Listen In

My retelling of John 6 was inspired by the lesson a few weeks ago from our minister, Doug Geyer. He’s been doing a series on John that has been very good.
A few of you regular readers know Doug, but probably haven’t heard him preach in a while. I’d like to encourage you to go to the Columbus Church of Christ web site and find the sermons page. Give last weeks lesson on John 9 a listen, in fact any of the sermons are worth your time.
Over the past year the depth and maturity of his lessons have grown tremendously. Either that, or my depth and maturity in listening has grown. I’ll give Doug the credit on both accounts, he was probably better than I gave him credit for before and he has grown a lot in the last year.
The lessons are in MP3 format. Check one out and let me know what you think.

Hebrews 6:1-12

Hebrews 6:2 – Hmm, the ESV says “instructions about washings” instead of “instructions about baptisms” like the NIV (my emphasis). The footnote says “Or baptisms (that is, cleansing rites)”. As a COC’er, I’m sensitive about that kinda stuff, but it makes me wonder.
Hebrews 6:1-2 – The list of elementary doctrine here is interesting. Most who call themselves Christian would understand the inclusion of faith, repentance, resurrection and eternal judgment. Less, perhaps, baptisms & laying on hands. Laying on hands makes me wonder, it’s not something I’ve experienced in any of the churches I’ve been a part of.
Hebrews 6:4-6 – I have understood these verses to refer to someone who left the Lord, as an explanation that one can give up their salvation. Taken alone, they seem to say just that. But putting them in the context of ‘leaving the elementary teachings’, that understanding gives me pause. It doesn’t make sense that Paul was saying “Let’s mature, because if you fall away you’re doomed.” I dunno, maybe, what do you think?
Hebrews 5:11-6:12 – There does seem to be an undertone here that ties our salvation with our depth of understanding. That bothers me a bit, as I would have said that you don’t need to be deep to be saved. I’m not sure yet what to do with that. Am I reading too much into the passage? Just because my understanding makes me squirm, does not mean I should dismiss it, but neither should I dismiss my misgivings. Any thoughts?

Hebrews 5

Hebrews 5:1-10 – Jesus is ike the other priests – weak in his flesh (though perfect in overcoming it) and called to be a high priest by God “to act on behalf of men in relation to God.
Hebrews 5:11-24 – This passage makes me wonder about those who do not dig deep, or who refuse to even think about Christianity. In the ESV the passage is entitled “Warning Against Apostasy”. Apostasy is renouncing the faith Now I wouldn’t say that if you have a simple faith adn don’t dig deeper that you aren’t saved, but I do wonder about that. For some, their mind and intellect taht God has given them require deep thinking to keep their mind

John 6 – A Retelling

We were at the festival in Jerusalem when we came upon Jesus. There was quite a crowd around him, so we stopped to look and listen. It was really my wife’s idea; I just wanted to keep moving. But we had heard about the stir he caused at Bethesda (Who hadn’t?), and I guess was curious too, so we stopped.
I’ve got to tell you, once you started listening and watching, you couldn’t turn away. He spoke with clarity on things that learned men don’t understand, and the healings. Leper after leper, the lame, the blind, and the diseased all came and he healed them one by one. Some of these people we had known, or at least seen before, so we knew it wasn’t just a show. Besides, there were far too many of them for it to all be an act.
When he started to move on, I was disappointed to see him go, but it would be good to get back to our routine for the festival. But my wife wanted to go along and she would not be dissuaded. If you’ve got a wife, and you love her, you know when to stand firm and when to give in, so we went. Even the kids seemed drawn to him and had been well behaved as we watched.
We had gotten away to a remote place and he was still teaching and healing. There were people everywhere, thousands of them. We were all exhausted and I was feeling pretty proud of myself for managing to hold out a few loaves and a couple of fish for our family. Most families would be in trouble. They hadn’t brought anything and would have to go get some food in the villages nearby.
Jesus had stopped for a moment and wad conferring with his disciples when he suddenly and purposefully made his way toward us. It was as if he was deliberately walking in our direction, almost as if he needed something from us. I would have sworn he briefly looked me right in the eye. As he grew nearer, I could hear him talking with his guys, they were discussing dinner plans, actually, about feeding the whole crowd. They were quite near and had stopped just a stone’s throw away. It seems Jesus expected his men to feed the crowd and they had nothing. Silly fools, caught unprepared. Of course with a crowd this size, as one of them pointed out, it would take a lot of food.
It was then that I noticed Joshua, my oldest at 11. He had our basket in his hand, looking up at me. He had heard the teacher talking. “Daddy,” he said to me, “we could share our lunch.”
“Joshua, there’s no way our little lunch would make a dent in the appetite of this large crowd. Let’s not bother the teacher, besides we must take care of our own, your sister and mother and I came prepared. It sounds like he and his disciples did not. Come, let’s find a shade tree and eat.
“But Papa, it wouldn’t be nice for us to eat while all these people go hungry. He made all those sick people well, maybe there’s something he can do.”
My wife was looking up at me and I knew I wasn’t going to win this one, you know, when to stand, when to back down. It was a silly idea, but I guess it wouldn’t hurt to make an offer. I’m sure they’ll smile at him and send him back to us. “OK, go on and offer our basket.”
He beamed at me and skipped off to the teacher and his group. One of the men stooped down to listen, gazed over at the basket, smiled and shoed him on his way. Good, that’s that. But Joshua wouldn’t be deterred. He tugged again on the man’s tunic. He threw his hands up in desperation, and approached the teacher. I could see him pointing back at Joshua and the basket and talking with the teacher. The teacher smiled, waked over to Joshua, bent down and hugged him, and then Joshua came running back – without the basket.
“He want’s us to sit down.” he said.
“But now what are we to eat!” I grumbled. He was motioning the crown to sit on the ground. He held our loaves and fish high and blessed them. Then he gathered twelve of his men around him. They all had baskets; I still don’t know where they came from. He divided our measly little lunch among them and sent them out.
I watched as these twelve men circulated through the crowd, handing out food. At first they seemed embarrassed, but as family after family after family reached into those baskets and pulled out fish and bread, they were clearly astonished. The man Joshua had spoken too came by our family as we sat there, his name turned out to be Andrew. He thanked Joshua and offered him some for our family.
“Not too much Joshua, save some for the others!” I said, instinctively, although it seemed silly now. But Joshua either didn’t hear or realized how ridiculous my instructions were based on what we were seeing. After all, Andrew himself had already handed out more than our basket had contained. Joshua reached in and pulled out one large loaf and a huge fish fillet, I swear it was larger than either of the fish we had given. Off Andrew went, offering and giving food to dozens, no hundreds more.
We had eaten and were satisfied and those twelve were still at it, handing out food. Actually, we had leftovers, and they came back around and filled those baskets back up again with what was left over. They made their way back to where the teacher was, but he was busy with the people. They sat down, obviously worn out from their waiting tables. They didn’t talk, instead each of those twelve men sat there, looking at their baskets, smiling in disbelief. It was a sight to see.
Later, Andrew came back by with his basket, rather our basket. He thanked us quite a lot and left the basket with us. It had been ’emptied’ several times over that day, yet returned to us heavier than before. He thanked us again with a smile and ran back to the master.
“See Papa, I knew he could help. Thank you for letting me go!”
I just grinned. And to think, if I had gotten my way, we wouldn’t have followed this silly man out to the wilderness. And I would have missed out. And if it weren’t for the foolish faith of a boy, there wouldn’t have been a miracle that day.
We went on our way, back to Jerusalem for the feast. The day stuck with me as time went on. We heard more rumblings about that Jesus for a while, but it died down. I never did hear what happened to him. It wasn’t until years later, when a man named Paul came to the synagogue that it all came together for me and I truly understood what I had been a part of that day.

Hebrews 3-4

Hebrews 3:3-6 – Not only is Jesus greater than the angels, he is greater than their patriarch, Moses.
Hebrews 3:10-11 – Some rebelled and did not enter the promised land. If we rebel and refuse to follow God, we will not enter heaven to be with him. I don’t think the religious wold likes to think about that. Against all Biblical teachings, we like to believe that are all going to heaven.
Hebrews 3:13 – The ESV says “exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.“. Are we doing that? When was the last time someone came to you and ‘exhorted’ you so you’d remain faithful? Better yet, when was the last time you ‘exhorted’ someone else? I’m afraid we’ve let the American independence and ‘freedom’ allow us from being each other’s keeper and getting involved in each other’s lives.
Hebrews 4:1-13 – He goes out of his way to prove that there is a rest to be entered – heaven. Were some of the same belief as the Sadducees, that there was no life after death?

18 years

18 years ago today (Oops, lost track of what day it was. It was yesterday, the 26th.) I joined the family of God. After a couple of months of studying the Bible, re-evaluating what I had thought was my faith and making some hard decisions on what I wanted my life to be, I was baptized at a campus devotional in the Old Chem building at the University of Cincinnati.
18 years.
The events of that summer turned my world upside down. If you had met me in the years immediately following, 16-17 years ago, I would have likely told you that I began my spiritual journey that summer. That my relation with with God started on that Friday night.
Now, older and wiser and hopefully a bit more humble, I know that the journey began long before that. Long before I knew that there was a journey to take. It began with parents who made sure I had a foundation of faith to build on. Unfortunately, more than once in my pride and immaturity I dismissed their efforts.
18 years.
A lot has happened in that time. I’ve seen a fledgling movement rise and then fall under the weight of its own sin. I’ve watched my own faith rise and fall as well. I’ve lived in 4 cities in 3 states, gotten married, had 3 girls and participated in a church planting. I’ve seen my eyes opened to new realities, more than once, and I’ve watched my spiritual priorities get reoriented in recent years.
18 years.
In many ways, I feel like I’ve learned so much, come so far and grown so much. In others I feel like I know even less that I once did and I’m less clear on many things.
I hope the next 18 bring more clarity, more humility, more unity and more relationships with those who are His.

Hebrews 1-2

Well, here I am again, 4 months after I got done with my study of Ephesians, just now starting a new study. My ever present weakness, not getting into my Bible enough. Of course, I have been studying John with Jessica, which has been good for me as well as her, but I’ve done no study on my own.
I’ve begun to feel the pull of the scriptures again. I need this, to learn who this God I’m trying to follow is. Jessica has to get on the bus at 6:50 AM now a days, so our infrequent readings will be even less so. But that gives me an opportunity to get up with her and read before heading to work. Wish me luck. 🙂

Hebrews 1:3 – “Radiance of God”, “exact imprint of His nature”. That’s hard to comprehend that a man could be that, but he was.
Hebrews 1:4-14 – He spends these verses pointing out that Jesus was not an angel, pointing out how He is different than an angel. Was there a movement among the Jewish Christians to say that Jesus was simply an angel from heaven rather than God in flesh?
Hebrews 2:7 – He makes the point that though he was higher than the angels, for a time he was made lower. In other words, he didn’t come merely as angel nor was he god present in the world. He was in fact God, but a man as well. So, though higher, for a little while was became lower.
Hebrews 2:8 – “At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.” That’s certainly true. At present I see wars, crime, bills, possessions, wants, worries and more. I have to strain every day, throughout the day, to see Him.
Hebrews 2:11 – How amazing is Jesus on earth? He came as one higher than the angels, became fro a time lower than the angels in becoming a man, and he and us “have one origin.” Higher, yet lower; different, yet the same.
Hebrews 2:16-18 – He wraps up this angel comparison saying that it wasn’t to help the angels that he came, but to help us. To do that, he had to be like us, suffering under temptation as we do.

Good News


Ikea will build a 300,000 or 350,000 square-foot store on a large vacant parcel adjacent to southbound Interstate 75 off Muhlhauser and Allen roads [just north of Cincinnati]

I’ve never been to an Ikea store, but I’ve eyed their catalogs and wanted to. The 3.5 hour trek to the nearest one in Pittsburgh or 4 hours to the new one in Canton MI (although it’s only about an hour from Mom and Dad …) has kept me away. This new store should be about 1.5 hours from my house, so maybe I’ll get some cheap-but-stylish, Swedish-designed, ready-to-assemble furniture.

Hat tip: OHIKEA

Money or Ministry?

Dan over at Cerulean Sanctum is about to go on hiatus for a month (which, if you are in a position to need a freelance writer, you might be able to help him come back sooner.) Before he leaves, however, he’s promised some hard hitting posts. Yesterday’s lived up to it.
Related to my post yesterday on our pursuit of our own wealth instead of sharing it, and this quote from Soren Kierkegaard, he wonders if we’re really willing to pursue ministry over money. He says:

the response [to the cross] is EXTREME. It means death. The cross says, Now here you die, here and now. All your desires, all your hopes, all of you. It also means real life. Have we tasted it?

That hits me where I live for sure. America is a money and possessions oriented culture. We are surrounded by stuff, stuff and more stuff. We are told incessantly that we need it and deserve it. You cannot avoid it and it pulls at you. Even if you resist it you cannot be sure that all you are accomplishing is slowing the tide’s pulling you out to the sea of materialism.
I wonder a lot if I am too immersed in this culture of wealth, even if I stand at its fringe, to recognize how far I am from the cross? It’s scary indeed. Go read Dan’s post.

What if His People Gave?

I subscribe to a few email lists for Pro|ENGINEER, the CAD software I use at work. It’s mostly folks from the US, though we do get posts from all over the world.
This week, one came through from India requesting someone, preferable also from India, to come train them in plastic part design. As you might expect, more than one person in the US took issue with this, coming down pretty hard on the guys English and complaining, indirectly, about the jobs going there.
It got me thinking. This Indian guy is just thinking, “Our company is growing, we need help. I’ll ask the Pro|E guys.” He’s enjoying the new found opportunities in his country, he has little or no clue what his prosperity may mean for some here in the US.
Then I though, here is this poor nation, beginning to find some wealth. And here we are, with our 2,500 square foot houses, 2.5 cars, HD TV’s, boats and what not, complaining about them trying to get a little piece of it.
So I wondered, what would the world be like, if in the last 50-60 years of prosperity, the Christians in America had decided that maybe 1,800 square feet was enough, I don’t need the new wide screen or maybe I won’t buy the boat. What it instead we used that new wealth and had given it to the poor, 3rd world countries that are now chasing their own version of the American dream at our expense? Imagine, 50-60 years of giving 15%, 20% or 25% of out money to help the poor of the world.
Now, I’m no economist or expert in human behavior or charitable giving, but I have to wonder.
If we had really given to them along the way, shared our wealth with them in their need, would they be trying to take it from us now?

On This Day

Recent Posts

Recent Comments