Andrew Sach on Teaching 2 Kings

The book of 2 Kings begins with the prophet Elijah being taken up into heaven in a chariot of fire, and it ends with Jerusalem being destroyed by fire, with plenty of action and intrigue in between. So how do we make the most of teaching this book, clearly presenting its message and getting to the greater Elisha and the greater king it points toward? Andrew Sach, pastor of Grace Church Greenwich in greater London, has been teaching (and, interestingly enough, rapping) through the books of 1 and 2 Kings. He is also working on a book on 1 and 2 Kings for his Dig Deeper series. Having listened to some of his messages in person and others online, I noted nine things Andrew does as a teacher that makes his teaching clear and compelling, which we worked through in our conversation. Andrew demonstrates how Elijah and Elisha relate to John the Baptist and Jesus at numerous points in their stories. He also talks about how the story of the northern tribes of Israel presents an opportunity to get to Christ as the ultimate prophet, while the southern tribes of Judah present an opportunity to get to Christ as the true king. Listen to this episode of Help Me Teach the Bible. Suggested Audio Resources: Print resources: Transcript The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.  Andrew Sach: Up in the chariot, the prophet goes, leaving his successor to deal with God’s foes. Elisha is now the man with Elijah’s cloak. Elisha is now the water parter prophesying bloke. We’re expecting the judgment to come, instead Elisha raises a Shunammite’s son. A poisoned stew is healed, the sons of prophets fed as Elisha multiplies 20 loaves of… Read More

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The LGBT Movement’s Dangerous Hypocrisy on Conversion Therapy

The Story: Supporters of the LGBT movement are working to ban one form of conversion therapy on minors while endorsing another. The Background: Earlier this week, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill to end conversion therapy for minors. The state of Utah also recently passed a similar law. To date, eighteen other states have passed similar bans. The Utah law adds conversion therapy to a list of practices considered to be “unprofessional conduct” for state-licensed mental health therapists. Punishments could include suspending or revoking their license, according to state law. The new rule does not apply to clergy members or religious counselors acting in a “religious capacity,” nor does it apply to parents or grandparents “acting substantially in the capacity of a parent or grandparent and not in the capacity of a mental health therapist.” Last fall the Utah ban received support from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In statement on the Utah Psychologist Licensing Act Rule, the LDS church issued a statement saying, “The Church denounces any therapy, including conversion and reparative therapies, that subject an individual to abusive practices, not only in Utah, but throughout the world.” By implying that all conversion therapies are abusive, the LDS church has adopted the position of LGBT advocacy groups. For example, in 1998, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) formally issued a statement opposing psychiatric treatment “based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that a patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation” and describes attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation by practitioners as unethical. Why It Matters: Is sexual orientation fixed or fluid? For LGBT activists, the answer depends on what position most benefits their cause. When it comes to conversion therapy to change sexual orientation,… Read More

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My 2019 Reading List – some of my favorites!

Every year I join the Goodreads Reading Challenge (take a look at the wonderful site, www.goodreads.com, where you can log your reading). This year, as in the past few years, I have set the goal of reading 104 books, an average of two per week. Some are shorter novellas or tractates, some are long novels or history books; to make it easier, I count everything as “1 book read.” 2020 Challenge, underway! Here is the highlight reel for 2019! SEPTUAGINT – THE OLD TESTAMENT IN GREEK The Septuagint (abbreviated as LXX) was a Jewish translation of the Bible from the original Hebrew into koine Greek. It was the Bible of many synagogues in the Jewish Diaspora, quoted widely by Jewish writers, used at Qumran (some Dead Sea Scrolls are from the LXX), and the Bible of the early church. The apostles almost always quoted the LXX when they quoted the Bible. The Greek OT and New Testament formed the Bible of the early church. So, it is a huge help to understand the Old Testament, the theology of Judaism, the New Testament, and early church history. It’s also a huge boost to one’s level of koine. Why pick this year to read the Septuagint? Because Hendrickson Publishing had just put out a Reader’s Version, which puts the unusual vocabulary words in footnotes – so a reader with a good grasp of Greek can read through it without a dictionary. That’s 3400 pages of Greek; for me, about 20 minutes every evening! So, I started a Facebook Reading Club and set up a schedule for the reader to go from cover to cover (in the LXX, the Bible starts with Genesis and ends with Daniel). On New Year’s Day we launched Genesis 1……and read through Proverbs, all Greek all the time.… Read More

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Yes, Pastors Should Have Friends in the Church

Have you ever been in a room full of people and yet felt alone? Isolation and loneliness are common struggles for even the most extroverted pastors, and they remind us that those called to shepherd God’s flock need ministry too. As a young pastor I was advised to never become close friends with anyone in my congregation. This advice, though intended to protect, only deepened my sense of isolation and despair. I longed for relationships with those I lived alongside and saw on a regular basis. The local church is called a family for a reason; we worship, celebrate our joys, and navigate our struggles together. Our church family should see us at our best and worst—and be okay with both. How can we expect our congregation to view itself as a family if pastors are unwilling to be part of that family? Acknowledging this need changed my entire outlook on and experience in ministry. It led me to understand four things about pastors and their need for fellowship. 1. Pastors Are Church Members Perhaps it’s stating the obvious, but a church employee hasn’t graduated from being a church member. A member is in community with the body of Christ, not only vocationally as a pastor but also personally as a friend. Luke refers to the church as a body of believers devoted “to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42); the apostles are included among the members. The intimate community described throughout Acts doesn’t take place at a distance, but through active participation. The pastor and his family are not merely counselors, but friends who genuinely desire to know and care for their brothers and sisters in Christ. Pastors must view the congregation as “us and we,” not “me and… Read More

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How to Fire Someone Like Jesus Would

I lead a small team at my company. I recently had to terminate someone for incompetence, and I had the hardest time figuring out what to say. Despite the fact that this person had been coached and equipped and still fell short of our standard, I felt terrible to be the bearer of such bad news, and guilty for sending them off without a source of income. I don’t think I handled the conversation in the best way. How can I think in a biblical way about firing people? And how can I do it in a way that speaks the truth in love? As Shakespeare wrote in King Henry the Fourth, “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” Leadership is stewardship of people, and stewardship of people—souls with an eternal destiny—is hard. I have been there. I know how it feels to have your stomach turn at the thought of the conversation. I know the tension in the air as the person takes their seat across from you. Letting someone go is no trivial matter. Now, you said something important in the phrasing of your question. This person had been coached and equipped, but yet they fell short. It sounds to me like you and your organization put this person in a position to succeed, and yet they clearly couldn’t perform to the standards. In a situation like this, if you are a leader, you have to decide whether you will sacrifice the one for the many or the many for the one. What I mean is this: allowing an underperforming person to continue to flounder in your organization will affect the organization at large, and thus will affect many people. In my business experience, I’ve seen one person tank a year’s financial results due to poor performance.… Read More

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The FAQs: What Christians Should Know About the Wuhan Coronavirus

What just happened? On Thursday, the World Health Organization declared a global public health emergency because of the spread of a contagion called the Wuhan coronavirus. The U.S. State Department also issued a new travel advisory on Thursday night, telling U.S. citizens not to travel to China, where the current version of the virus originated. Chinese officials say there are nearly 10,000 confirmed cases, with the death toll rising to 213. In the U.S., there 120 potential cases and six confirmed cases. The total number of people infected with the Wuhan coronavirus has surpassed the 8,098 people worldwide who were sickened by SARS in the 2003 outbreak. What is the coronavirus? The disease being talked about is technically a new strain of coronavirus— 2019 novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV. The media has sometimes referred to the virus as the Wuhan coronavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), human coronaviruses are common throughout the world, and scientists have identified seven different coronaviruses that can infect people and make them sick. There are four common coronaviruses (229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1. There are also three that have been identified since 2002: MERS-CoV (the coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS), SARS-CoV (the beta coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS), and the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Where did the coronavirus come from? Coronaviruses are common in many different species of animals, notes the CDC, including camels and bats. On rare occasions, these coronaviruses can evolve and infect humans and then spread between humans, such as with SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. Most coronaviruses infect animals, but not people. In the future, though, one or more of these other coronaviruses could potentially evolve and spread to humans, as has happened in the past. As the CDC notes, we still don’t understand… Read More

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Rodgers’s Rules

Aaron Rodgers has long been on “a path to a different type of spirituality that’s been more meaningful.” Back in 2017 he said he didn’t want to affiliate with the label “Christian” anymore. But in a recent interview with Danica Patrick, he took things further, describing his alienation from his former evangelical faith at greater length, including his objections to hell and evangelicalism’s general (for lack of a better term) “vibe.” Understandably, given his long-public relationship with Rob Bell, many have focused on the section of his interview where he talks about hell. While it may be true that questioning classic views on hell won’t do good things for your faith, I found Rodgers’s self-diagnosis about why he walked away to be far more revealing and worthy of reflection. Asked what the crux of it was, he said, “Ultimately, it was that rules and regulations and binary systems don’t really resonate with me.” On that score, the interview is a textbook example of Robert Bellah’s “expressive individualism”—the post-Romantic notion that we all have our own ways of expressing our humanity, without needing to conform to some outer, institutionalized model given to us by a specific moral, religious, or cultural framework. Living a meaningful life is not about adapting to the grain of reality; it’s about being true to yourself. ‘The Rules’ and a Meaningful Life You’d think, of all people, a professional athlete like Rodgers would appreciate the way rules and regulations give meaning, since they’ve been key to his success. Almost every human endeavor by which we make meaning is, to a large degree, rule-governed. Take language. Even your subjective use of it takes place within the broader structure of an objective, shared language whose rules you don’t arbitrarily alter to suit your own uses. Even writers and poets… Read More

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How to Witness at Work

As believers called to make disciples of all nations, Gloria Furman, Lauren Hansen, Jeany Kim Jun, and Regina Robinson discuss how we can carry out the Great Commission in our workplaces. What kinds of sensitivities and clarity are biblical and effective? What is the role of the church? How can we shine the light of the gospel in our various places of work—whether an office, a kitchen, an artist’s studio, or a classroom? Transcript The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.  Lauren Hansen: We are going to discuss our lives, our experiences, how the Lord has moved. And we’ll start off though by doing brief introductions. I’m Lauren Hansen, your moderator. And let’s just start with Jeany. Jeany Jun: Hi, everyone. I’m Jeany Jun. I am a daughter, wife, a mother of three with my oldest being 17. I’m also a ruling elder’s wife and I have been discipling women for quite a while. And by training though, I’m an ambulatory care pharmacist and a pharmacy professor, and I’ve been one for the past 16 years. And furthermore, our family served in Cambodia for about 3 years from 2010 to 2013. And most recently, my husband served as the moderator for the 45th General Assembly of the PCA. And I’m just so thankful to be here amongst all these women for God’s mercy for allowing us to be here and talk about evangelism in the workplace. Regina Robinson: Hi, I’m Regina Robinson and I live in Boston, Massachusetts, with my husband, Jua and our four children 12, 10, 8, and 5. And yes, fun bunch. Our second-oldest, our 10-year-old turning 11, has Down syndrome. So thrust us into the world of special needs and he’s… Read More

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Are You in the Inner Circle?

How often are you looking up and beholding Christ as you go about your day? Do you look to Christ in all that you do? There are some Christians in the innermost circle who keep their eyes on the life-giving rays of their Savior in all that they do, and cannot bear to look away from Him. Which circle are we in? Excerpt from the full sermon, “Christianity is Christ Dwelling in the Believer“. Several years ago, actually when I was in this portion of Scripture, maybe a verse or two removed from where we are right now, I first brought up this picture. Praying Payson – Edward Payson. I’m going to his hometown. I’ve seen his grave. I’ll be heading there in August. In Payson’s works, you remember the concentric circles. He basically paints a picture. Imagine the sun in the middle. Concentric circles moving out. Concentric means they all have the same center. Concentric circles moving outward like the orbit of planets in the solar system. Christ is in the middle. And you know what? The tighter the diameter, the more – more real, the closer that Christ is dwelling. And listen, Payson paints the picture like this: he says those that are closest in – closest to the sun – he says, “they’re the ones who value the presence of their Savior so highly that they cannot bear to be at any remove from Him. Even their work…” He recognizes they need to work. They can’t be in prayer all day or just sitting in their Bibles all day. But even in their work, “they will bring up and do it in the light of His countenance.” They’re knowing His presence right there, and they’re mindful to find that presence. Some of you have heard how Wesley… Read More

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Overcoming Darkness in Wales through Church Planting

Acts 29: Churches Planting Churches Cardiff is the capital and also the largest city in Wales. Like all other major cities, Cardiff is made up of a diverse population, many of whom are seeking asylum. Its streets are walked by many who suffer injustice and live through unimaginable trauma. Its more vulnerable citizens are targeted by human traffickers. Yet in spite of these and other obstacles, Christ’s church continues to overcome the darkness. Church planter Dai Hankey and his wife, Michelle, join us today on the podcast. God has given the Hankeys an open door to love and serve the lost and hurting people in their city. Redeemer Church in Cardiff speaks good news to those living in spiritual, and oftentimes physical, bondage. While the Hankeys are horrified by the exploitation of people made in the image of God, they are not without hope. They invite others to hope along with them as children of the living God, who offers them a better city than Cardiff, and an eternal inheritance. Listen to this episode of Churches Planting Churches. Watch this video to see more of the Hankey’s story. Transcript The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy. Tony Merida: Welcome to “Churches Planting Churches,” a podcast on the theology and practice of church planting. I’m your host, Tony Merida. Cardiff is the capital city of Wales and also the largest. Like all major cities, Cardiff is made up of a diverse population, many of whom are seeking asylum. Its streets are walked by many who suffer injustice and live through unimaginable trauma. Its more vulnerable citizens are targeted by human traffickers. In spite of these obstacles and many others, Christ Church continues to overcome the darkness. Church… Read More

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The FAQs: Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan and Jerusalem’s Holy Sites

What just happened? On Tuesday, President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the outlines of a proposal for Middle East peace. Although the Palestinian government has already rejected the plan, it includes an outline for how future peace plans might address access to Jerusalem, which contains holy sites of three world religions—Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. What is the plan’s proposal for Jerusalem and the holy sites? The peace plan would put Israel in charge of both safeguarding Jerusalem’s holy sites and also guaranteeing freedom of worship for Jews, Christians, Muslims, and people of all other faiths. Additionally, the status quo at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif would be preserved, Muslims would be welcome to peacefully visit the al-Aqsa Mosque, and the special and historic role of the King of Jordan with regard to the Muslim holy shrines in Jerusalem would be preserved. Why is Jerusalem considered a holy site for Christians? For Christians, the city is significant because it was the location of Jesus’s Last Supper; of his arrest, trial, and crucifixion; of his nearby burial; of his resurrection and post-resurrection appearances; and of his ascension and promise to return. When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the early fourth century, religious institutions were established at important sites such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Mount of Olives. Other holy sites important to various Christian traditions include Church of St. Anne, Via Dolorosa (Stations of the Cross), Church of Viri Galilaei, Church of St. Stephen, Dormition Abbey, Tomb of the Virgin Mary, Room of the Last Supper, Augusta Victoria Church of Ascension, Garden of Gethsemane, Church of Mary Magdalene, Dominus Flevit Church, Pater Noster Church, Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, Church of the Ascension, The Russian Church, and the Secours Catholique. Why… Read More

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The Roots of Today’s Evangelical Crisis

From my article at Desiring God: Where did today’s evangelical crisis come from? The crisis did not result from evangelicals just becoming political, as evangelicals have been more or less politically involved since the Great Awakening of the 1740s. And it can’t just be that evangelicals of different ethnicities seem to inhabit different political planets. Racial tension among evangelicals also dates back to the Great Awakening, when some of its leading figures owned slaves. But politicization and ethnic misunderstanding are definitely two of the key components of the problems American evangelicals are facing in this fraught moment. The evangelical problem in America runs even deeper, however, because of widespread confusion about the meaning of the term itself. Understanding that confusion requires a quick review of the origins of “evangelical.” The Greek word euangelion, many readers will recall, just means “good news” in the Bible, so the Greek root of the term “evangelical” has been with the church since the time of Christ. During the Reformation, the German word evangelisch tended just to mean Protestant. Sometimes the Puritans of the English Reformation were known as evangelical pastors or believers, but in the era before about 1800, “evangelical” was almost always an adjective, not a noun (as in an evangelical preacher, or an evangelical sermon). One of the first instances of the use of “evangelicals” came in 1807, when a British writer referred to the followers of the late George Whitefield as evangelicals. Still, the term “evangelical” was not usually used as a noun until the time of the founding of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) in 1942. Some evidence suggests that the founders of the NAE chose the word “evangelicals” because it was not used very often, so it could set them apart from the inward-focused “fundamentalists” of the era.… Read More

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Church Planting in Secular Scandinavia

Acts 29: Churches Planting Churches When I attend conferences and speak with church planters and ministry leaders from other parts of the world, I’m often asked, “What’s it like to plant churches in secular Denmark?” I reply that it’s like the rest of Europe—hard soil. Scandinavia’s post-Christian culture possesses a passionate rhetoric against Christendom, with only a scant population (less than 2 percent) of evangelical Christians. Churches in Denmark are declining, and church planting is difficult work. A well-traveled colleague even told one of my church members, “Of all the countries I’ve visited, the Danes have the biggest fear of things concerning faith!” This is all true, and certainly sufficient in discouraging church planters. But it’s not the whole truth. The more I consider Denmark’s spiritual climate, the more convinced I become that secularization isn’t our biggest problem. It’s Christians believing Satan’s lies. Believing Lies When we believe the narrative our enemy employs to defeat us, we’re rendered useless in kingdom work. Satan taunts church planters with a barrage of lies. It’s obviously futile. You might as well keep quiet. Stop trying to share the good news with your neighbors—they aren’t interested. Secularization isn’t our biggest problem. It’s Christians believing Satan’s lies. Such falsehoods can strip us of our bold witness until we finally resemble Jesus’s disciples after he died on the cross—hiding in a locked room fearing persecution (John 20:19). But God hasn’t placed us in our cities to hide. He summons us to go, not to retreat. Speaking Truth At Copenhagen Church, where I pastor, we’re experiencing something different. Despite all the hostile anti-Christian rhetoric in Denmark, there are still people who long for purpose in their lives. People who want more. Sadly, many of them have no idea there are gospel communities living abundant lives changed by Jesus… Read More

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