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Posted by Matt Postiff Apr 3, 2014 under Theology 

I was listening at lunch to a fine Bible teacher who was explaining how our thinking has to be right, as per Philippians 4:8-9. In explaining this, he said (paraphrase), if your thinking is not right, nothing in your Christian life will be right. That caused me to pause for a minute and think about this phrase "your Christian life." I think we need to be careful how we use this phrase.

Allow me to ask you a question: if you are a Christian, besides your Christian life, what other life do you have?

I believe the Bible clearly teaches that if you are a Christian, you have no other life than your Christian life. If you are a Christian, you have life, and you have it abundantly. You do not have a compartmentalized Christian life, walled off from your other life (or lives). A true Christian has a life that is Christ, from Sunday to Saturday, 24x7, 365 and every February 29. Sure, Christians are not perfect little angels! But if we are Christians, then that describes the totality of our being. We either are Christians or we are not.

If you are living two lives, you better stop and figure out if you really have the Christian life you think you have.


Posted by Matt Postiff Mar 24, 2014 under Translation 

Here's a quick hit-and-run on the NIV translation. I was reading the Greek text of John 16:16 this morning, and ran across this difference between the 2011 NIV and its predecessor.

Jesus went on to say, "In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me." (Joh 16:16 NIV-2011)
In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me. (Joh 16:16 NIV-1984)

I have to wonder why the words "Jesus went on to say" are added in the new translation. They are completely unnecessary, particularly because they were translated from whitespace in the Greek. It seems the added words give us less insight into the passage and more insight into the translator's minds, namely that they desired to emphasize the paragraph break between verses 15 and 16.


Posted by Matt Postiff Mar 12, 2014 under General 

One use of technology that we have found very helpful at Fellowship Bible Church is the conference call. When there is very bad weather, as today, we invite our people to participate in our Bible study and prayer meeting by telephone.

We set up an account with freeconferencecall.com. The services gives you a phone number to call and a passcode. We are able to use the free level of service. There is some cost associated with using the service because our church members must be able to call a long distance number either on their land line, or be willing to use cell phone minutes to make the call.

From caller's perspective, the service is easy to use, if perhaps a bit awkward at the first for those who have not done a conference call before. The caller dials the phone number, enters the access code followed by the # key, and then is connected to the call. When they hear the signal, we ask as a matter of etiquette that they announce their presence on the call. There is a special touch-tone command *6 that they can use to mute their side so that the rest of the callers cannot hear background noise (say, children making noise in the background). Pressing that touch-tone command again will unmute their side so they can be heard on the call if they wish to say something. If the person wants to speak, they might ask the moderator, "Pastor, this is George..." and await an acknowledgement from the moderator before "taking the floor."

From the moderator's perspective, it is also fairly easy. While people are joining the call, he can welcome each person and others will also say 'hello.' After a couple of minutes when most people have joined the call, he can begin the meeting. The moderator has "special powers" and can mute everyone on the call simultaneously with a special code (*5) if the accumulated background noise is too much.

Tonight, I plan to lead the call in prayer or ask someone to do that who I know is ready and willing to do so. Then I will start off with my Bible study by reading the passage and then saying what I want to say about it. This takes some adaptation from regular preaching since there are no visual cues such as body language. (We have not ventured into video conferencing yet.)

I then plan to ask people to share prayer requests. This part is a bit tricky because everyone might start talking at once. A good moderator will help by asking the participants in a round-robin fashion if they have prayer requests. I might start with some folks I know already who have some, for example, some of our leaders or people who are not shy. Then I will ask other people by name and go around until I have gone through everyone I know to be on the call. After this, I would ask several to lead in prayer and then conclude the meeting.

Since the prayer time is short on the call, I usually request that after the call, the people spend more time in their family units praying for all the requests that have been mentioned, or other things they wish to pray about. I might also ask them to take a moment to call someone else in the church who was not able to participate in the meeting just to greet and connect again.

Sometimes people do not announce themselves at the beginning of the call. That's OK if they want to stay somewhat to the background. Also, the service sends a log after the call to the email address registered with the account. That way, I can see a list of all phone numbers that participated.

This technology is a nice way to have a meeting if the weather constrains travel, or if a person is not able to get out due to some health issue. We do not do it often because church requires real contact with real people, but as a backup it is helpful.


Posted by Matt Postiff Feb 9, 2014 under General 

Guest post by Vincent Brattin, one of our church members.

Consider Well (2/3/2014 by VJB)

Does your church take a stand against moral decay
Or are they afraid of what people might say?
Does your music uplift, and teach real Christian truth
Or do you have drum sets to placate your youth?

Tell me true, is your pastor just “one of the guys”
Wears t-shirts and jeans, never jackets or ties?
And is your congregation so large over there
That only a fraction gets pastoral care?

Is the sermon you hear now so watered and thin
That you’re never challenged to deal with your sin?
Are you being prepared to face worlds of wrong?
Instead, will you fall when that cult comes along?

Does your Bible translation still honor what’s true?
Or rather, will your paraphrase have to do?
Do you help out the missions with treasure and prayer?
Or maybe you act like they aren’t even there?

You attend Sunday morning—well, that’s a good start
Or do you think “Finished! Now I’ve done my part.”?
Do you enter your church and think “what can I do?”
Or do you think “serve” is what happens to you?

Chorus: Consider well your house of worship—
Are you where God would have you be?
And are you growing as a Christian?
Just ask the Lord to help you see.


Posted by Matt Postiff Jan 14, 2014 under Bible Texts 

In case you want a real challenge, you can do your devotional Bible reading in the Greek New Testament. Click here for a reading schedule that moves from easier to harder books throughout the year, and gets you through the entire New Testament in that time.


Posted by Matt Postiff Jan 13, 2014 under Bible Texts 

My sermon notes are available in Word document format. There are 48 files covering Romans 1 through 8. They are available by clicking here.


Posted by Matt Postiff Jan 12, 2014 under Society  Bible Texts 

As they were on the verge of entering the promised land, Moses reminded the people of Israel how God had cared for them over the preceding years. But a danger would come when they began to enjoy rich material blessings:

Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today. (Deuteronomy 8:11)
when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; (Deuteronomy 8:14)
Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. (Deuteronomy 8:19)

The same danger applies today to us. Many readers of this post are extremely rich by comparison to the rest of the world. Consider the following quotation from economist Mark Perry at the American Enterprise Institute:

For example, nearly half of the world’s richest 1% of people live in the U.S., and the threshold required to make it into that elite group is only $34,000 per person, according to World Bank economist Branko Milanovic.

If your household income is over $34,000, you are the 1%! This can pose a serious danger because riches can beget a self-sufficient disposition. Such a disposition is death to reliance upon God. Do not forget your God! If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you cannot allow money or material wealth to have the mastery over you.


Posted by Matt Postiff Dec 30, 2013 under FBC 

I extolled the value of Bible reading during the Sunday morning service, encouraging our flock to read Scripture diligently. You can listen in at our audio page.

Someone emailed me a helpful reminder after the sermon about a Bible app that not only allows you to read, but also to LISTEN to the Bible as it is read. I should have emphasized in my sermon the great value of this method of getting into the Bible. After all, many early Christians had no other option but to listen as the Scriptures were read to them. We have the benefit of having inexpensive printed copies of the Bible available to us everywhere, and now we have the benefit of inexpensive audio copies of the Scripture as well. Besides being able to use time you otherwise cannot use to read (say, as you drive), an audio Bible is a good way to learn through the Scripture through another "learning channel." Learning through reading is complemented well by listening. You can also learn by writing it out and reading it out loud yourself.

There are many Bible apps available, but here are a few key ones:

  • Bible.is is the app that I was reminded of after the sermon yesterday. It reads the Bible to you, among other things.
  • Bible.com, aka "YouVersion". It seems everywhere I turn, people are using this version to read the Bible, and especially on phones. The great thing about reading on a phone is that it is easy to hold and doesn't tire out your hand and arm so much as a larger and much heavier tablet.
  • OliveTree Bible Study software. This app offers lots of translations and Bible resource books, commentaries, etc. It has been a pleasant experience to use this app to read a good portion of the Old Testament with my wife Naomi in the evenings this past year.

Posted by Matt Postiff Dec 26, 2013 under FBC 

The 2014 Bible reading schedules are available as PDF files (below) and soon will also be available on the front page of our site, in left menu bar under the Bible Guide.

Why should you regularly read the Bible? Because you are not supposed to live by bread alone, but by every word of God (Matthew 4:4, Luke 4:4, Deuteronomy 8:3).


Posted by Matt Postiff Dec 19, 2013 under Bible Texts 

In Ecclesiastes 10:1, Solomon teaches a little nugget of wisdom:

Dead flies putrefy the perfumer's ointment, and cause it to give off a foul odor; so does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor."

Some examples of such folly are recorded in 2 Chronicles 16-20. Asa and his son Jehoshaphat were generally good kings in the southern kingdom (2 Chronicles 14:2, 17:3). However, they each had some dead flies:

  • Asa made a treaty with Syria and did not rely on the Lord (16:1-10).
  • Asa became angry when confronted by the prophet Hanani and imprisoned the prophet and became oppressive to those of his own people (16:10).
  • Asa had a foot disease, yet did not seek the Lord about the matter but rather relied on the physicians (16:12).
  • Jehoshaphat allied himself with wicked Ahab in a battle against Ramoth Gilead (18:2-3). Apparently, he did not imprison the prophet like his dad had done (19:2-3).
  • Jehoshaphat allied himself with very wicked Ahaziah to build ships to sail to the west; another prophet rebuked him for this alliance (20:35-37).

These are some obvious illustrations of the need for separation in the believer's life—separation from sin and sinful partnerships. They are also good lessons that a few foolish decisions can do severe damage to one's reputation. How can we avoid similar sins?

First, as you make a decision (like to make a treaty or ally yourself with someone or some group), ask yourself if you are relying on the Lord most, or upon some other support, such as pragmatism or medicine or covetousness?

Second, as you make those decisions, ask yourself if they are necessary things to do. The treaty was not necessary for Asa; the ships were not necessary for Jehoshaphat. You can avoid trouble if you avoid doing unnecessary things. You can avoid the difficulty of having to separate from something if you never start that something.

Third, do you become defensive or angry when someone questions or confronts you about the decision you made? That's a sign that something is wrong—if not the decision itself, then your attitude about it.

Fourth, ask yourself if the people with whom you are allying yourself are of like mind in their desire to follow the Lord. Do they believe as you do? Do they live righteously? Are they serving God or money?

Let's ask for help from the Lord to avoid the dead flies.