links: this went thru my mind

 

Aliens, brotherly love, dehumanization, illegals, immigration & respect: I Don’t Know What an “Illegal” is … [required reading]

“In our culture, the way these folks are framed (‘named’) is by calling them ‘illegals.’ I am very convicted about this. … I feel I should say ‘I do not know what an illegal is. I know only humans.'”

Bible reading, lectio divina, reflection, Sermon on the Mount & transformation: Ten Minute Transformation: Ten Minutes of Lectio Divina That Can Revolutionize Your Life (Matt. 5) [required reading]

“It’s a good question. If the Christian faith is only about going to heaven, then why do we stay here on earth?”

Bible study, college & faith: Open Letter to New Testament Students

” … if I am doing my job, you are probably going to undergo a slow process of discovering that what you thought was a book is, in fact, a bunch of books; you’re going to find out that what you know is often incorrect; and what has spoken to you has been edifying, but that text may not ever be able to speak with that same voice again.”

Busyness, culture, stress & the United States: 8 Things You May Not Know about Busyness in America [infographic]

“…  eight things that we should all keep in mind about our ‘busy’ lives.”

Brotherly love, humility, others, patience, understanding & sincerity: The Thing I’d Love to Forget About the People I Disagree With [essential reading]

“…  it’s a bit disconcerting to confront the reality that it’s possible to wrestle with the same God and walk with the same limp and yet reach different conclusions. Perhaps it is in the wrestling itself that we can find some common ground.”

Discipleship, knowledge, questionnaires, spiritual formation & transformation: Christianity: Has Education Replaced Transformation

“American Christianity is turning into a massive question-and-answer quiz, and I’m probably going to fail. The Bible isn’t a textbook — but people treat it that way, and “Christianity” is becoming a pass-or-fail test. … “

Sin: Have We Grown to Overlook Sin?

“…  we tend to elevate the sin of another which is different than ours.”

this went thru my mind

 

Bible study: Serious Bible Study on the Web by David Instone-Brewer

“The Internet is still full of rubbish … Google’s ‘ranking’ is based largely on linkages – if lots of people refer to a site, then lots of people thought it worth recommending. But they do not realize the value of a lot of things out there. The following essay will identify the best recommendations.”

Books & reading: Practical Tips for How to Make More Time for Reading

“Reduce your intake of social media and replace it with a book. … Shake up your routine. …  Go audio. … Turn off the TV. … Set a family goal. … Find a new reading spot. … Join a book club.”

Civil disobedience, faith, Martin Luther King, Jr. & racism: * Letter from Birmingham Jail [required reading]; * Loving the Dream by Jonathan Storment; * Martin Luther King, Jr. at Southern Seminary; * Are We There Yet? by Keith Brenton

* “There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide. and gladiatorial contests.

“Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an arch supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and often even vocal sanction of things as they are.

“But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.”

* “I read a survey a few years ago, that said 6% of white people in America, think that racism is still a problem. To help put that in perspective, consider this: 12% of people think Elvis may or may not be dead. But 93% of African American people think that racism is still a problem. And, at least in the world that I grew up in, and know today, they are right.”

* “”This podcast contains a recording of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on April 19, 1961. The speech is more remarkable considering the context. Southern Baptists were not unified in their posture toward the Civil Rights movement and in 1961 the outcome was far from certain.”

* “We may have made strides in our battle against racism, but in many ways, we have simply traded black and white for red and blue.”

Discipline & suffering: How Do We Know if God is Disciplining Us? by D.A. Carson

“… when we face suffering of any kind, we should use the occasion for self-examination. … the remedy is always the same: flee to the Cross, and trust our good and gracious and holy God. And it’s not inconceivable that we may conclude, with Job, that this suffering cannot be God’s punishment for specific sins in our lives. We sometimes observe that hard cases make bad theology. But easy, formulaic answers to questions of suffering are invariably reductionistic — and they make bad theology, too.”

Facebook: Search Option From Facebook Is a Privacy Test

“This week, Facebook unveiled its search tool, which it calls graph search, a reference to the network of friends its users have created. The company’s algorithms will filter search results for each person, ranking the friends and brands that it thinks a user would trust the most. At first, it will mine users’ interests, photos, check-ins and ‘likes,’ but later it will search through other information, including status updates.”

Galatians: misc. study resources (2)

 

Yesterday I pointed out a way you can access some of the material in high-quality study aids without having to purchase them. Of course, if you want to get your chest waders on and truly wade out into the Galatian pond, you’ll want to make some wise acquisitions for your study library.

If you’re the average Joe or Suzie, you can’t go wrong in acquiring a copy of Tom Wright’s devotional commentary entitled: Paul for Everyone: Galatians and Thessalonians (Westminster John Knox Press, 2004). While being quite readable and accessible, it’s based on solid scholarship. Since it’s not a verse-by-verse commentary, it won’t give you details, but it will provide you with the text of the KNT and will enable you to closely follow Paul’s flow of (sometimes convoluted) thought in Galatians. No matter who you are, if you’re studying Galatians, you’ll want this one on your shelf.

If you want to acquire a verse-by-verse commentary on Galatians, I’d choose Witherington’s Grace in Galatia. Witherington explore every nook and cranny in Paul’s letter while conversing with current scholarship at every hand. Witherington, like Wright, possess that all too rare ability to explain the complex in simple terms which makes all of his work, compared to much of the academic field, a joy to engage.

Teachers and preachers will likely want a copy of John R.W. Stott’s The Message of Galatians nearby. Stott’s ability to see threads of thought and to word things in memorable ways was well known. Though his work on Galatians was first published well over forty years ago (1968), it’s still brimming full of relevant observation. The wise leader will definitely want to have Stott whispering in their ear as they construct their message. If Stott is not available to you, I’d say consult Charles Cousar and his work in the Interpretation series.

If you’ll be leading discussion on Galatians in either a class or small group setting, you might want to pick up a copy of the study guide that complements N.T. Wright’s devotional commentary. Max Lucado’s Life Lessons’ guide on Galatians is also helpful, being a bit more “broad” in terms of the questions it offers. If I had to choose between the two, I’d go with the guide by Wright (which was co-authored by Dale & Sandy Larsen) simply because it dovetails well with the rest of Wright’s outstanding material on Galatians.

Galatians: misc. study resources (1)

 

As we begin our journey through Galatians, let me offer a few suggestions as to study resources. I’ll limit myself here to brief comments on English translations of Galatians and some quality commentary that is available online at no charge. I’ll comment tomorrow on my favorite commentaries and other helps to consider purchasing.

Obviously, anytime we’re studying the Bible, there’s simply no substitute for becoming extremely familiar with the Bible passage at hand. So read the text, read the text, and then, having read the text, read the text. And so, as we delve into Galatians, determine to saturate yourself with this letter. Read it repeatedly. Read it in different English translations, particularly the NRSV, NIV 2011, CEB, and the KNT (Kingdom New Testament). To a lesser degree, take note of the renderings by J.B. Phillips, the CEV, and The Message. With the exception of the NRSV and the KNT (by N.T. Wright), you’ll find all of these available online at my go-to site of choice for online Bible reading: BibleGateway. As for the NRSV, you can access it on Oremus, but you’ll need to pick up either a printed copy or an e-book edition of the KNT if you want to make use of it (a shame, for the KNT is my hands-down favorite rendering of Galatians). I will say you can read the first two chapters of Galatians in the KNT on HarperCollins’ site.

We always do well to seek truly informed, quality counsel in all areas of life, but this is especially in regard to our understanding of the Scripture. Few of us have the luxury of having the benefit of counsel on a face-to-face basis whenever we want it. But a great many of us can access the distilled work of many who have spent huge chunks of their focused on Galatians by consulting quality commentaries on that letter. However, quality material comes with a price tag and our funds are likely limited. What to do then?

One avenue is to consult the previews of such commentaries that are available online. Google Books is a resource you should be aware of in this regard not only when you’re studying Galatians, but any Biblical book or topic. While Google Books will very rarely reveal all of a book to you to read online for free, it will typically reveal a great deal; far more than the preview available via most other sources. If you don’t want to, or simply can’t, spend much money on quality counsel, but you still would like to peek inside some of the fine works available on Galatians, this is the tool for you!

With that in mind, following are links to several quality works or commentaries on Galatians that are partially available for viewing via Google Books. I’ve listed them here generally in the order of increasing depth and/or complexity.

Galatians: Why God Accepts Us by Jack Kuhatschek (discussion guide)

Galatians by G. Walter Hansen (part of the IVP NT commentary series)

Understanding Galatians by L. Ann Jervis

Galatians by Frank Matera (a part of the Sacra Pagina series)

The Epistle to the Galatians by Ronald Y.K. Fung (part of the NICNT series)

Galatians, Ephesians & Philippians edited by Mark J. Edwards (part of the Ancient Christian Commentary series)

A Critical & Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians by Ernest De Witt Burton (part of the old ICC series)

A final note. A.T. Robertson was one of the finest Greek scholars of the New Testament during the latter part of the nineteenth and the early third of the twentieth century. Among his many works is a multi-volume set entitled Word Pictures of the New Testament (WPNT). Yes, much of it you’ll say, “This Greek to me,”  so do as I do, “read around it” when you must. Still, in doing so, you’ll profit much from the experience. As an example, read Robertson’s comments on Galatians 3.1.

The complete text of WPNT is available for online reading at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library (www.ccel.org). Following are the links to the six chapter of Galatians as discussed in WPNT.

Chapter one

Chapter two

Chapter three

Chapter four

Chapter five

Chapter six