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Sunday, August 31, 2014

More I Am Learning

Yesterday I shared a couple of things I am learning through engaging in training others to study the Bible.  Here is one more.
A bit more of lessons learned.  Thoughts at DTTB.
  • A significant way to increase a person’s hunger for the Word is to set the table for them and then get out of the way.  What I mean by that is that if we give someone a portion of the Word of God, put that on the plate.  And then give them the tools to eat, how to make observations, what kinds of questions to ask of the text.  It is my experience that they will not only be able to eat, they will love it.  Our job as leaders is to get excited about what they find – really excited.  That will reinforce the experience and give them confidence in the process.

There is more learning, but I think I am going to stop there.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

What I Am Learning

Since 1973 I have been involved at some level in Bible Study.  For the most part leading them as well as equipping others to study the Bible on their own.  From 1978 through 1987 I was on the staff of a Christian organization so it was part of my job description.  1987 through 1991 was seminary followed by a year and a half working with the Fuller Institute.  1992 – 2007 I found myself employed in architectural, engineering, and construction firms, one of which I co-founded.  During that time we still led small groups and Bible studies.  Since 2007 I have been focused on training men to study the Bible.  The approaches have been tried at various levels in 6 countries other than the USA, in a few weeks we will engage with a seventh.
In your pursuit of Christ, what are you learning?  Thoughts at DTTB.
If my math is right, that is 41 years.  In the midst of all the different ways I have attempted to equip people to study, I am learning some things.  This will not be an exhaustive list:

  • It is not important what I know about the Bible.  What is important is whether I can equip others to be able to find out what I have found, on their own.  Many Bible teachers are known for lectures and, or books.  Lectures and books are helpful, but in reality in Hebrews 5:11 – 14 vernacular, lectures and books are milk, pre-digested protein.  The one who benefits the most from the lecture and the book is the one who does the work to create them.  No one who listens or reads will garner the same benefit.  What we have to do as leaders is train people to do that kind of work in the Word of God themselves.
  • Not many people in the Body are willing to pay the price to dig deeply into the Word for themselves.  For the most part, many are content to feed off of the scraps from the tables of those who have prepared the lectures or written the books.  The Church, at some level, has helped create this reality in that there is little emphasis on the need for believers to really dig into the Word for themselves.  Further there is little instruction on how to dig in if one were so inclined.  Sure, there are books on how to do so, I wrote one.  But, in my experience how to books are not helpful apart from someone helping the one trying to learn.

There is a lot more but this is getting long.  This is not intended to be negative, it is simply observations.  A friend recently told me that my engineering background, my process orientation, and my background in training conspire to cause me to see what is broken in an organization, and my passion is to fix it.  He may be right.

I may continue this, tomorrow.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Second Observation from Yesterday

Yesterday I shared that there were two observations from my time with my Moroccan friend.

As we were working through the chapter – by the way, working through Jeremiah with him is the fourth time through the book this year.  So, I have seen and heard the observations of several other men on this book in the past year and I have been through each chapter and verse several times.
Ever wonder why the Church is not effective overseas?  Thoughts at DTTB.
As he was sharing what he saw and how it affected his community, I heard pieces of the same things I had heard from the other groups.  The same struggles with apathy of people in the faith community, the same struggles of a leader trying to encourage people to take responsibility for their own walks with God.  The struggle to move believers from consumers of others milk, to engaging in the rich meat of the Word.

Were there differences in details?  Sure.  But the struggle was the same.  There are challenges and resistances that we do not face in this country – yet.  But the mission, the heart, was the same.

Sometimes I wonder if the cultural issues in the spread of the ministry of the Gospel are there because rather than engaging in the Word together, we feel the need to share our opinions on what a Christian should look like in another culture.  It seems to me that if we help believers become those who search the scriptures (Acts 17:11), and encourage and equip them to handle accurately the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15).  The cultural issues will work themselves out.  After all it was God who confused our speech, which lead to separation and development of those cultures.  Seems to me that if we get people in front of God through His Word, He can sort all of those issues out much better than we.

Weeping

This morning the Moroccan pastor and I were in Jeremiah 9.  There are two observations from our time this morning I will save one until later – I was going to say tomorrow, but it already is…
Ever try to hold back tears?  Why?  Thoughts at DTTB.
We talked through Jeremiah’s weeping over Judah.  The comment my friend made was that he does not see many people in his communities who are willing to weep over some aspect of the Christian life.  He feels that they do not want to be seen as weak.  That they are not interested in pouring their hearts out for God.

As I thought through this it occurred to me that our tears are like a sacrifice before the Lord.  Coming to Him weeping over something is incredibly vulnerable.  It is an admission of complete dependence, helplessness, and trust.  It is a release of our protective facades, our strategies to make it work… it is admitting that it won’t work and trusting Him for a solution.

I am still working through this.  Open to your thoughts on this.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Help

So I am learning from this surgery.  I wear this sling that immobilizes my left arm on a pillow that is strapped around my body.  Sort of makes it hard to use my left arm, but I guess that is the point…  It means that I cannot do many really ordinary tasks like anything that takes two hands.  Buttoning blue jeans for instance.
Ever have trouble asking for help?  Thoughts at DTTB.
I have a workshop starting tomorrow night.  Normally it takes me 45 minutes to set up the equipment for the workshop.  If I were to do it my self tomorrow, well, it would not get done.  So I have to have help.  I do not like asking for help.  It makes me feel needy and weak – there may be, just a little vestige of pride in that last phrase.

So my son and son-in-law are going to help.  My son will help me set up.  My son-in-law will help me take it down.

That is a really good picture of the Body is it not?  I do not have a hand, someone else supplies it.  I cannot get in some positions to connect components, someone else can.  I do not have all of the gifts.  I do not know everything there is to know.  That is why I need others.

This sling is helping me apply that reality more effectively.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Timing is Everything

You know how sometimes a verse you know can jump off the page because of your circumstances?  Romans 5:6 did that for me just now.
Ever feel like you are not making progress?  Thoughts at DTTB.
My daily schedule has taken a major hit as I sit in the passive motion machine for six hours a day.  That takes up a lot of productive time.  Some of you will probably respond that I am not supposed to be productive while recovering from surgery, but I am a type A remember?

I struggle with goals and objectives.  I work on projects all of the time.  I start one Thursday that has taken 4 years to start.  I get anxious that things are not going fast enough.  Then, like today in Romans 5:6, I am reminded that God does everything at the right time.

I am right on schedule.  My walk with God is where He wants it to be.  My projects will turn out the way that He wants them to, when He wants them to.  My surgery did not throw the plans of God into disarray.  He already knew that was going to happen.

My assignment is to rest in His grace.  But, I am a type A, remember.  The assignment is still to rest.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Patience Before Him

Psalm 40:1 – 3 is a great passage for meditation.  I have written about this before but there is much here.

I am a type A personality, on the risk aversion test I was a 10, which being interpreted, means that I am not averse to risk in the least.  I am a driver-driver in one instrument, high hostile in another.  All of the personality tests I have taken, come to the same conclusion, patience is not one of my strong suits.

Is it hard for you to wait?  It is for me...  Thoughts at DTTB.
Neither is sitting still.  Which kind of goes hand in hand with the patience thing.

Yet we are to call on Him, waiting patiently.  Since He formed me intentionally, Psalm 139:13 – 16, I could go with the notion that it is His fault that I am impatient and that it is really not fair since He created me this way to ask me to be so…  But, that dog won’t hunt.

I am getting a new dose of this reality, recovering from rotator cuff surgery.  I get to sit in a passive motion machine for 6 hours a day essentially doing nothing.  Can’t type, can’t really read… oh – I just thought, I can pray.  That is going to be a challenge…  Not my strength, but what an opportunity.

So you see it seems that the Lord wants us to commit His design of us to Him.  To place the way He created us under His Lordship, and to trust Him to use the way He made us in His time in His way for His purpose.

That is actually rather exciting.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Daily, Continually

Psalm 145:1 – 2 challenges me.  Specifically, the idea that David blesses God daily.  I am not good at that.  But that is what worship, private worship is truly about.  To continually be thanking God for what He has done.
Ever struggle to praise God?  Thoughts at DTTB.
This same idea is picked up by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:18.  It would follow that if I am to give thanks in everything that would pretty much take up all of the time.

So in both testaments the same view of worship, thanksgiving appears.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Suatained by the Spirit

Back in the 80’s I had several operations.  At that time Proverbs 18:14 became a real anchor for me.  In the years that have followed I have shared and prayed that verse for a number of people that have been struggling with different illnesses.  Most recently my dad’s fight with cancer.
It is only as the Spirit sustains us that we can deal with challenges in this life.  Thoughts at DTTB.
Now with this operation and recovery I am getting an opportunity to apply this again.  It reminds me that only through the Lord am I able to stand up against what this life throws at us.  He is our life, Colossians 3:1 – 4.  It is only in His strength that we can take on what this life has to and for His glory.

Proverbs 18:14 is a good one to memorize.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sovereign Interruption

Part of the recovery from this surgery is to sit in a chair that moves my arm rotating it to the left and raising it up from my side.  This is for six hours a day.  Three sessions of two hours each.  Each session the rotation in both directions is increased by 3 degrees.  It hurts.
What do we learn when the Lord changes our schedule radically?  Thoughts at DTTB.
She is smiling because she really isn't using the machine.
So to say my routine is altered would be a massive understatement.  The meds make it hard to concentrate.  I am not able yet to spend as much time in the Word as I normally do.

I am asking the Lord what He wants me to learn, besides one hand typing.  One of the things I value and receive value from is my Bible study.  I am wondering if that is something that the Lord may be doing.  Reminding me that my value is not in what I do in the Word but only in Him.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Pain

Yesterday I had rotator cuff surgery to repair a slight tear on my left shoulder.  However, when my doc got the scopes in it was completely torn.  So recovery became much longer and much more painful.  I have three overseas trips scheduled in the next 5 months, so life is going to be a challenge for a while.

The anchor is that I can rest in the fact that my Lord planned this and it has happened for His purpose and glory.  I am asking Him to lead me through this and teach me what He wants me to learn.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Worship Who?

One of the things that Paul talks about is who to serve, whose favor to seek, one of the verses that is clearest on this is Galatians 1:10.
Whose approval are we seeking?  Is that who we really worship?  Thoughts at DTTB.
But the concept shows up other places, some really obvious, others more obscure.  Romans 1:25 is one that I saw just now.  The key phrase is, "worshipping the creature rather than the creator."

Is it not true that when we seek to please someone, we are in fact worshipping them?  In our relationships, all of them, it would seem that I should not be seeking the favor of the individual, but the favor of the one who created that individual.  That would change the way I approach all people.  It would put significant shoe leather to Paul’s exhortation in Philippians 2:3 – 11.

Additionally, if my goal is to please God in my dealings with people, to approach them on the basis of serving Him and His goals rather than mine.  It seems to me that I would always be successful in relationships.  I cannot hope to expect people to respond positively, but I can honor and serve God in the midst of the relationship regardless of how the other person responds.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Boasting

Have you ever noticed how themes run through the Bible?  Boasting about oneself, self-promotion, is one that is touched on over and over.  For example, take a look at:
Ever get tired of hearing someone toot their own horn?  Thoughts at DTTB.

  • Psalm 5:5
  • Psalm 20:7
  • James 4:16

Seems like boasting, self-promotion, is not a real good idea.

Monday, August 18, 2014

No Pleasure, Don’t Skim

Hebrews 10:6 is one of those passages that we will sometimes read like we are in some sort of fast forward mode, you know, we get through this to get to the good stuff.
Ever just want to get through the passage in Bible Study?  Thoughts at DTTB.
That attitude is exacerbated, well at least in my Bible in the way the publisher deals with quotations of Old Testament passages.  They are printed all caps, indented.  So we, well I, tend to skim through them.  After all we read that Psalm before, we know what it says.

But the author of Hebrews by pulling Psalm 40:6 forward and placing it in this context, creates a near seismic event.  When paired with all else he has said about the Law and the Old Covenant.  The notion that God was not pleased with the sacrifices that He commanded is significant news.

All of these arguments are building an overwhelming case that there is salvation in no other system.  There is nothing that we can do to please God, even following His Law, it just cleanses the flesh (9:13), and reminds of sin (10:3).

It is only Christ’s sacrifice that makes us perfect.  Our hearts and conscience cleansed (10:22).  Perfected for all time (10:14).
There is no other way to enter into relationship with the Lord.

No other avenue that will give Him pleasure with us.

Don’t skim.  Study it all.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Seeing What I Want to See…

I addressed this at some level in a long response to a comment on the post "Scribal Errors," but there is more that needs to be said.
What do you do when the Bible does not agree with you?  Thoughts at DTTB.
One of the challenges in Bible study is to actually let the Bible say what it says.  For those of us who do not have any background in the Bible, that is we are new believers, that may not be such a problem.  For those of us who have been around the Christian community for a time, especially those communities who do not promote personal independent Bible study, letting the text speak for itself is a bigger challenge.

If we are honest with ourselves we have an opinion on just about everything.  For the most part we think we are right.  One of the first courses I took in Seminary was "Prolegomena and Bibliology."  It took me about a semester to get the pronunciation of that first word right.  But in reality it is pretty much useless in ordinary conversation.  But it is important.  As a matter of fact that part of the course was life changing.

Prolegomena is the study or the presentation of the first things.  In this case theological method.  In the class we examined what it took to deal with theological issues with integrity.  It is an arduous, multistep process.  The first step of which is to honestly examine and admit your presuppositions.

I will not outline the entire process, but I will say that about halfway through the semester I realized that I held strong convictions on a number of Christian issues for which I had very little if any Biblical reason to hold.  The positions had been formed by listening to messages, conversations with leaders, reading books, and doing fill in the blank Bible studies.  All of those activities are good.  But as the source of my convictions they were a tragically deficient foundation.

The problem was that when I came to the scripture I expected to see those convictions upheld.  When I ran across passages that seemed to hint that I may have a wrong view on an issue, I went through incredible mental gymnastics to attempt to bring what the text said back in line with what I wanted it to say.

All of us, at differing levels, face this challenge.  It is much easier to see in others.  I am sitting here and several examples of others misreading the text leap to mind, while I am struggling to remember once when I did it.  But I guarantee that I have.

This is one of the reasons that it is so critical that we all as believers are engaged in the independent study of the Word.  And that we are engaged in that practice in a group.  We have to resist the pressure to be a consumer of other’s work.  Of a continual diet of pabulum.  We have to dig into the Word for ourselves, struggling past our preconceived notions to face the truth of what God has said about Himself and us.

That, after all, is what worship is all about.  That is what Paul exhorts us to do in Romans 12:1 – 2, is it not?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

No Job Too Big

I was much instructed by 1 Samuel 14:6 today.  There have been times that I felt there was more to be done than I could possibly do.  Jonathan must have had a little of that feeling.  The difference is that Jonathan knew that if God was in something, it does not matter the size of the organization or the amount of resources available.  God is not restrained by what we see as limitations.
Ever feel overwhelmed by the task you have been assigned?  Thoughts at DTTB.
One person can vanquish 20 warriors, as Jonathan did.

One person can write most of the New Testament, as Paul did.

One person whose name we will never know, can lead Billy Graham to the Lord.

One person can energize the mission outreach of a country and lead another country to the Lord, as John Paton did.

There is no limit to what the Lord can do through the life of one who is completely surrendered to Him.

Friday, August 15, 2014

One of those days…

This has been.  I have been working now for 12.5 hours.  Not done.  Started at 0600 with a workout with two other men, yes that is work.  Ecclesiastes 10:10 tells me that I have to sharpen the axe, with the trips I have coming up, I have learned that if I am in shape I can handle the trips better.  The workout is trip prep.
Ever had one of those?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Most of the day was paperwork.  I had taxes to file, and other exciting stuff.  Several phone conversations and a lunch meeting.

It was busy.  The highlight came at a part time job at which I worked this evening.  There are a couple of young men there that I have helped some.  One of them came up to me and was really excited about something that the Lord showed him in the Word.

Another is a different person than the guy that started there a year or so ago.  I have seen tremendous growth in his life in the past year.  I was able to pull him aside today and tell him I had seen that growth.  I later heard him sharing with one of our coworkers who may not be a believer.

It has been a good day.  A long day.  As Psalm 118:24, says, “This was the day that the Lord has made…”  I rejoiced and was glad in it.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Settled Forever

Still in Hebrews 10, by the way if you have not studied this book before, I would highly recommend it.  This is probably my 5th or 6th time through the book, it gets better each time…
What is the basis of the fact that we can rest in Christ?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Look at 10:14.  The contrast here is between the Levitical priests and Christ the High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek.  Note that the Levites have to sacrifice every day not only for the people but also for themselves.  But Christ just once.  The key thing on which I want to focus is the result.

He, “perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”  That is the NASB, in this case the NIV and the ESV have a better translation of the Greek, “…those who are being sanctified.”

The word translated perfected is the Greek word that is used for end result, or objective.  In some places it is translated mature.  The notion here is that as Paul says in Colossians 2:9 – 10 the work is complete.  Those in Christ are perfected, completed, and note the duration, for all time or forever.

This is important in the context.  The writer of Hebrews has devoted a couple of chapters telling us that we need to rest in what God had done.  We are not required to perform the Law.  We rest in the fact that He perfected us for all time.  We are being sanctified.  That means that we our experience is being aligned with the completed work of Christ.  But that will not be complete until we are glorified, Romans 8:28 – 31.

That is good news.  Spend some time in this book, you will be greatly encouraged.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What Happens When Something in the Bible Does Not Line Up?

Hebrews 10 is what I was working through this afternoon while waiting for an appointment that did not happen.  Verse 16 gave me some problems.  The author mangles Jeremiah 31:33.  Having started my journey with Christ memorizing verses "word perfect" it is obvious that the writer of Hebrews does not feel that pressure.  He quotes the last two phrases of the verse quotes Jeremiah as, "I will put my laws upon their heart, and on their mind I will write them."  Jeremiah 31:33 says, "I will put my law within them and on their heart I will write it."  Different.
Ever get confused when parts of the Bible misquote other parts?  Thoughts at DTTB.
In a lot of cases when there is a difference in the Hebrew and what is quoted in the New Testament the reason is that the author is quoting from the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament, and not the Hebrew.  As it turns out, that is what is happening here, sort of.

In the Septuagint Jeremiah 31:33 says, and I am translating here, "…I will put my Law in their mind and on their heart I will write it."  Closer but still not the same.

So what do we do with that?

The writer does not follow the Hebrew and mixes up the Greek version.  If it is the case that the Holy Spirit inspired this, and I believe that is the case, what does that mean?

The way I resolve this is that I have to allow the Spirit to do what He wants with the text.  I have to deal with Jeremiah 31:33 in that context and Hebrews 10:16 in the context of Hebrews.  Others will see this as an error in Scripture.  I do not.

It is puzzling.  But the sense of Jeremiah’s words are carried forward.  I have to be OK with that.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Plugging Into - No - Using the Matrix

One of the ways to work through a passage that has a lot of contrast and comparison is to develop a grid or matrix chart.  This morning we were in Hebrews 9:1 - 10:4.  I developed this chart as a means of working through the passage.
Here is a way to deal with a long string of comparison and contrast in a passage.  Thoughts at DTTB.
These can help you sort out multiple comparisons and contrasts.  Another value is that it helps you see how terms are being used in the context.  For instance this morning the matrix help bring clarity to the purpose of the different sacrifices in the two tabernacles.

It takes some time to create these.  But it is worth the effort.  The process forces you to both identify and categorize the elements being contrasted and compared.

Have fun with it.

Monday, August 11, 2014

We Want to be Like...

1 Samuel 8:19 – 20 is instructive.  Samuel tells us that God’s chosen people, those who were supposed to represent Him to the nations around them, instead wanted to be like the nations around them.  The nations had a king.  Israel had God.  But they wanted a king.  A king you can see and touch.  God, not so much.  Kings were cool.  God was distant.  Kings are present, I can watch them in the parade.  God is Spirit, hard to see and follow, takes faith.
You ever get the feeling that the world has it better than we do?  Thoughts at DTTB.

Each of us face the exact same situation Israel did.  Our kids probably more so, in that they do not have the experiences that we do.  Daily we are bombarded with what is “cool”.  What cars, what clothes, what food, what body type, what schools, what income, what leaders are the current “cool”.  Further we are told over and over again that to talk about Christ and His values, is intolerant.  Being intolerant, is not cool.  Coexistence, now that is cool.  We should not really speak about Christ that is judging others.

So, like the Jews, we have to choose.  Are we going to go the way of the nations and accept their standard, their king?  Or are we going to choose to trust the God who came into this mess and died in order to get us out of it?

It seems like and easy choice.  But it does not seem to work out that way.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

High ROI

In Psalm 86 it is interesting to compare what God does with what David and by extension we do in the relationship.
Our relationship with God is really lopsided...  Thoughts at DTTB.

What God Does What We Do
Inclines His ear Cry to God
Answers Storage
Preserves our Soul Lift up my soul
Is gracious to us Call upon God
Forgives Walk in truth
Abundant in Lovingkindness toward us Give thanks
Teaches us the way Glorify His name
Unites our heart to Him
Grants us strength
Saves us
Helps us
Comforts us

It is a bit uneven.  Think about this.  We are coming to the creator of the universe and He does more for us than we do for Him.  We do very little to gain His favor.  Essentially all we do is ask.  The rest is His lavish outpouring of Grace.

This is a really good ROI.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

1000

Before the Left Behind series, oh, about 40 years ago I read Salem Kirbin’s book 1000.  It was a book about the Millennial Kingdom.  But that is not what I am writing about…
Dads Teach the Bible has hit a milestone...  Thoughts at DTTB.
On November 17th, 2011 I published the first post here.  Today this is number 1000.

Thanks to all of you who have taken time to read and comment.

I start working on the next 1000, tomorrow.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Stability

Psalm 91:4, especially the third phrase, “His faithfulness is a shield and a bulwark,” is a great source of encouragement.
How does God's faithfulness give us peace?  Thoughts at DTTB.
The fact that God does not change.  That he is consistent, faithful to act consistently with His nature is great comfort.  We can know that if we follow Him, we can be sure that He always will do what is best for Him and us.

There is no other entity or person with whom we are related about which we can say that.  Everyone else, every other organization or government we cannot trust to do what they say they will do all of the time.  They will make mistakes, fail, change their mind, whatever.  God does not.

He is the constant.  His behavior is constant.  We can depend on Him.  We can rest in the fact that He will be faithful to who He is and what He promises to do.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Blows of a Brother

Proverbs 9:8 – 9 is one of those passages that you want to have as part of your life.  Since last night I have been on both ends of the equation.
Who has corrected you lately?  Thoughts at DTTB.
I met with a friend who has been in and out of struggles with his walk with God.  Because of the bridges we have built over the years, I was rather direct about some things he needed to change in his approach to his relationship with Christ.  Direct and challenging.

This afternoon two of my friends ripped apart a project on which I was working.  As with last night, they drove some direct and pointed criticism over the substantial bridges we have built.  The project will be much more successful due to their input.

With whom do you have those types of relationships?  On the one hand people that you can speak directly into their lives unfiltered for their benefit.  On the other hand those who will come back at you strongly for yours.

If you do not, what does Proverbs 9:8 – 9 say about you?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Studying the Spirit

I live in a place in which there is a strong focus on the Holy Spirit.  Gifts are sought and at some level demanded.  There is a pull to study the Word of God to understand the Spirit.  There are studies, well I would bet at any time of the week you could find a Bible study somewhere here that focuses on the Spirit.
What does one who is filled with the Spirit talk about?  Thoughts at DTTB.
There is at least one problem with that.

Read through John 16:12 – 15.  To be fair you need to look at the entire context.  This is just to the right of the middle of the most important section of John’s gospel.  The 21 chapters cover about 3 years of Christ’s life.  Chapters 13 – 17 cover about 6 hours.  So based on the percentage of space that John devoted to those 6 hours, that section is significantly important.  It was the final teaching to the disciples before Christ’s arrest, trial, and crucifixion.  Last words are important.  Especially the last words of the Lord.

In 14 and 16 the Lord focuses on the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  Note that John 16:12 – 15 is the last thing He says to them about the Spirit before He is arrested.

Based on what Christ says about the Spirit here what would one who is filled with the Spirit want to talk about?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Coming to Terms

A few days ago I mentioned differences in the use of terms in arguments.  In any discussion about controversial issues if there is going to be any understanding at all the parties involved have to define and agree what the terms they are using mean.
Do you assume that people know what the words you use mean?  Thoughts at DTTB.
For instance, many will talk about free will.  Free will over what?  There are quite a few things over which we have no choice.  So the question becomes over what do we exercise free will?

The other side of the coin in this particular discussion may be God’s sovereignty.  So the same question supplies.  Sovereign over what?  What is the extent of God’s sovereignty?  How does He apply it in our lives if at all?

The challenge with many of these discussions is that we use terms and assume those in the conversation know what we mean.  That, in my experience, is rarely the case.  To make matters worse, most times the parties do not have the patience to take the time to explain what they mean.  The result?  The discussion escalates with neither side really understanding what the other is saying.

That might happen from time to time in our families as well.  Ya think?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Called to Serve

I have written about this in part before.  But it was driven home again today.  As believers we are to serve one another.  We are to do that whether we feel like it or not.  We are to do that whether our service is acknowledged or not.  We are to do that whether we are treated well or not.  We are to do that whether anyone knows or not.
You like serving?  I don't.  Thoughts at DTTB.
I do not have the gift of serving.

Tough cookies.  I am called to serve anyhoo.

Serving others disrupts my schedule.  Philippians 2:3 – 4 and Galatians 6:2 remove the notion of inconvenience from the list of things that would allow me to forgo serving others.  Also removed as an excuse is death or sickness.  Still get to serve.

I have been called to fix things that people misused.  Misused to the point of breaking.  In some cases it has taken hours, hours that frankly I did not have.  I am called to serve.

My attitude is not always – well truthfully rarely the best.  That just means I get to serve with a bad attitude.  I am called to serve.  The great thing is that God promises to change my – well at least He promises to reveal that bad attitude… Philippians 3:15 – 16.

Some people are hard to serve.  They are cranky, rude, ungrateful, smelly, demanding, and even resistant.  I am called to serve.  By the way that list sounds a lot like the people that Christ came to serve… hmm.

So I get to serve.  Not my gift.  But it is a command.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Multiplication

2 Timothy 2:2 represents 5 generations of Christians.  That was the keyhole text for our study of Spiritual Multiplication at the Nav Training Center at Michigan State.  We traced generations from Genesis to Revelation.  During that study I discovered what unlocked the Old Testament for me, Psalm 78:5 - 8.
So, how do you measure effectiveness of your teaching?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Our mentor, Larry, gave me a small bit of chain with four links on it.  That was to remind me that the focus of my ministry was to be multiplication.  I was not doing my job if I did not see the men I was equipping, equip others in a way that would equip them to equip others.  I still carry that chain on my key ring.

With tongue firmly in cheek a friend sent me the above picture a couple of days ago.  It is a joke I shared with him in 1978, so what, 36 years ago.  He has since shared it with numerous students and this picture was sent to him by one of those, it is that student's children passing on the joke to someone else.  5 generations of a bad joke.

This morning I sat in a Sunday school class and observed one of the men with whom I have been studying lead a class through an overview and application of Jeremiah, in 40 minutes.  If you haven't checked lately Jeremiah has 52 chapters.  That is no mean feat.  He was applying that on which we have been working for the past three years.  Applying it masterfully.  That however was not multiplication.  It will be when the person he shows how to do that has equipped someone else to do so.

In 13 weeks I will be in a village on the east side of Nepal.  I will be working with people who are planting churches, to date 400, in the remote villages in that region of the world.  I will be equipping them to study the Bible more effectively.  My aim is to do so in a way that they can reproduce in the villages where they minister.  The potential for multiplication is enormous.

The way I read the Bible, our charge is not to teach what we know.  Rather, it is our charge to equip people to dig out for themselves what we have from God's Word.  When they do that, it is theirs.  It is not my idea, my study, my expertise, it is fresh insight for them into the riches of God's Word and thus His nature and character.

I cannot imagine a greater privilege.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Growth Impacts Understanding and Application of the Bible

Psalm 46:10 is a passage that has impacted my Christian experience throughout my journey as a believer.  The way it has impacted me has changed.  The changes are not because the meaning of the passage has changed.  The changes are because of my growth as a believer and the changes in my experience.
How does the Bible change as you grow?  Or does it?  Thoughts at DTTB.
As a young believer I was striving to know God.  It was a passion.  I have shared in this blog that within six months of trusting Christ I was leading 7 Bible studies a week – I do not recommend that.  The point was that I was striving to gain God’s approval.  All of the environments in which I had lived thus far in my experience were competitive.  Academically, athletically, socially, I had to prove myself to my mentors and peers.  At the time I was in Air Force pilot training, yet another highly competitive environment.  So my natural response to any challenge was to dig in and perform to the best of my ability, so 7 studies.

Years later I was confronted with Colossians 2:9 – 10.  I am complete in Christ.  One does not compete to become more complete when one is already complete.  That wrenched my entire understanding of my relationship with Christ sideways.  I realized that I was striving to do something that Christ had done for me.  Rest, abiding, waiting not competing or performing became the new basis of my relationship with my Lord, there were major and minor relapses into performance – a reality with which I continually battle to this day.

My drive has always been to help others in their Christian life, but now the focus had shifted from getting people engaged in performance to resting in their completed position in Christ.  Part of that has been striving – oops there is that word again – to equip people to know Christ through His Word.

I have taken on that burden.  Shouldn’t have, but did.  I have led workshops internationally on how to more effectively study God’s Word.  I have three international trips on the books in the next six months.  I meet with men weekly on this, and I have a 10 week workshop scheduled to start at the end of this month.  Striving?

Psalm 46:10 tells me that God is going to be exalted.  So how do I rest, in that and still engage, steward, and equip and not segue into performance in the process?  First I have to, like the passage commands, know that He is God.  Second, I have to embrace the reality of the attitude Paul expresses in 1 Corinthians 15:10; Colossians 1:28 – 29; and 2 Timothy 2:24 – 25.  It is my responsibility to engage.  I rest in the fact that it is God who will grant the acceptance and application of what I share.

That lifts the burden.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Fight Fair, Listen

I mentioned earlier that I am preparing for a Sunday school on a controversial topic, the Sovereignty of God verses the free will of man.  Thus far it has been an interesting time of preparation.  I mentioned this earlier when I shared my experience on a website that was essentially taking up the free will side of the argument.
How do you approach someone with whom you disagree?  Thoughts at DTTB.
On that site one book in particular was repeatedly referenced.  I obtained the book.  As I have read through the first part of the book, as I mentioned in another post, there are multiple factual errors.  Errors crediting positions to people who did not take those positions, as well as getting historical events radically out of sequence.

I have been in conversations about this topic many times over the years.  The errors in the book are duplicated in the conversations.  I have made some of them myself.

Personally, when a position I have developed over years of study is challenged I find I have to fight to listen well.  Especially when I have heard the argument previously.  This is not limited to this particular theological arena.  It is true of political and social views as well.  I tend, and it seems others do as well, to get into a, “I have already thought that through, and I do not care what you think,” mode.

I impatiently wait for the other person to finish their spiel so I can dazzle them with my brilliant response.  But they are usually in the same mode, so it falls on deaf ears.

Deaf ears.  That is the problem.  We do not listen – well I don’t – well to those with whom we disagree.  Further, we do not take time to understand how each side is using key terms.  There are some people with whom I have debated that when they said the words, “Jesus Christ,” they meant something entirely different than my understanding of what those words describe.

To fight fair, to be in the same arena, we have to listen well.  We have to be able to articulate accurately the position with which we are taking issue.  Not to do so raises the probability, if not the certainty, that we will address issues that are not even being stated.

I must learn to listen better.