Sep 29

News from Western Seminary

Western Seminary, one of the schools where I work and where I studied from 1974-1977, has published its Fall Newsletter covering recent events in the seminary’s life.

It covers:

a study trip to Israel,

a colleague teaching in Cameroon,

a new book by a colleague who pastors a vibrant church in Portland,

and, a recent conference addressing the link between theology and creativity.

Enjoy

Bob

Sep 26

Links to begin the week

Link to a previous post on my blog

What do you do when you’re drowning in stuff?

Links to things I’ve read recently

You should not assume that I agree with everything said in these articles but I did find them thought provoking.

How Is the Godless West Working Out?

‘70% of European Jews won’t go to shul on High Holy Days despite heightened security’

85 Years Ago Today: J. R. R. Tolkien Convinces C. S. Lewis That Christ Is The True Myth

The FAQs: Scientists ‘Virtually Unwrap’ One of the Oldest Biblical Scrolls

Should I Confront Sin in My Non-Christian Friends?

Why the church can rescue us from our smartphones

Yes, You Should Say Something: Overcoming Awkwardness with Grieving People

What Is God Doing In My Pain?

Why God Doesn’t Let Us In On Everything

Extremist pressure on Indonesian Christians continues

Links to books I’ve recently started

I usually have about 15 books going at once. These are ones that I have started in the last week. I often reread books that I find enlightening. I obviously don’t agree with every statement in these books. Often, I find books written by those without any Christian faith to be very stimulating as they are addressing issues that are faced by all people.

I have not started any new books this week.

If you like this blog, you can sign up in the upper right column for email delivery of new posts.

Sep 21

One journey ends and another begins

The end of the first eventful journey

It was about 60 miles from where John was baptizing to Jesus’s hometown of Nazareth.  He and his first disciples took three days to walk to his home.  We move at such a fast and hurried pace today that is hard to imagine what it was like when walking was more common. For three entire days these first followers talked and listened to Jesus and he began to prepare them for the adventure that followed.

Jesus had been away from Nazareth for at least a month and a half.  He had walked three days and was baptized by John.  He spent 40 days in the desert where he fasted, prayed, and was tempted by Satan as he prepared for his work as Messiah.  He returned to where John was baptizing. John pointed him out to his disciples and some of them had left John to follow Jesus. (John 1:43-2:1)

Wine at a wedding

Jesus returned to his mother with his first disciples.  The day he returned they walked about two hours to the village of Cana to attend a wedding.

In that era, a wedding celebration could last a week and was paid for by the groom.  They ran out of wine and Mary told Jesus.  In a familiar story Jesus turns 120 to 180 gallons of water used for purification rites into fine wine.  (John 2:1-11)

My time has not come yet

Part of Jesus’s response to Mary was that his time had not yet come.  She knew who Jesus was and that Elizabeth’s son, John, would prepare people for Jesus.  Jesus had left to go to John and returned with his first followers who had been John’s followers waiting for Messiah

She had assumed that it was time.  It was and it wasn’t.  One of the emphases of John’s Gospel is that Jesus was in control of his Messianic ministry.  At various times in the Gospel, John records that the time had not yet come.  Beginning in John 13:1 the tone changed and from then on we’re told the time had come.  Jesus tried to set a balance that his public ministry had begun but it was not time for his ultimate sacrifice. (John 2:4; 7:6; 8:30; 8:20; 12:23; 13:1; 16:32; 17:1)

Miracles are signs not showy entertainment

Some of Jesus’ miracles were seen by many people but the changing of the water into wine was not.  Miracles were signs that pointed to God’s vindicating power in his creation.

There were three times recorded in the Bible where miracles demonstrated God’s power against focused evil.  At the time of the Exodus God confronted the false gods of Egypt.  During the ministries of Elijah and Elisha, God confronted the Canaanite fertility cults.  And during the ministry of Jesus and the early church, God vindicated Jesus’ messianic ministry.  Another focused encounter with evil is predicted in the end times.

This miracle had witnesses, the servants and the disciples.  The disciples, who had just begun their journey with Jesus, believed.  (John 2:11)

Faith, miraculous signs, and witnesses are themes that John will develop throughout the book.  In the half-century between Jesus’ resurrection  and when he wrote the gospel, John confronted those who claim they had secret revelation from God.  For John, Christianity was a public display of the redemptive power of God.  There were signs. There were events.  And, there were witnesses.  The miraculous signs pointed to Jesus, the Messiah.

Questions for consideration:

Have you ever been out of touch with someone during a period of great change in their lives? What was it like to try to reconnect with them?

Many significant events of great eternal importance are hidden from most people.  There are few witnesses but people are greatly changed. Is that hard to accept?  Do you wish everyone knew?

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Sep 19

Links to begin the week

Link to a previous post on my blog

Two words that can give meaning to life and death

Links to things I’ve read recently

You should not assume that I agree with everything said in these articles but I did find them thought provoking.

We’re All Addicts. Some Just Prefer Needles.

The First Country to Officially Defend Christians Persecuted by ISIS

What God Does With Your Sin

France’s Jews Flee As Rioters Burn Paris Shops, Attack Synagogue

First mercy killing of minor in Belgium: report

Abbot who plays in rock band says monastic life fires creativity

10 Things You Should Know about Persecution

3 Godly Ambitions for the Christian

U.S. Civil Rights Commission: ‘Religious Freedom’ Is Code Word for Racism, Homophobia, and ‘Christian Supremacy’

I usually have about 15 books going at once. These are ones that I have started in the last week. I often reread books that I find enlightening. I obviously don’t agree with every statement in these books. Often, I find books written by those without any Christian faith to be very stimulating as they are addressing issues that are faced by all people.

I have not started any new books this week.

If you like this blog, you can sign up in the upper right column for email delivery of new posts.

Sep 16

What would it be like if you were Jesus’ first disciple?

After John’s introduction to his gospel, he began his account of events in Jesus’ life.

John the Baptist

He began with John the Baptist’s testimony to questions by representatives from the religious leaders in Jerusalem.

The testimony of witnesses was very important to John. Real people saw real things and said real words about what they saw. John would describe himself as a witness later in the Gospel and he began his first letter reminding his readers that he saw and heard Jesus. (John 21:24; 1 John 1:1-4)

Priest and Levites from Jerusalem

John the Baptist told the priests and Levites sent by the leaders in Jerusalem that he was not the Messiah. He was a witness announcing that the Messiah was coming and people needed to be prepared. Those who were sent by the leaders were educated people. They knew the traditions of the Jews. They questioned John about who he was and why he was baptizing. He answered clearly and humbly. He was a servant and was not even worthy to do filthy, humiliating service for the Messiah who would follow. (John 1:19-28)

John the Baptist’s words about Jesus

The day after he spoke to them he make another statement about Jesus. He saw Jesus coming toward him and gave a clear message:

Jesus was the Messiah

Jesus existed before John. This would be provoking for those who know the details because John was born a few months before Jesus

John saw the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus when he baptized him

John closed his statement clearly stating he had seen it and was a witness. Jesus was the Son of God. John 1:20-34)

John the Baptist moves to the background

The next day John began the process fading into the background as Jesus’ public ministry began. He pushed two of his disciples to leave him and follow Jesus.

In the next few verses John the writer of the gospel gave an account which summarizes the essence of the life of a follower of Jesus.

These disciples asked Jesus where he was staying and he gave them an invitation to come and see. When they realized who Jesus was they began to bring other people to him.

Jesus and his first disciples invite more followers

There will be more invitations from Jesus and his disciples. They will invite more and more people to come to him.

In this account John also recorded what happens when a person comes to Jesus. Jesus takes possession of them. He owns them. When Andrew told his brother Peter that he had found the Messiah, he brought Peter to Jesus. The first thing Jesus did was to change his name from Simon to Peter. There are a number of times in the Bible where God and various people change someone’s name. Each time they make it clear that they own that person. When you come to Jesus your life is changed. You are now owned by God, your Messiah. (John 1:35-42)

The next day the process continues. Jesus finds Philip and tells him to follow him. Philip found Nathaniel and told him that he had found the Messiah and brought him to Jesus. When Jesus called Nathaniel he told him that he saw him before Philip called him, Nathaniel said that Jesus was truly the Messiah. Jesus assured that he would have greater experiences as he journeyed with Jesus. (John 1:36-51)

Questions for consideration:

What are the evidences that you are owned by Jesus?

What would it be like if you were Jesus’ first disciple?

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Sep 12

Links to begin the week

Link to a previous post on my blog

What will be your final words to those who will listen?

Links to things I’ve read recently

You should not assume that I agree with everything said in these articles but I did find them thought provoking.

A Hidden Invitation From Jesus

The 9 Forms of Infidelity in Marriage (Hint: 8 of Them Don’t Involve Sex)

How Can Your Church Serve Unemployed Men?

Russia’s Newest Law: No Evangelizing Outside of Church

What Grieving People Wish You Knew

10 Ways Not to Help a Hurting Friend

How to Face the Death of Someone You Love

The Art of Recycling in the Middle Ages

When Prolonging Life Means Prolonging Suffering

How Churches Rebuilt a Town After Its Fertilizer Plant Exploded

How The Colonies In America Moved From “Tolerance” To “Free Exercise” Of Religion

8 Hallmarks Of Attractional And Gospel-Centered Churches

Six Reasons Why Adultery Is Very Serious

Do Some Christians Pray with More Power?

Top Biography Recommendations From 12 Christian Historians

Links to books I’ve recently started

I usually have about 15 books going at once. These are ones that I have started in the last week. I often reread books that I find enlightening. I obviously don’t agree with every statement in these books. Often, I find books written by those without any Christian faith to be very stimulating as they are addressing issues that are faced by all people.

I have not started any new books this week.

If you like this blog, you can sign up in the upper right column for email delivery of new posts.

Sep 08

I have just updated the “About” page on my blog

Please check it out and send it to anyone who might be interested

Thanks

Bob

Sep 05

Links to begin the week

Link to a previous post on my blog

When doubts get in the way

Links to things I’ve read recently

You should not assume that I agree with everything said in these articles but I did find them thought provoking.

The True Wealth of the Suffering Church

The Entire ‘LGBT’ Narrative Just Crumbled

University Of Chicago Sends The Acceptance Letter Every College Should

How a French Atheist Becomes a Theologian

Today’s Revisionists, Tomorrow’s Roadkill

Tortured journey

Links to books I’ve recently started

I usually have about 15 books going at once. These are ones that I have started in the last week. I often reread books that I find enlightening. I obviously don’t agree with every statement in these books. Often, I find books written by those without any Christian faith to be very stimulating as they are addressing issues that are faced by all people.

Paul Little. Know What You Believe

If you like this blog, you can sign up in the upper right column for email delivery of new posts.

Aug 29

Links to begin the week

Link to a previous post on my blog

What should you do if there is a mass shooting in your town?

Judge not and you shall not be judged. What does this mean? Is it possible?

Links to things I’ve read recently

You should not assume that I agree with everything said in these articles but I did find them thought provoking.

Unearthing the World of Jesus

One Simple Question to Ask Before Any Purchase

We Have Been Warned

Our Faith Is Historically Verifiable—Or It’s Nothing

Four Types Of Churches That Will Soon Die

The 10 Greatest Hymns of All-Time

You Might Be An Evangelical Who Grew Up In The 1980s And 90s If . . .

What If I Told You There Was A Reasonable, Non-Homophobic Case Against Same-Sex Marriage?

Is My Life Worthy of the King? Four Tests

5 Life Lessons From An Olympic Gold Medalist

Links to books I’ve recently started

I usually have about 15 books going at once. These are ones that I have started in the last week. I often reread books that I find enlightening. I obviously don’t agree with every statement in these books. Often, I find books written by those without any Christian faith to be very stimulating as they are addressing issues that are faced by all people.

I did not start any new books this week

If you like this blog, you can sign up in the upper right column for email delivery of new posts.

Aug 22

Links to begin the week

Link to a previous post on my blog

What is the Internet doing to my brain and what can I do about it?

Good wins no ultimate victories except out of the grave of apparent defeat

Links to things I’ve read recently

You should not assume that I agree with everything said in these articles but I did find them thought provoking.

China’s Christian Future

7 Ways To Feel Content With Your Life Right Now

How Resources Changed My Mind

Israeli Town Rejoices as ‘Local Boy’ Claims Jordan’s First Ever Olympic Medal

Archaeologists Unveil Blazing Mosaics From Apostle Paul-era Ephesus

A Spirit-Led Life Is a Sin-Killing Life

A Complete Classical Christian School Reading List: Grades 1-8

Links to books I’ve recently started

I usually have about 15 books going at once. These are ones that I have started in the last week. I often reread books that I find enlightening. I obviously don’t agree with every statement in these books. Often, I find books written by those without any Christian faith to be very stimulating as they are addressing issues that are faced by all people.

I did not start any new books this week

If you like this blog, you can sign up in the upper right column for email delivery of new posts.

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