Monday, June 30, 2014

Sermon Wrap-Up for June 29

Well, June is ending. Half the year is gone, and it’s time to move into the next half. If you’re reading through the Bible and are on-plan, you’re halfway there!

Morning Sermon: TREASON! 2 Chronicles 23

June 29 AM: Treason! from Doug Hibbard on Vimeo.

Also, we had this to start our service:

 

We joined the Methodists for the evening service, so there is no video.

Outline:

1.1. Scripture intro
First, we deal with the background information:
Wicked Queen Ahtaliah holds the throne, though she ought not do so. She took the throne at the cost of the lives of the royal household.
Only Joash is delivered by the courage of Jehoshabeath.
Over time, Jehoshabeath, daughter of former King Jehoram and wife of Jehoiada the priest, hands over Joash to Jehoiada to raise..
What happens to Jehoshabeath? (Jehosheba) Does she survive the purge? Is Zechariah a child from a second wife, later?
1.2. Opening Illustration
That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence, and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practise Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other1
1.3. Summary Sentence
We are citizens of a nation, but subjects of the King. We will not commit Treason against the King.
1.4. Background to Text
Closing on the end of the existence of Judah--Israel is already gone.
1.5. Major Theme in Text
Obedience to God's King is more important than anything else.
Secondary: no power grabs, no matter how vicious, stop God's promises
1.6. Concepts of the Text
1. A wicked world stops at nothing.
2. A righteous woman can make all the difference.
3. A righteous man must choose to stand.
4. A righteous people will defy a wicked government.
5. A righteous church will fight.
1.7. Application Point
1 Faith and Mission 8, no. 1 (1990): 69.

 

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:

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

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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.


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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wednesday Wanderings: Elijah and Elisha

This week’s readings have mainly covered the lives of Elijah and Elisha, including the various kings they lived under. These two men of God are an interesting pair in the Old Testament, and are probably the best known part of Israelite history after David and Solomon.

In keeping with the spirit of the Wednesday Wanderings posts, I’m not going to elaborate greatly on Elijah and Elisha here. You can find them in 1 Kings and 2 Kings (a sermon here touches on them, as well). Here are, instead, a mix of questions and observations:

  • Elisha managed to be safe from the Arameans by going to Alabama? 2 Kings 6:13 says he was in Dothan.
  • In that passage of 2 Kings 6:8-23, there is the occurrence of Elisha’s servant being enabled to see the Army of God in the hills. This is one of those events that make Biblical interpretation and application interesting. Why? Is it normative or was this a one-time event? Should we expect to see the Army of God at times?
  • 2 Kings 8:10 has God’s prophet telling Hazael to lie to Ben-Hadad. That’s odd.
  • When I took Hebrew, one area that caught my attention was 1 Kings 19:12, where the textbook suggested that our traditional “God’s voice is a still small whisper” is not correct. We take that concept from here, but the authors suggest that the Voice of God should be understood as a clear voice over, in, and among the sounds of the fire and wind. Why? Because God never speaks without clarity. It was interesting enough to stick with me, but I don’t recall the exact terminology.
  • Micaiah gets too little credit (2 Chronicles 18)
  • I’m not sure what to do, ethically, with stories like 2 Kings 1. Do the fifties and their commanders deserve to die? What is up with that?
  • Elisha’s request for the “double portion” from Elijah is the request to inherit as the primary son. This ties in with the concept of the “sons of the prophets” as those who preach/teach God’s Word to the people at the time. Elisha desires to attain to the high level of leadership.
  • This also communicates to us that leadership is not bad, nor is ambition if that ambition is to serve the Lord, or to be the first at risk. Take that under consideration.
  • 2 Kings 9:20 reminds me of many youth ministers… “He drives like a madman!”
  • Jehu’s treachery in accomplishing a good purpose in 2 Kings 10 is unjustifiable: there is no right understanding that the ends always justify the means. God is as concerned with the means of our obedience as the ends.

There’s so much more here than we usually take note of in our reading. Don’t neglect it.

Book: Titus for You

The Pauline Epistle of Titus is one that I have long taken for granted. After all, it’s a Pastoral Epistle, written to Titus as he ministers on the island of Crete. Therefore, it’s mainly relevant to ministers, and especially ministers dealing with cretins, right?

Tim Chester’s Titus for You cuts against that viewpoint. In the 120 pages of this durable hardcover, Chester extracts ideas from Titus that are useful for all Christians. It is worth noting that this is intended as a Biblical devotional book, not an in-depth commentary.

Chester’s work follows the pattern of the other “For You” books from the Good Book Company. The text is divided into shorter segments, and then each segment is discussed. Modern application points are raised for each section, and discussion questions push the reader to think more deeply about the text.

The major benefit here is Chester’s emphasis on Titus in the life of all believers, rather than focusing on Paul’s pastoral instructions. He does this by focusing on how we should live as leaders and servants in whatever context we have, highlighting those passages rather than attempting to hash out exactly what is occurring in church application. Additionally, he makes strong application to the body dynamic rather than the individual life of believers.

This comes at the cost of background information and expanded hermeneutics. The reader of Titus for You will come away with very little understanding of how Titus used this information in Crete, or even how it matter in Crete. While the book becomes a shorter reader this way, it does soften the usefulness by blunting the punch of Scripture. Readers will come away with a better understanding of Titus but not a clearer grasp on how to interpret Scripture as a whole.

The result is a valuable devotional book on Titus, but no real development of Bible interpretation tools. Those will have to come from elsewhere.

Everything else about this is good: the glossary, the lack of ENDNOTES, and the respect for Scripture. I would point out that there are no FOOTNOTES, either, as everything appears to be internally reference. There is a valuable further reading section.

I have no qualms about recommending Titus for You. It is helpful for a sharper sword in dealing with Titus, and the main drawback is the lack of training in sword-sharpening.

 

Free book received in exchange for the review.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Prayerful Action: Ephesians 6

In Summary: Paul is wrapping up his letter to the Church of Ephesus. Naturally, the last chapter is not just his farewells and concluding thoughts, but the continuation of his prior instructions. After all, he didn’t mark where Ephesians 6 should begin. If Paul had done the paragraphs, I think he would have separated Ephesians 6:21-24 as a section. (As in the ESV and NIV)

Before that there are two major portions of this chapter. The first finishes the specific application points from Ephesians 5, detailing parenting and slave-master relationships. It is important to note that the latter were a fact of Roman life, and Paul addresses living in reality rather than prescribing a future way of life. An ideal Christian world does not have right master-slave relationships. It has no slavery, and Ephesians 6:9 should make that clearer to us all. After all, how would slavery ever work without threatening? It does not.

The interaction between parents and children is also in view in the first section of Ephesians 6. As we are wont to do at times, overemphasis hits “children obey your parents” without much consideration of parental responsibility. Yet both are here, and neither are optional. These concepts also turn much of traditional Roman family life sideways. Children obeyed their parents because parents had life and death power (well, fathers did), and fathers did as they pleased. Paul says that the Christian household is characterized by a focus on Christ, a trust in His promises, and a commitment that all walk with Jesus.

Not on power exercised by only one person in the household. Those implications need filling out over time, but no Christian household is rightly dominated by any person other than the Person of Jesus Christ. Modern society sees child-dominated homes, wife-dominated homes, husband-dominated homes, and sin/chaos-dominated homes. Christian homes should not look like any of these.

In Focus: Turning our eyes to the second major section, we find the Armor of God passage. If you have been in church long, or if you have been in a Christian youth group, you’ve heard this discussed. We are to put on the armor, stand firm, and fight for the faith! (Note the evening sermon here: http://www.doughibbard.com/2013/02/sermon-warp-up-february-3.html)

I am persuaded, though, that we have cut a division at Ephesians 6:18 that does not belong there. We cut off Paul’s imperative to pray at all times, including for himself, from the Armor of God passage. We distance the preparation from the action.

Consider that the Armor Passage does not open with the command to be strong, as we often claim. It begins with the rhetorical marker of “Finally,” showing that what follows is Paul’s closing thought. It should be treated as a unified thought.

In Practice: If the Armor of God is related to prayer for one another, including and especially prayer to proclaim the Word of God (Ephesians 6:19-20), then we should focus on this action. Soldiers did not wear armor around just for show—not functional armor. It weighs too much for that.

We need to grasp that neither prayer nor action are the call of the Christian life. The call of the Christian life is to walk in obedience to Jesus, which requires constant prayerful action. Paul does not commend additional prayer times or further prayer meetings.

Neither does he command that the Church take on physical training or even specific programs. Instead, the command is to be ready, do battle, and pray always. Pray for the saints to prepare, to persevere, and to proclaim.

This is what obedience looks like: aware of danger, attached to the power of God, advancing into the darkness. This is what we should be doing.

In Nerdiness: Take a look at 2 Timothy 4:12 and Acts 20:4. We see the name Tychicus, as we have in Ephesians 6:21. It is possible to make the error of assuming all Biblical people with the same name are the same person, though “Mary” and “James” should clear that up for us.

Still, one can imagine that the Tychicus of Ephesians and the Tychicus of 2 Timothy are the same. Notice that in 2 Timothy, Paul has sent Tychicus to Ephesus. Now, we take Ephesians as a Prison Letter, drawn up by Paul while under guard and in chains. That much we are certain of. Frequently, though, we place Paul in his Acts 28 imprisonment here, where conditions are at least decent. We put 2 Timothy all the way at the end of his life.

Yet we put Ephesians earlier. I am searching my available sources for reasons why, but that’s a nerd concept that needs examined. How does the involvement of Tychicus affect our timelines of the Pauline Epistles?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Book: What is Biblical Theology?

One of the pitfalls of book reviewing is addressing books written by people that are obviously incredibly smarter than you are as a reviewer. While this may have never happened to you, it hits me from time to time, and today’s book is certainly one of those. What is Biblical Theology? by James M. Hamilton Jr., (Ph.D., professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), is from one of the sharper minds currently active in evangelical theology.

What is Biblical Theology? addresses the title question. Now, that may seem obvious to you, but it’s not uncommon to see a book pose a question and then chase a rabbit. The other action is to pose a question, then grind an axe in your answer rather than truly express the material.

Hamilton has avoided those two pitfalls here. He begins with a basic explanation of the term “biblical theology” and then works forward by expanding how he sees the grand narrative of the Bible.

This is the strongest aspect of Hamilton’s work. When I was in seminary, the courses I took on “Biblical Theology” were a little loose on defining the concept, and carved it out more as a sub-discipline of “Systematic Theology.” Here, we see a clear definition and exposition of theology working through Scripture.

In making the concepts clear, Hamilton has held back on the deeper ranges of theological understanding. His desire that readers finish this book, rather than glaze over and give up, motivates the brevity. Could more examples be given? Certainly, and I have that book in hardcover on my shelf, written by the same author: God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment. It is five times as long, and not likely to be read through in a week.

This is the strength of What is Biblical Theology? One can read through it readily for an introduction to the concepts of theology. The smaller size brings the cost down, and makes this a potential deep-reading choice for the study group or advancing solo learner.

I am uncertain whether this is an up or a down for the work, but oddly enough there are neither footnotes nor endnotes. For the most part, Hamilton uses simple parenthetical citations, with a concise further reading section finishing off the book.

Heartily recommend this for a clear look at the overall theology of the Bible. Rather than starting with a point and then proving it, Hamilton works clearly across what the text of Scripture says and demonstrates what it, therefore, means.

I was sent an e-copy of the e-book in e-xchange for the e-review.

Proverbs 23 June 2014

In Proverbs 23:6-8, Solomon warns against dining with selfish individuals. Especially, concern is raise regarding desiring what the selfish man has. Why? Because the selfish man will not, in his heart, join with you.

What do we do with this?

1. Share openly. This is the stretch of the passage, but let’s hit it first. Do not be the selfish man. (Or woman) When you give, when you are in fellowship with others, do not spend your time counting the cost and holding against your guests. Build fellowship, and don’t invite folks to a steak dinner with a hamburger heart. Or a hamburger budget: if your heart is full but your wallet is not, then openly provide what you can, rather than trying to impress.

2. Be cautious in receiving. If you are dining with those whose hearts are not with you, then do not be swept up in the delicacies. Be aware of what is really going on. If Boss Hogg invites you to a barbecue, he’s not being nice. He wants information on the Duke boys…or your keys to the car.

3. Focus on the fellowship. While we do not isolate from those whose hearts are far from us, consider this question: How many meals do you eat in a day? How many of those include time for relationship building?

Now, how many of those do you want to waste on relationships that will never grow?

Consider that question when you think about how your time is spent. Instead of chasing that next power lunch, chase the more valuable: good relationships.

Sermon Recap for June 22

Good Morning! Here is the recap from yesterday. You can click the sermon titles for direct audio downloads or use the embedded players.

I. Morning Sermon: Compromised 1 Kings 20

Compromised: 1 Kings 20 June 22 AM from Doug Hibbard on Vimeo.

II. Evening Sermon: Gods and Ditches 2 Kings 3

Gods and Ditches: June 22 PM from Doug Hibbard on Vimeo.

III. Outlines:

June 22 AM 1 Kings 20

Background: Invasion/conquest? Nope. Just pressure from outside powers

Situation:

1. Compromise, but it's not enough

2. Stand up

3. Falter from obedience

Response:

1. Never compromise with the world out of fear: you can never compromise enough

2. Never compromise with God on obedience: you can not hide that

3. God remains in control and capable, no matter what the appearance of things

4. God will defend His name, even if that allows sinful kings to remain for a time.

June 22 PM 2 Kings 3

Background: divided kingdom, going to war together against common foe

1. Who are your gods?

     A. In peace?

     B. In crisis?

2. Are you digging ditches?

3. Application point: if we do not act like we expect God to work, we will not see God work.

     A. Preparation

     B. Commitment

     C. Planning

     D. Doing

     E. Going

 

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

Friday, June 20, 2014

Book: Worshipping with Calvin

Today’s Book is one of those big, thick nerdy books. I like those books Smile

I think the first point to be made is that this is Worshipping with Calvin. Not “Worshipping Calvin,” or even “Worshipping like Calvin.” Too often, Reformed Protestant folks are accused of trying to sidle up more with their favorite Reformer than paying attention to the Word.

With that in mind, consider what Calvin and the other Reformers set out to do: recover Biblical practice in the Church at large. Most of them had shortcomings and blind spots in diverse areas, but they attempted to work through the implications of Biblical seriousness on all portions of life.

This includes the “worship” aspects of the Church gathered in community. This is the concept of worship addressed in this book—while there is adequate acknowledgement that worship is in all of life, the focus here is on the Church gathered.

Terry L. Johnson’s work here is clearly intended for extended thought and perusal. This is no summer beach read.

If it’s not a summer beach read, then what it is?

Worshipping with Calvin is a serious look at how Calvin structured and led churches in worship, and how those traditions morphed over time. Some attention is given to the rise of neo-Calvinism in Western Christianity, and this justifies the publication of the book. After all, if a church is embracing a Calvinist direction in its theology, as Capitol Hill Baptist in DC does, then a logical practical question is how that affects the worship gatherings of the church.

The case is made here for a robust worship service based in Scripture. Scripture should drive the content of the songs, Scripture should be read, and Scripture should be preached.

In the music, particularly, care is taken to highlight the value of varied types of music. Though many of the early Reformers had a preference for Psalm-singing only, Johnson advocates hymnody with a strong Biblical content as well. This is valuable.

Overall, I can appreciate the effort here. I think that Johnson is answering problems that affect some churches, but not all, though they are potentially hazardous anywhere people are involved.

I certainly must mention the largest drawback of this book: ENDNOTES. There are explanations and alternate points of view noted some hundred pages after the fact. It’s the publisher, but it’s still a drawback.

Additionally, I would suggest that this is a text for a serious study of worship, and would be a valuable part of a leadership examination of a church’s worship practice. It’s not a Sunday School book, for certain, and probably not one that will hold the interest of those moving quickly through topics.

I am not willing to say that Johnson has given us exactly how every church ought to worship, but he has given some excellent food for thought to the church.

432 pp, softcover, from EP Books. Also on Kindle.

Book received in exchange for the review. Review initially appeared at Learning, Teaching, and Laughing, my personal blog.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Consequences: Deuteronomy 3

In Summary: Moses is wrapping his “How we got there” presentation for the people of Israel. Deuteronomy 3 addresses the final conquests and how some of the tribes have come to settle on the eastern half of the Jordan River.

The various battles are remembered, as are the travels. The conditions of the eastern tribes are remembered, that they are to continue in battle while their non-combatants build life in the conquered territory.

In Focus: Then Moses gets down to his point. You may recall from Numbers 20:9-12 that Moses was barred from entering the Promised Land because he struck the rock that God had told him to speak to. This public act of disobedience led to judgment on Moses.

This is the third mention of this event in Scripture. There is the event’s record in Numbers, Moses mentions it earlier in Deuteronomy, and then he returns to it here. This is the first time, though, that Moses mentions pleading with YHWH to undo that punishment.

God, however, refuses. Moses appeals to God, but Moses also deflects responsibility for his actions onto the people of Israel. God’s response is that the judgment on Moses stands.

In Practice: What I think we need to take from this are these points:

1. The consequences of our sins are inescapable. We may mitigate them some what, but they will remain in effect. Sometimes, they are inescapable. The grace of God averts some penalty, He does not relent everything.

Keep in mind, Jesus took the death penalty for sin, but that does prevent bad things from happening in response to sin. If you, for example, drink and drive, God’s grace will allow a believer into heaven—but it won’t prevent the wreck!

2. Taking responsibility for our actions is critical. Moses here sounds a bit defensive and petty. God was angry with me because of you? Nonsense. God was angry with Moses because of his own actions.

You are responsible for what you do. At lower points of maturity, others are responsible for what they involve you in—no child is responsible for the sins of adults—but as you grow, you are responsible for maturing!

(A quick reinforcement: below certain ages/maturity levels, a person is not responsible for partnering with someone else in sin. It is not possible for a teenager to be responsible for an adult involving them in sexual sin, for example. The adult is responsible. Always. Every time.)

3. God has no ego to stroke. When you look at Deuteronomy 3:24, Moses praises God but does so in hopes of receiving something from Him.

God does not get played like that. Praise for the sake of the glory of God, and trust God to do what is right.

In Nerdiness:  I find curious the mention in Deuteronomy 3:11 of the “ordinary cubit” (NASB) or “common cubit” (ESV). This indicates that there were differing cubits. Also, note that the translation is taken to be idiomatic from the literal “cubit of a man.” There’s something in that for deep study.

Also as a piece of fun nerdiness in the same verse: apparently, Og’s bed became part of a tourist attraction. It is as if Moses wanted to point out that his readers could go look if they didn’t believe his word. Great thought: ancient museums!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Book: Strange Glory

http://www.randomhouse.com/images/dyn/cover/?source=9780307269812&width=125

Let me get this out of the way, then we’ll look at Charles Marsh’s Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: for the nineteenth time, explanatory endnotes in print books are a pain in the neck to readers. Footnotes, though cluttering the page, can and should be used. Thank you, publishers, for listening…someday.

Now, on to Strange Glory. I am, personally, a fan of Eric Metaxas’s work on Bonhoeffer (refer here), but I also know that biographies tend to have slants to them. That work slanted toward Bonhoeffer as a heroic figure for modern Evangelical Christianity.

Marsh in his work presents a slightly different tilt on Bonhoeffer, and perhaps his tilt is a response to Metaxas in a way. Presented here is Bonhoeffer who grew up without much need for attending church, and proceeded to enter the academic and upper class worlds of Germany.

Strange Glory presents Bonhoeffer who struggled with various issues, and takes a deeper look at the year spent in America (1930-1931) than other biographies I’ve seen. This year of Bonhoeffer’s life truly interrupted his trajectory in theology, and demonstrated faith in action—as well as lack of faith in action.

Marsh’s work reflects both an immersion and understanding of Bonhoeffer as well as good storytelling skill. He presents the comings and goings of life, even monotonous details, woven with the theology and major events such that the reader’s interest is held.

It is true that some of Marsh’s suggestions on Bonhoeffer’s personal life are questionable. He draws conclusions that will raise eyebrows, but it is hard to be certain of the reality. There is no documentary evidence, but then one is left with only suppositions either direction on some of these conclusions.

All in all, Strange Glory gives you a rounded portrait of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. You will still need a basic understanding of World War II history to grasp the wider picture, and you will benefit from a general grasp of theological terms as well. This is a worthwhile read to expand your understanding of the life of Bonhoeffer.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher.

Wednesday Wanderings: June 18

I’ve got a couple of Wednesday’s worth of Wanderings for you. That comes from getting a bit behind in the old blogging enterprise.

On background, as a church we’re reading through the Bible this year, using the One Year Chronological Plan that’s published by Tyndale. The one with the NIV, not the NLT, and yes, that’s too confusing. Part of how we’re doing this emphasis has me fielding questions from the reading every week.

Side note to ministers: First, you want the flock you tend on behalf of the Shepherd to be well-versed in Scripture. It’s healthy for them and you. Second, there’s nothing quite like taking whatever questions are thrown at you for a year. Third, I’m not doing this again next year…I think we’ll find a different way to encourage Bible reading.

We were working through the life of Solomon and the Wisdom Literature the past few weeks, and the question raised was “When did Solomon lose his wisdom?” Looking at his life, I can see where the question came from. After all, he’s got an awful lot of wives. That’s strange for someone who also wrote Song of Solomon.

The responses to that issue—how can the same person be the author of Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes? And have 700 wives, 300 concubines, and be very wise?—vary. In the academic world, we often start looking for additional possible authors or other explanations. In that vein, other authors are suggested for Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon, especially. Those arguments are often speculative and requires some study to deal with that we often can’t get into in local churches. It takes language study and such that is hard to get added as part of our discipleship.

Plus, it’s hard to work through this while keeping a focus on Biblical inerrancy. If it says “Solomon wrote this” and then you say he didn’t, some folks aren’t quite ready for that discussion. There are potential viable reasons for that, but I’m a fan of taking plain statements plainly.

The other possibilities are that the traditional authorships are correct. This means we understand Solomon in one of several ways. I posit two thoughts, though there could be others. First, we see Solomon as collapsing under his own weight. That is, he falls apart just because he’s human and weak. This is the typical way we see him.

The other, though, is to consider something a bit more imaginative. We have to keep in mind that Scripture is totally true and trustworthy in what it says. We also, though, have to admit that not every final detail is present in the text. We don’t know what Solomon typically had for breakfast, for example, so we do not know everything.

What if Solomon truly did have a love that is represented in Song of Solomon? Let us take that starting point. He marries Pharaoh's daughter, as is an unsurprising habit of the days. Political marriage alliances continue to this day—but I’ll refrain for now on that issue.

Imagine from that point what might have occurred. Here he has one or two political wives, and then finds a one true love—the Shulamite of the Song of Songs. There is no hard Biblical support here, but this is supported by the context and text of Song of Songs. Here’s a woman that is in love with and loved by Solomon.

Now, what happens if she dies in childbirth or early in their married life? How do the madly in love deal with that loss?

Typically, they react to the trauma with personality and behavior changes. Watch throughout history, throughout various and sundry cultures, and you see this as a consistent aspect of human nature. We react to trauma.

So, Solomon becomes embittered through the loss of his love. It hasn’t turned out like the storybooks say: death actually can stop true love. This bitterness leads to the feelings that result in Ecclesiastes. The behavior changes include the addiction to marriage (and sexual gratification) that we see in the carrying forward of marriages and taking concubines.

All because wisdom is not enough, and it takes a lifetime to realize that without truly building a relationship with God, suffering is inexplicable. Nothing covers it, and nothing hides it. But it can be healed.

That’s probably enough—it covers some questions on the wisdom literature, though it’s not definitely pegged to a textual location. I’m curious if any Old Testament scholar would touch that with a ten foot pole. Probably not, as it’s all speculation.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Book: Pleasant Places

Today’s book was written by a friend. So, yes, I liked it. Yes, I overlooked any aspects that professionally published, hot-shot books have. Why? Because it’s written by a friend, self-published, and worth reading.

Bloggers are an interesting mix when it comes to writing. Some bloggers write too long and convoluted for the Internet attention span. Others write just right for that blink. Some have nothing to say, and use so many words to say it that your head spins.

Some, though, have something good to say. This is what I would say of my friend, Anthony F. Russo (not sure why he needed his middle initial in there) and his book Pleasant Places.

A little background is in order. Anthony was once a more active spirituality blogger, but that pastime had to give way to various responsibilities. He then took the best of his writings for the Internet, edited them, and created this book.

It is perhaps best considered as a travelogue of his spiritual journey. Life is here, warts and all, and in Russo’s life we experience part of our own. Some of the “essays” (they were blog posts, once upon a time!) will not touch your heart or stir your thoughts.

Others, though, are well-worth your consideration. You’re not dealing with a long book here, nor with one that taxes your attention span. It’s inexpensive and inspiring.

Grab a copy today, you will enjoy it.

June 2014: Proverbs 17

A quick look at the Proverbs today. Proverbs 17:16 to be precise:

Why is there a price in the hand of a fool to buy wisdom,

When he has no sense? (NASB)

There is a footnote that points out that “when he has no sense” is a rendering for the phrase “when he has no heart.” The idea is the same: fools have no sense, no heart or head for growing in wisdom.

Here, then, is the question: Are we spending gobs of money to get smarter when we have no sense in the first place?

You must go back to Proverbs 1:7 and start there. Without beginning with the fear of YHWH, without surrendering to Jesus Christ as Lord, then you’re not doing any good for yourself. You are simply spending and spending to add words to your head.

Likewise, one might raise this issue with educational spending. Why do we spend for knowledge and provide nothing for character? Why expend and expend to get smarter when we still have no sense?

That’s a problem in all levels of education. Having just completed seminary, I’d argue that it’s often a problem in theological education as well. We spend to learn languages and histories and methodologies. Then we end up with educated fools who have no sense.

Don’t detach the knowledge in your head from sense. And do not think to attain wisdom without knowing the Lord God Almighty. It will be an empty thing—like the box of ice cream sandwiches that got left in the freezer after all the last kid got the last sandwich.

And left the box.

So is knowledge with the Lord: a vain promise, destroying the hopes of many.

Walk this Way: Ephesians 5

In Summary: We dig deeper into the implications of being seated in the heavenly places with Christ (Ephesians 2:6). One of the key contrasts in Ephesians is the mixture of statements of what we are and what we should do.

For example, Ephesians 5 is filled with instructive and imperative statements. Paul opens with “be imitators of God,” and there are no complete thoughts without commands in the rest of the chapter. Paul either commands “Do not participate in unfruitful deeds…” (5:11) or explains on why, for “all things become visible” (5:13).

This matters. Certain parts of the Christian life are settled realities while other parts are our responsibility to carry forward. We are seated with Christ in the heavenly places because salvation is certain and held by Him. Not one of Paul’s commands and instructions should be understood to earn God’s favor, nor should their absence be seen as removing one from the grace of God.

In Focus: Instead, consider the commands, such as Ephesians 5:1-2’s commands to “be imitators of God…and walk in love…” as reflections that show whether or not we are truly seated in Christ. It is not that we must do this if we want to be seated in the heavenly places with Christ.

It is that we will do this if we are seated with Christ. Why?

Because it’s what Jesus does. We cannot claim to be secure in Jesus and not be involved in living a life like His, living in obedience to what He says to do. And the best way to understand what He saids?

Do what He did. Walk in love, eschew the darkness, and be self-sacrificial in your relationships with others. All of this pleases God, and makes our presence in Christ a unified action before God.

It is actually easier to see what it does not look like to imitate God than it is to define exactly what it does look like. After all, my life and yours are different. I am married, and so the commands in Ephesians 5:22-33 apply to me, but if you are single, then your obedience looks different. You have no spouse to treat properly—though there are implications for your behavior toward other people still to be found here.

Paul describes the imitation of God as walking for a reason. It changes and adjusts as the days go forward, and you face various obstacles in that process. You overcome, you grow, and you succeed and stumble differently in different days.

In Practice: With that in mind, Paul still gives some specific application points that we can practice today.

  1. First: Some “do nots” in the passage, such as in Ephesians 5:5. Avoiding immorality and impurity are usual targets for our anti-sin efforts. Paul equates avoiding covetousness with these. Materialism and sexual impropriety are prevalent in our culture, and should be avoided by we who walk with Christ. This includes how we guide and grow our churches.
  2. Second: Do not be deceived (5:6). The truth should dwell in us, and we ought to spot those items which would lead us astray. Note that this is not the exclusive province of ministers or bloggers, but is commanded of the believer. Focus on the truth and avoid lies—even if they are sold by good-meaning people.
  3. Third: Give thanks and be encouraging (5:18-20). Leaving aside some of the implications of 5:18, look at the overall picture here. We give thanks and encourage one another, teaching and growing through music and word. These are group activities, and it is community with Believers in Christ that holds us together.

In Nerdiness:  There are two major nerd points in this chapter.

The first is in Ephesians 5:18 and ties back among the commands and ideals of wisdom. Wrestling with “do not get drunk with wine” has split many a calm fellowship. There is a difference in “drunk with wine” and “filled with the Spirit,” as well. These are not the same word in Greek (as I have heard one person try to put it). This is not a command to be “drunk” in the Spirit. That’s nonsense.

The idea of drunkenness evokes a picture of being out of control and bringing only chaos. The person filled with the Spirit is still in control—and controlled by the right person. Notice the connection between filled with the Spirit and speaking to one another. There’s community and connection here.

The second major nerd point is Ephesians 5:21-22. In a crowd of New Testament interpreters, you will get differences of opinion as to whether or not “be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” goes with the preceding section or introduces the next section. The grammatical evidence seems equivocal at best, and I’m inclined to suggest an answer of “both/and” here against “either/or.”

The issue? If 21 goes with 22, then there are implications for how we understand “Wives, be subject to your own husbands.” In fact, we need the verb from v. 21 to give us the implied verb in v. 22. Is this mutual submission or is there a clarity of roles here?

The further explanation supports the idea that there is a division of roles in marriage, but exactly how much here is about Christ and the Church and how much is meant to be imitated is oft-debated. There is connection throughout Scripture on much of this point, and too much is made of wifely submission without locking on to husbandly sacrifice, which also anchors in an concept in 5:2.

I would encourage you to flesh this out for yourself and see what the full counsel of God says on this issue.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Book: Edwin, High King of Britain

Image

Every now and again, I read a book that causes me anger. Not anger at the book’s contents or presentation. Anger that the author wrote what I should have thought of first.

Edwin, High King of Britain is one of those books. Edoardo Albert’s work here fits, technically, under the definition of “historical fiction,” though I would recommend a category of “imaginative history” for works like this one.

Why? Albert presents us with seventh century Britain as a living place. This is a timeframe that we do not have many sources for—the Venerable Bede’s Ecclesiastical History being the main source for occurred in these years. If we take Bede’s historical work as accurate, then Albert’s work is accurate on historical events.

He has woven in imaginative descriptions of what goes on between events. Unlike a typical “historical fiction” book that is mostly fiction in an historical setting, this is mostly history with imagined events to bring it to life.

And bring it to life, he does. Throughout Edwin, High King of Britain, we are introduced to warp and woof of Britain as we can know it. His historical note at the end highlights the areas where he diverted from known facts and his justification for it. The deviations are reasonable.

Now, I’d prefer not to give you too many details. I can say that one thing you might hold as a criticism is the similarities in the behaviors of the Edwin and his people and how J.R.R. Tolkien portrays the Riders of Rohan. However, you must remember that Tolkien was an expert in…early Anglo-Saxons and early Britain. It’s not only reasonable for Edwin’s Britons and others to seem like the Rohirrim, it’s right for them to.

Albert works through the intrigues and battles that characterized life in the seventh century British Isles. Well, the main isle—Ireland has not come into play yet. It’s gruesome at points. Warfare often is, and a novelist is challenged to portray the reality while maintaining writing acceptable for his audience.

All of this being said, I like this book. It is the opening of a series, and I am curious to see if the series holds up in terms of quality, but I have high hopes. This should find its way into your reading if you are interested in early Britain or if you like a good intrigue story. A great read.

Publisher provided a free book in exchange for this review.

June 16 2014: Proverbs 16

And…we’re back. I’m learning that nailing down this much writing on a daily basis takes a bit more focus.






Proverbs 16 is in view today. Let’s look at a couple of verses and put them together. Take a look at Proverbs 16:16 and Proverbs 16:26, here from the NASB:





How much better it is to get wisdom than gold!


And to get understanding is be chosen above silver.





A worker’s appetite works for him,


For his hunger urges him on.





Now, let us dispense with a pair of misconception. V. 16 does not justify excessive educational indebtedness. Don’t be silly when you read this and think “Ooh, I’ll be broke the rest of my days because of student loan debt.” That’s nonsense. Use wisdom in acquiring information, it’s not about the overall number of paid-for credit hours.





Second is interpreting v. 26 as encouraging starving workers and employees. That’s far from the concept here. Instead, this should be seen in light of motivation that comes internally. Be motivated, let your hunger urge you on. Having looked in the cabinet before and not known where the next day’s dinner was coming from, I have been more readily motivated and driven to take work. Even work I hated (see: loading UPS trailers in Memphis summer heat), because it put food on the table.





I’d like to merge these two thoughts together, though, and examine an idea.





What are you working for?





Are you working for gold and silver? Or are you working for wisdom and understanding? When you are working beyond meeting your fundamental needs, are you more focused on the bank account or growth in serving the Lord God?





This is a place that I think many of us, myself included, need growth. How often do we take a job for what we learn instead of what we earn? How many times to do we put back money to provide a monetary inheritance to future generations instead of an inheritance of wisdom?





Taking these two Proverbs together (as we should, given they are part of a unified book), I would suggest that our time and effort is better spent building up and transmitting wisdom than it is in transmitting cash. Let that be what you are driven and hunger for, more than something as trivial as gold and silver.





For our hunger to grow in understanding, as Believers in Christ, is a hunger to grow in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Which is a great thing to be driven forward in.

Sermon Wrap-Up for June 15

Being Father’s Day, we held only the morning service in an effort to provide some additional family time. It’s busy season for farm folks, and I think that’s beneficial for us to do. Also, I think there’s a glitch in the media players. Working on it.

Morning Sermon: 2 Chronicles 10:1-19 (direct download here)

June 15 AM: 2 Chronicles 10:1-19 from Doug Hibbard on Vimeo.

Outline:

2 Chronicles 10:1-19 June 15 AM Almyra Baptist

I. Background

II. Father wasn't right: v. 4

III. Son was foolish: v. 14

Note:

  1. Consider the wisdom of the previous generation
  2. Be wary of the mistakes of the previous generation
  3. Look to God and His wisdom for your own life
  4. Do not eschew wisdom for young hotheadedness
  5. Ultimately, look to the Father and the Son for our example--they are the only ones to get this perfectly right

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

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sermon Wrap-Up: June 8

Good Morning! Here are yesterday’s sermons. There appears to be a glitch with the audio player, so you can click on “Direct Audio Link” to listen.

Morning Sermon: Marriage Matters 1 Kings 11

Audio player:

Direct audio link

Marriage Matters: June 8 AM from Doug Hibbard on Vimeo.

Evening Sermon: Pointless

Audio Player:

Direct Audio Link

June 8: Pointless! Ecclesiastes from Doug Hibbard on Vimeo.

Outlines:

Morning

June 8: AM: 1 Kings 11

1.1. Scripture intro

1  Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women,

2  from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the sons of Israel, "You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods." Solomon held fast to these in love.

3  He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away.

4  For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.1

1.2. Summary Sentence

Marriage: every time a culture degrades marriage, it collapses.

1.3. Background to Text

Solomon's many wives for political purposes, sensual purposes, and business purposes;

Why did you get married?

Why do you want to get married?

1.4. Major Theme in Text

Making marriage about anything but reflecting Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5) degrades the purpose (Genesis 1-2) and begins the collapse of God-honoring culture.

1.5. Concepts of the Text

1. When we are not married: if we make marital status and not God-honoring our goal (1 Corinthians 7)

2. When we are not married: if we participate in things reserved to marriage (sexual purity, mainly)

3. When we are married: if we make our marital status as if better (Mark 12)

4. When we are married: if we fail to live as Christ commanded (sacrifice and love)

5. When we are married: if we fail to honor marriage in others

1.6. Application Point

The church must:

Reflect Christ in our Marriages

Reflect Christ's grace in our approach to marriage

Reflect contentment in Christ in our status

Evening

June 8 PM: Ecclesiastes 1:1-2

1.1. Scripture intro

Ecclesiastes 1: pointlessness

1.2. Summary Sentence

When we disobey, nothing great we have is worth having.

1.3. Background to Text

What does it matter?

Without honoring Christ, your wealth, wisdom, and wives are worthless.

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

Friday, June 6, 2014

Book: Rebuilding the Family Altar

Preachers writing books. Oh my! Actually, Clint Ritchie’s book Rebuilding the Family Altar is not the sermon rehash that many pastor-written/pastor-published books are. Instead, Ritchie presents a theoretical framework for family devotionals, and then presents 52 sample ideas.

This does result in a book with a split personality. On the one hand, the first 60 pages are a friendly reminder of why we need to use home as the base for discipling our children. On the other hand, the last 60 are simple devotionals for family discussion. I’m not sure listing these as an appendix is the right label, but it’s not my book.

In the first 60 pages, Ritchie presents a Biblical case for family discipleship rather than leaving it up to the church. This section is primarily his own opinion, as evidence by the few footnotes scattered throughout. I do commend him for using footnotes, though, that’s a definite plus. It’s also worth noting that the few footnotes are mainly for non-Bible sources—he cites Biblical text in-line throughout. (There’s some inconsistencies here in method—some chapters cite inline, some footnote for Biblical text.)

Theologically, I would have liked to see a development of why we still use the term “altar” in the Christian world. Ritchie glosses over the use of altars as places of sacrifice and names them as places people connected with God. This is true, but it was meeting with God through sacrifice. In this, an explanation on how Jesus fulfilled that sacrifice would have been a benefit.

The second 60 pages are, as stated above, like a second book. These are sample devotionals for family use. As samples, they are fine and work well. (As do others, such as the Whit’s End Mealtime Devotions series.) I especially endorse the idea of getting the Biblical text from the actual Bible rather than reading off a pre-printed sheet. This helps reinforce the value of reading from the Bible itself.

I would have liked a few more discussion questions embedded in the devotionals, or perhaps a survey of suggested topics to cover. However, this volume is intended as a starting point rather than an encyclopedic view of the issue of family discipleship.

I gladly recommend Rebuilding the Family Altar to Christian families looking to kick-start their family worship times.

Disclaimer: Clint Ritchie is a friend of mine. He has moved out of state, though, and so I do not fear any repercussions from him. So, the review is honest.

D-Day 2014

Seventy years ago, tens of thousands of men stood in ships and crashed ashore on the Normandy Peninsula in France. At the time it wasn’t really France. It was part of the conquered territory of Nazi Germany. The plan was simple: boat over from England and take Europe back from the Nazis. Do so well enough that the Russians would not take all of Germany and most of France and turn it Communist.

Simple, right? Except that the English Channel had been an effective barrier against invasion in either direction for nearly 1,000 years. Even English invasions of France had gone into neutral or friendly ports, rather than being opposed landings. The last time, that I can find, any large force crossed the Channel successfully was when William the Conqueror did so in 1066. And keep in mind that he faced an England that had just exhaustingly repelled the Vikings for the last time, so they were worn out, and far out of position. (Just—as in the same year!)

Tackling the invasion of Hitler’s Europe was not a simple task, then, after all. The weight of history was against it. The weight of logic was against it.

Only the weight of heroism bred of necessity was for it.

Seventy years ago we saw the strength of audacity and necessity applied against evil. It should remind us of a few things.

First, that liberty is not guaranteed unless there are those who guarantee it with their lives.

Second, that liberty lost costs a great deal to regain.

Third, that we are heirs to a strong heritage, passed on from many generations before. Yes, those generations also made mistakes, but a world dominated by Hitler and Nazis never ends segregation. It never corrects Civil Rights issues.

So before we condemn the prior generations for the blindspots they had, let us remember the things they saw clearly. They saw:

Underwater obstacles. A large seawall. Pointe du Hoc. Machine guns, anti-aircraft guns, scattered landings, tidal drifts…

And they saw the way forward into it. Not around it, not away from it. But straight into it.

May I have the courage to go straight ahead when the need requires it.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Book: Elders in the Life of the Church

Elders in the Life of the Church is a book that scares me with its subtitle of “Rediscovering the Biblical Model of Church Leadership.” I know that, in the past two millennia, we have had times of drift from Biblical truth. However, when someone claims in 2014 that we finally have something right that’s been wrong for a long, long time, that sets me on edge. Our predecessors were not always right (see: slavery, segregation, religious warfare), but to claim that you are “Biblical” where no one else is, that’s no small claim.
Because of this, I come to Phil A. Newton and Matt Schmucker’s work with some bias against it. I’m not reading this as a big fan, nor as someone who wants to muck about with the outline of church governance handed down by many years of Baptist congregational practice. I do not want to keep the traditions if they are unbiblical, but you’ve got to show me how they are wrong.
Elders in the Life of the Church, though, does a good job demonstrating Newton and Schmucker’s point. I have not read the previous edition, Elders in Congregational Life, but this is billed as a comprehensive update. That says to me that having read the first one would not matter.
What does this book do? It explains, in an alternating chapter format, the case for guiding a church through a plurality of elders. The authors alternate chapters, starting with Newton. While both authors have been pastors, the experiences noted for both them involve super-sized local congregations, so it’s a different world than I live in.
The structure of the book works from ideas to implementation. The first six chapters address why a church needs a plurality of elders. Further, it builds on the idea from a Baptist perspective, rather than an import from Presbyterian perspective. I do find the chapter “Not a New Idea” unfortunately short here, as it could have been used to develop the history of plural eldership in Baptist churches for centuries, but focused only on Capitol Hill Baptist Church.
The next set of chapters addresses the Biblical case for plural eldership. I like that this segment uses Scripture to make an affirmative case for elders more than trying to refute the various other positions. Second, the case that is made allows for the combination of congregational accountability along with elder leadership.
The final set of chapters work through the implementation process. Overall, this section was well-written but not as practical for my context, as I don’t really have very many people looking for learning to be an elder.
Overall, the case made here is a good one. I can see how elder leadership works with congregational responsibility, and also how preachers, teachers, and pastors benefit from the shared leadership of elders. As a guide to implementation, it’s not perfect, but it’s a helpful lead-in to the idea.
The chapter focused on special cases like missions and new church starts was helpful as well. Each chapter contained discussion questions.
I can readily recommend this for study groups or for discussion as a church considers its operational polity. I’m not whole-heartedly convinced, but do find the case persuasive and well-stated, enough to hold its own among traditional viewpoints.
Free book received from Kregel Academic and Professional in exchange for the review.

Peace in a time of Pandemic

This is not one of those hyper-spiritual posts, where I claim that because of Jesus I have peace even in the midst of the COVID pandemic. Tr...