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Showing posts from May, 2013

Book: Exploring James

Today’s Review is presented by Kregel Academic. No influence is demanded or granted, only a book for a review.
Exploring the Epistle of James is a volume in the John Phillips Commentary Series. For clarity’s sake, it is written by John Phillips. Dr. Phillips was long a part of the Moody Network, helping teach others the Word of God. The entire series is available from Kregel.
James is written as a section-by-section commentary. There is an outline that breaks down the whole book, and then each segment is given individual attention through the remaining 200 pages. These comments focus more on the practical implications of the passage than the linguistic or cultural markers behind them, but the historical issues are not left out entirely.
Overall, James does not lean too heavily on digging back into the Greek language. Instead, the primary focus is drawing on the New King James translation that is used throughout the work. Phillips makes his commentary accessible in this manner, as anyon…

Everybody has work: Numbers 4

There is nothing worse for a society than an entire group of people with nothing to do. While that assertion can likely be argued by sociologists to be true or false, I think it is verifiable as an historical reality. Either the desire to do nothing corrupts a society into slavery and oppression, or the idle put their effort into devising ways to control society. Even in microcosm, we see this to be true. Take a school and look at who becomes the troubled students: it is the ones who have nothing to do. Either because they are not expected to do more or whose learning styles do not match with the way things are presented, leading to them not be able to work within the system. Or it is the intelligent who get done and have nothing to do…Or within a church: those who have nothing to do, no service to participate in, no freedom to do what they are best at—these folks either drift away or sit and get bored. This is why the organized worship services of many churches are not effective—idle…

Review: Abraham from @Logos

Today’s Review is actually for a curriculum produced by Logos Bible Software. I use Logos, and I like it, but the product family as a whole gets pricey. Which is why, though I recommend it as a resource for scholarship, I don’t suggest everyone needs it. But if you can afford it, it’s a great tool. They provided a free download of the complete curriculum in exchange for the review.Many of us who grew up in church take the stories of the Bible for granted. We were born to Noah’s Ark storybooks and heard about Abraham from both the Egermeier’s Story Bible and the Beers’ Bible Story books. Then there were picture Bibles and children’s Bibles and….You get the point. What we often miss is that our faith as Christians is not just a hereditary faith. It is a missionary faith. Which means that we bring people in who have not grown up knowing such things, and it is unfair to leave them at that disadvantage. Many times, we also miss this: teaching a child about Abraham, for example, leaves an i…

Sermon Wrap-Up from May 26

A couple of notes from Sunday:1. No evening service. I knew we had several on the road due to Memorial Day weekend. I also knew we had some farmers who needed the down time, so we took the night off. Our purpose as a body is more than just structured services.2. Your friendly neighborhood pastor-blogger forgot to clear space on the SD Card, so there’s an abrupt end on the sermon. Don’t tell me it’s better that way, alright?Sermon Text was 2 Samuel 2, looking at David’s response to the people of Jabesh Gilead and the honor they paid Saul. This, in turn, builds into Memorial Day as an idea: Saul was not perfect, but he was used by God to accomplish several things. The first of which was the delivery of Jabesh from the hands of the marauder Nahash. David commends the people for their honoring the memory of the one who was critical in their defense. He then challenges the people to move forward in obedience to God and do greater things.Audio Link is herePartial Video:

Natural Behavior: Romans 7

The most frequent excuse for our behavior is this: “It’s just natural!” Whether it is in the refrain of “Kids will be kids” or “I just couldn’t help myself,” typically we find our desire to cover up by blaming others just comes, well, naturally. The response is often that we should exercise more self-control, but Paul’s argument in Romans 7 is that self-control is useless, unless the self has changed.Take a read through the passage. Sin is the owner and driver of human nature. Behavior that is ‘natural’ is not automatically good, and can in fact be quite bad. This can apply across the spectrum of human behavior—just because you like it and it comes naturally does not mean you should do it.After all, I’ve yet to meet a gluten-allergic person who actually hated bread. Just ones for whom the ingredients were toxic but who had a love for it. Same with many other problem-raising behaviors: most of the time, it feels good. It’s the after-effect that kills us.The difficult is that in the spi…

Memorial Day 2013

Memorial Day is a day that we cannot overlook, but one that needs to stay in context. I think about my wedding anniversary when I think of special days. It is true that every December 19, I make an extra effort to recognize the patience and longsuffering of my wife, but I do not live the other 364 days as if I am not married.Same with Memorial Day: we take a day to pause and remember the sacrifices of those who died to secure our freedom in the United States. We should not, however, act like these men and women did not sacrifice for the rest of our days as well. Please remember to stop and consider the lives given for your freedom today, and then live cognizant of the fact that our simple lives in this country were bought at a price.I think of two images that haunt me especially during Memorial Day. The first is the picture of Arlington National Cemetery (and other National Cemeteries I’ve seen). The rows and rows of headstones, marking the loss of life in the name of freedom. The cos…

Book: Magnificent Malevolence

Today’s book is Magnificent Malevolence. I was provided a copy through the publishers in exchange for the review. No money changed hands, and Derek Wilson, author, did not send any cookies to bribe me. This had no effect on my opinion of the book.Many years ago, C.S. Lewis did himself and the rest of the Christian literary world the great helpful disservice of writing a little book called The Screwtape Letters. This volume attempted to presented the ways in which Christians and Christianity were afflicted by the demonic enemies of God, and caused Lewis difficulties with people wanting a second volume, and caused many others difficulties with trying to match his work.Fortunately, Derek Wilson’s Magnificent Malevolence does not attempt to hide from its debt to Jack and the infernal correspondence of Screwtape. Wilson acknowledges the connection on the front cover and again in the Introduction chapter of the book itself. The literary format is quite simple. Wilson presents Magnificent Ma…

Ransomed! Numbers 3

It is the book of Numbers. It is, at times, laborious.Yet at the same moment, we can see within this where God’s word and God’s work are glorious as well. Numbers 3 begins with the wordy details of the Levites and their duties. They are to serve the priests, beginning with Aaron, and accomplish the basic grunt-work of the operation of the Tabernacle. Including the setting-up and taking-down of the whole thing.Since Numbers is particularly interested in the census of Israel, the other references to the Levites in this chapter focuses on taking the count of their number. This includes recording the names of the family leaders, and is subject to some of the same discussions regarding the size of the numbers as the census of the fighting men. I do find the separation of the Levites from the fighting men curious, especially in historical context. I think this comes from an assumption that God would provide safety for Israel, because the Levites would be free to serve the worship center wit…

I Earned This! Romans 6

Carrying on through the whole Bible, it’s back to the New Testament and Romans 6. Paul continues to expound on the glory of salvation and the grace of God in this chapter. Romans 5 ended with the idea that grace increases to match the amount of sin present. Romans 6, then, starts with a very clear statement:Do not sin just to experience grace.That really should not have to be said, but it did then and it does now. True, we live in the freedom of the Spirit and are not obligated to the Law, but there is a difference in living freely under the Holy Spirit and living like God has no standards whatsoever. The Word guides us in living, and Believers in Christ cannot live in violation of God’s holiness without the Spirit moving in their lives to convict and change them.And we certainly do not sin just to see what it is to be forgiven. Doing so shows a poor understanding of sin: sin affects far more than just your personal situation. It impacts across your entire circle of influence, and tha…

Product: Journible for Acts

I hesitate to call this a “Book” Review, because there’s not a lot of book to it. So I went with “Product.” Officially, the title of this product is Acts: Journible the 17:18 Series but that’s a clunky label when you have to retype it a lot. So, Journible for Acts is what you get. This product was provided through Cross-Focused Reviews in exchange for the review.The printing press. It was a glorious invention. It remains the helpful concept underlying such things as copiers and inkjet printers. Thanks to the press, we have the ability to have multitudes of books and acres of other printed material. We can read, read, read, and read until our eyes go bad and our brains get overfull. We can read, read silently, and then find that we do not retain what we have put in our minds.These days, there are suggestions that we should reconsider using the printer for everything. Items that need remembering are more often remembered when written down. My grocery list serves as a prime example: the …

Stand together: Numbers 2

A quick note: as I write this, the death toll from a tornado outbreak in Oklahoma stands at over 50 (most sources) and that number includes too many children. Honestly, it includes too many killed in one place at one time. Two observations: 1) Christian people, pray that God would bring comfort and ease suffering; 2) Any of you who are so callous as to politicize this in either direction earn the contempt of any decent human being in doing so. This is neither the time to talk budgets (thought that is legitimate later), guns, global climate change, or any other attempt to take people’s tragedies and have your view benefit from it. If all you can say is to re-prognosticate on your personal politics, then stick a sock in it or turn off your computer/tablet/phone and go away. Human beings care for one another, so either join humanity or crawl back into your hole. This includes you, even if you agree with me on 98% of everything else.Numbers 2. On the surface, it’s a lovely expression of t…

Sermon Wrap-Up for May 19

Here are the sermons for yesterday:Morning Audio Link is hereVideo: Outline:James 2:14-26 May 19 AM Intention: Faith must be put into action F: Freed through Faith: this stands alone, only faith empowered by the Holy Spirit can save us and free us from sin and death A: Acting in Faith: If there are no actions, how do we know there is faith?  ----->Note that shaking demons are useless I: Informed by the Word: Abraham T: Trusting in God H: Healed from past failures: Rahab Therefore: act! Tell that person about Jesus! Act! Find a job that does not violate your Biblical standards! Act! Do the right thing: follow publicly, live fully for Christ; repent; restore your relationships... Stop "having faith it will work out" and put work guided by the Word into play. Evening Audio Link is hereVideo is here: May 19 PM: The Holy Spirit John 14:16-17 Identity: Third Person of the Trinity                A. Excursus: why we use "person"                B. Reminder: who are the oth…

A certain reign: Romans 5

We continue into the book of Romans. I will again confess to you that a good commentary or two will help you as you dig through this text and will certainly be more exhaustive than my own offering here. That being said, here’s a look at Romans 5: it’s about the reign of death.Well, and the end of that reign.Romans 5 is a prime example of why, even though verse-by-verse and word-by-word study is helpful, you cannot only study the Bible in small blocks. Instead, we see here why it is necessary to take the sweep of Scripture together in order to understand the smaller units.Paul’s points in Romans 5 are these:Death came through AdamDeath kept reigning even with the Law from MosesLife comes through graceGrace came through Jesus.Now, without knowing Adam and Moses, how well do we grasp the first two of Paul’s points? Not very well. The latter two points are the positive ones, and they are well worth knowing—but the importance is somewhat diminished if we do not understand the deficit we st…

Sermon Wrap-Up for May 12

There’s not much to wrap-up. We did not have evening services to allow more time for some family celebrations of Mother’s Day, and I gave extemporaneous a shot for the morning. So, here’s the audio and video:Audio Link is here.

Count Me Out! Numbers 1

We finished Leviticus. This was no small feat, and I appreciate all of you who hung with the extended time that took. On a personal note, I am finishing up the three most intense school terms I think I have had or will have (at least until the next academic level) and so will hopefully be more brain-able to write on a regular basis. We come now to Numbers. A great deal of time could be spent on authorship for Numbers, just as it could for all the other books of the Pentateuch. I think there is evidence to consider regarding whether or not Moses is truly the sole author of these books, but that evidence is not strong enough to cast aside that traditional view. Given that the New Testament upholds in Luke, John, Acts, Romans, and more the general idea of Moses as the ‘author’ of the Law, then I think we can hold it as the right view. I do not think this precludes later editing. I recent wrote some articles for the Arkansas Baptist News. A very wonderful editor (actually, an assistant ed…

Sermon Wrap-Up for May 5, 2013

Ever have a day where you get to the end and think, I was supposed to do something?Yeah, me too. I was supposed to post this.Morning Sermon:Audio link is hereVideo Embed: Outline:You Broke the Whole Thing: James 2:8-13 May 5 AM One Problem, One Solution Consider Sins (use Galatians 5, Revelations 22 for lists) Galatians 5:19–21 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Revelation 22:15 15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. Sin has costs: 1. Emotional 2. Societal 3. Spiritual 4. Physical 5. Eternal There is but one solution It is not: to act like th…

It is as it was: Romans 4

Carrying on through the whole Bible, we come to Romans 4. Go ahead, take the time to read it. You can use this handy-dandy link to pull it up on the screen, and then just close that tab to come back here. Paul has finished his introductory matter for his letter to the Romans. It has been a longer introduction than his other letters, partly because Paul has not yet been to the church in Rome. He has a general idea what is going on there, as the church is made up of people like the church anywhere—which means certain things are automatically true. We see those in Romans 1-3: the church is made up of redeemed sinners living in the midst of sinners.Practical point 1: This bears making plain: churches are made up of redeemed sinners living in the midst of sinners. Therefore, there is no perfect church out there. Every gathering will have practical, doctrinal, missional, or other flaws in how they do what they do. Get over yourself and take part.Now that Paul has established the overall nee…

Book: Charts on the Life, Letters, and Theology of Paul

Today’s book is brought to you by Kregel Academic and Ministry Resources. They provided this book in exchange for the review. Which was a blessing, because it saved me $20 on a book I intended to buy in the first place.We live nearly 2000 years after the composition, compilation, and canonization of the letters of the Apostle Paul. His writings comprise the bulk of the New Testament and his expression and thought intents are so deeply imprinted in the life of the Western Church and its traditions that he has almost eclipsed the dozen Apostles of the beginning of Acts.Of course, this makes him the frequent target of study and scholarship. In consideration of this, there is almost a better case to be made for “no more Paul books!” than there is for “More Paul books!” Into this comes Lars Kierspel’s Charts on the Life, Letters, and Theology of Paul, published by Kregel Academic in their Kregel Charts of the bible series. I have the Hebrews volume in the same series, and have just about w…