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Thursday, June 18, 2020

Introduction to Dads Teach the Bible

Last Monday night, Entrusting Truth hosted an online introduction to Dads Teach the Bible, our core seminar.  Click here to watch and listen.  The presentation starts at 2:31.  Let me know what you think in the comments.
Dads Teach the Bible Introduction



Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Invitation

Invitation

Monday, June 15, at 8:00 PM, I will be giving a live 30ish minute overview of why we offer the Dads Teach the Bible Seminar.  We will do this on GoToMeeting the credentials are:

DTTB Intro
Mon, Jun 15, 2020 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM (CDT)

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.

https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/336264957

You can also dial in using your phone.
(For supported devices, tap a one-touch number below to join instantly.)

United States: +1 (786) 535-3211
- One-touch: tel:+17865353211,,336264957#

Access Code: 336-264-957

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts: https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/336264957

We can accommodate 150 people on this video conference the first 5 who join with webcams will be on screen with me, the others will be audio but will be able to see the presentation.

There will be a Q&A session at the end.

If you are interested you do not need to RSVP, just mark it down on your calendar, I will send a reminder on Monday.  If you know someone who might be interested in this, please feel free to forward this email to them.

I look forward to either seeing you or hearing you on Monday evening.

Work and Grace

These are the two quotes to which I referred four days ago.  The first is by William Wilberforce.  You may remember that he was the British Lord who led the fight against the institution of slavery.  His life is worth getting to know.  One of several things about him that challenges me was his habit of quoting Psalm 119 (here @ Bible Gateway) from memory on his walk home from the house of Lords each evening.

Work and Grace

The second quote is from Grant Osborne.  He was professor of New Testament focused on hermeneutics, or the science of interpretation, at Trinity.  His book The Hermenutical Spiral is a standard work on the subject.

Wilberforce
And why, it may be asked, are we in this pursuit alone to expect knowledge without inquiry, and success without endeavour?  The whole analogy of nature inculcates on us a different lesson, and our own judgments in matters of temporal interests and worldly policy confirm the truth of her suggestions.  Bountiful as is the hand of Providence, its gifts are not so bestowed as to seduce us into indolence, but to rouse us to exertion; and no one expects to attain to the height of learning, or arts, or power, or wealth, or military glory, without vigorous resolution, and strenuous diligence, and steady perseverance.  Yet we expect to be Christians without labour, study, or inquiry.  This is the more preposterous, because Christianity, being a revelation from God, and not the invention of man, discovering to us new relations, with their correspondent duties; containing also doctrines, and motives, and practical principles, and rules, peculiar to itself, and almost as new in their nature as supreme in their excellence, we cannot reasonably expect to become proficient in it by the accidental intercourses of life, as one might learn insensibly the maxims of worldly policy, or a scheme of mere morals.
Wilberforce, William. A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians, in the Middle and Higher Classes in this Country, Contrasted with Real Christianity. (pp. 10-11). Kindle Edition.

Osborne
The big problem with Bible study today is that we think it should be easier than other things we do. We study recipes for quality meals, how-to books for all kinds of things—carpentry, plumbing, automobile maintenance and so on—and read vociferously for our hobbies. Why do we think the Bible is the only subject we should not have to study?! Let me challenge you—make the Bible your hobby. At one level I do not like the analogy; the Bible must be so much more than a hobby! But at another level, what if we spent as much time and money on Bible study as we do our hobbies? What if we took the same amount we spend on golf clubs and courses or on skiing equipment and skiing trips, and put it into Bible study? Yes, encyclopedias, commentaries and other reference materials are expensive. But so is everything we do. The question is about priorities: what is important enough for our time and money?
Grant R. Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, Rev. and expanded, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 25.

Did you catch the similarity?  Wilberforce would have said this in the early 1800’s.  Osborne’s quote is from the 2nd edition of his work, published in 2006.  They were speaking to similar issues 206 years apart.

What would you consider to be the key implications of the reality that two men, strong believers, are concerned about the same issue 206 years apart?  In a later (I’ve given up on trying to do this daily) post, I will share my thoughts on this.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Diligence

Just now I was reviewing the past few days of journal entries.  For three days the word “diligence” was repeated.  Both in the passages to which the Lord directed me, and in some of my reactions to those passages.

Diligence

The Oxford English Dictionary defines diligence as, “Constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent application and endeavour; industry, assiduity.”

Diligence appears numerous times in our Bibles.  One of those places is Deuteronomy 4:9 – 10 (here @ Bible Gateway), there we are exhorted to keep our soul’s diligently.  In that same passage we are challenged to not forget, but remember, what the Lord has done.

Diligence appears earlier in Deuteronomy 6:4 – 7 (here @ Bible Gateway).  We are to engage with equipping, teaching our sons, diligently.

Then in 2 Peter the words diligent and remember are joined yet again.  Consider:


Then again in 2 Timothy 2:15 (here @ Bible Gateway).

What do we make of all of this?  Perhaps, being a Christian is not easy.  Perhaps, it takes effort?  Perhaps it is more than just showing up at a church once a week.

There are two very interesting quotes that I have found in the last few months.  I will share them tomorrow.  They may shed some light on this as well.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Abiding in Sin

This is substantially a continuation or a further development of yesterday’s post.

In the time with the Lord this morning one of the passages to which I was directed was Jude (the reading plan I use had Jude yesterday but I misread it and jumped into Revelation, oops).  In Jude 4 (here @ Bible Gateway) we read that there are those in the community who turn grace into licentiousness.


Thinking through that, and there is much to which that applies, more than I want to explore in this post, several other passages came to mind.

Romans 6:1 – 2 (here @ Bible Gateway): Paul emphatically states that we are not to claim the grace of God as a covering to remain, continue, or abide in sinful behavior.  Which would, it seems, be what Jude suggests is turning grace in to licentiousness.  Interestingly, the word that is translated “continue” (NASB) here is in the same word group as the word that is translated “abide” in John 8:31 – 32 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Galatians 5:13 (here @ Bible Gateway), echoes the thought here in Romans 6:1 – 2 (here @ Bible Gateway).

James 4:17 (here @ Bible Gateway): James reminds us that if we know what is right and do not do it.  That is sin.

John 8:31 – 32 (here @ Bible Gateway): Jesus said that if we are going to be His disciples, we will abide, continue, in His Word.

Luke 6:46 (here @ Bible Gateway): Jesus asks a significant question.  Why are you calling me Lord if you are not doing what I tell you to do?

All of these together would seem to suggest that if we claim to be followers of Christ – note that in Acts 11:26 (here @ Bible Gateway), those who are called Christians were first disciples – one of the distinguishing marks of a Christian, a disciple, is that they are those who abide, remain in, continue in, His Word.

That would seem to be the right thing to do, would it not?  So, if we are not, are we not abiding in sin?

Friday, May 29, 2020

Change?

Six years ago, the Lord allowed me to study Jeremiah four times in a row.  Four different Bible studies with four different groups of men.  One of the major lessons, was that the leadership of Judah had abandoned the Word of God and began to proclaim to the people their own dreams and ideas.  Since most of the people did not have YouVersion on their phones, they were not exposed to the Word of God and had no access to it.
Change?
One of the applications from that study is I began asking men who were in leadership, “What is the Lord teaching you from the Word these days?”  It has gotten to the point that many now anticipate the question and tell me before I ask.

A few weeks back I was praying through the Church’s (note that is big C the entire body of Christ not a specific congregation) engagement with the Word of God.  I was reflecting on Isaiah 55:11 (here @ Bible Gateway) and Hebrews 4:12 (here @ Bible Gateway).  I was asking God why if His Word does not return void and if it is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword, why then, have so many of His people abandoned it?  Why have entire Christian organizations chosen to ignore it?  Why have Bible publishers worked with secular publishers to make it more “attractive” to this generation?  Why does the Lord not draw people to Himself through His Word.

As I considered these, I will admit that I was struggling with some level of despair.  I am deeply troubled by the seeming lack of hunger for God’s Word in many professing Christians and equally disturbed by what is considered “good” Christian literature.  Thinking through this another question, really a subset of the first began to form.  I’m still working on the precise language, but it goes something like, “How has the Word challenged what you believe or how you live out your walk with God recently?”

If it is the case that Isaiah 55:8 – 9 (here @ Bible Gateway) is true (it is), then if I am in the Word, abiding in the Word as Christ said that His disciples would do (John 8:31 – 32 (here @ Bible Gateway)), then it would be a continual experience that my thinking and knowledge of Him would be challenged and corrected.  My world view would be continually being shaped, transformed, as Paul describes it in Romans 12:2 (here @ Bible Gateway), by my exposure to God’s nature and character as revealed in His inspired Word.

So, “How has the Word challenged what you believe or how you live out your walk with God recently?”  How has it caused you to change?  How has it transformed you?

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Is Jesus Enough?

Learning to deal with the reality that my capacity has been greatly limited, at least for the next several months, has surfaced several issues that I have needed to process.
Is Jesus Enough?

In the past 13 years the Lord has given me the opportunity to serve believers in 11 countries on 4 continents.  It has been a privilege.  He has given men and women in those places tools to understand the Bible in ways they have not done before.  He has refined the process and the message.  The material has been translated into four languages.  He has given me lasting relationships with significant people.  I have been asked back to most of the places He has allowed me to serve.

I was scheduled to leave this Friday for the second trip to a sub Saharan country.  The treatment canceled that trip along with a three-week vacation to South Africa and a large game reserve in eastern Africa in July.

While I still meet with three Bible studies and our small group at church online, and talk to men on the phone, I have not been able to meet with anyone in person since the middle of March.

As I was praying about this a sentence in a devotional I use from time to time stood out:

Thy goodness has been with me during another year, leading me through a twisting wilderness, in retreat helping me to advance, when beaten back making sure headway. (The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, page 204)

Reflecting on that sentence, I wrote in my journal, “This describes well my life, Lord please – don’t shunt me aside…”  As I wrote that down it became clear that I valued serving Christ more than Him.  It was a clear rebuke.  Two passages came to mind, Luke 10:18 – 20 (here @ Bible Gateway) and Luke 10:38 – 42 (here @ Bible Gateway).  The question for which I do not have a good answer yet is, “If all I have is my relationship with Jesus, is that enough?  Is He enough?

I know what the answer should be…

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Long Lead Items

I am learning to deal with the effects of the chemo – not very well, yet – thus, the blog is sporadic.  Please pray Ephesians 5:15 – 16 (here @ Bible Gateway) for me.

I worked, while in seminary, and for a time afterwards, in project controls, or management, or scheduling – a combination of all the above.  There were several different types of projects from significant infrastructure projects, to large automated warehouses, to technical development of software.  While all of the projects were different, they all had similar pieces that had to be tracked and managed.
Long Lead Items

One of the more impactful items in any of those projects were “long lead items”.  These are critical materials or functions that require a significant amount of time to either produce or acquire.  They vary from project to project, but their delay of one day, will delay the project by one day, they are that critical.

In the past several years, it seems like the Lord has identified several “long lead items” in my life.  Things I need that seem to be taking an inordinate amount of time to appropriate into my life.

As we were starting to put together this ministry from scratch, the thing that I kept hearing from the Lord was, “Trust me.”  When I prayed about any issue, whether financial, spiritual, opportunities to serve – whatever, the answer was always the same, “Trust me”.  I found that was easy to write in my journal.  To acknowledge as a direction from the Lord.  It was and is a whole lot harder to actually live.

Shortly thereafter, and currently, there has been another message that is similar.  Isaiah 40:31 (here @ Bible Gateway) tells me that if I wait on Him, He will give me strength.  Paul, echoes this in 2 Corinthians 12:9 – 10 (here @ Bible Gateway).  There he reminds me that Christ’s power is perfected in weakness.  So the message was I needed to rest in Him and live and serve out of His strength.  I have no idea.  Again, easy to record in the journal.  I can make observations about the text, even delve into the Greek or Hebrew – but to live it?  I struggle.

This morning the Lord took me on an extended journey through several passages on prayer.  Some of that I will possibly share in a later post.  But the “long lead item” that stood out for me this morning was the admonition in Ephesians 6:18 (here @ Bible Gateway) to “pray at all times in the Spirit.”  Confession, I do not think I know how to pray at anytime in the Spirit.  I pray.  I cling hard to Romans 8:26 – 27 (here @ Bible Gateway).  I do not know what else to do.  From where I am now in this journey, it seems I am completely dependent on His lavish grace to do any of this.  Which aligns very well with what I read in John 15:5 (here @ Bible Gateway).

There seems to be a lot in this journey with which I struggle.  A lot that I seem to understand but do not apply very well.  It is more than amazing that in spite of all that floundering, He loves me, died for me, and is working to perfect me, even when I can’t manage the “long lead items.”

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Why Study the Bible Yourself

Two weeks ago, today, on our church's website and on Facebook, I shared why it is critical for each of us to study the Word of God ourselves.  Let me know what you think.  It is less than 30 minutes long.  It was too big to upload so click here to play.  Note the player is muted when it starts click on the speaker icon on the bottom of the video frame to turn on the sound.  Come back here to comment please.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Which Bible, Part 3

In this series we have looked at what versions are and what makes them different.  We will finish by looking at translations, paraphrases, and answer the question which of these three is better.
Which Bible, Part 3

Translations
A translation, like the Wuest or Phillips is the work of one person.  They may be working from the original languages or they may be translating from a different language.  The advantage of a translation is the consistency of one individual.  That is also the disadvantage.  That individual’s work is not checked by other scholars.

Paraphrases
Paraphrases are, according to my College Edition of the Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, “a rewording of the thought or meaning expressed in something that has been said or written before.”  I cannot do better than that.  Paraphrases work off the original languages or the English translation of those languages.  Examples are The Living Bible and the Message.  The advantage is ease of reading.  The disadvantage is that it is much further away from the structure and language of the original.

Which is Better?
That depends on the purpose of the use.  For study I would stay with literal translations.  Further, I would use at least two to compare how the committees are handling the text.  If they are similar, you can be confident in the translation.  If, however, there are significant differences, that will alert you to the probability of either a difference in philosophy of translation or else some difficulty or obscurity in the original language.  There are some interesting ways to dig through this, even if you do not know the original languages, however that is beyond the scope of these posts.

If you are in a reading project, say to read through the Bible in a year, any of the above would be fine.  If during that reading a passage intrigues you and you want to go deeper, I would switch to a literal version.

Personally, I prefer literal translations.  Through my Greek classes at WKU and Dallas Seminary, I have translated all the New Testament from Greek to English.  I find that in most cases the NAS is closer to the Greek than other versions.

Let me know what questions you may have.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Which Bible, Part 2

Yesterday we started working through which Bible to use.  We broke off while looking at how the different versions are different and how we can tell.  We will pick this up from where we stopped yesterday:
Which Bible, Part 2

Versions, Cont.
In some cases, for instance, the Douay-Rheims or the NASB, started with another version, the Latin Vulgate and the 1901 ASV respectively, and was then compared to the Greek and Hebrew to revise the earlier version.  Again, the introduction will tell you what process the committee followed.

Secondly, the committee works under a translation philosophy.  There are two: literal and non-literal.  The labels are not quite self-explanatory.  If you have any experience with multiple languages you know that a literal translation from one language to another is, if not impossible, it is definitely – well it would be difficult to read and understand.

A literal version tries to stay as close to the original languages as possible.  The introduction and preface will inform you how the committee will deal with the needs to make the translation readable.  Some well known literal versions are KJV, RSV, NASB, ESV.

Non-literal versions choose a different path.  They attempt to capture the idea behind the original text.  One illustration of this is the NIV.  This approach is referred to as dynamic equivalence.  Dynamic equivalence is a sense for sense translation (translating the meanings of phrases or whole sentences) with readability in mind (Wikipedia definition, 2020).  The advantage of this philosophy is its easier to read.  The disadvantage is that it can obscure the structure of the original more than the literal philosophy.

Tomorrow we will look at translations, paraphrases, and at least start on which is better.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Which Bible

In pretty much every seminar I do, someone will ask, “What is the best version of the Bible to use?”  Over the years I have developed a detailed answer to that question.  I will work thorough it here; it may take more than one post.  The focus here will be on English Bibles.  However, the descriptions fit all Bibles in whatever language.
Which Version

First there are at least three types of Bibles available:
  • Versions
  • Translations
  • Paraphrases
What are the differences?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Versions
At a top-level, versions are created with a team, a committee, of scholars who are working on translating the original texts into the language.  The committee works together to come up with the best translation based on at least two variables the choice of original texts, and the translation philosophy.

The first variable is the base texts on which the committee will base their work.  The decision is how much, if any, of the archaeological data they will consider and how they will use that data with the main resources of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.  Most modern translations will use the archaeological data applying the principles of text criticism to get as close as possible to the original texts as possible.  This is a well-established and scholarly discipline that has greatly benefited all believers.  The value to us is beyond the scope of this post.  Suffice it to say that we have an embarrassingly accurate base text for both the Old and New Testaments.  That said there are versions that have chosen to not use the archaeological data or were developed when that data was not available.  In all cases the front matter, usually the introduction to the version will indicate what texts were used by the committee.

There is more about versions.  We will pick that up tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Schedule Changes

I had scheduled for last Thursday to write on a question I am asked in my seminars, “What is the best Bible for me to use.”  It is a great question, for which I have a detailed answer.  However, some things changed Thursday…
Schedule Changes
That last Monday (4/20) I had a PET scan.  It was supposed to be done in Houston but because of the virus, the trip to MD Anderson was canceled and I was instructed to get it here.  Wednesday, I met with the MD Anderson oncologist by video conference, we had sent her the disc overnight, but she did not have it yet.  That afternoon I met with the oncologist here and we went over the scan.  There were some changes, there is one lymph node that she had been watching.  It seemed to have grown.

The one thing that was weird, there were some liver numbers that were weird.  So, she asked me to check with the infectious disease doctor… So, Thursday morning, we met on video.  He wondered if the numbers were messed up due to exercise.  I was planning to ride 23 miles later that day, the doctor told me to get blood redrawn on Friday.

Did not make the 23-mile ride.  Back tire blew at 13.  Could not get the pump to work, that is another story… My son had to come get me.  He got me back to the car and just as I was moving my bike from his bike rack to mine, MD Anderson called.

They had looked at the PET scan and had determined the lymph node they had been watching had grown to the point that we needed to start treatment.  The oncologists and the infectious disease doc spoke on Friday morning and I got a long message outline what was going to happen.

I got a port yesterday, an echo cardiogram today, and met with the oncologist here to get the details of the treatment late this afternoon.  Next Monday I get a bone marrow biopsy, and the week of the 11th I will start treatment.

I have a lot more to share about this, some things that the Lord has already taught me.  But our schedule has been radically changed.  I was going to Togo the first week of June, and Jenny and I were going to South Africa in July.  Not now.

One thing of note.  On Wednesday, tomorrow night.  I will be speaking at our church online (full disclosure, I recorded this at our home on Saturday).  The session starts at 6:30 PM CDT, and you can watch it either at the church website or on the church Facebook page.  I am talking about the need to personally engage in the scripture.  The outline is:
  • What are the ways we can engage?
  • Why it is critical for each of us to engage.
  • Some ideas on how to start or keep going.
I will answer questions by text, email, or Facebook comment afterwards.  If that is of help or interest, let people know.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The Use of Secondary Sources

Over the years the Lord has provided me with several opportunities to share with people why they need to be in the Word of God for themselves.  What that means is that they are not using secondary sources but directly reading and studying the Bible.
The Use of Secondary Sources
Secondary sources include but are not limited to:

  • Notes in a study Bible
  • Commentaries
  • Devotionals
  • Books about the Bible or Topics in the Bible
  • Messages live or recorded
  • Fill in the blank or other types of Bible Study guides.

Now before I explain why I encourage people not to use these, full disclosure, I have every one of those resources in my office and on my computer, in addition to some technical resources that I have not named.  Further, I have at various times derived benefit from all those types of resources.

Why then, do I encourage people not to use them?

The answer is priority or sequence.  These are appropriate after we have studied or attempted to study a passage on our own.  If we pick up one of these at the beginning of our study or interaction with the Word of God, what is said in the resource will become a filter for what we see in the text.  On the other hand, if we engage in the Word ourselves first, then when we utilize the resource, we are comparing what is said there with what we have seen.  So instead of it becoming a filter, it then becomes a supplement, another set of eyes on the passage.  Then we are in a dialog with the one who created the resource.

According to Jesus, and I will take Him at His word on this, one of the purposes of the Holy Spirit other than inspiring the Word of God, is to help us understand it, John 16:13 (here @ Bible Gateway).  If when we are working through a passage we bail out of the text and go to secondary sources as soon as we hit something that challenges us, we are not leaving room for the Spirit to lead us into truth.

We need to let Him do what He was sent to do.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

With Ordinary Means

Yesterday I shared a friend of mine says how we needed to engage successfully with the Bible:

  • With the help of the Holy Spirit 
  • With humble effort 
  • With ordinary means 
With Ordinary Means


I want to focus on the last. “With ordinary means”, today.  We talked briefly about this the other night.  Essentially, my friend was saying that we do not need secondary sources to engage with the Bible successfully.  All we need is a blank sheet of paper and a pencil and a pen.  His suggestion was to write down questions that one has as they are reading.  That is a great idea.

Earlier in the week one of our friends was sharing online in this series and he suggested that one write down their observations about the text as well as note any signposts that they saw as they read.  The signposts to which he referred are much like the structural markers that have been discussed in this blog.

Either practice is good for at least two reasons.  First, writing down your reaction to what you are reading in the text slows you down.  The simple act of writing down what you think will help you clarify your understanding of what you have been reading.  Second, and this is closely related to the first, writing down what you are seeing or what questions you have engages you at a different level of thinking than simply reading.  Try it, you will be convinced quickly.

You will note that neither of my friends mentioned using study Bibles or commentaries.  They were focused on being in the text of the Bible.  After all that is what is inspired.  The notes in the study Bible and the commentaries are not.  I have written on the use of commentaries a lot, you can skim that content by typing “commentaries” in the “search this blog” field on the top of the column on the right or by clicking here.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Barriers to Knowledge

A few days ago, in my quiet time the Lord took me to 2 Corinthians 10:5 – 6 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Note that I do not hear God’s voice, but there are times that He will bring a passage to mind.  I have learned that it is best to follow that lead.

Barriers to Knowledge

Last evening, I was speaking to a friend about some sessions our church is doing online during this “interesting time”.  During our conversation we began discussing how to help those who may have been in the faith for a long time but do not have the confidence nor have they been equipped to engage in the Word of God for themselves.  We were thinking through how a believer would get into this state.

One of the ways seems to be addressed by Paul in this verse.  I have heard, and I would expect that you have as well, speakers suggest things in addressing a passage that are not in the text.  In many cases they may be inferences that they have thought about that they think may apply to the text.  Or, they may be something that they have read somewhere that they think may clear up the text.  In some cases what I have heard was essentially made up and had no relation at all to the text being presented.  In the case of historical information that sets a context, I will admit that at times that can be interesting and somewhat helpful.

However, in this passage Paul says that he is destroying everything that is raised up against the knowledge of God.  Think about that for a minute.  If I am a young believer listening to a speaker and he shares a theory, an example, or a “fact” that is not evident in the text, what does that communicate to me?  Wouldn’t it communicate that I need to know those theories, examples, or “facts” in order to understand the Word of God?  In a real sense when a speaker adds to the text, he is communicating that without his help, those who are listening cannot really understand the Bible.  In a sense he is taking the Bible out of their hands.

Speakers who do that are raising up barriers against the knowledge of God.  In that they are creating a dependency on themselves or other secondary sources as a necessary means to rightly understand the Word of God.

My friend had shared in a presentation that he made a week or so ago, that the Word affirms that we are able to understand the Word of God:


We had a short discussion about what he meant by ordinary means.  I will expand on that next post.

Monday, April 6, 2020

The Old is Not

If you are like us, you may be doing some projects at home that you have been putting off.  My wife and I are cleaning out the attic.  We have brought down about 25 years’ worth of old bank records and tax forms.  We have two huge totes on our front porch from the shredding company, one is completely full, the other nearly…

The Old is Not

I have been sorting through files of old conferences and training programs in which we were participants or leaders.  I have found some materials that I am going to keep.  I have been scanning all of that into the computer.  The garage is next…  My oldest son said that if any of us exit this time with a cluttered attic or garage we haven’t used the time well.

I have been asked to teach a session at our church online in three weeks.  Its up in the air whether I go to the church or do it from my home office.  I’m one of those who are most at risk.  I have been preparing by reviewing some of the work I have done on the topic in the past.

This afternoon I pulled that file and went through all the studies that I have done on the topic, which is, the necessity of each of us being in the Word ourselves.  It seems I have been hammering that for a while.

I found a message I shared on a Wednesday night at one of the churches we attended in Kentucky.  It was on the same subject dealing with the identical issues that we seem to be facing in many if not all the churches we have attended since then.

Many of us as believers seem to gravitate to those who are excellent teachers or preachers and rather than engaging personally in the Word ourselves, we are satisfied with what we are told by those teachers or preachers.

I have had at least two men, who attended excellent churches, with excellent pastors and teachers admit that they didn’t want to do the work, they would rather have someone tell them what to believe.  In talking to pastors this seems to be a continual and abiding challenge.

So, in three weeks, I will take up this subject again – truth be told, I have never put it down.  I would appreciate prayer should you think of it.  As we get closer, I will give you information on how you can watch it live or on replay.  We are trying  to figure out how to do a live Q&A if I do it from my office and not the church…  Stay tuned…

Friday, April 3, 2020

Confused

There are lot of things in life that confuse me.  Things that I don’t understand.  As one who has had seven sinus operations, I don’t understand piercing noses, for example.
Confused

For most of my adult life, I have been involved in some sort of Christian ministry either as a lay member of a church or group or else as staff or leader of those types of groups.  The Lord has allowed me to engage in this either in person or online on five continents and 14 different countries.  In nearly every instance at some point in the process one of the participants asks why they haven’t been shown how to study the Bible in their church.  Or one of the pastors will confess to either downloading and presenting another pastors sermon or else not speaking on the Bible but his own thoughts.

Consistently one thing emerges in all my seminars and workshops.  There are many who have been in churches all their lives who have not been equipped to study the Word of God on their own.  They are dependent then on secondary sources or the teaching of others, which amounts to the same thing.  They are engaged in the Word of God by proxy.

In John 8:31 – 32 (here @ Bible Gateway), Jesus states that in order to be His disciple one must abide in His Word.  If one does not know how to abide, if they have never been shown how, can they be a disciple?  Yet there are many churches of which I am aware who are struggling with the idea of how to more effectively make disciples.

Shouldn’t that start with equipping those in these communities of faith to personally engage in the Word of God?  Rather than giving a member a book about, say, Philippians, why not show them how to study the book on their own?

Rather than giving them a devotional book, why not show them how to engage in a quiet time on their own?

Rather than… well I’s repeating myself…

Thoughts?

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Covid-19

Don’t know about you, but it, has taken me a bit of time to get used to being restricted.  I normally spend a fair amount of time in my office at home.  But I am not used to spending all day indoors.  As of last night the governor of our state has strongly urged people like me, older with underlying medical issues, in my case smoldering cancer that suppresses my immune system, to stay in our houses until April 30th!  Ouch.

Covid-19

So, with those realities bearing down on us.  I have yet to use my time, the extra time, I have been “given” well.  I have slept past my normal 0530 or 0620 get up time.  But, I have not done well using the time.

As a result, as I reviewed the last post, I don’t remember what the next point was.  So…

It may be good to review some things all of us already know.

First, in all of this we are experiencing, God is sovereign.  Further, He is love.  God’s nature and character is not affected by what we are experiencing.  As a matter of fact, it is the certainty of His unchanging nature that allows us to navigate times like this well.

In 1 Peter 1:3 – 5 (here @ Bible Gateway), Peter gives us two anchors to navigate difficult trials.  First, we have an inheritance that is certain.  That inheritance is reserved for each of us in heaven.  Second, we have a salvation that protects us which will be revealed in the last time.  Notice that neither the inheritance nor the salvation is revealed now.  They are anchors in eternity to which we tie our hope and focus.

In Romans 5:1 – 11 (here @ Bible Gateway), we are encouraged to exult in three things, the hope of the glory of God, our tribulations, and finally in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have been reconciled to God.  Consider this carefully, and you will see the parallels to Peter’s exhortation.

James also encourages us.  In James 1:2 – 4 (here @ Bible Gateway) we are encouraged to count times like these as joy.  Because, like in Romans 5, this testing produces endurance or perseverance (it is the same Greek word in both places).  The result of perseverance or endurance is we become perfect and complete.

This is echoed in Hebrews 12:4 – 11 (here @ Bible Gateway).  We go through difficulty for the purpose of sharing in His holiness with the result that we have the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

Consider these passages.  See what the Lord may have for you in this time.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Equipping Priests

What is equipping?  That was the question posed yesterday.  Is it simply teaching, or a message given from a pulpit or lectern?  How are people prepared to serve as engineers, accountants, doctors, pilots, financial planners, teachers, etc.?  For that matter how are pastors prepared to lead a church?
Equipping Priests

I would suggest that it is more than hearing a lecture or a message.

I have firsthand experience in three of those professions and have closely observed three of the others.  I was an Air Force instructor pilot, I have a degree in engineering and was involved in starting and running an architectural, engineering, and construction company, and I have graduated from seminary.  I have observed my oldest son become a CPA, I watched my middle son go through the process of becoming a doctor, my youngest son was a teacher and is now in the process of becoming a financial planner, and my wife was a special ed teacher for many years.

While lectures and messages were certainly a part of all of the firsthand experience in the three I finished, that was not all. In every case there was instruction followed by observation of my application of the instruction with critique of whether and how my application was adequate and or could be improved.

In seminary, one is tested over the material in class.  One’s papers are both graded and marked up with notes on how they can be improved.  One is given assignments to share a message on a passage of scripture and that is evaluated and critiqued.

I know for certain that all the other professions listed above go through some semblance of that experience.

We have examined Ephesians 4:11 – 16 (here @ Bible Gateway).  From my perspective it is a crucial text in describing what should happen in a local body.  The leaders are to equip the saints for the work of service.  Note that they are not just to do the ministry, they are to equip those in their care to do so as well.

Is that happening?  Do people regularly get instruction on how to accomplish something in ministry, then be observed doing that task, and subsequently get critique on how they fared?

If not, why?

A bit more on this in the next post.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Priests, Part 4

Last time we said that it was important, very important that we not only study the Word for ourselves as priests, but we also apply it to our lives and then share it with others.

Priests, Part 4

This is a key concept.  Ephesians 4:11 – 16 (here @ Bible Gateway) tells us that leaders, and as priests we are all leaders, are to equip other members of the body.  That is not just the job of the professionals.  In fact, it is hard to validate the model of church we practice today with professional leaders.  Note that in Ephesians 4:13 – 16 (here @ Bible Gateway), Paul’s expectation is that every member of the body will engage in building up the other members of the body.

One implication of that is that when we are in our communities, we should be considering how we can build those around us up in their faith.  It is not enough, nor was it Paul’s expectation, that we would simply show up on Sunday and be entertained.

Note that if the body is not committed to equipping, that it may be that an individual’s gifts will not be energized or engaged in the body.

That raises another question.  What is equipping?  Is equipping the same as teaching?  If not, how is it different?  The next post will unwrap that question.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Priests, Part 3

The last couple of posts have started to explore the implications of all of us who are believers being priests.  In the last post we observed that we are to be engaged in the Word of God, intentionally, consistently, with a commitment to apply it to our lives.

Priests, Part 3

Priests also proclaimed the Word of God to the people.  So it would seem reasonable to assume that as priests we are to do the same.  That seems to be the thrust of Matthew 28:18 – 20 (here @ Bible Gateway), 2 Timothy 2:2 (here @ Bible Gateway); 2 Timothy 4:1 – 2 (here @ Bible Gateway), and other passages.

We are not only to emulate Ezra, as suggested in the last post, but we are to share, proclaim to those in our family, our workplace, and our community that which we have discovered in the Word of God.

This is a key concept.  It is so important that we will expand it in the next post.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Priests, Part 2

Yesterday I asked what were some of the implications of all believers being priests.  Hopefully you gave that some thought.  It seems to me that reality is mostly ignored in our communities.  Chuck rightly observed that in the Old Testament the priests were leaders.  They led in worship through the sacrificial system and taught the Law, the Word, to those in their charge.

Priests, Part 2

If we are priests, as the passages referenced yesterday seem to indicate, then shouldn’t there be some correlation to what the priests that are described in the Bible did?

The priests were engaged personally in the Word of God, the scrolls that they had, the Old Testament.  They did not simply listen to messages that others gave.  Ezra is a good example of this.  Read Ezra 7:10 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Note the order of Ezra’s engagement with the Word of God, study, practice, teach.

As priests shouldn’t all of us be engaged in the Word of God like this?  If not, why?  If we are not, why?

Friday, March 6, 2020

Priests

I am not Catholic.  I have been to two Catholic weddings, and I went with a close friend to a men’s meeting at his parish, one Wednesday morning.  That is about as close as I’ve come.  However, I read that I am a priest.  If you are a believer, one who has trusted Christ for your salvation, then you are as well.
Priests
Consider these passages:


It seems that as those who have trusted Christ, we are priests.  What do you see as the implications of that reality?  I have some thoughts I will share in subsequent posts.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Peter’s View of the Bible – Part 2

Continuing to look at 2 Peter 1:16 – 21 (here @ Bible Gateway).

Peter’s View of the Bible – Part 2

As I pointed out yesterday, this is the second of 4 passages in which Peter underscores the importance of the Word of God.  The passage is four sentences, 16, 17 – 18, 19, and 20 – 21.  I mention that because as we read and study our Bible, we should remember that while the paragraph is a unit of thought sentences are the building blocks of paragraphs.  Unfortunately, the chapter and verse divisions many times break up both paragraphs and sentences.  If we do not pay attention to that, we can focus on a part of a sentence and miss the point the author is making.

Verse 16
In this verse Peter is both substantiating why he is reminding his readers and setting up the contrast to the false teachers that follows in chapter 2.  He didn’t make up what he is sharing about Jesus, he was an eyewitness.  Specifically,…

Verses 17 – 18
Peter was present at the transfiguration of Jesus.  This shows up in our Bibles in Mark 9:2 – 8 (here @ Bible Gateway); Matthew 17:1 – 8 (here @ Bible Gateway); and Luke 9:28 – 36 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Peter state that Jesus received honor from God the Father, and there was a verbal affirmation of Jesus from God that Peter, James, and John all heard.

Verse 19
Peter declares that the result of hearing this verbal affirmation is the validation of the prophetic word.  Because of this, we are to pay attention to the Word.  Makes sense, but Peter does not stop there.

Verses 20 – 21
Peter emphasizes that no prophecy is a matter of an individual’s interpretation.  This is a tacit repetition of verse 16, Peter didn’t make up what he is sharing about Jesus, neither are the prophets.  Rather, the Holy Spirit move these men to speak from God.

Notice the parallel.  On the mountain of transfiguration, the verbal affirmation was from God.  In the written prophecy, the written Word, the Holy Spirit inspired men to speak from God.  The validation on the mount was from God, the written prophecy is from God through the Spirit.

Peter is comparing his experience on the mount to our experience when we engage in the written Word of God.  Both are from God.  This view of Scripture is a repetition of Peter’s first strong statement about the Word of God in 1:4 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Through the promises of God, which we find in the Word of God, we become partakers of the divine nature.  We encounter God in the Scripture as Peter encountered Him on the mount.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Peter’s View of the Bible

Since 2008, so for the last 12 years, 2 Peter (here @ Bible Gateway) has been the focus of all of the workshops I have done whether half-day, 10 day, or anything in between.  When we come to the exercises that include 2 Peter, I do them along with the participants.  As a result, I have studied 2 Peter, literally, hundreds of times in the last 12 years.  Additionally, the Tuesday morning group I participate in just finished a detailed study of the book.

Peter’s View of the Bible

One of the themes that runs through the book, is the elevation of the Word of God.  Peter has a high regard for God’s Word.

Twice in both chapters 1 and 3, Peter emphasizes the importance of the Word of God for us as believers.  For this post we will focus on the second passage in chapter 1, 16 – 21.  There is a lot in these six verses.  Take some time and read through the passage, shoot, read the whole letter, it is only 61 verses.  Make as many observations on 1:16 – 31 as you can and then come back to the post.

So if you read the whole letter you saw that this passage sits between Peter’s declaring his diligence to remind his readers of what they already know and his warning of the certainty of the rise and multiplication of false teachers.  1:16 – 21 serves at least three structural functions in Peter’s thought.

First, it substantiates, gives the reason, why it is important that he reminds his readers.  Second, it presents the reason that Peter is sure of what he proclaims.  Lastly, it sets up a vivid contrast with the false teachers that he describes in chapter 2.

Think through that.  We will further unpack this section in tomorrow’s post.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Overcoming the Obstacles – Part 2

Yesterday, I suggested that you invest some time in 1 Peter (here @ Bible Gateway); specifically, 1:3 – 4 (here @ Bible Gateway), it really should have been 3 – 6 (here @ Bible Gateway).  In there you might have found a couple of thoughts about how to overcome the obstacles we face.

Overcoming the Obstacles – Part 2

Mauri’s comment on the post yesterday was apt.  We face multiple kinds of obstacles.  In the world things like financial issues, health, relationships that sour, people that hate us.  When we add the reality of the spiritual life, we face the certainty of constant and increasing resistance from the enemy of our Lord whose goal is to devour, destroy us.  That resistances increases as we engage in a life that seeks to follow hard after our Lord.

Then as Mauri noted, as we mature, as our understanding of our Lord grows as our time with Him lengthens, we become physically weaker.  It is my belief that is intentional.  Seemingly, 2 Corinthians 12:9 – 10 (here @ Bible Gateway) validates that thought.

There are those who proclaim that if we follow the Lord, the obstacles will be removed.  In fact, some claim that if they are not removed, that we face obstacles such as cancer, financial pressures, etc. it is evidence that we lack faith.

That does not seem to be the message of either Peter or Paul.

Peter, in 1 Peter 1:3 – 6 (here @ Bible Gateway) gives us two things to which we are to hold on tightly as we face “various trials”.  They are and imperishable and undefiled inheritance and a salvation.  Note, however, when the inheritance and the salvation will be revealed.  The inheritance is reserved in heaven and the salvation will be revealed in the last time.  They are not promised to be revealed now, or amid the various trials.

No, in fact they are the anchors of our hope.  They are the means of our perseverance.

In the midst of all of the difficulty we face as believers in a fallen world, with the certainty that we will, if we wish to live godly, will be persecuted, 2 Timothy 3:12 (here @ Bible Gateway), our certain inheritance and our salvation is that to which we cling.

Romans 5:3 – 5 (here @ Bible Gateway) exhorts us to exult in our tribulations, our certain tribulations; Peter shows us how.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Overcoming the Obstacles

First, I did not plan on this break.  It was the result of travel and some changes to my schedule that created obstacles that I did not navigate well.  I share that before we get into this to, well for one reason, to confess that I am struggling on this journey as well.

Overcoming the Obstacles

We are exhorted in Scripture to study, to abide, to practice what we encounter in the Word of God.  The purpose, according to Peter in his second letter chapter 1 verses 3 – 4 (here @ Bible Gateway), is that we can become partakers of the divine nature, to truly know Him.

For the past several years it has been my mission to equip as many of those who were willing to do, at least the first couple of those.  The main problem has been that there are seemingly few who are willing to engage for themselves.  Many would rather feed at the trough of those who would study and then tell them what they found; tell them what to believe.  While that may seem easier, it is not what is imagined as the normal Christian experience.

However, there are those who seem to wish to engage.  Those who do will face resistance in multiple forms.  The enemy does not wish for men to seriously engage in the Word of God, to be equipped to take on the full armor of God, Ephesians 6:10 – 20 (here @ Bible Gateway).

So, what I share here, I do not claim to fully and completely practice.  I strive, weakly.  I am facing the reality that instead of becoming stronger, I am becoming weaker.  I tire more easily than I did.  I read that I can live in His strength, but I don’t seem to be able to do that well or consistently.

All that is a preamble to what was intended to follow the last post.

Which is…

If you would please look for a moment at 1 Peter 1:3 – 9 (here @ Bible Gateway).  This is a small portion of the larger answer that Peter outlines in this letter.  It would be a profitable investment to read the entire epistle.

I will, through God’s strength, share observations on how to overcome in the next post, tomorrow.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Spiritual Obstacle Course

In Paul’s final letter to his protégé Timothy he proclaims that he has fought the good fight, finished the course, and kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7 (here @ Bible Gateway)).  Have you known those who have not done so?  Have you known those who have stumbled in their race, fallen and not returned?  I have.

Spiritual Obstacle Course

There are other passages that challenge us in this.  1 Corinthians 9:24 – 27 (here @ Bible Gateway), Hebrews 12:1 – 2 (here @ Bible Gateway), and 2 Timothy 2:5 (here @ Bible Gateway) are a few.

We know that the race is such that some do not finish.  In Paul’s circle Demas deserted, he loved the present world more than he loved Christ (2 Timothy 4:10 (here @ Bible Gateway)).  John speaks of those leaving the race, 1 John 2:19 (here @ Bible Gateway).

It is not only in the New Testament that we see this.  A cursory reading of Kings and Chronicles will yield a list of those who started and did not finish well.  Focus for a moment on Genesis 49:15 (here @ Bible Gateway).  Jacob is prophesying over the 12 sons.  Note what he says about Issachar.  He found a resting place that was pleasant, bowed his shoulder to bear the burdens of that place, and became a slave to it.  He chose to rest rather than to fight.

Peter shares a similar warning in 2 Peter 2:19 (here @ Bible Gateway), by what a man is overcome, he is enslaved.  Issachar was overcome by a desire to rest in a pleasant place.  Demas was overcome by a love for the world.

This journey is a long obstacle course.  We continually confront distractions, difficulties, detours, that would take us out or take us off course.  In a competition if we fail to win, fail to finish, there is always the next race.  In this race, this journey, there is not.

What must we do to finish, and finish strong?  We will look at that next time.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Resisting Falsehood

Truth is resisted.

Resisting Falsehood

You may have experienced this either by personally resisting truth or by having one resist you as you shared truth.  There is another level to resistance.  The enemy of the Lord resists truth in any form.  He is a liar and the father of lies.  So where there is falsehood, he is there.

2 Timothy 2:24 – 25 (here @ Bible Gateway) gives us instruction on how to confront falsehood.  A bit of context, in 1 Timothy (here @ Bible Gateway), 2 Timothy (here @ Bible Gateway), and Titus (here @ Bible Gateway), Paul calls his proteges into continual conflict with false teachers.  It is one of their main purposes as leaders.

What we find in 2 Timothy 2:24 – 25 (here @ Bible Gateway), is Paul’s prescription for confronting falsehood:
  • Be kind
  • Be able to teach truth
  • Be patient when wronged, read resisted, ignored, or worse
  • Be gentle in correction of those who oppose you
That is our assignment.  Note that we are not responsible to change the liar’s mind.  Note that it is God that does that.  He grants them repentance.  He grants them the ability to acknowledge and embrace the truth.

It is not about how well we cast our argument.  Rather, it is if God engages with that person.

Our only assignment is that outlined above.  We speak truth in kindness, with patience and gentleness.  The Lord is responsible for the impact of what we say.

Remember, the resistance to truth is unceasing.  Therefore, our assignment to meet is as Paul outlines is as well.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Leadership Training

The training of leaders is a continual source of research, effort, and courses.  In 1 Samuel 16:1, 7, 13 (here @ Bible Gateway), we find Samuel replacing the failed leader, Saul, with his hand-picked replacement, David.

Leadership Training

Samuel was directed buy God to go to Jessie’s domicile and to review Jessie’s sons, one of them was to be king.  Samuel was told not to look at their appearance or stature, it was the heart that the Lord was after.

Thinking through this it seems that the selection of David as king was not for David’s benefit, it was for the Lord’s purpose.  We tend to view position personally.  That is a position is mine.  That does not seem to be the case in the Lord’s economy, a position is for the Lord, for His glory.

The Lord’s standards are different than ours, mine, or the world’s.  It is not about education.  It is not about leadership traits as taught by the business schools.  It is about heart.

Anointing David in the presence of his brothers, set up a similar dynamic as that which Joseph faced.

It may be that the sibling were used to shape David as king.

Regardless, one thing that is clear, God does not follow good leadership theory in choosing the leaders of His people.

Monday, January 13, 2020

God Revealed

In 1 Samuel 3:21 (here @ Bible Gateway) we read that the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel by the Word of the Lord.  In John 5:39 – 40 (here @ Bible Gateway) we read that the Scriptures, that is, in context, the Old Testament, reveals Christ.  2 Peter 1:1 – 4 (here @ Bible Gateway) tells us that we can become partakers of the divine nature through the promises of God.

God Revealed

Reflect on those passages.

In both the Old and New Testaments, we find that if we want to know the Lord, the Bible is the means to do so.

So, if someone says they want to know God, and they are not in the Word, it is going to be very difficult for them to achieve their goal.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of people who are attempting to know Him by other means.  They will fail.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Crumbling Foundations

Ever have your faith tested?  Ever been challenged by someone who is not a believer?  Ever been attacked for what you believe?  For many Christians in the world those are daily realities.  How does a believer cope?

Crumbling Foundations


Psalm 11:3 (here @ Bible Gateway) sheds some light on this.  In the context David is under attack, the wicked are loading bows with arrows with which to fire at him.  Note the response.  If the foundation is destroyed there is little hope.

There are seemingly two elements to the foundation.  First, Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11 (here @ Bible Gateway)).  Second, the Word of God (John 8:31 – 32 (here @ Bible Gateway)), if we do not abide in His Word we are not disciples.  Further, if we do not abide we do not have with which to fight (Ephesians 6:10 – 20 (here @ Bible Gateway)).

It may not be a stretch to suggest that if we do not build those foundational elements into our communities, they will fail.