Psalm of the day: Psalm 130

Psalm 130  (TNIV)

A song of ascents.

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
    Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.

on doing doctoral work in ministry or the Bible

rant begins here:

it isn’t to make someone smart or to help them feel smarter.  people don’t usually do that kind of rigorous, labor intensive, life in alienation for extended periods of time kind of work to become smarter.

they do it to further equip themselves for the work to which God has called them.  many positions and kinds of ministries some folks want to do are not available to them without certain levels of education and training plain and simple.

many who do this work don’t even go into it because they are smart, but because they know it is what has to be done to get to where they want to be – for a lot of folks, it takes some guts and fortitude to pursue doctoral work.

Too, good grades aren’t always because of “smarts” but because of doing the reading and the work and following the directions of the syllubus.  If all you do is that, put forth what the professor has asked to be done, it can be hard not to get a decent grade.

okay, rant ends here:  be blessed.

How to claim God’s blessings!

thought for the day from Esteban Julio Vázquez‘s facebook page:

Dear People Anxious to “Claim God’s Blessings”:

Please be mindful of Christ’s words: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil things about you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because you have a great reward in heaven! The prophets who lived before you were persecuted in the same way” (St Matthew 5:11-12).

So be careful what you ask for: God’s blessings may not look like what you expect.

Sincerely, &c.


Some new books

Thank you to the anonymous donor of a few new books that showed up in my mailbox yesterday!!  (Well, I hope they were for me and not sent to my address on accident!  lol!)  It was very gracious of you, kind person!   Thanks so much I really appreciate it!

Here is what they are:

Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (IVP).

Gordon Fee’s New Testament Exegesis (WJK).

Gordon Fee’s Paul, the Spirit and the People of God (Baker).

Jurgen Moltman’s The Trinity and the Kingdom (Fortress).

So… pretty much , nothing less than the BEST!!  🙂

on discipleship

I have been thinking about discipleship the last few days.   I seems to me that even this issue is not immune to the problems of consumerism within the church that we might read about in a Eugene Peterson book (it is one of his biggest pet peeves).

What I have been thinking about is just the overall nature of discipleship and what it means for the Christian life.

Speaking of Eugene Peterson, if I may borrow a title from one of his books, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society

(I haven’t read the book but the title seems pretty self evident)

…even though this book was written in 1989, over 20 years ago…

(Dear Pastor, do you think you might be willing to look it over and consider revising it or bringing new insight?)

I think we are still neck deep in the miry clay of attempting to create disciples almost overnight, in an instant.

If that isn’t the problem, I have been noticing lately all the (f)ads pushing the latest in discipleship material that can best be used to disciple people and congregations, as if there was some formula, some “get-discipled-quick scheme.”   Now, I don’t want to knock these materials too hard as I know Christians and congregations, can use all sorts of differing things to aid in their spiritual growth and maturity in the Lord and in the faith.   But I sm slightly concerned that they often encourage wrong thinking about what it means to be in discipleship to Jesus and the dynamics involved.

I can’t pretend to know all the answers but I think I do know that discipleship can’t be done quickly (and maybe no one is even saying this).  It takes time.  A long time.  A whole life long time.  Discipleship to Jesus is something that when we begin, it never ends.  We will always be learning and growing and maturing in the Lord, even into eternity.  Just as it takes a long time to grow up and become adults (sadly, some never become adults), it takes a long time to grow in our maturity and discipleship to Jesus.

But I think to what I wanted to share is that discipleship isn’t just found in study or devotional material.  It is also, if not more so, found in the life long everyday living of our lives both as individuals and in community.  Discipleship can happen at picnics or at the dinner table.  It can happen on the back porch or patio, down at the lake or at the local coffee shop or when out fishing alone or with friends or the kids, just living life.  Discipleship is best done in the living out our lives each day with one another in the every-day-ness of life, good or bad, better or worse, up or down, forwards, backwards and on and on.  It can be in being neighbors, fellow church members, co-workers, friends.  It is done in living life together, over the long haul.  Over the long years of our lives we become better disciples (at least we should).  It does take some work, some effort on our part, but it doesn’t happen overnight, it happens over life.


History and Future of Pentecostalism

I am doing a series of posts from the past (a trip down memory lane I suppose).  This post followed a class with Grant Wacker of Duke on the history and future of Pentecostalism, dated March 4, 2006:

Here I am with Grant Wacker.  He is a really nice man and a great pentecostal historian.  Interestingly, though his father was a professor at Evangel College and he grew up in the AG, he himself is not Pentecostal.  He is Methodist.  One daughter is a Quaker and another is Episcopalian.  But he is very friendly and fair  towards Pentecostals (even defending us often) and he supports many of their doctrines.

So, how was the class?  It was great!  We covered a lot of topics in too little time.  It seemed like we only really touched the surface issues.  We started out talking about historical method and how to interpret historical events and situations, especially those that occured in the Pentecostal world such as healings and miracles as well as the people and the lives they lived.  Fortunately, they were sinners just like the rest of us, but sometimes they seemed to think they were above all that.

We talked about the early days of the movement and how it developed theologically.  Pentecostalism is really just a natural outworking or development of Wesley’s holiness doctrine.  While Wesley argued for entire sanctification and a second work of grace, Pentecostals kept some of it and discarded other parts.  Eventually, the Methodist church abandonded Wesley’s doctrine and this resulted in the Holiness churches who held to entire sactification and second work doctrine.  Some eventually developed a third work of grace doctrine and broke off from even the holiness churches.  By the time of Asuza these works of grace were being called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Some holiness churches gladly took this terminology on and others veered away from it.  Eventually more development came along and the “finished work” theology was being taught.  This is the idea that while our sanctification is finished at the cross, we still progress in our salvation.  This teaching offended the holiness churches who believed in a instantaneous perfection and lead to more splits and the formation of the Church of God movement and in 1914 the formation of the General Council of the Assemblies of God.

There was much contention between the holiness churches and Pentecostals.  The main issue was over the finished work theology and tongues as the initial physical evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  If Pentecostals were willing to back off these issues, there would have been much less contention.

Other issues we talked about centered on key characteristics of Pentecostals such as their prophetic and institutionalizing inclinations, their resilience and determination, their belief in divine healing and God’s active involvement in the life of a believer through the work of the Spirit, and not least of all their drive for world evangelization.  Other faith traditions may exemplify these issues but not quite to the same degree as Pentecostals (historically).  Tongues aside, there is something unique about Spirit Baptism and what it does to those who recieve it.

On the issue of prophetic and institutionalizing inclinations, historically Pentecostals have abhored insitutions or organizations because they worried it would stifle the work of the Spirit.  Yet, as Grant Wacker pointed out, institutions are needed to channel prophetic inclinations.  Without inistutions (i.e., denominational oversight), there would be a lot of chaos.  So, today, while we may not like denominational oversight and feel like headquarters puts a damper on things, it could be worse without them.  I agree with Grant Wacker.  Insitutions, while they have their weaknesses, provide structure to the movement, and thus brings more freedom for our prophetic inclinations.  Without structure, there just isn’t any room for freedom, but rather it is prevented.

My paper will be on Angelus Temple and the commisary during the depression.  During the depression, the government pointed people to Angelus Temple for food and help because it was such a good program.  How come there isn’t anything like that today?

That’s all for now.  I highly recommend people get Vinson Synan’s book on the The Holiness-Pentecostal Tradition and Gary McGee’s book People of the Spirit.  These will really help in understanding who we are and where we have come from so we can know where we are going as a movement.  Plus, it is just really fun and interesting reading!


The Bible and the Missio Dei

doing a series of posts from the past.  this was posted early January 2006 after a class one night on the mission of God:

Missio Dei:

MAJOR Social Concerns of the Covenant (i.e., The Bible):

1.   Personhood – Everone’s person is to be secure.

2.   False accusation –  Everyone’s to be secure against slander and false accusation.

3.   Women – No woman is to be taken advantage of within her subordinate status in society.

4.   Punishment – Punishment for wrongdoing shall not be excessive so that the culprit is dehumanized.

5.   Dignity – Every [person’s] dignity and right to be God’s freedman and servant are to be honored and safegaurded.

6.    Inheritence – Every [person’s] inheritence in the promised land is to be secure.

7.    Property – Everyone’s property is to be secure.

8.   Fruit of Labor – Everyone is to receive the fruit of his labors.

9.   Fruit of the Ground – Everyone is to share the fruit of the ground.

10.   Rest on the Sabbath – Everyone, down to the humblest servant and the resident alien, is to share the weekly rest of God’s Sabbath.

11.   Marriage – The marriage relationship is to be kept inviolate.

12.   Exploitation – No one, however disabled, impoverished or powerless, is to be oppressed or exploited.

13.     Fair Trial – Everyone is to have free access to the courts and is to be afforded a fair trial.

14.   Social Order – Every person’s God-given place in the social order is to be honored.

15.   Law – No one shall be above the law, not even the King.

16 – Animals – Concern for the welfare of other creatures is to be extended to the animal world.

For specific verses please see page 271 in The NIV Study Bible!

do we really know the bible languages

by way of Rod Decker on this post, I came across this blog.  He has an interesting take on learning and knowing the Greek and in part made this assertion about seminary (or even Bible college) Greek classes and learning/reading Koine (NT) Greek:

Greek classes in seminary tend to reinforce dependency on English translations. Virtually every translation assignment Greek students receive comes from the New Testament, a text that most of the students have almost memorized already. Rather than teaching a true literacy of Greek, seminary Greek classes tend to create a hybrid literacy that relies upon established translations for meaning then supplements that knowledge with enough Greek proficiency so that students won’t miss anything important. However, an unintentional side effect of this hybrid literacy seems to be that students catch and emphasize details that the text does not.

At first my own response (or reaction?) is to say, it is true, there is one Grammar I know of that one major complaint is it uses Bible verses for the translations sentences straight away!  The philosophy is so that people can start reading the Bible in the Greek soon as possible (to maintain interest?)!  In many ways this is completely understandable, but I wonder if it ends up defeating the overall purpose of learning Koine?  I wonder this as He goes on to say:

Think about it. I just used an imperative. I wonder if the NT writers were really jumping up and down, waving their arms, and shouting “get this” every time they used an imperative. I wonder if obscure lexical connections sprung to the original recipients’ minds as they read Paul’s letters. I wonder if we really know Greek as well as we would like others to think.

I know one thing I really appreciated about learning Greek from Machen’s Grammar (this is more looking back now, but I think I caught on while going through it), was that I don’t think there was even a single Bible verse in any of the translation exercises (I don’t have the grammar anymore so I can’t check).  But I think it helped as it forced us to work the grammar for ourselves instead of as this blog poster talks about (he is unnamed because he is a missionary in a restricted country) – our knowledge of the Bible helps us fill in the gaps as we read the text.  Maybe the less we know of what we are reading the more we focus on what the text is saying, at least in our first year of learning the language?

What do you all think about this?

2 Timothy 4:1-2 (TAV – Traditional Altered Version)

From the blog of Dave Black comes this fun little post:

Sunday, June 17: 8:07 AM From Eric Carpenter’s Tradition Says … comes this delightful quote:

“I charge you, Pastor Timothy, in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word bible using an expository method. Be sure to have one primary purpose statement. Include 3-5 points, no more and no less. If possible, make your points memorable by starting them all with the same letter of the alphabet. Use the explanation, illustration, argumentation, and application method (since good illustrations are sometimes a struggle to think of, feel free to go here for help). Occasionally move out from behind the pulpit to keep the audience’s attention. Conclude with a memorable anecdote. Altar calls depend on the particular tradition of the church you are in. Spend at least twenty hours studying for each sermon. Rely on commentaries only only after doing your own study. Be ready in season and out of season on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, and encourage with complete patience andteaching preaching.” II Timothy 4:1-2 (TAV – Traditional Altered Version)

Isn’t that great? Now before your feathers get ruffled by what this says about Timothy, it will help you to realize that the church in Ephesus already had pastors/elders. Paul, in fact, had met with them previously in Ephesus. We sometimes forget this whenever we refer to 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus as the “Pastoral Epistles.” Neither Timothy nor Titus were pastors! And unless we’re careful, we’ll think that “Pastor” Timothy is an exemplar of a local church leader. I’m convinced that this misconception is at the bottom of a lot of trouble we face in our churches today. Timothy’s job was that of a personal apostolic representative of Paul. He was ministering in a church that had elders. Am I right? Well, you decide after reading Acts 20.

Church leader, take time to consider the order of things as God revealed these timeless principles. There’s a good reason. The health of your local church may well depend on it.

Amiee Semple McPherson

doing series of posts from the past while I was still at AGTS.  This is a post from Friday, Dec 30, 2005:

This is a bit long, but I think you’ll find it interesting…

Okay, so I am doing some reading over the break to get ahead because I have a lot of reading to do next semester (don’t worry, I’ve been enjoying my break and getting rest as well).

I have been reading on the life and ministry of Aimee Semple McPherson, who achieved “cultural phenomenon” status in just a few years time.  I mean, she is a part of North American history (she was Canadian by birth and American by marriage) in the early part of the 1900’s.  “Cultural Phenomenon” might be an understatement.  Literally thousands upon thousands of people flocked to her meetings.  She had an outdoor healing serivce in Denver in 1921 that had a minimum of 30,000 in attendance, I mean it is just mind-boggling really.  Much of it had to do with her being a woman and breaking social boundaries, so people came to see her and in the process got either saved or baptized in the Holy Spirit.  Interestingly, Debbie’s grandfather gave is life to Christ at one of her crusades and later became a missionary in Alaska.

An interesting issue being discussed in the book is the idea of how a religious subculture provided support and vindication (particularly in religious language) for the choices Amiee made in her life and ministry, particularly Pentecostalism and the Salvation Army.  She may have been a cultural pehnomenon but her personal life was problematic.  Her first husband, Robert Semple, died while they were in China, and her two other marriages ended in divorces.  When social conventions hemmed in, Amiee opted out, but the religious subculture she was a part of vindicated this.  So, when her marriage to Harold McPherson was falling apart, instead of leaving the ministry, she left the marriage.  In the Salvation Army, ministry (participation in “the war”) took precedence over family and personal choices.   Pentecostalism in the early days valued defying social conventions – being misunderstood, despised by the world – commending someone like Amiee, a single mother, a divorced woman, and an evangelist.  Maybe it was regrettable Amiee had to leave Harold but given the ominous fact that she was accountable to God for “souls” and this was vindicated by the huge numbers of people she attracted, she had “no choice” and leaving her marriage seemed justified.

I can’t help but wonder if, today, a hundred years later, we haven’t changed much?  Does our relgious subculture of evangelicalism or charismainia provide the religious language and support we need to make various choices in life?  Doesn’t the call of God take priority over obedience to parents or even honoring them, or leaving the kids with grandma and grandpa so the couple can tour Europe “preaching the gospel”?  Oh, that’s right, taking off on some outrageously expensive philandering jaunt around the world to “preach the gospel” or “to reach the nations” justifies leaving one’s family in disarray?  “God’s will” takes precedence right?

Just a few thoughts. What do you think about this?  Have you ever used religous language to justify personal choices in life?  I have, it resulted in my attending a YWAM DTS.  Looking back, I know the Lord lead me there, but I think how I went about it could have been handled differently.