Showing posts from September, 2011

A Good Start

I am a horrible project planner--at least at home.  A couple years ago we had the idea to build a closet in some empty space over the garage.  It was my wife's idea and a great one.  

It's been 2 years and it may be finished in a month.  About a day into the project I knew I was in over my head.

2 years later we hired a contractor to finish it but after the basic work and finishing touches it has been a lot more complicated and a lot more costly than we originally anticipated.

Thinking through this, I remembered Jesus' teaching about counting the cost.  His example for this admonition is a man who builds with no plan or thought to the cost of finishing.  King of describes my approach to home improvement.  
Luke 14:25-33 “If one of you wanted to build a tower, wouldn’t you first sit down and calculate the cost, to determine whether you have enough money to complete it?29Otherwise, when you have laid the foundation but couldn’t finish the tower, all who see it will begin to beli…

Unveiling the Samaritan - NT Types

On a dusty, lonely stretch of road, a 1st Century Jew walks from Jerusalem to Jericho and it attacked by thieves.  They rob him of his possessions and leave him bloodied and half-conscious on the side of the road.  

Fortunately for him, a priest and Levite travel the same road, but neither offer to help, but use their religion as a pretense for avoiding the man.  
Then a Samaritan comes down the road.  For this man and most Jews, he would seem an unlikely ally.  Samaritan were half-Jews who had corrupted the faith of Abraham.  Their most famous celebrity were the Herods, whose record of benevolence was less than stellar.  
Yet this unclean man stooped down with compassion, bandaged the wounds of the broken Jew, soothing him with oil and wine.  He placed the man on his own animal and carried him down the road to the inn.  He stayed the night watching and caring for the man till morning, then he left paying the bill but leaving a credit if the man needed more care.  
Jesus ends with a rheto…

Track 8 - Offerings

Azariah and his friends have been thrust into a Babylonian furnace and the king, his servants, and the people look on waiting for the men to turn to ash.  Azariah lifts up his voice in song and offers himself to God as a sacrifice.  His prayer for deliverance was answered, and the fire has no effect.  

The king in frustration at the slowness of their consumption commands his servants to stoke the fire hotter.  The youths inside the furnace survive, yet the servants outside are burnt by their own efforts.

Suddenly the king sees a fourth man in the furnace and this man shakes of the "fiery flame of the furnace".  The Lord makes the fire as a "dew-laden breeze".  The young men together cry out with one voice in praise to God.  
"The hymn begins with praise of God, the Creator and Lord of all. God is sitting upon His throne in His heavenly temple, and from there He is praised by all creation. The young men function as priests of creation, offering all that God made…

It May Be Bigger Than It Seems - Typology

The doctor heard a knock on his door, but did not want to be bothered.  The last couple days had been particularly hard on him.  It was not work that was hard, it was life.  Tragedy had struck his community.  A man he knew and loved had been arrested on trumped up charges, and without any hesitation the government executed him.  

Grudgingly he walked to his door where another friend stood with eyes that mirrored his own grief.  In a low voice, he told of the next town over, whose doctor had unexpectedly left on a journey, but was in need of temporary assistance.  At first, the doctor balked, but the friend pushed him with the argument that it might be good to get away for a while, and he would accompany him till he could set up shop.  

The doctor agreed, packed a couple essentials and tools, and left.  Along the way, silence dominated the trip, but occasionally a mumble or grunt would break out to recount the events of the last several days.  Rather than heal the wounds, the talk picked…

Track 7 - Sacrifice

Crack open your Bible to Daniel 3:25-45, and see if you can find it.  It might be missing.  This passage and the next track we will consider are part of the Septuagint version of Daniel, and it missing from any Old Testaments that rely solely on the Hebrew.  

The story behind this song should be a familiar one, if you spent your childhood Sunday mornings in Bible school (o, those flannel graphs).  Daniel had three friends whom we remember as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, but these were there Babylonian names.  Their Hebrew names were Hananiah, Mishael, & Azariah.  Because they refused to bow down before a false idol, the Babylonian king had them thrown into a furnace.  

The furnace was super-heated but the boys were not consumed.  In fact, the king noticed a mysterious fourth man walking around with them in furnace.  The king called them forth from the fire and they walked out unscathed.  

As they were bound and thrust into the flames, one of the youths begins a prayer.  Azariah l…

Poems & Vignettes

One of my oldest friends, fellow Louisvillian (and Georgian), and college roommate has recently started a subscribe worthy blog.  For a while now,  he has been blogging about his own spiritual pilgrimage here, but he has finally turned his opened his journal of poems and stories to the blogging community.  

Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to sample his poetry and have always find them moving.  His short stories are equally wonderful.  Here's a sample:

A constellation of freckles, the fruit of twelve summers, lay across Sarah’s cheeks and nose and brought to mind carefree days spent out of doors. Her large blue eyes were as clear as the cloudless sky and still sparkled with that undimmed mirth and joy of life that commonly abides in the female child before the complexities of adulthood loom large on the horizon.But that usual light in Sarah’s face was veiled by clouds this night.Make sure you check out his blog here at Poems & Vignettes.  He is also listed on the sid…

St. Patrick the Book

Recently I won a book. I rarely win anything, so this was particularly exciting.

Thomas Nelson via Twitter had a drawing for a new book on St. Patrick. I entered and won. To turn a favor for something free, I want to offer up a very positive review.  

First of all, this is a very readable book.  Author Jonathan Rogers creates a compelling historical survey of the times in which St. Patrick was born.  Patrick was born in Roman Britain around 385 AD.  He lived on the edge of two eras.  Roman culture and rule in Britain was beginning to deteriorate, and the "barbarian" populations that would come to dominate were beginning to filter into the country.  He was born to this population of Roman nobility, then suddenly as a young man he was kidnapped by Irish raiders to be sold as a slave in Ireland.  

Eventually, he would escape his captors only to return when he was prodded by the voice of God to bring the faith of Christ to his former slave-masters.  His efforts earned him the t…

Mel Gibson Took My Advice

When Ancient Faith Radio interviewed me about my new book, I was asked about my favorites books in this mysterious group of Biblical writings.  I mentioned two, Sirach and the Maccabees.  

My reason for choosing Maccabees is because it is action-packed.  There is fighting, intrigue, and heroism.  Men, women, and children are sacrificing their lives for their faith in God.  Maybe it's a man-thing but it is hard for me not to picture Chuck Norris when reading about the exploits of Judas Maccabeus.  

In an off-hand comment, I mentioned my surprise that these books have never been made into a movie.  I didn't know he was an AFR fan, but Mel must have heard the interview.  Entertainment Weekly reported that Mel has decided to make a movie on the Maccabees.

While Mel has had his problems lately, I welcome a movie.  No doubt, it will be violent and not for the kiddies, but these are stories that need to be known and told on a larger scale.  

Outside the general tenor of excitement, these…

Let's Take it Literally - The Literal Sense of Scripture

In a previous post, I mentioned 4 senses of Scripture that Christians throughout the centuries have used to better understand the Bible and its impact of their relationship to God and neighbor.  

Today, let's briefly cover the Literal sense of Scripture.  This is probably the best understood, and the approach most conservative Bible readers take when reading and interpreting the text.  On the face, it would seem the easiest to grasp, and it may be but that simple when put into practice.  

To recap:  the literal sense is the plain sense or the meaning that the original audience would have derived from the text on it's surface.  The original audience may have seen implications and applications by what was written, but what is the apparent sense of the text.  

As simple, as this may seem, it still may take more than one reading to find out what is going on in the text.  Here are tips that can help in understanding the literal sense of the passage:

1.  Genre:Within Scripture there are…

4 Senses of Scripture

Scripture is a critical element in the life of a Christian, but it does not take much effort to see the abuse and twisting that the Bible has endured at the hands of well meaning and not-so well meaning people over the centuries.  
To protect against such error, the Bible should be read within the context of the Church.  This means many things but one aspect of context is a particular approach to reading Scripture.  
This approach can be summarized as the Four Senses of Scripture.  From early times times, the faithful approached Scripture this way.  Faithful Jews prior to Christ used this method, and it became incorporated into the life of the Church from the beginning.  
Later in history these 4 Senses were listed and categorized with helpful labels by St. John Cassian (360-435).  The labels stuck and have been used ever since.  
What are they?
Literal:  Another way of stating this is literary.  Obviously not every Scripture is meant literally.  Genre must be considered.  Trees clapping t…

Top Posts for August

I am always surprised at what posts generate the most traffic.  Many times I think I write something provocative or brilliant and nothing happens.  Then I write something small and spontaneous, and I get a great response.  Too bad, I can't bottle the good stuff, and pour it out in every post.  Here are the top 5 post/pages for August.  #4 was the surprise post of the month for me.   

Track 4 - Unexpected VictoryTrack 1 - DeliveranceThe BookPurpose of the Old Testament To Be a FatherThanks to all the readers, sharers, and subscribers.  

Track 6 - Descent into Hell

Track 6 of the Biblical soundtrack is found in the minor prophet Jonah.  While a small book and a perfect story for Sunday School, the Church has found tremendous comfort and power in Jonah's story and prayer.  

Jonah wanted to escape from God's presence and God gave him the desire of his heart--a glimpse of existence without God.  This was a dark night of the soul or perhaps a more Orthodox phrase: "a descent into hell".  Most spiritual writers express this reality as a necessary stage of spiritual growth.  For some it is imposed by God to purify.  This is the way of the cross and it can not be escaped.  Christ walked down this path for us and will meet us at the bottom.  On the cross, he cries out "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"  This experience of Christ is beyond our understanding, but we can know that no hell we may endure has not been felt by our Savior.  

Familiar to all is David's shepherd psalm, which begins: "the Lord is my shep…