Monday, August 30, 2004

WHERE I'M FROM

WHERE I'M FROM ...the first twenty years

I am from a hatchet, from a saxophone and a Living Bible.

I am from a house built with my own little hands, Alva's and Marcene's too.

I am from the lambs quarter before summer heat, the black berry bushes after the 4th of July.

I am from story telling and teasing, from Grandma Beulah and brother Alva and sister Marcene.

I am from frank candor and an Ozark turn of phrase.

From not getting enough attention and not worrying about what other people think.

I am from Cumberland Presbyterian church camp and Sunday School, from searching for a denomination to call home.

I'm from the Ozarks, roastin' ears, and cornbread-n-milk.

From the stock of Bert who preached and farmed and even became a vet, from the stock of Ross who worked hard and sacrified for his family, and the likes of Beulah who served her LORD and her family.

I am from rocky, dusty hills that's been in the family for years, but its been so long since I've been there that the ideal is more real that the substance that its made of.

I'M AM STILL...the second twenty years

I am still loving books, my computer and kids who like'm too.

I am still living with furniture that is early attic and late basement; but moving on from many apartments and military housing to live in our own home.

I am still traveling the roads with Barbara, and our five girls in tow.

I am still saying 'I was trying for a child not a boy' and still saying 'five girls is not really a lot'. What would we do without Annalee, Corrie, Beccah, Noelle or Elaine?

I am still loving to learn with my family, eat with my family and pray with my family.

Still learning to be a father and still trying to be fair.

Still seeking the Lord and his call on my life. Talking with my wife and daughters about their call too.

Still telling the five they can be any kind of missionary that they want to be.

I live in Glen Burnie, Maryland; but still I have a heart for the world.
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Hat Tip: Joe Missionary

Origial template to make your own can be found at Fragments ~ from Floyd
Images in words and pixels from a quiet valley in Floyd County, Virginia
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Sunday, August 29, 2004

In the days of the judges....

These are the opening words from the book of Ruth. We visited the Faith Presbyterian Church this morning and this was the text for this morning's sermon. It is really a description of days when Israel had judges and not kings. It was a time that men and women were basically to learn the Word of God and be directly under him. They only were given a king when they asked for one. Today, we have a lot of freedom relatively speaking. In order to use their freedom rightly, the children of Israel needed to know and love the law of the LORD. If they did that they could have the LORD as their king. If they did what was right in their own eyes, what followed was chaos. In fact, many did do what was right in their own eyes instead of what was right as told by the Word of God. If we want to live as Christ as our king, we need know and love His Word.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Hannah's Song

1 Samuel 2


Hannah's Prayer

1 Then Hannah prayed and said:

"My heart rejoices in the LORD ;
in the LORD my horn [1] is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
for I delight in your deliverance.

2 "There is no one holy [2] like the LORD ;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.

3 "Do not keep talking so proudly
or let your mouth speak such arrogance,
for the LORD is a God who knows,
and by him deeds are weighed.

4 "The bows of the warriors are broken,
but those who stumbled are armed with strength.
5 Those who were full hire themselves out for food,
but those who were hungry hunger no more.
She who was barren has borne seven children,
but she who has had many sons pines away.

6 "The LORD brings death and makes alive;
he brings down to the grave [3] and raises up.
7 The LORD sends poverty and wealth;
he humbles and he exalts.
8 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
and has them inherit a throne of honor.

"For the foundations of the earth are the LORD's;
upon them he has set the world.
9 He will guard the feet of his saints,
but the wicked will be silenced in darkness.

"It is not by strength that one prevails;
10 those who oppose the LORD will be shattered.
He will thunder against them from heaven;
the LORD will judge the ends of the earth.

"He will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed."

11 Then Elkanah went home to Ramah, but the boy ministered before the LORD under Eli the priest.


I recently read Baldwin's commentary on 1 Samuel discussing whether Hannnah composed extemporaneously or merely sang the song she already knew. If she composed it, the question becomes did she write it based on other compositions of the day or was it more original. I believe the dichotomy to be false. Most extemporaneous compositions are based on repeating patterns one has heard before. This is true of most public prayers. People who pray publicly repeat certain types of requests and phrases. Many of the country preachers I listened to growing up often could preach extemporaneously, but they had heard a lot of sermons. A part of how they knew the scripture was listening to a lot of other men preach during revival and camp meetings. Using the phrases she heard others use would have made the song less than it is, the Word of God.

Answer To Joe Missionary Olympic Story

To see my answer to Doh! An Olympic Moment check out the link.


Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Liberal Or Conservative

My good friend the Jollyblogger has been discussing the fact that someone used the "L" word in a discription of him. It is not clear what was meant and it seems that our presbytery, if I understand it correctly, is forming a committee of scholars to investigate the grammatical-historical significance of the use of the hyphen in New Zealand super-lapsarian discussions of post-modern doctrinal position on diversity. I think they are specializing their study on the usuage of the hyphen by bearded sign writers in the 1999 time frame or something. (Perhaps I've misread all that, check it out for yourself.)

Besides that, my daughter asked me yesterday whether we were liberal or conservative. That surprized me. She had a friend over who had just come back to a George W. rally and was all excited about the election. While I vote conservative, to me it is more important that the American free election system exist. If the American two party system was to go away, I beleive it would be a great loss. Also, I have to be careful that my daughters don't get too dark a picture about their relatives who are staunch Democrates. So I told my daughter, there are two types of conservatives; social conservatives and fiscal conservatives. I'm both.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Connections

My wife and I got away this past weekend to Delaware. We have been married for 21 years. Since the girls have gotten older, the older ones can care for the younger for a weekend. It's nice. I thought we were going to have trouble finding lodging however, it worked out. The Lord blessed us by helping us find Deep Branch Retreat. Bob and Deb Dickie have the nicest B and B. While Barbara loved their French toast dish, I favored the Mexican style eggs and sausage. I'm probably would mess up the recipe name so I'll leave that out, but it was taste nonetheless. They buy the spice from a local restaurant owner who imports the spice from Mexico.

During the days we traveled into the Rehoboth Beach and Lewes (pronounced Lewis) but spent most of our time at the Cape Henlopen State Park.

The first day we played Disc Golf at Cape Henlopen. The course is said to be craaazzzy, and it is. There is no way to throw directly to the holes because of the dunes and pines. We decided to make it a nine-hole course for us since after an hour and fifteen minutes, that was enough walking and we were not making par. But we had fun. The Atlantic waters were as cold as the disc golf course was hot. I starting reading a book on The Chess Artist. I'm enjoying it. It combines travel stories, history and of course facts about chess. The travel and history are probably connecting better with me than some of the other content.

The second day we went to Henlopen again but this time on the Rehoboth Beach side. Before we reached the park we saw the strangest bicycle. It had four wheels and the two peddlers sat side by side. Sort of a rickshaw, sort of a car, sort of a bicycle built for two. I was trying to drive but I saw it out of the corner of my eye. I thought, that dad is working hard to push that bike up the hill. Barb said, “That looks like Jeff Haynie." It was Jeff and Stacy Haynie with Conner and Ethan. I beeped, they stopped, and we talked. Small world story.

The third day we went to church at New Covenant Presbyterian. Our former pastor was Rev. Larry Wanaselja. He now pastors the church in the Beach community. He blessed us with an excellent message on vision. By the way, if you go to the link I provided, you can see the gift our church had given him prominently displayed in his office. Pastor Larry sort of has his own blog going on his church web site called Daily Musings. His posting on "A Fraternity" for August 23, 2004 was something I could relate to quite a bit.

We were far from our home, but we found some of our friends from home. It was strange to see people that we knew from Glen Burnie in a serendipitous fashion. When we decided on the beach get away, I did not know the connections we would find. God is in control of the events, and the relationships in our lives.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Song Of Solomon Observations

I always like to investigate difficult issues in the scripture. My family and I have this understanding that if you bring a difficult Bible question my way, I will research and do my best to answer a question. So I'm asked about, 1 Corinthians 15:29 "Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?" I don't have all the answers but I enjoy researching and finding answers. I don't think I know for certain what "baptized for the dead" means for sure, but I have done some good research on the passage. One of the passages that has been difficult for many Christians to interpret is Song of Solomon. You would think that it is a love song and we all know about those so... Well, there are a variety of reasons why people don't take it in a straightforward fashion. For one, why is it included as scripture if there is not some deeper meaning other than a love song? Another issue is how do we apply it to the Christian? While many people have taken it in some symbolic way, in recent years more interpreters are taking it as a love song. I read The Song of Solomon (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries) by G. Lloyd Carr, D.J. Wiseman. I do like reading commentaries. In some ways I was surprised what I learned by reading this commentary. Perhaps I started out reading the commentary because it dealt with a difficult passage to interpret, but I ended up learning other stuff.

There are certain genres of books sold at the Christian bookstores. There are those books on how to improve your marriage. What I found in Song of Solomon was quite different from the advise in those marriage books. Given that my good friend the Jollyblogger is writing his series on The Purpose Driven Sex Life, I thought I would respond with my own blog entry on Song Of Solomon.


Romance Is About Imagination Not Biology

There is a lot of analogies and similes in Song of Solomon. I don't think that is just a literary issue. It is that humans are made for relationships, and a part of that is romantic relationships. If you read some of the Christian books like Ed Wheat's books or Tim La Haye's books, you might think biology was the big issue. I think there is a desire to somehow sanctify the romantic relationships via biological science.

We are made by God.
God made us biological creatures.
God said that the biological aspect of our being is good.
Therefore, we can talk about sex without blushing.


There is some truth to this syllogism, however, this syllogism is not the main message of any passage in scripture. It is one of the major ways to explain sexual relations in the Christian literature on the market today. If we are going to discuss an issue that the scripture has little to say about, we often must discuss foundational issues and reason from those issues. However, when we have a topic that is discussed directly, why should our major issues be different than those of scripture? This is an issue that is discussed directly in Song of Solomon.

Sex education in the American public school system has defined the boundaries of the topic. It is a discussion of biology. This can be used to make the whole discussion a issue of biological facts and does not involve morality. (I can hear the attitudes and voices of teachers from my youth, "If someone wants to bring up that side issue of morality we will address it of course all in the spirit of open discussion and freedom".) At its best, the biological approach helps a person with information so that he or she understands cause and effect, and so that he or she is not manipulated by someone with more information than himself. At its worst, the biological approach inundates a child with information that he or she should not use for a number of years and lowers natural inhibitions that should help to protect the child from predators.

The Song of Solomon addresses the issue of romantic love. The issue at stake is not sex or biology, but chemistry between Solomon and his lover. Of course I mean the spark between the husband and wife, not bio-chemical reactions. Instead of a how-to book, the scripture gives us a love poem. Perhaps there is wisdom that some things are "better caught than taught". The mind, imagination, and thought life are the most important aspects of the romantic relationship. The husband-wife lovers are to be enamored with one another. It is exciting. This excitement is not a mere arousal of a biological response. They can't stop thinking about one another.

Community Support Of The Relationship

Something I did not expect to find in Song of Solomon is an aspect where the community rejoices in relationship of Solomon and his lover. Romantic relationships are both extremely private and at the same time something that is really quite public. In Song of Solomon there are those who sort of cheer on the relationship of the couple. The NIV puts them under the heading of friends.


Friends
We rejoice and delight in you;
we will praise your love more than wine. Song of Solomon 1:4b


And there are several other passages that come from the voice of these friends. The rejoicing of the community is a part of the relationship. Bad manifestations of this aspect of romantic relationships would be things like self-appointed matchmakers and busybodies. Voyeurism would be another bad manifestation of this aspect of the romantic relationship. Good manifestations would be rejoicing at a wedding with the couple. Telling a young man who just became engaged how blessed and fortunate he is. Telling a couple who is celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary how they make such a handsome couple.

Epistimology and Revelation

Of course for the modern, there is no such thing as revelation. All that one can trust is what can be valided through the senses and by deductive reasoning. Knowledge which has its source in revelation is outside those two systems is a priori knowledge, and of course is a trump card. One arguement that the modern has against the idea of revelation is that it is not open to other forms of validation.

The scientific method is a way to use deductive reasoning to make sense of experimental data. The scientist cross checks theories with observations and experiments. Experiments and observations are cross checked with systematic thinking; definitions, descriptions and deductions.

For quite some time I have been thinking about the nature of revelation. I don't beleive that the writers of scripture simply put the pen in hand and it all just flowed out. It was NOT some sort of divine automatic stream of writing in which the writer had no control. I really beleive God's acts of providence and miricles cross checked the prophet's and apostle's Words. The words gave interpretation to the events. (Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection was God's ultimate divine act but without interpretation of the events, it is simply a political murder.) In a sense, there is a cross checking validation of revelation. It is very different from that of the scientific method but cross checking none the less.

For the Christian with a modern point of view, they often would like to cross check revealed knowledge in the Bible with archeological data and other scientific evidence. While not entirely off track, the cross checking should be from within revelation itself, not from an outside source.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Qui-Gon


You're very in touch with nature and greatly value living things, even the more inferior creatures. Your calm demeanor is admired by many and you don't sweat the small stuff and things you can't change. You're kind, quiet, and strong.
If I were a Star Wars character, I would be:
Qui-Gon Jinn. You're very in touch with nature and greatly value living things, even the more inferior creatures. Your calm demeanor is admired by many and you don't sweat the small stuff and things you can't change. You're kind, quiet, and strong.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Never Heard Of Course On How To Be A Waitress

This started out as a long comment on Joe Missionary's blog. I wrote too much and the length was rejected by Halo comments. That's fine not a complaint. Just explaining why it sounds like a comment, not a posting.

Some things are learned informally. A lawyer is taught law at law school, but taught about performing in the court through on the job training. I have yet to see a single christian book on how to conduct the perfect funeral. Pastors learn this by 1.) attending funerals 2.) figuring out how they think it should be done. Other than that, no one is really systemizing the tricks of the trade. One area that has been the realm of mothers and fathers but has been intruded upon is the area of childhood discipline. Don't get me wrong the books are fine, I've read them and will read more books on simular topics. I'm just saying that in reality there is a certain amount of trial and error and wisdom that must be passed from one generation to another. Energetic children are often the off spring of parents who were the same way. Often the parent knows the child's tendencies because they had the same issues. Shy and retiring children are not pushed because their parents dealt with the same issues. However, not uncommonly, a parent has a different disposition than his or her children, then he does need some help figuring out the issues particular to his child. But usually there are family members with the same tendencies. What I'm getting at is the information, techniques and strategies for dealing children are tailored to the characteristics of the family when insight are taught one generation to another rather than from the experts. Having said that, again, it sounds like a good book. Sounds like helpful advise.

Two For The Price Of One

When Joe The Missionary hosts Rebeccah Writes, how can you beat that. I don't read tons of blogs, but these two are on my daily list.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Both Stars And The Meek In The Body Of Christ

As I look at the sports which will be a part of the Olympic competition I see a lot of things which are not normally thought of as serious sports. There is table tennis. I remember table tennis as ping-pong and is best played in a church basement. I like ping-pong because it allows for theological discussion while trying to keep the ball in motion. People who are too serious about the game don't get the benifits of the theological aspects of ping-pong. Badminton is one of those sport most people know more from the birdie and its odd shape rather than anything else. I had a gym teacher who taught us the game as a serious sport, on the level of basketball or football. My wife continues to insist that it is more on the level of tiddly-winks. I think she should play and find out if she likes it. But if the Olympics can have these two favorite sports of mine, why can't they have Frisbee (tm) Golf. The official name for the sport is actually disc golf, but I have to call those things frisbees (tm). What would the Olympics be without these more colorful sports options? I would think that it would be less than the Olympics. Sure in one sense it is difficult to put ping-pong gold medal on the same level as setting a world record for the 100 meter dash, but it is indeed an accomplishment and an athletic one at that.

Just as there are various sports, some odd, some well known, which make up the Olympics so the body of Christ is made up of some folks who are different and yet they have their own place in the body. Church growth literature often borrows from the world of business marketing and business leadership processes. However one area that is different in the church from business realm is that the church does NOT recruit only the most talented people. The church wants both the best and brightest and the humble and meek. Both those with money and those with a "fixed income". The church is not trying to find all basketball players from the NBA. Rather the church needs both the badminton player and the soccer player.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Olympic Tracker

Well I wrote on sports already today, but I have to write again. Rebeccah Writes added a "Nifty Olympic Table" and I liked it so I'm doing it too. Thanks Rebeccah.

Mighty In Word And Deed

As a child I was terrible at sports. I was uncoordinated. My ego was somewhat fragil. I just could not seem to do the right thing on the baseball field. I did not know it at the time but while I was right handed, I was also left eye dominate. This can throw off attempts at throwing and catching balls. Being out of shape did not help all those problems.

As an adult, I joined the military, I never felt that I was athletic but all the exercise which is a part of the job did help. I never reached a maximum score on my physical fitness test, but I wanted to. In the military, being in shape is a part of the authority that a person may or may not have. It is one element in a complex set of variables which determine whether a person's leadership is taken seriously. I think this authority and leadership being connected in some cases to athletic ability is why evangelicals often highlight the testimonies of athletes.

I'm the sort of person who wants to contribute, I want to be a leader. In other words, I want to be the hero. But lacking athletic ability, certain people, not all, don't take me seriously.

I found it somewhat ironic that two of my regular favorite places on the web both addressed the same issue, heros. Check out the Jollyblogger's article which talks about Heros. The other article on heros is in PCA zine, The Story That Won't Go Away by Alex Wainer.

As the people of God we do need to ensure that we speak the word of God. God does raise up people for certain hours. To discuss these people in a way that glosses over their faults and sin is to take up the world's model for leadership. In a sense, we create a hero counter-culture rather than point to God's grace in our lives. Heros in the best sense point to Christ, the child who would come from woman and deleiver us. Another good thing about heros is that they point to the providence of God in raising up men and women for a certain hour. Heros also point to the empowering work of the Holy Spirit. At their worst, heros speak of human strength. Heros are merely entertainment. Just another game. (My Jim Elliot can whip your secular culture hero.)

Personally, my life-long struggle with athletic inability has brought me grace. No other area in my life has brought my limitations to the forefront so that I was forced to deal with them. While I'm limited in all of my capacities, athletic limitations have been the ones that were there first and in some senses, I struggle with everyday, even though I don't want to.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Bargaining With God

In studying this passage, I was a little concerned why Hannah would bargain with God. People do bargain with God. I'm not sure how to bargain with God. In order to bargain one needs bargaining chips. What do I have that he does not already own? What do I have that he has not giving me? What do I have that he can not take?

1 Samuel 1:10,11 10 In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD . 11 And she made a vow, saying, "O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head."



In trying to research bargaining with God, I have found that most people don't want deal with the topic. Its true that we don't have anything to give. On the other hand bargaining with God seems to be many places in the scripture. Abraham bargains with God about the future of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Moses bargains with God not to destroy the children of Israel. In a sense the bargaining is a communication tool for God to talk with man. God often asks people questions in the scriptures. He is not lacking knowledge, he is omniscient. God asks us questions so we are prepared to hear the answers. His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are not our ways so sometimes he reveals himself step by step bringing us along to the point where we need to be. God was not lacking a priest and so he was so glad when Hannah offered up her son. He was working in her heart. He was preparing her for service. He was preparing Samuel for service. While sometimes people try to bargain with God it is just them pulling out all stops before they loose what they hold dear, at other times it is a part of God preparing them or others for service and grace.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Head and Shoulders

1 Samuel 9:2 He had a son named Saul, an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites-a head taller than any of the others.


A preacher many years ago used the phrase "head and shoulders" as a description of the government Israel had under Saul because Saul was "head and shoulders" taller than everyone else and because he depended on his own smarts and strength. To a certain degree the preacher mentioned "head and shoulders" as a way of refering to the shampoo in order to make it easy to remember. I have no problem at all using the phrase as an attention getting devise, but on the other hand, I don't see the connections between the description of Saul and the type of dependance on human strength that was exibited by Saul. I'm not sure that this is good exegesis, but it seems to fit anyway. While it is very conveinent for the preacher to point out the correlation between Saul's description and the his spiritual state, is that what the original human author meant and is that what the original recepiants of the text would have thought of by the text. I'm quite tempted to use the teaching myself because Saul's life does show one while blessed of God in some ways, but also shows a dependancy on self instead of a dependancy on God.

I often find people who look to human forms of power as ultimate power. Power is fleeting. I remember a story by a Army officier who retired. He went to the military hospital and gave his ID card to the new solder behind the counter. The soldier said, "How can I help you buddy?" Of course those who know the military, this is very inappropriate way to address an officier, but the young soldiers saw the man as a retiree, not an officier. One day, "Sir, yes sir". The next day, "How can I help you buddy?"

God's power is not fleeting. His strength is not for a moment. His wisdom will not disapate due to alzheimer. His wealth will never be depleted. I want Christ as my head and lean on His shoulders.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

I Don't Think I'm A Snob But This Quiz Claims I'm a.....

HASH(0x8ad9eac)
You speak eloquently and have seemingly read every
book ever published. You are a fountain of
endless (sometimes useless) knowledge, and
never fail to impress at a party.
What people love: You can answer almost any
question people ask, and have thus been
nicknamed Jeeves.
What people hate: You constantly correct their
grammar and insult their paperbacks.


What Kind of Elitist Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla


Hat Tip to Uncle Sam's Cabin

Notes On Jude

Verse 1 – 2: Who is the author here? While it really does not identify him specifically, the person that the early church would have thought the context is Jude, the brother of Jesus. Why does he not say that? The same as James, the brother of Jesus who does not call on his kinship, but says he is a servant of Jesus Christ. That is the most important aspect of his relationship. Matthew 12:48

The letter is not specific about how the destination is. The tone of calling the Dear Friends suggest that this is not a general letter to everyone. The men who have slipped is a specific event. Though one could argue that it was happening in multiple congregations, the simplest way to interpret the text is that this is written to a specific congregation or set of congregations which had a relationship with Jude.

Called – How we came to be Christ's
Loved – Our current state with him
Kept – What will maintain our relationship with God

Mercy – Being given a break
Peace – Not at war, internally or externally
Love – Strong affection or desire for someone

Verse 3 – 4: The faith that Jude is wanting them to content for is not an official confession but the teaching that they received. This teaching came in the form of the preaching of the gospel. Preaching is the authoritative declaration of the Word of God. What is the distinction? The main point of the letter is that there will be false teachers, but it really does not address specific doctrinal error. The core issue is the false teacher phenomena. That this phenomena is expected. The false teachers can be identified by two things; teachings which change the essence of the faith and a life that is not godly. While the book is teaching the audience and therefore us to contend for the faith, it is not teaching us to be contentious. We as well as the early church must distinguish between different forms which do and those that do not maintain the essence of the faith.

Verse 5: Jude starting in verse five begins a long list of references to scripture, other Jewish literature of the time and analogies from nature. The two non-biblical Jewish writings are The Assumption Of Moses (9) and the Apocalypse of Enoch (14). These are somewhat problematic. Is the writer saying these are on par with scripture, were they left out of the cannon? Well, I would point out that Paul quotes in Titus 1:12 Crete's own poets. In this passage, Paul is quoting for a point of reference for the people. So we need to be careful about reading into the passage more support for these writers than necessary. I might quote Augustine or Chuck Swindoll but that does not mean that I hold them as inspired in the same sense as scripture. Also, the analogies from scripture are not thought to be revelatory but merely points from which discuss the





Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Outline for 1 Samuel Chapter One

1 Samuel 1:1-2 Elkanah Is A Devote Levite From The Days Of The Judge

Cross reference (cf.) With Judges 13:2; 17:1; 19:1, 1 Chronicles 6:33-34. Ramah means hilltop as in hilltop fortress town. Elkanah was not Ephraimite by tribe but by geography; the same way Bethlehem was in the tribe of Judeah's region but in Ephrath (cf. Genesis 35:16,19; Ruth 4:11; Micah 5:2).

1 Samuel 1: 3-8 Elkanah Is A Devout Levite With A Disfunctional Family

cf. Genesis 4:19, 16:1-16; Genesis 21:8-21; Genesis 29:14b-24. The phrase “better than 10 sons” may have been an idiom used to comfort. (cf. Ruth 4:15)

1 Samuel 1: 9-18 Hannah Pours Out Her Soul ; Eli Observes Her Heartfelt Prayer


1 Samuel 1:19-20 The LORD Listens To Hannah's Prayer

Samu – El = Listen – God = God Has Heard

1 Samuel 1:21-28 Hannah Gives Her Son To The LORD

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

How Do You Oppose A False Doctrine Without Becoming Stick In The Mud

In my small group we are studying "post cards of the Bible". I took the title from a series of Chuck Swindoll a few years ago. That is the only connection between his series and my own. We are studying all books in the Bible under three chapters long. I may make it under five chapters if we are still enjoying it. The book of Jude is mostly about warning about false prophets. It does not seem to address a particular false teaching or practice. I know a lot of groups are very inward focused and narrow. I started to encourage the group not to be that way, and I realized I was starting to talk them out of the meaning of the text of Jude. So by talking about the difference between being too narrow and letting a false teach harm us we did keep our balance. There is a lot of teaching in the New Testament about false teachers. For us, I think it is problematic to teach these passages without pointing fingers at a particular group. In reality, false teachers talking about in the scripture are from within.

2 Peter 2:1
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Imagination

I read a blog which asked questions about role playing games. The young man who wrote the blog was offended at the harsh tones used by some to denounce Dungeons and Dragons. I have not had much experience with Dungeons and Dragons. The last time I really had any discussions with anyone was my Senior year in high school so I'm not sure it really is the same game that it was then. Since I am under qualified to discuss Dungeons and Dragons, I leave that alone for now.

When people are trying to decide right from wrong, many people attempt to make a list of things to "do" and things "not to do". This is usually in the form of don't drink, don't smoke, don't watch R rated movies, don't dance, don't etc....
Often these lists of "do's" and "don'ts" address issues which are not directly addressed in the Bible. People do want to know the bottom line, can I play Dungeons and Dragons or not. In reality, the list becomes an additional law besides the moral law, the 10 Commandments. We need to be careful about adding to the list. On the other hand there are a lot of things that have moral implications which are not addressed in the 10 Commandments. While I believe in one sense they are addressed, in another sense things like illegal drugs, pornography, movies, gothe clothing and a whole list of other topics are not addressed in their modern form. The underlying issues are not new but the forms are.

Role On Brother

The core to a role playing game is that it is a game that involves the imagination. Some people enjoy that but others don't. Role playing takes a lot of forms besides those in a game. For instance, there are plays, skits, opera on the artistic side of the house. But on the more practical side, astronauts, pilots and soldiers go through simulations and exercises which are in their essence people playing roles. Firemen, ambulance drives and policemen also go through similar training. We even do this when we have a fire drill. Sometimes we play roles to have fun; sometimes to practice for life situations. Playing roles is a human activity that few people could really say is sin.

One thing about role playing, a person can act in a way that he does not normally get to do. This is the point of a fire drill. However, in the world of fantasy, many people like to change their persona through costume or role playing in order to do things they would not normally be allowed to do. While not everyone who goes to a night club is in this category, some people who would normally dress and act quite conservatively, once they dress the part, they act outrageous once properly in the role. In other words, playing the role helps them loose some inhibitions. If loss of inhibitions helps someone overcome a fear, that is an healthy thing. My creative drama teacher told the story of how as a teacher she helped an extremely shy little girl. The girl would not say a word to anyone. The teacher used an orange sheet as a prop for her class. The teacher gave the sheet to each child and asked what they imagined they were. One girl wadded it up and held it like a baby, she was a mommy. A boy draped it over his shoulder, he was a Roman soldier. When the extremely shy girl's turn came the teacher threw the sheet in the air. The teacher let it fall on the girl and she said, “I’m a pumpkin". The world of make believe helped her to participate in the group. But loosing inhibitions is not always healthy, especially if the inhibition keeps one from sinning. It is not unusual to used role playing as a way to engage in illicit sexual behaviors. Violent angry feelings are played out in certain games. Another area that people would not normally avoid but when playing a role allow themselves to dabble in is the occult.

Deuteronomy 18:9-13
Detestable Practices
9 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in [1] the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD , and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. 13 You must be blameless before the LORD your God.


My own exposure to Dungeon's and Dragons is when my good friend in high school got involved. He was smart and a good Christian. His playing the roles made him comfortable with going to a fortune teller after his SAT. (He wanted the fortune teller to tell him what he made.) While I'm not saying that everyone who plays D and D will do such a thing, dabbling in the occult is more acceptable once the it is done repeatedly in a game. And I want to again say that I do not know how much the occult is a part of D and D anymore. It might be a very different game than it was in the late 70's/early 80's.

Conclusion

It would hardly be possible to remove all role playing from our lives, nor would it be desirable. When we do play roles, it is okay to do so to have fun and for training purposes. However, we should not allow ourselves to let role playing be an excuse to sin.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Visionary v. Faithful

Joe Missionary has a blog swap with Spy Journal. I'm not sure how to reference the recursive nature of his blog swap, whose is it any way. I like this posting on Joe Missionary by Spy Journal, and I wanted to expand on a particular topic. I agree there is some worthy management techniques, but we should be careful how we go about employeeing these techniques and embracing these techniques. That issue in particular that IMHO needs expanding is the development of church vision statements. In the 80's and 90's there was a lot of seminars, books, training sessions on building vision in the business environment. Often times this was merely a lot of hype about having a directed discussion which made people a part of the process. While discussion and dialog are good ways of envigorating thinking, of course not everything everyone says can be the direction of the organization. Not everyone has sound ideas and not everyone should direct the group.

How does someone develop mission and vision?

Mission

Starting with a mission statement, a church does not develop its mission, it is something received from Christ the head of the church through His inspired Word. I used to attend a church that brought in an outside consultant to help develop its mission statement. After a lot of questionaires, small group meetings and discussion, the church leadership developed a mission statement which said,"...blank church...mission is to glorify God by building Biblical disciples". Not a bad statement, but I really beleive that making Biblical disciples is a core mission for all churches. There was not nothing distinctive about this statement in comparison to other Bible beleiving churches.

Vision

In regard to vision statements, not every congregation needs a transcending vision that stretches every one. Some churches are stable in their life cycle. The members are regulars. The hopes for growth are limited by populations of the community. Such churches are good and glorify God. But planting a new church which seeks to reach the unreached for Christ does need vision; vision and strategy. When Paul was seeking to reach the Romans "he long to come unto them" and "often planned to come unto" them, but was prevented. God gave him vision to "preach where Christ had not been preached before". Rather than being built on a vision building techniques used by the business world, I believe that the man of God who is called to establish a new work needs a burden from the Lord to do the work. The effort must be bathed in prayer. These pioneers who do things like plant churches or establish Bible translation missionary organizations are those who I call driven by their calling. Those who maintain an established work, day in and day out are what I call faithful to their calling. The visionary is driven by the burden to preach God's word where it has not been preached before. The pastor who is faithful to his calling cares for the people in fair and bad weather alike. God has given different gifts to the body and both of these are essential. Those who have a burden for a new work do not necessarily have a clear written statement, but they do have something clear in their mind that they can communicate to others. Vision statements are helpful if leaders use them to communicate to the group where they are going. If stability is all that is called for, then a vision statement is merely management fluff. Those who do not need a vision statement should ignore the fad. Those have a vision for a new work of God may benifit by clarifying that vision in the form of a statement and build understanding of that vision through directed discussions and gaining insights from the wisdom of the group.