Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Crush of Work

I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to get everything done today. I signed up to take my first test in Old Testament on Monday. That should be OK, except I also have to finish up my hermeneutics project. I'd like to make some serious headway on that this weekend. Oh, except I also have to watch the kids tomorrow while Amanda goes to the McKenzies for some freezer cooking. I have to take Dad to the airport at 10:15 and then I am going to the grocery with Lily afterwards. I will be on the hook for the kids starting at around 4:00 because we are doing church tonight.

This is why I didn't run this morning. Hopefully it will work out better tomorrow. Maybe I should be studying instead of blogging.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I finished watching the lectures on this somewhat enigmatic book. What do we as Christians do with it? There are a variety of views, but the historically Reformed one is that this book is an apologetic. It shows us how the preacher (seemingly Solomon) tried out all kinds of worldliness and found it wanting. The last two verses sum up what we are to learn. Everything but the fear of the Lord is vanity.

However, there is still a question on this term in the book. Is this the same kind of "fear of the Lord" referred to in Prov 1:7 and Job 28:28? I think that a typical Reformed view would be yes.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Digging Deeper

I finally took the plunge and ordered an ESV Journaling Bible. For the last couple of months I've been writing short notes on my Palm as I read on that. Frankly, I really don't like reading on it that well. I also find that I don't want to write much with that interface. I think two months was a pretty fair try. Note that I did get the tuscan style rather than the base black. I wonder if I'll get any comments made about it. I just know that everyone else has the basic black.

Speaking of journaling, Amanda's Aunt Claudia got me a Moleskine journal. This is telling me that I do need to get back into journaling. After all, that's what the thing is for. Another point on that is someone in my small group spoke well of it and how much he enjoys it. I have tried to use this blog as an online journal, but I don't think it's quite the same. I don't write out too many prayers here either. I may start journaling for some of my prayer time.

Hope has started giving everyone verses to look up through the week. They print this on the back of the sermon notes insert and call it "Digging Deeper." This past week's sermon was on James 1:21-27. Today's topic asked why the tongue is so important. Check out Prov 10:19; Prov 15:2-4; Prov 18:21; Prov 21:23; Jas 3:5-8; 1 Pet 3:10 (really digging that mouse-over, aren't you?). It's really encouraging to see that Hope is pushing us to grow deeper. We're also being encouraged to bring our bibles to church. That should be obvious, but I think we've become lazy with the verses on the big screen. I plan to bring my new journaling bible so I can take notes in there too. It might help me to stay more engaged.

Monday, June 23, 2008


I finished the lecture on Proverbs yesterday. Here is something to think about. Proverbs 1:1-7 is kind of a prologue to the whole book, with verse 7 explaining the beginning of wisdom. Everything through Proverbs 9 is a part of father-son and mother-son chats explaining about woman wisdom and woman folly. Then you have a lot of chapters of general proverbs.

One thing to note is that proverbs as a genre are not meant to be taken as absolute truths. By that I mean that if it says that something will happen to the sluggard and something else to the industrious it is possible for that to be backwards in how it plays out. In other words, don't read it the same as you would read Paul's commands in Ephesians, for example.

Most of us know Proverbs 31:10-31. What is interesting is to note Proverbs 31:23. This verse does two things. One is that it links everything back to the opening. This passage describes the virtuous wife, but it is not written to women. It is still written to the son who is receiving instruction. It also links to Ruth as Ruth immediately followed Proverbs in the Tanakh. Ruth was this virtuous woman.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Getting Attention

I sometimes read through my morning devotionals without really trying to think about what I'm reading. Check this out:

2 Kings 6:15-23 ESV
(15) When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?"
(16) He said, "Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them."
(17) Then Elisha prayed and said, "O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see." So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
(18) And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the LORD and said, "Please strike this people with blindness." So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha.
(19) And Elisha said to them, "This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek." And he led them to Samaria.
(20) As soon as they entered Samaria, Elisha said, "O LORD, open the eyes of these men, that they may see." So the LORD opened their eyes and they saw, and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria.
(21) As soon as the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, "My father, shall I strike them down? Shall I strike them down?"
(22) He answered, "You shall not strike them down. Would you strike down those whom you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master."
(23) So he prepared for them a great feast, and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the Syrians did not come again on raids into the land of Israel.

Note the end of verse 23. I'm pretty sure that if I were blinded and then was able to see in the middle of the enemy city I would probably not want to fight those people either. Note too that rather than a slaughter there was a feast.

What's also interesting is how soon we forget:

2 Kings 6:24 ESV
(24) Afterward Ben-hadad king of Syria mustered his entire army and went up and besieged Samaria.

That siege does work for a while, but as the story goes on I don't think that Ben-hadad made a good decision.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Divine Sovereignty

Just how sovereign is God? Does He really have anything to do with our day-to-day life? Does He ordain the problem we have with finding a parking space? Or does He help us to find just the right space when we need it? Is He responsible for the person who offers us an encouraging word in season? Is He also responsible for the person who tears us down?

These are the kinds of things we were discussing Tuesday morning in small group. We're going through the Jerry Bridges book Respectable Sins and had a very lively discussion. I don't claim to know the answer to all of this because Scripture does seem to contain a tension between our responsibility and God's sovereignty. However, I do want to make sure that any opinion I do form is based on Scripture.

Based on what I read, I do think that God is guiding the events in my life. That means that somehow He is guiding the people in my life too. That also must mean that He is somehow guiding me as I interact with others.

Does that put God in heaven tickling marionette strings? Maybe that is the logical conclusion. Perhaps my next reading through Scripture will focus on this theme. It's one that I think every believer should wrestle with.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I finished watching the lecture on Psalms last night. It was amazing to consider God's handiwork in composing this book. He took 150 discrete poems and knit them into a unified whole. The biggest thing I got from it was to note how Psalm 1 is a wisdom psalm and Psalm 2 is messianic. Ever notice how the book of Psalms is split into five books? Take note of how each book ends with a doxology. Then note the theme of the psalms that begin and end each book. The only exception is the bridge between psalms 41 and 42, which is a bit different.

The point is that there are themes of wisdom and messiah throughout the psalter. The next time you read through the psalms try reading them with that "lens" and see what you can find.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


I just finished reading Hebrews as part of my Bible reading plan. One thing that keeps leaping out at me is how we now have access to God as a result of Christ's sacrifice. If you ever think that there is no value in reading Leviticus, I would say that it definitely makes Hebrews come alive. Contrast what had to happen for atonement in Leviticus to the New Testament description of what our relationship is like with Christ. It really is a night and day difference.

This really intensifies the value of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Keep dwelling on the cross!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sovereignty in Kings

I'm in 1Kings for my OT reading lately. I admit to struggling a bit with 1Kings 13:18:22. Take the time to read all of 1Kings 13 and I think you'll see what I mean.

What is the deal here? First, the prophet lies to the other prophet. Then God uses this lying prophet to pronounce judgment on the first prophet. This is a judgment that quickly finds its fulfillment as well.

What this tells me is that God can use people independent of their character. By that I mean that He could still use this man who led the first prophet astray. If you want to be a hard determinist about it, you could even suggest that God intended judgment for the prophet in the first place, which is why He used the lying prophet. However, the text doesn't necessarily say that so we won't go there.

At any rate, it's something that I am wrestling with. What does this tell me about God? It kind of makes Him look rather capricious.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

More Wisdom

I watched the class on Job over the past two nights. This is a tough book to wrestle with. At a certain level it looks like poor Job had his life wrecked over a bar bet that God made with Satan. However, I don't think that is the sole purpose of the book.

It is interesting to consider that this book has always been considered canonical. Dating it is tough though. It seems to have been written during the time of the Patriarchs. Note too that Job was an Edomite, which would not make his story real popular with most Hebrews. Nevertheless, the story stands as an example of God's faithfulness.

My big takeaway from the lecture was on the purpose of the book. Job 28 goes into the nature of wisdom and has a parallel in Proverbs 1. This book shows us how to live. It tells us that trials can help to focus our faith. It also shows that God's ways are not our ways.

That last line always feels like a cop-out at some level. However, the thing to remember is that God is indeed God and we definitely are not. There are going to be things about Him and His purposes which will remain inscrutable to us. We don't always have to like the way things work out, but we'd better learn to accept them.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Wearing Thin

I'm starting to wonder if perhaps I'm squeezing too much into my schedule. I feel incredible stress with Amanda's birthday, my shutter-painting project, the class I need to finish, the class I'm starting, family obligations, and work. I'm starting to wonder if reviewing Greek flash cards every day is really necessary. Is it also necessary for me to spend time every day in the Greek New Testament?

I think it is these dry times that show me what I'm made of. Am I going to let my feelings dictate my actions or am I going to follow-through on my commitments? I intend to follow-through.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Wisdom Literature

I started my Old Testament course last night. It's nice to watch the lectures in the comfort of my own home with a steaming cup of decaf at my side. However, it's also easy to get distracted by wht is going on in the Indians game. I can do that in class with my Blackberry too, but it's even easier when I can put the DVD in a window and watch both simultaneously. This is especially nice when someone asks a question that I don't find very interesting.

I learned two main things from this lecture. The first is that the Torah of Yahweh is where we find wisdom, according to the OT. Check out how Deuteronomy 34:9 meshes with Joshua 1:8. Then note how Malachi 4:4 fits into that. Keep in mind that Malachi was not at the end of the Hebrew Bible, but was at the end of the second section. Psalm 1:1-3 would immediately follow it. It is clear that one is made wise through thoughtful meditation on Torah. My professor made this point about Ezra. Once they found the scroll they read it. They didn't seek further revelation. They realized that was what they needed.

The other is the importance of creation theology. As you read Psalms note how often God as creator is mentioned. The fact that He created everything is what gives Him the authority to define wisdom. He is by definition wise. It also puts Romans 9:21 into perspective.

(note: I love having the Scripture links!)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Psalm 19

Here is my first draft at this one. The more I looked at it the more I saw the emphasis on the value of the Word of God. Not a big surprise, I realize.