Pic by jasmined @://flickr.com/photos/jasmine/2314639195/sizes/m/.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Pic by jasmined @://flickr.com/photos/jasmine/2314639195/sizes/m/.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Don't you want somebody to love
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Re. your "assignment" this week (that sounds so unfriendly...), use the resource of your choice (alternate Bible translation, commentary, Bible dictionary, atlas, key word dictionary, internet site, etc.) to answer one or two of the questions you raised after reading our Matthew passage.
See you all next week!
Our kids are watching us...
What immediately precedes and follows that verse? Very important.
Let me help you spray that (LOL!)
Try to remember what it was like to learn English... or the experience of watching your children learn. Things we take for granted when we approach text as adults who are fluent in our language. Learners are aware of things that modify other things... how sentences hang together... what constitutes a clause or a sentence... the difference between a period and an exclamation mark, etc. Approach Scripture you really want to understand from a grammatical "learning" perspective and see what is revealed in the mechanics of the words.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
A central theme of the Easter message this week at church was "change." The change of destiny afforded to believers by Jesus Christ. The promise of a home in a future Kingdom where there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Rev. 21:4). Pastor Ross spoke tonight about the Kingdom end zone. How believers will be resurrected with new, perfect bodies in a perfect earth to come.
I found myself wondering about the atmosphere and physicality of this distant Kingdom. Will I live in a house and joyfully continue my life's work? Will C.S. Lewis live down the block (in a much bigger house) and have dinner parties with little break-out sessions on creative writing? Will every day be a perfect hair day? Will my craving for Tostito's and that artery-sludging (but five-star yummy) cheese sauce finally end? Or will cheese sauce be like broccoli in the new world? It occurred to me there's much mystery around aspects of the future with God. I don't know if we'll be working in heaven. I don't know if I'll be living in a cheery little hut down the road from C.S. Lewis. I don't know if we'll have good hair, bad hair (that looks good to us, anyway) or no hair. I don't know what we will eat or if we will eat.
So, while I was thinking scholarly thoughts about hairstyles in paradise and a big platter of warm nachos, Todd was drawing his own contemporary parallels to change. His focus was on the political landscape where he was reminded of Obama's platform of change. That got me thinking about all the vapor around not only Obama's message, but everyone else's campaign rhetoric, as well. Is it just me, or do the political moorings this season have all the substance of a half-shaved wheel of Swiss cheese?
Thank God for the gospel of Jesus Christ and change that's real and everlasting. There's no thin, misty vapor around the crux of the gospel message: Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again. It's a simple truth. A plain truth. Truth unplugged. And when I put my trust in this truth, I am irrevocably changed. I am dead to sin but alive to God in Jesus Christ. (Romans 6:11). Will you see the change in me? I hope so. But not always. Some days, sadly, I may not look very "Christian" at all. Yet, as a believer and a follower of Jesus Christ, I remain most assuredly and fundamentally changed. I have a different purpose. A different future. A different status as a child of God. Not the teetering, misty promise of a Republican or a Democrat or an Independent or any other man or woman whose sphere of control only extends so far and is ultimately influenced by so many earthly tugs and pulls, and subject in the end to an end. In Christ, we have the promise of a secure eternal destiny. Guaranteed by the only one who has never, ever been misguided, mistaken or misled.
Though it's discomforting in many ways, I appreciate the dialogue that's come out of the spotlight on Obama's pastor, and I was thrilled to read the prescription for healing our racial divisions right there in Scripture: Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. (Colossians 3: 9-11)
The equal opportunity community of Jesus Christ. The answer to the problem that Obama has been compelled to address. God tells us through whom unity is possible. And He tells us how it may be achieved. See Colossions 3: 12-17. Problem solved. (If only we could bind and gag our human nature long enough to attempt what God has told us to do... that's, well, the hard part.)
Are you looking for change this Easter? Real change? Do you want the assurance of life everlasting? The promise of a future with God? Scripture affirms one candidate truly worthy of your utmost trust:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
On my iPod... Keep the Faith by Bon Jovi
Friday, March 14, 2008
Session 6 Notes: Understanding Scripture: Questions & Context
Questions: The bridge between observation and interpretation (Wald)
Exercise: Questions about Matthew 6:25-34 (don’t answer yet):
Context: Some Types
o Syntactic (Acts 1:8)
o Literary (e.g., genre, point of view)
o Historical (real events occupying a specific time in history)
o Cultural (1Timothy 2:9-10, 1Cor 8, Mary as messenger/John 4:27, Acts 1:8/John 4:9)
o Geographical (Genesis 13: 1-18)
o Canonical (OT/NT)
o Experiential (e.g., early NT church experience)
A very interesting ponderable from our last session: "We are constantly training others how to treat us."
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
When the news broke, I felt kind of, well, sad. I was sad for his wife. Sad for him. Sad for the polluted state of humanity. (I have a different adjective for Dr. Laura whose commentary from the nose-bleed seats was decidedly, uh, unhelpful.)
I was also reminded of a verse in John and a passage from 1 Corinthians. If you're discomforted by the news, I would encourage you to read John 16:33. Then, find 1 Corinthians 6: 12-20 for insight. We should be in prayer for Spitzer, his wife, his family, and all the women out there who are offering up their precious, God-given bodies as commodities.
There's very little obvious compassion for Eliot Spitzer at this moment. A couple years ago, I would have personally viewed him with brine-like contempt. But my vantage on sexual sins changed a bit when I took on the subject of pornography in a research paper last year. Not to mitigate the wholesale disaster of the Spitzer situation. But there is a context here. A prevailing condition--called sin--that shadows all of humanity, utterly crushing those who make the poorest choices.
When I studied the problem of pornography, I learned that exposure to sexually explicit material and subsequent discovery can lure an individual to the doorstep of an addiction, not unlike the better understood vice-like bondage of drugs and alcohol. If a threshold is crossed--and that line can be almost instantaneous or years in the making--then the ability of an individual to fight the addiction on his/her own becomes practically insurmountable (1 Cor. 6-12). This impressed upon me a certain sympathy for those who fail to do what Scripture dictates--the only recourse when confronted in the flesh with sexual temptation: to flee. (1 Cor. 6:18)
Since I'm in the nose-bleed seats as well, I hesitate to do a "Dr. Laura" and chime in where analysis is specious. Who knows why the Governor of New York did what he did and whether or not he is addicted to sex. But I had to check my own first-blush instincts on this story--to mentally club the men of planet earth--and allow for the fact that we live in dangerous times and that a wicked and formidable adversary is on the prowl "looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5-8).
I'm not inclined to sit in the bleachers and toss peanut shells and call Eliot Spitzer names. Though it's truly a challenge for the heart, I'm trying to view him as a person who unwisely took the bait. I admit I rolled my eyes when I heard that he was energetically busting prostitution rings on the job. The newscaster used the word "hypocrite" to describe him. That may very well be. But if you've ever had a behavior that contradicted your words, you, too, are a hypocrite. I don't have to go back too far to find some hypocrisy in my own life. In fact, I think it was just yesterday. As Christians, we need to run to the Word of God and encourage one another... refraining from terms being tossed about like "hypocrite" without first looking at the inevitable echo of hypocrisy--in all its forms--from within.
And until this story becomes yesterday's news... I'm thinking maybe I'll pass on the evening headlines and pick up a good book. Any suggestions?
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Next week... let's come with our questions from reading Matthew 6:25-34. Remember, questions are the "bridge" between observation and interpretation.
I'd like to walk through some issues around context, too. We'll look at several different ways in which Scripture needs to be "situated" before we attempt to interpret it, recognizing that we come to the Bible essentially "reading over the shoulder" of those who originally captured and conveyed the revelation of God. Our challenge as interpreters, through careful study and the illumination of the Holy Spirit, is to understand and apply the timeless relevance of God's word in light of the historical/cultural, syntactic and literary occupancy of its original rendering (and later canonization). Who was speaking/writing to whom and why? What were living conditions like in ancient times? What status did certain ancient people hold within their communities--Jews, Christians, secularists, women, etc? What do the earliest public records reveal about society in general? What can we learn from the geography, climate and environment? In terms of the words, what precedes a given verse? What follows it? What is the relationship of a phrase to a sentence to a paragraph to a section to a book to a canon to the whole? What genre of literature are we exploring and how can this guide our study? These are the types of questions you begin to probe as we consider context and the pivotal role it plays in hermeneutics.
Our esteemed women's minister--KP to you and me--has asked me to identify three goals for our group, which I've done:
1. Grow to know and love the incredible God we encounter in Scripture.
2. Take this learning and cast it outward (by testimony and example)--evangelize and teach others.
3. Better understand and develop one's personal ministry (today) and think in terms of the future (what's next?).
Would be very interested in hearing about your own goals for our group, friends. Maybe we could also spend a bit of time on this next week.
Have a great week all!
p.s. We meet next Tuesday as scheduled then take a week off for Spring Break.