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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

He is there and Answers Prayer

Last evening just before I went to bed I got an email from a man in another country that was a huge answer to prayer.  This afternoon that answer was compounded as I talked to a man who gave me several other options to solve the same challenge.
If you have a challenge, I am here to tell you that prayer works...  Thoughts at DTTB.
I am traveling to a remote village in a country – I will take me four days to get there – I do not speak the language there and they cannot read my handouts.  So I am having them translated by a native speaker.  The challenge is that I use several passages of Scripture in the materials including the books of 2 Peter and Jonah.  However, I have not been able to get digital copies of the Bible in the local language.

The email was from a person in the country that had access to a digital copy and was willing to send me the passages I need.  He was one of about 15 people or organizations I have approached about this.

The conversation this afternoon provided me with 2 more resources to translate my materials and 2 more that may have digital copies.  This was great because in January I will be in another country whose language I do not speak.  These resources can translate my material into the language I need.  However, I have not found the Bible in that language yet.

But as Hebrews 11:1 says faith is the conviction of things not seen.  He has answered prayer for these projects thus far.

He is faithful.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Repetitive Encouragement

Many times in this blog I have suggested that we need to be aware of terms that are repeated.  It is like the teacher or professor stomping their foot in front of the class to emphasize a point.
Repetition of terms in a text can help us hone our application.  Thoughts at DTTB.
There is a key term repeated in Hebrews 12:3, 5.  In your version the word may not be translated the same.  It is not in the NASB.  In three it is translated “lose heart,” in five, “faint”.

The interesting thing is that the close repletion may suggest several things for us to consider as we face the daily struggles of life.  In the Greek both these words are both verbs and passive.  The instance in verse five is a command.

In verse three the word is a participle.  In Greek a participle gains its force from the main verb, in this case, “consider,” which is a command.  Thus the not losing heart takes on the force of a command.

The grammatical link of the imperatives, commands, links the means to deal with both the difficulty we face from those who attack the faith, and the challenges we face from the Lord’s discipline.  Namely we are to fix our eyes, verse 2, and consider Him, verse 3.

It is by this laser like focus that we will be able to meet any challenge that we encounter in this life.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Set Before

This is not a completed thought just yet, but it will give you a peek under the hood on how I do Bible study.
Here is how some repetition and parallel construction can aid observation.  Thoughts at DTTB.

Look at Hebrews 12:1 – 2 note in the illustration above there is a parallel construction between the end of verse 1 and verse 2.
  • For us – we are to endure the race that is set before us
  • Christ – endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him.
The way we are to endure is to fix our eyes – the Greek can be translated “looking away from all else.”  So the way we are to endure is to focus only on Him.

There is a whole lot more to observe here but this is an example of how repetition and parallels can help us understand what the author is saying…

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Milestones

Today we celebrated one of my grand children's birthdays.  She was 2, or will be in a few days.  In a few days she will also have a new sister.  That is two milestones for our family.  We celebrated the other two grand children's 4th and 1st milestones earlier this summer.
We do not have a lot of time...  We have to make the most of it.  Thoughts at DTTB.
We have been celebrating a lot.  First steps, first words, first campouts, first stitches.  We did that with all of our kids and now we are doing that with theirs.

Really quickly the celebrations change to things like first day at school, graduation, leaving for college, college graduation, acceptance to med school, graduation from med school, marriages, births of children.  It happens really, really fast.  It seems like no time at all from that first birthday to their kids first birthday.

We do not have much time with our kids.  Essentially approximately 18 years.  Some of that time they will not really listen to us.  So really we have from about 2 to 12 to really have an impact on their lives.  It matters what we do with that time.  It also matters what we do during the time they really are not listening.  Cause in reality they are.

Like I tell the men in the workshops.  We have to be consistent in our touches with them.  It is those consistent touches that build the infrastructure that brings them back to ask questions later.

But much more important than that is what they see in our lives.  They need to catch us in the Word and in prayer.  Those moments need to be milestones for them that burn in their mind that dad knows the Word and knows Jesus.

For it is those milestones that will mark their path back from those years that are hard.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Needy

Ever feel like a wimp because you need help?  Thoughts at DTTB.I am needy.  I don’t like that.  But the reality is I am needy.  I prefer independence.  I am a choleric, type A, driver – driver, risk taking, throttles to the wall, hard charging, workaholic – you get the picture…  I do not like to admit that I need help.  One of my past associates kind of jokingly called me omni-competent, not sure he meant that as a complement.

But I cannot do what God has called me to do by myself.  In the first place I do not have the financial resources to do so.  He does.  But in most cases they are in the possession of other believers.  Which puts me in the position of having to ask them for help.  I feel awkward, uncomfortable, at some level a little ashamed.  It is humbling to be in a position that forces me to ask others for help.

But I need help.  I have learned through hard lessons that I desperately need the prayer support of other believers.  I know that by engaging others financially in what I do, it increases their ministry and it increases their prayer for the project.  But it is still hard for me.  It is that stubborn independent streak that I continually fight.

When I read the Bible it is clear that we have to support each other.  It is clear that we are to give to support missions, teachers, and churches.  I am really ok with that part.  It is the asking to support the mission project I have been assigned that is tough for me.

To be obedient though, I must ask.  Doesn’t mean I like it.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Value

So this was the 5th week of Dads Teach the Bible.  We start at 8:15 in the evening.  At 8:25 no one was there.  The first week we had 10 men signed up, six showed.  Tonight it looked like no one was coming.  Then at 8:26 one of the men who had missed the last two weeks walked in.

Game on.
What if you had a study and only one person showed up?  Thoughts at DTTB.
I wondered if that was going to be the case.  Two men who have been to every session had called to tell me they were out of pocket.  Another has been traveling a lot.  So I had a feeling that this could be interesting.

One man showed.

I have been in situations where the leaders were upset at the turn out.  I have learned that numbers, is not the way to measure spiritual effectiveness.  As my wife pointed out as I was leaving the house to go to the workshop, "One man and the Lord is a great audience."

Mark 8:36 tells us that one man is worth the whole world.  Our planned group meeting became a one on one.  The reality is that one on one is much more effective.

It was a great time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wrongly Familiar

You are probably really familiar with Jeremiah 29:11 – 14.  Verse 11 has been cross stitched on a lot of pillows.
Sometimes we quote things from the Bible with no regard for the context...  Thoughts at DTTB.
You may not be as familiar with Jeremiah 1:1 – 29:10.  Israel has been taken into captivity by Assyria.  Babylon is coming after Judah and Nebuchadnezzar has already taken some of Judah into captivity.  This is a direct result of the leaders, prophets, priests, and people continually refusing to follow God’s Word.  Instead they follow the personal dreams of their prophets.  When that causes problems for them, as God promised it would, rather than repent and follow God, they go out and find a rock or a piece of wood, carve it up, and ask it to bail them out of the situation.  When that doesn’t work they make alliances with the pagan nations around them, hoping that will deliver them from the result of their disobedience.

In Jeremiah 29:10 the prophet is telling them that the captivity in Babylon will last for 70 years.  Later in the chapter the people reject that message as well, opting instead to believe those who tell them that it is not going to be that bad.

In Jeremiah 29 – 33, God is telling the people that He is going to fix it.  He outlines for them a new covenant.  A covenant where God will enable their obedience.  That covenant has its fulfillment in the life, death, resurrection, ascension, and rule of His Son.

So we are familiar with the passage, but not so much the context.  But, it is much easier to put the one verse on the pillow, the greeting card, or bumper sticker.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Elements of Faith

You probably have Hebrews 11:1 memorized.  It is one of those verses that is on pretty much everyone’s list of must know verses.  The chapter is known as the Faith Hall of Fame.  We just finished studying it in our Tuesday morning study.  Truth be told I spent an extra week on the chapter, I forgot that we moved on to chapters 12 – 13.
Ever have a hard time trusting God for what you cannot see?  Thoughts at DTTB.
This time through I noticed something I had not seen in previous studies.  The phrase “things not seen” or that concept is repeated at least six times in the chapter, see Hebrews 11:1, 3, 7, 13, 27, 39.  The way I count that the idea is explicitly mentioned 4 times and implicitly 2 times.

To repeat this idea so many times in the passage reinforces that faith is acting on what we do not see.  Essentially it means that we trust God with what He has revealed to us, even though we cannot see how in the name of all that is Holy what He has said is going to be done.  Regardless, we trust.

I am facing one of those times now.  I am working on a project that is not coming together.  I am relatively sure that the Lord has directed me to do this.  But in the past few days there has been a continual stream of wrenches thrown into the gears.

If my understanding of this passage is correct, and it is the case that the Lord is directing, it is not my job to figure out how to make it all work.  That, by the way, is my default position.  Rather, my job, my assignment, my task is to trust God for what I do not see.

None of the flying wrenches took Him by surprise anyway.  I just need to have faith in the unseen.  For me that is not an easy assignment.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Depth and the Body

I have mentioned elsewhere in this Blog that I have spent a great deal of time in 2 Peter.  At one time I had the book memorized.  I use it in all of my workshops, so I have lost count of how many times I have read the book, must be in the hundreds, I won’t repeat all of the litany…
No matter how much time you invest in the Word, you will not hit bottom.  Thoughts at DTTB.
Sunday my friend who was leading our class in 2 Peter made and observation that in all of the times I have been through the book I missed.  After the hour, I showed him something that he had not seen that reinforced one of the points that he was making.  We needed each other’s eyes.

That is one of the major things about the Word of God that continues to completely blow all of my circuits.  I do not ever get a full handle on a book, and 2 Peter is only 61 verses.  Regardless of the amount of time you invest in digging through its text, you will never exhaust that mine.  Further, a new believer who has never read the book will see something that you have never seen.  That has happened to me more times than I can count.

About what other book can you say that?  What other book continually challenges you not only in knowledge but in life?

I know of no other.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Answered Prayer

I have been praying for a source for a Nepali translation of the Bible.  I realized that I had found it today.  I have been in touch with a group in Ft. Worth who has a translation, but they have not responded to my inquiries.  So I am in the process of using what I found on Bible Gateway.
Ever wonder why God answers your prayer?  Thoughts at DTTB.
It makes the next several weeks a lot less stressful.  I am grateful that the Lord showed me an answer.  There are still questions but I think we are OK.

Yesterday, I mentioned that the reason God leads us it for His name’s sake.  That is, His reputation, His reasons.  As I have reflected on this answer to prayer and look at my life, it occurs to me that there is nothing in my life that would merit God’s deigning to answer my prayer.  Matter of fact, there is a lot that would argue against His answering my prayer.

That leads me to wonder, is it not for His name’s sake then that He chooses to answer us?  I know there is nothing in me that deserves consideration by the creator of the universe.  So He must have reasons greater than my merit or my weak faith.  It must be His choice, for His purpose not necessarily, mine.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Why God Leads Us

Like, I think, most believers, I look at all that God does for us as a really good deal – for me.  He died for my sins to keep me from going to hell after all.  This whole thing is focused on saving my scrawny hide from the pit.  I am rather grateful for that.
Ever wonder why it is that God leads us?  Thoughts at DTTB.
To top that off in Isaiah 30:21 we are told that God is going to tell us which way to turn in our walk.  So not only does He save us, He leads us.  Good deal for us.

Read, though, Psalm 31:3, especially the last part of the verse.  Why does God lead us?  It is not for our benefit.  It is for His name’s sake.  Same reason we are forgiven.

Maybe this is not all about us after all.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Heart

A couple of nights ago I met the ORU student who has agreed to translate my material for the trip to Nepal.  She is a pre-med student.  Her family were refugees from Bhutan.  Her father is Hindu, her mother, Muslim.  Her siblings are Hindu.  She came to Christ through the Jesus film.  She is the only believer in her family.
From time to time I meet believers whose faith and commitment humble me...  Thoughts at DTTB.
The translation is not trivial so I offered to pay her.  She refused.  She said that she wanted the people in Nepal to be able to study the Bible.  She told me that she was going to ask her Hindu brother to help her.  She told me this with a slight smirk on her face… she wants to use this to engage him in Christianity.

She is really tiny.  She has a big heart for the Lord and for the people of Nepal.  It was a privilege to meet her.  I am humbled that she wants to help.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Light Bulbs

Tonight was the fourth week for the current Dads Teach the Bible workshop.  Throughout the workshop we work on observation, the question, “What does it say?”  The men go through several exercises to help increase their ability to observe.
It is good when people get what you are trying to share with them...  Thoughts at DTTB.
One of the joys is seeing the lights come on as they begin to see the results of spending extended time just looking at what the text is saying.  Tonight was no different.  We looked at how literary structure aids observation.

The men saw things in the passage on which we were practicing that they had not seen before.  They expressed grateful amazement at how what we were practicing helped them to see more in the text than they would have otherwise.

Learning to use this is not easy.  It is awkward at first.  But it pays incredible dividends.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Why We Are Forgiven

Ever stop to consider why God forgave you through His Son?  If you have, the answer, most likely, will center on you, it does for me…  Something on the order of, “He forgave me so that I can _________,” fill in the blank…
If someone asked why God forgave you, how would you answer?  Thoughts at DTTB.
John paints a strikingly different picture in 1 John 2:12.  He says that we have been forgiven for His name’s sake.  That gives me pause.  It takes a bit to wrap one’s head around that.  That we were forgiven not for our sake but for His name’s sake.

Think through all the implications of that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Ground of Protection

Psalm 7:1- 2 reminds me of 1 Peter 5:8.  David is asking for protection from his enemy that will tear him and drag him away like the lion that Peter describes.  There seems to be some interesting parallels here.
Is there any requirement of us to have God's protection?  Thoughts at DTTB.
But it seems that Psalm 7:12 may shed some light on a possible prerequisite for God’s protection from the enemy.  If one does not repent, the Lord becomes the enemy.  This is similar to James 4:7 is it not.  In order to defeat the enemy in our lives we must first submit to God.

To seek protection when we are choosing not to follow God, based on these passages seems a bit presumptive.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sacrifices

Reading in Psalm 4:5 this morning, it looks like, using Hebrew parallelism that the sacrifices of righteousness are to trust in The Lord.  That fits with a number of other passages.  Romans 12:2, John 6:28 - 29, and Hebrews 11:6 come to mind.
What does it mean today to sacrifice for God?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Our work, sacrifice seems to be to trust God.

That is a bunch easier than putting a bull out of commission.  But at the same time, it is a lot harder.  We do not see Him.  We did not see His life here.  We have only the account in the Word.  On that we are to base our trust.

Very simple.  Not easy

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Particularization

One example of how structure can help you make better observations.  Thoughts at DTTB.One of the literary structures that happens in the Bible is when a general statement is made and then the writer expands or explains it using one or more examples.  The literary device is particularization, the writer moves from the general to the particular.

I saw that for the first time this morning in a really familiar passage, Hebrews 11.  Many memorize Hebrews 11:1, I have.  The thing I saw this morning is that the rest of the chapter is a particularization of "not seen".  The phrase is explicitly repeated in verse 7.  But look also at all of the references to promises Hebrews 11:9, 11, 13, 17, 33, 39.  But the kicker is in 11:40.  These people who were approved through their faith did not see the fulfillment of the promise.  That came to us.

The question then becomes after the description of the better deal that we have been given by The Lord by living in this age, how does the particularization of what it means to be convicted of what is not seen set up the discipline in chapter 12.

Inquiring minds want to know...

Pressure

For the past few weeks I have been meeting with a guy who has recently finished some training for ministry.  He is a gifted leader, proven in other areas than in the ministry.  He has a lot to offer… But…
Does the church force people into roles they should not fill?  Thoughts at DTTB.
One of the side effects of the training he completed is an expectation that he should fill a certain ministry function.  So, he has been pursuing that, hard.  The problem may be that his gifts and abilities may not really fit that role.  As a matter of fact if he were to enter that role, it is probably not the most effective use of his gifts for the Kingdom.

We tend to assume that there is only one way for us to really serve.  That is not the case.  Our most effective service will be that for which God designed us.  Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4 tell us that our gifts and abilities are given to build up the body and that all of us are necessary.

To impact the kingdom most effectively we need to pay attention to how the Lord has put us together and do not let the church force us into its mold.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Deep End

Last night during the Dads Teach the Bible workshop, we finished the book overview of 2 Peter and began the verse by verse analysis.  This week they are to do a chapter analysis.  I asked them to make observations on each verse and then summarize what they see.
In order to create need one has to push people beyond what they can do.  Thoughts at DTTB.
Not much else in terms of instruction.

It is kind of like throwing them in the deep end.  I know that they may struggle with this.  Next week we will do the same thing with chapter 2 but I will give them a lot more thing for which to look.  The struggle this week in the deep end will prepare them to want the tools I will give them next week.  At least that is the theory.  Further, that is the way it worked for me.  I quickly ran out of questions to ask the text.  I am trying to accelerate the process for them by throwing them in the deep end.

It seems to work.  At least it has the last 7 times.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fulfilled

Tonight was the third meeting of ten for the current Dads Teach the Bible workshop.  This is the eighth time I have done this.  Every time the effort has been validated by something that has occurred in the men’s life.  It happened again tonight.
You ever feel like you just hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth to win the game?  Thoughts at DTTB.
We were having a discussion on the benefits of the method we have been working on for the past two weeks.  One of the men shared that the last two weeks has been a paradigm shift in his approach and understanding of the Bible.  This is from a guy who literally has been in the church his entire life.

What he meant by that is that the simple process which he has applied to 2 Peter and Jonah in the past two weeks has opened up the Word for him.  He now has confidence that he can do this with any of the books, and with two exceptions, Psalms and Proverbs, he certainly can.

I am OK with that.  If we had to end the workshop now, I have fulfilled my purpose.

Here is a guy that was struggling to get into the Word.  He knew he needed to.  He just did not have a clue how to start.  We gave him a structure to follow and he took off, even doing the optional book for tonight.

It was good.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Out Loud

I have said before that I am in a study on Hebrews on Tuesday morning.  For the past few weeks we have been saying on Hebrews 8 – 10.  A couple of days ago I shared an observation on Hebrews 10:19 – 25.
There is a way to observe more when you think you may be done...  Thoughts at DTTB.
As part of my application from my ongoing study of Jeremiah, I have begun asking those with whom I meet what the Lord is teaching them from the Word.  At lunch I was meeting with a guy and asked him that question.  It is only fair that I reciprocate with what I have been learning.

So after he shared, I opened my Bible to Hebrews 10:19 – 25.  As I was sharing the observations with him something happened.  I began to see connections and patterns that I had previously overlooked.

The three effects are sub-divided into two sections.  The first two, draw near and hold fast, are focused on us as believers.  We are to get close to God and trust Him completely, essentially, using the language of the earlier part of Hebrews, rest in His grace, unwavering.

With that as the foundation we are to then consider how to stimulate one another.  It is only from the place near God, where we are trusting in Him without wavering, that we are able to consider how to stimulate others.

In reality if we try to engage from any other foundation, well, like Christ said in John 15:5 we will accomplish nothing.  If we are not near God and trusting Him without wavering, what could we possibly add to someone’s life that would stimulate them to love and good deeds?  To think otherwise suggests an extraordinary level of arrogance.

It was by processing this section with my friend out loud that I saw this.  That is really good way to push yourself in your study.  Read the book out loud or share with someone what you are learning out loud.  The difficulty of explaining what you are seeing helps crystalize your observations and thinking.

Try it, you’ll like it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Careless Words

Matthew 12:36 is one of the verses that I memorized long ago to help me manage my mouth.  Proverbs 15:1 – 2 and James 2:1 – 12 are other passages that deal with my issues as well.  Once we say something it is out there.  In my experience it comes back.
Something you said ever come back to bite you?  Thoughts at DTTB.
A few years back I was asked to lead a workshop for a well-known ministry at a well-known conference center.  Before the conference one of the leaders asked me to go to dinner with him and one of the other leaders.  During the meal he reminded me of something I told him nearly 30 years previously.  What I said was true but from the way he shared it, it was clear that what I said had grated at him.

It happened again this morning.  One of the men invited a man who is a leader in a Christian organization to join our study.  At the beginning he made a comment that I had said something to him, again 30 years ago, that he, half joking – I hope, did not want to hear again.  I do not remember the incident.  But knowing me, 30 years ago, I probably said it.

I was rebuked, by both of these incidents, albeit 30 years later.  It matters what we say and how we say it.  People remember.  People are important.  People are those for whom our Savior died.  I need to speak to them with the dignity and honor they deserve as an image bearer of Christ.

I forget that all too often.  God is faithful to bring those back to my attention.

Cause and Effect

One of the structural elements you can look for in your study of the Bible is cause and effect.  When the text progresses from cause to effect the term is causation.  When it moves from effect to cause we have substantiation.
How does cause and effect help you in your Bible study?  Thoughts at DTTB.

Hebrews 10:19 – 25 is a summary or better an application of the arguments that the writer is presenting in chapters 8 – 10.  It is a good example of causation.

Verses 19 – 21 present the causes; 22 – 25 the effects.  There are two causes and three effects.
Do you see them?

The next step is to ask some questions:
  • What is meant by the causes and by the effects?  
  • How do the causes result in the effects, or how do the causes = substantiate the effects?  
  • Why use this causal/substantive movement?
  • What is implied by it?
Food for thought. Grist for the ole brain mill...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Familiar Ground

I use the book of 2 Peter in all of my workshops.  There are several reasons for this.  First is the length.  It is 61 verses.  Most people can read it in 15 or 20 minutes.  That is the amount of time I give people to read it in the workshops.
Ever joined a group and you find you have already studied the book?  How do you respond?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Second, the book is packed with information.  There are several critical topics in the book.  I won’t list them because you can find them for yourself.

This morning in Sunday school, I am not teaching, we started a four week session on 2 Peter.  There are about 10 men in the class who have been through my workshops.  So they are familiar at some level with the book.  Some have been through it twice.

I have lost count on how many times I have been through the book.  I have it memorized.  I have translated it from Greek to English.  I have outlined it more times than I can count.  However, every time I go through that book, those 61 verses, I see something new.  This time will be no different.

That is the most amazing thing about the Word of God to me.  No matter how many times I have read a section, I see something new.

The key to this is to pray what David did in Psalm 119:18.  That God would open my eyes so I can see wonderful things in His Word.  Combined with the promise of Christ in John 16:13 that pretty much guarantees that I will.

So will you.  Try it.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Day to Day

Earlier I was reading in Psalm 96.  Verse 2 challenged me.  The Psalmist exhorts us to daily tell of what God has done for us.
I find that I am not sharing what the Lord has done in my life enough.  Thoughts at DTTB.
Daily.

That challenges me.  Looking back over my life, there are many days when I have not shared what He has done for me.  Probably most.

That needs to change.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Abuse

I have been working through timelines with some Christian leaders.  One of the things that seems to be common with these men is abuse by the organizations they served.  (All details are altered)  One of the men founded two large ministries in the northwest.  He was instrumental in bringing over 5000 people into engagement with that organization.  Without notice he was removed from the organization because he did not “fit in.”
Organizations, even Christian ones, can abuse their leaders.  Thoughts at DTTB.
The other served several leaders in an advisory capacity.  All of the leaders leaned heavily on this individual’s advice while at the same time promising recognition and rewards that were never delivered.  Further, after many years of faithful service he was told that he was not a fit for the job he had been doing for the past 10 years.

In both cases these men were abused.  Used and discarded.  The story is repeated way too much in the Christian community.  We engage talented people to get something of importance done, and then we discard the people.  We tend to put our objectives over and above the needs of those whom we engage to meet those objectives.

Have you seen this?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Weary Yet Pursuing

Thursdays are long days.  I started at 0600 with a study.  Had a doctor’s appointment, post-surgical, at 8.  Then got in the chair and talked to a missionary for about two hours about his post it note timeline, part of the Your One Degree process.  Then went to print the handouts for tonight.  Set up the equipment for the workshops this evening, one handed.  Conducted the workshop and just got home.
You ever keep going just on the strength of what you are doing?  Thoughts at DTTB.
I am tired, but energized.  I can keep going for a while.  In the workshop men were beginning to see how what I am showing them helps them significantly better understand and grasp the Bible.  It is a thrill to see the lights go on.

It makes me feel a bit like one of Gideon’s men in Judges 8:4.  I cannot believe the Lord allows me to do this.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Know

One of the things I harp on in the workshops is the need to pay attention to what is repeated in the text.  I am starting a study tomorrow, I am behind, with the Thursday morning group on 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John.
Repetition is a really good clue as to what is important to an author...  Thoughts at DTTB.
In the past I have suggested that new believers read 1 John and underline the word “know”.  I tell them that there are at least 21 things that we can know about our walk with God.  I was wrong.  “Know” shows up 40 times.

Might be important.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sufficiency of the Word

Two or three days a week I work at an outdoor store.  A while back we had a customer come in who I helped find one of our specialty items.  While I was helping him I noticed that he had ιησου tattooed across his wrist. As he was checking out I mentioned it to him.  He then showed me another tattoo on the inside of his arm, יְֽהוָ֗ה.
Is is necessary or helpful to look for hidden meaning in the Bible?  Thoughts at DTTB.
He then started to tell me about all of the hidden meanings in Hebrew.  He started with the numerical values for each Hebrew letter, which is true, they have those. Then he progressed to the pictorial values of each letter, I am not so sure that his understanding was correct on this.  It was, however, obvious that he had invested a great deal of time with this line of inquiry.

There was a lot written a few years back about hidden codes in the Bible.  I have an old friend who has studied that sort of thing extensively.  This is not new.  There have been claims of codes and hidden meanings in the Bible since the first century.  There were those who claimed to have special knowledge, that is how the term gnostic was derived from the Greek word for knowledge, gnosis.

Jesus, at some level, addresses this in John 5:39 – 40.  He tells those who have the first five books of the Bible memorized that they are missing the point.  The purpose of the Old Testament, which was written primarily in Hebrew, was to lead them to Christ.  They were not doing that.  They were coming up with rules to live by based on what they saw in the Bible.  In a real sense they were gnostic.

The Bible was written in a language that has grammar and vocabulary.  The Holy Spirit directed men to write what they did using this language, 2 Peter 1:20 – 21.  In my experience, there is enough in the text to deal with without looking for some code or hidden meaning.  Especially, if one has not simply studied the Bible as it is in the first place.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Harsh

Early in my attempts to help people in their walk with God - well my personality was a bit overbearing.  With a military background that started with my time at Texas A&M, my expectation, fueled by a type A personality, was that once people knew what they should do, like a good soldier, they would just do it.

Nope.
How much have you changed since you met Christ?  Thoughts at DTTB.
That is when my military background kicked into overdrive.  I would turn up the heat on the person in the name of, "holding them accountable."  Really worked out well - NOT.  For the first several years of my ministry I left a trail of dead bodies of those who couldn't or wouldn't keep up.  One might say, accurately, that compassion was not my strong suit.

Over the years I have changed.  How much is up for grabs.  One result of the changes is that about 20 years ago I sought out some of those "dead bodies" and asked their forgiveness.  I am learning that people not only need to know what to do, they have to be shown how, and continually encouraged as they learn.

Further I am learning that no matter how good I am at showing someone what to do, it is not enough.  Psalm 127:1 leaps to mind.  If The Lord is not involved, well then, according to John15:5, not much, read nothing, is going to happen.

2 Timothy 2:24 - 25, is a great guide for me.  I have to work hard to instruct, but it is The Lord who will actually be the one who binds the truth into to the heart of those whom I have been assigned to help.

So rather than holding folks accountable, I am learning to rest and join in what The Lord is doing in their life.

Sometimes I regress.  But the trajectory is hopeful.