Sign up to be notified of new blog post.

If you are not getting notifications of the blog posts by e-mail and would like to, click here. Make sure that you give us at least your first name.

I promise we will never give or sell your info to others.

You might also want to visit Entrusting Truth to find out more about what we do. My book and workbook Your Walk, their walk are available there as well as at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Practical Utility of Sin

We are dedicated to sin because it works so well...  Thoughts at DTTB.Sin works.  It meets short term needs.  It is pleasurable.  It feels good.  That was one of the things that drove the women who were leading their husbands into sin in Judah in Jeremiah 44:15 – 19.  Their sacrifices to the queen of heaven seemed to bring them prosperity, which was another problem.  They judged spiritual effectiveness with prosperity.

It is hard to repent of sin when it seems to be working out so well.  The problem with Judah, and the problem we face, is that the long term effect of sin is destruction.

So we have to weigh what it is to which we are committed.  Short term pleasure or long term peace with a God who designed us for that peace.  Moses also faced that.  Hebrews 11:23 – 25 tells us his options and his choice.

We do well to follow his example.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

More Waiting, More Hope

Twice in Psalm 62 the same phrases are repeated, Psalm 62:1 – 2, 5 – 6.  A couple of days ago I shared observations from Psalm 39:7.  These passages echo what David said there.
Why do we wait on God?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Look at what is repeated in those verses:
  • From Him is my salvation
  • He only is…my salvation
We wait in Him, thus we hope only in Him, for only He is our salvation.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Perfect Obedience

This morning our Tuesday study was in Hebrews 7.  One of the men spent some time talking about the Greek behind the word perfection in 7:11.  The word deals with the end state of something, the idea is that the process has been completed to its desired conclusion.  As a result of the conversation I spent some time this afternoon chasing the word down through the rest of Hebrews.  By the way that is one of the advantages of doing study with a group that pushes you.  They see things that I miss.  My friend’s observation opened up a whole line of inquiry that I had missed in my study.
How did Christ become perfected by suffering?  Thoughts at DTTB.
The term or derivatives of the term shows up 17 times in the text (Hebrews 2:10; 5:9, 14; 6:1; 7:11, 19, 28; 8:5; 9:9, 11, 26; 10:1, 14; 11:22, 40; 12:2, 23).  It is an interesting study to see how the term is used and how the author uses it to state his argument.

For example.  Look at 2:10 and 5:9 – 10.  There is a logic that is built around the use of that word that I missed the first several times through the book.  It is a logic that I am still testing, but it highlights the value of looking for repetition of the use of terms throughout a book.

Trace the argument through those verses and you get:
  • Author of our salvation is made perfect through suffering
  • The son learned obedience through suffering
  • The son was made perfect as a result
  • Does that suggest that perfection has something to do with obedience…  i.e. a syllogistic construction

The point is, careful observation is key to unpacking what the Bible is saying.  The Holy Spirit inspired the grammar and the vocabulary.  We can learn much through making these types of observations.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Abiding in Hope

Psalm 39:7 (I wrote about this verse earlier here) recaptured my attention this morning.  Note the parallel between wait and hope in the passage.  That made me wonder about the connection to abiding.  As you know we are exhorted to abide in Christ and His Word in John 15:1 – 16.
What is the relationship between waiting and hope?  Thoughts at DTTB.
The Septuagint (LXX) is the Greek version of the Old Testament.  A lot of the quotations in the New Testament were quotations of the LXX.  So I pulled open my copy to Psalm 39 to see what Greek Word was used to translate wait in Psalm 39:7.  It turns out that the word is in the same family as the word that is translated abide in John 15.

It makes sense.  What I wait for, that in which I abide is that in which I hope.  As when I wrote about this before, there is much for which I wait that is not the Lord.

It was my prayer today to increase my waiting for Him.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Scribal Errors

How do you know that what you are reading in a Christian book is true?  Thoughts at DTTB.
There are a lot of books printed each year.  Many of them are Christian books.  That is a big business.  I have attended the Christian Book Distributors conference.  It is a big, big deal.  A lot of those books are helpful.  If you walk into my office you will see 9 bookshelves, pretty much full of books, two of them are double stacked, that is I added half shelves in the back of each section so each shelf holds twice as many books.

There is a challenge with books though.  They are written by men and women who make errors.  For example, while I was in seminary there were two well-known Christian authors who were on either side of an issue.  They were essentially writing books in response to each other’s positions.  I took an inter-session class with professors from systematic theology and Bible in which we examined each of the author’s arguments as well as checking the sources they quoted.  We also looked at the Biblical basis of each of their positions.  We found that both authors misquoted their sources to support their argument.

I am preparing for an eight week class on a controversial topic.  I have a position for which I am trying to find opposing Biblical arguments.  I recently acquired a book that I thought would serve that purpose.  However, as I read through the first chapter that laid the foundation for the argument of the book, I found that the author misrepresented the historical facts surrounding the issue.  So he either did not carefully research his understanding of the facts or either purposefully misrepresented them.  I choose to believe the first.

Jeremiah 8:8 speaks to this at some level.  In the case of Jeremiah’s context, deception was intentional.  I am sure that not all errors in books today are intentional.  Some are in a hurry to publish and in that rush do not spend adequate time proof reading their work.  There are typos in my book and workbook.

There are false teachings published.  There are false teachers who sell books.  A lot of books.  2 Peter 2:1 promises this.  Printing is not equal to truth.  As with hearing a message, we are to emulate the Berean Christians, Acts 17:11.  We are to check what an author says against the Word of God.

Not to do so leaves us open to accepting something that is written very well but is nevertheless false.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Kicking off the Traces

If the Bible is no longer relevant, on what is Christianity based?  Thoughts at DTTB.If a person or a Christian organization chooses to no longer engage with and apply the Bible or cherry picks what they choose to follow and apply, can that person or organization still be considered Christian?

I am aware of several organizations who no longer hold the Bible in great esteem.  It works well for them in the sense that they can accommodate more of what the culture asks them to accept.

If there is no difference between what the culture says is acceptable and what a “Christian” organization or person says is acceptable what need is there for a “Christian” anything?

Matthew 5:13 – 15 tells us that followers of Christ are to be salt and light.  John 15:7 says that Christ expects His followers to abide in His Word.

It seems to me that if we are not doing the latter there is no way the former will happen.  However, people might like us better.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Bad Company

Psalm 26 nearly leapt off of the page this morning.  Look at verses 4 – 5.  Note what David says he will not do:
  • Sit with deceitful men
  • Go with pretenders
  • Sit with the wicked
How do the people you hang with impact your life.  Thoughts at DTTB.
I spent most of my time thinking through the second one.  The word is translated a number of ways, hide, melt, pretenders, secret, hidden, you get the idea.  The picture that emerges is one of somebody who hides who they really are.  They present one way but they are really another.  Hypocrites.

The verb was interesting to me, “go with.”  What are the nuances of going with a hypocrite?  Going along with their pretending?  Not calling them out?  Associating with them when we wonder if they are really serious?

We are not talking here about those who are not believers.  But these are those who are in the assembly but are wearing a mask.  Pretending, participating, but not really in.

Psalm 1 has similar language.  But the passage that leapt to mind as I was reading this was 1 Corinthians 15:33.  I read somewhere in the last few days that in five years we will largely be the average of the five people with whom we spend the most time.

We should not spend that time with pretenders.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Greed and Deceit

How are greed and deceit bedfellows?  Jeremiah 8:10 – 11 seems to give us a clear answer.  Jeremiah tells us that everyone, from the least to the greatest was greedy and the result was that they all practiced deceit.
What is the connection, if any, between greed and deceit?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Romans 15:4 tells us that what was written here was for our instruction.  So I asked how could that work out today?  How would greed and deceit work out in a spiritual dimension?  For in truth that was what was happening in Judah.

Greed might be a desire for impact, growth, influence, acceptance, fame, recognition, or some other accolade.  It seems that in the context that when a desire, greed, for something other than following God becomes the focus, the result is deceit.  The message begins to serve greed rather than the Lord.

In the case of Judah the message of deceit is in Jeremiah 8:11.  Those who were charged to shepherd God’s people only superficially engaged.  They told the people they were at peace when in fact they were not at peace with God and further the Babylonian army was bearing down to lay them to siege.

But the message was popular.  Earlier in Jeremiah 5:31, we are told that the people loved the message.  It gave them comfort, false as it was.

There is pressure.  Pressure not to confront.  Pressure to say things that are positive, politically correct.  More and more in the society there is radical resistance to any message that does not follow the latest version of tolerance.  To speak truth is to be pilloried as a “hater” or one who “fears.”  The best example of the last is the label “homophobe” for one who rejects perversion as normal.  But there are far more subtle pressures.

We are called to resist greed and avoid deceit.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Foundation of Trust

I read through Ruth today.  There was only a few verses in the reading plan but I read through the book.  I noticed a thread there that caught my attention.  The tread is Ruth 1:6, 13, 20, 21, 2:4, 12, 4:13.
Do you ever struggle with really hard times?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Naomi did not have a great time in the first part of the book.  Driven to Moab by famine, which based on the rest of the book was part of God’s plan and doing.  Her husband dies making matters worse.  The bright spot was the marriage of her sons to Orpah and Ruth.  But that quickly turned when they both died leaving her with two widowed daughters.

She returns with Ruth because “the Lord had visited His people in giving them food.”  You know the rest of the story Boaz redeems Ruth and they become the great-grandparents of David.

The story is full of tragedy and redemption.  But both rest on the foundation of God’s sovereign engagement with each element of the story.  The famine drove a family to Moab to bring Ruth back to Boaz so that three generations later David would be king of Israel.

We all go through difficult times.  There are events and people who are negative in our life.  Ruth reminds us that even those negative events and people are purposeful.  They are placed in our lives for purposes that in the moment we probably will not be able to see.  But Ruth peels back the hood for us a bit and shows us that even in the tragedy and struggle there is purpose.

In this case the birth of a king and a savior.  For Ruth is one of only three women mentioned in the lineage of Christ.  As a side note, and this bears further investigation, she and Tamar were both redeemed in Levirate marriage.

When things seem dark, tragic, remember the Sovereign hand of God is still in play in the situation and trust in Him.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blood and Hair on the Ceiling

Back in May I shared a picture of a group of guys that went through the Navigator Training Center at Michigan State University.  I shared then that it was a high powered group.  Here is the rest of the story.

We were all required to work 20 hours a week, study the Bible 20 hours a week as a requirement to lead an area of the campus.  So if we were involved in ministry at the campus for 20 – 30 hours each week we were putting in about 60 to 70 hours a week for those two years.  Sometimes more.
Are you in a Bible study that really stretches you?  Thoughts at DTTB.
All of the guys in the picture were type A’s.  All were committed and passionate about what we were doing.  All were committed to digging in the Word for those 20 hours.  So when we came together each week there was fairly heated discussion, if there was some disagreement over something that we saw in the Word, well let’s just say everyone held their ground.  We joked that at the end of the study each week there was blood and hair on the ceiling.  It is that whole Proverbs 27:17 thing.  Our wives were in the next room with Larry’s wife Pat doing their study.  Every time we drove back to our apartment in faculty housing Jenny would ask me if we really did like each other.

It happened again today.

I mentioned in the earlier post that two of those men are in the Tuesday morning study.  We met this morning over Hebrews 5:11 – 6:20.  There was significant disagreement on a number of issues in the text.  We meet on GoToMeeting and the conversation at times was at a high level, volume wise.  At one point I had to ask forgiveness of the group for something I said.

After the call, Jenny stuck her head into my office and asked, “Are you still friends?”  Oh yeah.  There are few people in this world with whom I can share at that level, intellectually, spiritually, and volume.  We have beat on each other for years.  Challenging each other’s thinking.  Challenging each other’s ministry decisions.  It has been rich.  It has been an anchor of sorts.

I urge you to develop these types of relationships.  Pay whatever price you have to pay to maintain them.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Cleansing Power of Writing

For the past two hours I have been responding to comments/questions offered by men I deeply respect on the last two days blog posts.  They did not ask easy questions, they are not on an easy path, easy questions and easy solutions do not serve them well.
Write it down (sung to the tune of "Let it Go").  Thoughts at DTTB.
It is not easy to respond to questions well, at least not for me.  I find that I have to carefully think through what it is I really do believe, and can I substantiate it from the Word of God.  Further, I am really more interested in equipping than answering.  But the discipline of crafting a response is clarifying, cleansing, in the sense that it forces one to choose carefully what one says.

Prof used to say that if you cannot write it out so that it makes sense you really do not understand it.  In my experience he was right.  I have found significant holes in my thinking as I have tried to draft a response to a question.

That requires integrity.  To admit that there is a hole, acknowledge it, and then go to work to try to fill it.  It is tough work.  It demands humility, curiosity, openness, and work.  It is cleansing.

Most of the time I like it.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Envy Again

You ever wish you had someone else's power or position?  You ever wonder why God has treated others better than He has treated you?
You ever want the position or attention that someone else has?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Psalm 62:11 - 12 rebuked me this morning in this very area.  As I type this Psalm 75:6 - 7 leaps to mind as well.

Power is God's, He gives it to whom He will.  It is His choice.  His story.

Lovingkindness is the Lord's.  He acts with lovingkindness in His time, in His way, to whom He wishes.

My assignment is to trust Him.  To trust Him with me.  Like I wrote before, my job is simply to follow Him, abide in Him (John 15:5), to believe that He loves me (Hebrews 11:6).  To rest in Him.

Simple.  Not easy.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


I really struggle with Philippians 2:1 – 18.  The reason it is such a struggle is that the meaning is crystal clear.  We are to put others before ourselves.  For me, that is a tough assignment.
Ever struggle with putting others before you?  Thoughts at DTTB.
However, there are times, well it has to be the Lord’s intervention in my life, when I am able to get past my selfishness and serve, to put others first.

This morning was one of those times.

The exhilaration of helping others move into a different level of involvement with their Lord was stunningly overwhelming.  Four hours flew by for me.  Flew by to the point that I had to force a break in the workshop.  I was so focused on what we were doing that taking a break did not occur to me.  They reminded me.

I left energized and excited.  I think I have six new friends.


When you pour your life into others, put them first, it is you that gets rewarded.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Family Arguments

In a few months I will be leading a Sunday school class that examines the Sovereignty of God and free will.  Yesterday I was working on preparation for that and in the midst of doing another task stumbled on a website that can only be described as overtly hostile to the doctrine described by most as Calvinism.  Hostile is putting it mildly.
How do you respond to people who do not agree with you on what the Bible says?  Thoughts at DTTB.
There were numerous posts that claimed to disprove elements of what the individuals who were writing viewed as Calvinism.  The illustrations were passionate and intended to cause a strong emotional response.  They certainly accomplished that objective.  However there was no reference to Scripture in the illustrations and the illustrations did not adequately address the elements of Calvinism with which they took issue.  The arguments were logical.  But poorly cast and multiple logical fallacies were committed.

I scanned the comments.  That is a discouraging exercise, because it reinforces the reality that most of the people who respond to this type of thing either have never studied what the Bible says about the issue at hand, and or do not really understand the matter being discussed.

I took a minute to respond and suggested that those in the conversation would be better served not to dissect what John Calvin and other authors might have said about something.  Frankly, I do not care.  Further I really do not care what the person presenting the issue thinks, nor should he or she care one whit what I think.  That is the wrong pursuit.

On issues about which there may be disagreement, what matters is what the Bible says, what God thinks.  That is where the dialog needs to center.  We should not line up and defend what we think to be true.  We should examine the Word and make sure that we understand what it says honestly evaluating whether what I hold to be true actually aligns with what the Word says.   In the past I have found myself being substantially corrected by the Word.  That continues.

I published the comment on the blog and went about my other tasks.  Checking back an hour or so later, I saw that the comment was there with a note that it was being held for moderation, in other words someone was going to read it before it was published.  Checking back an hour or so later, the comment was gone.  Apparently, since I was perceived as disagreeing with the premise of the site, my comments were not welcome.

We do that a lot don’t we.  We do not listen to those with whom we disagree or think we disagree.  We do not consider their argument and the way they support it.  We just cut them off.  I have done that.  I fight not to.

In a family fight like this we need to fight fair.  Fair in part means to listen.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Accepting the Sovereignty of God…

I have no problem, well that is not totally accurate, I do struggle a bit, accepting God’s sovereignty over my life.  I will eventually get there, sometimes quicker than others.  It is harder though to watch that play out in the lives of my children and grandchildren.
Ever struggle with the concept of God's sovereignty?  I do.  Thoughts at DTTB.
When difficult things happen in the lives of our kids my first response is not typically well that is best because of the sovereign hand of God in their lives.  I typically, get down and, if I am honest, a bit ticked off at God.  Why did He not come through here?

Later, the truth begins to penetrate.  Psalm 138:8 is a passage that I have leaned on for rough patches in my life.  I believe that God is working through the difficult times to shape me into the instrument that He wants me to be.  Romans 8:28 reinforces that thought.  A couple of days ago I shared some thoughts about the Lord being a master teacher, knowing exactly what it takes for each of us to know Him the way He wants us to know Him.  That means, if I am to read 1 Peter honestly, suffering at some level for each of us.

I am good with that.  For me.  It is really hard to watch it play out in the life of one of my kids.  It is harder for me to trust God with them than it is for me to trust Him for my life.  I have to be reminded that He loves them more than I do.

Still wish I could change things though.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Unbearable Yoke

A while back I was talking with someone who was very ill.  They have a terminal illness and have been given less than a year to live.  In the course of the conversation I asked how they were handling their situation spiritually.
You ever wonder if religion works?  Thoughts at DTTB.
This individual shared that their belief structure was not aligned with Christianity and then began to share why.  The reasons were ones that I have heard before.  The Bible has been manipulated by men to say what church leaders want people to believe, and that religions do not help people.  I shared data that refuted the first objection.  I heartily agree with the second.

So did Peter.  Look at Acts 15:10 – 11.  As you know this is after Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary journey.  Many gentiles have come to faith.  There is a debate in Jerusalem about whether they should be required to follow the Law and be circumcised.

In the midst of this debate Peter arises and says, “why…place a yoke upon their neck which neither our father nor we have been able to bear?”  The Law, the religion of the Jews, even though given by God, did not – well they could not follow it.  Fact is, that is the case with any set of rules, religion, they cannot be followed.  Quick simple example, all sports have rules.  All sports have referees to penalize the players, when, not if, the rules are broken.  People, us, we, are not really good at keeping rules, laws, commandments.  So the notion that we can follow some sort of structure that will get us in good graces with God is essentially a non-starter.  To translate that into Texan, “That dog won’t hunt.”

As a matter of fact, God knew that when He gave Israel the Law in the first place.  Galatians 3:18 – 29 outlines this for us.  The purpose of the Law was not to make Israel “right” with God, it was to reveal to them that they could not follow it.  To show them that they needed a redeemer, a messiah, to lead them to faith in the Messiah.

That is what the person I was talking to did not understand.  Frankly, it is what a lot of people do not understand about Christianity.  Christianity is not a yoke of rules and processes to follow.  It dispenses with all of that through a personal relationship with Christ through faith.  We acknowledge our helplessness to follow the rules, essentially we agree that we miss the mark, which is what the Greek word for sin means.  So we accept that Christ paid the price for us missing the mark and trust Him to make us right through relationship with Him to the Father.

It is that simple.  We cannot bear the yoke.  We have to trust Christ.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Living Intentionally

Yesterday I mentioned that the most intelligent person in the universe who intentionally and intimately designed us teaches us perfectly aligned with His intentional design.
How should we respond to the Master Teacher?  Thoughts at DTTB.
What should our response to that be?

It would seem that the logical response would be for us to live intentionally.  Embracing the master teacher’s lessons, intentionally applying them to both discover His intention for us, Ephesians 2:10, and to steward our time, resources, and design for His purpose.  Matthew 25:14 – 30, instructs on this does it not?

We are not to hide what He is doing in our lives but to intentionally use His work in us for His glory

Monday, July 14, 2014

Master Teacher

Take a look at Psalm 119:75.  This one is a mind blower to me.
What does the Father do to help us understand Him?  Thoughts at DTTB.
The most intelligent being in the universe, Isaiah 55:8 – 9; was intimately engaged in forming me, Psalm 139:3, 13; and was intentional in all that He did, Ephesians 2:10.

Then in His sovereign rule of the universe He brings what is perfectly suited to teach me.  He knows what is most effective because, after all, He intentionally and intimately created me.

So what is brought into our life is to help us understand, His commandments, His law, His Word.  He does it perfectly for each of us.  A curriculum designed specifically to help us individually understand.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Muse Shift

The muse shifted yesterday.  Saturday morning an email came from one of my college classmates – this requires some explanation.  I went to Texas A&M.  I was in the Corps of Cadets, Squadron 11.  There were 17 of the 40 of us that started as fish in the fall of 1968 that finished as Zips in the spring of 1972.  There was a lot of attrition.  Those of us who finished – well to say that we went through a lot together would be a significant understatement.  We have reunions every 5 years.  Our outfit, has the highest percentage of attendees pretty much every time.  One of the reasons is the effort the guy who sent me the email Saturday has invested in keeping us in communication.
What are you doing today with your life that will count for eternity?  Thoughts at DTTB.
He is dying.

Pancreatic cancer.

It was in remission, and now it is back with a stage 4 vengeance.  Since yesterday morning all of the guys have been responding to his message.  As you can imagine the responses are emotional and supportive.  For the last year my family has been engaged with my dad’s fight with esophageal cancer.  We found out last week that the little that was there in April has grown and spread.  So this next week we are starting the chemo fight again.

At the same time we are experiencing the birth and growth of an increasing number of grandchildren.  We are watching the closing years of our parent’s lives, hearing of more and more people our age dying, and watching our children have children.

If the Lord tarries, none of us will get out of this gig alive.  All of this has conspired to bold highlight Psalm 90:12.  Several of the Heaven’s 11 guys responded to our “fish buddy,” that we have to live as if it were our last day on earth – or something close to that.  That is the reality of our lives.

The question then we have to ask is are we living our lives, making choices that honor our Lord.  For as one of the guys said today.  When and if we wake up tomorrow, it may be our last chance.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Literary Heroes

What I write here emerges from several muses.  My time in the Word in either Bible study or devotional, things that I am reading, and life experiences.  Sometimes all three.  There are probably subsets of those but those are the main sources.  I say that to say that in each of those arenas there is a lot going on.  So there are several directions from which to choose this evening.  I choose…
Why do you read books other than the Bible?  How do you read them?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Clockwise from top left: Gladwell, Piper, Carson, Grudem
I just got three books for my birthday.  David and Goliath, by Gladwell; The Gift of Prophecy, by Grudem; Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, by Piper and Grudem; and I recently obtained Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility, by Carson.  I have finished Gladwell’s book, highly recommend it along with all his other work.  I am working through the other three simultaneously.

I respect all of these men.  I have read all but one of Gladwell’s books (my son waved me off of What the Dog Saw).  I have read two others by Carson and am working on a third on my iPad.  I have not read Piper but have listened to his series Men of Whom the World was not Worthy several times.  I think I have read Grudem in journal articles but none of his books.  I have heard great things about Grudem though.

I like – check that love, books.  I especially like books that challenge my thinking.  I have scanned enough of Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood and The Gift of Prophecy, to know that I start those books in agreement with one and at odds with the other.  I am far enough into Divine Sovereignty to know that it is going to stretch me.

But you need to know that these books even though I love them are not the source of my positions on any of these topics.  I do not accept at face value what I read.  The Bible trumps these books.  It is my responsibility to come to each of these having already studied the topics.  I have.  My purpose in reading them is to essentially enter into a dialog with the author, to see what he brings to the topic that either I overlooked, misunderstood, or just missed.

These men are heroes of mine at some level.  But they are men.  They get things wrong, as do I.  So when I engage with them I have to do so on the same basis that the Berean believers did with Paul in Acts 17:11.  I have to check out what they say against what the Bible says about the topic.

That interaction will benefit me greatly.  But only if the Bible is the guide.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Real Force Behind Teaching

Most of what we do as believing parents is teaching.  We teach our kids through words, example, and discipline what it means to follow Christ.  That applies to those whom the Lord may give us to help in our communities as well.  Whether it is across a table at a coffee shop, in a small group study, or in a Sunday school class, what we share is teaching.
What is it that make what we teach our kids or others most effective?  Thoughts at DTTB.
We have to prepare for those opportunities.  That is really what the Dads Teach the Bible workshops are about, preparation.  We cannot share what we do not know.  We cannot share that on which we do not have a good handle.

Yes we must prepare.  But the effectiveness of what we share is not solely dependent on the quality or depth of our preparation.

The recipients of the book of Hebrews had been believers long enough that they should have been teaching others.  They were not.  The writer says that they had need to be taught the basics of the Christian life again.  Then in Hebrews 6:3, he qualifies his ability to make a difference by teaching those believers, "…if God permits."  This is echoed in 2 Timothy 2:24 – 25.  Note how the Lord’s bond servant is described
  • Not quarrelsome
  • Kind to all
  • Able to teach 
  • Patient when wronged
  • Correcting gently
Then the kicker, "…if perhaps God may grant them repentance."

We prep, we teach gently, using the Word of God which has been described in 2 Timothy 3:14 – 17, as the means of instruction, rebuke, correction, and training in righteousness.  But it is the intervention of God in those we teach, whether it be our kids or the person on the other side of the table at the coffee shop, the small group member, or the Sunday school class that really makes the difference.

So prep then pray for God’s intervention.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Body Parts

For the past year and a half I have been meeting with a pastor from another country in a weekly video conference.  We have studied 2 Peter, Ephesians, Romans, and now we are working through Jeremiah.  I have mentioned earlier in this blog, several times, that I similarly meet with several men on Tuesday mornings.  That group finished Jeremiah this spring and we are now working through Hebrews.
We have to invest in other people, but we cannot do it alone...  Thoughts at DTTB.
None of these people are referred to in this post...
This morning the pastor and I were working through Jeremiah 6.  About half way through the conversation, I got a strong sense that I needed someone else in the conversation to help him with some of his questions and observations.  Strong it needed to be, my sensitivity to the Holy Spirit is not as well developed as I would like it to be, getting better, but have a long way to go.  But this morning the urging was strong and clear.

So I asked for a time out and got one of my Tuesday morning brethren in on the video conference.  This man’s spiritual gift is teaching.  I thought I might have vestiges of a teaching gift until I got around him.  The three of us spent about 35 minutes working through the last half of Jeremiah 6.

The differences in my friend’s gift of teaching and my gift of exhortation were clear in the conversation.  It was a great time.

I was re-listening to a message by Prof on the elements of a Disciplemaking Ministry while I was mowing the yard last week.  One of the things he mentioned is that he never worked with a man longer than about two years.  He wants them to have input from others.  He did not want to reproduce his weaknesses in those he was helping.  That was one of the things that was on my mind when I got my Tuesday morning friend involved.

Our charge, should we choose to take Matthew 28:18 – 20 in any way seriously, is to be about the business of making disciples.  In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul said that he instructed Timothy in the presence of many witnesses.  I know that I do not have all the gifts.  The men I am helping need other men, other mentors in their lives.  It is something on which I need to work on and prepare.

I will bring others in on those Thursday morning video calls from time to time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

As a Child

The supper dishes were nearly done.  My one and a half year old granddaughter came running into the kitchen holding a toy taxi cab and a toy figure who was a taxi driver.  She stopped about two feet from me and looked up and said something that made sense only to her.  The implication was clear.  “It is time for you to play with me.”
What can we learn from kids about how to approach our Father?  Thoughts at DTTB.
So I did.

My other granddaughter is three and a half.  Her vocabulary is developed to the point where she can communicate just about anything she wishes.  Most of her communication is in the form of questions, in that she takes after her father.  Most answers you may give her are immediately followed with a clarifying question, “Why?”

In Mark 10:13 - 15 and Luke 18:17, Jesus tells us that we have to receive the Kingdom as a child.  In Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, and Galatians 4:6, we find that Jesus addressed the Father as Abba and the reality that we have the Spirit sent into our hearts so that we are to call the Father Abba, or Daddy.

It may be that we are over complicating this prayer thing a bit.  My granddaughters do not spend a great deal of time or language when they request things of me.  They do not choose their words carefully, they just ask either verbally or non-verbally – I did not mention my one year old grandson, he has just begun to walk, he is much too busy to bother talking, he just grunts and expects a response.  Not only that, all three of them expect a response, and pretty much right then.  There is joy and expectation in their approach.  They are coming to someone they love and are confident – that is too lame a term – the notion that I do not love them has not in any way presented itself in their thinking.  They just come excited to engage.

So when I read the passages above and I observe my grand-kids, I am rebuked.  I do not go to the Father with expectant joy.  I do not run into His presence smiling asking Him to play.  I work in the realm of prayer lists and wondering if I have labored enough in prayer.  I know that there is a labor in prayer.  But is that what it is supposed to be all of the time?

I think I am learning from my grand-kids that I need to approach my Father as they do me, with joyful expectation, coming with a smile, knowing I am accepted, knowing I am loved, knowing I am safe, and knowing He will play.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Grasping at Leadership "Final" Question

There is one last thing on Hebrews 5 before I let it go this time through.  I do not have an answer for this one yet, but it has to be asked.
What is one of the last important questions you should ask in studying a passage?  Thoughts at DTTB.
How does Hebrews 5:11 – 14 support the point that the author is making in Hebrews 4:14 – 5:10?

The point here is it is not enough to understand a section without understanding how that section fits into the overall argument of the book.  That should clue you in that there are a lot of other unanswered questions about this chapter.

Posts in this series:
Grasping at Leadership 7
Grasping at Leadership 6
Grasping at Leadership 5
Grasping at Leadership 4
Grasping at Leadership 3
Grasping at Leadership 2
Grasping at Leadership

Monday, July 7, 2014

Let It Go

You ever get blindsided with emotion?  Thoughts at DTTB.She looked to be about 12.  She had on a Disney Princess dress.  I think it was Anna’s, from Frozen, Elsa’s is nearly impossible to get I hear.  She was bald.  It was probably the chemo that did that.  She and her mom were pulling an IV tree with about five bags hung on it into the women’s bathroom on the 7th floor of the main building of MD Anderson.  I was walking down the hall toward’s the men’s room.  I began to weep.

I have two and a half granddaughters.  The third is due at the end of October.  The princess thing with Disney is big with both of the ones walking around.  The three year old can sing all of the words to “Let it Go” with all of Elsa’s hand and foot movements.  The one and a half year old sang the words, “let it goooooo,” before she talked.

I saw them with that tree.  My heart broke for that little girl and her family.  I am not Jesus.  But I get the compassion He felt for the brokenness of this life.  MD Anderson is a wonderful place.  But the number of people there getting treatment each day is overwhelming.  I have seen young couples seemingly newly married.  I have seen young women who dreamed of marriage and children.  I have seen people from all walks of life, more nations, more languages than I can count.

Cancer is a product of a fallen world.  It is an equal opportunity malady.  The only real cure will be the swift return of our Lord.

Come Lord Jesus.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Grasping at Leadership 7

Hebrews 5:11 – 14 is a passage I use quite a bit in the Dads Teach the Bible workshops I do.  Working through the chapter this time I saw some things that I have not seen before, namely a series of contrasts.  The contrast between the mature and the babe:
Ever wonder why some people do not seem to grow in their relationship with Christ?  Thoughts at DTTB.

Infant Mature
Role Need to be taught Teacher
Need Milk Solid Food
Means of Growth Time Practice
Content Elementary principles Thngs hard to explain
Sensitivity to Spiritual Things Dull of Hearing Senses trained
Relationship to the Word Not Accustomed Accustomed

Spend some time thinking through these.  There is more here for one to find.

One of those needs some explanation, “Means of Growth.”  The idea here is that being a Christian for a long time does not mean one grows as a Christian.  The writer says that they have been believers long enough that they should be teachers, but they are not.  Why?  They have not practiced.  The practice, or obedience is the means of growth, not time in grade.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Grasping at Leadership 6

Continuing, Hebrews 5:8 – 10 is a difficult passage, at least for me.  I am still working through these so I know I do not have a handle on them yet.  They raise more questions for me than they answer.  For instance:
  • In what sense does the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, learn, and specifically learn obedience
  • In what sense did suffering make the Son of God complete?
  • One might think that the Son of God would somehow get some special treatment but He had to learn through suffering, why?

There are some passages that leave me with more questions than answers.  Thoughts at DTTB.
By the way, that happens a lot to me in Bible study, I end up with more questions than I have answers.  If I am honest, the more I study, it seems the less I know.

Tentatively, this is where I am on these.  It seems to me that the chapter division is unfortunate.  Hebrews 4:14 – 16 seems to fit with chapter 5.  As you know the chapter and verses were added later and sometimes they break up the thought of the author.  It seems that this is the case here.  One option, to which I am leaning at the moment, is that perfect in 5:9 refers to the end of chapter 4.  Because He suffered He can sympathize.  It is for that reason we can draw near and expect grace.

I am still working on this.  This is a rich, rich vein that is not mined quickly.  It would be worth your time to dig in here as well.

We will end tomorrow with an observation on the last part of Hebrews 5.

Posts in this series:
Grasping at Leadership 5
Grasping at Leadership 4
Grasping at Leadership 3
Grasping at Leadership 2
Grasping at Leadership

Friday, July 4, 2014

Grasping at Leadership 5

There is so much in Hebrews 5 that deals with the person of Christ that there is neither space nor enough days to cover it.  I would recommend spending some extended time in this passage looking at what Hebrews 5 tells you about the person and ministry of Christ.
Hidden in Hebrews 5 may be one of the qualifications for leadership...  Thoughts at DTTB.
Just to point out one thing, look at verse 7.  Notice the parallel and differences between the role of the high priest and the role of Christ as high priest.
High Priest Gifts Sacrifices
Christ Prayers Supplications
This suggests that if we are to imitate Christ’s leadership as we are exhorted to do many times in the New Testament, we are to be about prayers and supplications for the people we are called to serve.

That is tough for me.  That is not my strength.  That is the assignment though.

P.S.  Perhaps that is one of the things that the Lord looks for in those whom He takes and appoints to leadership, a commitment to prayer and supplication.

Posts in this series:
Grasping at Leadership 4
Grasping at Leadership 3
Grasping at Leadership 2
Grasping at Leadership

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Grasping at Leadership 4

How did Christ view His leadership?  Thoughts at DTTB.Continuing working through Hebrews 5, look at verses 5 and 6.  The writer has just told us that the high priest is chosen without taking that position.  He is placed in it.  Then the first words in verse 5 are “so also” (NASB).  That is a structural marker.  In this case strong comparison.  The writer is equating the choice of Jesus as High Priest with the choice of the earthly high priest.  He will point out some significant differences, but the incredible thing the thing that underscores the point of humility, Christ did not take the position.  He was appointed, taken from among the Trinity, to be high priest.

Philippians 2:5 – 8 echoes this reality does it not?  We are to have this same mindset.

If the Son of God did not take leadership but was appointed by the Father.  Perhaps that should be something we should mimic.

Posts in this series:
Grasping at Leadership 3
Grasping at Leadership 2
Grasping at Leadership

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Grasping at Leadership 3

We have been looking at how the description of the high priest in Hebrews 5, at some level should inform Christian leadership.  Look at verses 2 – 3.  These passages tell us that though the high priest is chosen and appointed to this office, he is no better than those from whom he was chosen and for whom he now offers sacrifices.  Like the ones he leads in worship, he is a sinner in need of the effects of the sacrifices.
What should be the attitude of a Christian leader?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Leadership is bestowed but does not make the leader better than those whom he is chosen to lead.  He is still a sinner, he is still in need of the grace and mercy of Christ.  He is still in need of the leading of the Holy Spirit, and he is still required to abide in Christ and in His Word.

I have encountered Christian leaders who perhaps have not read these two verses.  Those who by virtue of their position consider themselves better than those they were chosen to lead.  My experience is that when there is a leader like that, there will be significant problems with the segment of the Body he is leading.

So not only are we not to grasp leadership, but if we are chosen to lead, we are to remember that we do so only by the call and grace of God and that does not make us less needy of God’s grace and leading.  In fact based on the requirements for leaders spelled out in the New Testament, it would make the leaders much more dependent on that grace and leading.

Posts in this series:
Grasping at Leadership 2
Grasping at Leadership

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Grasping at Leadership 2

Yesterday I mentioned that Hebrews 5:4 really ministered to me a few years back.  Today we are going to begin to look at the rest of the chapter..
Ever tried to grasp an opportunity and missed?  Thoughts at DTTB.
Look at the first two verbs in verse 1, taken and appointed (by the way the English version I use is the NASB).  In the Greek these two words are in passive voice.  That means that the action happens to the subject of the verb.  So in the case of the high priest, he does not choose to be high priest, he is chosen.

In verse 4 the word translated “takes” in the NASB is the same word translated “taken” in verse 1.  So putting the concepts together the high priest is taken and appointed and does not take the honor.  The picture is clear.  The high priest is not someone who sought that position, campaigned for the honor, rather it was the one who was chosen of God.

The high priest was the spiritual leader of the Jews.  So this speaks, I think, to those who as Paul says in 1 Timothy 3:1 aspire to lead.  One may aspire to, one may not take leadership.  One is placed there by God.  Psalm 75:6 – 7 says the same thing.  God is the one who choses leadership.

There are some interesting implications from this.  I will unwrap later in this series.