Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hamburger

For Christmas, I got a book called Hamburger America. It's about hamburger places from all around the country.

As I looked through it, I thought the dedication was funny. Here is what it said: To anyone who appreciates a good burger, and to my vegetarian wife, Casey.

Can you imagine being vegetarian while your spouse travels the country sampling hamburgers and practices the same obsession while at home?

So imagine my surprise this morning when on the Hamburger America blog, I see the former vegetarian wife enjoying her first hamburger in 17 years. The look on her face (click here to see) is bliss; the hamburger in her hand is a Green Chile Cheeseburger from the Bobcat Bite.

Welcome home Casey!

I have had a thing for hamburgers since I was a small child. I have fond memories of going up to the window at Tastee Freeze and ordering a sack for our family. We usually got them on a Sunday evening after spending the afternoon visiting friends. My dad would let me have three of them.

I loved family vacations because I could get hamburgers for breakfast at many of the restaurants where we went.

I remember becoming infatuated with the hamburgers from a place called Griffs at 742 South Broadway in Denver. There was something amazing about the mustard they used. I found out it was Kraft and bought a gallon of it, as that was the only way I could get it. Through the years, I would find it on occasion in smaller bottles, sometimes having to buy a case. One time my son Tom scoured the city with phone calls trying to find some for me. We headed way across town on the quest. Even though Griffs is still one of my favorites, I don’t think they use Kraft mustard any more.

Another great place for burgers is Jim's. The original location on south Federal is now called Grandpas (just as good). Their buns are about 6 inches and they smash the meat thin so it cooks up nice and crisp. I would rather have a burger that way instead of the thick ones that some places do. Lettuce, tomato, onions and mustard finish it out. Just like the giant hamburgers at Griffs.

I'm sitting at the park writing this while my kids play...I wonder what’s for dinner.

Philip

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Theological Dictionary of the New Testament

The full version of the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT) is ten volumes. I have been using the abridged version (Little Kittel), which is about a sixth of the size of the original. On paper, it is still 1356 pages. I use the PDA version from Olive Tree.

This dictionary is much different than a lexicon. It’s not just the meaning of a word that is covered but it’s background and how it is used in both biblical and non biblical settings. For example, there is Old Testament usage in the Septuagint, rabbinical usage, usage in Philo and Josephus, the Apostolic Fathers and most of all, how the New Testament uses the word.

For a while I have been praying a verse from Psalm 19:14, Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. This led me to think of a verse from Luke 6:45, your words show what is in your heart. Now there is a verse that hurts. It hits a little too close to home. I’d rather not think that my heart is exposed by my words. I see two things: I can be very negative in what I say and at the opposite side, I don’t give out many compliments. That makes me see that I need a heart change.

This morning I was looking up some background on the word heart. It’s interesting how we use a word that speaks of a physical organ to represent so many other things. Here is a little from the TDNT:

Figuratively the heart stands a. for courage (2 Chr. 17:6) in various expressions, b. for the seat of rational functions (Dt. 29:3), c. for the place of willing and planning (Jer. 23:20), and d. for the source of religious and ethical conduct (1 Sam. 12:20).

2. There is in the NT a rich usage of kardia for a. the seat of feelings, desires, and passions (e.g., joy, pain, love, desire, and lust; cf. Acts 2:26; Jn. 16:6; 2 Cor. 7:3; Rom. 10:1; 1:24); b. the seat of thought and understanding (cf. Mt. 7:21; Jn. 12:40; Acts 8:22; Mk. 11:23; Rev. 18:7; Rom. 1:21); c. the seat of the will (e.g., Acts 11:23; 2 Cor. 9:7; Lk. 21:14); and d. the religious center to which God turns, which is the root of religious life, and which determines moral conduct (e.g., Lk. 16:15; Rom. 5:5; 8:27; Eph. 3:17; Heb. 8:10; 2 Pet. 1:19; as the heart of the sinner, Mk. 7:21; Jn. 12:40; Eph. 4:18; Jms. 1:26; as the heart of the redeemed, Mt. 11:29; 1 Tim. 1:5; 1 Th. 3:13; Col. 3:22; 1 Pet. 3:15; Jms. 4:8 , etc.).

A cool thing about using the Olive Tree version on my PDA is that I can tap on any of the above verse references and they open up in another window. That makes it so simple to look at a lot of material very quick.

My prayer and Bible study show I need a change of heart but it also shows that God can make that change in me. I am thankful for that.

Philip

For better and easier Bible study check out the links below.

Theological Dictionary of the New Testament

Olive Tree has products for Palm, Pocket PC, Smartphone, Blackberry and iPhone. Over 150 of the resources are free.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Suicide

A close friend of mine is laying in a hospital bed. Through God's miraculous intervention, he is alive. He overdosed on prescription medicine that was supposed to make his life better. God hasn't given up on him even though he gave up on himself.

How did he end up in this place? What series of decisions, one upon another, led to the downward spiral?

Here is what I know. It could happen to any of us. 1 Corinthians 10:12 says: Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

Every one of us is a sinner. Every one of us has a besetting sin. There is that thing we just can't get a handle on. The thing God wants to use to pull us toward himself and the thing the devil wants to use to pull us away from God.

Do you know what yours is? If not you had better find out.

What sin am I messing around with? Do I fool myself by thinking I have it under control?

Here is an old saying that is full of truth:

Sin will take you places where you don't want to go.
Sin will cost you more than you want to pay.
Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay.
When I give into some sin, it becomes my master. It starts taking up more and more room and making bigger and bigger demands. One bad decision leads to another. The spiral begins. The vortex pulls me to a place I never thought possible. My marriage falls apart, I lose my job, I find out what it's like in jail, I find out what addiction is. Or maybe I end up in a hospital bed or in the morgue.

I find out how dangerous sin is!

Lord Jesus, thank you for your mercy and grace. Thank you for forgiveness and the power to resist sin. Help each of us to realize the power of leaven. Help us to be intolerant of the little foxes that can spoil the vineyard. Help us to walk in Your Spirit. And have Your way with my friend and accomplish Your will in his life.

Philip

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Worship

Thoughts from: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.

We live in what one writer has called the "age of sensation." We think that if we don't feel something there can be no authenticity in doing it. But the wisdom of God says something different: that we can act ourselves into a new way of feeling much quicker than we can feel ourselves into a new way of acting. Worship is an act that develops feelings for God, not a feeling for God that is expressed in an act of worship. When we obey the command to praise God in worship, our deep, essential need to be in relationship with God is nurtured.
I think this applies to a lot of other areas as well. I have many days where I don’t feel like going to work. I may feel sick or my back may ache but I go to work because I have to. I don’t have sick days and no one else is going to help my customer. What I have found is that most of the time once I get going I feel much better. My back loosens up and I forget I wasn’t feeling well.

I could call to mind so many other things as well. So many times all I need is to get going. I will never feel like doing many things, especially if I don’t want to do them. I will always feel like doing the things I want to do. That is a recipe for disaster. That’s how little kids live.

Jesus dealt with feelings and actions when He chose to take up the cross. In the garden He made it clear that He didn't feel like being crucified. He put aside feelings and chose to act on our behalf. Hebrews 12:2 says that for the joy set before Him He endured the cross. He experienced incredible pain and torture because He looked forward to our redemption. That was the joy.

So, I push myself. I take the first step, I write the first word, I open the book, I get ready for work, I go to the meeting, I make the phone call. And once I have done those things I feel better and am glad I took action rather than operated by my feelings.

How about you?

Philip

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bible Knowledge Commentary


I have been using this commentary for a couple months now. It’s easily becoming one of my favorites.

On paper it’s two volumes and over 2500 pages. It’s not one of the most comprehensive but it seems to get to the meat of what you want to know about a verse or passage. Perfect when you are looking for what is most relevant and don’t need all the background. Written by professors from Dallas Seminary, it was published in 1985.

As with any commentary, it reflects the theological views of the editors. They are conservative, evangelical and hold to complete inerrancy of Scripture. Being from Dallas Seminary, they also write from a pretribulational, premillenial perspective. That said, I have found that various views are represented in the commentary when there is a difference of opinion in evangelical scholarship.

Last night in a Bible study the subject of divorce came up. I have done a lot of study on this subject. As the discussion was going on, I checked in the Bible Knowledge Commentary to see what was said related to several passages. In a few minutes, I learned some things I hadn’t known before.

I thank Olive Tree for making the Bible Knowledge Commentary available in a format that I can take with me. It’s on my handheld so I have it with me always.

BTW, what I learned was that even though I hold a fairly strict view concerning divorce and remarriage, the commentators of the second and third centuries held an even stronger view. This came from 1 Timothy 3:2 concerning an elder being the husband of one wife. The view was that any second marriage, even by widowers, prevented a man from serving. We may question that point but it sure is a long way from where we are today where people with multiple divorces serve as pastors, elders and deacons. These qualifications are not punitive but show what a high standard is required. Many of us don’t qualify for various reasons.

Anyway, I am glad to have access to the Bible Knowledge Commentary. It is a great tool in my Bible study arsenal.

Philip

Bible Knowledge Commentary

Olive Tree has products for Palm, Pocket PC, Smartphone, Blackberry and iPhone. Over 150 of the resources are free.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Surrender

Thoughts from: Not the End but the Road by Gary Thomas.

Each of us will face different trials at different times, and these trials will cause us to change. Depending on our attitude, such challenges will leave us with an ugly, bitter, cynical, and mean spirit, or a stronger, more Christlike character. How we profit from or are crushed by our trials largely depends upon our state of surrender to God.

The virtue of surrender reveals the purity of our heart's motivation. If we come to God to be amply provided for, yet we find ourselves poor, we’ll leave God. If we come to God to be made well, yet find ourselves sick, we'll leave Him. If, however, our motivation is simply to serve Him and glorify His name, no event in life can shake our faith, for God can be glorified in pain or pleasure, wealth or poverty, comfort or stress.

Seventeenth-century French mystic Jeanne Guyon realized that to experience a hard circumstance that goes against our will is a gift. When accepted with the right spirit, it becomes an important means to a higher end: the presence of God Himself. As Paul taught, we are coheirs with Christ "if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory (Romans 8:17).
Not much I can add to that.

Philip

Friday, December 5, 2008

Penitence

I came across this thought in a book, Not the End but the Road by Gary Thomas.

Penitence is being willing to exchange my old view of the things that I think will give me inner life for the things from God that really will give life and health.
Such a simple thought but so much truth. It made me think of how many times we hold on to something, afraid to give it up because it means so much to us, brings such security, or something else. But in reality, it is a poor substitute for the good thing God wants to give to us.

Fear holds us and lies deceive us. We are afraid that God wants us to give up something good or that if we surrender we will end up having to do something horrible. “God will send me to Africa or make me have a lot of children.”

The truth is that when we finally give in we find such pleasure, peace and fulfillment. Too bad we are such hard learners.

God always gives the best to those who leave the choice to Him.
Jim Elliot

Philip

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

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This is a huge commentary. On paper it is ten volumes, 7744 pages, about 20 pounds and would take up about a foot-and-a-half of bookshelf space. Since I have it on my PDA I can take it with me all the time. Thanks to Olive Tree for that.

Originally published in 1866, it has been revised since then. The authors rejected the liberal error that was creeping in the German church of their time and maintained that the Old and New Testaments are the revealed word of God. This is a classic conservative commentary.

Each book of the Old Testament has an introduction and then an in-depth technical, historical and literary analysis of the text. Even with its depth, the everyday reader can understand what is said. In order to understand the New Testament, an understanding of the Old is essential.

I was thinking about Genesis 1:5, And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. I looked it up in Keil and Delitzsch. In the beginning of the comments, it establishes from the grammar that this refers to a normal day. It then goes on for pages giving all the background on why it is a normal day. “But if the days of creation are regulated by the recurring interchange of light and darkness, they must be regarded not as periods of time of incalculable duration, of years or thousands of years, but as simple earthly days.”

Having this resource on my PDA makes using it so much easier. I don’t have to grab various volumes off the bookcase when I want to look up something. It also makes it portable. I can use it while sitting in the park or while at church. I like to be able to wander through various resources during a Bible study or even while listening to a sermon. It’s so quick to look something up that I don’t miss a word that is said.

This is a great resource for a comprehensive understanding of the Old Testament. It’s easy to use whether you want a quick comment or detailed understanding of a word or passage.

Philip

Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

Olive Tree

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. 1 Timothy 4:4

There you have it. Enjoy your Thanksgiving feast and even be thankful for the weird foods.

Seriously, how blessed we are. There is so much to be thankful for.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.

Even in the rough times, we are to be thankful. I think it is a thing of perspective. Either we can focus on the bad things or we can call to mind all of the ways we are incredibly blessed.

Thanksgiving helps us get our eyes off ourselves and back on God.

Here are a few of the things I am thankful for. First, thank you Lord for saving my soul and thank you for continuing to conform me into Your image. I am thankful for my wife and children; what a blessing they are. I am thankful that I have a job and that day-by-day God continues to provide for us. I am thankful for good friends; how irreplaceable they are.

I will rejoice today on Thanksgiving Day and with God's help, I will be thankful every day.

Philip
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

God’s Faithfulness

Thoughts from: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.

The only serious mistake we can make when illness comes, when anxiety threatens, when conflict disturbs our relationships with others is to conclude that God has gotten bored looking after us and has shifted his attention to a more exciting Christian, or that God has become disgusted with our meandering obedience and decided to let us fend for ourselves for a while, or that God has gotten too busy fulfilling prophecy in the Middle East to take time now to sort out the complicated mess we have gotten ourselves into. That is the only serious mistake we can make. It is the mistake that Psalm 121 prevents: the mistake of supposing that God’s interest in us waxes and wanes in response to our spiritual temperature.
It’s great that God isn’t like us. He loves us, is committed to us and doesn’t give up on us. It’s so easy to judge Him through our eyes. We think He will treat us as we treat others.

He knows I am a sheep. I follow but I also wander. I forget lessons I’ve learned and have to travel the path again. And there He is right beside me – a true friend. He seems to be enjoying the journey. He doesn’t point out that I should have already learned this lesson or should have gotten beyond this behavior a long time ago.

The greatest thing is that He is changing me bit by bit. Someday I will be like Him. Someday He will see Himself in me. But that’s not today.

Philip

Saturday, November 22, 2008

ilumina Mobile


I love the ilumina Mobile on my Palm. It’s not really a Bible itself but an overlay on top of a set of Bibles and other study tools. It came from Olive Tree.

One of the things I like most is that it adds a set of tabs to the bottom of the existing Bible reader program. This makes switching through Bibles, commentaries, cross references, Life Application study notes and dictionaries so simple. It also adds some nice tap and hold features for looking up words, adding bookmarks, searches, overviews and introductions.

As I’m doing Bible study I find myself using the ilumina features to easily navigate from source to source. It’s easy to go much deeper than I planned to – and that is a good thing.

Here is some of what comes in the ilumina mobile package. Either the NIV or ESV, the New Living Translation, and the King James. There is a Bible reading schedule, two commentaries, Life Application Notes (which are so practical), overviews of each book, introductions to each book, an encyclopedia / dictionary, cross references, a verse finder where you can look up verses by subject, 66 maps and a whole multimedia section with animations, videos and 400 photos.

If I didn’t have any of the other Olive Tree programs, this package alone would be an awesome resource. It has all the tools you need for serious study. They work well together and are easily accessible. What would take up a shelf on the bookcase at home can be carried in the palm of your hand.

If you want more detail on ilumina mobile, check out Olive Tree’s page that gives screenshots and a walk-through.
ilumina Mobile

Philip

Friday, November 14, 2008

Take Him to the Streets


I simply argue that the cross be raised again at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am recovering the claim that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles but on a cross between two thieves, on the town garbage heap, at a crossroad so cosmopolitan that they had to write His title in Hebrew and in Latin and in Greek . . . at the kind of place where cynics talk smut and thieves curse and soldiers gamble. That is where He died. And that is what He died about. And that is what churchmen should be about and that is where churchmen should be.

-Ian Thomas

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bear a Burden

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. Galatians 6:1-5
I have been thinking of this section of Scripture for a week or so. There is a lot of stuff packed into it.

If anyone is caught in a transgression…. Interesting language here, it doesn’t mean someone was busted and it’s not talking of someone premeditating sin. Here’s what it means – to be surprised by, invaded, taken before he is aware, seized without warning. My brother has been captured and he needs help. He can’t get free by himself. If I’m spiritual I need to help him. If I’m weak I better stay away so I don’t get caught up in it myself. I must keep an eye on myself so that doesn’t happen. If I help him, he needs gentleness. I need to help bear his burden, help him get untangled and not put more weight on his back.

A second part is directed to the person who has some arrogance in their attitude. The person who thinks he is something. Have you ever been “helped” by someone like that? They are so spiritual and so disappointed in your weakness. Here is what the People’s New Testament Commentary says: Instead of commenting upon the weaknesses of others, let him test his own work. If his work stands the test, there he can rejoice in it alone, not because he is superior to another. If we honestly examine ourselves, we will see we have little room to look down our nose at others. We have failures too.

The last part is an exhortation that there is a load that each of us must bear alone. Here is what Vincent’s Word Studies says: Paul means, no one will have occasion to claim moral superiority to his neighbor, for each man's self-examination will reveal infirmities enough of his own, even though they may not be the same as those of his neighbor. His own burdens will absorb his whole attention, and will leave him no time to compare himself with others.

It can be hard to bear the burden of others. It’s easy to be discouraged with their progress. Many times we think they should be moving along quicker than they are. God in His perfection could look at all of us that way but He doesn’t. He continues to provide encouragement and power to overcome.

Another lesson is that we need each other. Sometimes God won’t let me be victorious by myself. He wants me to be connected with my brothers as we learn to help and receive help. That’s the kind of community we need.

Philip

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Message Bible

Eugene Peterson paraphrased The Message Bible. I became a fan of his recently while reading a book he wrote called A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. I really liked the perspective he gives on discipleship and spiritual growth.

My wife has been a fan of The Message for some time. She brings it to our Wednesday night Bible study and people enjoy hearing verses in a different form than we are used to.

Author and speaker Lisa Bevere had this to say about The Message:

So many of us have been Christians for so long that when we read the Bible, we read a sentence and we know what the next sentence is going to say because we have been reading it for so long. So you kind of become accustomed or familiar with what you are reading. So I began to read The Message Bible during my times of devotion.
I can really identify with that perspective. I know that many times, in devotional reading, I zoom through passages because I am too familiar with them. The Message is different enough from regular translations that it helps you to slow down and think about what you are reading.

The Message is not the only Bible you want to have. It is a paraphrase and is not what you would use for study but it sure shakes up the daily reading.

I’m thankful to Olive Tree for making The Message available for my PDA. That way if I want to read from it, it is available but I also have my ESV or NASB. No matter where I am, I have what I need for Bible study or devotions.

Here are a few common passages from The Message:

John 3:16 This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.

Philippians 4:6 Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.

Gal 5:19-21 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn't the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God's kingdom.

Here is the New American Standard and The Message:

.....

Different isn't it. As I said, it's not a literal translation and I have found some places where literary license was taken a little too far. That said, I have no problem recommending this paraphrase as it gives a freshness to devotional reading.

Philip

Olive Tree
The Message Bible
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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Results

I write this late on election night but I have no idea what to expect tomorrow. All I know is that we will have a new president elect, many new office holders and a bunch of other issues will be decided.

I have prayed for this election for many months. I pray for certain candidates but I have a constant prayer when I pray for government. It comes from Proverbs 21:1, The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will. God is bigger than all of this and He works in the affairs of men.

I have heard many people express fear and near panic as they worry what will happen if Obama becomes president. On the other hand, I know many “Christians” have expressed that they will vote for him. They trade their birthright for a bowl of stew. They trade something they think they will get from Obama for the lives of unborn children. Obama has promised that his first act will be to wipe away all protections for unborn children – at least the ones scheduled for abortion. How could someone claim to be a follower of God and accept such a bargain?

But the point of this writing is to put God in perspective. An election will not thwart His plans. He’s bigger than that.

I have prayed for mercy for this country even though we deserve judgment. I pray for mercy for unborn children and born children whose innocence will be stolen by those who seek to corrupt them and undermine their parent’s influence.

So, God may be merciful or maybe this country will get a taste of judgment. Maybe we need to feel the grinding of the wicked man’s boot on our neck. This would be appropriate is we are willing to trade children’s lives for our own perceived peace and prosperity.

I encourage you to focus on God and not man. If we wake up tomorrow morning to a new, darker world, then look beyond to a God who turns the heart of the king. He can turn an Obama wherever He wants. And that turning may depend on his people. Will God hold back wickedness or will he use it as chastisement?

I close with these words from Jesus, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27 Draw close to Jesus and you will have a peace that passes all understanding. Fear God and not man.

In the service of King Jesus,

Philip

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Provoke Your Brother

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And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds.
Hebrews 10:24

I came across this verse in my morning reading yesterday. The more I looked at the verse and the words in it, the more fascinated I became with it.

Provoke or stimulate (NASB) is such a loaded word in Greek. In it’s other New Testament usage, in Acts 15: 39, it refers to a sharp disagreement between Paul and Barnabas.

A good translation of the word is incite, irritate or push to rage. It is not a safe, churchy word.

Another word in the verse is consider. As a subjunctive verb, this is something we should do. We need to observe, contemplate, look closely, think about and discover through observation. It denotes attentive, continuous care.

What I see in this is that I shouldn’t be preoccupied with myself but should spend a huge amount of time considering how I can motivate my brothers to love and good deeds.

So what’s required in provoking or stimulating? Here is the verse from The Message: Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out. Or, how about this in the Amplified: And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities.

How do I incite my brother? I don’t think the goal is to put someone down or cause an argument. We study them and the situation and come up with the best way to motivate them. It may be accomplished by a few soft words of encouragement or it may require getting in their face.

It requires checking our own heart as well. Is my action motivated by love and care or do I enjoy acting superior to others and being the local Sheriff?

I also need to be ready to receive from others who are considering how to provoke me. This give and take between brothers will lead to healthy vibrant lives demonstrating the power of redemption.

Philip

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Joy


These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:11

In my morning reading, I came across this verse. I have read it many times before but this time it jumped out at me.

I want joy! I want to be full of joy. I bet that would make it easier to live with me.

So what are these things that Jesus referred to? It all starts in John 15:1.

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:1-11
Here is what I get from it.

  • I’m a branch. I need to receive nourishment from God. I don’t have it in myself.
  • He will prune me for fruit bearing. He will cut away stuff that inhibits growth of the fruit of the Spirit.
  • As I abide in Him and His word abides in me, I will experience answered prayer.
  • As I bear fruit, it will bring glory to God.
  • Abiding in Him enables me to keep His commandments.
  • The result of this is complete joy.

Dear Lord, thank you for the amazing work you are doing in me. Help me to receive your work in my life. May you be glorified through me.

Philip

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Eerdman's Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament


On paper, this dictionary is three volumes and about 1656 pages. It was originally published in German in 1978-80. The English version was done in 1990. Thanks to Olive Tree, I can carry it around on my PDA.

To exegete a Bible passage is to rip it apart in order to fully understand it’s meaning. An exegetical dictionary takes individual words apart. This dictionary lists the forms, meaning and usage of every word in the Greek New Testament. This is what you need when you really want to understand a word. You are not just getting a definition. It discusses the historical, theological and exegetical significance of the words. You have the background you need to comprehend the word and it’s meaning in a passage.

A dangerous trick many people use in Bible study is to look up a word in a dictionary or Strong’s concordance or other lexicon. They then use multiple choice, picking through the various shades of meaning and come up with their declared meaning of the word. They might be right or they might be off base. Using proper tools in the right way will not only prevent these errors but in the end you properly understand the word and passage.

The Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament is a great resource for in depth word study. To use it, you need to be able to look up words in Greek. That may be beyond the ability of many students of the New Testament. A way around that is using the Olive Tree Bible reader. Here’s how: use an English Bible from Olive Tree like the New American Standard or the Complete Word Study Bible that has hyperlinks that show the Greek word. Then copy the Greek word and paste it in the dictionary. A couple of steps and you are on your way to in depth exegesis of the word without reading or writing in Greek. This is something anyone can do regardless of their proficiency in Greek.

The goal of all Bible study and especially the type we have dealt with here shouldn’t ever be to have a knowledge that puffs up but a love that builds up. We need a love for God and His Word and we need to be changed into His likeness. That’s what I hope for.

Philip

Eerdman's Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament

Olive Tree

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Passion

As I write this, I am at Clement Park. I’m reading while my kids skateboard.

Across the park there is a softball game going on. Every few minutes the crowd erupts with screams and whistles. Someone has hit the ball and all hell breaks loose.

It’s Sunday morning. Many people are at church and I would presume that for many people, this softball game is their church. They are devoted and passionate. They aren’t ashamed to scream for their team. They give their all.

I think of the other churches – the Christian ones that are meeting this morning. Are we passionate or do we pass the time with a yawn? Are we checking our watches, thinking of the game this afternoon? What are we excited about?

Would we be ashamed to yell and whistle in church, let alone lift our hands, but can hardly contain our passion for other things?

What about money? How does it reflect our passion? Do we grudgingly give in the offering at church but have no problem laying out loads of cash for the latest toy?

Passion comes from the heart. Matthew 6:21 says, For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. How about this: From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. Matthew 11:12 That sounds like passion; much better than lying on the couch flipping through channels.

Our church meets tonight. I’m hoping all heaven breaks loose. I want to give it my all.

Philip

Friday, October 17, 2008

Healthy Futures for Women

I came across this blog that seems very interesting. It's an expose of an abortion clinic in Englewood, Colorado.

Take a look.

Healthy Futures for Women

Philip

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Eerdman's Dictionary of the Bible


If you spend much time reading Scripture, you will come across many unfamiliar things, characters and places.

What was manna? What was a Praetorian Guard? What are the different weights and measures used in the Bible? Is dung what I think it is?

For these kinds of questions, a good Bible dictionary comes in handy.

Eerdman's Dictionary of the Bible is one I have been using recently. Specifically, I have been carrying it with me everywhere I go. That’s easy since it’s on my PDA.

I use the Olive Tree Bible reader. While I am reading, it is easy to tap on a word and the dictionary definition pops up. My question is answered immediately and I can go on reading with better understanding.

Eerdman's Dictionary of the Bible was published in 2000. The print edition is 1425 pages and weighs several pounds. Try carrying that in your pocket. There are close to 5000 articles written by nearly 600 authors. Almost every conceivable topic is covered.

One of the things that I really like about my PDA and the Olive Tree Bible reader is that so much easily accessible information is in my hand. I love having questions answered as they arise. I have a hard time continuing reading something if I do not understand the details. It’s rare anymore for that to happen thanks to good tools.

Here are some links for these great resources.

Eerdman's Dictionary of the Bible

Olive Tree

Philip

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Warning to Leaders

A WORD FROM GOD

Now when I went into the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home, he said, "Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple. Let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you by night." But I said, "Should such a man as I run away? And what man such as I could go into the temple and live? I will not go in." And I understood and saw that God had not sent him, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. For this purpose he was hired, that I should be afraid and act in this way and sin, and so they could give me a bad name in order to taunt me.
Nehemiah 6:10-13
Shemaiah was a false prophet who was hired by the enemies of Nehemiah. His objective was to make Nehemiah afraid so he would hide in the temple. If he had gone into the temple, he would have disobeyed God.

Nehemiah was rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. He led a fearful, demoralized group of people and had many enemies. After much opposition, they finished the wall and only the doors on the gates remained to be set. The end was in sight.

His enemies tried to lure him away so they could harm him. He refused to meet with them despite their perseverance. Next, they sent out false reports about him. Finally, they hired Shemaiah. Nehemiah must have trusted Shemaiah because he met with him in private.

Here are the lessons I see in this. When God gives us a job to do there will be many obstacles. The job may seem impossible. The people who are to help us may need a lot of motivation and leadership. Fear and discouragement will come.

The enemy will attack us personally. Can he get us alone? Will rumors and attacks on our character work?

Attacks will come through other people we respect and trust. They may try to make us afraid but fear does not come from God. Does their advice line up with the clear commands from God? If not, reject it. If Nehemiah had gone in the temple, the people he was leading would have noticed his disobedience. His fear would have undermined their courage and his sin would have undermined the blessing from God.

Another thing to notice was how close they were to finishing the task. It was all done except for the gates. How many times do we give up when so close to victory? Ponder this quote:

When you feel you cannot continue in your position for another minute, and all that is in human power has been done, that is the moment when the enemy is most exhausted, and when one step forward will give you the fruits of the struggle you have borne.
Sir Winston Churchill
I heard something last night that fits with this: Pray for a strong back rather than a lighter load.

Summary:
What has God shown you to do?
Watch out for other people.
Watch out for bad advice that opposes God's Word.
Watch out for fear.
Be obedient.
Don’t give up.

Philip

Friday, October 10, 2008

Amendment 50 – Colorado

Shall we turn Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek into Las Vegas? That's what this one is really about.

Casino owners are complaining that revenue is down. The solution? Raise the bet limit from $5 to $100, leave the casinos open 24 hours a day instead of closing from 2:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and add other games of chance. The towns would have to vote to approve the changes but that's pretty much a done deal as the casinos really own the towns.

There are a few other perks for the casino owners in the amendment too.

We let the camels nose in the tent when casino gambling first came to Colorado. Now we are on the edge of getting the whole thing. The only real beneficiaries will be the casino owners. The people of Colorado will end up paying a lot more as we absorb the costs of the resulting societal damage.

I really dislike the advertising for this amendment. It's disguised as help for Community Colleges. Worse still is the coalition of Community Colleges who support it because they will get a piece of the pie; they sell-out for the almighty dollar. They are the Judas goat incarnate.

It’s too bad that so many people will be fooled by the promoters of this amendment. If it passes, all of Colorado will suffer for the greed of a few.

Another subject for me is the damage that gambling has done to Central City. My dad was born in the town of Russell Gulch in 1913. It’s about 2 miles southwest of Central City. I have many childhood memories of visiting that ghost town and it’s abandoned mines and then going into Central City after. We would eat and visit various places around town. It was a struggling town before casino gambling but now because of casino gambling it’s been completely changed for the worse. If Amendment 50 passes, I’m sure that the final blow for this historic town will come.

Philip

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Truth About the Financial Crisis

Here is an interesting link provided by the Rocky Mountain Family Council shining some light on the reason for the current financial crisis.

The Truth About the Financial Crisis

Very enlightening!

Philip

Monday, October 6, 2008

Referendum L – Colorado

This measure would lower the age from 25 to 21 for serving in the Colorado state legislature.

Some would argue that at 21 they are adults, can already vote and can serve in the armed forces. Others argue that at 21 they don’t have the maturity and real-world experience that a legislator should have.

I am against this amendment.

What came to mind when I heard of this amendment is a study of the brain I read about recently. While mostly contrasting a teen ager and a mid-twenties individual, it gives us something to think about with 21 to 25 also.

Here are some comments from the author of the study:

Dr. Jay Giedd, chief of brain imaging in the child psychiatry branch at the National Institute of Mental Health, has spent more than 13 years performing MRIs and studying the brains of more than 1,800 kids. Through high-powered MRI technology, he has discovered that the adolescent brain, while fully grown in size, is still a long way from maturity.

Long after the size of the brain is established, it continues to undergo major stages of development. One of the last regions of the brain to mature is the pre-frontal cortex—home of the so-called "executive" functions—planning, setting priorities, organizing thoughts, suppressing impulses and weighing the consequences of one's actions. This means the part of the brain young people need the most to develop good judgment and decision-making develops last!

This "under construction" nature of the adolescent brain helps explain why teenagers act they way they do, and why their behavior can be idealistic, energetic or enthusiastic at one moment, and cynical, lethargic and bored the next. At age 16, their bodies may look fully developed, but the minds are very much still in the development phase.

According to new studies, the pre-frontal cortex usually does not reach a level of genuine maturity until someone reaches their mid-twenties! "It's sort of unfair to expect [teens] to have adult levels of organizational skills or decision-making before their brains are finished being built," says Giedd.
Click here to read more about the study.

I don’t think we should entrust our future to individuals who may not fully understand the implications of future. I know there are some great 21 year olds out there. If they want to be involved in the legislature, there are plenty of safe places where they can plug in.

As Mike Rosen said: "Worldly wisdom doesn't necessarily come with age but it definitely doesn't come with youth."

Philip

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Love is a Choice

.
Dear young lady from church.

I heard you say a few weeks ago that you were going to get a divorce. I heard you say that you and your husband are never going to get along so divorce is what you are going to do.

I remember some years ago when I first saw you. We had just begun going to the church where you were. You were in your teens and unmarried. The pastor announced that you were pregnant. He asked the church to come around you, to pray for you and support you. I know we did. Time passed and you were pregnant again. Again, the church tried to be the church.

Your future husband was coming to church with you. From what I heard he wasn’t a Christian but maybe was coming along. He seemed to care for your children even though he wasn’t the father. You eventually married him. I didn’t see you for a long time after that.

Some months back you and he started coming around again. I heard things were rough. Then I heard those horrible words, “I am going to get a divorce.”

Has the church failed you? In our desire to help and support you, have we made it too easy for you? Too easy at least to do things your own way and then wonder why life is rough. You say that he has been unfaithful. Well, wasn’t he also before you married him and weren’t both of you impure with each other before you were married? You say drugs are involved but weren’t they around before you married him? It seems to me that he is the same guy you married.

Yes, your life is a mess and divorce may seem the easy way out. Do you want the church to surround you again, to pray for you and support you as you make this decision? If we did, I think that would be a great failure on our part.

I think the best thing we could do for you is hold your feet to the fire. We could help you see how your own unfaithfulness has felt to God. How you have lived your life the way you want and then you come back to church hoping that God will fix up the mess it has become.

Yet, that is the way it should be. Over and over, we like sheep go astray and the Master comes looking for us. But, one thing is for sure. If we want His help and blessing, we have to do it his way. He isn’t going to bend the rules, afraid that if he holds the line we will bolt. It’s His way or no way.

How about a clear command from God’s Word? If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. (1 Corinthians 7:13). From what I can see, you have a clear command from Scripture. Of course, it doesn’t mean you tolerate unfaithfulness or drugs and if there were threats of physical abuse there are ways to deal with that. There is a big difference between fighting for your marriage and looking for the easy out.

Dear young lady, you haven’t even begun to fight yet. Yes, your marriage and life are messed up but you are not the first. Next week my wife and I will celebrate thirty years of marriage. Before we were married, we learned that divorce was not an option and so we never used that dirty word. But I can tell you, there have been and are some very rough times. That’s the reality of two sinful human beings joining together. Sparks are going to fly. There are going to be disagreements, fights, battles, wars and a few nuclear explosions where only by the grace of God does anything remain after. And, there is the key – the grace of God. He takes a messed up man and woman and seeks to mold them into something different.

In Ephesians 5:32 there are some strange words: This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. This is said right after marriage instruction is given. It’s a clue – marriage is to show us what Jesus and the Church are. Try to figure that out and you will blow your mind. Yet, is that why marriage is under such attack? Are we losing something great when we give up on another person through divorce?

Dear sister, fight for your marriage. Let God make you into the person you are meant to be and then let Him work through you to bring your husband to Himself and to make him into a man that you can be proud of. I know this is not easy. I don’t have a handle on it myself but that’s where I’m going. I’m almost thirty years into it and I have a long ways to go but I’m glad to be on the journey and I’m not going to give up.

Remember, love is a choice. It’s sometimes the hardest choice. It’s even harder when the easy way out presents itself. It’s love that covers a multitude of sins and brings hope when all our eyes see is despair and our mind tells us to give up.

You and your husband are on my prayer list. I’m going to fight for you too.

Philip

Ps I wish I could give this letter to you but I hardly know you. I hope those closer to you will give you it’s message.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Breast Reduction

Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. Proverbs 5:19

As far as I can tell, a woman's breasts serve two purposes. One is to nurse and satisfy her baby and the other is to satisfy and delight her husband.

Anymore, it seems I can hardly go anywhere without seeing women's breasts on display. It's not because they are nursing children and many more men are getting an eyeful than her husband, if she has one. Hey, it's happening in our churches too.

I'm calling for a breast reduction. I would like to see fewer breast available for public viewing.

I'd like the same in our churches. Hey sister, could you cover up your private parts? Save them for their intended purpose. There are many guys who may end up stumbling because of your display. It sure doesn't help when we are trying to focus on God.

I remember some years ago when my wife and I were together in a Sunday school class. The woman right in front of us, with a too short shirt, had her thong underwear on display. Sad to say, that's not the only time I have seen underwear on display in church. I thought underwear should be under. Which brings up this young guy thing of pants hanging down so the underwear are on display. Why can't we keep underwear under and unmentionables unmentioned?

I don't expect the world to listen but I hope that my sisters in Christ would understand that modern fashion has led to immodest dress. Ponder these words: Also, women are to dress themselves in modest clothing, with decency and good sense. 1Timothy 2:9

"There will always be temptations to sin," Jesus said one day to his disciples, "but woe to the one who does the tempting. Luke 17:1

Philip

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Amendment 48 - Colorado

“Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution defining the term “person” to include any human being from the moment of fertilization as “person” is used in those provisions of the Colorado constitution relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law?”
I support this amendment.

I know there is a split in support among prolifers. Some think it isn't the right time. Some think a rabid court will get a hold of it, strike it down and then it will be harder later to try for the same thing.

I think the amendment is good. It is righteous to try to bring protection for the preborn. It's hard to know what the courts will do. That path takes many years. By the time it would reach the Supreme Court who knows who will be there. If we wait to pass the personhood amendment, we still won't know what the courts will do then.

So let's work to pass it now and ask for God's mercy. If we get knocked down then we can dust ourselves off and figure out what to do next.

Thanks to Kristi Burton and her family for the initial work on this amendment and for getting it on the ballot.

For more info:
Colorado for Equal Rights

Philip

Sarah Palin’s Qualifications

Here is a letter my wife Wendy sent to our newspaper. I thought she made some great points.

I have listened to the ridiculous flap about Sarah Palin’s supposed lack of foreign policy experience. I have seen the stern, condescending looks on the faces of Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson as they attempt to put this little gal in her place.

I got to thinking the other night about the presidents who have been in office since I have been old enough to vote. Interestingly enough as I looked into to the political careers of those five presidents from Carter to the current President Bush, I discovered that four of those five presidents held no other federal political position prior to being president. All four of them were only lowly governors of their respective states. President Carter was a state senator and President Clinton was the attorney general of his state. None of this looks like they were more prepared in foreign policy than Governor Palin. Reagan’s state bordered Mexico as did Bush’s. The other two Presidents governed states that didn’t border foreign countries. All four of these men went straight into the presidency with foreign policy resumes just like Governor Palin’s. She, on the other hand, is seeking the vice presidency. You can be sure that she will take full advantage of her new position. Being the quick study that she is, and serving with McCain, who has extensive expertise in this area, will quickly give her the necessary acumen she will use.

I guess when mainstream media is determined to sink an intelligent conservative woman it might work to set up a straw man and shoot it down. Katie Couric must feel really smart when she asks a stupid question like “Why didn’t you have a passport until last year?” That idiotic question should’ve insulted her own intelligence. Good grief, I think most Americans can see past such a smoke screen.

I think we can all see what they’re truly afraid of. They know that with Sarah Palin’s obvious leadership abilities, intelligence and her willingness to rock the established system, a McCain administration would likely be followed by a Palin administration.

Wendy Faustin

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Providence

Thoughts from: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.

But to deviate from the truth for the sake of some prospect of hope of our own can never be wise, however slight that deviation may be. It is not our judgement of the situation which can show us what is wise, but only the truth of the Word of God. Here alone lies the promise of God's faithfulness and help. It will always be true that the wisest course for the disciple is always to abide solely by the Word of God in all simplicity.

Dietrich Bonheoffer
It’s hard to add to that. The message to me is complete reliance on God and making sure I know His Word so I can follow it and thereby, Him. That said, I know that knowledge isn’t enough. I have plenty of that yet still have a hard time putting it into practice.

I am amazed how many times well-meaning people (Christians) are pursuing a course of action that they would never take if they understood what God wants them to do. They have a desire to follow God but due to a lack of study of the Word of God, they end up missing it by a mile.

So, sometimes we have knowledge and miss it and sometimes we miss it because we don’t know it. My conclusion is that I need the grace and power of God and I need to be diligent in Bible study.

Most of all, once I know it I need to do it. If I want God’s provision, blessing and help, my life must be lived by the Word of God and the power of God.

Philip

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Louw & Nida Greek-English Lexicon


Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. This book is commonly known as Louw & Nida.

I have been using this lexicon for a few weeks now. It has taken a little getting used to. Now that I am more familiar with how it is set up, I have found it to be a great addition to my handheld library.

Instead of alphabetical arrangement, the words are arranged by semantic domain. Basically, this means the categories of words according to meaning and emphasis within a particular culture.

For example, under the domain Attitudes and Emotions is the sub domain Love, Affection, Compassion. In this section there are 25 words represented. As we look through them, we see the exactness of the Greek language. We also see why it is sometimes hard to make a literal translation from Greek to English. It's hard to take a Greek word and find a comparable English word. But that's off the subject.

What Louw & Nida does so well is to show the subtle differences between words. We get a better understanding of why a particular word was used and what the author was trying to get across. Looking at the words in their domains gives a different understanding than just looking up various definitions. We get a glimpse of how the native culture understood the expressions we are reading.

In English, we would say love God, love people, love other believers, love your husband, love your children, and love your relatives. In Greek, there are specific words for each of these concepts. There are also words for different types of love. There is a word for a deep yearning longing affection. Another for having deep compassion for someone. And another to show that you have opened your heart towards someone. On the other hand, how about a word that shows you have closed your heart to someone? It is used in an idiom that literally means to have restricted bowels. How about a sermon on constipated Christians?

I am thankful that Olive Tree has made this lexicon available in a handheld format. It’s not for everyone as it requires a decent grasp of New Testament Greek but for those with the language skills it will shine much light.

Philip

Monday, September 15, 2008

Repentance

Repentance is not an emotion. It is not feeling sorry for your sins. It is a decision. It is deciding that you have been wrong in supposing that you could manage your own life and be your own god; it is deciding that you were wrong in thinking that you had, or could get, the strength, education and training to make it on your own; it is deciding that you have been told a pack of lies about yourself and your neighbors and your world. And it is deciding that God in Jesus Christ is telling you the truth. Repentance is a realization that what God wants from you and what you want from God are not going to be achieved by doing the same old things, thinking the same old thoughts. Repentance is a decision to follow Jesus Christ and become his pilgrim in the path of peace.
From: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.

I thought this was a good description of repentance. It’s all about letting go. It’s not my way anymore; it’s time to admit I’m lost. My thoughts are not going to get me anywhere; I need the mind of Christ. I am weak; I need God’s strength. It’s time to let go of the old way and let God show me something that works.

A definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Isn’t that how we live our lives so many times? I’m a great person for living in a rut. I want to live differently bit I find myself traveling the same bad path and wonder how I got there again. Thank God for his mercy which is new each day.

Here is something I read today: The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. Psalms 145:14, 16, 18, 19

Thank you Lord for drawing me to yourself, I want all you have for me. Show me that path.

Philip

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Vincent's Word Studies

Thanks again to Olive Tree for giving me a four-volume, 2600 page resource that I can carry in the palm of my hand. On the bookshelf, it would take up about seven inches of space.

Vincent’s Word Studies is a cross between a exegetical commentary and a Greek lexicon. It goes into great detail on the vocabulary of the New Testament. Beyond just the meaning of the word, it gives background on the historical usage, how it is used in other places, writing style and other subtle nuances that you can’t put in a translation but can reveal through a tool like Vincent’s.

To use this tool you don’t have to be a Greek scholar. The intention of Marvin Vincent, from the preface, was to put the reader of the English Bible nearer to the standpoint of the Greek scholar, by opening to him the native force of the separate words of the New Testament in their lexical sense, their etymology, their history, their inflection, and the peculiarities of their usage by different evangelists and apostles.

This morning I was looking at John 1:1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The material went on for pages. Here is the breakdown of what was covered: in the beginning, the Word, was with God, and the Word was God. Each of those phrases was broken down and dissected. In the end, I could see the vast amount of truth and theology represented by this one verse.

Here is more from the preface that explains the value of a resource like Vincent’s:

The biblical student may therefore profitably combine two distinct lines of study; the one directed at the truth of scripture in mass, the other at the medium or vehicle of the truth in detail. A thorough comprehension of scripture takes in the warp no less than the woof. Labor expended upon etymologies, synonyms, and the secrets of particles and tenses, upon the wide range of pictures and hints and histories underlying the separate words and phrases of the New Testament, is not thrown away, and issues in a larger result than the mere accumulation of curious lore. Even as nature fills in the space between the foreground and the background of her landscapes with countless details of form and color, light and shadow, so the rich details of New-Testament words, once apprehended, impart a depth of tone and a just relation and perspective to the salient masses of doctrine, narrative, and prophecy.
Much of my Bible reading is just going through text. I read and ponder the words as they go through my mind. Other times I get hung up on a word, phrase or concept and tear it apart. Through that study, there have been occasions where I have found a particular interpretation or belief I had didn’t line up with the pure Word of God. It’s not comfortable to go through the process but very comforting to know that things I believe are rock solid and I can share them with confidence. That is the value of resources like Vincent’s and the portability of the Olive Tree Bible reader makes that kind of study possible anywhere.

Philip

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Use It or Lose It

I came across an interesting study this week. It seems that if older men do have not have regular sex they have a higher risk of developing erectile dysfunction.

As I think about this biblically, I keep sex in it’s proper place which is marriage. Here is the verse that came to mind: So don't refuse sex to each other, unless you agree not to have sex for a little while, in order to spend time in prayer. Then Satan won't be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:5

I guess the study would show another reason to follow scripture. If a marriage is chaste then the only legitimate sex is between the husband and wife within that marriage. This study would show that if a husband is denied that legitimate regular relationship, then the future might be affected as well as the present.

On the other hand the loss of desire may be a mercy when the marriage relationship is not following the biblical pattern. That would sure make it easier to resist temptation.

Philip

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Nonpartisan Liberal Christians

Nonpartisan Liberal Christians

My son sent me this link. Take some time to read it.

Parallel issue:
I have a real problem with the Democrats giving the illusion that they are people of faith or have any great concern for the truth of God. Sadly their deception is being swallowed by many gullible Christians.

The party and it's leaders are not happy unless the blood of the preborn is flowing from clinic to sewer. For someone like Obama, who has never met an abortion he didn't like, to act like he has a relationship with Jesus is a mockery. That's not judging his heart but his behavior.

May God have mercy on this country. To end up with Obama would be judgment.

Philip

Complete Word Study Bible

My Palm PDA is one of the things I would want if I were stranded on an island. I am able to carry a huge library in the palm of my hand. My only problem would be a source of electricity to recharge it.

A new Bible from Olive Tree that I have been using lately is the Complete Word Study Bible. It is an amazing resource. If you had the print version, it would take up about six inches of bookcase space. I have all of that in my hand and don’t have to flip through the five volumes.

This study Bible is what you want if you desire to understand Hebrew and Greek word meanings but aren’t fluent in those languages. The only thing I don’t like about it is that the electronic version only comes in the King James version. I would love to have New American Standard.

As I am reading I can click on a word and another window opens with the parsing of the word and it’s meaning. This shines a light that is sometimes hard to get from the English text alone. I have a few other language resources on my handheld but I am impressed with the depth of this one. Also in the resource are extensive book introductions, footnotes and cross-references.

If you owned the print edition, it isn’t something you could carry with you. Thanks to Olive Tree, I have it with me always.

A most important thing is to be faithful in reading God’s word. The cream on the top is having good resources that help with understanding and study.

Philip

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Discipleship

One aspect of world that I have been able to identify as harmful to Christians is the assumption that anything worthwhile can be acquired at once. We assume that if something can be done at all, it can be done quickly and efficiently. Our attention spans have been conditioned by thirty-second commercials. Our sense of reality has been flattened by thirty-page abridgments.

It is not difficult in such a world to get a person interested in the message of the gospel; it is terrifically difficult to sustain the interest. Millions of people in our culture make decisions for Christ, but there is a dreadful attrition rate. Many claim to have been born again, but the evidence for mature Christian discipleship is slim. In our kind of culture anything, even news about God, can be sold if it is packaged freshly; but when it loses its novelty, it goes on the garbage heap. There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.
From: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Olive Tree

I have used the Olive Tree Bible Reader on a handheld for almost seven years. It has been my constant companion. I love having the Bible and other reference materials at my fingertips.

Here is what I carry with me: 23 Bibles, 2 commentaries, 2 Greek lexicons, 1 Bible dictionary, 9 Christian e-books, 3 daily devotionals, and 1 cross references. I access all of that through the Olive Tree Bible reader.

I have used the New American Standard Bible since I became a Christian in 1973. That was my first purchase from Olive Tree in 2001. Since then I have bought many other Bibles and reference materials. The cool thing though is that most of the material I use was free.

It is so nice as I do daily Bible reading to be able to flip to another Bible or reference material without having to go to the bookcase. It’s even better when I am at church or somewhere else. I can read in various versions, look up words and do advanced research any time I want.

So when I saw on the Olive Tree blog that they were looking for bloggers to try out complementary material I jumped at the chance. In coming posts I will write about the programs they made available. Until then, if you have a smart phone, Blackberry or other handheld check out Olive Tree yourself.

Philip

Monday, August 25, 2008

Silent No More

I was reminded the other day of an organization called Silent No More.

A few years ago, I was privileged to be at a small rally at the Colorado state capitol building. The speakers outnumbered the listeners. After an introduction, woman after woman got up and told their story. For most, this was the first time they told their secret. The common theme was, "I regret my abortion."

Being there and hearing these women speak was one of the most moving experiences of my life.

There were women in their 50's who had kept their abortion secret since they were in their teens. It became clear that the secret haunted them almost every day. Finally they could talk and for some it was the beginning of healing.

I belong to the Samson Society. It's a group of men who are tired of secrets and of living in isolation. We are learning to tell the truth in a safe environment and to welcome the involvement of our brothers in our lives.

Both of these groups have something in common. Most of the time the church was not a safe place to tell the truth.

I cried as I heard these women tell their stories. I hurt for them, for so long their shame had no outlet. I'm so glad for the grace and forgiveness they can experience in Christ. I'm glad that they can be silent no more.

Philip

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obamination

This is a good post analyzing Obama's comment regarding protection for the unborn.

Philip

Whose Way?

Thoughts motivated by A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.

A person has to be thoroughly disgusted with the way things are to find the motivation to set out on the Christian way.
I would add, or keep on. We love our own way. I like to do things my way. Sometimes things have to get really messed up before there is the willingness to change direction. It might not always be stubbornness, sometimes it’s just apathy. It’s easy to travel in a rut.

I see many people who get in trouble or busted for something and show up at church or some other meeting. They are desperate, but not desperate enough. As soon as the crisis passes or the heat is turned down, they get back on the same path. “Things are okay, I’ll be alright.” Sometimes they are but many times not. Maybe they will come back at the next catastrophe or maybe they won’t be able to.

Lord, I pray that you would reveal my heart to me. Let me see how disgusting things really are. Help me to travel the long obedience in the same direction.

Philip

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Holes

Augustine said: "you have made us for thyself, O God, and our hearts are restless, until they find rest in thee."

I usually think of the unsaved when I ponder this saying. Last night I was thinking of how it applies to all of us.

Have you heard the term, a God shaped hole? Have you ever thought about what your hole is? Are there things you do or seek or long for that aren't very good for you? That might be a clue.

Is there an empty place in me that I'm trying to fill with something other than God? Does that explain the thing with cheeseburgers?

Do we leak? Are there times we are filled with the Holy Spirit and other times where we are running a little low and the hole shows up again?

I don't want to be restless; I want to rest in Him. I don't want unfulfilled longings. I don't want the cheap, counterfeit, all purpose hole filler.

Think on this final verse from the poem The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson:

Halts by me that footfall:
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
"Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me."
God pursued the man. He finally stops as the sound of God's steps surround him, the shade of His hand caresses him, tender words are spoken to him and he realizes that in pushing away (dravest) God's love, he pushed away the very thing he always wanted.

I long for you almighty God. Help me to give you the whole of my life.

Philip

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Current Thoughts

It has been a long time since I have written anything. It seems like the days and weeks are flying by at warp speed.

A few months ago I started praying that I would have two more billable hours of work each day. Most days my prayers have been answered. I have been more tired as a result.

I have also been trying to spend less time on the computer. When I write, even if the thoughts come quickly, I am a very slow typist so it takes a lot of time to get something in a readable format. Recently, someone pointed out how horrible my written grammar is; probably true but still discouraging.

There are a lot of things rattling around my head. My wife gets tired of my rants so I either need to write them here, tell someone else or forget about them. Right now, I am mostly doing the latter.

I have read some really good books lately. One is called A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. It’s by Eugene Peterson. The subtitle is Discipleship in an Instant Society. I read a copy from the library then bought one of my own because it was so good.

Another one I am about to finish is called Boys Should be Boys by Dr. Meg Meeker. I will probably buy a copy of it too as I still have a lot of boys to raise. I have been encouraged to find a few things I did right and have learned many things that I need to put into practice.

I have been working on two main things in my life. One is trying to learn and practice what it means to be a servant and the other is to tame my tongue. I have an inherent ability to see the negative side of things and to say it. The common manifestation would be cutting remarks and things like that. It's a hard habit to break.

I have been trying to spend some meaningful time with my kids. I want to take my good intentions and do something practical. That's where I get hung up. I don't want to pander to their whims, where it becomes a quest for the latest release from their boredom. I want to do things that are fun and that leave them with a sense of fulfillment. Am I making it too complicated? Any good ideas?

My daughter Cassie has started blogging. You can find her thoughts at Save me from myself. She said some nice things about me that was a great source of encouragement.

Well, there is a little about what's been on my mind in the past few months.

Philip

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