Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Notes on Galatians 1:1-5

In these first two chapters Paul makes it clear that his gospel is independent from:

  • Man (1:6-17)
  • The churches of Judea (1:18-24)
  • The pillars in Jerusalem (2:1-10)
  • Peter (2:11-21)

1 Paul, an apostle—

Monday, February 24, 2014

How to Study the Bible #2 - The Big Picture

How to Study the Bible
Lesson 2: The Story of the Bible

The Proper Use of Scripture

A.  The Bible is a collection of books that tell a single, unifying story.
-The Bible contains 66 books, each with a unique purpose and context, but all of which weave together a single story.
-Every story has a main character, and the central character in Bible story is God. -Ultimately, the Bible is the revelation of God (Genesis 1:1).

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How to Study the Bible - Lesson 1 - The Importance of Bible Study

I.  The Problem

There is clear evidence that professed Christians are not reading and studying the Bible on a regular basis.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Bible Study Roundup

This quarter I am teaching a class on How to Study the Bible, and from time to time I'd like to share some links relevant to the class. Here are a few from this week:

  • Three Tips for Better Bible Reading (HT: Steve Wolfgang). I especially like suggestions 2 and 3 (read books through at one sitting and read with editions that do not use chapter and verse divisions).
  • The Most (and Least) Bible Minded Cities. The American Bible Society and Barna did a survey of 100 US cities to gauge "Bible-mindedness" - a combination of how often the respondents read the word and how much the respondents claim to take the Bible as the source of truth. Most Bible-minded? Chattanooga TN. Least? Providence RI/New Bedford MA. Tampa/St Pete/Sarasota is #63.
  • New Edition of NASB. The Dutch Bible manufacturer Schuyler is producing a luxurious new edition of the NASB, available for purchase any day now. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Let My Restless Heart Remain Untamed

Yesterday while grabbing a bite I heard these lyrics on the restaurant radio:

I like to be a little wild
I like to raise a little cane
I wanna keep it on the edge 
And let my restless heart remain untamed 

I'm gonna live the way I love 
And love the way I live 
Walk the highest wire 
And stay out on the limb 
Away from any fences 
Free of any chains 
Unbound, untied, untamed 

I only want what I've got comin' 
I'll take the credit and the blame 
Even when I'm bent and broken 
I pray my spirit always stays untamed 

I'm gonna live the way I love 
And love the way I live 
Walk the highest wire 
And stay out on the limb 
Away from any fences 
Free of any chains 
Unbound, untied, untamed

Not being a country music fan, I was curious who sang this song - turns out that it is a Trace Adkins' tune. When I heard these lyrics, my mind went immediately to the story Jesus told in Luke 15 about the "prodigal son." If someone ever made a musical version of that parable, wouldn't these lyrics be perfect for the young man to sing as he collected his inheritance and set on his way?

All sin boils down to the desire to be autonomous, to call our own shots, whether it is eating fruit marked off limits by the Father, leaving the father's house to go to a far country,  or walking "the highest wire" "unbound, untied, untamed." But this journey always leads to disaster. When the prodigal was "bent and broken" the last thing he wanted was to remain "untamed." He wanted to be a slave in his father's house.

I don't know much about Trace Adkins. Ironically, I heard the words of his anthem to autonomy just a few days after he entered rehab for alcohol addiction. My heart goes out to him, as it does to any addict. The cruelest form of bondage is that which happens when we live as if we can be free of any restraint. 

Absolute autonomy is an illusion, just as the prodigal discovered when he left the father's house. But in the Father's house there is love, grace, dignity, and even a party, as long as we let our restless hearts find rest in Him.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Big Picture

Remembering The Big Picture

Over the last couple of weeks Kristi and I have been looking at some houses online that are for sale. A former student of mine is a realtor in Tampa, so he’s been sending us links to homes with a description and pictures. We decided to pick our five favorites, and compare lists and then narrow it down to what we had in common. This quickly turned into me putting my list away and just agreeing to look at the homes on Kristi’s list! Hey, you’ve seen my apartments and her house, so I think I’m making the right move.

We’ve also been looking the homes up on Google Maps (for those of you who are not into computers, it is a program that allows you to locate specific residences and even to see pictures). You can even determine the scale of the map, from as wide as the entire country, to as narrow as a street. You can even click something called “street level” and look around at the houses in the neighborhood. And as you can imagine, homes that look good in their individual descriptions don’t always look as inviting when you expand the picture to include the entire neighborhood.

Over the last few weeks we studied together about the birth of Jesus from the opening chapters of Matthew, a “street-level” view. I want to use the story of Jesus’ birth to illustrate the difference that expanding out to see the big picture can make.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Dealing with Discouragement During the Holidays

Dealing with Discouragement During the Holidays

If my Facebook feed was any indication of how the past year went, lots of people really struggled in 2013-
  • Loss of loved ones
  • Personal loneliness
  • Illness or financial setback

Complicating things is the time of year:
  • Dark, cold, gloomy weather has an impact on some worse than others
  • Seeing others enjoy lots of presents if you are short financially, or dealing with the reality of spending more than you had
  • Looking at happy family photos can really make loneliness more acute
  • This is a naturally reflective time of the year, easy to rehash mistakes and setbacks of the previous year

So I want to offer a word of encouragement, just some basic exhortations from Scripture that I hope can help.