on 2 Corinthians 5:7

2 Corinthians 5:7 reads:

for we walk by faith and not by sight.

In my visit with Nathan last night I was sharing about how I feel as though the Lord has been bringing me to a new level of understanding what is meant by this statement – what it means to me on a personal level but also what I think it means for the Christian life in general.  I know others may know all about this or have an understanding of it but I can tend to be a bit behind sometimes – but I think too, the Lord will bring us to understand things experientially and not just intellectually.  I feel we’re being pushed to learn, at a new level, what it means to live by faith and not by sight.  Basically, it is to live not by what we can see but by what can’t always be seen – or to live by faith is to live on the promises of God for us and the vision he has given us and not based on the circumstances going on around us that might seem to, or which actually contradict, what we know by faith.

If you ask me, it is more freeing to live by faith and not by sight – too often living by sight can be just too hard.  If we use finances as an example often times it can seem like the numbers just don’t add up but somehow it is working out – that would be living by faith and not letting circumstances hold us back or deter us from following the Lord.  Now I am not saying to be stupid or to intentionally turn a blind eye to circumstances because sometimes living by faith is paying attention to those kinds of things – many have attempted to live by faith and openly ignored the circumstances and been burned, bad – don’t do that.  At the same time, however, living by faith (you know, being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see), can mean to not letting circumstances, like numbers not adding up, hinder you from pressing on in faith to live as God has called you to live.

In getting ready for us to come to Springfield, MO we were not sure we could come, we just did not have the money – so we waited on the Lord and trusted him the best we could – if nothing came through we would not go.  Well, the day before we were planning to leave I went to check the mail and to our astonishment we received a check for $1000,  and that from a missionary couple! (we all know that for missionaries $1000 can be hard to come by – so the gift blew us out of the water).   We knew we could make the trip – on the way we participated in a church service with some pastor friends of ours in Oklahoma and ended up leaving with $500.   You must know this does not happen every day and is not always normal but yet completely normal.   I was reflecting on all this and realized, this is what it is to live by faith and not by sight. Had we been living by sight, which we have and had been doing, we would never had been planning the trip as the numbers didn’t add up, but we chose not to let that deter us.

While I said it is freeing to live by faith – it is not always easy, and, in fact, it is very challenging and even costly – being willing to live by faith and not by sight comes with a price and often a high one – friends and or family aren’t going to approve; others will challenge you and contest your understandings of what living by faith means (and Nathan pointed out that this can be challenging living in the US which is pretty affluent), circumstances might really rise up and put up a challenge (something the Apostle Paul would probably chalk up to the powers at work) – all sorts of opposition will rise up and come against those who choose to walk by faith and not by sight.  So, if you think this is something the Lord is pressing you to do in a way you have not before done, be ready.  Know that when God is for you who can be against you?

If you have another view on this feel free to share it!  🙂

Quote of the Day: The Pastor

“…I want to insist that there is no blueprint on file for becoming a pastor. In becoming one, I have found that it is a most context-specific way of life:the pastor’s emotional life, family life, experience in the faith, and aptitudes worked out in an actual congregation in the neighborhood in which she or he lives – these people just as they are, in this place. No copying. No trying to be successful. The ways in which the vocation of pastor is conceived, develops and comes to birth is unique to each pastor.”

-Eugene Peterson from his new book just published The Pastor: A Memoir (HarperOne, 2011)

I think this quote alone is worth a million dollars.  It is (and should be) freeing to know the process of becoming a pastor is highly individual to each person – each pastor is different and each pastor should feel free to be who they are and function in the role of pastor as God has called them and as is befitting with their own personalities and makeup.  I don’t know if I can say any one pastor is better than another but to say some do “seem” to live out their callings as pastors more effectively than others.

But then again, if the process of a life lived as a pastor is unique, how can such a statement stand?  What is considered effective?  Who is considered a “good” or “bad” pastor?   I think I can make such a statement because of a concept called “pastoral identity.”  Some pastors reveal a strong and healthy pastoral identity (which is a kind of sense of security in one’s calling and vocation as a pastor) whereas, I know there are others who have more or less weaker senses of pastoral identity, they do not seem to be as comfortable with their calling or vocation (which could call into question the validity of such) – I would suggest those with stronger pastoral identities are “more effective” in their callings than those who are not primarily because they are not trying to be something they are not.

Seems to me that anyone who is a pastor should read this book and those struggling with their own sense of pastoral identity should seriously consider reading this other book by Peterson.

You can learn more about the book here.

The AZ District of the AoG has made history!

Debbie and I are away from our district right now (we are in Springfield, MO  (just in time for all the sectional councils which take place before the District Council in a couple months) – and we learned this morning of the exciting news that the Phoenix Metro Indian Section of the Arizona District Council of the Assemblies of God just elected the first female Native American Sectional Presbyter to serve in the Assemblies of God (one of only three other Native American Presbyters?)!! The AZ District has lead the movement in making history in the AG!  This is indeed exciting and wonderful news!!  We know Cheri personally and she is a great friend and pastor with a wonderful heart for the Lord and for people.

Just a little more info: Vernice Cheri Sampson, 51, serves as pastor of Salt River Indian Assembly of God in Scottsdale, Arizona. She will join three other Native American presbyters in Arizona. Sampson is a Pima Indian and a member of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, a sovereign tribe located in the metropolitan Phoenix area.

And for those who may wonder about the governmental structure within the Assemblies:

The AG has a hybrid presbyterian and congregational form of polity. Churches are organized along congregational lines and, if healthy enough, are sovereign. Churches don’t pay dues to the denomination. Ministers are organized into Districts, and each district contains sections. Each section elects a presbyter to represent that section at the District level. There are also General Presbyters (about three District leaders represent each District at the national level, for a total of 250 or so), and Executive Presbyters (there are only 20 of these, and they make higher level decisions than the GPs). Ministers, unlike churches, do pay dues to the denomination. For this reason, the AG is usually considered a Fellowship of ministers moreso than a Fellowship of churches. In fact, for the first 3 years, only ministers could be members of the AG. Churches were all independent. It was only when the Conscription Bill came before Congress in 1917 that the AG changed its polity to allow for churches to join, because church members could only claim to be conscientious objectors if they were members of “well-recognized denominations” that stated an objection to war and killing in war.

Congratulations Cheri!!   Debbie and I love and appreciate you and know you will do a wonderful job as a presbyter!!

A Christian view of the protests/riots in the Middle East/North Africa

are twisted and very unhealthy if they are anything like this….. should the Bible be taken away from folks with these kinds of viewpoints or attitudes?  One person thinks so.

I mean, who do some USAmerican Christians think they are?  Do they forget their how their own freedoms were brought about?  Should we not be encouraging freedoms for others as well, and even more so the spiritual freedom that comes through the message of the cross of Christ?

Judge not lest you too be judged.

on Interpreting the Book Revelation

Craig Keener writes in his NIVAC commentary on the book of Revelation concerning its interpretation:

Another matter of interpretation is that some want to take everything in Revelation literally.  Whether one should attempt this approach depends in a sense on what one means by the term literally.   When Reformers like Luther talked about interpreting the Bible “literally,” they were using a technical designation (sensus literalis) that meant taking each part part of Scripture according to its “literary sense,” hence including attention to genre or literary type.  But they did not mean that we should down play figures of speech or symbols.  We should take literally historical narrative in the Bible, but Revelation belongs to a different genre, a mixture of prophetic and “apocalyptic” genres, both of which are full of symbols.  The Reformers did not demand that we interpret symbols as if they were not symbols, and this kind of literalism is actually at odds with what they meant (22).

Thanks to guys like John Anderson I am in the beginnings of beginning to understand more what is meant by viewing the Text of Scripture in a literary sense (genres and such) though I have more learning to do with regard to symbols and how to understand them and their role in understanding and interpreting certain parts of the Bible, like the book of Revelation.  I understand  not everything is to be taken or understood literally but instead, (where appropriate) literarially (sp?) and how that applies to understanding such as text as the book of Revelation.  I also assume as I get more into Keener’s commentary that he’ll explain these things and it’ll start to make better sense.


Western Seminary ThM scholarships

are now, for the first time, available to 5 aspiring Bible teachers who aspire to teach in nearly any setting involving Bible teaching (I think, except pastoral ministry).  the potential is a full ride (tuition only) scholarship.  It covers the first two years (which is the typical length of the program).

check it out over on the Western Sem ThM blog.  If this is you, the best time to apply was yesterday so you better hop on it!  lol!

A Note of Thanks! (more new replacement books)

to those who generously sent me some of their own books (or new ones) to help me replace some of the many I lost.


Thanks to Kevin Brown; Steven Bricker; George Marshall; Bitsy Griffin; Marc Cortez; Rodney Thomas; Dave Black; Chuch Grantham; Jason Skipper; Amanda Hackney; Paul Bruggink (his package came a few min ago so it is not in the photo (IVP Dict of OT Wisdom, Poetry, Writings); Anthony Buglass (his pkg came after the photo too)!!

Also we have received gift cards from Joel Watts; Peter Lopez, Pat Roach and Robert Jimenez!


Here is a pick of what has shown up so far:

Is God a Moral Monster?

you can find out one way or the other watching a video interview (done by Skype) with the author Paul Copan here.

The book, Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God (Baker 2011) is mainly written against the claims of the the New Atheists who have supposedly leveled the accusation that the God of the Old Testament is nothing but a bully, a murderer, and a cosmic child abuser, etc, etc.  Apparently this viewpoint is even making inroads into the church?  So, Copan suggests ways as to how are Christians to respond to such accusations.  And how are they to reconcile the seemingly disconnected natures of God portrayed in the two Testaments?

Seems like a good book to pick up some time.

for a less positive view from a newly minted OT Scholar go here.

one way to help

for free is to click on my WTS books banner to the right or click here (that could be really helpful).

also if you want to view my wish list maybe this link (Wish List) is better so it gives me amazon credits for later purchases (this is not a click deal but use this link if you want to purchase something on our behalf – a purchase has to be made to gain credit – though that is completely up to you).