Tuesday, March 31, 2015

In the Morning: Luke 24

In Summary:

He is risen! It’s that easy to summarize Luke 24: HE IS RISEN!

In Focus:

Risen indeed! The certainty of the resurrection of Jesus echoes throughout this chapter. Wherever we might focus, that is what we will find. Whether you look at the angel at the tomb, or at Peter and his sprint to the tomb, or the two on their way to Emmaus, we see Jesus alive. When we look at the fish by the sea in 24:42-43, we see that He is clearly risen! Not just appearing to be alive, but Jesus is fully and truly alive.

These appearances were needed to reassure the disciples, including the women involved, because they knew He was dead. They had been at the cross. They had seen the body. They knew where He was buried.

Yet after all the darkness and sadness of the human story that ends in Luke 23, Luke 24 puts the focus right here: Risen, indeed!

In Practice:

At this point, for me, I accept the Resurrection of Jesus as a settled fact of history. I revisit the narrative to remind myself of the glorious hope that comes from knowing the Risen Christ and to ponder this section—What does it mean “In Practice?”

What does it matter that Christ is Risen? Am I living in the light of that truth? First, for certain, it matters that we can live in salvation from the wrath of God. Everything proceeds from that point. Because I am saved from the wrath of God, I live in gratitude to God. In all things, therefore, I seek to further His honor, glory, and reputation. All this above my own. Because I know salvation from the wrath of God is possible, I seek to proclaim it as far as possible. At times directly, at times through supporting those who will proclaim where I will not be.

Second to those considerations is this one: that life as we see it is not the end, and therefore not the primary concern. If something is only of value for a few decades, then it must take a backseat to eternal considerations. If the world around us turns against our faith, turns against our practicing the truth as we understand it, then what of it? If death is no obstacle for the power of God, then humiliation, ridicule, difficulty are all even less of a true problem.

Because He is risen, risen indeed, we as believers are able to walk boldly in obedience, glorifying God through our actions. The real issue is not about what we can do, or what we cannot do, but what we will do.

In Nerdiness: 

Nerdiness? How about the running thread of “wrapped in cloth” that goes from Luke 2 to Luke 23, with the earthly life of Christ done in Luke 24 when the cloths are left behind?

Consider the possibility that Luke draws a metaphor for the Incarnation here—at birth, the fullness of God is wrapped in human flesh. At death, in Luke 23, He is more evidently wrapped in that flesh than any other time. Yet in Luke 24, in the end, He goes back to revealing the fullness of Divinity rather than shielding it any longer.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sermon Recap for March 29

In the morning service, the choir presented the musical Thank You for the Cross. It was very good. And very much covered under copyright laws regarding rebroadcasting it, so it’s not here.

Evening sermon came from Psalm 199:9-16. Here’s the audio link. You’ll notice the lighting is odd. The power went out during Q/A time before the sermon, so it was just getting darker as we went…That’s the way it goes.

March 29 PM Sermon

Water buffalo--Philippines

When I was a kid, we lived in the Philippines. No, I did not meet Tim Tebow in that time :) One of the problems we had, as did many of the people there, was access to pure water. You could drink the water, but at times there were risks of disease from it. Especially if there were problems with the purification systems on the Air Force Base.

The solution? Water buffalo. Not the animals, but these giant trailers that the military would fill with purified water and you could and fill a couple of 5-gallon jugs. This would be your drinking water and tooth-brushing water for the next few weeks. (Any cooking water you typically boiled!)

Psalm 119:9-16

1. Consider purity

     A. Is it worth it?

     B. Is it knowable?

     C. Is it standard?

2. Consider the Word

     A. Do you know it?

     B. Do you treasure it?

     C. Do you hold it exclusive above other ideas?

          This is the core of our problem: we put things alongside the Word that do not belong there. Whether it is the latest fads of psychology, the aged wisdom of the last generation, or our favorite preaching heroes, there is absolutely no substitute for the Word.

     Loving the preaching of the Word is not the same as knowing the Word and treasuring. Loving conferences, speakers, teachers, writers, are not the same. If you cannot dig into the Word, then you are missing something. You should value those God has equipped and provided to help you, but  if you are not moving from relying on them to being equipped to grow on your own--you are not growing in the Word.

Come back to the water buffalo with me. It met the need--and in times of crisis, it was enough.

But we couldn't live a life that way. The running need was to fix the problem--drill new wells, deeper wells, fix the equipment. Provide the security to the power grid.

Relying on others to always sort our truth for us is the same thing as always expecting the water buffalo.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Books: Ghost Fleet and The Three Emperors

One of the joys of blogging is free books. These books, though, were not free because of this blog but from the Amazon Vine Review program. I just thought I’d go ahead and share them here.

You should note, dear reader, that these are mainstream/secular published works. Unlike many of the books you will encounter on this blog, these are not at all worthy of consideration as faith-growers or enablers. Instead, these are part of engaging in the wider world and knowing a bit about the culture we live in. The vocabulary is closer to UPS than Chick-fil-A, so filter yourself.

First, Ghost Fleet

When I was in the 8th grade, I read Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising, envisioning the World War 3 that we were almost ready to believe would not happen. I then read a few other books on the subject, such as General Sir John Hackett's The Third World War, which was much more dreadful. And much less engaging as a read.

Today, we do not truly picture the great NATO-USSR conflict of earlier generations. However, there remains a reasonable concern that while one area of the world absorbs our attention, other forces are waiting for an opportunity to come. That is the concern which Ghost Fleet taps into: what happens twenty years from now?

In an attempt to not spoil too much, it's hard to give a plot synopsis. I will say that I approached this expecting to see the US get sucker-punched, fall behind, and find a way to catch up. SPOILER ALERT: the US does just that. I'll let you read to see how, and determine for yourself the efficiency of the authors in this work. Plot-wise, then the overall plot is predictable. There are several subplots that were less predictable, and following those trails was enjoyable.

I also found the technical details fascinating. Some are forecast-type details, dreaming up where technology might be headed. That it's both good and bad should surprise none of us. The existing technology in play was also worth reading. The efforts to make a rail gun actually work, though, might seem a bit off--in the book, the Navy shelved the project because it didn't work, but I think recent news shows it working! That's the speed of technology up against the speed of publication, though. Some pieces of technology were just thrown in, though, and did not really serve to advance the plot very much. A couple of scenes, in particular, could have just been left out, as they needed more development to explain the ideas at work.

The characters were, for the most part, decently developed. Obviously, there were a few central individuals who were better clarified than others--and a couple that I think should have been developed and utilized more. The epilogue also draws out how the world changed on a personal scale for a few of the main characters.

The primary flaw I find in Ghost Fleet is that, while the opening balanced the tactical, up-close perspective, with a strategic, global view, the conclusion left the strategic out somewhat. I would have liked a little more of that.

In all, though, this was a good weekend read, with the pacing and viewpoint shifts of the technothrillers like Red Storm Rising or Larry Bond's Cauldron that I enjoyed so much back then.


The Three Emperors

This was my introduction the world of Ethan Gage. I now need to buy the six previous novels to truly fill out my grasp of the hero of this story!

First, there is always the challenge of jumping into a book series without doing your background work. I did not know anything about Gage, so there were some obvious gaps in my knowledge reading this one. He refers back, at times, to events that a new reader will not understand. That's the price you pay.

Second, the historical setting works. I have read a decent amount of both non-fiction and fiction in this era, having devoured works like Forester's Hornblower series as well as just loving to read history. (I don't always remember it well, but I love to read it.) It was a time of chaos and superstition, alongside the science and open religion. Dietrich portrays this well.

Third, the plot is good. There are the competing and complementing needs to both stop the bad guys and reunite the family. These weave together nicely. As Dietrich pulls in some of the fantasy-type elements, the world does get a little bizarre, but you're reading a novel, not a history book.

Is it worth your time? I think so. But it's also expensive, because now I've got to go back and pick up all six prior Ethan Gage novels, because I'm intrigued.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Law: Deuteronomy 22

In Summary:

Can you tell from the infrequency of Through the Whole Bible Old Testament posts that having some difficulty finding new ways to deal with the book of Deuteronomy? If not, there’s my confession of the reality.

Deuteronomy 22 continues the codification of Israel’s laws. Here we see several aspects of morality addressed, ranging from farming regulations to sexual behavior. The ready intermingling of various subjects supports the view that the whole Law should be considered together, though there are clearly emphases that run along the traditional division points of civil, moral, and ceremonial. However, if God inspired the commandment not to plow with a mixed team (22:10) just a few sentences from commandments about dealing with marital issues, then we should be cautious about cutting our own divides.

Rather, I would suggest that the Law stands as a unit. Looking back through the New Testament, we see the Law treated in that manner: Jesus states that He came to “fulfill the Law” (Matthew 5:17.) Paul also treats the Law as a whole—we find no place in the Pauline Epistles that instructs that the “moral Law” is still to be obeyed but the other 2 parts can be shut down. Instead, Galatians 2 (and other places) appear to treat the Law as a completed event.

This develops the point I would hold: the Law exists for us as inspired Scripture, guiding us to understand the nature and character of God. From wherever in the Law one starts, one can arrive at either: Love the Lord your God with all your being (paraphrased from Matthew 22:37) or Love your neighbor as yourself (from Matthew 22:39).

We can find adequate guidance for life in these two statements, as well as clear need for salvation simply by comparing our lives to these. My need for salvation from the wrath of God has nothing to do with plowing with an ox and donkey together, but everything to do with not loving God fully…or not loving my neighbor.

In Focus:

Let’s throw Deuteronomy 22:12 under the focus for today. Here, the Lord commands that the people are to…put a tassel on each of the four corners of their garment. And, yes, Old Testament scholars remain uncertain exactly what this means. We do see traditional Judaism’s interpretations on a practical level, and it seems pretty straightforward.

The “Why?” factor for this rule is where the question comes. Attaching tassels like this would not have improved the garment, and in truth would have simply served to show that the observant Israelite was obeying God’s Law more than the fashions of the times.

In Practice:

From this, we drive the practical implication. The whims and winds of culture shift and change. As these changes occur, there is no definitive reason not to chase some of them—I’m all for eliminating the necktie from most of existence. Except for lawyers.

But through it all, those who are focused on honoring God above all else should be willing to embrace their appearance, from their outer garments inward, being different and reflecting the God they serve. Why? Because the God we serve has changed us from the innermost parts outward, and our appearance should reflect that.

Does that mean I have a list of do/don’t for fashion? Not really, except to say this: there were two highlighted commandments earlier, one about loving God and the other about loving your neighbor. Would a reasonable person question your devotion to those based on your clothing? This includes your T-shirt slogans…

In Nerdiness: 

Two quick nerdy light thoughts. First, take a look at 22:1-3 and 22:8. These inform the idea of taking responsibility to aid and protect your neighbor. How do we practice these today?

Second, in an example of stretching the interpretation of a passage, Ambrose (4th century) takes Deuteronomy 22:5 to teach that men and women have differing strengths and should behave and appear as men or women, rather trying to be something they are not. While that entire concept is its own discussion, I would point out that trying to make this verse carry that discussion is not a prudent approach to the text. With all due respect to Ambrose for many of the good things he wrote—but the Patristic/Early Imperial Eras of the Church struggled with what to do with the Old Testament Law as much as we do, and tended to make some big stretches.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A funny story from Cub Scouts

One of the ways I spend my time is helping with the Cub Scout Pack that Steven is a part of (or with the Boy Scout Troop in the same organization). They meet at a church in Stuttgart. A couple of meetings ago, one of the den leaders had arranged a visit from the local paramedics to talk first aid and show the ambulance to the boys.

After a little bit of time in the meeting room talking about first aid and paramedic work, they took the guys down to the parking lot to show them the ambulance. And the transport cot, including how you strap someone to it.

Did I mention that there was a church board meeting set for around the same time? Where the decision-makers and pastor for this church were coming to the church offices, housed right next door?

2015-03-16 18.49.19

Because they rolled up about the time the paramedics had one of the boys strapped to the cot, the lights flashing and the siren on for the ambulance.

That’s a memory worth preserving. The pastor and an abundance of serious people headed to a committee meeting were quite concerned. Good times Smile

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

In the Tomb: Luke 23

In Summary:

Luke 23 is the conclusion of the human story of Jesus. Luke has tracked the miracle-working, people-loving “Son of Man” from his birth all the way through his death and burial. If Luke had written the chapter divisions, he almost certainly would have placed the break here where we find it.

As you read through Luke 23, it feels like a conclusion. Especially in the modern era of leaving stories with unhappy endings (Nicolas Sparks, anyone?) in the interest of reflecting reality, we see all the opportunities to stop the execution of Jesus and think, well, no, that chance was missed. He’s got no one to save him now.

You have the political machinations with Herod and Pilate, but through those, there is no stopping the crucifixion. We expect the crowd to support the one who has done so many miracles, but they do not. We see Jesus falter under the weight of the cross and think…is there no limit to the cruelty? Is there not a centurion who will say “He’s too weak now, let’s do this later?”

There is not. The sin-soaked world we live in keeps hammering away. The problems just pile on, and there is nothing to stop it. Luke 23 runs Jesus through the gauntlet we live in, where everything from friends to government fail us. Life seems to conspire to our destruction.

In Focus:

The last verse, the last half of the last verse, draws our focus today. Jesus has died. The Gospels all bear witness to this as historical fact, and he is at this point in the tomb. Joseph of Arimathea (who inspires Arthurian legends and Python references) has buried Jesus in a new tomb. Some effort to prepare the body for burial has been made, but the full preparation must wait. It is the Sabbath, after all, and that work will need to be completed the next day.

Being the Sabbath, all work was prohibited. This was the Covenant Law, dating back to the Exodus, and part of the strict observance of the Jews. The Sabbath law was drawn from the example of God, who according to Genesis 1-2 rested from labor on the Sabbath. If the Lord their God had taken off that day, it was surely possible for the people of Israel to do so.

The women, then, are following the command of God when they rest. Luke notes this as he highlights that they “rested according to the commandment.” Even in the midst of the frustrations and death, the Word of God was to be obeyed: rest on the Sabbath.

In Practice:

What, then, shall we do? Here are my suggestions:

First, obey the Word of God as far as you know it. The women in Luke 23 knew it was time to rest to obey the Ten Commandments. We see, frequently, commands in Scripture that should be obeyed—and rest remains one of those. Whether that is in the Sabbath connotation or as we see in Psalm 46:10 to “cease striving” with the Lord, in 1 Peter or in Philippians where we see that our cares and anxiety should be subsumed under rejoicing in what God has done for us.

Second, remember that you are not living in a world driven by the human story. Our world, like Luke, does not end in the tomb. We get one more chapter. Not because people are writing the story—the best efforts of humanity end in the same place, but because God is writing the story. The very next word, Luke 24:1, is “but,” the great contrasting conjunction that brings hope—because the results are always different than expected!

In Nerdiness: 

What can be said in nerd land here? I’ll give you one quick one, then suggest you grab some history books and catch up on what happened in those days. It’s often presented that the crowd that cries “Crucify” in this chapter is the same crowd that shouted “Hosanna” in the previous one. Or it’s presented that people who think that are just stupid buffoons. I’ve seen both in the Internet world.

The truth is, as it often is in history, probably in the middle. Consider the differing situations of the two events. The Triumphal Entry occurs on a Sunday afternoon. The trial/near-riot happens early on Friday morning. The city of Jerusalem is pretty crowded at this time of year. It is within possibility that there are crowd participants in both events that are far enough away from the action that they are swayed by those up close.

After all, it would not be the only time in history that a cheering crowd turned on the ones they cheered, would it? History is replete with those examples. I would suggest the solution falls here: close in to the entry route for Palm Sunday were those who had followed Jesus. Likewise, close in to the trial and leading the shouts of “Crucify” would have been those seeded there by the religious leaders. Outside of that? An easy place to be swept up without knowing what’s happening, especially for outsiders making the trip to Jerusalem.

So let’s avoid claiming the whole crowd turned…but let’s also avoid ridiculing those who suggest the possibility there was overlap. We’ve got better ways to spend our energy.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sermon Recap for March 22

We had a guest preacher in the evening, so the records are only for the morning.

Morning Sermon: John 12:20-33 (audio)

Bulletin Outline:

Focal: 24-33//Burial and Baptism

1. The _______ of Jesus is compared to planting a grain of wheat (burial)

2. Jesus ______ was not only to atone for our sins but to show what happens in our  ________ (death)

3.  Burial of our current life is necessary for us to __________ what we are intended to be (become)

4. The glory of God is found in who He makes us to be

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sermon Recap for March 15

Beware the Ides of March! History gives us that Julius Caesar was assassinated on this date, 44 BC. This is one of the “major” events outside of the Bible that shaped the New Testament world. It’s not really relevant to the sermons. It’s just interesting.

Morning Sermon: John 3:14-21 (audio)

John 3:14-21

1. ____________ comes to Jesus at night (Nicodemus)

2. Jesus reminded him of the story in _____________ (Numbers 21)

3. Jesus came to provide ___________ from judgment (salvation)

4. Without believing in Jesus, everyone is ______________ judged (already)

5. Truth should be _________ (Practiced)


Evening Sermon: 2 Timothy 3:16-17

For those of you who do not attend, Sunday nights often have several components. That the sermon isn’t very long doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of patience in the congregation Smile


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

E. Some videos are up on Vimeo, but budget constraints have ended my posting to Vimeo for the time being.

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, March 13, 2015

Blogs I Read Revisited

Way back in 2009--an eternity in Internet years--I did a brief blog post about the blogs I read on a regular basis. I took a look at it today. It's time for a new list. Interests change, people change, and the blog world moves onward. So, here are some blogs I read, categorized a little bit.

First, there is the one blog that I don't skip: www.annhibbard.com. I know, she's my wife. I also like how she writes and what she writes. She also is the main one to keep up www.thehibbardfamily.com, though I am supposed to be doing a little better at adding on to it as well.

Second, Ann works for the Home Educating Family Association. Their website is at www.hedua.com. At some point, the section labeled "Blog" may move, but for now, that's a generally good resource for homeschool stuff. In with the education blogs goes http://blog.drwile.com/, where Dr. Jay Wile posts fairly frequently on matters of science and education. Rounding out education, I'd put Dr. Robert T. McKenzie's blog at https://faithandamericanhistory.wordpress.com/ for matters of history and historical process. 

Over in the theology area (I am still a Baptist preacher) things have changed a bit. We moved about 18 months after the last update, and I don't keep track with quite as many of the preachers that I used to. Plus, there have been retirements and shifts in the broader world. I'm on-again, off-again with reading at SBCVoices. I still keep up with the Pyromaniacs Blog, though it's slimmed down some in recent years. Ann and I consistently enjoy Mortification of Spin, even if they do mock Baptists at times. Beyond these, I'm looking for some additional theology/Biblical Studies blogs to read semi-regularly. I do read Canon Fodder by Michael Kruger, Pajama Pages and a few other "look harder and check on your actions" types of blogs, but not every day.

In the writing and business arena, I've started tracking a couple of new folks. First is Steven Pressfield. Books and blog, I'm enjoying what he and his team are putting out there. Also, Shawn Coyne's work has caught my eye in writing. Overall, both Jeff Goins and Jonathan Milligan have good blogs. Milligan's blog is kind of fragmented across a couple of spaces, but it all comes from there. Of course, you won't go too far wrong with Michael Nichols and Michael Hyatt.

A lot of the friends that used to blog have kind of slid off into Facebook and Instagram, so there's not as much of that anymore to post. All in all, blogging has changed a good deal in recent years. Or at least it's changed in my dynamic. But these are the things that fill my Feedly.com reader...

Well, and of course www.altonbrown.com. Can't miss the food blog!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Blogs and Writing: An Interview with Jonathan Milligan

15 traits Book display with framework transparentI met Jonathan Milligan last year at a leadership conference in Texas. Since then, I’ve linked to his blog at JonathanMilligan.com and drawn from his wisdom in the EverFocus System. He has a new book about blogging and how to develop your blogging into more than a hobby.

Even those of us who are blog as a sideline or an extension of other habits can benefit from this work. I had the opportunity to send Jonathan a few questions, and he answered them and encouraged me to share those answers with you. Here they are:

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In the book, you start off by talking about the blogging pyramid of success. What is that exactly?

Over the years I’ve discovered that new bloggers want a step-by-step roadmap. More than anything they want other more successful bloggers to tell them exactly what to do. There are so many things you can spend your time on and what new bloggers fear the most is wasting their time. They don’t want to blog for a year only to look back and find out they spent their time doing the wrong things. The blogging pyramid of success is a one page roadmap that helps aspiring bloggers know where to spend their time. You can get your own copy at http://BloggingYourPassion.com

You make a point in the book that the difference between the successful and the unsuccessful is their mindset. Can you give some examples?

Sure. The more I’ve spent time mentoring other bloggers I find that their mindset slows them down more than anything else. How we think impacts our actions. If we doubt, we don’t ship. If we lack confidence, we don’t publish. Some of the more important mindsets include: patience, resilience, and passion. 

What advice do you have about blog post titles?

Blog post titles are super important. Think about it. You can have other sites rank higher than you in the search engines but if you have the more compelling title, they will click on yours. It’s also especially important when sharing your blog posts on social media. People will click on your link if the title is intriguing or interesting. 

If you could only give one piece of advice to a new blogger, what would it be?

Build your email list. What catapulted me from a hobby to doing this thing full time was a concentrated effort in growing my email list. For me, it’s more important that how many blog visits I get a day. We all want more traffic, but building an email list will help you develop those long term relationships. 

Is there a danger zone of chasing fast results compared to staying focused on passion during low-result times? 

Yes, there is a danger. We all want instant results. We want instant results so badly we will change strategies regularly and chase things we are not passionate about. At the end of the day, money will never fill your purpose bucket. You need to blog on things your passionate about in order to build an audience. 

Where can people better connect with you and learn more about this new book?

The best place to connect with me is over at http://BloggingYourPassion.com. If you’d like more info on the new book, the 15 Success Traits of Pro Bloggers, you can find out more at http://BloggingYourPassion.com/book


If you are looking to push your blog writing habit past something that just drains your time, look at Jonathan’s stuff. It’s worth it. Also, for those of you who like audio learning, check out his podcast here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/simple-life-habits/id565942255?mt=2

A few minutes at a time can really strengthen your approach.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

In the Night: Luke 22

In Summary:

In the night, both good and bad happen. In the history of Israel, they were delivered from Egypt in the night (Exodus 12,) thus setting up the primary celebration of the Passover as a night-time event. This was one of the most important remembrances for the people of Israel

However, night was also the time when evil things happened. Historically speaking, prior to easy lighting, most cultures avoided nighttime activities. It was impractical to have light enough at night to do anything useful.

(An interesting anthropological study would involve how night-aversion is different in cultures where the buildings aren’t as confined, like one finds in tropical cultures. I digress.)

Most of Luke 22 happens at night. The opening 13 verses summarize events that occur prior to that night, but even these are feeding into what occurs in the night of the Passover celebration.

In Focus:

Take your magnifying glass to Luke 22:24-34 and look at the disciples and their argument. What is the argument? Same old stuff: Who’s the greatest? Or, more clearly, who is the most important? It’s an argument among them regarding their own rights and privileges. I think one can look at v. 26 and see that part of the underlying issue was the cultural expectation that the younger were expected to give way to the older, by virtue of age only.

Further, Jesus goes on to highlight the Gentile practice, especially among the dominant Roman system, of expecting to be noted for using authority. In that system, the ones in power expected to be called “benefactors” or other positive terms, even as they used their situation for their own improvement. It’s not unlike the modern reference to the politicians in Washington calling themselves public “servants” when the goal is get re-elected and line their own pockets—the only “service” is to further themselves.

Jesus instructs that the disciples are not to copy this system, but to serve. He goes on to point out that the ones who thought they were strongest—ones like Peter—had only been strong because of His support. The key here is in vv. 29-30, where Jesus grants the Apostles the right to sit at His table in the Kingdom. This is the highest honor one could experience—and so, there is no need for them to chase earthly recognition and privilege.

In Practice:

Practically, this gets a little hairy. First of all, it’s easy to get into a “serving-to-lead” mentality, where we serve for a time in expectation that we will be lifted up into something greater. That motivation is seen by God, and even if we accomplish that goal, we need to realize it’s not the way to approach life. Second, there are appropriate ways in which we should honor the ones who have gone before us, and respect those who do lead. This should be freely given, though, and never sought. Third, we like our privileges. Many times, it appears that we would gladly serve as long as we still get the comfy bed at the end of the day. That’s not how it works.

I would note, however, the difference in spiritual community and employment. Your boss gets to tell you what to do. He’s the boss. She’s the commander. Whatever the case may be, there are venues in which leadership *is* positional and absolute.

How does this inform our behavior? First, we set aside our ambition. Not our desire to work and accomplish, but our ambition to be important. Our ambition for recognition. Second, we put on deliberate service. Look hard for the little tasks, the behind-the-scenes things that have to happen. Do them. Third, forget you ever did them. Your recognition is not that now people will listen. It is that it will be granted to you to sit at the table in the Kingdom.

Now, the other side is this: look for the people who are serving. Pay attention to them. Ask the opinion of the people who are quietly dependable. There is likely more wisdom in them than in many visible people.

In Nerdiness: 

We get a fun nerd discussion when it comes to the timing of the crucifixion. John indicates that Jesus is crucified while the Passover is being prepared, while Luke here suggests that the Passover meal happens the night before. What do we do with this?

A few possibilities exist. One, that there was a multi-night observance of the Passover, is certainly plausible. Another, that John tweaked a fact to make a point, seems less likely in light of the inerrancy of Scripture. I think he presents a theological biography in context, meaning some events may be shifted in order, but to muff an actual fact is beyond that scope.

In considering this, remember that some of our understanding is traditional more than Scriptural. It is clear that there was a “holy day” after the crucifixion, one that could be termed a “sabbath” without being an actual Saturday. We also know that the Jewish people counted a day as beginning at sundown. It’s possible the solution is in there, somewhere. Study up and see what you think.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Weekend Reflections

This past weekend, we celebrated 39 years of life for my beloved wife, Ann. We are blessed by the fact that most of what we enjoy, we get to do for a living—she works in the homeschool community and writes, I teach the Word of God and write—so “taking a weekend off” is a different sort of thing for the two of us. We’ve had years where we had to get away from work and life…we’re not currently in those years.

That being said, there are still the day-to-day details that it’s nice to escape. The alarm clocks. The telemarketers. The cat who is living on some weird time zone wherein “you get in when we get up at 5” means “start banging on the door at 3 just to make sure she’s not forgotten.”

We started the weekend off by heading up on Petit Jean Mountain in Morrilton, Arkansas. It’s a lovely part of this state, and the partial snow covering was an added bonus. We had saved up our vacation money to take part in Table for Two at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute (again). This time around, we made honey-pecan pork cutlets and talked a lot about bacon. All in all, it was a lovely and relaxed time.

Saturday we made our way back to Little Rock, taking back roads and following a wandering path to get there. It was a pleasant time of testing our sense of direction—of course, there was the GPS safety net in the back of the car if we needed it—and meandering through some towns in Arkansas we had never been in.

Sunday saw a relaxed morning, a good lunch, and a safe trip home. It was just the type of weekend that would make some of you crazy. No agenda, no plans, no nothing—after 5 PM Friday, when Table for Two started, we had no appointments to keep.

It fit our needs, though, as well as our personalities. That’s one of the joys of 17 shots at celebrating Ann’s birthday. I think I’m finally getting the hang of what she likes!

Plus, it’s good to be reminded that work can live without us—even when it’s work we love.

Is it something we would do every weekend? No, not really. The chaos calls to us, plus normal life needs to be lived. Nobody should live on vacation while others carry their responsibilities. And others did have to carry our weight for the weekend.

I would encourage every one of you, take some time to recharge. Maybe you just need to turn the ringers off on your phone, pull the battery from your cell phone, and read a book all afternoon once a month. Maybe it’s something else entirely. But take a little time. You will return fresher and more ready for the challenges ahead.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Book: God’s Battle Plan for the Mind

<-In the interest of honoring my commitments, I’ve got a book for you today. Regular blogging returns next week.

“What do you think about meditation?” is one of those loaded questions in some Christian circles. While one can readily find the word “meditate” in most English translations of the Bible, the multi-cultural setting of America causes us some difficulty in determining just how to put that word into practice. Meditation, as a spiritual practice, lacks a single meaning.

Into that debate comes David W. Saxton’s God’s Battle Plan for the Mind. The subtitle, “The Puritan Practice of Biblical Meditation,” gives you the value of the work. He provides the historical concepts used by the Puritans when they “meditated,” allowing the reader to properly understand where that practice fits with some modern suggestions of meditation.

Overall, the Puritan concept of meditation is much more active than many ideas put forward today. Saxton presents the idea of an intentional process of reflecting on the content and context of Scripture, followed by an active effort to determine application to life.

I like this book as a personal study tool. The often-wordy Puritans are summarized well, fitting with the reading needs of the more hurried days we live in. Further, modernized language makes them more readily accessible.

This is certainly a bigger answer to “What is meditation?” than many people are looking for, but if you are willing to invest a little over a hundred pages, the answer is here.

Free book in exchange for the review.

Book: Worship in an Age of Anxiety

  This week, I'm wrapping up reading J. Michael Jordan's Worship in an Age of Anxiety . This isn't an assigned review, but a boo...