One year on WordPress

Well, I thought today was my one year on WordPress but it was actually yesterday.  I made the switch to wordpress after two slow years on blogger.  Man, is the difference huge or what?  While on blogger for two years I got some 800 hits.  In two months on WP, I cleared that.   Now I am not nearly as far along as, say, Nick at RDWOT or even TC Robinson over at New Leaven.  Each of these guys have cleared 100,000 hits easily if they are not yet over that in the 200’s.   Me, after a year on WP, I’m at a whopping 26,943 views with the most hits in one day being what others get in a fraction of an hour at 500.

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1 Peter 1:3-12, what’s the main verb?

1 Peter 1:3-12 is is one sentence in the Greek – so say the scholars (I saw Schriner and Green make this comment, not sure about others).  But I look in my cpy of the UBS 4 and I see period marks (v 5; 9; 11; 12).  So is it one sentence or no?  If it is one sentence, what would say is the main verb (or main thought of the sentence)?

defining salvation

How do you all define or explain salvation? 

Schriner in his NAC commentary on 1-2 Peter in regards to 1 Peter 1: 5 writes that salvation can be defined as being saved from God’s judgement or wrath on the last day (cf 1 Pet 4:17; Romans 5:9; 1 Thess 5:9). 

How might you all elaborate on this?

New Book: Listening to the Spirit in the Text

listening-to-the-spiritAt the AZ District Council this last week, I was browsing the bookstore at the church building where we met and saw that it was the typical church book store – a few Bibles (believe it or not, both TNIV’s and ESV’s were sold here so that was a plus in showing balance) and then mostly books geared to the average reader (popular level).  As usual they had the “Left Behind” shelf, I suppose, to sell stuff more than anything, but really they need to be more careful about what they sell – we want to educate people in the church not denigrate them.  Of course too, there was next to nothing on the scholarly side except….  Gordon Fee’s Listening to the Spirit in the Text (Eerdman’s, 2000)!  Perhaps they had Fee’s How to Read the Bible for All it’s Worth and maybe the How to Choose a Translation book, but I can’t remember for sure.   So, what did I do?  Of course, I bought Listening to the Spirit When you find a book like this, and it’s the only copy they have, if you snooze, you lose

To me it seems like this would be a great text use in an exegetical methods class at the graduate level because it is the model of nearly supreme exegetical method and application by none other than one of the leading NT scholars in the world today, Gordon D. Fee.  Also, solid exegetical method requires that we listen to the Holy Spirit and what he is saying in and through the Biblical text.  I look forward to sitting and drinking in the wealth of exposition found in these pages.   One will have to be careful – he’s a Pentecostal!  What?   A Pentecostal who is among the leading New Testament Scholars in the world today??!! How can that be?  Well, there’s another one people hardly realize, (probably), Craig Keener, of whom I imagine many a pastor has his IVP Bible Background Commentary on their shelves.  There are others out there too you know, they just don’t necessarily go about waving their “I’m a Pentecostal” flag in everyone’s face as some Pentecostals tend to do. 

So what kind of book is it?  It is a complation of essays that are both written to be read in a book or a common journal (Regent College’s journal Crux) and written to be read for a lecture – he notes he intentionally resisted editing his manuscripts for the book – he wanted to keep the feel of the lectures and not smooth them out for the book.  These essays reflect on things, that at the time, Fee had been reflecting on in his own thinking – primarily, they reflect Fee’s “interests in Pauline studies and especially in the role of the Spirit in Paul’s own spiritual life and in that of his churches” (vii).  His first chapter gets a the very heart of things for him: “that the Spiritituality of the biblical text should be part of our historical investigation – and obedeince – as New Testament exegetes” (vii).

AZ District Council (April 21-23)

We’re down in Phoenix Arizona for the AZ District Council of the Assemblies of God being held at Radiant Church in Surprise, Arizona.  Basically Disctirct Council is when pastors in the istrict get together and deal with business issues related to the District (for example this year our secretary treasurer is retiring so we have to replacee him) along with getting to network and encourage one another and so on.  Tonight is the ordination serivec where those being granted ordination and or a ministerial lisence will be recognized.  Tomorrow there will be breakout sessions that talk about church related issues.  Perhaps I’ll share about the ones I decide to attend.

on the value of chaplaincy

At little bit about my own background as to why I am putting up this blog post.  In June 2006, towards the end of my time in seminary, I learned my older brother David was dying of brain cancer.  My wife Debbie and I were far enough along in our MDiv work that we could essentially finish the degree through some independent study – we had finished the core courses that tied us to the seminary so we decided to move closer to my brother so we cold be close to him in the last year of his life.  Well, he was in San Marcos, CA at the time and we decided to live in Glendale, AZ since Debbie’s family lives in AZ and so I could participate in a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) course to fill in a counseling requirement for the MDiv.  Generally one needs to complet a minimum of 4 units of CPE to qualify for most chaplaincy work.  I only completed the introductory unit and if I had the chance I should have gone through and completed the full residency (4 units).   It’s invalueable to the pastoral ministry.

All that to say I can appreciate the following article on the value of hospital chaplaincy and want to pass it on so you all too can have a basic understanding of chaplaincy and it’s particular importance in the hospital setting – as this article will show, chaplains don’t just minister to the dying (end of life issues), they provide a key element of balance to the clinical team: the provision of pastoral care and a sense of humanity and dignity to the hospital patient.


The value of hospital chaplains

By Daniel Sokol
Medical ethicist

The National Secular Society has called for an end to NHS funding for hospital chaplains, arguing the £40m annual cost could be better spent. But a medical ethicist argues they play a key role.

The patient, a middle-aged woman, arrived in A&E complaining of a severe headache. She spoke in a voice both soft and filled with terror. So sudden and painful was the headache that she woke up in the middle of the night and vomited several times. A CT scan revealed a brain haemorrhage, a blood vessel had ruptured in her brain. ” More often than not, doctors are strangers at the bedside ” After reviewing the scan, a doctor told the patient that the neurosurgeons were on their way. The A&E was in full steam, with dozens of patients waiting to be seen. “Is there anything else you need?” asked the doctor, at the end of the three minute consultation. The answer was short: “Just pray for me”.

Lonely wait:
These words could easily have been ignored or met with a sympathetic smile, but a colleague had the insight to call the hospital chaplain.

” As a non-believer, I was skeptical of pastoral care ” Although a busy emergency department is a hub of activity, it can be a long and lonely wait for patients. The chaplain kept the patient company at a time when she needed it most. The doctors and nurses were too busy to spend more than a few minutes with each patient. The patient was tearful and frightened, aware that blood was leaking into her brain and that the outcome was uncertain. The chaplain soothed and comforted the patient, praying with her. It is hard to overstate how helpful that chaplain was to the patient and the clinical team.

As a non-believer, I was skeptical of pastoral care. My experiences as a hospital ethicist have changed my views.

Holistic care:

Pastoral services can make a world of difference to some patients, relatives and healthcare staff. ” At times, the patient is not viewed as a person but a disease or a constellation of symptoms ” Modern healthcare struggles to provide holistic care. There are too many patients and too few healthcare workers.

Consultations are expeditious.

At times, the patient is not viewed as a person but a disease or a constellation of symptoms, shuttled efficiently from one specialist to another.  More often than not, doctors are strangers at the bedside. And while many clinicians have a wonderful bedside manner, others are less socially gifted, feeling more at ease in the technical aspects of their job. Hospital chaplains can usually spend more time with patients and contribute to the ideal of a holistic approach to patient care. The patient feels valued as an individual.

Important expertise:

Furthermore, chaplains possess expertise in dealing with emotionally distressing situations. In another instance, the clinical team decided that aggressive care was no longer benefiting an elderly patient with bowel cancer. She was dying. We called the family to discuss the decision to withdraw life support and provide ‘comfort care’. The presence of a hospital chaplain in that poignant family meeting was invaluable. When the clinical team left the room, the chaplain stayed behind and prayed with the distraught family. ” in a healthcare system that can appear like a giant, impersonal factory, removing another element of humanity and compassion will be a regrettable loss ” When the life support was removed a few hours later, the chaplain was also present. I have no doubt that, without her, it would have been much harder to communicate the decision to the family, withdraw care, and help the relatives cope with their loss. In this last case, the family agreed with the medical team’s suggestion to withdraw life support. In some situations, however, there is disagreement between clinicians and patients and their relatives. Parents, for example, may object on religious grounds to let their terminally ill son off the ventilator until the bitter end. In these tragic situations, all parties suffer, not least the clinical team who may feel that they are torturing the patient.

Huge help:

In these cases, a hospital chaplain from the relatives’ own faith can be immensely helpful. ” when deciding whether to reduce funding for hospital chaplains, we need to ask ourselves if this will cause more overall harm to patient care than good ” The chaplain can clarify the religious positions on the issue, dispel misunderstandings, and reduce tensions between parties. Of course, some patients will not budge from their deep-seated religious convictions, but in some cases chaplains will reveal solutions to hitherto intractable disagreements and avoid the use of the courts (a most welcome result for all, especially cash-strapped NHS Trusts). There is a need for more research on the activities and value of hospital chaplains. However, not all that is valuable can be captured by the usual research methods prized by the scientifically-minded. It is difficult to measure intangible benefits such as the comfort given to the terrified woman with the brain haemorrhage. As in any intervention, when deciding whether to reduce funding for hospital chaplains, we need to ask ourselves if this will cause more overall harm to patient care than good. While I do not know how much harm will result from fewer hospital chaplains, I have little doubt that in a healthcare system that can appear like a giant, impersonal factory, removing another element of humanity and compassion will be a regrettable loss.

* Daniel Sokol is a medical ethicist at St George’s, University of London, and Director of Applied Clinical Ethics at Imperial College London.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/04/08 13:34:05 GMT


In the Mail: UPS/Doorstep Edition – WJK books!

Yup – I am just as bad as other people – I get too many books!  This afternoon the UPS guy dropped off a set of books for me I requested from WJK Publishers:

hebrew-bibleSandra L. Gravett, Karla G. Bohmbach, F. V. Greifenhagen, and Donald C. Polaski’s An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible: A Thematic Approach (WJK, 2008).   This book begins with the most basic questions: from where and when did the Hebrew Bible originate, how was it written, and how did people read it?  And in focusing on the fundamental question of the canon – who are we? – it first gives much attention to the issue of identity.  Then it explores how the ancient Israelites organized themselves in terms of power and state, and finally, delinates the larger questions of God and ideology within the canon.  The resulting study is in line with other examinations of ancient culture but gives more attention to the religious finction of the Hebrew Bible.   It’s especially designed for teachers.

reconstructingAndrew Purves’ Resonstructing Pastoral Theology: A Christological Approach (WJK, 2004).   In this book, Purves argues that pastoral theology and care have long ignored Scripture and Christian doctrine and become secularized in both method and goal [i can attest to this having been through a CPE course], Andrew Purves presents a Christological basis for ministry and pastoral theology. Purves reconstructs the discipline of pastoral theology by identifying two primary theological categories for pastoral work: Christology, in which Jesus is both the Word and act of God addressing us and the word and act of humankind addressing God and Calvin’s doctrine of our union with Christ, which informs us that by the work of the Holy Spirit we are joined to Christ’s mission from God to share in his ministry. In the second half of the book, Purves examines pastoral care in terms of our union with Christ and his ministry. He discusses the nature and authority of preaching, forgiveness of sins as the ministry of grace, the nature of God’s presence as comfort, and the relationship between hope and social action.

pastoral-counselingDavid W. Augsburger’s Pastoral Counseling across Cultures (WJK, 1986).  This is a timeless classic in regards to pastoral counseling that I leanred about in my CPE course (I took the introductory chaplaincy unit in a hospital setting here in AZ).  Most interesting is that Ausburger combines theology, missiology and counsling practice to promote a really interesting approach to pastoral counseling.  Contrary to the preference of many Evangelicals, Ausburger looks at how counseling can and should be done cross-culturally which above all else, respects the person’s culture, while also helping them through the issues that are important to them.   It’s the counselee that matters not the counselors agenda.  This is something that challenges many evangelicals in chaplaincy.  So, anyways, I look forward to reading it. 

Evangelicalism only declining among White Christians?

go check out Greg Boyd’s latest note on how only White American Christianity is dyingThe book he cites sounds interesting and may comport well with statistics, at least in the Assemblies of God, that the fastest growing segment of AG churches are multicultural congregations.   So, maybe the American church isn’t dying afterall?

[here are some pertinent quotes to consider]:

First, it confirms a point driven home by Alan Hirsch in his great book Forgotten Ways: namely, that the Jesus-movement always tends to thrive in “luminous” situations (that is, in marginal social contexts). Conversely, it tends to grow stagnate once it gets embraced by those within the dominant culture.

As the history of the Church repeatedly shows, as soon as Christianity comes into power and respectability, it starts to decay.  The church invariably stops contrasting with the dominant culture — manifesting a radically different, Jesus-looking, way of life.  Rather, as it gains acceptance, respectability and power within the dominant culture, the church invariably starts to blend in with the culture.  Indeed, it is eventually reduced to the role of providing religious legitimization of the culture.  For example, rather than showing a different way of life by opposing all violence, the Church that has been acclimated to the dominant culture has more often than not served to assure people that their nation’s use of violence is divinely sanctioned.

White American Christianity has tended to exemplify this trend throughout its history.

What say you?

Eugene Peterson: on the Resurrection

On Recovering our Resurrection Center:

We live the Christian life out of a rich tradition of formation-by-resurrection.  Jesus’ resurrection provides the energy and conditions by which we “walk before the Lord in the land of the living” – the great Psalm phrase (116:9).  The resurrection of Jesus creates and then makes available the reality in which we are formed as new creatures in Christ by the Holy Spirit.  The do-it-yourself, self-help culture of North America has so thoroughly permeated our imaginations that we ordinarily don’t give attention to the biggest thing of all – resurrection.  And the reason we don’t is because resurrection is not something we can use or control or manipulate or improve on.  It’s interesting, isn’t it, that the world has had very little success in commercializing Easter – turning it into a commodity – as it has Christmas?  It we can’t in our phrase, “get a handle on it” or use it, we soon loose interest.  But resurrection is not available for our use.  It’s exclusively God’s operation.

What I want to do is rediscover our resurrection center and embrace the formation traditions that develop out of it.  I’m going to deal in turn with the three aspects of Jesus’ resurrection that define and energize us as we enter the practice of resurrection lives.  I will then set this resurrection live lived out of the reality and conditions of Jesus’ resurrection in contrast to what I consider the common cultural habits and assumptions that are either oblivious to or make detours around resurrection.  I will name this “the deconstruction of resurrection.”  Finally, I will suggest something of what is involved in cultivating the practice of resurrection: living appropriately and responsively in a world in which Christ is risen  (13-14).  

from: Living the Resurrection: The Risen Christ in Everyday Life (NavPress, 2006).

I’ve been realizing this Easter just how much we evangelicals tend to focus on the cross and how little we spend time reflecting on the fact and reality of the resurrection life of Jesus in us.  Somehow, sermons on the cross come across as more powerful – they garner more response, especially a response of guilt and sorrow and repentance.   In contrast to Peterson – we prefer to live cross-centered lives.  We evangelicals, we like messages on the cross, we like to keep things centered on the cross because we see it as the heart of the gospel.

But what about the resurrection?  Is it a side dish?  A happenstance that is a side note?  A marginal note?  No, it’s none of these things.  Well, we wouldn’t readily admit that but what do our thinking and actions show?  

I think Peterson is on to the correct view – our lives should be resurrection centered – centered on the new life we have in Christ not merely because of the cross but almost certainly because of the resurrection life of Jesus Christ.  Without the resurrection nothing would matter (cf. 1 Cor 15:14, 17), not the death of Jesus on the cross, not forgiveness, not “pistis Christou” or “dikasone Theou” or imputation or any of that.  Without the resurrection of Jesus from the dead there is no freedom from the power of sin and death; there is no forgiveness of sins; there is no newness of life; no future; no nothing.  

In fact, it is because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead that we have all these things: forgiveness, new life, healing, redemption, righteousness, and so on.   How can there be anything more important?

Think about it.  What say you?