteous judgment of God, that all might laugh at [their] gross ignorance.”--(see http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/holidays/christmas/magi-wise-men-or-kings-its-complicated.html). I love Calvin and he is usually spot on when it comes to things like this, but I think he made a hasty and unnecessarily harsh judgment which is ironically rendered back to him--"for what measure you use, it will be measured back to you." Luther agreed with the early fathers and was more accurate on the issue, I think. For like Tertullian, he seemed to understand the prophetic context of Matthew's event is Isaiah chapter 60, which says,

  • "Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
  • "For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you.
  • "Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.
  • "Lift up your eyes round about and see; They all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, And your daughters will be carried in the arms.
  • "Then you will see and be radiant, And your heart will thrill and rejoice; Because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, The wealth of the nations will come to you.
  • "A multitude of camels will cover you, The young camels of Midian and Ephah; All those from Sheba will come; They will bring gold and frankincense, And will bear good news of the praises of the LORD."--Is. 60:1-6.

By all means, read Isaiah 58-66 and the whole Christological context will unfold before your eyes. For now, just consider the above quote. The semblance to Matthew chapter 2 is unmistakable. Notice these common motifs: a Light from the LORD shines over the darkness of the earth; Nations and kings will come to it; the wealth of the nations will come via camels from the southeast--Sheba, Ephah, and Midian; and they will bring gold and frankincense, bearing the gospel of the King. This glimpse into Isaiah is merely one way Isaiah is like the "Prophecy of Christmas" book. I love it!


With this in mind, I really only have one correction for the beloved carol, "We Three Kings": there weren't just 3 of them. The reason there are typically three is because there were 3 gifts and because it is more manageable for Nativity scenes. Imagine if all our Nativity scenes were accurate. They would have to include dozens of camels and servants along with the kings or magi of the East. But don't forget the thousands among the angelic hosts who appeared to the shepherds! That would seriously complicate our Christmas plays! But the multitudes of kings and angels worshiping since and after the First Advent certainly do impress on us the majesty of our Lord who has come.


Rejoice in Him! (For more info, view this article--http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/holidays/christmas/magi-wise-men-or-kings-its-complicated.html)


-David

Announcements:

  • Children's Ministry:
  • - We desperately need nursery volunteers for Wednesday nights. We currently have 4 classes on Wednesdays--Adults, Youth, Children, and ESL Bible storying--this means we need more than one person to play with and watch the little ones. Please help! Even if you do not wish to commit to help all the time, please consider volunteering as a substitute. There is a sign up sheet on the welcome table.
  • - 1 more person is needed for the nursery rotation during Sunday Service
  • - 2 extra Sunday School teachers to add to the rotation.
  • - Anyone interested in being on Sunday night rotation (8 weeks a year). Please call, text, or see Regina if you are interested.
  • Ladies' Christmas Party--Thursday, December 14th at 6 pm at NCBC.
  • Youth Christmas Party at Brad and Amy Williams' house! On Wednesday night, December 13th. Food and drinks will be provided. Bring a small gift (no more than $7 or $8) to play "Dirty Santa."

Dates to Mark on Your Calendar:


December 10- Children's Christmas Musical

December 13 - Youth Christmas Party

December 14 - Ladies Christmas Party


Praise/Prayer Requests:

  • Please continue to pray for and support the Champion Family as we grieve the loss of our brother, Ron.
  • Pray for Gloria's husband, Perry Childress. He is not a Christian. Please pray for the Lord to save Him.
  • Pray for all the benevolence cases we work with on a weekly basis. Most of them are unchurched. Pray the gospel takes root and praise God for all the provision we have to be able to do this ministry.

Sunday Morning Childcare:

Bed Babies - Misty Merilien & Jessica Gevers

2 Year Olds - Cindy Ham & Steve Hellums

3 through 4 year olds - Haley Coy & Taylor Gwaltney

Copyright © 2017 New Covenant Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

November 17-23, 2017

The Humility of Jesus

I don't know about you, but one of the things that makes it difficult for me to respect a follower of Jesus is when that person boasts of their accomplishments publicly. (E.g., posting on Facebook). I'm not talking about somebody informing their friends that they finally achieved a hard-earned goal. I mean more the people who continually tell us what they've accomplished. No one seems to be more guilty of doing this than my seminary colleagues (so, yes, it takes one to know one, though I hope I do not do this sort of thing). You know the sort of boasting I'm talking about: changing their FB name to a title--starting with "Dr." or ending with "PhD"; constantly drawing attention to something they've published; changing their profile picture to a selfie with Al Mohler. It just seems strange to me to witness Jesus followers doing this. And one just has to ask "Why are they doing that?"


In contrast to the name-dropping, attention-grabbing habits of some of my friends is the life of the One they follow--Jesus. Few books of the Bible display the stark paradoxes in Jesus' person and nature as does the Gospel of John. John's Gospel highlights both Jesus' condescension and utter dependence on the Father while also boldly proclaiming His deity all at once. Skeptics and unbelievers will often point out that Jesus never actually said, "I'm God!" and that, in fact, many statements in the book of John indicate that Jesus did not equate Himself with God anyway. John 5:19, "The Son can do nothing of Himself." John 5:30, "I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me." John 7:28-29, "You both know Me, and you know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent Me." John 8:42, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me." Indeed, a popular Islamic argument is that by default the One who sends is greater than the one being sent, therefore Jesus is not God (no, the conclusion doesn't even follow logically from the premise).


Let's be honest, would anybody really be more inclined to believe in Jesus if every time He met somebody new that He declared to them, "You know I'm God, right?" I strongly doubt it. One of the main reasons we love and honor Jesus so much is because of His humility. And the secret of His humble submission to the Father is apparent in the fact that God became Christ and man. Could God die? No, but in order to cancel sin's death penalty on His image-bearers God became man, died, and rose again. Furthermore, don't you think Jesus was cognizant of the fact that He had followers and would have more and more to come? Jesus was living a life of humility that could be followed by any ordinary man or woman. If Jesus came to earth simply to overawe people with His divine power, then why come at all? Jesus is the humblest man who ever lived because He loved His Father and did not require the approval of man. He did not need to declare with His words that He is God; He clearly demonstrated His own deity.


The bottom line is Jesus is our ultimate example. He led a life of complete submission to the Father because that is the life that He wants us to follow. He was sent by the Father, because Jesus also is sending us. As He declares in John 20:21, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." Since we have been given the Holy Spirit, we are now to complete the work which Jesus initiated. We are Jesus in His stead.


Continue in the work of Jesus.


-David

Announcements:

  • Children's Ministry:
  • - We desperately need nursery volunteers for Wednesday nights. We currently have 4 classes on Wednesdays--Adults, Youth, Children, and ESL Bible storying--this means we need more than one person to play with and watch the little ones. Please help! Even if you do not wish to commit to help all the time, please consider volunteering as a substitute. There is a sign up sheet on the welcome table.
  • - 1 more person is needed for the nursery rotation during Sunday Service
  • - 2 extra Sunday School teachers to add to the rotation.
  • - Anyone interested in being on Sunday night rotation (8 weeks a year). Please call, text, or see Regina if you are interested.
  • Ladies' Christmas Party--Thursday, December 14th at 6 pm at NCBC.
  • Youth Christmas Party at Brad and Amy Williams' house! On Wednesday night, December 13th. Food and drinks will be provided. Bring a small gift (no more than $7 or $8) to play "Dirty Santa."

Dates to Mark on Your Calendar:


December 10- Children's Christmas Musical

December 13 - Youth Christmas Party

December 14 - Ladies Christmas Party


Praise/Prayer Requests:

  • Please continue to pray for and support the Champion Family as we grieve the loss of our brother, Ron.
  • Pray for Gloria's husband, Perry Childress. He is not a Christian. Please pray for the Lord to save Him.
  • Pray for all the benevolence cases we work with on a weekly basis. Most of them are unchurched. Pray the gospel takes root and praise God for all the provision we have to be able to do this ministry.

Sunday Morning Childcare:

Bed Babies - Ellen Sims & Abby Gwaltney

2 Year Olds - David Porch & Marsha Garrison

3 through 4 year olds - Jimmy Barnard & Gloria Childress

Copyright 2017 New Covenant Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

October 6-12, 2017

Hope for the Future Church

I have been thinking a lot this week about the potential that exists in our students here at NCBC. We have some really exceptional students. I'm not exaggerating when I say that, actually, they are all exceptional. All of them make good grades and are involved in some kind of enriching activity. We have musicians & singers, athletes in several sports, A/V club leaders, and national honor society members. Many of them are taking advanced courses either from home or at public school--Logic, Biblical Hebrew, AP Biology, AP Math, AP English/Lit and leading practices of their different activities and sports. And they all seem to excel in each of their endeavors. My students have lots of interests, but they also have doubts, fears, passions and plans. And although our students are very sharp, they still need guidance. They want to be confirmed in what they believe; they want to know that it's true. They want to serve in the church. They want to make disciples of their friends.


I'm continually amazed at the insightful thoughts and questions they give. Just this Wednesday, two of my older students, who I consider leaders in the group, were telling me about papers they had to write in their respective biology classes (same subject, two different schools). The papers were to demonstrate how prokaryotic organisms evolved into eukaryotic organisms. Prokaryotes are unicellular organisms like bacteria which lack a membraned nucleus and other cellular organelles. Eukaryotes can be unicellular or multi-cellular organisms (like you and me) whose cells contain various specialized organelles. Now if all this just went over your heads then you have begun to appreciate the opportunity we have with these students. Being a disciple leader to this generation of youth is not for the faint of heart or mind. My two students brought up their biology papers not because we were just making nerdy small talk, but because those assignments struck at a fundamental theological issue: if macro-evolution is able to account for the origin of life then how can we reconcile this with our faith? What would you say to our students? What should I have said? This demonstrates precisely why over a year ago I taught through a 16-week apologetics course with the students on Wednesday nights and why I am going through what I am calling a "Worldviews Training Series" now. As an aside, what did I tell these 2 students? I could have told them many things, but what I shared was the principle of irreducible complexity (see here, for instance: http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/840 ).


With a disciplined faith, full dependency on the Holy Spirit, and a reasoned intellect our students will be able to face the challenges of the future and be who God has called them to be. But don't neglect that we adults definitely play a role in God's redemptive plan to encourage, disciple, and guide the younger generations toward the prize of the upward call in Christ Jesus. Godly men and women do not exist by accident, they are formed, conformed, and transformed.


Love and pray for our students.


-David

Announcements:

  • Children's Ministry:
  • - We desperately need nursery volunteers for Wednesday nights. We currently have 4 classes on Wednesdays--Adults, Youth, Children, and ESL Bible storying--this means we need more than one person to play with and watch the little ones. Please help! Even if you do not wish to commit to help all the time, please consider volunteering as a substitute.
  • - 1 more person is needed for the nursery rotation during Sunday Service
  • - 2 extra Sunday School teachers to add to the rotation.
  • - Anyone interested in being on Sunday night rotation (8 weeks a year). Please call, text, or see Regina if you are interested.
  • Fall Break for the students is Oct. 16-18. While they have some time off, we will be going to play Laser Tag at The Funky Feather in Arab on Tuesday, Oct. 17th @ 6 pm. Meet at the church at 5:15 if you want to carpool/caravan. After that we are having a lock-in at the church. Feel free to bring a friend.
  • Sign ups for Community Groups are on the welcome table.

Dates to Mark on Your Calendar:


October 8 - Off night

October 15 - Community Groups start back

October 17 - Laser Tag and Student Lock-in

Copyright © 2017 New Covenant Baptist Church, All rights reserved.