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Showing posts from October, 2013

Book: Letters from Ruby

Fortunately, sometimes being a reviewer forces me to a novel. I like novels. I just don’t read them as often as I used to.Imagine yourself a newly-minted pastor, sent out to lead your first church. I’ve actually been there, done that, and it’s not hard to imagine. It’s the point where the rubber meets the road, and you realize just how much you have left to learn. Adam Thomas’ new novel Letters from Ruby looks into just that situation. Calvin Harper is new to the ministry, new to rural life, and newly being arrested for attempting to break into the church, because he has no key!This start kicks off a novel told as a series of flashbacks about young Rev. Harper’s first charge in the ministry. These flashbacks are interspersed with personal letters written to the reverend after he has been reassigned to a different ministry. As a general fiction read, it was great fun, and a novel that I am not troubled to leave laying around my home for even my pre-teen daughter to glance through. It m…

Only His Words: Numbers 23

We carry on with Balaam’s narrative in Numbers 23. To refresh your memory, Balaam was hired by Balak to curse Israel. The storyline is interwoven between all the chapters, so while each chapter gets a post, there is considerable cross-referencing between Numbers 22, 23, and 24.Let us start, though, with Numbers 23:12, for this is the hinge on which this story turns. Balaam has gone off and sacrificed, entreating YHWH to provide him with a word to speak about Israel. Those words? They are words of blessing rather than cursing, and this leaves Balak more than just a little miffed.Balaam, though, insists that he can only speak the words that YHWH, the One True God, puts in his mouth. Nothing else. We can consider a few lessons from this:First: Balaam was hardly a God-honoring man. He is quite clearly a prophet-for-profit, rather than a true worshiper of anything. Looking back a the negotiations of Numbers 22, he’s in this for the money, not for the love.Second: Balaam, even as a profit-s…

October 23 from Doug

Proverbs 23:10 hits two truths: one, don’t try to fake a property line and deprive your neighbor. Two, do not afflict the needy. Seriously. I would suggest we all re-read C.S. Lewis’ musings in Mere Christianity about the dangers of economic systems to people and to faith. Especially how he highlights that for many centuries, those who took the Old Testament seriously refused to use interest in their banking. And we sure do—and high interest rates and usury truly hurt the needy. Proverbs 23:20 is a great reminder as I head on vacation: watch out for those who are prone to over-doing things. Too much of good things, and too much of bad things, leads to destruction.Proverbs 23:30 fits in with a general condemnation of those who spend too much time with wine. Multiple arguments are made about how this applies in the here and now compared to how it applied to the there and then—when Solomon writes this, water is not safe to drink very often, but mixing in a little wine makes it safe. We d…

Book: Memoirs of the Way Home

Today’s Book is Memoirs of the Way Home by Gerald M. Bilkes. It’s provided by the publisher in exchange for the review.
Ezra. Nehemiah. History books from the Old Testament that we often read for their narrative, but are not always read for the spiritual value to the New Testament believer. Into this discussion comes Gerald M. Bilkes’ new book, Memoirs of the Way Home. It looks a little like this:
Bilkes presents the idea that the stories of Ezra and Nehemiah are more than merely historic. Instead, he sees the connection between the narrative of the return from exile and coming to salvation and a right relationship with God.
The difficulty with this view is that it runs the risk of allegorizing an historical text. Sound hermeneutics takes the text for what it is, not for what we want it to be.
However, Memoirs of the Way Home does a good job avoiding that pitfall. Bilkes uses the narratives not to claim we are Ezra and Nehemiah, but to show how their stories should move us to action…

October 22 2013 by Doug

This is not an apology for not posting, but an observation: when I write Proverbs daily, I do better with every other aspect of my writing efforts. When I don’t, I have trouble. There is something to this about building wisdom and focus.Proverbs 22:10 tells us how to handle people who are divisive. Drive them out, and end the controversy. I think it’s worth noting that the scoffer is one who simply finds fault, not one with real questions, doubts, or concerns. Also, scoffing is a character flaw. A scoffer can agree with you—but they’re still a scoffer. Boot them from the discussion.Keep the person who is willing to learn, even if they are contrary most of the time.Proverbs 22:20 is the first half of a segment about the value of writing important information. Keep it written down, keep it recorded for your sake and the sake of others.

Stinketh! John 11

We come now to the story of Lazarus. John 11 is where we find the recounting of this event. Jesus travels to Bethany upon his friend, Lazarus, dying. The immediate impetus for travel is that Jesus heard from a messenger, but John quickly dispels any notion that Jesus did not already know in verses 13 and 14, showing He knew exactly what was happening.If you have read through this chapter, you know how this goes: Jesus goes to Bethany. Martha meets Him on the road, admits that she wanted to Jesus to heal the sick Lazarus, and weeps. Mary then comes and they have the same interaction. Jesus then goes to the tomb, commands the stone be removed, and raises Lazarus.That’s all well and good. We could spend hours dissecting how amazing this is. We could spend time on how this miracle was the pinnacle of the signs in John’s Gospel, and how that transitions so well into the Passion Week. We could focus on how Lazarus, being in the tomb four days was not merely mostly dead. He was all dead. His…

Sermon Wrap-Up October 20

I hope to get some more items on the blog in the coming couple of weeks, but it’s a week that is half-vacation, followed by a week that’s half-Baptist State Convention. Basically, that’s two great weeks, but the back half of this one will be mostly de-teched.Morning Sermon: Audio is hereVideo: Just Obey: Judges 11Jepthath: Obedience: I. Disregard your past: who was Jephthah's father? We just don't know II. Forgive those who have wronged you III. Obey the Lord to meet the needs of the time      1. Do what you know needs done           A. Love           B. Share           C. Support      2. Do not bring in the practices of this world           A. Child Sacrifice           B. Child Sacrifice      3. Listen to how God guides:           A. The Holy Spirit speaks through the Word           B. The Holy Spirit speaks through the church Evening Sermon: Audio is HereVideo: Psalm 46
I. Troubles Mountains Falling
Earth ChangingII. Trust Word of God
YHWH of HostsIII. Triumph CEASE STRIVING!…

Book: The Reichenbach Problem

I sit here with a text of The Original Illustrated Sherlock Holmes on one side of my desk, and Martin Allison Booth’s The Reichenbach Problem on my desk. It should be obvious that the latter is utterly dependent on the former for its existence, not only for plot and inspiration, but in the case of genre and popularity.
I will certainly not endeavor to delve into all of the eccentricities of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, though I will point the reader to Jim Weiss’ excellent retelling of Holmes’ stories. As a side note, I first heard Jim Weiss as a storyteller recounting the biography of both Doyle and Holmes. Masterful.
Let us turn attention, instead, to Booth’s The Reichenbach Problem. Booth’s work is an attempt to capture the magic of the Holmes stories by taking a different approach. Rather than rewriting Sherlock or adding to Sir Arthur’s work, The Reichenbach Problem puts the mystery into the hands of one exhausted author, the creator of Holmes, Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle.
I would speak of…

Curses, foiled again: Numbers 22

Numbers 22 very well might be the inspiration for a certain furry movie character, but I’m going to fade a little bit away from talking donkeys. I do not doubt that all things are possible through the power of God, including the occasional talking animal, and see no point in bickering that out. If there is an omnipotent God, then talking donkeys are no big deal, just like any other miracle. On those issues, we should discuss the root and not the branch: is the God of the Bible the God of the Universe, as described, or is He not? If He is, then talking donkeys and parted seas are merely outcroppings, not real issues to debate.Instead, I would have you take a look at the broader situation in Numbers 22. Balaam has been hired to put a curse on the people of Israel. So far, the Israelites have put a major beatdown on every enemy they have encountered. This includes wrapping up Numbers 21 by defeating Sihon and Og. These two kings attempted to capture Israel as they passed through their te…

Wednesday Wanderings: October 16

In case you want the audio for the sermons for this week, it’s here:Now, on to your regularly scheduled Wednesday wanderings.The Gospel Project materials we are using skip from Joshua 24 to Judges 3. This means we skip Judges 1 and 2, so if you want some of what I have to say about that, here it is: http://www.doughibbard.com/2013/09/sermon-wrap-up-for-september-15.htmlI also recently preached Judges 3, and it’s here: http://www.doughibbard.com/2013/09/sermon-wrap-up-for-september-22.htmlOn to the material. First of all, the material for the kids includes a video-based presentation of the Biblical passage. I do not understand why Lifeway skipped portraying Ehud as left-handed. They have him stab Eglon with his right hand. That’s wrong.More important information abounds, though. It is this: God used people, and still uses people, to accomplish His purposes. Those purposes can be positive or negative in the short-term. For example, the oppressors of Israel are being used for God’s purpo…

Sheep Listen: John 10

John 10 gives us the last pure teaching section of the Gospel of John. John 11 goes into the story of Lazarus, and after that the Passion Week begins. While there are other teaching and preaching moments in the life of Jesus, I am sure, that happen between these chapters, this is the last one from John.I think that’s important to consider. Think about this: probably John wrote his Gospel after Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written. It is possible that John was aware of the other three, and had perhaps read them. He then writes an account that builds on those accounts. I accept the theory that puts John’s authorship somewhere in the 80-90 AD range, meaning he wrote not only with the other Gospels written, but with a long lifetime of reflection on the life of Jesus. John, then, has thought about what needs to be told. A great deal.Jesus teaches throughout this chapter about His followers as sheep. Now, I’ve heard for many years that sheep are not the brightest critters and various other …

Sermon Wrap-Up from October 13

Here we are again, another week has flown by and here we are, recapping sermons again.Morning Audio is linked here: http://blog.doughibbard.me/2013/10/13/october-13-am-revelation-2210-15.aspxMorning Video: Morning Outline (There was some pretty substantial deviation from this, but here you go anyway):October 13 2013 Revelation 22:11-5 I. Forgiveness: blessed are those who wash their robes II. Practice righteousness III. Inside or outside? IV. The Beginning and the End V. Render according to what we have done--apart from the grace of God, that would be bad Evening Audio is linked here: October 13 2013 PM Judges 8:22-27 Evening Video: Evening Outline:October 13 2013 PM Judges 8:22-27 I. Hero worship is dangerous II. Self-promotion and personal profit is, too III. Be careful to see the limits God has placed on you--Ephods were for priests IV.  Do not build idols

Book: Bake Through the Bible

A Quick Note: Ann and I both agreed to review this book, so we are doing a joint review of Bake Through the Bible. It’s available here at the family blog or here on my blog. Today’s review is a book from Cross Focused Reviews. Some parents work naturally with their children in the kitchen. Others need a bit of help. Bake Through the Bible offers that little bit of help in a fun way. Bake Through the Bible is a cookbook and Bible lesson guide all rolled into one. Each of the twenty activities includes the following components: a Bible story an overview of the cooking activity that reinforces the Bible story step-by-step instructions for cooking, including tips and hints “While You Cook” and “While You Eat” discussion guides, as well as a prayer focus Bake Through the Bible is a beautiful and book! The pages are full-color, yet well designed to make sure no information gets “lost” in the presentation. Illustrations accompany each recipe, both for the cooking process and to show the e…

One Good Snake: Numbers 21

I’m not a big fan of snakes. While I am not Indiana Jones-bothered by snakes, they are not on my list of favorite things. Snakes are not even on my list of not-favorite things. They are on my “gee, let’s hope we get through the day without meeting one of these” things list. I have tended to agree with the classic proverb that the only good snake is a dead snake.However, I come to Numbers 21 and have to correct myself. There is one good snake in the Bible. It is, of course, not a biting snake but a healing snake. How so?Once again, the people of Israel were complaining. There wasn’t food enough. There wasn’t water. The trip was taking too long. All in all, it was just not a good day. Even though they had destroyed Arad and were actually finally going to the Promised Land, the standard complaint arose: “Why are we out here to die instead of in slavery?”This recurs in the Exodus narrative so much that you almost want to assume that there is some embellishment. Surely no one could complai…

Book: Embracing Shared Ministry

Ever read a book that you wish you had read a long, long time ago? One that would have shaken up your choices years ago, and now you are uncertain how to implement the wisdom you find in the text?This is my response to Joseph H. Hellerman’s Embracing Shared Ministry. This newer book from Kregel Ministry comes in at 313 pages, and was provided through their blog reviewer program to me.Books like Embracing Shared Ministry are why I love being involved in book review blogging. I am generally unfamiliar with Dr. Hellerman’s work, so I would have not picked this up without a recommendation.I am glad to have read it. Embracing Shared Ministry speaks to the need of Christian churches and organizations to decentralize the ministry they are involved in. Hellerman highlights how the Early Church spread those responsibilities across multiple people, and how that strengthened the church.His work is no mere academic pursuit. The text of Embracing Shared Ministry is peppered with illustrations of h…

October 2013: Proverbs 9

What shall we say then, brethren? If the calendar be against us, who shall be for us? I am persuaded that few free bloggers can blog as much as they wish, nor as well as they want. And frequently, life and death, trouble and ease, work and play shall separate them from the writing of blogs…Unknown Goober Looking for an Excuse for His Neglected blog.Now that we have that quote out of the way,Proverbs 9 carries the theme of seeking wisdom. This is a great theme. Wisdom is shown as providing substance and support. All-in-all, one who reads this and does not want wisdom is clearly not right.Proverbs 9:10 is our one focal verse for the day. The fear of YHWH is the beginning of wisdom. Think on that for a moment: the fear of YHWH.This requires:First, a knowledge of the covenant God of Israel. Not a vague semi-theistic worldview but knowing enough about the One True God to fear Him. Second, a humility that there is someone greater than you are. Namely, the aforementioned YHWH.Third, a willin…

Wednesday Wanderings: Joshua 24

First of all, the material we’re covering with the kids skips the bulk of Joshua. We go straight from Joshua 10 to Joshua 24. Why? I’m guessing that a lot of conquest narrative isn’t exactly easy to teach to the elementary age group.There is one story from that section that I do want to bring up. Joshua 22:10-34 highlights how the tribes that went back to the other side of the Jordan built an altar. That altar copied the official altar, and sparked fears of idolatry and a downright hissy fit by the in-the-land tribes.The purpose, though, was to be a unification reminder between the two groups. This makes me wonder: how quick are we to judge the behavior of others? How rapidly do we assume they are sinning just because their behavior does not make perfect sense to us?You have a few mentions of places where the Israelites were “unable” to drive out the inhabitants. There is a necessary understanding here regarding theology: the inability was likely due to an unwillingness. It is also po…

It’s not my fault! John 9

At the present moment, the United States government is basically shutdown because the President and the Congress cannot get along. I will not attempt to parse the exact problem, because I am almost certain that if you read this five years from now, the first sentence will be nearly accurate. Even if it’s not the budget-type of a shutdown, it’s still going to be gridlocked.The big question is always this one: Whose fault is it? Who is responsible for this mess?That question, though, is not unique to the United States. It is not unique to the western world. It reaches back, truly, to the Garden of Eden, but we’ve already done that. Here we have a different question. A man is suffering: he is blind, in a world without any real support for someone with that challenge.And the disciples want to know from Jesus: Whose fault is this? Is it his? Or did his parents cause this?Jesus, as can be expected, responds to an either-or question by taking a third option. Now, there is much here to addres…

Sermon Wrap-Up for October 6

My apologies for the morning sermon video. The camera I use is limited to an exact recording length, and I overshot that by a couple of minutes. In self-critique, I can see where I lost those minutes earlier in the sermon, but I can’t fix that now. Hopefully, there is still some value in watching it. The whole message is present on the audio.Morning Sermon Audio link is here: A Smashing Faith: Judges 7:19 Oct 6 Almyra FBC Morning Video: Morning Outline:October 6 AM A Smashing Faith Judges 7:19-23 Almyra FBC Setting of the Gideon Story Points: 1. The gathered threat      A. To the faith           1. Philosophies           2. Religions      B. To the faithful           1. It is more likely that we are at risk than the Gospel message           2. Martyrdom is to be respected, not pursued           3. Stand for your fellow believers 2. The firm faithful      A. Never as many as you'd like      B. Always as many as you need           1. Not to attain the result you planned           2. …

Singing Vegetables and Congress

This video illustrates the thinking in Washington, D.C., right now. The Democrats and Republicans think there's only two choices, and refuse to admit any other possibilities.

It's funny when it's a tomato and a cucumber. It's stupid when it's grown-ups.

The Bitterness of Death: Numbers 20

According to Benjamin Franklin, there were only two certain things in life: death and taxes. While Numbers opens and closes with a census, which is about taxes, Numbers 20 is about death.In the opening verse, Miriam, sister of Moses, dies. She had survived the Exodus and gone through the entire period of wandering in the Wilderness. Now, as the people are lining up for the final march to the Jordan River, Miriam passes away. The dearth of information is stunning here. She gets one sentence about her death and burial, and then we go on.We go on to find the people of Israel grumbling. Let’s keep in mind that this is the generation that has been raised in the wilderness because of the preceding generation’s unfaithfulness! Yet they grumble because there is no water where they are.This is the first part of the bitterness of death: Moses and Aaron, leaders of the people, are not granted space to grieve. The needs of the people outweigh their need for time and a little space. And this is no…

Book: Secrets of Dynamic Communication

When I went to college, I majored in Biblical Studies and minored in Speech. Obviously, I had a plan for what I would be in the future: someone who talk a lot. In Roy Buckelew and Steve Phillips at Ouachita, I was exposed to some of the best guidance in communication that I could imagine. So, I was interested in to pick up the revised version of Ken Davis’Secrets of Dynamic Communication. I have read the old version, but “updated” sounded good to me.I was greatly concerned that Secrets of Dynamic Communication would have been “updated” into an extended commercial for the SCORRE Conferences that Davis and Michael Hyatt do, and am pleased to report that it does not. While the conferences are based on the methods in Secrets, one should consider the book as primary. If you will read it, practice, and implement what you read, then attending a conference would be fun and helpful, but not critical. The conference would be awesome, but most of us can afford to buy a book. I think the conferen…

Wednesday Wanderings: Gibeonites

The children’s lesson skips from Ai to the defeat of Adoni-Bezek and his coalition in Joshua 10. There is no examination of the Gibeonite Deception narrative in Joshua 9, which makes sense for a kid-level lesson. There are a couple of points in the discussion of this deception worth noting. One is this: decision-makers who are in a hurry to make a decision and not worried about getting it right will get it wrong. Another is this: bad leadership leads to angry followers. Keep that in mind when you are ‘in charge:’ there is a responsibility to get it right.Another aspect here is that we should pay attention to what God says and look beyond basic appearances. If you don’t get that yet, you really haven’t read the Bible at all, have you? God looks deeper. So should we. When we cannot, we have to trust God, not our own ideas.What I do want to highlight here, though, is an interesting note:Joshua 9:17 tells us that the Israelites are a three day journey from the Gibeonites. That is the time…

Light, Freedom, Life: John 8

The pager goes off. I stumble off the bed, grab my Motorola Startac, and call in to the phone center. An hour and a half later, I’m at the delivery entrance of a hospital in a non-descript blue van. I meet the technician, who helps me load up, and I’m about to head back to Arkadelphia. In the mirror at the morgue, I see my reflection.My hair is out of whack, badly. My shirt is buttoned one-off, I’ve forgotten my belt, and my zipper is down. In short, I look more awful than normal. Why?In the interest of sparing my roommate, I had gotten dressed to respond to the call in the dark. I had done as best I could without any light. I had then driven, in the dark of the early morning hours, without stopping to even think about how I looked. The morgue tech was apparently so used to people looking like death that he said nothing. Quickly, I ducked into the men’s room, straightened my appearance out, and headed down the road.Light, you see, is a powerful tool. Light reveals the way things are. …