Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Books: Growing Up God’s Way for Boys and Girls

Today, it’s actually two books. One is Growing Up God’s Way for Boys and the other Growing up God’s Way for Girls. I think a joint review works for this, though.

Parents are well aware of the impending, frightening years of puberty and body changes in their children. This is compounded by needing to discern the right way to even broach the subject and then needing to be comprehensive about a time that was, well, a long time ago for us parents. Additionally, we may not have even had all the experiences that are part of growing up, so how do we make sure what not to miss?

Into this discussion come Dr. Chris Richards and Dr. Liz Jones, both pediatricians, and their books Growing up God’s Way for Boys and Growing Up God’s Way for Girls. These paperbacks weigh in at 76 and 78 pages, respectively, and are intended for preteen to early teen readers.

The first positive I would note is both books provide information about the opposite gender. That is valuable, because the “man-to-man” talk about what’s happening in boys becoming young men needs to address how young women are changing. However, the information is abbreviated. For example, the volume designed for girls gives details about how the menstrual cycle works and what to do about it. The volume for boys points out the purpose of the menstrual cycle but gives no guidelines for what to do. This is logical, and demystifies what is happening. I like that.

Second, I would note that both books open with a ringing endorsement of marriage in God’s design. Jones and Richards are out to provide biological information in a Christ-centered moral framework, and God’s design and purpose are necessary to understand this. Human sexuality is part of Creation, and must be considered as part of the whole.

Third, Richards and Jones are clinical without being too cold. In this, they use the appropriate anatomical terms rather than any nicknames. By the time you have read through these, you’ll know who has what parts. For age-appropriateness, if your child is not ready to know that, they don’t need this yet.

On age appropriateness, the boys book is suggested at 10-14 and the girls at 9-13. This reflects that girls enter puberty a little earlier, a fact noted in the books as well. While the information remains true even for older teens, the presentation would be a little young for them. And, waiting to broach the subject until later teen years is a bad idea, anyway.

These little volumes have value for any parent hoping to navigate the waters of maturing physically with their kids, as well as maturing spiritually. I was pleasantly surprised at how well they handled the subject matter.

Books provided by EP Books in exchange for the review.

Wednesday—On Graduation

I can’t promise that this will be my last observation on going to seminary, and I assure you I’m not trolling for congratulations. Having just wrapped up a 12 year odyssey to obtain a piece of paper with six signatures and the words “Master of Divinity” on it, I do want to reflect a bit on it.

And while I did not begin my journey with the destruction of Troy, nor was there an attempt by any to steal my wife, I do find some parallel as I consider Ulysses and his ten year journey home. If you will bear with me, I shall explain.

First, I recognize that my path could have been easier. I tried to evade and avoid doing formal education, having been a pill of a student in college and not wanting to do it again. There came a point, though, where there really wasn’t much of a choice. I needed to learn, and I needed the proof that I had learned something.

Second, I had many false starts. Like Ulysses, I could not manage the short path home. There was the crash and burn in 1999-2000 when Ann and I, newly married and childless, thought we could figure anything out. Then there were a couple of starts, one in Memphis and another online. Neither led to completion.

This led to trying very hard to just put it behind me, and never bother. After all, I was pastor of a church, I had a family. I didn’t need that M.Div. There was no point in it.

Then, through the insistence of a few close friends and mentors, and with the support of both family and church, I decided to give it another shot. That shot lasted a little over a year, and then complications reared their ugly heads.

Finally, though, there were enough opportunities to put the entire degree together. The end result was that this past Friday night, I finally walked across the stage and was handed a single piece of paper. The culmination of doing 3 years of school work in 12 years was both relieving and exhilarating.

I am grateful for the learning. I am glad for the growth we have had as a family, and for the three extra faces at graduation. Across the twelve years of this process, we have grown and struggled, cried, and cried some more.

I cannot say enough thanks to the people who made this work. There is Ann, who has always believed I could do it. There are my children, who put up with the time and effort. There are my parents who have always pushed me to be better. Then there are people like Emil Turner, Ben Phillips, and Jimmy Albrecht who wouldn’t let me quit.

And the whole Almyra Baptist family that made this possible.

Learn, grow, and become what God has called you to be. It is worth the journey.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Book: Know the Creeds and Councils

Quick, tell me what Trent, Nicaea, Heidelberg, and Westminster have in common. Do you know?

If you are a Christian, it would be good for you to know. These are someLinks to Zondervan Page, but it's cheaper elsewhere! of the cities where groups of Christians have gathered to express the Christian Faith. While each of these, and others in Know the Creeds and Councils, were not perfect in their formulations, these Councils helped us know what Christianity is.

It is quite certain that, as a Believer, there is nothing to be considered as important as the Word of God Himself, or the Word of God as revealed in the Bible. Yet how do we explain what we know about God as revealed in the Bible as a Trinity? There is no one verse that uses this word, or that fully summarizes the concept. Instead, we formulate the expression of God in Three Persons to show what the whole of Scripture contains.

Likewise, how do we concisely explain the Jesus is fully God and fully man? This is an assumed, foundational concept in Christianity today, yet it took a few councils to get worded clearly. These beliefs, then, are not made up by councils and instilled through creeds but discussed and clarified, rooted in Scripture.

Unfortunately, most American Christians do not know their history very well. We are unaware of what this guy’s pizza box protest to the Pope was about:

And we need to know. We need to see and understand what the history of the faith is about, and how we came to understand that we believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth.

Holcomb’s work here is valuable. He has provided an easily read introduction to the most significant creeds and councils of the Christian Faith, though he has somewhat focused on what we would call the Western World. There is still adequate information to provide background on Christianity as a global faith here.

Could more be said then Holcomb says? Without a doubt. He could cover Baptist formulations more in-depth, or he could note better some of the errors made by councils through the ages. Further, his introduction that covers the need for creeds was excellent, I would have liked a little more discussion on the danger of violently enforced adherence.

That being said, it’s an introductory book. If you put everything in an introductory work, it becomes an exhausting  exhaustive work, and you lose your target audience. Know the Creeds and Councils instead serves as an excellent springboard into discussion of where we have come from as Christian people. It will make for an excellent church group study, and also would serve for a study for seekers desiring to know more background on Christianity.

If only Zondervan and Holcomb had used footnotes, this would be a 5 star book, but separating text from reference and explanatory notes hurts the reader. Footnotes, publishers. Footnotes.

I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for the review. No influence was exerted on the review, but I’ll admit to having seen someone else’s copy of this, liked it, and so grabbed it free

Keep Heart: Ephesians 3

In Summary: Ephesians, like half of Paul’s writings, is a short book. Short on words, but not short on content. Had Paul lived in the Age of Blogging, he could do in one post what many of us take a series of posts to do. Summarizing Paul takes more words than he used to say it in the first place!

Ephesians 3 addresses Paul’s comprehension of the Gospel as the mystery of Christ. Whole books have been written on this, but I’ll give you the quick view. Paul understood God’s grace, provided to humanity through faith by Christ, was the necessary component to being reconciled with God.

That was only the half of it. The mystery extended to the unity of all mankind before God. First, the unity in need of salvation by grace. Second, the unity of all humanity in the provision of the Gospel. Third, the unity of all the body of Christ in salvation.

Rather than seeing the world as a hodge-podge of component parts, Paul saw the mystery of humanity as a whole in need of God. And he saw that mystery solved at the Cross of Christ, vanquished at the Empty Tomb.

In Focus: Yet in dealing with the mysterious notions of faith, Paul recognized there was a problem. The world had not seen the revelation that God had given him, and this included many who knew much of God’s revelation at that point.

The result was that Paul suffered tribulation for his beliefs. These tribulations were not private, and even in the pre-social media age, the church at Ephesus knew of them. His concern was not that he escape further tribulation. This may be our typical response, but Paul saw something more alarming than his own welfare.

He saw the potential for his fellow laborers, his sharers in the mystery, to lose heart (Ephesians 3:13). If they lost heart, then they would not pass on what they had learned. Even worse, they may have neglected the confident access to God through Christ (Ephesians 3:11-12). Consider the horror! Jesus suffered, died, and rose again that we may have access, confident access through faith.

And seeing Paul suffer was causing some wavering in the hearts of the Ephesians. That could not be left unaddressed.

In Practice: Not being an Ephesians, what do we do with this?

First, we learn the mystery of God. This is not some esoteric knowledge, for it is fully revealed in Christ Jesus. We have all we need in the Word of God, so learn the mystery.

Second, we act in line with the mystery of God. Divisions that we celebrated before the Cross are only to our shame now. The unsearchable riches of Christ are available to all—even us Gentiles!

Third, we pray in accordance with the mystery of God. Prayer is petitioning the Almighty, either on our behalf or for others. It is speaking with God, the King Eternal. And we may do so boldly. Praying for God’s will to be done is not the same as praying wimpy. Christian, you may go boldly to God. Better a “no” to your bold request than no request made at all, as we learn to trust Him.

Fourth, we encourage others in the mystery. Do not lose heart, and do not sit idly by while others lose heart. Build them up, hold them up, and do not let the tribulations that you will experience for being faithful pull you down.

Keep in mind, you share the beliefs of Paul, and the world has only changed methods, not masters. They persecuted him for what he said and did based on his beliefs in Jesus, and will do the same to us.

Keep heart, keep the faith, and share the mystery and wonder of the grace of God, through Christ Jesus our Lord!

In Nerdiness: Anybody notice Ephesians 3:3? “As I wrote before in brief”?

There’s another epistle to the Ephesians. Maybe it’s a postcard. We don’t have it, we don’t know what’s in it.

This does tell us that Paul’s writing exceeds what we regard as canonical. It also exceeds what is referenced, generally, in most of the Patristic writers. I can’t say that exhaustively, but generally speaking the references to Paul’s writings are fairly close to our own list.

What do we do with this?

1. We don’t panic.

2. We recognize that God preserved what we needed.

3. We use this springboard into trying to understand how we came to have what we have.

And then we also craft historical fiction about it, just for fun :)

Monday, May 26, 2014

An Observation for Memorial Day

Thirteen years ago, my daughter was born. We welcomed her in our own family way, and had no fears of wandering armies snatching her, nor of her being butchered in genocide because of our faith.

We named her as we chose, and had to submit to no government whether or not she would have siblings. We have taught her to read and to think, and she has grown freely. We take her with us to vote, and we have taught her to speak her mind.

She has access to firearms, freedom to be educated, and faces only the normal American worries of traffic, crime, and taxes.

That’s the life she knows.

And it’s not because I make enough money to bribe out the problems.

It is because hundreds of thousands of men and women have shed their blood and given their lives for that freedom. From those killed on the battlefield, to those fathers and mothers who never came back from training and security missions in a war that was cold in name only, to those who seek the enemies of freedom to this day.

On behalf of a teenager whose biggest concern today is cheesecake and barbecue, thank you. As a father who could not provide the security you have given, thank you.

Sermon Recap: May 25

Another week, another sermon recap.

Morning Sermon:

2 Chronicles 5: Unmeasured Sacrifice

Audio Download Link

Video:

May 25 AM: Unmeasured Sacrifice from Doug Hibbard on Vimeo.

Evening Sermon:

1 Kings 10: Evident Wisdom

Audio Download Link

May 25 PM: Evident Wisdom from Doug Hibbard on Vimeo.

Concluding Notes:

1. I do have the rough audio of Sunday Night’s Q&A session, but I’m not sure yet that it’s useful for posting.

2. I am not sure how to improve video quality with the current equipment.

3. If you want to subscribe, here’s a list:

A. iTunes for audio subscription link is here.

B. General Audio RSS feed for other programs is here.

C. If you’re a Stitcher User, the link is here

D. For Vimeo Video, subscribe to this channel: https://vimeo.com/channels/almyrafbc

E. For Youtube Video, subscribe here: https://www.youtube.com/user/dheagle93/

4. Yes, I think I’m not getting a lot of plays on each service or hits on each blog, but in total it’s a decent reach. A social media expert might suggest changes, but this is free-to-cheap, where I have to live right now.


5. Each blog has a “Follow” button and a “Subscribe via Email” option


6. Follow on Facebook: Doug’s Page or the First Baptist Almyra

Morning Outline (sermon doesn’t always quite match it)

1.3. Summary Sentence
The presence of God requires the unmeasured sacrifice.

1.4. Background to Text
The Temple is constructed; built, pretty, a worthy Temple for a worthy God.

Solomon has used the wealth of David and the power of Israel to accomplish this.

1.5. Major Theme in Text
Unmeasured sacrifice: first, for the Presence of God to come.

Unmeasured sacrifice: second, when the Presence of God has come.

1.6. Concepts of the Text
1. We must count the cost and realize that it is beyond measure.

2. We must count that Jesus has fulfilled the need, dying in our place because the blood of sheep and oxen can never take away sin.

3. When God's presence is in the life of the believer, then we are consumed with Him, not our own views.

4. When God's presence is in the life of the church, we set aside our own desire to be "useful" and worship.

5. When God's presence is clear, we know His lovingkindness

Even though it is still just a glimpse

1.7. Application Point
A: Confess our sin--pride, anger, distraction--the call is for us all to come to the presence of God

B: Share the news of the sacrifice: One aspect that we miss here is that some of the "all Israel" that came would have been ceremonially unclean. They needed sacrifice to be able to be in the presence of God.

We are the same way: without the substitution of Jesus for us, we are unclean. Yet the Sacrifice is provided for us and the multitude. It is not about the need but about the abundance of the provision.

C: Release our need to be the powers that be, our need to be in charge, to dominate the schedule. I do not doubt that the singers, the priests, the ministers, and the people all had plans. The presence of God changed their plans

Evening Outline

1.2. Summary Sentence
If we are honoring the Lord God in our life, it will be clear to others.

1.3. Background to Text
Background on Sheba/Sabea/Sabellians/

Relationships going forward

Fame/trade

1.4. Major Theme in Text
God's wisdom is evident if it is in your life. You cannot hide it.

1.5. Application Point
Gain the wisdom of following the Lord; make it known; share it with others.

Do not neglect God's full truth:

 

Page

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Book: The Return of the Kosher Pig

Programming Note: Friday night, I graduate from seminary, so I’ll be quiet until then. I could not resist tackling this review, though, and it’s got a due date.
Where does one begin when a book is titled The Return of the Kosher Pig? For most Gentiles, the one thing we know clearly about “kosher” is that pigs, well, aren’t. Haven’t ever been, and generally we think they never will be.
Then we turn to the subtitle: The Divine Messiah in Jewish Thought. Now we start to see where Rabbi Itzhak Shapira is headed. His goal is to develop an explanation of how Jewish Rabbinic teachings (the Midrash and Talmud, especially) explain the Messiah. From there, he goes on to connect their teaching back to Jesus of Nazareth, who Christians have long claimed is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament and explained in the New Testament.
Here is where this book gets dicey for me to review: I am not well-versed in the Rabbinic literature. Not at all. Shapira’s quotations are noted (and joyously, we celebrate the FOOTNOTES!) throughout, and his quotations are accurate as far as I can research. However, there are questions of context that are hard to answer. In this, I think it is worth noting that he is often quoting rabbinical sources written since the time of Jesus, and therefore who rejected Jesus as the Messiah. To reach a conclusion that Jesus is the Messiah will require reframing those quotes.
Overall, The Return of the Kosher Pig is definitely an academic book and not a light-reading book. There is a tremendous amount of information and theology to wrestle with, as well as some basic history to know. Shapira’s style is a little more familiar than some academic works, as he is attempting to write persuasively. The material was easy to get through, even though it took some effort to digest.
The particular value I found in reading Shapira’s work is better understanding why those in the Jewish faith have not reached the same conclusion about Jesus of Nazareth (or YeShua, as He is called in the book). While that was not the intention, seeing the mass of writing and reflection on the identity of the Messiah explains why one might not see what I see, especially since I was raised to see it.
I would find that this text would be valuable for someone researching the claims of Jesus and Christianity, or seeking to better grasp the common roots of these two belief systems.
Oh, and the “Kosher Pig” idea is drawn from Shapira’s understanding of some of the rabbinical teachings regarding the end of time, when the pig will be seen as acceptable. He connects this to the end-time reconciliation of YeShua and the Jewish people, that they will embrace who they had rejected.
This is definitely one of those books that falls in the “you’ll like this book if you like this sort of book” category. If you’re just a casual reader with no interest in theology, Judaism, or Christianity, then skip it. But if you’d like to know more—grab a copy. See what you can learn.
Book provided by the publisher in exchange for the review. My opinion is my own and not hired, and do not represent that I have fact-checked all aspects of any work.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sermon Recap for May 18

Blog Note: I am going this week to graduate from seminary. As in, literally walk the stage and have them hand me a piece of paper that says “GET OUT AND GO AWAY!” So, except for a book review that will post tomorrow, I’ll be quiet. Upon my return, though, I will actually have a Master’s Degree in hand, so then I’ll be ready to go Smile

 

Sunday Morning Sermon: Transitions  and Reconciliation 1 Kings 2:1-12

Video:

May 18 AM: 1 Kings 2 Reconciliation from Doug Hibbard on Vimeo.

Sunday Evening Sermon: Security Psalm 141

Video:

Psalm 141: May 18 PM from Doug Hibbard on Vimeo.

Prior Sermon Audio is here: http://dheagle93.libsyn.com/

Concluding Notes:

1. I do have the rough audio of Sunday Night’s Q&A session, but I’m not sure yet that it’s useful for posting.

2. I am not sure how to improve video quality with the current equipment.

3. If you want to subscribe, here’s a list:

A. iTunes for audio subscription link is here.

B. General Audio RSS feed for other programs is here.

C. If you’re a Stitcher User, the link is here

D. For Vimeo Video, subscribe to this channel: https://vimeo.com/channels/almyrafbc

E. For Youtube Video, subscribe here: https://www.youtube.com/user/dheagle93/

4. Yes, I think I’m not getting a lot of plays on each service or hits on each blog, but in total it’s a decent reach. A social media expert might suggest changes, but this is free-to-cheap, where I have to live right now.


5. Each blog has a “Follow” button and a “Subscribe via Email” option


6. Follow on Facebook: Doug’s Page or the First Baptist Almyra Page

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Long Enough: Deuteronomy 1

In Summary: Deuteronomy. The names means “second law” in Greek, and this book essentially recaps the life of Israel from Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. Included are reminders of crucial laws, but excluded are details like the size of the Ark of the Covenant.

One of the differences in the telling of Deuteronomy is the presentation in first person. I am of the opinion that Deuteronomy represents the record of Moses’ oral presentations to the people of Israel. The more natural manner of speaking would be first-person, using words like “I” to describe what he saw.

This first chapter deals with how the people of Israel have reached their current situation. They are in the wilderness area just across the Jordan River from the land of Canaan. In modern terms, they are in Jordan, or thereabouts. Moses retells the Exodus, briefly, and then about the wandering times. He does appear to cast the light a little brighter on himself than Exodus does.

The retelling is necessary because we are now looking at an entirely different generation of Israelites than we had at Exodus 12. These are the ones who were less than 20 at Kadesh-Barnea and the spies, they are the replacement for the unfaithful generation.

And they have come close to the land, and camped near Mount Nebo.

In Focus: Take a good, hard look at Deuteronomy 1:6. Moses reminds the people of what God said at Mount Horeb (another name for Mt. Sinai). They had been at the mountain “long enough.” 1:7 contains the command to “turn and set your journey, and go.”

The people of Israel were to be done sitting around, learning and developing. It was time to put into practice what God had called them to do, what He had prepared them for. It was time to take their position as a royal priesthood and holy nation, taking the light of YHWH to the nations.

The people had learned holiness. They had seen God’s mighty hand act in salvation. They were organized both for war and for life in the land in the principle of the judges over 50s. They were ready.

Then they faltered, and turned back. All was ready and prepared, but their faith failed. Now, Moses brings them back to this point:

It’s been long enough. It was time to get going.

In Practice: You should see where this is headed. Consider your life, Christian, and what God has prepared you for—and stop clinging to where you have been. Go forward, obey, take action to do what God has commanded.

Consider your life, church, and what God has prepared you for—and stop clinging to what has been. We are not called and equipped mope and lament the state of the world. We are called and equipped to stand forward into battle for the souls of humanity. We are called and equipped not to whine about where prayer is not allowed or where God is not welcome, but to pray without ceasing and to be the evidence of an ever-present God.

Consider your life, Church, and what God has prepared us for—and stop clinging to petty divisions where we have them. We are called to walk in unity, guided by the Word of God as we serve the Word Incarnate. Let us stop seeking the powers of this world, either to support us or even permit us, and go forward. People are dying—our fellow believers die for their testimony and the unsaved die to face eternal wrath. And we are worried about names on the sign.

It has been long enough. Let us get to work.

In Nerdiness: The Hebrew title for Deuteronomy is “These are the words,” taken from the opening line. Deuteronomy is based on the Greek words for second law, which informed the Latin title in the Vulgate of the 5th Century, AD.

The author? Moses, with some editorial emendations. I like the idea of this as the transcription of oral instruction to the people.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wednesday Wanderings for 5/14

We’re taking a look in 1 Chronicles 22 tonight, and I’m hung up on the idea that David wasn’t permitted to build the Temple. The reason given is that he had shed much blood (1 Chronicles 22:8). I can see that in light of the continual warfare, but was it not done at God’s command?

I think, but I’m not sure, that there are a few more things to consider in light of this.

First, David went overboard at times. Consider back to his time at Ziklag in 1 Samuel 30, among others. David not only fought, but he tended to go ahead and kill off survivors or slaughter whole towns.

Second, David went along with violent men. Looking at Joab and others, David allowed violent people into his inner circle, and went along with their actions. Even when he knew what they had been up to and disagreed with it.

Third, violence retains consequences. Every person killed in battle with David and Israel, and every civilian killed afterward in the mop-up work, was a bearer of the image of God. True, many of them were in opposition to Israel and would have gladly done the same had their side won, but death is still a loss. Violence is still a problem.

Fourth, our actions for God may not be as much in line with God’s righteousness as we think. Take note of how many wars David fought that were neither defensive nor commanded by God. God was with him as he fought, but were these righteous? I’m not sure—but it reads like David thought so.

This all leads me to wonder: What am I doing that, in the long run, disqualifies from serving God fully? Is there some way in which I think I am doing for God but am not?

I’m not sure. But it bears consideration in all our lives.

Be Sensible! Proverbs 14:15 for May 2014

Today, we turn to Proverbs 14, specifically Proverbs 14:15. Here we find a contrast between naiveté and sensibility. This is different from the usually contrasts in Proverbs which fall between the righteous and the wicked. Instead, we see a contrast between one who has learned to pay attention, and the one blundering through life.

Naive, or simple, in the context of Proverbs refers to those folks who are essentially blundering through life. It is the natural, original status of man and the Proverbs are written to help us rise above that status (Proverbs 1:4). In fact, the testimony of YHWH is provided to make the naive into the wise (Psalm 19:7), capturing one of the purposes for God’s Word in our lives.

There is no fault found with the naive in Proverbs until they choose naiveté over wisdom. As parents should recognize, there are times people make mistakes in ignorance and innocence. Consequences remain, but the willfulness of the heart matters here—while the naive person needs to learn, they do not earn the punishment of fools.

Sensible people are contrasted with the naive here. The sensible person is perhaps not quite wise, but has begun the process of learning and growing. This man may not be wise, but he is working on it. Further, “wise” in Proverbs carries a definite moral connotation of following YHWH well. The sensible person may not be there, spiritually, but is still working toward it.

This contrast, then, is not as strongly about spiritual and moral character as it is about old-fashioned horse sense. The naive and sensible can be assumed to intend to do right in the eyes of God, otherwise they would be recorded as fools, but here they illustrate how intentions are not all that matters.

The indicator of naiveté is the one who believes everything. You know a few naive people, especially on the Internet. They repeat everything that comes into their inbox: that the fish are toxic, the Republicans are out to rule us all, the Democrats are out to tax us to death, everybody wants a gun, everybody wants to take our guns away, and so forth.

That is not to say there is not a kernel of truth at the heart of many rumors, but the naive believe every last bit of it. They not only believe that man has an impact on the environment, but that specifically only white men in SUVs are killing us all. Or not only do they believe that President Obama ignored Benghazi and tried to use it for his own political purposes, but that it’s all part of a long-running plot, devised by him, while he was an elementary student in a Muslim school.

The naive are the people who were on the Atkins diet, binging on meat and avoiding all bread, right up until they shifted immediately to a vegan diet. Then they’ll shift and condemn the vegans as they have the meat-eaters. The willingness to blow about without an anchor is a mark of naiveté.

Sensible people, in contrast, think through things. They may be slower to engage, but they are more durable in the end. The sensible person knows that the thoughts of man are only evil all the time (Genesis 6) and so trusts no governing officials. Sensible people consider all the facts, then render an opinion. This is what we want to be, who we want to be.

 

Studying the Word of God helps the naive outgrow their simple-mindedness. Dig in and grow!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Be Seated: Ephesians 2

I see here the immense crazy idea that doing one blog post per chapter of Scripture is. It would take me multiple sermons to cover this chapter. I’m going to do it under 1000 words here. Right.

In Summary: Ephesians 2 is one of the best, concise expressions of the grace of God in Scripture. The chapter starts with the declaration that we begin life dead in our sins, but even this begins with a positive feel as Paul uses the past tense to say that is what we were.

It’s not even really the past tense that is used, but what in Greek is called the “aorist,” which is one of those great big linguistic issues which we won’t deal with here. Suffice it to say this: aorist verbs typically refer to one-time, finished events. There are exceptions to this grammatically, but that is the general rule.

So when we see statements like raised us up with Him (Jesus) or you have been brought near (to God), we need to see them in this light. It’s an action that has been finished.

Carrying on through the chapter we find that salvation was not merely a matter of erasing sin, but reconciling the enemies of God back to Himself. And that in the process, God worked in us to accomplish the unity of His people. Not only are we reconciled to God, but able to relate to one another through the work of Jesus. It’s a big deal.

In Focus: This is stated clearly in Ephesians 2:6 where Paul speaks of our being seated with Jesus in the heavenly places. Here are the two things I think we should note from this:

1. Take the idea of being seated at a banquet at which you have no business. You are there only because someone who does belong has brought you with him. Now, amplify that—a lot. This is how we are seated in the heavenly places: we don’t belong there, but Jesus does. He brought us, we sit on His reputation and His grace in maintaining us.

2. Continuing that metaphor, who are any of us to dispute with the ones Jesus has brought with Him? We are all here because of God’s grace, not because His feast wouldn’t be much without me. The unity of the body of Christ comes as an obligation on us, not a choice we get to make.

In Practice: There is a simple portion of the practice: stop adding divisiveness to the body of Christ. Not that this is easy to implement, because some things are worthy of division. Divisiveness is when we fight over pews or chairs, hymnals or Powerpoint. Those things, and a thousand other minutiae are not worth it, and are unworthy of the banquet we are brought to.

There are other items that are important to correct or divide over. For example, there are clear truths of Scripture regarding salvation by grace alone (right here in Ephesians 2:8) or the trustworthiness of God’s revelation. These come to the definition of following Jesus in the first place.

The ones who are brought to the banquet are those who are made alive in Christ. Made alive, able to follow and walk with Christ. Life responds to the Life-giver.

In Nerdiness: After dealing with the verb tense issues already, I’m not sure how nerdy we want to get here. Ephesians 2 is definitely a place where grasping the Greek background is important. It really pays to spend a bit of time either studying it in Greek or at least snagging a good commentary that walks you through them. The interplay in aspects and tenses here livens up the passage.

Another nerd-issue to dig into here is how the Roman world’s concepts of friends and social networks come into play. This is where you get the imagery of being seated with and the kindness of God through Christ Jesus. It’s the idea that we are indebted to Jesus, and that what is done for us by God is only because of Him. There’s a lot to be studied on there.

Proverbs 13: May 2014

Proverbs 13:15 tells us that good understanding produces favor, but the way of the treacherous is hard. This is one of those proverbs that we often respond to by saying “Yeah, but…” and then fill in the situation we know that’s an exception.

Doing so demonstrates that we don’t quite grasp the perspective of the Proverbs. We have to come to this text with the perspective of the Kingdom of God.

First, the temporal kingdom in which Proverbs was first written. A kingdom ruled by God’s anointed king, where every aspect of life was to be directed by God’s Law, given by God’s own hand. In a community like this, there should be no doubt that walking with good sense, living with understanding, is rewarded. Treachery has no place in the kingdom that honors God.

That the kingdom of Israel failed to hold that standard together does not make the Proverb out to be false. It simply illustrates that we are not capable of living in respect of God’s presence without the intervention of the power of God. After all, if you cannot successfully live for God when everything runs in your favor, how are you going to hold out when it falls apart? You can’t. It takes the indwelling Spirit of God to empower that.

Second, though, let us consider the Proverbs as written into the context of the Kingdom of God that is eternal. This is not to discount the importance of Israel throughout the Word of God, but to look wider at the application. After all, not all of us are Israelites, are we?

Let us consider eternity and the idea here. Good sense, or understanding, as the verse refers to requires walking with God. This is where the Proverbs and the theme of living skillfully in fear of YHWH come around to inform our clarity. If we walk in understanding of the whole idea, we find favor from God going from here to there. Not favor enough unless we start from a place of grace, as we see in all of Scripture. But favor to work that out in life.

The contrast is that being treacherous leads to ruin. It may occur in our initial life, or it may come around in eternity. Do not let the delay persuade you that it will not come—treachery leads to ruin. Flee from it.

And walk with understanding and good sense, that you may find life a tad easier than it might have been.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Books: May Speed Reads Edition

Here’s a rundown on some books I’ve been reading:

Feminine Threads by Diana Lynn Severance. This takes a look at women in the sweep of Christian History. There are some brought out that are lesser-known, but the scope of 2,000 years keeps one from getting too many obscure names. Still, highlighting the work of women is a valuable part of history. Also, I found it surprising that I knew more names and stories of women in Christian history before 1800 than since. I’m not sure what to make of that for me, personally, but it’s true. Worth a look.

I must also commend the presence of FOOTNOTES! in Severance’s work.

 

Eric Cline’s 1177BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed has been a fascinating read so far. Since this isn’t a complete review, I haven’t read the whole book. I’m working on it, but his premise has promise. Further, his style gives details on the historical situation without grinding it out too long. I find his dealing with religious and isolated texts fair-handed. Specifically, he reads as willing to consider the Bible to have historical value even as he highlights the issues with that. Beyond this, though, there is the overall material that walks the reader through the trade networks and interconnectivity of the Bronze Age world in the Eastern Mediterranean. If you think that nations only started to talking to each other in the past 300 years, you need to read this. If you think history is all conquest, you should read it, too. I look forward to having some spare book money to gather more books in the Turning Points in History (Ancient History Series).

This has seriously stimulated more thought in history for me than I have had for some time. Well worth the time to read—at least the first 4 chapters, and I intend to make time for the rest!

Although I must lament the presence of ENDNOTES in Cline’s work.

A pair of books from Steven Pressfield:Product Details

Product Details

These two books are about developing the creative in you. I’m becoming a fan of Pressfield’s fiction, and look forward to reading more of that. But these two little books (get them e-version, cheaper) are well worth reading if you create in what you do.

Well, I just found out Ann’s finally had the chance to finish A Draw of Kings. Time to go talk books with her!

Proverbs 12: May 2014 by Doug

It feels like a long time since we’ve talked Proverbs. It has been, actually, and I have missed it. First, I was lazy. Then, life caught up with me and I have been digging out of one hole after another. Then we were building a fence and I was quite literally digging holes.

 

I would commend this to you from Oswald Chambers on spiritual habits. I was challenged by that one today.

 

The fencing puts me in mind of Proverbs 12:15, though, so let’s take a quick look at this verse. I’ll give you the ESV here, and you should be able to hover the reference for NASB: The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

 

Now, whether you like to use “counsel” in place of advice or sapiens for you Vulgate lovers, the concept here is the guidance of wise people. We have to take this proverb in context of the book. This means heeding the guidance Solomon gives regarding choosing your counselors in the first place.

 

When we look at this, then, let us proceed on the assumption that we’re dealing with counselors and advisors that live out “the fear of YHWH is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10) If we have those advisors in our lives, then we should  consider their viewpoint.

 

Too often, it’s easy to play the “I know I’m right and must face opposition” replays and act like we know it all. And there are times where you do stand alone to walk with God. Yet how often is that really true when we are surrounded by God-honoring influences who are strong in the Word of God?

 

Not near as often as you expect. Seek counsel. Seek wisdom, and gather it from others. Because our own feelings and intuitions are not trustworthy, and our clarity of thought is questionable when it’s about us.

Sermon Recap for May 11

We wanted to allow families more time to celebrate Mother’s Day, so we dismissed the evening service. Therefore, there’s only one video and one audio.

Here’s the Audio Player:

The direct Audio Link is here (No Free Sacrifices)

Vimeo:

No Free Sacrifices: 2 Samuel 24 from Doug Hibbard on Vimeo.

There was an outline, but it wasn’t very solid or followed very well, so I’m not going to post it.

Concluding Notes:

1. I do have the rough audio of Sunday Night’s Q&A session, but I’m not sure yet that it’s useful for posting.

2. I am not sure how to improve video quality with the current equipment.

3. If you want to subscribe, here’s a list:

A. iTunes for audio subscription link is here.

B. General Audio RSS feed for other programs is here.

C. If you’re a Stitcher User, the link is here

D. For Vimeo Video, subscribe to this channel: https://vimeo.com/channels/almyrafbc

E. For Youtube Video, subscribe here: https://www.youtube.com/user/dheagle93/

4. Yes, I think I’m not getting a lot of plays on each service or hits on each blog, but in total it’s a decent reach. A social media expert might suggest changes, but this is free-to-cheap, where I have to live right now.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Sermon Wrap-Up for May 4, 2014

Good Afternoon. Sorry to run late with this today, but apparently my allergies, asthma, and a minor infection are working together to keep me from being very active today.

First note: I have changed Podcast service providers. If you see any problems, please let me know.

Second note: We continue on our read through the Bible at church. I hope it’s helping you as much as it is challenging me!

 

Morning Sermon: Psalm 51 (audio download)

Video:

May 4 AM: Psalm 51 from Doug Hibbard on Vimeo.

 

Evening Sermon: 2 Samuel 6 (audio download)

May 4 PM: 2 Samuel 6 from Doug Hibbard on Vimeo.

 

Morning Outline:

Chapter 1: May 4 AM
1.1. Scripture intro
Cover the background of David's sin with Bathsheba and subsequent repentance
1.2. Opening Illustration
Address the idea of sacrifice/offering as compared to heart change and obedience going forward--give a large financial gift or live a life of faith?
1.3. Summary Sentence
We will go confess our sins as an offense to God and respond by walking in obedience
1.4. Background to Text
David has sinned, been confronted, and is crying out for forgiveness.
1.5. Major Theme in Text
The major theme is the need for restoration after sin.
1.6. Concepts of the Text
1. Sin is an offense against God, no matter the people involved.
2. First we should be restored to God
3. Then we restore to one another
4. Then we walk in obedience and fellowship
5. We continue to pour out grace because we have received it.
1.7. Application Point
1. Confess sin to the Lord God.
2. Confess sin in community for restoration and encouragement
3. Respond to the Gospel: faith, repentance, obedience
4. Share the Gospel: faith, repentance, obedience
5. Walk in Obedience

 

Evening Outline:

1.1. Scripture intro

2 Samuel 6 and 2 Samuel 7

1.2. Summary Sentence

We will worship God freely in obedience

1.3. Background to Text

The moving of the Ark of the Covenant to Jersualem

1.4. Major Theme in Text

There is acceptable worship, and we should offer it.

1.5. Concepts of the Text

1. God has given commands about how He should be worshiped

2. We should not use our freedom to do what dishonors God

3. Cultural expectations are not the same as God-centered expectations

1.6. Application Point

Drop your opposition to worship just because it's not to your "taste" and celebrate Jesus.

Peace in a time of Pandemic

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