What an awesome day yesterday at Woodward Park! A full house, an offering of over $80,000, two more baptisms (that makes four in the last seven days!) and a new member transfer.
And that doesn't include last night's Christmas dinner, a truly enjoyable time of joy. The WWPP (Woodward Park Paparazzi, aka Suzi Planas) captured this shot of the girls with the little deer that is adorning the decor on the speakers platform.
I am so proud of what our college students are up to right now. The baptisms this week of Tinh, Annalise and Thari are a testimony to God's faithfulness and your consistent witness. The new member transfer in Jason, a student at Fresno State, shows you are making a place in receiving and welcoming newcomers.
To God be the Glory, Great Things He is Doing!
Jessieville, Arkansas is a blip on the map northwest of Hot Springs. Yet that small town and its high school football team will take center stage this week as the Jessieville Lions play on Friday for the AA State Championship in War Memorial Stadium.
Jessieville knocked off Bearden, favored by Hootens and the AP, but not by me!, 28-12 last Friday night to claim their first-ever spot in the state championship game. The #2 ranked Lions will face #1 ranked Junction City (another blip on the map, located on the border of Louisiana and Arkansas, south of El Dorado), a team that knocked Jessieville out of the playoffs in 2005 by a score of 33-21.
I'm so proud of Don Phillips and Jamie Saveall, two high-character guys who deserve the opportunity to coach in their first state championship games. I'm proud of Lonell and Justin and Ruey and Matt, kids who were in the youth group at the Village Church of Christ, who've played critical roles in leading their time to a 14-0 record.
I'll have my pick on Friday.
In the meantime, anyone got a frequent flier ticket from Fresno to Little Rock that you'd like to donate? I know someone who will take it!!
N.T. Wright on the Holy Spirit and the implications of the "inheritance" in Ephesians 1.14:
"St. Paul, our earliest Christian writer, speaks of the Spirit as the guarantee or down-payment of what is to come. The Greek word he uses is arrabon, which in modern Greek means an engagement ring, a sign in the present of what is to come in the future.
Paul speaks of the Spirit as the guarantee of our inheritance. He isn't simply using an image taken from the ordinary human transaction whereby, when a person dies, someone else inherits his or her wealth -- an 'inheritance' from which one might perhaps receive something in advance, an early first installment. Nor is he simply speaking, as many Christians have supposed, of our 'going to heaven,' as though celestial bliss were the full 'inheritance' God had in mind for us. No, he is drawing on a major biblical theme and taking it in a striking new direction. To grasp this is to see why the Spirit is given in the first place, and indeed who the Spirit actually is.
The theme upon which Paul is drawing when he speaks of the 'inheritance' to come, of which the Spirit is given as a down-payment, is our old friend the exodus story, in which Israel escapes from Egypt and goes off to the Promised Land. Canaan, the land we now call the Holy Land, was their promised 'inheritance,' the place where they would live as God's people. It was where -- provided they maintained their side of the covenantal agreement -- God would live with them and they with God. As both the foretaste of that promise, and the means by which they were led to inherit it, God went with them on the way, a strange holy Presence guiding and directing their wanderings and grieving over their rebellions.
So when Paul speaks of the Spirit as the 'guarantee of our inheritance,' he is evoking, as Jesus himself had done this whole exodus tradition, the story which began with Passover and ended with the Promised Land. He is saying, in effect, you are now the people of the true exodus. You are now on your way to your inheritance" (Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense, San Francisco: Harper, 2006, p. 125).