Archive for December, 2011

Ouch! That’s what they should be saying about me/Christians

[FYI…For titles, I choose a line or a thought resulting from my daily reading. I am still in the introduction parts of the ESV Bible. Tomorrows reading is from the “Introduction To Genesis”. It’s long so I’ll probably divide into two. I am defiitely a SLOWWWWWWW reader.]

12.30.11
The PENTATEUCH consists of the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). The Hebrew term for it is TORAH (“law” or “instruction”).

The Pentateuch as Foundational to the Whole Bible
1. Orientation. Sets the tone, “polytheism” (multiple God’s) is not where it’s at.
2. Divine Purposes. Adam and Eve’s sin sets back the divine program but does not defeat it. God later calls Abraham.
3. Theology and ethics. Gives insight into God’s character and ethical standards. It illustrates both his benevolence and his righteousness.

Content
Center of gravity is the law-giving at Sinai. The central section suggests that at its core is God’s filling the newly built tabernacle as a visible demonstration of his choice of and intimacy with Israel—a restoration of the situation in the Garden of Eden, where God walked with Adam and Eve.

[My own thought: WALK WITH ME. Daily, God is still wanting to take walks with us like He did in the garden with Adam and Eve. Sadly, the chaos and noise of life fail to enable us to hear the daily invite.]

[My own thought: IT’S A BIG DEAL. The temple was a place of both beauty and fear. Beauty as God’s dwelling place full of silver and gold. The inner courts, as I imagine them, you did not enter into lightly. The last thing you would want to do is defile the temple. If I am the dwelling place of the Lord, how seriously do I take it…how much do I value it?]

Moses was only granted a vision of the promise land.

[My own thought: LIFE IS A RELAY RACE. We are clearly only running a portion of the race…and that race is NOT A SPRINT OR A MARATHON, but a RELAY RACE. The question is, “How well am I running my portion…and…how well will I had off the baton.]

The first avalanche of sin led to the universal judgment of the flood (Noah-before Moses).

[My own thought: LET’S TRY THIS AGAIN. Was the flood like a Second Genesis (or declaration of a false start) and in the end, after a failed second attempt, did God throw up his hands and say, “Ok, let’s just work with what we’ve got and we’ll tweek it/them along the way. Probably not. I am quickly understanding why it takes me FOREVER to read anything…mind-driftttttting]

Time Span
Archbishop User calculated the creation of the world occurred in 4004 B.C. Exodus is believed to occur around 1447 – 1270 B.C. [Really, no one knows]

Theme
God promises Abraham four things: (1) Land to live in; (2) numerous descendants; (3) blessing for himself; (4) blessing through him for all the nations of the world.

Each time God appears to the patriarchs, the promises are elaborated and made more specific. The fulfillment of these promises to Abraham constitutes the story line of the Pentateuch.

[My thought: Interesting TOUGH START: The patriarchs’ wives – Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel – all have trouble conceiving. But when they take the first census, they total 603,550 fighting men (Numbers 1:46).]

The Pentateuch is a story of divine mercy to a wayward people. (Abraham lied about Sarah and allowed her to be taken by a foreign king, the pair escape, greatly enriched. Jacob cheats his father but returns with great flocks and herds to a forgiving brother. Israel breaks the first two commandments by making the golden calf, yet God still dwells among them in the tabernacle.)

However, alongside this account of God’s grace must be set the importance of the law and right behavior. The opening chapters of Genesis set out the pattern of life that everyone should follow: monogamy, Sabbath observance, rejection of personal vengeance and violence.

Israel was chosen to mediate between God and the nations and to demonstrate in finer detail what God expected of human society, so that other peoples would exclaim, “What great nation has a god so near to it…? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law…?” (Deuteronomy 4:7-8)

[My thought: OUCH! THAT’S WHAT THEY SHOULD BE SAYING ABOUT ME/CHRISTIANS.]

To encourage Israel’s compliance with all the law revealed at Sinai, it was embedded in a covenant. These covenantal principles—that God will bless Israel when she keeps the law and punish her when she does not—pervade the rest of the OT. The book of Joshua demonstrates that fidelity to the law led to the successful conquest of the land, while the books of Judges and Kings show that Israel’s apostasy to other gods led to defeat by her enemies.

Jesus is the second Adam. He is the true Israel (Jacob), whose life sums up the experience of the nation. But preeminently Jesus is seen as the new and greater Moses. As Moses declared God’s law for Israel, so Jesus declares and embodies God’s word to the nations. As Moses suffered and died outside the land so that his people could enter it, so the Son of God died on earth so that his people might enter heaven. It was observed that the filling of the tabernacle with the glory of God was the center of the Pentateuch. So too “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory” (John 1:14).

The goal of the entire Bible is that humans everywhere should glorify the God whose glory has confronted them. Lost sight of in Eden, this goal reappears through Moses, on its way to final fulfillment through Christ.

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I Got Red-Hot, Chili Pepper Mad This Week

Earlier this week, I got red-hot, chili pepper mad! In fact when a friend mentioned the situation earlier today, I realized that I’m still “pretty warm” about it. What thoughts flow through my head during those times remind me that God’s not done working on me yet. I wear an invisible sign on my forehead that says, “Under Construction…Excuse The Mess.”

I am an HEIR TO, STEWARD OF and PARTICIPANT IN the story

This round of reading through the Bible I want to connect the dots as much as possible, so I am still in the intro notes to the ESV Bible. Here is what I learned today.

12.29.11 The Theology of the Old Testament (OT)
The Components of the OT Story

1. Monotheism.
There is only one true God, who made heaven and earth and all mankind.

2. Creation and fall (Adam and Eve).

3. Election and covenant.
The one true God chose a people for himself and bound himself to them by his covenant. This covenant expressed God’s intention to save the people, and through them to bring light to the rest of the world, in order to restore all things to their proper functioning in the world God made. God’s covenants generally involve one person who represents the whole people (ex. Adam, Noah, Abraham, David): the rest of the people experience the covenant by virtue of their inclusion in the community represented.

4. Covenant membership.
In his covenant, God offers his grace to his people: the forgiveness of their sins, the shaping of their lives in this world to reflect his own glory, and a part to play in bringing light to the Gentiles. Each member of God’s people is responsible to lay hold of this grace from the heart: to believe the promises, and then to grow in obeying the commands, and to keep on doing so all their lives long. The spiritual and moral well-being of the whole affects the well-being of each of the members, and each member contributes to the others by his own spiritual and moral life. Thus each one shares the joys and sorrows of the others and of the whole. Historical judgments upon the whole people often come because too many of the members are unfaithful; these judgments do not, however, bring the story of God’s people to an end but serve rather to purify and chasten that people.

The “law” given through Moses, plays a vital role in the OT. It is presented as an object of delight and admiration (Psalm 119) because it is a gift from a loving and gracious God. The law is never present in the OT as a list of rules that one must obey in order to be right with God; rather it is God’s fatherly instruction, given to shape the people he loved.

5. Eschatology.
The story of God’s people is headed toward a glorious future in which all kinds of people will come to know the Lord and join his people. This was the purpose for which God called Abraham, and for which he appointed Israel. It is part of the dignity of God’s people that, in God’s mysterious wisdom, their personal faithfulness contributes to the story getting to its goal (Deut. 4:6-8).

The OT develops its idea of a Messiah in the light of these components. The earliest strands of the messianic idea speak of an offspring who will undo the work of the Evil One and bless the Gentiles by bringing them into his kingdom (Genesis 3:15; 22:17-18; 24:60).

The OT is thus the story of the one true Creator God, who called the family of Abraham to be his remedy for the defilement that came into the world through the sin of Adam and Eve. God rescued Israel from slavery in Egypt in fulfillment of this plan, and established them as a theocracy for the sake of displaying his existence and character to the rest of the world. God sent his blessings and curses upon Israel in order to pursue that purpose. God never desisted from that purpose, even in the face of the most grievous unfaithfulness in Israel.

This overarching story serves as a grand narrative or worldview story for Israel: each member of the people was to see himself or herself as an heir of this story, with all its glory and shame; as a steward of the story, responsible to pass it on to the next generation; and as a participant whose faithfulness could play a role, by God’s mysterious wisdom, in the story’s progress. [I love this part]

The OT had looked forward to an internationalized people of God (Jews and Gentiles…all people), without explaining exactly how that would connect to the theocracy of Israel (the Jews, God’s chosen people). The theocracy defined the people of God as predominately coming from a particular ethnic group in a particular land (Jews). Gentile converts (“sojourners”) were protected but could not be full-status members. The NT abolishes the distinction, because the theocracy as such is no longer in existence and many of its provisions are done away with. At the same time, the character of the one Creator God, and his interest in restoring the image of God in human beings, transcends the specific arrangements of the theocracy; hence the moral commands of God apply to Christians as they did to the faithful in Israel.

12.28.11 Notes from ESV’s “Overview Of The Bible”

What, you thought I was joking? I thought about breaking this post up, but then I’d be behind.

OVERVIEW OF THE BIBLE (these 4 1/2 pages of my new LARGE print ESV Study Bible took me 2 hours to read and write about WITH my READING glasses on…told you I was slow (and evidently blind). But it was sooooo good, I might go back and re-read tomorrow.)

How does the Bible as a whole fit together?

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

Diving right in…

In themselves, the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament (OT) were not able to remove sins permanently and to atone for them permanently (Heb. 10:1-18). They pointed forward to Christ, who is the final and complete sacrifice for sins.

When Christ appeared to the disciples after his resurrection, his teaching focused on showing them how the Old Testament pointed to him.

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. Luke 24:45

Old Testament
The Law of Moses: Genesis to Deuteronomy
The Prophets:
Former Prophets: Historical books Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, and 1-2 Kings
Latter Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the 12 Minor Prophets (Hosea-Malachi)
Writings: Psalms, Daniel

The OT as a whole, through its promises, its symbols, and its pictures of salvation, looks forward to the actual accomplishment of salvation that took place once-for-all in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In what ways does the OT look forward to Christ?

PROMISES
First, it directly points forward through promises of salvation and promises concerning God’s commitment to his people.

Salvation: Christ as the Messiah, the Savior in the line of David. Through the prophet Micah, God promises that the Messiah is to be born in Bethlehem, the city of David (Micah 5:2), a prophecy strikingly fulfilled in the New Testament (Matthew 2:1-12). There are also general promises concerning a future great day of salvation, without spelling out all the details (ex. Isaiah 25:6-9)

Commitment to his people: To be their God (Jeremiah 31:33, Hosea 2:23; Zechariah 8:8; 13:9; Hebrews 8:10) – comprehensive commitment to be with his people, to care for them, to discipline them, to protect them, to supply their needs, and to have a personal relationship with them. If that commitment continues, it promises to result ultimately in the final salvation that God works out in Christ.

“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him (Christ)” 2 Corinthians 1:20. Sometimes God gives immediate, temporal blessings. These blessings are only a foretaste of the rich, eternal blessings that come through Christ.

WARNINGS AND CURSES
God’s relation to people includes not only blessings but also warnings, threatening, and cursings. These are appropriate because of God’s righteous reaction to sin. They anticipate and point forward to Christ in two distinct ways. First, Christ is the Lamb of God, the sin-bearer (John 1:29; 1 Peter 2:24). He was innocent of sin, but became sin for us and bore the curse of God on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13). Second, Christ as his second coming wars against sin and exterminates it (final judgment against sin).

COVENANTS
People’s commitment and obligations to God. Noah, Abraham, and others whom God meets and addresses are called on to respond not only with trust in God’s promises but with lives that begin to bear fruit from their fellowship with God. A covenant between two human beings is a binding commitment obliging them to deal faithfully with one another (as with Jacob and Laban in Genesis 31:44).

“I will be their God, they shall be my people.” By dealing with the wrath of God against sin, Christ changed a situation of alienation from God to a situation of peace. He reconciled believers to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Romans 5:6-11). He brought personal intimacy with God, and the privilege of being children of God (Romans 8:14-17). This intimacy is what all the OT covenants anticipated. In Isaiah, God even declares that his servant, the Messiah, will be the covenant for the people (Isaiah 42:6; 49:8).

OFFSPRING
Through Christ believers are united to him and thereby themselves become “Abraham’s off-spring” (Galatians 3:29). Believers become heirs to the promises of God made to Abraham and his offspring: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:28-29).

CHRIST AS THE LAST ADAM
Christ is not only the offspring of Abraham but the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45-49). Like Adam, he represents all who belong to him. And he reverses the effects of Adam’s fall.

SHADOWS, PREFIGURES, AND “TYPES”
1 Corinthians 10:6 indicates that the events the Israelites experienced in the wilderness were “examples for us.” Greek word for “example” is typos (aka “type”). A “type,” in the language of theology, is a special example, symbol, or picture that God designed beforehand, and that he placed in history at an earlier point in time in order to point forward to a later, larger fulfillment. Animal sacrifices in the OT prefigure the final sacrifice of Christ. The temple, as a dwelling place for God, prefigured Christ, who is the final “dwelling place” for God.

CHRIST AS THE MEDIATOR
The Bible makes it clear that ever since the fall of Adam into sin, sin and its consequences have been the pervasive problem of the human race. God is holy, and no sinful human being, not even a great man like Moses, can stand in the presence of God without dying: “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live” (Exodus 33:20). Sinful man needs a mediator who will approach God on his behalf. Christ, who is both God and man, and who is innocent of sin, is the only one who can serve: “there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all” (1Timothy 2:-6). In a much smaller/subordinate way, Moses serving as a mediator for the Israelites prefigured Christ’s ultimate mediation for us. So understanding of the unity of the Bible increases when one pays attention to instance where God brings salvation, and instances where a mediator stands between God and man.

Instances of mediators in the OT includes PROPHETS (bring the word of God from God to the people), KINGS (bring God’s rule to bear on the people), and PRIESTS (represent the people in coming before God’s presence). Also can look at them as WISE MEN (bring God’s wisdom to others), WARRIORS (bring God’s deliverance from enemies), and SINGERS (who bring praise to God on behalf of the people and speak of the character of God to the people). Mediation occurs not only through human figures, but through institutions. COVENANTS (bring God’s word to the people), TEMPLE (brings God’s presence to the people), SACRIFICES (bring God’s forgiveness to the people).

In reading the Bible one should look for ways in which God brings his word and his presence to people through means that he establishes.

You Probably Aren’t Going To Want To Read This

I found myself recently saying out loud, “I hate the word LEADERSHIP.” As it came out of my mouth, I knew it was a complete dramatic overstatement. I don’t hate “leadership,” I actually love it! John Maxwell, Andy Stanley and Bill Hybel books have changed my life…for real!

You might be wondering, why such strong words Judy? It’s just that the Church’s (note Big “C”) and my own UNQUENCHABLE THIRST for it and its use as a MEASUREING ROD for worth and success makes it so unappealing as of late. Somewhere in the midst of our pursuit to be great leaders, it “feels” like we’ve lost Jesus. I don’t know about you, but I miss Him.

So, I’ve decided to fire up my blog again. It’s going to break all the “blogging” rules. Most posts will be way too long for anyone to read, but that’s ok…it’s not for you really, it’s for me. 2012 is going to be about getting back to the basics of God’s Word and finding Jesus again. It’s not that I lost Him, He just got a little blurry there for awhile…partly due to my own leadership pursuit, partly due to other things I won’t go into here, but maybe someday (relax, no sin issue here…except in my overconsumption of chocolate and Diet Mountain Dew). Anyway, as of today, I began another reading of the Bible from cover to cover. While there will be leadership nuggets mixed in, this blog’s primary focus is on what God is teaching me on my reading journey.

Why am I posting this? I am a “doer,” not a “reader.” My favorite way to learn is by doing things and watching people. When it comes to reading, I’m super slow and often spend more time chasing rabbits off the page and/or dosing off, leaving me frustrated and having to go back and re-read what I just read…multiple times. If I didn’t love to learn so much, I probably never read…EVER (just being honest). If God would have left us 66 videos, instead of books, I’d be more than happy. But He didn’t, pen and ink were His methods of choice (or rock and chizel if you count Moses). So, I shall read (and re-read haha). Oddly enough, when I write as I read, while slowing me down even more, it multiples my comprehension. Plus, as stupid as it sounds, I’m much better at follow through when I make a verbal (or written) commitment. So, with that being said, going to give it my best shot, 3 days before the New Year.

Wish me luck 😀 On your mark, get set, go!

Effective Ways To Regain Attention In Large Or Small Group Settings by Dale Hudson

These are some great ideas if your students do VBS-type meetings on mission trips or if you’re involved in children’s ministry (found on churchleaders.com). Also, if you’re a ministry leader with little time for corporate meetings, these are examples of tips you can send out via email (like with a small group guide).

1. Say in a normal tone of voice, “If you can hear me, clap once.” Wait for a response. Repeat and say a little softer, “If you can hear me now, clap twice.” Wait for a response. One final time, lowering your voice to a whisper, “If you can hear me now, clap three times.” Wait for a response (by that time you should have their attention).

2. Use a simple hand motion. Before the lesson, tell the kids, “Anytime you see me raise my hand, I want you to raise your hand too and listen to what I have to say.”

3. Use silence. Just stop talking, in a few second it will catch on.

4. Use a noisemaker, like a toy train whistle. Teach the kids what kind of sound a train makes when it’s pulling into the station (Shhhh shhh shh). When they hear the whistle, they are to make the “Shhhh shhh shh” sound.

5. Buy a small music box (wind up before class) and tell the kids before you teach, “Anytime you start talking without permission, I’m going to open the music box and let it play as long as you keep talking. When you stop talking, I’m going to close it. At the end of the class, if there is any music left, I will reward you with a small prize (like a piece of candy).”

6. Say, “Give me five.” Hold up your hand and have the kids count backwards with you, starting loud with “5” and lowering your voice with each number until you’re whispering when you hit “1”.

7. Some type of simple rhythm (ex. smack legs twice, then clap twice). Eventually all the kids will be joining in and you will have their attention.