Bible Teaching

Launching a New Ministry Year : Notes and Highlights

This past Sunday marked the first week that our elementary students used the 252 Basics curriculum from Orange and from the leadership side of things we could not have been happier with the outcome. Here are a couple of my highlights from our launch weekend.

1) Our set for this month. We were given some used doors to use from a family on our staff to use as well as all the hinges and screws to piece them together to make dividers. We used these to bring the theme from “Opportunity Knocks,” (the title of this months series) to life on stage. The idea from Orange was very Monsters Inc. and our tech. team went with that and used lighting to make them all blue and green.

Another great thing that came from this set happened by sheer coincidence. The theme for our church’s Global Missions Conference that runs from September 7-21, 2014 has a very similar look to it. We found this out after we planned the doors for our stage in a meeting with our worship arts department.

Kidmin Sept. 7.1 (2)

Nations GMC   2) We taught the students a new song this weekend from the CD “Movin’ Me” from Amber Sky Records. This CD is a must own for any #kidmin programs. It is upbeat, catchy and full of great songs for students and parents to learn. My wife and I play this CD at least once on every road trip since I picked it up in May. We taught the students one of my personal favourites from the album “Let It Be Known.” 

3) We made some changes to the sign-in and sign-out policies for our children’s ministry that were greatly received from our parents and congregation. We had ushers and greeters to help us with these transitions so it was a smooth transition.

4) We have implemented a props cupboard for our storytellers and hosts. This was very handy for the first lesson that included safari hats, sunglasses, a shovel and a stuffed carrot to name a few. this should help us stay organized and to help us gather props for upcoming weeks. 

Our children’s ministry department loved the flow of our large group with the bottom line, memory verse and lesson. It flowed well and kept us on schedule for the whole morning. 

A great first week.

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#ThinkOrange: Our #kidmin is changing colours this fall.

This September our #kidmin program is turning Orange and using the 252 Basics curriculum. I have found myself overly excited about this transition since going to the Orange Conference back in May. I am excited for a few reasons:

  1. The amount of content that will be available to our parents and families throughout the week. This will include Parent Cue, 252 Live, and more. It also means that more families will be talking about Jesus throughout the week. A win on all levels.
  2. The added responsibility and content for our tech team. Our tech team is full of students that have wanted more ownership over the content on Sunday mornings. Even though the content is still prepared ahead of time they will have the opportunity to pull it up at home experiment with it and make the visuals their own.
  3. The added role of a host on Sunday mornings. This will allow some of our volunteers the opportunity to use their dramatic skill sets to help the storyteller bring the Bible to life every Sunday.

The one thing I have not enjoyed about implementing Orange has been the constant need to justify our choice to other #kidmin leaders from other churches I come into contact with. Whether it is their preconceived feelings about what Orange brings, or their desire to have full control of the content that they bring to their kids many leaders have asked me the same question in one way or another,

“Are you worried about the lack of Bible content in their lessons?”

I can’t even begin to tell you how often I have heard this in the last three months. In a way I find it heartbreaking and I always feel as though one of our team’s core responsibilities in being questions. That responsibility is presenting the Gospel to our kids and allowing families the opportunities to live out the Gospel in their homes each week. When I get asked that question about Orange I feel as though I am being asked whether or not our team is capable to bring the Gospel message to our kids.

Orange is creative in ways that I could never be, or would take me hours to produce and summon from within myself. Those hours of creativity that this curriculum saves me allows me to add Bible when I need to, (I personally think that Orange provides just as much Bible content as many of the other curriculums out there do) for my volunteers, or for family specific content. I have also gone through Bible college for Biblical Studies and as a leader in a church realize that part of my job is to add in Bible wherever I need to.

So when I hear that question asked to me what I really hear in my head is,

“Are you prepared to do your job and teach those children in your care how to live out the Gospel message of Jesus?”

The answer is of course. I also realize for me the question goes way farther than what curriculum do I use and I probably take it way to personally, but I am always surprised when I get it.

I am excited for September and what 252 Basics will add into our ministry. I truly believe at this point that the benefits of this curriculum choice will be felt in the lives of the children in our ministry for years to come. As a children’s pastor you cannot ask for anything better than impacting the lives of the kids and families in your community.

Restoration and #Kidmin (Part 1)

This week I had the daunting task of teaching the whole metanarrative story of the Bible in under 25 minutes to our #kidmin students. Our theme for the weekend was restoration and we centered ourselves scripturally in Revelation 22:1-6.

1-5 Then the Angel showed me Water-of-Life River, crystal bright. It flowed from the Throne of God and the Lamb, right down the middle of the street. The Tree of Life was planted on each side of the River, producing twelve kinds of fruit, a ripe fruit each month. The leaves of the Tree are for healing the nations. Never again will anything be cursed. The Throne of God and of the Lamb is at the center. His servants will offer God service—worshiping, they’ll look on his face, their foreheads mirroring God. Never again will there be any night. No one will need lamplight or sunlight. The shining of God, the Master, is all the light anyone needs. And they will rule with him age after age after age.

Don’t Put It Away on the Shelf

6-7 The Angel said to me, “These are dependable and accurate words, every one. The God and Master of the spirits of the prophets sent his Angel to show his servants what must take place, and soon. And tell them, ‘Yes, I’m on my way!’ Blessed be the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

I read the story to our kids while we took up offering from “My First Message” because we have a lot of 4-6 year olds that still bring their picture Bibles and I wanted to read to them from something that would be familiar to them. It went over well because many of them had this passage in their Bibles. They tended to group Revelation 21 and 22 together.

After reading that passage we dove right into the metanarrative of the Bible. Here is how I broke down the lesson.

Today we are going to learn a really big word.

That word is “restoration.”

Do any of you know what that means? (I paused and took some suggestions from the kids and some of them were close, but most of our older kids would define restoration with “restore” in it. They would say something like:

“It means that that God will restore something.”

(Back to teaching). Well, this morning I thought I better look up the definition of the word “restoration” so that I could explain it to you. The dictionary told me the following:

“A return of something to a former, original, normal, orunimpaired condition.”

That makes me think of something that God said about something he created. Do any of you know what God created and that

ev.owa

He said was Good?

Many of them shouted out that God said that about creation. After telling them that they were right I asked for a volunteer to come up and help me tell this giant story. I then handed them a 8.5×11 drawing of the creation symbol that Micheal Novelli used in his “Echo the Story” curriculum that is featured in his books “Shaped by the Story” and “Enter the Story.”

I then took out a ball of yarn and asked the kids if they knew what it was and of course they yelled back yarn and I told them they were correct, but for this week it was something else. This ball of yarn and the yarn that we would be using would represent “God’s ultimate plan of restoration.” The kids then asked why the yarn was in a bag to which I explained that the bag represented all the things in the stories that were to follow that cause God’s plan to fall just a little bit short. The bag would represent all the little sins that kept God’s plan of restoration from being completely fulfilled. The goal was to see how God’s plan would go from creation, which he called good to the new creation that we read about in Revelation 22.

“God looked over everything he had made;
it was so good, so very good!” Genesis 1:31

Never again will anything be cursed. The Throne of God and of the Lamb is at the center. Rev. 22

I then took the string and wrapped it around the first child’s waist and explained that God’s plan started with something good and that his plan would continue into two very important people. The kids began yelling out “Adam and Eve.”

What happened to Adam and Eve?

ev-1.owaDid they follow God’s direction, or did they do something they were not supposed to?

The kids began to shout out that they did not follow God’s way and I explained that the next symbol represented the separation that happened when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden.

 So God expelled them from the Garden of Eden and sent them to work the ground, the same dirt out of which they’d been made. He threw them out of the garden and stationed angel-cherubim and a revolving sword of fire east of it, guarding the path to the Tree-of-Life. Gen. 3:23-24

I started to wrap the “plan” around the child that held up the “separation” symbol and asked whether or not Adam and Eve helped God’s plan for restoration, or if they had allowed sin to keep them from being with God.

The kids knew this was not what God had in store because we had read the end of the story (Rev. 22). The question I asked them is the key connecting question for the whole lesson.

Even though Adam and Eve fell short of God’s plan for restoration did God stop loving them?

They answered with no and we moved on to the next piece. I talked to them about how even though God made them leave the Garden he still had a plan for Adam and Eve and that was for them to multiply the earth with children.

 

I am going to pause the post here because I want to break up the reading for this lesson because it would be a lengthy post if I did not break it up. Even though the lesson is wordy we did manage to go through the whole restoration story in just over 26 minutes in both of our services. I also talked with many of our adult volunteers after their small group time and asked if the kids “got it” and many of them said that the explanation was clear which made me relieved because even during the lesson the question of whether or not I was clear enough to explain God’s plan to restore creation to something that is beyond “good.”

Look for part two tomorrow.

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P.S. I had some great 30 Hour Famine glasses that helped as an ice breaker for the kids right of the bat. Many of them told me to go back to my regular glasses.

 

 

 

What Place Has History in the O.T. – Tracking the Debate Through Time

More notes from my O.T. History Class. This was a short outline for a presentation. This was the rough draft for my final project.

In 1651 Thomas Hobbes, in chapter 33 of Leviathan, marshaled a battery of passages such as Deut 34:6 (“no man knoweth of his sepulchre to this day,” implying an author living long after Moses’ death); Gen 12:6 (“and the Canaanite was then in the land,” implying an author living in a time when the Canaanite was no longer in the land); and Num 21:14 (referring to a previous book of Moses’ deeds), and concluded that none of these could be by Moses.

Hobbes thus begins by establishing that we cannot infallibly know another’s personal word to be divine revelation:

When God speaketh to man, it must be either immediately or by mediation of another man, to whom He had formerly spoken by Himself immediately. How God speaketh to a man immediately may be understood by those well enough to whom He hath so spoken; but how the same should be understood by another is hard, if not impossible, to know. For if a man pretend to me that God hath spoken to him supernaturally, and immediately, and I make doubt of it, I cannot easily perceive what argument he can produce to oblige me to believe it.

To Hobbes, it is manifest that none can know they are God’s word (though all true Christians believe it) but those to whom God Himself hath revealed it supernaturally. And therefore The question truly stated is: by what authority they are made law?

There is an enormous amount of biblical scholarship in this third part. However, once Hobbes’s initial argument is accepted (that no-one can know for sure anyone else’s divine revelation) his conclusion (the religious power is subordinate to the civil) follows from his logic. The very extensive discussions of the chapter were probably necessary for its time. The need (as Hobbes saw it) for the civil sovereign to be supreme arose partly from the many sects that arose around the civil war, and to quash the Pope of Rome’s challenge, to which Hobbes devotes an extensive section.

Hans W. Frei:

Long before the thought of ‘history of salvation’ became apart of historiography or theological inquiry the idea by those like Augustine was that the real world was formed by the sequences of biblical stories this covered creation to the final consumption that was to come, this included 1) man’s natural environment and 2) man’s secondary environment which is provided by himself (history or culture)

Three elements to traditional realistic interpretation of biblical stories:

Read Literal:

“The true historical reference of a story was a direct and natural concomitant of its making literal sense”

An event at this level in regards to being evidence has the best chance of becoming a reliable historical report

In a single world of one temporal sequence, there must in principle be one cumulative story to depict it

“the several biblical stories narrating sequential segments in time must fit together into one narrative.”

He sees figuration and typology as a natural extension of literal interpretation:

“Figuration was at once a literary and historical procedure, an interpretation of stories and their meanings by weaving them together into a common narrative referring to a single history and its patterns of meaning”

Must in principle embrace the experience of any present age or reader:

It is the reader’s duty to fit themselves into that world and they do this through figural interpretation

“He was to to see his disposition, his actions, and passions, the shape of his own life as well as that of his era’s events as figures of that storied world.”

His point was that such experiences, events, concepts were all ranged figurally into the smaller as well as the overarching story.  Biblical interpretation becomes an imperative need, but its direction was that of incorporating extra-biblical thought, experience, and reality into one real world detailed and made accessible by the biblical story – not the reverse.

Johannes Cocceius and Johann Albrecht Bengel:

“Tried to locate the events of their day vis a vis the narrative framework of biblical story and history, and to locate by means of biblical sayings the present stage of the actual events we experience and predict future stages as well as the end of actual history”

This was a sign of the breaking of literal meaning of the biblical narratives and the reference to actual events.  The narratives no longer provided an access to the events, they could now only verify them.

“Not only did an enormous amount of inquiry into factual truth (or falsity) of the biblical stories develop, but an intense concentration as well on their meaning and religious significance, whether factual or of some other sort”

Question becomes, Do the stories and whatever concepts may be drawn from them describe what we apprehended as the real world? Do they fit a more general framework of meaning than that of a single story?

Figural Reading:

1) Verbal or literal sense was now equated with the single meaning of statements, a logical and grammatical rule prevalent everywhere so that figural reading of the Bible seemed a senseless exception to it

2) The very attempt to read unity out of (or into) the Bible now appeared different from, if not incompatible with, the self-confinement of literal reading to specific texts

-no longer a persuasive instrument for unifying the canon

Realistic Reading:

– consists of matching the written description against the reconstruction of the probable historical sequence to which it referred.

– not only about history but also about specific historical sequences, so that they were not concerned with the unity of the canon

18th Century England:

– Relationship between revelation and theology and the problems in this concept are key

1) Rationality or credibility of the very idea of historical revelation

“Or is what is called revelation nothing more than a specific instantiation of what God had made known everywhere and all along, concerning truth and human happiness?”

“appeal to ‘mystery’ of revelation anything other than an admission that the idea itself is unintelligible, a token of that unwarranted intrusion of imagination or, worse yet, sheer ignorant superstition into matters religious which the new intellectual rigor must repel?”

2) How likely is it that such a thing has taken place?

“How authoritative, in short, how well attested are biblical accounts, especially those of miracles, since the natural presumption in a ‘scientific age’ is obviously against them?”

Debate was:

1) General credibility of miracles in a physical and historical world which was increasingly believed to be governed in accordance with natural law, conceived either prescriptively or descriptively

2) Credibility of the specific miracle accounts of the Bible, especially the NT including the claims to the fulfillment of prophecy

The plausibility of miracles both positive and negative was argued through external and independent evidence (i.e. geological evidence to explain a catastrophe over a large part of the earth for the Flood

18th Century Germany:

How and with the aid of what authority one settles the principles of biblical interpretation?

Reformation focused questions on authority and unity, Protestant questions on the detailing of the principles of textual interpretation

“The consequence of unity and universality in method of interpretation ensured unity of textual meaning also.”

The belief of a layered text such as literal, typological, spiritual, etc. was gone

Late 18th century with the help of Deism things changed,

“From now on, the harmony of historical fact, literal sense, and religious truth will at best have to be demonstrated; at worst, some explanation of the religious truth of the fact-like description will have to be given in the face of a negative verdict on its factual accuracy or veracity”

Unlike the external argument of the English the Germans was almost exclusively internal, they took a literary-historical approach

In his The Concept of Biblical Theology, Barr devotes a chapter to ‘story’ in which he notes that from the 1960s onwards he and others and others stressed the importance of story as a category in Old Testament studies. Story in this context is deliberately set against history, partly as a reaction to the emphasis on the acts of God in the Biblical Theology Movement (BTM). Story embraces material that is historical as well as that which includes myth and legend, and above all divine speech. Story focuses attention on the beginning, the progression and the culmination as more important than the historical realities behind the text. Barr notes that G. Ernest Wright and others in the BTM had already indicated the importance of story in biblical theology but he asserts that they made little of the actual story character of the Bible so that story functioned in their works more as an idea

Barr continues to see great value in approaching the Bible as story, as long as we don’t set this against historical criticism.

“That the story is a totality and to be read as such would seem to agree with the ‘holistic’ emphasis of many literary and canonical tendencies of today. But the fact that it is a totality does not mean that it has to be swallowed whole, uncritically.”

Barr,  defends taking the whole of the Bible as story. Making Genesis the starting point enables us to avoid past mistakes such as isolating the exodus from its broader narrative context. A story approach also connects with current understands of communal and personal identity.

Childs is less positive towards story and biblical theology than Barr. He discusses narrative under literary approaches to biblical theology. His major concern with narrative is that,

“The threat lies in divorcing the Bible when seen as literature from its theological reality to which scripture bears witness.”

Barr, by comparison, finds a story approach to the Bible helpful theologically in that it alerts us to the Bible as the raw data of theological reflection.

Brevard Childs levels this criticism against narrative approaches to biblical theology. In his Biblical Theology Childs includes narrative theology under ‘Literary Approaches to Biblical Theology. Referring to Barr and Frei, he says that

“initially the appeal to the subject matter of the Bible as ‘story’ served to shift the focus away from the perplexing problems of historical referentiality . . .”

Later he criticises this narrative approach because it also sidesteps theological issues: ‘many modern “narrative theologies” seek to avoid all dogmatic issues in the study of the Bible and seek ‘to render reality’ only by means of retelling the story.’  The problem can be seen, notes Childs, by the fact that liberals and conservatives agree on the centrality of narrative, but disagree on the nature of the Biblical story. Again he notes that ‘it has become increasingly evident that narrative theology, as often practised can also propagate a fully secular, non-theological reading of the Bible. The threat lies in divorcing the Bible when seen as literature from its theological reality to which scripture bears witness.

James Barr notes a shift in the paradigm of Biblical theology that moves from ‘revelation in history’ as the primary category to a ‘literary mode of reading.’ Story is then qualified in a literary way: narrative is a literary structure that creates a symbolic world. Or to put it another way, story is qualified in a linguistic way: the Bible offers a merely linguistically constructed narrative world. In this paradigm the historical and theological dimensions of the Biblical story are muted at best.

N.T. Wright:

In fact, the theological authority of the biblical story is tied up with its overarching narrative form. He offers a rich metaphor to explicate this authority. Imagine that a Shakespearian play is discovered for the first time but most of the fifth act is missing. The decision to stage the play is made. The first four acts and the remnant of the fifth act are given to well-trained and experienced Shakespearian actors who immerse themselves both in the first part of the play and in the culture and time of Shakespeare. They are told to work out the concluding fifth act for themselves.

This conclusion must be both consistent and innovative. It must be consistent with the first part of the play. The actors must immerse themselves in full sympathy in the unfinished drama. The first four acts would contain its own cumulative forward movement that would demand that the play be concluded in a way consistent and fitting with that impetus. Yet an appropriate conclusion would not mean a simple repetition or imitation of the earlier acts. The actors would carry forward the logic of the play in a creative improvisation. Such an improvisation would be an authentic conclusion if it were coherent with the earlier acts.

This metaphor provides a specific analogy for how the biblical story might function authoritatively to shape the life of the believing community. Wright sees the biblical story as consisting of four acts – creation, fall, Israel, Jesus – plus the first scene of the fifth act that narrates the beginning of the church’s mission. Furthermore this fifth act offers hints at how the play is to end. Thus the church’s life is lived out consistent with the forward impetus of the first acts and moving toward and anticipating the intended conclusion. The first scene of act five, the church’s story, begins to draw out and implement the significance of the first four acts, especially act four. The church continues today to do the same in fresh and creative ways in new cultural situations. This requires a patient examination and thorough immersion in what act four is all about, how act four is to be understood in light of acts one through three, and how the first scene of act five faithfully carries forward act four.

Theological interpretation will be as important as the literary or historical. Theology is concerned with claims about God embodied in a worldview – whether there is a God, his relation to the world, and whether or not he is acting to set the world right. The theological beliefs of the Biblical authors and its modern interpreters will be essential to Biblical scholarship: ‘ .  . . ‘theology’ highlights what we might call the god-dimension of a worldview. . . . As such it is a non- negotiable part of the study of literature and history, and hence of New Testament studies.’

The recovery of the Bible as one controlling story is important for Wright because that story provides the true worldview context for Biblical scholarship, allowing all dimensions of the Biblical text—theological, literary, and historical—to find full expression.

Exodus 34 – Review from O.T. Theology Class

These were some interesting tidbits I pulled from a study on Exodus 34. Thought I would share.

Stuart, Douglas K. Exodus. The New American commentary, v. 2. Nashville, Tenn: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006.

34:1 – Moses supplying the tablets provides some assumptions 1) all new covenants would require human initiation “chisel out” in the imperative form could refer to Israel having to start the process of restoration. 2) By having Israel supply the tablets it is a physical reminder to them that it wont be so easy.

34;2 – The command of first thing in the morning refers to the belief that what one person does first thing in the morning is the most important.

34:3 – When the NIV refers to “in front of the mountain” should be translated as toward/in the vicinity of the mountain.”

34:4 How did the words get on the tablets? 1 Kings 5:18 suggests that even much later the Israelites were not skilled or renowned stone cutters.  However, the text makes no mention of this.

34:5 – Moses is able to perceive that a real personal being had come to him and not just in a concept, or a feeling.  As before he employed a cloud as the visible portion of his manifestation.  Yahweh’s self proclamation allows for Moses to know that Yahweh would be with him and Israel when they left Mt. Sinai.

34:6 – This delayed response  (the fulfillment of the promise made by God in 33:19 has been delayed until now) is one of the techniques of Moses’ narrative style.  Hebrew word hesed translated as love by the NIV connotes a long term, reliable loyalty of one member of a covenant relationship to another.

34:7 – God lets Israel know that they can not think that they would not be punished because He already punished an earlier generation.

34:29 – God’s presence was obviously there if Moses’ face was obviously reflecting it.  This shows that God had not withdrawn himself from Israel as He was still with Israel’s mediator.  W.H Propp argued that Moses’ face was disfigured and although it didn’t hurt Moses it was not pleasant to look at.  Another link has been placed in a link between the words ‘horns’ and ‘rays’ giving an allusion to the idolatry of the golden bull in Ch. 32.

34:30 – Hebrew verb qrn is not well understood, so there is an argument between the translation of ‘rays,’  ‘horns,’ or ‘radiant.’  The people understood that Moses had been with and was accepted by the God they needed to fear.  This answered their question as to where Moses went in verse 1.

34:31 – Moses ‘spoke to them’ indicates that he told Aaron and the others where he had been.  Aaron is mentioned and comes to Moses as well as the other leaders of the people indicates that they are confirming Moses leadership over them.

34:33-35 – There is no connection between the veil on Moses’ face and the veil of the Tabernacle.  The veil of the Tabernacle blocks out all visibility whereas Moses could see out and the veil lowered the intensity of his encounter with God.

The Akedah – Comparison Between NRSV and Genesis Rabbah

Here are some notes from my Old Testament Theology class last year. I found the words of the Genesis Rabbah to be very compelling and at times it allowed for some great discussion on translating text. Enjoy.

The chapter begins with ‘and it came to pass’ where the NRSV simply begins at ‘after these things’.  The JPS ads in ‘some time afterward.’  The ‘things’ are misgivings or second thoughts of Abraham (LV:IV)  It would be these thoughts that would bring Abraham to his limit.

Verse one has two key words ‘try’ and test’.  The words ‘banner’ and ‘test’ have the same consonants and ‘truth’ and ‘validate’ accompany this.  God’s test for Abraham was one of justice and was not off the cuff.  The author is going to focus on what man does as his centre point for the exegesis.

Psalm 11:5 states that God tests the righteous and in Deut. 6:16 says that no one is to test the Lord.  The conclusion made is that the testing of Abraham represents Israel and because of this places Israel in its own history as strong and holy based upon the conclusions made of Abraham.

Verse two shares a linking between the Moriah and the Temple (LV:VII:2).  ‘Moriah and ‘awe’ share the same consonants and Moriah can be explained as the place where awe enters the world (i.e. The Temple) There is also a strong linking between the binding and the consecration with the temple. The NRSV says that God will show Abraham the mountain whereas in this text Abraham will be told which mountain to go to (LV:VII:4).  The conversation between God and Abraham provides a stronger active God figure in the lives of his people.

Why does Abraham saddle his own ass in verse three when he has two servants with him?  The answer provided is that love disrupts the natural order (LV:VIII).  This idea can be connected back to verse one as it relates back to Abraham as being strong, humble and worthy of this test.

Verse four has Abraham ‘lifting his eyes up’ instead of ‘looking up’  as well as in verse 13 (NRSV).  The strong imagery found in three days deals with the fulfillment of prophecy in the scriptures and the redemption of Israel.

Gen. 22:6 “So they went both of them together,”  It sounds very much like they both knew what was to happen. They went together up the hill in knowledge and acceptance (LVI:III:3) Verse five also states that both will come back down from worshipping.

Verse 6 and 8 have ‘walked on together’ as the ending to the conversation.  Again, an illusion to the idea that both Issac and Abraham know what is to happen.

Verse 1 and 11 have Abraham answering God’s call in the same way, “Here I am”.  This is interesting because one is before the test and the other is after.  It shows that Abraham’s trust in God doesn’t falter.

Why is the name “the Lord will provide” in the future tense in verse 14?  The author places the future tense in conjunction with the future history of the Temple.

Verses 17 and 18 give a double blessing to both the father and the son.  The use of indeed bless is the Hebrew verb written twice and this is what indicates the double blessing.  There is a switch from multiply in this text and numerous in the NRSV.

Verse Genesis Rabbah NRSV/JPS
1 And it cam to pass… (add)
2  (Genesis Rabbah has this as verse three at some points?) Take I Pray you… I shall tell you Take your son …I shall show you
3 And…saddled his ass…and arose and went to… God had told him So…saddled his donkey…set out…God shown
4 Lifted his eyes Looked up
5 come again to you We will come back to you
6 So they went both of them together walked on together
8 God will provide himself the lamb God himself will provide
9 God had told him God had shown
10 slay his son kill his son
12 Seeing you have not Since you have not
13 Lifted his eyes Looked up
14 Called the name of the place called that place
16 done this thing done this
17 multiply your descendants offspring as numerous
18 earth bless themselves earth gain blessing
19 dwelt at lived at
20 And it cam to pass… (add) Behold (add) Now…
22

Even Thor Owns an iPod

This is a comic I purchased recently and I find it completely erroneous. This is Thor an Asgardian God of Thunder listening to an iPod. Yes, they are everywhere evidently. However the message the illustrator, Marko Djurdjevic portrays is epic. We have here the image of a god that is leaving his people, leaving the world he knows and entering into a new one. However, this is not what Paul has in mind. God doesnʼt leave us in our suffering. God joins us in our suffering, he yells right beside us as it is evident by his actions on the cross. Our sufferings bring us solidarity with Christ. To be in Christ, then, is to possess what is often spoke of as full salvation: everything necessary to our past, present, future and eternal welfare has been secured for us by the action of God in Christ and is stored up in Christ for us to share and enjoy. But, it is not only benefits and blessings that are in Christ; we are in Him ourselves.

Jurgen Moltmann and many others that continued his theological thoughts within the Emergent Church have adapted what they call a hope filled eschatology. Meaning it was good news when Jesus came the first time, and it will be good news when he comes again. Moltmann echos Paulʼs hope in his greeting when he wrote about Auschwitz.

“…Like the cross of Christ, even Auschwitz is in God himself. Even Auschwitz is taken up into the grief of the father, the surrender of the Son and the power of the Spirit… As Paul says in 1 Cor. 15, only with the resurrection of the dead, the murdered and the gassed, only with the healing of those in despair who bear lifelong wounds, only with the abolition of all rule and authority, only with the annihilation of death will the Son hand over the kingdom to the father. Then God will turn his sorrow into eternal joy… God in Auschwitz and Auschwitz in the crucified God – that is the basis for a real hope which both embraces and overcomes the world, and the ground for a love which is stronger than death and can sustain death.”

1 Cor. 15 from The Message says this,

“If corpses canʼt be raised, then Christ wasnʼt, because he was indeed dead. And if Christ werenʼt raised, then all youʼre doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever. Itʼs even worse for those who died hoping in Christ and resurrection, because theyʼre already in their graves. If all we get out out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, weʼre a pretty sorry lot. But, the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries.”

The hope of the resurrection sees a future for those who have past, and those that are living in the present can gain courage for the future. It is because of this abundant hope of overcoming death, our little hope for the future, better times can strength, and do not fall victim to doubt and cynicism. In the midst of a culture filled with anxiety and doubt, we hope and do not give ourselves up to despair.

Servanthood and Paul

Verse One, Paul and Timothy servants of Christ Jesus… wait servants of Christ Jesus is a little bit of an odd greeting.

What do they mean by servants?

Isnʼt the term “Servant” negative in connotation?

The only servant that I could think of well writing this is Alfred Pennyworth. The trusted butler to the one and only Bruce Wayne. keeper of the Wayne household even before little Brucey was potty trained. Well taken care of by billionaire Bruce Wayne and at most times the sole confidant Alfred was, to Master Bruce. Actually this is not the only servant that I could think of after this summer. The children in Uganda are all to aware of the strife contained in being servants. These children are taken in the night to fight in a war that has drastically changed their culture. These are the Invisible Children of Uganda and if you ever want to know more just come chat with me anytime.

But, why does Paul insert this negative image in a greeting? It seems as if Paul is already letting the people of Philipi and the reader aware of a couple of major themes to his letter, First there is an attack being made on the church, which leads into the second theme of the hope of a better day. Very applicable to the Invisible Children and any other servants out there. A hope of change, a hope of unity and a hope of a future.

The image I think of when I hear the term servant is suffering. The importance in the greeting is not found in the word “servant”, but how Paul finishes the greeting. He addresses the people of Philipi not as Philippians, as he does in chapter four, but instead he calls them saints … in essence he is calling them Christians. Yet again though, the importance is not in the title it is in the thought of the greeting. Paul is getting at the very centre of Christian belief, there is creativity, meaning, and hope in the fulfillment of suffering.

Abusing Scripture

I found this article to be very useful as I get prepared to teach youth through scripture. The following abuses of scripture allow me to focus my teaching, along with keeping it biblically sound. I hope this can help you as it has me. Where do you tend to have the most trouble?  What do you see most in the teaching of youth today? Let me know!

 

1. The abuse of the whole gospel, which he argues distorts the whole Bible: the healing, redeeming work of God is both personal-spiritual and social-corporate. Overdoing either or ignoring either distorts both gospel and the Bible.

2. The abuse of selectivity — selecting the passages we want to believe and burying the others.

3. The abuse of biblical balance — riding one hobby without considering of larger themes or complementary themes. He examines elevation of particular sins and imbalancing theology and ethics.

4. The abuse of words.

5. The abuse of context, and here he examines literary, theological, historical and cultural.

But I’ve been thinking of the many who have a great idea, know the texts where that idea is found, and then run everything in the Bible — and I mean everything — through that one idea. These folks “use” the Bible and end up “abusing” the Bible. That’s why we need more Bible studies that focus on what the Bible does say in its context.

ht: beliefnet