Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Blogcation 2014

I’ve been sporadic, and it’s time to stop that.

So, I’m declaring myself on Blogcation for the rest of this week. I will return on December 8th with sermon recaps and then should be stable going forward.

Meanwhile, have a great Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sermon Wrap-Up for November 23


Well, another week, another batch of sermons. Still, in light of this blog post, that’s what I do.

All of my notes were handwritten, and not on Livescribe paper, so nothing to post. Here are the video and audio links. The direct downloads are linked with the passages, and then the media players.

Morning Sermon: 1 Thessalonians

Morning Nov 23

Evening Sermon: Galatians 6

Evening Nov 23

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, November 20, 2014

Book: Preaching by Ear

Yes, I know: you preach with your mouth. You listen with your ears.

Preaching by Ear by Dave McClellan

<-Use your eyes, see a book about using your ears to preach with your mouth. Wait, what?

Today’s book was provided by Cross-Focused Reviews. Shaun lists books, I pick one that I like and review it. No obligation, no cash, no coffee is exchanged in this case.

Dave and Karen McClellan’s Preaching by Ear addresses a question many of us preachers have never thought to ask: “Why have we taken a written approach to an oral practice?”

The sermon, after all, was initially an oral presentation. There is no biblical evidence that Peter, Paul, or John prepped a written document before their messages in Scripture. Further, many historical sermons, prior to the printing press, were delivered orally from the mind and heart rather than from paper.

First, McClellan makes his case for the historicity of the oral sermon. He clearly demonstrates how much better we understand things by internalizing them through oral practice.

Second, McClellan gives some ideas on developing and delivering sermons from an oral perspective. Rather than looking at the sermon as complete when it is good paper, the sermon is not done if it isn’t clear aloud.

Here is where the work really shines. It is one thing to express a disagreement with common practice, but without developing how-to ideas about implementation.

In all, if you are looking for a different approach to preaching than the current written-oriented methods, I think Preaching by Ear is well worth your time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In Transit: Luke 10

In Summary: Luke 10 summarizes quickly: life as a disciple of Jesus cannot be focused in one place. The eyes of a disciple must look for the needs, whether they are physical, spiritual, or relational, and our behavior must work to meet those needs.

First, we see the 70 sent out to preach. They are told to go to the various towns and villages on behalf of Jesus, preaching the kingdom. The instructions are useful and will be the focus for today.

Second, we see Jesus put success in perspective. It is not the spiritual power—after all, He saw Satan fall, so you seeing one demon run away pales in comparison. Rejoice in grace, not in power.

Third, we see the woes on Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernaum. Why? For rejecting the message, which means they rejected the Messiah. Judgment comes from that, but the Judge is not joyful in that. He is sorrowful, but His law must be fulfilled.

Fourth, we see the Good Samaritan story. This one is familiar even to many non-Bible folks, so I’ll leave you to read it on your own.

In Focus: Consider the instructions given to the 70 that are sent out by Jesus. First, they are sent in pairs. They lost the large companionship of the disciple pack, but they retained at least one like-minded person to go with them.

Second, they are sent out to tell people that Jesus was coming (10:2). That is critical: the message was not about the travelers nor their desires. It was about the coming Messiah.

Third, they are told to be content with the provisions that come. They are not to go chasing better offers, nor to demand better treatment. The purpose is to spread the message of Christ. It is also worth noting that “being content” also kicks back against show-off style asceticism. If they were offered the fancier things of life, no protest of “oh, I’ll take something else…” was permitted.

Fourth, they are told to move on from those who reject the message. This sets up an interesting development: Jesus is still coming. The town, though, will have no preparation.

In Practice: Practically speaking, these four points come through plainly:

First, even the most prepared of disciples need support. These 70 had physically been with Jesus, were hand-selected by Him, and still needed to go in teams. Don’t go it alone. Take whatever companions are fit to the same task.

Second, focus on the message. Our message is about the finished first coming of Jesus and the anticipated second coming. Anything else is auxiliary to this mission.

In this, though, note the story of the Good Samaritan in this chapter. People matter more than schedules, so no matter how important you think you are, that person in the ditch needs you.

Third, be satisfied. This especially hits on my brethren engaged in ministry as a profession. Be content with what you get, and neither trumpet your mendicant status nor your wealth. You have what you have because the Lord sent you there—had He swapped the assignments, you’d be what you envy or disdain. Focus on who sent you, not what you get for going.

Fourth, move on. There comes a time to go on from a space where you are not being heard. Move ahead and find the next place to proclaim the message, and shake off the bitterness or frustration. The message needs to get to hearers so get it to hearers. All the stunts we pull to try and get an audience are nonsense, because they aren’t hearing the message, just watching the stunts.

In Nerdiness: A pair of nerd thoughts: you’ll see a footnote about whether 70 or 72 were sent out. Here we have the classic textual question: how do we decide which variant is appropriate? The typical methods leave us uncertain: external evidence (the number of manuscripts and the diversity of them) suggest 70 as the better reading; internal evidence (explaining why a scribe/copyist would make a change) suggests 72 as better. It’s the difference in 1 team of 2 disciples. I think 70 more likely, in part because of the connection to Genesis 10 and the table of nations…70 nations.

Second, note the use of “sent out” here. What does that matter? Apostle is a noun derived from the verb for “send out.” Rightly speaking, these 70 (72) are “apostles” in the simplest form of the word. We do reserve the word Apostle for the twelve named as such in Scripture, with Matthias replacing Judas and Paul being added. The key here is Jesus’ authority to send: send with power, send with instructions, send with accountability.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sermon Recap for November 16 2014

Good morning, one and all! Here are the sermons from yesterday. I used handwritten notes, so I'm experimenting with how to post those. I could tape them to the screen, but you couldn't see them if I did.  

Morning Sermon: Acts 4 "Prayer that Shakes the World, Compassion that Moves the Heart." (Title links to the audio file)

Nov 16 AM (Preaching notes)

Evening Sermon: Acts 10 "Appearances"


 (A quick note: I managed to, apparently, stick the title slide into the point between the 2 video files for the evening sermon. I did NOT stop at the 20 minute mark, hold up a sign, and then go forward. That's just my video oops.)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Celebrating as Community: Deuteronomy 16

In Summary: Deuteronomy 16 covers the three major religious festivals of the Jews in Israel. These are the “major” festivals because, as you see in 16:16, all the men of Israel were required to appear before YHWH at the place of His choosing. More on that when we come In Focus.

Let us turn to a quirk of Deuteronomy 16. This chapter, more than many others, acknowledges that the Israelites will have a decentralized governance. Many of the segments of the Law deal with how to offer sacrifices and individual obedience to God and other sections address how the nation is to act, beyond dividing the land there is not much about how each city and town is to operate. Or about how to balance centralized worship with people living scattered.

Alongside the religious festivals, this chapter addresses local governance. The people are commanded in 16:18 to appoint judges and officers in all of their towns (literally “gates”—I would suggest that any settlement big enough for an enclosure would be in view). These are to judge righteously, not taking bribes to ignore what is right. Verse 20 admonishes the people to pursue only justice, or there would be trouble. What is justice? A working definition I would suggest is this: justice is truth diligently acted on with wisdom and grace. We could use more of that in each of our towns.

In Focus: Let us return, in focus, to the three major festivals. Rather than deal with the spiritual significance of each one, consider how the people were commanded to observe them.

First, they were communal. The important moments of Israelite history were not celebrated as individuals, but as the people. They were commanded to be together, which required them to be able to be together.

Second, they were inconvenient. With many others, I’ll push for a simple celebration of the upcoming holiday season rather than the madness so often encountered. The Israelites could not have a convenient Passover—they had to pack it up and head out. Then there was the Feast of Tabernacles, where they had to move out!

Third, they were dangerous. Think about it. Who is the defense force? From bandits, invaders, and wild animals? The men. All of whom are headed to the place God commanded. That empties the land, and trust in God was required for those left behind.

In Practice: We obviously do not practice as the Israelites did. Americans are not going to all cram Philadelphia on July 4, and Christians would do well not to overrun Bethlehem by all going for Christmas. Not that there’s anything wrong with a few of us going…I’d love to do both of those.

I would suggest to you that we consider the principles of communal, inconvenient, and dangerous. Now, we can quickly use modern definitions and concepts for these and ruin ourselves. Don’t do that.

But think about this: how are you celebrating what God has done together with others? Do you think that God worked in your life alone, or that He didn’t command you to be with other believers?

It can be hard, difficult even. So be it. Celebrating the work of the Most High should be about honoring His commands and ways, not about sliding into our schedules. That does not mean we just tell people to get over a schedule problem—usually we do that for our man-made schedules, not for His commanded ones!

And it is dangerous. Dangerous as little else can be, for when we are publicly with God’s people, doing what God has commanded, we are at risk from both sides. From the world that will lump us with the rest of the crazies (which we are a subset of) and from God who will draw us ever nearer to Him through our obedience.

Guess what? I hope your Thanksgiving, Christmas, and every other opportunity to draw near to God is communal, inconvenient, and dangerous. Those move us toward Him in ways that we cannot imagine, because obedience does that.

In Nerdiness:  Then there’s the end of the chapter. Asherahs and sacred pillars are mentioned, and labeled as things that God hates. These were likely fertility cult symbols, likely fashioned as anatomical items.

The contrast evident between these and the earlier commands is clear: either we worship as God commands or we worship our basic drives. If God is to be worshiped, our response must affect our full behavior. We cannot blur those margins.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Book: The Stories We Tell

This is not what my book looks like. Mine’s a Kindle copy.The Stories We Tell

The Stories We Tell by Mike Cosper is a look at how human mythology reminds us of our need for grace and redemption. Unlike a great academic treatise, though, Cosper does spend gallons of ink on obscure myths or distant stories. Instead, he goes to the American Myth Machine: TV and Movies. These are our stories, after all, truly the places where America developed a culture different from anywhere else, and then began to export it.

This is a book that sit on the fence about. First of all, I am highly grateful that this is not a “see how character B is like a Bible hero” book. There are more than enough of those. Perhaps too many. Neither is Cosper trying to find Bible stories or even sermon illustrations in modern myths. The Stories We Tell is more about seeing how our culture admits its need for the grand narrative that is God’s work in the world.

Cosper writes with an easy style. I found the chapters slipping away nicely instead of laboriously. If this book had a personality, it would friendly. Mine, as a Kindle version, would be e-friendly, I guess. Overall, the point is well-made that we make movies and TV programs that show our desperate need for redemption. It’s a good friend in that way.

My concern, and one that will likely have Cosper group me in the grumpy “Church Lady” category. First, I’m not sure that brushing all who have concerns about the actual moral content of entertainment aside as obnoxious prudes is appropriate. This book itself rides on the idea that stories inform and affect us, so raising moral questions about content is surely more than an exercise in Pharisaism and judgment. There is a hard line where glorifying ungodly behavior, and participating in it vicariously through media, should be classed as sin. Asking the question “Should we, as Christians, be entertained by seeing people treat God’s Word like dung?” does not “misunderstand what it means to be a Christian in the world” (ch. 1). It understands that the evil that pervades a fallen creation can creep in anywhere.

That goes to the heart of my concern here. Many of the movies and shows recommended by Cosper go to some lengths in depicting violence and sexuality. I say “recommends” because he holds them up as examples that he has enjoyed. The position advocated in the book is that, if one is strong enough spiritually, then no harm comes from anything mentioned. Yet that does not seem to match reality.

In all, I think The Stories We Tell is a worthwhile endeavor. I have some reservations about the recommended stories, but in all it’s a good work.

Free e-version provided by the publisher in exchange for the review.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

In Despair: Luke 9

In Summary: Luke 9 has some familiar territory for the Bible student. Luke’s retelling of the Feeding of the 5,000 is here (9:12-17), as is the argument about who should be counted the greatest disciple (9:46-56). Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Messiah is here, echoing Matthew 16 but Luke does not record Jesus’ statement about the “rock” upon which the church would be built.

We also see the Twelve sent out, a similar story to Mark 6. They were given “power and authority” (9:1) to deal with illness and demons. Two things are worth noting here: Herod hears about it all and is perplexed, and the crowds still come looking for Jesus. We never see the Gospel writers record that the crowds came looking for the Apostles; they come for Jesus and Jesus only. No matter how much “power and authority” a disciple of Jesus has, it is only to be used to bring people to Him.

The chapter wraps with three people who apparently did not follow Jesus. They came, inquired, and the text feels like they quit. Why? Following Jesus was hard then, and they chose to reject the challenge. The sadness is that you cannot reject the exactitude of discipleship and still have Jesus. You have to take them together, or reject them together.

In Focus: The high point of this chapter is one of those “Ok…moving on…” moments of Scripture. It’s called the Transfiguration. Jesus goes up on a mountain to pray. Peter, James, and John go with Him. While He’s up there praying, His appearance glows, His clothing becomes white, and Moses and Elijah show up to say “Hi!” (We actually don’t know what they said.) This is a moment where, apparently, the glory of Christ is revealed. The same voice that was heard at the baptism of Jesus is heard again, reminding the disciples that Jesus is the Son…and directing that they “listen to Him!” (9:35)

Then they come down the mountain. They find there a man with a troubled son. Analyzing the text, in context, suggests that the man thought it was demons but it may have been epilepsy—we’ll take that apart In Nerdiness. What we see is that the disciples who were down the mountain, waiting on Jesus, could not heal the boy. The “power and authority” from 9:1 is apparently not enough for this situation.

What is even more clear is that this man, along with the nine disciples around him, has missed the events of the mountain due to his despair over his son. The story ends happily: those who missed the glory of God on the mountain see His glory in the valley.

In Practice: What can we do about this story?

First, we come in despair to Jesus. Who do we go to? At times, we all go to the servants of Jesus, to the disciples of Christ, for help. Then they fail us, and our despair gets deeper. We begin to act like the wicked and perverse generation that surrounds us. But before we get any deeper, we should turn to Jesus Himself. Rather than seeking self-help books, even those written by the godly, turn to Scripture. Rather than seeking just earthly assurances of our forgiveness, look at the Cross.

Second, we learn to look up. And then we point up. The disciples apparently thought they could handle this problem without looking up to Jesus or waiting for Him. Some problems, though, await the Lord’s coming to be repaired.

Third, we make time to listen. Jesus pulls the disciples from the moment and tells them to let His warning about the crucifixion “sink into your ears.” (9:44) We have to make time to listen to what God has said, or we will never grasp what the actions around us mean.

In Nerdiness: I promised you a nerd moment on the demon-possessed boy. Here’s the situation: we are fairly certain that most of the ordinary people (and many of the extraordinary ones) of the first century AD (and most centuries before, and at least 15 after) had no grasp of mental illness or nervous system disorders. If you could not see an illness, but you could see an effect, the general assumption was that the spirit world was at fault. It was the far opposite of our allegedly evolved view that the spirit world causes nothing, and may not even exist. Both are questionable conclusions in their extremity.

Even Luke as a physician would have learned that something were demon-caused. Medical knowledge was coming around, slowly, but something like epilepsy was far from well-described. The result is that we cannot, honestly, be certain that every “demon” in the New Testament was a demon. Some certainly were—see Legion and Pigs in Luke 8—but others were very probably not. This does not hurt our view of Scripture as inerrant: it must be placed in its context and the original audience understood. We cannot make the arrogant presumption that God had the text inspired to fit a 21st century Western post-modern society, as we are not the majority in our time much less in human history.

Does the boy have a demon or epilepsy? I’m inclined one way, but the text allows ambiguity. Jesus deals with the people as they are. Sometimes, that is just what is best. There is time to deal with the details later. For the time being, the glory of God is the concern.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran’s Day 2014

As I write this, the United States has sent military personnel to fight the Ebola Virus outbreak in Western Africa. We have sent military people to serve in a “noncombat” role in the Middle East, dealing with ISIS terrorists who are always willing to kill noncombatants. The Army still watches the line between North Korea and South Korea. Scattered around the world, men and women in uniform are situated between rocks and hard places. Often, they end up helping Americans be rescued from their own stupidity in ways that never make the news.

These are our future veterans, and we should keep them in mind today.

Then, as we looked this past week at the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, we should consider the men and women who made that happen. It was the men and women who rotated to Europe for 60 days stints, facing down the massive Red Army. It was the men who went to sea for months, playing hide-and-seek with weapons that said to our enemies “you may hit our homes, but you will pay.” There are those who hauled food to Berlin during The Airlift. Those who fought the Cold War by fighting, seemingly futilely, in Vietnam—a war that we often think of as a failure, but what did it show? That America would keep on, even in the face of setbacks.

These are our living veterans, and we should keep them in mind today.

Turning our eyes to our freedom, our ability to vote to peacefully change governments. Our right to complain about our government. All of these were secured by veterans. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that statesmen and politicians made it happen by what they wrote. It was the soldiers and sailors who died for it.

These are our deceased veterans, and we must remember the cost they paid.

All of these veterans are supported by another critical group. They have families. Parents, spouses, siblings, children, friends. These are absolutely necessary. And we cannot forget it.

It is a great blessing to not have to think about national defense every day, but we should never be so self-absorbed that we do. Remember the cost.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sermon Recap: November 9

Good Morning! Here is the sermon recap for November 9, 2014, at Almyra Baptist Church.

Morning Sermon: Matthew 27:51

Woven: Matthew 27:51 from Doug Hibbard on Vimeo.

Evening Sermon: Matthew 27:51ff

November 9 PM.mp4 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 Page

Friday, November 7, 2014

Book: The Daring Heart of David Livingstone

Today’s book is from BookLook Bloggers, part of the Thomas Nelson/Zondervan/HarperCollins corporation. I pick books, they send them, I review them.

<-It’s a book cover, almost fit for framing!

If you are like me, the first thing that comes to mind when the name “David Livingstone” is mentioned is “I presume?” coming from Stanley’s lips. Then I think that the two of them roamed Africa in pith helmets and went on about life.

If Jay Milbrandt is right, then I have a weak picture of Livingstone. Weak, or perhaps incomplete, because I have missed Livingstone’s involvement in the most important moral reform of the nineteenth century: the major abolition of slavery. In his day, the East African slave trade was still strong.

The odd solution, given the situation of the time, was for Livingstone to extend the influence and control of the British Empire. The Empire had banned slavery under the efforts of Wilberforce decades before, though it was hard to enforce at the distances to Zanzibar. Livingstone tried to combat it, but often found himself reliant on slave traders for his life.

Milbrandt’s work takes the reader into the heart of Livingstone’s personal conflict in the midst the geopolitical one. His portrait of a crusader for justice who cannot quite work with others, but cannot survive without them pulls Livingstone out of the painting and into reality. We see that he is no boneless explorer, but one who had both hard edges and soft ones.

I like the style of this biography. Livingstone is not portrayed as perfect, but Milbrandt does not obsess with showing us his “faults” either. This is a portrait of Livingstone that one can learn from but one is not tempted to bow down to.

Alongside the man, we also get a good look at the time, seeing that East Africa and British Empire were neither perfect nor perfectly horrid, but filled with people and the mixed bag that this brings. A greatly heroic deed is followed by a horrific attitude. This is the world, not much different from the one we live in.

This is a good read, and a useful one for Christians struggling with our legacy in the world. I’d suggest this one for high school and up, well worth the time and shelf space.

Free book in exchange for the review.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Releasing Debts: Deuteronomy 15

I’m deviating from the typical format for this edition. I’ll regret that later.

Coming to Deuteronomy 15 brings us to the instructions for the Sabbath Year. This idea cuts against the grain of nearly every principle of business growth that we modern people can imagine. What is it?

Put simply, it’s the principle of the Sabbath for each week applied on an annual scale. The weekly Sabbath was simple: work six days, take a day to focus on worship and rest. Keep that day holy, after all, is one of the Ten Commandments. The Sabbath Year expanded this to the command to work six years and then take the seventh off.

Yet the Sabbath Year was not just about the Sabbath for the land. In fact, this chapter focuses on another aspect. In the Sabbath Year, the Israelites were to cancel the debts of their countrymen. Those in slavery to satisfy debt were to be released, and sent out with gifts from their former masters.

It was an important reminder for Israel. A reminder that all the people belonged to God. The people belonged to one another as part of the community, bearing responsibility and privilege among the nation, but permanent ownership was reserved to God. This also cut against developing exploitative business deals, since there was no way in which a long-term debt could be carried over. After seven years, at the most, it was over. (By the way, ever wondered why the general standard for your credit report, and sometimes driving record, is seven years? Some situations have shortened it to three, but many debt items are…seven. Tell me again that the Bible hasn’t informed our culture.)

What do we learn from this?

People are not placed in community, side-by-side with us, for us to exploit. It is appropriate that hard work is rewarded. It is appropriate that legitimate work is rewarded. Those who have worked and found success should not be punished for it.

But those who have fallen on hard times should not be locked into a permanent crisis because of ill fortune. Laziness and sloth? That will return on their heads rather quickly, but over the course of time there is no right to block someone’s efforts to return to productive work. Note that the Israelites were never commanded to support free-loading: those heavily indebted found themselves working for their creditors. In due time, their debt was satisfied and they returned to working for themselves—at no time did they luff about and do nothing.

We need to find a way back to an economy that develops this idea. It needs to value work. Work is valuable to society, it is valuable to those who work, and it should produce for our needs. It needs to allow for the negative consequences of inactivity to happen and to provide a safety net for unwarranted misfortune. (It is, after all, different for a farm to fail because you didn’t work it and for it to fail because of a hail storm.) It also needs to provide for opportunities to try again. And again—after enough time to figure out what went wrong.

In short, a system that is based on the assumption that all people have value. This requires recognizing that, well, all people have value. Then allowing for actions to have consequences, even if those are unpleasant. Six years of work just to satisfy debt is pretty unpleasant, after all. Why would anyone do this? Because they see that all people have value before the Creator of the Universe, and that our goal is to glorify God, not enrich ourselves.

There is a pattern here for economic consideration that allows hard work to build wealth without exploitation. There is a pattern here for misfortune to be mitigated. If we would recognize that the Creator God is also viable as an economist, we would no well for ourselves.

Nerd Note: Deuteronomy 15:4 and 15:11. Read both. Conflict? Yes and no. There should be no poor, if there is obedience. That’s the first verse. The second one? Points out that there will be poor. When there is disobedience, there are hardships. In Israel at the time, there were poor because of two sets of disobedience. The first was the ones who refused to work: they were poor due to laziness and ignoring God’s commands. The second was the ones who faced misfortune: they were poor due to the sin of their countrymen with means who would not help.

Part of our national woe is that we treat, depending on philosophy, all poor as belonging in the same group and apply the same remedy. That wasn’t the case then. It’s not the case now. It won’t work any better for us than it did in Israel, and so we always have the poor. Not because people have to be poor, but because we disobey God.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Thoughts on the Election

Well, it’s over with now. Or maybe we have a runoff to deal with. I don’t know, because I’m writing this before the results are posted. (I try to blog at least a day in advance. The experts suggest weeks, but I’m not succeeding with that.)

What about it? What have we come to as a nation?

First, we should have elections that are about the best we have to offer. This one was none of that. Attack ads, distortions of the truth, misleading claims. Both of the major parties and their candidates are guilty of this.

Second, we should have elections that appeal to both wisdom and emotion. Watch a campaign ad. Is it about truth and logic? No. It’s about emotion. Barely anything is said—and even candidates’ own websites are more emotional than positional. I tried to do research on various candidates and the majority seem to be running on either “I’m not with President Obama” or “I’m really not with President Obama.”

Third, we should have elections that reflect the collective wisdom of the people, helping tone down the collective selfishness of the people. Instead, we seem to appeal to either “this guy gives me more stuff” or “stick to the man! vote for this guy!”

What about it? Regardless of who wins and loses office, the losers here are the American people.

The first losers are the ones who sacrificed for our freedom to vote. Tell me, with a straight face, that Valley Forge and Omaha Beach were so we could vote for the lesser of two evils or for the one who lines our pockets best. It is dishonoring to those who signed the Constitution not with ink but with blood that we behave this way.

The second losers are the generations to follow us. We are most likely electing two more years of gridlock that will kick the can down the road. The interest and instability will get worse, and there are no solutions. Our grandchildren will either live in poverty or autocracy (or both) because we failed to hold our representative government to a higher standard.

The third losers are us. We fail ourselves in this. Rather than looking even at “our guy” and demanding that he elevate the conversation, we just want him to get good licks in. We don’t want candidates that avoid the mud, and then we find ourselves living in the sty. Guess what? Voting for hogs gets us that.

What should we do?

Absolutely, we should repent before God for our nonsensical attitude as Americans. Those of you who don’t think that God has anything to do with American life haven’t been reading honest history books. We haven’t always done right by God Almighty, but God has certainly been more than gracious to us. And we stomp it. We have greater access to knowledge that should lead to wisdom than many have ever had. We treat it badly, and selfishly. That needs to change, starting with admitting we were wrong.

Break with the old habits. Vote with your dollars in support. Vote with your voice throughout the year. Break with the habit of letting someone go into office and ignoring what they do. Break with blindly assuming someone is going to be okay because she’s in your party. Break it. Now.

Commit to take action. Action changes behavior. Be an ever-present face and voice to your elected officials. Be a force in your local party, do not let the people behind the curtain ignore you. You cannot, legally, threaten an elected official with insurrection but you can sure threaten a party hack with getting him tossed out of hackdom.

Determine to require better. It may take you being on the ballot in a primary. Challenge, drive, push and stop accepting mediocre. We live in a republic and get the candidates we allow.

Educate yourself. Not just from your side’s propaganda, but from all sides. Get the Congressional Record information from the Internet where you can see what was voted for—and see what was bundled with it.


I write this before there are any Arkansas results because I want to be clear: I’m a bitter voter, but not bitter over today’s outcomes. I don’t know them yet. I’m bitter over what we have let the country come to. We the people have to do better.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

In the Street: Luke 8

In Summary: It is hard to appreciate just how densely-packed the Gospels are for material until you try and separate out a high-point from every chapter. Everything in Luke is valuable, not just because we see all of Scripture as valuable, but because Luke has great information.

Luke 8 brushes through the financial support team of the ministry of Jesus. We see that there were not only the Twelve, but also women who traveled with Him much of the time. Further, Joanna and Susanna are named as supporting Jesus and the Twelve “out of their private means” (Luke 8:3). There is a vague mention of others, but these two come up by name. Joanna is additionally significant as the wife of Herod’s steward. We know little else about her, and even less about Susanna.

Luke records parables and miracles in this chapter, covering a calming of the sea and the healing of a demoniac. Jesus teaches about the sower and the seed and the lamp on the lampstand. We also see a challenging thought in Luke 8:19-21, where Jesus essentially separates from His biological family and identifies His family as those who obey His Father.

In Focus: Let us turn our attention to the two miracles of the end of this chapter. On the heels of being asked to leave Gerasa after healing the demoniac, Luke notes that the crowd here welcomes Jesus. Geographically, these events most likely occur in either Capernaum or Tiberias. Capernaum is most likely, but the text simply gives us “Jesus returned” from Gerasa, that He was on the “other side” of the lake. That should not be taken too literally, as any good rural person knows. The “other side” is anywhere that is better reached by going away from the shore and crossing the water, rather than either walking or hugging the coastline in the boat.

Still, what town is less important than the events. In town, the crowd welcomes Jesus. That’s a big deal, and then a man named Jairus has a request. Jairus has a daughter, 12 years old, and she is sick. Sick back then did not just mean missing a day or two of work. If you were sick enough to worry your family, you were sick enough to die. In fact, the severity of illness is bad enough that Mark records Jairus as saying she is near to death, and Matthew records her as having just died. These likely harmonize because Matthew shortens the account. Luke (and Mark) record that Jairus receives the report of his daughter’s death on the way with Jesus—while they are still in the street together.

What slowed them down is important. Why? Because it was not the pressing crowds or the chaotic scene. It was not a Roman patrol. It was a woman, a “who” and not a “what.” Jesus was walking down the street, headed to heal this 12-year-old girl and a woman who has been hemorrhaging blood for 12 years touches His garment and is healed. We see that Jesus was not content to let this pass. He calls out the woman and praises her faith, sending her on her way not only healed but dismissed in peace.

12 years had separated this woman from society, just as Jairus had given 12 years of support to his daughter. These lives had likely never touched, because as a synagogue official Jairus would have stayed away from the unclean woman who kept bleeding. Yet both found the same need: healing from Jesus. Both knew they needed Him, and had no other hope.

In Practice:
Three things commend themselves to our action:

First, take note that these events heal women. Many societies, then and now, devalue women. Jesus healed both of them: a girl not quite to adulthood and a woman past childbearing. Motherhood might come to one, but it would have passed the other. Neither did they have funds like Joanna and Susanna. One lived at home and the other had paid it all out to physicians. Jesus healed them because He valued these ladies as people, not because they could contribute to Him or even to society. He did it because He deemed it right.

Do not reserve doing good to those who have value in your sight. Do good to those who have value in God’s sight.

Second, take note of the faith in action. Jairus shows his faith by publicly begging Jesus for healing. The woman risks the ire of the crowd for her faith. When their need was great, faith drove them to desperate action.

Do not consider anything but the Word of God in acting on your faith. Do what God has commanded rather than what others approve—especially when “others” are not following Jesus!

Third, take note of where it all happens. In the street. Right out in the open, where everyone could see. God does not hide His work—the command Jesus gives Jairus to keep the healing private had other purposes, because there was no hiding what everyone could see.

Do not fall for “God’s doing secret really cool stuff. Trust me blindly.” God works in the open—admittedly, some places are hard to get news from, like majority-oppressor countries such as Iran or North Korea—but that’s not the issue here. The issue is falling for “I’ve got God’s secret, just buy my book or follow me without reading your Bible.” It’s nonsense.

Do, absolutely, understand that God will not guarantee you privacy when you come to Him.

In Nerdiness:  We kind of dealt with part of the synoptic issue in the above, as well as the geography. That’s plenty of nerd, but if you want more: Why does Jesus decline to have the healed demoniac follow Him? Why the pigs? We try to read a lot about the spiritual realm from this story, but it’s not wise to do so. Just because Jesus demands names or commands demons does not mean that we should—our allegiance is to Him and He is the one with the power. Let’s not get carried away. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Sermon Recap for November 2

Good Morning! Back on track for another week.

Morning Sermon: Matthew 24:37-51

Matthew 24:37-51

In charge of feeding our fellow slaves:

1. Natural hunger

2. Spiritual hunger

     2A: for salvation

     2B: for growth




November 2 AM from Doug Hibbard on Vimeo.

Evening Sermon: Matthew 24:1-16

Matthew 24:1-31

1. Bad news? GREAT!!

2. Bad teaching? GREAT!!!

3. Bad weather? GREAT!!!!

The end is near.

The End is Near! Matthew 24 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 Page

Sermon from May 19 2024

 Good morning! Yesterday we talked about Simon Magus. Didn't actually hit on the sin of simony, because we don't really see it that ...