eluding our idols: twenty questions on 3 John

This coming Sunday (Feb. 15) at 9:00 a.m. some of our adult classes at MoSt Church will continue in a study entitled Eluding Our Idols. It’s a close look at what’s commonly known as John’s letters (1, 2 & 3 John). To help you get ready for this encounter with Scripture and our discussion of it, you’ll find the following here: (a) the text of 3 John and (b) twenty questions and exercises to go along with this reading.

receiving the word

The elder, to my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.

I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name. (3 John NIV)

wrestling with this word

1. Who is “the elder” (vs.1a)?

2. How would your bodily health be doing if it was based on your spiritual health (vs. 2)?

3. Circle every occurrence in 3 John of the phrase “the truth.”

4. When you hear the phrase “the truth” among disciples today, what is typically discussed?

5. To what does “the elder” have reference in 3 John when he uses the phrase “the truth?”

6. Make a comprehensive list of all the people (or groups of people) mentioned in 3 John.

7. According to 3 John, how can you tell if one is walking in the truth (vs. 4)? Make a list.

8. A person’s character is just as important as the content of what they teach. T or F? Explain.

9. Which is discussed most in 3 John: one’s actions toward others or one’s beliefs about God?

10. Who speaks well of Gaius (vs. 1-4)? Who speaks well of Demetrius (vs. 12)?

11. That some abuse hospitality mustn’t cause us to become inhospitable (vs. 5-8). Discuss.

12. Travelers must be treated in a God-honoring way (vs. 6b). What might that look like?

13. “… for the sake of the Name they went out …” (vs. 7a)? What does that mean?

14. Vs. 7b could mean “And so, if you don’t help them, who will?” And, perhaps what else?

15. Of whom does Diotrophes speak and what does he have to say about them (vs. 9-10)?

16. Drink in vs. 10’s drama. What can happen to a church if intolerable behavior is tolerated?

17. Why might Gaius need encouragement not to imitate Diotrophes (vs. 11a)?

18. What role does Demetrius play in this letter? (vs. 11-12)

19. Have believers seen God? How do you know (vs. 11b)?

20. What significance is there in greeting the friends “by name?” (vs. 14).

links: this went thru my mind

 

Ancient world, cartography, maps, Roman Empire & travel: Digital Map of the Roman World

“… until now there has been no digital map that can be used as background layer for use in a fashion similar to modern mapping applications like Google Maps. Thanks to Pelagios, this is work that I have undertaken …”

Anger, Christianity, harmony, meanness & peace: Five Reasons Christians Can Be So Mean to Each Other

“It’s just all so exhausting some days. … Why are we so quick to be mean to each other?”

Corporate worship, singing & songbooks: Worship Songs Aren’t Just for God

“… there is a horizontal aspect of singing–the church singing to and for each other–that has been largely lost in a lot of the contemporary Christian worship experience. And I think this is important because our almost exclusive focus on the vertical experience–singing songs to God–has meant that we’ve marginalized from our singing huge swaths of the human experience.”

Edification, lament & prayer: * Learning to Lament: Giving Voice to the Winter Christian Experience; * Pounding on Heaven’s Door

* “… it seems that in many locations within Christianity there is a great hesitancy to give voice to any negativity regarding our relationship with God. Again, the reason for this seems to be the assumption described above, that any distress, complaint or negativity in the God-relationship is symptomatic of a lack or loss of faith. Thus the voice of complaint—the hot cry of lament heard in the psalms—is silenced within the faith community. The assumption behind this sort of spiritual formation is that giving voice to complaint and questioning would undermine faith.”

* “… I’m not done kicking this door.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Busyness & the speed of life: What Slowing Down Teaches You That Rushing Never Will

“The mother of a child with Down syndrome joins her daughter’s rebellion against hurried living.”

Christianity, culture & society: A Shocking Conclusion About American Christianity [required reading]

“The only way someone can think most of what goes on in American churches is authentically Christian is not to read the Bible, the church fathers, the reformers, and the great thinkers and evangelists of all denominations. … I am afraid that it is becoming increasingly harder to find the gospel in America. It is either wrapped so tightly in the flag as to be virtually invisible or relegated to a footnote to messages about ‘success in living,’ being nice and including everyone. … How like New Testament and historic Christianity is ours? What have we lost?”

Community & complaining: The Monday Rule [essential reading]

“…  the Monday rule … might be stated this way: ‘If you have concerns or the feel the need to complain, do it Monday (or another day of your choice). Please don’t do it Sunday–or when the church is gathered for worship.’ … One of the greatest services leadership can provide the church is the effective handling of the church’s concerns, which includes the timing of such dealings—not just making sure they are heard. Implementing the Monday rule will do more for your church’s weekend assemblies than nearly anything. … A couple of assumptions can be made reasonably about people who complain chronically on Sundays. First, they lack a sense of the impact of their comments on others—especially staff or those whose spiritual frame of heart impacts others that day. Two, they lack spiritual focus during times that are unique in the practice of the church—and their complaining will spread this across the Body if not checked. Three, they likely do this because of proximity. They want to get it dealt with right then—because it could consume their time and energy to do it another time. So, they’d prefer to use yours on their terms rather than deal with the problem another way.”

Compassion, difficult people, ministry & relationships: People are Such Absolute Jerks (and So Can You)

“I’m convinced that we’ve got to put the oxygen masks on ourselves before we help others.”

Gospel, heaven & salvation: The Gospel Isn’t About Heaven [essential reading]

“The gospel is as much about earth as it is heaven. As much about before death as it is after death. It is the message that Jesus, the one true King, is expanding his reign onto earth. This, after all, is what Jesus called gospel: ‘Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.'” (Mark 1:14-15)

Gratitude, humility, mindfulness & the ordinary: Cherish the Ordinary

“We become bugged by ten things in our day that didn’t pan out as we had wished without noticing we were able, still, to swallow our food, drive our cars, read the paper, hear the radio, and go to the bathroom. … Decide to cherish the ordinary.  Men, women, and children are suffering from a terrible (yet acceptable and unnoticed by the masses) disease called ingratitude for the simplest of gigantic blessings.  Stop complaining, whining, and/or sighing. Treasure right now.”

Honesty, nationalism & the pledge of Allegiance: Why Christians Might Want To Abstain From Reciting “The Pledge Of Allegiance”

“… I think we’re having the wrong discussion on this issue entirely. Instead of a constant cultural debate over the wording of the pledge, I think a better question is: ‘Should a Christian recite the pledge of allegiance at all?'”

Preaching, relevance & teaching: Why So Many Churches Hear So Little of the Bible

“‘It is well and good for the preacher to base his sermon on the Bible, but he better get to something relevant pretty quickly, or we start mentally to check out.’ That stunningly clear sentence reflects one of the most amazing, tragic, and lamentable characteristics of contemporary Christianity: an impatience with the Word of God. …  the tragedy of a church increasingly impatient with and resistant to the reading and preaching of the Bible.”

this went thru my mind

 

Alzheimer’s: New Research Offers Tips for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

“The ravages of the disease … not only affect the 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s but also the 15 million-plus unpaid men and women who care for them.”

Difficult people: * Dealing With Difficult People by Sean Palmer; * Tackling Armchair Quarterbacks by Dan Rockwell

“The Reflexively Oppositional will always be with us …”

“Receiving criticism indicates you’re doing something. Get used to it. … In some cases, you invited their criticism by excluding them. You didn’t invite their input or participation. Worse yet, they felt ignored when they spoke. … In other cases, you invited their input but they rejected the direction you’re leading. In all cases, armchair quarterbacks wrongly believe they have deep insights.”

Distractions: What to Do When People Ignore You for Their iPhone by Jon Acuff

“I’m going to stop talking. Wait until they realize I have. And then hold up a small sign that says, ‘Are you still listening?’ You with me?”

Fluorescent bulbs (CFL bulbs): Stony Brook Study Reveals Harmful Effects of CFL Bulbs to Skin

“Our study revealed that the response of healthy skin cells to UV emitted from CFL bulbs is consistent with damage from ultraviolet radiation. … incandescent light of the same intensity had no effect on healthy skin cells …”

Food stamps: More Texas Seniors Receiving Food Stamps

“The fastest-growing group of Texans receiving food stamps is the 60-64 age bracket. In the past six years, those residents receiving food assistance – now issued in the form of a benefit debit card – has jumped by 106 percent …”

Immigration: * More Exploding Immigration Myths by Tim Archer; * The American Way of Eating by Matthew Soerens

“Sadly, some of these myths reside in my mind or at least in my feelings. Others are commonly held misconceptions about immigration, ones that may or may not affect how we deal with the issue.”

“If you want to get rid of illegal immigrants,” says Alabama sweet potato farmer Keith Smith, “quit eating.”

Israel: Israel to Revive Jordan River by Todd Bolen

“… the Jordan River has shrunk over the years but a new plan will bring the stream back to life.”

Just war: Is Christian Just War Just Like Jihad? by Lee Camp

“… we come to a doubly troubling possibility: First, that the mainstream Christian Just War tradition may, in fact, be closer to the teaching of Muhammad than that of Jesus. Second, that we American Christians have too often failed to live up even to the ethic of the Just War tradition: we seem pleased with its logic that war may be justified, but ignore the limits it imposes upon the ways we fight.”

Medicaid: More on Medicaid Refusal: Questions for Governor Perry

“Expanding Medicaid is a great deal for Texas and refusing to do so is not something the Governor should decide by himself before Texans have had a full and thoughtful conversation about what’s at stake for our state, and then the Legislature needs to decide on a course of action. Our state has an opportunity to help millions of Texans xget the quality, affordable health care they need, and we should not pass it up.”

Mental health: Study: People Who Are Constantly Online Can Develop Mental Disorders

“Researchers at the University of Gothenburg recently studied more than 4,100 Swedish men and women between the ages of 20 and 24 for a year and found that a majority of them who constantly use a computer and mobile phones can develop stress, sleeping disorders and depression. Sara Thomee, lead author of the study, said there was a ‘central link’ between computers and mental disorders.”

Politics: * President Obama and Common Grace by K. Rex Butts; * ISideWith

* “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

* “Take the presidential election quiz and see which candidate you side with.”

Theodicy: Where Is God When I’m Hurting? by Kathy Vestal

“Why does God not heal all the sick, raise all the dead, stop all the earthquakes, and right all the injustices of the world?”