Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Fellow Baptists, What Next?

So, not that enough people will read this for it to make a difference, but somewhere I need to flesh out where I think we are, currently, as Southern Baptists, especially on the area of responding to the cascading numbers of sexual abuse reports in our fellowship of churches. It is an area that I have learned a lot more about in the last decade and I have, most likely, said things in other venues that I am about to contradict. 

But as I heard today, attributed to Maya Angelou, "When you learn better, do better." The guy who shared the quote may have gotten it not right, but I think the principle is valid. I am learning better. I need to do better.

And this goes double for us as Southern Baptists.

What is the nature of the problem?

Quite frankly, it is this: we have far too many men in positions of authority within Southern Baptist life who have used that position to sexually abuse people they have authority over. While it is true that "one is too many," one can be an anomaly. We have enough of this that shows we have a systemic problem: if 1 person in your hospital gets a staph infection, such things happen, it is tragic, and you do your best to care for that one person.

If 1 person in 500 gets a staph infection, you start looking for where the system is breaking. And you care for those people. Since we can start pointing to statistics that show numbers of abusers, and repeated incidents of abuse by the same perpetrator, we have a broken system. 

One of the major problems we have, though, is how to handle the highly independent nature of every SBC-affiliated church. We are built, historically, on the idea that individual churches can tell the cooperative system what to do, but they cannot tell each other what to do--and neither can the system. It's structured that way so that a failure in one church does not bring the whole thing down. It's structured that way because, initially, there were not communications practices that enabled doing anything more. What are you going to do about a church in West Texas if you are a church in Virginia, and it took 3 months to get information? Or to follow up with questions? 

You just could not. Our legacy is distributed work. That, however, has made it very possible for predatory individuals to easily slide from end of the SBC to another and evade responsibility. Those who do so with utter stealth may be beyond catching.

The real problem has been when churches and cooperative organizations have enabled those types of moves. Sometimes quite overtly: a seminary actively trying to silence testimony against a star student, a publishing company terminating a victim for being a distraction, a church "planting" another church to send out a predator, just to get him away from his first victims.

And then the further actions of collectively helping to keep these problems quiet. We've done that through bad training over the years. One aspect of Baptist ministry training is this: most of our classes in seminaries are fact-based: Biblical Studies, languages, theology studies. The practical courses are very direct skillsets: how to preach, how to make a budget, how to think you're an effective counselor when you probably aren't (not the actual course title). 

The nuts and bolts of how to handle a sexual abuse accusation? That learning comes from hands-on lessons from other pastors, whether mentors or associational folks or denominational leadership. So, while we can readily get the latest edition of Steps to the Sermon and so pick up how to make digital slides alongside our exegesis, we are still dealing with sexual abuse issues by word-of-mouth training from generations past. 

And we did not handle it right in generations past.

So we keep recycling the same issue: a predator comes along, eventually someone brings an accusation, and then...the system tries to protect the reputation of the church, the denomination, the pastors that have enabled and encouraged the predator (not in his predatory behavior, just in his ministry overall). And to do that, we put our cooperative effort into crushing the person who had to put herself (and himself) together enough to bring that accusation.

Then it makes the news, we look to someone in leadership to address it, apologies are made, committees formed, and nothing happens. This has never been good enough, but too many of us normal Baptist preachers have been willing to fade back and hope there's a better result someday. Making waves hurts our chance of being on cool committees or preaching annual meetings or getting help from the Important Baptists when we need it for our church or for our own job advancement.

This cannot continue. We have enough blood on our hands simply for our inaction. I have enough on mine simply for suggesting we stick with the slow process for the last 15 years. Time to say some things; eventually, when I find them, time to do some things. Here they are:

What do we do about it?

First and foremost: we need to use our cooperative system, work with experts in the field of providing restorative care to victims and survivors, and provide for their needs. We cannot claim that we are only supposed to fund "mission" when we are also crushing people. There are ways to figure that out--constantly we are told inside the SBC that our seminaries are filled with the brightest minds in all of evangelical life. We constantly have things to say claiming to hold the solution to every other problem in America.

We either need to acknowledge we're not that bright or use our brainpower to fix our problems. This one ought to come first: bandage the wounded. And do so in a manner that is driven by what is best for them, not what is best for us. We may expose ourselves to liability by doing the right thing. Better that than leaving a trail of victims in our wake.

Second, we need to revamp our cooperative systems to cooperate to lock predators out of churches. That will require using some standards to determine what constitutes "predatory behavior." Again, we claim to have a great deal of brain power. Surely we can do this, right?

And remember: someone can use position and perception and authority in ways that violate another person's ability to make free choices. In some churches, pastors are seen as having that authority. I have served in churches where there were other members who held that authority--and in fact, while not being sexually abusive, were spiritually abusive even toward the pastor's family--but the perception of power is what matters here. We claim to not have authority in our churches, but while that may be the way we talk, it is not the way we act.

This will require more open information sharing. Yes, that means more people will know about our mess. At this point, though, the only people that do not know are those willfully ignorant or who will not care anyway. It's past time for the sweet little old ladies who have raised millions for the SBC to know what's been done with some of it.

Third, we need to find a way to use our cooperative systems to have updated, mandatory training on dealing with matters like sexual abuse. And not presented by the same good ole boy network that currently delivers 90% of the post-seminary training in the SBC: this should not be done with the "well, you know, whatever" attitude that usually shows up in associational and denominational gatherings. Our failures here are harming people now and harming our ability to make disciples.

We are killing people and killing our witness but won't take it seriously. Instead, most of our together time is the same old self-congratulatory, "We're awesome" talk it always has been.

I do not have all the solutions, but I know this: we're not going to find them with the same leadership that has perpetuated them. The same systems that have victimized people will have to be radically rebuilt to prevent it from continuing to happen. If we keep looking to the same "great men of the SBC" that we have looked to for decades, we will continue to do it all again, and again, and again.

And if we do that, the least of our worries will be civil judgments and social media outrages. The Lord God Almighty may have patience, but He will not tolerate this forever.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Sermon Addendum: John the Baptizer

This past Sunday's sermon was focused on John the Baptist, or as the NET translates his tag: John the Baptizer. There could be several volumes written about John, even without trying to fill in details with some imagination. Historical fiction works could get really crazy with developing a hold plotline around his life, because there is so little narrative material around him.

What we do have are some Old Testament prophecies about God sending a "messenger" ahead of the Messiah, then the short moments shown in the Gospels. Those promises seem vague, as they occur sporadically across the Old Testament prophetic material--and that only if you count Exodus as being prophetic material! 

One of the passages, Malachi 3, that is seen as a promise of a forerunner to the coming Messiah is kind of interesting in its translation: the phrase "my messenger" can also be translated as a name, and that name is "Malachi." So the promise that Malachi reports is the promise that God will send..."Malachi." 

And yes, I do think the Lord Almighty does pun occasionally for the fun of it. You may not think so, but that's between you and Him.

What we do know is that the time of Malachi is 400 years, roughly, before the time of John. Isaiah is about 700 years, and the Exodus is around 1400 years prior to the time of John. That's a long time to wait. And yet wait, the people did. Some of them did not wait well--they jumped into this, that, or the other. Some folks came along claiming to be the promised messenger, claiming to be Elijah returned--but none of them were. In truth, no one really held John to hold that role until Jesus clarified that in Matthew 11.

Is there a lesson there? Yes. Do what God puts in front of you, and let God define who you are. That's not the easiest piece of advice to follow, but it is valuable to consider.

A side note about the promised return of Elijah: it is promised in Malachi 4, but that is the only location. Further, it should not be taken as any sort of odd one-off moment in the Bible suggesting reincarnation. Instead, remember that Elijah is recorded as being taken away behind a chariot of fire (reread 2 Kings 2, Elijah goes in a windstorm, the fiery chariot is what separates Elijah and Elisha), so he is considered to have not actually died. The idea was that he would return, not be reborn. Reincarnation never shows up in the Bible.

Now, other tidbits on John the Baptizer: well, let's take the "Baptizer" in translation vs. the traditional "Baptist." What's the difference? The latter reads like an identity group: we have churches that are labeled "Baptist," we talk about "I'm a Baptist," and so forth. "Baptizer," though, reads like an action that someone participates in: John is one who is known for baptizing, not one who joined a Baptist group. After all, there are many who are members of a Baptist group that have never baptized someone. (Or consider "Baptist Hospital" which does not, in fact, baptize people.)

As a lifelong credo-baptist, one who believes that the religious action of baptism involves completely immersing a willing believer, I will lose some Baptist Points for this, but honesty compels me to admit that, at times, the Greek word which becomes "baptize" refers to ceremonial washing of various sorts, so pouring water over the head of an individual or other methods may be involved. Still, I think the full-body dunk is the best approach.

One last note on the whole shebang: we see Mark 1 reflect that the Biblical authors were often not as careful with their citations as we would like in our setting. Mark compresses three different verses and authors to make the quote he ascribes to Isaiah. Is that wrong? No, it would have been well-understood by his original audience. Those of us with Logos Bible Software may like more precision, but we have digital search functions to keep it all straight. 

That's some add-on thoughts for the sermon!

Monday, December 11, 2023

Sermon Recap December 11 2023

Sermons! Get your sermons here!

If I were to use AI, it would be to automate this part of my week. This is just a monotonous part of the process that ties up time. I'd love to be able to build the skills to write a program to just take the raw file, make the audio file, the video file, upload them, and generate the boilerplate text that introduces sermons in the blog page. 

Since I do not know where to learn that, it's on me to publish and sometimes...I'm not so good at that!

If you track the YouTube channel, you can find any sermons I haven't linked here. The LibSyn Player will automatically pull up audio.

Friday, December 8, 2023

Book: 40 Questions about Bible Translation


40 Questions About Bible Translation by Mark L. Strauss is another entry in the incredibly useful 40 Questions series from Kregel Academic. The series aim, overall, is to provide essentially a FAQ section on the given Title Topic. Entries include questions about the text of the New Testament, other religions, ministry patterns, and issues in Biblical interpretation. This is a handy series to have on-hand, whether you have it on your shelf or in print. The works are, naturally, all in print, and most are available for Kindle or your Logos Library.

The specific focus for today is the volume on Bible Translation. Now, I should start by being clear that all the ins-and-outs of Bible translation are the pursuit of years, but this is meant to be an introduction and explanation of some of the basic information. Mark L. Strauss, author, is a New Testament scholar and is on the Committee on Bible Translation for the New International Version. His other works include introductory textbooks on the Gospels and works on Biblical interpretation and translation. He is a qualified scholar for this subject. (Unless, of course, you're a partaker of the King James Only view of English Bible translation, but if so, you're not going to like this book.)

First, I would note that about a dozen of the questions and answers are English-specific, so these are not as helpful for non-English speakers. However, the rest of the book is broadly-based and applies to any language. There is value here for understanding missional work that groups like Wycliffe Bible Translators are involved with, and what the challenge is for that work. 

Second, each of the question/answer sections is followed up with comprehension questions. Strauss is a professor, after all, and there's nothing like a good quiz to make sure you got the point. 

The organization of the book moves from broad questions, like "Why do we need Bible translation?" to the final question, the quite specific and thorny, "What is the Controversy in Translating 'Son of God' in Muslim Contexts?," the latter being one you may have heard something about even in mainstream media, though it bears little impact on how you read your Bible in English.

Strauss approaches the entirety of the work from a perspective that respects the Bible as the Word of God, but acknowledges that people's hands have been on it and therefore, some parts of its transmission and translation may be problematic. He does not delve deeply into textual criticism or the more in-depth questions of just what Greek verb tenses are doing, but provides enough initial insight to help the reader understand why you cannot just make a one-to-one word swap to translate. He also provides the best short-form answer on textual criticism I have seen, and one that I will be using next time the question comes up in the church I pastor.

I would definitely put this more in the undergraduate student or deep Bible study participant category than I would in the "just buy copies and give them out at church" category. The information is well-presented, but it does presume some basic working knowledge of New Testament studies. There are places where some help connecting to other materials will be necessary, so a group setting is the ideal usage here. 

And, on a personal aside, we do get the necessary mention of the Venerable Bede on page 205 as well as Caedmon! The chapter on Earliest English Bible translations looks great to me, but I'm partial to that area as my first research paper was on pre-Reformation English Bible translations. So I'm always happy to see these familiar friends and to read scholars restate what I wrote back then, because I like knowing I was right. (it was all footnoted facts, hard to get wrong ;) )

This may be the last book I review here--I'm rethinking my blog and don't really have the traffic to claim I'm worth the freebies--but it is necessary to note Kregel Publications gave me this in exchange for a committed review. Am I positive? I am, because I get to choose the books I review and the publishers, and I've yet to find a bad part of this series. So...main point is that I did get the book free.

Monday, October 2, 2023

Sermon Recap for October 1

 Good morning! Here is yesterday's sermon and the raw video from the Student-Led Service. We're still working on that project--some parts of it will come together better as we advertise it better and perhaps draw a few more folks.

We're starting into James from now until Thanksgiving, though next week's Observance of the Lord's Supper will be a pause on the progress...

Audio Player is here:

StudentLed Raw Video:

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Sermon Addendum for Psalm 40

 So, looking at more of the materials related to Psalm 40, here are a few thoughts:

1. Some translations take "watery" as symbolic for "desolate." CSB is one of those, where they try to translate the meaning here more than the actual terms. That's one of the challenges of translation in sections of Scripture like the Psalms: poetry does not translate literally all that well. Imagery is likely used with meaning behind it, so what do you do with that? 

2. Psalm 40:5 notes an important point about the works of God. There is always more that God has done than what we know. We should emphasize the works of God as noted in Scripture, as these are the ones we know in common and know without error. However, do not assume that the Scripturally recorded events are the only things God has ever done or is doing. We should be willing to listen and examine what is happening so that we can compare it to what we know of God and see if it is His work.

3. Note that for Psalm 40:10 to be true, that David did not conceal God's constant love in the great assembly, David had to confess his sins to the great assembly. We should take from this the need to be open about our sinful behavior and not conceal it, but also to put the focus where it belongs: the grace of God. David's focus shifts to the grace of God. Is your testimony about God or about you?

4. Notice also that David links his troubles with his iniquities. He is not disclaiming responsibility for his problems: he knows the source is judgment for his sins. You don't get out of responsibility just because you get into God's grace. You still have to wrestle with some of the consequences. Including finding some way to repair your relationships here: can you imagine how much David had to work through with his kids, his wives, with Bathsheba, and ultimately with the people of Israel? 

5. The Psalm opens with discussing singing new songs and hymns of praise. I think we lose something we do not sing--and we lose that even if other people sing on our behalf. Singing is a good thing, and it's a long-standing habit of human beings. We should find the right things to sing about. It's also easier to sing together than recite together--you'll find that the times we recite words together, usually they are more rhythmic than normal speech. Why? Closer to singing.

And no, you don't have to hit the right notes. It helps but if we could all ease up on worrying about it, we'd be better off.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Sermon Recap for September 17 2023

 Evening all!

Here is yesterday's sermon as well as the whole video of our student-led service. That project is making progress. Slowly but surely!

Audio Player:


Monday, September 11, 2023

Sermon Recap for September 10 2023

 As an aside, it is so strange to sit here in a church office on the morning of September 11. I was in a church office, a different one, that Tuesday morning. The world we have is greatly shaped by what happened 22 years ago, and even more shaped by our reactions to it. You did not get a choice about what happened that day. You have had 22 years of choices.

On to the sermon

Monday, September 4, 2023

Sermon Recap for September 3 2023

Well, here we are into September already! Seems like just yesterday it was 100 degrees...oh wait, it was. Because we live in the South. And as we all know: there are 4 seasons in the South: Almost Summer, Summer, Still Summer, Warm Christmas...September marks the transition to Still Summer.

Sermon notes: I decided a few years ago to make every September a month in the Psalms. Slowly, but surely, I'm working from the beginning of the book to the end. I'm not taking on every Psalm but am moving somewhat sequentially through the Psalter.

Friday, September 1, 2023

September 1 2023 Life Thoughts

Since this is a personal blog that, from time-to-time, I point people to and say "You can learn about me by reading over here!," perhaps it's time to do some personal life updates. Besides the obvious willingness to ignore several red squiggles produced by Grammarly, telling me that I should not punctuate the way I have nor make "time to time" into a one-word event by hyphenating, what should you know?

I started this blog a long time ago. And yes, nearly in a galaxy far, far way, because that was in Mississippi. Since then, my family has moved to Southeast Arkansas, East Arkansas, Central Arkansas, and back (again!) to Southeast Arkansas. While that's been happening, my children have gotten 15 years older, my marriage has matured by 15 years, and I've gotten...hopefully 15 years more mature.

Whether or not that's true is, of course, open for discussion. Our oldest child was 7 when I started writing. Well, actually, she was 6. She's now 22 and a college graduate. The youngest is a high school senior.

There's been a lot of change. The thing is, that's the nature of life. Life changes. You can try to minimize the change in your own life, but the world around you is going to bring that change anyway. In 2008, when I started blogging, Blackberries were the big thing in mobile technology: you could tap out emails, etc., and they were high-end. People used Palm Pilots for digital organizers, but only those with enough time and money to learn how to use a digital organizer!

Since then, the iPhone and Android-system phones have altered the mobile landscape. Laptop computers have gotten cheaper, lighter, more powerful, and we've gone from being a family with two computers--the older one for some purposes, the newer for the more important purposes--to a family where everybody's got a laptop. And we've spent less on that than we did on the last new desktop we bought, somewhere around 2008.

Even if you have managed to avoid the change in your personal life, it has swirled around you. Now your bank doesn't really need you to come in--just do it all remotely. You can come in, except for those locations that locked the doors in 2020 and now only let you use the drive-thru, as if they installed sanitizers in the tube system. (Maybe they did, I don't know!) Walmart works differently now. 

The point? Change happens. You can resist it, you can ignore it, but it happens anyway.

The real question is What are you going to do about it?

You can try to get in front of it, but sometimes you look around and realize that you guessed wrong about which way it was going--that you've been so disconnected from the world around you that you missed what changes were happening! Imagine being deeply embedded in the best way to use a Blackberry. Or how awesome you made your MySpace page :)

You can try to resist it, but there comes a time when you just have to buckle down and figure out where you are. Remember when Walmart required you to wait on the only cashier on-duty to check out? Yeah, use that progress to a self-checkout.  You'll get out of there quicker.

You can flow with it, mindfully. Which takes time and effort. But it's worth it. The effort will keep you connected to the people and life around you, rather than having you isolated. You're not meant to live isolated.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Historical Thinking: August 31 2023

Thursday's post series is going to develop into one I'm going to call "Historical Thinking." Why? Because I'm a historian. Not in my spare time, but my academic training runs on two tracks: theology/ministry and history.

And since I spend most of my time, and most of this blog, on theology, I thought I'd bring a bit of history into the mix. Some of the time I'll focus just on the facts of a situation. Other times, I want to talk about methods and analysis and how we learn from history.

Meanwhile, let's start with reasons. Why do this?

First, there are a lot of appeals to history in our modern culture. How many times have we heard someone raise "Be on the right side of history?" when trying to make a moral point? Or how many social media posts allege that Joe Biden is "the worst president in history?" or that Donald Trump was "the worst president in history?" (As if Martin van Buren had never been born, honestly, people...) If we're going to appeal to history, we need to understand it.

Second, much of what we have learned about history is a bit oversimplified--by the way, the YouTube channel for "History Oversimplified" is hilarious. But we tend to sacrifice facts in favor of a narrative that fits our mood.

Third, history is fun. We just forget that sometimes :)

That's what I've got on this. Feel free to shoot me history questions or opinions...I'll be glad to argue about anything :)

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Book Advice

 Typically, Wednesdays are going to be posts highlighting a book recommendation or a specific book review, since do still occasionally get a free book that I need to review. Once upon a time I was much more involved in book reviewing and such, but as blogging as somewhat ebbed in the wider world and in my own time, that's kind of slid away. There are still a few options for books, but small readership blogs aren't quite as connected to them.

Today, though, I've mainly got some book advice, though it comes partly from the reviewer idea. One of the good things about the book review programs I used to do was that I read books outside of my normal batch of authors. The review programs put out a list of available books and, since it was free, I would grab an author I hadn't heard of or chase an interest that was a bit on the side.

For example, it was through book reviews that I first read Andy Andrews,  who remains one of my favorite inspiration-type authors. I've also picked up books on arts and corners of history and theology that I would not have taken time to read.

So the "book advice" I have today is simple: find a way that encourages you to read beyond your normal paths. Yes, you can and should read what you enjoy. And if you are reading theology, it is legitimate to filter bad theologians.

But you would do well to let other trustworthy people advise and develop your reading choices some of the time. One option is looking into book club and reading club groups. Another is something like Intervarsity Press's Book Drop program. I don't know if other publishers have similar programs, but check out your favorite ones.

And churches? This is something we should undertake: nudge people to read widely and encourage and enable the habit.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Sermon Addendum for August 27 2023


So, following up on the sermon from Sunday, a few notes:

First, on the practice of preaching: I spent longer on the intro story than is normal for me. That's just a different approach for me. It worked alright, though I know it threw a bit of a curve to people used to my normal rhythm. And that you sat that, waiting for us to get to the text.'s always been annoying to me when preachers take too long to get to the text. And now I see why some preachers do it :)

Second, again on the practice of preaching: it's generally better to be sure the technology works if you're going to use it. There are a couple of points in here where I thought the screen was going to have information...and then it didn't. Don't rely on digitals that are not reliable. Even if you were the guy who installed them and got them working in the first place!

Third, as we worked through Hebrews 10, there's a reference to the people accepting the confiscation of their goods with joy. And then we had a moment of awkwardness after I raised the question of how we would respond if news came down that Christian people's personal property was going to be confiscated...nothing like awkward silence and murmuring in the midst of a sermon. 

That does need some development, though, about the example of people in Scripture. We should remember that the text often records the final status of affairs, not the process it took to get there. For example, in this case, it probably was not instant. It's hard to react to anything challenging with joy at the moment. It likely took time.

Second, we need to think about the reality that people referenced in Scripture are all normal people. The recipients of Hebrews? Normal people, who had rights and expectations and worked hard for their normal life, just like we do these days. They didn't get up one day and think, "Sure, this will be easy." 

We need to remember that it was hard for them, and it will be hard for us.

The solution is the same as it was 2,000 years ago: faith in Christ and support from one another. That is one place that we have to work on ourselves: the support for one another. We usually want to solve the problem before we help the person--"Okay, we need to figure out why this happened..." before we "let's get you a nap, a snack, and some time to process."

We can do both. We need to do both.

Oh---and realize: if persecution like property seizures or mass arrests hit Christians in America, it's no different than what our brothers and sisters in Christ have experience around the world for 2000 years. We have had a blessed three centuries of peace in this nation. We haven't used it like we should--we've become wealthy and comfortable rather than evangelistic and fruit-filled with things like love, joy, peace, and patience (Galatians 5:22-23). We had better use our blessings for what God intended them for, lest we spend our time and energy chasing blessing instead of chasing faithfulness.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Sermon Recap for August 27 2023

 Here is what you’ll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You’ll also find the embedded YouTube videos of each sermon.

If you’d like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here:
Audible Link is coming soon! Search "Doug Hibbard" to see if it's there yet
The video is linked on my personal YouTube Page here:
Sermons are stockpiled here:

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Sermon Addendum for August 22 2023

Following up on yesterday's sermon, it's important for us to understand how much had changed in Israel leading into the time of Haggai. These were not simple times in Haggai 2, because the people of Israel were not really in a place to do what their ancestors had done: most of the people gathered for the dedication of the new Temple were born after the original had been destroyed. Many had come back from Babylon, where their songs had been much more akin to Psalm 137 than Psalm 24.

Additionally, it is worth remembering that we often see the past in what I've heard called "rosy retrospection." That is, we look back and think things were far better than they were: we remember the good parts, but one can turn the pages back to the end of 2 Kings and know that things in Jerusalem were not good at all when the Exile came. One can, and should, weep over the loss of good things from the past, but be careful to remember all the aspects of the past and do not weep for that which was wrong. We can, in our day, rightly weep that the time has gone in which you could leave your doors unlocked or when firearms at school were probably squirrel guns left in the truck in the parking lot. These losses are tragic.

It is not tragic, however, to have lost racial segregation or to have empowered women to flee abusive marriages--both of which are changes in law and social habits that started in the late 20th century as the sad changes happened. Be careful not to weep over things which are not worthy of it. The Israelites would have been right to weep over losing the Temple, but they should also have remembered it was their own idolatry that brought the Exile and destruction in the first place.

Further, looking ahead, we do have to separate what was the clear work of God in bringing the Messiah from what is our responsibility. God brought the greater glory to the Second Temple through bringing Jesus. We will not see the Messiah come back quite the same way, so this batch of events and promises is more about helping us see how God has worked in the past and draw hope and inspiration, rather than a template going forward.

Because God does continue to work, even in the days when it looks like there is very little left to work with.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Sermon Recap for August 20 2023

 Here is what you’ll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You’ll also find the embedded YouTube videos of each sermon.

If you’d like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here:
Audible Link is coming soon! Search "Doug Hibbard" to see if it's there yet
The video is linked on my personal YouTube Page here:
Sermons are stockpiled here:

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Sermon Addendum August 15 2023

This past Sunday, we looked at three of the times that God led people across a body of water that would have been an obstacle. The main passage was Joshua 3 as they crossed the Jordan River coming into the Promised Land, but the other examples were Exodus 14 and 2 Kings 2. The first is the well-known crossing of the Red Sea and the second is Elijah and Elisha's crossing of the Jordan before Elijah's passing.

The primary aim was to raise our awareness that God does not always work exactly the same way, but He does always retain and demonstrate the same character. God does not change who He is, even as how He works adjusts in various times. For example, the ways in which God worked through faithful people to part waters was different in each story--each event was unique, though all three showed God is bigger than the obstacles in front of you. And bigger than the chaos.

What else can we gather from this? A few quick points:

  1. There are always obstacles. There are always challenges. Giving up is not the option that you think it is--notice what happens if you do not follow through from where you were stuck: the Egyptians get you. The Promised Land remains unentered. You never see the chariots of fire and glimpse the spiritual reality behind normal vision.
  2. Obeying God will bring you to those obstacles. We need to get over our mindset that obedience is always easy, that God will smooth the path before we get to the hurdles. We will encounter resistance and then we will have to come back to faith and obedience again.
  3. There are always next steps to take after the big ones. And those can be just as challenging.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Sermon Recap for August 13 2023

 Here is what you’ll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You’ll also find the embedded YouTube videos of each sermon.

If you’d like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here:
Audible Link is coming soon! Search "Doug Hibbard" to see if it's there yet
The video is linked on my personal YouTube Page here:
Sermons are stockpiled here:

Here is this week's video from Mt. Olive as well as last week's presentation from Brian Baldwin from Hope City in Jacksonville.

Monday, July 31, 2023

Sermon Recap for July 31 2023

 Here is what you’ll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You’ll also find the embedded YouTube videos of each sermon.

If you’d like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here:
Audible Link is coming soon! Search "Doug Hibbard" to see if it's there yet
The video is linked on my personal YouTube Page here:
Sermons are stockpiled here:

Monday, July 24, 2023

Sermon Recap from July 23 2023

 Here is what you’ll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You’ll also find the embedded YouTube videos of each sermon.

If you’d like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here:
Audible Link is coming soon! Search "Doug Hibbard" to see if it's there yet
The video is linked on my personal YouTube Page here:
Sermons are stockpiled here:

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Sermon Recap from July 16th

Well, times are interesting around here--and that's not always a positive statement--so I'm a bit late. Also, last week was Praiseworks Arkansas, so I did not post the sermon from last week, either.

This means this is a link-heavy, video-embed-filled post!

First, the audio player, where you can choose which week you'd like to hear.

Then, videos!

July 16th sermon

Then, July 9th sermon

And now, as a bonus, from OBU, the Joyworks/Praiseworks Finale Concert!

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Sermon Addendum: Wrapping up the Flood

 As we finish off the Flood narratives, there are a few additional thoughts on the entire story that I think fit this category of “sermon addendum.”

First, we should note that the whole of the Flood situation arises because of God pouring out His judgment on the Earth. Sin has negative consequences and the accumulation of it gets worse and worse. That includes what we may believe is a disproportionate response, but is honestly as fair as it can be. We usually underestimate the impact of our choices—we downplay the good we do, but we also tend to substantially truncate the side-effects of the bad things we do. It is not really for us to minimize our own sins.

Second, we should notice that “Noah finding favor in the eyes of the Lord” does not equate to him being sinless. It just means he met with God’s grace in the situation. God does not require perfection to save you—salvation is a display of His grace. 

This is not to say that somewhere, somehow, perfection is not required. For lack of any better understanding, we see perfection in Jesus and that is how we are saved. His perfection, not ours.

Third, catch that the story is told with some repetitions: chapter 6 has Noah gathering 2 of every kind of animal and chapter 7 has 2 of the unclean and 7 of the clean. A reasonable understanding of this would suggest that Noah is bringing a breeding pair of all animals for survival and then additional animals for food and sacrifice. 

Fourth, one thing that is a bit questionable here: how does Noah know what is clean and what isn’t? The delineations between clean and unclean animals has NOT been given in Scripture. We do not get that information. There are suggestions that Noah knows this by received tradition, potentially dating back to Adam.

However, we do not know. It is here that I should perhaps remind you that, while we can try to fill in the gaps with what we imagine, that gap-filling is not the same as revealed truth. Even if you know the culture, know the Scripture, you do not know what exactly happened. That’s important to separate out. And remember: neither does your favorite Bible teacher or preacher know. I know you grew up hearing the story of Noah and this interaction with the world around him or that interaction, but we have only a few New Testament references to Noah and should be careful reading our current idea of “preacher of righteousness” back on to him. Hebrews suggests that the condemnation came from seeing Noah obey and choosing to reject God more than rejecting a tent-meeting style sermon series.

Fifth, there is always a debate about what animals were on the Ark, what animals were not. It is useful to remember that “kind” is not equivalent to “species,” for we are dealing with conversational vocabulary rather than scientific vocabulary. Something we should all realize is that, in post-Space Race America, we all have a basic science education well beyond what was once considered normal. So we tend to think in different categories than much of history has. 

Those are some of the post-sermon thoughts now that we are post-Flood.

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

July 4

  The Declaration of Independence —A Transcription


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.—Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

  He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

  He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

  He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. 

  He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. 

  He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

  He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

  He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

  He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

  He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

  He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

  He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

  He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

  He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

  For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

  For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

  For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

  For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: 

  For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

  For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

  For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

  For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

  For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

  He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

  He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. 

  He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

  He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands. 

  He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.




New York

Button Gwinnett

George Wythe

William Floyd

Lyman Hall

Richard Henry Lee

Philip Livingston

George Walton

Thomas Jefferson

Francis Lewis

Benjamin Harrison

Lewis Morris

North Carolina

Thomas Nelson, Jr.

William Hooper

Francis Lightfoot Lee

New Jersey

Joseph Hewes

Carter Braxton

Richard Stockton

John Penn

John Witherspoon


Francis Hopkinson

South Carolina

Robert Morris

John Hart

Edward Rutledge

Benjamin Rush

Abraham Clark

Thomas Heyward, Jr.

Benjamin Franklin

Thomas Lynch, Jr.

John Morton

Rhode Island

Arthur Middleton

George Clymer

Stephen Hopkins

James Smith

William Ellery


George Taylor

John Hancock

James Wilson


Samuel Adams

George Ross

Roger Sherman

John Adams

Samuel Huntington

Robert Treat Paine


William Williams

Elbridge Gerry

Caesar Rodney

Oliver Wolcott

George Read


Thomas McKean

New Hampshire

Samuel Chase

Josiah Bartlett

William Paca

William Whipple

Thomas Stone

Matthew Thornton

Charles Carroll of Carrollton

The Declaration of Independence. 1998. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Exported from Logos Bible Software, 3:50 PM July 3, 2023.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Sermon Addendum for June 26 2023

 This week’s sermon was a bit shortened because we also had the reminder and rehearsal of God’s work as we celebrated the Lord’s Supper. So, today we will have a brief thought or two about both parts of Sunday’s proclamation.

The first: I drew the sermon out of Isaiah 55. Since it was a “one-off” sermon, not really starting a series or continuing one in Isaiah, I did not do any background on the authorship or context of Isaiah. Also, the background on Isaiah takes a bit of time, which was another reason not to broach it on a Sunday morning. Isaiah has complications and I’m not even going there here and now.

The main part I want to highlight is that Isaiah 55 comes from the latter part of Isaiah, which has a markedly different tone than the earlier parts. Isaiah 6, for all its glory as the “call of Isaiah,” still has a very bleak feel. As one gets into the back parts of the book, however, Isaiah speaks more and more of restoration for the righteous. Especially for those who repent and seek that restoration. Isaiah 55 is no exception to this: there is a call-out that one should seek God while He may be found. 

From this, we should not take that there are times where God is missing or absent. Rather, see the idea as God declaring there will be a time when access is closed. The general idea is that God will, at some point, be present to execute judgment and seeking His mercy should be a priority.

I think there is something applicable here for the church: we want people to seek God’s mercy. That may require a modicum of expounding upon impending judgment, but the primary thing we long for people to do is find mercy. So let us proclaim His mercy.

The other time of our service was directed to the observation of the Lord’s Supper. Now, whole books are written about the theology of the Lord’s Supper, proper ways to observe the Eucharist, relevant paths to celebrate Communion—all of which weigh on the subject matter. 

You don’t need to stare at this screen long enough to sort through those. Instead, I would encourage you to focus on a couple of salient points:

1. I do not think we capture the meaning of the Lord’s Supper right when it’s a tagged-on ending to a service nor when we just sit in straight rows and our participation is simply to wait until we’re handed a disposable cup and a styrofoam-tasting wafer. There is a participation that we’re missing when we treat Holy Communion like getting a hot dog from a vendor at the ballpark.

2. The reminder that we are responsible for the sacrifice of Jesus—it is for us that His body was torn, that His blood was poured out—goes alongside the reminder that we are also the beneficiaries of that same sacrifice. One does not need to theologize this into weird pretzels. One can simply be very grateful, humbled, honored, and encouraged all at the same time.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Sermon Recap for June 25

 Because of unsafe road and weather conditions, we did not have services on June 18, 2023. So, here is the sermon from June 25!

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Sermon Addendum for June 12: More on Genesis 6

 June 12th’s sermon was on Genesis 6, which meant we took a speed past Genesis 5. I also did not delve too deeply into the background questions of identity for the “sons of God” and “daughters of men” or the Nephilim. Except to point out that the Nephilim were *not* rock monsters. Sorry Russell Crowe.

Now, one reason to have left these issues aside is that they are not settled and definite issues. That is, there are debates among people who take the Bible seriously about what is really going on with the best way to translate and understand what we find in the text.

As an aside: you will find two basic groups of Biblical scholars: those who take the task of Biblical scholarship seriously and those who do not. Those who do not may not take the Bible part seriously—doubting that the Bible has any divine advantage in its existence—or they may not take the scholarship part seriously—never really studying or asking questions, just buying into the easiest understanding they can find. Those who take Biblical scholarship seriously do so by recognizing the Bible is God’s word to humanity and doing the work to understand what is present there. Those folks occasionally come to different conclusions, and that’s when I have learned to be less agitated about which conclusion a preacher has come to.

So, let’s take the first question: “sons of God” and “daughters of men.” The LES Septuagint cuts straight through it and takes “sons of God” as angels and “daughters of men” to be any human females. The other major view is that “sons of God” refers to the God-honoring offspring of Seth and the “daughters of men” refers to the less worshipful offspring of Cain, taking the idea that the two lines of descent had been separated between those who follow the LORD and those who did not. Then, the two lines mingled, and all of mankind turned to wickedness.

Now, which is the better one? In favor of the former view, the phrase “sons of God” only occurs elsewhere in the Old Testament in reference to angelic beings. In favor of the latter view, there is no indication anywhere else in the text of Scripture that it is possible for angelic beings to procreate with human beings—and the one passage that might touch on the idea would be understood to be against it. (Matthew 22:30)

These arguments then go on in a loop, with proponents of each view assuring you that the loop stops with them. This is why I did not bother with it in the sermon: there are scholars of both conclusions I respect. And the end result is irrelevant to the Christian life: God promises at the end of the Flood narrative not to destroy the world that way again, and I doubt any of us would show more love, joy, faith, or patience because that might be angel next door than we will because we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. If you would do more for an angel than you would for God…there’s a problem.

Now, on to the Nephilim: how you take the Nephilim may depend slightly on how you resolve the earlier dilemma: some who hold to the angelic beings mingled with human beings will say the Nephilim are the offspring of that union. I’d note you still have to deal with v. 4’s “and also after this” if you take this view: after what? The Flood? Nobody is supposed to make it there that is not on the boat.

The other way to take the Nephilim is the idea of “mighty ones,” that the point Moses is making is to anchor some of the legends of “old times” into the era around the Flood. This is my preferred understanding, but I have not studied it well enough to make a solid statement. 

And again—how does resolving this impact the life of a believer? It really does not. You can love your neighbor as yourself without worrying whether he’s a Nephilim. It won’t matter. So you can have a good discussion over it, you can ask questions, you can leave it open…some issues are just not going to finalize, and being okay with that is good.

When I hit matters like this, I try to leave them out of the sermon, usually striving to focus on what we *do* know, and then what we follow that up with in action.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Sermon Recap for June 11 2023

 Good morning! Here are the digital forms of the sermon from yesterday.

Here is what you’ll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You’ll also find the embedded YouTube videos of each sermon.
If you’d like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here:
Audible Link is coming soon! Search "Doug Hibbard" to see if it's there yet
The video is linked on my personal YouTube Page here:
Sermons are stockpiled here:

We are in Genesis, and I did not spend all day trying to prove the Flood or anything of that sort. Honestly, if you are looking for those proofs, the Sunday morning sermon of a church is not the time to find them. That's for Bible study times or (at our church!) a great question to ask on a Wednesday night. Or a question I'm glad to talk about one-on-one or in a small group. Because I think those answers are important, but trying to provide them on Sunday morning can get a bit laborious for folks who don't really want to go there. And the sermon is usually intended to be more motivational and inspirational than it is informational. 

That's actually one of the things I've long had to work on: I'd be glad to do informational for days on end. But eventually the congregation needs to go home :)

All that to say, feel free to bring the questions. I am a fan of honest questions being dealt with as plainly as we can. God is not afraid of you and your questions.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Sermon Recap for June 4

 Good evening! Running late this week with civic's the sermon recap from Sunday, June 4th!

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Sermon Recap for May 28 2023

 It's Tuesday, so we're going to hit two birds with one stone and have both the sermon recap and the sermon addendum post put together. One thing I am considering is that, since we only do one sermon per Sunday around here, doing that on a regular basis anyway.

Here is what you’ll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You’ll also find the embedded YouTube videos of each sermon.
If you’d like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here:
Audible Link is coming soon! Search "Doug Hibbard" to see if it's there yet
The video is linked on my personal YouTube Page here:
Sermons are stockpiled here:

Now, on to the "addendum" portion:

Genesis 4 picks up the story of the first family in Creation: Adam and Eve and the birth of their first child, Cain. His birth gets a verse. Abel, his younger brother, gets a verse. 

And that leaves a decently large number of gaps in the story. First, of course, we can see that years pass by that are summarized simply by the statement that "Abel took care of flocks, Cain cultivated the ground." How many years? We don't know. Most likely less than 130, because Genesis 5:3 tells us that Seth is born when Adam's at 130.

How did they learn these skills? Did they have other options? Does the typical depiction of raw cavemen developing agriculture fit here? Or did Adam and Eve leave the orchard with more knowledge and skill and it was easier to develop life?

I think we do them a disservice to make them low-intelligence, barely-human individuals. Keep in mind, childbirth is not an easy thing to deal with--even in modern day, women still die from complications of childbirth (and more in the US than almost any other 'developed' nation, which we should see as shameful because it is; no reason for a woman to be 10 times more likely to die from medical pregnancy complications in the US than in New Zealand), but Eve has both Cain and Abel and hardly anything is said about challenges from this. 

That's not an ignorant first couple, folks. We do them a disservice when we wholesale copy the evolutionary mindset onto the first chapters of Genesis and make Adam and Eve and their immediate descendants barely competent with life.

Onward we go: there is an interesting fill-in from the LXX (Greek translations of the Hebrew Scriptures) in Genesis 4:8, because the available Hebrew text does not have what Cain said. It just kind of hangs there...Cain said to Abel his brother... and then nothing. 

We will jump ahead to address a wrong-headed nonsense that shows up from time-to-time: there is just no justification to think the "Mark of Cain" (Genesis 4:15 references the Lord putting a special mark on Cain) has any connection to a racial or ethnic concept. This also comes up later, after the Flood, with Ham and Canaan. It is an abhorrent twisting of the Word of God to justify racial hatred. Don't do it. And it does NOT matter which of your theological heroes said, he was wrong.

Moving on: we wrap the chapter with Cain's descendants, including the infamous Lamech who threatens extra vengeance for something as simple as a wound. You also get the implication that many of those who started or popularized various skills are in Cain's descendants. This is another space where we are short on information: obviously, Cain has a wife. Who is she? From whence did she come? The logical answer is...his sister. We're not fond of that answer, but it is difficult to find a better one.

The chapter closes on a somewhat higher note, as Seth is born, seen by Eve as the replacement for Abel. Seth's line begins, and "at that time, men began to call on the name of the Lord."

That's a good step. Probably, one could craft a whole sermon on that idea but I didn't :)

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Sermon Addendum for Genesis 2 and 3

 Picking back up on the "Sermon Addendum" idea, which is to share with you here some of the ideas and points that end up edited between sermon preparation and sermon delivery, let's look at a couple of ideas on Genesis 2 and Genesis 3.

First, Genesis 2 provides a slightly different view on the Creation narrative. It is neither corrective of the Genesis 1 account nor is it a "different Creation." Rather, it looks more relationally at the development of Creation. This is also evidenced by the use of "Lord God," which uses the Divine Name of God that is considered "personal" to the Israelites. 

Second, the NET translation uses "orchard" where many of us are used to the word "Garden." This fits well, as we're mainly focused on trees here and the connotation of "garden," especially in the English-speaking world, is more about neat rows of veggies and flowers. So you have trees. Lots of trees.

Worth noting as well is that "Work" is not bad in the Garden/Orchard. We need to remember that as we fuss about work--we don't like work because the Fall wrecked it.

There are also some things that we just do not know about Genesis 2 and 3:

We do not know how long Adam and Eve are in the Garden/Orchard. It's just not in the text. So be careful with the view that it was instant or that it took millennia. We just do not know.

We also do not know what life is like outside of the Garden. We expect it is still some form of peaceful and proper relation of all things, but there is no information.

Chapter 3 gives us a variety of questions about talking snakes and other things that stand out, but the big question remains: what is it to follow Jesus?

The other big question that arises: Where was the Garden/Orchard? We don't know. I personally think it did not survive the Flood and that we will not encounter it again.

Those are the short notes. Maybe I'll share more of the longer ones later!

Monday, May 22, 2023

Sermon Recap for May 14 and 21

 Well, here we are at the end of some of the most chaotic weeks we've had since moving to Crossett--and anyone who has moved knows that moving weeks are always chaotic. We got Olivia finished with her 4 years at Ouachita, Angela finished with her first year, Steven done with his junior year of high school...and that involved moving both girls home and then working out the storing and sorting of their stuff. Some goes back to OBU in the fall, some goes with Olivia wherever she ends up launching adult life.

All that to say: wow. Tired and blessed really do go together.

Anyway, here's the May 14 Sermon:

And the podcast player:

Now, as to May 21st? Well...there's a button push on the live stream app to mute the sound. You should NOT push this button. I, however, pushed the button. If you'd like to see the service but not hear it, head over to the church's Facebook page! 

Monday, May 8, 2023

Book: Three in One


Picture of Book Cover
And we're back to BOOKS! Look, one of my great pleasures with writing is that it drives me to read more. I think my mental push on my doctoral process sputtered when it stopped being focused on me reading and learning and shifted to...something else. I'd far rather read, interpret, explain things than do just about anything else in the academic world. Anyway...on to this week's book!

Three in One: Analogies for the Trinity by William David Spencer is from Kregel Academic Publishers. A softcover, it weighs in at 216 pages counting the appendices and excluding the indices. Black and white printing throughout, this is a text-priority book, not one filled with pictures or diagrams. 

Overall, the thrust in Three in One is to look at how Christians communicate the truth of the Trinity. While Spencer is not out to prove the Trinity, he does open the book with background on this theological point. After all, why examine analogies for the Trinity if there isn't one?

That particular detail addressed--and it is illustrative, if not comprehensive--Spencer moves on to define the intentions of this work. The goals here are to express if it is appropriate to use language to explain the Trinity and, if so, what to say. One can easily assume his point will be that language is appropriate, otherwise, it's a pamphlet, not a book.

The next steps taken are to examine various analogies and explanations of the Trinity. Spencer takes the time to explain them well, then goes forward to show the shortcomings in many analogies but also notes how they still help us see and understand God better. 

Overall, I find his conclusions helpful about the use of language to explain the realities of God. Further, his summaries of various well-known analogies for the Trinity are easy to grasp. 

The subtitle of "Analogies for the Trinity" may be a bit off, as it is really more of an examination of the use of analogy than it is suggested analogies. Still, that's minor quibbling. I found Spencer's work to be helpful in expressing the inexpressible truth. 

And, of course, he references this: 

Sermon Recap for May 7 2023

 Yesterday, we had our normal services at Mt. Olive Baptist and we also hosted the local school district's baccalaureate service. The Rev. Jamie Staley, DMin, of First Baptist, Crossett, preached that service. It was a good message that, because I wasn't thinking, didn't get videoed. So you'll have to take my word for it. He brought a great message on Joshua 4, reminding us to remember the past, live in the present, and hope in the future.

Now, our other sermon was just me. Fortunately, someone else is responsible to video those, so here we go:

And the audio-only:

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Sermon Addendum for April 30

 This past Sunday's sermon was on Genesis 1:26-28. (See here) Since we only have a few weeks that we're spending in Genesis, I bypassed looking at each of the days separately after Day One. Let's look at each day here.

First, of course, is Day One: God creates light, separates it from darkness, and names both the day and the night. He sees the light as "good," something which pleases Him and is the result that He intended. Further, the idea that "God saw that the light was good" should be understood in the idea that "God saw to it that the light was good" or "saw it to completion." We should not think God wasn't sure how the Light was going to turn out.

Next, we see Day Two: The Expanse between the waters, the "waters above" and the "waters below." This, well, we are not entirely sure how to picture this work. Part of that is because we are not entirely sure where the "waters" came from--they are there in verse 2 for the Spirit of God to be hovering over. What we see here is the result of a separation, where the sky is made between water above us and water below us. There is also some question about how this informs the Flood in Genesis 6-9, so it may be that we cannot fully picture it because the world was fundamentally changed in the Deluge. God is bringing about an orderly Creation. You can't have the Sun until you have a sky for it to shine in, after all.

Then, Day Three brings us the establishment of dry land and the growth of plants. Here we would do well to again remember: God is above and beyond and outside of His creation. This was and is an important reminder when many would find deity in the trees and plants and never look up--God created all of these. Further, they were part of the work of the same God. 

Day Four establishes the Sun, Moon, and stars. These are given to mark days, years, and seasons--those great astronomical calendars of the ancient civilizations? Those were societies using the signs in the heavens exactly as God intended humanity to use those signs! Now, worshiping the signs rather than the Sign-maker is a problem called idolatry, and that's a place we still tend to go wrong.

We come to Day Five and get fish and birds, so all you outdoorsy folks are now two-thirds of the way to happy: there's ducks to hunt and fish to catch. The deer come on Day Six. We see God creating the large spaces for the living things to dwell in, then the living things that dwell in them.

The capstone is Day Six, where the animals and the humans are created. There is a separation in those two, and the creation of people was the focus of the sermon so we'll leave that aside.

Day Seven will feature in a future sermon, but it is important to note that there are not six days of creation. There are seven. We ought not pull the Lord ceasing from His creating away as if it is not part of the action.

Now, one can easily get out into the weeds with some of the varied understandings of this passage: are the days symbolic? 24-hour? How does the latter work with no Sun until Day Four? How does the former work with the phrasing of "evening and morning"? 

Both sides of that argument miss that the main point here is that God has worked in Creation in ways that were unique to the descriptions of how the world had come to be used by other nations at the time. The focus here is on the fact that God did it--and did it ALL. Nothing is beyond His scope or concern.

Monday, May 1, 2023

Sermon Recap for April 30 2023

 Here are the sermons for the past couple of weeks!


And a link to where the Ann and Doug morning videos are:

Sermon Recap for June 9 2024

 Good morning! Here is yesterday's sermon from Mt. Olive Baptist Church