my books: friends & counselors #16

Truth.

The OT … is more than the factual base out of which the NT is to be understood. The earliest Christians understood the OT as the very basis for achieving a proper relationship with God. …

Though the institutions of the OT have passed away, the theology of the OT remains. In fact, on it is built the theology of the NT. …

The church today suffers malnutrition if a part of its diet is not the theology of the OT.

Thomas Olbricht in The World and Literature of the Old Testament edited by John T. Willis (Sweet Publishing, 1979); pp.344-345

my books: friends & counselors #15

It was William Dyrness who opened my eyes – with the beauty and power of a well-chosen metaphor – to how the two testaments relate to each other.

One way of clarifying this relationship between the testaments is to liken the Bible to a symphony. All the basic themes of the symphony are presented in the OT and can seen and enjoyed on their own terms. All the reality of God’s self-revelation in creation and redemption comes to expression in these themes. There is a real movement of God toward humankind and a real fellowship between them – not just the promise of such movement and fellowship.

The NT then takes these themes, develops them and, while adding melody lines of its own, transposes the whole into a higher key, weaving everything together in a rich and beautiful way. What was a simple melody line in the OT – say, for example, the discouragement and provision of the wilderness wanderings – is picked up in another setting and made to enhance the NT revelation – as in Paul’s warnings and encouragement to the Corinthians Church (1 Cor. 10).

If we do not listen carefully to the OT we may miss some of the most moving melodies of the NT. So rather than seeing the OT as temporary or partial – something to be outgrown and discarded – we see its incompleteness more as cords calling for resolution, or, to change the metaphor, as plots calling for denouement. What the NT gives us then is does not really leave the OT behind so much as bring out its deepest reality. One has the feeling that in going ever more deeply into the reality of the OT one comes to the truth of the NT. The NT and the OT call for each other for their full self-expression.

Themes in Old Testament Theology by William Dyrness (IVP, 1977); pp.18-19

links: this went thru my mind

 

Aging & maturity: Maturing vs. Growing Older [required reading]

“Crotchety and complaining or positive and adoring? Grumpy or cheerful? Age; natural age takes us one direction and spiritual age leads us into the marvel of another way. One spreads death; the other … life.”

Church attendance: The Number One Reason for the Decline in Church Attendance and Five Ways to Address It

“… church membership is becoming less and less meaningful in many churches. As membership becomes less meaningful, commitment naturally wanes.”

Dental care, expectations, Jesus, perception & toothbrushes: Did Jesus Have All His Teeth?

“I’m wondering whether Jesus had all his teeth when he left behind his private life in Nazareth for the more public life of an itinerant preacher and healer.  According to Luke, he was ‘about 30’ at the time.”

Digital Bibles & preaching: * Dear Pastor, Bring Your Bible to Church; * Dear Presbyter, Bring Your Scroll to Church

* “… I am not against pastors using a tablet in the pulpit for, say, sermon notes. Rather, I’m concerned about replacing the physical Bible with a tablet in the pulpit. As the pastor enters the pulpit to bring the Word of God to the people of God, no hard copy of the Bible is to be found in his hand, gracing the top of the podium, visible to the entire congregation as the book at the center of attention. Instead, the congregation sees a tablet. While this may seem harmless enough, I believe there are several potential dangers this subtle shift generates.”

* “… we discovered an as yet unpublished letter from a certain Roman Presbyter “Maximus the Cantankerous”  to “St. Callistus I”  dated ca. 220 AD. In this fragmentary letter, Maximus complains to Callistus about the introduction of codices in churches to the exclusion of the scrolls. What follows is based on my own translation of the Latin.”

Giving thanks: The Serious Business of Giving Thanks [required reading]

“… for Paul giving thanks is nearly revolutionary. It’s quite subversive in the first century. Rather than naming all the parts of one’s life as good gifts provided by the Roman gods, early Christians named the various aspects of their lives as good gifts from God who is the Father of Jesus Christ, the one who gave up everything that God’s people might have everything.

“In this sense, giving thanks is strategic truth-speaking. When we give thanks, we regard the world rightly, reckoning it as God’s world, and reckoning ourselves as recipients of God’s overpowering goodness.

“Further, giving thanks reckons rightly with how we live and move and have our being in God’s presence and in God’s hands. …

“Beyond this, giving thanks to others helps us remember that we carry each other in our hands. We belong to each other, we are in one another’s hands to do good and to receive good gifts from one another.”

Humor in the Bible: Laughter in the Bible? Absolutely!

“As I study and teach, I find I read the Bible ever more slowly, and as I do, I smile more and more frequently. I listen for its humor. My emotions span sorrow, understanding or joy as I empathize with the characters who cross its pages. I chuckle at many passages, even while acknowledging the sadness they may contain. Consequently, I believe it’s possible to read many verses, stories and even books through the lens of humor, indeed to see portions of the Bible as intended to be very funny. An appropriate response is laughter. I’ve come to this conclusion: Humor is a fundamental sub-theme in both testaments.”

Old Testament: Paul and the Unquestioned Authority of the “Old Testament” [required reading]

“… the sad fact remains for most in Churches of Christ the Old Testament is simply irrelevant to their faith. Outside of the sermons I have personally preached or lessons I have taught I know of only a handful of sermons in my life from the first 76% of the Bible. …

“Growing up, I had no idea how absolutely, and completely, contrary to the apostolic example of Paul our contemporary practice was regarding the ‘Scripture’ (Paul never uses the phrase ‘Old Testament’). Paul’s entire framework for understanding God, Christ, the Gospel, redemption, faith, and yes even the church/people of God comes from the ‘Old Testament.'”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Aliens, hospitality & immigration: True Biblical Hospitality: Loving Immigrants, Strangers, and Enemies [required reading]

“… what does it actually mean to show hospitality? This is where things really get interesting: in English, we typically understand hospitality as a willingness to host, feed, and entertain a guest … something we all do and especially with our personal friends. However, what if the biblical term has a much deeper (and more difficult) meaning?”

Astronomy, awe, creation, earth & space: A Glimpse of Earth, Shining Brightly, From Very, Very Far Away

“[This] … picture … from the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn. On July 19, at a distance of 1.4 billion kilometers (900 million miles) from Earth, it took [this] … image. … Cassini was on the far side of Saturn, looking back toward the inner solar system.”

Atonement: At-One-Ment by Edward Fudge [required reading]

“We recently ended an assortment of twelve gracEmails, in which we explored the atonement made by Jesus Christ and the way American evangelicals have limited their conception of it almost exclusively to the penal substitutionary atonement theory to the neglect of other theories that are equally Bible-based. Now you can see all twelve of these in one location.”

Budget, economics, finances, income & money: Family Budget Calculator

“EPI’s Family Budget Calculator measures the income a family needs in order to attain a secure yet modest living standard by estimating community-specific costs of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes. The budgets, updated for 2013, are calculated for 615 U.S. communities and six family types (either one or two parents with one, two, or three children).

“As compared with official poverty thresholds such as the federal poverty line and Supplemental Poverty Measure, EPI’s family budgets offer a higher degree of geographic customization and provide a more accurate measure of economic security. In all cases, they show families need more than twice the amount of the federal poverty line to get by.”

Competition: Should There Be Competition in Sunday School?

“When we ingrain a competitive spirit into faith – a culture of public shame and reward – is it any wonder we end up with some really faith damaged adults?”

Humility: In Humility Hold Others Above Yourself [essential reading]

“When it comes to humility I think a lot of Christians tend to work with the wrong idea. The idea that many seem to have is that humility involves thinking less about yourself, to have a negative or even morbid self-concept. … Humility is less about thinking other people are ‘better’ or ‘more important’ than you are. Humility isn’t about a morbid ego or a low self-esteem. Humility is, rather, a form of honoring and care-taking. Humility is lifting up (hyperecho) the concerns of others, placing them above and ahead of your own.”

Old Testament: And the Main Point of the Entire Old Testament is …

“I was taught in seminary and graduate school, as were many others of my generation and several before that, that the OT doesn’t have ‘a’ central point–there’s no central concept around which you can organize the OT. The OT is too diverse for that sort of thing. As soon as you find a theme that seems to work, it either doesn’t (e.g., covenant) or it’s too broad to be of much use (e.g., God).

“I agree, but some themes are right there in your face, more than others, and one of them is getting higher and higher on my top 10 list: land.

“That may sound off a bit boring–maybe even not terribly spiritual–but land is a major idea the Bible keeps on the front burner. Actually, I may even be understating things bit. The promise to receive land, getting it, how to hold on to it, losing it and getting it back, and how not to lost it again. I’ve just described the main storyline of the OT.”

Poverty: Epic Shanty Towns From Around the World

“… Addis has traveled and photographed squatter communities in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro; Lima, Peru; Mexico City; Mumbai, India; Cairo; and Dhaka, Bangladesh.”

this went thru my mind

 

Bible reading & the OT: The Old Testament – Why Bother? by John Alan Turner [required reading]

“I sometimes hear people say this: ‘We are a New Testament church producing New Testament Christians.’ … Here’s the problem with that statement: You can’t really be ‘New Testament” anything without being ‘Old Testament’, too.”

Charitable giving: The ‘Second Disaster’: Making Well-Intentioned Donations Useful by Pam Fessler

“Disaster relief groups call this the ‘second disaster’: the flood of unwanted donations, despite repeated requests for cash.”

Churches of Christ: * It’s Time to Fly by K. Rex Butts;* A Call for Less Orthodoxy by Chris Altrock

* “For many churches within the restoration heritage, the attempt to fly has been to try and reduplicate the pattern of the first-century church.  This assumed first that one single pattern existed and that such pattern could be mined from the New Testament. That assumption reduced the New Testament to a flat text which was read like a set of by-laws on church polity rather than a dynamic collection of Christian writings which both reveal and shape true living faith in Christ. Secondly it assumed that by such reduplication — restoring churches to that assumed single pattern within the New Testament — that contemporary churches would function as the conduits of God’s mission as they are called to be. Rarely has anyone considered that, as followers of Jesus, God is asking his people to pursue an innovative vision that only God can bring about among the church.  I believe it is time for an innovative dream to be pursued!”

* “Let’s put our best foot forward.  And right now, that’s either orthopraxy or orthopathy.”

Christianity & the perception of others: Warning: The World is Watching How We Christians Treat One Another by Frank Viola [required reading]

“Here are 7 points to consider the next time you think you have a possible disagreement with another Christian …”

this went thru my mind

 

American history & economic inequality: Radical Solutions to Economic Inequality

“For three years, government commissioners traipsed from city to city asking capitalists, union organizers, and reformers what it was like to work in America, and whether the spoils of industry seemed to be distributed fairly among the rich and poor.
The commission’s answer, released in a 1916 report, speaks volumes about the persistent dilemma of inequality in the United States, and about the intellectual timidity of today’s political responses.”

Cooking in the ancient world: * Baking Bread in Bible Times by Ferrell Jenkins * Cooking at 4th Century Qatzrin by Ferrell Jenkins

* “Ovens were often used by people of the Bible world, but some bread was cooked on a plate or griddle made of clay or iron.”

“Qatzrin was originally built in the 4th century A.D. and remained in use till the mid-8th century. I wanted to show you the oven that we have from that village. … a small clay oven placed within a mud-brick chimney. The chimney took the smoke out of the house and provided heat for the second floor bed room as well as for the kitchen. Not quite a microwave, but it wasn’t terribly different from the wood-burning stoves I knew as a child.”

Going paperless: Get Organized: Adopting Paperless Notes

“… being organized is like dieting …”

Leadership: * 5 Aspects of the Heart of the Leader by Ron Edmonson; * The Most Dangerous Lies Leaders Believe by Dan Rockwell

* “The heart of a leader is more important than any other characteristic. Here are the 5 qualities to seek in the heart of a leader: imagination … integrity … investment … intentionality … innovation.”

* “The most dangerous lie leaders tell themselves is, ‘I know.'”

Lent: * Worldwide YouVersion Community, Now More than 40 Million Strong, Making the Most of Lent; * Lent for Everyone by N.T. Wright

* “During Lent, traditionally observed for the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday, followers of Christ all around the world sacrifice things important to them, intentionally drawing themselves away from desires driven by their five senses. Lent helps us become more focused on the spiritual part of ourselves, preparing our hearts to genuinely experience the passion of Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the Cross. Lent draws us closer to God through purposeful prayer, self-denial, repentance, giving, and time in the Bible.”

* “Lent for Everyone is a devotional created and written by N.T. (Tom) Wright. For each day of Lent, there is a reading chosen from the Gospel of Matthew, plus a reflection by Wright. … Plan length: 53 days.”

Self-control: Building Self-Control, the American Way by Sandra Aamodt & Sam Wang

“Effective approaches for building self-control combine fun with progressively increasing challenges. Rather than force activities onto an unwilling child, take advantage of his or her individual tendencies. When children develop self-control through their own pursuit of happiness, no parental hovering is required. Find something that the child is crazy about but that requires active effort.”

The Old Testament: Old News is Good News: 4 Reasons to Preach the Old(er) Testament by Clint Archer

“There are four reasons I can think of to pay concerted attention to the OT …”